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of his guilt, so little conviction prevailed of the pro-CH A P.
LXI. tector's right to the supreme government, it was with the utmost difficultyp that this conspirator was 1658. condemned. When every thing was prepared for his execution, he was found dead; from poison, as is supposed, which he had voluntarily taken. .
The protector might better have supported those fears and apprehensions which the public distempers occasioned, had he enjoyed any domestic satisfaction, or possessed any cordial friend of his own family, in whose bosom he could safely have unloaded his anxious and corroding cares. But Fleetwood, his son-in-law, actuated by the wildest zeal, began to estrange himself from him; and was enraged to discover that Cromwel, in all his enterprises, had entertained views of promoting his own grandeur, more than of encouraging piety and religion, of which he made such fervent professions. His eldest daughter, married to Fleetwood, had adopted republican principles so vehement, that she could not with patience behold power lodged in a single person, even in her indulgent father. His other daughters were no less prejudiced in favour of the royal cause, and regretted the violences and iniquities into which, they thought, their family had so unhappily been transported. Above all, the sickness of Mrs. Claypole, his peculiar favourite, a lady endued with many humane virtues and amiable accomplishments, depressed his anxious mind, and poisoned all his enjoyments. She had entertained a high regard for Dr. Huet lately executed ; and being refused his pardon, the melancholy of her temper, increased by her distempered body, had prompted her to lament to her father all his sanguinary measures, and urge him to compunction for those heinous crimes into which his fatal ambition had betrayed him. Her death, which followed
soon Thurloe, vol. vi. p. 53.
band urge which which fo
CHA P. soon after, gave new edge to every word which she
LXI. , had uttered. 1658. All composure of mind was now for ever fled
from the protector: He felt that the grandeur · which he had attained with so much guilt and cou
rage, could not ensure him that tranquillity which it belongs to virtue alone, and moderation, fully to ascertain. Overwhelmed with the load of public affairs, dreading perpetually some fatal accident in his distempered government, seeing nothing around him but treacherous friends or enraged enemies, possessing the confidence of no party, resting his title on no principle, civil or religious, he found his power to depend on so delicate a poise of factions and interests, as the smallest event was able, without any preparation, in a moment to overturn. Death too, which, with such signal intrepidity he had braved in the field, being incessantly threatened by the poinards of fanatical or interested assassins, was ever present to his terrified apprehension, and haunted him in every scene of business or repose. Each action of his life betrayed the terrors under which he laboured. The aspect of strangers was uneasy to him: With a piercing and anxious eye he surveyed every face to which he was not daily accustomed. He never moved a step without strong guards attending him: He wore armour under his clothes, and farther secured himself by offensive weapons, a sword, falchion, and pistols, which he always carried about him. He returned from no place by the direct road, or by the same way which he went. Every journey he performed with hurry and precipitation. Seldom he slept above three nights together in the same chamber: And he never let it be known beforehand what chamber he intended to choose, nor entrusted himself in any which was not provided with back doors, at which centinels were carefully placed. Society terrified him, while he reflected on his numerous, unknown, and
and precipher in the same ch what chamb
implacable enemies : Solitude astonished him, by CH A P.
