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Title: The Cabinet Portrait Gallery of British Worthies Vol 7 of 12

Date of first publication: 1846

Author: C. Cox (???-1845)

Editor: Charles Knight (1791-1873)

Date first posted: September 30 2012

Date last updated: September 30 2012

Faded Page eBook #20120941

This eBook was produced by: Marcia Brooks, L. Harrison & the online Distributed Proofreaders Canada team at http://www.pgdpcanada.net

(This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive/American Libraries.)















[Pg iii]



[Pg 4]
[Pg 5]



Chapter decoration for a worthy person



William Harvey was born on the 1st of April, 1578, at Folkestone, on the southern coast of Kent. He was the eldest of nine children; of the rest little more is known than that several of the brothers were among the most eminent merchants in the city of London during the reigns of the two first Stuarts. His father, Thomas Harvey, followed no profession. He married Joanna Falke, at the age of twenty, and lived upon his own estate at Folkestone. This property devolved by inheritance upon his eldest son; and the greatest part of [Pg 6] it was eventually bequeathed by him to the college at which he was educated.

At ten years of age he commenced his studies at the grammar school in Canterbury; and upon the 31st of May, 1593, soon after the completion of his fifteenth year, was admitted as a pensioner at Caius College, Cambridge.

At that time a familiar acquaintance with logic and the learned languages was indispensable as a first step in the prosecution of all the branches of science, especially of medicine: and the skill with which Harvey avails himself of the scholastic form of reasoning in his great work on the Circulation, with the elegant Latin style of all his writings, particularly of his latest work on the Generation of Animals, afford a sufficient proof of his diligence in the prosecution of these preliminary studies during the next four years which he spent at Cambridge. The two next were occupied in visiting the principal cities and seminaries of the Continent. He then prepared to address himself to those investigations to which the rest of his life was devoted; and the scene of his introduction to them could not have been better chosen than at the University of Padua, where he became a student in his twenty-second year.

The ancient physicians gathered what they knew of anatomy from inaccurate dissections of the lower animals: and the slender knowledge thus acquired, however inadequate to unfold the complicated functions of the human frame, was abundantly sufficient as a basis for conjecture, of which they took full advantage. With them every thing became easy to explain, precisely because nothing was understood; and the nature and treatment of disease, the great object of medicine and of its subsidiary sciences, was hardily abandoned to the conduct of the imagination, and sought for literally among the stars. Nevertheless, so firmly was their authority established, that even down to the close of the sixteenth century, the naturalists of Europe still continued to derive all their physiology, and the greater part of their anatomy and medicine, from the works of Aristotle and [Pg 7] Galen, read not in the original Greek, but re-translated into Latin from the interpolated versions of the Arabian physicians. The opinions entertained by these dictators in the republic of letters, and consequently by their submissive followers, with regard to the structure and functions of the organs concerned in the circulation, were particularly fanciful and confused, so much so that it would be no easy task to give an intelligible account of them that would not be tedious from its length. It will be enough to say, that a scarcely more oppressive mass of mischievous error was cleared away from the science of astronomy by the discovery of Newton, than that from which physiology was disencumbered by the discovery of Harvey.

But though the work was completed by an Englishman, it is to Italy that, in anatomy, as in most of the sciences, we owe the first attempts to cast off the thraldom of the ancients. Mundinus had published a work in the year 1315, which contained a few original observations of his own; and his essay was so well received that it remained the text-book of the Italian schools of anatomy for upwards of two centuries. It was enriched from time to time by various annotators, among the chief of whom were Achilini, and Berengarius, the first person who published anatomical plates. But the great reformer of anatomy was Vesalius, who, born at Brussels in 1514, had attained such early celebrity during his studies at Paris and Louvain, that he was invited by the republic of Venice in his twenty-second year, to the chair of anatomy at Padua, which he filled for seven years with the highest reputation. He also taught at Bologna, and subsequently, by the invitation of Cosmo de' Medici, at Pisa. The first edition of his work 'De Corporis Humani Fabricâ,' was printed at Basle, in the year 1543: it is perhaps one of the most successful efforts of human industry and research, and from the date of its publication begins an entirely new era in the science of which it treats. The despotic sway hitherto maintained in the schools of medicine by the writings of Aristotle and Galen, was now shaken to its foundation, [Pg 8] and a new race of anatomists eagerly pressed forward in the path of discovery. Among these no one was more conspicuous than Fallopius, the disciple, successor, and in fame the rival, of Vesalius, at Padua. After him the anatomical professorship was filled by Fabricius ab Aquapendente, the last of the distinguished anatomists who flourished at Padua in the sixteenth century.

Harvey became his pupil in 1599, and from this time he appears to have applied himself seriously to the study of anatomy. The first germ of the discovery which has shed immortal honour on his name and country was conceived in the lecture-room of Fabricius.

He remained at Padua for two years; and, having received the degree of Doctor in Arts and Medicine with unusual marks of distinction, returned to England early in the year 1602. Two years afterwards he commenced practice in London, and married the daughter of Dr. Launcelot Browne, by whom he had no children. He became a Fellow of the College of Physicians when about thirty years of age, having in the mean time renewed his degree of Doctor in Medicine, at Cambridge, and was soon after elected Physician to St. Bartholomew's Hospital, which office he retained till a late period of his life.

On the 4th of August, 1615, he was appointed Reader of Anatomy and Surgery to the College of Physicians. From some scattered hints in his writings, it appears that his doctrine of the circulation was first advanced in his lectures at the college about four years afterwards: and a note-book in his own handwriting is still preserved at the British Museum, in which the principal arguments by which it is substantiated are briefly set down, as if for reference in the lecture-room. Yet with the characteristic caution and modesty of true genius, he continued for nine years longer to reason and experimentalize upon what is now considered one of the simplest, as it is undoubtedly the most important, known law of animal nature: and it was not till the year 1628, the fifty-first of his life, that he consented to publish his discovery to the world.

[Pg 9] In that year the 'Exercitatio Anatomica de Motu Cordis et Sanguinis' was published at Frankfort. This masterly treatise begins with a short outline and refutation of the opinions of former anatomists on the movement of the animal fluids and the functions of the heart; the author discriminating with care, and anxiously acknowledging the glimpses of the truth to be met with in their writings; as if he not only kept in mind the justice due to previous discoveries, and the prudence of softening the novelty and veiling the extent of his own, but had foreseen the preposterous imputation of plagiarism, which, with other inconsistent charges, was afterwards brought forward against him. This short sketch is followed by a plain exposition of the anatomy of the circulation, and a detail of the results of numerous experiments; and the new theory is finally maintained in a strain of close and powerful reasoning, and followed into some of its most important consequences. The whole argument is conducted in simple unpretending language, with great perspicuity, and scrupulous attention to logical form.

The doctrine announced by Harvey may be briefly stated thus:—

When the blood supplied for the various processes which are carried on in the living body has undergone a certain degree of change, it requires to be purified by the act of respiration. For this purpose it is urged onwards by fresh blood from behind into the veins; and returning in them from all parts of the body, enters a cavity of the heart called the right auricle. At the same time the purified blood returning from the lungs by the pulmonary veins, passes into the left auricle. When these two cavities, which are distinct from each other, are sufficiently dilated, they contract, and force the blood which they contain into two other much more muscular cavities, called respectively the right and left ventricle, all retrogression into the auricles being prevented by valves, which admit of a passage in one direction only. The ventricles then contract in their turn with great force, and at the same instant, and propel [Pg 10] their blood,—the right, by the pulmonary artery, into the lungs,—the left, which is much the stronger of the two, into all parts of the body, by the great artery called the aörta, and its branches; all return being prevented as before, by valves situated at the orifices of those vessels, which are closed most accurately when the ventricles relax, by the backward pressure of the blood arising from the elasticity of the arteries. Thus the purified blood passes from the lungs by the pulmonary veins through the left auricle into the ventricle of the same side, by which it is distributed into all parts of the body, driving the vitiated blood before it, and the vitiated blood is pushed into and along the veins to the right auricle, and thence is sent into the right ventricle, which propels it by the pulmonary artery through the lungs. In this manner a double circulation is kept up by the sole agency of the heart, through the lungs, and through the body; the contractions of the auricles and ventricles taking place alternately. To prevent any backward motion of the blood in the superficial veins, which might happen from their liability to external pressure, they are also provided with simple and very complete valves which admit of a passage only towards the heart. They were first remarked by Fabricius ab Aquapendente, and exhibited in his lectures to Harvey among the rest of his pupils; but their function remained a mystery till it was explained by the discovery of the circulation. It is related by Boyle, upon Harvey's own authority, that the first idea of this comprehensive principle suggested itself to him when considering the structure of these valves.

The pulmonary circulation had been surmised by Galen, and maintained by his successors; but no proof even of this insulated portion of the truth, more than amounted to strong probability, had been given till the time of Harvey; and no plausible claim to the discovery, still less to the demonstration, of the general circulation has ever been set up in opposition to his. Indeed, its truth was quite inconsistent with the ideas everywhere entertained in the schools on the functions of [Pg 11] the heart and other viscera, and was destructive of many favourite theories. The new doctrine, therefore, as may well be supposed, was received by most of the anatomists of the period with distrust, and by all with surprise. Some of them undertook to refute it; but their objections turned principally on the silence of Galen, or consisted of the most frivolous cavils: the controversy, too, assumed the form of personal abuse even more speedily than is usually the case when authority is at issue with reason. To such opposition Harvey for some time did not think it necessary to reply; but some of his friends in England, and of the adherents to his doctrine on the Continent, warmly took up his defence. At length he was induced to take a personal share in the dispute in answer to Riolanus, a Parisian anatomist of some celebrity, whose objections were distinguished by some show of philosophy, and unusual abstinence from abuse. The answer was conciliatory and complete, but ineffectual to produce conviction; and in reply to Harvey's appeal to direct experiment, his opponent urged nothing but conjecture and assertion. Harvey once more rejoined at considerable length; taking occasion to give a spirited rebuke to the unworthy reception he had met with, in which it seems that Riolanus had now permitted himself to join; adducing several new and conclusive experiments in support of his theory; and entering at large upon its value in simplifying physiology and the study of diseases, with other interesting collateral topics. Riolanus, however, still remained unconvinced; and his second rejoinder was treated by Harvey with contemptuous silence. He had already exhausted the subject in the two excellent controversial pieces just mentioned, the last of which is said to have been written at Oxford about 1645; and he never resumed the discussion in print. Time had now come to the assistance of argument, and his discovery began to be generally admitted. To this indeed his opponents contributed by a still more singular discovery of their own, namely, that the facts had been observed, and the important inference drawn, long before. This was the mere allegation of envy, [Pg 12] chafed at the achievements of another, which, from their apparent facility, might have been its own. It is indeed strange that the simple mechanism thus explained should have been unobserved or misunderstood so long; and nothing can account for it but the imperceptible lightness as well as the strength of the chains which authority imposes on the mind.

In the year 1623 Harvey became Physician Extraordinary to James I., and seven years later was appointed Physician to Charles. He followed the fortunes of that monarch, who treated him with great distinction, during the first years of the civil war, and he was present at the battle of Edgehill in 1642. Having been incorporated Doctor of Physic by the University of Oxford, he was promoted by Charles to the Wardenship of Merton College in 1645; but he did not retain this office very long, his predecessor Dr. Brent being reinstated by the Parliament after the surrender of Oxford in the following year.

Harvey then returned to London, and resided with his brother Eliab at Cockaine-house in the Poultry. About the time of Charles's execution he gave up his practice, which had never been considerable, probably in consequence of his devotion to the scientific, rather than the practical parts of his profession. He himself, however, attributed his want of success to the enmity excited by his discovery. After a second visit to the Continent, he secluded himself in the country, sometimes at his own house in Lambeth, and sometimes with his brother Eliab at Combe in Surrey. Here he was visited by his friend Dr. Ent in 1651, by whom he was persuaded to allow the publication of his work on the Generation of Animals. It was the fruit of many years of experiment and meditation; and, though the vehicle of no remarkable discovery, is replete with interest and research, and contains passages of brilliant and even poetical eloquence. The object of his work is to trace the germ through all its changes to the period of maturity; and the illustrations are principally drawn from the phenomena exhibited by eggs in the process of incubation, [Pg 13] which he watched with great care, and has described with minuteness and fidelity. The microscope had not at that time the perfection it has since attained; and consequently Harvey's account of the first appearance of the chick is somewhat inaccurate, and has been superseded by the observations of Malpighi, Hunter, and others. The experiments upon which he chiefly relied in this department of natural history had been repeated in the presence of Charles I., who appears to have taken great interest in the studies of his physician.

In the year 1653, the seventy-fifth of his life, Harvey presented the College of Physicians with the title-deeds of a building erected in their garden, and elegantly fitted up at his expense, with a library and museum, and commodious apartments for their social meetings. Upon this occasion he resigned the Professorship of Anatomy, which he had held for nearly forty years, and was succeeded by Dr. Glisson.

In 1654 he was elected to the Presidency of the College, which he declined on the plea of age; and the former President, Sir Francis Prujean, was re-elected at his request. Two years afterwards he made a donation to the college of a part of his patrimonial estate to the yearly value of 56l., as a provision for the maintenance of the library and an annual festival and oration in commemoration of benefactors.

At length his constitution, which had long been harassed by the gout, yielded to the increasing infirmities of age, and he died in his eightieth year, on the 3d of June, 1657. He was buried at Hempstead in Essex, in a vault belonging to his brother Eliab, who was his principal heir, and his remains were followed to the grave by a numerous procession of the body of which he had been so illustrious and munificent a member.

The best edition of his works is that edited by the College of Physicians in 1766, to which is prefixed a valuable notice of his life, and an account of the controversy to which his discovery of the circulation gave rise. All that remain of his writings, in addition to those which have been already mentioned, are an account [Pg 14] of the dissection of Thomas Parr, who died at the age of 153, and a few letters addressed to various Continental anatomists. His lodgings at Whitehall had been plundered, in the early part of the civil war, of many papers containing manuscript notes of experiments and observations, chiefly relating to comparative anatomy. This was a loss which he always continued to lament. The missing papers have never been recovered.

In person he was below the middle size, but well proportioned. He had a dark complexion, black hair, and small lively eyes. In his youth his temper is said to have been very hasty. If so, he was cured of this defect as he grew older; for nothing can be more courteous and temperate than his controversial writings; and the genuine kindness and modesty which were conspicuous in all his dealings with others, with his instructive conversation, gained him many attached and excellent friends. He was fond of meditation and retirement; and there is much in his works to characterize him as a man of warm and unaffected piety.

There are several histories of his life; a very elegant one has lately been published in a volume of the Family Library, entitled 'Lives of British Physicians.'

[Pg 15]


A worthy's hats and papers



At the quiet close of the reign of Elizabeth, and of that eventful sixteenth century, the middle of which had been shaken in England and elsewhere by the tempest of the Reformation, dwelt in the town of Huntingdon Robert Cromwell, second son of Sir Henry Cromwell, the possessor of the neighbouring mansion of Hinchinbrook, even then a distinguished residence, now the seat of the Earls of Sandwich. Sir Henry, styled from his popular qualities the "Golden Knight," lived till 1604, and was succeeded in his estates by his eldest son Sir Oliver, who made a great figure for some twenty years, repeatedly entertaining King James with vast magnificence, but was obliged at last to part with Hinchinbrook about the year 1627, after which he lived in obscurity or retirement till his death in 1655, at the age of ninety-three. The founder of the Cromwell family was a Welsh gentleman of the name of Williams, who married a sister of Thomas Cromwell, the minister and vicar-general [Pg 16] of Henry the Eighth, and whose son laid aside his original name for that of his potent patron and relation. They had only been established at Hinchinbrook for the space of about half a century that had elapsed since then. They had, however, acquired extensive possessions in those parts; so that Sir Henry, beside the principal estate which he left to his heir, is said to have given or bequeathed to each of his four younger sons lands of the value of about 300l. per annum; equivalent to perhaps three or four times the same nominal income now.

Robert's patrimony consisted of some fields in the neighbourhood of Huntingdon, with a house in that town. In this house, the site of which, at least, if not the identical building, tradition can still point out, he resided with his wife, whom he is supposed to have married in 1591. She was the widow of William Lynne, Esq., of Bassingbourne in Cambridgeshire; and, as she is said to have been ninety-four years of age when she died in 1654, she would be thirty-one at the time of this her second marriage. She was born Elizabeth Steward, daughter of William Steward, Esq., sister of Sir Thomas Steward, Knight, both of Ely; and, curiously enough, they trace her descent from Andrew Steward, second son of Alexander, Lord High Steward of Scotland, whose eldest son, James, was father of Walter, Lord High Steward, who married Margery, daughter of Robert Bruce, and so became the progenitor of the Scottish royal line. Mrs. Cromwell and King Charles the First are made out in this way to have been eighth cousins. She and her husband had a family of ten children, three sons and seven daughters; six of the daughters grew up, but only one of the sons, Oliver, the fifth child and second son, born on the 25th of April, 1599.

Almost the single fact in Robert Cromwell's history that has been preserved is that he represented the borough of Huntingdon in the Parliament of 1593. It is also said that he carried on a considerable brewing business; or rather the story is that it was carried on by his wife without his giving himself much trouble about it. It is probable enough that, farming his own ground, [Pg 17] he may have turned part of the produce to account in this way. There is no reason to suppose that he had any of the magnificent and expensive tastes of his elder brother; nor does he appear to have had any ambition beyond the tranquil but obscure respectability of a country gentleman of moderate estate.

By connexion both he and his wife ought naturally, as it would seem, to have been church and king people; Mrs. Cromwell's father, and after him her brother, were large lessees of tithes and church lands under the Dean and Chapter of Ely, and we have seen how devoted a royalist the head of the house of Cromwell was; nevertheless it may be suspected that the future great hero of Puritanism derived the first taint of his principles from his father and mother. There were as yet no actual separatists from the national church; but Robert Cromwell and his wife probably belonged to that more serious portion of the population which first drew off from and then fell upon and overwhelmed the church in the next age. To this party too his schoolmaster belonged, the Reverend Thomas Beard, D.D., Master of Huntingdon Grammar School, to which the boy was sent as a matter of course to learn his Latin and Greek. Good Dr. Beard was probably a friend of the family; there is evidence at least that he continued to be the friend of his pupil, and that the latter had imbibed from him something more than Greek and Latin.

Tradition, however, tells various stories, some of which may be true, or partly true, which would imply that the usual intercourse of near relationship was kept up by Robert Cromwell's family and that of Hinchinbrook, in the time both of his father Sir Henry and of his brother Sir Oliver. When young Oliver was an infant in arms, it is related, having been one day taken to see his grandfather, a monkey somehow or other got hold of him, and ran off with him to the leads on the top of the house; whence, however, after running about with him for some time, the sagacious animal, as if knowing that it had the fortune of England in its keeping, brought down the child in safety, to the great relief [Pg 18] of all the affrighted inmates, who had been crowding around with feather beds and other appliances to break his expected fall. The classical reader will be reminded of Horace's

Non sine diis animosus infans.

Another of these anecdotes may be given in the words of his biographer, the Rev. Mark Noble:—"They have a tradition at Huntingdon that when King Charles I., then Duke of York, in his journey from Scotland to London, in 1604, called in his way at Hinchinbrook, the seat of Sir Oliver Cromwell, that knight, to divert the young prince, sent for his nephew Oliver, that he, with his own sons, might play with his Royal Highness; but they had not been long together before Charles and Oliver disagreed; and, as the former was then as weakly as the latter was strong, it was no wonder that the royal visitor was worsted; and Oliver, even at this age, so little regarded dignity, that he made the royal blood flow in copious streams from the Prince's nose." "This," adds Noble, "was looked upon as a bad presage for that King when the civil wars commenced." Odd enough, that, when Charles and the Parliament first came to blows in the autumn of 1642, the people of Huntingdon should have foreseen that the King would be worsted, on the strength of his having got a bloody nose from their townsman eight-and-thirty years before!

This story, however, the Reverend biographer does not absolutely vouch for; he gives it, he informs us, "only as the report of the place;" he seems to think it extremely improbable, if not entirely incredible, that Oliver, even at this age, should have "so little regarded dignity;" as if respect for the social distinctions of rank were pre-eminently a little boys' characteristic, or perhaps, a sort of innate idea, or reminiscence of some more glorious state of pre-existence—a gleam of the heaven that "lies about us in our infancy!"

"Shades of the prison-house begin to close
[Pg 19] Upon the growing Boy,
But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,
He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily farther from the east
Must travel, still is Nature's priest,
And by the vision splendid
Is on his way attended;
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day."

"It is more certain," proceeds Noble, recounting these juvenile adventures of his hero, "that Oliver averred that he saw a gigantic figure which came and opened the curtains of his bed, and told him that he should be the greatest person in the kingdom, but did not mention the word king; and, though he [that is, Oliver, not the gigantic phantom] was told of the folly as well as the wickedness of such an assertion, he persisted in it; for which he was flogged by Dr. Beard, at the particular desire of his father; notwithstanding which he would sometimes repeat it to his uncle Steward, who told him it was traitorous to relate it." Cromwell, we are assured in a note, often mentioned this vision "when he was in the height of his glory." The fact, however, does not seem to be one which the Reverend biographer had any means of knowing; and, for our own part, we should consider the whole story rather less certain than either that of his fight with Prince Charles or that of his adventure with the monkey.

The first unquestionable fact of his life, indeed the first thing recorded about him that has much of the look of a genuine fact, after the mere date of his birth, is, that on the 23rd of April, 1616, when he was within two days of having completed his seventeenth year, he was entered of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, under the tuition of Mr. Richard Howlett. The Latin record is still distinctly legible there in the old parchment volume, now for its sake regarded as the greatest curiosity of which the college has to boast. Somebody, half a century later or more, has written under it such an emphatic annotation as had by that time become safe, perhaps was thought to be almost requisite:—Hic fuit [Pg 20] grandis ille Impostor, Carnifex perditissimus, &c.,—that is to say, "This was that grand Impostor, that most execrable villain," and so forth. If this gloss has been the means of preserving the original entry from obliteration, we are obliged to the loyal zeal by which it was indicted. It is possible that it was written down partly with this object, the zeal of antiquarianism mixing with that of loyalty.

Cromwell's academic life lasted only above a twelve-month. His father died in June, 1617, and he returned no more to the University. It is believed that he soon after came up to London; and here authentic history loses sight of him for about three years. It has been commonly stated that he was entered of Lincoln's Inn; but his name is not found in the registers either of that or of any of the other inns of court. If he studied the law at all, therefore, it was most probably in some attorney's office, as Shakspeare is supposed by some to have done, as Warburton undoubtedly did. It may be questioned, too, if it was ever intended that he should practise the law as a profession: perhaps his only object, or that of his friends, was that he should merely acquire knowledge enough to enable him to act with credit as a country magistrate. At the same time, the fact of his having had any thing whatever to do with the law while he was in London is as far as possible from being established: the only precise part of the common account, his having been a student of Lincoln's Inn, turns out, as we have seen, to be unfounded. Nay, we have no sufficient evidence, or any thing like sufficient evidence, that these three years were spent by him in London at all. All we have is the assertion of the same writers who report in the same sentence or paragraph the fiction of his having been a student of one of the inns of court. He may have merely visited the metropolis, perhaps several times, while his proper residence was with his mother at Huntingdon. What is positively known is that it was in London he found his wife. On the 22nd of August, 1620, he was married in St. Giles's Church, Cripplegate, to Elizabeth Bourchier, daughter of Sir James Bourchier, Knight, an [Pg 21] eminent merchant of the city, and also the owner of an estate in land, where he usually resided, at Felsted, in Essex. It is said that this marriage was brought about through his relations the Barringtons and Hampdens. One of Cromwell's father's sisters, Joan, had married Sir Francis Barrington, Bart.; another, Elizabeth, was the wife of William Hampden, of Great Hampden, in Bucks, and the mother of the famous patriot, who was therefore first cousin to Cromwell, as he also was to Waller the poet, who was the son of his father's sister. As both the Hampdens and the Barringtons were families of popular politics, it is probable that the Bourchiers, about whom little is known, were of the same side. It is admitted on all hands that now at least Cromwell fixed himself at Huntingdon.

If we may believe the Royalist writers after the Restoration, he had led up to this date the wildest of lives. Anthony Wood's account, in his 'Fasti,' is, that "his father dying while he was at Cambridge, he was taken home and sent to Lincoln's Inn to study the common law; but, making nothing of it, he was sent for home by his mother, became a debauchee, and a boisterous and rude fellow." Dugdale, in his 'Short View of the Troubles in England,' says, "In his youth he was for some time bred up in Cambridge, where he made no great proficiency in any kind of learning; but then and afterwards, sorting himself with drinking companions, and the ruder sort of people, being of a rough and blustering disposition, he had the name of a Roister amongst most that knew him; and by his exorbitances so wasted his patrimony, that, having attempted his uncle Steward for a supply of his wants, and finding that by a smooth way of application to him he could not prevail, he endeavoured by a colour of law to lay hold of his estate, representing him as a person not able to govern it. But therein he failed." Dugdale, by the bye, makes no mention of Cromwell ever having been a student of any of the Inns of Court. But the great authority for these stories is the 'Flagellum' of James Heath—"Carrion Heath," as he has been called,—otherwise [Pg 22] entitled 'The Life and Death of Oliver Cromwell, the late Usurper,' first published in 1663, and written in the highest or rather the lowest strain of the dominant political sentiment of that day. He also represents Cromwell, after he returned from London, as having been the nuisance and terror of his native place; his chief associates, we are assured, were tinkers, pedlars, and other such disreputable characters; he had always a quarter-staff in his hand, with which he compelled every one to give way to him; he spent his time chiefly in the public-houses, where, however, he usually neglected to pay his reckoning, so that the innkeepers, it seems, when they saw him coming, would say, "Here comes young Cromwell; shut up your doors;" and, if they made any complaint, the only satisfaction they had was to have their windows smashed. His life was a continued round of drinking, gambling, and all other sorts of dissipation and dissoluteness. To the same effect is the account given by Dr. George Bate, who was Cromwell's physician, but had also previously held the same court-office under Charles I., and was afterwards continued in it by Charles II., having managed to acquire in succession the favour of each; not, we may suppose, by letting it appear, when he got a new master, that he retained any inconveniently grateful remembrance of his last one. In his 'Elenchus Motuum,' (or 'Account of the late Commotions') he writes of Cromwell, as the passage has been translated by Harris:—"In his youth he married a gentlewoman, but, by his profuse and luxurious way of living, in a short time he squandered away both his mother's and his wife's estate, so that he was almost reduced to beggary. Afterwards, assuming the behaviour of a penitent, he gave himself wholly up to the hearing of sermons, reading of godly books, and works of mortification; and having got a brewhouse, he applied himself to the brewing trade, and also to husbandry. After that, his uncle, Sir Robert Steward, who had an aversion to him, being reconciled by the means of some clergymen and courtiers, left him his fortune. But, shortly after, having again run out of all, he resolves to [Pg 23] go to New England, and prepares all things for that end."

But little or no dependence can be placed upon such loose and incoherent jumbles as all these relations are. Besides the purpose for which they were given to the world by their authors, and the animus that is apparent in them, they are full of inconsistencies and inaccuracies, and can be convicted of falsehood almost as often as they descend to particulars. It may perhaps be admitted to be probable that Cromwell led a careless life, and was guilty of some excesses, for a few years after becoming at so early an age his own master; but even this must be considered to rest not so much upon the testimony of these first ill-informed and worse disposed writers of his life as upon what he says of himself in one of his letters which has been preserved; it is dated Ely, 13th Oct., 1638, and is addressed to his cousin (a daughter of his father's next brother, Henry Cromwell) Mrs. St. John, wife of St. John, afterwards Solicitor-General. Therein he says:—"You know what my manner of life hath been. Oh, I lived in and loved darkness, and hated light; I was a chief, the chief of sinners. This is true: I hated godliness, yet God had mercy on me. O the riches of his mercy!" And even these words may mean no more than that he had not always had the same religious convictions, nor lived so strict and serious a life, as now.

The general course of his history is most safely and also most distinctly to be traced, for the twenty years which followed his marriage, by a few well-established facts. He was returned as member for Huntingdon to the parliament which met in March, 1628, Charles the First's third parliament. This single fact may be regarded as disposing of nearly all the exaggerations and rubbish of Bate and Heath: it sufficiently proves at least that he was not at this time a person of either ruined character or ruined fortunes. Yet, to make Bate's account at all consistent or intelligible, we must extend at least the part of it that relates to his extravagance and wasteful habits a good many years beyond this date. That Cromwell was now become zealously [Pg 24] religious or puritanical is proved by an authentic record of a speech which he made in the second session of this parliament, which began in January, 1629. The House had resolved itself into a Grand Committee of Religion, when, on the 11th of February, the member for Huntingdon stood up and said, "He had heard, by relation from one Dr. Beard, that Dr. Alablaster had preached flat Popery at Paul's Cross, and that the Bishop of Winchester had commanded him, as his diocesan, he should preach nothing to the contrary. Mainwaring, so justly censured in this House for his sermons, was by the same bishop's means preferred to a rich living. If these are the steps to church preferment, what are we to expect?" And upon this, as appears by the Journals, the House "ordered Dr. Beard, of Huntingdon, to be written to by the Speaker to come up and testify against the bishop; the order for Dr. Beard to be delivered to Mr. Cromwell." But probably before the reverend doctor could obey this summons, at any rate before the inquiry into the business of Dr. Alablaster and his popish preaching could be begun, the parliament was put an end to on the 2nd of March.

