Изображения страниц

ceeded from his own inclinations. He dreaded the resentment of the army. A majority of the officers had signed a remonstrance against this measure;

"Cromwell.- What if a man should take upon him to be king?

"Whitelocke.-I think that remedy would be worse than the disease.

"Cromwell.-Why think you so ?

"Whitelocke. As to your own person, the title of king would be of no advantage, because you have the full kingly power in you already, concerning the militia, as you are general. As to the nomination of civil officers, those whom you think fittest are seldom refused, and although you have no negative voice in the passing of laws, yet what you dislike will not easily be carried; and the taxes are already settled, and in you power to dispose the money raised. As to foreign affairs, though the ceremonial application be to the parliament, yet the expectation of good or bad success is from your Excellency; and particular solicitations of foreign ministers are made to you only. So that I apprehend, indeed, less envy and danger and pomp, but not less power and real opportunities of doing good in your being general than would be if you had assumed the title of king.

"Cromwell.-I have heard some of your profession observe, that he who is actually king (whether by election or by descent), yet being once king, all acts done by him as king are lawful and justifiable, as by any king who hath the crown by inheritance from his forefathers; and that by an act of parliament in Henry VII.'s time, it is safer for those who act under a king, be his title what it will, than for those who act under any other power. And surely the power of a king is so great and high, and so universally understood and reverenced by the people of this nation, that the title of it might not only indemnify, in a great measure, those that act under it, but likewise be of great use and advantage in such times as these to curb the insolences of those whom the present powers cannot controul."

Whitelocke replies, that whatever truth there may be in this in general, the assumption of this title by Cromwell would be attended with danger both to himself and his friends; that he would lose the favour of the whole of the republican party;

and it was reported that many of them had entered into an engagement to put him to death if ever he should accept the crown. Even his own family, his son-in-law and brother-in-law, entreated him to refuse that dangerous offer, and threatened to resign their commissions and withdraw themselves from his service. At length Cromwell, with much reluctance, was obliged to refuse that dignity which he most anxiously desired, and had taken such uncommon measures to attain *. To console and, as the question would come simply to be whether Stuart or Cromwell should be king, a new civil war would follow, and the great majority would side with the ancient line. Finally, he proposes that Cromwell should make a treaty with Charles, and secure for himself as high a station as he chose, while such bounds might be set to the monarchal authority as would be best for the nation's liberties. In conclusion Whitelocke adds, that Cromwell seemed displeased with this counsel, and that his carriage towards him was altered from that time, and he not long after found an opportunity to send him out of the way by an honourable employment, that he might be no obstacle to his ambitious designs.-Whitelocke, Memorials, Anno 1652.

The following anecdote, which rests on the authority of Harry Neville, one of the council of state, is found in the life of that author. "Cromwell having a design to set up himself, and bring the crown upon his own head, sent for some of the chief city divines, as if he made it a matter of conscience to be determined by their advice. Among these was the leading Mr. Calamy, who very boldly opposed the project of Cromwell's single government, and offered to prove it both unlawful and impracticable. Cromwell answered readily upon the first head of unlawful, and appealed to the safety of the nation being the supreme law. 'But,' says he, 'pray, Mr. Calamy, why impracticable?' He replied, 'Oh, it is against the voice of the nation; there will be nine in ten against you.' 'Very well,' says Cromwell; but what if I should disarm the nine, and put the sword in the tenth man's hand-would not that do the business ?'"

[ocr errors]

him for this mortifying disappointment, the parliament confirmed his title of Protector, to which they added a perpetual revenue, and the right of appointing his successor. They gave him authority likewise to name a house of peers, and he issued writs to sixty members, among whom were five or six of the old nobility, some gentlemen of family and fortune, and the rest officers who had risen from the meanest professions. But none of the old nobility would deign to accept of a seat in this motly assembly; and by naming so many of his friends to sit in the upper house, the Protector found he had lost the majority in the House of Commons, which now began to dispute and traverse all his measures. Enraged at his disappointment, he hastily dissolved this parliament, as he had done several of the preceding.

At length, a prey to disquietude and chagrin, and haunted by continual fears of attempts against his life, the tumult of his mind gradually preyed

*The situation of Cromwell some time before his death was extremely disquieting. The lawfulness of putting to death a tyrant was a doctrine that he himself had done his utmost to inculcate; his inordinate ambition preventing him from foreseeing its necessary application to his own usurped authority. A very able pamphlet was published, entitled "Killing no Murder," in which the author propounded three questions for discussion: viz., 1st, Whether the Lord Protector was a tyrant? 2nd. If he be, whether it is lawful to do justice upon him without solemnity; that is, to kill him? 3rd. If it be lawful, whether it is likely to prove profitable to the Commonwealth? all which questions were resolved in the affirmative, and the conclusion was enforced with uncommon powers of eloquence and of argument. This book was written by Captain Titus, under the feigned name of William Allen. Cromwell was deeply impressed by this performance; he saw the increasing discon

upon a strong bodily constitution, and brought on a mortal disease, of which he died, on the 3rd of September, 1658.

He had nominated his son Richard to succeed him in the protectorate, a man in every respect opposite to his father; of no genius, ability, or judgment; and possessed of mild and humane dispositions. He was, from the beginning of his government, the sport of factions. He was unable either to command respect from the army, or compliance from the parliament. Some of the principal officers, among whom was his own brother-in-law, Fleetwood, formed cabals against his authority, and went so far as to demand, in an imperious manner, that he would dissolve his parliament, and trust solely to his council of officers. Richard had the weakness to comply with their request, and he dismissed that assembly which was the sole support of his pitiful authority. He found now that he was virtually dethroned, and he soon after signed his demission in form. His brother Henry, who was lord-lieutenant of Ireland, a man of the same pacific dispositions, soon after imitated his example, and resigned his government; and thus fell at once into their original obscurity the family of the Cromwells, which had raised itself to a height above that of the sovereigns of their country. The council of officers were now possessed of the supreme power; but wishing to show some respect

tents of the nation, the growing disaffection of the army, and even an alienation of his own kindred and relations. His mind became tortured with anxiety, and a fever of the spirits ensued, which terminated his life.

to the remains of a constitution, they collected together as many as could be found of that nominal parliament which had tried and put the king to death. This assembly, grown now both odious and contemptible, was termed by the people the "Rump Parliament." Its measures giving offence to the council of officers who assembled it, they very speedily dissolved it.

It is scarcely possible to conceive the disorder and anarchy that at this time prevailed universally in the nation. The government of Cromwell, vigorous and spirited as it was, had been in the main very prejudicial to the solid interests of the kingdom. The national taxes during his administration had, one year with another, amounted to twelve millions sterling; a sum to which never anything nearly equal had been hitherto raised by the crown. His expenses for spies and secret intelligence are estimated at no less than 60,000l. sterling a year. He left upon the nation above two millions of debt, though he found in the treaabove 500,000l., and in stores to the amount of 700,000l. The army, which was the main support of his government, and which amounted to 60,000, sometimes 80,000 men, kept in constant pay, was a most expensive drain to the revenue. Upon the death of the Protector, the sole authority of government was in the hands of this standing army, of which the principal leaders began to aim, each for himself, at playing the same part which had raised Cromwell to the supreme power. Matters ran so high, that nothing less than a new civil war was apprehended, and the


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »