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singular a manner does nature distribute her talents, Chap. that in a nation abounding with sense and learning, K^^^j a man who, by superior personal merit alone, had 1657. made his way to supreme dignity, and had even obliged the parliament to make him a tender of the crown, was yet incapable of expressing himself on this occasion, but in a manner which a peasant of the most ordinary capacity would justly be ashamed of.h
* We shall produce any passage at random: for his discourse is all of a piece. "I confess, for it behoves me to deal plainly with *' you, I must confess, I would say, I hope, I may be understood in this; for indeed I must be tender what I say to such an au"dience as this; 1 say I would be understood, that in this argu. "ment I do not mate parallel betwixt men of a different mind, and a parliament, which shall have their desires. I know there is no comparison, nor can it be urged upon me that my words have the least colour that way, because the parliament seems to give liberty to me to say any thing to you; as that, that is »"
tender of my humble reasons and judgment and opinion to them; "and if I think they are such, and will be such to them, and are faithful servants, and will be so to the supreme authority, and the legislative, wheresoever it is: If, I say, I should not tell ** you knowing their minds to be so, I should not be faithful, if I should not tell you so, to the end you may report it to the M parliament: I shall say something for myself, foriny own mind, I do profess it, I am not a man scrupulous about words or •* names of such things I have not: But as I have the word of God, "and I hope I shall ever have it, for the rule of my conscience, *1 for my informations; so truly men that have been led in dark paths, through the providence and dispensation of God; why "surely it is not to be objected to a man; for who can love to walk in the dark? But providence does so dispose. And though a man may impute his own folly and blindness to providence siuMfully, yet it must be at my peril; the case may be that it is the providence of God that doth lead men- in darkness; I must needs "say, that I have had a great deal of experience of providence, and though it is no rule without or against the word, yet it is a very good expositor of the word in many cases."' Conference at Whitehall. The great defect in Oliver's speeches consists not in his want of elocution, but in his want of ideas. The sagacity of his actions, and the absurdity of his discourse, form the most prodigious contrast that ever was known. The collection of all his speeches, letters, sermons, (for he also wrote sermons,) would make a great curiosity, and, with a few exceptions, might justly pass for one of the most nonsensical books in the world.
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° Lxi F" ^ hE opposition which Cromwel dreaded, was v^-^/ not that which came from Lambert and his adhe16S7. rents, whom he now regarded as capital enemies, and whom he was resolved, on the first occasion, to deprive of all power and authority: It was that which he met with in his own family, and from men, who, by interest as well as inclination, were the most devoted to him. Fleetwood had married his daughter:. Desborow, his sister: Yet these men, actuated by principle alone, could by no persuasion, artifice, or entreaty, be induced to consent that their friend and patron should be invested with regal dignity. They told him that, if he accepted of the crown, they would instantly throw up their commissions, and never afterwards should have it in their power to serve him.' Colonel Pride procured a petition against the office of king, signed by a majority of the officers, who were in London and the neighbourhood. Several persons, it is said, had entered into an engagement to murder the protector within a few hours after he should have accepted the offer of the parliament. Some sudden mutiny in the army was justly dreaded. And upon the whole, Cromwel, after He rejects tfoe agGny and perplexity of long doubt, was at last obliged to refuse that crown, which the representatives of the nation, in the most solemn manner, had tendered to him. Most historians are inclined to blame his choice; but he must be allowed the best judge of his own situation. And in such complicated subjects, the alteration of a very minute circumstance, unknown to the spectator, will often be sufficient to cast the balance, and render a determination, which, in itself, may be uneligible, very prudent, or even absolutely necessary to the actor.
A Dream or prophecy, lord Clarendon mentions, which he affirms (and he must have known the truth), was universally talked of almost from the beginning of the civil wars, and long before Cromwel was so considerable a person as to bestow upon it
! Thurlee, vol. vi. p. 061.
any degree of probability. In this prophecy it was c p* foretold that Cromwel should be the greatest man in England, and would nearly, but never would fully mount the throne. Such a prepossession probably arose from the heated imagination either of himself or of his followers; and as it might be one cause of the great progress which he had already made, it is not an unlikely reason which may be assigned for his refusing at this time any farther elevation.
