Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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

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encouragement, she said confidently " There is some
one on the way. I seem to hear them coming." So they
parted, and Jane brought home with her a hope which


would not be put down. Her face was so bright and her
voice so confident that her mother felt the influence of her
spirit, and anon shared it. The night was too damp and
chill for their usual bedtime walk on the terrace, but they
sat together on the hearth, knitting and talking until the
evening was far spent. Then Mrs. SwafFham dropped her
work upon her lap, and she and Jane began their private
evening exercise :

"Then said he unto me, thou art sore troubled in mind
for Israel s sake ; lovest thou that people better than He
that made them ?

" And I said, No, Lord, but of very grief have I spoken ;
for my reins pain me every hour, while I labour to compre
hend the way of the most High, and to seek out part of
His judgment.

" And he said unto me, thou canst not. And I said
wherefore, Lord, whereunto was I born then ? or why was
not my mother s womb my grave, that I might not have
seen the travail of Jacob, and the wearisome toil of the
stock of Israel ?

" And he said unto me, number me the things that are
not yet come ; gather me together the drops that are scat
tered abroad ; make me the flowers green again that are

" Open me the places that are closed, and bring me forth
the winds that in them are shut up ; show me the image of
a voice ; and then I will declare to thee the thing that thou
labourest to know.

" And I said, O Lord that bearest rule ; who may know
these things, but he that hath not his dwelling with men ?

" As for me I am unwise ; how may I speak of these
things whereof thou askest me ?

" Then he said unto me, like as thou canst do none of


these things that I have spoken of, even so canst thou not
find out my judgment ; or in the end, the love that I have
promised unto mv people."

And when the short antiphony was finished, they kissed
each other a hopeful "good-night," being made strong in
this that they had put self out of their supplication, and
been only " troubled in mind for Israel s sake."

All were in deep sleep when the blast of a trumpet
and the trampling of a heavily-shod horse on the stones of
the courtyard awakened them. Jane s quick ear detected
at once the tone of triumph in the summons. She ran to
her mother s room, and found her at an open window. She
was calling aloud to the messenger, " Is it you, Doctor Ver
ity ? " and the answer came swift and strong, ere the ques
tion was fairly asked

" It is I, John Verity, with the blessing of God, and
good tidings."

" Get your horse to sta61e, Doctor, and we will be down
to welcome you." The next moment the house was astir
from one end to the othei bells were ringing, lights mov
ing hither and thither, men and women running down
stairs, and at the open door Mrs. SwafFham and Jane
waiting for the messenger, their eager faces and shining
eyes full of hope and expectation.

He kept them waiting until he had seen his weary horse
attended to, then hurrying across the courtyard he clasped
the hands held out in welcome, and with a blessinc- on his


lips came into the lighted room. It was joy and strength
to look at him. His bulk was like that of the elder gods ;
his head like an antique marble, his hazel eyes beaming,
joyous, and full of that light which comes " from within."
A man of large mind as well as ot large stature, with a
simple, good heart, that could never grow old ; strong and


courageous, yet tender as a girl ; one who in the battle of
life would always go to the front.

So it was good even to see him, and how much better to
hear him say

" Israel Swaffham is well, and God hath given us a
great victory."

" And John ? "

" I left him following after the enemy. We have smit
ten them hip and thigh ; we

" And Cymlin ? "

u He was guarding the prisoners. We have ten thou
sand of them, and "

" And Tonbert ? "

" Nothing has hurt him. He was in a strait for one five
minutes ; but I cried to him Set thy teeth, and fight for
thy life, Tonbert ; and he came safely away with the col
ours in his hands, when he had slain two of the rogues who
wanted them."

" Now then, we shall have peace, Doctor ? "

" No use, Martha, in crying peace ! peace ! when peace
is wickedness. Our Protestant liberty was won by men
willing to go to the stake for it ; our civil liberty can only
be won by men willing to go to the battle-field for it. But
here come the beef and bread, and I am a hungry man.
Let me eat and drink. And you women, bless the Lord
and forget not all His benefits."

It was not long before he took a pipe from his pocket,
lit it, and drew his chair to the hearthstone. " Now we
will talk," he said. " When did you hear of us last ? "

" About the tenth of August. You were then in camp
near Edinburgh," said Mrs. Swaffham.

