« PreviousContinue »
parallel; no, not in all the world! You have in the midst of you glorious things.
Glorious things: for you have Laws and statutes, and ordinances which, though not all of them so conformable as were to be wished lo the Law of God, yet, on all hands, pretend not to be long rested in farther than as they are conformable to the just and righteous Laws of God. Therefore, I am persuaded, there is a heart and spirit in every good man to wish they did all of them answer the Pattern. [ Yea.'] I cannot doubt but that which is in the heart will in due time break forth. [And we shall actually have just Laws, your Highness thinks ?] That endeavors will be ' made' that way, is another of your good things, with which in my heart' I think' you are worthily to be congratulated. And you have a Magistracy; which, in outward profession, in pretence, in endeavor, doth desire to put life into these Laws. AndJ am confident that among you will rest the true desire to promote ercry desire in others, and every endeavor, that hath tended or shall tend to the putting of these Laws in execution.
I do ' also' for this congratulate you: You have a Gospel Ministry among you. That have you! Such an one as,—without vanity I shall speak it; or without caring at all for any favor or respect from them, save what I have upon an account above flattery, or good words,—such an one as hath excelled itself; and, I am persuaded,—to "speak with confidence before the Lord,—is the most growing blessing (one of the most growing blessings) on the face of this Nation.
You have a good Eye 'to watch over you,'—and in that I will share with your good favors. A good God; a God that hath watched over you and us. A God that hath visited these Nations with a strgtched-out arm; and borne His witness against the unrighteousness and ungodliness of men, against those that' would' have abused such Nations,—such mercies throughout, as I have reckoned up unto you! A God that hath not only withstood such to the face; but a God that hath .abundantly blessed you with the evidence of His goodness and presence. And He " hath done things wonderful amongst us," "by terrible things in righteousness."* He hath visited ns by " wonderful things!" [A Time of Miracle; as indeed all "Times'" are, your Highness, when there are Men alive in them.'] In mercy and compassion hath He given us this day of freedom and liberty to speak this, one to another; and to speak of His mercies, as He hath been pleased to put into our hearts. [ Where now are the Starchambers, High Commissions,Council-Chambers; pitiless oppressors of God's Gospel in this land? The Hangmen with their whips and red-hot branding-irons, with their
Three blood-sprinkled Pillories in old Palaceyard, and Four clean Surplices at Allhallowtide,—Where are they? Vanished. Much has vanished; fed from us like the Phantasms of a Nightmare Dream .']
Truly this word in conclusion. If these things be so, give me leave to remember you but one word; which I offered to you with great love and affection the first day of meeting with you, this Parliament. It pleased God to put into my heart then to mention a Scripture to you, which would be a good conclusion of my Speech now at this time to you. It was, That we being met to seek the good of so great an Interest, as I have mentioned, and the glory of that God who is both yours and mine, how could we better do it than by thinking of such words as these, "His salvation is nigh them that fear Him," " that glory may dwell in our land!" I would not comment upon it. I hope I fear Him;—and let us more fear Him! If this ' present' mercy at all concern you, as I see it doth,—let me, and I hope you will with me, labor more to fear Him! [Amen.'] Then we have done, 'that includes all;' seeing such a blessing as His salvation "is nigh them that fear Him,"—seeing we are all of us representatives of all the good of all these lands, 'to endeavor with our whole strength' "that glory may dwell in our land."
'Yes,' if it be so, "Mercy and Truth shall meet together, Righteousness and Peace shall kiss each other." We shall know, you, and I as the father of this family, how to dispose our mercies to God's glory; and how to dispose our severity. How to distinguish between obedient and rebellious children;—and not to do as Eli did, who told his sons " he did not hear well of them," when perhaps he saw ill by them. And we know the severity of that And, therefore, let me say,—though I will not descant upon the words,—that Mercy must be joined with Truth: Truth, in that respect, that we think it our duty to exercise a just severity, as well as to apply kindness and mercy. And, truly, Righteousness and Mercy must kiss each other. If we will have Peace without a worm in it, lay we foundations of Justice and Righteousness. [Hear this Lord Protector.'] And if it shall please God so to move you, as that you marry this redoubtable Couple together, Mercy and Truth, Righteousness and Peace,—you will, if I may be free to say so, be blessed whether you will or no! And that you and I may, for the lime the Lord shall continue ua together, set our hearts upon this, shall be my daily prayer. And I heartily and humbly acknowledge my thankfulness to you.*
On Monday, 9th February, Sindercomb was tried by a jury it the Upper Bench; and doomed to suffer as a traitor and assassin,
• Burton's Diary (from Lansdown Mss., 755, no. 244), ii., 490-3 Vol. II. 13
on the Saturday following. The night before Saturday his poor Sister, though narrowly watched, smuggled him some poison: he went to bed, saying, "Well, this is the last time I shall go to bed the attendants heard him snore heavily, and then cease; they looked, and he lay dead. 'He was of that wretched seci called Soul-Sleepers, who believe that the soul falls asleep at death :' * a gloomy, far-misguided man. They buried him on Tower-hill with due ignominy, and there he rests; with none but Frantic-Anabaptist Sexby, or Deceptive-Presbyterian Titus, to sing his praise.f
Next Friday, Friday, the 20th, which was Thanksgiving Day, 'the Honorable House, after hearing two Sermons at Margaret's, Westminster, partook of a most princely Entertainment,' by invitation from his Highness, at Whitehall. 'After dinner his Highness withdrew to the Cockpit; and there entertained them with rare music, both of voices and instruments, till the evening ;' ^ his Highness being very fond of music. In this manner end, once more, the grand Assassination projects, Spanish-Invasion projects; unachievable even the Preface of them;—and now we will speak of something else.
