Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 3, January - March 1659. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.
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The courtiers of Whitehall, who attended the last hours of the late Protector, agreed in their report, that he had exercised his prerogative (fn. 1) of appointing a successor, by nominating, though, probably, almost in the article of death, (fn. 2) Richard, his eldest son; who had been a member of both his Parliaments, and in whose favour he had resigned the Chancellorship of Oxford University. (fn. 3) He also had been distin guished by the priority of nomination to the other House. With this report the Council were easily satisfied; (fn. 4) though an appointment, under such circumstances, was liable to animadversion, as will presently appear, (fn. 5) and could scarcely be sustained, except by the argument of possession, against that rigorous scrutiny which from the discordant interests of rival parties might be speedily expected.
Richard Cromwell accepted the appointment, with all its informality, and was immediately proclaimed in London and Westminster. (fn. 6) In a few days, the ceremonial was repeated throughout England; and at Dunkirk, the fall of which, and its exclusive military occupation by the English, though the French contributed to the capture, had formed the last, and not the least brilliant exploit, in the history of the Protectorate. (fn. 7)
Addresses, too often the stratagems of political intriguers, or the vehicles of servile adulation, are said to have been first employed in England, to compliment, the late Protector's successful usurpation. (fn. 8) They were now profusely laid, (fn. 9) such is the unmanly vernacular language of Courts, at the feet of his son. These addresses, of whose preservation, on a reverse of his condition, Richard is said to have been singularly observant, (fn. 10) conveyed the usual tenders of lives and fortunes, from civil, military, and ecclesiastical communities, in various quarters of England and its dependencies. They, at length arrived, though probably "a day too late," even from the transatlantic provinces. (fn. 11) Foreign ministers, also, as if in accordance with Sir Henry Wotton's definition of an ambassador, (fn. 12) were not regardless of their diplomatic duties. Each presented from his Court, in the laboured style of compliment, the customary common-places of sorrow and gratulation; (fn. 13) thus giving, "to airy nothings, a name" required on such occasions, to avoid the imputation of some unfriendly purpose.
"The situation of Richard," says Dr. Kippis, "had every thing that was promising and prosperous in its external appearance. The voice of joy and praise was heard from all parts;" and "for nearly five months from his accession to the Protectorship, (fn. 14) he seemed to remain as great a prince as ever his father had been before him." (fn. 15) The exigencies of government, however, required a Parliament, (fn. 16) to whatever hazards the Protector's new and feebly constituted authority would be exposed, amidst the free and fearless discussions, which from a late example, might be fairly apprehended in such an assembly. That these hazards were of no ordinary character will presently appear.
Westminster, January 27, 1658–9.
This being the day appointed for the meeting of the Parliament, his Highness, attended by his Privy Council, and the high officers of state, and of his household, with the officers of his army, and the gentlemen of his household, passed by water, in a stately new built galley, and landed at the Parliament-stairs; from whence, the Lord Cleypole, Master of the Horse, bearing the sword before him, he passed up to the House of Lords; where, having reposed a while, he passed thence to the Abbey Church, being attended as before, the Lord General Disbrowe then bearing the sword. (fn. 17)