THE COMMONWEALTH AND THE PROTECTORATE. (1649-59.)
By Dr W. A. SHAW.
Abolition of monarchy. The Council of State . 434
The Commonwealth victorious in the field . 435
Peace with the Dutch . 436
Army petition. The Nominated Parliament called . 437
The Nominated Parliament. The Instrument of Government . 438
Foreign affairs. Treaty with France . 439
The Protector's first Parliament meets . 440
Royalist risings. The Major-Generals . 441
The Protector's second Parliament . 442
Oliver Cromwell and the title of King . 443
The Humble Petition and Advice . 444
Oliver refuses the title of King .445
The new Constitution. Republican intrigue . 446
Parliament dissolved. Royalist rising suppressed.447
Death of Oliver Cromwell. Richard Protector . 448
Parliament and army factions .449
The Council of Officers and the Parliament . 450
Richard Cromwell and the army .451
Richard dissolves Parliament. End of his authority . 452
The Commonwealth Church . 453
Commonwealth finance . 454-5
The revenue under the Commonwealth . 456
The public debt . .457
The command of the militia .458
THE COMMONWEALTH AND THE PROTECTORATE. (1649-59.)
THE execution of Charles I was followed by votes of the House of Commons for the abolition of the House of Lords (February 6, 1649) and of the kingship (February 7). Although the formal Acts for putting these votes into execution only passed on March 17 and 19, the votes themselves were instantly effective. The Lords did not meet again after February, 1649. The new executive was vested in a Council of State of 41, with full authority in the management of home affairs. But the Council of State was intended to be subordinate to the Parliament which nominated it, and to that end its duration was fixed for one year only. Further, the members of it were to declare their approval of the execution of the King and of the abolition of the monarchy. No personal head was chosen for the Council; and, to prevent the possibility of any such office developing itself, Parliament refused to allow the title of Lord President to be adopted (although Bradshaw was subsequently elected President and by tacit consent was generally styled Lord President). Out of this Council of 41 not less than 81 sat in Parliament ; and, as the average attendance in the latter body was only 56, the Council might be regarded as simply a large committee of the House. It is a mere question of terms whether this Government should be described as a mixture of the legislative and the executive or simply as a double-headed executive ; or again whether the Council should be held to have ruled the Parliament or vice versa. The main feature of the situation was that there was practical unanimity between the two. This unanimity did not, however, eliminate a certain amount of confusion. The Council worked by means of committees, and at the same time the Parliament had its committees; and not unfrequently the two sets are, or seem, competitive, and can only with difficulty be distinguished from each other. Thus by the vote of February 22 the power of the Admiralty was vested in the Council ; but two days later the House appointed a committee of its own for the Navy. Similarly by the side of the Council's power over the Army
So far as the mere organisation of governmental machinery is concerned, the Revolution may be held to have put itself into working form with remarkable speed and smoothness-a result in part attributable to the fact that in the country at large there was at the outset no strong opposition or disaffection to meet, although the Government was certainly not popular.
The first trial of its efficiency was, as might have been expected, & military and not a civil one. In Ireland Ormonde had in June, 1649, made a treaty with the Confederate Catholics at Kilkenny, and deemed himself strong enough to invite Charles II to make Ireland a starting-point for an invasion of England. In Scotland Charles had been proclaimed King on February 5, the day following that on which the news of his father's execution had arrived ; and the Scottish Parliament instructed its Commissioners in London to repair to the Hague in order to negotiate with the new King. With correct insight, the English Government (Parliament and Council), apprehending that the .more immediate danger threatened from Ireland, made provision for a standing army of 30,000 men for England, and of 12,000 for the invasion of Ireland. On August 15, 1649, Cromwell landed at Dublin. On September 11 he stormed Drogheda, and on October 11 captured Wexford. Six months later, after the surrender of Clonmel, Cromwell sailed for England, leaving Ireton behind him as Lord Deputy (May 26, 1650).
The danger from Scotland was met with a vigour not less swift and decisive. Charles had landed there in June, 1650, after swearing to the Covenants just before he left his ship. On the 28th of the same month Cromwell set out for the north, and on September 3 he defeated the Scotch under Leslie at D unbar. In order to bring to a head the tedious work of the subjugation of the country, he left the road to England open to the Scotch, and when once (July 31, 1651) they were
After Worcester, and the subsequent completion by Monck of the subjugation of Scotland, all fear of opposition from the Royalist party in the three kingdoms was practically at an end, and the Government of the Commonwealth was able to address itself to larger questions of constitutional administration at home and of national policy abroad.
The military danger and political needs which had held together the army and the Parliament, and which had brushed aside the demand for a new legislature, had been dissolved by the victory of Worcester. As a result the constitutional question at once emerged ; and Cromwell was left free to urge the demands of the army and the nation alike for the calling of a new Parliament. His reappearance in Parliament after Worcester was followed by the introduction of a Bill for the calling of a new assembly. On November 14,1651, it was voted that the dissolution should take place on November 3, 1654. In this compromise Cromwell had himself acquiesced ; none the less, he was deeply dissatisfied at the Parliament's attempt thus unduly to prolong its life, and thereby the existing unconstitutional Government. In order to propitiate popular feeling the Parliament entered upon the work of law reform and evinced its regard for the interests of trade by passing the Navigation Act. By prohibiting the importation of the produce of Asia, Africa and America in any but English or Colonial bottoms, and of that of European countries save in English bottoms or those of the countries of its origin, the Act struck a powerful blow at the carrying trade of the Dutch. Finally, in May, 1652, when the nation was on the verge of the Dutch War, but opposition was still unallayed, it was proposed to broaden the existing Parliament by filling up the seats vacated by " Pride's Purge." For the moment, however, the outbreak of the First Dutch War again postponed the question of the constitution. Its opening (June 30, 1652) was followed by Blake's victory off the Kentish Knock (September 28), his defeat off Portland (February 18, 1658), Lawson and Monck's victory off the Gabard (June 2-3, 1653), and Monck's off the Texel (July 31). Peace was concluded on April 5, 1654. Its terms were far more moderate than those at first proposed by the Parliament. The Dutch were to exclude the Stewarts from their country ; to salute the British flag in British seas ; and to submit to arbitration the amount of compensation payable to British merchants for their maritime losses in the East and elsewhere.