* Cromwelliana, p. 162.
t ' Equal to a Roman in virtue,' says the noisy Pamphlet Killing no Murder, which seems to have been written by Sexby, though Titus, as adroit King's-Flunkey, at an after-period, saw good to claim it. A Pamphlet much noised of in those months and afterwards; recommending ail persons to assassinate Cromwell;—has this merit, considerable or not, and no other worth speaking of.
X Newspapers (in Burton, i., 311); Commons Journals, vii., 493.
LETTER CLI.; SPEECHES VII—XIII.
This Second Protectorate Parliament, at least while the fermenting elements or ' hundred Excluded Members' are held aloof from it, unfolds itself to us as altogether reconciled to the rule of Oliver, or even right thankful for it; and really striving towards Settlement of the Nation on that basis. Since the First constitutioning Parliament went its ways, here is a great change among us: three years of successful experiment have thrown some light on Oliver, and his mode of ruling, to all Englishmen. What can a wise Puritan Englishman do but decide on complying with Oliver, on strengthening the hands of Oliver 1 Is he not verily doing the thing we all wanted to see done? The old Parchments of the case may have been a little hustled, as indeed in a Ten-Years Civil War, ending in the Execution of a King, they could hardly fail to be;—but the divine Pact of the case, meseems, is well cared for! Here is a Governing Man, undeniably the most English of Englishmen, the most Puritan of Puritans,—the Pattern Man, I must say, according to the model of that Seventeenth Century in England; and a Great Man, denizen of all the Centuries, or he could never have been the Pattern one in that. Truly, ray friends, I think, you may go farther and fare worse!—To the darkest head in England, even to the assassinative truculentflunkey head in steeple-hat worn brown, some light has shone out of these three years of Government by Oliver. An uncommon Oliver, even to the truculent-flunkey. If not the noblest and worshipfullest of all Englishmen, at least the strongest and terriblest; with whom really it might be as well to comply; with whom, in feet, there is small hope in not complying!— For its wise temper and good practical tendency, let us praise
this Second Parliament;—admit nevertheless that its History, like that of most Parliaments, amounts to little. This Parliament did what they could: forbore to pester his Highness with quibblings and cavillings and constitution-pedantries; accomplished respectably the Parliamentary routine; voted, what perhaps was all that could be expected of them, some needful modicum of supplies; 'debated whether it should be debated,' ' put the question whether this question should be put,'—and in a mild way neutralised one another, and as it were handsomely did nothing, and left Oliver to do. A Record of their proceedings has been jotted down by one of their Members there present, who is guessed rather vaguely by Editorial sagacity to have been 'one Mr. Burton.' It was saved from the fire in late years, that Record; has been printed under the title of Burton's Diary; and this Editor has faithfully read it, —not without wonder once more at the inadequacy of the human pen to convey almost any glimmering of insight to the distant human mind! Alas, the human pen, oppressed by incubus of Parliamentary or other Pedantry, is a most poor matter. At bottom, if we will consider it, this poor Burton,—let us continue to call him ' Burton,' though that was not his name,—cared nothing about these matters himself; merely jotted them down pedantically, by impulse from without,—that he might seem, in his own eyes and those of others, a knowing person, enviable for insight into facts 'of an high nature.' And now by what possibility of chance, can he interest thee or me about them; now when they have turned out to be facts of no nature at all,—mere wearisome ephemera, cast-clothes of facts, gone all to dust and ashes now; which the healthy human mind resolutely, not without impatience, tramples under its feet! A Book filled, as so many are, with mere dim inanity, and moaning wind. Will nobody condense it into sixteen pages; instead of four thick octavo volumes? For there are, if you look long, some streaks of dull light shining even through it; perhaps, in judicious hands, one readable sheet of sixteen pages might be made of it;—and even the rubbish of the rest, with a proper Index, might be useful; mig1 it at least be left to rot quietly, once it was known to be rubbish. But enough now of poor Mr. Burton and his Diary,—who, as we Say, is not 'Mr. Burton' at all, if anybody cared to know who or what he