Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

The lion's whelp; a story of Cromwell's time online

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King in a rage ordered them all off" English soil. And tis
like enough he would have said to himself, " If Charles

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Stuart had been on all occasions as straightforward and pos
itive as he was on that one, he had been King of England
yet." But Elizabeth Cromwell did not either see or re
member. Her little grandson had a slight fever; she was
not satisfied with her daughter s health, and the care of the
great househeld she ruled was a burden she never wholly
laid down. In this vast, melancholy pile of chambers, she
thought of her simple home in St. Ives with longing and
affection. Royal splendours had given her nothing she
cared for; and they had taken from her the constant help
and companionship that in humbler circumstances her good,
great husband had given her.

She paused a moment before the door of his room. She
wondered if he was asleep. If so, she would on no ac
count awaken him, for in these days he slept far too little.
All was still as death, but yet something of the man s in
tense personality escaped the closed door. The giant soul
within was busy with heart and brain, and the subtile life
evolved found her out. Quiet as the room was, it was not
quiet enough for Oliver to be asleep. She opened the door
softly and saw him sitting motionless by the fire, his eyes
closed, his massive form upright and perfectly at rest.

"Oliver," she said, "dear Oliver, you ought to be in
bed and asleep."

His great darkling soul flashed into his face a look of
tenderest love. " Elizabeth," he answered, " I wish that
I could sleep. I do indeed. I need it. God knows I
need it, but my heart wakes, and I do fear it will wake this
night if so, there is no sleep for me. You see, dearest,
how God mingles our cup. When I was Mr. Cromwell,
I could sleep from night till morning. When I was Gen
eral Cromwell, my labours gave me rest. Now that I am
Lord Protector of three Kingdoms, sleep, alas ! is gone far


from me ! In my mind I run to and fro through all the
land. I have a thousand plans and anxieties, Elizabeth, my
dearest ; great place is not worth looking after. It is not."

" But if beyond our will we be led into great place and
great honour, Oliver? "

" That is my comfort. I brought not myself here ; no,
truly, that would be an incredible thing. Once, my God
led me in green pastures and by still waters, and I was
happy with my Shepherd. Then He called me to be Cap
tain of Israel s host, and He went before me in every battle
and gave me the victory. Now, He has set me here as
Protector of a people who know not yet what they want.
Aioses leading those stiff-necked, self-willed Israelites was
not harder bestead than I am, trying to lead men just as
stiff-necked out of victory into freedom. Every one thinks
freedom means his way, and no other way, and they break
my heart with their jealousies and envyings, and their want
of confidence in me and in each other. Yet I struggle
day and night to do the work set me as well as mortal man
may do it."

" What troubles you in particular, Oliver ? "

" One of the things that troubled my Great Master,
when He wept and prayed and fainted in Gethsemane.
Pie knew that those whom He loved and who ought to
strengthen and comfort Flim, would soon forsake and flee
from Him. I think of the men who have trusted me to
lead them in every battle ; who never found me wanting ;
the men with whom I have taken counsel, with whom I
have prayed ; the men who were to me as Jonathan to
David; and when I think of them, my heart is like to
burst in twain. They are beginning to forsake me, to flee
from me, and their cold looks and formal words hurt me
Mke a sword thrust ; they do, Elizabeth, they do indeed."


" But see how God cares for you. Charles Stuart and
his men spend their time in devising plots to kill you, and
they are always prevented."

" I care nothing about Charles Stuart and the men with
him. They can do nothing against me. My life is hid
with Christ in God, and until my work is done, there is no
weapon formed that can hurt me. I say this, for I do
know it. And when I have fulfilled all His Will, I shall
not be dismissed from life by any man s hatred. God Him
self will have a desire for the work of His Hand ; He will
call me, and I will answer. That will be a good day,
Elizabeth, for I am weary weary and sorrowful, even
unto death."

" If you had made yourself King, as you might have
done, as you ought to have done, you would have had less
opposition. John Verity said so to me. He said English
men were used to a king, but they did not know what to
make of a protector."

