Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

There had been three prior elections, sufficiently spirited ; and had issued, each of them, in what we may call a futile shriek ; their Parliaments swiftly vanishing again.

Sure enough, from whatever cause it be, the world, as we said, knows not anywhere of the smallest authentic notice concerning this matter, which is now so curious to us, and is partly becoming ever more curious. In the old Memoirs, not entirely so dull when once we understand them ; in the multitudinous rubbish-mountains of old Civil-War Pamphlets (some thirty or fifty thousand of them in the British Museum alone, unread, unsorted, unappointed, unannealed !), which will continue dull till, by real labour and insight, of which there is at present little hope, the ten-thousandth part of them be extracted ; and the nine-thousand nine-hundred and ninety-nine parts of them be eaten by moths, or employed in domestic cookery when fuel grows scarce ;- in these chaotic masses of old dull printing there is not to be met with, in long years of manipulation, one solitary trait of any election, in any point of English land, to this same Long Parliament, the remarkablest that ever sat in the world. England was clearly all alive then,—with a moderate crop of corn just reaped from it; and other things not just ready for reaping yet. In Newcastle, in the Bishoprick' and that region, a Scotch Army, bristling with pike and musket, sonorous with drum and psalmbook, all snugly garrisoned and billeted with 850l, a-day ;' over in Yorkshire an English Army, not quite so snugly; and a •Treaty of Ripon' going on; and immense things in the wind, and Pym and Hampden riding to and fro to hold 'consults :' it must have been an election worth looking at ! But none of us will see it ; the Opacities have been pleased to suppress this election, considering it of no interest. It is erased from English and from human Memory, or was never recorded there,—(owing to the stupor and dark nature of that faculty, we may well say). It is a lost election ; swallowed in the dark deeps : premit atra Nox. Black Night; and this one fact of Anthony Wood's more or less faintly twinkling there!

In such entire darkness, it was a welcome discovery which the present Editor made, of certain official or semi-official Documents, legal testimonies and signed affidavits, relative to the Election for Suffolk, such as it actually showed itself to men's observation in the Town of Ipswich on that occasion : Documents drawn-up under the exact eye of Sir Simonds D'Ewes, High-Sheriff of Suffolk; all carefully preserved these two centuries, and still lying safe for the inspection of the curious among the Harley Manuscripts in the British Museum. Sir Simonds, as will be gradually seen, had his reasons for getting these Documents drawn-up; and luckily, when the main use of them was over, his thrifty historical turn of mind induced him to preserve them for us. A man of sublime Antiquarian researches, Law-learning, human and divine accomplishments, and generally somewhat Grandisonian in his ways; a man of scrupulous Puritan integrity, of highflown conscientiousness, exactitude and distinguished perfection ; ambitious to be the pink of Christian country-gentlemen and magistrates of counties ; really a most spotless man and HighSheriff : how shall he suffer, in Parliament or out of it, to the latest posterity, any shadow from election-brabbles or the like indecorous confusion to rest on his clear-polished character ? Hence these Documents ;—for there had an unseemly brabble, and altercation from unreasonable persons, fallen-out at this Election, which might have ended in blood,' from the nose or much deeper, had Sir Simonds been a less perfect HighSheriff! Hence these Documents, we say; and they are preserved to us.

The Documents, it must be at once owned, are somewhat of the wateriest : but the reader may assure himself they are of a condensed, emphatic, and very potent nature, in comparison with the generality of Civil War documents and records ! Of which latter indeed, and what quality they are of, the human mind, till once it has earnestly tried them, can form no manner of idea. We had long heard of Dulness, and thought we knew it a little ; but here first is the right dead Dulness, Dulness its very self! Ditch-water, fetid bilge-water, ponds of it and oceans of it; wide-spread genuine Dulness, without parallel in this world : such is the element in which that history of our Heroic Seventeenth Century as yet rots and swims! The hapless inquirer swashes to and fro, in the sorrow of his heart: if in an acre of stagnant water he can pick-up half a peascod, let him thank his stars !

This Editor, in such circumstances, read the D'Ewes Documents, and re-read them, not without some feeling of satisfaction. Such as they are, they bring one face to face with an actual election, at Ipswich, in Mr. Hambies' field, on Monday

the 19th of October 1640, an extreme windy day. There is the concrete figure of that extreme windy Monday, Monday gone Two-hundred and odd years : the express image of Old Ipswich, and Old England, and that Day; exact to Nature herself, —though in a most dark glass, the more is the pity! But it is a glass; it is the authentic mind, namely, or seeing-faculty, of Sir Simonds D'Ewes and his Affidavit-makers, who did look on the thing with eyes and minds, and got a real picture of it for themselves. Alas, we too could see it, the very thing as it then and there was, through these men's poor limited authentic picture of it here preserved for us, had we eyesight enough ;-a consideration almost of a desperate nature ! Eyesight enough, O reader : a man in that case were a god, and could do various things !

We will not overload these poor Documents with commentary. Let the public, as we have done, look with its own eyes. To the commonest eyesight a markworthy old fact or two may visibly disclose itself; and in shadowy outline and sequence, to the interior regions of the seeing-faculty, if the eyesight be beyond common, a whole world of old facts, -an old contemporary England at large, as it stood and lived, on that 'extreme windy day,'—may more or less dimly suggest themselves. The reader is to transport himself to Ipswich ; and, remembering always that it is two centuries and four years ago, look about him there as he can. Some opportunity for getting these poor old Documents copied into modern hand has chanced to arise ; and here, with an entire welcome to all faithful persons who are sufficiently patient of dulness for the sake of direct historical knowledge, they are given forth in print.

