Cromwell. I. Oliver, lord protector of the English commonwealth, born at Huntingdon, April 25, 1599, died at the palace of Whitehall, Sept. 3, 1658. His family belonged to the class of English gentry, and his social position was well described by himself, when he said, "I was by birth a gentleman, neither living in any considerable height, nor yet in obscurity." The Cromwells were connected with the St. Johns, the Hampdens, and other eminent English historical families. The great-grandfather of Oliver was Sir Richard Williams, a nephew of Thomas Cromwell, earl of Essex, whose name he took. His grandfather was Sir Henry Cromwell, who had been knighted by Queen Elizabeth, and who was famous for his charities. Robert Cromwell, a younger son of Sir Henry, married a daughter of William Steward of Ely, who was descended from the youngest son of Alexander, lord steward of Scotland, founder of the house of Stuart. This lady and Charles I. were eighth cousins, and her son Oliver was three generations nearer to Alexander than was the king whom he supplanted. The income of Oliver's parents was £360 a year, a large sum for those days. Robert Cromwell was a justice of the peace, and sat in one of Elizabeth's parliaments.
Many anecdotes are related of the youth of the future protector, most of which were probably coined after he had risen to distinction. A monkey snatched him from his cradle, and took him to the housetop. A curate saved him from drowning, and lived to tell him that he repented the deed when he was warring against the church. He had a fight when five years old with Prince Charles, afterward Charles I., and flogged him, when the royal family was on a visit to his uncle at Hinchinbrook. A gigantic female figure drew his bed curtains, and told him that he should become the greatest man in England, but did not mention the word king. What seems certain is, that he was a froward boy, much given to robbing orchards and to practical jokes. He took to learning by fits and starts, and, much to the surprise of his master, who flogged him severely and often, made but little progress. In 1616 he was sent to Sidney Sussex college, Cambridge, where he is represented as having lived a wild life; but as in after days he showed a fair knowledge of Latin, it is to be supposed that his studies were not neglected. In 1617, after his father's death, he left Cambridge, and was, according to some of his biographers, entered of Lincoln's Inn. The accounts of his London life are contradictory.
One represents him associating with the best company, while the other paints him as a coarse profligate. His youth was probably spent like that of most men of his class, being that neither of a devotee nor a debauchee. In 1620 he married Elizabeth, the daughter of Sir James Bourchier, and soon afterward his mind took that serious turn which had so great an effect on his life. He is said to have given the best proof of his sincerity by making restitution to persons of whom he had won money. He prayed, preached, and exhorted with unction, and assisted those of his brother Puritans who needed aid in his neighborhood. He was a member of the parliament which met in 1628, sitting for Huntingdon. During the 11 years that followed the dissolution of that parliament, and while Charles I. was endeavoring to establish a despotism over England, Cromwell lived either at Huntingdon, at St. Ives, or at Ely (where in 1636 he inherited an estate from his uncle Sir Thomas Steward, worth £500 a year), his devotional feeling increasing in depth and strength, while his attachment to the country party was deepened and confirmed.
There used to be current a story, now abandoned, that in 1638, despairing of his country's welfare, Cromwell embarked for New England, in company with Pym, Hazelrig, and Hampden, but was prevented from sailing by a royal order in council. The opposition which he made, not to the draining of the fens, but to the interference of government in the work, was successful, and won him great fame, and from the people the title of "lord of the fens," while it showed the country that he was a man of immovable resolution. In 1640 he was chosen to the short parliament; and when the second parliament of that year was called, Cromwell contested Cambridge with the poet Cleaveland, a zealous royalist, and is said to have defeated him by one vote. Cleaveland is reported to have said that that single vote had ruined both church and kingdom; but this was probably an invention of later times, as in 1640 Cromwell was not so high in general estimation as to be reckoned among the great leaders of his party, nor was it supposed that that party aimed at anything which implied hostility to the established order of* things in church and state.
From the time that he entered the long parliament Cromwell went with the root-and-branch men, but he was not so conspicuous as to be noted until after the commencement of the civil war. Yet he served on many committees, and took part in debate. Sir Philip Warwick, who heard him speak in the first days of the session, felt his respect for the commons lessened because they hearkened much unto him. So little was he known to some noted men, that on the day he made the speech here mentioned Lord Digby asked Hampden who the sloven was; and received for answer that, if ever there should come a breach with the king, that sloven would be the greatest man in England. Cromwell was not much given to talk, but he was an active party man, and labored with zeal in the common cause. It has been ascertained, says Mr. Sandford, "that within the first ten months of the long parliament, and before the recess, which began on Sept. 9, 1641, Cromwell was specially appointed to 18 committees, exclusive of various appointments among the knights and burgesses generally of the eastern counties. The most important matters fell within the province of several of these committees." He supported the grand remonstrance and all the other measures of the parliament that were meant to bridle the faithless king.