On the 8th of July in the next year, 1630, he was named, in a new charter granted to the corporation of Huntingdon, a justice of peace for that town, conjointly with Dr. Beard and Robert Bernard, Esq. On the 7th of May, 1631, he sold his property in and near Huntingdon for the sum of 1800l., his uncle, styled Sir Oliver Cromwell, alias Williams, and his mother, designated Elizabeth Williams, alias Cromwell, joining with him in the conveyance; the one having some nominal interest in the lands arising out of the nature or form of the original grant by his father—the latter, no doubt, a real interest on account of her jointure. The sum appears small, but hardly so inadequate as that for which the estate of Hinchinbrook had been sold by Sir Oliver a few years before, being only a trifle above 3000l. With the 1800l. Cromwell stocked a grazing farm at St. Ives, about five miles farther down the river Ouse. It has been remarked, however, that his children continued for [Pg 25] some time to be christened at Huntingdon, as did also those of his married sisters: whence it is inferred that their grandmother probably remained there. Perhaps Oliver himself may not yet have absolutely quitted his native place, or may have still for some time kept his wife and family at Huntingdon. He had by this time four sons and two daughters, who were all living, with the exception, perhaps, of his first-born, a son, who appears to have died in infancy or boyhood. Another son, who died the day after he was baptized, and two more daughters, were afterwards born to him. His eldest son was born in October, 1621, and his youngest daughter and child in December, 1638.

Cromwell's farm at St. Ives was rented from the estate of Slepe Hall, and lay at the south-eastern extremity of the town, which stands upon the north-east or left bank of the Ouse, the river here being carried by a bend to the south-east out of its general northerly course. Here he resided for about four years and a half. The parish clerk of St. Ives told Noble, in the latter part of the last century, "that he had been informed by old persons, who knew Mr. Cromwell when he resided at St. Ives, that he usually frequented divine service at church, and that he generally came with a piece of red flannel about his neck, as he was subject to an inflammation in his throat." The vicar of St. Ives at this time was the Rev. Henry Downett; he was deprived of his living by the parliament in 1642; and, as Cromwell was then one of the Committee of Religion, it is presumed that he had nothing to say in favour of his former clergyman's soundness of doctrine. Almost the only memorial of Cromwell now remaining at St. Ives is his signature in one of the parish registers to a memorandum of the election of overseers for the streets and highways, in April, 1634. His name stands first of eleven subscribed to the entry. There was formerly another signature of his to a similar memorandum for the preceding year, but it has been cut out. It seems that they now point out what is called Slepe Hall, being the last house at the south-eastern extremity of the town, as the [Pg 26] one in which he lived; it serves at present for a boarding-school, and Mr. Carlyle, from whose late work, 'Oliver Cromwell's Letters and Speeches,' we derive our information, appears to make it out that the local tradition is in all probability a mistake. Noble expressly tells us that Cromwell's house was no longer standing in his time. "Mr. Atkyns, an attorney," he says, "lives in a handsome one built upon the site of the old one; it stands just without the town." There is also a letter of Cromwell's, dated from St. Ives, the 11th of January, 1635 (or 1636, as we should now reckon), which Harris gives from the original in the British Museum, although such original is no longer to be found in that repository. It is addressed "To my very loving friend Mr. Storie, at the sign of the Dog, in the Royal Exchange, London," and abundantly demonstrates the strong hold that religion or puritanism had by this time taken of him, and that his whole heart was in the work. Yet it equally expresses the practical turn and faculty of the man; it is an earnest application to Storie not to allow a lectureship, which he had been instrumental with other subscribers in establishing in the county of Huntingdon, to go down for want of funds to pay the lecturer; and even Noble himself, a well-endowed clergyman, ought to have seen something more than "a convincing proof how far Oliver was at that time gone in religious enthusiasm," in the concluding sentences: "You know, Mr. Storie, to withdraw the pay is to let fall the lecture: for who goeth to warfare at his own cost? I beseech you, therefore, in the bowels of Christ, put it forward, and let the good man have his pay." Such, indeed, are all Cromwell's letters that have come down to us, without, we believe, a single exception. That the work of this world is to be done energetically, but in the spirit of a higher world—that is not so much the principle which he appears to have constantly kept in view as it is the man himself, the expression of his whole soul and being. If he was a religious enthusiast, he was certainly no mere dreaming visionary. The most unenthusiastic or irreligious person never showed more of [Pg 27] sublunary sagacity, alacrity, and strenuousness than he did in whatever he undertook. If his heart was elsewhere, his hand was not the less here. But in truth, his heart, too, was not the less among the things of earth for being also among those of heaven; for in his view heaven and earth were one—the earth was, in a sense, only a preliminary or lower heaven.

But his residence at St. Ives was now drawing to a close. A few days after the letter we have just quoted was written, his uncle Sir Thomas Steward died at Ely; he was buried in the cathedral there on the 30th of January, 1636. We have seen what Dugdale writes about an attempt made by Cromwell, it is not stated when, to have his uncle declared a lunatic in order that he might get possession of his estate, wherein we are told he failed, and also what is blunderingly recorded by Bate about his uncle Sir Robert Steward, after some aversion he had taken up, having been reconciled to him by the good offices of certain clergymen and courtiers, that is, we suppose, puritanic clergymen on the part of the nephew—on that of the uncle, persons of his own or the church and king's side having an influence with the old man, and also, it may be, kindly disposed to Cromwell for the sake of the loyal stock he was sprung from. Both stories are as vague as can well be, nor does the one seem very consistent with the other; but the fact at any rate is, that Sir Thomas by his will, made the same month in which he died, left Oliver his principal heir. He became in this way possessed of very considerable estates in and near Ely, partly consisting of land and tithes held under the dean and chapter; and he thereupon transferred himself to that city. He resided, Noble tells us, in the glebe-house, near to St. Mary's churchyard, still occupied in Noble's time by the lessee of the same tithes, then a Mr. Page. "The house," says Mr. Carlyle, "though somewhat in a frail state, is still standing; close to St. Mary's churchyard; at the corner of the great tithe-barn of Ely, or great square of tithe-barns and offices, which 'is the biggest barn in England but one,' say the Ely people. Of this [Pg 28] house, for Oliver's sake, some painter will yet perhaps take a correct likeness; it is needless to go to Stuntney, out on the Soham road, as Oliver's painters usually do; Oliver never lived there, but only his mother's cousins! Two years ago this house in Ely stood empty, closed finally up, deserted by all the Pages, as 'the commutation of tithes' had rendered it superfluous; this year (1845), I find it is an alehouse, with still some chance of standing. It is by no means a sumptuous mansion; but may have conveniently held a man of three or four hundred a year, with his family, in those simple times. Some quaint air of gentility still looks through its ragged dilapidation. It is of two stories, more properly of one and a half; has many windows, irregular chimneys, and gables. Likely enough Oliver lived here; likely his grandfather may have lived here, his mother have been born here. She was now again resident here. The tomb of her first husband and child, Johannes Lynne and poor little Catharina Lynne, is in the cathedral hard by."

Cromwell continued to live at Ely till the breaking out of the quarrel between the king and the parliament in the end of 1640; and his family seems to have remained there for six or seven years longer, or till after the termination of the first civil war. It was while resident here that, in the year 1638, he took the lead in opposing the proceedings of the Earl of Bedford and other proprietors associated for draining the neighbouring fens, and by rousing the popular spirit succeeded in stopping certain of their measures, which, if they had carried off the water from the land, would also have carried off the land from those to whom it rightfully belonged. Whence he obtained from the popular gratitude the title of Lord of the Fens. It appears that Cromwell did not, as has been commonly affirmed, object to any draining of the Fens, but only to the business being carried on upon the unjust principle of the undertakers, who had in fact entered into a confederacy with the crown to have it managed in such a way as that the two parties should divide all the advantage between them [Pg 29] and disregard all interests but their own. Sir Philip Warwick informs us that Cromwell's conduct in this affair attracted the special notice of his friend and kinsman Hampden, so that, in the beginning of the Long Parliament, the latter characterised his cousin as "an active person, and one that would sit (or set) well at the mark."

But before this Cromwell's popularity in the eastern counties had sent him up as one of the members for the town of Cambridge to what is called the Short Parliament, which met on the 13th of April, 1640, and was dismissed on the 5th of May. And he was returned again for the same place to the Long Parliament, which met on the 3rd of November. [1]

"The first time that ever I took notice of him," writes Sir Philip Warwick ('Memoirs,' p. 247) "was in the very beginning of the Parliament held in November, 1640, when I vainly thought myself a worthy young gentleman (for we courtiers valued ourselves much upon our good clothes). I came one morning into the house well clad, and perceived a gentleman speaking, whom I knew not, very ordinarily apparelled; for it was a plain cloth suit, which seemed to have been made by an ill country tailor; his linen was plain, and not very clean; and I remember a speck or two of blood upon his little band, which was not much larger than his collar; his hat was without a hatband; his stature was of a good size, his sword stuck close to his side, his countenance swollen and reddish, his voice sharp and [Pg 30] untunable, and his eloquence full of fervour; for the subject matter would not bear much of reason; it being in behalf of a servant of Mr. Prynne's who had dispersed libels against the Queen for her dancing and such like innocent and courtly sports; and he aggravated the imprisonment of this man by the Council-table unto that height that one would have believed the very government itself had been in great danger by it. I sincerely profess it lessened much my reverence unto that great council; for he was very much hearkened unto. And yet I lived to see this very gentleman, whom out of no ill will to him I thus describe, by multiplied good successes, and by real but usurped power, having had a better tailor and more converse among good company, in my own eye, when for six weeks together I was a prisoner in his sergeant's hands, and daily waited at Whitehall, appear of a great and majestic deportment and comely presence."

It appears, among other things to be gathered from this reminiscence of the not uncandid old royalist, that Cromwell, the destined director and controller of the commencing revolution, showed himself in front of the movement almost as soon as it began; not indeed as yet with the solitary conspicuousness of Mirabeau in the Salle de Menus Plaisirs, at Versailles, on the memorable 23rd of June, 1789, but still as even already an actor and in some sort a leader, not a mere voter or cypher. He not only spoke, we see, but was attentively listened to. The rude fervour and passion of his eloquence found an echo in the strong convictions and excited temper of his audience, and of the time, that made his earnestness a power, a spell. He gave expression and embodiment to the dominant national sentiment; not indeed in musical tones or well-turned periods, but with a voice and manner, with a force of action and kindling of eye, that spoke from the heart to the heart, and evinced both what an intensity of belief was in the man and with what fearlessness, if need were, he would act as well as speak. The reputation, too, of the courage and resources he had already shown as a champion of the public rights had, [Pg 31] as we have seen, gone before him to this wider and higher field; and no doubt, however wild or extravagant his notions might be thought by some, many a suggestion or remark that dropped from him would confirm, with the great majority of his hearers, the favourable impression of his insight and faculty. At all events, that insight and faculty existed, and, whether recognized or not for the present, would be sure, in such a state of things as was now coming on, to make themselves be felt in due time. All old artificial props and ligaments were about to fall off, and older Nature to resume her supremacy and sole dominion, when the strong man would carry it over his fellows by the same law that makes the steel cut through the lead. Not, however, now, at the age to which the world has got, the man whose strength is of fleshly thews and sinews or mere ferocity of disposition, as in the infancy of society, but he of the strong heart united with the strong head. It was an age, as we have said, of deep convictions, which stirred the whole intellectual and spiritual being of men.

It appears from the Notes of the proceedings of the Long Parliament taken by Sir Simond D'Ewes, and now preserved in the British Museum (Harleian MSS. 162–166), that the debate of which Sir Philip Warwick had retained such recollection as we have just read probably took place on the sixth day of the session, Monday the 9th of November, on which day, we are there told, "Mr. Cromwell delivered the petition of John Lilburn." This Lilburn, afterwards famous for his rampant and restless fanaticism, had once been Prynne's amanuensis. No doubt it was in presenting his petition on this Monday, the whole of which is stated to have been spent in hearing grievances, that Cromwell made the fervent speech in the sharp and untunable voice described by Warwick. It was most probably the first time he had spoken.

Another early notice of him occurs in Lord Clarendon's account of his own Life. Among many other committees of which his Lordship, then Mr. Hyde, sat as [Pg 32] chairman in the beginning of the Long Parliament, was one, he says, "upon an enclosure which had been made of some great wastes belonging to some of the Queen's manors without the consent of the tenants, the benefit whereof had been given by the Queen to a servant of near trust, who forthwith sold the lands enclosed to the Earl of Manchester, Lord Privy Seal; who, together with his son Lord Mandevil, were now more concerned to maintain the enclosure; against which, as well the inhabitants of other manors, who claimed common in those wastes, as the Queen's tenants of the same, made loud complaints, as a great oppression, carried upon them with a very high hand, and supported by power." "The Committee," continues Clarendon, "sat in the Queen's Court; and Oliver Cromwell, being one of them, appeared much concerned to countenance the petitioners, who were numerous together with their witnesses; the Lord Mandevil being likewise present as a party, and, by direction of the committee, sitting covered. Cromwell (who had never before been heard to speak in the House of Commons), ordered the witnesses and petitioners in the method of the proceeding, and seconded and enlarged upon what they said with great passion; and the witnesses and persons concerned, who were a very rude kind of people, interrupted the counsel and witnesses on the other side with great clamour when they said anything that did not please them, so that Mr. Hyde (whose office it was to oblige men of all sorts to keep order) was compelled to use some sharp reproofs and some threats to reduce them to such a temper that the business might be quietly heard. Cromwell in great fury reproached the chairman for being partial, and that he discountenanced the witnesses by threatening them; the other appealed to the committee, which justified him, and declared that he behaved himself as he ought to do, which more inflamed him, who was already too much angry. When, upon any mention of matter of fact, or the proceeding before and at the enclosure, the Lord Mandevil desired to be heard, and with great modesty related what had been [Pg 33] done, or explained what had been said, Mr. Cromwell did answer and reply upon him with so much indecency and rudeness, and in language so contrary and offensive, that every man would have thought that, as their natures and their manners were as opposite as it is possible, so their interests could never have been the same. [2] In the end his whole carriage was so tempestuous, and his behaviour so insolent, that the chairman found himself obliged to reprehend him, and to tell him, if he proceeded in the same manner, he would adjourn the committee, and the next morning complain to the House of him; which he never forgave, and took all occasions afterwards to pursue him with the utmost malice and revenge to his death." Mr. Carlyle concludes, from an examination of the Journals, that these proceedings probably occurred in the beginning of July, 1641, and that they related to the Soke of Somersham, near St. Ives. "Cromwell," he observes, "knew this Soke of Somersham, near St. Ives, very well; knew these poor rustics, and what treatment they had got; and wished, not in the imperturbablest manner it would seem, to see justice done them. Here, too, subtracting the due subtrahend from Mr. Hyde's narrative, we have a pleasant visuality of an old summer-afternoon 'in the Queen's Court' two hundred years ago." Clarendon must have been mistaken (as he often is) in supposing that Cromwell had never yet spoken in the House.

He was soon, however, to make himself sufficiently well known on another scene, and by something more than speaking. Among other notices that we have of him in the momentous year 1642, are the following:—In [Pg 34] the beginning of the year he is frequently mentioned as taking a busy and zealous part in the proceedings of the House in relation to the Popish rebellion in Ireland; and in a list, given by Rushworth, dated the 9th of April, he appears as a subscriber of 500l. for relieving the Protestants there. [3] This fact may be compared with Dugdale's story of his broken fortunes—his "low condition," and "mean lodgings," at the time of his election. When the war broke out, or was on the point of breaking out, the member for Cambridge was up and doing among the foremost. The King's commission of array for Leicestershire, the first that he issued, came out on the 12th of June; on the 15th of July D'Ewes records, that "Mr. Cromwell moved that we might make an order to allow the townsmen of Cambridge to raise two companies of Volunteers, and to appoint captains over them;" and on the same day the Journals testify that there was ordered to be repaid to him the sum of 100l., which he had expended in sending down arms into Cambridgeshire, for the defence of that county. Soon after this he appears to have gone down to his county, and to have taken the direction of affairs there into his own hands: on the 15th of August it is reported, from the Commission for the Defence of the Kingdom, that "Mr. Cromwell, in Cambridgeshire, has seized the magazine in the Castle at Cambridge, and hath hindered the carrying off the plate from that University, which, as some report, was to the value of 20,000l., or thereabouts;" and it is ordered that he have indemnity for having so acted. Finally, when the Parliamentary army was raised, and put under the command of the Earl of Essex, in September, Cromwell was made captain of one of the troops of horse (troop sixty-seven); and his eldest son Oliver, now a young man of twenty, cornet in another (troop eight).

[Pg 35] He was present with his troop at the battle of Edgehill, fought on Sunday, the 23rd of October. But nothing was decided by this encounter; nor for some time after did the war hold out any encouraging prospect to the Parliament. Cromwell may be fairly considered to have been the person who mainly turned the tide of affairs; first, by his general measures and suggestions, then by his military skill. Mr. Carlyle thus explains one of his services: "This winter (1642–3) there arise among certain counties 'Associations' for mutual defence against Royalism and plunderous Rupertism—a measure cherished by the Parliament, condemned as treasonable by the King. Of which associations, countable to the number of five or six, we name only one, that of Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Cambridge, Herts; with Lord Gray, of Wark, for commander; where, and under whom, Oliver was now serving. This 'Eastern Association' is alone worth naming. All the other associations, no man of emphasis being in the midst of them, fell in few months to pieces; only this of Cromwell's subsisted, enlarged itself, grew famous; and, indeed, kept its own borders clear of invasion during the whole course of the war. Oliver, in the beginning of 1643, is serving there, under the Lord Gray, of Wark. Besides his military duties, Oliver, as natural, was nominated of the committee for Cambridgeshire in this Association; he is also of the committee for Huntingdonshire, which as yet belongs to another 'Association.'" And Cromwell himself shall describe what he did in another matter. In a speech, delivered long afterwards, (on the 13th of April, 1657), to a committee of parliament, which waited upon him at Whitehall, he fell into the following interesting narrative of the early part of his public career:—"I was a person who, from my first employment, was suddenly preferred and lifted up from lesser trusts to greater, from my first being a captain of a troop of horse; and did labour as well as I could to discharge my trust; and God blessed me as it pleased him. And I did truly and plainly—and in a way of foolish simplicity, as it was judged by very great and [Pg 36] wise men, and good men, too,—desire to make my instruments help me in that work. And I will deal plainly with you: I had a very worthy friend then, and he was a very noble person, and I know his memory is very grateful to all—Mr. John Hampden. At my first going out into this engagement I saw our men were beaten at every hand. I did, indeed; and desired him that he would make some additions to my Lord Essex's army, of some new regiments; and I told him I would be serviceable to him in bringing such men in as I thought had a spirit that would do something in the work. This is very true that I tell you; God knows I lie not. 'Your troops,' said I, 'are most of them old decayed serving-men and tapsters, and such kind of fellows; and,' said I, 'their troops are gentlemen's sons, younger sons, and persons of quality; do you think that the spirits of such base and mean fellows will ever be able to encounter gentlemen, that have honour and courage and resolution in them?' Truly I did represent to him in this manner conscientiously; and truly I did tell him—'You must get men of a spirit; and take it not ill what I say—I know you will not—of a spirit that is likely to go on as far as gentlemen will go; or else you will be beaten still.' I told him so; I did truly. He was a wise and worthy person; and he did think that I talked a good notion, but an impracticable one. Truly I told him I could do something in it. I did so; and truly I must needs say this to you—impute it to what you please,—I raised such men as had the fear of God before them; as made some conscience of what they did; and from that day forward, I must say to you, they were never beaten; and wherever they were engaged against the enemy they beat continually." These were they who came to be popularly known as Cromwell's Ironsides—the Invincible Ironsides, against whom the shock of every battle broke itself as upon a rock of adamant.

Cromwell, as far as has been discovered, is first designated in the newspapers as Colonel in the beginning of March, 1643; he was colonel of a regiment of horse, his own Ironsides, raised by himself in the Eastern Counties. [Pg 37] We may gather a notion of the manner in which he was employed from the examination before the Commons, on the 13th of March, of Thomas Conisby, Esq., High Sheriff of Herts, who one market-day not long before, at St. Albans, had been attempting to execute one of the King's Commissions of Array, "when Cromwell's dragoons darted suddenly in upon him; laid him fast—not without some difficulty: he was first seized by 'six troopers,' but rescued by his Royalist multitude; then 'twenty troopers' again seized him; 'barricadoed the inn-yard;' conveyed him off to London to give what account of the matter he could." [4] Or take the account given by Mr. John Cory, merchant of Norwich, in a letter to Sir John Potts, Bart., one of the deputy lieutenants of the city of Norwich, of what is called the meeting at Laystoff, or Lowestoff, in Suffolk; which letter D'Ewes has preserved and Mr. Carlyle has printed. On the night of Monday the 13th of March, Cory states, letters from Yarmouth informed the Colonel (that is, Cromwell) that the town of Lowestoff had received in divers strangers (Royalists), and was fortifying itself. Thereupon, Cory continues, "the Colonel advised no man might enter in or out the gates (of Norwich, where he then was) that night. And the next morning, between five and six, with his five troops, with Captain Fountain's, Captain Rich's, and eighty of our Norwich Volunteers, he marched towards Lowestoff; where he was met with the Yarmouth Volunteers, who brought four or five pieces of ordnance. The town (of Lowestoff) had blocked themselves up, all except where they had placed their ordnance, which were three pieces; before which a chain was drawn to keep off the horse. The Colonel summoned the town, and demanded if they would deliver up the strangers, the town, and their army—promising them then favour, if so; if not, none. They yielded to deliver up their strangers, but not the rest. Whereupon our Norwich dragoons crept under the chain before mentioned, and came within pistol-shot of their ordnance; proffering to fire upon their cannoneer, who [Pg 38] fled: so they gained the two [three?] pieces of ordnance, and broke the chain; and they and the horse entered the town without more resistance." Eighteen strangers were found, who at once surrendered—one of them was Mr. F. Cory, "my unfortunate cousin," says the letter-writer, "who I wish would have been better persuaded." Not long after this, or on the 26th of May, the county of Huntingdon joined itself to the Eastern Association; Lincolnshire was next cleared of the Royal forces by Cromwell, and it joined in September; so that now the Association consisted of seven counties, which were often called the Seven Associated Counties. Neither royalist insurrection nor royalist invasion, nor royalist attempt of any kind, was ever after heard of in this district.

Meanwhile Cromwell had been appointed by the parliament, Governor of the Isle of Ely. "The Parliament affairs, this summer," to quote Mr. Carlyle's rapid, but comprehensive narrative, "have taken a bad course; and, except it be in the Eastern Association, look every where declining. They have lost Bristol; Essex's army has melted away, without any action of mark all summer, except the loss of Hampden in a skirmish: in the beginning of August the King breaks out from Oxford, very clearly superior in force; goes to settle Bristol; and might thence, it was supposed, have marched straight to London, if he had liked. He decides on taking Gloucester with him before he quits those parts. The Parliament, in much extremity, calls upon the Scots for help; who under conditions will consent."

Things were in this state when, on the 10th of August, the Earl of Manchester (Lord Kimbolton that was) was appointed Sergeant-Major of the Seven Associated Counties, and commissioned to raise a new army of 10,000 men. Of four colonels of horse whom he has under him, Colonel Cromwell is one; and he soon after appears as Manchester's Lieutenant, or second in command.

In the beginning of September, Essex raised the siege of Gloucester, and on the 20th of that month, returning from this achievement, fought the King at Newbury, [Pg 39] but with only so much success as enabled him to continue his march. Two days after the whole House of Commons and Assembly of Divines took the Solemn League and Covenant (embodying the fierce old anti-prelatical and intolerant Scotch Covenant) in St. Margaret's Church, Westminster; Cromwell among the rest, the signature next after his being that of young Sir Harry Vane.

On the 11th of October occurred the fight of Winceby, a small upland hamlet in the Wolds of Lincolnshire, about five miles west of Horncastle, in which Cromwell was in great danger; greater than he ever was in on any other occasion. Sir Thomas Fairfax, sent by his father, who was besieged in Hull by the Marquis of Newcastle, across the Humber, with a body of horse to do service under the Earl of Manchester, had effected a junction with Cromwell near Boston. After this ensued much marching and skirmishing. At last, all the night of Tuesday, the 10th, the Parliamentary horse were assembling from every quarter to the appointed rendezvous; and in the morning, Manchester gave orders that the whole force, both horse and foot, should be drawn up to Bolingbroke Hill, on the side of which, as the only convenient fighting-ground, he proposed to await the enemy. "But Colonel Cromwell," says an account which Vicars has given in the Third Part of his Parliamentary Chronicle, "was no way satisfied that we should fight; our horse being extremely wearied with hard duty two or three days together." The enemy, however, also the same morning collected all their force, being seventy-four columns of horse, and twenty-one columns of dragoons. [5] "We had not," continues the account in Vicars, "many more than half so many columns of horse and dragooners; but I believe we had as many men, besides our foot, which, indeed, could not be drawn up until it was very late. The enemy's word was Cavendish [in allusion to young General Cavendish, a cousin of the Earl of [Pg 40] Devonshire, slain in a previous action at Gainsborough in the latter end of July], and ours was Religion. I believe that, as we had no notice of the enemy's coming toward us, so they had as little of our preparation to fight with them. It was about twelve of the clock ere our horse and dragooners were drawn up. After that we marched about a mile nearer the enemy, and then we began to descry him, by little and little, coming toward us. Until this time we did not know we should fight, but, so soon as our men had knowledge of the enemy's coming, they were very full of joy and resolution, thinking it a great mercy that they should now fight with him. Our men went on in several bodies, singing psalms. Quartermaster-General Vermuyden with five troops had the forlorn hope, and Colonel Cromwell the van, assisted with other of my lord's troops, and seconded by Sir T. Fairfax." The armies met near Winceby. "Both they and we," the narrative goes on, "had drawn up our dragooners, who gave the first charge, and then the horse fell in. Colonel Cromwell fell with brave resolution upon the enemy immediately after their dragooners had given him the first volley; yet they were so nimble as that within half pistol-shot they gave him another: his horse was killed under him at the first charge, and fell down upon him; and as he rose up he was knocked down again by the gentleman who charged him, who 'twas conceived was Sir Ingram Hopton; but afterwards he recovered a poor horse in a soldier's hands, and bravely mounted himself again. Truly this first charge was so home given, and performed with so much admirable courage and resolution, by our troops, that the enemy stood not another, but were driven back upon their own body, which was to have seconded them; and at last put these into a plain disorder, and thus in less than half an hour's fight they were all quite worsted." The chase continued along a road still called by the expressive name of Slash Lane as far as to Horncastle, or beyond it. A few other towns on the western border of Lincolnshire were still held by the royalists; but they, too, were all delivered in the course of the following spring.

[Pg 41] Meanwhile towards the close of January, 1644, the Scottish army, 21,000 strong, had arrived under the command of old General Alexander Lesley, whom the King had, in November, 1641, after what was called the Accommodation with Scotland, created Earl of Leven, but who had not been withdrawn by that elevation from his original party, the more rigid Presbyterians, or Covenanters. The siege of York followed in May; the Marquis of Newcastle being cooped up in the city with a body of 6000 royalists by the united forces of the Scots under Leven, the Yorkshiremen under Lord Fairfax, and the army of the associated counties under Manchester and Cromwell. They may have amounted in all to some twenty-five thousand men. In the end of June Prince Rupert arrived with 20,000 men to relieve the marquis, and the battle of Marston Moor, in the neighbourhood of York, followed on the evening of Tuesday, the 2nd of July. The result was the complete defeat and rout of the King's troops. In a letter written three days after to Colonel Valentine Walton, who had married his sister Margaret, and whose son had fallen in this bloody field, Cromwell thus sums up what had been achieved: "Truly England and the Church of God hath had a great favour from the Lord, in this great victory given unto us, such as the like never was since this war began. It had all the evidences of an absolute victory obtained by the Lord's blessing upon the godly party principally. We never charged, but we routed the enemy. The left wing, which I commanded, being our own horse, saving a few Scots in our rear, beat all the Prince's horse. God made them as stubble to our swords. We charged their regiments of foot with our horse, and routed all we charged. The particulars I cannot relate now; but I believe, of twenty thousand, the Prince hath not four thousand left." York surrendered a few days after.

