Francis Henry Underwood Montague John Guest.

A handbook of English history based on the lectures of the late M.J. Guest ... online

. (page 45 of 59)
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and hair-breadth escapes in endeavoring to take refuge in
France. He seems to have been fond of telling these adven-
tures afterwards, and they are recorded in Lord Clarendon's
History. We have them also in a shorter form, as they were
heard from Charles's own lips, by Samuel Pepys, who kept
a diary ; one of the most odd and entertaining books in the
world. He tells us that the king " fell into discourse of his
escape from Worcester, where it made me ready to weep to
hear the stories that he told of his difficulties that he had
passed through ; as his travelling four days and three nights
on foot, every step up to his knees in dirt, with nothing but
a green coat and a pair of country breeches on, and a pair
of country shoes that made him so sore all over his feet that
he could scarce stir. Yet he was forced to run away from
a miller and other company that took them for rogues. His
sitting at table at one place, where the master of the house,
that had not seen him in eight years, did know him but kept
it private ; when at the same table there was one that had
been of his own regiment at Worcester could not know him,
but made him drink the king's health, and said that the
king was at least four fingers higher than he. . . . In
another place, at his inn, the master of the house, as the
king was standing with his hands upon the back of a chair
by the fireside, kneeled down and kissed his hand privately,
saying that he would not ask him who he was, but bid God
bless him whither he was going. Then the difficul-
CharFes^^ ties of .G:etting a boat to get into France" (he started
from iright-helmsted^ a small fishing town on the
coast of Sussex, now called Brighton), " where he was fain

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THE cnnii WAR. 471

to plot with the master thereof to keep his design from the
foreman and a boy (which was all the ship's company), and
so get to Fecamp in France. At Rouen he looked so poorly
that the people went into the rooms before he went away to
see whether he had not stolen something or other."

It was just after the battle that the king hid himself in an
oak tree, where he could sit in security watching those who
came in search of him, and hearing them say what they
would do with him when they caught him, which oak tree
is still commemorated by the wearing of oak apples on the
29th of May, the day when he was restored to his kingdom.

Though in the course of his wanderings Charles was rec-
ognized by a large number of both men and women, and
though a proclamation was issued promising a thousand
pounds to anyone who would deliver him up, and declaring
the penalty of high treason against any who should harbor
or conceal him, not one of them had a thought of betray-
ing him, either through hope of reward or dread of punish-

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The rule of Oliver Cromwell. The fame of England. Death of Oliver. The
army supreme. Recall of Charles II. Reaction against the Puritans. The
plague and the fire.

Cromwell and his army were now victorious everywhere.
The poor remains of the Long Parliament, which had begun
so grandly and had done such brave things, were now sunk
into contempt. They looked on' with displeasure at the new
tyranny which was growing up, but they were quite help-

1653. ^^^^- "^^ ^^^^^ ^"® ^^y Cromwell marched into the
Cromwell House with a body of soldiers, had the Speaker
tAe Pm - ^ pulled out of his chair by force, called his mace a
liament. bauble, and, after abusing and insulting the mem-
bers, turned them all out of the House, and locked the door.
No one dared cry "Privilege of Parliament" this time;
Cromwell and the Ironsides were too strong for them.

The government was now supposed to be republican, and
England was called a commonwealth ; but in fact the whole
He is made ^^^"^^y lay at the feet of Cromwell. He would
lord pro- have liked very much to be made king and
tector. called so, but the army, though wholly devoted to
him, hated the title of king, and he was instead called the
lord protector. He resolved to try and govern in the old
way, with a House of Lords and a House of Commons ; but
his plan did not succeed very well. One of the Parliaments
he summoned was not fairly elected, and was generally
despised. One of its most active members being the leather-
seller, Praise-God Barebone, it was derisively called by the
people "Barebone's Parliament." His other Parliament,
when it attempted to do its duty and to put some check on
his despotic will, he dissolved, just as James or Charles
would have done. His House of Lords was ridiculed by
everybody. Scarcely any of the real nobility of the old
families which the people respected would attend ; it was


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said that Oliver invited draymen and cobblers to take scats
in it. It was true that men of all trades had been officers in
Cromwell's army, had done good work for the country, and
were worthy of all respect ; but when they attempted to
appear as lords and nobles they became ridiculous, and even
the House of Commons would not honor them by calling
them lords.

