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Scottish men fought so gallantly that it took five hours to do.

The escape of Charles after this battle of Worcester did him

pod service long afterwards ; for it induced many of the gener-

V"' English people to take a romantic interest in him, and to


32 T

think much better of him than he ever deserved. He fled in
the night, with not more than sixty followers, to the house of a
Catholic lady in Staffordshire. There, for his greater safety,
the whole sixty left him. He cropped his hair, stained his face
and hands brown as if they were sunburnt, put on the clothes
of a laboring countryman, and went out in the morning with his
axe in his hand, accompanied by four wood-cutters who were
brothers, and another man who was their brother-in-law. These
good fellows made a bed for him under a tree, as the weather
was very bad ; and the wife of one of thera brought him food to
eat ; and the old mother of the four brothers came and fell
down on her knees before him in the wood, and than^ced God
that her sons were engaged in saving his life. At night, he
came out of the forest, and went on to another house which was
near the river Severn, with the intention of passing into Wales ;
but the place swarmed with soldiers, and the bridges were
guarded, and all the boats were made fast. So, after lying in
a hayloft covered over with hay some time, he came out of his
place, attended by Colonel Careless, a Catholic gentleman who
had met him there, and with whom he lay hid, all next day, up
in the shady branches of a fine old oak. It was lucky for the
king that it was September time, and that the leaves had not
begun to fall, since he and the colonel, perched up in this tree,
could catch glimpses of the soldiers riding about below, and
could hear the crash in the wood as they went about beating
the boughs.

After this, he walked and walked until his feet were all
blistered ; and having been concealed all one day in a house,
which was searched by the troopers while he was there, went
with Lord Wilmot, another of his good friends, to a place called
Bentley, where one Miss Lane, a Protestant lady had obtained
a pass to be allowed to ride through the guards to see a relation
of hers near Bristol. Disguised as a servant, he rode in the
saddle before this young lady to the house of Sir John Winter,
while Lord Wilmot rode there boldly, like a plain country gen-
tleman, with dogs at his heels. It happened that Sir John
Winter's butler had been servant in Richmond Palace, and
knew Charles the moment he set eyes upon him ; but the butler
was faithful and kept the secret. As no ship could be found
to carry him abroad, it was planned that he should go — still
travelling with Miss Lane as her servant — to another house, at
Trent, near Sherborne in Dorsetshire ; and then Miss Lane
and her cousin, Mr. Lascelles, who had gone on horseback be-
side her all the way, went home, I hope Miss Lane was going




to marry that cousin ; for I am sure she must have been a brave,
kind girl. If I had been that cousin 1 should certainly have
loved Miss Lane.

When Charles, lonely for ihc loss of Miss Lane, was safe
at Trent, a ship was hired at Lyme, the mn-ter of which en-
gaged to i:ike two gentlemen to France. In tiie evening ofthe
same clay, the king — nowridingas servant before another youiv;
lady — set off for a public-house at a place called Charmouih
where the captain of the vessel was to take him on board. Eut
the captain's wife, being afraid of her husband getting into
trouble, locked him up and would not let him sail. Then tlicy
went aw-ay to Bridport ; and, coming to the inn there, found
the stable-yard full of soldiers who were on the look-out for
Charles, and who talked about him while they drank. He had
such presence of mind, that he led the horses of his party
through the yard as any other servant might have done, and
said, " Come out of the way, you soldiers ; let us have room
to pass here ! " As he went along, he met a half-tipsy ostler,
who rubbed his eyes and said to him, " Why, I was formerly
servant to Mr. Potter at Exeter, and surely I have sometimes
seen you there, young man "i " He certainly had for Charles
had lodged there. His ready answer was, " Ah, I did live with
him once ; but I have no time to talk now. Well have a pot
of beer together when I come back."