But now, when the war had at last come to look decidedly well for the Parliament, began to appear divergence of views, and then open dissension, among the parliamentary leaders and military commanders. On the 25th of November, we find Lieutenant-General Cromwell [Pg 42] exhibiting in the House of Commons a series of distinct charges against the Earl of Manchester, beginning with the allegation "that the said earl hath always been indisposed and backward to engagements and the ending of the war with the sword; and for such a peace as a victory would be a disadvantage to; and hath declared this by principles express to that purpose, and a continued series of carriage and actions answerable." And on the 9th of December he is recorded to have addressed the House in the following terms: "It is now a time to speak, or for ever hold the tongue. . . . For what do the enemy say? Nay, what do many say that were friends at the beginning of the Parliament? Even this, that the members of both Houses have got great places and commands, and the sword into their hands and, what by interest in Parliament, what by power in the Army, will perpetually continue themselves in grandeur, and not permit the war speedily to end, lest their own power should determine with it." Soon after was passed, readily by the Commons but very reluctantly by the Lords, the famous Self-denying Ordinance, incapacitating members of either House from holding either civil employments or commands in the army. After having been once rejected by the Lords, it was finally agreed to by that House, on the 3rd of April, 1645. Meanwhile, on the 21st of January, Sir Thomas Fairfax had been nominated General-in-Chief of the Army; the re-arrangement of which, or, what was called the New Model, was completed on the 19th of February.

Cromwell, however, was never himself subjected to the operation of the Self-denying Ordinance. It was not to take effect till forty days after the date of its passing; and when this space expired Fairfax requested that he might not lose the services of so able an officer, and the two Houses agreed that he should hold his commission forty days longer. Before the end of that time the importance of his services in a military capacity had been still more satisfactorily illustrated to the universal conviction, and the ordinance was further suspended in his favour for three months. After this the suspension was [Pg 43] constantly renewed for the same length of time, his presence with the army having now evidently become indispensable.

It was during the currency of the second of these terms of forty days, or under the first suspension of the ordinance, that the great battle of Naseby, in Northamptonshire, was fought on the 14th of June. Cromwell here commanded the right wing of the parliamentary army; and, while Ireton and his cavalry on the left were swept away by the impetuous onset of Prince Rupert, he, after driving back Sir Marmaduke Langdale, to whom he was in the first instance opposed, fell upon the Royal infantry, the only remaining force the King had in the field, and won a brilliant victory before Prince Rupert had returned from the pursuit of Ireton's scattered horse. The battle, however, had not been a mere sudden onset on the one side and flight on the other; it had been long and obstinately disputed; in his letter to Lenthall, the Speaker, written that same evening, Cromwell himself describes it as having been very doubtful for three hours. The killed and taken of the Royal army amounted to about 5000, including a great number of officers. Some ladies of quality were also captured, and all the king's baggage, with many of his private papers. "We pursued the enemy," writes Cromwell, "from three miles short of Harborough to nine beyond, even to the sight of Leicester, whither the king fled." From Leicester, too, Charles fled after a stay of only a few hours; and that town, which the Royal forces had taken a few days before, was recovered for the Parliament a few days after.

The army now marched into the South-west. Here its first great achievement was the storming of Bristol, held by Prince Rupert, which took place on the 14th of September, and in which Cromwell bore the principal part. It was followed on the same day in the next month by the storming, conducted also under Cromwell's command, of Basing-house, in Hampshire, the strongly fortified mansion of the Marquis of Winchester, which was the most formidable place of strength that now [Pg 44] held out for the king, and the capture of which may be said to have in fact ended the war, although there were still a few other points where the royal standard continued for some time longer to wave. The last of these, Ragland Castle, in Worcestershire, the house of the Marquis of Worcester, was not reduced till the 17th of August, 1646.

On the 27th of April, 1646, the King left Oxford, and delivered himself up to the Scots; by whom, on the 11th of February, 1647, he was made over to the Commissioners of the Parliament. Cromwell, meanwhile, having resumed his place in Parliament, though still retaining his command in the army, which had in the greater part been drawn to the neighbourhood of the capital, had, in the growing separation of the two parties, assumed his place more distinctly than heretofore on the side of the Independents as opposed to the Presbyterians, which was also that of the Army, and probably the majority of the country, as opposed to the Parliament and the city of London. The latter, indeed, could count upon the Scots as their firm allies. But for the present the former acquired an important accession of strength by the bold exploit of Cornet Joyce, who, in the beginning of June, 1647, carried off the King from Holmby, and gave the army the possession of the royal person. The great events that followed can be merely enumerated here. Soon after eleven members, the chiefs of the Presbyterian party, were compelled, on the demand of the army, to withdraw from the House of Commons; on the night of the 11th of November the King made his escape from Hampton Court, and fled to the Isle of Wight; and there, in Carisbrook Castle, and afterwards in Hurst Castle, on the opposite coast of Hampshire, he was detained in close custody by order of the Parliament, now sufficiently reduced under military control.

The war, however, now broke out afresh. By May, 1648, the Presbyterian Royalists of Wales were in insurrection, and a Scotch army, said to number 40,000 men, under the Duke of Hamilton, was about to cross the border. Cromwell proceeded first to the West, and laid siege [Pg 45] to Pembroke Castle, into which Colonel Poyer had thrown himself for the King; that stronghold surrendered on the 11th of July, and then he hastened to the North to meet Hamilton, whom he encountered at Preston on the 17th of August, and in that and the two following days scattered to the winds. From Lancashire the victorious commander continued his march to Edinburgh, which he reached in the beginning of October. All Presbyterian opposition in the north gave way before him; the war elsewhere also rapidly expired; and by the beginning of December he was again in London, and the din of arms once more hushed in all parts of the kingdom. He arrived in town on the evening of the day, Wednesday, the 6th of December, on which Colonel Pride had begun his famous drastic purification of the House of Commons, or seizure and expulsion by force of arms of the obnoxious members. After all this came the trial of the King in January, 1649, and his execution on the 30th of that month. Cromwell attended at every session of the High Court of Justice except one; and his name was the third of the fifty-nine attached to the warrant, the first being that of Bradshaw, the President, the second that of Lord Groby (or Thomas Grey, as he here subscribed it).

The country remained without any visible executive government, or any distinct from the Parliament, or rather its lord and master, the Army, for more than a fortnight. At length, on the 13th of February, an ordinance was passed appointing forty-one persons to form a Council of State. Of this body Cromwell, of course, was one. He seems to have been chosen their first President, when they met at Derby House to begin the exercise of their functions on Saturday, the 17th. Eventually Bradshaw was appointed permanent President. The first movement against the new government proceeded from the Levellers, or ultra-democratic section of the army; and to suppress this rising flame was the first mission upon which Cromwell was sent. He trod it out by the execution of three of the ringleaders of the sedition in the churchyard of Burford, in Oxfordshire, on Thursday [Pg 46] the 17th of May. But before this it had been arranged that he should proceed as Lord Lieutenant and Commander-in-Chief to Ireland, which, as usual, required to be conquered over again before it would submit to the new order of things. He set out from London on the 10th of July; arrived at Bristol on the 14th; continued there collecting his forces and making preparations till the end of the month; then marched on to Milford Haven; sailed thence on the 13th of August; reached Dublin on the 15th, and, with as little delay as might be, commenced operations in the most determined style. The town of Drogheda (or Tredah, as it was then more commonly called) was taken by storm on the 12th of September, and all persons found in arms within the walls put to the sword. A terrible example; but it answered its purpose. Dundalk and Trim immediately surrendered without any attempt at resistance; Wexford was taken by storm, with the slaughter of some two thousand of the enemy, on the 11th of October; Ross surrendered, when on the point of being stormed, on the 19th; Cork, Youghal, and other towns then came in of their own accord. Cromwell, however, was obliged to leave the work thus prosperously begun to be carried on by others—first by Ireton, who died in the course of it; then by Ludlow, who brought it to a finish in the course of the year 1652. The Lord Lieutenant was called away in May, 1650, to another field.

Scotland too now required reduction. The Scots hated Independency as much as or more than they hated Prelacy; the one was only opposed to their favourite Presbyterianism, the other was a sort of mock or bastard Presbyterianism, the very likeness of which to the true or legitimate faith made it the more dangerous and detestable; besides, Presbyterianism had been conquered, and to a great extent supplanted in England by this new and perverted system. Then they had also a theory of civil polity, to which they clung with nearly as much obstinacy as to their peculiar ecclesiastical institutions. They had no scruple about rising in arms against the King, or about reducing him by every means in their [Pg 47] power to the last extremity; but they objected to touching his life. The great act of the 30th of January had struck with horror even those of them who had, in fact, contributed most to bring it about, whether by first marching to the aid of the English Parliament, or by afterwards delivering up Charles to that body. These principles had now led them to recognize Charles II.; he on his part had consented to make profession of Presbyterianism: and so here was all Scotland, under its Covenanted King, setting the English Parliament and its new Commonwealth at defiance. On the 26th of June Cromwell was constituted Captain-General and Commander-in-Chief of all the forces within the Commonwealth of England; and three days after he set out from London for the north. He reached Musselburgh, in the neighbourhood of the Scottish capital, before the end of July, no attempt having been made to oppose him up to this time; but here, in front of Edinburgh, lay General David Leslie, on ground where he could not be attacked, and from which it was soon found that he could no more be drawn than driven. Cromwell remained till the 30th of August, and then, with the winter coming on, and supplies uncertain, determined to retrace his steps. Pursued by the Scots, he got as far as Dunbar; but here all further progress became impossible, except such as might be made by the sword. He was shut up in a corner, and the enemy had gathered round him on all sides; but when escape seemed hopeless, early in the morning of the 3rd of September, instead of waiting to be overwhelmed, he, by a brilliant and unexpected movement, suddenly commenced the attack, and obtained a signal victory. The peril Cromwell was in before this deliverance, and the collected and resolute mind with which he confronted the destruction that threatened to overwhelm him, are well expressed in the following note (published for the first time in Mr. Carlyle's work) which he wrote to Sir Arthur Haselrig, the Governor of Newcastle, on the day before the battle: "Dear Sir, we are upon an engagement very difficult. The enemy hath blocked up our way at the Pass at Copperspath [Pg 48] [Cockburnspath], through which we cannot get without almost a miracle. He lieth so upon the hills that we know not how to come that way without great difficulty; and our lying here daily consumeth our men, who fall sick beyond imagination. I perceive your forces are not in a capacity for present release. Wherefore, whatever becomes of us, it will be well for you to get what forces you can together; and the South to help what they can. The business nearly concerneth all good people. If your forces had been in a readiness to have fallen upon the back of Copperspath, it might have occasioned supplies to have come to us. But the only wise God knows what is best. All shall work for good. Our spirits are comfortable, praised be the Lord, though our present condition be as it is. And indeed we have much hope in the Lord; of whose mercy we have had large experience. Indeed, do you get what forces you can against them. Send to friends in the South to help with more. Let H. Vane know what I write. I would not make it public, lest danger should accrue thereby. You know what use to make hereof. Let me hear from you. I rest your servant, Oliver Cromwell."

Cromwell now returned to Edinburgh, where, except the garrison in the castle, there was no longer any force to oppose him; from Edinburgh he proceeded to Glasgow, which city also submitted without any attempt at resistance; Edinburgh Castle surrendered on the 24th of December. This capital was his head quarters for the next six months; in July, 1651, the army passed over to Fife, and there in like manner carried every thing before it; in short, by the beginning of August, throughout all the Low Country of Scotland, Stirling and Dundee remained almost the only places of importance that held out for King Charles. In this state of things the Scots and their King suddenly formed the resolution of making a dash into England. Thither, too, Cromwell followed them, and the result was the battle of Worcester, fought on the 3rd of September, 1651, the anniversary of that of Dunbar. Cromwell was again victorious, and the Royal cause was trodden into the bloody [Pg 49] earth. Dundee had been stormed by Lieutenant-General Monk two days before, so that the conquest of Scotland was now complete.

"Worcester's laureate wreath," as Milton phrases it, was the last that Cromwell won actually with sword in hand. This "crowning mercy," as he himself called it in his letter written the day after to Lenthall, finally established the government of the Commonwealth. It also made Cromwell distinctly and indisputably the greatest man in England—"our chief of men," as he was hailed in Milton's sonnet. The rest of his life belongs rather to history than to biography. The first memorable business in which he figures after this is the famous meeting of members of parliament and officers of the army, which, Whitlocke tells us, he called at the Speaker's house soon after his arrival in town (probably in the end of September or beginning of October) to consider what should be done for a settlement of the nation. It came to nothing for the present; but, in so far as Whitlocke's memory and honesty are to be trusted, the Lord General seems to have already begun to incline to the opinion that a government by a single person might be necessary or most expedient—what he described as "a settlement with somewhat of monarchical power in it." It is very likely, we think, that he really did both entertain and express such an opinion. And, probably enough also, he may have thought, looking around him, that, as circumstances stood, he was himself both the likeliest and the fittest person to be chosen as that single head. It is certain, at any rate, that, if such a form of government had been determined upon, he was the person whom the all but unanimous voice of Puritan England would even at this early date have fixed upon. However, that arrangement was not yet to take place. A war with the Dutch, which broke out in the summer of 1652, illustrated the reign of the Long Parliament with what proved to be a last flush of glory. That body, now reduced to a fag-end of about fifty members, expressively denominated the Rump, had, for all its memorable history, become a weariness and contempt to the nation—which [Pg 50] universally felt that these fifty individuals had no more right to sit where they did, monopolizing the management and dividing the plunder of the State, than any other knot of persons who might club together and assume similar powers of their own authority. There never was another government but had some foundation, or show of foundation, either of right or might, to stand upon; but this had none whatever. They were there merely because they were tolerated, endured, let alone; because it had not yet been agreed upon who should take their place. To all but themselves—who, indeed, like the piping shepherd in the Arcadia, went debating on, and fabricating their ordinances and their jobs, as if they meant never to have ended—as if England was to be Rump-ridden till the day of doom—it was evident that there must be a change. Cromwell was clearly the man to strike the blow; which he did by going down with his musqueteers on the famous 20th of April, 1653, and clearing the House.

With the Parliament disappeared also its creation, the Council of State; so that there remained no constituted authority in the nation except that of Cromwell, the Captain-General and Commander of the Forces. He and his chief officers thereupon formed themselves into a new Interim Council of State. The moment, as it appeared to them, was not one for a general popular election; at the same time they did not desire to retain the powers of government longer than might be necessary in their own hands; they therefore immediately issued summonses to a hundred and forty persons, characterized in the document, and no doubt believed by its framers to be, "persons fearing God, and of approved fidelity and honesty." They were, of course, all of the Puritan party, and supposed likely to be favourable to the establishment of a government upon a Puritan basis. It is acknowledged by Whitlocke that many of them were persons of fortune and knowledge. This is what is called the Little Parliament, or Barebones Parliament, the latter nickname being given to it in allusion to one of the members, a Mr. Praisegod Barbone, leather-merchant in Fleet-street, [Pg 51] who does not appear, however, to have had anything else ridiculous about him except his name. Properly speaking, it was not a parliament, but rather such a convention as has been more than once called together upon similar emergencies, when circumstances did not permit the election of a parliament. The experiment in this instance, however, did not succeed. They met on the 4th of July, when Cromwell addressed them in a long speech, explaining with much painstaking the reasons or rather the necessity of the course he had taken; but more, apparently, from the insuperable difficulties of the task to which they had been set than owing to any peculiar incompetency in the men, they deemed it expedient on the 12th of December to pass a vote declaring that their sitting any longer would not be for the good of the Commonwealth; and that therefore it was requisite to deliver up unto the Lord General Cromwell the powers which they had received from him.

Again left alone, and as it were Dictator, Cromwell now to the existing Council of State, consisting of the chief officers of the army, associated by invitation a number of "other persons of interest in the nation;" and by this assembly before the end of the week, namely, on Friday, the 16th, he was declared Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland; an instrument or scheme of government being at the same time agreed upon and proclaimed, by which it was appointed that the Lord Protector should be assisted in the administration of affairs by a Council of State composed of fifteen or twenty-one persons, and also that a parliament freely elected by the people, though according to an amended plan of representation, should assemble on the 3rd of September, 1653. Such a parliament, called the First Protectorate Parliament, did accordingly meet on that memorable anniversary; but its proceedings were soon found to have any other tendency rather than that of settling the nation; and the Protector, under the authority vested in him, dissolved it on the 22nd of January thereafter.

Then followed the government of the ten Major-Generals, [Pg 52] military lieutenants of the Lord Protector, each appointed to superintend his district or portion of the country, which lasted for about a year, or from the autumn of 1655 to that of 1656. Meanwhile the Second Protectorate Parliament had been called, and had commenced its sittings on the 17th of September of the latter year. The members had been again elected according to the reformed plan of representation; but the Protector and his council deemed it expedient that of those returned nearly a hundred, being about a fourth of the whole number, should, as disaffected or suspected, be restrained for the present from taking their seats. Their exclusion was an act of arbitrary power, no doubt; it was a proceeding unauthorized by any law, by any clause of the constitution, or instrument of government; but it does not follow that it was in the circumstances either an unwise or wicked exercise of power. The state of affairs was anomalous altogether; the entire edifice and system of the government stood upon a basis of arbitrary authority; inviolable constitutional rights and forms were for settled and ordinary times, not for such a crisis of convulsion and birth-agony as the present. We must understand the summoning of a parliament at all at such a moment to be merely an experiment or effort made with the object of transforming a government which of necessity had till now been a military despotism into a government of law and free institutions. And even with all the precautions that were taken the experiment for the present failed. The last parliament had got itself dismissed for its ultra-democratical tendencies; this one, taking the opposite tack, would be satisfied with nothing less than that the Protector should set up a House of Lords and change his title of Protector for that of King. After much negotiation and consultation Oliver finally rejected the latter proposition; but the House of Lords was actually tried. Sixty-three persons were summoned, of whom above forty attended and formed an Upper House, which commenced its sittings on the 20th of January, 1658, with the second session of this Second Protectorate Parliament. On the preceding 26th of June, also, the day on which [Pg 53] the first session had terminated, a new inauguration or installation of the Lord Protector had been solemnized with extraordinary pomp and ceremony. But the framework of society had not yet sufficiently recovered from the shock of the violent revolution it had passed through; it had not regained sufficient solidity and firmness to stand the working of this or probably of any other political system in which an attempt should be made to combine antagonistic forces. The two Houses, representing the two elements or powers of democracy and aristocracy, could not be brought into harmonious action. The Lord Protector, therefore, found it necessary to dissolve this Second Parliament also before it should do any more mischief. He came down and dismissed the two Houses on the 4th of February, when the session had lasted about a fortnight. The time for parliamentary government in England under the new dynasty, and the new state of things in all respects, had evidently not yet arrived. Only government by a single person, in other words absolutism or despotism, was as yet practicable.

It was fortunate, such being the case, that the country had such a despot or absolute ruler as did actually preside over it. The government of the Protectorate had, except in those respects in which good government was, from the circumstances of the time and the state of men's minds, impossible, been as successful a government as ever was known in England. It was not what is called a free government; the popular sense, or nonsense, had no voice in it; the subject even might be said to have no recognized rights of any kind as against the sovereign. Yet in point of fact any thing deserving the name of oppression was unknown; pertinacious opponents and disturbers of the government were, indeed, in some cases summarily enough disposed of, as was quite necessary; but nobody who chose to live quietly and in due obedience was molested or interfered with; justice, it is admitted on all hands, was fairly administered by the magistrates and courts of law; taxation was light; even freedom of opinion and profession, both political and religious, was permitted and protected so far as was consistent with the [Pg 54] maintenance of the established institutions and the public peace. An absolute ruler less inclined to blood or cruelty than was Oliver Cromwell never existed; even Clarendon, who hated both the cause and the man, acknowledges that he was always opposed to sanguinary courses. Resolute soldier as he was, and capable as he showed himself to be of using the sword with unsparing severity when such was deemed necessary or expedient, he was unquestionably a kind-hearted man, and, with all the strictness of his religious creed and practice, full of all gentle affections.

England, too, never stood in higher estimation with foreign powers and nations than it did while under the sway of Cromwell; the honour, dignity, and greatness of the country had never been better maintained by any preceding ruler. The Dutch were compelled to sue for peace; advantageous treaties, first of peace, afterwards of alliance, were made with France, one of the results being the acquisition of Dunkirk; Spain was also humbled, and Jamaica wrested from her. No words can be stronger than those of Clarendon upon this part of the Protector's character and conduct:—"His greatness at home was but a shadow of the glory he had abroad. It was hard to discover which feared him most, France, Spain, or the Low Countries, where his friendship was current at the value he put upon it. As they did all sacrifice their honour and interest to his pleasure, so there is nothing he could have demanded that either of them would have denied him."

In Clarendon's eyes Cromwell is of course a very wicked, but he is also a very great, man. "He was," he elsewhere says, "one of those men whom his very enemies could not condemn without commending him at the same time; for he could never have done half that mischief without great parts of courage, industry, and judgment. He must have had a wonderful understanding in the natures and humours of men, and as great a dexterity in applying them; who from a private and obscure birth (though of a good family), without interest or estate, alliance or friendship, could raise himself to such a [Pg 55] height, and compound and knead such opposite and contradictory tempers, humours, and interests into a consistence that contributed to his designs and to their own destruction; whilst himself grew insensibly powerful enough to cut off those by whom he had climbed in the instant that they projected to demolish their own building. What was said of Cinna may very justly be said of him. He attempted those things which no good man durst have ventured on; and achieved those in which none but a valiant and great man could have succeeded. Without doubt, no man with more wickedness ever attempted anything, or brought to pass what he desired more wickedly, more in the face and contempt of religion and moral honesty; yet wickedness as great as his could never have accomplished those designs without the assistance of a great spirit, an admirable circumspection and sagacity, and a most magnanimous resolution." This is praise from an enemy that leaves nothing further to be desired.

Clarendon also confirms what we are told by Sir Philip Warwick of the manner in which Cromwell's demeanour and personal presence grew in dignity and elevation with the exaltation of his fortunes:—"When he appeared first in parliament, he seemed to have a person in no degree gracious [graceful], no ornament of discourse, none of those talents which use to conciliate the affections of the stander-by; yet, as he grew into place and authority, his parts seemed to be raised, as if he had had concealed faculties till he had occasion to use them; and when he was to act the part of a great man, he did it without any indecency, notwithstanding the want of custom."

Exertion and anxiety seem to have made Cromwell prematurely old. He has been often quoted as one of the most remarkable examples of the acquisition of great distinction in a public career after it had been entered upon comparatively late in life; and in that respect his case is doubly extraordinary, seeing that the eminence and renown he thus achieved were in two fields, both in statesmanship and in war. He was three-and-forty before [Pg 56] he ever drew a sword; yet he became a commander who was never beaten. But the brevity of so illustrious a military career deserves also to be noted: it extends only, from the fight of Edge-hill to that of Worcester, over the period of about nine years. His strength was beginning to break before it was over. On the 4th of September, 1650, the day after the battle of Dunbar, he writes to his wife:—"The Lord hath showed us an exceeding mercy: who can tell how great it is! My weak faith hath been upheld. I have been in my inward man marvellously supported;—though I assure thee I grow an old man, and feel infirmities of age marvellously stealing upon me." In the course of the following summer, while he was still in Scotland, he had three severe attacks of ague. In the autumn of 1658, however, his look is said to have been yet strong and young for his years. But he was already confined to bed with an attack of gout, when his favourite daughter Elizabeth, the wife of John Claypole, Esq., whom he had created Lord Claypole, after a long and distressing illness, died at Hampton Court, on the 6th of August, at the age of twenty-nine. He never recovered this blow. He got up, and is recorded to have been on horseback in the park at Hampton Court on Friday, the 20th of August; but on the next day symptoms of fever appeared; on Tuesday he was by the advice of the physicians removed from Hampton Court to Whitehall for better air; and there he lingered till the morning of the 3rd of September, when he breathed his last on that anniversary of his signal deliverance at Dunbar and his crowning victory at Worcester.

His body, after lying in state at Somerset House, was interred in Westminster Abbey, in Henry the Seventh's Chapel, among the English kings and queens. The funeral was celebrated on the 23rd of November, some time after the actual interment, with extraordinary magnificence. On the Restoration the new government had the remains of the great Protector dug up and exposed on the gallows at Tyburn; after which the rest of the skeleton was buried at the gallows' foot, and the [Pg 57] skull was stuck upon a pole and set up on Westminster Hall. Such was the spirit of that age!

Oliver was succeeded in the Protectorate by his eldest son Richard; who, however, deserted by everybody, resigned his unsuitable dignity after holding it for about seven months; and, retiring into private life, existed in obscurity till he died at Cheshunt on the 12th of July, 1712, at the age of eighty-six. His wife, Dorothy, daughter of Richard Major, or Mayor, Esq., of Hursley, in Hampshire, had died long before at Hursley, on the 5th of January, 1676. They had nine children, none of whom, however, left any descendants.

Elizabeth, the wife of Oliver Cromwell, retired after the Restoration to the house of her son-in-law, Claypole, at Norborough in Lincolnshire, and died there in 1665.

Of their other children who grew up, Oliver the eldest is believed to have been killed in July, 1648; Henry, who was Lord Deputy in Ireland, married a daughter of Sir Francis Russell, Bart., of Chippenham, in Cambridgeshire, and died at Spinney Abbey, near Wicken, in Cambridgeshire, in 1674, having had by his wife, besides two daughters, five sons, descendants from Henry, the second of whom, still exist; Bridget, married first to Ireton, and after his death to Fleetwood, died at Stoke Newington, in 1681; Elizabeth, Lady Claypole, as mentioned above, died in 1658; and Mary, born at St. Ives, in 1637, who became the second wife of Thomas Viscount (afterwards Earl) Fauconberg, died in 1712, about three months before her brother Richard.


[1] Dugdale's account (in his 'Short View of the Troubles') is a piece of good comedy: "His boldness and eloquence in this business (of the Fens) gained him so much credit, as that, soon after, being necessitated through his low condition to quit a country farm which he held at St. Ives, and betake himself to mean lodgings in Cambridge, the schismatical party there chose him a burgess for their corporation in that unhappy Long Parliament, which began," &c. &c. His election to the Short Parliament is unknown to Dugdale, although so well informed on the subject of his lodgings at Cambridge.

[2] Lord Mandevil was soon after this summoned to the Upper House, while his father was yet alive, as Baron Montagu of Kimbolton (one of his father's titles); and he is the Lord Kimbolton impeached by the king along with the five members of the House of Commons, whom his majesty attempted to seize on the 4th of January, 1642, and the same who afterwards, when Earl of Manchester, commanded one of the parliamentary armies.

[3] His offer two months before is stated, in words, to have been only 300l.; and the figure in Rushworth may perhaps be a misprint.

[4] Carlyle, I. 174.

[5] The dragoons, or dragooners, of those days, supposed to have derived their name from the figure of a dragon's head on the lock of their carbines, and always distinguished from the regular horse, were armed with carbine and sword, and fought occasionally on foot as well as on horseback.

[Pg 58]


Many books



When Coleridge wrote at the end of Fuller's Church History, "Next to Shakspere, I am not certain whether Fuller, beyond all other writers, does not excite in me the sense and emotion of the marvellous," he doubtless expressed himself more unguardedly than he would have done, had he been writing for the press. But if this opinion of his appear to require some qualification, what he elsewhere wrote requires none:—"His wit, alike in quantity, quality, and perpetuity, surpassing that of the wittiest in a witty age, has robbed him of the praise not less due to him for an equal superiority in sound, shrewd, good sense and freedom of intellect." [6]

In the last century Fuller had fallen into comparative neglect, and when spoken of, it was as a quaint and odd writer—one to be laughed at, not to be listened to with respect. A truer and better feeling is gaining ground now; and Fuller is becoming more known, and of consequence [Pg 59] more esteemed; for while, as Coleridge truly says, "Wit was the stuff and substance of Fuller's intellect, the element, the earthen base, the material which he worked in; this very substance has defrauded him of his due praise for the practical wisdom of the thought, for the beauty and variety of the truths into which he shaped the stuff. Fuller was incomparably the most sensible, the least prejudiced great man of an age that boasted a galaxy of great men. He is a very voluminous writer; and yet, in all his numerous volumes on so many different subjects, it is scarcely too much to say that you will hardly find a page in which some one sentence out of every three does not deserve to be quoted for itself as motto or as maxim."

