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DEATH OF CROMWELL'S DAUGHTER.
all State affairs to watch unremittingly by her bedside. The exact nature of her disease is not known to history, nor does it appear to have been understood by her physicians, who, if we are to believe almost all the authorities, most lamentably mismanaged her case; and it is certain that she underwent most acute sufferings, which her father witnessed with most poignant distress. To heighten the tragedy of the scene, the Royalist pamphleteers drew harrowing accounts of how, in the agony of her fever and pain, she wildly reproached her father with his crimes and cruelties, adjuring him most solemnly, with her dying voice, to make atonement, ere it was too late, by restoring the rightful sovereign to his ancestral throne. Though discredit has been thrown on the probability of this story, it is strongly corroborated by the testimony of Dr. Bates, Cromwell's physician, then resident in the palace, who may, not improbably, have witnessed what he relates, and who, in any case, would scarcely have given currency to an anecdote so startling, unless he believed it had a good foundation in fact.
However this may be, Mrs. Claypole's illness did not last long; for she died about a week after she was first taken ill, at three o'clock in the morning of August the 6th, 1658, to the great sorrow of all the Court, and the inexpressible grief of her father. The funeral, which was carried out on the most sumptuous scale, took place a few days afterwards, the body being taken by water to Westminster, where it lay in state in the Painted Chamber, whence it was carried into the Abbey to be buried among the tombs of the Kings and Queens of England.
This cruel blow, combined with the feeble state of his health, already shattered by sleepless nights and the haunting terrors of assassination, produced an immediate and most disastrous effect on the wretched Protector. Within a week of her death, he was seized with a bad attack of gout and other disorders; and for four or five days lay in a very dangerous state. A few days afterwards, however, he grew better for awhile, and on the 17th of August he was well enough to go out for an hour.
It was most likely on this occasion that he was met, as he was riding in Hampton Court Park, by the Quaker, George Fox, with whom he had already had one or two interviews, and who now came to present a petition in favour of his coreligionists, the victims just then of much persecution in various parts of the country, though Cromwell himself was not unwilling that they should receive every reasonable toleration, and had been, in consequence, bitterly reproached by religious people of all the rival sects. 'Before I came to him," says Fox, “as he rode at the head of his Life-Guards, I saw and felt a waft of death go forth against him, and when I came to him he looked like a dead man.” After Fox had laid the sufferings of the Friends before the Protector he told him to come and visit him at the palace. Fox, accordingly, went to stay the night at Kingston, and came over to Hampton Court on the following day; but on requesting to see Cromwell he learnt that he was ill and that the doctors would not allow him to see anyone. The fever was, in fact, insidiously creeping on; and though he was afterwards able to walk once or twice in the palace gardens, on the 24th of August he was again confined to his room. The five physicians who were attending him pronounced that he was suffering from an ague, called a * bastard tertian”; one of them, as he felt his pulse, observing that it intermitted. The words caught the ear of the sick man, and he at once turned deadly pale, a cold perspiration covered his face, and staggering, he begged to be taken to his bed; where, when he had been revived by cordials, he made his private will.
Next morning, when one of the doctors came to see him, he asked “why he looked so sad ?” to which the doctor answering that “he was naturally anxious with the responsibility of such a life as his resting on him,” Cromwell replied: “You doctors think I am going to die.” Then ordering the rest out of the room, and taking his wife caressingly by the hand, he said: “I declare to you that I shall not die by this illness; of this I am certain.” Observing the surprise these words caused, he added, “Don't think me crazed. I am telling you what is true; and I have a better authority than your Galen or Hippocrates. God himself has vouchsafed this answer to our prayers—not to mine alone, but those of others who have a closer intercourse and greater familiarity with him than I have. Be cheerful ; banish all grief from your faces; and act towards me as though I was a
THE DYING PROTECTOR.
mere servant. You are able to do much by your scientific knowledge, but nature is more potent than all the physicians in the world, and God surpasses nature in a still greater degree."
The same communication was made to Thurloe and the different members of the Protector's family; nor did it fail to obtain credence among men who believed that “in other instances he had been favoured with similar assurances, and that they had never deceived him.” Even the doctors were impressed, or affected to be, by his apparent confidence : and one of them accidentally meeting another of his particular acquaintance coming out of the sick room, who happened to remark that "he was afraid their patient was going to be light-headed,” replied, “You are certainly a stranger in this house! Don't you know what was done last night? The chaplain, and all who are dear to God, dispersed in several parts of the palace, have prayed to God for his health, and all brought this answer: 'He shall recover!””
