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LETTERS

TO AND FROM

EMINENT PERSONS.

1. From Algernon Sidney, in answer to one persuading his return

to England soon after the Restoration. SIR, I AM sorry I cannot in all things conform myself to the advice of my friends. If theirs had any joint concernment with mine, I would willingly submit my interest to theirs ; but when I alone am interested, and they only advise me to come over as soon as the act of indemnity is past, because they think it is best for me; I cannot wholly lay aside my own judgment and choice. I confess, we are naturally inclined to delight in our own country, and I have a particular love to mine: I hope I have given some testimony of it. I think that being exiled from it is a great evil, and would redeem myself from it with the loss of a great deal of my blood. But when that country of mine, which used to be esteemed a paradise, is now like to be made a stage of injury; the liberty which we hoped to establish, oppressed; all manner of profaneness, looseness, luxury, and lewdness, set up in its height, instead of piety, virtue, sobriety, and modesty, which we hoped God, by our hands, would have introduced ; the best of our nation made a prey to the worst; the parliament, court, and army.corrupted; the people enslaved; all things vendible; and no man safe but by such evil and infamous means as flattery and bribery; what joy can I have in my own country in this condition ? Is it a pleasure to see all that I love in the world sold and destroyed ? Shall I renounce all my old principles, learn the vile court arts, and make my peace by bribing some of them? Shall their corruption and vice be my safety? Ah! no; better is a life among strangers, than in my own country upon such conditions. Whilst I live, I will endeavour

VOL. III.

to preserve my liberty; or, at least, not consent to the de stroying of it. I hope I shall die in the same principles in which I have lived, and will live no longer than they can preserve me. I have in my life been guilty of many follies; but, as I think, of no meanness. I will not blot and defile that which is past by endeavouring to provide for the future. I have ever had in my mind, that when God should cast me into such a condition as that I cannot save my life but by doing an indecent thing, he shews me, the time is come wherein I should resign it. And when I cannot live in my own country but by such means as are worse than dying in it, I think he shews me, that I ought to keep myself out of it. Let them please themselves with making the king glorious, who think a whole people may justly be sacrificed for the interest and pleasure of one man and a few of his followers. Let them rejoice in their subtilty, who, by betraying the former powers, have gained the favour of this, and not only preserved but advanced themselves in these dangerous changes. Nevertheless, perhaps, they may find the king's glory is their shame : his plenty, the people's misery; and that the gaining an office, or a little money, is a poor reward for destroying a nation, which, if it were preserved in liberty and virtue, would truly be the most glorious in the world : and others may find, they have, with much pains, purchased their own shame and misery; a dear price paid for that which is not worth keeping, nor the life that is accompanied with it. The honour of English parliaments has ever been in making the nation glorious and happy; not in selling and destroying the interest of it to satisfy the lust of one man. Miserable nation! that from so great a height of glory is fallen into the most despicable condition in the world, of having all its good depending upon the breath and will of the vilest persons in it! Cheated and sold by them they trusted! Infamous traffick, equal almost in guilt to that of Judas! In all preceding ages parliaments have been the pillars of our liberty; the sure defenders of the oppressed. They who formerly could bridle kings, and keep the balance equal between them and the people, are now become the instruments of all our oppressions, and a sword in his hand to destroy us.' They are led by a few interested persons, who are willing to buy ofe. fices for themselves by the misery of the whole nation, and the blood of the most worthy and eminent persons in it. Detestable bribes! worse than the oaths now in fashion in this mercenary court! I mean to owe neither my life nor liberty to any such ineans. When the innocence of my

actions will not protect me, I will stay away till the storm be overpast. In short, where Vane, Lambert, and Haslerigge cannot live in safety, I cannot live at all. If I had been in England I should have expected a lodging with them: or, though they may be the first, as being more eminent than I, I must expect to follow their example in suffering, as I have been their companion in acting. I am most in amaze at the mistaken informations that were sent to me by my friends, full of expectations of favours and employments. Who can think, that they who imprison them, would employ me; or suffer me to live, when they are put to death! If I might live and be employed, can it be expected, that I should serve a government that seeks such detestable ways of establishing itself? Ah! no-I have not learned to inake my own peace by persecuting and betraying my brethren more innocent and worthy than myself. I must live by just means, and serve to just ends, or not at all. After such a manifestation of the ways by which it is intended the king shall govern, I should have renounced any place of favour, into which the kindness and industry of my friends might have advanced me, when I found those that were better than I, were only fit to be destroyed. I had formerly some jealousies, the fraudulent proclamation for indemnity increased them. The imprisoning those three men and turning out all the officers of the army, contrary to promise, confirmed me in my resolutions not to return.

