Page images

For my honoured Friend, Mr. Hungerford the Elder, at his

House: These.



'London,' 30th July, 1652. I am very sorry my occasions will not permit me to return? to you as I would. I have not yet fully spoken with the Gentleman I sent to wait upon you; when I shall do it, I shall be enabled to be more particular. Being unwilling to detain your servant any longer,— with my service to your Lady and Family, I take my leave,

and rest,

Your affectionate servant,


It is a sad reflection with my Lord General, in this Hungerford and other businesses, that the mere justice of any matter will so little avail a man in Parliament: you can make no way till you have got up some party on the subject there !2

In fact, red-tape has, to a lamentable extent, tied up the souls of men in this Parliament of the Commonwealth of England. They are becoming hacks of office; a savour of Godliness still on their lips, but seemingly not much deeper with some of them. I begin to have a suspicion they are no Parliament! If the Commonwealth of England had not still her Army Parliament, rigorous devout Council of Officers, men in right life-and-death earnest, who have spent their blood in this Cause, who in case of need can assemble and act again, —what would become of the Commonwealth of England ? Earnest persons, from this quarter and that, make petition to the Lord General and Officers, That they would be pleased to take the matter in hand, and see right done. To which the Lord General and Officers answer always : Wait, be patient; the Parliament itself will yet do it.



* Collinson's History of Somersetshire (Bath, 1791), iii. 357 (Note).Appendix, No. 12.

Speech, postea.



Ride ye?

[ocr errors]

What the state of the Gospel in Wales' is, in Wales or elsewhere, I cannot with any accuracy ascertain ; but see well that this Parliament has shewn no zeal that way; has shackled rather, and tied-up with its sorrowful red-tape the movements of men that had any zeal. Lamentable enough. The light of the Everlasting Truth was kindled; and you do not fan the sacred flame, you consider it a thing which may be left to itself! Unhappy: and for what did we fight then, and wrestle with our souls and our bodies as in strong agony; besieging Heaven with our prayers, and Earth and its Strengths, from Naseby on to Worcester, with our pikes and cannon ? Was it to put an Official Junto of some Threescore Persons into the high saddle in Eng


They would need to be Threescore beautifuller men ! Our blood shed like water, our brethren's bones whitening a hundred fields ; Tredah Storm, Dunbar deathagony, and God's voice from the battle-whirlwind: did they mean no more but you !— My Lord General urges us always to be patient: Patience, the Parliament itself will yet do it. That is what we shall see!

. On the whole, it must be seriously owned by every reader, this present Fag-end of a Parliament of England has failed altogether to realise the high dream of those old Puritan hearts. * Incumbrance, it appears, cannot in the abstract be defined : but if

you would know in the concrete what it is, look there! The thing we fought for, and gained as if by miracle, it is ours this long while, and yet not ours; within grasp of us, it lies there unattainable, enchanted under Parliamentary formulas. Enemies are swept away; extinguished as in the brightness of the Lord : and no Divine Kingdom, and no clear incipiency of such, has yet in any measure come !— These are sorrowful reflections.

For, alas, such high dream is difficult to realise! Not the Stuart Dynasty alone that opposes it; all the Dynasties of the Devil, the whole perversions of this poor Earth, without us and within us, oppose it.— Yea, answers with a sigh the heart of my Lord General : Yea, it is difficult, and thrice difficult ;-and yet woe to us, if we do not with our whole soul try it, make some clear beginning of it; if we sit defining incumbrances,' instead

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[blocks in formation]

of bending every muscle to the wheel that is encumbered! Who art thou that standest still ; that having put-to thy hand, turnest back? In these years of miracle in England, were there not great things, as if by divine voices, audibly promised ?

- The Lord said unto my Lord !-And is it all to end here? In Juntos of Threescore; in Grocers-Hall Committees, in red-tape, and official shakings of the head ?

My Lord General, are there no voices, dumb voices from the depths of poor England's heart, that address themselves to you, even you ? My Lord General hears voices; and would fain distinguish and discriminate them. Which, in all these, is the God's voice? That were the one to follow. My Lord General, I think, has many meditations, of a very mixed, and some of a very abstruse nature, in these months.

