Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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

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some way order must be restored, and inspired by the wis
dom within, he raised his hands and in a loud, ringing
voice, began the favourite hymn of his troopers ; and to the
words they had been used to sing in moments of triumphal
help or deliverance they carried Cluny, with the solemn or
der of a religious service, safely into their camp. For when
the hymn began, the crowd followed quietly, or dropped
away, as the stern men trod in military step to their majestic
antiphony :

" Lift up your heads, O ye gates,

And the King of glory shall come in."
" Who is the King of glory ? "
" The Lord strong and mighty ; the Lord mighty in battle.

Lift up your heads, O ye gates,

And the King of glory shall come in."
" Who is this King of glory ? "
" The Lord of hosts ; the Lord mighty in battle,

He is the King of glory ! "



" O Heart heroic, England s noblest son !

At what a perfect height thy soaring spirit burns
Star-like ! and Roods us yet with quickning fire."

" Cromwell is dead : a low-laid Heart of Oak."

" There the wicked cease from troubling, there the weary are at

" CHEER up, Jane ! You and Lord Neville will yet ar
rive at the height of your wishes. This is my judgment,
and if it be not true, you may burn me in the ear for a

" And you will marry Cymlin ? "

" Perhaps I shall, perhaps I shall not ; perhaps tis time
enough next year to consider on it."

" It would be a happy marriage."

u A happy marriage would be so much of heaven that I
think it was never enjoyed in this world. Tis a weary
world, I swear I often cry for myself in it."

" But you will marry Cymlin ? "

u Faith, I know not how I am to help the catastrophe !
But in all sobriety, I think Cymlin loves me, and you do,
too, dear Jane ! Oh, I could weep my eyes dry when I
think of your dear lover, and all he has so innocently suf
fered. It is intolerable ! "




In her way, Matilda was doing her best to console and
encourage Jane as they talked over the sad fate of her res
cued lover. Both had been weeping, and there was a more
affectionate confidence between them than had existed for
many years.

But Matilda had cancelled every fault and every unkind-
ness by her prompt action in the matter of Lord Neville,
and Jane had been loving and praising her for it, until the
sweetness of their first affection was between them. And
Matilda enjoyed praise; she liked the appreciation of her
kind deed, and was not therefore disposed to make light or
little of what she had done, or of its results.

" For your sake, Jane," she said, " I could not have a
moment s peace, after hearing where the jewels were. I
said to myself, this is the clue to Neville s fate, and it must
be followed. Though my uncle would not interfere, I was
resolved to bring the great Cardinal to catechism ; and as I
knew no one in the world would dare to question him but
Cromwell, I went to Cromwell."

" It was a wonderful thing for you to do."

"It was; I must give myself so much credit. Not that
I am afraid of Cromwell, or of any other man, but it was a
great humiliation."

" Cromwell would not humiliate you ; I am sure of that."

" He behaved very well. He knew I had had a share in
every plot against him ; and he gave me one look so swift,
so searching, and so full of reproach, that it sticks like an
arrow in my heart yet. But there were old memories be
tween us, and anon he was as gentle as my mother with
me. I will never try to injure him again, never ! "

" It is impossible to tell you how grateful Cluny and I
are to you; I think no other woman in England would
have been so forgetful of herself, and so brave for others."


" Perhaps not, Jane. But I love you, and I love justice
and mercy, even to an enemy. I can always be brave with
a good reason. And, pray, how comes my lord on towards
recovery ? "

"Slowly. Life was nearly gone; body and mind were
at death s door; but he can walk a little now, and in two
or three weeks we are going away, far away, we are go
ing to my brothers in the Massachusetts Colony."

" Jane Swaffham ! I will not believe you ! And pray
what shall I do ? You shall not think of such a thing."

" It is necessary. Cluny s mental sufferings have made
it so. When he was first imprisoned he tried to write, to
compose hymns and essays, to make speeches, to talk
aloud ; but as time went on, he could not keep control of
himself and of his awful circumstances, and now all the
misery of those long, dark, lonely years has settled into one
idea, space without end. The rooms are too small. He
walks to the walls and trembles. He throws open the
doors and windows that he may have room to breathe. In
the night he wakes with a cry, he feels as if he were smother
ing. If he goes into the garden he shrinks from the gates ;
and the noise of the city, and the sight of the crowds pass
ing fills him with fear and anxiety. He wants to go where
there are no limits, no men who may hate and imprison
him ; and his physician says, Let him live for weeks, or
months, out on the ocean. This is what he needs, and he
is eager to get away."