In pressing on the Dutch War the Parliament had overridden a
A welter of opinion ensued as to the new form of government which should be settled ; but in the end the views which appear to have been advanced by Lambert almost immediately after the dissolution came gradually to prevail. He proposed a written Constitution in which a small Council should govern, to be ultimately joined by an elected Parliament; and on April 29, 1653, a small Council of ten (seven soldiers and three civilians) was actually established. After some delay, there appeared on May 6 Cromwell's proclamation announcing the calling of a Parliament. The delay was due, partly to Cromwell's desire of broadening Harrison's idea of a Sanhedrim of pious fanatics into that of a gathering of patriotic Puritan notabilities, and partly to divisions of opinion amongst the officers on the subject of religious toleration. Among them all Cromwell had the truest spirit of tolerance; but Fairfax' refusal to take part in the new Government convinced him that he could not propitiate the Presbyterian party. At last, therefore, shortly after the appearance of the belated Declaration of May 6, letters were sent out in the name of Cromwell and of the Council of the Army to the Congregational Churches in each county, asking them to nominate persons fit to be members of the new representative. The Churches promptly returned their nominations, which the Council of the Army discussed from day to day, selecting from the lists or substituting names of their own. By the beginning of June the lists were complete. The Nominated Parliament was to consist of 140 representatives; 129 for England, 5 for Scotland, and 6 for Ireland.
The writs ran in Cromwell's name as Captain and Commander-in-Chief of the Forces.
The Parliament (commonly called, with a play on the name of one of the City members, the "Barebones Parliament") met at Whitehall, as summoned, on July 4; and Cromwell forthwith and in good faith made over to it his dictatorship. By an instrument which he caused to be read to the Parliament on the opening day the supreme authority was devolved upon it until November 3, 1654 ; and three months before its dissolution it was to choose another assembly to succeed it. Assuming the powers thus, by however doubtful authority, conferred upon it, the Assembly now calling itself a Parliament nominated a Council of State of 31 as an executive. In this Council the civilian element predominated ; but Cromwell had a seat in both Council and Parliament. Further, by the reconstruction of the Council of State on November 1, he obtained a working majority in it in favour of peace with the Dutch and of a more conservative policy in Church and State. But in the Nominated Parliament itself there was no such working majority. To immature and reckless attempts at legislation for the abolition of tithes and for law reform this Parliament added impracticable conclusions on finance, and finally stultified itself by its hopeless divisions on Church questions. The fatuity of its proceedings precipitated the reaction and gave form to the demand for a written Constitution, such as had been sketched in the "Heads of the Proposals'" (August 1, 1647) and in the "Agreement of the People" (January 15, 1649) ; save that the question of the hour was no longer, as formerly, the control of the executive, but the imposition of checks on the despotism of a single House.
As always before, the impulsive force came, not from Cromwell, but from the Council of the Army. In the last days of November the officers prepared a draft Instrument, offering Cromwell the government with the title of King ; but on December 1 Cromwell, still averse from a second military expulsion, refused the offer. Within a fortnight the officers forced Cromwell's hand by procuring a seemingly voluntary resignation of the Nominated Parliament. On December 12, 1653, the majority of that body (80 in all, as it finally proved) waited on Cromwell, at Whitehall, and announced their resignation. On the following day in the Council Chamber Lambert produced before a number of the officers of the army that " Instrument of Government " which the Army Council had in its debates three weeks earlier elaborated as a paper constitution. After a two days' debate it was accepted by Cromwell. In accordance with the terms of the Instrument he was to be Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland, but with no hereditary office and with practically no power of veto on legislation. A triennial Parliament was to be elected on a high electoral property qualification; Roman Catholics were to be permanently
To this Constitution Cromwell took the oath on December 16, 1653, in the Court of Chancery, and was installed as Protector. Until September, 1654, the day on which a Parliament was to meet, Cromwell and the Council were empowered to issue ordinances and to raise money for the army, navy, and civil government. In accordance with this article eighty-two administrative ordinances were thus issued in the interval before the calling of Cromwell's first Parliament.
Once installed as Protector, Oliver, by his more moderate attitude towards the Dutch, facilitated the conclusion of peace (April, 1654). This success was followed by commercial treaties with Christina of Sweden (April 11, 1654) and Frederick III of Denmark (September 15, 1654), and by the completion of another, long delayed, with Portugal (July 10, 1654).
Concurrently with these commercial treaties Cromwell was carrying on the most tortuous and involved double negotiation for an alliance with Spain on the one hand and France on the other-a negotiation which illustrates more forcibly than any other event in his career the extraordinarily involved, confused, and hesitating method of working of Cromwell's mind during the preparatory stages of a great decision, and at the same time the singular combination in his nature of strong religious feeling with intensely practical sense. His long hesitancy ended at last in the expedition against Hispaniola-a scheme which he definitely embraced in July, 1654, but which was delayed until the following winter by unaccountable mismanagement in the fleet and land forces, and in the arrangements as to the command. It resulted, in May, 1655, in the partial success of the capture of Jamaica.
Yet even the events in the West Indies did not instantly precipitate a war with Spain in Europe. It was not until October 15, 1655, that the Council decided on war (declared October 523) in defence of the freedom of the sea in the western hemisphere. The effect of this breach with Spain was instantly seen in a better understanding with France, among the first effects of which was the pressure brought to bear by Mazarin in July, 1655, on the Piedmontese Government to end the Vaudois persecution. On October 24, 1655, the treaty with France was signed in London, but it did little beyond restoring commercial and general friendly relations with France; nor was it until the failure of the negotiations between France and Spain in the following year (September 5,1656) that Mazarin consented to pay Cromwell's price and to turn the treaty into an alliance against Spain. From May 8, 1656, onwards, Cromwell's special envoy, Lockhart, had been pressing on the French Government Oliver's desire for the acquisition of Dunkirk, if and
On land the treaty of March, 1657, led to prompt action on Cromwell's part. The English forces landed at Boulogne on May 13, 1657 ; Mardyk surrendered on September 25 following. The battle of Dunkirk was fought on June 13, 1658, and was followed, twelve days later, by the surrender of the town, which was immediately delivered over to Lockhart in accordance with the terms of the French treaty.