LXL withdrawing that protection which he found so necessary for his security
1658. His body also from the contagion of his anxious Sickness of mind, began to be affected ; and his health seemed the pro
tector. sensibly to decline. He was seized with a slow fever, which changed into a tertian ague. For the space of a week, no dangerous symptoms appeared; and in the intervals of the fits he was able to walk abroad. At length the fever increased, and he himself began to entertain some thoughts of death, and to cast his eye towards that future existence, whose idea had once been intimately present to him; though since, in the hurry of affairs, and in the shock of wars and factions, it had, no doubt, been considerably obliterated. He asked Goodwin, one of his preachers, if the doctrine were true, that the elect could never fall or suffer a final reprobation. “ Nothing “ more certain," replied the preacher. “ Then am 65 I safe," said the protector : “ For I am sure that " once I was in a state of grace.” : His physicians were sensible of the perilous condition to which his distemper had reduced him: But his chaplains, by their prayers, visions, and revelations, so buoyed up his hopes, that he began to believe his life out of all danger. A favourable answer, it was pretended, had been returned by heaven to the petitions of all the godly ; and he relied on their asseverations much more than on the opinion of the most experienced physicians. “ I tell you," he cried with confidence to the latter, “ I tell you, I shall not die of this distemper: I am " well assured of my recovery. It is promised by “the Lord, not only to my supplications, but to 6 those of men who hold a stricter commerce and 6 more intimate correspondence with him. Ye “ may have skill in your profession; but nature can “ do more than all the physicians in the world, and
rrespondression; the Torld, and
CHA P.“ God is far above nature."9 Nay, to such a deo LXI.
gree of madness did their enthusiastic assurances mount, that, upon a fast day, which was observed on his account both at Hampton Court and at Whitehall, they did not so much pray for his health, as give thanks for the undoubted pledges which they had received of his recovery. He himself was overheard offering up his addresses to heaven; and so far had the illusions of fanaticism prevailed over the plainest dictates of natural morality, that he assumed more the character of a mediator, in interceding for his people, than that of a criminal, whose atrocious violation of social duty had, from every tribunal, human and divine, merited the severest vengeance.
MEANWHILE all the symptoms began to wear a more fatal aspect; and the physicians were obliged to break silence, and to declare, that the protector could not survive the next fit with which he was threatened. The council was alarmed. A deputation was sent to know his will with regard to his successor. His senses were gone, and he could not now express his intentions. They asked him whether he did not mean that his eldest son, Richard, should succeed him in the protectorship. A simple affirmative was, or seemed to be, extorted from him. Soon after, on the 3d of September, that very day
which he had always considered as the most fortuHis death. rate for him, he expired. A violent tempeșt, which
immediately succeeded his death, served as a subject of discourse to the vulgar. His partisans, as well as his enemies, were fond of remarking this event; and each of them endeavoured, by forced inferences, to interpret it as a confirmation of their particular prejudices.
The writers, attached to the memory of this wonderful person, make his character, with regard to
abilities, 9 Bates : See also Thurloe, vol. vii. p. 355. 416.
and cha iacter.
abilities, bear the air of the most extravagant pane. CHA P.
e LXI. gyric: His enemies form such a representation of his moral qualities as resembles the most virulent 1658. invective. Both of them, it must be confessed, are supported by such striking circumstances in his conduct and fortune, as bestow on their representation a great air of probability. “What can be more ex“ traordinary,” it is said," " than that a person of “ private birth and education, no fortune, no emi“ nent qualities of body, which have sometimes, “ nor shining talents of mind, which have often, ““ raised men to the highest dignities, should have “ the courage to attempt, and the abilities to exe“ cute, so great a design as the subverting one of " the most ancient and best established monarchies “ in the world? That he should have the power and “ boldness to put his prince and master to an open " and infamous death? Should banish that nume“ rous and strongly allied family? Cover all these " temerities under a seeming obedience to a parlia"ment, in whose service he pretended to be re" tained ? Trample too upon that parliament in " their turn, and scornfully expel them as soon as " they gave him ground of dissatisfaction ? Erect in " their place the dominion of the saints, and give “ reality to the most visionary idea, which the " heated imagination of any fanatic was ever able * to entertain ? Suppress again that monster in its “ infancy, and openly set up himself above all “ things that ever were called sovereign in England ? « Overcome first all his enemies by arms, and all " his friends afterwards by artifice? Serve all parties " patiently for a while, and command them victo" riously at last? Overrun each corner of the three 46 nations, and subdue, with equal facility, both the “ riches of the south, and the poverty of the
“ north? "Cowley's Discourses : This passage is altered in some particulars from the original.