If ever there was an absolute monarch in the world, Oliver
Cromwell had become one ; but it cannot be denied that as
long as he reigned, he reigned gloriously. He
restored justice and order ; no judge dared touch a ^^^^^
bribe ; no one dared stir up strife or tumult. He
w^as even reasonably tolerant in religion. The great parties
had broken up into many different sects by this time, and he
strove to make them live peaceably together. He even
allowed the Jews to come back to England, none of whom
had entered the country since the day when Edward I. had
banished them. It is curious to consider that when Shake-
speare drew the character of Shy lock, he had probably
never seen a Jew. Some of them established themselves in
London, though they were not allowed to build a synagogue
till 1662. Cromwell, indeed, became so famous that some of
the Jews in foreign parts began to think he must be their
expected Messiah, and sent a body of Rabbis to England to
try and find out whether he had not had some Jewish
ancestors. He did not seem to have been at all flattered by
this compliment, and sent the Rabbis off again in great

It was while Cromwell was lord protector that the first
missionaries were sent out from England to convert the
heathen. Very large sums of money are now raised every
year by the Church of England and other bodies for the
purpose of spreading Christianity far and wide. Cromwell's
government caused collections to be made in every parish in
England for sending missionaries to the American Indians.
The first of the missionaries was a most devoted and heroic
man named Eliot, who converted a great many of the sav-
ages, and translated the Bible into their language.

England at this time rose to great fame and glory abroad.
After Elizabeth's death she had sunk down under the Stuart
kings to be a second-rate power; but Cromwell's
wisdom and energy raised her up again, till she ISfg"*^'*
seemed the greatest and mightiest nation in Europe.

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All the other countries tried to win her friendship. Her
fleet once more became grand and powerful. She had an
admiral named Blake, who was as brave and gallant as
Raleigh or Drake. England went to war with Holland at
this time, which was also a great naval power. But they
and all the other enemies of England were conquered. The
English pride was much gratified during these ware by the

taking of Dunkirk, a port in Flanders, for it seemed
* to make compensation for the loss of Calais, which,
though it had happened a hundred years before, they
never could forget. Evelyn the Royalist notes in his diary :
" I went to see the great ship newly built by the Usurper
Oliver, carrying ninety-six brass guns, and a thousand tons
burthen. In the prow was Oliver on horseback, trampling
six nations under foot, — a Scot, Irishman, Dutchman, French-
man, Spaniard, and English, as was easily made out by their
several habits. A Fame held a laurel over his insulting
head, the word * God with us? "

Still more to his lasting glory, Cromwell was the friend
and protector of persecuted Protestants abroad. Among

the Alps, nestling among the mountain valleys,
Jois^*'*" lived a harmless race of humble Protestants, — the

Vaudois or Waldenses, — who were not strictly
Protestant, but who, living in those secluded regions, had
kept fast to primitive Christianity, and had disregarded the
new things which had been added in the course of ages.
The Duke of Savoy detennined to force these poor people
to renounce their faith or to leave their homes. Those who
did not or could not go away, and who would not give up
their Bibles and their religion, were massacred without mercy.
Their sufferings were awful. It was related that " a mother
was hurled down a rock with a little infant in her arms, and
three days after was found dead, with the little child alive,
but fast clasped between the arms of the dead mother, which
were cold and stiff, insomuch that those who found them had
much ado to get the young child out." Those who could
escape into the mountains sent messengers to England for
help. Cromwell at once proclaimed a general fast, and a
national collection for the help of the survivors. Nearly forty

thousand pounds was contributed. But Cromwell

did more. He sent an ambassador to the murdering
duke, demanding the instant suspension of the persecution.
Such was the awe inspired by CromwelFs name, that the

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duke submitted without hesitation; the innocent people
were allowed to return to their homes and to worship God
in peace. Cromwell had a noble helper in this work, — the
Puritan poet Milton. Many of the letters on this business
were written by him, and his heart, glowing with pity and
indignation, poured itself out in a prayer which is almost
like an inspired psalm : —

