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God avert, will be fatal to the interests of the Protestants. And therefore, as well in respect to that most strict alliance between us and your majesty, as out of that affection and love to the reformed religion, by which we all of us ought chiefly to be swayed, we thought it our duty, as we have most earnestly exhorted the States of the United Provinces to peace and moderation, so now to persuade your majesty to the same. The Protestants have enemies everywhere, enow and to spare, inflamed with inexorable revenge; they never were known to have conspired more perniciously to our destruction: witness the valleys of Piedmont, still reeking with the blood and slaughter of the miserable; witness Austria, lately turmoiled with the emperor's edicts and proscriptions; witness Switzerland. But to what purpose is it, in many words to call back the bitter lamentations and remembrance of so many calamities? Who so ignorant, as not to know, that the counsels of the Spaniards, and the Roman pontiff, for these two years have filled all these places with conflagrations, slaughter, and vexation of the orthodox? If to these mischiefs there should happen an access of dissension among Protestant brethren, more especially between two potent states, upon whose courage, wealth, and fortitude, so far as human strength may be relied upon, the support and hopes of all the reformed churches depend; of necessity the Protestant religion must be in great jeopardy, if not upon the brink of destruction. On the other side, if the whole Protestant name would but observe perpetual peace among themselves with that same brotherly union as becomes their profession, there would be no occasion to fear, what all the artifices or puissance of our enemies could do to hurt us which our fraternal concord and harmony alone would easily repel and frustrate. And therefore we most earnestly request and beseech your majesty, to harbour in your mind propitious thoughts of peace, ,
and inclinations ready bent to repair the breaches of your pristine friendship with the United Provinces, if in any part it may have accidentally suffered the decays of mistakes or misconstruction. If there be anything wherein our labour, our fidelity, and diligence may be useful toward this composure, we offer and devote all to your service. And may the God of heaven favour and prosper your noble and pious resolutions, which, together with all felicity, and a perpetual course of victory, we cordially wish to your majesty. “ Your majesty's most affectionate, “ OLIVER, Protector of the Commonwealth
of England, &c. “ From our Palace at Westminster, Aug. --, 1656."*
It was during the foreign administration of Milton that Immanuel, Duke of Savoy, commenced against the Vaudois or Waldenses one of the most cruel religious persecutions that have raged in modern times. Its victims were an inoffensive and devout community, settled for ages in the valleys of Piedmont, and there preserving, amidst the urrounding darkness of Popish superstition, the light of uncorrupted Christianity. Though holding the same fundamental doctrines which the Protestants had embraced, they cannot be classed under the same religious denomination, seeing that they never dissented from the Papacy, but claimed, and in all probability with truth, to be the hereditary representatives of the apostolic Church originally founded in Rome. Instigated by ecclesiastical advisers, the duke resolved on the extermination of this innocent community, and issued an edict for this purpose, the effect of which was speedily felt in massacre, torture, and famine. The intelligence of these sufferings at once aroused the indignation of Cromwell and Milton, and the result was the following temperate and admirable letter to the author of the calamity :OLIVER, the Protector, fc., to the most Serene Prince, IMMANUEL, Duke of Savoy, Prince of Piedmont, Greeting.
