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Source: Preface to The Clarke Papers. Selections from the Papers of William Clarke, Secretary to the Council of the Army, 1647-1649, and to General Monck and the Commanders of the Army in Scotland, 1651-1660, ed. C.H. Firth (Camden Society, 1901). Vol. 2.
PREFACE BY C.H. FIRTH.
The papers contained in this, like those in the previous volume, are derived from the Clarke manuscripts in Worcester College Library, and are mainly from the volumes numbered xvi., lii., lxv., and cxiv. But single documents have also been taken from other volumes in the same collection. Moreover, while these selections were being printed, my attention was called to the fact that a certain number of Clarke’s MSS. were in the possession of Mr. F. Leybourne Popham, of Littlecote, Wilts, and were being examined for the Royal Commission on Historical MSS. By the kind permission of the Commissioners, and of the owner, I was allowed to copy several papers for publication in this volume. The thanks of the Camden Society are also due to Mr. J. J. Cartwright, for his good offices in the matter, and for the liberality with which he facilitated the consultation of the MSS., and the copying of the selected papers.
Mr. Popham’s papers are specially valuable as supplementing the meagre account of William Clarke’s own life given in the preface to volume one. A letter from Robert Spavin, one of Rushworth’s assistants during part of 1648 and 1649, and secretary to Cromwell, fixes the date of Clarke’s marriage. Spavin, who had accompanied Cromwell’s forces into Scotland, wrote to Clarke on November 2, 1648, to congratulate him and wish him joy. “Deare friend and Mr. Bridegroome, I am glad you have a little breathing time after your solemnityes to visit your poor friends with a line. . . . But sure if you had noe better choyse than we had in Scotland you would not be soe lusty.” Cromwell had halted in his march southwards to summon Pontefract Castle, and Spavin proceeds to give some account of the siege. “Pomfret put a stop to us, being by the howse’s order and the Committee of Yorkshyre’s desire to take the care of the seidge, which will take us three weekes time to settle, and then I hope we shall draw towards you and leave Col. Bright to command.” In conclusion he turns to consider the position of politics, is glad to hear that the southern army is beginning to act, and hopes soon to see an end of “that old jog-trot form of government of King, Lords and Commons.” “Noe matter,” he continues, “how or by whome, sure I am it cannot be worse if honest men have the managing of it, and noe matter whether they be greate or noe. . . . The Lord is about a greate worke, such as will stumble many meane principled men, and such as I thinke but few greate ones shall be honoured withall.” Spavin himself was not honoured with any share in the management of the said great work, for having been caught forging Cromwell’s hand and seal to passes and protections, he lost his post, and was sentenced by a council of war “to ride on horseback from Whitehall to Westminster, and thence through the City, with an inscription on his back and on his breast, written in capital letters, to signify his crime.”
This occurred in June, 1649, when Cromwell was about to leave for Ireland. Clarke did not accompany him thither, but remained at the headquarters in England. In two letters addressed to him about this time he is described as “one of the secretaries to his excellency the Lord Fairfax,” and as “secretary unto the Council of War.” In the following year he took part in the invasion of Scotland, and the officers of the invading army recommended him for the post of secretary to the Committee of the Army, no small proof of his popularity and his usefulness. (October 19, 1650.) The application was unsuccessful, and on August 19, 1651, Clarke requested Lenthall to appoint him keeper of the Scottish records, which had been captured in Stirling Castle, but the Parliament preferred to have them all removed to England. Clarke’s official gains were sufficient to warrant his buying from the State part of St. John’s Wood, when the crown-lands were sold. However, as the purchase involved him in a lawsuit which lasted for some years, it can hardly have been profitable. In his petition to the Commissioners of the Great Seal on this subject, he complains that “one Mr. John Collins” had unjustly laid claim to the land in question. This John Collins was Clarke’s uncle, and was the author of a curious narrative of the Restoration which is amongst Mr. Popham’s papers. Those MSS. contain also the following letter from Margaret, daughter of John Collins, to her cousin Clarke, written early in 1661, congratulating him on his recent knighthood.
“Give me leave (though late) to congratulate your attainment of that well deserved honour confferd upon you, as likewise that which you more esteem, the hopes God hath been pleased to give yourselfe and Lady, of being once againe blessed with a child, which I hope you will beleeve wee doe heartily rejoyce with you in. Although our present disturbance hinders us from tendring our respects in that gratefull maner which your own and deare Ladyes merits justly challenge from us, who very unhappily came to be concerned in this last troublesom bussines, in which although we are the greatest sufferers, yet I hope God and the world will acquit us from being any way way the procurers of this or other troubles of this kind, which may happen to us. And since it hath pleased God to strip us of that deare and carefull freind my mother, and leave us in a condition not soe well provided for as shee endeavoured and desired wee should, wee must now make it our request to you, Sir, that you would please to importune my father to setle somthing upon my sister and selfe, that soe wee might not bee left destitute how ever things goe with us, and that the trust of it may bee reposed in your hands, in whom wee doe put the greatest confidence of any freind livinge, and wee doe hope that if wee could gett this done wee should soe farr followe my mother’s pattern of good huswifery and thrift as that wee should not bee burthensom or chargeable to any of our freinds. And thus Sir, havinge acquainted you with our desires, and presenting our most humble service to your selfe and Lady, beseeching God to send her a happy delivery, and make her once againe the gladd mother of a much promisinge sonn, I rest
Your most affectionate and obliged kinswoman and humble servant,
“Addressed to Sir William Clarke ‘att his house in the Pell Mell neer St. Jameses.’
“Endorsed ‘Couz. Margr. Colins, Lre of Congratulation.’ ”
What the origin of the relationship between the Clarke and Collins families was I have not succeeded in discovering, and Clarke’s parentage and early history still remain obscure. Two letters from his brother-in-law Kympton Hilliard, also derived from Mr. Popham’s MSS., are printed in this volume (pp. 225, 228). Other relatives mentioned incidentally in the same MSS. are two cousins of Clarke’s, James Staresmore and Captain Thomas Sherman, and “brother William Carey,” a goldsmith in London.
The papers contained in this volume are more miscellaneous in their nature than those printed in the first volume, and cover a larger period of time. From 1651 to 1660, Clarke was employed in Scotland, and nearly all his collections during that period relate solely to the government of Scotland or to questions of army administration. As a selection from the papers relating to Scotland is shortly to be published by the Scottish Historical Society, I have thought it best to exclude any dealing with that subject. But I hope to put together at some future date a small volume of papers concerning the Restoration and the revolutions of 1659.