"You will come back ? "

" I think it is unlikely. Father feels a change approach
ing. The Protector s health is failing rapidly ; he is dying,
Matilda, dying of the injustice and ingratitude he meets on
every hand. c Wounded, yes slain, in the house of my
friends, is his constant cry."


" Tis most strange that a man of war like Oliver Crom
well should care what his friends think or say."

" Yet he does. When he speaks to father about Harri
son, Lambert, Alured, Overton and others of his old com
panions, he wrings his hands and weeps like a woman j or
else he protests against them in such angry sorrow as dis
tresses one to see and hear it."

" He ought to know that he has been raised above the
love of men who are less noble than himself, and that if
beyond and above their love, then they will hate and abuse
him. If he dies? "

" Father will leave England as soon as Cromwell is in his
grave. Cymlin will keep old SwafFham fair, for Cymlin
will never leave England while you are in it."

" And you can bear to talk of leaving England in that
calm way, without tears and without regrets. Jane, it is
shameful ; it is really wicked."

" I do not leave England without tears and regrets, but
there is Cluny, and "

" Cluny, of course. I suppose you will be married be
fore you leave. But I have a mind not to be your brides
maid, though I am promised to that office ever since I was
a maid in ankle tights."

" Dear Matilda, do not be angry at me because I had to
do what I had to do. I was married to Cluny three days
after he came home. We all thought he was going to die,
and he wished me to be his wife."

" Why was I not sent for ? I would have come, Jane.
It was cruel wrong in you to pass me by."

" We were married by Doctor Verity at Cluny s bed
side. No one was present but my father and mother and
the three servants to whom Cluny had become accustomed.
He was then frightened at every strange face."


"After this, nothing can astonish me. I was not a

stranger "


" He would not have recognised you, then."

" Flow could he lose himself so far ? He ought to have


had more courage. Why did he not do something or
other ? "

" Oh, Matilda, what would you have done in a room
eight feet by ten, and in the dark most of the time your
bread and water given without a word your attendant
deaf and dumb to you no way to tell the passage of time
no way of knowing how the seasons went, but by the
more severe cold if you had been, like Cluny, really
buried alive, what would you have done ? "

" I would have died."

" Cluny composed psalms and hymns, and tried to sing ;
he did not lose heart or hope quite, the gaoler told father,
for nearly four years. Then his health and strength gave
out, and his heart failed, but he never ceased praying.
They heard him at midnight, but Cluny did not know
what hour it was. And to the last moment he kept his
faith in God. He was sure God would deliver him,
though He sent an angel to open the prison doors. He was
expecting deliverance the day it came. He had had a mes
sage from beyond, and his mother had brought it. Now
did I not do right to marry him when, and how, he wished ? "

"Yes," she answered, but her face and voice showed her
to be painfully affected. "Jane, I cannot bear to lose you.
I shall have no one to love me, no one to quarrel with,"
she added.

"You will have Cymlin."

" Cymlin is Cymlin j he is not you. I will say no
more. When a woman is married, all is over. She must
tag after her lord, even over seas and into barbarous places.


If the Indians kill you, it will be said that you were in the
way of duty ; but I have noticed how often people take the
way they want to take, and then call it the way of Duty.
I shall not marry Cymlin until he can show me the way of
peace and pleasantness."

Then Jane rose to go, and Matilda tied her bonnet-
strings, and straightened out her ribbons and her gloves,
doing these trifling services with a long-absent tenderness
that filled Jane s heart with pleasure. " Good-bye, dear ! "
she said with a kiss ; " I will come as often as I can."

" Very kind of you, Lady Neville," answered Matilda
with a curtsy and a tearful mockery ; " very kind indeed !
But will your ladyship consider " then she broke down
and threw her arms round Jane, and called her " a dear,
sweet, little Baggage " and bade her give Cluny some mes
sages of hope and congratulation, and so parted with her
in a strange access of affection. But true friendship has
these moods of the individual and would not be true
without them.

