Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 31, 1657-1659. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1931.
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The present volume covers a period of 27 months, from January, 1657 to March, 1659. The material is of the usual character and calls for little special comment. Less than usual has been gleaned from sources outside the normal English correspondence. This is due in part to the damaged conditions of the files Dispacci Spagna for the years 1658 and 1659, as of the Dispacci Firenze for the year 1658. Vol. XLIX of the Dispacci Inghilterra containing the letters for the Venetian year March, 1658 to February, 1659, has also suffered from damp in many places, but not sufficiently, as a rule, to render them illegible, though the sheets are fragile and difficult to handle. Fortunately the Public Record Office possesses a good transcript of the Italian text of this volume and of all the other despatches of Giavarina represented here. (fn. 1)
The despatches from London of the Resident Giavarina supply three fourths of the present volume, and so the record is, in the main, a picture of the last months of Cromwell's rule and of half a year of his son's as seen through the eyes of this Venetian.
Francesco Giavarina came over to England from Paris with his chief, the Ambassador Sagredo, in September, 1655. When Sagredo was recalled in the following February, he remained in charge as resident. Like all his predecessors, he had no sympathy whatever with the English revolutionaries and could see nothing but narrow self interest in Cromwell's actions. But if he looks with jaundiced eyes, he may probably be trusted to give a faithful record, according to his lights. His independent, disinterested testimony is of particular value, as compared, for example, with the distorted mediums of the official announcements of a revolutionary government or the propaganda of its opponents.
The period of Giavarina's residence was far from being a time of smooth sailing. In spite of many rebuffs and the desponding reports of their agents, the Signory continued to hope that they might obtain some powerful help from Cromwell in the war of Candia, that was exhausting their resources, and they were ready to go almost any lengths in cultivating his good will. But the Protector had other matters to attend to, and the Venetian Resident found himself treated with scant respect. Throughout the whole of this period he only once had audience of the Protector although he was constantly pressing for one. According to Salvetti, the Tuscan Resident, this treatment caused him great mortification, especially as he was unable to give the Signory any satisfactory reason for the delay. (fn. 2) But Giavarina merely reported that he was being served like all the rest of the foreign ministers. There was probably much truth in this.
At the same time, it is probable that Giavarina was not viewed with particular favour by the government. It is clear that he was in touch with the royalists, (fn. 3) and to such a well informed government his sympathies were undoubtedly well known. He was also a devout Catholic and had had his chapel specially fitted and decorated for the benefit of those of his own faith (No. 31), in fact he claims that it was the only chapel left in London where the Roman rite was celebrated (No. 60). Native Catholics were not allowed to attend the chapels of the foreign ministers, and in a round up of priests at the end of 1657 Giavarina's interpreter was among those arrested (No. 117). He made a feeble protest to the secretary of state, but did not press the matter, and this quiescence was quite in accord with the wishes of the republic (No. 128). In October, 1657, the embassy was broken into by robbers, Giavarina himself being so roughly handled that he was confined to his bed for some time (No. 93). Goods to the value of over 200l. were stolen, including the ornaments of the chapel. The thieves were interrupted by outsiders coming to the rescue. Giavarina states that the cipher escaped the robbers, but it is curious to note that just previously he had been using it freely in his despatches, quite contrary to his ordinary practice. In this connection it may not be without significance that a number of letters addressed to him by his agents abroad may be found among the Thurloe papers. They do not contain anything of particular importance, but their presence seems to indicate that the government was watching the resident's correspondence.
Although it was contrary to the policy of the Signory that Giavarina should make unnecessary trouble, he certainly felt that he was not receiving the consideration due to his position. Thus he deliberately abstained from attending either Cromwell's installation or his funeral, because he did not consider the place assigned to him suitable (Nos. 63, 251). After Cromwell's death he perhaps considered that he might permit himself a little more latitude, and in January, 1659, he presented to the Privy Council a memorial detailing the affronts he had received on four separate occasions, including the burglary of October. (fn. 4) An attachment for debt, of which he complained in August, 1658, was for quite a small amount (fn. 5) and does not necessarily imply that he was in serious financial straits, although he complained to the Senate of the heavy cost of living in such an expensive country (No. 60). In consideration of this, special grants were made to him, as well as to recoup him in part for his losses through the burglary (Nos. 68,102). In February, 1659, in view of his long absence from home and the excessive cost of his embassy, he petitioned that he might be relieved and sent to another post (No. 274). This request was at once attended to and the Senate proceeded to vote on the appointment of a successor to the residency (No. 277); but for some reason this vote was never acted upon, and Giavarina stayed on in London for several years longer.
Parliament had been summoned in 1656 with two main objects, to find money for the Spanish war, and to provide a better title for the government, which under the rule of the major generals had become too patently a military despotism. It showed some reluctance to deal seriously with either of these tasks. Cromwell was far from satisfied with its proceedings and was thought to be contemplating a dissolution. At the time when this volume opens the attention of the House was absorbed by two cognate questions combined in a Militia Bill, namely the exaction from the royalists of a tenth of their goods, as a permanent tax, called a decimation, and the establishment of the major generals in their charges for life (No. 3). After long and heated debates, lasting over a month, this Militia Bill was defeated. When introduced it had been pointed out that to make the decimation a permanent charge was contrary to the Act of Oblivion. This objection met with very little support at the time, but as no one spoke on the other side the royalists felt encouraged to present a petition setting forth many reasons why they should not be subjected to this charge (Nos. 3, 4). As the money was required for carrying on the government by the major generals, the loss of the Militia Bill practically involved the end of their rule. Three of them resigned at once and the rest were expected to follow their example almost immediately.
Cromwell would have been glad to have the decimation continued, but he was not at all sorry to see the major generals go. They wielded great powers in their districts, which would be rendered greater if they held their offices for life. Their troops were devoted to them and the people in their districts preferred them to the Protector, and as he knew that more than one of them did not wish him well, they constituted a potential danger to his rule (No. 7).
A strong motive to induce parliament to throw out the Militia Bill was its desire to vindicate its rights against the Council of State, which had presumed to nullify the Act of Oblivion by its decree. The overthrow of the major generals was the assertion of the right of the civil as against the military power. The army officers fully recognised it as a check, and this did not predispose them to regard with favour the next question that came up for discussion.
Since the close of the preceding year the question of Cromwell assuming the royal dignity had remained in abeyance. It looked as if his feigned objections had been taken at their face value, somewhat to his disgust (No. 3). But he was believed to be pushing the matter in secret (No. 1). Fisher, a sort of unofficial laureate, was at work on verses to celebrate the occasion, and medals were on order, to be distributed when it had become an accomplished fact (No. 15).
With the Militia Bill out of the way the time was considered ripe, and on 23 February one Pack obtained leave to introduce proposals which virtually amounted to the reconstitution of the government with Cromwell as king. The army leaders put forth all their strength to oppose this motion, both inside and outside the House. The former major generals met every evening with some of the chief officers to discuss how they might defeat the project (No. 17). Presumably as the outcome of these deliberations a deputation of a hundred officers, headed by Lambert, waited upon Cromwell to beg him to dissolve parliament as the only means of preventing the proposal from being carried. Cromwell listened to what they had to say and after remarking that they were too many for the matter to be discussed properly there, he went on to say that he could only tell them that parliament had been summoned to consider and secure the good of the nation. If they thought it desirable to set up a king again and offered him the crown, he would accept it, even if the whole army opposed (No. 21). This bold front took them all by surprise, as they had expected to overawe the Protector and frighten him into granting what they wanted. Instead of this they departed in a very crestfallen condition, realising that their cause was lost.
In parliament the military party were in a hopeless minority. Luke Robinson's exclamation that Pack's proposals ought to be burned by the common hangman, evoked no applause there (No. 17). When the matter was under discussion in the House Lambert refused to take part in the debates, and ostentatiously walked out, a sure sign of conscious impotence (No. 21). In the absence of opposition such rapid progress was made that Sir Richard Onslow, himself a supporter of the proposals, declared that questions of such weight deserved more mature consideration, and suggested a means of procedure which was at once adopted (No. 21).
Under this arrangement the first questions settled were the succession and the establishment of a House of Lords. One after another the articles were discussed and quickly carried, all other business being put on one side (No. 26). Although the debates continued with intermittent energy progress continued to be rapid, and the discussion went on every day, morning and afternoon (No. 29).
The article concerning the kingship had, by Onslow's suggestion, been left to the last. A vigorous debate on this question, which went on for three days, was concluded on 4th April. The military party brought up all their reserves, Fleetwood and Desborough, though related to Cromwell, being specially prominent. They were beaten on a division by two to one, but immediately set to work to consider how they might render the vote ineffectual (No. 31).
After all that had passed it was considered practically certain that this time Cromwell would consent to receive the dignity, possibly after a short interval in which to win over the army; the crown was preparing and nearly ready for the coronation ceremony (No. 31). April 10 having been appointed for the presentation of this Humble Petition and Advice, the House was ceremoniously received by the Protector, but in response to the offer of the crown, he asked for six weeks to consider the matter. Objection being taken to the length of time, he promised to give his answer in a few days (No. 33). He did so on the following Saturday, sending for a deputation of the members. He told them that while he approved of the decision to re-establish the monarchy as the form of government best fitted for the nation, and also considered the articles of the Petition fitting and necessary for effecting what they desired, he had decided, after a serious consideration of all the arguments, not to accept the offer. He thanked them warmly for the honour done him and asked them to accept his refusal without requiring him to give his reasons (No. 36).
Faced with this answer some members proposed to let the matter drop, but the general sense was in favour of pressing the acceptance of their offer and accordingly, four days later, the whole body went to Whitehall to urge the Protector to accept. Cromwell addressed them “more like a preacher than a statesman” and finally asked them to appoint a committee of the members to confer with him and decide what was to be done (No. 36).
This expedient did not help greatly to advance matters. The deputies made several visits to Whitehall, but failed to move Cromwell to come to a decision. He remained perplexed and uncertain what course to follow. He told the deputies that his present position was almost too arbitrary, and that he would prefer one dependent on their decrees. He made the remarkable admission, considering it had been his own act, that the long parliament had been dissolved without any arrangements to supply its place, (fn. 6) and he had been compelled to undertake the government from pure necessity (No. 38).