At home, the elections for the first representative Parliament of the three kingdoms (Scotland and Ireland had each been allotted 30 members) took place in the summer of 1654. Under the restrictions imposed by the Instrument, and in consequence also of the extraordinary precautions taken by the Government, the Irish and Scotch returns were entirely favourable to the Administration, the majority of these members being officers of the army. In England, however, the precautions had not been so successful. Some pronounced Republicans had been returned, and in the west even some Royalists. But the main result was decisive. The extreme party, the fanatics and revolutionaries of the Nominated Parliament, were swept away.
The new Parliament met on September 3, 1654, and almost immediately proceeded to the consideration of the Instrument. While willing to accept from the House a constitution which might take the place of the Instrument, Cromwell and the Council were determined that any such constitution should make impossible the despotism of a single House by providing for the command of the militia and for religious freedom. It was in this sense that Oliver harangued the members in the Painted Chamber (September la). Before they were readmitted the members were asked to subscribe to four "fundamentals." These declared that government should be by a single person or a Parliament; that Parliaments should not make themselves perpetual ; that there should be liberty of conscience ; and that neither Protector nor Parliament should have absolute power over the militia. No difficulty was experienced in obtaining the subscriptions of the majority of the members; and on September 15 the readmitted subscribers to this Recognition resumed the debate on the Instrument. For five months the parliamentary
The result of the dissolution was that Cromwell and the army found themselves in the position from which, during all his remaining years, the Protector strove in vain to escape-that of an unfettered executive, or in other words a military despotism, with only its self-imposed Instrument as its guide.
The events of the succeeding months were of a nature to test the validity and legality of such a governmental system. The Royalist plots which resulted in the isolated risings in Yorkshire and elsewhere (March 8, 1655), and in Penruddock's rising in Wilts (March 11-14), raised the question of the trial of the Royalist rebels and revealed an unwillingness on the part of the Judges to act on a treason trial commission based on no greater authority than the Instrument. From another quarter the same fundamental objection was raised in the trial in May, 1655, of a London merchant, Cony, who had refused to pay customs. Such legal opposition raised the vital questions of the Protector's right to levy taxes and the validity of ordinances issued under the terms of the Instrument.
But this questioning of the very fundamentals of the power and existence of the Protector's Government only resulted in renewed agitation for the revival of the monarchy (June-August, 1655). The civilian element of the Council favoured the expedient, but once again the interference of the army officers wrecked any possibility of a settlement. Though desirous of remodelling the Instrument, the officers had, from the rumours of plots and from the patent failure of two succeeding Parliaments, become convinced of the danger of fresh constitutional experiments, and had decided for the nonce to adhere to the prescriptions of the Instrument as the sheet-anchor of the Protectorate. Accordingly, Royalists were imprisoned without legal warrant (June and July, 1655) ; and the new establishment of the army was promulgated by the authority of the Protector and Council alone (July 31), as was also the scheme of Major-Generals. This scheme was intended, primarily, as a mechanism for the control of the militia, and for keeping the Royalists in check; and, secondarily, to supplement or supplant portions of the local authority of the magistrates. It was adopted on August 9, and followed by instructions (August 22) and commissions
(October 11), with the subsequent adjuncts of county commissions for the preservation of the peace (September 21). The Government did not even attempt to defend the legality of these measures.
Under the seventh clause of the Instrument a Parliament was to be called on September 3, 1654, and after this a fresh Parliament once in every third year "to be accounted from the dissolution of the present Parliament." Inasmuch as the Nominated Parliament resigned in December, 1653, the Instrument thus prescribed the calling of a Parliament to meet late in 1656. In scrupulous observance of this paper constitution writs were sent out on July 10, 1656, the elections took place in August, and the new Parliament met on September 17 at Westminster. In spite of the exertions made by the Government, through the powerful machinery of the Major-Generals, to secure favourable returns, a great number of the members of the last Parliament who had been most resolute opponents of the Government were again elected. As a remedy against this it was accordingly determined to refuse admission to any member except on the production of a certificate of his having been approved by the Council of State. This certificate ran as follows : " These are to certify that - is returned by indenture one of the (Knights, etc.) to serve in the present Parliament for the (County, etc. of - ) and is approved by his Highness's Council." Accordingly, after listening to the Protector's speech in the Painted Chamber, the members repaired to their House to find persons posted there by the Protector's appointment to receive from each member the above certificate as a preliminary to their being allowed to enter. The result of this drastic and high-handed action on the part of the Administration was at once seen in the composition and proceedings of the House. Out of a total of 455 not less than 103 members were excluded for not producing their certificates ; of the remaining 352 members at least 175 were army men, place-holders or relatives of the Protector. In view of such figures it is easy to understand the obsequious treatment which the Government received at the hands of the new Parliament. The " secluded " members petitioned the House for their admission ; and thereupon the sitting members, after hearing the Clerk in Chancery, requested from the Council of State its reason for insisting on the certificates. On September 22 Lord Commissioner Fiennes reported to the House the Council's reply, which, in brief, appealed for the legality of its act to the twenty-first and seventeenth articles of the Instrument. After a brief debate it was resolved by 115 to 29 to refer the secluded members to the Council, " and that the House do proceed with the great affairs of the nation." How many of these secluded members subsequently made their peace with the Council is not known. The number was doubtless small, but at least eight of them are subsequently found voting for the Humble Petition and Advice. It is certain also that this arbitrary act of the
Government disgusted many of the otherwise neutral or favourable members of the House. For in the division immediately preceding the one detailed above the numbers had amounted to 195 ; so that it would appear that over 50 members withdrew voluntarily or at least abstained from voting.
The tame and submissive act of the House in thus condoning an outrage upon itself implied at the outset a tacit acceptance of the Instrument. But the Parliament was prepared to go much further than this. Even before the elections had been held, proposals were advanced for making the Protector's title hereditary ; and from the moment of its meeting the air was thick with rumours of some impending attempt in this direction and in that of changing the title itself. The earlier proposals, which had been made in December, 1653, by Lambert and the officers, and again in December, 1654, by Augustine Garland and Anthony Ashley Cooper, and again in the summer of 1655 by a civilian petition in the City of London, had all taken the form of urging Cromwell to take the title of King. But the narrower form of the project which was now brought forward differed from these. The present proposal was to make Oliver's Protectorate hereditary-the very idea against which Cromwell had so strongly protested in his speech at the dissolution of Parliament on January 22, 1655.