" To be sure having a paper war with the Kirk and
David Leslie. It was little to Cromwell s liking, and no


more to David Leslie s; both of them would rather defi
ance of battle than Declarations from the General Assem
bly. They came to nothing, and as the weather was bad
and our provisions short, and our men falling sick beyond
imagination, we retreated to Dunbar to fortify and recruit.
Then the cunning Scots got behind us and blocked up our
way. We were in a bad case, Martha, between Leslie
and the black North Sea in a trap, and no less. For the
first time our good Cromwell faced defeat, yes, annihila
tion. Did he lose heart ? Not a bit of it. He sent word
south to get men ready to meet Leslie, whatever became
of us ; and then he watched and waited and prayed. Such
prayer! Martha. I saw him lifting up his sword to heaven
I heard him speaking to God pressing forward and up
ward bent on prevailing taking heaven by assault.
About three o clock on the morning of the battle I went to
him. It was yet dark, but the men were at arms, and
Cromwell was going from troop to troop encouraging them.
I said to him, Brother Oliver, you have o-ot an answer ?

7 J O

And he smiled joyfully and said:

" It is in my heart, John. When the devil had said all
he had to say, then God spoke. Indeed I have great con
solations. I know, and am sure, that because of our weak
ness, because of our strait, the Lord will deliver us. But
tell the men that whoever has a heart for prayer, must pray
now ; and then quit themselves like men there is ONE
watching and helping them.

" You women would not understand the setting of the
battle. It is enough that it began at four in the morning,
and that by nine o clock there was no longer a Scotch
army three thousand of it were slain in the battle, many
more killed in pursuit. We had all their baggage and ar
tillery, besides fifteen thousand stand of arms and two hun-


dred colours to hang up in Westminster Hall and not
twenty Englishmen killed. The Scots came forward shout
ing, The Covenant ! The Covenant! and Cromwell thun
dered back, THE LORD OF HOSTS ! His voice seemed
to fill the field. It was heard above the clash of the
swords, and the shouting of the captains and it was
caught by thousands of other voices above the bellowing
of the cannon. It was an invocation, it was a shout ot
triumph, and indeed THE LORD OF HOSTS was above
The Covenant."

" Oh, if I could have seen Cromwell at that onset ! just
for a moment ! " exclaimed Jane.

" At the onset ! Yes ! It is something never to forget.
He leaps to his horse, rides to the head of his troop, and
gallops it to the very front of the battle. I saw him at
Dunbar, his Ironsides in bufF and rusty steel shouting after
him sons of Anak most of them God s soldiers, not
men s ; and led by one whose swoop and stroke in battle
no one ever saw equaled. All through the fight he was a
pillar of fire to us ; and just when it was hottest the sun
rose upon the sea, and Cromwell took it for a sign of pres
ent victory, and shouted to his army, Now let God arise,
and His enemies shall be scattered.

" I can see him ! I can hear him ! " cried Jane.

"And at that moment, the Scots broke and fled, and the
field was ours. Then he called a halt, and to steady his
men and fire them afresh for the pursuit, he sang with us
the one hundred and seventeenth Psalm. And one troop
after another caught the words, and for two miles men lean
ing upon their swords were singing, O praise the Lord all
ye nations : praise Him all ye people. For His merciful
kindness is great towards us, and the truth of the Lord en-
dureth forever. Praise ye the Lord ! I tell you there


was joyful clamour enough on Dunbar s swampy field to
make the sky ring about it."

"And what of Israel Swaffham ? He did his part? I
know that," said Mrs. Swarrham.

" He led his own troop of the solid fen men of Cam
bridgeshire. I saw their blue banner waving wherever
Tonbert carried it."

"And John?"

" Was with Lambert s Yorkshiremen. No one could
resist them. Cymlin rode with Cromwell. Cymlin was
never behindhand yet."

" I thank God for my men. I give them gladly to His

Jane s face was radiant, and tears of enthusiasm filled
her eyes. She kissed the doctor proudly, and ran to send a
messenger to de Wick with the tidings of Dunbar. When
she returned she sat down by his side, and leaning her head
against his arm, began to question him :

" Dr. John, at Marston Moor Leslie fought with Crom
well, was with him in that glorious charge, where he got
the name of Ironside. Why then was he fighting against
Cromwell at Dunbar ? "

"The Scotch have had many minds in this war, Jane,
just now they are determined to make Presbyterianism domi
nant in England, and give us the young man, Charles
Stuart, for our king. And Englishmen will not have either
King or Presbytery. As far as that <roes, most of them


would rather take the Hook of Common Prayer than touch
the Scotch Covenant. And as for the young man, Charles
Stuart, he is false as hell from his beard to his boots ; false
to the Scots, false to the English, true to no one."