" Avenge, O Lord, Thy slaughtered saints, whose bones

Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold ;

Even them who kept Thy truth so pure of old,
When all our fathers worshipped stocks and stones,
Forget not; in Thy book record their groans,

Who were Thy sheep, and in their ancient fold

Slain by the bloody Piedmontese, that rolled
Mother with infant down the rocks. Their moans

The vales redoubled to the hills, and they
To Heaven. Their martyred blood and ashes sow

O'er all the Italian fields, where still doth sway
The triple tyrant: that from these may grow

A hundred fold, who, having learned Thy way,
Early may fly the Babylonian woe.**

Notwithstanding all his glory, and his many noble points,
the people in general did not love Cromwell. If it were
true, as Evelyn thought, that one of the six nations which
he was trampling under foot in the prow of his ship was
England, we can well understand the feeling. Nor was it
likely that the nation would long submit to be governed by
a despotism. There were insurrections and plots, and the
Protector knew that his life was not safe. He wore a steel
shirt under his clothes ; he never went out unless attended
by an escort, and seldom came home by the same road on
which he started. He dared not sleep always in the same
bedroom, but had several different ones, each of which had
a secret door.

At last he died a natural death. It was on the day when
he had won two of his great victories, and which he used to
call his "fortunate day." As he looked back on -g^g
his career he seemed to have some misgivings as to Death of
parts of his conduct. He did not know if he had Cromwell,
always acted as befitted a Christian man ; but some of his
last words were, " Truly God is good. He will not leave
me ; my work is done ; God will be with His people."

He was buried in Westminster Abbey with more pomp
and honor than had been shown to some of the greatest

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476 guest's ENGLISH HISTORY.

kings. His son Richard was declared Protector in his stead.
He was very unlike his father ; he was amiable and harm-
less, but he was only fitted for the life of a quiet country
gentleman. The one great power in the country, Cromwell's
army, despised him. He was very soon turned out, and the
old Long Parliament, which began to be contemptuously
called the Rump, was called back once more. Richard never
made the least effort to keep his high place ; he retired con-
tentedly into private life, and died at last at a good old age.

The soldiers soon turned the Parliament out again, and
made a sort of government of their own. England was still
The army ""^^^ ^^® army, and therfe was no Cromwell at its
without head. This seemed too dreadful for Englishmen to
Cromwell, endure, and nearly everybody began to long for the
old constitution back again, under which England had been
free, orderly, and famous ; not only the Cavaliers, but the
Presbyterians too, desired to have their king again. Only
that terrible army, which had never yet been beaten, was
determined not to have the king back, but to keep the power
in its own hands.

It is difficult to say what could have been done if the army
had remained united ; but now that Cromwell's firm hand
was gone, the army began to lose unity, and to quarrel
within itself. The most powerful general left was named
Monk, who was at the head ' of one part of the army, and
strongly opposed to the other part. He marched down from
Scotland to London. As he came, the people flocked around
him, imploring him to restore peace and liberty. The fleet
sailed up the Thames, and declared against the tyranny of
the soldiers. The Londoners assembled by thousands, calling
for liberty and a free Parliament. The people refused to
pay any more taxes, and Monk, who had kept silence hith-
erto, at last declared there should be a free Parliament.

It was known that the first thing a free Parliament would
do would be to restore the monarchy, and everybody was
oveijoyed. They lighted bonfires in every street, and all
over the country, as far as to the Land's End ; they rang the
church bells ; they all hoped freedom and law were to return
with the j^oung king. The Long Parliament met for the last
time to issue writs for a new election, and then dissolved
itself forever.

Charles H. was at Breda, in Holland. A fleet was sent
over to bring him back in triumph to the country which he

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had quitted in the little fishing-boat ten years before. One
of the men in this fleet was Pepys, who was secre-
tary to the admiralty, and who tells all about it in The king
his diary. He says he heard that King Charles and " brou^it
his attendants were in a very poor way, both for *^ '
clothes and money, " their clothes not being worth forty
shillings, the best of them ; " whereas my lords who went to
fetch him had very fine things indeed, " as rich as silver and
gold can make them." He tells us, too, how overjoyed the
king was when Sir J. Grenville brought him some money,
even calling his brother and sister to look at it before it was
taken out of the portmanteau. When he was to land at
Dover, Pepys followed in a boat, with one of the attendants
and " a dog the king loved."