Indeed, so certain were the Saints that all was now settled as they wished that “a public fast being ordered for his sake, and kept at Hampton Court, they did not so much pray to God for his health, as they thanked him for the undoubted pledges of his recovery."
Dr. Goodwin, “his creature, and trencher-chaplain," as Ludlow disdainfully calls him, especially distinguished himself in this way, giving out the form of prayer : "Lord, we beg not for his recovery, for that thou hast already granted and assured us of; but for his speedy recovery.” And for a day or two it seemed as though their “saucy expostulation with God,” to use a quaint expression of Warwick's, was likely to succeed in extorting a fulfilment of the promise, which it was sought to put on the Deity; for Cromwell was well enough, on August 26th, to receive a visit from Whitelock, whom he kindly entertained at dinner.
But the improvement was short-lived. Instead of getting better Cromwell again grew worse, and the fever increasing, his mind was frequently affected with delirium. It was at length decided to try the effect of change of air; and the dying Protector was removed to Whitehall. Here he lingered but a few days; and on the night of the end of September, the eve of his “fortunate day,” the anniversary
of the battles of Worcester and Dunbar, and in the midst of a terrific storm, the once mighty Oliver breathed his last, “embalmed,” says Thurloe, “with the tears of his people, and upon the wings of the prayers of the saints."
HONEYMOON OF CHARLES II. AND
As soon as Cromwell had breathed his last, the Council assembled to deliberate, and after a short consultation proclaimed his eldest son his successor in the Protectorate. But the burden under which even the great Oliver had staggered, soon proved too heavy for the feeble Richard, and before many months had elapsed, he had practically surrendered the government into the hands of the Long Parliament, the remnant of which now met and reasserted their claim to be the supreme constitutional authority in the country.
The restored members had not been long in session when their attention was imperatively called to the impoverished state of the national exchequer, and especially to the difficulty of meeting the great and dangerously increasing arrears in the pay of the army. They likewise had to take over and provide for the payment of the late Protector's debts, of which Richard Cromwell handed in a schedule amounting to £29,000. To have had recourse to taxation would have been certainly inexpedient, if not impossible: the only thing to do, therefore, was to find out what property, belonging to the Commonwealth, might most conveniently be turned into money, to meet these pressing needs. A committee was accordingly appointed "to examine what furniture, hangings, and other goods, in Whitehall, Hampton Court, Somerset House, and St. James's do, or ought of right to belong to the Commonwealth,” and it was ordered "that it be referred to the said committee to take special care that
CROMWELL'S GOODS AT THE PALACE.
the Goods and Household stuff at Hampton Court be kept from Embezzlement and spoil, and to bring in an act for their sale.”
The inventory compiled by the Commissioners is, as we have before said, still preserved in the Record Office, and it contains much of curiosity relating to the furniture of the palace, and incidentally throws a good deal of light on the domestic life of the Protectorial family.
As to how Cromwell became possessed of so many goods and chattels, we have already stated our inability to explain. We know, however, that the bulk of the contents of the palace was declared by Mrs. Cromwell to belong to her late husband's estate, though after the Restoration she was found to have collected a lot of things at a fruiterer's warehouse, which unquestionably had belonged to the Crown, and which she consequently was compelled to disgorge.
Though the necessity of providing money for the public service was the ostensible reason for the resolution to sell the contents of Hampton Court, and so to leave it destitute of furniture, the Parliament was probably quite as much influenced by the intention of rendering it so comfortless as to discourage any desire Richard Cromwell might entertain of occupying it. Indeed, when he showed a reluctance to leave the State Apartments at Whitehall, the Parliament sent him repeated messages to vacate them, until he thought it best to obey their injunctions and go. One day, also, when he had come down to Hampton Court to shoot deer in the park, and had just shot one, a messenger arrived from the Commons, ordering that “none were to be killed,” and he had to desist from his sport, not daring to shoot any more.
With the same purpose in view, and likewise to prevent the royal palaces from becoming objects of desire by ambitious men” in the future, a strong party in the House of Commons wanted to revive the long dormant order for the sale of Hampton Court and other royal manors and parks; and a resolution had actually been passed to that effect when Ludlow fortunately interposed to save the palace. “For the house of Hampton Court, having been ordered be sold that day," writes he in his “Memoirs," "which place I thought very convenient for the retirement of those that were employed in public affairs, when they should be indis