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and it is generally understood, that the fine specimen of the horse chestnut-tree, with which it is crowned, was planted by him.
It is not in the author's power, nor has he any particular inclination to dive into the disputed points of history, for the mere sake of supporting this tradition or of refuting it. Cromwell is dead, and his predecessor and successor are dead-neither of the latter, as time has proved, irreparable losses to the nation, which the one so weakly and the other so tyrannically governed ; and it is of little importance, at this time, to know where the remains of
of them lie. It does appear, however, that there are some circumstances partaking more of negative than positive evidence, which corroborate the local tradition.
Historians of the Commonwealth, and the proximate times, generally agree that the Protector (or as one states his effigies only) was buried with considerable state in Westminster Abbey; and they also agree in asserting that, after the Restoration, the bodies of Cromwell and many of his relatives and friends, including his mother, Elizabeth Claypole, his favourite daughter, Pym, Admiral Popham, Ireton, Bradshaw, and others, were, by the king's warrant, directed to be disinterred, and the bodies of some of the most notorious ringleaders of the Protector's party and forces were indecently thrown under, or hanged upon, the gallows at Tyburn.
In a note to Burton's Parliamentary Diary is the following memorandum : “1658, Sept. 3d. This day about two o'clock in the afternoon, the Protector died at Whitehall. Some were of opinion that he was poisoned.” And annexed to this remark is the following statement: “ Dr. Bates'g* description (Elenchus, p. 330) of the rapid decomposition observed in the Protector's corpse, if it have no reference to the question of poison, renders it very uncertain whose corpse was exhibited at Tyburn sixteen months afterwards, with the bodies of Ireton and Bradshaw, to gratify the petty revenge of the restored monarch.'
In another portion of Burton's diary, the following extract is made from the MS. of the Rev. John Prestwick, Fellow of All Souls' College, Oxford:
“His Highness' first illness was at Hampton Court, where he sickened of a bastard tertian, of which he grew very ill, insomuch, that after a week's time his disease began to shew very desperate symptoms; whereupon he was removed to Whitehall, Westminster, near London, where his chaplains and others of his family kept private meetings and fastings for his recovery. Continuing in this condition, his Highness died on Friday the 3d of September, at three o'clock in the afternoon, in the year of our Lord 1658. His body, presently after expiration, was washed and laid out, and being opened was embalmed and wrapped in a sere cloth, six double, and put into an inner sheet of lead, enclosed
* Dr. Bates, it is said, was afterwards made state physician to the Second Charles.
in an elegant coffin of the choicest wood. Owing to the disease he died of, which by the bye appeared to be that of poison, his body, although thus bound up and laid in the coffin, swelled and bursted, that it was found prudent to bury him immediately, which was done in as private a manner as possible. For the solemnisation of the funeral, no less than the sum of £60,000 was allotted to defray the expense.
“The effigies of the Protector, in this manner, being brought to the west gate of the Abbey church of Westminster, was taken from the chariot by ten gentlemen, who carried it to the east end of the church, and there placed it in a most magnificent structure, built in the same form as one before had been on the like occasion for King James, but much more stately and expensive.
** This funeral procession was the last ceremony of honour to the most serene and illustrious Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and the dominions thereto belonging, to whom less could not be performed, to the memory of him to whom posterity will pay (when envy is laid asleep by time) more honour than I am able to express. But alas ! how true are the words of the wise king, 'Vanity of vanities, all is vanity ! seeing that after all this funeral pomp and grandeur, his dead body was lastly, by the counsel of those men whom his power had raised to greatness; I say, by their counsel to Charles the Second, he was taken out of his grave and hanged for a traitor. 0 tempore! O mores !”
Burton's account would certainly render it improbable that Cromwell's body, supposing the coffin to have been opened and the remains removed, could be in a sufficiently preserved state to allow of its being hanged or even ex“ hibited. If also, there were the least evidence to support the assertion above quoted, as to the mode by which the Protector's death was brought about, the Royalist party and the state physician of the second Charles, would not have been willing to expose themselves to the chance of its proof. Motives of policy might also induce them to shew an outward respect to the remains of Cromwell, which they would with eagerness refuse to his confederates; and it would even appear, that Fleetwood, notwithstanding his disaffection to the royal interests, was not without influence at the court of the restored sovereign. Comparing these circumstances, it does not appear a forced result to suppose that, assuming it to have been removed from Westminster Abbey, if ever interred there, Cromwell's body would be handed over to his family or friends, to dispose of as they might please ; and, in all probability, to the care of Fleetwood and his wife, Cromwell's daughter, the to them, precious relics, would be consigned. If this were really the fact, it would be a natural disposition of the remains, for Fleetwood and his wife to inter them in their own grounds ; and the spot to which the tradition refers, would have been at that time, as indeed until very recently it was, the most wild and secluded corner of the estate. It was situated at the extremity of an ancient orchard, and altogether the kind of place to be applied to such an affectionate use. The beautiful chestnut which now adorns it, was planted on the crown of the
mound, and a circle of trees, of the same species, formed around it. This circle of trees was necessarily removed in the formation of the cemetery, both to allow the boundary wall to be built, and because the trees, overgrown and crowding upon each other, required to be thinned. The tree on the summit has evidently been one of more than common interest, from the circumstance, vulgar and inexcusable as it is, of the initials of numerous visitors being cut in its bark.
I find the following account, in an old anonymous life of the Protector, the sixth edition of which was published in 1755, and on its title page affects to have been “impartially collected from the best historians, and several original MSS. Speaking of Cromwell's burial it states:
“ After all, as the author of the compleat History of England observes in his notes, it remains a question, where his body was really buried : It was, says he, in appearance, in Westminster Abbey; some report it was carried below bridge, and thrown into the Thames ; but ’tis most probable that 'twas buried in Naseby field. This account, continues he, is given, as averred, and ready to be deposed to, if occasion required, by Mr. Barkstead, son to Barkstead the Regicide, who was about fifteen years old at the time of Cromwell's death; That the said Barkstead his father, being lieutenant of the tower, and a great confident of Cromwell's, did, among such other confidents, in the time of his illness, desire to know where he would be buried, to which the Protector answered—Where he had obtained the greatest victory and glory, and as nigh the spot as could be