" King ! King ! I am king in very truth, call me what
they like. And for that matter, why should I not be king ?
Doctor Owen tells me the word king comes from Konig
and means the man that can. I am that man. Every
king in Europe came from some battle-field, that was their
first title to kingship. Our William, called the Conqueror,
won the Kingdom of England by one successful battle.
How many battles have I fought and won ? I never lost
a single field how could I, the Lord of Hosts being with
me ? As a hero of battle, there is no man to stand before
me. Why should I not be king over the three countries I
have conquered ? My title to kingship is as good as any
ruler I know. And perhaps who can tell had I
crowned myself, it had been a settlement much needed.
John Verity is right. Englishmen think a protector is a


ruler for emergency. They feel temporary and uncertain
with a protector. A kingship is a settled office. The
laws are full of the king ; they do not name a protector
and men feel to the law as they do to a god."

" Take the crown, Oliver. Why not ? "

" t have no orders to take it. My angel told me when
I was a boy, that I should become the greatest man in
England, but he said not that I should be king. And
I know also from One who never lied to me, that this
nation will yearn after its old monarchy. I am here to do
a work, to sow seeds that will take generations to ripen,
but my reign is only an interregnum. I shall found no

" Oh, Oliver ! You have two sons."

" Richard cannot manage his own house and servants.
Harry is a good lieutenant ; he can carry out instructions,
it is doubtful if he could lead. My desire for my sons is,
that they live private lives in the country. I know what I
know. I have what I have. The crown of England is
not to be worn by me, nor do I want it ; I do not neither
for myself nor my children." Then taking his wife s
hand tenderly between his own, he said with intense
fervour, " There is not a man living can say I sought this
place not a man or woman living on English ground. I
can say in the presence of God, I would have been glad to
have lived with thee under my woodside all the days of
my life, and to have kept my sheep and ploughed my land
rather than bear the burden of this government."

" Do you think the Puritan government will die with
you, Oliver ? "

"I think it will ; but the Puritan principles will never
die. The kings of the earth banded together cannot de
stroy them. They will spring up and flourish like the


grass that tarrieth not for man spring where none has
sowed or planted them spring in the wilderness and in the
city, until they possess the whole earth. This I know, and
am sure of."

" Then why are you so sad ? "

" I want my old friends to trust in me and love me.
Power is a poor exchange for love. I want Lambert and
Harrison and Ludlow and the others to be at my right
hand, as they used to be. Ludlow tells me plainly, he
only submits to my government because he can t help him
self; and Harrison, who used to pray with me, now prays
against me. Oh, Elizabeth, you know not how these men
wound me at every turn of my life ! "

" Oh, indeed, Oliver, do you think the women are any
thing behind them ? I could tell you some things I have
had to suffer, and the poor girls also. What have they not
said of me ? Indeed I have shed some tears, and been
sorely mortified. The women I knew in the old days, do
they come near me ? They do not. Even if I ask them,
they are sick, or they are gone away, or their time is in
some respect forespoken. It is always so. Only little Jane
Swaffham keeps the same sweet friendship with us. I say
not that much for Martha SwafFham. Very seldom she
comes at my request and I have a right now to request,
and she has the obligation to accept. Is not that so,
Oliver ? But she thinks herself "

"Never mind Martha SwafFham ; Israel stands firm as a
rock by me. After all, Elizabeth, there is nothing got by
this world s love, and nothing lost by its hate. This is
the root of the matter : my position as Protector is either
of God, or of man. If I did not firmly believe it was of
God, I would have run away from it many years ago. If
it be of God, He will bear me up while I am in it. If it


be of man it will shake and tumble. What are all our
histories but God manifesting that He has shaken and
trampled upon everything He has not planted ? So, then,
if the Lord take pleasure in England, we shall in His
strength be strong. I bless God I have been inured to
difficulties, and I never yet found God failing when I trusted
in Him. Never! Yea, when I think of His help in Scot
land, in Ireland, in England, I can laugh and sing in my
soul. I can, indeed I can ! "

" My dearest, you are now in a good mind. Lie down
and sleep in His care, for He does care for you." And
she put her arms around his neck and kissed him; and he

"Thou art my comfort, and I thank God for thee !
When He laid out mv life s hard work, He thought of thee

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to sweeten it."