At the beginning of 1648 there were signs all over England of the approach of a second civil war. Hardly had the Army and Parliament come to an agreement to settle the kingdom without the King, when the Royalists began to take up arms to restore him. The movement began in Wales, in February, 1648. Col. Poyer and afterwards Col. Laugharne declared for the King, but their forces were routed at St. Fagans on May 8 by Col. Horton. A newsletter describes the effects of this victory on the temper of the London Presbyterians (p. 6). In the north of England the preparations of the Scots to send an army across the border roused the cavaliers of Yorkshire and Cumberland to action. Berwick and Carlisle were seized by them at the end of April, and on June 1 they surprised Pontefract (pp. 1, 8, 20, 25; Appendix, p. 251). In London a serious riot took place on April 9; seditious placards against the Parliament were posted about the City, and plans were laid for a general rising (pp. 2, 5, 11). On May 16 the tumultuous presentation of a petition from the county of Surrey led to a fight at the very doors of the House of Commons, and a week later the Kentish-men seized the county magazines and declared for King Charles (pp. 13-17, 22). Fairfax defeated them at Maidstone on June 1, but the Earl of Norwich with a portion of the Royalist army crossed the Thames, and joined the Royalists of Essex. Three letters from Col. Whalley to Lord Fairfax illustrate the history of their march from Stratford to Colchester, and their pursuit by Fairfax’s cavalry (pp. 24, 26, 27). In Colchester, Norwich and his followers held out for eleven weeks, hoping vainly to be relieved by the advance of Hamilton and the Scots, and believing that their stubborn defence would give opportunity for the rest of the kingdom to act. An intercepted letter from Lord Capel to Sir Marmaduke Langdale explains the position of the besieged, and shows their willingness to sacrifice themselves for the King’s cause (p. 28). But Cromwell routed Hamilton at Preston on August 17, and ten days later hunger forced the defenders of Colchester to surrender. The town was given up on August 28, and on the afternoon of the same day Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle were executed by order of Fairfax’s Council of War. Clarke’s account of the death of Lucas and Lisle, printed on pp. 31-39, adds many details of great interest to the accounts published at the time. Then, as now, many people regarded their execution as a cold-blooded and treacherous murder; but though the equity of their sentence may be disputed, there can be no doubt that the execution was not a breach of the terms of the capitulation. The reasons which justified that sentence in the eyes of the men responsible for it are clearly stated by Ireton in his discussion of the question with Sir Charles Lucas (pp. 35, 37).
The Earl of Norwich and the rest of the Royalist prisoners who surrendered at Colchester were assured by Fairfax of quarter for their lives, and at their trials in February, 1649, the plea was put forward that this promise exempted them from any future proceedings in a civil court. This plea seems to have been first suggested by the Earl of Norwich, in a letter which he addressed to Speaker Lenthall on October 3, 1648, on learning that the House of Commons had passed an ordinance attainting him of high treason. On October 6 the House read Goring’s letter, and ordered that a letter should be written to Lord Fairfax “to desire his explanation of that clause of his letter of 29 September, 1648, that concerns the quarter given to the Lord Goring and the Lord Capel, and leaving them to the further justice and mercy of the Parliament.” The answer of Lord Fairfax is well summarised in Rushworth, but as the letter itself has never been printed, and because its precise phraseology is of some importance, it is now inserted here.
“Though I cannot easily understand what itt is in that letter of mine you recite that should soe much neede a serious explanation (as to the point in question), yett supposing the scruple to bee, whether my assuring of quarter to the Lord Goring and the rest did intend or does imply to secure them from further question as to life before your owne or other civill judgement for the warre leavied by them, in obedience to your commands I returne this answer.
“That the quarter assured to his Lordshippe and others of that condition was nott by capitulation or agreement (as by the articles and explanation annex’t may appeare), and therefore could ground [noe] more claime then common quarter to any enemy taken in a feild engagement or other action.
“Now for the sense and extent of common quarter given I have alwayes understood itt to bee an assuring of life against the immediate execution of the military sworde from any further execution therby without judiciall triall, but whether it imply to protect or exempt them from any judiciall triall or proceeding to life, either by the civill sword of that authority against which (being subjects) they rebell, or by the martiall power (as to persons and causes subject to its cognizance), having never soe understood itt nor knowne itt to bee soe I leave itt to your determination.
“And the same power of giving quarter every souldier also hath in his proper action, which is daily used by them (if they see cause) to all sorts of the enemy, and then (unlesse where particular command is beforehand to the contrary) alwayes allowed, whatever the parties prove, because nott understood to amount to further exemption then as aforesaid, and whether now itt should bee taken otherwise, and that the souldier granting quarter shall bee a full pardon (as to life), lett not my sense, but the generall sense and practise in all warres and of both parties in this warre give the determination; butt if itt were soe then nott only noe Rebell (by that civill Judicature to which hee stood a subject), butt alsoe noe revolter or deserter of his colours and trust (running to the enemy), nor any spie or the like (by the martiall power), after once taken uppon quarter should bee brought to a judiciall triall or execution for their revolt or treachery; and therefore Sir I doe not urge these thinges out of any perticular animosity to the Lord Goring, for were hee even an innocent person, or one for whome I would begge your pardon, yett I should nott by my opinion or silence bee guilty of staying your judiciall proceeding uppon such a ground the admission whereof would at once condemne soe much the just and necessary practices of the Parliament and other states, and alsoe preclude or prejudge your future proceedinges in publique justice against any person for rebellion, revolts, or treachery in warre, who after utmost extreamity against you could finde butt any souldier of yours to give him quarter.
“St. Albans 13 October
The questions discussed in this letter were again argued in February, 1649, at the trials of Hamilton, Capel, Holland, and Norwich by the High Court of Justice. A volume amongst Clarke’s MSS. (numbered Worcester MS. lxx.) gives a much completer account of these trials than any yet published, and the evidence then given by some of the witnesses against the Earl of Norwich deals with several of the points raised in the cases of Lucas and Lisle. But the account is too long to print in extenso, or even in an abridged form, in this volume, and it was thought better to leave it to be treated as a whole at some future time than to extract a few fragmentary passages from it. A debate in the Council of Officers on the case of Hamilton and others will be found on pp. 194-198.
Fairfax’s capture of Colchester and Cromwell’s defeat of the Scots set the army at liberty once more to intervene in politics. While the northern army under Cromwell was assisting to establish the supremacy of Argyle’s party in Scotland (pp. 42-49), the southern army prepared to prevent the negotiations at Newport from ending in a treaty which would restore Charles to his throne. In October the soldiers began to present petitions demanding justice against all offenders without respect of persons, and on November 7 a Council of Officers met at St. Albans to formulate the desires of the army. On November 16 the “Remonstrance of the Army” was agreed to by the Council, and four days later it was presented to the House of Commons (p. 54). As to the history of the Remonstrance these papers supply no new information, but they do throw a great deal of light on the development of the design for the seizure of the king, and on the history of his removal from Carisbrooke to Hurst Castle (pp. 54, 55, 57, 59, 63, 65, 67). Charles was transferred to Hurst Castle on December 1, and Fairfax’s troops occupied London on the following day. A newsletter, possibly written by Clarke himself, supplies an account of the occupation of London and of the forcible purgation of the House of Commons, which is supplemented by a letter from one of the excluded members to his constituents (pp. 67, 136). The Council of the Army next passed a vote to send for the King to Windsor Castle, “in order to the bringing of him speedily to justice” (December 15). The precautions to be adopted to prevent his escape, and the manner in which he was to be treated during his detention at Windsor, were minutely prescribed to the officers employed, and the instructions of the Council on these heads were further explained by private letters from Cromwell and Ireton (pp. 132, 133, 140-147). Concerning the King’s trial Clarke’s papers are silent. There are, however, certain orders issued to the troops quartered in London, forbidding either officers or soldiers to come to Westminster Hall, except such as were on duty here, and commanding the cavalry regiments to be ready for action both night and day until the trial ended (p. 186).