Parliament began to grow restive at this long delay in settling a question they wished to see decided, but Cromwell showed no inclination to be hurried and even interrupted the discussions on the plea of indisposition. At last, on May 1, after a preamble condemning the long parliament for making war on the king, he handed the deputies a paper to be communicated to parliament, to which he desired a written reply. Meanwhile he was bringing troops from Scotland and Ireland and gathering his friends and supporters about him in London (No. 40). It was not until over a fortnight later that he delivered a definite answer. This proved to be utterly different from what everyone had expected. He thanked parliament in his usual style and intimated that he was ready to accept everything except the title of king (No. 44).
In spite of his resolute answer to Lambert and the officers Cromwell seems to have come to the conclusion that it would not be wise to drive them too far. Although defeated in parliament and rebuffed by the Protector they did not mean to accept defeat tamely. It is even stated that in the event of Cromwell accepting the crown they had decided to make advances to Charles, promising him their support if he succeeded in landing in the country. A petition of the military asking parliament not to confer the title was presented on the morning of the very day on which Cromwell made his announcement (No. 44), and threats were uttered that if Cromwell agreed to accept the title he would be abandoned by the army (No. 47). To keep the question alive they proposed to set up a body of agitators, to deal in their name with parliament, the Council of State and others, to make sure that nothing should be done to the prejudice of the nation, and also that their voice should be heard, and they asked for the enforcement of the act of the long parliament that any one who proposed to restore the office of king should be judged guilty of high treason (No. 49). Finding the officers in this temper, Cromwell decided to yield them at least an apparent satisfaction. After the many signal victories that he had won with their loyal assistance it did not seem reasonable to take such a step in despite of them (No. 38).
After so many refusals and finding it impossible to move either Cromwell or the army, parliament decided to accept the situation and to confirm Cromwell in his office as Protector. It remained to decide the nature of his powers, and this was soon settled by a unanimous vote appropriating to that dignity all the articles previously voted in the event of Cromwell accepting the crown (No. 52). A bill was accordingly introduced substituting the title of Protector or Highness for that of King or Majesty.
A few weeks later Cromwell was duly invested with all pomp and ceremony. Great crowds turned out to see the spectacle, but there was no cheering, except from the soldiers, and for the rest, it all went off rather sadly, as if it had been a funeral or some other mournful function (No. 63).
Although Cromwell called the Petition and Advice merely an introduction to establish the government, there was no doubt about its having effected a change. With a new House of Lords and diplomatic missions to foreign powers the forms of royalty would be assumed even if the title were not (No. 52). The army officers did not approve of the new arrangement, but the rank and file were completely satisfied by the relinquishing of the royal title and the efforts of the officers to stir them against it did not meet with the least success (No. 55).
These important matters having been disposed of parliament found itself left with very little time in which to deal with other questions, before the limit fixed for their session was reached. In order to enable them to finish off the business in hand, Cromwell wrote them a letter extending their time for a week. To make the most of this concession it was resolved that no member should leave the city during the week upon a penalty of 50l. and that the time should be devoted to perfecting the bills in hand (No. 59). Soon afterwards the House adjourned until the Autumn although some of the members remained behind to deal with administrative business (No. 64).
The Commons had given Cromwell a parliamentary title and voted him a revenue for the expenses of the state. To make up to him for the loss of the Militia Bill they gave him a subsidy, expected to realise 400,000l. (No. 11). As the money was urgently needed it was proposed to levy it either as a poll tax or a hearth tax (No. 11). Neither proposal was adopted and they resolved generally to raise 95,000l. a month from the three countries of the United Kingdom in addition to the 120,000l. a month already voted, but for the raising of which no method had been devised (No. 12). It was decided that this should be a property tax (No. 1), but parliament consistently shirked the task of devising how it should be got in.
They turned their attention instead to petty expedients, among them a tax on all the new houses built in London during the last 36 years, contrary to a statute of James I, estimated to number 60,000; and a more rigorous treatment of the Catholics. A petition against the former tax stayed its execution for a while (No. 54), but soon after it was being exacted with extreme rigour (No. 64).
The bill against the Catholics was rather designed as a means of repression than to obtain revenue. The preachers were constantly reviling them on the ground that they were all the friends of Spain and the bitter enemies of the state (No. 54). Acting on instructions from his master, the French ambassador Bordeaux intervened on their behalf and showed a zeal for their interests that caused some astonishment, seeing that they notoriously favoured Spain as against France. Cromwell somewhat resented this interference, but when Bordeaux told him that he asked no more than the Protector himself had done in the case of the Vaudois, he promised that he would do all in his power to prevent the bill passing, or at least the execution of the most severe articles (No. 55). The leading Catholic gentlemen, after carefully considering the question, decided to offer an additional 20,000l. a year, above the usual exactions, if Cromwell would promise to refuse his consent to the bill. But in spite of these several efforts the bill went through, Lambert, who opposed it, finding only two supporters (No. 59). Cromwell made no difficulty about giving his consent, but though the act was duly published, it does not seem to have been enforced for long, its action being suspended owing to the exigencies of the French alliance (No. 99).
A more steady and considerable source of revenue was offered by the customs and excise duties. These had been largely increased by the grant of the late parliament, causing serious discontent among the traders (No. 63). Great difficulty was experienced in finding any one willing to take up these taxes to farm, as they were expected to diminish trade and so reduce the returns, instead of yielding the increase looked for (No. 64). Giavarina believed that the government would be reluctant to use force to collect these highly unpopular taxes, but later he reports that those who objected were visited in their houses by an officer with a squad of musketeers, and forced to pay (No. 103).
In spite of the heavy increase of taxation and the various exactions the revenue fell short of requirements. For the first five months of 1658 the army received no pay (No. 184), and this was by no means an unprecedented state of affairs (No. 36). The ship building programme for the navy had to be cut down to half what had been projected owing to the extreme scarcity of money (No. 216). The government was hard put to it to meet its obligations. The city of London when applied to for a loan flatly refused to advance anything, and intimated that they would not pay the ordinary charges either. To obtain the necessary cash Cromwell was obliged to have recourse to a private merchant, probably Vyner, who was granted the excise duties as security in addition to the amount which had been collected for the Vaudois (No. 148).
One of the first questions for the reformed government was the reconstitution of the Council of State, and to this task Cromwell devoted much of the summer of 1657. Its numbers had been increased from sixteen to twenty- one, of whom seven formed a quorum, and all were required to take a new oath prescribed by parliament. This business caused more trouble than had been anticipated. Some of those considered most devoted to the government made a difficulty about taking the oath and preferred to decline the office. Of these the most prominent was Lambert, whose example induced others to refuse likewise. This action brought to a head the differences between the general and his old chief. Cromwell sent for Lambert and told him that these differences were only playing into the hands of their enemies. Lambert retorted that no one had been more ready than he to expose his life and goods for his country. He said he did not understand that sort of talk and then and there offered to resign his commission. Cromwell promptly took him at his word, though he promised that Lambert should continue to enjoy his pay as lieut. general until he should be provided with some other employment suited to his merits (No. 67).
In spite of these difficulties, and possibly because of the summary treatment of Lambert, the objecting members made up their minds to take the oath and the reconstituted Council was much the same as the late one, with Thurloe and Richard Cromwell in place of Lambert.
Owing to the popularity of Lambert with the army these changes led to further trouble with the officers. Upon Lambert's resignation three colonels promptly handed in their commissions (No. 67). Many other officers were anxious to do something for him now he was in disgrace. Fearing that Cromwell might cashier some of them Lambert besought him not to do so, promising for his own part not to cause any trouble (No. 74). In spite of this Colonel Bright, a favourite of Lambert, was replaced in his governorship of Hull (No. 79); and all the regiments were carefully purged of Anabaptists (No. 145). It is stated, at a later date, that those who objected most strongly to the royal title were sent to serve in Flanders (No. 208).
The last matter to settle before parliament should reassemble was the constitution of the new House of Lords. Consideration of this question was put off as long as possible. In the Council opinion was divided, some thinking that the new House should consist exclusively of persons of quality, while others contended that men of all sorts should be chosen, as for parliament (No. 112). The dilatoriness shown over this matter caused general astonishment (No. 117), but the list was made up and finally published before the end of the year. It was observed that all those whose names appeared were obedient servants of the Protector.
The way being thus cleared of all obstacles it was fully expected that when parliament reassembled Cromwell would assume the title of king at its opening (No. 123). The trend of affairs was indicated by his having already appointed the officials of the crown and those required by a royal Court (No. 131). But once again things did not turn out as expected. The Commons came back from the country in a critical mood; they were reinforced by those members who had previously been excluded, and they formed a body of a very different temper from the compliant assembly which had separated a few months before. Instead of considering the points raised in Cromwell's opening speech and the question of supply, they began to raise difficulties about accepting the new House of Lords. They regretted the act setting up that body, fearing that authority had been taken from them and conferred on the other, and that instead of a companion they might find a master (No. 141). Their wrangling was brought to an abrupt conclusion. Cromwell went down to the House of Lords and sending for the Commons delivered an harangue. He told them that they had forgotten what they had themselves enacted. He had excellent information that some of them had tried to stir up trouble in London and the country, to corrupt the army and to stir the people to rebellion, at a time when King Charles was only waiting for an opportunity to cross the sea. Let every man return to his own house, and the authors of the trouble, who were very well known to him, would pay the penalty of their evil intentions (No. 141).
According to Giavarina powerful reasons, not mentioned in his speech, combined to move Cromwell to take this sudden and decisive step. When the question of offering him the crown was under discussion, some had ventured to say that if they wanted a king there was no need to make a new one as they could recall the true heir to the throne. Parliament was also considering the curtailment of his autocratic powers; they proposed to pass an act that no tax or duty should be levied except by their order they were asking for a detailed account of all money received and of how it had been expended, and finally they claimed control of the army, proposing to appoint a general dependent on themselves (No. 144).