She left him then, hoping that he would shelter his
weariness in darkness and in sleep. But he did not. The
words he had spoken, though so full of hope and courage,
wanted that authentication from beyond, without which
they were as tinkling brass to Oliver. He locked his
chamber door, retired his soul from all visibles, and stood
solemnly before God, waiting to hear what He would say
to him. For the soul looks two ways, inward as well as
outward, and Oliver s soul gazed with passionate spiritual
desire into that interior and permanent part of his nature,
wherein the Divine dwells that inner world of illimitable
calm, apart from the sphere of our sorrowful unrest. And
in a moment all the trouble of outward things grew at
peace with that within ; for he stood motionless on that
dazzling line where mortal and immortal verge that line
where all is lost in love for God, and the bennar Self for-


";ets to ask for anything;. The austere sweetness of sacri-


fice filled his soul. The divine Hymn of Renunciation
was on his lips.

" Do as Thou wilt with me," he cried, " but, oh, that I
knew where to find Thee ! Oh, that I might come into Thy
presence ! "

Then there was suddenly granted to his longing that
open vision, open only to the spirit, that wondrous evi
dence that very near about us lies the realm of spiritual
mysteries, and the strong man bowed and wept great tears
of joy and sorrow. And after that Peace peace unspeak
able and full of gladness ; and he slept like a sinless child
while his angel came in a dream and comforted him. For
so God giveth to His beloved while they sleep.



" From heaven did the Lord behold the earth ; to hear the
groaning of the prisoner." Ps. 102: 20.

" Make haste unto me, O God : Thou art my help and my de
liverer; O Lord make no tarrying." Ps. 70: 5.

ON tides of glory England was borne the next three
years, to a national honour and strength which had never
before been dreamed of. Never in her whole history had
the government been at once so thorough and so penetrated
with a desire for honesty and capacity. For the first time,
the sense of social duty to the State took the place of the
old spirit of loyalty to the sovereign. For the first and
only time in the history of Europe, morality and religion
were the qualifications insisted on by a court ; Oliver
Cromwell was " the one ruler into whose presence no vicious
man could ever come, whose service no vicious man might

Abroad, the Red Cross of England was flying trium
phantly on every sea. Blake s mysterious expedition had soon
been heard from. He had been at Leghorn, getting com
pensation in money for English vessels sold there by Prince
Rupert. He had been thundering almost at the gates of
the Vatican, getting twenty thousand pistoles from Pope
Alexander for English vessels sold in the Roman See by
the same prince. He had been compelling the Grand Duke



of Tuscany to give freedom of worship to Protestants in
his dominions. He had been in the Barbary States de
manding; the release of Christian slaves, and getting at

O y O O

Algiers and Tripoli all he asked. 1 Hitherto, naval battles
had been fought out at sea ; Blake taught Europe that fleets
could control kingdoms by dominating and devastating their
seaboard. While opening up to peaceful commerce the
Mediterranean, England had begun a war with Spain, and
Blake s next move was to take his fleet to intercept the
Spanish galleons coming loaded with gold and silver from
the New World. His first seizure on this voyage was
thirty-eight wagon loads of bullion, which he brought safely
into the Thames, and which went reeling through the old
streets of London to the cheerful applause of the multitude.
Again, under the old peak of Teneriffe, Blake performed an
action of incredible courage; for, finding in that grand,
eight-castled and unassailable bay sixteen Spanish ships
laden with gold and silver, lying in crescent shape under
the guns of the eight castles and forts, he took his fleet di
rectly into the crescent, and amid whirlwinds of fire and
iron hail, poured his broadsides in every direction and left
the whole sixteen Spanish ships charred and burning hulks.
Indeed, from the Baltic to the Mediterranean, from Algiers
to Teneriffe, from Newfoundland to Jamaica, the thunder
of British cannon was heard and obeyed.