Whilst the King’s trial was going on, and for some weeks before it began, the Council of Officers had been busily discussing the constitution of the future republic. The plan of defining by an “Agreement of the People” the rights which the people reserved to themselves, and the powers which they delegated to their representatives, originally put forward by the Levellers in the autumn of 1647, was revived again a year later. After a certain number of conferences between representatives of the Levellers, the army, and the leaders of the Independent party in and out of Parliament, it was agreed that a joint committee should be appointed to prepare a revised “Agreement of the People” (Nov. 29). The Levellers believed that the decision of this committee was to be final, and that the document drawn up by it was to be at once offered to the nation for acceptance. When they discovered that it was to be submitted to the Council of Officers for discussion, and found that the Council insisted on altering and amending it in several important points, they regarded the army leaders as false to their pledges. They were still more disgusted when the Council, instead of circulating the “Agreement” for signature amongst the people, and compelling the Parliament to adopt it, simply presented it to the House with a request that they would take it into consideration and adopt so much of it as they thought proper. Lilburne had taken the alarm even before the Agreement was revised by the Council of Officers, and he published on December 15 the draft of that document upon which the joint committee had agreed, under the title of “Foundations of Freedom.” He was anxious to enlist popular support in its favour, and prefixed to it the following appeal to his readers:—
“This Agreement having had its conception for a common good, as being that which contains those Foundations of Freedom, and Rules of Government, adjudged necessary to be established in this Nation for the future, by which all sorts of men are to be bound, I adjudged it a just and reasonable thing to publish it to the view of the Nation, to the end that all men might have an opportunity to consider the Equity thereof, and offer their Reasons against anything therein contained, before it is concluded; that being agreeable to that Principle which we profess, viz., to do unto you, as we would all men should do unto us, not doubting but that the Justice of it will be maintained and cleared, maugre the opposition of the stoutest Calumniator, especially in those clear points in the Reserve so much already controverted, viz., touching the Magistrates power to compel or restrain in matters of Religion, and the exercise of an arbitrary power in the Representative to punish men for state offences, against which no Law hath provided; which two things especially are so clear to my understanding that I dare with confidence aver, That no man can demand the exercise of such a power, but he that intends to be a Tyrant, nor no man part with them, but he that resolves to be a slave. And so at present I rest,
The debates of the Council, as recorded by Clarke, deal mainly with the first of the two points mentioned by Lilburne. On December 14, 1648, the portion of the Agreement which prohibited the magistrate from imposing any restrictions on the free exercise of religion, was discussed by the officers, assisted by representatives of the Levellers and by a number of Independent divines (pp. 73-132). These assistants, however, were allowed no vote in the final decision on the controverted clause (p. 139). The clause was referred to a committee, and it was decided by the Council on December 21, that in the general article reserving certain questions from the control of Parliament the original reservation concerning religion should not be included (p. 140). Instead of this it was resolved to insert a special article, the ninth in the Agreement when completed, to define the powers granted to the Government in religious matters, and the limits of religious freedom. Early in January this article seems to have been finally agreed upon and passed (pp. 171-174).
Lilburne and his partizans, angered by the refusal of the Council to adopt their scheme in its entirety, presented to Fairfax on December 28, 1648, a protest against the proceedings of the officers, printed under the title of “A Plea for Common Right and Freedom.” They began by setting forth the satisfaction with which they had seen the adoption of their proposal for a new “Agreement of the People,” and the hopes with which they had hailed the first steps taken to carry out the plan. Then they complained bitterly of the obstructions which had arisen “since the same hath been tendered to the consideration of your Council.” “The long time spent already therein, and the tedious disputes and contests held thereupon, and that in things so essential to our freedom, as without which we account the Agreement of no value: for what freedom is there to consciencious people where the magistrate shall be intrusted with a restrictive power in matters of religion? Or to judge and punish in cases where no law hath been before provided? Which are the points which yet remain in suspence, and about which most of the time hath been spent.” They lamented that too many in the Council had supported the granting those unreasonable powers to the magistrate, that those who spoke for them had been countenanced, and those who spoke against them discountenanced; and that finally even the Presbyterian clergy “interests directly opposed to freedom of conscience in points of God’s worship,” had been consulted, and attempts made to satisfy their objections. In conclusion they demanded as a necessary preliminary to the production of “a full and ample Agreement for the people,” the re-organisation of the Council, and laid down the principles upon which that body ought to be constituted and its debates conducted.
“1. To agree what certain number of officers, and no less shall make a Councel, which we humbly conceive ought not to be lesse than the major part of the Commission Officers at the head Quarters and adjacent thereunto, not excluding of others.
“2. That all persons in Councel may sit in a distinct orderly way, so as they may be observed by the President when they are inclinable to speak.
“3. That you will agree how many times any person may speak to a Question.
“4. That you will free your Determinations from all pretences of a Negative Voice, and from all discountenance and check by any Superior Officer. And being so regulated, 1. That you will consider and resolve, what is the most proper way for the advance of Officers, so as to preserve them entire to the interest of the People, and from a servile condition or necessary dependence upon the favour or will of any; and seriously to consider whether your Articles of Martial Law (as now they are) are not of too Tyranous a nature, for an army of Freeborn Englishmen, and to reduce the same to reason and an equal constitution.
“2. To take special care of the principles of any Officer to be admitted, that they be not tainted with those of Arbytrary power or of persecution for matters of Religion.
“3. That there be no disbanding of any sort of men, but by consent of the General Councel; nor admission or listing of any for Horse or Foot, but according to provision made by the said Councel, it being reported that very many of late are listed of bad and doubtful condition; by all which means, if conscionably observed, (and we trust you will not be the lesse sencible because we advise) the growth of any corrupt interest will be effectually prevented. And if it shall seem good or any way usefull unto you, we shall chuse and appoint four of our Friends always to attend and assist though not to Vote with you.”
Fairfax naturally refused to listen to these demands. He was neither inclined to limit the power of the general officers over their subordinates, nor to take any steps which would have revived, under any form, the representative council of agitators and officers which had given him so much trouble in 1647. It is evident from reading the debates that Lilburne’s third proposal was aimed at Ireton, of whose predominance in the Council he elsewhere speaks with great wrath (Appendix, p. 265). In the debate of December 14 Ireton made five speeches of considerable length, answering the Independent divines and the representatives of the Levellers with equal effect. His remarks on the origin of commonwealths, on the end of the state (p. 79), and on the extent to which biblical precedents could be applied in drawing up modern constitutions are of particular interest (pp. 113, 122, 128).
A curious scene in these debates, which throws a strange light on the religious fanaticism of the times, was the appearance of a woman in the Council of Officers, who announced that she had a message to deliver to them which had been revealed to her in a vision. She came twice: on December 29 to manifest to them the disease of the kingdom and its cure (p. 150), and again on January 5 to protest against the execution of the King (p. 163). The Council heard her with great gravity, and solemnly enquired into the nature of the evidence which proved that her message was a divine revelation. An anonymous Royalist pamphlet published in 1651 gives a strangely distorted version of the incident, attributing the whole affair to the contrivance of Cromwell.
