« PreviousContinue »
corery to some present who were false brethren, and informed Cromwell of all that passed among them.
Be this as it may, he was now quite in the confidence of Cronwell and his adherents. As he had attended at the siege of Oxford, so he did also at that of Wallingford, where he acted the part of secretary, and kept a strong garrison in his seat of Fawley-court, for the use of the prevailing powers. In Dec. 1646, we find bim earnestly promoting the ordinances for taking away all coercive power of committees; and all arbitrary power from both or either of the houses of parliament, or any of their committees, in any matter between party and party, judging that to be for the honour of parliament, and the ease and right of the people; and being well skilled in foreign affairs, he was usually in 'every committee relating to them. At the same time be did not neglect his profession, but attended the assizes, and was inuch employed. In Sept. 1647, the city of Louidon were very desirous of appointing him to the office of recorder, but this he declined, as well as that of speaker of the House of Commons. He was soon after appointed one of the commissioners of the great seal, and sworn into that office April 12, 1648, with a salary of 1000l. a year. He now resigned his place of attorney of the duchy of Lancaster, which, with his practice, amounted to more than he gained by bis new office, while even in it be soon began to think bimself insecure, and looked upon the self-denying ordinance, as it was called, to be contrived to remove him. When the army began to controul the House of Commons, be made some of those salutary reflections, which, it is to be regretted, did not occur sooner to him. take notice," said he, “ of the uncertainty of worldly af. fairs; when the parliament and their army had subdued their common enemy, then they quarrelled among themselves, the army against the parliament; when they were pretty well pieced together again, then the apprentices and others made an insurrection against the parliament and army: Thus we were in continual perplexities and dangers, and so it will be with all who shall engage in the like troubles.”
The fate of the unhappy king being determined, Whitelocke was appointed one of the committee of thirty-eight, who were to draw up a charge against his majesty; but he never attended, as he totally disapproved of that measure, and therefore went into the country. He returned to London, however, while the king's trial was pending, but took
“ We may no concern with it, and refused afterwards to approve the proceedings of the high court of justice, as it was called. His memorandum on the king's death is thus expressed : “ Jan. 30, I went not to the House, but stayed all day at home in my study and at my prayers, that this day's work might not so displease God, as to bring prejudice to this poor afflicted nation.” That he was sincere in all this, or in some of his former professions respecting peace, seems very doubtful, for on Feb. 1 following, he declared in the House of Commons bis disapprobation of the vote of Dec. 5, namely, “ That his majesty's concessions to the propositions of the parliament, were sufficient grounds for settling the peace of the kingdom.” He also drew up the act for abolishing the House of Lords, although he had declared his opinion against it, and also introduced a declaration to satisfy the minds of the people as to the proceedings of parliament.
On Feb. 8, he was appointed one of the three lords commissioners of the new great seal of the commonwealth of England. He appears disposed to apologize for accepting this office, and his apology is a curious one; “ because he was already very deeply engaged with this party : that the business to be undertaken by him was the execution of law and justice, without which men could not live one by another; a thing of absolute necessity to be done.” On the 14th of the saine month, he was chosen one of the thirty persons who composed the council of state. A few months after he was elected high-steward of Oxford. The commissioners of the great seal being about this time in want of a convenient dwelling, parliament granted them the duke of Buckingham's house. In June, Wbitelocke made a learned speech to the new judges in the court of Common-pleas, who were then sworn into their offices. In November, he opposed a motion made in the House of Conmons, that no lawyers should sit in parliament; and in 1650 made a very learned speech in the House, in defence of the antiquity and excellence of the laws of England.
In Sept. 1651 Whitelocke was appointed, with three other members of parliament, to go out of town to meet Cromwell, then on his way to London, and congratulate him upon his victory at Worcester. Shortly after Whitelocke was present at a meeting at the speaker's house, where several members of parliament, and principal officers of the army were assembled, by Cromwell's desire, to consider about settling the affairs of the kingdom (See CROMWELL, p. 57), and soon after he had a private conference in the Park with the usurper, who seemed to pay much regard to his advice, but, not finding him so pliable as he could wish, contrived to get bim out of the way by an ap. parently honourable employment, and therefore procured him to be sent ambassador to Christina, queen of Sweden. This appointment was preceded by some singular circumstances very characteristic of the times. Whoever has looked into Whitelocke's “Memorials" will perceive the language of religion and devotion very frequently introduced. That in this he was sincere, we have no reason to doubt, but it would appear that he had not come up exactly to the standard of piety established under the usurped government. When the council of state reported to the parliament that they had fised upon Whitelocke as a fit person for the Swedish embassy, a debate arose in the house, and one of the inembers objected, “ that they knew not whether he were a godly man or not," adding, that “though he might be otherwise qualified, yet, if he were not a godly man, it was not fit to send him ambassador.” To this another member, who was known not to be inferior in godliness to the objector, shrewdly answered, “ that godJiness was now in fashion, and taken up in form and words for advantage sake, more than in substance for the truth's suke; that it was difficult to judge of the trees of godliness or ungodliness, otherwise than by the fruit; that those who knew Whitelocke, and his conversation, were satisfied that he lived in practice as well as in a profession of godliness ; and that it was more becoming a godly man to look into his own heart, and to censure himself, than to take upon him the attribute of God alone, to know the heart of another, and to judge him.” After this curious debate, it was voted, that the lord commissioner Whitelocke be sent ambassador extraordinary to the queen of Sweden." When
Whitelocke accordingly set out from London on this embassy Nov. 2, 1653, and a very few weeks after his departure, Cromwell assumed the supreme authority under the title of lord protector. Whitelocke was received in Sweden with great respect, and supported his character with dignity. Queen Christina, who shewed him many civilities, entertained him not only with politics, but with philosophy; and created him knight of the order of Amarantha, and hence he is sometimes styled sir Bulstrode.