This first form of the proposal was made on October 28, 1656, by Major-General William Jephson ; and it agitated both the army and the Parliament all through November. But early in December the matter was dropped ; and, when in February, 1657, it was again brought forward by Sir Christopher Packe, it had assumed a wider form. The lawyers, under the lead of Whitelock, had seized upon the proposal with avidity, and in adopting it had extended its range so as to include the old idea of the revival of the kingly title. Whitelock says, " I declined the first delivery of the Petition and Advice, not liking several things in it ; but Sir Christopher Packe, to gain honour, pre sented it first to the House, and then the Lord Broghil, Glyn, I, and others, put it forward." Ludlow says that the Commonwealth's men fell so furiously on Packe for his presumption that they bore him down from the Speaker's chair to the bar of the House. Writing to Monck on the proposal, Secretary Thurloe says, " I do assure you, it arises from the Parliament only ; his Highness knew nothing of the particulars until they were brought into the House, and no man knows but whether if they be passed his Highness will reject them. Tis certain he will, if the security of the good people and cause be not provided for therein to the full."
According to contemporary newsletters " there are two to one for it. The souldgery are against it in the House and without doors. They mutter but I am of opinion it will passe...They [the legally minded majority in the House] are so highly incensed against the arbitrary
As a preparation to the great work of the settlement of the Constitution, the House appointed a fast to be held on Friday, February 27. Whilst the Commons attended their fast, the officers of the army met " as they do weekly " at Whitehall, where the business of the kingship was debated; "and, hearing that the Major-Generals were met at the Lord Desborough's lodgings, sent a committee to acquaint them with the fears and jealousies that lay upon them in relation to the Protector's alteration of his title, and to desire the knowledge of the truth of things. The Major-Generals hereupon invited them to come thither, where the Lord Lambert opened the substance of the Bill for kingship.......After several officers had particularly delivered their judgments in dislike of the thing the meeting broke up." Subsequently on the same day, after the devotional exercises were done, one hundred officers of the army waited on Cromwell at Whitehall and, through Colonel Mills as spokesman, presented him with an address praying that he would not hearken to the title (King), because it was not pleasing to his army and was matter of scandal to the people of God. In reply Cromwell disclaimed all knowledge of the proposal " till the day before that Colonel Mills acquainted him with it," and that he had never been at any cabal about it, and had no delight in the mere vain title of King, but that he thought it convenient that a check should be put upon the unlimited power of the Parliament ; and, after rating them soundly for always forcing his hand and making him their drudge, he invited ten of them with some other friends to meet him and debate things for their satisfaction. The immediate result of Oliver's direct appeal was remarkable. Three Major-Generals were won over, the officers were quieted, and many fell away from the rest. A newsletter of March 5 adds the sequel. " This day the officers sent a committee to wait upon his Highness to assure him of their satisfaction in his Highness and of their resolution to acquiesce in what he should think to be for the good of these nations." This temporary conciliatory acquiescence of the army was further evinced when the first clause of the Remonstrance (as the Petition and Advice was first styled) came to be debated in the House. It ran as follows : " That your Highness will be pleased to assume the name of King." By agreement this clause was postponed till the end of the debates of the whole House ; and on the following day (Tuesday) " several officers of the army met at Whitehall, and other members of the Parliament and army joined with them ; and upon debate of the business of kingship much satisfaction was given of the proceedings and result of the House therein."
The new draft Constitution thus framed was presented to Cromwell in the Banqueting House at Whitehall on March SI. Oliver, in reply, asked time to deliberate. On April 3 he refused the title, and therewith the whole proposed new Constitution, but not in express or peremptory terms. " I have not been able to find it my duty to God and you to undertake this charge under that title." On April 8 he repeated his refusal, but in an even more enigmatic and hesitating form -hinting that he desired first to be satisfied of many things in the Humble Petition and Advice. Seizing the possibility of compromise which this invitation held out, the House appointed a committee to confer with him. Of the succeeding conferences there are many, but mutilated and confused, accounts. These extraordinary debates between Oliver and the committee took place on April 11, 16, 20 and 21. From the mass of involution and logomachy it is possible to disentangle Oliver's clear, strong, rugged conviction that, though the legal arguments for the kingly title were strong, they did not establish the necessity of it but only its convenience ; and that this was counterbalanced by the offence which the title would give to the army. The other objections taken by Cromwell to the Humble Petition and Advice were of minor import.
Oliver's rejection of the Petition and Advice in its first form disconcerted and amazed his supporters in the House. On May 8 several officers of the army petitioned the House not to press his Highness further ; and at last, on May 19, the Parliament resolved by 77 to 45 to insert the title of Protector instead of that of King in the Petition and Advice. As so amended, it was presented to Cromwell on May 25, 1657, and received his assent. Once again the army officers had triumphed by deciding Oliver's indecision ; once again their want of practical sense had frustrated a settlement of the nation ; and the lawyers who had boasted that they would make penknives of the soldiers' swords hung their heads in sullen defeat.
On June 26 Oliver was solemnly invested at Westminster in his new function, and on the same day, after presenting to the Protector further clauses additional to and explanatory of the Humble Petition and Advice, the Parliament was adjourned till January 20, 1658.
Summarised quite briefly, the Humble Petition and Advice laid down that Oliver should bear the title of Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and should during his lifetime declare his successor; that he should call Parliaments consisting of two Houses once in three years at least ; the qualifications of elected and elector were laid down ; the Second House was to consist of seventy persons named by the Protector ; a yearly revenue of £1,300,000 was provided ; a Privy Council of twenty was prescribed ; and finally, terms of religious toleration were set out. At the same time it gave Cromwell a retrospective ratification of his government. Clause 12 ratified his Acts and Ordinances for the sale of Crown and Church lands ; and Clause 16 ratified all other Acts and Ordinances not contrary to the Humble Petition and Advice itself.
Before the Parliament reassembled in January, 1658, Oliver had issued the writs summoning the members of the Second House. The list of these members contains nine peers and sixty-one commoners.
