i00bost.

Favorite authors in prose and poetry online

. (page 45 of 66)
Online Libraryi00bostFavorite authors in prose and poetry → online text (page 45 of 66)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


was an enlargement of the sphere of them. His Mother
still at Huntingdon, within few miles of him, he could still
superintend and protect her existence there, while managing
his new operations at St. Ives. He continued here till the
summer or spring of 1636. A studious imagination may
sufficiently construct the figure of his equable life in those
years. Diligent grass-farming ; mowing, milking, cattle-
marketing : add u hypocondria," fits of the blackness of
darkness, with glances of the brightness of very Heaven ;
prayer, religious reading and meditation ; household epochs,
joys, and cares : we have a solid, substantial, inoffensive
Farmer of St. Ives, hoping to walk with integrity and hum-
ble devout diligence through this world ; and, by his Mak-
er's infinite mercy, to escape destruction, and find eternal
salvation in wider Divine Worlds. This latter, this is the
grand clause in his Life, which dwarfs all other clauses.
Much wider destinies than he anticipated were appointed
him on Earth ; but that, in comparison to the alternative of
Heaven or Hell to all Eternity, was a mighty small matter.
2



26 THOMAS CARLYLE.



VESTIGES.

OLIVER, as we observed, has left hardly any memorial of
himself at St. Ives. The ground he farmed is still partly
capable of being specified, certain records or leases being
still in existence. It lies at the lower or South-east end of
the Town ; a stagnant flat tract of land, extending between
the houses or rather kitchen-gardens of St. Ives in that
quarter, and the banks of the River, which, very tortuous
always, has made a .new bend here. If well drained, this
land looks as if it would produce abundant grass, but natur-
ally it must be little other than a bog. Tall bushy ranges
of willow-trees and the like, at present, divide it into fields ;
the River, not visible till you are close on it, bounding
them all to the South. At the top of the fields next to the
Town is an ancient massive Barn, still used as such ; the
people call it " Cromwell's Barn ; " and nobody can prove
that it was not his ! It was evidently some ancient man's
or series of ancient men's.

Quitting St. Ives Fen-ward or Eastward, the last house
of all, which stands on your right hand among gardens,
seemingly the best house in the place, and called Slepe
Hall, is confidently pointed out as " Oliver's House." It is
indisputably Slepe-Hall House, and Oliver's Farm was
rented from the estate of Slepe Hall. It is at present used
for a Boarding-school : the worthy inhabitants believe it to
be Oliver's ; and even point out his " Chapel " or secret Pu-
ritan Sermon-room in the lower story of the house : no Ser-
mon-room, as you may well discern, but to appearance some
sort of scullery or wash-house or bake-house. " It was here
he used to preach," say they. Courtesy forbids you to
answer, " Never ! " But in fact there is no likelihood that
this was Oliver's House at all : in its present state it does
not seem to be a century old ; and originally, as is like, it



CROMWELL. 27

must have served as residence to the Proprietors of Slepe-
Hall estate, not to the Farmer of a part thereof. Tradition
makes a sad blur of Oliver's memory in his native country !
We know, and shall know, only this, for certain here, that
Oliver farmed part or whole of these Slepe-Hall Lands,
over which the human feet can still walk with assurance ;
past which the River Ouse still slumberously rolls towards
Earith Bulwark and the Fen-country. Here of a certainty
Oliver did walk and look about him habitually during those
five years from 1631 to 1636; a man studious of many
temporal and many eternal things. His cattle grazed here,
his ploughs tilled here, the heavenly skies and infernal

abysses overarched and underarched him here

How he lived at St. Ives : how he saluted men on the
streets ; read Bibles ; sold cattle ; and walked, with heavy
footfall and many thoughts, through the Market Green or
old narrow lanes in St. Ives, by the shore of the black
Ouse River, shall be left to the reader's imagination.
There is in this man talent for farming ; there are thoughts
enough, thoughts bounded by the Ouse River, thoughts that
go beyond Eternity, and a great black sea of things that
he has never yet been able to think.



