Page images

contradiction Of his powsr and authority; but extorted obedience from them who were not willing to yield it.

One time, when he had laid some very extraordinary tax upon the city, one Cony, an eminent fanatic, and one who had heretofore served him very notably, positively refused to pay his part; and loudly dissuaded others from submitting to it, " as an imposition notoriously against the law, and the property of the subject, which all honest men were bound to defend." Cromwell sent for him, and cajoled him with the memory of " the old kindness and friendship that had been between them; and that of all men he did not expect this opposition from him, in a matter that was so necessary for the good of the commonwealth. It had been always his fortune to meet with the most rude and obstinate behaviour from those who had formerly been absolutely governed by him; and they commonly put him in mind of some expressions and sayings of his own, in cases of the like nature; so this man remembered him how great an enemy he had expressed himself to such grievances, and had declared, "that all who submitted to them, and paid illegal taxes, were more to blame, and greater enemies to their country, than they who had imposed them; and that the tyranny of princes could never be grievous, but by the tameness and stupidity of the people." When Cromwell saw that he could not convert him, he told him, " that he had a will as stubborn as his, and he would try which of them two should be master." Thereupon, with some expressions of reproach and contempt, he comvOL. a. O

raitted the man to prison; whose courage was nothing abated by it; but as soon as the term came, he brought his Habeas Corpus in the King's Bench, which they then called the Upper Bench. Maynard, who was of council with the prisoner, demanded his liberty with great confidence, both upon the illegality of the commitment, and the illegality of the imposition, as being laid without any lawful authority. The judges could not maintain or defend either, and enough declared what their sentence would be; and therefore the protector's attorney required a further day, to answer what had been urged. Before that day, Maynard was committed to the Tower for presuming to question or make doubt of his authority; and the judges were sent for, and severely reprehended for suffering that licence; when they, with all humility, mentioned the law and Magna Charta, Cromwell told them, with terms of contempt and derision, "their

Magna F should not control his actions;

which he knew were for the safety of the commonwealth." He asked them, " who made thera judges? whether they had any authority to sit there, but what he gave them? and if his authority were at an end, they knew well enough what would become of themselves; and therefore advised them to be more tender of that which could only preserve them;" and so dismissed them with caution " that they should not suffer the lawyers to prate what it would not become them to hear."

Thus he subdued a spirit that had been often troublesome to the most sovereign power, and made Westminster Hall as obedient and subservient to his commands as any of the rest of his quarters. In all other matters, which did not concern the life of his jurisdiction, he seemed to have great reverence for the law, rarely interposing between party and party. As he proceeded with this kind of indignation and haughtiness with those who were refractory, and durst contend with his greatness, so towards all who complied with his good pleasure, and courted his protection, he used great civility, generosity, and bounty.

To reduce three nations, which perfectly hated him, to an entire obedience to all his dictates; to awe and govern those nations by an army that was indevoted to him, and wished his ruin, was an instance of a very prodigious address. But his greatness at home was but a shadow of the glory he had abroad. It was hard to discover which feared him most, France, Spain, or the Low Countries, where his friendship was current at the value he put upon it. As they did all sacrifice their honour and their interest to his pleasure, so there is nothing he could have demanded that either of them would have denied him. To manifest which there needs only two instances. The first is, when those of the valley of Lucerne had unwarily risen in arms against the Duke of Savoy, which gave occasion to the Pope and the neighbouring princes of Italy to call and solicit for their extirpation, and their prince positively resolved upon it, Cromwell sent his agent to the Duke of Savoy, a prince with whom he had no correspondence or commerce, and so engaged the cardinal, and even terrified the pope himself, without so much as doing any grace to the English Roman Catholics (nothing being more usual than his saying, "that his ships in the Mediterranean should visit Civita Vecchia; and that the sound of his cannon should be heard in Rome)," that the duke of Savoy thought it necessary to restore all that he had taken from them, and did renew all those privileges they had formerly enjoyed and newly forfeited.


The other instance of his authority was yet greater, and more incredible. In the city of Nismes, which is one of the fairest in the province of Languedoc, and where those of the religion do most abound, there was a great faction at that season when the consuls (who are the chief magistrates) were to be chosen. Those of the reformed religion had the confidence to set up one of themselves for that magistracy; which they of the Roman religion resolved to oppose with all their power. The dissension between them made so much noise, that the intendant of the province, who is the supreme minister in all civil affairs throughout the whole province, went thither to prevent any disorder that might happen. When the day of election came, those of the religion possessed themselves with many armed men of the town-house, where the election was to be made. The magistrates sent to know what their meaning was: to which they answered, " They were there to give their voices for the choice of the new consuls, and to be sure that the election should be fairly made." The bishop of the city, the intendant of the province, with all the officers of the church, and the present magistrates of the town, went together in their

robes to be present at the election, without any suspicion that there would be any force used. When they came near the gate of the townhouse, which was shut, and they supposed would be opened when they came, they within poured out a volley of musket-shot upon them, by which the dean of the church, and two or three of the magistrates of the town, were killed upon the place, and very many others wounded, whereof some died shortly after. In this confusion, the magistrates put themselves into as good posture to defend themselves as they could, without any purpose of offending the other, till they should be better provided; in order to which they sent an express to the court, with a plain relation of the whole matter of fact: "And that there appeared to be no manner of combination with those of the religion in other places of the province; but that it was an insolence in those of the place, upon the presumption of their great numbers, which were little inferior to those of the Catholics." The court was glad of the occasion, and resolved that this provocation, in which other places were not involved, and which nobody could excuse, should warrant all kind of severity in that city, even to the pulling down their temples, and expelling many of them for ever out of the city; which, with the execution and forfeiture of many of the principal persons, would be a general mortification to all of the religion in France; with whom they were heartily offended: and a part of the army was forthwith ordered to march towards Nismes, to see this executed with the utmost rigour. Those of the religion in the town were quickly

« PreviousContinue »