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Sir Oliver first of the batch, we may suppose; King James had decided that there should be no reflection for the want of Knights at least. Among the large batches manufactured next year was Thomas Steward of Ely, henceforth Sir Thomas, Mrs. Robert Cromwell's Brother, our Oliver's Uncle. Hinchinbrook got great honor by this and other royal visits; but found it, by and by, a dear-bought honor.
Oliver's Biographers, or rather Carrion Heath his first Biographer whom the others have copied, introduce various tales into these early years of Oliver: of his being run away with by an ape, along the leads of Hinchinbrook, and England being all but delivered from him, had the Fates so ordered it; of his seeing prophetic spectres; of his robbing orchards, and fighting tyrannously with boys; of his acting in School Plays; of his &c., &c. The whole of which, grounded on Human Stupidity' and Carrion Heath alone, begs us to give it Christian burial once for all. Oliver attended the Public School of Huntingdon, which was then conducted by a Dr. Beard, of whom we shall hear again; he learned to appearance moderately well, what the sons of other , gentlemen were taught in such places; went through the universal destinies which conduct all men from childhood to youth, in a way not particularized in any one point by an authentic record. Readers of lively imagination can follow him on his bird-nesting expeditions, to the top of 'Barnabee's big Tree,' and elsewhither, if they choose; on his fen-fowling expeditions, social sports and labors manifold; vacation-visits to his Uncles, to Aunt Hampden and Cousin John among others: all these things must have been; but how they specially were is for ever hidden from all men. He had kindred of the sort above specified: parents of the sort above specified, rigorous yet affectionate persons, and very religious, as all rational persons then were. He had two sisters elder, and gradually five younger; the only boy among seven. Readers must fancy his growth there, in the North end of Huntingdon, in the beginning of the Seventeenth Century, as they canIn January, 1603-4,* was held, at Hampton Court, a kind of
Here, more fitly perhaps than afterwards, it may be brought to mind, that the English year in those times did not begin till March; that New
Theological Convention, of intense interest all over England, and doubtless at Huntingdon too; now very dimly known if at all known, as the Hampton-Court Conference.' It was a meeting for the settlement of some dissentient humors in religion. The Millennary Petition,-what we should now call the 'Monster Petition,' for the like in number of signatures was never seen before, signed by near a thousand Clergymen, of pious straitened consciences: this and various other Petitions to his Majesty, by persons of pious straitened consciences, had been presented; craving relief in some ceremonial points, which, as they found no warrant for them in the Bible, they suspected (with a very natural shudder in that case) to savor of Idol-worship and Mimetic Dramaturgy, instead of God-worship, and to be very dangerous indeed for a man to have concern with! Hampton-Court Conference was accordingly summoned. Four world-famous Doctors, from Oxford and Cambridge, represented the pious straitened
Year's Day was the 25th of March. So in England, at that time, in all records, writings and books; as indeed in official records it continued so till 1752. In Scotland it was already not so; the year began with January there ever since 1600;-as in all Catholic countries it had done ever since the Papal alteration of the Style in 1582; and as the most Protestant countries, excepting England, it soon after that began to do. Scotland in respect of the day of the month still followed the Old Style.
New Year's Day, the 25th March: this is the whole compass of the fact; with which a reader in those old books has, not without more difficulty than he expects, to familiarize himself. It has occasioned more misdatings and consequent confusions to modern editorial persons, than any other as simple circumstance. So learned a man as Whitaker, Historian of Whalley, editing Sir George Radcliffe's Correspondence (London, 1810), with the lofty air which sits well on him on other occasions, has altogether forgotten the above small circumstance : in consequence of which we have Oxford Carriers dying in January, or the first half of March, and in our great amazement going on to forward butter-boxes in the May following;-and similar miracles not a few occurring: and in short the whole Correspondence is jumbled to pieces; a due bit of topsy-turvy being introduced into the Spring of every year; and the learned Editor sits, with his lofty air, presiding over mere Chaos come again!-In the text here, we of course translate into the modern year, but leaving the day of the month as we find it; and if for greater assurance both forms be written down, as for instance 1603-4, the last figure is always the modern one; 1603-4 means 1604 for our calendar.