SHIPMONEY.

ON the very day while Oliver Cromwell was writing this
Letter at St. Ives, two obscure individuals, " Peter Aldridge
and Thomas Lane, Assessors of Shipmoney," over in Buck-
inghamshire, had assembled a Parish Meeting in the Church
of Great Kimble, to assess, and rate the Shipmoney of the
said Parish : there, in the cold weather, at the foot of the
Chiltern Hills, " 11 January, 1635," the Parish did attend,
44 John Hampden, Esquire," at the head of them, and by a



28 THOMAS CARLYLE.

Return still extant, refused to pay the same or any portion
thereof, witness the above " Assessors," witness aiso two
" Parish Constables " whom we remit from such unexpected
celebrity. John Hampden's share for this Parish is thirty-
one shillings and sixpence : for another Parish it is twenty
shillings ; on which latter sum, not on the former, John
Hampden was tried.



THE SHIPMONEY TRIAL.

IN the end of that same year [1637] there had risen all
over England huge rumors concerning the Shipmoney Trial
at London. On the 6th of November, 1637, this important
Process of Mr. Hampden's began. Learned Mr. St. John,
a dark tough man, of the toughness of leather, spake with
irrefragable law-eloquence, law-logic, for three days run-
ning, on Mr. Hampden's side ; and learned Mr. Holborn
for three other days ; preserved yet by Rushworth in
acres of typography, unreadable now to all mortals. For
other learned gentlemen, tough as leather, spoke on the
opposite side ; and learned judges animadverted, at endless
length, amid the expectancy of men. With brief pauses,
the Trial lasted for three weeks and three days. Mr.
Hampden became the most famous man in England, by
aciident partly. The sentence was not delivered till April,
1638 ; and then it went against Mr. Hampden: judgment
in Exchequer ran to this effect, " Gonsideratum est per eos-
dem Barones quod prcedictus Johannes Hampden de iisdem
viginti solidis oneretur" He must pay the Twenty shil
Hugs, " et inde satisfaciat." No hope in Law-Courts,
then ; Petition of Right and Tallagio non concedendo
have become an old song.



CROMWELL.



BATTLE OF NASEBY.

THE old Hamlet of Naseby stands yet, on its old hill-top,
very much as it did in Saxon days, on the Northwestern
border of Northamptonshire, some seven or eight miles
from Market-Harborough in Leicestershire, nearly on a
line, and nearly nrdway, between that Town and Daventry.
A peaceable old Hamlet, of some eight hundred souls ; clay
cottages for laborers, but neatly thatched and swept ;
smith's shop, saddler's shop, beer shop, all in order ; form-
ing a kind of square, which leads off Southwards into two
long streets : the old Church, with its graves, stands in the
centre, the truncated spire finishing itself with a strange old
Ball, held up by rods ; a " hollow copper Ball, which came
from Boulogne in Henry the Eighth's time," which has,
like Hudibras's breeches, " been at the Siege of Bullen."
The ground is upland, moorland, though now growing corn ;
was not enclosed till the last generation, and is still some-
what bare of wood. It stands nearly in the heart of Eng-
land: gentle Dulness, taking a turn at etymology, some-
times derives it from Navel ; " Navesby, quasi Navelsby,
from being," &c. : Avon Well, the distinct source of
Shakespeare's Avon, is on the Western slope of the high
grounds ; Nen and Welland, streams leading towards Crom-
well's Fen-country, begin to gather themselves from boggy
places on the Eastern side. The grounds, as we say,, lie
high ; and are still, in their new subdivisions, known by
the name of " Hills," " Rutput Hill," " Mill Hill," " Dust
Hill," and the like, precisely as in Rushworth's time : but
they are not properly hills at all ; they are broad blunt
clayey masses, swelling towards and from each other, like
indolent waves of a sea, sometimes of miles in extent.