Fuller's character is best seen in his works. His life has been "endeavoured" often, and the particulars of it carefully investigated, but without much profit. The year after his death an anonymous biography was published which has served as the treasury to which all succeeding writers have resorted: it was written evidently by one who knew and valued him, and many minute traits of his character are related in a pleasant naïve manner. Oldys, one of the most laborious of men, wrote the Memoir of Fuller in the Biographia Britannica, and has given everything which his utmost diligence could discover: it is a full honest piece of joinery, but terribly dull. In 1844, a volume was published, entitled 'Memorials of the Life and Works of Thomas Fuller, D.D., by the Rev. A. T. Russell, B.C.L.,' which we opened with some eagerness from finding in the introduction a long list of the names of presidents and fellows of colleges, doctors, county historians, rectors, curates, registrars, and other learned men who had assisted the author in his investigations. But "put not your trust in princes:" we found almost nothing new about Fuller; though a good deal of genealogical information about parties mentioned by him, and also descriptions and criticisms of steeples, piscinas, altars, gowns, tradition, and other church matters; and though referring to one of the wittiest of men, these Memorials are dull as a [Pg 60] herald's pedigree—not a smile illumines the whole collection.

Thomas Fuller was born in June, 1608. "God in his providence," he writes in his 'Mixt Contemplations,' "fixed my nativity in a remarkable place. I was born at Aldwinckle, in Northamptonshire, where my father was the painful preacher of St. Peter's. This village was distanced one good mile west from Achurch, where Mr. Brown, founder of the Brownists, did dwell, whom, out of curiosity, when a youth, I often visited. It was likewise a mile and a half distant from East Laveden, where Francis Tresham, Esquire, so active in the gunpowder treason, had a large demesne and ancient habitation." To these personal reminiscences, which rendered Aldwinckle, in Fuller's esteem, "a remarkable place," we may add, that in the rectory of the adjoining parish of Aldwinckle, All Saints, John Dryden was born.

The Rev. Thomas Fuller, the father of our Thomas, was a devoted and laborious minister, a careful avoider of every occasion of strife, a learned man, and the friend and correspondent of many of his most learned contemporaries. Under his superintendence the education of Thomas was conducted in a private school at Aldwinckle until he reached his thirteenth year, when he was removed to Cambridge and entered as a student at Queen's College, of which his uncle Davenent, bishop of Salisbury, was president. The only notice of his youthful days is recorded by the gossiping and not very trustworthy Aubrey, and is much of the usual quality of his commodities: [7]—"Thomas Fuller was a boy of a pregnant wit, and when (his uncle) the bishop and his father were discoursing, he would be by and hearken, and now and then put in, and sometimes beyond expectation, for his years. He was of a middle stature, strong set, curled hair, a very working head, insomuch that walking and meditating before dinner, he would eat up a penny-loaf, not knowing that he did it." In 1624–5, being in his sixteenth year, Fuller took his degree of B.A., and that of M.A. in 1628. His uncle the bishop, who carefully watched [Pg 61] over his interests while at Cambridge, sought strenuously to obtain his election to a fellowship in his college, but without success. Fuller in consequence removed, in 1629, to Sidney Sussex College, where he had Dr. Ward for his tutor, a man of considerable learning and inflexible integrity; whose worth is recorded by his pupil in his 'Worthies of Durham;' "he turned with the times, as a rock riseth with the tide."

While at college appeared the first heir of his invention, like the firstlings of so many authors, a poem: it is entitled 'David's Hainous Sin, Heartie Repentance, Heavie Punishment.' Published in his twenty-third year, it is a very immature production; but exhibits many premonitions of his future genius. It is very scarce, indeed almost unknown, and very little would be gained by its resuscitation. Yet, as illustrating the progress of Fuller's mind, it has its value. Most of his peculiarities are discernible in it: there are the fondness for alliteration and playing upon words, the discursions, and something of the wit that distinguish his later productions. Speaking of the death of David's child, he writes—

"In vain the wit of wisest men doth strive
To cut off this entail, that doth derive
Death unto all, when first they are alive!"

Yet this is followed by a passage of much beauty, though disfigured by its expression:—

"As when a tender rose begins to blow,
Yet scarce unswaddled is, some wanton maid,
Pleas'd with the smell, allured with the show,
Will not reprieve it till it hath display'd
The folded leaves, but to her breast applies
Th' abortive bud, where coffined it lies
Losing the blushing die, before it dies."

He takes the opportunity, as young men are apt, to gird at the fair sex. Placing the patriarchal times in contrast with his own, he exclaims—

"Ah happy age, when ladies learnt to bake,
[Pg 62] And when king's daughters knew to knead a cake!
"Rebecka was esteem'd of comely hew,
Yet not so nice her comeliness to keep,
But that she water for the camels drew;
Rachel was fair, yet fed her father's sheep.
"But now for to supply Rebecka's place
Or do as Rachel did, is counted base;
Our dainty dames would take it in disgrace!"

Although his first venture in authorship was in rhyme, he did not repeat the experiment. From this time, indeed, his muse appears to have been rather sparing of her favours; except a few verses prefixed to the publication of an acquaintance, he meddled no more with metre till, towards the end of his life, he was inspired to celebrate 'His Majesty's Happy Return' in a 'Panegyric,' which was first printed separately; but afterwards inserted in his 'Worthies' (Worcestershire), with an intimation that his "Muse craves her own Nunc Dimittis, never to make verses more."

The year before the publication of his poem Fuller was presented by the master and fellows of Corpus Christi College to the living of St. Benet's, Cambridge. Already he appears to have gained much celebrity, and his preaching was attentively listened to. Twenty-four years later he published the lectures which he delivered at St. Benet's, on the book of Ruth, assigning as a reason for doing so, that others intended to publish them from notes taken at the time of their delivery.

In the following year, 1631, Bishop Davenent presented him to the prebendal stall of Hetherbury, in his Cathedral of Salisbury, and in 1634, to the rectory of Broad-Windsor, Dorsetshire; Fuller having previously resigned the curacy of St. Benet's.

The seven years he spent at Broad-Windsor were probably the happiest of his life: nor were they spent in indolence. In this pleasant retirement Fuller laid the foundation of his future eminence. Whilst he lived here some of his best pieces were written, and some others are said to have been planned and partly composed, though not completed until long afterwards. As a parish priest, he [Pg 63] gained the sincere esteem of his flock: insomuch, that when he went to Cambridge to take his degree of B.D. at the "commencement" in 1635, his earliest biographer (Oxon, 1662) relates that four of his chief parishioners requested to be allowed "to wait on him to Cambridge, to testify their exceeding engagements; it being the sense and request of the whole parish. This kindness was so present and so resolutely pressed that the doctor, with many thanks for that and other demonstrations of their love towards him, gladly accepted of their company, and with his customary innate pleasantness entertained their time to the journey's end."

In those days it was the custom to give a dinner upon the taking of a degree: and it was as much a point of honour that the feast should be liberal as that the degree should be commendable. Accordingly, his biographer adds, "by the way, that this commencement cost the doctor for his particular the sum of seven score pounds: an evidence of his liberality and largeness of mind proportionable to his other capacities, and yet than which nothing was less studied. At his departure he was dismissed with as honourable valedictions, and so returned in the same company (who had out of their own purse contributed another addition of honour to that solemnity) to his said rectory at Broad-Windsor, resolving there to spend himself and the time of his pilgrimage amongst his dear and loving charge."

But it was not so ordained. Had peaceful times continued, probably he would long have enjoyed the broad meadows and agreeable society of this pleasant neighbourhood, and at length have stepped quietly into an episcopal chair, instead of pursuing the somewhat erratic course he was driven to take. In 1640 he attended the convocation at which was imposed, by the authority and influence of Laud, those observances which led to such opposition on the part of the Puritans and Parliamentarians, and in the end to results so calamitous to the church. Fuller did not take an active part in the proceedings of the convocation, and disliked the measures adopted. The discussions of which he was a witness, [Pg 64] and the violent proceedings that were taking place whilst he attended London on this occasion, no doubt drew his attention strongly towards public affairs: and when a year later more determined measures had been adopted by the king on the one hand, and by the parliament on the other, he appears to have thought himself called to be present at the scene of strife,—not to increase that strife, however, but to join with those who yet hoped that the terrible evils of a social war might be averted. He had lost, too, his wife, whom he had married in 1640, and who died, after giving birth to a son, in the following year; and perhaps he looked to the excitement of more active life for relief from his domestic sorrow.

Be the circumstances that led him to take this step what they may, certain it is that he removed to London in 1641. He did not, however, at first hold a cure, but "supplied" in any of the pulpits that were offered to him. He speedily became one of the most popular preachers in the metropolis, crowds resorting to any church where he was to minister. His fame had doubtless gone before him, and helped to quicken the admiration his talents would of themselves have excited. Before he left Broad-Windsor he had published a volume of sermons, of a remarkable character, and to which we may presently take occasion to refer; and also his history of the Crusades, the most original, and long the most popular, of his writings. It was in this work that he first gave free scope to his singular genius. Though nothing could well promise to be less amusing than a 'History of the Holy War,' it turned out to be the most amusing book of the time. Abounding, however, as it does, in quaintnesses, strange jests, droll stories, and odd digressions, the main subject is never lost sight of, but carried forward in a steady course. One of his admiring friends vowed, in some complimentary verses prefixed according to the custom of that day, that henceforth might

"Tasso, be silent; my friend speaks: his story
Hath robbed thy poem of its long-lived glory.
So rich his vein, his lines of so high state,
Thou canst not feign so well as he relate!"

[Pg 65] And really the relations are so well handled that one might almost think the hyperbole reasonable—at least in a friend. Charles Lamb, than whom few men were ever better fitted to enjoy his singularities as well as his excellences, and who was, almost of necessity, a hearty admirer of him, says, "Above all, his way of telling a story, for its eager liveliness and the perpetual running commentary of the narrator happily blended with the narration, is perhaps unequalled." We will give as a sample of his mode of narration, in its good and bad qualities, his account of a sea-fight between the Genoese and Venetians in 1260. The Venetians had burnt five-and-twenty of the Genoese ships which they found in the haven at Ptolemais. "To avenge this loss the state of Genoa sent from home a navy of fifty ships of all sorts, which came to Tyre. There met they Reinerius Zenus, Duke of Venice, with the united power of the Venetians and Pisans, counting no fewer than seventy-four vessels, well provided. They would have fought in the very haven of Tyre, but the governor of the city forbade it: it would be more scandalous to Christianity; the roving fireballs might hurt the city, and sinking ships hinder the harbour; besides, the conquered party would probably complain of the partiality of the place, that it more favoured one side: they should not fight under his nose: if they had a mind to it, let them out and try their fortunes in the open sea. Accordingly it was performed: out they go and fall to their work. Their galleys, like ostriches, used their legs more than their wings, more running with oars than flying with sails. At this time, before ordnance was found out, ships were both guns and bullets themselves, and furiously ran one against another. They began with this arietation: herein strength was much, but not all; nimbleness was also very advantageous to break and slent the downright rushings of a stronger vessel. Then fell they to grappling: here the steady ship had the better of it; and those soldiers who best kept their legs could best use their arms, the surest stander being always the soundest striker. Much valour was showed on both sides, and at last the victory fell to the Venetians. The Genoans [Pg 66] losing five-and-twenty of their ships, fled, and saved the rest in the haven of Tyre, after a most cruel and desperate battle. And surely sea-fights are more bloody than those on the land, especially since guns came up, whose shot betwixt wind and water (like those wounds so often mentioned in the Scripture under the fifth rib) is commonly observed mortal. Yea, full harder it is for a ship, when arrested and engaged in battle, to clear itself, than for soldiers by land to save themselves by flight. Here neither his own two, nor his horse's four legs can bestead any; but like accidents they must perish with their subjects, and sink with their ship." [8] The above, apart from its odd allusions and strange garnishing, exhibits no mean powers of narration.

Equally good in their way are his digressions. Take one from the midst of his description of the siege of Jerusalem. [9] "As for the want of ladders, that was quickly supplied: for the Genoans arriving with a fleet in Palestine brought most curious engineers, who framed a wooden tower, and all other artificial instruments. For we must not think that the world was at a loss for war tools before the brood of guns was hatched: it had the battering-ram, first found out by Epeus at the taking of Troy; the balista, to discharge great stones, invented by the Phœnicians; the catapulta, being a sling of mighty strength, whereof the Syrians were authors, and perchance king Uzziah [10] first made it; for we find him very dexterous and happy in devising such things. And although these bear-whelps were but rude and unshapen at the first, yet art did lick them afterwards, and they got more teeth and sharper nails by degrees; so that every age set them forth in a new edition, corrected and amended. But these and many more voluminous engines (for the ram alone had an hundred men to manage it) are now virtually epitomized in the cannon. And though some may say that the finding of guns hath been the losing of many men's lives, yet it will appear that battles now are fought with more expedition, and victory standeth not so long a [Pg 67] neuter, before she express herself on one side or other. But these guns have shot my discourse from the siege of Jerusalem: to return thither again." Then again the way in which he brings in anecdotes, which his large memory has ever ready, on all occasions to illustrate or enliven his text, is very amusing. In winding up his history of the Crusades, he says that the King of Spain is the nominal King of Jerusalem, though "at this day the Turk hath eleven points of the law in Jerusalem, I mean possession;" but whether the Spaniard shall ever recover it we "will leave to the censure of others; and meantime conclude more serious matters with this pleasant passage:—When the late wars in the days of Queen Elizabeth were hot between England and Spain, there were commissioners on both sides appointed to treat of peace: they met in a town of the French king's: and first it was debated what tongue the negotiation should be handled in. A Spaniard, thinking to give the English commissioners a shrewd gird, proposed the French tongue as most fit, it being a language which the Spaniards were well skilled in; and for these gentlemen of England, I suppose (said he) that they cannot be ignorant of the language of their fellow-subjects; their queen is Queen of France as well as England. Nay, in faith, masters (replied Doctor Dale, the Master of Requests), the French tongue is too vulgar for a business of this secrecy and importance, especially in a French town: we will rather treat in Hebrew, the language of Jerusalem, whereof your master is king; I suppose you are herein as well skilled as we in French." [11]

Excited as was the state of public feeling at the time he came to London, such a man could not fail to find admirers, especially in an age when the pulpit exercised so wide and general an influence. Fuller never abused his position to party ends—never employed it for personal or sectarian purposes. Believing the duty of a preacher to be the promotion of peace and goodwill, and the guidance to purity of life, he sought to calm the angry feelings, and to improve the hearts of his hearers. And crowds flocked to listen to him. Attracted by his [Pg 68] ability and popularity, the master and brotherhood of the Savoy chose him to be their lecturer; "which office," says the author of his life (Oxon, 1662), "he did most piously and effectually discharge, witness the great confluence of affected hearers from distant congregations, insomuch that his own cure were (in a sense) excommunicated from the church, unless their timeous diligence kept pace with their devotion, the doctor affording them no more time for their extraordinaries on the Lord's day than what he allowed his habitual abstinence on all the rest. He had in his narrow chapel two audiences, one without the pale, the other within; the windows of that little church, and the sextonry so crowded, as if bees had swarmed to his mellifluous discourse."

This extraordinary popularity is not at all surprising. Amidst the harsh and arid wastes that were about him, his discourses would be as welcome oases: amidst the struggles and conflicts of party strife to which the pulpit was then made but too often to minister, his pacific exhortations would attract all who yet longed to see the unnatural contest brought to a bloodless termination. And there were other recommendations. Not avoiding the discussion of doctrines when they came fairly in his way, his sermons were not, like nearly all of his time, doctrinal; and in his ethics there was much of the unflinching boldness and plain-speaking of those of Bishop Latimer—"downright Latimer," as Fuller in one of his expressive epithets calls him. Of his somewhat too free way of handling morals, and of the exuberance of wit he could—though it was not always he did—pour over a subject even from the pulpit, we have an example in a sermon against Gluttony (published along with several others the year before removing to London, in a volume entitled 'Joseph's Parti-coloured Coat'), and an extract or two from which may be acceptable. The sermon is entitled 'A Glass for Gluttons,' and commencing by setting forth the greatness of the sin of gluttony, goes on to point out its danger. "And it is the more dangerous," he tells us, "because it is so hard and difficult to discern;"—like to the hectic fever, it steals on a man unawares. "Some sins come with observation, and are either [Pg 69] ushered with a noise, or, like a snail, leave a slime behind them, whereby they may be traced and tracked, as drunkenness. The Ephraimites were differenced from the rest of the Israelites by their lisping; they could not pronounce h. Thus drunkards are distinguished from the king's sober subjects by clipping the coin of the tongue; but there are not such signs and symptoms of gluttony." Further, it is dangerous because of its injury to the mind. "That soul must needs be unfitting to serve God so encumbered. That man hath but an uncomfortable life who is confined to live in a smoky house. The brain is one of these places of the residence of the soul, and when that is filled with steams and vapours arising from unconcocted crudities in the stomach, the soul must needs, malè habitare, dwell uncheerfully, ill accommodated in so smoky a mansion; and as hereby it is unapt for the performance of good, so it is ready for most evil, for uncleanness, scurrility, ill-speaking. Secondly, this sin impairs the health of the body: the outlandish proverb saith, that the glutton digs his grave with his own teeth. Must there not be a battle and insurrection in his stomach wherein there is meat hot, cold, sod, roast, flesh, fish? and which side soever wins, nature and health will be overcome, when as a man's body is like unto the ark of Noah, containing all beasts, clean and unclean; but he the most unclean beast that contains them. Our law interprets it to be murder when one is killed with a knife. Let us take heed we be not all condemned for being felos de se; for wilfully murdering our own lives with our knives, by our superfluous eating. . . Lastly, it wrongeth the poor; for it is the overmuch feasting of Dives which of necessity maketh the fasting of Lazarus; and might not the superfluous meat of the rich be sold for many a pound, and given to the poor?" He dwells strongly on the necessity of moderation in diet, but admits that no rule can be laid down to suit all; for "that quantity of rain will make a clay ground drunk which will scarce quench the thirst of a sandy country." There is along with this homely and plain-spoken manner of denouncing ill practices an abundance of more [Pg 70] directly theological instruction, and it is evident from ever so slight a perusal of these or of his later sermons, that he was a man of real piety.

It must not be supposed that his sermons were generally so overlaid with wit. Even in the collection from which we have quoted there are some sufficiently free from it; and as the times became more serious his sermons became more unmistakeably in earnest, though even in the gravest of them, as in the most serious of his later productions, it must be confessed there are symptoms of at least a hankering after the humorous. Still they were distinguished by his gentleness and kindliness of temper. They stand, indeed, almost alone among those of that day for their anxious avoidance of all intolerance of spirit. As his biographer tells us, "he was wholly conversant during the broils and dissensions of the clergy, in the thought and considerations of that text: Let your moderation be known unto all men." It was his opinion, as he wrote at the time, that "Our English pulpits, for these last eighteen years, have had in them too much caninal anger vented by snapping and snarling spirits on both sides;" and then he pointed in a prophetic spirit to the text, "But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another." Among his other efforts he delivered a sermon on the fast-day appointed by the Parliament, December 28, 1642, and afterwards published it, earnestly exhorting to mutual concessions and forgiveness. Blessed are the peace-makers, was his text; and the sentiment is enforced in a strain of beautiful and earnest eloquence. But it was another kind of sermonizing that was then most attended to. As the violence of party spirit increased, and the domination of the Presbyterians became daily more evident, the position of Fuller as a clergyman of the Church of England became exceedingly perplexing. So long, however, as he felt that he could remain in the discharge of his duty, without prejudice to his convictions, he did not desert his post. As soon as a measure was enforced to which he could not in conscience accede, and he could not remain with honour, he [Pg 71] left it. That most unscrupulous personage, Lilly the astrologer, has fallen foul of Fuller in a very passionate manner, incited thereto apparently by his disrespectful treatment of Paracelsus, whom he had called a Quacksalver; and endeavours to fasten upon him a charge of apostacy. "And that Mr. Fuller may know he hath wantonly abused his oratory, I let the ages to come know this much of himself, viz.:—That he took the Covenant twice for the Parliament, before my face in the Savoy Church; invited others to it; yet, apostate-like, ran within a few days to Oxford, and there whined to his companions, and protested the Countess of R. made him take it. 'Let not thy jests, like mummy, be made of dead men's flesh. Abuse not any that are departed; for to wrong their memories is to rob their ghosts of their winding-sheets,' says Thomas Fuller in his 'Holy State,' page 156. And yet this man must call Paracelsus a Quacksalver, and give him besides other Billingsgate language: Doctor Charlton (in his Mag. 'Cure of Wounds,' page 30) styles Paracelsus the Ornament of Germany, &c. Let the world and writings of the man judge of Mr. Fuller's scurvy language." [12]

That he did not take the Covenant, however, Fuller states expressly, and at the same time satisfactorily explains what was his conduct at this trying period. After giving the Covenant at length in his 'Church History' (Book xi. cent. 17), commenting upon it, and noticing the rigorous enforcement of it, he adds, "Nor have I aught else to observe thereof save in my own defence, that I never saw the same, except at distance as hung up in churches; nor ever had any occasion to read, or hear it read, till this day, July 1st, 1654, in writing my history; whatever hath been reported and printed to the contrary, of my taking thereof in London, who went away from the Savoy to the King's quarters, long before any mention thereof in England. True it is there was an oath, which never exceeded the line of communication, meeting with so much opposition that it expired in [Pg 72] the infancy thereof, about the time when the plot was discovered for which Mr. Tomkins and Mr. Chaloner suffered. This was tendered to me, and taken by me in the vestry of the Savoy Church, but first protesting some limitations thereof to myself. This not satisfying, was complained of, by some persons present, to the Parliament; where it was ordered, that the next Lord's-day I should take the same oath in terminis terminantibus, in the face of the church; which not agreeing with my conscience, I withdrew myself into the King's parts, which (I hope) I may no less safely than I do freely confess, because punished for the same with the loss of my livelihood, and since (I suppose) pardoned in the Act of Oblivion."

Fuller withdrew himself to the King at Oxford, in 1643, probably shortly after he had published another exhortation to peace, which he had delivered upon a public fast-day, July 27. His moderation was as little acceptable to the Royalists in Oxford as to their opponents in London; and though he was called to preach before the King once at least, he found the opinions prevalent in Oxford so little to his liking that he left that city some three or four months after he had entered it—accompanying Sir Ralph Hopton to the King's army as his chaplain. At this time he had full experience of the impossibility, as he afterwards expressed it, of a man in distracted times pleasing all parties. He pleased no party. At Oxford he was called a Puritan, while in London he was looked upon as a Papist; and upon his withdrawal to Oxford had his library and whatever property he possessed seized. The loss of his books was to him a serious misfortune, and one to which he frequently refers in his subsequent writings; it appears indeed that he did recover some portion, but the books had been "so tortured and mangled that what was taken and what left was neither useful to himself nor others." His library was no doubt, from the manner in which he speaks of it, a good one, and his collection was for use, not ostentation; he was not one of those who, as he says, "try to persuade the world they have much learning by [Pg 73] getting a great library." It is gratifying to know that the loss was in some measure made up to him by a friend, Lionel Cranfield, Earl of Middlesex, who "bestowed on him (the treasure of a lord treasurer) what remained of his fathers library." Fuller, in acknowledging this gift, in the dedication of a book of his Church History to the Earl, adds—"However, hereafter I shall behold myself under no other notion than as your lordship's library-keeper, and conceive it my duty not only to see your books dried and rubbed, to rout those moths which would quarter therein, but also to peruse, study, and digest them, so that I may present your honour with some choice collections for the same, as this ensuing history is for the main extracted thence, on which account I humbly request your acceptance thereof."

Wherever he was, and by whatever circumstances surrounded, the diligence of Fuller was unremitting. Never neglecting his official duties, he yet always found time for the pursuance of labours that were extra-official,—for historical investigation and literary composition. At Cambridge, as we have seen, he indulged in poetry. At Broad-Windsor he wrote his history of the 'Holy War;' besides accumulating materials for his singular 'Pisgah-sight of Palestine.' Among the distractions of his London life he composed and published his 'Holy and Profane State,' a work full of noble and striking thoughts, clothed in beautiful language. At Oxford he wrote a defence of the doctrines in his 'Sermon of Reformation,' which had been attacked by a fanatic of the name of Saltmarsh. And now, while wandering about the country with the king's army, he was everywhere collecting matter for his 'Worthies of England;' and, although preaching regularly, still made, if he did not find, leisure for writing his 'Good Thoughts in Bad Times,' and also 'Good Thoughts in Worse Times,' which were respectively published in 1645 and 1647. And this constant mental activity did not go unrewarded. More than any thing else perhaps—besides the approval of his own conscience—did it tend to what appears so remarkable in studying his works—that unmurmuring [Pg 74] acquiescence in the decrees of Providence, even when they were the most averse to his own earnest hopes and most cherished desires,—a feature in his character not enough noticed by his biographers, but which is very strikingly apparent when his works are read with a recollection of the times and the circumstances in which they were severally written. And that there is no assumed resignation here, every reader of them will feel assured; for never was the character of an author more impressed on his writings than that of Fuller on his. That they are perfectly natural, it is as impossible to doubt, as it is to doubt their perfect honesty.

He was at Basing House during one of its sieges; and after wandering some time with the army, in 1644 he took up his residence at Exeter, where he remained until it surrendered to Fairfax in 1646. While at Exeter he received the complimentary appointment of tutor to the Princess Henrietta, the daughter of Charles I. lately born in that city, whither the queen had sought refuge. From Exeter Fuller went to London, but was not very favourably received at his old quarters in the Savoy. He accordingly retired, "weak in health and dejected in spirits," to the residence of the Countess of Rutland at Boughton, near Northampton. And here, instead of giving himself up to the despondence which had seized upon him, he set about its analysis and remedy. The result we have in his 'Cause and Cure of a Wounded Conscience,' a work which he dedicated to the 'Honourable and Virtuous' lady in whose house he had written it.

"Good heart in evils doth the evils much amend,"

sings our "sage and serious Spenser;" and Fuller proved the reality of the maxim. At the end of a few months we find him again in London, and again busily employed in preaching wherever his services were allowed. In the churchwardens' books belonging to the parish of St. Clement's, Eastcheap, there is this entry early in 1647:—"Paid for 4 Sermons preached by Mr. ffuller, 001. 06. 08," a rate of payment which appears to have [Pg 75] been usual in that day for the occasional services of the more eminent preachers. He is said to have lectured at St. Clement's on Wednesday afternoons, and at St. Bride's, Fleet-street, on the Friday afternoons. [13] In the next year we have it stated by himself, in the dedication of a sermon on Assurance, that he was "by the present authority (to whose commands I humbly submit) forbidden, until further order, the exercise of public preaching; wherefore," he adds, "I am fain to employ my fingers in writing, to make the best signs I can!" Some while afterwards, however, he again preached, though not in the city. Under the protection of Sir John Danvers, he officiated several times in Chelsea church; and on the execution of Charles I. signalized his attachment to that unfortunate monarch by delivering a discourse at Chelsea, entitled 'The Just Man's Funeral;' and which, though covertly, was a funeral sermon for the king. This was a somewhat hazardous step; but Fuller, though he never courted danger, never shrunk from what he considered his duty for fear of it.

In 1648 the Earl of Carlisle obtained for him the perpetual curacy of Waltham. Here Fuller was left undisturbed, at least after having undergone the customary ordeal of the "Triers." Being a little apprehensive of the effects of their examination, he applied, according to Calamy, to John Howe, the celebrated Independent divine, to "give him a shove, being a little corpulent." Howe gave him prudent advice, and he escaped with only a fright. At Waltham he enjoyed the society of many learned men whose friendship he had acquired, and he turned to good account the facilities his situation afforded him for the prosecution of his favourite studies. He now finished, and, in 1650, published his 'Pisgah-sight of Palestine and the confines thereof, with the History of the Old and New Testaments acted thereon,' which he had commenced at Broad-Windsor. The purpose of this work is sufficiently described in the title: but quaint as that is, no one could have expected the lavish display of every kind of wit and drollery which is [Pg 76] to be found in the book itself. His fancy fertilized the very rocks and deserts; the darkest and dreariest places he illumines and renders cheerful with his never-failing humour. And withal, there is, for the time, a very fair display of learning; and what is better, a masculine boldness and breadth of treatment.

He next appeared as a contributor to a series of religious biographies, which appeared in 1651 under the title of 'Abel Redivivus;' and independently as the author of some sermons, also of a work on Baptism, and a Register of the proceedings in the Parliament of the fourth and fifth years of the reign of Charles I. And now finding himself sufficiently at leisure, he wooed and won the sister of Viscount Baltinglass to become his second wife. The marriage was solemnized in 1654; and the next year was born a son, Thomas, of whom nothing more is known than that he survived his father.

During all this time our industrious author had been busily engaged on his 'Church History of Britain,' which he gave to the world in 1655. This was the greatest work he had yet published, and upon this and his 'Worthies of Britain' his fame is mainly built. Appended to his Church History were Histories of Cambridge University and of Waltham Abbey. The History of the Church of England he brought down from the period of its foundation to the year 1648, and with the ecclesiastical narrative interwove not a little of the secular narrative of his country. He divides the history into books, and these into centuries, and these again into short chapters, to each of which he affixes a quaint but often expressive heading; a fashion that has been re-introduced in some grave works in our own day. Take two or three of Fuller's:—'Politic Patience;' 'Highly Conscientious;' 'Spoken like a King;' 'Say and do best;' 'A Charitable Parenthesis;' 'Bonner beginneth to Bonner it;' 'The Stump of an Old Tree.'

