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rations; testifying to us very clearly, Here was a right hardheaded, stout-hearted little man, full of sharp fire and cheerful light; sworn foe of Cant in all its figures ; an indomitable little Roman Pagan if no better : but Harry is not quite one's King either ; it would have been difficult to be altogether loyal to Harry! Doubtful too, I think, whether without great effort you could have worshipped even the Younger Vane. A man of endless virtues, says Dryasdust, who is much taken with him, and of endless intellect;—but you must not very specially ask, How or Where? Vane was the Friend of Milton : that is almost the only answer that can now be given. A man, one rather finds, of light fibre, this Sir Harry Vane. Grant all manner of purity and elevation ; subtle high discourse ; ' much intellectual and practical dexterity: there is an amiable, devoutly zealous, very pretty man ;—but not a royal man ; alas, no! On the whole rather a thin man. Whom it is even important to keep strictly subaltern. Whose tendency towards the Abstract, or Temporary-Theoretic, is irresistible; whose hold of the Concrete, in which lies always the Perennial, is by no means that of a giant, or born Practical King ; — whose
astonishing subtlety of intellect conducts him not to new clearness, but to ever new abstruseness, wheel within wheel, depth under depth ; marvellous temporary empire of the air, —wholly vanished now, and without meaning to any mortal. My erudite friend, the astonishing intellect that occupies itself in splitting hairs, and not in twisting some kind of cordage and effectual draught-tackle to take the road with, is not to me the most astonishing of intellects! And if, as is probable, it get into narrow fanaticisms; become irrecognisant of the Perennial because not dressed in the fashionable Temporary ; become self-secluded, atrabiliar, and perhaps shrill-voiced and spasmodic, — what can you do but get away from it, with a prayer, “The Lord deliver me from thee !" I cannot do with thee. I want twisted cordage, steady pulling, and a peaceable bass tone of voice; not split hairs, hysterical spasmodics, and treble! Thou amiable, subtle, elevated individual, the Lord deliver me from thee !
These men cannot continue Kings forever ; nor in fact did they in the least design such a thing; only they find a terrible difficulty in getting abdicated. Difficulty very conceivable to us. Some weeks after Pride's Purge, which may be called the constituting of this remnant of members into a Parliament and Authority, there had been presented to it, by Fairfax and the Army, what we should now call a Bentham-Sieyes Constitution, what was then called an “Agreement of the People, "? which might well be imperative on honourable members sitting there; whereby it was stipulated for one thing, That this present Parliament should dissolve itself, and give place to another equal Representative of the People,' — in some three months hence; on the 30th of April, namely. The last day of April 1649: this Parliament was then to have its work finished, and go its ways, giving place to another. Such was our hope.
They did accordingly pass a vote to that effect; fully intending to fulfil the same: but, alas, it was found impossible. How summon a new Parliament, while the Commonwealth is still fighting for its existence ? All we can do is to resolve ourselves into Grand Committee, and consider about it. After much consideration, all we can decide is, That we shall go weekly into Grand Committee, and consider farther. Duly every Wednesday we consider, for the space of eleven months and odd; find, more and more, that it is a thing of some considerableness! In brief, when my Lord General returns to us from Worcester, on the 16th of September, 1651, no advance
Commons Journals, 20 January, 1648-9: some six weeks after the Purge ; ten days before the King's Death.
whatever towards a dissolution of ourselves has yet been made. The Wednesday Grand Committees had become a thing like the meeting of Roman augurs, difficult to go through with complete gravity; and so, after the eleventh month, have silently fallen into desuetude. We sit here very immovable. We are scornfully called the Rump of a Parliament by certain people: but we have an invincible Oliver to fight for us : we can afford to wait here, and consider to all lengths; and by one name we shall smell as sweet as by another.