From this dangerous place he returned to Trent, and lay
there concealed several days. Then he escaped to Heale, near
Salisbury ; wdiere, in the house of a widow lady, he was hidden
five days, until the master of a collier lying off Shoreham, in
Sussex, undertook to convey a " gentleman " to France. On
the night of the 15th of October, accompanied by two colonels
and a merchant, the king rode to Brighton, then a little fishing-
village, to give the captain of the ship a supper before going on
board ; but so many people knew him, that this captain knew
him too, and not only he but the landlord and landlady also.
Before he went away the landlord came behind his chair, kissed
his hand, and said he hoped to live to be a lord and to see his
wife a lady ; at which Charles laughed. They had had a good
supper by this time, and plenty of smoking and drinking, at
which the king was a first-rate hand j so the captain assured
him that he would stand by him, and he did. It was agreed
that the captain should pretend to sail to Deal and that Charles
should address the sailors, and say he was a gentleman in debt,
who was running away from his creditors, and that he hoped
they would join him in persuading the captain to put him ashore



in ifrance. As the king acted his part very well indeed, and
gave the sailors twenty shillings to drink, they begged the cap
tain to do what such a worthy gentleman asked. He pretended
to yield to their entreaties, and the king got safe to Normandy.

Ireland being now subdued, and Scotland kept quiet by
plenty of forts and soldiers put there by Oliver, the Parliament
would have gone on quietly enough, as far as fighting with any
foreign enemy went, but for getting into trouble with the Dutch
who, in the spring of the year 1651, sent a fleet mto the Downs
under their Admiral Van Tromp, to call upon the bold English
Admiral Blake (who was there with half as many ships as the
Dutch) to strike his flag. Blake fired a raging broadside in
stead, and beat off Van Tromp ; who, in the autumn, came back
again with seventy ships and challenged the bold Blake — who
still was only half as strong — to fight him. Blake fought him
all day ; but findmg that the Dutch were too many for him, got
quietly off at night. What does Van Tromp upon this, but
goes cruising and boasting about the Channel, between the
North Foreland and the Isle of Wight, with a great Dutch
broom tied to his masthead, as a sign that he could and would
sweep the English off the sea ! Within three months Blake
lowered his tone though, and his broom too ; for he and two
other bold commanders, Dean and Monk, fought him three
whole days, took twenty-three of his ships, shivered his broom
to pieces, and settled his business.

Things were no sooner quiet again, than the army began to
complam to the Parliament that they were not governing the
nation properly, and to hint that they thought they could do it
better themselves. Oliver, who had now made up his mind to
be the head of the state, or nothing at all, supported them in
this, and called a meeting of officers and his own parliamentary
friends, at his lodgings in Whitehall, to consider the best way
of getting rid of the Parliament. It had now lasted just as
many years as the king's unbridled power had lasted, before it
came into existence. The end of the deliberation was, that
Ohver went down to the House in his usual plain black dress,
with his usual gray worsted stockings, but with an unusual party
of soldiers behind him. These last he left in the lobby, and
then went in and sat down. Presently he got up, made the
Parliament a speech, told them that the Lord had done with them,
stamped his foot, and said, " You are no Parliament. Bring
them in ; bring them in ! " At this signal the door flew open,
and the soldiers appeared. " This is not honest," said Sir
Harry Vane, one of the members. " Sir Harry Vane ! " cried



Cromwell ; " O Sir Harry Vane \ the Lord deliver me from Sir
Harry Vane ! '' Then he pointed out members one by one, and
said this man was a drunkard, and that man a dissipated fellow,
and that man a liar, and so on. Then he caused the speaker
to be walked out of his chair, told the guard to clear the House
called the mace upon the table, — which is a sign that the House
is sitting, — " a fool's bauble," and said, *' Here, carry it away ! "
Being obeyed in all these orders, he quietly locked the door,
put the key in his pocket, walked back to Whitehall again,
and told his friends, who were still assembled there, what he
had done.

They formed a new Council of State after this extraordinary
proceeding, and got a new Parliament together in their own
way ; which Oliver himself opened in a sort of sermon, and
which he said was the beginning of a perfect heaven upon
earth. In this Parliament there sat a well-known leather-seller,
who had taken the singular name of Praise God Barebones, and
from whom it was called, for a joke, Barebones' Parliament,
though its general name was the Little Parliament. As it soon
appeared that it was not going to put Oliver in the first place,
it turned out to be not all like the beginning of heaven upon
earth, and Oliver said it really was not to be borne with. So
he cleared off that Parliament in much the same way as he had
disposed of the other ; and then the council of officers decided
that he must be made the supreme authority of the kingdom,
under the title of the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth.

