« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
declared war to the death with these, and would have neither truce nor treaty with these ; and went forth, flame-crowned, as with bared sword, and called the Most High to witness that it would not endure these ! -But now for the Letters of Cromwell themselves.
St. Ives, a small Town of perhaps fifteen hundred souls, stands on the left or Northeastern bank of the River Ouse, in flat grassy country, and is still noted as a Cattle-market in those parts. Its chief historical fame is likely to rest on the following one remaining Letter of Cromwell's, written there on the 11th of January, 1635.6.
The little Town, of somewhat dingy aspect, and very quiescent except on market-days, runs from Northwest to Southeast, parallel to the shore of the Ouse, a short furlong in length: it probably, in Cromwell's time, consisted mainly of a row of houses fronting the River; the now opposite row, which has its back to the River, and still is shorter than the other, still defective at the upper end, was probably built since. In that case, the locality we hear of as the Green' of St. Ives would then be
which is now covered mainly with cattle-pens for market-business, and forms the middle of the street. A narrow steep old Bridge, probably the same which Cromwell travelled, leads you over, westward, towards Godmanchester, where you again cross the Ouse, and get into Huntingdon. Eastward out of St. Ives, your route is towards Earith, Ely and the heart of the Fens.
At the upper or Northwestern extremity of the place stands the Church; Cromwell's old fields being at the opposite extre. mity. The Church from its Churchyard looks down into the very River, which is fenced from it by a brick wall. The Ouse flows here, you cannot without study tell in which direction, fringed with gross reedy herbage and bushes; and is of the blackness of Acheron, streaked with foul metallic glitterings and plays of color. For a short space downwards here, the banks of it are fully visible; the western row of houses being somewhat the shorter, as already hinted: instead of houses here, you have a rough wooden balustrade, and the black Acheron of an Ouse River used as a washing-place or watering place for cattle. The old
Church, suitable for such a population, stands yet as it did in Cromwell's time, except perhaps the steeple and pews; the flagstones in the interior are worn deep with the pacing of many generations. The steeple is visible from several miles distant; a sharp high spire, piercing far up from amid the willow-trees. The country hereabouts has all a clammy look, clayey and boggy; the produce of it, whether bushes and trees, or grass and crops, gives you the notion of something lazy, dropsical, gross.—This is St. Ives, a most ancient Cattle-market by the shores of the sable Ouse, on the edge of the Fen-country; where, among other things that happened, Oliver Cromwell passed five years of his existence as a Farmer and Grazier. Who the primitive Ives himself was, remains problematic ; Camden says he was · Ivo a Persian ;'surely far out of his road here. The better authorities designate him as Ives, or Yves, a worthy Frenchman, Bishop of Chartres in the time of our Henry Beauclerk.
Oliver, as we observed, has left hardly any memorial of himself at St. Ives. The ground he farmed is still partly capable of being specified, certain records or leases being still in existence. It lies at the lower or Southeast end of the Town ; a stagnant flat tract of land, extending between the houses or rather kitchengardens of St. Ives in that quarter, and the banks of the River, which, very tortuous always, has made a new bend here. If well drained, this land looks as if it would produce abundant grass, but naturally it must be little other than a bog. Tall bushy ranges of willow-trees and the like, at present, divide it into fields; the River, not visible till you are close on it, bounding them all to the South. At the top of the fields next to the Town is an ancient massive Barn, still used as such ; the people call it • Cromwell's Barn:'-and nobody can prove that it was not his ! It was evidently some ancient man's or series of ancient men's.
Quitting St. Ives Fen-ward or Eastward, the last house of all, which stands on your right hand among gardens, seemingly the best house in the place, and called Slepe Hall, is confidently pointed out as Oliver's House.' It is indisputably Slepe-Hall House, and Oliver's Farm was rented from the estate of Slepe. Hall. It is at present used for a Boarding-school : the worthy inhabitants believe it to be Oliver's: and even point out his