« ZurückWeiter »
insensible of the blessings with which they were favored, and ungrateful for them.
While this long calm endured, the most sagacious politicians were so far from perceiving any indications of the storm which they were to direct, that, believing the country was doomed and resigned to the loss of its liberties, they resolved upon leaving it, and transporting themselves, in voluntary exile, to a land of freedom. Lord Brooke, Lord Say and Sele and his sons, Pym, and other distinguished men of the same sentiments, were about to remove to a settlement in New England, where the name of Saybrooke, in honor of the two noble leaders, had already been given to a township in which they were expected. Eight vessels with emigrants on board were ready to sail from the Thames, when the king by an order of council forbade their departure, and compelled the intended passengers to come on shore, fatally for himself; for among those passengers Haslerigge and Hampden, and Cromwell, with all his family, had actually embarked. There are few facts in history which have so much the appearance of fatality
Charles and his ministers feared that so many discontented and stirring spirits would be perilous in a colony which, being decidedly hostile to the church of England, might easily be alienated from the state. They saw clearly the remote danger, but they were blind to the nearer and greater evil; and in that error they stopped the issue which the peccant humors had opened for themselves. Cromwell returned to Ely, and there continued to lead a respectable and pious life. A letter which he wrote at this time to Mrs. St. John (already mentioned) has been preserved; it is better expressed than most of his compositions, and is remarkable, not merely for its characteristic language, but for a passage which may perhaps be thought to imply the hope, if not the expectation, of making himself conspicuous in defence of his religious sentiments. “Dear Cousin,” he says, “I thankfully acknowledge your love in your kind remembrance of me upon this opportunity. Alas, you do too highly prize my lines, and my company;
be ashamed to own your expressions, considering how unprofitable I am and the mean improvement of my talent. Yet to honor my God by declaring what he hath done for my soul, in this I am confident, and I will be so. Truly then this I find, that he giveth springs in a dry and barren wilderness, where no water is. I live (you know where) in Mesheck, which they say signifies prolonging; in Kedar, which signifieth blackness : yet the Lord forsaketh me not. Though he do prolong, yet he will, I trust, bring me to his tabernacle, to his resting-place. My soul is with the congregation of the first born: my body rests
in hope ; and if here I may honor my God, either by doing or suffering, I shall be more glud. Truly no poor creature hath more cause to put forth himself in the cause of his God than I. I have had plentiful wages before hand, and I am sure I shall never earn the least mite. The Lord accept me in his Son, and give me to walk in the light, and give us to walk in the light, as he is in the light: He it is that enlighteneth our blackness, our dark
I dare not say he hideth his face from me ; he giveth me to see light in his light. One beam in a dark place hath exceeding much refreshment in it ; blessed be his name for shining upon so dark a heart as mine!"
This readiness to do and to suffer in a righteous cause might have been confined to the ignoble theatre of a bishop's court, if a wider field had not soon been opened for puritanical ambition. Cromwell had usually attended the church-service, joining probably, like Baxter, “in the common prayer, with as hearty fervency, as afterward he did with other prayers :”—“ As long as I had no prejudice against it,” says that good man, "I had no stop in my devotions from any of its imperfections.” But even before he left Huntingdon his house had been a retreat for those non-conforming preachers who had provoked the law; and a building behind it is shown, which he is said to have erected for their use, and in which, according to the same tradition, he sometimes edified them by a discourse himself. It is certain that he put himself forward in their cause so as to be looked upon as the head of their party in that country ; and Williams, who was then bishop of Lincoln, and whom he often troubled on such occasions, says that he was a common spokesman for sectaries, and maintained their part with stubbornness. Whatever part indeed Cromwell took up would be well maintained, and the time was now approaching when he was to take a conspicuous one.
A rebellion broke out in Scotland, where no disaffection had been suspected. By prudent measures it might easily have been averted, by vigorous ones it might easily have been crushed; and both were wanting. The king raised an army which, by the management of designing persons, and the mismanagement of others, was rendered useless. A treaty was made by which nothing was concluded; all the savings of the preceding years were wasted in this disgraceful expedition ; and Charles, who had so long governed without a parliament, was now compelled to call one, for the purpose of obtaining supplies. The majority of that parliament consisted of men who knew their duty to their king and country, and, in asserting the constitutional liberties of the people, would have sacredly preserved the rights of the crown, wherein those liberties have their surest safeguard.
There were however some persons, of great abili. ty, who were determined upon effecting some change both in the ecclesiastic and civil institu. tions of the land, not having acknowledged to others, nor perhaps to themselves, how far they were willing that that change should extend. The state of their mind was well expressed by Cromwell, who, when Sir Thomas Chichley and Sir Philip Warwick asked him with what concessions he would be satisfied, honestly replied, "I can tell you, sirs, what I would not have, though I can not tell what I would.” This parliament was hastily dissolved by the counsel of Sir Henry Vane the elder, and Herbert the solicitor-general : the latter acted with no worse motives than peevishness and mortified pride ; the former appears to have intended the mischief which ensued. The discontented party did not conceal their joy at an event which made all good men mournful. Cromwell's cousin St. John, whose dark and treacherous spirit at all other times clouded his countenance, met Mr. Hyde with a smiling and cheerful aspect, and seeing him melancholy," as in truth he was from his heart," asked what troubled him. The same, he replied, which troubled most good men, that in such a time of confusion, so wise a parliament, which alone could have found remedy for it, was so unseasonably dismissed. But St. John warmly made answer, that all was well : and