When the war commenced he became the most active of all men in the field, which he was the first to enter. Before the royal standard was set up he went down into Cambridgeshire, where he had previously sent arms, and formed the nucleus of his "Ironsides," at the same time seeking to give the forcible resistance that was to be made to the king a systematic character among the leading men of the district, to the end of rendering their military means solidly available. He contributed liberally of his money to the cause. He seized the plate of Cambridge university, which was to have been sent to Charles I., and took the magazine that was in the town. His uncle, Sir Oliver, was a royalist, and the nephew, though he treated him personally with consideration, took from him everything with which he could assist the king. He was present at the battle of Edgehill, was made a colonel in January, 1643, acted under the earl of Essex, the parliamentary lord general, and showed himself to be a cavalry officer of remarkable capacity and resource.
From the first ho saw that the parliament could not contend against the king's forces unless it should have in its service men capable of meeting the loyalists on some ground of principle; and against the chivalrous honor that actuated the better portion of the latter, he purposed to direct the religious spirit of the Puritans. Hampden, to whom he unfolded his scheme, thought it "a good notion, but impracticable;" but Cromwell found it no such difficult matter. He raised a cavalry regiment, 1,000 strong, which he drilled and exhorted until it became the finest body of troops in the world, and was the seed of that army which won the cause of the parliament, and then overthrew the parliament itself. This regiment was composed mostly of freeholders or the sons of freeholders, and was recruited from among Cromwell's neighbors. Both friends and enemies bear the fullest evidence to the discipline, valor, skill in arms, freedom from military vices, and religious zeal of these Cromwellian soldiers. Their commander told them that they were to fight the king, and said he would himself as soon shoot that personage as any other whom he should encounter in the hostile ranks.
This was contrary to the idea and practice of the parliament, which fought the king in his own name, a fiction which had no hold on the Ironsides, who cheered their colonel's words, and ever acted in their spirit. The early military services of Cromwell were useful, and were soon followed by others of a brilliant character. He surprised a party of loyalists in Suffolk, kept the same party quiet in the eastern counties, and near Grantham totally routed a body of cavalry that was seeking to obtain control of Lincolnshire. His next action was the relief of Gainsborough, July 27, 1643. The royalists were advancing in force upon the town, when Cromwell threw himself in their front. Though the enemy was triple his own numbers, and was drawn up on the summit of a hill, the base of which could be reached only through a gateway in a fence that was commanded by that enemy's fire, he led on his men, charged up hill, and carried the position. Some of the enemy fled, but Cromwell, then exhibiting for the first time that mode of action which gave him so many victories, did not pursue them, but re-formed his troops, and fell upon those who stood, routing them, and driving them into a bog, where they were all butchered, including their general.
This victory raised Cromwell's reputation, and the more so that most of the parliamentary generals showed little conduct, and were often beaten. He continued his services in Lincolnshire and the neighboring counties; and parliament ordered that 2,000 men should be added to his command, to be disciplined after his fashion. He was joined with the earl of Manchester in command of six associated counties, and their forces were united at Boston in October, 1643. Fairfax had previously joined Cromwell. On Oct. 11 Sir John Henderson, at the head of a superior body of royalist cavalry, came up with Cromwell and Fairfax on Winceby field. An action followed, in which Henderson was beaten, though his force was three times as numerous as that of the parliament. Cromwell had a horse killed under him, and while rising was himself struck down; but soon recovering, he joined in the battle. After this success, and until the weather forbade further operations, Cromwell continued to act in the field. Parliament made him lieutenant governor of the isle of Ely, and he was engaged during the winter in raising funds from Peterborough and Ely cathedrals, and from the university of Cambridge, and in reforming the university, G5 fellows being ejected.
On Feb. 16, 1644, he was appointed one of the committee of both kingdoms, which was then constituted the executive authority for the conduct of the war, and affairs generally. The campaign of 1644 placed Cromwell clearly before the country. The earl of Manchester and Cromwell joined the army of Fairfax and Leven; and the battle of Marston Moor was fought, July 2, and resulted in the total defeat of the royalists, the victory being principally due to the valor, energy, and coolness of Cromwell and his Ironsides. Cromwell then accompanied Manchester in the march that was made to the south, where things had gone against the parliament. He commanded the horse. The second battle of Newbury was fought, Oct. 27, 1044, the king being with his army. The royalists retreated in the night, though it can hardly be said they were defeated. Cromwell, who had highly distinguished himself in the action, and in the proceedings preliminary to it, vainly entreated of Manchester to pursue. So little energy had that general, that he allowed the king to return, assume the offensive, and carry off the artillery and stores that were in Donnington castle. Manchester was not only listless, but he was a leader of the moderate party, the Presbyterians, who were not for pushing matters to extremity with the king.