“Now that Cromwell might firmly unite the Councell of War to him, which consisted of a few able Head-pieces, to whom he laid himself open so far, as to shew them their profit and preferment in the designe, which united them fast to him, the other part, who were soft heads, and had a good meaning to do no evill, but to promote the Kingdome of Christ, and throw down Antichrist, and then according to their duty (as they were taught) to take possession of, and (as Saints) raign over the Kingdom; Cromwell provided fit food to feed such fantacies, for he had provided a monstrous Witch full of all deceiptfull craft, who being put into brave cloaths pretended she was a Lady that was come from a far Countrey, being sent by God to the Army with a Revelation, which she must make known to the Army, for necessity was laid upon her; this Witch had a fair lodging prepared for her in White-Hall where she was very retired.
This Witch had her lesson taught her beforehand by Cromwell and Ireton, by whose order she was entertained at White-Hall.
She desired audience at the Councell of Warre, for to them she said she was sent.
Cromwel and Ireton to beget the more attention and belief in the Officers in the Councell of Warre, began to extoll the excellency of Revelation, and conceived that this Prophetess being a precious Saint, and having much of God in her, ought to be heard, and that with all attention; because in such glorious days as these God did manifest himself extraordinarily: and especially to his Saints, in chalking out their way before them when they came into straights and difficulties; such as they were in at that time.
By this time the Witch was come to the door, and forthwith she had admittance; where the Officers all beheld her, and her strange postures, expressing high devotion.
Cromwel and Ireton fixing their eyes upon her in most solemn manner, (to beget in the rest of the Officers (who were ready to laugh) an apprehension of some extraordinary serious thing) fell both of them to weeping; the Witch looking in their faces, and seeing them weep, fell to weeping likewise; and began to tell them what acquaintance she had with God by Revelation, and how such a day, such an hour, after such a manner she had a Revelation, which she was to reveal only to them; and that was, that the glorious time of setting up Christ’s Kingdom was near at hand, and that Antichrist must be speedily thrown down, and that they were the Instruments that were by God ordained to throw him down, and how they were about that great work, and that if they would prosper in it, they must first remove the King out of the way, which they must do by proceeding first to try him, and then to condemn him, and then to depose him, but not to put him to death: with a great deal more such stuff which that weeks Diurnall printed at large, so open was this business. This relation I had from one that was strongly of the Armies party, but related this shamefull story with much indignation.”
The last important debate on the subject of the Agreement took place on January 13, 1649. On that day it was finally passed by the Council, and a declaration was agreed upon to be presented to the Parliament, explaining the motives which had led them to draw it up and offer it to the House. Some members of the Council, and many of the friends of the Army out of doors, objected to the proposal that the Army should abandon the dictatorship it had assumed, and leave Parliament the task of carrying out the schemes embodied in the Agreement. In that sense the prophetess from Abingdon had spoken, urging the Council to “go forward and stand up for the liberty of the people,” and not to surrender to others the power which the Lord had given into their hands (pp. 151, 163).
In a similar spirit Mr. Erbury now declared, that the Council, instead of drawing up a new constitution, ought to take in hand the removal of the oppressive burdens and unrighteous things which troubled the people. That would be the way to settle the Nation, and a dozen or twenty-four selected men could effect it in a shorter time than a Parliament of four hundred (p. 178). Captain Joyce added that Fairfax and the Council ought not to try to shift off on others the work which the Lord had called them to (p. 182). Ireton answered, that to clear up the dispute as to the question of sovereignty, which had originally caused the war, and to take away from future governments the power to oppress the people, were the likeliest ways to settle the nation. Harrison’s speech was probably more effective, for he sympathised strongly with the view of the Fifth Monarchy men, but argued that the day of the Lord, when the powers of this world should be given into the hands of his saints, had not yet come. And both Ireton and Harrison urged that the Army was pledged by its declarations, not to use the opportunity to perpetuate power in its own hands, but to give it back to the civil authority (pp. 175-183). Their views prevailed; the Agreement was presented to Parliament on January 20, and the attempt of the army to settle the nation by its own action was adjourned until 1653.
The last meeting of the Council of Officers recorded in this volume took place on March 24, but though Clarke does not record its further debates it certainly continued to assemble. For the three following years, however, it busied itself almost entirely with military affairs, and its next important intervention in politics was the presentation of the petition of August 13, 1652 (Old Parliamentary History, xx., 97). From January, 1653, to the expulsion of the Long Parliament in the April following, it met with great frequency, and discussed public affairs with great vigour. Unfortunately Clarke was at that time in Scotland, and excepting a few short notices amongst the newsletters in his MSS., there is no record of these most important debates (See the English Historical Review, July 1893, p. 527).
The action of the Council of Officers in January, 1649, had postponed for four years the final breach between the military and the Parliamentary sections of the republican party.
So long as the harmony between the leaders of the Army and the Parliament continued, the newly-founded republic was safe. But in the spring of 1649 so many dangers threatened the existence of the Commonwealth, that there was good ground for doubting if it could weather the storm. In Ireland the English interest was, in Cromwell’s phrase, almost “rooted out.” In Scotland there prevailed “a very angry hateful spirit” against the “army of sectaries” and its leaders. In England the Presbyterians and Royalists were making ready to co-operate with Scots and Irish in restoring Charles II. (pp. 203, 205). A more immediate and pressing danger was the spread of insubordination in the army, caused by the doctrines propagated by Lilburne and his followers. On February 22, 1649, the Council of the Army found it necessary to lay down regulations limiting the right of the soldiers to petition, and forbidding them to hold clandestine meetings for political purposes (p. 190). Nevertheless, on March 1, a petition was presented to the Council of Officers, demanding the re-establishment of the representative “General Council of the Army” which had existed in 1647 (p. 193). The discipline of the army had evidently become considerably relaxed, especially in some of the newly-raised regiments. Fairfax consequently issued stringent orders for the punishment of any soldiers guilty of plundering during their march for Ireland (p. 193), and Marten’s regiment, which had earned an evil notoriety by its bad conduct, vanishes from the army lists (pp. 56, 213). One of the worst offenders of all, William Thompson, was the leader of the mutiny suppressed at Burford, and was killed a few days later (p. 199).
Several papers illustrate the history of the wilder sects to which so great a political and religious revolution had given birth. The little band of Socialists who termed themselves “Diggers,” and attempted to found a settlement on St. George’s Hill in Surrey, found themselves so hardly treated by the local authorities and by their neighbours, that they applied to Fairfax for protection. Their colony seems to have been broken up about the end of 1649. The song of the Diggers, doubtless written by their leader Winstanley, is extremely curious (pp. 209-212, 215-224). The doctrines and the preaching of the Fifth-Monarchy men are illustrated by the trial of John Erbury for blasphemy, which took place in 1652 (p. 233). Of the miscellaneous papers contained in this volume four letters illustrate the history of the navy (pp. 39, 42, 62, 138), whilst others will be of interest to the historians of Cambridge (p. 28), Yorkshire (pp. 1, 8, 20, 25, 70), Cheshire (136), Hereford (p. 157), Lancashire (pp. 160, 187), and Jersey (p. 228).