The cliffs of Dover were crowded with people; nobles,
citizens, men of all ranks, weeping with joy. The mayor
presented Charles with a very rich Bible, which he accepted,
saying it was " the thing he loved above all things in the
world." The London ministers gave him a Bible afterwards,
and he promised them that it should be the rule of all his

Along the road from Dover to London, it was one contin-
ual triumph, flags flying, bells ringing, wine and ale flowing
in rivers, crowds of rejoicing people everywhere. And so
he arrived in London. " I stood in the Strand and beheld
it, and blessed God," says the good and pious John Evelyn.

No one yet knew what the king would be like, or whether
he was worthy of this rapture. It soon began to appear
that, though he had been trained in the school of ad-
versity, he had not learned wisdom. He was bright, ®* *
witty, and good-natured, but there the enumeration of pleas-
ant traits must end. Though he had said he loved the Bible
above everything in the world, he had not religion enough
to keep him from the most shameful vices. He was more
frightfully and openly immoral than any in the long list of
English kings ; he was idle and reckless ; he was untruthful
and ungrateful. Pepys writes rather despondingly after a
time, " that the king do mind nothing but pleasures, and hates
the very sight or thoughts of business. If any of the sober
counsellors give him good advice, and move him in anything
that is to his good and honor, the other part, which are his
counsellors of pleasure, persuade him that he ought not to
hear nor listen to the advice of those old dotards." He pro-

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478 guest's ENGLISH HISTORY.

fessed to be a member of the Church of England, as his
father had been, but in his heart he veered about between
infidelity and Catholicism. On his death-bed he declared
himself a Catholic.

At the beginning, however, all went well ; and, indeed,
his channing manners, his wit and pleasantness, made him
popular with most of his subjects to the last, especially as
his successor, they knew, would be much worse than him-
self. One of his witty courtiers, pretending to make his
epitaph, wrote, —

" Here lies our sovereign lord the king,
Whose word no man relies on,
Who never said a foolish thing,
And never did a wise one."

The people in general were the more rejoiced to have the
king and the Church of England restored, because the Puri-
Reaetion *^"® ^^^ ^^^'^ ®^ intolerably grim and morose,
against the They had put down all amusements and pleasures,
^**^^""- bad and good. Not content with forbidding any-
one to go to church on Chi-istmas Day, and pointing muskets
at them as they received the sacrament, they had ordered it
to be observed as a fast day. They had pulled down the
May-poles, and forbidden all dancing, bell-ringing, puppet-
shows, and the like. As was natural, there was now a great
reaction. " May-poles were set up in every cross-way, and
at the Strand, near Drury Lane, the most prodigious one
for height that was perhaps ever seen." Had it stopped at
the May-poles it would have been very well, but a great
many people, and, above all, the court, went to the other
extreme in far more important matters, and, instead of being
over religious and strict, gloried in being wicked and dissolute.

It is almost incredible how shameless the king and the
lords and ladies about him were. Wicked women were
made duchesses and complimented and honored, while virtu-
ous ladies, and the poor queen among them, were slighted
and insulted.

But we are not to think that the whole nation was sunk
in vice. Though the follies and exaggerations of the Puri-
tans were swept away, their good and noble work remained
deej)-rooted in the hearts of thousands of Englishmen. In
reading the various books written in this period, it is star-
tling to pass from one to another, and to notice the amazing

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contrast. One of our books might be the " Beauties of the
Court of Charles II.," which is full of stories of the king,
and the courtiei-s, and the fine ladies, and the lives they led ;
some of them amusing, but most of them frivolous, disgust-
ing, and contemptible. Another might be the " Life of Mrs.
Godolphin," a lady who, in the midst of that profligate
court, was so pure, pious, and charitable that she seems to
have really been, as Evelyn thought her, "too blessed a
creature to converse with mortals, fitted as she was, by a
most holy life, to be received into the mansions above." Or
it might be the " Life of Baxter," one of the most famous
of the Puritan clergv, who wrote " The Saint's Rest." His
life we find filled with grave and holy thoughts, with wisdom,
and unhappily with sufferings and persecutions. It is so
wonderful to think of those two modes of life going on in
one country at one time, the intense discordance between
every idea, every thought, hope, or belief of the two sets,
that one feels instinctively it could not last. Happy for
England that the grave and God-fearing element proved the
enduring one.