" And you, Doctor, how do you feel ? "

" My little girl, I was born an Independent. I have


preached and suffered for liberty of conscience ; if I could
deny it, I would deny my baptism. I ll do neither not
while my name is John Verity."

Then Jane lifted his big hand and kissed it, and an
swered, " I thought so ! "

" And if England wants a king," he continued, " she
can make one ; she has good men enough to choose from."

" Some say that Cromwell will make himself king."

" Some people know no more of Cromwell than a mite
knows of a cheesemonger. Nevertheless, Cromwell is the


Captain of England. He has expressed her heart, he has
done her will."

" Yet he is not without faults," said Mrs. Swaffham.

" I don t see his faults, Martha. I see only him. Great
men may have greater faults than little men can find room for ;
and Cromwell is beloved of God, and therefore not always
explainable to men."

" He has dared to do many things which even his own
party do not approve."

"Jane, they who care will dare, though it call flame
upon them. And Cromwell loves to lead on the verge of
the impossible, for it is then he can invoke the aid of the

" I thought the Scotch were a very good, religious people."

" God made them to be good, but He knew they wouldn t
be ; so He also made Oliver Cromwell."

" Are you going further, Doctor ? " asked Mrs. Swaff

" No, Martha. I mean to stay here until the General s
messenger joins me. He sent a letter to London by the
young Lord Cluny Neville, and he took the direct road
there, so we parted very early in the day ; but he calls here
for me on his return, and we shall go back together, if so


God wills, to Edinburgh. And now, Jane Swaffham, if
thou be a discreet young woman, be careful of the young
Lord Cluny Neville."

" Why am I warned, Doctor ? "

" Because he is one of those men who take women cap
tive with his beauty a very gracious youth a great lover
of the General, and much loved by him."

" I never heard you speak of Lord Cluny Neville before."

" Because I did not know him before. He came into our
camp at Musselburgh and offered Cromwell his sword.
The two men looked at each other steadily for a full min
ute, and in that minute Cromwell loved the young man.
He saw down into his heart, and trusted him. Later, he
told me that he reminded him of his own son, Oliver, who,
as you know, was killed in battle just before Naseby. He
has set his heart on the youth, and shows him great favour.
Some are jealous of the boy, and make a grumble that he
is so much trusted."

" How can they be so foolish ? I wonder the General
suffers them. Surely he can have some one to love near
him," said Mrs. Swaffham.

" Well, Martha, it was part of the Apostle s wisdom to
suffer fools gladly. My brother Oliver can do it ; and
there is nothing wiser or more difficult. I cannot do it.
I would rough them ! rough them ! till they learnt their
folly, and left it."

" If this young Lord is taking a letter to Madame Crom
well, then why did not Israel write to me ? "

" Oh, the unreasonableness of women ! Can a man write
when he is in the saddle pursuing the enemy ? Israel and
Lambert left immediately with seven regiments for Edin
burgh. He sent you words full of love and comfort ; so did
your sons ; what would you have, woman ? "


" The General wrote to the Generaless."

" He wrote on the battle-field, the cries of the wounded
and dying in his ears, all horror and confusion around him.
He was giving orders about the arms and the artillery, and
about the movement of the troops as he wrote. But he
knew his wife and children were waiting in sore anxiety for
news and not expecting good news and twas a miracle
how he did write at all. No one else could have brought
heart and hands to a pen."

" I think Israel might have written."

u I ll be bound you do ! It s woman-like."

" What do you think of the young Charles Stuart ? "
asked Jane. " It is said he has taken the Covenant, and is
turned pious."

" I think worse of him than of his father. He is an
unprincipled malignant a brazen villain, changing and
chopping about without faith in God or man. Englishmen
will have none of him and the Scots can t force him on

" Dunbar settled that ; eh, Doctor ? "

" I should say that Dunbar has done the job for all the
Presbyterian tribe."

" But oh, the suffering, Doctor ! " said Mrs. Swaffham.
" Think of that."