It was on this high moor-ground, in the centre of Eng-
land, that King Charles, on the 14th of June, 1645, fought



30 THOMAS CARLYLE.

his last Battle ; dashed fiercely against the New-Model
Army, ^ hich he had despised till then ; and saw himself
ghivered utterly to ruin thereby. " Prince Rupert, on the
King's right wing, charged up the hill, and carried all be
fore him ; " but Lieutenant-General Cromwell charged down
hill on the other wing, likewise carrying all before him,
and did not gallop off the field to plunder. He, Cromwell,
ordered thither by the Parliament, had arrived from the
Association two days before, " amid shouts from the whole
Army : " he had the ordering of the Horse this morning.
Prince Rupert, on returning from his plunder, finds the
King's Infantry a ruin ; prepares to charge again with the
rallied Cavalry ; but the Cavalry, too, when it came to the
point, " broke all asunder," never to reassemble more. The
chase went through Harborough, where the King had al-
ready been that morning, when in an evil hour he turned
back, to revenge some " surprise of an outpost at Naseby
the night before," and give the Roundheads battle.

Ample details of this Battle, and of the movements prior
and posterior to it, are to be found in Sprigge, or copied
with some abridgment into Rushworth ; who has also copied
a strange old Plan of the Battle ; half-plan, half-picture,
which the Sale-Catalogues are very chary of, in the case of
Sprigge. By assiduous attention, aided by this Plan, as the
old names yet stick to their localities, the narrative can still
be, and has lately been, pretty accurately verified, and the
Figure of the old Battle dimly brought back again. The
reader shall imagine it, for the present. On the crown of
Naseby Height stands a modern Battle-monument ; but, by
an unlucky oversight, it is above a mile to the east of where
the Battle really was. There are, likewise, two modern
Books about Naseby and its Battle, both of them without
value.

The Parliamentary Army stood ranged on the height
still partly called " Mill Hill," as, in Rushworth's time, a



CROMWELL. 31

mile and half from Naseby ; the King's Army, on a parallel
Hill," its back to Harborough, with the wide table of up-
land now named Broad Moor between them, where indeed
the main brunt of the action still clearly enough shows it-
self to have been. There are hollow spots, of a rank vegeta-
tion, scattered over that Broad Moor, which are understood
to have once been burial mounds, some of which, one to my
knowledge, have been, with more or less of sacrilege, veri-
fied as such. A friend of mine has in his cabinet two an-
cient grinder-teeth, dug lately from that ground, and waits
for an opportunity to rebury them there. Sound, effectual
grinders, one of them very large ; which ate their breakfast
on the fourteenth morning of June, two hundred years ago,
and, except to be clinched once in grim battle, had never
work to do more in this world ! " A stack of dead bodies,
perhaps about a hundred, had been buried in this Trench,
piled, as in a wall, a man's length thick ; the skeletons lay
in courses, the heads of one course to the heels of the next ;
one figure, by the strange position of the bones, gave us the
hideous notion of its having been thrown in before death.
We did not proceed far ; perhaps some half-dozen skele-
tons. The bones were treated with all piety, watched rig-
orously over Sunday, till they could be covered in again."
Sweet friends, for Jesus' sake forbear !

At this Battle, Mr. John Rush worth, our Historical Rush-
worth, had, unexpectedly, for some instants, sight of a very
famous person. Mr. John is Secretary to Fairfax, and they
have placed him to-day among the Baggage-wagons, near
Naseby Hamlet, above a mile from the fighting, where he
waits in an anxious manner. It is known how Prince Ru-
pert broke our left wing while Cromwell was breaking their
left " A gentleman of public employment, in the late ser-
vice near Xaseby," writes next day, "Harborough, 15th
June, 2 in the morning," a rough graphic Letter in the
Newspapers, wherein is this sentence :



32 THOMAS CARLYLE.

* * * "A party of theirs that broke through the left
wing of horse, came quite behind the rear to our Train, the
Leader of them being a person somewhat in habit like the
General, in a red montero. as the General had. He came
as a friend ; our commander of the guard of the Train went
with his hat in his -hand, and asked him, How the day
went? thinking it had been the General : the Cavalier, who
we since heard was Rupert, asked him and the rest, If they
would have quarter ? They cried No ; gave fire, and in-
stantly beat them off. It was a happy deliverance,"!
without doubt.