The value of Fuller's history is now undoubtedly small, if it be regarded as an exact account of the subject of which it treats. But there is much preserved in it which Fuller had acquired with great diligence, and which is [Pg 77] valuable to the historical student; while as the work of such a man, writing upon a subject thoroughly familiar to him, and in which he let his peculiar genius have full scope, it is of no ordinary interest. The dignity of the subject, the gravity of the characters, or the controversial nature of much of the matter never for a moment deadens the gleesome spirit of the author. The whole is redolent with hilarity, and yet the reader never feels that there is any improper or undevout feeling evinced by the writer. Certainly such a manner is here out of place; but as he says, in pleading for a kindly construction to be put upon the words and actions of a man of mirthful temperament:—"Some men are of a very cheerful disposition, and God forbid that all such should be condemned for lightness. O let not any envious eye disinherit men of that which is their 'portion in this life comfortably to enjoy the blessings thereof!' . . . Harmless mirth is the best cordial against the consumption of the spirit; wherefore, jesting is not unlawful, if it trespasseth not in quantity, quality, or season." Some of his jests, however, would hardly escape on the plea of season: and as to quality, he was tolerably indifferent about that; he gave them of all kinds—good, bad, and indifferent, and in quantity without stint. Still it is a rare censure to pass on a history, and especially a church history, that it is not dull enough; and as a unique specimen it ought perhaps to be rather made much of than condemned.

The publication of this work drew him into a controversy with Dr. Peter Heylin, a high church divine of considerable celebrity in his day, who put forth some animadversions upon it in a volume entitled 'Examen Historicum.' Heylin, a dull, ill-tempered man, attacks Fuller in a strain of extreme bitterness, but not without skill, charging him with committing errors, favouring the followers of Wiclif and Calvin, with Puritanism, and especially with freedom of speech, which was by no means an ordinary Puritanic failing. Fuller replied in the 'Appeal of Injured Innocence;' a work that is admirable in many respects, but in none more than the very different temper he displays from his animadvertor. [Pg 78] The reply was considered very satisfactory. He admits that he had made some mistakes, which he thanks his animadvertor for pointing out to him, and promises to rectify; but he declares that he in no case wilfully perverted or concealed anything; and so large a work, written at such a time, could scarcely be expected to be free from errors. But, as he says, "As it is impossible in distracted times to please all, so it is easy for any at any time to cavil at the best performance. A pigmy is giant enough for this purpose." His answer had the unusual fortune of satisfying his opponent, and he and Dr. Heylin became good friends afterwards. That he took all possible pains to collect his materials, and consulted the best living authorities, is evident from what he says in his reply to Heylin; the way in which he sums up his vindication on this head, after he has enumerated the sources from which he drew his matter, is characteristic:—"Give me leave to add, that a greater volume of general church history might be made with less time, pains, and cost; for in the making thereof I had straw provided me to burn my brick; I mean, could find what I needed in printed books; whereas in this 'British Church History' I must (as well as I could) provide my own straw, and my pains have been scattered all over the land, by riding, writing, going, sending, chiding, begging, praying, and sometimes paying too, to procure manuscript materials."

Fuller still continued his active industry; he lived but three years after the publication of his history, yet during that time he published several occasional sermons; 'Mixt Contemplations;' 'Ornitho-logie, or the Speech of Birds, also the Speech of Flowers;' and a poetical 'Panegyric to his Majesty on his happy Return;' besides completing his 'Worthies' and superintending the earlier sheets through the press. Shortly before the Restoration, he was called upon to resume his old station at the Savoy, and after the king's return was made one of the royal chaplains, and by royal mandate created D.D. In that unfailing storehouse of the London-life gossip of this period, the 'Diary of Samuel Pepys,' there is a notice of [Pg 79] Fuller's preaching, on which Pepys passes one of his usual odd judgments. "May 12 (1661). At the Savoy, heard Dr. Fuller preach upon David's words, 'I will wait with patience all the days of my appointed time, until my change comes;' but methought it was a poor dry sermon. And I am afraid my former high esteem of his preaching was more out of opinion than of judgment." Fuller a poor dry preacher! This is as good as Pepys's criticisms on Shakspere and Butler. Samuel has some other entries in his journal about our author worth quoting. "Jan. 22 (1660–1). I met with Dr. Fuller; he tells me of his last and great book that is coming out: that is, the 'History of all the Families in England;' and could tell me more of my own than I knew myself. And also to what perfection he had brought the art of memory; that he did lately, to four eminently great scholars, dictate together in Latin, upon different subjects of their proposing, faster than they were able to write, till they were tired." The Doctor did not, however, insert any account of Pepys' family, as we find by a subsequent entry. "Feb. 5 (1661–2). To Paul's churchyard, and there I met with Dr. Fuller's 'English Worthies,' the first time that ever I saw it; and so sat down reading in it; being much troubled that (though he had some discourse with me about my family and arms) he says nothing at all nor mentions us, either in Cambridgeshire or Norfolkshire. But I believe, indeed, our family were never very considerable." Notwithstanding this slight, the good man bought the book some ten months afterwards. "Dec. 10 (1663). To St. Paul's churchyard, to my bookseller's, and could not tell whether to lay out my money for books of pleasure, as plays, which my nature was most earnest in; but at last, after seeing Chaucer, Dugdale's 'History of St. Paul's,' Stow's 'London,' Gesner's 'History of Trent,' besides Shakspere, Jonson, and Beaumont's Plays, I at last chose Dr. Fuller's 'Worthies,' the 'Cabala' or 'Collection of Letters of State,' and a little book, 'Délices de Hollande,' with another little book or two, all of good use or serious pleasure; and 'Hudibras,' both parts, the [Pg 80] book now in greatest fashion for drollery, though I cannot, I confess, see enough where the wit lies. My mind being thus settled, I went by link home, and so to my office, and to read in Rushworth; and so home to supper and to bed."

Allusion is made in one of the above extracts to Fuller's memory, of which many marvellous anecdotes are told. His Oxford biographer says "he undertook once in passing to and from Temple Bar to the farthest conduit in Cheapside, to tell at his return every sign as they stood in order on both sides of the way, repeating them either backward or forward, as they should choose, which he exactly did, not missing or misplacing one, to the admiration of those that heard him." A feat of no small magnitude, seeing that every house then bore a sign; but we suppose this may be taken with a little abatement. As also that he could repeat five hundred strange words at twice, and a sermon at once, hearing without letting slip a word. He says himself, "None alive ever heard me pretend to the art of memory, who, in my book (Holy State) have decried it as a trick, no art; and, indeed, is more of fancy than memory. I confess, some ten years since, when I came out of the pulpit of St. Dunstan's East, one (who since wrote a book thereof) told me in the vestry, before credible people, that he in Sidney College had taught me the art of memory; I returned unto him that it was not so, for I could not remember that I had ever seen him before! which, I conceive, was a real refutation." We should think so too; about one of the most unquestionable on record. We may guess from what he has written on memory that he was drilled into the art of it by—

'Great Nature's sergeant—that is, Order'

(as Spenser tells us). If you desire to remember well, he says, "Marshall thy notions into a handsome method. One will carry twice more weight trust and packt up in bundles, than when it lies untowardly flapping and hanging about his shoulders." Again, there must be frequent revision of what is acquired, but "first, soundly [Pg 81] infix in thy mind what thou desirest to remember. 'Tis best knocking in the nail overnight, and clinching it in the morning." Almost as good a story about his memory as that we have quoted from himself, is the one told of his reply to the "Triers" when undergoing their questionings. These worthies having heard a good deal about his powers of remembrance, desired him, it is said, "to give them some proof of his extraordinary memory." Upon which he promised them, "if they would restore a certain poor sequestered minister, never to forget that kindness as long as he lived."

The Restoration opened brighter prospects before him. He was called upon to preach before the king, who is reported to have resolved upon his early preferment. But his preferment was not to be an earthly dignity. His living in Broad Windsor had now become his own again, but his biographer tells us, that when he went to visit it, he was so pleased with the preaching of the incumbent that he voluntarily promised not to be the cause of his removal. Soon after returning from Salisbury, whither he had gone on matters connected with his prebendal stall, to which he had also been restored, he was seized with a violent fever then extremely prevalent, and which was known as the "new disease." He had promised to preach at the Savoy a marriage-sermon on occasion of the wedding of a friend, and while dining previously complained of a dizziness in the head; but to the solicitations of his son, who entreated him to refrain from preaching, replied that "he had often gone up into the pulpit sick, but always come well down again, and he hoped he should do as well now." Finding his illness increase after he had gone into the pulpit, he mentioned it to his congregation, adding, "but I am resolved, by the grace of God, to preach this sermon to you here, though it be my last." He did preach it, and it was his last. For having with difficulty finished it, "he sat down, but was not able to rise again, but was fain to be led down the pulpit-stairs, by two men, into the reading desk." He was carried home to his lodgings in Covent Garden, where, on the Thursday following, August the 16th, he [Pg 82] died. [14] He was buried at the cost of his patron and admirer Lord Berkeley, in his parish-church of Cranford; and his funeral was attended by two hundred clergymen.

By the help of the minute account of his excellent old biographer (whose life was published a year after the Doctor's death), we can form a tolerably clear idea of him. He was a tall, portly, noticeable person, of a sanguine temperament, ruddy complexion, with clear piercing eyes, but withal of a composed and serious though pleasant expression of countenance. On his upper lip he wore a moustache after the old English fashion. His hair, which was of a light colour, and naturally given to curl, he wore of a moderate length, beseeming his profession. In his gait he was upright and graceful. Of his dress he was somewhat negligent; in his manner he was simple, natural, and unassuming. His conversation was cheerful, and "much sought after; for besides the pleasantness of it, he was for information a perfect walking library." At his diet he was "very sparing and temperate, but yet he allowed himself the repasts and refreshments of two meals a-day; but no lover of dainties or the inventions of cookery: solid meats better fitting his strength of constitution, but from drink very much abstemious . . . but most abstemious from sleep" (which may account, perhaps, for the number of books he read and wrote; for, as South says, "they who are ablest at the bed and the barrel, are generally idlest at the book").

In all the duties of domestic and social life, his biographer represents him to have been most admirable. A tender and devoted husband and father—a faithful and affectionate relation and friend. Indeed, "from the meanest to the highest he omitted nothing that belonged to his state of life, either in a familiar correspondency, or [Pg 83] necessary visits: never waiting for entreaties of that which either was his duty or in his power to perform. In a word, to his superiors he was dutifully respectful, without ceremony or officiousness; to his equals he was discreetly respectful, and to his inferiors (whom, indeed, he judged Christianly none to be), civilly respectful, without pride or disdain." An admirable character, and one, if any faith may be placed in the general spirit and tenor of his own writings, and in the uniform testimony of his contemporaries, well deserved.

The year after the death of Fuller, his 'Worthies of England' were edited and published by his eldest son John. This was a work which had long engaged the head and hands of our author, and one upon the successful completion of which he had greatly set his heart. It is, indeed, the best monument that could have been raised to his memory; and remains a wonderful example of his amazing industry, and of the surpassing variety and power of his intellectual faculties. It is in this work, perhaps, that his keenness of discrimination and robustness of intellect are most apparent. The sagacity with which he pierces through and decides on the various characters is admirable, and considering the large number that passes before him, it is surprising in how few instances he is far wrong in his verdict. Here, as in his 'Church History,' his freedom from prejudice, his sympathy with goodness wherever he discerns it, the honesty with which he endeavours to see what is good in all, and the heartiness with which he testifies to its presence when he does find it, are deserving of all honour, and stand in strong contrast with the ordinary practice of his contemporaries. This is especially noticeable in his accounts of the old monasteries and their inhabitants, of the Roman Catholic divines, and of the Puritans, although from all of them parted by strong feelings of repulsion.

That most ill-tempered and supercilious of prelates, Bishop Nicolson, takes occasion in his 'English Historical Library,' p. 6, to speak of the 'British Worthies' in the following charitable style:—"It was huddled up [Pg 84] in haste for the procurement of some moderate profit for the author, though he did not live to see it published. It corrects many mistakes in his Ecclesiastical History; but makes more new ones in their stead." And again, "The lives of his greatest heroes are commonly misshapen scraps mixed with tattle and lies." The Bishop has given the reason for which the work was "huddled up," as a quotation, and see how honestly. Fuller, in the first page of his 'Worthies,' gives five reasons why he wrote the book, and of these the one the Bishop selected he has misstated. "Know, then," says our author, "I propound five ends to myself in this book: first, to gain some glory to God; secondly, to preserve the memories of the dead; thirdly, to present examples to the living; fourthly, to entertain the reader with delight; and lastly (which I am not ashamed publicly to profess), to procure some honest profit to myself. If not so happy to obtain all, I will be joyful to obtain some; yea, contented and thankful, too, if gaining any (especially the first) of these ends, the motives of my endeavours." Surely with this before him, and the honesty of the writer stamped unmistakably on every page of the book, it was rather too uncharitable, and especially in a bishop, so to read and repeat the passage. As to its being "huddled up in haste," Fuller gives plenty of evidence of the long and studious diligence with which it had been prepared; and his old biographer gives a pleasant account of the constant inquiries he for years had been making into every particular connected with this, his favourite work.

"When in progress with the King's army, his business and study then was a kind of errantry. . . . In what place soever he came, of remark especially, he spent most of his time in views and researches of their antiquities and church monuments; insinuating himself into the acquaintance, which frequently ended in the lasting friendship, of the learnedest and gravest persons residing within the place, thereby to inform himself fully of those things he thought worthy the commendation of his labours...Nor did the good Doctor ever refuse to [Pg 85] light his candle, in investigating truth, from the meanest person's discovery. He would endure contentedly an hour or more impertinence from any aged church-officer, or other superannuated person, for the gleaning of two lines to his purpose. And though his spirit was quick and nimble, and all the faculties of his mind ready and answerable to that activity of despatch; yet, in these inquests, he would stay and attend those circular rambles till they came to a point; so resolute was he bent to the sifting out of abstruse antiquity. Nor did he ever dismiss such adjutators, or helpers, as he was pleased to style them, without giving them money and cheerful thanks besides."

As for the value of his Lives, we can only say that we have been for years in the constant habit of referring to them, and believe that a less-fitting description could not possibly have been framed, than the Bishop's "misshapen scraps mixed with tattle and lies," even by a man coarser and duller than Nicolson.

There is much wanting in the historical works of Fuller. He was deficient in the plastic power needful in a master of the historic art. When the whole was before him he could, indeed, mould it into a complete shape, but not of the highest order; his style falls far short of that. The continuous effort after the ludicrous, though in him more natural than in almost any other writer, has at length a somewhat wearisome effect. He is also in many respects a careless writer: in the spelling of proper names for instance, and the more serious matter of chronology. Of chronology, indeed, he was rather afraid, calling it a little surly animal apt to bite the fingers of those who ventured to handle it with undue familiarity. In reading his works one is tempted sometimes to fancy that he was not accustomed to revise them: so much is met with that would seem to have courted the knife. Then, amusing as they are, there are such heaps of stories, digressions, odd allusions, and quaint sayings scattered about everywhere, as to disfigure where they do not perplex his story. His histories must be a perfect purgatory to a methodic man. [Pg 86] We have often thought what a delight it would be to watch some staid dull student, who, having by chance heard of Fuller's 'Church History,' or 'History of the Holy War' as a good book, had purchased it, and sat down in an historic mood to study it. To watch him—the table cleared, lamp trimmed, note-book by his side, pens cut—plod deliberately through the first chapter, the second ——!

But to one who can relish the free spirit of a genuine man Fuller is one of the most thoroughly enjoyable of writers. And if there is nowhere any great reach or profundity of thought—nowhere the stamp of the highest—there is everywhere sufficient proof of a very high order of intellect. Tainted as is his style and manner of expression by the characteristic quaintness of his age, he was almost wholly free from its characteristic intolerance. The seventeenth century, we need not say, was a most remarkable one: from the strongly excited feelings of the people in this country on many questions of highest concern, there was a clashing and general ferment in minds of every variety of temperament, with the results of which all are more or less familiar. The theological writers partook of this excitement, and there is a greater diversity of intellectual power displayed in their writings than in those of the English divines of any other age; yet among them Fuller stands alone. He is the most original writer among them—perhaps the most original writer of his age. Wit is what is most striking in him; it is not his only excellence by any means; but it is that which colours everything he touches. As we have seen, he freely uses it in the pulpit, where now it would of course not be tolerated. South, some twenty years his junior, also has an abundance of wit in his sermons; but there is this vast difference—while South uses his most plenteously in rendering ridiculous the sectaries whom he so dislikes, Fuller's is never directed against any person or body of men. Probably there could not be another writer named, with such a weapon at command, who used it so gently: in no page he ever wrote is there either irony or sarcasm. His lip never curls into a [Pg 87] sneer. Gentle as a child, though mirthfulness is the essence of his character, it is as harmless as a child's full-hearted glee. Abundant as is his wit, its richness is equally so, because it is fed from an imagination fertile, exuberant; but the exercise of it is a never-failing source of surprise and pleasure.

To sum up all in a word, he was a true-hearted honest man; sincere, charitable, generous; as an author thoroughly original, possessed of a lively imagination, sound sense, much wisdom, and an everflowing, indeed, overflowing, cheerfulness. He wanted alone, perhaps, a severer mental discipline to have become a really great man, as he is now but a great one comparatively. His books have, in some measure, lost their use. They are valuable now to the student of our literature rather than to the general reader. But the contemplation of his character, as we read it in his life and works, is not without good for all of us. We may learn there that to keep our hearts open to all kindly feelings, to avoid forming harsh notions of men who may differ from us ever so widely, to cherish wide sympathies, and to seek after comprehensiveness of thought and clearness of vision—that this is the best way to attain truth and happiness; and that in pursuing our own proper course, whatever that may be, with cheerful earnest sincerity, consists at once our strength and safety.


[6] 'Literary Remains,' ii. 381.

[7] Letters from the Bodleian, ii. 354.

[8] Holy War, p. 210, ed. 1647.

[9] Ib. 39.

[10] 2 Chron. vi. 15.

[11] Holy War, p. 281.

[12] 'True Hist. of James I. and Charles I.,' pref. page 4.

[13] Oldys, in Biog.; Brit. and Russell's Memorials, p. 163.

[14] Pepys has this entry in his Diary, Aug. 16, 1641. "It is such a sickly time, both in the city and country everywhere (of a sort of fever), that never was heard of almost, unless it was a plague-time. Among others the famous Tom Fuller is dead of it; and Dr. Nicholls, Dean of St. Paul's and my Lord General Monk is very dangerously ill."

[Pg 88]


Flower garden



If this great ornament of our church did not boast of an exalted lineage, he numbered among his forefathers one at least, the worthy ancestor of such a descendant, Dr. Rowland Taylor, chaplain to Cranmer, and rector of Hadleigh, distinguished among the divines of the Reformation for his abilities, learning, and piety, as well as for the courageous cheerfulness with which he suffered death at the stake in the reign of Queen Mary. Jeremy Taylor was the son of a barber, resident in Trinity parish, Cambridge; and was baptized in Trinity church August 15th, 1613. He was "grounded in grammar and mathematics" by his father, and entered as a sizar at Caius College August 18th, 1626. Of his deportment, his studies, even of the honours and emoluments of his academical life, we have no certain knowledge. It is stated by Dr. Rust, in his Funeral Sermon, that Taylor was elected fellow; but this is at least doubtful, for no record of the fact exists in the registers [Pg 89] of the college. He proceeded to the degree of M.A. in 1633; and in the same year, though at the early age of twenty, we find him in orders, and officiating as a divinity lecturer in St. Paul's Cathedral. His talents as a preacher attracted the notice of Archbishop Laud, who sent for him to preach at Lambeth, and approved of his performance, but thought him too young. Taylor begged his Grace's pardon for that fault, and promised that, if he lived, he would mend it. By that prelate's interest he was admitted to the degree of M.A. ad cundem, in University College, Oxford, October 20th, 1635, and shortly after nominated to a fellowship at All Souls College. It was probably through the interest of the same powerful patron that he obtained the rectory of Uppingham, in Rutlandshire, tenable with his fellowship, March 23rd, 1638. The fellowship, however, he vacated by his marriage with Phœbe Langsdale, May 27th, 1632, who died in little more than three years, leaving two sons.

Taylor attracted notice at Oxford by his talents as a preacher; but he does not seem to have commenced, during this period of ease and tranquillity, any of those great works which have rendered him illustrious as one of the most laborious, eloquent, and persuasive of British divines. The only sermon extant which we can distinctly refer to this period is one preached by command of the Vice-Chancellor on the anniversary of the Gunpowder plot, 1638. This piece requires notice, because it is connected with a report, circulated both during Taylor's residence at Oxford and afterwards, that he was secretly inclined to Popery. It is even said that he "wished to be confirmed a member of the church of Rome" (Wood, 'Athenæ Oxon.'), but was rejected with scorn in consequence of the things advanced against that church in this sermon. Of this whole statement Bishop Heber, in his 'Life of Taylor,' has expressed his disbelief; and the arguments on which his opinion is founded appear to us satisfactory. Not even during his peaceable abode at Uppingham do Taylor's great works appear to have been projected, as if his amiable, affectionate, [Pg 90] and zealous temper had been fully occupied by domestic cares and pleasures, and by the constant though quiet duties of a parish priest. The year 1642, as it witnessed the overthrow of his domestic happiness by his wife's death, saw also the beginning of those troubles which cast him out of his church preferment, a homeless man. We do not know the date of the sequestration of his living: but, as he joined Charles I. at Oxford in the autumn of the year; published in the same year, by the King's command, his treatise 'Of the sacred Order and Offices of Episcopacy,' &c.; was created D.D. by royal mandate; appointed chaplain to the King, in which capacity he frequently preached at Oxford, and attended the royal army in the wars, it is probable that he was among the first of those who paid the penalty of adhering to the losing cause. Little is known of this portion of Taylor's history. It appears that he quitted the army, and retired into Wales, where he married, became again involved in the troubles of war, and was taken prisoner at Cardigan, February 4th, 1644. We do not know the date of his release, or of his marriage to his second wife, Joanna Bridges, a lady possessed of some landed property at Mandinam, near Golden Grove, in the vale of Towy, in Carmarthenshire, who was commonly said to be a natural daughter of Charles I., born before his marriage. But Heber conjectures that Taylor's marriage was anterior to his imprisonment, and that his wife's estate was amerced in a heavy fine, in consequence of his being found engaged in the Royal cause at Cardigan. It is at least certain that until the Restoration he was very poor, and that he supported himself during part of the time by keeping a school.

During this period of public confusion and domestic trouble, Taylor composed an 'Apology for authorized and set Forms of Liturgy,' published in 1646, and his great work, 'A Discourse on the liberty of Prophesying,' published in 1647, "the first attempt on record to conciliate the minds of Christians to the reception of a doctrine which, though now the rule of action professed by all Christian sects, was then, by all sects alike, regarded [Pg 91] as a perilous and portentous novelty." [15] As such, it was received with distrust, if not disapprobation, by all parties; and if it was intended to inculcate upon the Episcopalians the propriety of conceding something to the prejudices of their opponents, as well as to procure an alleviation of the oppression exercised on the Episcopal church, we may see in the conduct of the government after the Restoration, that Taylor preached a doctrine for which neither the one nor the other were then ripe. It is the more to his honour that in this important point of Christian charity he had advanced beyond his own party, as well as those by whom his party was then persecuted. But though his views were extended enough to meet with disapprobation from his contemporaries, he gives a greater latitude to the civil power in repressing error by penal means than the general practice, at least in Protestant countries, would now grant. "The forbearance which he claims, he claims for those Christians only who unite in the confession of the Apostles' Creed," and he advocates the drawing together of all who will subscribe to that ancient and comprehensive form of belief into one church, forgetting differences which do not involve the fundamental points of Christianity. And he inculcates the "danger and impropriety of driving men into schism by multiplying symbols and subscriptions, and contracting the bounds of communion, and the still greater wickedness of regarding all discrepant opinions as damnable in the life to come, and in the present capital." For a fuller account of this remarkable work, we refer to the Life by Heber, p. 201–218, or, still better, to the original.

It was followed at no long interval by the 'Great Exemplar of Sanctity and Holy Life, described in the Life and Death of Jesus Christ.' This, the first of Taylor's great works, which became extensively popular, is almost entirely practical in its tendency, having been composed, as the author tells us, with the intention of drawing men's minds from controverted doctrines to the [Pg 92] vital points on which all men are agreed, but which all men forget so easily. It is not an attempt to connect the relations of the four Evangelists into one complete and chronologically consistent account; but a "series of devout meditations on the different events recorded in the New Testament, as well as on the more remarkable traditions which have usually been circulated respecting the Divine Author of our religion, his earthly parent, and his followers," set off by that majestic style, that store of illustrations derived from the most recondite and miscellaneous learning, and, above all, that fervent and poetical imagination by which Taylor is distinguished, perhaps, above all the prose writers in our language. Such qualities, even without a digested plan and connected strain of argument, which, requiring a more continuous and attentive perusal, would not perhaps have made the book more acceptable or useful to the bulk of readers, ensured for it a favourable reception; and the author followed up the impression which he had produced, at no distant period, by two other treatises of a similar practical tendency, which, from their comparative shortness, are better known than any other of Taylor's works, and probably have been as extensively read as any devotional books in the English language. We speak of the treatises on Holy Living and on Holy Dying.

It has been mentioned that near Mandinam stood Golden Grove, the seat of the Earl of Carbery, a nobleman distinguished by his abilities and zeal in the Royal cause. He proved a constant and sincere friend to Taylor; and the grateful scholar has conferred celebrity upon the name and hospitality of Golden Grove by his 'Guide to Infant Devotion,' or manual of daily prayers, which are called by the name of that place, in which they, and many other of the author's works, were meditated: especially his Eniautos, or course of sermons for all the Sundays in the year.

Considerable obscurity hangs over this portion of Taylor's life: but it appears that in the years 1654–5 he was twice imprisoned, in consequence of his advocacy [Pg 93] of the fallen causes of Episcopacy and Royalty. At some time in 1654 he formed an acquaintance with Evelyn, which proved profitable and honourable to both parties; for the layman, as is evident from his Memoirs and Diary, highly valued and laid to heart the counsels of the man whom he selected as his "ghostly father," and to whose poverty he liberally ministered in return out of his own abundance.

We learn from Evelyn's Diary that Taylor was in London in the spring of 1657, and his visits, if not annual, were at least frequent. He made many friends, and among them the Earl of Conway, a nobleman possessed of large estates in the north-east of Ireland, who conceived the desire of securing Taylor's eminent abilities for the service of his own neighbourhood, and obtained for him a lectureship in the small town of Lisburne. Taylor removed his family to Ireland in the summer of 1658. He dwelt near Portmore, his patron's splendid seat on the banks of Lough Neagh; and some of the islands in that noble lake, and in a smaller neighbouring piece of water called Lough Beg, are still recorded by the traditions of the peasantry to have been his favourite places of study and retirement. To this abode his letters show him to have been much attached.

In the spring of 1660, Taylor visited London to superintend in its passage through the press, the 'Rule of Conscience, or Ductor Dubitantium.' This, it appears from the author's letters, was considerably advanced so early as the year 1655. It was the fruit of much time, much diligence, and much prayer; and that of all his writings concerning the execution of which he seems to have felt most anxiety. In this case, as it often happens, the author seems to have formed an erroneous estimate of the comparative value of his work. Neither on its first appearance, nor in later times, did the 'Ductor Dubitantium' become extensively popular. Its object, which even at the first was accounted obsolete, was to supply what the Romish church obtained by the practice of confession, a set of rules by which a scrupulous [Pg 94] conscience may be guided in the variety of doubtful points of duty which may occur. The abuses are well-known to which the casuistic subtlety of the Romish doctors gave birth; and it may be doubted whether it were wise to lay one stone towards rebuilding an edifice, which the general diffusion of the Scriptures, a sufficient rule, if rightly studied, to solve all doubts, had rendered unnecessary. The work, in spite of its passages of eloquence and profusion of learning, is too prolix to be a favourite in these latter days, but it is still, says his biographer (p. 293), one "which few can read without profit, and none, I think, without entertainment. It resembles in some degree those ancient inlaid cabinets (such as Evelyn, Boyle, or Wilkins might have bequeathed to their descendants) whose multifarious contents perplex our choice, and offer to the admiration or curiosity of a more accurate age a vast wilderness of trifles and varieties with no arrangement at all, or an arrangement on obsolete principles, but whose ebony drawers and perfumed recesses contain specimens of every thing that is precious or uncommon, and many things for which a modern museum might be searched in vain."