To conclude, the tide is not to be diverted, nor the oppressed delivered; but God in his time will have mercy on his people. He will save and defend them, and avenge the blood of those who shall now perish, upon the heads of those who in their pride think nothing is able to oppose them. Happy are those whom God shall make instruments of his justice, in so blessed a work; if I can live to see that day, I shall be ripe for the grave, and able to say with joy, Lord now lettest thou thy servunt depart in peace, &c.

Farewell; my thoughts as to king and state, depending upon their actions, no man shall be a more faithful servant to him than I, if he make the good and prosperity of his people his glory; none more his enemy if he does the contrary. To my particular friends I shall be constant in all occasions, and to you,

A most affectionate Servant, 1756, Sept.

A. SIDNEY,

Farewer lettest inipe for did a worked shall me able

II. Oliver Cromwell to his Son-in-law, Gen. Fleetwood.

Aug. 22, 1653. DEAR CHARLES, ALTHOUGH I doe not soe often as is desired (by mee) acquaint you how it is with me, yet I doubt not of your prayers on my behalfe, that in all things I may walk as becometh the gospel. Truly I never more needed all helps from my christian friendes than nowe; fain would I have my service accepted of the saincts (if the Lord will) but it is not soe, beinge of different judgments, and of each sort some seekinge to propagate their owne, that spirit of kindnesse that is to them all, is hardly accepted of any. I hope I can say it, my life bas been a willing sacrifice, and my hope is for them all, yet it much falls out, as when the two Hebrews were rebuked, you knowe upon whome they turned their despleasure: but the Lord is wise, and will I trust make manifest that I am po enemie.

O howe easie is mercie to be abused ! Persuade friendes with you to be very sober; if the day of the Lord be so neare (as some say) howe should our moderation appear! If every one instead of contendinge, would justifie his forme by love and meeknesse, wisdom would be justified of her children; but, alass! I am in my temptation ready to say I would I had winges like a dove, then would I Aie away and be at rest! But this I feare is my haste. · I blesse the Lord, I have somewhat keepes me alive, some sparkes of the light of his countenance, and some synceritye above man's judgment. Excuse mee thus unbowelling myselfe to you, and pray for mee, and desire my friendes to doe soe also. My love to thy dear wife, whome I indeed entyrely love both naturally, and upon the best account; and my blessinge, if it be worth any thinge, upon thy little babe.

Sir George Ascough having occasions with you, desired my letters to you on his behalfe; if hee come or send, I pray you show him what favoure you can ; indeed his services have been considerable for the state, and I doubt he has not beene answered with suitable respect; therefore againe I desire you and the commissioners to take him into a very peculiar care, and help him soe farr as justice and reason will any waies afford. Remember my hearty affec. tions to all the officers ; the Lord blesse you all, soe prayeth, Your truly loving father,

O. CROMWELL 1761, May.

III. Oliver Cromwell to the Speaker of the House of Commons,

on founding a College at Durham.

SIR,

HAVING received information from the mayor and citizens of Durham, and some gentlemen of the northerne countys, that upon theire petition to the parliament, that the houses of the late Deane and Chapter in the citie of Durham might be converted into a colledge or schoole of literature, the parliament was pleased in May last, to referr the same to the committee for removeing obstructions in the sale of Dean and Chapters lands, to consider thereof, and to report theire opinion therein to the house, which said committee (as I am also informed) have so far approved thereof as that they are of opinion that the said houses will be a fit place to erect a colledge or schoole for all the sciences and litera. ture, and that it will be a pious and laudable worke, and of great use to the northerne parts, and have ordered Sir Arthur Hesilrige to make report thereof to the house ac, cordingly. And the said citizens and gentlemen having made some addresse to me to contribute my assistance to them therein, to which, in so good and pious a worke, I could not but willingly and hartily concurr; and not knowing wherein I might better serve them, or answer their desires, than by recommending the same to the parliament by, Sir, yourself, their speaker, I do therefore make it my humble and earnest request, that the house may be moved as speedily as conveniently may be, to hear the report of the said business from Sir Arthur Hesilrige, that soe the house, taking the same into consideration, may doe therein what shall seem meete for the good of those poore countries. Truly it seems to me a matter of great concernment and importance, as that which (by the blessing of God) may much conduce to the promoting of learning and piety in those poore, rude, and ignorant parts, there being also many concurring advantages to this place, as pleasantness and aptness of scituation, healthful aire, and plenty of provisions, which seem to favour and plead for theire desire therein. And besides the good (so obvious to us) those northerne counties may reape thereby, who knowes, but the setting on foote of this worke at this time may suit with God's present dispensations, and may, if due care and circumspection be used in the right constituteing and carrying

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