A great number of the most respectable of the Presby-
terians and their ministers had helped in restoring the king ;
and he on his part had made them promises of toleration
and protection. Even if he wished — and it seems in his
careless way he did rather wish — to keep these promises,
the Cavaliers and the Church of England would not let him.
They had been persecuted by the Puritans when their side
of the wheel was down, and now that it was up they were
determined to have their revenge. Some attempts were at
first made to reconcile the moderate Presbyterians, such as
Baxter, Howe, and others, with the moderate Episcopalians.
They had conferences and discussions, but nothing came of
it. Even the more temperate and large-hearted among them
could not believe exactly alike, and they could not agree to

The Puritans were terribly persecuted. Two thousand of
their clergy were turned out of their livings and left penni-
less. They were not allowed to have chapels orp^j^^^^^
meeting-houses; anyone who attended a Dissenting tionof the
meeting, if he were convicted three times, might *^^^^"^-
be transported for seven years. If they met ever so quietly
in a private house, even to pray for a dying person, it would
be called a conventicle, and they would be imprisoned.

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480 guest's ENGLISH HISTORY.

Prisons were not then what they are now, and imprison-
ment was no light punishment. For no offence but woi-ship-
ping God according to his conscience, a good, thoughtful,
and religious man would be thrust into a cell crowded with
villains and ruffians of the lowest class. There, in the midst
of oaths and brutality, shocking to hear and see, he would
be left to cold, hunger, nakedness, and often death. The
state of the prisons was so horrible that there was a special
fever, known aa jail fever, which even judges and barristei-s
often caught from the prisoners they were trying, and of
which many men died.

" It was impossible," says Macaulay, " for the Dissenters
to meet together without precautions such as are employed
by coinei-8 and receivers of stolen goods. The places of
meeting were frequently changed. Worship was performed
sometimes just before break of day ; sometimes at dead of
night. Round the building where the little flock was gath-
ered sentinels were posted, to give the alarm if a stranger
drew near. The minister would have to be disguised as a
carter or collier, and would come in through the back yard
in a smock-frock, and with a whip in his hand." With all
these precautions, they were often caught and carried to
prison. Pepys writes in his diary: "I saw several poor
creatures earned by, by constables, for being at a conventicle.
They go like lambs, without any resistance. I would to
God they would either conform ... or be more wise and
not be catch ed."

John Bunyan, who lived in this reign, and was a tinker by
trade, was sent to prison for preaching, and kept there
twelve years. Everybody has read the immortal
1660-72. a Pilgrim's Progress. It was during those years of
imprisonment, or having, as he said, " lighted on a certain
place where was a den" (Bedford Jail), that he laid him
down and slept, and dreamed that wondrous dream.

The Dissenters were fettered by many statutes. No one
was allowed to be mayor of a town, or to hold any office in a
Test and corporation, without taking the sacrament accord-
Corpora- ing to the forms of the English Church. No one
tion Acta. ^^ allowed to hold any office in the army or navy,
or any government employment, without doing the same,
and declaring that he did not believe in tran substantiation.
These acts were called the Test and Corporation Acts.
Many Dissenters did not particularly object to receive the

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sacrament in the Church of England now and then ; so that
to take office, like that of mayor or alderman, for instance,
they would come to church once, and then during the rest
of the year keep away ; and in after times, when their meet-
ings were made legal, they would regularly attend their own

Online LibraryFrancis Henry Underwood Montague John GuestA handbook of English history based on the lectures of the late M.J. Guest ... → online text (page 45 of 59)