He did not wish to have the royal army destroyed, as it would have been had Cromwell moved forward with his cavalry as soon as the retreat was discovered. The Independents, of whom Cromwell was the ablest, and who had been little heard of at the beginning of the dispute, were now fast rising to importance in the state and in the army; and Cromwell determined that the army should pass under their influence. He was supported by all the best men of the parliamentary party, Fairfax, Marten, Ireton, Vane, and others. The time had come for energetic action, and Cromwell from his place in parliament accused Manchester of backwardness, and of not desiring victory. He narrated all that had happened at Newbury, and bore hard upon the various commanders who belonged to the moderates. Manchester retorted in the upper house, and, in a narrative that he had written, accused Cromwell of being the cause of the failure of the campaign. He also said that Cromwell was hostile to the peerage, and to the Presbyterian ascendancy, which was no doubt the truth. The famous self-denying ordinance, brought before the house of commons Dec. 9, 1644, forbade any member of parliament from holding either civil or military office during the war.
Cromwell supported it with great plainness of speech, showing that the want of success was due to the selfish ambition of certain members of both houses, who held places and commands, and who had no wish therefore to bring about the settlement of a quarrel the continuance of which they found so profitable. He also pointed out the vices and corruptions that had found their way into the army, and declared that "till the whole army were new modelled, and governed under a stricter discipline, they must not expect any notable success in anything they went about." The first ordinance failed, but a milder one was successful. It provided that members of parliament who then held offices should be discharged. The three armies then existing were formed into one, 22,000 strong. Fairfax was made lord general, and Skippon major general. The office of lieutenant general was not filled up, undoubtedly because it was meant that Cromwell should have it, in spite of the self-denying ordinance. The army was entirely new modelled, and many officers were dismissed.
Cromwell had been employed in the mean time, with Sir William Waller, against the royal forces in the west; and when the time came for him to retire, Fairfax sent a petition to the commons asking that Cromwell might command the horse in his army, and many of his officers signed the petition. The house complied, and Fairfax was allowed to employ him for such time as the house should dispense with his attendance. The model had been successful in raising the character of the army, under Cromwell's direction. Before the house had received Fairfax's petition, Cromwell had been several times engaged with the enemy, and had been victorious in every encounter. Matters looked ill for the cause everywhere save in those places where Cromwell was present, and there can be no reason for supposing that Fairfax was not sincerely desirous of his lieutenant's presence, on plain and obvious military grounds. He wrote to him as soon as he received the commons' permission, and on June 13, 1645, Cromwell joined the army at Northampton, the royal forces being six miles distant. His arrival caused the army to become active, and he was the real commander of it at once. Causing Ireton to ascertain the whereabout of the royalists, he declared for action the next day.
Fairfax acquiesced, and on June 14 was fought the battle of Naseby, which was fatal to the house of Stuart. Believing his enemies were retreating, the king was led to abandon an excellent position at Harborough, and to draw up his army on ground favorable to those enemies. The action of Marston Moor was repeated on a larger scale. Portions of each army were successful, but Cromwell held his Ironsides well in hand, and assailed a body of royalist infantry after he had routed half their cavalry, and so decided the event of the day. The royalists were utterly beaten, 2,000 of them being slain and 8,000 captured. All their artillery, many thousand stand of arms, a hundred pair of colors, and all the spoil of the king and camp, fell into the hands of the victors. The most important capture was that of the king's cabinet, which afforded abundant proofs of his total insincerity. Cromwell led the pursuit to Harborough, whence he wrote an account of the victory to the speaker of the commons. This letter reached the commons before that of Fairfax, and that was Cromwell's object in writing it so soon. The reading of it was the announcement to the Presbyterians that power had departed from them. Its tone has been called regal, and it was written in the terms of a master.
The very day the news reached parliament, the commons resolved that his services should be continued in Fairfax's army during the pleasure of the houses, the lords substituting three months. He followed up the victory with wonderful celerity and success. Leicester was retaken, Taunton relieved, Goring beaten, and Bridge water stormed. Soon afterward he put down the "club men," a third party, which might have reached to formidable dimensions if they had not been thus firmly dealt with at the outset. After taking Sherburne castle, Fairfax and Cromwell besieged Bristol, which was held by Prince Rupert at the head of 5,000 men. Cromwell, who was ever for bold measures in war, advised that the place should be stormed. This counsel was followed, but the attack failed. It was, however, made with so much spirit that Rupert surrendered (Sept. 11), and the soundness of Cromwell's policy was vindicated. He then proceeded against Devizes, which he stormed. Berkeley castle shared the same fate. Winchester surrendered. Basing house, which had previously defied all attacks of the parliamentarians, fell before him. Longford house capitulated at once. He defeated Lord Wentworth at Bovey Tracy, inflicting a heavy loss on him, and taking, among other spoils, the king's standard.
He and Fairfax stormed Dartmouth, defeated Lord Hopton at Torrington, and drove the last remains of the western royalists into Cornwall. Finally, Sir Jacob Astley, at the head of 3,000 horse, was routed at Stow-on-the-Wold, March 22, 1646, which was the last action of the English civil war. Sir Jacob was captured, and when taken to the headquarters of the victors he said, " My masters, you have done your work, and may go play, unless you choose to fall out among yourselves." Cromwell had indeed done his work, to use an expression of that time, not negligently. He had applied Strafford's idea of " Thorough " in politics to military operations; and nothing like what he had accomplished in less than ten months from the time he had joined Fairfax at Naseby had been seen in England since the time when Edward IV. crushed the Lancastrians at Barnet and Tewkesbury. The whole of England had been subdued, though on the 13th of the preceding June the chances were decidedly in favor of the king, whose cause had been greatly advanced in Scotland by the victories of Montrose. Had Cromwell died in 1646, he would have been entitled to a high place in the list of great commanders. In original genius for war hardly any man ever surpassed him.