In the meantime Spain was helping Charles with money
which was spent in plots to assassinate the Protector. The
effect of this underhand, contemptible warfare was several
petitions and addresses offered in Parliament begging Crom
well to assume the ancient office of King, if only for the
settlement of the nation. He was quite strong enough to

1 One hundred and sixty years after Blake s punishment, England and
America united to finally put an end to the pirates of the Mediterranean.


have taken it, and there was nothing unmanly either in his
desire for the crown or in his refusal of it. His conscience,
not his reason, decided the question. He waited many a
long, anxious night on his knees for some sign or token of
God s approbation of the kingship, but it did not come ;
and Cromwell was never greater than when, steadily, and
with dignity, he put the glittering bauble aside " Because

O / 1 O O

for it, he would not lose a friend, or even a servant." Fie
told the Parliamentary committee offering him the title
that he "held it as a feather in a man s cap;" then burst
into an inspired strain, and quoting Luther s psalm, " that
rare psalm for a Christian," he added, " if Pope and Span
iard and devil set themselves against us, yet the Lord of
Flosts is with us, and the God of Jacob is our refuge."
One thing he knew well, that the title of King would take
all meaning out of the Puritan revolution, and he could not
so break with his own past, with his own spiritual life, and
with the godly men who had so faithfully followed and so
fully trusted him.

Why should he fret himself about a mere word ? All
real power was in his hands : the army and the navy, the
churches and the universities, the reform and administra
tion of the law, the government of Scotland and of Ireland.
Abroad, the war with all its details, the alliance with Sweden,
with France, with the Protestant princes of Germany,
the Protestant Protectorate extending as far as Transyl
vania, the " planting " of the West Indies, the settlement
of the American Colonies, and their defense against their
rivals, the French, all these subjects were Cromwell s daily
cares. He was responsible for everything, and his burden
would have been lightened, if he could have conscientiously
taken on him the "divinity which doth hedge a king."
The English people love what they know, and they knew



nothing of an armed Protector making laws by ordinance,
and disposing of events by rules not followed by their an
cestors. But Oliver knew that he would cross Destiny if
he made himself King, and that this "crossing" always
means crucifixion of some kind.

" To be a king is not in my commission," he said to
Doctor Verity. " It squares not with my call or my con
science. I will not fadge with the question again ; no, not
for an hour."

The commercial and national glory of England at this
time were, however, in a manner incidental to Oliver s
great object the Protection of Protestantism. This ob
ject was the apple of his eye, the profoundest desire of his
soul. He would have put himself at the head of all the
Protestants in Europe, if he could have united them ; fail
ing in this effort, he vowed himself to cripple the evil
authority of Rome and the bloody hands of Inquisitorial
Spain. His sincerity is beyond all doubt; even Lingard,
the Roman Catholic historian, says, " Dissembling in re
ligion is contradicted by the uniform tenor of his life." He
wrote to Blake that, " The Lord had a controversy with
the Romish Babylon, of which Spain is the under-propper ; "
and he made it his great business to keep guard over Prot
estants, and to put it out of the power of princes to perse
cute them. It is easy to say such a Protestant league was
behind the age. It was not. Had it been secured, the
persecutions of the Huguenots would not have taken place,
and the history of those hapless martyrs still, after the
lapse of two hundred years, read with shuddering indigna
tion would have been very different. Cromwell knew
well what Popery had done to Brandeburg and Denmark,
and what a wilderness it had made of Protestant Germany,
and his conception of duty as Protector of all Protestants


was at least a noble one. Nor was it ineffective. On the
very day he should have signed a treaty of alliance with
France against Spain, he heard of the unspeakably cruel
massacre of the Vandois Protestants. He threw the treaty
passionately aside, and refused to negotiate further until
Louis and Mazarin put a stop to the brutalities of the Duke
of Savoy. As the details were told him, he wept; and all
England wept with him. Not since the appalling massacre
of Protestants in Ireland, had the country been so moved
and so indignant. Cromwell instantly gave two thousand
pounds for the sufferers who had escaped, and one hundred
and forty thousand pounds was collected in England for the
same purpose. It was during the sorrowful excitement of
this time that Milton now blind wrote his magnificent

" Avenge, O Lord, Thy slaughtered saints, whose bones
Lie scattered on the Alpine Mountains cold."

Furthermore, it was in Milton s luminous, majestic Latin
prose that Cromwell sent his demands to King Louis for
these poor, pious peasants, demands not disregarded, for
all that could be found alive were returned to their deso
lated homes.