Jane walked home through the city, and its busy turmoil
struck her as never before. What a vain show it was ! a
passing show, constantly changing. And suddenly there
was the galloping of horsemen, and the crowd stood still,
and drew a little aside, while Cromwell, at the head of his
guards, rode at an easy canter down the street. Every
man bared his head as the grand, soldierly figure passed by.
He saw Jane, and a swift smile chased away for a moment
the sorrowful gravity of his face. But he left behind him a
penetrating atmosphere of coming calamity. All souls
sensitive to spiritual influences went onward with a sigh,
and the clairvoyant saw as George Fox did the wraith
of fast approaching affliction. The man was armed from
head to feet, and his sword had never failed him, but it was


not with flesh and blood he had now to contend. The
awful shadows of the supernatural world darkened the day
light round him, and people saw his sad face and form as
through a mist, dimly feeling all the chill foreboding of
something uncertain, yet of certain fatality.

His glorious life was closing like a brilliant sun setting


in a stormy sky. He had been recently compelled to tell
his last Parliament some bitter truths, for danger was press
ing on every side. Protestants in the Grisons, in Piedmont
and Switzerland, were a prey to the Spanish papists, and
their helper, Pope Alexander the Seventh, and the Protestant
Dutch preferring profit to godliness were providing ships
to transport Charles Stuart and his army to English soil.

" The Marquis of Ormond, well disguised, was here on
Charles Stuart s interest, only yesterday morning," he said
to them. " I did send for Lord Broghill, and I said to
him, There is an old friend of yours lodging in Drury
Lane at the papist surgeon s. It would be well for him if
he were gone. And gone he is." Then with withering
scorn he added, " All this is your doing. You will have
evervthing too high or too low. You don t want a settle-

,- O C?

ment. You are tampering with the army. You are play
ing the King of Scot s game, helping him in his plans of
invasion. You have put petitions through the city to draw
London into rebellion. You are plotting for a Restora
tion. I know these things, I do know them, and I say you
have laid upon me a burden too heavy for any poor crea
ture. For I sought not this place. You sought me for it.
You brought me to it. I say this before God, angels and
men ! But I took my oath to see all men preserved in
their rights, and by the grace of God I will I must see
it done. And let God be judge between you and me !
Many cried "Amen," as they filed out of the ancient


hails, chagrined and troubled under his stinging rebuke.
And Cromwell felt for the first time the full weight of the
refractory kingdom whose government he must bear alone.

He was right ; it was too heavy a burden for any one
man, and the burden was made still more heavy by his
family afflictions. His beloved mother had left him, gone
the way of all the earth, saying with her last breath, " I
leave my heart with thee, dear son ! a good-night ! His
son-in-law, Rich, the three months bridegroom of his
" little Frankie," was but a few weeks dead, and the Earl
of Warwick, his firmest friend among the nobility, was
dying. His favourite daughter, Elizabeth, was very ill,
and he himself was feeling unmistakable premonitions of
his dissolution. Eor, day by day, his soul was freeing
itself from the ligaments of the body, rising into a finer
air, seeing right and wrong with the eyes of immortality.
But he would do his duty to the last tittle of strength, fall
battling for the right, and as to what should come after,
God would care for that.

The fifteenth of May had been set for his assassination.
On that day, risings were to take place in Yorkshire and
Sussex ; London was to be set on fire, the Protector seized
and murdered, and Charles Stuart land on the southern
coast. Cromwell knew all the secret plans of this con
spiracy of "716* Sealed Knot" ; knew every member of it-,
and on the afternoon when Jane Swaffham saw him pass
ing up London streets, so stern and scornful, he had just
ordered the arrest of one hundred of them. From these he
selected fifteen for trial. They were all Royalists ; he
would not lay his hand on his old friends, or on any who
had once served the Cause. His mercy and his great
heart were never so conspicuous as at this time. Only two
of the fifteen were condemned to death, Doctor Hewitt, an


Episcopal minister, and Sir Henry Slingsby, the uncle of
Lord Fanconbridge, who was the husband of his own


daughter, Alary ; Doctor Hewitt for issuing commissions
in Charles Stuart s name, and Sir Henry Slingsby for en
deavouring to bribe the city of Hull to open its gates to the
Stuart invaders. Against Doctor Hewitt his anger burned
with unusual severity; he would listen to no intercession for
him ; for, he said,

" The man has eat my bread, and sat on my hearth, and
been a familiar friend of my family. He has been in all
our confidences ; he has dipped his sop in our dish, and
cried Hail, master to me. Like the wickedest of traitors,
he betrayed me, even while he called me friend. He shall
die the death of a traitor, both to England and to myself."

