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- The Life of John Milton Vol. 3 1643-1649 - 110/128 -


itself, to withdraw him from the Isle of Wight at that critical moment. Accordingly, on the 2lst of November, Fairfax had penned a letter to Hammond from St. Alban's, requiring his presence with all possible speed at head-quarters, and ordering him to leave the island meanwhile in charge of Colonel Ewer, the bearer of the letter. This letter did not reach Hammond till Nov. 25 (the very day when Cromwell was writing to him from Yorkshire); and it was not then delivered to him by Colonel Ewer in person, but by a messenger. The next day, Sunday, Nov. 26, Hammond wrote from Carisbrooke Castle to the two Houses of Parliament, informing them of what had happened, enclosing a copy of Fairfax's letter, and signifying his intention of obeying it. This communication was brought to London with all haste by Major Henry Cromwell, Oliver's second son, then serving under Hammond, and was the subject of discussion in both Houses on the 27th. Fairfax's intervention between Parliament and one of its servants was condemned as unwarrantable; a letter to that effect, but in mild terms, was written to Fairfax; and Major Cromwell was sent back with a despatch from both Houses to Hammond, instructing him to remain at his post. Before this despatch reached Hammond, however, there had been a meeting between him and Ewer, and some intricate negotiations, the result of which was that he and Ewer left the island together, Nov. 28, bound for the Army's head-quarters (then removed to Windsor)--Hammond entrusting the charge of the island in his absence, with strict care of the King's person, to Major Rolph and Captain Hawes, his subordinates at Newport, in conjunction with Captain Bowerman, the commandant at Carisbrooke Castle. Ewer having thus succeeded in withdrawing Hammond from his post, and having doubtless made other necessary arrangements while he hovered about the island, the execution of what remained was left to other hands, and principally to Lieutenant-colonel Cobbet and a Captain Merryman. [Footnote: Lords Journals, Nov. 27 and 30; Parl. Hist. III. 1133 _et seq._; Rushworth. VII. 1338 _et seq._ In most modern accounts Ewer simply comes to the Isle of Wight, displaces Hammond, and removes the King. Not so by any means. It was a complicated transaction of seven or eight days; Ewer was _in_ the trans-action, and perhaps the principal in it; but, except in his interview with Hammond, he keeps in the background.]

