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cealed faculties, till he had occasion to use them; and when he was to act the part of a great man, he did it without any indecency through the want of custom.
After he was confirmed and invested Protector by The humble petition and advice, he consulted with very few upon any action of importance, nor communicated any enterprise he resolved upon with more than those who were to have principal parts in the execution of it; nor to them sooner than was absolutely necessary. What he once resolved, in which he was not rash, he would not be dissuaded from, nor endure any contradiction of his power and authority, but extorted obedience from them who were not willing to yield it.
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 propriety 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. But it was 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 declared that all who submitted to them, and paid illegal taxes, were more to blame, and greater enemies to their country, than they who 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. And thereupon, with some terms of reproach and contempt, he committed 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, but enough declared what their sentence
would be; and therefore the protector's attorney required a farther day to answer what had been urged. Before that day, Maynard was comitted 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 license; and when they with all humility mentioned the law and magna charta, Cromwell told them their magna farta should not control his actions, which he knew were for the safety of the commonwealth. He asked them who made them judges; whether they had any authority to sit there but what he gave them; and that 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, and rarely interposed between party and party. And as he proceeded with this kind of indignation and haughtiness with those who were refractory, and dared to contend with his greatness, so towards those who complied with his good pleasure, and courted his protection, he used a wonderful 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.
And 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 need only two instances. The first is, when those of the valley of Lucerne had unwarily rebelled against the duke of Savoy, which gave occasion to the Pope and the neighbouring princes of Italy to call and solicit for their extirpation, which their prince positively resolved upon, 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 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 the 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 town-house, which was shut, and they supposed would be opened when they came, they within poured out a volley of musketshot 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 a 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 their 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 sensible into what condition they had brought themselves; and sent with all possible submission to the magistrates to excuse themselves, and to impute what had been done to the rashness of particular men, who had no order for what they did. The magistrates answered, that they were glad they were sensible of their miscarriage; but they could say nothing upon the subject, till the king's pleasure should be known; to whom they had sent a full relation of all that had passed. The others very well knew what the king's pleasure would be, and forthwith sent an express, one Moulins a Scotchman, who had lived many years in that place, and in Montpelier, to Cromwell, to desire his protection and interposition. The express made so much haste, and found so good a reception the first hour he came, that Cromwell, after he had received the whole account, bade him refresh himself after so long a journey, and he would take such care of his business, that by the time he came to Paris he should find it dispatched; and that night sent away another messenger to his ambassador Lockhart; who, by the time Moulins came thither, had so far prevailed with the cardinal, that orders were sent to stop the troops, which were upon their march towards Nismes; and within few days after, Moulins returned with a full pardon and amnesty from the king, under the great seal of France, so fully confirmed with all circumstances, that there was never farther mention made of it, but all things passed as if there had never been any such thing. So that nobody can wonder that his memory remains still in those parts and with those people in great veneration.
He would never suffer himself to be denied any thing he ever asked of the cardinal, alleging that the people would not be otherwise satisfied; which he bore very heavily, and complained of to those with whom he would be free. One day he visited madam Turenne, and when he took his leave of her, she, according to her custom, besought him to continue gracious to the churches. Whereupon the cardinal told her, that he knew not how to behave himself; if he advised the king to punish and suppress their insolence, Cromwell threatened to join with the Spaniard; and if he showed any favour to them, at Rome they accounted him a heretic.
He was not a man of blood, and totally declined Machiavel's method, which prescribes, upon any alteration of government, as a thing absolutely necessary, to cut off all the heads of those, and extirpate their families, who are friends to the old. And it was confidently reported, that in the council of officers it was more than once proposed, that there might be a general massacre of all the royal party, as the only expedient to secure the government; but Cromwell would never consent to it; it may be, out of too much contempt of his enemies. In a word, as he had all the wickednesses against which damnation is denounced, and for which hell-fire is prepared, so he had some virtues which have caused the memory of some men in all ages to be celebrated; and he will be looked upon by posterity as brave bad man.
Clarendon's Letter to the Vicechancellor of Oxford.
Good Mr. Vicechancellor, Having found it necessary to transport myself out of England, and not knowing when it will please God that I shall return again; it becomes me to take care that the University may not be without the service of a person better able to be of use to them, than I am like to be; and I do therefore hereby surrender the office of Chancellor into the hands of the said University, to the end that they may make choice of some other person better qualified to assist and protect them than I am, I am sure he can never be more affectionate to it. I desire you, as the last suit I am like to make to you, to believe that I do not fly my Country for guilt, and how passionately soever I am pursued, that I have not done any thing to make the University ashamed of me, or to repent the good opinion they had once of me, and though I must have no farther mention in your public devotions (which I have always exceedingly valued) I hope I shall be always remembered in your private prayers as
Good Mr. Vicechancellor