Taylor's accidental presence in London at this period, when the hopes of the Royalists were reviving, was probably serviceable to his future fortunes. He obtained by it the opportunity of joining in the Royalist declaration of April 24; and he was among the first to derive benefit from the restoration of that King and that Church, of whose interests he had ever been a most zealous, able, and consistent supporter. He was nominated Bishop of Down and Connor August 6, 1660, and consecrated in St. Patrick's Cathedral January 27, 1661. In the interval he was appointed Vice-chancellor of the University of Dublin, which during past troubles had been greatly dilapidated and disordered in respect both of its revenues and discipline. He was the principal instrument in remodelling and completing the statutes, and settling the University in its present form.

In the spring of 1661, Taylor was made a member of the Irish Privy Council, and the small diocese of Dromore, [Pg 95] adjacent to Down, was assigned to his charge, "on account," in the words of the writ under the Privy Seal, "of his virtue, wisdom, and industry." This praise was well deserved by his conduct in that difficult time, when those who had displaced the episcopal clergy were apprehensive of being in their turn obliged to give way, and religious differences were embittered by thoughts of temporal welfare. Taylor had to deal chiefly with the wilder and most enthusiastic party, and his advances towards an intercourse of Christian charity were met with scorn and insult. But his exemplary conduct, and persevering gentleness of demeanour, did much to soften at least the laity of his opponents; for we are told that the nobility and gentry of the three dioceses over which he presided came over, with one exception, to the Bishop's side.

His varied duties can now have left little time for the labour of the pen; still he published sermons from time to time, and in 1664 completed and published his last great work, a 'Dissuasive from Popery,' undertaken by desire of the collective body of Irish bishops. He continued after his elevation to reside principally at Portmore, occasionally at Lisburne. Of his habits, and the incidents of this latter part of his life, we know next to nothing; except that he suffered the severest affliction which could befal a man of his sensibility and piety, in the successive deaths of his three surviving sons, and the misconduct of two of them. One died at Lisburne, in March, 1661; one fell in a duel, his adversary also dying of his wounds; the third became the favorite companion of the profligate Duke of Buckingham, and died of a decline, August 2, 1667. Of the latter event the Bishop can scarcely have heard, for he died on the 13th of the same month, after ten days' sickness. He was buried at Dromore. Two of his daughters married in Ireland, into the families of Marsh and Harrison; and several Irish families of repute claim to be connected with the blood of this examplary prelate by the female line.

The materials for Bishop Taylor's life are very scanty. [Pg 96] The earliest sketch of it is to be found in the funeral sermon preached by his friend and successor in the see of Dromore, Dr. Rust, who sums up the virtues of the deceased in a peroration of highly wrought panegyric, of which the following just eulogy is a part:—"He was a person of great humility; and notwithstanding his stupendous parts and learning, and eminency of place, he had nothing in him of pride and humour, but was courteous and affable, and of easy access, and would lend a ready ear to the complaints, yea, to the impertinence, of the meanest persons. His humility was coupled with an extraordinary piety; and I believe he spent the greatest part of his time in heaven. . . . To all his other virtues he added a large and diffusive charity; and whoever compares his plentiful income with the inconsiderable estate he left at his death will be easily convinced that charity was steward for a great proportion of his revenue. But the hungry that he fed, and the naked that he clothed, and the distressed that he supplied, and the fatherless that he provided for, the poor children that he put to apprentice and brought up at school, and maintained at the university, will now sound a trumpet to that charity which he dispensed with his right hand, but would not suffer his left hand to have any knowledge of it.

"To sum up all in a few words, this great prelate had the good humour of a gentleman, the eloquence of an orator, the fancy of a poet, the acuteness of a schoolman, the profoundness of a philosopher, the wisdom of a counsellor, the sagacity of a prophet, the reason of an angel, and the piety of a saint; he had devotion enough for a cloister, learning enough for an university, and wit enough for a college of virtuosi; and had his parts and endowments been parcelled out among his poor clergy that he left behind him, it would, perhaps, have made one of the best dioceses in the world. But, alas! 'Our Father! our Father! the horses of our Israel, and the chariot thereof!' he is gone, and has carried his mantle and his spirit along with him up to heaven; and the sons of the prophets have lost all their beauty and lustre which [Pg 97] they enjoyed only from the reflection of his excellences, which were bright and radiant enough to a cast glory upon a whole order of men."

There is a Life of Taylor by Archdeacon Bonney; and a copious Memoir, enriched by a minute analysis of all the more remarkable compositions of our author, is prefixed to Bishop Heber's edition of Taylor's works. From this the materials of the present sketch are taken. Nor can we better conclude than with the eloquent estimate of Taylor's merits with which the accomplished biographer concludes his work. "It is on devotional and moral subjects that the peculiar character of Taylor's mind is most, and most successfully, developed. To this service he devotes his most glowing language; to this his aptest illustrations, his thoughts, and his words, at once burst into a flame, when touched by the coals of this altar; and whether he describes the duties, or dangers, or hopes of man, or the mercy, power, and justice of the Most High; whether he exhorts or instructs his brethren, or offers up his supplications in their behalf to the common Father of all, his conceptions and his expressions belong to the loftiest and most sacred description of poetry, of which they only want, what they cannot be said to need, the name and the metrical arrangement.

"It is this distinctive excellence, still more than the other qualifications of learning and logical acuteness, which has placed him, even in that age of gigantic talent, on an eminence superior to any of his immediate contemporaries; and has seated him, by the almost unanimous estimate of posterity, on the same lofty elevation with Hooker and with Barrow.

"Of such a triumvirate, who shall settle the precedence? Yet it may, perhaps, be not far from the truth, to observe that Hooker claims the foremost rank in sustained and classic dignity of style, in political and pragmatical wisdom; that to Barrow the praise must be assigned of the closest and clearest views, and of a taste the most controlled and chastened; but that in imagination, in interest, in that which more properly and exclusively [Pg 98] deserves the name of genius, Taylor is to be placed before either. The first awes most, the second convinces most, the third persuades and delights most; and, according to the decision of one whose own rank among the ornaments of English literature yet remains to be determined by posterity (Dr. Parr), Hooker is the object of our reverence, Barrow of our admiration, and Jeremy Taylor of our love."


[15] Heber's 'Life of Taylor,' p. xxvii.

[Pg 99]


A king's crown



The father of Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, was Henry Hyde, of Dinton, in Wiltshire, who was the third son of Lawrence Hyde, of Westhatch, younger son of Robert Hyde, of Norbury and Hyde, in the county of Chester. Clarendon's own account, in what is called his Life, is, that the estate of Norbury had been in the family, and had descended from father to son, from before the Conquest, and that that of Hyde had been long afterwards acquired by marriage; but it appears that Hyde was the original family estate, and that the other was acquired in the reign of Henry III., by the marriage of Sir Robert Hyde, knight, son of Matthew de Hyde, to Agnes de Herdislee, cousin and heiress of Thomas de Norbury. Robert Hyde, of Norbury and Hyde, the great-grandfather of Lord Clarendon, was the eighth in descent from this Sir Robert Hyde. [16]

[Pg 100] Lawrence Hyde, who was a clerk in the office of the Auditor of the Exchequer, and had purchased the estate of Westhatch, left four sons and four daughters, who all, his descendant tells us, lived above forty years after the death of their father. Henry, the third son, had been educated at Oxford, and was a student of the Middle Temple when his father died; but being the favourite of his mother, who had been left very rich, and having no mind to the practice of the law, but a great inclination to travel beyond the seas, "which," says his son, "in that strict time of Elizabeth was not usual, except to merchants and such gentlemen who resolved to be soldiers," he prevailed on his mother to let him go to the Spa for his health, whence he made his way first to Florence and eventually to Rome, where, under the protection of Cardinal Allen, he remained without molestation for some months. On his return home, his mother purchased for him, for his life, from his elder brother, the estate or impropriate rectory of Dinton; and, having married Mary, one of the daughters and heirs of Edward Langford, of Trowbridge, with whom he obtained a good fortune, "from that time," says his son, "he lived a private life at Dinton aforesaid, with great cheerfulness and content, and with a general reputation throughout the whole country; being a person of great knowledge and reputation, and of so great esteem for integrity that most persons near him referred all matters of contention and difference which did arise amongst them to his determination; by which that part of the country lived in more peace and quietness than many of their neighbours. During the time of Queen Elizabeth he served as a burgess for some neighbour boroughs in many parliaments; but from the death of Queen Elizabeth he never was in London, though he lived above thirty years after; and his wife, who was married to him above forty years, never was in London in her life, the wisdom and frugality of that time being such that few gentlemen made Journeys to London, or any other expensive journeys, but upon important business, and their wives never; by which providence they enjoyed and improved their [Pg 101] estates in the country, and kept good hospitality in their houses, brought up their children well, and were beloved by their neighbours. And in this rank and this reputation this gentleman lived till he was seventy years of age; his younger brother, the Chief Justice (Sir Nicholas Hyde, Chief Justice of the King's Bench), dying some years before him, and his two elder brothers outliving him. The great affection between the four brothers, and towards their sisters, of whom all enjoyed plenty and contentedness, was very notorious throughout the country, and of credit to them all."

Henry Hyde had a family of four sons and five daughters; but of the four sons only Edward, the third, survived their father. Edward was born at Dinton, which is about six miles from the city of Salisbury, on the 18th of February, 1609.

He was educated, he tells us, in his father's house, "under the care of a schoolmaster, to whom his father had given the vicarage of that parish, who, having been always a schoolmaster, had bred many good scholars;" but it was "principally," he adds, "by the care and conversation of his father, who was an excellent scholar, and took pleasure in conferring with him, and contributed much more to his education than the school did," that he was made fit, as was thought, to be sent to the University at the even then unusually early age of thirteen. His elder brother Henry was already at Oxford; and Edward was admitted at Magdalen Hall in 1622, in the expectation that he would be elected a demy (or scholar) of Magdalen College, it being designed that he should take orders, and, as was customary with younger sons, make his fortune in the church. He was not elected the first year, it being pretended that he had been too late in presenting himself, although he brought a special letter of recommendation from the king to the president of the college; but he was the next year, and his name placed at the head of the list for the first vacancy. It so happened, however, to quote his own relation, that "that whole year passed without any avoidance of a demy's place, which was never known before in any man's memory; [Pg 102] and that year King James died, and, shortly after, Henry, his elder brother; and thereupon his father, having now no other son, changed his former inclination, and resolved to send his son Edward to the Inns of Court." This account may remind the reader of the similar narrow escape from the clerical profession made by another distinguished Lord Chancellor, the late Earl of Eldon.

It appears, though he does not himself mention the circumstance, that Hyde had before this been an unsuccessful candidate for a Wiltshire Fellowship in Exeter College. He took his degree of B.A. on the 14th of February, 1626, and then left the University, "rather," he says, "with the opinion of a young man of parts and pregnancy of wit than that he had improved it much by industry; the discipline of that time being not so strict as it hath been since, and as it ought to be, and the custom of drinking being too much introduced and practised; his elder brother having been too much corrupted in that kind, and so having at his first coming given him some liberty, at least some example, towards that licence, insomuch as he was often heard to say, that it was a very good fortune to him that his father so soon removed him from the University, though he always reserved a high esteem of it." So he made a double escape, from becoming both a clergyman and a drunkard.

Although he was entered of the Middle Temple, of which society his uncle was then treasurer, in the earlier part of the year 1625, he did not go up to London till the beginning of Michaelmas term, the town during the summer months having been infested by the plague. But on the evening of the day he arrived, having gone to prayers in the Temple Church, he was suddenly seized with a violent fit of ague, which forced him to go back to the country, and his studies were interrupted for a year. "When he returned," he tells us, "it was without great application to the study of the law for some years, it being then a time when the town was full of soldiers, the king having then a war both with Spain and France, and the business of the Isle of Rhé shortly followed; and he had gotten into the acquaintance of many of those officers, [Pg 103] which took up too much of his time for one year. But, as the war was quickly ended, so he had the good fortune quickly to make a full retreat from that company, and from any conversation with any of them, and without any hurt or prejudice; insomuch, as he used often to say, that, since it pleased God to preserve him whilst he did keep that company (in which he wonderfully escaped from being involved in many inconveniences), and to withdraw him so soon from it, he was not sorry that he had some experience in the conversation of such men, and of the licence of those times, which was very exorbitant. Yet, when he did indulge himself that liberty, it was without any signal debauchery, and not without some hours every day, at least every night, spent amongst his books. Yet he would not deny that, more than to be able to answer his uncle, who almost every night put a case to him in law, he could not bring himself to an industrious pursuit of the law study, but rather loved polite learning and history, in which, especially in the Roman, he had been always conversant."

He had only ridden the Norfolk circuit once (in 1628), [17] when he fell in love with a young lady whom he describes "as very fair and beautiful," and with his father's consent married her in 1629. But in six months after her marriage she was carried off by small-pox; a loss which so affected her husband that, as he tells us, "it shook all the frame of his resolutions, and nothing but his entire duty and reverence to his father kept him from giving over all thoughts of books, and transporting himself beyond the seas to enjoy his own melancholy." This marriage, however, brought consequences which influenced the course of his life. Mrs. Hyde, a daughter of Sir George Ayliffe, of Gretenham, in the county of Wilts, was through her mother Anne, daughter of Sir John St. John, of Lydiard Tregoze, Cornwall, nearly allied to many noble families. In particular, Barbara, [Pg 104] her mother's sister, was the wife of Sir Edward Villiers, half-brother of the royal favourite George first Duke of Buckingham; Susan, sister of Sir Edward and the Duke, had married the first Earl of Denbigh; and her daughter Mary was married to the Marquess (after Duke) of Hamilton. In this way the Marchioness of Hamilton and Mrs. Hyde were both cousins of a daughter of Sir Edward Villiers, who was seduced, under a promise of marriage, by Henry Jermyn (afterwards Lord Jermyn and Earl of St. Alban's). The injured lady's brother was Viscount Grandison (in the peerage of Ireland), a title which he had inherited from Oliver St. John, the first Viscount, who was uncle of his mother and of Mrs. Hyde. These memoranda will enable the reader of Clarendon's account of his own Life to understand a story which he has there told without giving the names; and which even his late painstaking biographer, Mr. Lister, has not distinctly or completely explained. The lady's noble and powerful relations were all excited to fury by what had happened. Her brother, the young Viscount Grandison, was eager to fight her seducer. This is he whom Clarendon describes as a young man of extraordinary hope, between whom and himself there was an entire confidence; and who was afterwards killed fighting on the royal side at the siege of Bristol, in 1643, on which occasion he describes him as one "than whom the court or camp could not show a more faultless person." He was the father of Barbara Villiers, better known as Countess of Castlemaine, and afterwards Duchess of Cleveland, the beautiful mistress of Charles II. The king, Charles I., to prevent the duel, committed both Jermyn and Grandison to the Tower; and at the same time declared to the former that, if he would not make good his promise by marrying the lady, he should be for ever banished from all presence or relation to the court, "where," says Clarendon, "he had a very great credit and interest." He was, in fact, the favourite, or, as some called him, the lover of the Queen Henrietta Maria. "This declaration of the king," Clarendon continues, "made the nearest friends of the lady pursue the design [Pg 105] of this reparation more solicitously, in which they had all access to the king, who continued still in his declared judgment in the matter. In this pursuit Mr. Hyde's passionate affection to the family embarked him, and they were all as willing to be guided by his conduct; the business was to be followed by frequent instances at court, and conferences with those who had most power and opportunity to confirm the king in the sense he had entertained; and those conferences were wholly managed by him, who thereby had all admission to the persons of alliance to the lady, and so concerned in the dishonour, which was a great body of lords and ladies of principal relations in the court, with whom in a short time he was of great credit and esteem; of which the Marquess of Hamilton was one, who, having married an excellent lady, cousin-german to the injured person, seemed the most concerned and most zealous for her vindication, and who had at that time the most credit of any man about the court, and upon that occasion entered into a familiarity with him, and made as great professions of kindness to him as could pass to a person at that distance from him; which continued till the end and conclusion of that affair, when the marquess believed that Mr. Hyde had discovered some want of sincerity in him in that prosecution, which he pretended so much to assert." In continuation he remarks that this affair not only "introduced him into another way of conversation than he had formerly been accustomed to; and . . . in truth by the acquaintance, by the friends and enemies, he then made, had an influence upon the whole course of his life afterwards," but first gave occasion to the women at court, who till then had not appeared concerned in public affairs, beginning to have some part in all business. To the marriage, Clarendon adds, neither Jermyn himself, nor they upon whom he most depended—obviously meaning the queen—could be brought to consent; and at last the gentleman was suddenly "sent out of the kingdom, under the formality of a temporary and short banishment; and the lady commended to her friends, to be taken care of till her delivery." Mr. Lister has apparently overlooked [Pg 106] this statement when he notices Jermyn's banishment as a fact only to be inferred from certain passages in the letters Lord Strafford received while in Ireland, from his gossipping London correspondent Garrard. [18]

In 1632 Hyde took a second wife, Frances, second daughter of Sir Thomas Aylesbury, then Master of Requests and Master of the Mint; and from this time, he says, his determination to pursue his profession, about which he had hesitated till now, was fixed. On Michaelmas day, in the same year, he lost his father. Three years after this he was made known to Archbishop Laud, now the most powerful man in the kingdom, by Mr. Daniel Harvey, an eminent merchant, who being a very intelligent person, and having a country house a few miles from Croydon, used to be consulted by the Archbishop on matters of trade. Harvey mentioned the young templar to his grace as having shown great ability and courage as counsel for the merchants in their opposition to a certain regulation of the late Lord Treasurer, the Earl of Portland, whose reputation Laud wished to blacken. Upon this Hyde was sent for by the Archbishop, with whom he had several interviews, and "who ever afterwards," he says, "used him very kindly, and spoke well of him upon all occasions, and took particular notice of him when he came of counsel in any causes depending at the council-board, as he did frequently; . . insomuch as it was so much taken notice of, that Mr. Hyde (who well knew how to cultivate those advantages) was used with more countenance by all the Judges in Westminster hall, and the eminent practisers, than was usually given to men of his years; so that he grew every day in practice, of which he had as much as he desired; and, having a competent estate of his own, he enjoyed a very pleasant and plentiful life, living much above the rank of those lawyers whose business was only to be rich; and was generally beloved and esteemed by most persons of condition and great reputation." Although he pursued his profession, he goes on to inform us, with great [Pg 107] diligence, he did not make himself a slave to it; he neglected neither society nor the cultivation of polite learning; he had always his friends about him at dinner—"very seldom," he says in another place, "using, when his practice was at highest, so much as to eat in the hall, without which no man ever got the reputation of a good student"—but, except when invited out by a friend, "he never supped for many years (before the troubles brought in that custom) both for the gaining that time for himself, and that he might rise early in the morning according to his custom, and which he would say he could never do when he supped." The hours which he gave to literature were commonly borrowed from the night. Except for two months in the summer, which he spent at his own house in the country, he never left London. While he had been only a student of the law, and "stood at gaze, irresolute what course of life to take," his principal associates, he states, were Ben Jonson, John Selden, Charles Cotton, John Vaughan, Sir Kenelm Digby, Thomas May, Thomas Carew, and other eminent poets and wits. But afterwards his most intimate friends were Sir Lucius Carey (afterwards Lord Falkland), Sir Francis Wenman, Sidney Godolphin, Edmund Waller, Dr. Gilbert Sheldon (afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury), Dr. George Morley, Dr. John Earles, Mr. John Hales of Eton (the Memorable), and Mr. William Chillingworth. Of all these persons he has drawn elaborate characters. Among his familiar friends in the profession he mentions Mr. Lane (afterwards Lord Chief Baron); Mr. Geoffrey Palmer (afterwards Attorney-General), Mr. John Maynard, and Bulstrode Whitlocke (the well-known author of the 'Memorials,' and Lord Commissioner of the Great Seal under the Protectorate). And, besides the countenance of Laud, he enjoyed the favour of Lord Coventry (Lord Keeper), and of the Earl of Manchester (Lord Privy Seal), and the familiarity of the Lord Pembroke (Lord Chamberlain), of the Earl of Holland, and of "many other lords and ladies, and other persons of interest in the court."

Thus he continued to flourish professionally and socially, [Pg 108] when the parliament was summoned which met on the 13th of April, 1640,—the Short Parliament, as it was afterwards called. Hyde was returned both for Wootton Bassett and for Shaftesbury, and chose "to serve for his neighbours of the former place." He immediately began to take an active part in the business of the House; his name, according to Mr. Lister, is to be found in seven of the twenty-one select committees appointed during the sixteen days the Commons sat; and he was the first member who attacked and proposed the removal of a specific grievance. On the 18th of April, only two days after the opening of the session, the Journals record that Mr. Hyde moved against the Court of Honour (that is, the Earl Marshal's Court for exercising jurisdiction in regard to armorial bearings), and desired that the commission under pretence of which they demanded their fees might be sent for. He has himself given us a report of the speech with which he introduced this motion against a court which he describes as "newly erected without colour or shadow of law, which took upon it to fine and imprison the king's subjects, and to give great damages for matters which the law gave no damages for." But the principal question on which he distinguished himself was that of granting the king's demand of a supply—the great, or rather sole object which had induced or compelled Charles to call a parliament after having governed for eleven years without one. Hampden, who had already taken his place as the leader of the popular party, when the granting of the supply came to be discussed on the 4th of May, moved that the question should be simply, whether the House would consent or not to the demand as made by the king, which was sure to be decided in the negative. To prevent this result Hyde proposed that the first question should be only, whether or not a supply should be granted. If this, he argued, should be carried in the affirmative, another question might be put upon the amount and the manner of the grant; if it should be carried in the negative, the effect would be the same as if Hampden's motion should be so decided. After considerable debate and clamour, however, [Pg 109] in the course of which Hyde's motion, to the general surprise of the House, was opposed by Herbert, the queen's Solicitor-General, Sir Henry Vane, the treasurer of the household, who appeared as the mouth-piece of the king, rose and declared that to carry that motion would be of no use, for he had authority to say that a supply would not be accepted by the king, if it were not granted in the proportion and manner proposed in his message. It is asserted that Vane, whatever his motive might be, had no warrant for making this declaration. The consequence was that the debate was adjourned, and on the next day the king came down and dissolved the parliament. Hyde had had reason to apprehend that this course would be taken; and after either the above or some previous debate he had gone over to Lambeth and endeavoured to persuade his friend the archbishop to interfere to prevent so ruinous a measure. He assured his grace that the present House was "as well constituted and disposed as ever House of Commons was or would be; that the number of the disaffected to church or state was very small; and though they, the disaffected, might obstruct for some time the quick resolving upon what was fit, they would never be able to pervert their [the other members'] good inclinations and desire to serve the king." Laud, whom he had found walking in his garden, and who appeared sad and full of thought, heard him, he says, very patiently, but replied, "that, for his own part, he was resolved to deliver no opinion; but, as he would not persuade the dissolution, which might be attended by consequences he could not foresee, so he had not so good an opinion of their affections to the king or the church, as to persuade their longer sitting, if the king were inclined to dissolve them."

Charles, however, was soon forced to summon another parliament—the Long Parliament—which met on the 3rd of November in this same year, 1640. To this new parliament Hyde was returned for the borough of Saltash. He describes its temper as very different from that of the last, and intimates that from the first [Pg 110] the popular majority evinced the strongest prejudice against himself. For some time, however, he acted with this party. "He was," he tells us, "very much in the business of the House; the greatest chairman in the committees of the greatest moment; and very diligent in attending the service both in the House and at committees; for he had from the beginning of the parliament laid aside his gown and practice, and wholly given himself up to the public business, which he saw so much concerned the peace and very being of the kingdom." He effected the abolition of the Earl Marshal's Court, the object of his attack in the former parliament. He took a prominent part in the proceedings against the Judges for the judgment against Hampden in the ship-money case. He principally conducted the proceedings for the suppression of the Court of York, or Council of the North. He undoubtedly concurred in the impeachment of Strafford, and there is every reason to believe that he also supported the bill of attainder, by which that minister was eventually destroyed. His own account, indeed, leaves us in the dark as to his conduct here, but this affords only an additional reason for suspecting that he had voted for the bill. Nay, there is some appearance of his having been favourable to the first bill (passed by the House on the 1st of May 1641), for turning the bishops out of the House of Lords; at least, he was one of a committee appointed on the 3rd of June to prepare reasons in answer to the Lords' objections to this bill. [19] Yet, according to his own account, he had opposed the proposition in the debate, maintaining that it went to change "the whole frame and constitution of [Pg 111] the kingdom and of the parliament itself." Perhaps he confounded the part which he took in regard to this bill, with that which he took in regard to the much more sweeping bill, "for the utter abolishing and taking away of all archbishops, bishops," &c., which was passed by the Commons, upon the rejection by the Lords of the former. This second bill he most probably opposed, as he assures us he did. He was put, indeed, he acknowledges, in the chair of the committee in which it was discussed; but this, he says, was done in order "that he might not give them trouble by frequently speaking, and so too much obstruct the expediting of the bill." It is certain that from about this date he began to separate himself from the popular party, and even to enter into distinct, though for some time secret, relations with the court.

He has himself given us an account of his first introduction to the king. One forenoon, in this summer of 1641, when the Commons (who then used to meet at eight in the morning) had adjourned in consequence of there being a conference with the Lords, as he was walking in the House, Mr. Percy, brother to the Earl of Northumberland, who was also a member, came up to him, and told him that the king desired he should come to him that afternoon. He attended accordingly at the hour appointed. As soon as he had kissed the king's hand, Mr. Percy, who had conducted him into the presence, withdrew, and he was left alone with his majesty. "The king," he proceeds to relate, "told him that he heard from all hands how much he was beholden to him, and that, when all his servants in the House of Commons either neglected his service or could not appear usefully in it, he took all occasions to do him service; for which he thought fit to give him his own thanks, and to assure him that he would remember it to his advantage. He took notice of his affection to the church, for which, he said, he thanked him more than for all the rest; which the other acknowledged with the duty that became him, and said, he was very happy that his majesty was pleased with what he did; but, if he had commanded him to have withdrawn his affection and [Pg 112] reverence for the church, he would not have obeyed him; which his majesty said made him love him the better. Then he discoursed of the passion of the House, and of the bill then brought in against episcopacy, and asked him whether he thought they would be able to carry it; to which he answered he believed they could not; at least, that it would be very long first. 'Nay,' replied the king, 'if you'll look to it that they do not carry it before I go for Scotland, which will be at such a time, when the armies shall be disbanded, I will undertake for the church after that time.' 'Why then,' said the other, 'by the grace of God, it will not be in much danger.' With which the king was well pleased, and dismissed him with very gracious expressions." Hyde had never before this been in the royal presence.

Soon after this, and before he set out for Scotland in the beginning of August, Charles expressly appointed Lord Falkland, Sir John Colepepper, and Hyde, "to meet constantly together and consult upon his affairs, and conduct them the best way they could in the parliament, and to give him constant advice what he was to do, without which he declared again very solemnly he would take no step in the parliament." Hyde accordingly continued his attendance in the House for some time after the king finally left London on the failure of his wild attempt to seize the five members on the 4th of January, 1642. His position, however, was a sufficiently awkward and disagreeable one; for while he was thus, without any recognized office, the secret but suspected agent of the court, and was employed to write the principal state papers on the royal side, he soon found that he had no real power in directing the king's proceedings. Speaking, in his History, of the attempt to seize the five members, he says, "The three persons before named, without whose privity the king had promised that he would enter upon no counsel, were so much displeased and dejected, that they were inclined never more to take upon them the care of anything to be transacted in the House, finding already that they could not avoid being looked upon as the authors of those counsels, to which they [Pg 113] were so absolute strangers, and which they so perfectly detested. And, in truth, they had [would have] then withdrawn themselves from appearing so often in the House, but upon the abstracted consideration of their duty and conscience, and of the present ill condition the king was in." Nor was it long before the three associates began to disagree among themselves, or at least to incline in different ways upon questions of the highest importance. Thus, a new bill for the exclusion of the bishops from the House of Lords having been forced through both Houses (it passed the Lords on the 5th of February, 1642), Charles was, on the 14th, prevailed upon to give his assent to it by the importunities of the queen, urged so to advise him by Colepepper, in opposition to the wishes both of Hyde and Falkland. A few days after, however, at an interview Hyde had with him at Greenwich, his majesty expressed his regret that he should have yielded on this occasion to his wife; and, being then about to proceed to the North, he repeated his commands to Hyde, "upon all occasions to write to him and advertise him of such matters as were fit for him to know; and to prepare and send him answers to such declarations or messages as the Parliament should send to him." Charles added that he knew well the danger to which Hyde would be exposed if their correspondence should be discovered; but he assured him that none should know of it except Colepepper and Falkland, and declared, for more security, that he would himself transcribe every paper before showing it to any one. When Hyde observed that he wrote a very ill hand, which would give his majesty a great deal of trouble, and proposed that Nicholas, the secretary, might be trusted with the transcription, Charles still insisted that he would quickly learn to read the hand if it were only written at first with a little more care, and nobody should see it but himself. "And his majesty," adds Hyde, "continued so firm to this resolution, that, though the declarations from the Houses shortly after grew so voluminous that the answers frequently contained five or six sheets of paper, very closely writ, his majesty always transcribed [Pg 114] them with his own hand, which sometimes took him up two or three days and a good part of the night, before he produced them to the council, where they were first read, and then he burned the originals. And he gave himself no ease in this particular till Mr. Hyde left the parliament."