Yet it was to success in politics that he owed his sucess as a soldier; for if he had not carried the self-denying ordinance through parliament, the royal cause must have triumphed in 1645. The "new model," emphatically his work, as well as his conception, was the cause of the military superiority of the parliament. The time was now come when he was to be as eminent in the cabinet as he had been in the field. Parliament heaped great rewards on him. Lands of the yearly value of £2,500 were conferred on him, taken from the estates of the marquis of Winchester, and from those of the Somersets and Herberts. It was resolved that the king should be recommended to create him a baron. The king had thrown himself into the hands of the Scotch forces then in England, and had been delivered up to the English parliament. The conduct of Cromwell for some time after this event is the subject of much dispute. He is supposed to have stirred up that agitation in the army which was directed against the king, and against any settlement with him, and which Cromwell is charged with only affecting to condemn, though at a later period he visited some of the agitators with military punishment. The army appear to have formed a just estimate of the character of the king.
They saw he was not to be trusted, and they determined not to trust him; and ultimately they determined to punish him for his attacks on the liberties of England. That Cromwell had something to do with urging on the army to oppose the parliament, is very probable; and the army, in order that it might not be sacrificed by the Presbyterians, who controlled the parliament, seized the king's person, which it held until late in 1647. If the parliament had dealt honestly and fairly with the army, the troubles might have been brought to an end in 1647, supposing the king to have been capable of dealing candidly with the parliament. It was the dispute between the army and the parliament that encouraged the king so to act as rendered a settlement impossible. Though every one of his schemes had failed, though all his armies had been annihilated, though the Scotch had delivered him up to the English, and though the army of the latter had seized and were holding him, he fell into the mistake of supposing that he was necessary to them all, and that he could choose as he pleased with which party to treat.
He set himself to work to outwit Cromwell. That the latter entered into a treaty with the king, and that he was supported by Fairfax and other distinguished soldiers of his party, are indisputable facts. The sincerity of Cromwell in this business is doubted by many; and that of the king is believed in by no one competent to form an intelligent judgment. There is no good reason for doubting Cromwell's sincerity. He contemplated the settlement of England on some such basis as the great political dispute was settled 40 years later. His object was a free polity, government by parliament, toleration, the dismission of the ultra royalists, and the reinstatement of strict legality. That he looked for some individual benefits is true. He was to be lord lieutenant of Ireland, a knight of the garter, and earl of Essex, a title to which one of his family might properly aspire, now that the last of its Devereux wearers was in his grave. Had the king exhibited evidence of honesty, Cromwell would have closed with him, and would have become the founder of a line of nobles; but the most complete proof was obtained by him that Charles was practising deception, and that instead of a garter for his knee, he intended to decorate his neck with a rope. Then it was that Cromwell resolved upon the king's destruction.
The army leaned strongly to republicanism, and contained not a few persons who entertained extreme opinions in religion and politics. Always disliking the king, and convinced of his insincerity, the soldiers saw Cromwell's course with unfriendly eyes. The king sought to cheat every party, and was so weak as to say to Ire-ton, Cromwell's son-in-law, "I shall play my game as well as I can;" to which Ireton replied, "If your majesty have a game to play, you must give us also the liberty to play ours." The king soon saw that he had made a mistake. He believed his life was in danger from the more violent portion of the soldiery, known as Levellers; and Cromwell is supposed to have feared that the monarch would be seized by them, and to have operated on the royal mind, which was also startled by intimations from the Scotch commissioners. Charles therefore left Hampton court, in disguise, on the night of Nov. 11, 1647, and took refuge at Carisbrooke castle, in the isle of Wight. Hammond, governor of the island, was a connection of Cromwell's by marriage. The resolution of the house of commons not to hold any more treaties with the king led to much excitement in England, and to some fighting. Cromwell proceeded to Wales, where he put down the royalists with the strong hand.
Then came his campaign "against the Scotch, popularly called the commencement of the second civil war. The majority of the Scotch were for setting up the king again, and they invaded England with a large army, which was joined by some English cavaliers. Hastening to the north with such rapidity that the Scotch knew not of his arrival, Cromwell effected a junction with Lambert. Their united forces numbered only 8,600 men; the enemy were 21,000. On Aug. 17, 1648, the battle of Preston was fought. The enemy lost several thousand men in the battle, and the duke of Hamilton, their commander, was among the prisoners. Following up the Scotch with great vigor, Cromwell completed their ruin, so that they were mostly killed, captured, or dispersed. The victor pushed on to Edinburgh, where he was welcomed by the extreme anti-Stuart party, headed by the marquis of Argyle. The king's fate was determined by these successes. The army caused him to be removed from the isle of Wight to Hurst castle, where he was civilly treated, but whence escape was impossible. The parliament voted to close with the king, but the majority were turned out of the house of commons by Col. Pride, or by other soldiers. The king was then brought to Windsor castle.