On several important passages in Cromwell’s life these papers shed fresh light. The most important and most characteristic of them all is the long letter from Cromwell to Hammond, printed on p. 49. Large extracts from it have been given by Mr. Gardiner, and it is sufficient to refer the readers of this preface to his admirable explanations of its political significance. Two points the letter makes clear; the first is Cromwell’s deep distrust of the King and of any attempt to treat with him; the second is his desire to see “union and right understanding” between Puritans of every sort, “Presbyterians, Independents, Anabaptists and all.” The justification of the alliance with the Argyle party in Scotland expresses the views not merely of Cromwell himself, but probably of the majority of the superior officers of his army. Exactly the same sentiments are expressed in a letter from the headquarters in Scotland, printed in one of the pamphlets of the time. It is signed J. L. only, but there can be little doubt that these initials designate John Lambert, Cromwell’s second in command.
“The godly party in Scotland seem to be very sensible of the benefit they have lately reaped by the victory God gave to our Army, and say they hope never to forget those instruments which the Lord chose to work their deliverance; and check themselves for the hard thoughts they formerly had of the Army: And its very observable, that this Army which the honest party in Scotland looked upon as a bundle of Sectaries, not fit to be continued, and did many ways unjustly reproach, should now under God, be the onely authors of their deliverance. Some of the most eminent and honorable in Scotland have ingenuously confessed to me their error and rashness in charging the Army last year with rebellion unjustly, seeing now there is a necessity put upon them to tread in that very path: Nay, they acted now against a clearer authority, where was the concurrence of the three States, King, Lords, and Commons. I am much persuaded that the Lord hath a glorious work in Scotland as well as in England. The interest of the godly people in Scotland, as to the Civil, was once different from that of the godly people in England, or at least acted as it had been different; but now the Lord hath been pleased to order the affairs of that Kingdom, as that the interest of the godly people there, is become the same with ours in England, and they and we must act upon the same grounds and principles: And I am persuaded that so much of their power as the Princes of the Earth have lent to the support of that Man of Sin, God hath and will suddenly break and destroy.
“I have no more at present, but that I am
Your most affectionate friend,
“Mordington in Scotland,
Sept. 27, 1648.”
Cromwell’s friendship with Hammond, proved by this letter of November 6, and by many of those printed by Carlyle, is further illustrated by two other letters to Hammond printed here for the first time. Mr. Gardiner copied them from the MSS. of the Marquis of Lothian at Newbattle, and has been good enough to allow me to add them to those contained in this volume.
The first, which is not dated, was evidently written between January and April, 1648, and deals with the precautions to be taken by Hammond to prevent the King’s escape from the Isle of Wight. The same subject is touched in letters lii. and lvii. in Carlyle’s Collection.
Cromwell to Hammond.
“Deare Robin, am I forgotten?
“Thou art not, I wish thee much comfort in thy great businesse, and the blessinge of the Almighty upon thee.
“This intelligence was delivered this day viz. that Sir George Cartwright hath sent 3 boates from Jersey, and a Barque from Sharbrowe, under the name of Frenchmen, but are absolutely sent to bringe the Kinge (if their plott can take effect) from the Isle of Wight to Jersey, one of which boates is returned back to Jersey with newes, but it is kept very private.
“I wish great care bee taken. Truly I would have the Castle well manned, you know how much lyeth upon itt. If you would have any thinge more done lett your freindes know your minde, they are readye to assist and secure you.
“You have warrant now to turne out such servants as you suspect, doe itt suddenly for feare of danger, you see how God hath honored and blessed every resolute action of theise [?] for him, doubt not but Hee will doe soe still.
“Lett the Parliaments shippes have notice of Cartwrights designe that soe they may looke out for him.
“I have noe more but rest
Your true servant
“For Col. Robin Hammond Governour of the Isle of Wight theise att Carisbrooke Castle hast post hast.”
Hammond was removed from the government of the Isle of Wight at the end of November 1648, for refusing obedience to the orders of Fairfax concerning the securing the King’s person, and during the Commonwealth neither held any military office, nor took any part in public affiairs. In 1651 however he again sought for employment, but had some doubts of the justice of the war with the Scots, and would have preferred to serve in Ireland. Cromwell thought him unfit for the work. “You must not expect,” he said to his Parliament in 1656, “that men of hesitating spirits, under the bondage of scruples, will be able to carry on this work,” and he wrote in the same spirit now to Hammond.
“I receaved yours for which I thanke you, I understand my cozen your wife is under some trouble of minde, but because you are not perticular, I can only say my poore prayers shalbe for her that it may bee sanctified to you both. I am glad to heere my aunt and you are agreed, I hope it’s a mercye to you both. You mention some purposes to come and visitt us, which kindnesse deserves and hath a thankefull acknowledgment from your freindes heere, whoe retaine in some measure their ould principles, which are not unknowen to you.
“You doe expresse in your letter thatt its the desire of your soule that you may be ledd forth in some way wheerein you may have more enjoyment of God, and bee used to his glorye, findinge deadnesse.
“Truly Sir it’s a favor from the Lord not to bee vallewed that hee vouchsafe to use and owne us, of the sweete whereof you have heeretofore tasted, and well it becomes you in remembrance of former experiences, to say, and thinke soe. Hee is a master whoe ownes every servant in the lowest station, and those whoe are in the heighest have nothinge to boast of but his favorable countenance and acceptance, the greater the trust the greater the account, there is not reioycinge simplie in a lowe or high estate, in riches nor povertye, but only in the Lord. Noe, nor cann wee fetch contentment from the securest, hopefullest condition wee cann choose for our selves, nor is the comfort and peace of the spirit annexed to the greatest retirements, but the winde bloweth where it listeth, and if wee bee found with the Lord in his worke, Hee will dispence what is needfull, and oftentimes exceede in bountye.
“You hint somewhat of a willingnesse to bee againe engaged, but with this that the worke in Ireland goes smoother with you then this. You will forgive mee if I wonder what makes the difference, is it not one common and complexed interest and cause acted in Ireland and Scotland?
“You oppose a call to your beinge in a good and setled condition to your contentment. Truly if it bee the Lord’s worke now in hand lett it bee of choyce to leave contentments for itt.
“The Lord hath noe neede of you, yett Hee hath fitted you with abillityes for the present dispensation, your freindes heere iudge soe, and will heartily welcome you, but indeed I doe not thinke you fitted for the worke untill the Lord give you a heart to begg of him that Hee will accept you into his service. Indeed, I write not this but in deernesse of love, truth of heart, and feare of the Lord, to you. The Lord may lay us in the dust when Hee pleaseth, yett wee serve him—Hee is our master, this is our boastinge—to receave and welcom you with comfort into the fellowship of his service is not more desiered by any then by
“Your cozen and very affectionate freind
to serve you
“May 13th, 1651.
My affection to my deere cozen, and aunt Hampden.”