The sudden break up of this parliament from which so much had been expected mortified and dismayed its members, but it affected Cromwell himself even more forcibly It was the fourth time he had dissolved parliament. Government with the army and with parliament had both been tried in quick succession and found wanting. Neither the military nor the civil power seemed willing or competent to co-operate in the government as he conceived it. It looked as if the whole system were crumbling about his ears. For days he took his meals alone, instead of with his family, as usual (No. 144); sleep forsook him and a dose of opium to induce it brought on a deathly faint which left him exceedingly weak and feverish (No. 145).
The situation was undoubtedly critical and Cromwell was, as ever, prepared for emergencies. Large numbers of troops had been brought into London and guards set in every part of the city (No. 141). From Scotland and Ireland, where the troops were most trusted, considerable drafts were being sent to England (No. 144). But the army itself seemed in a dangerously disaffected condition. Cromwell felt that it also required drastic treatment. Accordingly he changed many of the colonels and captains, dismissing also numerous soldiers, including 21 of his own horse guards (No. 144). These measures were taken very ill by the army and they presented a vigorous remonstrance, pointing out that officers might not lawfully be dismissed without a council of war, and asking that they should be reinstated, a request with which Cromwell thought it politic to comply (No. 148).
As a set off professions of devoted loyalty arrived from two regiments stationed in Scotland, expressing the hope that other regiments would follow their example and so strengthen the ruler's hands against his enemies (No. 150), and it is hardly a matter for surprise that similar addresses from other regiments did actually follow and were printed in the newspapers. Such demonstrations are naturally suspect as having been produced to order to suit the exigencies of the time, and this was obviously the opinion of Giavarina (No. 152).
Of the general unpopularity of the ruler there could be little doubt. Conspiracies followed one another in quick succession; every day disclosed fresh signs of revolution; libels were circulating about London and among the troops to try and corrupt them (No. 147); all men spoke of the Protector with contempt and scorn (No. 148); the people were thoroughly nauseated with his government and submitted from fear alone (No. 172). In London while the troops were being paraded men asked what all the fuss was about, and when told it was on account of royalist conspiracies, they cried aloud “Kill, kill this villain of a Protector.”
The effect of the crisis on Cromwell was such that for a whole week he only passed one night in bed (No. 183). Then, after a spell of severity, he returned to milder measures and began to consider the calling of another parliament, in the hope that the people would submit more readily to taxation by a body with that revered name. The difficulty was to select suitable members and it was possible that the constituencies might refuse to go through the form of an election again, seeing the scant ceremony with which their representatives were liable to be dismissed (No. 147).
Upon this subject and on the general constitutional question the Council was in constant deliberation and experienced jurists were summoned from Oxford to assist with their learning. As the result of these deliberations it was supposed that the Council would issue a decree for the coronation of Cromwell as king or emperor, though some said that he would go outside the city and have himself proclaimed as emperor at the head of the army, like the Romans of old (No. 150).
Towards the end of April it was at length definitely decided to have a parliament expressly to raise the Protector to the throne (No. 162). But time went by without the Council taking any steps to carry this decision into effect. They kept putting the matter off from day to day until the financial situation rendered the assistance of parliament a matter of urgent necessity. It was thought by some that Cromwell might assume the royal title even before parliament met, by virtue of previous offers but such a step might well be considered a slight to the new parliament and so the idea was abandoned. It would be necessary to wait for the representatives to meet, when the long discussed question could be finally settled (No. 206).
It was at this stage that Cromwell proceeded to Hampton Court for what was destined to be a prolonged visit. His absence caused a stay of all public business in London, but he sent for the Council to follow him to his retreat where they continued to meet with the same frequency as in the city (No. 208).
Cromwell had gone to Hampton Court for the benefit of his health, which, for some time past, had been very precarious. He suffered from frequent catarrhs, which had a very weakening effect (No. 81). In the spring of 1657 his conferences with the parliamentary deputies had been interrupted by a sharp attack (No. 38). In the summer of that year he had gone to Hampton Court to take the waters, but an incautious use of them only served to intensify his malady and forced him to prolong his stay much beyond the time expected (No. 83). He then returned to London, apparently in perfect health, but a few weeks later, towards the end of the year, he was laid up with a severe chill (Nos. 123, 127). The disastrous effects of the parliamentary crisis on his health have already been described. He was still much shaken when he left London and his condition was not improved by anxiety over the health of his favourite daughter, who died not long after. It was while mourning this bitter bereavement that he was reported to be in bed with the gout (No. 213), to which the complication of the stone supervened, causing great suffering (No. 216); but he seemed to be recovering, and his condition caused no anxiety. But instead of getting better the illness changed to tertian fever and was at once seen to be serious. In spite of this, on Tuesday, 3 September, (fn. 7) Cromwell was moved from Hampton Court to Whitehall, while preparations were made to receive him at St. James' Palace, which was considered to be healthier, because it is further from the river (No. 218). On the Saturday, Sunday and Monday following Cromwell was exceedingly ill, and on Tuesday he was given up by the doctors. The fever abating, he had a good night, and though it had left him extremely weak, strong hopes were entertained of his recovery and the Court was much relieved and enheartened (No. 220). But at noon on Friday he became much worse again and three hours later he expired. Before his death he nominated his son Richard as his successor (No. 222).
The Spanish war and the presence of Charles in Flanders, with the promise of Spanish support, greatly stimulated the hopes and activities of the royalists in England and correspondingly increased the anxieties of the government. It was believed that if Charles could once succeed in landing he would soon have a large following and might easily overthrow the usurper, as had happened more than once in English history. The general disaffection made them feel confident of success once the ball had been set rolling (No. 183). This hopefulness led them to be constantly devising fresh schemes and the government was kept busy in suppressing one plot after another. In spite of the snares laid for them, royalist agents were busy in London, living secretly and disguised, acting chiefly at night (No. 1). They only awaited a favourable opportunity, for the cavaliers were prepared to take any and every means to restore their natural prince to his throne (No. 5).
As early as March, 1657, Charles was reported to have forces strong enough to make the attempt (No. 29), and Lockhart in Paris admitted to the Venetian ambassador that his master was more anxious about this than about any great movement, which could easily be put down (No. 32).
Early in the following year, about the time of the dissolution of parliament, a plan of invasion was all ready to be carried out as soon as the frost broke up. Ormond was then in London and he or some other leader in constant communication with Charles, was ready to take command of the army as soon as the king landed. It was stated that in London 20,000 men had signed an undertaking to fly to arms the moment the king's partisans arrived (No. 144). The king's coming became a matter of general talk and bets were laid at long odds that he would be over before May (No. 148). Dutch ships were said to be all ready to bring over thousands of soldiers.
But before May arrived these rosy expectations had vanished away. The sanguine royalists who had wagered lost both their hopes and their money (No. 156). They threw the blame for their disappointment on the Spaniards, declaring that they had prevented Charles from setting out when he had a chance of taking the Protector by surprise (No. 162).
Considered dispassionately the king was so situated that he could have little real hope of a successful coup. He was extremely short of funds and though he travelled about Flanders trying to induce the Spanish ministers to give him money, he got no satisfaction out of them (No. 1), and no more than would supply his immediate personal needs. He thought of sending direct to Madrid to make his appeal, but stayed his hand on receiving an intimation that 150,000 crowns would be sent to him from thence (No. 7). All hope of this supply was immediately afterwards dashed by the decision of the Spanish Court to invade Portugal in the spring (No. 14), as this would certainly swallow up all available funds.
From other sources Charles had not much to expect. An envoy of his at Vienna represented that he was well supplied with troops and could look for plentiful support in England; all that he needed was money. Much sympathy was expressed and hopes were held out of some contribution from the diet at Ratisbon, but the methods for realising this were too cumbersome to hold out any hope of effective aid (No. 27). In the spring of 1657 the assembly of the clergy of France made an offering of 80,000 livres to the queen of England (Nos. 39, 43), but as France and Spain were at war it was probably intended solely for her private needs. It was perhaps a sign of penury that the queen planned to kidnap the sons of Sir Oliver St. John and Sir Arthur Haselrig, then at Paris, to be carried to Flanders and held to ransom (Nos. 149, 152).
The royalist exiles were not a very happy family. The king quarrelled so seriously with his brother James that the duke left him and went to Cologne, though he returned to Bruges later and the brothers were reconciled (Nos. 5, 6, 9). There were traitors in the camp and all the king's plans speedily became known to the Protector (No. 7). Even Ormond is under grave suspicion. After he went abroad his wife appealed to Cromwell and received back all his confiscated property in Ireland, remaining in enjoyment of it there. She was the only one to receive such a favour, and the proviso that she should not communicate with her husband was regarded as a mere blind (No. 189).
Although the threat from Charles might not be very formidable, the most elaborate precautions were taken to bring his plans to naught. Royalist and other plots followed in quick succession, but they were always nipped in the bud. The government acted energetically and ruthlessly without much regard for the forms of law. Leaders and suspected persons were arrested arbitrarily and horses also were seized (No. 29). At the beginning of 1658 when invasion was being talked of, all royalists and Catholics were ordered to leave London and the keepers of lodging houses were required to supply lists of their tenants (No. 148). From time to time search was made by the troops in the London houses, and if any were found who had borne arms for the king, they were haled away to prison (Nos. 130, 156). Even the foreign embassies were not spared in these searches (No. 154) and in January, 1658, they were looking for the king himself (No. 131).
Perfectly harmless people were thus subjected to much annoyance and even imprisonment, but nothing was left to chance. Cromwell himself laid great stress upon the danger of invasion both in his speeches to parliament and in dealing with troublesome officers. Sending for the Lord Mayor and City Council he persuaded them of the necessity of taking special precautions for the defence of the city. Careful measures were taken to ensure adequate coast defence, and the navy was kept constantly on the alert. A special squadron under Goodson was kept to watch the Flanders coast, because of the belief that Dutch ships were ready to help Charles. That officer destroyed a squadron of Dutch ships that tried to enter Ostend, because he was doubtful of their intentions (No. 150).
