334. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to
Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 1)
The Protector, still lame from his recent accident, was unable
to attend parliament, which has been discussing his interests
very scrupulously. His chief supporters made amends for his
absence. They represented the prosperous state of England at
the moment, her formidable naval and military forces which
secured for her the respect and dread of all her neighbours and
the treaties of peace which added so much to her repute. They
attributed these results to the present form of government and
said they at once proclaimed the merits and ability of Cromwell
and the prudence of his Council. Accordingly they urged
parliament to take steps to express their approval and consolidate
so wise and profitable a government. These sentiments
were echoed by the majority who have since discussed the matter
repeatedly, in order to establish the present form of government
and guard against such inconvenience as might arise from the
Parliament has therefore been canvassing the important point
of an hereditary or elective protectorate and much has been said
on both sides, the majority being always in harmony with the
Protector's views, as they will always be. It is hoped that in
a few days some decision will be formed in this essential matter
as well as on some others affecting the duration and authority
of the existing government. Although it is expected that
Cromwell will carry this point also, yet the following circumstance
must be borne in mind. A number of army leaders appeared
before him asserting boldly that the present rule did not give
entire satisfaction ; that the promises made had been broken and
that so much bloodshed had been ill requited. Feeble in frame
but strong in spirit Cromwell expressed surprise at such language
from military men who were bound to give energetic support
to the government in which they held the principal part, if not
the whole executive. This consideration alone ought to stand
in lieu of all claims. To satisfy these he had already risked
everything and should continue to do so. But he must add that
if they themselves were dissatisfied with this military supremacy
he was always ready to shed his own blood for the quiet of the
kingdom and the welfare of the people. The officers went away
astonished rather than dismayed at these words and have not
taken any further steps, although a section of the army would
certainly approve, who resent Cromwell's despotism.
In spite of his efforts for popularity and notwithstanding threats
and punishments the Protector cannot prevent ebullitions of ill will.
The malcontents did not neglect even so trifling an opportunity as
the late accident for venting their spleen and sent notes to the
preachers requesting them to pray and implore the prayers of their
congregations for an ill advised coachman who had undertaken
to manage three kingdoms, with other satirical expressions. The
authors are unlikely to be discovered, in spite of the strictest enquiries,
although the notes were immediately suppressed. Meanwhile
Cromwell dissembles, watching an opportunity for revenge on this
license of speech and punishing those who deserve his wrath.
Nothing has been heard lately either for or against the
negotiations with France, though as news is constantly arriving
of the seizure of French bottoms by English cruisers the hopes
of a good issue seem to vanish. There is now a fresh act of
aggression to report. Some English frigates have landed troops
in Canada and expelled the French, making themselves masters
of the most important ports and of considerable booty. They
continue in possession of the country and mean to annex it to
the English colonies. The news is of consequence and confirmation
Much has been said of late in parliament about religion,
especially about Catholicism. This gains ground daily in this
city in spite of severe penalties, and the house has therefore
set apart two days in the week for the exclusive discussion of the
matter, to remedy the abuses already caused by letting things
slide, so some new regulation will probably result for the greater
persecution of the Papists, who are extremely hated here.
In reply to your Excellency's letter of the 29th ult. I hope that
the Senate's friendliness will be reciprocated here but circumstances
prove clearly that they are more prone to talk than to decide here
and they put off foreign affairs, however important, for the most
trifling domestic occurrence. But this neglect, the result of inexperience,
is shown to all sovereigns and the English are so impressed
with their own importance and their own usages that they expect
any form of negotiation adopted by them to be admitted, nor can it
be denied that friendly proposals, such as those alluded to by your
Excellency, pour in upon them from every side.
London, the 2nd November, 1654.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
335. Giacomo Quirini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to
the Doge and Senate.
Monsieur Mazerol, a gentleman of the Prince of Condé (fn. 2) who
has arrived at Madrid from England, says that in London they
are talking a great deal about demanding of the Spaniards the
release of Duke Charles of Lorraine in return for a money payment.
The truth is that for some days the secretary of the duke has
been in close conference with Don Luis.
Madrid, the 4th November, 1654.