class, now beginning to be generally nicknamed Puritans. The Archbishop, the Bishop of London, also world-famous men, with a considerable reserve of other bishops, deans, and dignitaries, appeared for the Church by itself Church. Lord Chancellor, the renowned Egerton, and the highest official persons, many lords and courtiers with a tincture of sacred science, in fact the flower of England, appeared as witnesses; with breathless interest. T King himself presided; having real gifts of speech, and being very learned in Theology,-which it was not then ridiculous but glorious for him to be. More glorious than the monarchy of what we now call Literature would be; glorious as the faculty of a Goethe holding visibly of Heaven: supreme skill in Theology then meant that. To know God, Oɛós, the MAKER,-to know the divine Laws and inner Harmonies of this Universe, must always be the highest glory for a man! And not to know them, always the highest disgrace for a man, however common it be!—
Awful devout Puritanism, decent dignified Ceremonialism (both always of high moment in this world, but not of equally high) appeared here facing one another for the first time. The demands of the Puritans seem to modern minds very limited indeed: That there should be a new correct Translation of the Bible (granted), and increased zeal in teaching (omitted); That 'lay impropriations' (tithes snatched from the old Church by laymen) might be made to yield a 'seventh part' of their amount, towards maintaining ministers in dark regions which had none (refused); That the Clergy in districts might be allowed to meet together, and strengthen one another's hands as in old times (passionately refused);—on the whole (if such a thing durst be hinted at, for the tone is almost inaudibly low and humble), That pious straitened Preachers in terror of offending God by Idolatry, and useful to human souls, might not be cast out of their parishes for genuflexions, white surplices and such like, but allowed some Christian liberty in mere external things: these were the claims of the Puritans; but his Majesty eloquently scouted them to the winds, applauded by all bishops and dignitaries lay and clerical; said, If the Puritans would not conform, he would hurry them out of the country;' and so sent Puritanism and the Four Doctors home again, cowed into silence, for the present. This was in January,
1604.* News of this, speech enough about it, could not fail in Robert Cromwell's house, among others. Oliver is in his fifth year,—always a year older than the Century.
In November, 1605, there likewise came to Robert Cromwell's house, no question of it, news of the thrice unutterable Gunpowder Plot. Whereby King, Parliament, and God's Gospel in England, were to have been, in one infernal moment, blown aloft; and the Devil's Gospel, and accursed incredibilities, idolatries, and poisonous confusions of the Romish Babylon, substituted in their room! The eternal Truth of the Living God to become an empty formula, a shamming grimace of the Three-hatted Chimera! These things did fill Huntingdon and Robert Cromwell's house with talk enough in the winter of Oliver's sixth year. And again, in the summer of his eleventh year, in May, 1610, there doubtless failed not news and talk, How the Great Henry was stabbed in Paris streets assassinated by the Jesuits;-black sons of the scarlet woman, murderous to soul and to body.
Other things, in other years, the diligent Historical Student will supply according to faculty. The History of Europe, at that epoch, meant essentially the struggle of Protestantism against Catholicism, a broader form of that same struggle, of devout Puritanism against dignified Ceremonialism, which forms the History of England then. Henry the Fourth of France, so long as he lived, was still to be regarded as the head of Protestantism; Spain, bound up with the Austrian Empire, as that of Catholicism. Henry's 'Grand Scheme' naturally strove to carry Protestant England along with it; James, till Henry's death, held on, in a loose way, by Henry; and his Political History, so far as he has any, may be considered to lie there. After Henry's death, he fell off to Spanish Infantas,' to Spanish interests; and, as it were, ceased to have any History, nay began to have a negative
Among the events which Historical Students will supply for Robert Cromwell's house, and the spiritual pabulum of young Oliver, the Death of Prince Henry in 1612,† and the prospective
Neal's History of the Puritans (London, 1754), i., 411. †6 Nov. (Camden's Annals).
accession of Prince Charles, fitter for a ceremonial Archbishop than a governing King, as some thought, will not be forgotten. Then how the Elector Palatine was married; and troubles began to brew in Germany; and little Dr. Laud was made Archdeacon of Huntingdon :—such news the Historical Student can supply. And on the whole, all students and persons can know always that Oliver's mind was kept full of news, and never wanted for pabulum! But from the day of his Birth, which is jotted down, as above, in the Parish-register of St. John's, Huntingdon, there is no other authentic jotting or direct record concerning Oliver himself to be met with anywhere, till in Sidney-Sussex College, Cambridge, we come to this,*
'A Festo Annunciationis, 1616. Oliverius Cromwell Hunting, doniensis admissus ad commeatum Sociorum, Aprilis vicesimo tertio ; Tuture Magistro Ricardo Howlet:' Oliver Cromwell from Huntingdon admitted here, 23d April, 1616; Tutor Mr. Richard Howlet. Between which and the next Entry some zealous individual of later date has crowded-in these lines: Hic fuit grandis ille Impostor, Carnifex perditissimus, qui pientissimo Rege Carolo Primo nefariâ cæde sublato, ipsum usurpavit Thronum, et Tria Regna per quinque ferme annorum spatium, sub Protectoris nomine, indomita tyrannide vexavit.' Pientissimo, which might as well be piantissimo if conjugation and declension were observed, is accredited barbarous-latin for most pious, but means properly most expiative; by which title the zealous individual of later date indicates his martyred Majesty; a most 'expiative' Majesty indeed.
Curious enough, of all days on this same day, Shakspeare, as his stone monument still testifies, at Stratford-on-Avon, died:
Obiit Anno Domini 1616.
While Oliver Cromwell was entering himself of Sidney-Sussex College, William Shakspeare was taking his farewell of this
*Noble, i., 254. Collier's Life of Shakspeare (London, 1845), p. 253.