Page images


"Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughter'd saints, whose bones Lie scatter'd on the Alpine mountains cold; Even them who kept thy truth so pure of old, When all our fathers worship'd stocks and stones, Forget not; in thy book record their groans Who were thy sheep, and in their ancient fold Slain by the bloody Piedmontese, that roll❜d Mother with infants down the rocks.* Their moans The vales redoubled to the hills, and they

To heaven. Their martyr'd blood and ashes sow
O'er all the Italian fields where still doth grow
A hundred fold, who have learn'd thy way,
Early may fly the Babylonian woe."

The compassion and liberality of the Lord Protector were most remarkably exemplified on this occasion. In a narrative, published by special order of the Lord Protector and his Council, preserved by Morland, p. 585, it is said of Cromwell: "Having upon his spirits a deep sense of their calamities, which were occasioned by the faithful adherence to the profession of the Reformed religion, was pleased not only to mediate

* Morland relates, that "a mother was hurl'd down a mighty rock, with a little infant in her arms; and three days after was found dead with the little child alive, but fast clasped between the arms of the dead mother, which were cold and stiff, insomuch that those who found them had much ado to get the young child out."-History of the Vallies of Piedmont, folio, London, 1655, with plates.

by most pathetic letters on their behalf to the King of France and Duke of Savoy, but did also seriously invite the people of this nation to seek the Lord, by prayer and humiliation, in reference to their thus sad condition and future life.'

It is pleasing to be informed, by the same historian, of "the notable effects of the intercession of His Highness for the poor distressed Protestants of the Valleys of Piedmont, upon the spirits of the neighbouring princes and states of the Protestant profession:"* it was an high honour to have been the instrument in the hand of Divine Providence, of delivering the prey from the fang of the oppressor.

"There was," says Mr. Banks, "yet a farther design, very advantageous to the Protestant cause with which Cromwell intended to have begun his kingship, had he taken it upon him; and that was, the instituting a council for the Protestant religion, in opposition to the congregation de propaganda at Rome. This body was to consist of seven counsellors, and four secretaries for different provinces. The secretaries were to have £500. a year salary a piece, to keep correspondence every where; £10,000. a year was to be a fund for ordinary emergencies: further supplies were to be provided as occasions required; and

* Morland's History, p. 597.

[ocr errors]

Chelsea College, then an old ruinous building, was fitted up for their reception: this was a great design, and worthy of the man who had formed it."*


The following letters, written by MILTON to the potentates of Europe, entreating their assistance to put a stop to the cruelties of the Duke of Savoy, show the sentiments and feelings of the Lord Protector, who appears in the most amiable light as an enlightened and pious Protestant, and ought certainly to find a place in a Life of MILTON, as they doubtless exhibit, in a strong point of light, the characteristic features of his spiritual and ardent mind in the cause of pure and undefiled religion, of oppressed and suffering humanity.†

OLIVER, Protector of the Republick of ENGLAND, SCOTLAND, and IRELAND, To the most Illustrious Prince of TARENTUM, greeting:

"Your love of religion, apparently made known in your letters to us delivered, and your excelling piety and singular affection to the

* Political Life of Cromwell, p. 229.

+ These Letters are printed from Philips's Life of Milton, published 1694.

Reformed Churches, more especially considering the nobility and splendor of your character, and in a kingdom too, wherein there are so many and such abounding hopes proposed to all of eminent quality that revolt from the orthodox faith, so many miseries to be undergone by the resolute and constant, gave us an occasion of great joy and consolation of mind. Nor was it less grateful to us that we had gained your good opinion, upon the same account of religion, which ought to render your Highness most chiefly beloved and dear to ourselves. We call God to witness, that whatever hopes or expectations the churches, according to your relation, had of us, we may be able one day to give them satisfaction, if need require, or at least to demonstrate to all men how much it is our desire never to fail them. Nor should we think any fruit of our labours, or of this dignity or supream employment which we hold in our Republick greater, than that we might be in a condition to be serviceable to the enlargement, or the welfare, or which is more sacred, to the peace of the Reformed Church. In the mean time, we exhort and beseech your Lordship to remain stedfast to the last minute in the orthodox religion, with the same resolution and constancy, as you profess it received from your ancestors with piety and zeal. Nor, indeed, can there be any thing more worthy yourself, or your religious

parents, nor in consideration of what you have deserved of us, though we wish all things for your own sake, that we can wish more noble and advantageous to your Lordship, than that you would take such methods, and apply yourself to such studies, that the churches, especially of your native country, under the discipline of which your birth and genius have rendered you illustriously happy, may be sensible of so much the more assured security in your protection, by how much you excel others in lustre and ability.

"Whitehall, April, 1654."

"OLIVER the Protector, &c. To the most Serene Prince, IMMANUEL Duke of SAVOY, Prince of PIEMONT, greeting:


"Letters have been sent us from Geneva, as also from the Dauphinate, and many other places bordering upon your territories, wherein we are given to understand, that such of your Royal Highness's subjects as profess the Reformed Religion, are commanded by your Edict, and by your authority, within three days after the promulgation of your Edict, to depart their native

« PreviousContinue »