336. To the Resident at Florence.
Insist upon the necessity for close observation above everything
of the proceedings of Guise's force and of the English
squadron commanded by General Blach, as he has done hitherto.
Ayes, 166. Noes, 4. Neutral, 0.
337. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to
Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 3)
Cromwell is now perfectly recovered and has returned to the
helm, but I am still waiting for a reply to my overtures and can
report no decision from the government which is entirely guided
by the bias of the Protector. All the foreign ministers complain
more of these delays than of any other grievance, but there is
no remedy but patience, for the system is unalterable. In the
present case there is some excuse as attention has been of late
directed exclusively to the settlement of the succession. After
protracted debates in the Commons the majority have voted in
favour of an elective protectorate in preference to an hereditary
one, but with certain restrictions touching services rendered to
the commonwealth by the future nominee and his deserts and
prerogatives. The Protector adapts himself to this vote and
he would not insist on the right of succession for his sons to
avoid increasing the odium which he might draw on himself
by perpetuating the supreme control of England in the persons
of himself and his heirs. He is satisfied to enjoy it for his own
life and hopes in this way more easily to compass his ends, than
if he opposed the decisions of parliament. This will not prove
difficult as he exercises absolute sway over the soldiers and on
the dissolution of the parliament, now near at hand, he will
enact what laws he pleases, unrestrained ; so his present supremacy
may be expected to last for life, whereas, if he falls, his own
statutes and those of parliament as well will be equally disregarded
in the confusion caused by a fresh struggle for the sweets of
power. This vote is especially unpalatable to his two sons but
particularly the elder, who already shares the Protector's dignity
and gives outward signs of his thirst for domination and command.
The younger son is secretly devoted to the memory of the late
king and to the royal family. He thinks of little but of living
privately and enjoying the ease and liberty conceded him by his
father, but neither of them has inherited the high spirit and deep
knowledge of their parent in the important affairs of state or of
The French minister and the commonwealth commissioners
have again resumed their negotiations sedulously, but although
their conferences have been frequent and protracted nothing
has transpired in favour of a satisfactory result. But the longer
the affair remains under discussion the greater is the alarm of
the Spanish ambassador as he fully realises that any friendly
arrangement between England and France must prove deeply
injurious to Spain. So these two ministers may be said to be
watching each other and manoeuvring as rivals, though if France
does not grant the demands of the English the treaty may easily
be broken off and they will persevere in their aggression here.
The news of the seizure of the approach to Canada by a few
English ships is confirmed, by which means this country makes
itself practically mistress of the French colonies.
Possibly on this account and certainly because of the present
negotiations between France and Spain this country continues
to bear the cost of more than 60 men of war. After much
uncertainty and expectation these are still without any fixed
destination. Time shows that the real object of the squadron is
to use it to cull benefits from the current negotiations of both
France and Spain and to secure Cromwell himself in his seat,
princes both near and far being thus made to ponder and dread
the policy and power of the present government of England.
Captain Gallilee's father has been to thank me with tears in
his eyes for the release of his son, as ordered by the Senate, of
which he had heard from Consul Hobson. He assured me that
he had drawn up a statement of the whole to present to the
Protector and his Council. He added that on the payment of
the money owed him he hoped the public favour would enable
him to help his son and family, for which he had been obliged to
use half the amount already, as the consul would certify.
The ordinary has not arrived this week.
London, the 7th November, 1654.
338. Giacomo Quirini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to
the Doge and Senate.
Don Luis volunteered the information that Cromwell had
established his supremacy in England by force ; there was a
great scarcity of money in London ; the fleet for the Mediterranean
was detained in port, and that from now forward every one might
hope that this great savage beast would be devouring itself.
Madrid, the 11th November, 1654.
339. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to
Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 4)
I am awaiting the reply to my offices, but it is rendered
difficult by the increasing turmoil in the government, which
cannot yet be considered stable, and although it may appear so for a
moment the scene is subject to sudden changes, as now. The malady
seems to be rather internal than on the surface and the embarrassment
is supposed to be due to the independent supremacy claimed by the
Protector and to the party spirit in parliament. The majority
signed the test but it is now evident that most of the signatures were
given with the covert object of investigating the present state of affairs
and enabling parliament to meet and confer and to sift matters to
the uttermost. The house has consequently been occupied with the
reform of the present government and apparently does not intend to
leave the 43 articles drawn up by the Protector's authority at his
absolute discretion or to leave him absolute command of the army.