There were taken here a good few " ladies of quality i*
carriages," and above a hundred Irish ladies not of quali
ty, tattery camp-followers, " with long skean-knives about a
foot in length," which they well knew how to use, upon
whom, I fear, the Ordinance against Papists pressed hard
this day. The King's Carriage was also taken, with a Cab-
inet and many Royal Autographs in it, which, when printed,
made a sad impression against his Majesty, gave, in fact,
a most melancholy view of the veracity of his Majesty.
" On the word of a King," all was lost !



BRIDGET CROMWELL'S WEDDING.

AND now, dated on the Monday before, at Holton, a
country Parish in those parts,<there is this still legible in
the old Church Register, intimately interesting to some
friends of ours ! " HENRY IRETON, Commissary- Gen-
eral to Sir Thomas Fairfax, and BRIDGET, Daughter to
Oliver Cromwell, Lieutenant- General of the Horse, to the
said Sir Thomas Fairfax, were married, by Mr. Dell, in the
Lady Whorwood 'her house in Holton, June 15th, 1646.
ALBAN BALES, Rector."



CROMWELL. 33

Ireton, we are to remark, was one of Fairfax's Com-
missioners on the Treaty for surrendering Oxford, and
busy undor the walls there at present, llolton is some five
miles east of the City ; Holton House, we guess, by various
indications, to have been Fairfax's own quarter. Dell, al-
ready and afterwards well known, was the General's Chap-
lain at this date. Of " the Lady Whorwood " I have traces,
rather in the Royalist direction ; her strong moated House,
very useful to Fairfax in those weeks, still stands conspicu-
ous in that region, though now under new figure and owner-
ship ; drawbridge become faced, deep ditch now dry, moated
; sland changed into a flower-garden; "rebuilt in 1807."
Fairfax's lines, we observe, extended " from Headingtor
Hill to Marston," several miles in advance of Holton
House, then " from Marston," across the Cherwell, " and
over from that to the Isis on the North side of the City " ;
southward, and elsewhere, the besieged, "by a dam at St.
Clement's Bridge, had laid the country all under water " :
in such scenes, with the treaty just ending, and general
peace like to follow, did Ireton welcome his bride, a
brave young damsel of twenty-one, escorted, doubtless, by
her Father, among others, to the Lord General's house,
and there, by Rev. Mr. Dell, solemnly handed over to
new destinies !



DEATH WARRANT.

THE Trial of Charles Stuart falls not to be described in
this place : the deep meanings that lie in it cannot be so
much as glanced at here. Oliver Cromwell attends in the
High Court of Justice at every session except one ; Fairfax
sits only in the first. Ludlow, Whalley, Walton, names
known to us, are also constant attendants in that High
Court, during that long -memorable Month of January, 1649.



34 THOMAS CARLYLE.

The King is thrice brought to the Bar ; refuses to plead,
comports himself with royal dignity, with royal haughti-
ness, strong in his divine right ; " smiles " contemptuously,
" looks with an austere countenance ; " does not seem, till
the very last, to have fairly believed that they would dare
to sentence him. But they were men sufficiently provided
with daring ; men, we are bound to see, who sat there as in
the Presence of the Maker of all men, as executing the judg-
ments of Heaven above, and had not the fear of any man or
thing on the Earth below. Bradshaw said to the King,
" Sir, you are not permitted to issue out in these discours-
ings. This Court is satisfied of its authority. No Court will
bear to hear its authority questioned in that manner."
" Clerk, read the Sentence ! "

And so, under date, Monday 29th January, 1648-9, there
is this stern Document to be introduced ; not specifically of
Oliver's composition ; but expressing in every letter of it
the conviction of Oliver's heart, in this, one of his most im-
portant appearances on the stage of earthly life.