Accordingly, when Parliament again met on January 20, 1658, it consisted of two Houses, and Oliver opened it in the House of Lords in the ancient manner. But the face of the Lower House was now seriously changed. By Clause 3 of the Humble Petition and Advice the excluded members were now freely admitted, with the result that over 100 (Cromwell himself stated them at 120) of bitter enemies of the Government were now present. Oliver had also taken more than forty of his best managers from the Commons to help towards forming his new Second House, with the further result that the handling of his business in the Lower House suffered correspondingly. The disastrous consequence of this double change became quickly apparent. Led by the Republican newcomers under Scot and Heselrige and by the now recalcitrant officers, who objected to the very existence of a Second House, the Commons set themselves to question factiously the title and powers of that House. Oliver tried personal intervention, and summoned both Houses to his presence (January 25), exhorting them to unity and particularly to an honest acceptance of the Humble Petition and Advice as a working Constitution. His efforts were vain. The Republican party in the Commons had ramifications in the City and in the army ; and an intrigue was set on foot to promote a petition in both those quarters. Under cover of specious demands for the right of Parliament to control taxation and for the irremovability of soldiers and officers except by a court-martial, the petition aimed at a Commonwealth. There was to be sent up at the same time, if rumour spoke truly, another petition supported by ten thousand persons demanding the restoration of Charles Stewart. As part of the Republican intrigue, it was intended, on the presentation of the first of these petitions, to pass a vote in the House to ask for a limitation of the Protector's power over the army, and, if need were, to supersede him by Fairfax.
Oliver had quickly perceived that the question of the status of the
Second House was merely a side-wind by which to raise the larger question of his own position, and so to tear up the constitutional settlement of the Humble Petition and Advice. But it was not till he received news of the intrigue between the Republicans in the House and his army that he saw its full significance. In a hurricane of wrath, and with a swiftness of decision characteristic of him in his greatest moments, he dissolved the Parliament (February 4, 1658).
The dissolution was promptly followed by the arrest of Hugh Courtney, John Rogers the preacher, Major-General Harrison and John Carew. The immediate danger from his own army Cromwell met with equal promptitude. Two days after the dissolution he summoned the officers to the Banqueting House, and there in a two hours' harangue so prevailed with them that all, with the exception of seventeen or eighteen, swore to stand by him and the cause. Lambert was dismissed with a pension ; and six officers of the Protector's own regiment, after a few days spent in futile reasoning with them, were cashiered. They were all Anabaptists.
The threatened Royalist rising and invasion were dealt with not less swiftly. This Royalist danger had been impending since before the preceding December. Royalist congregations had met openly in the City ; and a gathering of Cavaliers on Benstead Downs was only just anticipated in time. Daily arrests of Cavaliers took place. The sudden dismissal of the Parliament averted the more immediate danger, but by no means allayed the Protector's fears. On February 25 a proclamation was issued commanding all Papists and Royalists to depart from London, not to reside within twenty miles of it, and not to leave their homes. A fortnight later, on March 12, Oliver summoned the Mayor, Aldermen, and Councillors of the City to Whitehall, and there in the presence of many of the officers expounded to them in a two hours' speech the imminent danger threatening from the Royalists and advised them to settle their militia and to put their city in a posture of defence. The City instantly adopted the advice, and the militia enlisted cheerfully. Later, on Wednesday, March 20, all the general and field officers about head-quarters met at Whitehall and signed an address of loyalty to the Protector. A general search was then made in the City for Royalists, and many were taken prisoners, including Sir William Waller and Colonel Russell. On April 13 a High Court of Justice was constituted, and it met on May 12 for the trial of fourteen Royalists. Mordaunt, the brother of the Earl of Peterborough, escaped conviction ; but Sir Henry Slingsby and Dr Hewet both suffered death, together with three others of lesser note, Colonels Ashton, Stacey, and Betteley. While these trials were proceeding, a belated attempt at a rising was made in London on May 15. The militia were called out, and forty conspirators were arrested. Some weeks later seven of these were brought before the High Court (July 1). Six of them were convicted and three executed.
During the few remaining months of his life Oliver's Government stood at its greatest height of power. Abroad his arms had been successful and his influence decisive ; at home all opposition and intrigue, Royalist and Republican alike, had been beaten down, and his hold over his army remained unshaken. There is even some evidence that he had gained over such Commonwealth men as Ludlow, Rich, and Sir Henry Vane. If he had lived to meet the Parliament which he intended to call late in the year the probability is great that he would have secured that recognition of his Government and that financial support from Parliament which in February, 1658, he had only missed through an unnatural combination of Royalist and Republican intrigue.
But it was not to be. On September 3 he died ; leaving an unsanc-tioned military absolutism to be administered by a man who had no hold whatever over the army, no prestige, no administrative gift, no force of character. On the following day, September 4, 1658, Richard Cromwell was proclaimed Protector. At some time during Oliver's last illness he had verbally nominated Richard as his successor. On all hands, by army and country alike, the new Protector's accession was peacefully acknowledged ; and a fortnight later the officers at Whitehall unanimously adopted a loyal address to him.
But this unanimity quickly disappeared. Intrigue against the civil power began afresh in the army; and early in October a petition was presented by the malcontents, praying that Fleetwood might be appointed General of all the forces with power to grant commissions, and that none should be cashiered but by court-martial. Fleetwood himself communicated the petition to Richard, who, however, firmly refused to part with the power of the sword. For the moment the agitation was quieted by Fleetwood and Desborough (October 8 and 18); and hereupon Fleetwood was appointed Lieutenant-General of all the forces. But in November the agitation among the officers recommenced. They had met several Fridays in succession at St James' ; but until November 12 it is distinctly stated that they meddled not with the affairs, civil or military. On that day they began to break out and to hint at some alterations in the army. Accordingly, on November 19 Richard again met the officers with the object of remaining on good terms with his army. To all appearance he succeeded in again quieting them. " He courted them at a high rate" says Whitelock. A fortnight later Thurloe wrote to Captain Stoakes that those little notions that were in the army were all quieted and things in good order (November 25, 1658).
When, however, the financial needs of the Government led to the calling of the expected Parliament, the old antagonism between the military and the civil power at once emerged again. On December 3 Richard, by advice of the Council, resolved to call a Parliament to meet on January 27, 1659. Taught by the experience of Oliver's last two
Parliaments, in which the redistribution of seats (the disfranchisement of the lesser boroughs and an increase in the representation of the counties) had served only to produce a strong and independent country gentlemen's party, the Government now resolved to fall back on the old electoral model. The representation of the counties was cut down to two knights each, and the petty boroughs received back their franchise. For the Second House the full number of 70 was summoned; but only 44 at any time appeared, some declining the summons out of disdain, whilst others were in their commands at home or abroad. As before, Heselrige, though summoned to the Lords, sat in the Commons, being elected for Leicester town. The Upper House therefore remained in this Parliament as despised a nonentity as it had been in the last one. When the Commons were summoned to the Lords to hear Richard's speech at the opening, not more than twelve or fifteen members of the Lower House obeyed.