It is to be premised that the Candidates in this Election are Three : Sir Nathaniel Barnardiston and Sir Philip Parker on the Puritan side; and Mr. Henry North, son of Sir Roger North, on the Court or Royalist side. Sir Roger is himself already elected, or about to be elected, for the borough of Eye ;

—and now Mr. Henry, heir-apparent, is ambitious to be Knight of the Shire. He, if he can, will oust one of the two Puritans, he cares little which, and it shall be tried on Monday.

To most readers these Candidates are dark and inane, mere Outlines of Candidates : but Suffolk readers, in a certain dim way, recognise something of them. The Parkers still continue • in due brilliancy, in that shire : a fine old place, at Long • Melford, near Bury :—but this Parker,' says our Suffolk monitor,4 is of another family, the family of Lord Morley-and-Mont• eagle, otherwise not unknown in English History.5 The Bar• nardistons too,' it would appear, “had a noble mansion in the • east side of the county, though it has quite vanished now, and ' corn is growing on the site of it,' and the family is somewhat eclipsed. The Norths are from Mildenhall, from Finborough, Laxfield ; the whole world knows the North kindred, Lord Keeper Norths, Lord Guildford Norths, of which these Norths of ours are a junior twig. Six lines are devoted by Collins Dryasdustö to our Candidate Mr. Henry, of Mildenhall, and to our Candidate's Father and Uncle ; testifying indisputably that they lived, and that they died.

Let the reader look in the dim faces, Royalist and Puritan, of these respectable Vanished Gentlemen ; let him fancy their old Great Houses, in this side of the county or that other, standing all young, firm, fresh-pargeted, and warm with breakfast-fire, on that .extreme windy morning,' which have fallen into such a state of dimness now! Let the reader, we say, look about him in that old Ipswich ; in that old vanished population : perhaps he may recognise a thing or two. There is the old Market Cross,' for one thing ; "an old Grecian cir'cular building, of considerable diameter ; a dome raised on • distinct pillars, so that you could go freely in and out between 'them; a figure of Justice on the top ;' which the elderly men in Ipswich can still recollect, for it did not vanish till some thirty years ago. The · Corn Hill' again, being better rooted, has not vanished hitherto, but is still extant as a Street and Hill; and the Townhall stands on one side of it.

4 D. E. Davy, Esq., of Ufford, in that County, whose learning in Suffolk History is understood to be supreme, and whose obliging disposition we have ourselves experienced.

5. It was to William Parker, Lord Monteagle, ancestor of this Sir Philip, • that the Letter was addressed which saved the King and Parliament from 'the Gunpowder Plot. Sir Philip had been High-Sheriff in 1637; he died 'in 1675 - Dryasdust Mss.

6 Peerage, iv. 62, 63 (London, 1741).

Samuel Duncon, the Town-constable, shall speak first. “The • Duncons were a leading family in the Corporation of Ipswich; · Robert Duncon was patron of the' &c. &c. : so it would appear ; but this Samuel, Town-constable, must have been of the more decayed branches, poor fellow! What most concerns us is, that he seems to do his constabling in a really judicious manner, with unspeakable reverence to the High-Sheriff; that he expresses himself like a veracious person, and writes a remarkably distinct hand. We have sometimes, for light's sake, slightly modified Mr. Duncon's punctuation; but have respected his and the High-Sheriff's spelling, though it deserves little respect,- and have in no case, never so slightly, meddled with his sense. The questionable italic letters in brackets are evident interpolations ;-omissible, if need be.

SUFFOLKE ELECTION.”

No. I.

[Samuel Duncon testifieth.] Memorandum, That upon Monday the 19th day of October this present year 1640, the election of two Knights for the Shire was at Ipswich in Suffolke; the Writt being read about eight of the clocke in the morning: and in the Markett Crosse where the County Court is generally kept, Mr. Henry North sonne of Sir Roger North was there at the reading of the said Writt. All this time the other two, namely, Sir Nathaniel Barnardiston and Sir Philip Parker, were at the King's Head ; and Mr. North was carried about neare halfe an houre before the other two came [Carried about in his chair by the jubilant people: Let all men see, and come and vote for him. The chairing was then the first step, it would seem] ; and after the other two were taken there, Mr. North was carried into the field neare the said towne, called Mr. Hambie's feild :8 and the said High-Sherriffe was there polling, about halfe an houre before the other two Knights knewe either of his being polling, or of the High-Sherriff's intention to take the Poll in that place. But at length the two Knights were carried into the said feild; and before they came there, the tables which were sett for them, the said Sir Nathaniel and Sir Philip, were thrust downe, and troaden under foot [Such a pressure and crowding was there !] ; and they both caused but one

7 From Harleian Mss., British Museum (Parliamentary Affairs collected by Sir S. D'Ewes), No. 165, fol. 5-8.

8 Or, ‘Hanbie's field,' as the Duncon Ms. has it : he probably means Hamby. 'A family of the latter name had property at Ipswich and about it, • in those times.'— Dryasdust Mss.

« VorigeDoorgaan »