To Colonel Francis flacker, Colonel flunch, and Lieuten-
ant-Colonel Phayr, and to every one of them.

At the High Court of Justice for the Trying and Judging of
Charles Stuart, King of England, 29th January, 1648.

WHEREAS Charles Stuart, King of England, is and
standeth convicted, attainted and condemned of High Trea-
son and other high Crimes ; and Sentence upon Saturday
last was pronounced against him by this Court, To be put to
death by the severing of his head from his body ; of which
Sentence execution yet remaineth to be done :

These are therefore to will and require you to see the
said Sentence executed, in the open street before Whitehall,
upon the morrow, being the Thirtieth day of this instant
month of January, between the hours of Ten in the morn-



CROMWELL. 35

iiig and Five in the afternoon, with full effect. And for so
doing, this shall be jour warrant.

And these are to require all Officers and Soldiers, and
others the good People of this Nation of England, to be
assisting unto you in this service.

Given under our hands and seals.
JOHN BRADSHAW,
THOMAS GREY, "Lord Groby,"
OLIVER CROMWELL.

("And Fifty-six others.")

" Tetrce lettuce, ac molossis suis ferociores. Hideous mon-
sters, more ferocious than their own mastiffs ! " shrieks Sau-
maise ; shrieks all the world, in unmelodious soul-confusing
diapason of distraction, happily at length grown very
faint in our day. The truth is, no modern reader can con-
ceive the then atrocity, ferocity, unspeakability of this fact.
First, after long reading in the old dead Pamphlets does
one see the magnitude of it. To be equalled, nay to be pre-
ferred think some, in point of horror, to * the Crucifixion of
Christ." Alas, in these irreverent times of ours, if all the
Kings of Europe were cut in pieces at one swoop, and flung
in heaps in St. Margaret's Churchyard on the same day, the
emotion would, in strict arithmetical truth, be small in com-
parison! We know it not, this atrocity of the English
Regicides ; shall never know it. I reckon it perhaps the
most daring action any Body of Men to be met with in His-
tory ever, with clear consciousness, deliberately set them-
selves to do. Dread Phantoms, glaring supernal on you,
when once they are quelled and their light snuffed out,
none knows the terror of the Phantom ! The Phantom is a
poor paper-lantern with a candle-end in it, which any whip-
ster dare now beard.

A certain Queen in some South-Sea Island, I have read
in Missionary Books, had been converted to Christianity;



36 THOMAS CARLYLE.

did not any longer believe in the old gods. She assembled
her people ; said to them, " My faithful People, the gods do
not dwell in that burning mountain in the centre of our Isle.
That is not God ; no, that is a common burning-moun-
tain, mere culinary fire burning under peculiar circum-
stances. See, I will walk before you to that burning-
mountain ; will empty my wash-bowl into it, cast my slipper
over it, defy it to the uttermost; and stand the conse-
quences!" She walked accordingly, this South- Sea Hero-
ine, nerved to the sticking-place ; her people following in
pale horror and expectancy : she did her experiment ;
and, I am told, they have truer notions of the gods in that
Island ever since ! Experiment which it is now very easy
to repeat, and very needless. Honor to the Brave who de-
liver us from Phantom-dynasties, in South-Sea Islands and
in North !

This action of the English Regicides did in effect strike a
damp like death through the heart of Flunkeyism univer-
sally in this world. Whereof Flunkeyism, Cant, Cloth-wor-
ship, or whatever ugly name it have, has gone about incura-
bly sick ever since ; and is now at length, in these genera-
tions, very rapidly dying. The like of which action will not
be needed for a thousand years again. Needed, alas not
till a new genuine Hero-worship has arisen, has perfected
itself; and had time to generate into a Flunkeyism and
Cloth-worship again ! Which I take to be a very long date
indeed.



