29 APRIL 1899, Page 33


[To THE EDITOR OF THE "SPECTATOR.") 141:241"‹ Sin,—It is a well-known truism that distance lends enchant- ment to the view, and the saying applies with full force to the "Protector," who is glorified in these his tercentenary days by heroic names such as "champion of religious liberty," "the greatest man England/ver produced, to whom the country owes liberty, &c., &c." Such epithets are specially used by Nonconformists, who believe that he was their particular protector; all honour to him if such he had been impartially. It is therefore an interesting comment on this belief to read is how one eminently conscientio sect regarded Cromwell when he lived, and for this .purpos I quote from the fascinating "History of the Fells of S arthmoor," zealous followers of George' Fox, the "Quaker" leader, one of whom became his wife. In a letter to a Member of Cromwell's Parliament Margaret Fell wrote :—" Now be ye judges, ye pretenders to liberty of conscience. Consider what liberty you yourselves give to tender consciences. Oh! how dare you profess reformation when cruelty and tyranny rules in the land you govern. Look back and see if ever there was the like under all the Kings and Bishops since Queen Mary's days. who burned the martyrs."/the taunt as to tender consciences probably alludes to the loud remonstrance of Cromwell and his Government against the cruelty and intolerance exercised by the Papacy towards the Waldenses, even raising a subscription for them in England, whilst their own jails were crowded with persecuted Quakers. Again, Francis Howgill writes to Margaret Fell from London on 5th month, 1655:—" Thy letters I have received ; those to Oliver Cromwell are both delivered into his hand. He is full of subtlety and deceit, will speak fair but hardens his heart, and acts secretly underneath. Most of our army [of preachers] is scattered, broken, and cast into prison." Again :—" About a year after Thomas Aldam's re- lease from York Castle, Oliver Cromwell, affecting to dis- believe the statements which the ' Friends ' placed before him, of the great number of their brethren who were imprisoned, Aldam and Anthony Pearson visited the prisons throughout England, taking down the names of every `Friend' they found incarcerated. Then they waited on the Protector, presenting the document stating what they had seen. Finding him determined not to interfere, Thos. Aldam took his cap from his head and rending it, exclaimed, 'So shall the Government of this nation be rent from thee and thy house.'" This happened in 1655, so it was not long before he saw his prophecy fulfilled.—I am, Sir, &c., Ellergreen, Kendal, April 25th. MARY W. CROPPER.