Although invariably unsuccessful, these ceaseless activities of the royalists caused constant preoccupation to the government, so much so that some, in their impatience would have had the soldiers slay all the cavaliers and Catholics they met wherever they found them (No. 156). The methods adopted in dealing with real or supposed enemies were certainly not over scrupulous. An account is given here of an attempt to entrap a country gentleman which is said to be typical of the methods employed (No. 181). In Scotland Monk is alleged to have pretended disaffection in order to lure unsuspecting royalists to open their hearts to him, whereby over eight hundred of them were trapped (No. 162).
To complete the destruction of the royalist party a High Court of Justice was set up, by virtue of an act of the late parliament for the security of the Protector's person. The members of this body were nominated by Cromwell himself and the regicides were prominent among them (Nos. 171, 172). Such a body threatened to serve as a cloak for pure methods of proscription, and when it was intimated that the Court would be asked to try such persons as might be indicated to it by Cromwell, many of those selected raised difficulties about taking the oath required of them, in the fear that they might be called upon to condemn innocent men, who might simply be the victims of circumstance (No. 172). Their objections were not allowed to interfere with Cromwell's intent, as he simply filled their places with others whose consciences were not so tender (No. 181). To give more show of legality to its proceedings the Court waited to allow the civil judges to take part, who were still engaged on their ordinary duties. (fn. 8)
This extraordinary tribunal claimed the right to try all those of whom the government had suspicion (No. 181). Speaking generally all those throughout the country who had borne arms for the king were arrested (No. 171). Those suspected of complicity in royalist plots and who had not been found were summoned to give themselves up, and those who did not appear within the time prescribed were outlawed in the three kingdoms (No. 204).
The Court opened its business on 4 June; lots were drawn as to which cases should be dealt with first, and Sir Henry Slingsby and Dr. Hewet were the ones taken, and they were the first victims. By the Protector's favour they were beheaded instead of suffering the usual loathsome penalties of high treason. Their speeches on the scaffold were taken down by friends, in order that they might be printed, but Cromwell had their notes torn up and garbled versions were issued instead in the news sheets, accompanied by malicious comments (No. 192).
After an initial spell of activity the energies of the Court abated; there were no more convictions, earlier sentences were not carried out and the sittings were adjourned from day to day (No. 201). There was a brief revival of activity in July, but almost immediately after Cromwell's departure for Hampton Court the sittings were adjourned until 1 November, leaving many accused persons in prison, awaiting trial (No. 206).
The establishment of this tribunal naturally caused the greatest concern among the royalists, and stirred them to make a supreme effort, at least to rescue their friends. Their plans were laid to cause an uproar in London, in which they hoped to profit by the general confusion. But as on every other occasion, they merely played into the hands of the government. The whole secret was given away by an informer and the only result was further arrests and more severe measures of repression (Nos. 183, 187).
The opening of the year 1657 found Blake at his station off Cadiz, patiently awaiting the arrival of the Spanish treasure fleet from the Indies. Although Spain put up practically no resistance at sea there was no slackening of effort on the English side. Ship building proceeded with great energy (No. 1), and the provision of even greater armaments was only limited by the difficulty of providing the money and of finding sufficient sailors to man the fleets. To make good the deficiency of the latter, men were taken from the merchantmen and from the colliers serving London, and even the Thames watermen were pressed (Nos. 12, 57).
Blake was kept well supplied with reinforcements and provisions, and he considered himself strong enough to deal with any enemy except the weather. He felt confident that even if he did not succeed in capturing the treasure fleet he could prevent its reaching Spain (No. 7). A serious storm in mid winter scattered his fleet and the ships and crews suffered severely, but they were soon reunited and back at their stations, with all the damage made good (No. 21).
There was great rejoicing in Spain when, after all, the treasure fleet got safely into the harbour of Teneriffe, though even then many feared that the island was not capable of defence if the English should decide to land and attack (No. 34). In England the news of this safe arrival caused much disappointment, though it was believed that Blake would make an effort to destroy the ships where they lay (No. 41), a confidence which was soon to be amply justified.
When Blake heard of the arrival of the fleet at the Canaries, he summoned a council of war to decide what was to be done. Intercepted letters from the Islands, expressing the confident belief that they would destroy the English if they should attempt to attack, seem to have stimulated their resolve. Although Blake was so ill that he was reduced to living upon medicines, he directed the attack in person, lying on his bed, propped up with cushions.
The victory was hailed in England as the greatest since the Armada. In reporting his success Blake added that if he had a reinforcement of troops he did not think it would be difficult to conquer the island. An English prisoner who had escaped to the fleet during the battle reported that the Spaniards were greatly depressed and reduced to a most feeble condition (No. 54). The capture of the treasure landed at Teneriffe offered a tempting inducement to the English government (No. 69), but, for various reasons nothing was done. Blake received permission to return home and died before he reached port.
Blake's position was an exceptionally difficult one to fill. There was no lack of capable officers, but Cromwell did not feel that he could entirely trust them all with such a post. Montagu was already provided with an important command; Ayscue would have been ideal, but he had already been offered the post and declined it; the old parliamentary admiral, Warwick was freely mentioned, but he was now seventy years of age (No. 79). In the mean time Stoakes was left in charge. Eventually he was sent into the Mediterranean with only a small portion of the fleet, the main body of which was recalled at the end of the year (No. 121).
The blockade of the Spanish coasts which had been maintained for so long was thus abandoned. In 1658 no English ships were to be found cruising in Spanish waters (No. 215). A plan to lie in wait once again for the treasure fleet was considered, but the ships prepared for this were diverted to the Baltic (No. 249). After all and even while the English fleet was still in the south a considerable portion of the treasure landed at Teneriffe eventually reached Spanish coffers. Some of it went to Amsterdam in Dutch ships (No. 74), while some was taken to Cadiz in small craft (No. 61). Some however, of the Dutch ships engaged in this traffic fell into the clutches of the English fleet (Nos. 55, 62, 74).
Against the naval attack of the English Spain lay practically helpless. For three years she had been without a fleet at sea, and she had to suffer the humiliation of being ignominiously besieged without the slightest power of resistance, while her trade with the Indies was virtually cut off (No. 77). There had been a faint effort at naval revival, but it came to nothing. For a short time the dockyards at Cadiz were stirred to activity after a long lethargy, and arrangements were also entered into to hire ships from the Dutch (No. 62); but after eight days of activity the work at Cadiz was abandoned (No. 71) and the English were left in undisputed mastery. Even after the English fleet had been withdrawn very few merchants were found who were willing to risk sending goods to the New World (No. 137). After 1657 the main effort of the war against Spain had shifted from the sea to the land, owing to the French alliance.
Negotiations with France had been in progress for a long time, but in 1657 matters came at last to a head. Early in the year Lockhart had been sent back to continue the negotiations with Mazarin. An alliance between the two powers was the goal, though efforts were made to conceal this from the outside world. Some delay was occasioned by Cromwell's desire that Sweden should be included in the alliance, but eventually he agreed not to insist upon this (No. 37), and the treaty was then signed. Attempts were made to throw dust in the eyes of others, and Lockhart, when questioned by the Venetian ambassador, in March, told him that Bordeaux had established the peace some months before and he knew of no other negotiations (No. 28). Nevertheless it was generally understood that an alliance had been concluded, directed against Spain. Mazarin, indeed, complained to Lockhart that the secrecy agreed upon had not been observed, as the Spaniards had succeeded in getting a copy of the treaty itself (No. 48). That an alliance had been arranged could not long remain in doubt, although the exact terms might not be known. Everything pointed to a joint attack on the Spanish Netherlands, more particularly along the Flanders coast.
Earlier in the year Bordeaux had obtained permission to raise 5,000 men in Ireland. Consent was given reluctantly because it was feared that the Irish would be prone to desert and go over to the king's side (No. 18). It may have been for this reason that the officers charged with the levy went outside their commission and enlisted men of every sort and not Irish only. But they had only indifferent success as there was not the rush to join the colours that had been anticipated (No. 21).
The treaty provided a force of a very different character. This consisted of 6,000 picked men of the regular army. (fn. 9) They were all excellent soldiers, dressed in uniform and distinguished by their red coats (No. 48); great things were expected from their prowess (No. 47). They were to be taken over to Calais, where Lockhart was ready to receive them, and they were all across in May. The French king with Mazarin made a special journey from Compiegne in order to see these new auxiliaries, who were mustered for his inspection (Nos. 48, 53).
To furnish this force the home army had just previously been increased by 10,000 men (No. 29), 1,000 fresh recruits being added to each regiment. Recruiting had been so brisk that some muster rolls had been filled up before the end of April (No. 38). But desertion was rife both among the soldiers of the expeditionary force, before they started, and among the new recruits, of whom five were hanged as an example (No. 44).
According to the agreement the French were to supply the pay of these troops and were also to furnish them with all that they required (No. 87). This obligation was very indifferently fulfilled, as the soldiers only received their promised two sous tournois a day very irregularly (No. 76), while in the following year supplies were being sent over from England because of the scarcity of provisions in France (No. 185). Other materials were also short there, for Mazarin sent over to England for muskets and pistols for his own army (No. 171).
No sooner had the first troops landed in France than Bordeaux asked for further reinforcements (No. 53). The wastage in the ranks was already considerable owing to constant desertions as well as to enemy action (No. 54). To supply these additional troops seems to have been a matter of some difficulty; but a reinforcement of 2 to 3,000 men was sent out at the beginning of October. These were picked veteran troops but they were so unwilling to serve that they had to be embarked by force; many deserted while others were allowed to buy substitutes (No. 89). This foreign service was in fact exceedingly unpopular and the feeling against it seriously affected recruiting. As contrasted with the brisk enlistments earlier in the year men now hung back, knowing that the Flemings hated the English and murdered all whom they could get into their hands (No. 99), and observing that most of the men sent over perished from the hardships of that cruel climate (No. 127). It may be that these difficulties suggested to Cromwell the idea of employing foreign auxiliaries, more especially the Swiss of Zurich, on the ground that the war was against the Catholic king for the common benefit of all Protestants (No. 103).
Upon the conclusion of the alliance Cromwell had acted with his usual energy and decision, and he chafed exceedingly at what he considered the dilatoriness of the French. It had been evident in the spring that without English help the French would make little progress in Flanders in the coming campaign (No. 32). But even with that advantage they had been held up before Montmedy for two months. With that operation they were disposed to conclude the campaign.