Not till the evening of Thursday, Nov. 30, does any suspicion of what was intended seem to have been aroused in the mind of the King. He was then still in his lodgings in Newport. The Treaty had come to an end three days before; the Parliamentary Commissioners for the Treaty had returned to London; most of the Royalist Lords and other Counsellors who had been assisting the King in the Treaty had also gone; only the Duke of Richmond, the Earls of Lindsey and Southampton, and some few others, remained. The stir through the island attending the close of the Treaty and the departure of so many persons had probably covered the coming and going of Ewer, his interview with Hammond, and certain arrivals and shiftings of troops which he had managed. But on the Thursday evening, about eight o'clock, the Duke of Richmond, the Earl of Lindsey, and a certain Colonel Cook, who was with them, were summoned from their lodgings in the town to the King's. A warning had that moment been conveyed to his Majesty that there were agents of the Army at hand to carry him off. Immediately Colonel Cook went to Major Rolph's room, and interrogated him on the subject. The answers were cautious and unsatisfactory. The fact was, though Major Rolph dared not then divulge it, that he and his fellow-deputies, Captain Hawes and Captain Bowerman, knew themselves to be superseded by Lieutenant-colonel Cobbet and Captain Merryman, who had arrived that day with a fresh warrant from Fairfax and the Army Council, empowering them to finish what Ewer had begun. Only inferring from Rolph's uneasiness that something was wrong, Colonel Cook returned to the King and the two Lords. There was farther consultation, and a second call on Rolph; after which Cook volunteered to go to Carisbrooke Castle for farther information. It was an excessively dark night, with high wind and plashing rain; and the King consented to the Colonel's going only after observing that he was young and might take no harm from it. The Colonel, accordingly, groped his way through the dark and rain over the mile and a half of road or cross-road intervening between Newport and the Castle. His object was to see the commandant, Captain Bowerman. After some considerable time, spent under the shelter of the gateway, he was admitted and did see Captain Bowerman, but only to find him sitting sulkily with about a dozen strange officers, who were evidently his masters for the moment, and prevented his being in the least communicative. Nothing was left for the Colonel but to grope his way back to Newport. It was near midnight when, with his clothes drenched with wet, he reached the King's lodgings; and there, what a change! Guards all round the house; guards at every window; sentinels in the passages, and up to the very door of the King's chamber, armed with matchlocks and with their matches burning! Major Rolph, glad to be out of the business, had gone to bed. They managed to rouse him, and to get the sentinels, with their smoke, removed to a more tolerable distance from the King's chamber-door. Then, for an hour or more, there was an anxious colloquy in the King's chamber, the Duke of Richmond and the Earl of Lindsey urging some desperate attempt to escape, but the King dubious and full of objections. Nothing could be done; and, about one o'clock, the Earl and the Colonel retired, leaving the King to rest, with the Duke in attendance upon him. There were then several hours of hush within, disturbed by sounds of moving and tramping without; but between five and six in the morning there came a loud knocking at the door of the King's dressing-room. When it had been opened, after some delay, a number of officers entered, headed by Colonel Cobbet. Making their way into the King's chamber, they informed him that they had instructions to remove him. On his asking whither, they answered, "To the Castle;" and, on his farther asking whether they meant Carisbrooke Castle, they answered, after some hesitation, that their orders were to remove him out of the island altogether, and that the place was to be Hurst Castle on the adjacent Hampshire mainland. Remarking that they could not have named a worse place, the King rose, was allowed to summon the Earl of Lindsey and all the rest of his household, and had breakfast. At eight o'clock coaches and horses were ready, and the King, having chosen about a dozen of his most confidential servants to accompany him, and taken a farewell of the rest of the sorrowing company, placed himself in charge of Colonel Gobbet and the troop of horse waiting to be his escort. Having seated himself in his coach, he invited Mr. Harrington, Mr. Herbert, and Mr. Mildmay to places beside him. Colonel Gobbet, as the commander of the party, was about to enter the coach also, when his Majesty put up his foot by way of barrier; whereupon Cobbet, somewhat abashed, contented himself with his horse. The cavalcade then set out, gazed after by all Newport, the Duke of Richmond allowed to accompany it for two miles. A journey of some eight miles farther brought them to the western end of the island, a little beyond Yarmouth; whence a vessel conveyed them, over the little strip of intervening sea, to Hurst Castle that same afternoon (Dec. 1). The so-called Castle was a strong, solitary, stone blockhouse, which had been built, in the time of Henry VIII., at the extremity of a long narrow spit of sand and shingle projecting from the Hampshire coast towards the Isle of Wight. It was a rather dismal place; and the King's heart sank as he entered it, and was confronted by a grim fellow with a bushy black beard, who announced himself as the captain in command. The possibility of private assassination flashed on the King's mind at the sight of such a jailor. But, Colonel Cobbet having superseded the rough phenomenon, the King was reassured, and things were arranged as comfortably as the conditions would permit. [Footnote: Rushworth, VII. 1344-8 (narrative of Colonel Cook); _Ib._ 1351 and Parl. Hist. III. 1147-8 (Letter to Parliament from Major Rolph and Captains Hawes and Bowerman); and Sir Thomas Herbert's Memoirs of Charles I. 112-124. The day of the King's abduction from Newport has been variously dated by historians. It was really Friday, Dec. 1.]