The ordinance for erecting the high court of justice was passed, and the king was tried and executed. That Cromwell was at the bottom of these doings there can be no doubt. He was the most powerful man in the state. So far as any one man could be said to rule, he was then the ruler of England. His name stands third on the death warrant of the king, which he signed as a member of the high court. He refused to use his influence to save the king's life, and there appears no ground for believing that his conscience ever troubled him for the part he had in that "memorable scene." When the council of state was constituted, Feb. 13, 1649, for performing the executive duties of government, Cromwell was appointed one of its members. He was made lord lieutenant of Ireland, and proceeded to that country at the head of 12,000 men, reached Dublin Aug. 15, and instantly commenced a campaign as brilliant as it was sanguinary.
Drogheda was stormed in September, and the entire garrison either butchered or sent as slaves to the plantations. Most of the victims were English royalists, and their commander was an Englishman. Cromwell's object was to strike terror into the enemy, and so prevent further resistance. He did not wish to be long absent from England. He was mostly successful, but at Wexford the horrors of Drogheda were repeated; and at Clonmel he met with so stern a resistance that he granted an honorable capitulation, owing to his impatience to cross the channel. Appointing Ireton, his son-in-law, lord deputy, he hastened to London, which he reached May 31, 1650, and was received with great enthusiasm. His presence was much needed. The Scotch had set up Charles II. as a covenanted king, and intended to invade England for the purpose of forcing him on that country. The government of the commonwealth determined to anticipate them, and to send an army into Scotland. Fairfax refused to serve, and Cromwell was made gene-ral-in-chief and lord general. He entered Scotland at the head of 11,000 men. Lesley commanded double that number of Scotch troops, and, had he been left free to follow his own will, would have baffled the invaders.
He held a strong position between Edinburgh and Leith, and, while he refused battle, harassed Cromwell and destroyed all sources of supply. The country was wasted on all sides, the Scotch following their old modes of resistance to English invasion. There was some fighting, in which the Scotch showed spirit, but generally were beaten. Cromwell was forced to retreat to Dunbar. On Aug. 17 he again advanced, his aim being to cut off the communication between Edinburgh and the western counties; but for this movement Lesley had been prepared, and he instantly took a new position, not less strong than that which had previously baffled the English. The latter vainly assaulted several posts garrisoned by the Scotch, and occasionally were defeated in affairs of cavalry. The foot had some skirmishing, and there were brisk cannonades. In the end Lesley won, Cromwell retreating, and the Scotch horse harassing him as his demoralized army, which had suffered much from sickness, fell back once more upon Dunbar, his grand depot and base of operations. No army ever found itself in a worse position than that in which Cromwell had now placed his. Dunbar is in a valley, surrounded on three sides by hills, through which there are but two narrow passes.
The Scotch had possession of the hills and passes, and by the labor of a few hours might have shut up the English in a trap. Such was Lesley's plan; but he had in his own camp far worse enemies than he had in that of Cromwell. The preachers were bent upon Cromwell's destruction, and thought it could be accomplished with the sword. Their influence was overwhelming, and, after they had succeeded in driving from the army all the cavaliers in it, they compelled Lesley to lead it into the plain, thus giving up an impregnable position. Meantime the English in Dunbar, after discussing some desperate expedients, the adoption of either of which would have been an admission of defeat, resolved to send out a strong column to the right on the morning of Sept. 3. This column marched and fell in with the Scotch, who had just descended from the hills, whereupon the battle commenced. The result was doubtful until a body of English cavalry came to their countrymen's assistance, and so the Scotch were routed, their very excess of number causing their defeat to be the more complete. On the other wing, and in the centre, the English were also successful. The vanquished lost 12,000 men, mostly prisoners, all their artillery, 200 colors, and 15,000 stand of arms.
Advancing for a third time into Scotland, Cromwell took Edinburgh, the castle holding out till late in December. The winter was passed in political intrigues and in some military operations in the southern districts. In the spring, when about to take the field in force, he was seized with ague, and was not able to act till July 1, 1651. Lesley had done his best to reorganize his army, and though much harmed by the continued interference of the preachers, he baffled Cromwell for some weeks. The latter sent a corps into Fifeshire, which defeated the Scotch there, and the English were enabled to besiege and take Perth. While thus engaged Cromwell learned that the enemy had marched into England, which course had been taken by Charles II. in the belief that he should be joined by the English cavaliers and the people generally, almost all of whom were opposed to the new government. The Scotch reached Worcester, where they halted; but if they had pushed on to London, it would have fallen into their hands, and with it the whole country.