This appears to be the real sentiment of the parliament which may
easily be confirmed by reason and by truth. But they find more
open support and encouragement from the military in opposition
to Cromwell's arbitrary rule. A number of colonels and other
officers have again presented the Protector with a remonstrance
bearing several signatures asserting their right to complain because,
after all the miseries of the civil war they find things taking a worse
turn than ever. Some add that if this is not stopped and parliamentary
liberty respected they are ready to shed the rest of their
blood for the freedom of the commonwealth and the privileges of the
nation, now abolished by the violence of personal government.
The Protector perused this paper and answered it briefly and
gravely, trying to soothe rather than to irritate the petitioners. He
is now intent on the suppression of these humours for if they continue
and increase they cannot fail to lead to deplorable events most
injurious to him personally. Meanwhile parliament sits daily and
there can be no doubt about its having an understanding with a
section of the army as otherwise any attempt to uphold the national
privileges in opposition to the Protector must necessarily fail.
During these events a variety of pamphlets hostile to the government
have circulated in London denouncing the present rule as tyrannical ;
that regardless of all the blood that has been shed, of the death of the
late innocent and legitimate king and of the privileges and liberties
of the nation, everything is now made to depend on the will of a
single individual, who deems all past oaths, promises and pledges
null, and only aims at absolute rule, for the sole purpose of gratifying
his personal ambition and vain glory, which are masked by
extreme hypocrisy and the semblance of religious zeal. Such is
the tenor of printed pamphlets which have appeared these last few
days. Although they were seized and suppressed at once, search
being made for both authors and printers, there is no doubt that
their contents and the justice of the cause have made a great impression
on the excited minds of the people here. But the public prefers
silence to clamour and while these outbursts serve to disclose the
malcontents Cromwell seeks to stifle discontent in all quarters by
address rather than by violence. He also takes into account the
brief authority of parliament. But if the plots against him continue
he probably intends to use force and crush them entirely. This will
not be difficult so long as he can depend on the main body of the army ;
though if the soldiers favour parliament and insist on security for
their arrears the Protector will find it difficult to keep his seat. He
certainly seems to have more need of caution at this moment than at
any former period. Others assert that his immense talents and good
fortune will dispel all these clouds and establish him more firmly than
ever. Thus what he may do in self defence against the parliament
and the possible attacks to which that body may subject him excite
extraordinary interest so that the present state of affairs promises
some notable event ere long.
Owing to these domestic events all negotiations are suspended,
especially those with France which still seem remote from any
amicable settlement especially as both in the Atlantic and the
Mediterranean mutual acts of hostility are constantly occurring.
It was stated recently that the French fleet in the Mediterranean
is constantly chasing all the English ships it encounters, so the
merchants concerned as well as the nation generally are anxious
for the advance of Blach's squadron and if it falls in with the
French fleet there is little doubt but that the salute will be given
with shotted guns.
The only news from Scotland is that although the insurgents
are weak they keep the generals of the Commonwealth constantly
busy and on the alert to prevent the Highlanders from making
head and raising fresh levies and gatherings.
Two full regiments of horse marched into London lately, the
Protector having ordered up reinforcements. I have nothing
more to report as the course of events here does not permit of
any sure inferences, changes taking place when least expected, as
shown by the past and present history of this commonwealth.
London, the 14th November, 1654.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
340. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to
Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 5)
Home affairs still monopolise their attention here and these last
days great agitation has been caused by the excessive demands
presented to the Protector by the fleet, and by the free speech
of some of its commanders as well as of certain military officers.
Great excitement also prevails in London about the form of the
present government, and parliament does not fail to discuss the
question at every sitting, undoubtedly with a view to take some
definite step before the dissolution.