Not many weeks, however, brought his majesty's labours as a transcriber to a close. The royal messages and answers were manifestly of too much ability to have been drawn up by Charles himself, and Hyde had been for some time suspected for their author. He had been discovered shut up with the king in their late interview at Greenwich by the Earls of Essex and Holland; the Marquess of Hamilton had on a former occasion found him very early in the morning in private with his majesty at Windsor; and, besides, his frequent absences from the House, and the resort of Falkland and Colepepper to his lodging every night, satisfied the dominant party that he was the person. A design, Hyde says, was then formed to have the three seized and sent to the Tower, which they prevented being carried into effect by taking care that one of them should always be present in the House, and so never more than two of them be to be found together. At last, about the end of April, Hyde received a letter from the king, desiring his presence at York as soon as he could be spared from his business in London. It was thought best, however, that he should not leave immediately, he and his colleagues having at that time great occasion of consulting together and of sending dispatches to the king. "And it was," he tells us, "a wonderful expedition that was then used between York and London, when gentlemen undertook the service, as enough were willing to do, insomuch as when they dispatched a letter on Saturday night, at that time of the year, about twelve at night, they received always the king's answer on Monday by ten of the clock in the morning." This was wonderful expedition indeed, for the distance to be travelled over in the thirty-four hours was not less than four hundred miles, even if we suppose the messenger not to have been detained by the king [Pg 115] for a moment. It seems hardly credible that expresses could thus be regularly forwarded at the rate of twelve or thirteen miles an hour, in the then state of the roads and of the country, though such an exploit may perhaps have been performed on one or two extraordinary occasions. Hyde remained in London till after the passing by the parliament of their Declaration of the 19th of May, which, as it was very long, it was thought he might carry with him to the king, and prepare the answer to it upon the way, or after he came to York. He proceeded first to the house of the Lady Lee, at Ditchley, in Oxfordshire; thence his friend Chillingworth conducted him first to a village near Coventry, where a brother of Chillingworth's had a farm, and the next morning to Lutterworth, in Leicestershire, where they lodged with the parson of the parish, who was a friend of Chillingworth's. Avoiding in this way the usual roads, he at last reached Nostall, the house of Sir John Worstenholme, within twenty miles of York, where he lay concealed till the King sent for him after a few days. Meanwhile his absence had produced a motion in the House of Commons that he should be sent for. He had got his physician, Dr. Winston, to certify to the Speaker that he was troubled with the stone, and that he had advised him to go to the country for change of air, his having sat so much in the House in that very hot weather having done him harm; and the motion was allowed to drop: but one member insisted "that he was troubled with no other stone than the stone in his heart, and therefore he would have him sent for wherever he was, for he was most confident that he was doing them mischief wherever he was." Nothing, however, was done till they were informed that he was safe at York, and almost constantly with his majesty. A vote, he says, was afterwards passed, by which he was by name exempted from pardon in any accommodation that should be made with the king.

The king now would have had him take the office of Secretary of State in place of Nicholas, whom he proposed to transfer to that of Master of the Wards; but [Pg 116] this he declined, both out of regard to Nicholas, who he saw clearly would be disappointed in any expectation he might entertain of profit from the Wards as affairs then stood, and from feeling, as he told the king, "that his unskilfulness in languages, and his not understanding foreign affairs, rendered him very incapable of that trust." Some time after, however, he consented to accept the post of Chancellor of the Exchequer, upon its being vacated by Colepepper for that of Master of the Rolls; and he was thereupon sworn of the Privy Council and knighted. This appears to have been in January or February, 1643.

The battle of Edge-hill had already been fought (on Sunday, 23rd October, 1642); Hyde being present as a spectator, and having under his charge the two young princes, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York, guarded only by the company of pensioners. He says, in his History, that if the enemy's horse, when left in temporary possession of the field during the absence of Prince Rupert, had bestirred themselves, "they might with little difficulty have destroyed or taken prisoner the king himself, and his two sons . . . being with fewer than one hundred horse, and those without officer or commander, within half musquet-shot of that body, before he suspected them to be enemies."

After the fall of Lord Falkland at the battle of Newbury, fought 19th September, 1643, the office of one of the Secretaries of State, which he had held, was again offered to Hyde; but he declined it, as before, and Lord Digby, whom the Queen supported, was on his recommendation appointed. It was by Hyde's advice that on the 22nd of October a proclamation, which he drew up, was issued by Charles, summoning the parliament to meet at Oxford, where accordingly a considerable number of members of both Houses assembled on the appointed day, the 21st of January, 1644. Hyde was employed as one of the Commissioners for the king in the negotiations for a treaty begun at Uxbridge on the 30th of January, 1645, and carried on for twenty days with no result, though with immense expenditure of activity on [Pg 117] both sides. "They," says Hyde, in his History, "who had been most inured to business had not in their lives ever undergone so great fatigue for twenty days together as at that treaty. The commissioners seldom parted during that whole time till two or three of the clock in the morning; besides, they were obliged to sit up later, who had to prepare such papers as were directed for the next day, and to write letters to Oxford; so that, if the treaty had continued much longer, it is very probable many of the commissioners must have fallen sick for want of sleep." He was himself the person upon whom the labour of preparing the papers principally fell.

Soon after this the king determined to send the Prince of Wales, young as he was, into the west of England, with the commission of General of all his Majesty's forces in England; and Hyde, still retaining his office of Chancellor of the Exchequer, was nominated one of the council appointed to attend and direct him. The last interview he had with his majesty was on the morning of the day they set out. After having given his blessing to his son—whom also he was never to behold again—Charles sent for Sir Edward into his bedchamber, and after a short conversation embraced him and gave him his hand to kiss. The day, he says, was the 4th of March: according to the Diary of Sir William Dugdale, it was the 5th. Their journey, which was on horseback, Clarendon relates in his Life, was made in one continued storm of rain from the minute they left Oxford till they got to Farringdon, where they passed the night. The next day they got as far as Devizes; and the third day to Bath, where they stayed two or three days. "In this journey," he adds, "the Chancellor was first assaulted with the gout, having never had the least apprehension of it before; but from his coming to Bath he was not able to stand; and so went by coach to Bristol, where in few days he recovered that first lameness, which ever after afflicted him too often."

In this disastrous year for the royal cause, however, every thing went wrong in the west as well as in all other parts of the kingdom. The Prince and his council [Pg 118] soon found themselves without any efficient power to control the turbulence and rivalry of Lord Goring and the other generals and commanders of garrisons in the district. On the royal side, in fact, as well as on that of the parliament, the sword was fast becoming supreme. The battle of Naseby was fought on the 14th of June; and from that date the king never had a chance. One town and place of strength after another now fell rapidly into the hands of the parliament. In these circumstances the Prince and his council retreated in the first instance into Cornwall, whither they were pursued by Fairfax. After having taken refuge first in Truro, and afterwards in Pendennis Castle, on the 2nd of March, 1646, his royal highness, attended by Hyde, and others of his suite, embarked about ten o'clock at night for the isle of Scilly, where they arrived safe on the afternoon of the 4th. Here, where Clarendon appears to have commenced his 'History of the Rebellion,' they remained for nearly six weeks, having sometimes scarcely anything to eat, and enduring in other respects severe discomfort and privations. But even in this wretched state the appearance of a hostile fleet in the neighbourhood of the island—which, however, was dispersed by a storm—warned them that they were not in safety; and a few days after, on the 16th of April, they again ventured to sea, and, setting sail for Jersey, arrived there on the following day.

Hyde's decided opinion was, that Jersey, being, as he conceived, sufficiently fortified against any attack likely to be made by the parliament, was for many reasons by far the best place for the residence of the Prince till the course of events should take a new turn. But the queen was eager, for her own purposes, to have her son with her in Paris; and, a peremptory order to that effect having been at last obtained from the king a short time before he left Oxford and delivered himself up to the Scots, his royal highness took his departure for France about the middle of July. Hyde, as well as Lord Capel and Lord Hopton, the other members of his council who were still with him, declined accompanying him, on the ground [Pg 119] that their attendance and advice could be of no further use in the new circumstances in which he was to be placed. In his Life Hyde writes:—"The Prince having left Jersey, about July, in the year 1646, the Chancellor of the Exchequer remained there about two years after; where he presently betook himself to his study, and enjoyed, as he was wont to say, the greatest tranquillity of mind imaginable. Whilst the Lords Capel and Hopton staid there, they lived and kept house together in St. Hilary's, which is the chief town of the island; where, having a chaplain of their own, they had prayers every day in the church at eleven of the clock in the morning; till which hour they enjoyed themselves in their chambers according as they thought fit; the Chancellor betaking himself to the continuance of the History which he had begun at Scilly, and spending part of his time at that exercise. The other two walked or rode abroad, or read, as they were disposed; but at the hour of prayers they always met, and then dined together at the Lord Hopton's lodging, which was the best house; they being lodged in several houses, with convenience enough. Their table was maintained at their joint expense only for dinners, they never using to sup; but [they] met always upon the sands in the evening to walk, often going to the castle to Sir George Carteret, who treated them with extraordinary kindness and civility, and spent much time with them. And in truth the whole island showed great affection to them; and all the persons of quality invited them to their houses to very good entertainments, and all other ways expressed great esteem towards them." After some time, however, first Capel, and then Hopton, left the island; upon which Hyde, by invitation of Sir George Carteret, the governor, took up his abode with him in the castle; and here he remained so long as he continued in Jersey. "He built," he tells us, "a lodging in the castle, of two or three convenient rooms, by the wall of the church, which Sir George Carteret had repaired and beautified; and over the door of his lodging he set up his arms, with this inscription, [Pg 120] Bene vixit qui bene latuit. [20] And he always took pleasure in relating with what great tranquillity of spirit, though deprived of the joy he took in his wife and children, he spent his time here amongst his books, which he got from Paris, and his papers; between which he seldom spent less than ten hours in the day. And it can hardly be believed how much he read and wrote there; insomuch as he did usually compute that during his whole stay in Jersey, which was some months above two years, he writ daily little less than one sheet of large paper with his own hand." Writing to Lord Bristol on the 1st of July, 1646, he states that he had by that time brought his History (with the exception of documents to be inserted) down to the king's erection of his standard at Nottingham; which would imply that he had written at least the first draught of five of the sixteen Books. To Dr. Sheldon he writes in August, 1647:—"I have read over Livy and Tacitus, and almost all Tully's works; and have written since I came into this blessed isle near three hundred large sheets of paper in this delicate hand." A few months before this, however, he seems to have almost made up his mind to drop his History altogether for the present, in the difficulty he experienced in obtaining the necessary information. "Since I find most men," he writes to Dr. Earles, in March, 1647, "so unconcerned to contribute towards it, and some, who are very able to satisfy me in what I have desired, so positive against the doing it, contrary to my expectations, I have resolved to lay the task aside till a fitter season." Although he was disappointed, however, in some quarters, his applications were more successful in others. The king in particular took a great interest in the progress of the work, and sent him a narrative of the course of events from the time they parted at Oxford till his majesty went and gave himself up to the Scotch.

All this while his family were with some of his wife's relations in Wiltshire. It would appear that what principally [Pg 121] prevented their coming to him was the want of pecuniary means, for his property had of course been confiscated, and they were dependent even for subsistence upon the charity of their friends. Writing to Secretary Nicholas, in December, 1646, Hyde says, "I receive no intelligence from England, but only out of the country from my wife, who, I thank God, bears her part with miraculous constancy and courage, which truly is an unspeakable comfort to me. We may, I hope, be able to live some time asunder, but I am sure we should quickly starve if we were together; yet, when starving comes to be necessary, to be more feared than hanging, we will starve together." In a previous letter to Lady Dalkeith, we find him mentioning that his man had at last returned with what was great good news to him, incredible stories of his wife's courage and magnanimity; "and that, though she should be in want of every thing, she will be cast down with nothing."

At last, in May, 1648, while the king, after making his escape from Hampton Court, was detained in the Isle of Wight, Hyde was summoned to repair to the Prince at Paris; and, leaving Jersey in the latter part of June, he proceeded by land to Rouen, where he found his friend Nicholas and other royalists, who had received the same commands. Here they learned that the Prince had embarked for Holland to take the command of a portion of the English fleet that had come over to that coast after having declared for the king; and upon this intelligence they removed to Dieppe, whence they soon after embarked in what was called a French man-of-war, which engaged to carry them to Dunkirk. Hyde says that he himself "knew nothing of the sea, nor understood the hazards thereof; being always so afflicted upon that element with sickness;" he therefore trusted every thing to Lord Cottington, who was with him; "and so, giving the captain as much money as he demanded, they put themselves upon his miserable frigate, where they had no accommodations but the open deck." They were, however, landed safely at Dunkirk. Here they heard that [Pg 122] the Prince was with the fleet in the Thames, and were immediately offered the use of a frigate, in which to go to him, by Marshal Ranzau, the governor of the town. Hyde's description of Ranzau is curious. "He received them," he tells us, when they went to wait upon him the morning after their arrival, "with great civility: being a very proper man, of a most extraordinary presence and aspect, and might well be reckoned a very handsome man, though he had but one leg, one hand, one eye, and one ear, the other being cut off with that side of his face, besides many other cuts on the other cheek and upon his head, with many wounds in the body: notwithstanding all which he stood very upright, and had a very graceful motion, a clear brow, and a charming delivery; and if he had not, according to the custom of his nation (for he was a German), too much indulged in the excess of wine, he had been one of the most excellent captains of that age." After giving them an excellent and jovial dinner, he put them on board the promised frigate, which he said outsailed all the vessels of that coast, and for its swiftness was called the Hare. This quality, however, proved of no avail: for the next morning, in a dead calm, when not far from Ostend, they found themselves suddenly surrounded by six or seven vessels, which pretended to be commissioned by the King of Spain, but were really mere privateers, or rather pirates. These freebooters immediately boarded the frigate with their swords drawn, and pistols cocked; and after having stripped the servants to their shirts, and pillaged the passengers, carried them all prisoners to Ostend. Hyde says he lost above 200l. in money, and all his clothes and linen. They were discharged on being brought before the magistrates of the town: but several subsequent attempts which they made to join the Prince failed, and his royal highness was himself ere long forced to retire before the fleet of the parliament, commanded by the Earl of Warwick. Hyde was at last enabled to join him at the Hague in September.

Here Sir Edward remained for about eight months, in the course of which the Prince became king, in the estimation [Pg 123] of his party, by the death of his father in January, 1649. Hyde gave his best assistance to the management of affairs amid the complicated difficulties of his royal master's position: but he was very well pleased when it was arranged that he and Cottington should be sent together as ambassadors to Spain, to try if they could obtain some pecuniary assistance from that court. He now sent for his wife and children to meet him at Antwerp, with the intention that they should remain there during his absence. He and Cottington left the Hague about the middle of May, and journeying by Antwerp and Brussels, proceeded in the first instance to St. Germains, near Paris, whither Charles had also come on a visit to his mother. Here the ambassadors remained till near the end of September, when Charles went to Jersey, whence he soon after proceeded to Scotland, and they pursued their journey to Madrid. But they could make nothing of the Spanish government or court; and, after a vain solicitation of fifteen months, when their hopes had been finally destroyed by the expulsion of Charles from Scotland, they left that capital in March, 1651. During his residence in Spain, Hyde had frequently been reduced to the most distressing state of destitution. We find him declaring in a letter to Nicholas, written on the 6th of January, 1650, that all his money is gone, and that he does not know or can imagine how they are to get bread for a month longer. And in several subsequent letters he speaks of being driven almost crazy by his necessities and those which his poor wife was enduring, and from which he had not the means of relieving her. Yet, as usual, he did not lose his time. "The less of business he had," he tells us, referring to this period, towards the conclusion of his Life, "he was the more vacant to study the language and the manners and the government of that nation. He made a collection of and read many of the best books which are extant in that language, especially in the histories of their civil and ecclesiastical state. Upon the reading the 'Pontifical History' written by Illascas, in two volumes, and continued by one or two [Pg 124] others in three other volumes, he begun there first his 'Animadversions upon the Superiority and Supremacy of the Pope,' which he afterwards continued to a perfect work. Here he resumed the continuation of his 'Devotions on the Psalms,' and other discourses of piety and devotion, which he reviewed and enlarged in his later times of leisure."

On his return from Spain he joined his family at Antwerp, and here he remained till he was summoned to Paris by Charles, after his escape from the battle of Worcester, towards the close of the year 1651. He arrived in the French capital on Christmas-Day. Here he was no better off than he had been at Madrid. In November, 1652, we find him writing, "I have not been master of a crown these many months, am cold for want of clothes and fire, and owe for all the meat which I have eaten these three months, and to a poor woman who is no longer able to trust: and my poor family at Antwerp (which breaks my heart) is in as sad a state as I am." "I am so cold," he says, "that I am scarce able to hold my pen, and have not three sous in the world to buy a faggot." He bore all these distresses, however, with extraordinary fortitude and even cheerfulness; nor was he cast down or unduly discomposed even by much ill-usage, which he received from the queen-mother, who, finding she could not make him her partizan or tool in her scheme for maintaining an absolute ascendancy over the mind of her son, early conceived a strong aversion to him, and at last showed herself his open enemy.

When Charles took his departure from Paris in June, 1654, and proceeded to Spa, there to meet his sister the Princess of Orange, Hyde accompanied him; but on the way obtained leave to go and visit his wife and family, who, since the preceding autumn, had been residing at Breda, in a house which the Princess of Orange had allowed them to inhabit rent-free. He had one daughter and three sons; and the princess soon after conferred another kindness upon him, by offering his daughter the place of a maid of honour in her household. It was in consequence of this appointment that Anne Hyde became [Pg 125] known to the Duke of York, who afterwards made her his wife.

In the latter part of this year Hyde joined Charles at Cologne; and for the succeeding six years he continued for the most part with his royal master, attending him to Breda, Brussels, Bruges, and other places to which he successively transferred himself in conformity with the exigencies and changing positions or prospects of affairs. During all this period Hyde may be considered to have been his principal adviser. On the 13th of January, 1658, he was, in a council held at Bruges, invested with the office of Lord Chancellor. On the Restoration, in May, 1660, he accompanied Charles to England; and on the 1st of June, he took his seat both in the Court of Chancery and as Speaker in the House of Lords. Soon after he resigned his other office of Chancellor of the Exchequer, which was given to Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper (afterwards Earl of Shaftesbury).

Hyde, who was on the 3rd of November, 1660, created Baron Hyde, of Hindon, and at the coronation in April of the following year further elevated to the dignities of Viscount Cornbury and Earl of Clarendon, was in fact the head of the administration. He had been moreover suddenly placed in a very peculiar position in reference to the king and the royal family by an extraordinary circumstance, the avowal by the Duke of York of a marriage with his daughter. It was affirmed that they had been secretly contracted to one another at Breda on the 24th of November, 1659; the marriage ceremony was solemnized at Worcester House, London, then the residence of the Lord Chancellor, in the presence of Lord Ossory and a maid servant, on the 3rd of September, 1660; on the 22nd of October the Duchess produced a child; and she was publicly acknowledged by the duke as his wife when her confinement was over, or before the end of the year. The part which her father acted on this remarkable occasion was, even according to his own account, very curious. He has himself told the whole story in ample detail; and we have also the duke's version of it, at least in substance, [Pg 126] in the abstract of his Memoirs published in the Stuart Papers.

This incident certainly did not, at the time when it happened, shake the Chancellor in the king's favour or good opinion. It was after Charles was made acquainted with the marriage, as we have seen, that he was made a peer; and it was expressly, indeed, in order that it might be understood as a public testimony of his continued regard that his majesty now insisted upon his acceptance of that honour, which he had declined when it was offered to him some time before. His majesty also about the same time made him a present of 20,000l.; and offered him a grant of 10,000 acres of Crown land, which he thought fit to decline. The next year, too, besides his elevation in the peerage, he had an offer of the Order of the Garter; which also he declined. But perhaps, after all, this marriage contributed, though indirectly, more than any other single cause, to Clarendon's eventual loss of the royal favour and fall from power. There was indeed a concurrence of many other causes. The Chancellor had from the first alienated a large portion of the community by his steady support of the Established Church. On the other hand, he had made the Roman Catholic interest hostile to him, and had also incurred the temporary displeasure of the king, by his opposition to the Declaration of Indulgence issued in 1662. He had also, immediately after the Restoration, committed an offence which the Cavaliers never forgave, in promoting the Act of Indemnity. The mere decency of his life made him an object of dislike to the generality of the courtiers and profligate wits of the time, as well as to the royal mistresses; while his commanding talents and his ascendancy with the king excited the envy and hatred of many rivals. Then a variety of untoward circumstances and events had brought upon him an accumulation of general unpopularity and odium. He was looked upon as the principal author of the king's marriage, which had turned out so unfortunate in all respects, bringing no domestic happiness to his majesty, no heir to the throne to avert a popish succession, nothing except only the [Pg 127] troublesome and expensive possession of Tangier; of the sale of Dunkirk to France, by which it was universally conceived that the nation was both injured and dishonoured; of the war with the Dutch, which broke out in 1665, and which was attended with so many indubitable disasters and disgraces; not to speak of the great plague and the fire of London, which came at the same time to add to the public calamities. Much indignation, moreover, was excited by an unfortunate act of imprudence on the part of the Chancellor, his erection of a magnificent town residence (it stood at the southern extremity of the present Albemarle-street, looking down upon St. James's-street), which was finished in the spring of 1667, and the cost of which far transcended his visible means, or at least what he could apparently have acquired by the legitimate profits of his place. Instead of Clarendon House, people used to call it Tangier House, or Holland House, or Dunkirk House, by way of indicating the source or sources from which the money came. The truth is, that the expense proved three times as much as Clarendon had been led to reckon upon—more than 50,000l. instead of less than 20,000l. In some of these feelings of dissatisfaction Charles himself was likely enough to share; and the freedom of remonstrance which Clarendon had so long been accustomed to employ, while it probably grew less ceremonious on the part of the minister the longer it was continued—especially seeing how much more urgently it would seem to him to be called for—may be supposed to have naturally become every day more distasteful and irksome to his majesty, and that for various reasons—that it was the more deserved, for one; but it would appear that what finally fixed Charles's aversion was his taking it into his head that it was Clarendon who had frustrated his scheme for having the queen divorced, and marrying the beautiful Miss Stewart, by the effectual contrivance of getting the lady clandestinely married to the Duke of Richmond. He had one day met Lord Cornbury, Clarendon's son, at Miss Stewart's door, and had thereupon come to that conclusion. The motive he imputed to the Chancellor, of [Pg 128] course, was, that his own grandchildren might not be cut out of the succession to the throne. It appears to have been in the beginning of August, 1667, that Charles first proposed to Clarendon, in a message sent through the Duke of York, that he should surrender the great seal. The parliament, he directed the duke to say, which had just been prorogued after having only been allowed to sit for a few days, and both Houses of which, he well knew, participated in the general hostile sentiment of which the doomed minister had become the object out of doors, would be sure to impeach him at their next meeting. The Chancellor positively refused to sign his own condemnation by assenting to the king's proposal; vigorous efforts were made to move his majesty from his resolution, both by Clarendon himself, and by the Duke of York and others of his friends; but on the 30th, Charles, under other influences, put an end to the controversy by sending a messenger with a warrant, under the sign manual, expressly requiring and commanding the holder of the great seal to deliver it up. It was given the next day, with the title of Lord Keeper, to Sir Orlando Bridgman.

But it was determined to drive Clarendon not only from office, but from the country. Upon a broad hint in the king's speech, at the opening of the session of parliament on the 10th of October, the Commons, in their address, returned especial thanks to his majesty for having "been pleased to displace the late Lord Chancellor, and remove him from the execution of public trust and employment in affairs of state;" and the Lords were, after some reluctance, prevailed upon to concur in this address, by threats on his majesty's part that it should go worse for the fallen minister if they did not, and by an unsparing employment of the influence of the crown. In his answer to the two Houses, Charles said, "I am glad the things I have done have given you so good satisfaction. And, for the Earl of Clarendon, I assure you I will never employ him again in any public affairs whatsoever." This beginning was speedily followed up by the appointment of a Committee of the House of Commons, which, [Pg 129] on the 6th of November, reported to the House seventeen charges as grounds for an impeachment of the earl. He was accused, among other things, of having advised the king to govern without parliaments, and by a military force; of having asserted that his majesty was a papist, or popishly inclined; of having received large sums of money for the passing of illegal patents; of having procured divers persons to be illegally imprisoned; of having been guilty of the corrupt sale of offices; of having procured the Customs to be farmed at under rates, and taken bribes for so doing; of having gained to himself a greater estate than could be imagined to be lawfully gained in so short a time, and of having procured several grants from the king to himself and his relations, to the disprofit of his majesty; of having advised the sale of Dunkirk; of having issued quo warrantos to a great many corporations, with the mere view of extorting large sums of money from them, for the renewing of their charters; of having deluded and betrayed his majesty and the nation in foreign treaties and negotiations relating to the late war; and of having been the principal author of the fatal counsel of dividing the fleet commanded by Prince Rupert and the Duke of Albemarle, in June, 1666,—a proceeding to which was attributed the unsatisfactory result of the great battle with the Dutch, which took place a few days after. It was finally carried that he should be impeached of treason, not on any of these charges, but on a clause subsequently added to one of them, to the effect that he had discovered and betrayed his majesty's secret counsels to the enemy. The impeachment was presented at the bar of the Lords on the 12th of November. The end was that Clarendon, though protesting his innocence, was prevailed upon, by the urgent entreaties of his friends, to take flight on the 29th for the continent. It was represented to him that his ruin had been resolved upon by the king, who was said to have threatened that if there should seem to be any doubt about the success of the impeachment, he would have him taken out of the hands of the Lords and tried by a special commission; and that his quitting the [Pg 130] country was the only chance he had of saving his life. He left, however, a written vindication addressed to the Lords, in which he entered into full explanations of such of the charges as admitted of being so met, and solemnly denied the rest. An act was afterwards passed banishing him for life, disabling him from ever again holding office, subjecting him, if he should return to England, to the penalties of high treason, and rendering him incapable of pardon without the consent of the two Houses of Parliament.

The commencement of Clarendon's flight was eminently disastrous. Having reached Calais, he was at first refused permission to remain in France by the government of that country, which, at the moment, was anxious to conciliate the King of England. When he heard of the act of banishment, which only left it in his power to escape its penalties if he should return by the 1st of February, he instantly determined to face his accusers at all hazards, but was prevented from moving before the fatal day by an illness which nearly brought him to his grave. The relations between the two courts having undergone a change, and leave to remain in the French territory having been in consequence accorded to him, he narrowly escaped losing his life, from an attack made upon him at Evreux, by some English sailors, who insisted upon getting from him some arrears of pay which they said were due to them. At length, however, he was enabled to establish himself at Montpelier, in July, 1668; and here he enjoyed about two years of such tranquillity as he had hardly known in his life before for so long a space. "When he found himself," he tells us, "at this case, and with those convenient accommodations, that he might reasonably believe he should be no more exposed to the troubles and distresses which he had passed through, he began to think of composing his mind to his fortune, and of regulating and governing his own thoughts and affections towards such a tranquillity as the sickness of mind and body, and the continued sharp fatigue in the six or seven precedent months, had not suffered to enter into any formal deliberation. And it pleased God, in a [Pg 131] short time, after some recollections, and upon his entire confidence in Him, to restore him to that serenity of mind and resignation of himself to the disposal and good pleasure of God, that they who conversed most with him could not discover the least murmur or impatience in him, or any unevenness in his conversations. He resolved to improve his understanding of the French language, not towards speaking it, the defect of which he found many conveniences in, but for the reading any books, and to learn the Italian: towards both which he made a competent progress, and had opportunity to buy or borrow any good books he desired to peruse." It was while here, also, that he began the narrative he has left us of his Life, and finished the first seven parts of it, coming down to the Restoration. He wrote, besides, a more ample Vindication of himself from the charges of the Commons; and several Essays and other miscellaneous compositions.