On February 1, 1659, a Bill was introduced for the recognition of Richard's title as Protector. This Bill, which rekindled the fires of faction and intrigue, was put forward by Thurloe ready-drawn, and represented the desires of the Court, civilian, and legal parties. In opposition to the measure were ranged the Republicans, led by Ludlow and Heselrige-an opposition intent on remodelling the Humble Petition and Advice by additional clauses which should recover to the Parliament the power over the militia and the abolition of the Protector's veto. The votes of the House, taken on February 21, amounted to the acceptance of the principle of such remodelling. It is true that the courtiers were strong enough three days later to pass by 176 to 98 a vote empowering the Protector to issue orders to the fleet. But this vote was not intended in any quarter as a settlement of the constitutional question of the command of the forces. It was to divert the attention of the House from this crucial question that the courtiers directed the debate to the problem of the Second House and its recognition, as a preliminary to the greater problem of the fundamentals. On March 28 it was resolved to recognise the Upper House during the current Parliament. The numbers on this division (198 to 125) probably represent the respective strengths of the two parties, Court and Republican.
The division in the House reproduced itself in the army, which was now split into factions, but in which there had at last emerged triumphant that cross current of motive-personal ambition-which during Oliver's life had been kept sternly under. The factions in the army now consisted of the Commonwealth men, led by such personalities as Colonel Lilburn ; the Wallingford House party (so called because led by Fleetwood, at whose residence, Wallingford House, the Council of Officers met from April, 1659, in conjunction with Desborough), which desired to make Richard its puppet and so rule through him ; and a smaller remaining faction under the lead of Iiigoldsby, which sided with the
Council in supporting Richard. Whitelock attributes the succeeding coup d'état to the Wallingford House party and ascribes it to the personal ambition of Fleetwood. But it is clear that the Commonwealth men in the army were at one with the Grandees (the Wallingford House party) in desiring to put an end to a Parliament in which the Court party were proving too strong for the Republicans. Nehemiah Bourne's account of Richard's fall distinctly states that the Republican party in the House, finding itself defeated, applied to the officers of the army. Several debates were held, but the superior officers were despondent; nor was it till the generality of the officers took heart and began to work upon the Grandees, that these began to incline towards reviving the good old cause.
Some confirmation seems to be lent to this view by the fact that the scheme of an army petition was set on foot on the very day (February 14«) on which the Court party had carried the vote of Recognition in the House. On that day a committee of officers was appointed to draw heads of a petition to be presented to the Commons. The heads of the petition were resolved upon on April 2, at a great meeting of all the officers at Wallingford House. The petition itself was presented to Richard on April 6 following and was by Richard forwarded to the House on the eighth. Ostensibly the main item of the petition concerned the provision of pay for the soldiers. But the merely formal heads of the petition were immaterial. The underlying motive and mainspring of the whole was the army's jealousy of the design of the Court party in the House to vote Richard the power of the sword as General of all the armies of the Commonwealth. That scheme had the result of uniting against Richard the Grandees (who wished their commissions to be secure against Richard), the Republicans (who detested the Protectorate), and the common soldiers (who were deceived by current rumours of an impending restoration of Charles Stewart, for whom Richard was said to be only keeping the saddle warm). The course of events during the next ten days (April 8-18) can only be reconstructed with the greatest difficulty. Whitelock says that Richard advised with the Privy Council as to whether the Parliament should be dissolved or not, and that the majority were in favour of dissolving it. Ludlow on the other hand vaguely charges Richard with intriguing with the Parliament, with a view to engaging the House in his defence as against the Army Council. Nehemiah Bourne says not less vaguely that Richard intrigued with a section of the army, so as to create a party of his own there. Not one of these statements is satisfactory. The most natural explanation seems to be that, until the Parliament had completed the acceptance of the Humble Petition and Advice, every dynastic interest of his own dictated that Richard should hold by the Parliament ; that, as the army became more antagonistic to the House, he was obliged to defend the Parliament against the soldiers ; and that, if finally he
According to this view (which is borne out by Edward Phillips' narrative in his continuation of Baker's Chronicle), Richard's change of front could only have taken place on April 21. But against this view there must be set several statements. Writing to Lockhart on April 14, Thurloe says, " His Highness a few days since said that God had revealed it to him that he must sink with or stick to the party." Being asked who they were, he said, " The Commonwealthsmen in the House." " Who were they ? " he was asked, and he answered, " Sir Arthur Heselrige and Sir Harry Vane. Charles Stewart and his family must be disowned." This highly suspicious statement would seem to indicate that Richard had begun to change possibly even before the army petition. Again, Lord Broghill says that Richard gave a commission to Fleetwood and Desborough to hold a Council of War at Wallingford House. This meeting was probably that which was held on April 13. At Richard's request Broghill attended the meeting and thwarted the designs of the Wallingford House men. He then persuaded Richard to revoke that commission, and Richard seems to have done so on the following day, going himself to Wallingford House for that purpose, and, after listening quietly to the debate for an hour, rising and dissolving that Council. Nehemiah Bourne's statement, that "they so far obeyed him as to forbear any general meeting," may refer to this particular juncture. Finally, yet another version, but probably a disingenuous one, is contained in Sir Henry Vane's words spoken in the great debate in the House on April 18, "I heard it abroad and from one in the Council Chamber-I am not able to name the person-that the occasion of the calling together this Council [of War] was by his Highness on purpose to try if they [the soldiers] would take commissions from him exclusive of the Parliament." In the absence of any detailed record of the proceedings of the officers during this crucial period, April 8-18, the point must be left uncertain. Thurloe's statement, if it be accepted, must be read as confirming Bourne's assertion that Fleetwood and Desborough and others went to Richard and dissuaded him from urging the point of the generalship by his courtiers in the Parliament ; *' which he promised them he would, and that there should be nothing done on it." If true, this must have been prior to the votes in the House on April 18.