So, on the i6th of December, 1653, a great procession was
formed at Oliver's door \ and he came out in a black velvet
suit and a big pair of boots, and got into his coach, and went
down to Westminster, attended by the judges, and the lord
mayor, and the aldermen, and all the other great and wonder-
ful personages of the country. There in the Court of Chancery,
he publicly accepted the office of Lord Protector. Then he
was sworn, and the city sword was handed to him, and the seal
was handed to him, and all the other things were handed to
him which are usually handed to the kings and queens on state
occasions. When Oliver had handed them all back, be vvas
quite made, and completely finished off as Lord Protector j
and several of the Ironsides preached about it at great length,
all the evening.

Second Part.

Oliver Cromwell, — whom the people long called Old Nail, —


in accepting the office of Protector, had bound himself by i
certain paper which was handed to him, called " The Instru-
ment," to summon a parliament, consisting of between four and
five hundred members, in the election of which neither the
Royalists nor the Catholics were to have any share. He had
also pledged himself that this parliament should not be dis-
solved without its own consent until it had sat five months.

When this parliament met, Oliver made a speech to them of
three hours long, very wisely advising them what to do for the
credit and happiness of the country. To keep down the more
violent members, he required them to sign a recognition of
what they were forbidden by " The Instrument " to do ; which
was chiefly to take the power from one single person at the
head of the state, or to command the army. Then he dismissed
them to go to work. With his usual vigor and resolution he
went to work himself with some frantic-preachers, who were
rather overdoing their sermons in calling him a villain and a
tyrant, by shutting up their chapels, and sending a few of them
off to prison.

There was not at that time in England, or anywhere else, a
man so able to govern the country as Oliver Cromwell.
Although he ruled with a strong hand, and levied a very heavy
tax on the Royalists (but not until they had plotted against his
life), he ruled wisely, and as the times required. He caused
England to be so respected abroad, that I wish some lords and
gentleman, who have governed It under kings and queens in
later days, would have taken a leaf out of Oliver Cromwell's
book. He sent bold Admiral Blake to the Mediterranean Sea,
to make the Duke of Tuscany pay sixty thousand pounds for
Injuries he had done to British subjects, and spoliation he had
committed on English merchants. He further despatched him
and his fleet to Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli, to have every Eng-
lish ship and every Englishman delivered up to him that had
been taken by pirates in those parts. All this was gloriously
done ; and it began to be thoroughly well known, all over the
world, that England was governed by a man in earnest, who
would not allow the English name to be insulted or slighted

These were not all his foreign triumphs. He sent a fleet
to sea against the Dutch ; and the two powers, each with one
hundred ships upon its side, met in the English Channel off
the North Foreland, where the fight lasted all day long. Dean
was killed in this fight; but Monk, who commanded in the
same ship with him, threw his cloak over his body, that the


sailors might not know of his death, and be disheartened
Nor were they. The English broadsides so exceedingly aston
ished the Dutch, that they sheared off at last, though tha
redoubtable Van Tromp fired upon them with his own guna
for deserting their flag. Soon afterwards the two fleets engaged
again, off the coast of Holland. There the valiant Van Tromp
was shot through the heart, and the Dutch gave in. and peace
was made.

Further than this, Oliver resolved not to bear the domineer-
ing and bigoted conduct of Spain, which country not only
claimed a right to all the gold and silver that could be found
in South America, and treated the ships of all other countries
who visited those regions as pirates, but put English subjects
into the horrible Spanish prisons of the Inquisition. So Oliver
told the Spanish ambassador that English ships must be free
to go wherever they would, and that English merchants must
not be thrown into those same dungeons ; no, not for the pleas-
ure of all the priests in Spain. To this the Spanish ambassa-
dor replied, that the gold and silver country, and the Holy
Inquisition, were his king's two eyes, neither of which he could
submit to have put out. Very well, said Oliver, then he was
afraid he (Oliver) must damage those two eyes directly.