The English alliance was very unpopular in France and strongly opposed by good Catholics. Lockhart, realising that he was in the worst possible odour with the people of Paris, lived in complete seclusion there (No. 124). The only defence offered by the ministers responsible was that the treaty was justified on the ground of expediency, and that if Cromwell had been repulsed by France he would have joined hands with the Spaniards (Nos. 20, 209), who had offered to give him Calais (No. 88). The most objectionable part of the bargain was the obligation to share with the English the conquests made in Flanders. To postpone the fulfilment of the obligation the French were in no hurry to begin the attack on the coast towns, and to ensure delay the French Court travelled to Metz, on the pretext of the pending election of a new emperor (No. 166).
Cromwell complained exceedingly of the behaviour of the French (No. 94), Bordeaux's representations that the season was too far advanced and that the Spaniards were forewarned made no impression upon him. It had been arranged to besiege Dunkirk and he insisted that this should be done (No. 89). He had already sent over Montagu with the fleet, taking troops from Ireland and munitions of war (No. 69), including bombs, gunpowder etc. from the Tower (No. 89).
But with all his insistence Cromwell could not prevail on the French to proceed beyond the capture of Mardick. That place was attacked and surrendered at discretion in two days, without waiting for an assault. So precipitate a surrender was believed to be the result of a previous arrangement with the governors, a Spaniard and an Irishman. The place was at once occupied by an English garrison.
Although Cromwell desired an immediate advance against Dunkirk, he was very pleased with his acquisition and determined to keep it. To superintend the fortifications to be erected there he sent over a German engineer with a quantity of material. He also sent supplies of clothing, meat and beer for the benefit of the soldiers in that bleak climate (No. 97).
While all this was going on Lockhart had hurried from the army to Metz and thence to London and back again. On Saturday, 29 October he was in London again, followed soon after by Montagu, and together they attended a prolonged conference with the Council. It was observed that Cromwell came out very heated and agitated, and men concluded that they had brought disagreeable news (No. 99). Cromwell was certainly annoyed at the French refusal to proceed at once against Dunkirk. It is also probable that he heard from Lockhart of representations which had recently been made to the French king by the clergy and the Sorbonne against giving heretics a footing in Catholic countries and Cromwell may well have had misgivings about the steadfastness and loyalty of his allies. It was suspected that France would not grieve if Mardick were recaptured by the Spaniards (No. 108).
Cromwell did not have to wait long for proof that the French would stand by their allies. Only five days after the conference in London the Spaniards made a determined night attack upon Mardick in which Charles and his brothers took part. The attack lasted all night, but seeing no prospect of success the enemy withdrew before dawn, to avoid being exposed to the guns of the fleet. The English losses were slight, but on the Spanish side 25 carts are said to have entered Dunkirk with the dead and wounded (No. 101). In Paris it was claimed that the place had only been saved by Turenne coming to the rescue (No. 105). There seems to be no foundation for this belief, but the English were clearly anxious about their ability to resist further attacks. As these were supposed to be imminent Lockhart went to Mazarin to insist on the need for sending succour at once, an appeal to which the Cardinal promptly responded (No. 116).
In England the Council debated whether the place should be abandoned or held and it was only decided to hold on after a long discussion (No. 103). By the end of the year the fort was considered strong enough to resist any probable attack (No. 117).
During the winter Lockhart was busily engaged in negotiations with Mazarin, conducted with the greatest secrecy. The Cardinal took no one into his confidence and settled everything alone with the English ambassador. They usually conferred at night, without ceremony (No. 124). French ministers, however, made no secret about the closeness of the alliance and that France was under an obligation to make no move towards peace without the full concurrence of England (No. 120).
With the approach of the compaigning season Cromwell became impatient for the attack on Dunkirk to begin as soon as possible, but the French showed no disposition to hurry and certain untoward incidents contributed to delay a start. The revolt of Hesdin to the Spaniards in February was believed by some in England to have been prearranged, in order to put a stop to the conquests of the English along the coast. Such a suspicion was unreasonable, but there is little doubt that the king was postponing as much as possible the English enterprises against Dunkirk or Gravelines (No. 166). Lockhart, who did not share his countrymen's suspicions, employed himself usefully in treating with the Hesdin rebels. As their chief difficulty lay in their lack of confidence in the promises made to them, he told them that Cromwell himself would undertake that they should be performed (No. 169).
An equally serious hindrance was caused by the disastrous outcome of a French attempt to take Ostend by treachery and collusion, in which it was they who were deceived. Although Aumont sailed from Mardick and had some assistance from the English fleet, the enterprise was essentially an independent French affair, so much so that Mazarin had instructed Aumont not to employ Englishmen to garrison the town, in spite of Cromwell's claim to have it handed over to him (No. 183). The failure was particularly unfortunate in that it seriously reduced the strength of the French infantry, in which their army was none too strong. As a set off to this mishap, the English fleet captured some 600 Spanish soldiers (fn. 10) on their way to Flanders from Galicia (No. 169).
In spite of these various suspicions and mishaps the siege of Dunkirk was begun before the season was too far advanced, the allies worked harmoniously together, the French king came in person to encourage the troops and complimentary missions were exchanged between the rulers (No. 184). The siege was conducted in due form, but did not prove quite so easy as had been anticipated (No. 187). On one occasion a sortie of the besieged nearly involved the French in disaster, but twelve companies of English hurried to the scene and drove the Spaniards back to their lines (No. 189). The battle of the Dunes, in which the English are said to have refused quarter to the Spaniards (No. 190) was quickly followed by the surrender of Dunkirk, the news of which was received at Paris with mixed feelings (No. 197). Thereafter the allied forces proceeded from one success to another, until the serious illness of the French king stayed further progress, much to the disgust of the English government, which was greedy for more triumphs (No. 204). The Spaniards moreover had withdrawn from the open country and were concentrating their forces for the defence of the large towns, and the allies were beginning to dispute about the division of the spoil (No. 206).
The withdrawal of the great fleet from before Cadiz relieved Spain of the serious naval pressure in her home waters, and the reduced force under Stoakes was hardly capable of extensive operations. None the less it caused a considerable stir among the Italian powers, who believed that it was intended to co-operate with the French in an attack upon the Spanish possessions in Italy (Nos. 114, 120). Active incitement for such a stroke was provided by the ex-queen of Sweden. She surrounded herself with Neapolitan exiles and associated with the duke of Guise, who had previously made an attempt upon Naples. She kept urging the French Court to make an attack on that kingdom, hoping to obtain money from Louis and ships from Cromwell for the purpose. The French seemed to toy with the idea, but came to no definite decision (No. 136), but the plan made no appeal to Cromwell. After the agent sent to him by the queen had been kept waiting several weeks he was sent away with a brief reply in which Cromwell informed her Majesty that the state of his affairs did not permit him to consider her plan (No. 152).
It had gone far enough to cause great alarm at Naples (No. 138); and there seemed to be good cause when Cromwell sent reinforcements to Stoakes, to bring the strength of his fleet up to fourteen ships (No. 132). But his chief aim, as indicated in his letter to the Venetian Signory, was the protection of trade (No. 92). The Barbary corsairs were a perpetual menace to traders in the Mediterranean. Only just before the Resolution, a rich ship of the Levant Company, had been captured by Tripoli pirates and carried to Rhodes, where the goods were sold (No. 76). The merchants appealed to Cromwell who promised to obtain redress for them or to punish the aggressors. Another ship, the Friendship, bringing currants from Cephalonia, had been captured by pirates of Tunis (No. 117). The chief task of Stoakes was therefore to deal with these Barbary corsairs and either force them to make a treaty or punish them for their outrages. He discharged this duty with conspicuous success, concluding agreements first with Tunis and later with Tripoli, so that English merchants would no longer have anything more to fear from the pirates who infested the Mediterranean (No. 230).
While he was engaged on this task Stoakes fell foul of the Grand Duke of Tuscany. The Duke refused him permission to careen his frigates at Porto Ferraio. This did not incommode him greatly, as he obtained this facility and all others that he required from the more compliant republic of Genoa (No. 133). It may have been in consequence of the duke's refusal that he proceeded thereafter to a virtual blockade of the port of Leghorn, in the pursuit of enemy ships and goods, and when the Tuscan ministers remonstrated, he returned a very impertinent answer (No. 140). The Grand Duke wrote a letter to Cromwell complaining that Stoakes was preventing Spanish ships from entering or leaving his ports (No. 150), while Stoakes also wrote, complaining of the treatment he had received. In the meantime the Grand Duke thought it expedient to take steps to protect his coasts against attack (No. 161). The quarrel was not patched up and when Stoakes finally left the port none of the usual salutes were exchanged (No. 207). The Grand Duke had no desire to offend Cromwell and tried to propitiate him with gifts of choice wines and costly essences.
The presence of the squadron continued to excite alarm among the Catholic powers. They were convinced that England and France meditated some great coup together in those parts. As nothing happened against Naples they concluded that the earlier rumours had been intended to put the Spaniards off their guard at other places, and at Rome they fancied that Porto Longone might be the objective (No. 213).
The pope himself could not be altogether easy in his mind. In Paris Lockhart complained of the hostile attitude of the Holy See, and declared that in future it would be necessary for them to deserve it (No. 155). In London much irritation was caused by the attacks which appeared in Rome against the Protector and the French alliance. The merchants had a grievance of their own, complained that justice was denied them in the Roman Courts and clamoured for protection which might easily result in the issue of letters of marque (No. 256). There was some talk of sending considerable reinforcements to the Mediterranean in the spring (No. 243) and Giavarina felt convinced that great designs were in contemplation and that the States of the Church were seriously threatened (No. 251).
Anything that affected sea power in the Mediterranean was of the deepest concern to Venice, more especially because of possible consequences affecting the long drawn out war of Candia. Their interests were complicated and various. Their more immediate concern was to prevent the use by the Turks of English ships for the transport of troops and munitions of war to Crete. They also wished to retain the services of English armed merchantmen in their own fleet, and they cherished the hope of enlisting the help of Cromwell's mighty navy against the Turk, or at least that England would become involved in hostilities with the Barbary corsairs, whose ships and seamen afforded an invaluable reinforcement for the Ottoman fleet.