It is clear that, although Richard had revoked his special commission for a meeting of a Council of War (to adopt BroghilFs questionable terminology), the General Council of the Army did not dissolve itself. Accordingly on April 18, debating with closed doors, the Commons resolved that there should be no General Council of the Army save with the consent of the Protector and both Houses; and, secondly, that no person should have command in the Army or Navy who
These votes carried with them by implication that the command of the army was now to be in the Protector and the Parliament. Richard summoned the officers to Whitehall on the same day, and there with threats bade them dissolve their General Council of Officers. Three days later, on Thursday, April 21, the Mayor and Aldermen of the City presented a petition to Richard declaring their resolution to stand by him and the two Houses ; but they were followed by the officers of the City trained bands with a representation in favour of the army petition, Richard sent for his Life Guards, but even his own regiment marched away and went over to the army, and all the force that Richard's friendly colonels could raise for him did not amount to three companies or two troops. Another report puts the situation more clearly, " Thursday night all the regiments here, both horse and foot, were in arms. That of the late Lord Pride marched into Whitehall without opposition. His Highness gave orders to Colonel Hacker's and other regiments to march to Whitehall for the preservation of his person; but, having before received other orders from the Lord Fleetwood, they with all the rest obeyed his Excellence's [Fleetwood's] orders rather than those of his Highness." That night Fleetwood and Desborough were closeted with Richard till eleven o'clock, " and then declared their full satisfaction in what his Highness had then said to answer the desires of, and to live and dye with the armies."
The result of this coup fêtât was quickly seen. On the following day (April 22) Richard signed a commission dissolving the Parliament. In face of the military revolt engineered by Fleetwood he had yielded to force, had thrown over the Parliament and with it the last uncertain chances of constitutionalism, and had thereby signed the death-warrant of his dynasty and of the Commonwealth. Henceforth till the Restoration anarchy and the sword prevailed in the land.
If the intention of the Wallingford House party had been to retain Richard as a tool or puppet, and with him the Protectorate, but shorn of the command of the army and shorn also of the veto, they quickly found that they could not prevail against the now rampant republicanism of the inferior officers. On the very next day (April 23) the Council of Officers sitting at Wallingford House at once took the direction of affairs, debating the settlement of the government : whether it should be by way of the Humble Petition and Advice, by a recall of the Rump, or by again a new constitution. The Grandees of the army wished for a nominal or mere figure-head Protector ; but the inferior officers, who on the same day held a Council of their own at St James', demanded a republic.
On May 2 conferences began between representatives of the officers-and of the remains of the Long Parliament; on the 7th the Rump reassembled at Westminster, and on the 25th Richard sent a message
The ecclesiastical history of this period is simply a record of confusion. The key to the religious problems of the Commonwealth is to be found in the conflict between the political necessity which drove Oliver to attempt to conciliate the Presbyterians and that exalted conception of freedom and toleration which distinguished him beyond all his contemporaries. So irreconcilable were these two conflicting interests that to the end of the Commonwealth no religious settlement was ever arrived at. The triumph of the army meant that of the principle of toleration ; but this victory never obtained full legislative expression, and the remains of the Presbyterian system were left cumbering the ground. Its position as the legally recognised form of national Church government was never legally abrogated ; and all attempts at a religious settlement subsequent to 1649 took the form of such a definition of toleration as would secure the liberty of individual men and congregations on the one hand, and as would guard the State against the dangers of Popery and blasphemy on the other.
Such a problem of necessity resolved itself into a discussion, not of principle or of forms of Church government, but of a definition of fundamentals of Christian belief. So long as Parliament was not sitting, the problem hardly existed for Oliver. The religious freedom which he had won with the sword he was strong enough to keep by the sword ; and under his rule a statesmanlike tolerance prevailed. But whenever Parliament was in session the ineradicable itch of the theologian-politician for a systematic definition of fundamentals instantly reappeared. During these periods it is always the Parliament which plays or tries to play the part of the divine, of the intolerant persecutor. In 1650 the Rump persecuted the Ranters. In February, 1653, it promulgated a standard of conformity and of toleration ; but the scheme was rendered abortive by the ejection of the Rump. The project of the Nominated Parliament for such a declaration as would give fitting liberty, whilst discountenancing blasphemies, met a similar fate. In December, 1653, the Instrument declared for a toleration " of all professing faith in God by Jesus Christ, provided that liberty extend not to Popery and Prelacy nor be abused to the disturbance of civil peace." The attempt to define these simple words "faith in God by Jesus Christ" led Oliver's first Parliament to summon a second Assembly of Divines to draft the fundamentals of belief (November, 1654). Whilst the Independent divines (now stigmatised by Baxter as stiffly orthodox) were engaged
In Cromwell's second Parliament the antagonism between his own large-minded tolerance and the Parliament's intolerance was still more strikingly evinced. He intervened with the object of saving James Naylor from persecution at the hands of the Commons and refused their Bill for catechising. But he accepted the scheme of fundamentals of belief as set out in the eleventh article of the Humble Petition and Advice. This is therefore the first, and down to the fall of Bichard Cromwell it remained the only, legislative pronouncement of the Commonwealth period on the subject of toleration.
It is this impotent and delayed legislation which accounts for all the chaos of parochial Church affairs throughout the period. Presbytery, voluntary association, separatist congregation and sect existed side by side, with no legally enforced definition of their position. As between them all the civil power was only concerned to keep the peace, while maintaining a watchful eye on Papist and Episcopalian. And indeed, save in a disjointed, piecemeal way, the Protector's Government never made any attempt at restoring the broken machinery in the higher ranges of Church organisation. The question of tithes was never settled : the problem of providing maintenance for ministers was whittled down to the mere granting of augmentations out of certain specific funds vested ad hoc in the hands of the Plundered Ministers Committee and of the Trustees for Maintenance, a scheme comparable to the later Queen Anne's Bounty rather than to anything else. Finally, the only provision made for any trial of the fitness of ministers and for their ordination was contained in the imperfect machinery of the Committee for Scandalous Ministers and the Commissioners for Ejection and the Commissioners for Approbation or the Triers.
Confused and difficult as is the subject of the Commonwealth Church organisation, that confusion and difficulty sink into nothing by the side of the perplexity of the problem of Commonwealth finance. In 1649 the Exchequer, so far as its receipt was concerned, was completely out of joint and practically non-existent. The Customs and Excise, the former of which had constituted the main branch of Exchequer revenue, were worked through the Customs House and the Excise Office respectively. The older and more insignificant and casual sources of Crown revenue formerly received in the Exchequer had either disappeared, or were administered by a parliamentary committee styled the Committee for the King's Revenue. Many, too, of the Exchequer officials had followed the King to Oxford, carrying with them the mysterious knowledge which was necessary for the working of that ancient institution.