MR. MILTON

ON which same evening, [March 13, 1468,] furthermore,
one discerns in a faint but an authentic manner, certain dim
gentlemen of the highest authority, young Sir Harry Vane
to appearance one of them, repairing to the lodging of one



CROMWELL. 37

Mr. Milton, " a small house in Holborn, which opens back-
wards into Lincoln's Inn Fields ; to put an official question
to him there." Not a doubt of it they saw Mr. John this
evening. In the official Book this yet stands legible :

" Die Martis, 13 Martii, 1648." " That it is referred to
the same Committee," Whitlocke, Vane, Lord Lisle, Earl
of Denbigh, Harry Marten, Mr. Lisle, " or any two of them,
to speak with Mr. Milton, to know, Whether he will be em-
ployed as Secretary for the Foreign Languages ? and to re-
port to the Council." I have authority to say that Mr.
Milton, thus unexpectedly applied to, consents ; is formally
appointed on Thursday next ; makes his proof-shot, " to the
Senate of Hamburgh," about a week hence ; and gives,
and continues to give, great satisfaction to that Council, to
me, and to the whole Nation now, and to all Nations!
Such romance lies in the State-Paper Office.



THE LEVELLERS ENGLISH SANSCULOTTISM.

WHILE Miss Dorothy Mayor is choosing her wedding-
dresses, and Richard Cromwell is looking forward to a life
of Arcadian felicity now near at hand, there has turned up
for Richard's Father and other parties interested, on the
public side of things, a matter of very different complexion,
requiring to be instantly dealt with in the interim. The
matter of the class called Levellers ; concerning which we
must now say a few words.

In 1647 there were Army Adjutators ; and among some
of them wild notions afloat, as to the swift attainability of
Perfect Freedom, civil and religious, and a practical Mil-
lennium on this Earth ; notions which required', in the Ren-
dezvous at Corkbushfield, " Rendezvous of Ware," as they
oftenest call it, to be very resolutely trodden out. Eleven



38 THOMAS CARLYLE.

chief mutineers were ordered from the ranks in that Ren-
dezvous ; were condemned by swift Court-Martial to die ;
and Trooper Arnald, one of them, was accordingly shot
there and then; which extinguished the mutiny for that
time. War since, and Justice on Delinquents, England
made a Free Commonwealth, and such like, have kept the
Army busy; but a deep republican leaven, working all
along among these men, breaks now again into very for-
midable development. As the following brief glimpses and
excerpts may satisfy an attentive reader who will spread
them out, to the due expansion, in his mind. Take first
this glimpse into the civil province ; and discern with
amazement, a whole submarine world of Calvinistic Sanscu-
lottism, Five-point Charter, and the Rights of Man, threat-
ening to emerge almost two centuries before its time.

"The Council of State," says Whitlocke, just while
Mr. Barton is boggling about the Hursley Marriage-settle-
ments, "has intelligence of certain Levellers appearing at St.
Margaret's Hill, near Cobham in Surrey, and at St. George's
Hill," in the same quarter: "that they were digging the
ground, and sowing it with roots and beans. One Everard,
once of the Army, who terms himself a Prophet, is the
chief of them : " one Winstanley is another chief. They
were Thirty men, and said that they should be shortly Four-
thousand. They invited all to come in and help them ; and
promised them meat, drink, and clothes. They threatened
to pull down Park-pales, and to lay all open ; and threaten
the neighbors that they will shortly make them all come up
to the hills and work." These infatuated persons, begin-
ning a new era in this headlong manner on the chalk hills
of Surrey, are laid hold of by certain Justices, " by the coun-



Online Libraryi00bostFavorite authors in prose and poetry → online text (page 45 of 66)