It was accordingly to the interest of Venice to keep on the best possible terms with Cromwell and their desire to propitiate him is constantly in evidence. In a memorandum for the Senate of August 1657 it was pointed out that England was the power most capable of assisting the republic, and recommending that an ambassador should be sent there without delay (No. 75). Some better understanding seemed necessary, for though Cromwell assured Giavarina that English ships had orders not to serve the Turks, an English ship fought the Venetians on the Turkish side in the action off the Dardanelles in July 1657 (Nos. 65, 103). On the other hand any active assistance to Venice against the Turks was strongly opposed by the merchants, and Cromwell himself explained to the Venetian Resident that the confiscation of English property in the Ottoman dominions which would inevitably follow any such action would ruin many English families (No. 111). With all their indignation against the Barbary corsairs the merchants only wished them punished if it could be done without irritating the Sultan (No. 111).
At Constantinople the Ambassador Bendish made vigorous remonstrances about the depredations of the corsairs and demanded restitution. He obtained a hearing both from the Vizier and the Sultan, but the former tried to profit by the occasion to demand the use of English ships and to protest against the grant of ships to the Venetians, as being contrary to the capitulations (Nos. 159, 163).
In April 1658 a Venetian squadron encountered four English merchantmen in the Archipelago. One of these, the Angel, had on board a Pasha and 130 Turks on their way to Tunis. Rand, the English captain, was opposed to offering any resistance, but the Turks insisted on fighting, though their musketry fire was soon overcome by the guns of the fleet (Nos. 186, 188). The Senate claimed to have sent orders to the Captain at Sea to restore the English ship and detain only the Turks and their goods. However this may have been the Angel appears four months later, a captive in the Venetian fleet, under tow with a Venetian officer in charge, apparently being used for the transport of troops. On this occasion, the cable happening to break, the English captain seized the opportunity to make good his escape and got away safely to Leghorn (No. 235). Arrived there he at once landed the troops, but retained the Venetian commander, Zane, as a hostage for the compensation which he demanded (No. 241). In spite of scandalised representations Captain Rand held on to his prisoner, keeping well out of range of the guns of the fortress, declaring that he had reported the matter to London and must await his orders from thence (No. 246). He did not put Zane ashore before the end of the year (No. 264).
In spite of some naval successes Venice was feeling the pinch of the war severely and in her financial straits was leaving her auxiliaries unpaid. The arrears had become considerable and the governor of the Levant Company demanded payment for two of their ships which had admittedly rendered excellent service, the captain of one of them having been killed in action. He refused to be put off with promises and threatened to withdraw the ships if the money was not paid (Nos. 99, 120, 147, 154, 230). The Senate treated this not unreasonable demand as pure insolence, though they were somewhat perturbed by a threat to appeal to Cromwell for letters of marque (No. 230).
That the governor should not attach much value to the Senate's promises to pay is hardly surprising, seeing that a fellow countryman, Thomas Galilee, was still appealing in vain for the money due to him for the ship Relief lost in the Venetian service seven years before, although assurances of payment were constantly being made to him, while his son still languished in slavery.
The condition of the foreign ships in the Venetian fleet is described by their own commander. He reports to the Senate that although these ships constitute the main strength of the fleet and had rendered devoted service, they were in desperate case, as they had received no money for their dilapidations and were left without cables or provisions for their men. He had relieved their necessities out of his own pocket and obtained their promise to serve for the rest of the campaign (No. 170).
The Angel affair had an unfortunate repercussion on the agreements made with the Barbary corsairs. They believed that their compatriots had been delivered over to the Venetians by collusion, and in revenge for this the Algerians carried off to slavery some shipwrecked Englishmen whom they had found, and imprisoned the English consul at their city (No. 270). Giavarina breathed a pious hope that this would lead to a new quarrel with the corsairs.
Although England and Holland were at peace, there were so many points of friction between them that an explosion seemed inevitable. It was obvious that war would not be in the interest of either state and it was probably the realisation of this by both governments that prevented a collision when events seemed to be leading straight on to one (No. 109). The claim to search ships at sea afforded a perennial subject of discord, and a joint declaration of England and France on this subject led to a demonstration at Amsterdam in favour of the Spanish ambassador Gamarra (No. 6). Connected with this question were the English designs against the Spanish treasure fleets, in which, owing to the complications of international finance, the Dutch were almost as interested as the Spaniards themselves. The Ambassador Nieuport admitted to Giavarina that it was only reasonable that the Dutch should help the Spaniards to get their treasure safely home, in which so many markets were interested (No. 3); and there were reports that the Spaniards had hired Dutch warships to escort the treasure fleet (No. 9). Officially the Dutch government denied that they had any such intention and Nieuport was commissioned to give Cromwell the most positive assurances that they had no intention of involving themselves with the Spaniards or of interfering in any way that might prejudice England, with whom they wished to preserve friendly relations (No. 53).
In England these assurances were not accepted at their face value, and with some reason. At Teneriffe Blake had found Dutch ships in the harbour which sailed away when he appeared. If they had remained he declared that he would have burned them with the rest (No. 52). Not long after the action he captured a Dutch ship from the Canaries, full of Spanish officers from the destroyed ships and carrying a part of the treasure (No. 74); two others with treasure were believed to have got safely to Amsterdam, while yet another was intercepted and brought into the Thames (No. 55).
Another cause of ill will was the use of the Spanish flag made by Dutch privateers in order to prey upon English commerce; while, on the other hand, all Dutch ships carrying Spanish goods were seized in the Thames (No. 18). Great activity was observed in the Dutch arsenals where they were said to be equipping fifty new ships, intended to resist the claim to search and the plundering of the French corsairs (Nos. 20, 26). The Dutch seemed disposed to take a high tone, and when a Maltese ship with a Dutch prize was driven by weather into an English port, they sent warships to prevent them from leaving the place and used very threatening language to the English for giving them shelter (No. 47). Cornelis Tromp was cruising about in the Channel in a manner that recalled the action of his father which had led to war five years before (No. 53).
Seeing the Dutch in this temper the English were fully prepared to meet any act of aggression. They had 52 ships of war ready to hand and felt confident in the superiority of their ships, guns and men (No. 53). The new fleet commanded by Montagu was kept in hand to watch the proceedings of the Dutch. For some weeks during this summer the two fleets remained inactive watching each other, when Montagu departed for the Flanders coast and left the Dutch free to sail for Portugal to present their demands about Brazil. The Dutch had been waiting chiefly for the settlement of their differences with the French (No. 81), which was one of several reasons that made them hesitate to provoke hostilities with England.
The departure of the fleets only relieved the tension for a short time as the situation was exacerbated immediately afterwards by the English occupation of Mardike. The Dutch could not fail to regard the establishment of their rivals on the other side of the water with the utmost concern. It was confidently stated that they had promised the Spaniards assistance in troops, food and munitions of every kind, but it behoved them to move with the utmost caution (No. 89). If they declared openly for the Spaniards they would draw on themselves the hostility of France as well as of England (No. 103).
In England it was vehemently suspected that the Dutch were secretly doing a thousand things contrary to the treaty with them, but in the Council opinion was divided as to whether any notice should be taken of their behaviour or not (No. 99). In the event nothing was done, but ill will was in no way abated. A naval treaty which had been long in negotiation made no progress because of the extravagant demands of both parties (No. 106). The newly constituted East India Company clamoured for redress for wrongs suffered in past years in those parts. Cromwell did not bend blindly to their wishes and forced them to restore a Dutch ship which they had arbitrarily seized in part satisfaction of their demands (No. 109). He was, however, much incensed by an attack made upon a homewardbound East Indiaman in the following year, and about the same time, at the reopening of parliament, he took the unusual course of publicly denouncing a nominally friendly power. He told the House that the Dutch were secretly devoted to the Spaniards, as they had proved whenever an opportunity offered. He knew that among other things for disturbing the repose of England, they were considering how to supply ships to transport thousands of troops to invade the country in the interest of King Charles (No. 139).
Such a speech might well have been the prelude to a declaration of war but Cromwell did not wish to add unnecessarily to his enemies and the Dutch were in no position to resent the affront. All their attention at the time was drawn to the war between Sweden and Denmark, involving serious danger to the Baltic trade which was so vital to them (No. 148). Downing had been sent over shortly before to act as resident at the Hague. The States looked eagerly for his arrival, as they wished for closer and more intimate relations with England (No. 131). At his first audience Downing expressed the desire of Cromwell for good relations, in spite of the stream of information that reached him that their only care was to extract advantage by fishing in troubled waters and by stirring up ill will everywhere against his government (No. 145). At a later audience Downing presented a formal remonstrance against the practice of the States in allowing their subjects to accommodate the enemies of his government with ships. The States pretended that they could not prevent individuals doing what they pleased with their own; but Cromwell was not prepared to accept this explanation.
Respect for the power of England prevented the Dutch from doing as they would have liked and impelled them to maintain the peace. Nieuport, who was sent back as ambassador to London, much against his will, was said to have instructions to propose an alliance for the maintenance of the trade in the Baltic (No. 192). To propitiate Cromwell the States intimated to the Princess of Orange the desirability of her brothers leaving the country (No. 182).
Fundamentally the situation remained the same, indeed the English occupation of Dunkirk only served to strengthen the apprehensions of the Dutch. At Paris the Ambassador Boreel waxed very excited because the States had looked idly on, without stirring a finger, and he accused the French of not knowing their true interests or their real enemies (No. 203). Dutch apprehensions were certainly well founded; already there was talk of using Dunkirk for putting a toll upon all ships passing through the Channel, with the idea of smashing Dutch trade, and a war with the Dutch was discussed as if it had already begun (No. 213). Ill feeling between the two nations was steadily growing worse and the likelihood of a rupture grew more and more apparent. Soon after Nieuport returned to London Cromwell had sent for him for a special audience, and he also showed a conciliatory spirit by releasing seven Dutch ships which Montagu had seized on suspicion (No. 204), but when Nieuport went again to Hampton Court in order to defend the States against the charges of the East India Company he was not admitted (No. 216). At the time of Cromwell's death the tension had become dangerous; the merchants would probably have welcomed a war, provided it was preceded by an adjustment with Spain (No. 245).