On the other hand, the enormously increased financial needs of
(1) The Committee for the Advance of Money, sitting at Haberdashers' Hall, appointed in November, 1642, to provide the sinews of war for the Parliamentary party ; and the Committee for Compounding (with Delinquents), sitting at Goldsmiths'1 Hall. From April, 1650, these two Committees are practically identical ; after February, 1654, they are known as the Committee for Sequestration.
(2) The Prize Office, in Threadneedle Street.
(3) The Revenue Committee. This had formerly been styled the Committee for the King's Revenue, but at the establishment of the Commonwealth its title was changed to that of the Committee for the Public Revenue. It administered such parts of the old Crown revenues as had formerly been paid through the sheriff's, viz. casualties, the Crown lands, etc.
(4) The Treasurers at War, who administered the regular monthly assessments.
(5) The Treasurers for Sale of Dean and Chapter's lands.
(6) The Excise Office in Broad Street in the City.
(7) The Customs, managed from the Custom House.
But there were also other committees which, while apparently not administering, i.e. receiving and handling funds (being themselves fed by funds from the other treasuries above named), had the disposal of funds ; that is to say, were empowered to issue money warrants. Such were the Navy Treasury, the Treasury of the Council of State, and so on. Finally the Committee for taking the Accounts of the Kingdom, which sat at Worcester House or the Duchy House, was an audit committee.
Even before the establishment of the Commonwealth the inextricable confusion produced by the coexistence of these various separate financial machines had been keenly felt; and, from 1649 onwards, repeated attempts were made both by the Council of State and by the Parliament to reduce the system to order. On July 16, 1649, the Council of State appointed a committee to consider how the whole income and
Why did not Cromwell turn the Assessments into the Exchequer ? The problem is a most interesting one ; and the answer is not wholly clear. There were probably two reasons. First, the old Exchequer system had never managed monthly assessments on the plan adopted during the Civil War. It had only managed the old-fashioned subsidies of Tenths and Fifteenths, etc. ; and was consequently neither by its records nor by its mechanism fitted at the moment to undertake the working of the novel institution of the assessment. Secondly, Oliver was doubtless jealous of keeping the means of supplying his army under his own eye and hand, unfettered by any of the sacrosanct constitutional safeguards as to the issue of money (privy seals, etc.) which had gathered round the Exchequer system through centuries of English history, and which were now revived as part of it. By keeping the administration of the assessments in the hands of the Treasurers at War, and so under his own immediate power, he escaped all conflict with those hoary constitutional safeguards and he at the same time evaded all that liability to audit which throughout English history has been the chief glory of the Exchequer system. It must therefore be carefully borne in mind that from June, 1654, onwards there were two parallel Treasuries
In so rapid a survey as this it is quite out of the question to attempt a statement of income and expenditure for the years 1649-54 -that is for the years during which the multifarious Treasuries above described were in existence. But from 1654 onwards it is possible to furnish a brief statement and authentic figures. During the five-and-a-half years from Michaelmas, 1654 (when the Exchequer opened its doors) to Easter, 1660, the total income received in the Exchequer was ,£4,745,358, yielding an average of <£"862,791 per annum. The total receipts of the Treasurers at War during the period June 24, 1654, to Easter, 1660, from assessment was =£3,576,174, or an average of ,£"621,908 per annum. The total average annual yield therefore of all revenue (Exchequer revenue and assessments combined) was £1,484,699 per annum. It must be borne in mind that these figures do not include the following items :
(1) Such portions of the receipts from the sale of, and the doubling upon1, Crown lands (which from 1649 onwards produced ,£1,993,951) as were realised within the above period of five years and a half, since this fund was separately administered by its own Treasurers ;
(2) the similar portions of the moneys raised by the sale of Dean and Chapter lands (which from 1649 onward produced ,£'980,724 by August 31,1650, and possibly a further £"503,178 later), since this fund also was likewise separately administered. Of the sale of Bishops' lands no account has survived ; but the sale had probably been completed, and the money expended, before 1654;
(3) the ecclesiastical revenues which were administered by the Trustees for the Maintenance of Ministers. This fund amounted to roughly <£"110,000 per annum ;
(4 and 5) the revenue of Scotland and that of Ireland.
The figures, given above, however, include all receipts from sequestrations from September 29, 1654, onwards, as from that date all such moneys were received by the Receivers-General of the Counties and by them were accounted for in the Exchequer.
The present writer has calculated that on an average there was a deficit of from ^400,000 to £500,000 yearly on the total expenditure of the three kingdoms. In the statement for the year 1659, which is printed in the Commons Journals and in the Report on the Dartmouth MSS, the total revenue for England, Scotland, and Ireland is given as
1 The system of doubling was a device by which both in England and Ireland the Parliament succeeded at once in postponing redemption and raising further credit. If a creditor of the State agreed to advance to it a further sum equal to that already advanced by him, he was given a special security out of State (Crown) lauds.
£1,868,717. 9s. 0d. ; the total expenditure as £2,201,540. 15s. 4
The effect which this financial strain produced upon the economy and the policy of the Commonwealth may be stated in a very few words. It consisted in the ever-recurring desire, or attempt, to reduce the standing army and to substitute for it the militia. The militia was a wholly inexpensive force ; and, what was more important still, the burden of its maintenance would have been local, not national. This desire has throughout only one basis, namely, retrenchment. Whatever later polemical writers may have thought or think to the contrary, there never was in it throughout the Commonwealth period anything political. Over and over again the scheme split and was brought to naught, because the militia could not be trusted. On this point Dr Gardiner's estimate of the chances of Oliver's ever securing a loyal militia is probably far too favourable. There never was any substantial prospect of such a consummation. When the scheme was at last firmly tried it brought with it the institution of Major-Generals as a necessary concomitant, for the simple reason that the Government dared not trust the militia to the hands of the old County Lieutenants, who were Royalist to a man. And the abolition of the Major-Generals, after a brief experience of them, is to be regarded as the result, not so much of the revolt of the country against their tyranny and repressive Puritanism, as of the perception on Oliver's part that the whole militia movement was a failure, and that it was consequently impossible, while leaning on so broken a reed, to risk a great disbandment of the standing army. From this source, or indeed from any other, financial relief was destined never to come to Oliver or his son. The clear perception of this only brings out in stronger relief the unfaltering courage with which, in spite of all, Oliver pursued his high and strong foreign and domestic policy.