But though dark clouds from every side were rolling up,
they were lit and edged with the fiery glory of the setting
sun behind them. Cromwell s troops, under Lockhart in
France, were treading their old victorious march, and the
flowers of June were wreathed for the taking of Dunkirk,
where the Ironsides had stormed unbreached forts and
annihilated Spanish battalions, to the amazement of
Turenne, Conde and Don John.

Jane heard constantly of these events, but her heart had
closer interests. The ship which was to carry Cluny and
herself to America was lying at her wharf nearly ready
for sea. It was a stout vessel belonging to Sir Thomas
Jevery, commanded by a captain of tried skill and great
piety. There were to be no other passengers; Cluny and
Jane alone were to find in its black-ribbed cabin their home
for many weeks, perhaps months. A recent experience
had proven the necessity for this exclusion of strange ele
ments. Early in June, Israel had taken Cluny to bid fare
well to his old General, and the meeting had tried both


men severely. A few days previous, Cromwell had laid in
the grave his little grandson, Oliver, and the child s image
still lived in his troubled eyes. He could scarcely speak
when he saw Cluny. He waived impatiently all cere
mony, drew him to his breast and kissed him ; but it was
quickly evident Cluny could not bear any conversation
on his past misery. His excitement became painful to
witness, and Cromwell with quick, kind wisdom, began to
speak rather of his own great sorrow.

" You know, Israel," he said, " how sweet a little lad
my Oliver was. I cannot yet believe that he is dead ; I
cannot. Only a week ago, when he was ill and restless,
I lifted him and carried him to and fro, and his cheek was
against my cheek, and his arms around my neck, and sud
denly I felt them slip away, and I looked at the child, and
so caught his last smile. I thought that night my heart
would break ; but the consolations of God are not small,
and I shall go to the boy, though he will never come back
to me. Never ! Never ! His mother is now very ill ; you
would pity her, indeed you would. Cluny, you remember
the Lady Elizabeth Claypole ? "

" My General, I shall never forget her."

"I do fear she is sick unto death. Her little Oliver s
removal has been the last blow of the last enemy. You
may pity me, Cluny ; I need pity, I do indeed ; I am a
man of many afflictions. But it is the Lord ; let Him do
whatever seemeth good in His sight." He then went to a
desk and wrote a few lines to the officials of the Mas
sachusetts Colony ; in them, commending Lord Neville to
their kindness and care. His hands trembled those large
strong hands trembled as he gave the letter to Cluny.
Then he kissed him once more, and with a " Farewell " that
was a blessing, he turned away, weeping.


" It is another friend gone," he said mournfully to his
own heart ; " lover and friend are put far from me and mine
acquaintance into darkness." But he went straight to his
daughter Elizabeth, and talked to her only of God s great
love and goodness, and of the dear boy who had been taken
from them because " he pleased God ; because he was be
loved of God, so that living among sinners he was trans
lated ; yea, speedily was he taken away, lest wickedness
should alter his understanding or deceit beguile his soul ; and
being made perfect in a short time, fulfilled a long time." !

Cluny was so much troubled and affected by this visit
that Israel thought it well to take him to see the ship which
was to carry him to the solitudes of the great waters and
the safety of the New World. He was impatient to be
gone, but there were yet a number of small interests to
be attended to ; for they were to carry with them a great
deal of material necessary to the building and furnishing of
their future home. Every day revealed some new want
not before thought of, so that it was nearing the end of
June when at last all was declared finished and ready.

Then Jane went to Hampton Court to bid her old
friends a last farewell. It was a mournful visit. She
fancied they did not care as much as she thought they
might have done. In fact, the gloomy old palace was a
terrible House of Mourning, and the Cromwells own sor
rows consumed their loving-kindness. Frances, in her
widow s garb, could only weep and talk of her dead bride
groom. Lady Claypole was dumb under the loss of her
son and her own acute suffering, and Mrs. Cromwell s
heart bleeding for both her unhappy daughters. Jane was
shocked at her white, anxious face; alas, there was only
too much reason for it ! Whatever others thought, the

1 Wisdom of Solomon, Chap. 4, vs. 10-13.


wife of the great Protector knew that he was dying dying,
even while he was ruling with a puissant hand the destinies
of England. Every member of this sad family was in sore
trouble ; they could find no words of mere courtesy ; even
friendship was too large a claim upon them.