On the relations with the Northern powers these papers do not throw much additional light. With Charles X of Sweden Cromwell enjoyed more friendly relations than with any other prince of the time, and his efforts in the North were mainly directed to assist that monarch. Thus Meadowe was to have gone to try and prevent Denmark from intervening in favour of Poland, with an intimation that if he did so, England would have to intervene (No. 21). Similarly Bradshaw was to have gone on a like mission to Moscow (No. 29). He did actually set out for the Czar's Court and on his arrival in Courland he sent to the Muscovite Court to prepare for his reception. His messenger was dismissed with contumely, and after waiting some time in Courland Bradshaw returned to his residence at Hamburg, with nothing done. Learning later of the reasons for Bradshaw's mission the Czar regretted what had happened and sent word that he might come when he pleased, apologising for the discourtesy shown. Bradshaw sent word of this and asked what he should do. Cromwell was at first disinclined to let him go, but finally, at the repeated requests of Sweden, he relented and sent fresh instructions (No. 184).
The mission of Meadowe to Denmark had been postponed because that monarch was supposed to incline to peace. After the war with Sweden had broken out the Swedish ministers in London were constantly pressing Cromwell for help, while the Danish resident was equally active to prevent any being given, and from his conversations with the Protector he professed to be confident of success (No. 69). What Cromwell most desired was peace between these two Protestant powers, especially as he did not wish Sweden to become too powerful in the Baltic. In order to promote peace he sent Meadowe to Denmark and Jephson to Sweden (No. 83). The choice of the latter seemed curious as he was no diplomatist, but Cromwell selected him because of his knowledge of the art of war, and that he might advise the best way of supporting Sweden against his numerous enemies (No. 76). When the war turned so disastrously against Denmark the king appealed to Cromwell to mediate (No. 150).
It was hoped that the conclusion of this war would leave Charles X free to deal with his enemies in Germany, and more particularly with the House of Austria. In May 1658 the Swedish minister Barckman left London suddenly to join his master in Germany, in order to communicate what he would not venture to commit to paper. Giavarina asserts that he went to take assurances from the Protector and the promise of an alliance against the House of Austria, and that he also took a promise of money for stirring up trouble in Germany, as Cromwell was most anxious to prevent the election of Leopold as emperor. This promise is said to have been stimulated by letters from Charles threatening to make peace with Poland and Austria if his allies did not give him energetic support (No. 184). As a further concession Cromwell also gave the Swedish ministers permission to hire as many ships as they wished for the service of their master (No. 212). This seems to have been his last act in favour of Charles. The promise of money is the more remarkable because the commissioners appointed for the purpose had found that Swedish merchants were indebted to the English for over 80,000l. for damages inflicted during the Dutch war, an amount that was never likely to be paid (No. 145).
Contrary to expectation Richard succeeded to his father's place with all the smoothness of a legitimate heir. He was proclaimed in London with the usual pomp and ceremony, amid a good deal of applause (No. 222). This ceremony was repeated throughout the three kingdoms with equal success and from every side came condolences and congratulations with promises of obedience, loyalty and service. On behalf of the army Fleetwood offered the tribute of their devotion and their determination to defend the government against all who might try to disturb the peace (No. 230). The officers gathered in London also presented a paper signed by them promising the same loyalty as they had shown to his father and protesting that they would never abandon him.
All these demonstrations seemed to promise Richard a quiet and peaceful government, and he rejoiced exceedingly at his good fortune (No. 233). It is probable that this auspicious beginning was due in great measure to a belief that the royalists would take advantage of Oliver's death, and that the fear of this caused all supporters of the government and all friends of order to draw together.
It was only natural that Charles should expect to benefit by the change. Soon after the news of Cromwell's death he left his quarters near Antwerp for Breda and it was expected, in the event of war between Holland and England that he would find employment in the Dutch army (No. 223). But the Dutch had no intention of provoking such a war. An impulsive act of James, in tearing up letters from Richard to the States which had come into his hands, gave the latter occasion to order all the royalist refugees to leave their country and not to visit it so freely in the future (No. 233); and after a few days at the Hague Charles himself returned to Antwerp (No. 225). Finding the Dutch unsympathetic he went there to confer with the Spanish ministers, in order to secure their support in case any emergency should arise (No. 232). In Paris Cardinal Mazarin had a long conference with Queen Henrietta and was supposed to have offered her help for the restoration of her son to his crown, if he was in a position to make the attempt with any prospect of success (No. 224).
Meantime the royalists in England remained remarkably quiescent. Two gentlemen considered likely to cause disturbance were sent to the Tower and others were watched (No. 248); but there was no sign of any rising. The occupation of Dunkirk and the severe reverses which the Spaniards had suffered in Flanders had dissipated all hopes of an invasion with Spanish support, while so long as the war with Spain lasted it was unlikely that France would do anything for Charles. The French government, in fact, rejoiced to learn that Oliver had recommended his son to maintain the alliance, and they hoped that the Protector's death would bring about no change in the relations between the two countries (No. 227).
In the absence of opposition from enemies the solid support of Richard which had appeared at the outset, began to show signs of cracking. Less than a fortnight after Oliver's death he conferred upon Montagu a vacant colonelcy in the army. The officers took exception to the favour thus shown to a naval man. The Anabaptists among them went in a deputation to Richard and told him with some insolence that they wanted Fleetwood to be generalissimo, and that Richard had no right to make any such appointment without a council of war. Richard answered sharply that he had succeeded to his father's place as generalissimo and would defend it against any opposition with all his strength. After they had gone he followed them and saw they had gone to Fleetwood's house. Entering suddenly he found them repeating his answer to Fleetwood and the other leaders, and then and there gave them a severe verbal castigation.
This by no means settled the matter and the army officers continued to meet. They were divided in opinion, but some persisted in their demand for a new general, though Richard was determined not to give way, and by persuasion and threats won over some of them to his side (No. 245). The position in this affair of Fleetwood and Desborough, as his kinsmen, was somewhat ambiguous. The former seemed indisposed to take the generalship which the malcontents wished to thrust upon him (No. 240).
An attempt by the Council to mollify the dissatisfaction of the army by a resolution that they should receive all their arrears and that arrangements should be made for them to have their pay regularly in the future seems to have met with some success (No. 243). But the crisis had made it evident that it was essential that parliament should meet, and Richard himself was most anxious for it, if only that he might obtain a parliamentary sanction for his title.
The last weeks of the year were devoted to this business, to the exclusion of everything else, the Council meeting twice a day. Much time was lost in discussing whether there should be two houses or one (No. 258), and it took more than a week before this was settled in favour of a second house. Writs were then issued for England and Wales (No. 261), those for Scotland and Ireland having been sent out a week before.
Richard had promised that the parliament should be a free one (No. 267) though he did his best to induce the most important of the counties to nominate persons of whose loyalty he could feel sure. The first returns seemed satisfactory as they were all creatures of the late Protector (No. 264). But later it became apparent that more than one party would be represented (No. 265); among the new members were some like Fairfax, Lambert and Harrison, who had been estranged from Cromwell, besides many whose sympathies were rather with the royalists than with the Puritan government (No. 267); even the city of London chose members who were not thorough-going supporters of the existing regime (No. 266).
To provide against any possible disturbance at the opening of parliament, a regiment was brought back from Flanders and quartered near London (No. 267). Parliament was opened by Richard on 6 January. In his opening speech he dwelt on the urgent need of supply, more particularly to pay the troops, whom he characterised as the best in the world for bravery, religion and patriotism. He spoke of the Northern war and the emperor's designs, and referred to the need of supplies to carry on the war with Spain. He drew attention to the naval activity of the Dutch, and ended with a pious wish for internal peace and a promise of good government.
The first business to be considered was a bill for the recognition of the Protector's title. This matter was discussed with great freedom and some spoke with a marked lack of respect for the head of the state (No. 272). After a week spent in discussion the act of recognition was carried. Previous to this some who were found to have borne arms against the parliament had been expelled and declared incapable of sitting in that or in any other parliament (No. 273).
The success of the Court party in carrying the act of recognition was largely discounted by a clause that it should not take effect until the whole question of the government had been settled and one comprehensive act passed (No. 275). With this wide field before them parliament proceeded to waste time in debating, without method, a series of questions. The most important of these were their relations with the Upper House and the constitution of the same; the right of the members for Scotland and Ireland to vote; and finance. In discussing the Lords the House was unable to make up its mind whether to co-operate with them or not, but it decided, in spite of an effort by the Speaker to shelve the question, that those of the old nobility who had been loyal to parliament and who did not bear arms for the king should not be deprived of their right to a summons (No. 276).
The members for Scotland and Ireland numbered sixty, more than sufficient to form a quorum, and as they were all devoted supporters of the Protector, his opponents were anxious to exclude them, (fn. 11) claiming that by a snatch vote they might pass something which the majority would not approve (No. 271). The question was discussed off and on, but nothing definite was settled, and further waste of time was ensured by a decision to deal with each of the two countries separately (No. 278). In the matter of finance the House claimed to have a detailed account of everything and called for reports from the commissioners of the army and navy (No. 272). These reports with others from the treasury were then referred to a committee set up for the purpose (No. 275).
In this way the House continued to jump from one question to another leaving everything unsettled (No. 276). The grievous waste of time disturbed and saddened the Protector, because all business was thereby brought to a standstill. But he could only look helplessly on and patiently await the issue. He was not the man to take vigorous decisions, like his father, whose opinions he did not entirely share (No. 267). He could not run the risk of irritating the people by a dissolution, because he could not depend on the army. The higher officers were on his side, because he held the patronage, but the lower ranks were growing restless from lack of pay (272).