He displayed great abilities for negotiation, and concluded a firm alliance between England and Sweden about the beginning of May 1654. In 1772, Dr. Morton, secretary of the Royal Society, published the history of this embassy, under the title of " A Journal of the Swedish Ambassy, in the years 1653 and 1654. From the commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Written by the ambassador the lord commissioner Whitelocke. With an Appendix of Original Papers," 2 vols. 4to. These papers Dr. Morton received from Whitelocke's grandson, Carleton Whitelocke, of Prior's wood, near Dublin, esq. This very curious work may be considered as a necessary addition to his “Memorials,” and contains a large assemblage of facts and characteristic anecdotes illustrative of the times and the principal personages, printed literally from the author's manuscript.
After his returo home he received the thanks of the parliament, and had also 2000l. ordered him for the expenses of his embassy, but according to his own account these favours were not bestowed with a very good grace. He says in the conclusion of the journal of the embassy, “ The sum of all was, that, for å most difficult and dangerous work, faithfully and successfully performed by Whitelocke, he had little thanks, and no recompense, from those who did employ him; but not long after was rewarded by them with an injury: they put him out of his office of commissioner of the great seal, because he would not betray the rights of the people, and, contrary to his owu knowledge, and the knowledge of tbose who imposed it, execute an ordinance of the Protector and his council, as if it had been a law. But in a succeeding parliament, upon the motion of his noble friend the lord Broghill, Whitelocke had his arrears of disbursement paid him, and some recompense of his faithful service allowed unto him.” It was indeed not until 1657 that the 2000l. above-mentioned was paid, with the addition of 500l. which is probably what he means by “some recompense.” The ordinance to which he alludes, was one framed by Cromwell, after the dissolution of his little parliament, for what he pretended was “the better regulating and limiting the jurisdiction of the high court of Chancery." Whitelocke, finding his opposition to this in vain, resigned the great seal in June 1655. In Jan. 1656, he was chosen speaker of the House of Commons pro tempore, during the indisposition of sir Thomas Widdrington, who had been appointed to that office. During the remainder of Oliver Cromwell's protectorate, Wbitelocke appears to have been in and out of favour with bim, as he more or less supported his measures. The last instance of Oliver's favour to him, was his signing a warrant for a patent to make him a viscount, but Whitelocke did not think it convenient to accept of this honour, although he had received his writ of summons as one of the lords of the “other house," by the title of Bulstrode lord Whitelocke.
Richard, the new protector, made him one of the keepers of the great seal, but this ceased when the council of officers had determined to displace Richard, on which occasion Whitelocke became one of their council of state. During this confusion, he was accused of holding a correspondence with sir Edward Hyde, and other friends of Charles II. which he positively denied, and by joining in the votes for renouncing the pretended title of Charles Stuart, and the whole line of king James, and of every other persop as a single person pretending to the government of these realms, as well as by other measures, he endeavoured to prove bis attachment to the republican cause. In the rest of his conduct he seems, even by his own account, to have been irresolute, and inconsistent, or if consistent in any thing, it was in so yielding to circumstances as not to appear very obnoxious to either party, As he had, however, attached himself so long to the enemies of the king, the utmost he could expect was to be allowed to sink into obscurity. Yet it was by a small majority only that he was included in the act of pardon and oblivion which passed after the restoration. When he had obtained this, he was admitted into the presence of Charles II. who received him very graciously, and dismissed him in these extraordinary words; “Mr. Whitelocke, go into the country; don't trouble yourself any more about state affairs; and take care of your wife and your sixteen chile dren." This must have mortified a man who had acted so conspicuous a part in state affairs. He took his majesty's advice, however, and spent the remaining fifteen years of his life at Chilton-park in Wiltshire, and died there January 28, 1676. He was interred in the church of Fawley in Buckinghamshire.
Mr. Wbitelocke was thrice married, first to Miss Bennet, of the city of London, by whom he had a son James, who