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“I hear thou didst lately miscarry. Prithee take heed of a coach by all means ; borrow thy Father's nag when thou intendest to go
It is delightful to read Cromwell's letters to his children. What wisdom, what tender affection in that we have just selected ! “Be above all these things by Faith in Christ; and then you
shall have the true use and comfort of them,—and not otherwise !" What truth in these words! What indications of a soul that has descended onto the depths of a christian life! (And how striking a contrast between the gentle amiability of the postscript and the iron front and stern eye that we have observed in him at other times.)
After the King's death a circumstance occurred which we cannot pass by unnoticed before concluding this chapter. It was one of those acts which, says a recent writer most hostile to Cromwell, “were committed by him against a good-nature, not in the indulgence of a depraved one." We may, however, question if it was “against his good-nature." Charles was dead. In Oliver's opinion, the life of this prince had been justly cut short; but we have seen how long the future Protector shrunk from before this terrible extremity, and how he wept when the royal father embraced his children for the last time. (Cromwell desired to view the monarch's decapitated body. His greatest adversaries testify that he was not cruel, and if he had really committed a crime, would he have sought so mournful a spectacle ? But there was a solemn lesson in his sovereign's lifeless corpse. He opened the coffin himself, and sadly gazed upon the cold inanimate body without cruelty, or anger, or exultation, but with reverential fear as he thought of the judgments of God. To Cromwell, who had so often met it face to face, and had so often braved it on the battle-field, death had nothing strange: it had long been familiar to him. The only feeling to which he gave utterance was the thought that death had surprised Charles in a healthy state, and that his body, alas ! had been well made for length of life. We cannot doubt that Oliver's soul was filled with that solemn feeling which is usually experienced in the presence of a dead body. And who was it that lay before him ? . . A descendant of kings,-a mighty prince,-a ruler of three kingdoms,—who had presumed to check the new impulses that were urging his people onwards to liberty and truth, and who with one hand had torn the time-honored charters of the nation, while he stretched the other towards the despotic Pope of Rome. As he looked at this King, now dead, what sensations must have crowded into his saddened heart! Thy pomp is brought down to the grave; the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee. For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms ? Cromwell before the dead body of Charles I. is a scene worthy to be described by a Milton or a Shakspeare, or by some genius still more sublime than they.
* Carlyle, ii. 46.
England was not alone guilty of the King's death. The 'powers of Europe," says Southey, “had most of them secretly fomented the rebellion, and made no attempt to avert the catastrophe which it brought about. France more especially had acted treacherously towards the King.” Clarendon complains bitterly of the apathy of the princes of Christendom at this crisis. “The rebellion of subjects against their prince," he says, “ought to be looked upon by all other kings as an assault of their own sovereignty.' And the writer first quoted considers “the miseries which France has undergone, and which Spain is undergoing, and to undergo,” as so many pages for man's instruction, written in what Lord Bacon has denominated Historia Nemesios.
* Rebellion, book vi. See also end of book xi.
We must, at least, remember that the execution of Charles I. was the crime of many, and renounce the prejudices which would impute it solely to one man, who sought so long to avert it.
The Irish Saint Bartholomew—Romish Cruelties-A Priest-Surgery or
Slaughter-Cromwell's Appointment-Sailing of the Army-Cromwell's Plan—Theocracy-Storming of Drogheda, Wexford, and Ross -Peace and Prosperity-Cromwell's charge to the Popish PrelatesEarly days of Richard 's Marriage-Cause of Ireland's Sufferings.
The Irish Roman Catholics, as we have seen, had broken out into rebellion, and massacred an incredible number of Protestants, varying, according to different accounts, from 50,000 to 200,000 victims. This was the Hibernian Saint Bartholomew. At that time, the Roman Catholics of Ireland had no cause of complaint : Charles I. had taken care of them. They had their archbishops, bishops, vicars-general; and above all, a great number of Jesuits. It was in such a state of things that, shrouding themselves in the deepest secrecy, like the West Indian negroes meditating a plot for the massacre of the white men, the Irish conceived the design, not only of erasing from their country every trace of the English nation, and of Protestantism, but also of crossing over into England, of becoming its masters, with the aid of Spain and of the Pope, and of abolishing the Reformed Religion in that island. The massacre was frightful; and we must recall it to our minds that we may be able to appreciate with justice the war which re-established peace and order.
“On all sides," writes a great historian, “the Protestants of Ireland were attacked unawares, ejected from their houses, hunted down, slaughtered, exposed to all the perils, all the
tortures that religious and patriotic hatred could invent. ... A half-savage people, passionately attached to its barbarism,
eager to avenge in a day ages of outrage and misery, with a proud joy committed excesses which struck their ancient masters with horror and dismay."*
In fact, the Catholics burnt the houses of the Protestants, turned them out naked in the midst of winter, and drove them, like herds of swine, before them. If ashamed of their nudity, and desirous of seeking shelter from the rigor of a remarkably severe season, these unhappy wretches took refuge in a barn, and concealed themselves under the straw; the rebels instantly set fire to it and burned them alive. At other times they were led without clothing to be drowned in rivers ; and if, on the road, they did not move quick enough, they were urged forward at the point of the pike. When they reached the river, or the sea, they were precipitated into it in bands of several hundreds, which is doubtless an exaggeration. If these poor wretches rose to the surface of the water, men were stationed along the brink to plunge them in again with the butts of their muskets, or to fire at and kill them. Husbands were cut to pieces in presence of their wives ; wives and virgins were abused in the sight of their nearest relations; and infants of seven or eight years were hung before the eyes of their parents. Nay, the Irish even went so far as to teach their own children to strip and kill the children of the English, and dash out their brains against the stones. Numbers of Protestants were buried alive, as many as seventy in one trench. An Irish priest, named Mac Odeghan, captured forty or fifty Protestants, and persuaded them to abjure their religion on a promise of quarter. After their abjuration, he asked them if they believed that Christ was bodily present in the host, and that the Pope was the head of the Church ? and on their replying in the affirmative, he said, “Now, then, you are in a very good faith ;"
* Guizot, Revol. d'Angleterre, i. 202.