Cromwell is on the watch listening to everything as what is
now brewing undoubtedly affects him personally. But his
interests are supported by the votes of his adherents in the House
and with their aid and time he hopes to attain his private ends
and preserve the supreme authority he now exercises. His
enemies, on the other hand, lose no opportunity of assailing him
with satire. Besides the pamphlets reported other libels have
been printed more recently of a most seditious nature, pouring
the grossest abuse on him and the government. When this came
to the notice of parliament a vote of censure was passed, orders
and ample powers being given for the discovery of the authors
or at least of some of the accomplices.
In addition to the freedom shown by the officers, as mentioned,
some of the troops have been guilty of insubordination and have
disobeyed the Protector's commands, claiming several months'
pay in advance in the event of their leaving the harbours of
England. They also insist on knowing their destination. Upon
this Cromwell, in conjunction with parliament sent one of the
three admirals (fn. 6) to them with orders to ascertain the real object of
the squadron, which expressed its entire devotion to the orders
of parliament, and to return with all speed. As a salve for the
present ill-humour and without loss of time Cromwell sent down
a considerable sum of money for the fleet. In this affair the
Protector has shown every mark of deference for parliament,
throughout in conjunction with it, though he made the house
understand suavely that as the entire care of the army and navy
was vested in him, he must provide and distribute such sums as
are necessary for the maintenance and satisfaction of the forces.
Many of the members resented this most warmly, considering
that everything connected with supply depended on parliament
alone, but Cromwell's partisans in the house supported his views.
Nothing has yet been settled and this is still one of the chief
questions for decision, because if the revenue is confided to him
as well as the army and navy, he becomes at once master of the
entire resources of the country.
Before dissolving parliament will doubtless settle many
political questions as well as many of the Protector's claims,
whose prerogative may be more or less curtailed.
The fleet, which certainly prefers parliament to the Protector,
is expected to remain at anchor. This seems more probable in
view of the approaching dissolution, for not only did it hesitate
to obey Cromwell's orders to put to sea, but remonstrated freely,
so that it became absolutely necessary to obtain funds for its
satisfaction. Many think that unless something fresh happens
it will not leave port this winter as the government may need
its support at home or even against the Dutch, as the news from
Holland relates that Friesland has joined some of the other
Provinces in favour of the Prince of Orange, with some shadow
of support from France, against the Province of Holland, which,
linked with England, is the only one of the States opposed to
the House of Nassau, which thus seems more likely to be established
The more definite the reports of the strength of the French
fleet in the Mediterranean the greater the satisfaction felt here
at the advance of Blach in that direction, who is supposed to be
strong enough to engage it at the first opportunity. There is
talk of sending out reinforcements to him and there can be no
doubt that any extension or increase of the French forces at sea
will render the English more anxious for supremacy both in the
Ocean and the Mediterranean.
I have nothing favourable to report about any adjustment
between the two nations as all negotiation seems suspended, the
unsettled state of this government offering scant security for
the observance of treaties. Captures at sea are more frequent
than ever and in 40 days the English have taken as many French
vessels large and small.
London, the 23rd November, 1654.
341. Giacomo Quirini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to
the Doge and Senate.
General Blach with 23 ships of war provisioned for a year, has
entered the port of Cadiz. Although by agreement between the
two countries they are not allowed to approach fortifications with
more than ten ships at a time, the Duke of Medina Celi has laid
aside all punctilio and shown them every possible courtesy,
sending them refreshments and compliments with exceedingly
Blach has sailed towards the Strait and news of his arrival in
the Mediterranean is expected. The General is supposed to be
going against the Levant, although others maintain that he
intends to restore the prestige of the arms and name of England
in the hearts and in the ports of the princes of our province.
Madrid, the 25th November, 1654.
342. Giovanni Ambrosio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at
Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
An English ship has arrived at Leghorn from Algiers in twelve
days. It came from London, laden with all kinds of munitions
of war. With these it set at liberty and has brought here all
the English slaves who were in that place.
General Blach with his numerous squadron of ships of war is
believed to have arrived in the Mediterranean by now, indeed
all the merchants of Leghorn write that they think he cannot be
far off. Nothing is known about the orders which he brings with
him, only that he may go first of all to Barbary and more particularly,
Florence, the 28th November, 1654.