I have only to add at present, that on the morrow of my Lord General's reappearance in Parliament, this sleeping question was resuscitated ;l new activity infused into it; some shew of progress made; nay, at the end of three months, after much labour and struggle, it was got decided, by a neck-andneck division,2 That the present is a fit time for fixing a limit beyond which this Parliament shall not sit. Fix a limit therefore; give us the non-plus-ultra of you. Next Parliament-day we do fix a limit, Three years hence, 30 November, 1654 ; three years of rope still left us : a somewhat wide limit ; which, under conceivable contingencies, may perhaps be tightened a little. My honourable friends, you ought really to get on with despatch of this business ; and know of a surety that not being, any of you, Kings by birth, nor very indubitably by attainment, you will actually have to go, and even in case of extremity to be shoved and sent!
LETTER CLXXXIV. At this point the law of dates requires that we introduce Letter Hundred-and-eighty-fourth ; though it is as a mere
Commons Journals, 17 September, 1651. ? 49 to 47; Commons Journals, 14 November, 1651 : 'Lord General and Lord Chief Justice,' Cromwell and St. John, are Tellers for the Yea.
mathematical point, marking its own whereabouts in Oliver's History; and imparts little or nothing that is new to us.
Reverend John Cotton is a man still held in some remembrance among our New-England friends. He had been Minister of Boston in Lincolnshire ; carried the name across the Ocean with him ; fixed it upon a new small Home he had found there,—which has become a large one since; the big busy Capital of Massachusetts, Boston, so called. John Cotton his Mark, very curiously stamped on the face of this Planet; likely to continue for some time!-- For the rest, a painful Preacher, oracular of high Gospels to New England; who in his day was well seen to be connected with the Supreme Powers of this Universe, the word of him being as a live-coal to the hearts of many. He died some years afterwards ;was thought, especially on his deathbed, to have manifested gifts even of Prophecy, -a thing not inconceivable to the human mind that well considers Prophecy and John Cotton.
We should say farther, that the Parliament, that Oliver among and before them, had taken solemn anxious thought concerning Propagating of the Gospel in New England; and, among other measures, passed an Act to that end;- not unworthy of attention, were our hurry less. In fact, there are traceable various small threads of relation, interesting reciprocities and mutualities, connecting the poor young Infant, New England, with its old Puritan Mother and her affairs, in those years. Which ought to be disentangled, to be made conspicuous and beautiful, by the Infant herself now that she has grown big; the busy old Mother having had to shove them, with so much else of the like, hastily out of her way for the present !-However, it is not in reference to this of Propagating the Gospel in New England; it is in congratulation on
i Thurloe, i. 565 ;-in 1653. 2 Scobell (27 July, 1649), ii, 66.
the late high Actings, and glorious Appearances of Providence in Old England, that Cotton has been addressing Oliver : introduced to him, as appears, by some small mediate or direct acquaintanceship, old or new ;-founding too on their general relationship as Soldier of the Gospel and Priest of the Gospel, high brother and humble one ; appointed, both of them, to fight for it to the death, each with such weapons as were given him. The Letter of Cotton, with due details, is to be seen in Hutchinson's Collection. The date is ‘Boston in New England, 28th of Fifth’ (Fifth Month, or July), “1651 :' the substance, full of piety and loyalty, like that of hundreds of others, must not concern us here,—except these few interesting words, upon certain of our poor old Dunbar friends : The
Scots whom God delivered into your hands at Dunbar,' says Cotton, and whereof sundry were sent hither,— we have been • desirous, as we could to make their yoke easy. Such as
were sick of the scurvy, or other diseases, have not wanted physic and chirurgery. They have not been sold for Slaves, " to perpetual servitude; but for six, or seven, or eight years, • as we do our own. And he that bought the most of them, • I hear, buildeth Houses for them, for every Four a House ; * and layeth some acres of ground thereto, which he giveth
them as their own, requiring them three days in the week to work for him by turns, and four days for themselves; and promiseth, as soon as they can repay him the money he laid out for them, he will set them at liberty. Which really is a mild arrangement, much preferable to Durham Cathedral and the raw cabbages at Morpeth ; and may turn to good for the poor fellows, if they can behave themselves !
1 Papers relative to the History of Massachusetts (Boston, 1769),