So another fleet was despatched under two commanders,
Penn and Venables, for Hispaniola ; where, however, the
Spaniards got the better of the fight. Consequently, the fleet
came home again, after taking Jamaica on the way. Oliver,
indignant with the two commanders who had not done what
bold Admiral Blake would have done, clapped them both into
prison, declared war against Spain, and made a treaty with
France, in virtue of which it was to shelter the king and his
brother, the Duke of York, no longer. Then he sent a fleet
abroad under bold Admiral Blake, which brought the King of
Portugal to his senses, — just to keep its hand in — and then
engaged a Spanish fleet, sunk four great ships, and took two
more, laden with silver to the value of two millions of pounds ;
which dazzling prize was brought from Portsmouth to London
in wagons, with the populace of all the towns and villages
through which the wagons passed, shouting with all their might.
After this victory, bold Admiral Blake sailed away to the
port of Santa Cruz to cut off the Spanish treasure-ships coming
from Mexico. There he found them, ten in number, with
seven others to take care of them, and a big castle, and seven
batteries, all roaring and blazing away at him with great guns.
Blake cared no more for great guns than for pop-guns, — no



more for their hot iron balls than for snowballs. He dashed
into the harbor, captured and burnt every one of the ships,
and can^e sailing out again triumphantly, with the victorious
English flag flying at his mast-head. This was the last triumph
of this great commander, who had sailed and fought until he
was quite worn out. He died as his successful ship was com-
ing into Plymouth Harbor amidst the joyful acclamations of
the people, and was buried in state in Westminster Abbey, —
not to lie there long.

Over and over all this, Oliver found that the Vaudois, or
Protestant people of the valleys of Lucerne, were insolently
treated by the Catholic powers, and were even put to death for
their religion, in an audacious and bloody manner. Instantly
he informed those powers that this was a thing which Protest-
ant Esgland would not allow ; and he speedily carried his
point, through the might of his great name, and established
their right to w^orship God in peace after their own harmless

Lastly, his English army won such admiration in fighting
with the French against the Spaniards, that, after they had as-
saulted the town of Dunkirk together, the French king in per-
son gave it up to the English, that it might be a token to them
of their might and valor.

There were plots enough against Oliver among the frantic
religionists (who called themselves Fifth Monarchy Men), and
among the disappointed republicans. He had a difficult game
to play ; for the royalists were always ready to side with either
part}^ against him. The " King over the water," too, as Charles
was called, had no scruples about plotting with any one against
his life ; although there is reason to suppose that he would
willingly have married one of his daughters, if Oliver would
have had such a son-in-law. There was a certain Colonel
Saxbyof the army, once a great supporter of Oliver's, but now
turned against him, who was a grievous trouble to him through
all this part of his career ; and who came and went between
the discontented in England and Spain, and Charles, who put
himself in alliance with Spain on being thrown off by France.
This man died in prison at last ; but not until there had been
very serious plots between the royalists and republicans, and
an actual rising of them in England, when they burst into the
city of Salisbury on a Sunday night, seized the judges who
were going lo hold the assizes* there next day, and would have
hanged them but for the merciful objections of the more tem-
perate of their number. Oliver was so vigorous and shrewd



that he soon put this revolt down, as he did most other con-
spiracies ; and it was well for one of its chief managers — that
same Lord Wilmot who had assisted in Charles's flight, and
was now Earl of Rochester — that he made his escape. Oliver
seemed to have eyes and ears everywhere, and secured such
sources of information as his enemies little dreamed of. There
was a chosen body of six persons, called the Sealed Knot, who
were in the closest and most secret confidence of Charles.
One of the foremost of these very men, a Sir Richard Willis,
reported to Oliver everything that passed among them, and had
two hundred a year for it.