August 13th, 1652. This day came a Petition from the Officers of my Lord General's Army,' which a little alarmed us. Petition craving for some real reform of the Law; some real attempt towards setting up a Gospel Ministry in England; real and general ousting of scandalous, incompetent and plainly diabolic persons from all offices of Church and State; real beginning, in short, of a Reign of Gospel Truth in this England;—and for one thing, a swift progress in that most slow-going Bill for a New Representative; an actual ending of this present Fag-end of a Parliament, which has now sat very long! So, in most respectful language, prays this Petition of the Officers. Petition prefaced, they say, with earnest prayer to God: that was the preface or prologue they gave it;—what kind of epilogue they might be prepared to give it, one does not learn : but the men carry swords at their sides ; and we have known them !—Many thought this • kind of Petition dangerous ; and counselled my Lord General ' to put a stop to the like : but he seemed to make light of it,' says Bulstrode. In fact, my Lord General does not disapprove of it: my Lord General, after much abstruse meditation, has decided on putting himself at the head of it. He, and a serious minority in Parliament, and in England at large, think with themselves, once more, If it were not for this Army Parliament, what would become of us ?-Speaker Lenthall “thanked these Officers, with a smile which I think must have been of the grim

1 Whitlocke, p. 516.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

mest, like that produced in certain animals by the act of eating thistles.

September 14th, 1652. The somnolent slow-going Bill for a New Representative, which has slept much, and now and then pretended to move a little, for long years past, is resuscitated by this Petition ; comes out, rubbing its eyes, disposed for decided activity ;-and in fact sleeps no more; cannot think of sleep any more, the noise round it waxing ever louder. Settle how your Representative shall be : for be it now actually must !

This Bill, which has slept and waked so long, does not sleep again : but, How to settle the conditions of the New Representative ?- there is a question! My Lord General will have good security against 'the Presbyterial Party' that they come not into power again ; good security against the red-tape Party, that they sit not for three months defining an incumbrance again. How shall we settle the New Representative ;-on the whole, what or how shall we do? For the old stagnancy is verily broken up : these petitioning Army Officers, with all the earnest armed and unarmed men of England in the rear of them, have verily torn us from our moorings : and we do go adrift, —with questionable havens, on starboard and larboard, very difficult of entrance ; with Mahlstroms and Niagaras very patent right ahead! We are become to mankind a Rump Parliament; sit here we cannot much longer ; and we know not what to do!

During the month of October, some ten or twelve conferences took place,'— private conferences between the Army Officers and the Leaders of the Parliament: wherein nothing could be agreed upon. Difficult to settle the New Representative; impossible for this Old Misrepresentative or Rump to continue ! What shall or can be done? Summon, without popular intervention, by earnest selection on your and our part, a Body of godly wise Men, the Best and Wisest we can find in England : to them entrust the whole question; and do you abdicate, and depart straightway, say the Officers. Forty good Men, or a Hundred-and-forty ; choose them well, they will define an incumbrance in less than three months, we may hope, and tell us what to do! Such is the notion of the Army Officers, and

my rd General; a kind of Puritan Convention of the Notables, so the French would call it: to which the Parliament Party see

insuperable objections. What other remedy, then? The Parliament Party mournfully insinuate that there is no remedy, except, -except continuance of the present Rump !!

November 7th, 1652. About this time,' prior or posterior to it, while such conferences and abstruse considerations are in progress, my Lord General, walking once in St. James's Park, beckons the learned Bulstrode, who is also there; strolls gradually aside with him, and begins one of the most important Dialogues. Whereof learned Bulstrode has preserved some record; which is unfortunately much dimmed by just suspicion of dramaturgy on the part of Bulstrode; and shall not be excerpted by us here. It tends conspicuously to shew, first, how Cromwell already entertained most alarming notions of making oneself a King,' and even wore them pinned on his sleeve, for the inspection of the learned ; and secondly, how Bulstrode, a secret-royalist in the worst of times, advised him by no means to think of that, but to call in Charles Stuart, — who had an immense popularity among the Powerful in England just then! "My Lord General did not . in words express any anger, but only by looks and carriage ; 6 and turned aside from me to other company,'—as this Editor, in quest of certainty and insight, and not of doubt and fat drowsy pedantry, will now also do !

[ocr errors]


HERE, from the old Chest of Farley Castle, is the other Hungerford Letter; and a dim glance into the domesticities again. Anthony Hungerford, as we saw, was the Royalist Hungerford, of Blackbourton in Oxfordshire ; once Member for Malmesbury; who has been living these six or seven years past, in a repentant wholesomely secluded state. · Cousin Dunch' is young Mrs. Dunch of Pusey, once Ann Mayor of Hursley; she lives within visiting distance of Blackbourton, when at Pusey; does not forget old neighbours while in Town,--and occasionally hears gloomy observations from them. “ Your Lord General is become a great man now !”—From the Answer to which we gather at least

1. Speech, postea.

« PreviousContinue »