The prompt and skilful measures taken by Cromwell on hearing of Charles's march had brought 30,000 English troops to the vicinity of Worcester; the king had but 13,000. On Sept. 3, the anniversary of Dunbar, the battle of Worcester was fought, and ended in the annihilation of the invaders, 2,000 of whom were killed and 8,000 captured. Cromwell believed it to be "a crowning mercy," as it was, for it was fatal to the royal cause; and had the victor not died prematurely, or had his successor been a man of talent, a new dynasty, if not a new polity, would have been set up in Britain. The government showed itself grateful to the victor; an estate of £4,000 a year was conferred on him, and Hampton court was prepared for his abode; and Sept. 3 was ordered to be observed as an anniversary for all time to come. But Cromwell had now determined to settle the state in his own way, with himself as its chief. In 1647 he would have been content with the highest honors of a subject, could he have relied upon the king; but in 1651 he had put the king to death, had conquered Wales and Ireland, had won threeof the greatest battles of that age, and had driven the Stuart family from all its dominions. With the increase of his influence and power his political horizon had extended.
He aimed at the throne because the kingly office and title were grand elements of strength. He wished to be a liberal constitutional monarch, and had he been met in his own spirit such a monarch he would have become. But he encountered opposition from many who had thus far acted with him, and the soldiery themselves, attached though they were to his person and ready to do most of his work, were sincerely devoted to republicanism. With their consent he might be anything he chose but king. The best of the republican statesmen, headed by Vane, were for maintaining the existing order of things; and they were right, the government that existed since Charles I.'s execution having proved itself worthy of trust, and having managed the internal affairs of the state, and its foreign policy, with a vigor and a prudence that had not been known since the death of Elizabeth. Could Cromwell have been content with a just share-of power in the new government, it would have been maintained; and as the new system would then not have depended on the life of one man, the royal family would have been kept out for ever. But he was bent upon being sole ruler. The 19 months that followed the final overthrow of the royalists were spent in discussions and intrigues.
In this period, however, belongs the passage of the navigation act, which secured England's maritime superiority over her great rival, the Dutch republic. On April 20, 1653, Cromwell drove the remnant of the long parliament out of the house of commons by force. The council of state was broken up the same day. For some weeks England was near to anarchy. On June 6 Cromwell issued summons to 156 persons to meet at Westminster as a parliament. All but two obeyed, and the new parliament met in July. This was the famous Barebone's parliament, scur-rilously so named after one of its members, Praise-God Barbone or Barebone. All but 17 of the members were summoned for England, Ireland and Wales having 6 each, and Scotland 5. Cromwell made to this body a long speech, and resigned his power into its hands. The parliament contained few men of influence, and its conduct only added to the public confusion. On Dec. 12 a portion of its members resigned their power into the hands of Cromwell, and the rest either retired silently or were driven out by soldiers from their hall.
On Dec. 16 came forth the new institute of government, by which Cromwell was made lord protector, and the supreme legislative authority was vested in him and a parliament, which was not to exceed 400 members for England, 30 for Scotland, and 30 for Ireland. The protector was to be assisted by a council of state. There were many judicious provisions in the institute, among which was an improvement of the representation. Parliament was to meet in September, 1654, and until that time the protector and his council were to have unlimited power. Cromwell was to hold office for life, and the council of state was to choose his successor, but at a later period Cromwell was authorized to name him. So far as he could, the protector revived monarchical forms. A variety of ordinances were passed of an arbitrary character, and many acts of the government would have disgraced the worst times of the Stuarts, Cromwell's defence being the necessity of the case. There was no lack of vigor, and though the protector did all that he could to conciliate the royalists, he found them inveterately hostile. A plot to assassinate him was detected in 1654, and two of the conspirators were executed.
The protector's foreign policy was bold and manly, save that in making peace with the Dutch he abandoned the high position which the statesmen of the commonwealth had assumed, though the war had been successful. Parliament met Sept. 3, 1654. Care had been taken to exclude from it men whose hostility to the protectorate was supposed to be unchangeable. Still some republicans were chosen, and Bradshaw, their leader, moved for a committee of the whole to deliberate whether the house would approve of the new system of government, which was carried. Warm discussions followed, upon which the protector locked the members out of their hall, and would allow none to return to it who would not sign an engagement that the government was legal. Nearly two thirds signed, and the rest refused; but the majority soon fell to questioning the "institute," and government was in a minority, whereupon Cromwell dissolved the parliament. A despotism was established, followed by both royalist and republican plots, which failed, and many of those engaged in them were punished. The royalists were very harshly dealt with. England and Wales were divided into 12 districts, the military command in each being vested in a major general.
Besides having control over most of the ordinary affairs of life, the commissions of these officers contained a special order from the protector that they should observe and follow such directions as they should from time to time receive from him. Never before or since has England known so iron a rule, and to the wrongs that were common under it must be attributed not a little of that folly which, five years later, brought about the restoration of the Stuarts. To atone for this denial of freedom to his subjects, the protector gave them glory. France ana" Spain contended for the English alliance, and France succeeded. The Spanish possessions in America were assailed, and Jamaica was taken. Admiral Blake was successful in the Mediterranean, against the Barbary powers and Tuscany. The influence of England put an end to the massacre of the Waldenses.