" I do, Martha. But God s will be done. Let them
suffer. In spite of Cromwell s entreaties and reasonings,
they had taken in the Stuart to force him upon us as king
a king who at this very moment, has a popish army
fighting for him in Ireland ; who has Prince Rupert red
with the blood of Englishmen at the head of ships stolen
from us on a malignant account ; who has French and Irish
ships constantly ravaging our coasts, and who is every
day issuing commissions to raise armies in the very heart of


England to fight Englishmen. Treachery like this con
cerns all good people. Shall such a matchless, astonishing
traitor indeed reign over us ? If we were willing for it, we
should be worthy of ten thousand deaths could ten thou
sand deaths be endured. Now let me go to rest. I am
weary and sleepy, and have won the right to sleep. Give
me a verse to sleep on."

Mrs. S waff ham answered at once, as if she had been
pondering the words, " He lifted up his face to heaven, and
praised the king of heaven. And said, from Thee cometh
victory, from Thee cometh wisdom, and Thine is the glory,
and I am Thy servant.

" Thank you, Martha ; you have spoken well for me ; "
and with a smile he turned his beaming eyes on Jane, and
she said confidently

" c Strive for the truth unto death, and the Lord shall fight
for thee.

" Amen, Jane ! And as you have given me a word of
Jesus, the son of Sirach, so will I give you both one, and
you may ponder it in your hearts Many kings have sat
down upon the ground, and one that was never thought of,
hath worn the crown.

Then Mrs. SwafFham put her hand on the Doctor s arm
to stay him, and she asked, " Do you remember the flag
the women of Huntingdon and Ely gave to General Crom
well just before Nasebv ? "

" I do. It was a great lion the lion of England guard
ing the Cross of England. And your Israel made the
speech. I am not likely to forget it."

"Then you also remember that as Israel was speaking,
the east wind rose, and stretched wide-out the silk folds, so
that the bio- tawny lion watching the red cross was blown


straight above the General s bare head. And there was a


murmur of wonder, and then a great shout, and Israel
pointing to the flag and the man below it, cried out

" Behold your Captain ! Cromwell is a lion s whelp
from the prey thou art gone up, my son and unto Him
shall the gathering of the people be.

" I was standing with Mrs. Cromwell and the girls,"
said Jane; " and at the shout he turned to them, and little
Frances ran to him and he gave the flagstaff into your hand,
Doctor, and then stooped and tied the child s tippet. Then
Mary and I went closer, and to us he was just the same Mr.
Cromwell that I knew years ago, when I sat on his knee,
and put my arms round his neck, and he kissed me as
tenderly as if I was one of his own little girls. But for all
that, something of power and majesty clothed him like a
garment, and the people generally feared to touch the hem
of it."

" A lion s whelp ! " he said proudly, " and while Eng
land s lion has such whelps, she may make and unmake
kings as is best for her." Then he lit his candle and went
stamping down the flagged passage that led to his room.
The men and women of the house were waiting there
for a word, and with the open door in one hand and the
candle in the other, he bade them good-morning with the
notable verse Jane had given him for his own comfort.
And as he did so, he suddenly remembered that these words
had been written thousands of years ago for his encourage
ment ; and he was filled with wonder at the thought, and he
called out, " Men and women, all of you, listen once again
to the word of the Lord

" Strive for the truth unto death, and the Lord shall fight
for you. "

In the meantime Mrs. Swaffham and Jane were going
slowly up-stairs. " We can have two or three hours sleep,


Jane," said Mrs. SwafFham ; and Jane answered,
" Yes " like one who either heard not, or cared not. Her
mother understood. She said softly, " He was thinking of
Cromwell when he said one that was never thought of -
about the crown I mean, Jane ? "

" Yes, mother -Oliver Rex ! "

" It might be."

" It ought to be. He has conquered England, Ireland,
Scotland : William of Normandy had not a third of his

" I wish I could forget the man ; for I must lose myself
for an hour or two, or I shall be good for nothing when
daylight comes. You, too, Jane, go and sleep."

She said, " Yes, mother." But sleep was a thousand
miles away from Jane SwarFham,,



" Because right is right, to follow right
Were wisdom in the scorn of consequence."

" See that thou lovest what is lovely."