“ Most Serene Prince, " LETTERS have been sent us from Geneva, as also from
* Prose Works, vol. ii. pp. 282, 283,
the Dauphinate, and many other places bordering upon your territories, wherein we are given to understand, that such of your royal highness's subjects as profess the reformed religion, are commanded by your edict, and by your authority, within three days after the promulgation of your edict, to depart their native seats and habitations, upon pain of capital punishment, and forfeiture of all their fortunes and estates, unless they will give security to relinquish their religion within twenty days, and embrace the Roman Catholic faith. And that when they applied themselves to your royal highness in a most suppliant manner, imploring a revocation of the said edict, and that, being received into pristine favour, they might be restored to the liberty granted them by your predecessors, a part of your army fell upon them, most cruelly slew several, put others in chains, and compelled the rest to fly into desert places, and to the mountains covered with snow, where some hundreds of families are reduced to such distress, that it is greatly to be feared, they will in a short time all miserably perish through cold and hunger. These things, when they were related to us, we could not choose but be touched with extreme grief and compassion for the sufferings and calamities of this afflicted people. Now in regard we must acknowledge ourselves linked together not only by the same tie of humanity, but by joint communion of the same religion, we thought it impossible for us to satisfy our duty to God, to brotherly charity, or our profession of the same religion, if we should only be affected with a bare sorrow for the misery and calamity of our brethren, and not contribute all our endeavours to relieve and succour them in their unexpected adversity, as much as in us lies. Therefore in a greater measure we most earnestly beseech and conjure your royal highness, that you would call back to your thoughts the moderation of your most serene predecessors, and the liberty by them granted and confirmed from time to time to their subjects the Vaudois. In granting and confirming which, as they did that which without all question was most grateful to God, who has been pleased to reserve the jurisdiction and power over the conscience to himself alone, so there is no doubt, but that they had a due consideration of their subjects also, whom they found stout and most faithful in war, and always obedient in peace. And as your royal serenity in other things most laudably follows the footsteps of your immortal ancestors, so we again and again beseech your royal highness not to swerve from the path wherein they trod in this particular ; but that you would vouchsafe to abrogate both this edict, and whatsoever else may be decreed to the disturbance of your subjects upon the account of the reformed religion; that you would ratify to them their conceded privileges and pristine liberty, and command their losses to be repaired, and that an end be put to their oppressions. Which if your royal highness shall be pleased to see performed, you will do a thing most acceptable to God, revive and comfort the miserable in dire calamity, and most highly oblige all your neighbours, that profess the reformed religion; but more especially ourselves, who shall be bound to look upon your clemency and benignity toward your subjects as the fruit of our earnest solicitation. Which will both engage us to a reciprocal return to all good offices, and lay the solid foundations not only of establishing, but increasing, alliance and friendship between this republic and your dominions. Nor do we less promise this to ourselves from your justice and moderation; to which we beseech Almighty God to incline your mind and thoughts. And so we cordially implore just Heaven to bestow upon your highness and your people the blessings of peace and truth, and prosperous success in all
affairs. Whitehall, May -, 1655."* The mingled wisdom and tact exhibited in this communication need not be pointed out to any one who considers the relative position of the two governments. It was quickly
* Prose Works, vol. ii. pp. 249–251.
followed by similar letters addressed to the principal European powers; some of which demonstrate, that this tenderness of sympathy and moderation of manner did not lack the support of the stern resolution of Cromwell, and the magnanimity and decision of the Secretary of State. To the Prince of Transylvania he writes,-“After fame had reported to us your egregious merits and labours, undertaken in behalf of the Christian republic, when you were pleased that all these things, and what you have further in your thoughts to do in the defence and for promoting the Christian interest, should be in friendly manner imparted to us by letters from yourself, this afforded us a more plentiful occasion of joy and satisfaction, to hear that God, in those remoter regions, had raised up to himself so potent and renowned a minister of his glory and providence : and that this great minister of heaven, so famed for his courage and success, should be desirous to associate with us in the common defence of the Protestant religion, at this time wickedly assailed by words and deeds. Nor is it to be questioned but that God, who has infused into us both, though separated by such a spacious interval of many climates, the same desires and thoughts of defending the orthodox religion, will be our instructor and author of the ways and means whereby we may be assistant and useful to ourselves and the rest of the reformed cities ; provided we watch all opportunities, that God shall put into our hands, and be not wanting to lay hold of them. In the mean time we cannot without an extreme and penetrating sorrow forbear putting your highness in mind how unmercifully the Duke of Savoy has persecuted his own subjects, professing the orthodox faith, in certain valleys, at the feet of the Alps."*
After detailing as he does, in all his letters on this subject, the sufferings of the persecuted Waldenses, he adds,“These things, as they have already been related to your highness, so we readily assure ourselves that so much cruelty
* Prose Works, vol. ii. p. 251.