In two letters to Lord Wharton, numbered by Carlyle cxlvi., and clxxxi., Cromwell refers to the similar scruples of Wharton and other old friends, and treats them in much the same way. Hammond’s answer to Cromwell’s letter has not survived, but on July 22, 1651, he wrote to Cromwell interceding for the life of Mr. Love, and incidentally saying that his wife’s ill-health had prevented him from joining Cromwell in Scotland. In 1654 the Protector appointed him one of the Commissioners for the Government of Ireland, but he died a few weeks after entering upon the post he had so long sought.
To return to 1648. The letter printed on pp. 49-53 shows Cromwell’s deep distrust of the King and his objections to the treaty then in progress at Newport. These are further explained in the famous letter of November 25 to Hammond, printed by Carlyle (No. lxxxv.). He approved of the petitions of the northern army for the punishment of the King, and he approved also of the Army Remonstrance of November 20. His letters show this. On November 20, forwarding the petitions of his army to Fairfax, he wrote: “I find in the officers of the regiment a very great sense of the sufferings of this poor kingdom, and in them all a very great zeal to have impartial justice done upon all offenders. And, I must confess I do in all, from my heart concur with them, and verily think and am persuaded, they are things which God puts into our hearts.” On November 25, referring to the Army Remonstrance, he added: “We have read your Declaration here, and see in it nothing but what is honest, and becoming christians and honest men to say and offer. It is good to look up to God, who alone is able to sway all hearts to agree to the good and just things contained therein.”
On two important points however Cromwell though he accepted the responsibility of the acts done by the southern army, disagreed with the policy adopted by them. He agreed with the opinion which Ireton some months earlier had expressed to Ludlow, viz., that it would be best to delay the intervention of the army till the treaty between the King and the Parliament had been actually completed. “We could perhaps have wished,” he wrote “the stay of it [i.e. the Remonstrance of the Army] till after the treaty, yet seeing it is come out, we trust to rejoice in the will of the Lord, waiting his further pleasure.”
In the second place he evidently desired that the army and the parliamentary minority should imitate the proceedings of the Argyle party, and as he expressed it “make the parliament null and call a new one” (p. 53). On this question however, as Mr. Gardiner has shown, the army leaders were obliged to yield to their parliamentary allies, and to content themselves with purging the parliament instead of forcibly dissolving it. Had Cromwell been in London at the beginning of December, instead of in Yorkshire, it is possible that his influence might have won over the parliamentary republicans to the original plan. In that case the breach caused by the forcible dissolution of 1653 might have been avoided. On the other hand he was extremely anxious, in 1649 as in 1651, that the Parliament should be persuaded to dissolve themselves, without undue pressure or force from the army (pp. 170, 233).
Cromwell was summoned to London by Fairfax on Nov. 28, (p. 62) and arrived there on Dec. 6. Concerning his share in the trial of Charles I. these papers give less information than we might have expected. The two letters from Cromwell and Ireton jointly to Colonel Harrison, with the minute precautions for the King’s safe keeping prescribed by them, prove that Cromwell was determined that Charles should be brought to trial, (pp. 140-144). Mr. Gardiner has shown that even after the King had been conveyed from Hurst Castle to Windsor, “Cromwell and his allies among the officers desired to save the King’s life, if it was possible to do so without injury to the cause for which they had fought.” Discussions on the subject undoubtedly took place in the Council of Officers, but no record of these important debates has been preserved. No doubt Clarke was there and took shorthand notes as usual, but if so he probably destroyed them in 1662 when the notes of the other debates of the council were transcribed. A royalist newspaper gives the following account of the division of opinion amongst the officers.
“There is great talke at White-Hall of bringing the King to tryall, and on Christmas day, when they should have bin at church, praying God for that memorable and unspeakeable mercy, which he in that day showed to mankind, in sending his onely begotten son into the world for their salvation; they were practising an accusation against his Deputy here on earth; and Ireton declared, they had conquered the Kingdom twice; and therefore it was fit they should bring the King, the capitall enemy thereof, to speedy justice: there were six in the council that were very hot for justice; and Hugh Peters did very gravely shew the necessity of it; but Cromwell had more wit in his anger, and told them there was no policy in taking away his life, and shewed divers and more solid reasons than Hugh’s were; whereof one was, that if they should at any time loose the day, they could produce the King, their stake; and by his means work their peace: so it was concluded, that His Majesties charge should be forthwith drawn up, and himself brought to a speedy tryall; and, being found guilty, they could proceed either to mercy, or justice, as they pleased.”
But if Cromwell had doubts as to the expediency of the King’s execution, he had none as to its justice. Mr. Goldwin Smith erroneously states that Cromwell neither in his speeches nor letters touches on the King’s death. Cromwell refers to it with satisfaction, as a warning and as an example, in one of his letters to the governor of Edinburgh Castle. He refers to it again in his speech about the Irish expedition on March 23 1649. “God,” he tells the officers, “hath brought the warre to an issue heere and given you a greate fruite of that warre, to witt—the execution of exemplary justice upon the prime leader of all this quarrell,” (p. 202).
In the debates of the Council of Officers recorded in this volume, Cromwell took scarcely any part. Indeed, as the table of attendances shows, he was generally absent (p. 272). But as the discussions mainly concerned the question of liberty of conscience—a subject upon which his opinions are perfectly well known from the speeches in Carlyle’s collection—this is less to be regretted. On the other hand the important speech of March 23, on the subject of the expedition to Ireland, throws a good deal of light on Cromwell’s views about the Irish war (pp. 200-207). He regarded the reconquest of Ireland as forced upon the English republic, by the adoption of the cause of Charles II. in Ireland, and by the danger of a possible invasion of England from thence. His national pride revolted at the idea of a Stuart restoration by the arms of Irish Catholics, or indeed of Scotch Presbyterians. “I confesse I have had these thoughts with myself that perhaps may be carnall and foolish. I had rather be overrun with a Cavalierish interest than of a Scotch interest; I had rather be overrun with a Scotch interest than an Irish interest; and I thinke of all, this is most dangerous. If they shall be able to carry on their work, they will make this the most miserable people in the earth, for all the world knows their barbarism” (p. 205).
Equally characteristic is Cromwell’s confidence in the triumph of his cause, and his firm assurance of divine assistance and protection. “All the rest of the world, ministers and profane persons, all rob God of all glory, and reckon it to be a thing of chance that has befallen them. If we do not depart from God, I am confident, we doing our duty and waiting upon the Lord, shall find he will be as a wall of brass round about us till we have finished that work that he has for us to do” (p. 204).
