« AnteriorContinuar »
words of our expiring liberty. But I trust I shall have spoken persuasion to an abundance of sensible and injenuous men; to some, perhaps, whom God may raise of these stones to become children of reviving liberty; and may reclaim, though they seem now choosing them a captain back for Egypt, to bethink themselves a little, and consider whither they are rushing; to exhort this torrent also of the people, not to be so impetuous, but to keep their due channel; and at length recovering and uniting their better resolutions, now that they see already how open and unbounded the rage is of our common enemy, to slay these ruinous proceedings, justly and timely fearing to what a precipice of destruction the deluge of this epidemic madness would hurry us, through the general defection of a misguided and abused multitude.” Thus nobly did this great man display his patriotic zeal for his favourite republic; but all in vain !
This seems to be the proper place to introduce the history of that noble zeal, which the Protector Cromwell manifested in defending the Protestant religion ; especially as it will afford the opportunity of introducing all the letters written in Latin by Milton in the name of his noble Master, to the Popish and Protestant Potentates on the continent. The intrepid and humane conduct of Cromwell on this sad occasion advanced his character to an unparalleled height, even in the estimation of the Popish monarchs themselves. “The duke of Savoy raised,” says the author of the Critical History of England, “a new persecution of the Vaudois, massacreing many, and driving the rest from their habitations. Wherefore Cromwell sent to the French court, demanding of them to oblige that duke, (of Alva) whom he knew to be in their power, to put a stop to his unjust fury, or otherwise he must
break with them. The cardinal [Mazarini] objected to this as unreasonable ; he would do good offices, he said, but could not answer for the effects. However, nothing would satisfy the Protector, till they obliged the duke to restore all that he had taken from his protestant subjects, and to renew their former privileges. Cromwell wrote on this occasion to the duke of Alva himself, and by mistake omitted the title of Royal Highness on his letter, upon which the major part of the council of Savoy were for returning it unopened; but one representing that Cromwell would not pass by such an affront, but would certainly lay Villa Franca in ashes, and set the Swiss Cantons upon Savoy, the letter was read, and with the [French] Cardinal's influence had the desired success. The Protector also raised money in England for the poor sufferers, and sent over an agent to settle their affairs. *
* As the following remarkable anecdote mentions MilTON probably as the Secretary of the Protector, it may not be unsuitable to introduce it; especially as it is so characteristic of the decision both of Cromwell and Milton, who were in that respect kindred spirits. It is from a printed speech made in the house of commons by a Mr. Poultney, in a debate on the complaints of the West India merchants, two sessions before the war against Spain was declared :—“This was what Oliver Cromwell did in a like case that happened during his government, and in a case where a more powerful nation was concerned than ever Spain could pretend to
By an order of Cromwell, a collection for this object was made throughout all the parish
be. In the histories of his time we are told, that an English merchant ship was taken in the chops of the channel, carried into St. Maloes, and there confiscated upon some groundless pretence. As soon as the master of the ship, who was an honest quaker, got home, he presented a petition to the protector in council, setting forth his case, and praying for redress. 'Upon hearing the petition, the protector told his council, he would take that affair upon himself, and ordered the man to attend him next morning. He examined him strictly as to all the circumstances of this case, and finding by his answers that he was a plain honest man, and that he had been concerned in no unlawful trade, he asked him if he would go to Paris with a letter? The man answered he would. Well then,' says the protector, “prepare for your journey, and come to me to-morrow morning.' Next morning he gave him a letter to cardinal Mazarini, and told him he must stay but three days for an answer. “The answer I mean,' says he, 'is the full value of what you might have made of your ship and cargoe: and tell the cardinal, that if it is not paid you in three days, you have express orders from me to return home.' The honest, blunt quaker, we may suppose, followed his instructions to a tittle; but the cardinal, according to the manner of ministers when they are any way pressed, began to shuffle; therefore the quaker returned, as he was bid. As soon as the Protector saw him, he asked, Well, friend, have you got your money?' and upon the man answering him, he had not, the Protector said, “Then leave your direction with my Secretary, and you shall soon hear from me.' Upon this occasion that great man did not stay to negociate, or to explain by long tedious memorials the reasonableness of his demand; no, though there was a French minister residing here, he did not so much as ac
churches in England, Wales, and Ireland : it amounted to £38,241. 10s. 6d., the Protector himself commencing the subscription with £2000. The ambassador which he sent to Piedmont was Sir Samuel Morland, who afterwards published the history of this most murderous crusade, illustrating it with engravings of some of the most revolting and disgusting scenes that can possibly affect the heart or meet the
eye. The following inimitable lines of Milton are founded
these horrible representations:
quaint him with the story, but immediately sent a man of war or two to the channel, with orders to seize every French ship they could meet with. Accordingly they returned in a few days with two or three prizes, which the Protector ordered immediately to be sold, and out of the produce, he paid the quaker what he had demanded for the ship and cargo. Then he sent for the French minister, gave him an account of what had happened, and told him there was a balance, which, if he pleased, should be paid into him, to the end he might deliver it to those of his countrymen who were the owners of the French ships that had been so taken and sold.”—“Review of the Political Life of Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland. By the late John Bankes, Esq.; with an Appendix, containing some curious pieces relating to the Lord Protector. A new edition." London. Sold by A. Thompson, and others: without a date. This work ought to be re-printed.
* Morland's History of the Evangelical Churches in the Valleys of Piedmont, 1658, p. 584, 593.