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VII.

CROMWELL'S CONTEMPORARIES:

JOHN HAMPDEN.

CHAPTER VII.

CROMWELL'S CONTEMPORARIES : JOHN HAMPDEN.

MONG the great names, shining with a very

conspicuous lustre during this period of civil conflict, perhaps no name has commanded since a more universal interest, and even homage, than that of Cromwell's cousin, John Hampden. He was the representative of an ancient and highly honourable county family in Buckinghamshire; for centuries they had taken their name from their habitation, Great Hampden, in that county. William Hampden married the aunt of the Protector, Cromwell; he was the father of the patriot. The history of this Elizabeth Cromwell was a singular one: her husband died in the year 1597, she continued a widow until her death, sixty-seven years after, and she was buried in Great Hampden Church, 1664-5, having lived to the great age of ninety. It is surely affecting to think of the singular revolutions through which this lady passed; her years extended through the reigns of six sovereigns. She saw the great line of the Tudors expire, with her royal namesake Elizabeth ; she saw the British sceptre united with that of the Scottish beneath James I.; she saw the trembling sceptre in

the hand of Charles I., and beheld it wrested by the people from that weak and impolitic hand; she saw those men who had overawed the king, and conducted him to the scaffold, compelled to bow before, and see their sovereignty shivered to pieces in the presence of, her mighty nephew as he ascended the Protector's throne; she saw his power bequeathed to his incapable son, her great-nephew, Richard ; and she beheld him driven into private life by the men of “the Rump" of the Long Parliament, whom her illustrious nephew had packed about their business; she saw those very men who had been so ignominiously deposed, those self-restored republicans, revive the monarchy by the restoration of Charles II. to the throne, so inaugurating the most disgraceful and shameful reign which desecrates the annals of our country's history.

What an affecting succession of national vicissitudes! She had two sons : Richard was the youngest, he survived his brother, dying in 1659. He appears to have been of the same patriotic faith and practice, but probably a comparatively weak man; he was one of the Council of Richard Cromwell. The Hampden was John. This youth received the natural training of an English gentleman of those days at a school in Thame. In 1609 he entered as a commoner at Magdalen College, Oxford, where certainly his attainments must have obtained for him some reputation ; for it is a remarkable fact that he was chosen by Laud apparently, then master of St. John's, to write

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