Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 4, March - April 1659. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.
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Friday, April 22, 1659.
Prayers. (fn. 1)
Resolved, that all strangers be commanded forthwith to depart out of the lobby, or outward room, before the Parliament-door; and that none but such as are members of the House be suffered to come in; and the door of the said outward room be kept shut.
Westminster, April 22.
This day, by a commission under the great Seal of England, the Parliament was dissolved. (fn. 2)
"Whereas, we summoned our high court of Parliament, to assemble and meet together at our City of Westminster, the twenty-seventh day of January last, which hath continued until this present day: And, whereas, we did, by our commission under our great seal of England, bearing date at Westminster, this present twenty-second day of April, for divers weighty reasons, declare our pleasure and resolution to dissolve the said Parliament, and to that end did thereby constitute and appoint our right trusty and right well-beloved counsellor, Nathaniel Lord Fiennes, one of the Lords Keepers of our Great Seal of England, and others, our commissioners in our name, this said present twenty-second day of April, to dissolve our said Parliament, which was by them done according to the tenor, of the said commission, in the usual place; and by virtue thereof our said Parliament is absolutely dissolved. Nevertheless, we have thought it necessary, with the advice of our Privy Council, by this our proclamation, to publish and make known the same, to the end all persons whom it may concern, may take notice thereof.
"Given at Whitehall, the twenty-second of April, in the year of our Lord; 1659." (fn. 3)
This exertion of prerogative, on the policy of which his counsellors had disagreed, (fn. 4) was almost the last public transaction during the Protectorate of Richard Cromwell. He removed, in a few weeks, from, the palace of Whitehall; and returned, probably with little reluctance, to a private condition. (fn. 5)
The interval which now elapsed, previous to the re-establishment of regal Government, is beyond the design of this undertaking, which proposes to preserve and connect what may still be recovered of Parliamentary History, during the Protectorates. That interval, varied and tumultuous, was yet highly important for its inauspicious termination, in the restoration of the Stuart race, (fn. 6) the bitter bane of England during the larger part of a century. It will, I trust, soon be illustrated in the interesting and instructive manner, to be expected, from the patient research and discriminating judgment, already discovered in "The History of the Commonwealth."
Richard Cromwell was only in his thirty-second year, when he assumed the Protectoral authority. After the Restoration, he passed several years on the Continent; till released from pecuniary embarrassments, the high price of his transient elevation, he returned to England. There he survived, for many years, in the enjoyment of a competent estate, and the security of a private station, another and a final expulsion of the Stuarts.
The second Protector, placed for a few months in the seat of government, which his father's administration had rendered illustrious, especially to the observation of foreign states, has been sometimes described as a weak man, (fn. 7) for no reason that appears, but because he was happily free from the selfish, and, too often, sanguinary ambition of sovereign authority. Yet those rare talents, requisite, at once to occupy and to adorn a public station; such qualifications as make the place a candidate for the man, he neither possessed nor affected. But for his connexion, by the accident of birth, with the fame and fortunes of his father, the life of Richard Cromwell might have passed, uninterruptedly; as, after an extended and vigorous old age, it calmly concluded; (fn. 8) honourably and usefully sustaining the character, which a disciplined ambition might learn to envy, of an educated, independent, private gentleman.