Among the people at large there were ominous signs of a reaction against the government. A petition to parliament was being prepared in the name of the city of London, but widely supported throughout the country, to take the army out of the Protector's hands and deprive him of his vote, and that his Council should be chosen by parliament (No. 272). When Major General Overton, who had been banished to Jersey by Oliver was fetched back by order of parliament, his entry into London resembled a triumph, although the Court had directed him to come modestly, without any show (No. 276). The Court took vigorous action to punish this contempt of its authority, and in the midst of it all the general was dragged out of his coach by soldiers and carried to St. James' palace; but almost immediately afterwards he was released by parliament, who also issued an order for the release of all those detained in any of the islands of the republic (No. 278).
Signs of the reaction against Oliver's memory had appeared even earlier. His funeral had been designed on a scale of unprecedented magnificence (No. 230), but when the day appointed arrived, the ceremony was postponed. The reason given officially was that everything was not ready, but the impression abroad was that it was owing to fear of a disturbance (No. 248). The ceremony took place eventually 17 days later. A great crowd gathered to see the spectacle, troops of horse and foot being dispersed about the city to prevent disturbance. Most of the foreign ministers attended, but Richard was not there. It was an empty show. Only a wax figure was carried from Somerset House to the Abbey; Oliver's body had been privately buried some weeks before (No. 251).
The new government showed a great jealousy for its dignity. No time was lost in informing the foreign ministers that the formalities usual on the death of a great prince would be expected, and that no one would be admitted without fresh letters of credence (Nos. 222, 225). But foreign powers were in no hurry to commit themselves before they had some reasonable assurance of the permanence of Richard's rule. Nieuport was the first to go to audience, on behalf of the States (No. 233). Bordeaux for France and others of less importance followed suit after a short interval (No. 240). But no one sent a special mission, (fn. 12) and Giavarina believed that the somewhat fulsome friendliness shown to him by Richard was inspired by the hope that the Venetian republic would supply this much desired recognition (No. 247).
Abroad, as well as at home, there were signs that Oliver's system was crumbling. Rumours of secret negotiations between France and Spain for peace and a marriage caused misgivings at the English Court and they became urgent for the renewal of the alliance and for an attack to be made on Nieuport or Ostend in the spring (No. 268). Mazarin was not showing himself so complacent an ally as heretofore. When Lockhart complained to him that the French had not paid a penny of the money their cavalry had raided from the peasantry, for the garrison of Dunkirk, as they had promised, the Cardinal replied tartly that since the English had already broken many articles of the treaty, France also was not bound to keep them all. If the English would keep their agreements punctually they would meet with a return that would leave nothing to be desired (No. 252). A further cause of complaint was the failure of the French to send commissioners to London to settle the claims of the merchants of both countries for their losses, as had been agreed, and more particularly for the failure of the French to induce the governor of Brittany to give redress for the capture of a rich merchantman, after the conclusion of the peace (No. 256).
All was not well with the army in France. A body of recruits was cut up by the Spaniards quite close to Mardick (No. 243). The garrison of Dunkirk was in considerable arrears of pay, and owing to the activities of the Ostend privateers, who captured most of the provisions sent over to them, they were very short of food (No. 252). Probably for these reasons, discipline was becoming lax, and one day, while Lockhart was absent, the troops robbed the peasants who had brought their produce to market, as usual (No. 249). From his visit to England Lockhart brought back 6,000l. to pay the men, but the sum was clearly inadequate (No. 265).
In spite of brilliant successes the war with Spain had always been unpopular, especially with the merchants. They saw their valuable trade with the Spanish dominions going to the Dutch. The capture of treasure gave them no satisfaction, as they themselves had interests in the fleets from the Indies and were always glad to hear of their safe arrival (No. 256). Meanwhile their own ships suffered severely from the depredations of enemy privateers. Since hostilities began it was estimated that over 200 merchantmen, great and small, belonging to the port of London, had been lost in this way, reducing many families to extreme want (No. 271).
The capture of Dunkirk brought some relief, and the merchants were pleased that they would no longer have to suffer from the enterprising seamen of that place (No. 198). The footing gained on that side also promised to open up trade with Flanders. This was forbidden by express decree of the Spanish government, but with the English so near it could hardly be prevented (No. 152). Yet peace was intensely desired by the trading community and feelers were thrown out by the merchants on both sides. The Dutch ambassador Nieuport told a confidant that the king of Spain had asked the Dutch government to mediate, but the Hollanders profited too greatly by the war to wish to intervene, and England would always prefer the good offices of Venice (No. 252). The merchants looked eagerly for every possible chance of an accommodation; they had hopes of parliament (No. 271), and when a Polish ambassador was announced, he was supposed to be bringing overtures (No. 275).
The one solid achievement of the war was the occupation of Jamaica. After an uncertain beginning the colony seemed to have got fairly on to its feet. A force of 600 Spaniards left in the island had been rounded up; the governor by kindness had won the affection of the natives; the population was increasing and cultivating the land with such success that the colony promised soon to become self supporting (Nos. 38, 106). The only thing they needed from the mother country was shoes, of which a goodly supply was sent out to them (No. 167). The island had also become a military outpost of some value. An attack on the colonists from Cuba was repulsed with considerable loss to the assailants, and the colonists themselves retaliated with a raid on Cuba, inflicting extensive damage and bringing away a quantity of booty (No. 167). Another and later attack on the island was also repulsed with heavy loss to the enemy (No. 234).
The place promised to be useful as a base for operations against the Spaniards in other ways. Orders were sent to the governor to station feluccas off the ports of Cuba to watch for the sailing of the galleons and to forward the intelligence with all speed, to facilitate the capture of the treasure fleet, or at least to prevent it from reaching Spain (No. 212).
The most serious imbroglio for the new government occurred in connection with the war in Denmark. In view of the ruin which would overtake them if the Danes were completely driven away from the Sound, the Dutch government decided to declare openly for Denmark against Sweden (No. 223). Encouraged by an assurance from their Ambassador Nieuport that there was no sign that Sweden would get anything but words from England (No. 249), they sent a considerable fleet under Opdam to the Baltic, which fought a fierce battle with the Swedes, in which both sides claimed the victory. The news caused a great impression in England. The Council spent many hours in discussing the matter. The Swedes were importunate for naval help and are said to have promised the English the castle of Kronborg with control of the Sound (No. 251). After due deliberation the Council decided to send to the Sound the fleet of 25 sail that was to have gone in search of the Spanish galleons (No. 249). After some unsuccessful attempts at a start, a fleet of 20 ships sailed under Goodson on 18 December, but they encountered such terrible hardships that they were constrained to return. They returned in scattered fashion, the ships severely damaged and the men, who had not perished, nearly all sick, owing to the extreme cold (No. 265).
The first expedition of the government had thus ended in disaster. But they were not discouraged and immediately set to work to get ready another and more formidable fleet to assist the Swedes. But before the end of March Montagu was in the Naseby in command of a squadron of forty powerful ships, all ready to put to sea. He was to take with him Sir George Ayscue and a number of experienced seamen, who had been engaged by Sweden to help them with their navy. The Swedish ministers were pressing urgently that this fleet might be speedily despatched (No. 276).
War with Holland seemed inevitable. Already Downing had received orders to withdraw with all promptitude and secrecy the capital of English merchants in Dutch territory (No. 249). In Holland they were actively equipping fresh fleets and their Arsenals were at work day and night, not even resting on Sundays (Nos. 261, 273). But they were most anxious to avoid a rupture. Even the fire eating Boreel declared that the States did not desire the ruin of the king of Sweden, but only the preservation of Denmark. They only wanted peace for themselves and everybody (No. 263). Orders were sent to Opdam for the purpose of avoiding a clash with the English, and reinforcements which were being prepared for the Baltic were countermanded (No. 258). As an earnest of their good will the Dutch agreed to a settlement between the East India Companies of the two countries, by which they promised to pay the English for all the prizes taken in the Indies without raising any difficulties and with the utmost promptitude. It was stated that they paid more than the value of the property taken in order to buy peace and have free navigation (No. 273). In order to escape from a dangerous situation they were sending a mission to try and arrange peace between Denmark and Sweden, as if they could save Denmark, secure the passage of the Sound and avoid a rupture with the English they would consider it their best course (No. 279). France also was ready to intervene with her good offices for an adjustment, if not between the Swede and the Dane at least between the English and the Dutch (No. 259).
Brief mention may be made here of a few miscellaneous items. There is little about Cromwell's personality, only that he liked to take a hand in everything (No. 5), and his inability to touch wine (No. 47). He was infatuated with his son-in-law Faucombridge and delighted to find that, like Mrs. Gilpin, he had a frugal mind (No. 112). The hunting accident to Richard is represented as much more serious than has generally been supposed, indeed that he was in great danger owing to inflammation (No. 85). Similarly the collapse of the staircase at Whitehall on 2 February, is said to have caused the death of some and very serious injury to others, including the Speaker (No. 9). Two serious epidemics are recorded, one in the summer of 1657, and the other in the spring of the following year. The mortality was high, in each case, but the disease was not supposed to be infectious (Nos. 81, 171, 172). The latter epidemic was attributed to the extreme severity of the weather. In the early months of 1658 the falls of snow were very heavy, and when these melted the rivers were swollen and the floods were out. The Thames in particular overflowed its banks destroying many houses and drowning several persons (No. 154). The season was marked by violent northerly winds which blew for six months almost without intermission (No. 171). The Puritan government tried to suppress the observance of Christmas day and decreed that the shops should remain open. The people clung to their ancient customs and took no notice of the order. The merrymakers apparently escaped molestation, but those who went to church were arrested (No. 123). Some Quakers who went to Holland from London were arrested when they began to preach their doctrines, as the States did not want the introduction of new faiths (No. 8). There is an account of the origin of the Gunpowder Plot in which Robert Cecil, acting under orders from James, figures as an agent provocateur (No. 5). It is stated that those arrested for the royalist conspiracy of the summer of 1658 were induced to confess by the fear of torture (No. 187). Among the many ministers who came to the English Court was an ambassador from Florida. He was shipwrecked on the road, and his interpreter being drowned, he was unable to make himself understood. He came to England stark naked, but the severity of the climate induced him to adapt himself to the prejudices of the country (No. 120). An old foreign minister passed away in July 1657. This was Salvetti, who had been resident for the Grand Duke of Tuscany for over fifty years (No. 63).