Meanwhile Fairfax and the Army, by whose orders, all punctually written and dated, this abduction of the King had been effected, were on the move to take advantage of it. On Monday the 27th of November, the Commons, instead of taking up the consideration of the Grand Army Remonstrance as they had proposed, had again adjourned the subject. On Wednesday the 29th, accordingly, there was a fresh manifesto from Fairfax and his Council of Officers at Windsor. After complaining of the delays over the Remonstrance and of the continued infatuation of the Commons over the farce of the Newport Treaty, they proceeded. "For the present, as the case stands, we apprehend ourselves obliged, in duty to God, this kingdom, and good men therein, to improve our utmost abilities, in all honest ways, for the avoiding those great evils we have remonstrated, and for prosecution of the good things we have propounded;" and they concluded with this announcement, "For all these ends we are now drawing up with the Army to London, there to follow Providence as God shall clear our way." This document, signed by Rushworth, reached the Commons on the 30th. They affected to ignore it, and still refused, by a majority of 125 to 58, to proceed to the consideration of the Army's Remonstrance. Next day, Friday Dec. 1, the tune was somewhat changed. The advanced guards of the Army were then actually at Hyde Park Corner, and the City and the two Houses were in terror. Saturday, Dec. 2, consummated the business. Despite an order bidding him back, Fairfax was then in Whitehall, his head-quarters close to the two Houses, and his regiments of horse and foot distributed round about. London and Westminster were, in fact, once more in the Army's possession. Nevertheless both Houses met that day in due form, and there was a violent debate in the Commons over the Treaty as affected by the new turn of affairs. The debate broke off late in the afternoon, when it was adjourned till Monday by a majority of 132 to 102. The news of the abduction of the King to Hurst Castle had not yet reached London, and Cromwell was still believed to be at Pontefract. [Footnote: Commons and Lords Journals of Nov. 27 to Dec. 2, 1648: Parl. Hist. III. 1134-1146; Rushworth, VII. 1349-59.]

CHAPTER II.

TROUBLES IN THE BARBICAN HOUSEHOLD: CHRISTOPHER MILTON'S COMPOSITION SUIT: MR. POWELL'S COMPOSITION SUIT: DEATH OF MR. POWELL: HIS WILL: DEATH OF MILTON'S FATHER--SONNET XIV. AND ODE TO JOHN ROUS-ITALIAN REMINISCENCES: LOST LETTERS FROM CARLO DATI OF FLORENCE: MILTON'S REPLY TO THE LAST OF THEM--PEDAGOGY IN THE BARBICAN: LIST OF MILTON'S KNOWN PUPILS: LADY RANELAGH--EDUCATIONAL REFORM STILL A QUESTION: HARTLIB AGAIN: THE INVISIBLE COLLEGE: YOUNG ROBERT BOYLE AND WILLIAM PETTY-- REMOVAL FROM BARBICAN TO HIGH HOLBORN--MEDITATIONS AND OCCUPATIONS IN THE HOUSE IN HIGH HOLBORN: MILTON'S SYMPATHIES WITH THE ARMY CHIEFS AND THE EXPECTANT REPUBLICANS--STILL UNDER THE BAN OF THE PRESBYTERIANS: TESTIMONY OF THE LONDON MINISTERS AGAINST HERESIES AND BLASPHEMIES: MILTON IN THE BLACK LIST--ANOTHER LETTER FROM CARLO DATI: TRANSLATION OF NINE PSALMS FROM THE HEBREW--MILTON THROUGH THE SECOND CIVIL WAR: HIS PERSONAL INTEREST IN IT, AND DELIGHT IN THE ARMY'S TRIUMPH: HIS SONNET TO FAIRFAX--BIRTH OF MILTON'S SECOND CHILD: ANOTHER LETTER FROM CARLO DATI.

The two years and four months of English History traversed in the last chapter were of momentous interest to Milton at the time, were preparing an official career of eleven years for him at the very centre of affairs, and were to furnish him with matter for comment, and indeed with risk and responsibility, to the end of his days. While they were actually passing, however, his life was rather private in its tenor, and we have to seek him not so much in public manifestations as in his household and among his books.

PROBLEMS IN THE BARBICAN HOUSEHOLD: CHRISTOPHER MILTON'S COMPOSITION SUIT: MR. POWELL'S COMPOSITION SUIT: DEATH OF MR. POWELL: HIS WILL: DEATH OF MILTON'S FATHER

We left the household in Barbican a rather overcrowded one, consisting not merely of Milton, his wife, their newly-born little girl, his father, and his two nephews, but also of his Royalist father-in-law Mr. Powell, with Mrs. Powell, and several of their children, driven to London by the wreck of the family fortunes at Oxford. For some months, we now find, the


The Life of John Milton Vol. 3 1643-1649 - 110/128

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