For the persecuted Jews his efforts were not as success
ful. They had been banished from England in A. D.
1290, but three hundred and sixty-five years of obstinate
prejudice had not exhausted Christian bigotry. Cromwell
made a noble speech in favour of their return to England,
but the learned divines and lawyers came forward to
" plead and conclude " against their admission, and Crom
well, seeing no legal sanction was possible, let the matter
drop for a time. Yet his favour towards the Jews was so
distinct that a company of Oriental Jewish priests came to


England to investigate the Protector s genealogy, hoping to
find in him "the Lion of the tribe of Judah."

So these three years were full of glory and romance, and
the poorest family in England lived through an epic of such
national grandeur as few generations have witnessed. Yet,
amid it all, the simple domestic lives of men and women
went calmly on, and birth, marriage, and death made rich
or barren their homes. Jane Svvaffham attained in their
progress to a serene content she had once thought impos
sible. But God has appointed Time to console the great
est afflictions, and she had long been able to think of
Cluny not as lying in a bloody grave, but as one of the
Sons of God among the Hosts of Heaven. And this con
solation accepted, she had begun to study Latin and mathe
matics with Doctor Verity, and to give her love and her
service to all whom she could pleasure or help. Indeed,
she had almost lived with the Ladies Mary and Frances
Cromwell, who had passed through much annoyance and
suffering: concerning their love affairs. But these were now


happily settled, Lady Mary having married Viscount Fan-
conburs;, and Lady Frances the lover for whom she had so


stubbornly held out Mr. Rich, the grandson of the Earl
of Warwick.

Aiatilda s life during this interval had been cramped and
saddened by the inheritance from her previous years.
Really loving Cymlin, she could not disentangle the many
threads binding her to the old unfortunate passion, for,
having become wealthy, the Stuarts would not resign their
claim upon her. Never had they needed money more ;
and most of their old friends had been denuded, or worn
out with the never-ceasing demands on their affection.
Thus she was compelled, often against her will, to be
aware of plots for the assassination of Cromwell plots


which shocked her moral sense, and which generally
seemed to her intelligence exceedingly foolish and useless.
These things made her restless and unhappy, for she could
not but contrast the splendour of the Protector s character
and government with the selfishness, meanness and in
capacity of the Stuarts.

She loved Cymlin, but she feared to marry him. She
feared the reproaches of Rupert, who, though he made no
effort to consummate their long engagement, was furiously
indignant if she spoke of ending it. Then, also, she had
fears connected with Cymlin. When very young, he had
begun to save money in order to make himself a possible
suitor for Matilda s hand. His whole career in the army
had looked steadily to this end. In the Irish campaign he
had been exceedingly fortunate ; he had bought and sold
estates, and exchanged prisoners for specie, and in other
ways so manipulated his chances that in every case they
had left behind a golden residuum. This money had been
again invested in English ventures, and in all cases he had
been signally fortunate. Jane had told Matilda two years
previously that Cymlin was richer than his father, and she
might have said more than this and been within the truth.

But in this rapid accumulation of wealth, Cymlin had
developed the love of wealth. Fie was ever on the alert
for financial opportunities, and, though generous wherever
Matilda was concerned, not to be trifled with if his interests
were in danger. So Matilda knew that if she would carry
out her intention of making over de Wick house and land
to Stephen, it must be done before she married Cymlin.
Yet if she surrendered it to Stephen under present circum
stances, everything would go, in some way or other, to the
needy, beggarly Stuart Court. If Cromwell were only out
of the way ! If King Charles were only on the throne !


\J v>

he would have all England to tax and tithe, and Stephen
would not need to give away the home and lands of his

She was fretfully thinking over this dilemma in its rela
tion to a new plot against Cromwell s life, when Jane
Swaffham visited her one morning in February of 1658.
Jane s smiling serenity aggravated her restless temper.
"Does nothing on earth ever give you an unhappy thought,
Jane ? " she asked. " You look as if you dwelt in Para

" Indeed, I am very unhappy this morning, Matilda.
Mr. Rich is thought to be dying."

u And, pray heaven, who is Mr. Rich ? "

"You know who Mr. Rich is, perfectly. Why do you

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe lion's whelp; a story of Cromwell's time → online text (page 23 of 27)