« ZurückWeiter »
BOOK “ mentals. As for other things in the government, XIV.
_" they were examinable and alterable as the state 1654.
“ of affairs did require: that, for his own part, he “ was even overwhelmed with grief, to see that any “ of them should go about to overthrow what was “ settled, contrary to the trust they had received “ from the people; which could not but bring very “ great inconveniences upon themselves and the na“ tion.” When he had made this frank declaration unto them what they were to trust to, the better to confirm them in their duty, he had appointed a guard to attend at the door of the parliament house, and there to restrain all men from entering into the
house who refused to subscribe this following enHe admits gagement: “I do hereby promise and engage to be the house “ true and faithful to the lord protector of the combut such as c
“ monwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland ; an engage " and shall not (according to the tenor of this inbim. “ denture, whereby I am returned to serve in par
“ liament) propose or give any consent' to alter the “ government as it is settled in one person and a “ parliament.”
This engagement a considerable parts of the members utterly refused to sign; and called it a violation of the privilege of parliament, and an absolute depriving them of that freedom which was essential to it. So they were excluded, and restrained from entering into the house: and they who did subscribe it, and had thereupon liberty to sit there, were yet so refractory to any proposition that might settle him in the government in the manner he desired it, that, after the five months
' any consent] my consent Sa considerable part] the major part
near spent in wrangling, and useless discourses, BOOK (during which he was not to attempt the dissolu- _* tion of them, by his instrument of government,) he 1655. took the first opportunity to dissolve them; and upon the two and twentieth of January, with some He dissolves
them Jan. reproaches, he let them know he could do the busi- 22. ness without them; and so dismissed them with much evidence of his displeasure: and they again retired to their habitations, resolved to wait another opportunity of revenge, and in the mean time to give po evidence of their submitting to his usurpation, by undertaking any employment or office under his authority, he as carefully endeavouring and watching to find such an advantage against them, as might make them liable to the penalty of the laws. Yet even his weakness and impotency upon such a notorious advantage appeared in two very notable instances, which happened about that time, in the An account
of John case of two persons, whose names were then much Wildman taken notice of upon the stage of affairs, John Wild- und
Lilburn, man and John Lilburn.
The former had been bred a scholar in the uni-John Wildversity of Cambridge, and being young, and of a' pregnant wit, in the beginning of the rebellion meant to make his fortune in the war; and chose to depend upon Cromwell's countenance and advice, when he was not above the degree of a captain of a troop of horse himself, and was much esteemed and valued by him, and made an officer; and was so active in contriving and fomenting jealousies and discontents, and so dexterous in composing or improving any disgusts, and so inspired with the spirit of praying and preaching, when those gifts came
+ he was not to attempt] he durst not attempt
BOOK into request, and became thriving arts, that about
__ the time when the king was taken from Holmby, - 1655.
and it was necessary that the army should enter into contests with the parliament, John Wildman grew to be one of the principal agitators, and was most relied upon by Cromwell to infuse those things into the minds of the soldiers, and to conduct them in the managery of their discontents, as might most advance those designs he then had; and quickly got the reputation of a man of parts; and, having a smooth pen, drew many of the papers which first kindled the fire between the parliament and the army, that was not afterwards extinguished but in the ruin of both. His reputation in those faculties made him quit the army; where he was become a major; and where he kept still a great interest, and betook himself to civil affairs, in the solicitation of suits depending in the parliament, or before committees; where he had much credit with those who had most power to do right or wrong, and so made himself necessary to those who had need of such protection from the tyranny of the time. By these arts he thrived, and got much more than he could have done in the army, and kept and increased his credit there, by the interest he had in other places When Cromwell declined the ways of establishing the commonwealth, Wildman, amongst the rest, forsook him; and entered, warily, into any counsels which were like to destroy him: and upon the dissolution of this last parliament, having less of phlegm, and so less patience than other men, to expect another opportunity, and in the mean time to leave him to establish his greatness, he did believe he should be able to make such a schism in the army,
as would give an opportunity to other enraged per- BOOK
XIV. sons to take vengeance upon him.
Cromwell knew the man, and his undermining 1655. faculties; knew he had some design in hand, but could not make any such discovery as might warrant a public prosecution; but appointed some trusty spies (of which he had plenty) to watch him very narrowly, and, by being often with him, to find his papers; the spreading whereof, he knew, would be the preamble to any conspiracy of his. Shortly after the dissolution of that parliament, these instruments of Cromwell's surprised him in a room, where he thought he had been safe enough, as he was writing a declaration; and seized upon the papers; the title whereof was, “a declaration, con“ taining the reasons and motives which oblige us “ to take up arms against Oliver Cromwell;" and though it was not finished, yet in that that was done, there was all venom imaginable expressed against him, and a large and bitter narration of all his foul- breach of trust, and perjuries, enough to have exposed any man to the severest judgment of that time; and as much as he could wish to discover against him, or any man whom he most desired to destroy. The issue was, the man was straitly imprisoned, and preparations made for his trial, and towards his execution, which all men expected. But, whether Cromwell found that there were more engaged with him than could be brought to justice, or were fit to be discovered, (as many men believed,) or that Wildman obliged himself for the time to come not only to be quiet, but to be a spy for him upon others, (as others at that time suspected, and had reason for it afterwards,) after a short time of
BOOK imprisonment, the man was restored to his liberty ;
Land resorted, with the same success and reputation, 1655. to his former course of life; in which he thrived
very notably. John Lil- The case of John Lilburn was much more won
derful, and administered more occasion of discourse and observation. This man, before the troubles, was a poor bookbinder; and, for procuring some seditious pamphlets against the church and state to be printed and dispersed, had been severely censured in the star chamber, and received a sharp castigation, which made him more obstinate and malicious against them; and, as he afterwards confessed, in the melancholy of his imprisonment, and by reading the Book of Martyrs, he raised in himself a marvellous inclination and appetite to suffer in the defence or for the vindication of any oppressed truth; and found himself very much confirmed in that spirit; and in that time diligently collected and read all those libels and books, which had anciently, as well as lately, been written against the church: from whence, with the venom, he had likewise contracted the impudence and bitterness of their style; and, by practice, brought himself to the faculty of writing like them: and so, when that licence broke in of printing all that malice and wit could suggest, he published some pamphlets in his own name, full of that confidence and virulency, which might asperse the government most to the sense of the people, and to their humour. When the war begun, he put himself into the army; and was taken prisoner by the king's forces in that engagement at Brentford, shortly after the battle of Edge-hill; and being then a man much known, and talked of for his qualities