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Imagine, then, these two extraordinary men, now for the first time together passing along the crowded lobbies of that most famous assembly,—Hampden greeting his friends as he passes, stopping now and then, perhaps, to introduce his country kinsmen to the few whose curiosity had mastered the first emotion inspired by the singular stranger, but pushing directly forward towards a knot of active and eager faces that are clustered round a little spot near the bar of the House, on the right of the Speaker's chair, in the midst of which stand Sir John Eliot, Sir Robert Philips, and Pym. The crowd made way for Hampden-the central figures of that group receive him amongst them with deference and gladness—he introduces his cousin Cromwell—and, among the great spirits whom that little spot contains, the clownish figure, the awkward gait, the slovenly dress, pass utterly unheeded; for in his first few words they have discovered the fervour, and perhaps suspected the greatness, of this accession to their cause."
The brief interruption to Cromwell's silent life, his return for the borough of Huntingdon, was, as we have seen and said, the only one, until he took his seat in the fourth Parliament of Charles I. for Cambridge. His election was most obstinately contested, and he was returned at last by the majority of a single vote; his antagonist was Cleaveland, the poet. "That vote," exclaimed Cleaveland, "hath ruined both Church and kingdom.”
One is inclined to inquire, what then had been the consequence had Cromwell not been returned ; yet, perhaps, the consequence had not been materially different, for the Parliamentary duties appear to have sat very lightly upon him. He spoke but seldom, and briefly; it was without, in the world, amongst the people in decided action, that he appeared greatest. The particulars of him at this time are very full. A Royalist contemporary, Sir Philip Warwick, writes thus : “The first time I ever took notice of him, was in the beginning of the Parliament held in November, 1640, when I vainly thought myself a courtly young gentleman (for we courtiers valued ourselves much upon our good clothes). I came into the House one morning, well clad, and perceived a gentleman speaking whom I knew not, very ordinarily apparelled ; for it was a plain cloth suit, which seemed to have been made by an ill country tailor; his linen was plain, and not very clean; and I remember a speck or two of blood upon
his little band, which was not much larger than his collar ; his hat was without a hatband. His stature was of a good size ; sword stuck close to his side ; his countenance swollen and reddish; his voice sharp and untuneable; and his eloquence full of fervour—for the subject matter would not bear much of reason, it being in behalf of a servant of Mr. Prynne's, who had dispersed libels against the Queen for her dancing, and such like innocent and courtly sports; and he aggravated the imprisonment of this man by the council table to
that height, that one would have believed the very Government itself had been in great danger by it. I sincerely profess it lessened my reverence unto that great council, for he was very much hearkened unto. And yet I lived to see this very gentleman, whom, out of no ill will to him, I thus describe, by multiplied good success, and by real but usurped power (having had a better tailor, and more converse among good company) in my own eye, when for six weeks together I was a prisoner in his sergeant's hands, and daily waited at Whitehall, appear of a great and majestic deportment and comely presence.”
This description of Cromwell's negligence in the article of dress is corroborated by the story we have already told that Lord Digby, one day going down the stairs of the Parliament House with Hampden, and inquiring of the latter, not knowing Oliver
rsonally, who “that sloven” was-“That sloven," replied Hampden, “whom you see before you, that sloven, I say, if we should ever come to a breach with
Ι the king, which God forbid !--in such a case, I say, that sloven will be the greatest man in England.”
And to quote once more: a passage from one of Dr. South's sermons will give us a hint of the general estimation of the appearance of the future Protector ; that same South, by the bye, who wrote a fine Latin culogy upon the “ bankrupt, beggarly fellow" at the ime Cromwell was Chancellor of Oxford and Magis
trate of Great Britain. “Who," said that conscientious divine, “who that had beheld such a bankrupt beggarly fellow as Cromwell, first entering the Parliament House, with a threadbare torn coat and a greasy hat (and perhaps neither of them paid for), could have suspected that in the course of so few years he should by the murder of one king and the banishment of another, ascend the throne, be invested with royal robes, and want nothing of the state of a king but the changing of his hat into a crown.” “Odds fish, Lory!' exclaimed the laughing Charles, when he heard this from the divine who had panegyrised the living Protector ; 'odds fish, man! your chaplain must be a bishop. Put me in mind of him at the next vacancy. Oh, glorious time for the Church ! Oh, golden age for the Profligate and the Slave!” 1
There, then, you see him in the House, that famous Long Parliament-the most remarkable Parliament ever summoned to sit in the history of the English nation. By this time, you may be sure, Cromwell and Hampden were the two most noted men of the popular party: the one the defeater of the king in the lordship of the fens, and the other a still more celebrated man from his supposed defeat by the king in the affair of the ship-money, an unjust subsidy levied by the king, and stoutly challenged by John Hampden on behalf of all England. There was need for action; the king had extended the
forests of the country, at the same time he cut down from the forest land the trees, and thus destroyed the store of the country's shipping. By the gross illegal seizure of ship-money, he secured, to himself £700,000 per annum, while our seas were left unguarded, and Turkish pirates ranged them uncontrolled. Charles was determined to govern by prerogative, and not by Parliament. He sold privileges for every unjust exaction. A patent for the manufacture of soap was sold ; a very sad affliction indeed, for, in addition to the costly price from the existence of the monopoly for which £ 10,000 had been paid, the linen had been burnt, and the flesh as well, in the washing ; so that the city of London was visited by an insurrection of women, and the Lord Mayor was reprimanded by the king because he gave them his sympathy. Every item almost was taxed. Hackney coaches were prohibited because sedan chairs appeared for the first time,--Sir Sanders Duncombe having purchased from the king the right to carry people up and down in them. We cannot catalogue all the profitable items of little tyranny. It was an exasperating time.
And in that Long Parliament, what things were to pass before Cromwell's
before the last decisive steps were taken! How must even his energetic mind have received new and invigorating impulses from finding himself surrounded by so many brave and daring companions. Scarcely, indeed, had the Parliament met, before it proceeded to impeach Strafford,