Rich spoils were taken from the Spanish fleets. Appeals were made to Cromwell for assistance from various states. These proceedings were expensive, and funds ran so low that it became necessary to call a parliament, to meet Sept. 17, 1656. The elections caused much excitement. To prevent the return of eminent republicans, some of them were imprisoned. But the majority was adverse to Cromwell, who thereupon excluded more than 100 of them from the house. Wishing to gain popularity, he allowed parliament to put an end to the power of the major generals. It was moved that the protector should take the title of king, and, after much debating and intriguing, this was carried, as were some other provisions calculated to restore the old English polity. Cromwell longed for the crown, but he durst not accept it against the determined opposition of some of the highest military officers and the general sense of the army; he accordingly refused the offer. The other provisions were adopted, and the lord protector was newly inaugurated, with great pomp and solemnity. Parliament adjourned, to give him time to create a house of lords.
When it reassembled, the excluded members having been restored, the commons refused to recognize the other house, and Cromwell dismissed this, his last parliament, his last words to it being, "Let God judge between me and you!" to which some of the republicans answered, "Amen! " The brief remainder of his life was passed amid plots having his murder for their end. He had such good intelligence that everything became known to him, and the plots uniformly failed. Yet the precautions he had to adopt were of a humiliating character, and resembled those of the Greek tyrants. He was much in need of money for the public service, but he durst not impose taxes by his own authority. Meantime his foreign policy went on successfully, the bonds of alliance between England and France being of the strongest nature. English forces fought side by side with the French against the Spaniards, the latter having some of the banished English cavaliers under their banners. Cromwell told the men of the army he sent to the aid of Louis XIV. that they were to show the same zeal for the monarch that they showed for himself; and Louis and his minister (Mazarin) evinced their attachment to Cromwell in various ways. Had the protector lived, he would probably have found the means of carrying on his government.
Another parliament was thought of, from which the republicans were to be excluded, and Cromwell's last public act was to dissolve the committee that had the subject under deliberation. In the summer of 1658 his second daughter, Elizabeth Clay pole, died; and as she was his favorite, the effect on his shattered body and disturbed mind was serious. After some previous illness, he was forced to confine himself to his room, Aug. 24, 1658, from a tertian fever.
On Sept. 3, the anniversary of Dunbar and Worcester, and known as his "fortunate day," he died, at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, and in the midst of the most terrible storm of those times, which both friends and enemies connected with his death, but with different associations. The remains of the protector were soon consigned to Henry VII.'s chapel, as it was impossible to keep them. The public funeral took place Nov. 23. After the restoration of the Stuarts, the body of Cromwell was disinterred and gibbeted at Tyburn, and then buried under the gallows, the head being placed on Westminster hall. - Cromwell had five sons: Robert, born 1621, died 1639; Oliver, born 1623, died in battle, 1648; James died in infancy; Richard and Henry survived him. He had four daughters: Bridget, married first to Ireton, and then to Fleetwood, died at the age of 57, in 1681; Elizabeth, born 1629, married to John Claypole, died 1658; Mary, born 1637, married to Viscount (afterward earl of) Fauconberg, died 1712; Frances, born 1638, married first to Robert Rich 1657, and, Rich dying in a few months, then to Sir John Russell, died 1721. The wife of the protector survived him 14 years, dying Oct. 8, 1672, after having lived in retirement since the downfall of her family. - There are many lives of Cromwell, the best of which is that in Mr. Forster's "Statesmen of the Commonwealth of England."Carlyle's "Oliver Cromwell's Letters and Speeches " is a work of great excellence.
Gleig's "Lives of the most eminent British Military Commanders" contains a good military biography of the protector. Most of the other biographies are worthless. Clarendon's great work bears hard upon Cromwell. Even the able volumes of M. Guizot are tinged with his peculiar views, and are not always just either to the statesmen of the long parliament or to Cromwell individually; but they contain much matter not to be found elsewhere. Sanford's "Studies and Illustrations of the Great Rebellion" contains much valuable matter concerning Cromwell, admirably told, but it terminates with the battle of Mars-ton Moor. It corrects many errors in Cromwell's history that had long been received as truths. II. Richard, the third and eldest surviving son of Oliver Cromwell, and second lord protector, born at Huntingdon, Oct. 4, 1626, died at Cheshunt, near London, July 12, 1712. In 1647 he became a student of Lincoln's Inn, where he remained two years. He did not study much, but devoted himself to the pleasures of the field and the table, to the former of which be had become attached while leading a rural life in the early years of the civil war. In politics he is said to have been a royalist, and to have interceded with his father for the king's life.