Jane felt keenly all the anguish in this palace of Pain
and Sorrow. She remained only one night, and was as will
ing to leave it as the sad dwellers therein were willing to be
left. They were not unkind, but they could bear no more;
their own burden was too heavy. Jane would have re
gretted her visit altogether, had it not been for the change
less tenderness of the Protector. His face during these
quick gathering trials had become intensely human. It
was easy to read in it endless difficulties and griefs, sur
mounted by endless labours and importunate prayers. With
strange, mystical eyes he walked continuously the long
rooms and corridors, ever seeking the realisation of his
heart s constant cry, " Oh, that I knew where I might find
Thee ! " He talked to Jane of Cluny and of their pros
pects; made her kneel at his side during the family service,
kept her hand in his, and prayed for her and Cluny by
name. And at the last moment he gave her the blessing
she hoped for " God which dwelleth in heaven prosper
your journey ; and the angel of God keep you company."

The strain had been great ; the very atmosphere of the
place was too heavy with grief to breathe ; she was glad to
feel the sunshine and the fresh wind. She had intended to
call on Matilda as she passed through the city, but she
could not throw off" the lassitude of hopeless foreboding
that had invaded her mind. It bred fears for Cluny, and
she hastened home, resolving to see Matilda on the follow
ing day. But when she reached Sandy s House, Mrs.

1 Tobit, Chap. 5, v. 16.


Swaffham met her with a letter in her hand " Lady
Jevery asks you to come to Matilda, who is in great trou
ble," she said. " Cluny is asleep; if you are not too tired,
you would better go at once, for if the wind keep fair, Cap
tain Jonson thinks to lift anchor to-morrow night."

So Jane went to her friend. With her, also, she found
the grief Death brings.

" Stephen is slain ! " were her first words. She could
hardly utter them. But Jane knew how to comfort Matilda;
she could talk to her as she could not to the ladies of
Cromwell s household. She could take her in her arms
and say all kinds of loving words, blending them with
promises and hopes that had Divinity as their surety. And
she could encourage her to talk away her trouble. " How
was Stephen slain ? " she asked, " in a duel ? "

" No, thank God ! He fell, as he himself could have
wished, fighting the enemies of his King. He was with
Conde and the Dukes of York and Gloucester before Dun
kirk, and was killed while meeting the rush of those ter
rible Ironsides. He died shouting c For God and King !
and Camby one of their officers who comes from Ely
knew Stephen, and he carried him aside, and gave him
water, but he died in five minutes. Camby wrote me that
he said Mother ! joyfully, with his last breath."

" Poor Stephen ! "

" Oh, indeed tis very well to cry, poor Stephen, when
he is beyond your pity. You might have pitied him when
he was alive, that would have been something to the pur
pose. All his short, unhappy life has been one constant
battle with Puritans and poverty. Oh, how I hate those
Stuarts ! I am thankful to see you can weep for him, Jane.
I think you ought. God knows he loved you well, and
most thanklessly. And he is the last, the last de Wick.


Root and branch, the de Wick tree has perished. I wish I
could die also."

" And Cymlin, Matilda ? "

" I shall marry Cymlin, at the proper time."

" You may have sons and daughters."

" I hope not. I pray not. I have had sorrow enough.
My father and his three sons are a good ending for the
house. It was built with the sword, and it has been de
stroyed by the sword. I want no de Wick like the men
of to-day traders and gold seekers. And if they were
warriors, the old cares and fears and anxieties would be to
live over again. No, Jane, the line of de Wick is finished. 1
Cymlin and I will be the last Earl and Countess de Wick.
We shall go to Court, and bow to the Stuart, and be very
great people, no doubt."

"And Prince Rupert?"

"Is a dream from which I have awakened."

" But he may still be dreaming."

u Rupert has many faults, but he is a man of honour.
My marriage to Cymlin will be a barrier sacred to both of
us. Our friendship can hold itself above endearments.
You need not fear for Cymlin ; Matilda de Wick will
honour her husband, whether she obeys him or not. Cym

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe lion's whelp; a story of Cromwell's time → online text (page 25 of 27)