The last of these new documents relating to Cromwell is a letter directed to Lieut. Col. Timothy Wilkes, apparently written early in January 1655. Wilkes was one of the Protector’s most devoted adherents, and to him Cromwell unbosomed himself with the greatest frankness, and expressed the grief which the divisions of his own party and the opposition of his former friends aroused in him. It resembles in its tone the letters which Cromwell wrote to Fleetwood, and reiterates the same complaints. “Truly” he had written in August 1653, “I never more needed all helps from my Christian friends than now. Fain would I have my service accepted of the Saints, if the Lord will;—but it is not so. Being of different judgments, and those of each sort seeking most to propagate their own, that spirit of kindness that is to them all, is hardly accepted of any. I hope I can say it, my life has been a willing sacrifice, and I hope for them all. Yet it much falls out as when the two Hebrews were rebuked: you know upon whom they turned their displeasure.” And again, in June 1655: “The wretched jealousies that are amongst us, and the spirit of calumny turn all to gall and wormwood. My heart is for the people of God: that the Lord knows, and will in due time manifest; yet thence are my wounds;—which though it grieves me, yet through the grace of God doth not discourage me totally. Many good men are repining at everything, though indeed many good are well satisfied and satisfying daily. The will of the Lord will bring forth good in due time.”
The causes of the breach between the Protector and his former friends, and the motives which dictated the vehement opposition of the Fifth Monarchy men to his government are very clearly set forth in a long and interesting letter from Thurloe to Monk (p. 242). Two letters from Thurloe’s MSS. in the Bodleian Library, omitted by the editor of the Thurloe papers, are added here in order to further elucidate this subject. They were either intercepted by the government, or found amongst the correspondence of some Fifth Monarchy man arrested by its orders. The originals were probably written in cypher.
“I account it as great a happiness, that I have opportunity either to receive from you or transmitte unto you. Since I received your letter it hath beene matter of refreshment to me and to all the (remnant) Saintes who have heard of it, that in the day of darknesse upon the world, there remains a spirit of vigour and resolution for the King of Saints amongst you, both in God’s servants and handmaydes. It was no unusuall thing in former ages, for the handmaydes of the Lord to seek him apart upon any inferiour account, much less upon so glorious behalfe (as this day they are, in seaveral places of this Nation remote from each other) which is a notable testimony to me, that they are set at worke by the Lorde’s owne Spirit, and that he is now formeing of that Little Stone (cut out of the mountains without hands) to set the Image upon its feet; which are part of iron and part of clay, partly strong and partly broken, which is so lame, that it would endeavour to mingle it selfe with the seed of men, whereby to maintain its brotherhood a little longer; but it is no other than for the moulding (if I may so say) of the Little Stone in purer mettall that when it cometh actually to strike, it may make thorrow work with the Image both civill and ecclesiastical, and not deal so spareingly with the Antichristian relations as those honest harts would have done in the late Little Parliament (so called) as many of them do acknowledge. But now the indignation of the Saints against Babylon is so heightened, that when they come to the Lorde’s worke againe no less will serve then the utter eradication of all what is planted, or built by the Manne of Sinne. Surely notable havock will be made in England the next . . . . . as ever was since the world began, and trully the greatest thing that lyeth upon my hart at present is, that the Lord would make me fitte to follow the Lambe at that time, and give me such a spirit for the executeing of his judgments, and the rewarding of Babylon as she hath rewarded us, as he shall call for in such a day. Doubtless his motions will be very swift when he beginns againe to march visibly, and those who resolve to follow him had need to be redeemed from the earth, as well as from among men; and indeed to become virgins having no interest marryed unto them, besides the pure and honourable interest of Jesus Christ. The Remnant of Saintes (since you were here) are exceedingly raised in their spirits, to consider how they may beare their witnesse more effectually for Christ then hitherto they have done, many being strongly perswaded that the Lord looketh for more from his servants, then faith and prayer; and that God speaketh to them now as he did to Moses, “Why cryest thou unto me? Speak to the children of Israel that they goe forward.” And several of the choicest saintes here have beene much before the Lord in their clossets in order to this concerne; also in our private meeteinges much time is spent in seeking for a cleere and sure call, that whether we live or dye we may be found in the worke of the Lord, which we know shall prevail, though it were but with Gideon’s 300 men, if so many could be found of such a spirit as they were.
My perswasions are great that a terrible destruction will suddainely be brought upon Babylon’s workes and workemen in England. There are . . . . . sent from us to Norfolke, where about 15 or 16 churches have mette to conferre together, and begge wisdome of the Lord how to beare their witnesse for him against the present powers and their wickedness. The last time they conveen’d was the 13th of this moneth, at what tyme they would come to a result, whether in print, or by word of mouth to the present superiors. What the conclusion is, wee cannot yet heare: our friendes did judge it would be by sending two members from every church to London, there to bear the testimony of their dissatisfaction and dislike of them, which will be about 30 men. However things goe the councell of the Lord shall stand, that the bloody city must be remembered with all hir inhabitants farre and neere; because strong is the Lord God who judgeth hir, to whom be Glory for ever. Amen.
“Wee should have writte to you in general from the whole meeting if wee had a safer way of conveyance then by the post, but wee are considering whether to send messengers to all parts of this nation and Wales to enquire how the Lord moves upon the spiritts of . . . . . . NA . . . . . . . . ere long to be cutte short of that also, when the great Revolter hath strengthened his Hornes a little more, if God suffers him. It will be more visibly knowne who indeed are the people that know their God, and shall do exploites.
“Your friend and bro. in Christ, etc.
Copy of another Letter from London,
“As for your desires concerning Anna Trapnell, it is (to be playne) to me a very strange dispensation, yet I am perswaded she hath communion with God in it, but under what sort to rank it, I am at some stand. The dispensation is strange, because rare, more strange, because to me there appeares no such amongst the Scripture records, as to the manner of it: for I cannot reckon it among the visions and revelations of the Lord, because in the things she utters (whether in verse or prose) its only what she hath been conversant in before, and had the knowledge of, as now she spoke much concerning the Windsor prisoner (which those that know not she had beene there would have thought she had by revellation) and of the young men and their meeting, which she is conversant in, and much taken with. If she did continue it, but for one or two dayes I should be apt to think she might do it when she would, in the strength of phansie [?] save for two things. First, she is so stiffned in her body that were she not warme one would thinke hir dead. Secondly, because (she saith) she cannot make a verse when she is herself. But it is strange to me she should continue for 8 dayes as she did now; and I am ascertain’d (from those I can believe as if I saw it my self) that she eat nothing all that time; no, nor drunk, save once in 24 houres a little (and but very little) small beere. And on the last day of the weeke she declared in my hearing that she would be the next morning at the young men’s meeting, which I much doubted, seeing how she lay and had layne; so I went that morning on purpose, and found hir there, she taking me by the hand ere I was aware; she came out without eating or drinking save a little small beere, yet did not experience herself weak or faint. My Lady Roles heareing she was there, called hir to goe to Lambeth in her coach, with whome I went also, and though wee spent the whole day there, she refused to eat. In our converse she was full of affection, with what sweet enjoyment she had of God the whole weeke. I tould hir that it was the opinion of some, that what she delivered was from the strength of hir naturall memorie. She answered, no, but throwne in by the Spirit to hir. I have sometimes said, that I thinke God in this Dispensation doth teach his people that when our communion with him is enlarged a very little of the creature will satisfie us.