Before June, 1671, he had left Montpelier for Moulins, and there he remained till the end of April, 1674. On the 31st of March, 1671, he had lost his daughter, the Duchess of York; the grief he suffered from her death being greatly aggravated by her having died a Roman Catholic. Of four sons and as many daughters she had borne her husband, three of the sons and one daughter were already dead; the remaining son and another daughter followed in the course of the same year with their mother; and of the eight only two daughters, afterwards Queen Mary and Queen Anne, survived. Clarendon had also lost his wife just before his fall. At Moulins he was visited in June, 1671, by his second son Lawrence; and by him, when he returned to England, he sent a letter to the king, informing his majesty that he had completed his History, and entreating that "an old man who had served the crown above thirty years, in some trust, and with some acceptation," might be permitted to end his days, which could not be many, in his own country and in the society of his children. But to this moving appeal no answer appears to have been returned. Clarendon continued to reside at Moulins for [Pg 132] nearly three years longer; during which time he began the Continuation of his Life (which is three times the length of the previous part of the narrative), and wrote besides his View and Survey of Hobbes's Leviathan, an Historical Discourse on the Usurpations of the Papal Jurisdiction, a second volume of Essays, and other works. He also commenced the laying down of what he calls "a method for the better disposing the history of England, that it may be more profitably and exactly communicated than it hath yet been;" and, in short, to use his own words, "left so many papers of several kinds, and cut out so many pieces of work, that a man may conclude that he never intended to be idle."

He still, nevertheless, fondly cherished the hope of being permitted to die in England. In the spring of 1674, he removed to Rouen; and thence in the end of August, after he had been reduced to great weakness by an attack of gout, he addressed letters to the king, the queen, and the Duke of York, pathetically beseeching leave to return to his native country. "Since it will be in nobody's power," he said, "long to keep me from dying, methinks the desiring a place to die in should not be thought a great presumption, nor unreasonable for me to beg leave to die in my own country, and among my own children." But his request was unheeded; and he died in Rouen on the 9th of December, in the same year. His eldest son, Lord Cornbury, had been sent for, and was with him in his last moments. His body was brought over to England, and buried on the 4th of January, 1675, on the north side of Henry VII.'s Chapel, in Westminster Abbey. The male issue of his eldest son failed in Edward, third Earl of Clarendon, who died in 1723; but the present Earl of Darnley is descended from a daughter of that earl. Clarendon's second son, Lawrence, was created Earl of Rochester in 1683; and his son Henry, second Earl of Rochester, became fourth Earl of Clarendon on the death of his cousin; but both titles failed on his own death without male issue in 1753. The present Earl of Clarendon is descended from a daughter of this fourth [Pg 133] earl, who married William Capel, Earl of Essex, and whose daughter married Thomas Villiers, second son of William Earl of Jersey, who was created Baron Hyde of Hindon in 1756, and Earl of Clarendon in 1776.

The sketch that has been given of his eventful life will sufficiently indicate Clarendon's moral character, as well as his political course. The friends and enemies of the principles upon which he acted, or the side upon which he ranged himself, will naturally take different views of some parts of his conduct; extreme partizans may even see nothing in him to be blamed, or nothing to be admired; but, while it may be admitted that his system of ethics was to some extent conventional, a calm and candid examination will, we believe, acquit him of having acted upon any occasion in direct violation of what he considered to be the rule of right. Even in his behaviour at the time of his daughter's marriage, there may have been more of what he himself, at least, took for sincerity and real feeling, than of the acting, or overacting, which it must be confessed it looks so like even in his own relation. The very fact of his having recorded it is strong evidence that he did not suppose it would be thought discreditable. At any rate, on this and on some other occasions his position was a very difficult and perplexing one, and some allowance may reasonably be made for him. Nor ought we in judging of him to forget either the trying temptations of all kinds through which he had to pass, or the general moral character of the times in which he lived. Of many charges which have been brought against his integrity, we may safely say that no one has been substantiated; and he may be fairly characterized as having probably been upon the whole as honest a man as we have a right to expect that he should have been in the circumstances. He will, at least, stand a comparison with any other minister of the Restoration. Besides that his private character had never been sullied by any notorious vice, (and that in an age of so much vicious example), he certainly in the course of his very extraordinary fortunes displayed many high and admirable qualities. Even his [Pg 134] steady adherence to the cause to which he had attached himself throughout so many years of hopeless depression is something very fine, especially when viewed in contrast with the ungrateful return he met with for all his services and all his sacrifices. His literary reputation rests upon his History, which is undoubtedly, with all its faults and deficiencies, one of the greatest in the short list of our English historical works. It is full of inaccuracies as to dates and other such minutiæ, and it is of course a one-sided account throughout; but there is nothing either little or mean in its partizanship, nor does its looseness of statement much affect its value either as a narrative of events, or as a composition. The general course of the great contest is, at least, very distinctly presented; and the broad masses into which the picture rolls itself are little injured in their effect by petty incorrectnesses in the details. Even when literally incorrect, they generally convey the true spirit of the story. And the great peculiarity and merit of Clarendon's manner may, perhaps, be said to lie in his power of combining volume and massiveness with the life and interest of minute delineation. It is not, perhaps, either a grand or a picturesque manner; but it is made up of qualities as like to or as near to grandeur and picturesqueness as can well be brought into union.


[16] See note in Lister's Life of Clarendon, vol. i. p. 2.

[17] Lord Campbell (Lives of the Chancellors, iii. 112) says, we do not know upon what authority, that his uncle the Chief Justice appointed him on this occasion to ride the circuit as his marshal.

[18] Life of Clarendon, i. 10, note.

[19] This fact, which has been overlooked by Mr. Lister, is noticed by Lord Campbell ('Lives of Chancellors,' iii. 126). But his lordship is mistaken in supposing that it rests upon the evidence of the notes of the proceedings of the Long Parliament taken in pencil by Sir Ralph Verney, and lately published by the Camden Society. Sir Ralph's notes afford no evidence on the subject; the fact is merely mentioned by Mr. Bruce, the editor (p. 82), on the authority of the printed Journals of the House.

[20] He hath lived well who hath well escaped notice.

[Pg 135]


Two people walking



That sanctity which settles on the memory of a great man ought, upon a double motive, to be vigilantly sustained by his countrymen; first, out of gratitude to him, as one column of the national grandeur; secondly, with a practical purpose of transmitting unimpaired to posterity the benefit of ennobling models. High standards of excellence are among the happiest distinctions by which the modern ages of the world have an advantage over earlier, and we are all interested by duty as well as policy in preserving them inviolate. To the benefit of this principle, none amongst the great men of England is better entitled than Milton, whether as respects his transcendent merit, or the harshness with which his memory has been treated.

John Milton was born in London on the 9th day of December, 1608. His father, in early life, had suffered for conscience' sake, having been disinherited upon his abjuring the popish faith. He pursued the laborious [Pg 136] profession of a scrivener, and having realized an ample fortune, retired into the country to enjoy it. Educated at Oxford, he gave his son the best education that the age afforded. At first, young Milton had the benefit of a private tutor; from him he was removed to St. Paul's School; next he proceeded to Christ's College, Cambridge; and finally, after several years' preparation by extensive reading, he pursued a course of continental travel. It is to be observed, that his tutor, Thomas Young, was a Puritan, and there is reason to believe that Puritan politics prevailed among the fellows of his college. This must not be forgotten in speculating on Milton's public life, and his inexorable hostility to the established government in church and state; for it will thus appear probable that he was at no time withdrawn from the influence of Puritan connexions.

In 1632, having taken the degree of M.A., Milton finally quitted the University, leaving behind him a very brilliant reputation, and a general good will in his own college. His father had now retired from London, and lived upon his own estate at Horton, in Buckinghamshire. In this rural solitude Milton passed the next five years, resorting to London only at rare intervals, for the purchase of books and music. His time was chiefly occupied with the study of Greek and Roman, and, no doubt, also of Italian literature. But that he was not negligent of composition, and that he applied himself with great zeal to the culture of his native literature, we have a splendid record in his 'Comus,' which, upon the strongest presumptions, is ascribed to this period of his life. In the same neighbourhood, and within the same five years, it is believed that he produced also the Arcades, and the Lycidas, together with L'Allegro, and Il Penseroso.

In 1637 Milton's mother died, and in the following year he commenced his travels. The state of Europe confined his choice of ground to France and Italy. The former excited in him but little interest. After a short stay at Paris he pursued the direct route to Nice, where he embarked for Genoa, and thence proceeded to Pisa, [Pg 137] Florence, Rome, and Naples. He originally meant to extend his tour to Sicily and Greece; but the news of the first Scotch war having now reached him, agitated his mind with too much patriotic sympathy to allow of his embarking on a scheme of such uncertain duration. Yet his homeward movements were not remarkable for expedition. He had already spent two months in Florence, and as many in Rome, yet he devoted the same space of time to each of them on his return. From Florence he proceeded to Lucca, and thence, by Bologna and Ferrara, to Venice; where he remained one month, and then pursued his homeward route through Verona, Milan, and Geneva.

Sir Henry Wotton had recommended, as the rule of his conduct, a celebrated Italian proverb, inculcating the policy of reserve and dissimulation. From a practised diplomatist, this advice was characteristic; but it did not suit the frankness of Milton's manners, nor the nobleness of his mind. He has himself stated to us his own rule of conduct, which was to move no questions of controversy, yet not to evade them when pressed upon him by others. Upon this principle he acted, not without some offence to his associates, nor wholly without danger to himself. But the offence, doubtless, was blended with respect; the danger was passed; and he returned home with all his purposes fulfilled. He had conversed with Galileo; he had seen whatever was most interesting in the monuments of Roman grandeur, or the triumphs of Italian art; and he could report with truth, that in spite of his religion, every where undissembled, he had been honoured by the attentions of the great, and by the compliments of the learned.

After fifteen months of absence, Milton found himself again in London at a crisis of unusual interest. The king was on the eve of his second expedition against the Scotch; and we may suppose Milton to have been watching the course of events with profound anxiety, not without some anticipation of the patriotic labour which awaited him. Meantime he occupied himself with the education of his sister's two sons, and soon after by way [Pg 138] of obtaining an honourable maintenance, increased the number of his pupils.

Dr. Johnson, himself at one period of his life a schoolmaster, on this occasion indulges in a sneer which is too injurious to be neglected. "Let not our veneration for Milton," says he, "forbid us to look with some degree of merriment on great promises and small performance: on the man who hastens home because his countrymen are contending for their liberty; and when he reaches the scene of action, vapours away his patriotism in a private boarding-school." It is not true that Milton had made "great promises," or any promises at all. But if he had made the greatest, his exertions for the next sixteen years nobly redeemed them. In what way did Dr. Johnson expect that his patriotism should be expressed? As a soldier? Milton has himself urged his bodily weakness and intellectual strength as reasons for following a line of duty for which he was better fitted. Was he influenced in his choice by fear of military dangers or hardships? Far from it; "for I did not," he says, "shun those evils, without engaging to render to my fellow-citizens services much more useful, and attended with no less of danger." What services were those? We shall state them in his own words, anticipated from an after period. "When I observed that there are in all three modes of liberty—first, ecclesiastical liberty; secondly, civil liberty; thirdly, domestic: having myself already treated of the first, and noticing that the magistrate was taking steps in behalf of the second, I concluded that the third, that is to say, domestic, or household liberty, remained to me as my peculiar province. And whereas this again is capable of a threefold division, accordingly as it regards the interests of conjugal life in the first place, or those of education in the second, or finally the freedom of speech, and the right of giving full publication to sound opinions,—I took it upon myself to defend all three, the first, by my Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, the second, by my Tractate upon Education, the third, by my Areopagitica."

[Pg 139] In 1641 he conducted his defence of ecclesiastical liberty, in a series of attacks upon episcopacy. These are written in a bitter spirit of abusive hostility, for which we seek an insufficient apology in his exclusive converse with a party which held bishops in abhorrence, and in the low personal respectability of a large portion of the episcopal bench.

At Whitsuntide, in the year 1645, having reached his 35th year, he married Mary Powel, a young lady of good extraction in the county of Oxford. One month after he allowed his wife to visit her family. This permission, in itself somewhat singular, the lady abused; for when summoned back to her home, she refused to return. Upon this provocation, Milton set himself seriously to consider the extent of the obligations imposed by the nuptial vow; and soon came to the conclusion, that in point of conscience it was not less dissoluble for hopeless incompatibility of temper than for positive adultery, and that human laws, in as far as they opposed this principle, called for reformation. These views he laid before the public in his Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce. In treating this question, he had relied entirely upon the force of argument, not aware that he had the countenance of any great authorities; but finding soon afterwards that some of the early reformers, Bucer and P. Martyr, had taken the same view as himself, he drew up an account of their comments on this subject. Hence arose the second of his tracts on Divorce. Meantime, as it was certain that many would abide by what they supposed to be the positive language of Scripture, in opposition to all authority whatsoever, he thought it advisable to write a third tract on the proper interpretation of the chief passages in Scripture, which refer to this point. A fourth tract, by way of answer to the different writers who had opposed his opinions, terminated the series.

Meantime the lady, whose rash conduct had provoked her husband into these speculations, saw reason to repent of her indiscretion, and finding that Milton held her desertion to have cancelled all claims upon his justice, [Pg 140] wisely resolved upon making her appeal to his generosity. This appeal was not made in vain: in a single interview at the house of a common friend, where she had contrived to surprise him, and suddenly to throw herself at his feet, he granted her a full forgiveness: and so little did he allow himself to remember her misconduct, or that of her family, in having countenanced her desertion, that soon afterwards, when they were involved in the general ruin of the Royal cause, he received the whole of them into his house, and exerted his political influence very freely in their behalf. Fully to appreciate this behaviour, we must recollect that Milton was not rich, and that no part of his wife's marriage-portion (1000l.) was ever paid to him.

His thoughts now settled upon the subject of education, which it must not be forgotten that he connected systematically with domestic liberty. In 1644 he published his essay on this great theme, in the form of a letter to his friend Hartlib, himself a person of no slight consideration. In the same year he wrote his 'Areopagitica, a speech for the liberty of unlicensed printing.' This we are to consider in the light of an oral pleading, or regular oration, for he tells us expressly [Def. 2.] that he wrote it "ad justæ orationis modum." It is the finest specimen extant of generous scorn. And very remarkable it is that Milton, who broke the ground on this great theme, has exhausted the arguments which bear upon it. He opened the subject: he closed it. And were there no other monument of his patriotism and genius, for this alone he would deserve to be held in perpetual veneration. In the following year, 1645, was published the first collection of his early poems; with his sanction, undoubtedly, but probably not upon his suggestion. The times were too full of anxiety to allow of much encouragement to polite literature: at no period were there fewer readers of poetry. And for himself in particular, with the exception of a few sonnets, it is probable that he composed as little as others read, for the next ten years; so great were his political exertions.

[Pg 141] Early in 1649 the king was put to death. For a full view of the state of the parties which led to this memorable event, we must refer the reader to the history of the times. That act was done by the Independent party, to which Milton belonged, and was precipitated by the intrigues of the Presbyterians, who were making common cause with the king, to ensure the overthrow of the Independents. The lamentations and outcries of the Presbyterians were long and loud. Under colour of a generous sympathy with the unhappy prince, they mourned for their own political extinction, and the triumph of their enemies. This Milton well knew, and to expose the selfishness of their clamours, as well as to disarm their appeals to the popular feeling, he now published his 'Tenure of Kings and Magistrates.' In the first part of this, he addresses himself to the general question of tyrannicide, justifying it, first, by arguments of general reason, and secondly, by the authority of the reformers. But in the latter part he argues the case personally, contending that the Presbyterians at least were not entitled to condemn the king's death, who, in levying war, and doing battle against the king's person, had done so much that tended to no other result. "If then," is his argument, "in these proceedings against their king, they may not finish, by the usual course of justice, what they have begun, they could not lawfully begin at all." The argument seems inconclusive, even as addressed ad hominem: the struggle bore the character of a war between independent parties, rather than a judicial inquiry, and in war the life of a prisoner becomes sacred.

At this time the Council of State had resolved no longer to employ the language of a rival people in their international concerns, but to use the Latin tongue as a neutral and indifferent instrument. The office of Latin Secretary, therefore, was created, and bestowed upon Milton. His hours from henceforth must have been pretty well occupied by official labours. Yet at this time he undertook a service to the state, more invidious, and perhaps more perilous, than any in which [Pg 142] his politics ever involved him. On the very day of the king's execution, and even below the scaffold, had been sold the earliest copies of a work, admirably fitted to shake the new government, and for the sensation which it produced at the time, and the lasting controversy which it has engendered, one of the most remarkable known in literary history. This was the 'Eikon Basilike, or Royal Image,' professing to be a series of meditations drawn up by the late king, on the leading events from the very beginning of the national troubles. Appearing at this critical moment, and co-operating with the strong re-action of the public mind, already affected in the king's favour by his violent death, this book produced an impression absolutely unparalleled in any age. Fifty thousand copies, it is asserted, were sold within one year; and a posthumous power was thus given to the king's name by one little book, which exceeded, in alarm to his enemies, all that his armies could accomplish in his life-time. No remedy could meet the evil in degree. As the only one that seemed fitted to it in kind, Milton drew up a running commentary upon each separate head of the original; and as that had been entitled the king's image, he gave to his own the title of 'Eikonoclastes, or Image-breaker,' "the famous surname of many Greek emperors, who broke all superstitious images in pieces."

This work was drawn up with the usual polemic ability of Milton: but by its very plan and purpose, it threw him upon difficulties which no ability could meet. It had that inevitable disadvantage which belongs to all ministerial and secondary works: the order and choice of topics being all determined by the 'Eikon,' Milton, for the first time, wore an air of constraint and servility, following a leader and obeying his motions, as an engraver is controlled by the designer, or a translator by his original. It is plain, from the pains he took to exonerate himself from such a reproach, that he felt his task to be an invidious one. The majesty of grief, expressing itself with Christian meekness, and appealing, as it were from the grave, to the consciences of men, [Pg 143] could not be violated without a recoil of angry feeling, ruinous to the effect of any logic, or rhetoric the most persuasive. The affliction of a great prince, his solitude, his rigorous imprisonment, his constancy to some purposes which were not selfish, his dignity of demeanour in the midst of his heavy trials, and his truly Christian fortitude in his final sufferings—these formed a rhetoric which made its way to all hearts. Against such influences the eloquence of Greece would have been vain. The nation was spell-bound; and a majority of its population neither could or would be disenchanted.

Milton was ere long called to plead the same great cause of liberty upon an ampler stage, and before a more equitable audience; to plead not on behalf of his party against the Presbyterians and Royalists, but on behalf of his country against the insults of a hired Frenchman, and at the bar of the whole Christian world. Charles II. had resolved to state his father's case to all Europe. This was natural, for very few people on the continent knew what cause had brought his father to the block, or why he himself was a vagrant exile from his throne. For his advocate he selected Claudius Salmasius, and that was most injudicious. This man, eminent among the scholars of the day, had some brilliant accomplishments which were useless in such a service, while in those which were really indispensable he was singularly deficient. He was ignorant of the world, wanting in temper and self-command, conspicuously unfurnished with eloquence, or the accomplishments of a good writer, and not so much as master of a pure Latin style. Even as a scholar, he was very unequal: he had committed more important blunders than any man of his age, and, being generally hated, had been more frequently exposed than others to the harsh chastisements of men inferior to himself in learning. Yet the most remarkable deficiency of all which Salmasius betrayed, was in his entire ignorance, whether historical or constitutional, of everything which belonged to the case.

Having such an antagonist, inferior to him in all possible qualifications, whether of nature, of art, of situation, [Pg 144] it may be supposed that Milton's triumph was absolute. He was now thoroughly indemnified for the poor success of his 'Eikonoclastes.' In that instance he had the mortification of knowing that all England read and wept over the king's book, whilst his own reply was scarcely heard of. But here the tables were turned: the very friends of Salmasius complained, that while his defence was rarely inquired after, the answer to it, 'Defensio pro Populo Anglicano,' was the subject of conversation from one end of Europe to the other. It was burnt publicly at Paris and Toulouse; and, by way of special annoyance to Salmasius, who lived in Holland, was translated into Dutch.

Salmasius died in 1653, before he could accomplish an answer that satisfied himself: and the fragment which he left behind him was not published, until it was no longer safe for Milton to rejoin. Meantime others pressed forward against Milton in the same controversy, of whom some were neglected; one was resigned to the pen of his nephew, Philips, and one answered diffusely by himself. This was Du Moulin, or, as Milton persisted in believing, Morus, a reformed minister then resident in Holland, and at one time a friend of Salmasius. For two years after the publication of this man's book ('Regii Sanguinis Clamor') Milton received multiplied assurances from Holland that Morus was its true author. This was not wonderful. Morus had corrected the press, had adopted the principles and passions of the book, and perhaps at first had not been displeased to find himself reputed the author. In reply, Milton published his 'Defensio Secunda pro Populo Anglicano,' seasoned in every page with some stinging allusions to Morus. All the circumstances of his early life are recalled, and some were such as the grave divine would willingly have concealed from the public eye. He endeavoured to avert too late the storm of wit and satire about to burst on him, by denying the work, and even revealing the author's real name: but Milton resolutely refused to make the slightest alteration. The true reason of this probably was that the work was written so exclusively against [Pg 145] Morus, full of personal scandal, and puns and gibes upon his name, which in Greek signifies foolish, that it would have been useless as an answer to any other person. In Milton's conduct on this occasion there is a want both of charity and candour. Personally, however, Morus had little ground for complaint: he had bearded the lion by submitting to be reputed the author of a work not his own. Morus replied, and Milton closed the controversy by a defence of himself, in 1665.

He had, indeed, about this time some domestic afflictions, which reminded him of the frail tenure on which all human blessings were held, and the necessity that he should now begin to concentrate his mind upon the great works which he meditated. In 1651 his first wife died, after she had given him three daughters. In that year he had already lost the use of one eye, and was warned by the physicians that if he persisted in his task of replying to Salmasius, he would probably lose the other. The warning was soon accomplished, according to the common account, in 1654; but upon collating his letter to Phalaris the Athenian, with his own pathetic statement in the Defensio Secunda, we are disposed to date it from 1652. In 1655 he resigned his office of secretary, in which he had latterly been obliged to use an assistant.

Some time before this period, he had married his second wife, Catherine Woodcock, to whom it is supposed that he was very tenderly attached. In 1657 she died in child-birth, together with her child, an event which he has recorded in a very beautiful sonnet. This loss, added to his blindness, must have made his home, for some years, desolate and comfortless. Distress, indeed, was now gathering rapidly upon him. The death of Cromwell, in the following year, and the imbecile character of his eldest son, held out an invitation to the aspiring intriguers of the day, which they were not slow to improve. It soon became too evident to Milton's discernment that all things were hurrying forward to restoration of the ejected family. Sensible of the risk, therefore, and without much hope, but obeying the summons of his conscience, he wrote a short tract on the ready and easy [Pg 146] way to establish a free commonwealth, concluding with these noble words: "Thus much I should perhaps have said, though I were sure I should have spoken only to trees and stones, and had none to cry to, but with the Prophet, Oh earth! earth! earth! to tell the very soil itself what her perverse inhabitants are deaf to. Nay, though what I have spoken should happen [which Thou suffer not, who didst create free, nor Thou next who didst redeem us from being servants of men] to be the last words of our expiring liberty." A slighter pamphlet on the same subject, 'Brief Notes' upon a sermon by one Dr. Griffiths, must be supposed to be written rather with a religious purpose of correcting a false application of sacred texts, than with any great expectation of benefiting his party. Dr. Johnson, with unseemly violence, says, that he kicked when he could strike no longer: more justly it might be said that he held up a solitary hand of protestation on behalf of that cause now in its expiring struggles, which he had maintained when prosperous; and that he continued to the last one uniform language, though he now believed resistance to be hopeless, and knew it to be full of peril.

That peril was soon realised. In the spring of 1660 the Restoration was accomplished amidst the tumultuous rejoicings of the people. It was certain that the vengeance of government would lose no time in marking its victims; for some of them in anticipation had already fled. Milton wisely withdrew from the first fury of the persecution which now descended on his party. He secreted himself in London, and when he returned into the public eye in the winter, found himself no farther punished than by a general disqualification for the public service, and the disgrace of a public burning inflicted on his Eikonoclastes, and his Defensio pro Populo Anglicano.

Apparently it was not long after this time that he married his third wife, Elizabeth Minshul, a lady of good family in Cheshire. In what year he began the composition of his 'Paradise Lost' is not certainly known: some have supposed in 1658. There is better ground [Pg 147] for fixing the period of its close. During the plague of 1665 he retired to Chalfont, and at that time Elwood the quaker read the poem in a finished state. The general interruption of business in London, occasioned by the plague, and prolonged by the great fire in 1666, explain why the publication was delayed for nearly two years. The contract with the publisher is dated April 26, 1667, and in the course of that year the 'Paradise Lost' was published. Originally it was printed in ten books: in the second and subsequent editions, the seventh and tenth books were each divided into two. Milton received only five pounds in the first instance on the publication of the book. His farther profits were regulated by the sale of the three first editions. Each was to consist of fifteen hundred copies, and on the second and third respectively reaching a sale of thirteen hundred, he was to receive a farther sum of five pounds for each; making a total of fifteen pounds. The receipt for the second sum of five pounds is dated April 26, 1669.

In 1670 Milton published his 'History of Britain,' from the fabulous period to the Norman Conquest. And in the same year he published in one volume 'Paradise Regained' and 'Samson Agonistes.' It has been currently asserted that Milton preferred the 'Paradise Regained' to 'Paradise Lost.' This is not true; but he may have been justly offended by the false principles on which some of his friends maintained a reasonable opinion. The 'Paradise Regained' is inferior by the necessity of its subject and design. In the 'Paradise Lost' Milton had a field properly adapted to a poet's purposes: a few hints in Scripture were expanded. Nothing was altered, nothing absolutely added: but that which was told in the Scriptures in sum, or in its last results, was developed into its whole succession of parts. Thus, for instance, "There was war in heaven," furnished the matter for a whole book. Now for the latter poem, which part of our Saviour's life was it best to select as that in which Paradise was Regained? He might have taken the Crucifixion, and here he had a much wider field than in the Temptation; but then he was subject to [Pg 148] this dilemma: if he modified, or in any way altered, the full details of the four Evangelists, he shocked the religious sense of all Christians; yet the purposes of a poet would often require that he should so modify them. With a fine sense of this difficulty, he chose the narrow basis of the Temptation in the Wilderness, because there the whole had been wrapt up in Scripture in a few brief abstractions. Thus, "He showed him all the kingdoms of the earth" is expanded, without offence to the nicest religious scruple, into that matchless succession of pictures, which bring before us the learned glories of Athens, Rome in her civil grandeur, and the barbaric splendour of Parthia. The actors being only two, the action of 'Paradise Regained' is unavoidably limited. But in respect of composition, it is perhaps more elaborately finished than 'Paradise Lost.'

In 1672 he published in Latin a new scheme of Logic, on the method of Ramus, in which Dr. Johnson suspects him to have meditated the very eccentric crime of rebellion against the universities. Be that as it may, this little book is in one view not without interest: all scholastic systems of logic confound logic and metaphysics; and some of Milton's metaphysical doctrines, as the present Bishop of Winchester has noticed, have a reference to the doctrines brought forward in his posthumous Theology. The history of the last-named work is remarkable. That such a treatise had existed was well known, but it had disappeared, and was supposed to be irrevocably lost. But in the year 1823 a Latin manuscript was discovered in the State-Paper Office, under circumstances which left little doubt of its being the identical work which Milton was known to have composed; and this belief was corroborated by internal evidence. By the king's command, it was edited by Mr. Sumner, the present Bishop of Winchester, and separately published in a translation. The title is 'De Doctrina Christiana, libri duo posthumi'—A Treatise on Christian doctrine, compiled from the Holy Scriptures alone. In elegance of style, and sublimity of occasional passages, it is decidedly inferior to other of his prose works. As a system of [Pg 149] theology, probably no denomination of Christians would be inclined to bestow other than a very sparing praise upon it. Still it is well worth the notice of those students who are qualified to weigh the opinions, and profit by the errors of such a writer, as being composed with Milton's usual originality of thought and inquiry, and as being remarkable for the boldness with which he follows up his arguments to their legitimate conclusion, however startling those conclusions may be.

What he published after the scheme of logic is not important enough to merit a separate notice. His end was now approaching. In the summer of 1674 he was still cheerful, and in possession of his intellectual faculties. But the vigour of his bodily constitution had been silently giving way, through a long course of years, to the ravages of gout. It was at length thoroughly undermined; and about the 10th of November, 1674, he died with tranquillity so profound, that his attendants were unable to determine the exact moment of his decease. He was buried, with unusual marks of honour, in the chancel of St. Giles' at Cripplegate.

The published lives of Milton are very numerous. Among the best and most copious are those prefixed to the editions of Milton's works by Bishop Newton, Todd, and Symmons. An article of considerable length, founded upon the latter, will be found in Rees's Cyclopædia. But the most remarkable is that written by Dr. Johnson in his 'Lives of the British Poets;' a production grievously disfigured by prejudice, yet well deserving the student's attention for its intrinsic merits, as well as for the celebrity which it has attained.


London: Printed by W. Clowes and Sons, Stamford Street.

Transcriber's Note

[The end of The Cabinet Portrait Gallery of British Worthies Vol 7 of 12 by Cox & Knight]