Imágenes de páginas

his uncle, Sir Oliver Cromwell, who was his godfather. His father, Robert Cromwell, efq. fecond fon of Sir Henry Cromwell, knight, enjoyed an estate in or near Huntingdon, of about three hundred pounds a year; and to ease the expences incident to a numerous progeny, carried on, besides, an extensive trade in the brewery; and being fond of a private and domeftic life, he lived and died in that town.

No prefages of the future greatness of our hero marked his birth; at least none have been handed down to us. An incident that threatened to put an early period to that existence which teemed with fo much mingled glory and infamy, muft not, however, be omitted.

While he was yet an infant, being at Hinchinbrook, the refidence of his grandfather Sir Henry Cromwell, a monkey, which was imprudently fuffered to go loofe, took him from the cradle, and ran with him up to the leads of the house, where he ftood, exhibiting all the imitative tricks of his fpecies. The family, greatly alarmed for the safety of the child, ran with beds, blankets, &c. to the fpot on which it was expected to tumble from the

[blocks in formation]

arms of its inexperienced nurse, in order to break its fall; but the fagacious animal, to the great joy of the anxious beholders, brought. young Oliver down, with the fame care and circumfpection that he had conveyed him to the dangerous eminence.

Whether this incident may, be construed into an ominous token of his future exaltation, and of the manifold anxieties and hazards that pre-eminence was attended with, is left to the opinion of the reader; as likewife are the following traditions, which are faid not to want credible authentications.

Hinchinbrook, at that time the seat of Sir Oliver Cromwell, as being near Huntingdon, was generally one of the resting places on any excursions of the royal family into the North. When Charles the First (then duke of York) was on his journey from Scotland to London, in the year 1604, he called at that place. The knight, to divert the young prince, fent for his nephew Oliver, that he, in addition to his own fons, might play with his Royal Highnefs. But they had not been long together, before Charles and Oliver disagreed; and the former being weakly, and the latter strong, the royal vifitant was worfted. Even at this


early age, Oliver fo little regarded dignity, that he made the blood flow in copious ftreams from the prince's nofe. When the civil wars afterwards commenced, and Oliver began to grow confpicuous, this circumftance was confidered as no very favourable prefage for the king.

Oliver likewife ufed to aver, that as he lay one night awake, a gigantic figure opened the curtains of his bed, and told him that he fhould be the greatest perfon in the kingdom. The word king was not mentioned; but from a part of the fubfequent conduct and expectation of Oliver, it may be fuppofed that he concluded the expreffion made ufe of to convey that idea. Upon his repeating it in the morning, he was feverely chaftifed by his schoolmafter, at the particular requeft of his father. And though he was told that it was traitorous to relate it, yet he could not be prevented from frequently repeating it: and often, after he had arrived at the height of his glory, he fpoke of it as a fact, and noticed the accomplishment of it. But, to return.

Oliver's father, who appears to have been a gentleman of good fenfe and competent learning, placed him at the free grammar school

[blocks in formation]

of Huntingdon, where the proficiency he made in his fcholaftic ftudies has been a matter of difpute; by fome it is faid to have been very confiderable, by others it has been no less decried; but from his fpeeches, and from other instances, where he had occafion to exhibit proofs of his learning, nothing more than mediocrity is obfervable.

In his ftudies he was very excentric and inconfiftent, now applying himself with unremitting affiduity for a few weeks, then becoming indolent for as many months.

Traits of his character would alfo at this time break out.

While he was at the grammar school, it was a custom for the fcholars to perform a play once a year. Upon one of these occafions, the comedy of Lingua, or, The Combat of the Tongue and the Five Senfes for the fuperiority, was fixed upon. The plan of this play, which was printed in 1607, is, that Lingua gives a crown and royal robe to be contested for by the Senfes. Tactus, one of the principal perfona of the piece, having ftumbled over the crown and robe, as they Jay on the ground, it gives rife to the follow

In many


its prefent perpendicular pofition; which took up more than a year. inftances were the inhabitants of Rome obliged to Sixtus for beautifying and embellishing their city. It is faid, that what he did, in the few years he was pope, towards adorning his metropolis, exceeded all that had been done by the Roman emperors. Every body was amazed to fee fo many vaft undertakings executed with fuch resolution and celerity, by a perfon who was at the fame time fo attentive to the concerns both of church and state.

While Sixtus was induftrious in accumulating wealth for the neceffities of the State, he was not forgetful of his own family. Contrary to his affected delicacy in this point, before he had obtained the papacy, he neglected no opportunity of aggrandizing them by riches, or honours, or noble and powerful alliances.

The establishment of his fifter Camilla, as already mentioned, was equal to that of the first of the nobility. He created his nephew a cardinal in the first month of his pontificate, allowing him a princely income, and heaping upon him the moft honourable and

[blocks in formation]
« AnteriorContinuar »