FOR the next three days there was a busy time at Swaff-
ham. All the neighbours were summoned to hear the news,
and a sermon from Dr. Verity ; and he did not spare the
rod in the way of his calling. There were some wealthy
young men present, and he let them know that they ought
not to be present ; furthermore, he told them how many
miles it was to Duty and to Scotland.

" This is not a time," he said, " for men to be on their
farms or in their shops getting a little money. Thou
Shalt is written on life in characters just as terrible as
4 Thou Shalt Not It is not enough that you do not help
the enemy ; you Shall shut your shop, you Shall leave your
oxen untied ; you Shall take your musket, and never once
think in your heart Who is going to pay me for this busi
ness ? You Shall go forth to serve God and to save Eng
land. If you, Squire Acton, would out, and you, Fermor,
and you, Calthorpe, and Charmington and Gamier, you would
draw men after you ; for many will follow if the candle be
once lighted. By the mouth of John Verity, a servant of
the Lord, you have this day got another call. Look inward
and think over it. You say you love God ; you say you
love England ; what is love worth that hath a tongue but no



hands ? I told you these things before, and if you did not
hear me, you ought to have heard me. Stand up and face
the world, and say plainly, I will go, or else, I will not
go. You are Englishmen, you are obliged to own that
name, and in the freedom or slavery, the glory or disgrace
of England, you will be forced to share. You pray for
England. Very well, that is your duty ; but it is serving
God very much at your ease. God wants your hands as
well as your prayers."

" Against whom ? " asked Gamier.

" Against this vounir Charles Stuart. He is a bolder liar


than his father ; he sticks at no perjury that answers his
purpose. If you let him put shackles on you again, it will
be a deed to make the devil blush if he has any blushing
faculty in him."

Then Acton rose and said, " Dr. Verity, I will go," and
Caithorpe and Eermor followed, and the Doctor told them
to meet him at SwafFham Market Cross the following day.
" And I will say this thing to you," he added, " you are like
to have the good fortune of the man hired at the eleventh
hour ; you will get the full penny for the last stroke.

" And now," he continued, " I have a few words for you,
women. In times when everything seems on the perish, a
deal depends on you. God knows there are troubles enough
for us all, but some women are never weary of hunting for
more. It is a poor business. Give it up. You know that
you often make wretched days for yourselves, and every one
you come across, about little things not worth minding. I

J * O O

have heard men that have been in tropic countries say
they hardly ever saw the lions and serpents they feared,
but that the flics and the insects and the heat made their
lives miserable enough. That is the way in most women s
lives i they hear about sieges and battles and awful death,


but such things don t often come to their door-step. If they
do, my experience is that women behave themselves nobly ;
they lift up their hearts and meet their fate like men and

" I am bound to say, the main part of women s troubles
comes from little things from very little things. I ve
known a broken pitcher, or a slice of burned bread, or a
smoky fire do the black business for a whole day. No
matter what comes, women, keep a cheerful temper.
Cheerfulness is the very coin of happiness. The devil
loves a woman with a snappy, nagging temper; she does
lots of business for him, without his helping her. I don t
think any of you here will take his arles-penny, or work
for his well done. Besides, all women want to be loved ;
but I can tell you, every one feels bitter and hard to those
who prevent happiness. It is easier to forgive a person for
doing us a great wrong than for deliberately spoiling our
comfort because some trifling thing has put them out. A
woman who will do that is a selfish creature, and she ought
to live by herself."

The short service was followed by an excellent dinner,
and the richly dressed men and women, full of eager ques
tions and innocent mirth, filled the Swaffham parlours, and
made a fair picture of hospitality sobered by great interests
and great events. Some of the guests lingered for two
and three days, but Dr. Verity would not be delayed. The
next morning he enrolled sixty men, and then he was re
solved to ride with them as far as York. " And if Neville
comes, send him quickly after me," he said. " He thought
he might be four days, but I will give him seven, and then
wonder if he keeps tryst. There will be many things in
London to delay him."

In fact Neville was so long delayed, that Mrs. Swaffham


was certain he had been sent back to Scotland at once on
Mrs. Cromwell s order, and that he would probably be
with the Lord General before Dr. Verity. After a week
or more had passed, all expectation of his visit died out,
and Jane began to wonder why Matilda had not been to

Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe lion's whelp; a story of Cromwell's time → online text (page 3 of 27)