In 1649 he married Dorothy, daughter of Richard Mayor of Hursley, where they resided during most of Oliver's protectorate, Richard indulging in hunting and hospitality. Oliver did not think highly of his son's capacity, and was pleased to see him remain in the country. When the protectorate was established, Richard was elected to parliament for various places, on different occasions, and Oliver endeavored to train him to the art of government. He succeeded his father as chancellor of Oxford university, and was made a colonel and a lord of trade and navigation. When the protector sought to create a house of peers, his eldest son was placed at its head, with the title of the Right Hon. Lord Richard, etc. On Oliver's death, Richard succeeded to the place of lord protector. A parliament was called, which met Jan. 27, 1659, to which he made a sensible speech, and for a short time things went on well. In parliament, however, he was not strong, and the army was not attached to one who was at heart a royalist. A meeting of the officers was held, at which it was resolved that the army should be commanded by some one person.
The protector applied to parliament for advice, at the suggestion of the council; and that body condemned the action of the army, and declared that the officers should hold no more meetings without the protector's permission. This brought matters to a crisis. The officers compelled Richard to dissolve parliament, which event was soon followed by his own resignation. He was not equal to the place in which circumstances had placed him. To the remonstrances his determination excited he replied that his resolution was fixed, that violent counsels did not suit him, and the like. His retirement drew upon him reproaches from all sides, which have been repeated for two centuries. Macaulay speaks of him as "that foolish Ishbosheth," who could not preserve " an authority which any man of ordinary firmness and prudence would have retained." Just before the restoration the Cromwellians wished to replace Richard at the head of the nation; but it was too late for such an act to be attempted, even if he had himself been willing to return to Whitehall. He retired to Hursley, his wife's estate. In July, 1660, he left England for the continent, but less on account of political than for personal reasons.
His debts amounted to £30,-000. He resided at Paris, under the name of Wallis, for 20 years, making two visits to Geneva. He was little known, and sometimes had his feelings wounded by expressions of contempt for his poltroonery from strangers. He returned to England in 1680, his debts having been paid, took the name of Clarke, and resided at Cheshunt. His life was retired. One of his few friends was Dr. Watts, who never heard him mention his former greatness more than once, and then indirectly. A lawsuit with his daughters, in his extreme old age, brought him before the public in the reign of Queen Anne. The judge treated him with much consideration, and his conduct was approved by the queen. Richard won his cause. He lived to be nearly 86, dying at Cheshunt,. in the house of Sergeant Pengelley, who was supposed to be his natural son, and who rose to eminence in the law. He was buried in the chancel of Hursley church, where one of his daughters erected a monument to his memory. He left no legitimate son. His son Oliver was active in the revolution of 1688-'9, and offered to raise a regiment to serve in Ireland, provided he were allowed to nominate his captains; but the name was yet too formidable to warrant government in accepting the offer.
He died May 11, 1705. III. Henry, second surviving son of the first lord protector, born at Huntingdon, Jan 20, 1628, died March, 23, 1673. He was educated at Felstead, but as he entered the parliamentary army at the age of 16, he could not have known much of schools. Before he was 20 he had a troop in the lord general Fairfax's life guards. He was made a colonel in 1649, and went with his father to Ireland, where he served throughout those fierce wars that subjugated the country, distinguishing himself on several occasions. In the first parliament that his father called, the "Barebone's parliament," he sat as one of the six Irish members. He was married in 1653 to Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Francis Russell. The university of Cambridge elected him to parliament in 1654. In 1655 he was sent to Ireland as a major general, and eventually he was made lord deputy. He was well received in that country, and he justified the reception by the admirable manner in which he governed it. Men of all parties united in praising his wise and benevolent action; and Ireland rose rapidly to prosperity under his rule. He is said to have inclined in politics to royalist principles, which was not uncommon with members of Cromwell's family.
When Oliver died, Henry exerted himself to have his brother's authority acknowledged in Ireland, and with entire success. The troubles that befell Richard in England, however, soon had a prejudicial effect on Irish affairs. Henry was annoyed in various ways by his brother's enemies, and he sought to throw up the government of Ireland, in order that he might reply to attacks that had been made on him in England, and to assist the protector. His request was refused, probably because the republicans feared him, well knowing that he was a very different man from Richard. When the protector retired, Henry resolved to place the Irish government in the hands of Charles II.; but parliament recalled him, and placed the government in the hands of commissioners. He obeyed the summons, and parliament expressed approbation of his conduct. So poor was he that he had not money enough of his own to pay his expenses from Dublin to London. The readiness with which he surrendered his government does not confirm the common impression that if he had been appointed his father's successor, he would have maintained the place.
He resided for some years with his father-in-law, Sir F. Russell, at Chippenham. Thence he went to a retired estate of his own, called Spinney Abbey, near Soham, Cambridgeshire, where he passed the remainder of his days in farming. Charles II. is said to have visited his house when going from Newmarket to London; and when he heard that Henry was suffering from the stone he expressed sympathy with him, and according to one account even prescribed for him, the king being a dabbler in medicine. It was of this complaint that Henry died. He was buried in Wicken church, and a stone was placed over his remains, with a Latin inscription, stating merely the place of his residence, his age, and the dates of his birth and death. He had seven children. His last male descendant, and great-grandson, died in 1821, at Cheshunt, aged 79. He had been a solicitor, and was the last representative of the great protector.