The parliament, when the regal dignity was rejected by Cromwel, found themselves obliged to retain the name of a commonwealth and protector; and as the government was hitherto a manifest usurpation, it was thought proper to sanctify it by a seeming choice of the people and their representatives. Instead of the instrument of government, which was the work of the general officers alone, an humble petition and advice was framed, and Hnmbu offered to the protector by the parliament. This petition was represented as the great basis of the republican "Ce.ad" establishment, regulating and limiting the powers of each member of the constitution, and securing the liberty of the people to the most remote posterity. By this deed the authority of protector was in some particulars enlarged: In others, it was considerably diminished. He had the power of nominating his successor; he had a perpetual revenue assigned him, a million a year for the pay of the fleet and army, three hundred thousand pounds for the support of civil government; and he had authority to name another house, who should enjoy their seats during life, and exercise some functions of the former house of peers. But he abandoned the power assumed in the intervals of parliament, of framing laws with the consent of his council; and he agreed, that no members of either house should be excluded but by the consent of that house of which they were members. The other articles were in the main the same as in the instrument of government.
T 2 The
Chap. The instrument of government Cromwel had formerly extolled as the most perfect work of human invention: He now represented it as a rotten plank, upon which no man could trust himself without sinking. Even the humble petition and advice, which he extolled in its turn, appeared so lame and imperfect, that it was found requisite, this very session, to mend it by a supplement; and after all, it may be regarded as a crude and undigested model of government. It was, however, accepted for the voluntary deed of the whole people in the three united nations; and Cromwel, as if his power had just commenced from this popular consent, was anew inaugurated in Westminster Hall, after the most solemn and most pompous manner.
June26. The parliament having adjourned itself, the protector deprived Lambert of all his commissions; but still allowed him a considerable pension of 2000 pounds a year, as a bribe for his future peaceable deportment. Lambert's authority in the army, to the surprise of every body, was found immediately to expire with the loss of his commission. Packer and some other officers, whom Cromwel suspected, were also displaced.
Richard, eldest son of the protector, was brought to court, introduced into public business, and thenceforth regarded by many as his heir in the protectorship; though Cromwel sometimes employed the gross artifice of flattering others with hopes of the succession. Richard was a person possessed of the most peaceable, inoffensive, unambitious character, and had hitherto lived contentedly in the country on a small estate which his wife had brought him. All the activity which he discovered, and which never was great, was however exerted to beneficent purposes: At the time of the king's trial, he had fallen on his knees before his father, and had conjured him, by every tie of duty and humanity, to spare the life of that monarch. Cromwel wel had two daughters unmarried: One of them he c H A p
• • • LXInow gave in marriage to the grandson and heir of his great friend, the earl of Warwic, with whom he had, in every fortune, preserved an uninterrupted intimacy and good correspondence. The other he married to the viscount Fauconberj:, of a family formerly devoted to the royal party. He was ambitious of forming connexions with the nobility; and it was one chief motive for his desiring the title of king, that he might replace every thing in its natural order, and restore to the ancient families, the trust and honour of which he now found himself obliged, for his own safety, to deprive them. i6sn.
The parliament was again assembled; consisting,80th Jaaas in the times of monarchy, of two houses, the commons and the other house. Cromwel, during the interval, had sent writs to his house of peers, which consisted of sixty members. They were composed of five or six ancient peers, of several gentlemen of fortune and distinction, and of some officers who had risen from the meanest stations. None of the ancient peers, however, though summoned by writ, would deign to accept of a seat, which they must share with such companions as were assigned them. The pro tector endeavoured at first to maintain the appearance of a legal magistrate. He placed no guard at the door of either house: But soon found how incompatible liberty is with military usurpations. By bringing so great a number of his friends and adherents into the other house, he had lost the majority among the national representatives. In consequence of a clause in the humble petition and advice, the commons assumed a power of re-admitting those members whom the council had formerly excluded. Sir Arthur Hazelrig and some others, whom Cromwel had created lords, rather chose to take their seat with the commons. An incontestable majority now declared themselves against the protector; and they refused to acknowledge the jurisdiction of that other house