“John Simpson is come to London; and did preach the last first day with the congregation, and at Allhallowes on the second day, where he related his reasons why he submitted to their order of banishment, and why now he breaks it; one reason to this was, because he hath it from good handes that O. P. had said to them, that John Simpson might come to London if he would, and that the Order was of his owne procuring; he might come to the Church if he pleased, but had no mind to it. Whereupon he declared, after he heard the certaine truth of this, he thought he was bound in conscience to come, whatever it cost him.—O. P. hearing he was in the Citty, sent for him, desiring him to come and conferre with him as a brother and a christian, and to bring three or four of the Church along with him. It was put to the church, and by vote they resolv’d he should goe, but some said he went into a temptation he should have avoyded. He was at Whitehall the whole day; wee were together till six of the clock at night, at which time he was not returned, and since I have not had opportunity to know the event. Mr. Simpson did declare in the pulpit his sameness to what he ever was; and that he never in the least doubted of the goodness of his cause, in bearing witness against the last publique thinge, as a publique sinne against former vowes. [Mr. Sim]pson I apprehend not to be fully enlightned about the kingdome of Christ; and comeing home, as I conceive, may occasion further tryalls upon the spirits of the Church in some tyme. God is sifting all sortes.
“It is now I perceive much upon the Spirits of some choice Saintes, that the next tryal may very great: possibly O. P. closeing so farr as to do such thinges as (he thinkes) may please the Sectaries, take away tythes, and loppe the laws; and so deceive the minds of the simple, and enrage all the more against the non-complyers. This tryall some are prepareing for. A petition I understand is prepared in the Common Councell of this Citty to encourage the Parliament about settling Church Government, etc. And I have it from a good hand that O. P. sent for a certain citizen, desiring a sight of that Petition; which having read, he said, “I think wee must labour to have Collonel Pride’s Common Councell again, for these will undo all.” One answered, “You (my Lord) called that a Lev[elli]ng Common Councell, but wee shall never have so good againe?” He replyed, “Where shall wee have men of a Universall Spirit? Every one desires to have liberty, but none will give it.”
“Collonel Okey hath layd downe his grounds so farre as is apprehended, they had him at advantage, and he wanted power to oppose them; they on the other side weresuspitious, and so were glad of his resignation. As for that friend, surely the Lord will be a Light in Darknesse to those that with a single heart cleave to him. I desire to present my service to them both, leaving them with the Lord, and desireing he may stand compleat in all the will of God. But I conceive the great ones have lost their opportunity. Surely they were once betrusted by God, and had power to have stood up for what they had engaged, and ought to have kept their watch better, and not have suffered themselves to be cheated of so good an interest through the deceits of men and cuning craftiness; and whether ever God may trust them againe I question. But let them in the meane time take heed of strengthning the handes of evildoers, and surely were but a few good spirits to appear for their old good cause in the strength of truth, the Appostates and revolters would soon flee with Adonijah and his followers, when that cry was made in Jerusalem, “God save King Solomon.”
“I could now relate at large what passed between O. P. and Mr. Simpson and those with him; but it is too late. Yet in brief thus: They conferred together from 9 to 12, at what time O. P. was called to dine an Ambassador he had invited; when he went out he commanded six dishes of meat might be sent to Mr. Simpson and his friends, whom he tould he would again conferr with them, which he did from 3 or 7; they took not his dinner, but consulted together how to answere him, for he had challenged them to decla what vowes or declarations he had broken; and being met again they instanced: 1st, In his promise about tythes to be taken away before 3 September, to which he replyed, “He wist not whether he had said so or no? But he heard Mr. Jessey should report it of him, in which he had not done well; and for his part he could not do it, for he was but one, and his Councel alledge it is not fitt to take them away.” There were further arguings about this. Another thing that he had sworne to maintain the just laws of the Land, but had contrary to law imprisoned J. S., and C. F. I cannot now write the answers. He sayd it was out of love to them to save their lives. They instanced further that he had vowed and engaged others to the Government without king or single person, and now by taking this Government had not only broken those vowes, but also an Act of Parliament that it should be treason soe to do. To which among other things he replied: “Well said, Simpson, thou art plain indeed; not only to tell me I have broken my vowes, but that I am in plain termes A Traitor.” He concluded his answer with this, That the Goverment he had taken and would stand to maintain it. Againe that he had promised Liberty to the Saintes, but now by the Tryers they were thrust out of all publick liberty. Hee sayd the Tryers were set up only to keep out knaves, but should not be used against any Godly men. At parting he gave Mr. Simpson an exhortation to carry soberly, as that should be best for them. Upon the whole they came away very much disatisfied with his Spirit and words.
In the beginning of Cromwell’s letter to Wilkes he alludes to the collection set on foot for the town of Marlborough which had been almost entirely burnt to the ground by the great fire of April 28, 1653. Mr. Waylen in his History of Marlborough (pp. 257-269), gives a full account of the fire, but both in that work, and in his House of Cromwell (p. 319), omits to notice a circular letter from the Protector recommending to the charitable the relief of the sufferers. As it is not included in Carlyle’s collection and seems to have escaped notice I have thought it worth reprinting in full at the close of this introduction.
“Whereas it pleased the Lord to lay his afflicting hand upon the Inhabitants of the Town of Marlebrough in the County of Wilts, on the 28 of April 1653, by a sudden and terrible Fire, which burnt and consumed (within the space of foure houres) the Church, Market-house, and 250 dwelling houses, besides divers barns, stables, and other out-houses, with most of their goods, to the losse of above 70,000£. as hath been made appeare by sufficient testimony, whereby many of the poore inhabitants were reduced to a low and miserable condition, even without hopes of a future subsistence, had not the Lord in mercy by his good hand of Providence enlarged the hearts of some good people to extend their charity towards the re-building the said Town, and relieving of the necessities of the poore inhabitants thereof: And yet (as we are credibly informed by persons intrusted with the distribution of the monies collected for that purposes) the monies so collected doe not amount to the sixt part of their said losses, so that many mens houses lie unbuilt, and divers who have begun building, are necessitated to give over in the midst thereof, being no way able to finish them, by reason of their yet extream want: We doe therefore make it our earnest desire, That you the Officers and Soldiers under our command in England and Scotland, would take the premisses into your serious consideration, cheerfully to impart something to be deducted out of your next months pay for the further reliefe of those poore distressed people, towards which our Army in Ireland hath already unanimously manifested large bowells of compassion: which we hope will be a good example for you to follow: And the rather, for that the Town was the first in the West of England that declared for, and took up Arms in the defence of that Cause which the Lord hath so eminently appeared for, and hitherto carryed on, by which meanes they then sustained exceeding great losses both by fire and plundring: of which We need say no more, but shall conclude with that saying, ‘He that giveth to the Poore, lendeth to the Lord,’ and rest,
“Your Loving Friend
“White-Hall, 20 Nov.
In conclusion it only remains to refer readers of this volume to the account of the nature and condition of the MSS. given at page lxxvi. of the preface to volume one. The papers printed are generally derived from copies, or, in the case of the debates, from notes made in shorthand at the time but not transcribed till many years later. Both contained in consequence a large number of clerical errors and other mistakes which it was necessary for the editor to correct. Corrections or alterations of any importance are printed out in the notes. For mistakes of his own the editor can only apologise beforehand, and plead that the exceptional difficulty of his task may be taken into account.
C. H. FIRTH.
May 29, 1894.