Miles Syndarcomb, also of the old army, was another con-
spirator against the Protector. He, and a man named Cecil,
bribed one of his life-guards to let them have good notice when
he was going out, — intending to shoot him from a window. But
owing either to his caution or his good fortune, they could never
get an aim at him. Disappointed in this design, they got into
the chapel in Whitehall, with a basketful of combustibles, which
were to explode, by means of a slow match, in six hours ; then,
in the noise and confusion of the fire, they hoped to kill Oliver.
But the life-guardsman himself disclosed this plot ; and they
were seized, and Miles died (or killed himself in prison) a little
while before he was ordered for execution. A few such plotters
Oliver caused to be beheaded, a few more to be hanged, and
many more, including those who rose -in arms against him, to
be sent as slaves to the West Indies. If he were rigid, he was
impartial too, in asserting the laws of England. When a Por-
tuguese nobleman, the brother of the Portuguese ambassador,
killed a London citizen in mistake for another man with whom
he had had a quarrel, Oliver caused him to be tried before a
jury of Englishmen and foreigners, and had him executed in
spite of the entreaties of all the ambassadors in London.

One of Oliver's own friends, the Duke of Oldenburgh, in
sending him a present of six fine coach-horses, was very near
doing more to please the royalists than all the plotters put to-
gether. One day, Oliver went with his coach, drawn by these
six horses, into Hyde Park, to dine with his secretary and some
of his other gentlemen under the trees there. After dinner,
being merry, he took it into his head to put his friends inside
and to drive them home, a postilion riding one of the foremost
horses, as the custom was. On account of Oliver's being too
free with the whip, the six fine horses went off at a gallop, the
postilion got thrown, and Oliver fell upon the coach-pole, and
narrowly escaped being shot by his own pistol, which got en-



tangled with his clothes in the harness, and went off. He was
dragged sonie distance by the foot, until his foot came out of
the shoe, and then, he came safely to the ground under the
broad body of the coach, and was very little the worse. The
gentlemen inside were only bruised, and the discontented peo-
ple of all parties were much disappointed.

The rest of the history of the Protectorate of Oliver Crom-
well is a history of his parliament. His first one not pleasing
him at all, he waited until the five months were out, and then
dissolved it. The next was better suited to his views ; and
from that he desired to get — if he could with safety to himself
— the title of king. He had had this in his mind some time ;
whether because he thought that the English people, being more
used to the title, were more likely to obey it, or whether be-
cause he really wished to be a king himself, and to leave the
succession to that title in his family, is far from clear. He was
already as high, in England and in all the world, as he would
ever be ; and I doubt if he cared for the mere name. However,
a paper, called the " Humble Petition and Advice," was pre-
sented to him by the House of Commons, praying him to take
a high title and to appoint his successors. That he would have
taken the title of king there is no doubt, but for the strong op-
position of the army. This induced him to forbear, and to
assent only to the other points of the petition. Upon which oc-
casion there was another grand show in Westminster Hall, when
the Speaker of the House of Commons formally invested him
with a purple robe lined with ermine, and presented him with a
splendidly bound Bible, and put a golden sceptre in his hand.
The next time the Parliament met, he called a House of Lords.
of sixty members, as the petition gave him power to do ; but as
that Parliament did not please him either, and would not pro-
ceed to the business of the country, he jumped into a coach one
morning, took six guards with him, and sent them to the right-
about. I wish this had been a warning to parliaments to avoi-l
long speeches, and do more work.

It was the month of August, 1658, when Oliver Cromwell's
favorite daughter, Elizabeth Claypole (who had lately lost lier
youngest son), lay very ill, and his mind was greatly troubled,
because he loved' her dearlv. Another of his daughters was
married to Lord Falconbc': ;. nr.nther to the grandson of the
Earl of Warwick, and he had made his son Richard one of the
members of the Upper House. He was very kind and loving
to them all, being a good father and a good husband ; but he
loved this daughter the best of the family, and went down to



Hampton Court to see her, and could hardly be induced to stir
from her sick room until she died. Although his religion had
been of a gloomy kind, his disposition had been alwa3^s cheer-
ful. He had been fond of music in his home, and had kept
open table once a week for all officers of the army not below
the rank of captain, and had always preserved in his house a
quiet, sensible dignity. He encouraged men of genius and

Online LibraryCharles DickensA child's history of England → online text (page 34 of 38)