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in vain. Biography is one of the best methods of teaching; and hence the book of God is full of biographies, beautiful, touching, life-like portraits of individual life and character; biographies that have fed the faith, sweetened the character, and elevated the lives of the people of God in every age, We cannot err then, I think, in trying to-night to place before you some sketches of “The Noble Women of 1662.” I select the women of that period because the circumstances of the times threw upon the surface and brought out into prominence a large number of noble women, whose history, piety, and principles, we cannot, I think, study without advantage. I shall purposely select women belonging to all parties, because am anxious to show that true greatness has never been confined to any section of the Church, or party in politics ;-thank goodness, true greatness cannot be confined within the narrow boundaries of seets. It overleaps all the barriers of sects and parties, and is to be found in all churches, and in justice I must also add, outside the pale of every church.
As my last lecture referred largely to Oliver Cromwell, I purpose to begin my biographical sketches with a little history of the mother of that great and remarkable man. Her name was Elizabeth Steward, or Stewart, the daughter of William Steward, of Ely. She was born in 1560. Her father was a man of wealth and social position, and is supposed to have descended from the same stock as Charles I.; and those who have gone minutely into the matter inform us that Cromwell's father was eighth cousin to Charles I. I am not aware that this adds any dignity to Cromwell, even if it is true ; and I shall therefore not trouble you with the inquiry.' Elizabeth Steward, the subject of our present inquiry, was married first to John Lynne, of Bassingbome, but her husband died about a year after their marriage, namely, on the 27th of July, 1589. He was buried in the Cathedral of Ely, and left one daughter, Catherine, who died in 1590. After remaining a widow two years, she married Robert Cromwell, a son of Sir Henry Cromwell, and who became the father of Oliver. Though they had a pretty good property, yet, finding they were going to have a numerous family, they resolved to take means of augmenting their income, and for that purpose took a brewing establishment at Huntingdon. "All accounts agree in informing us that Mrs. Cromwell, in addition to being a good wife and mother, was a capital woman of business. You will not, of course, expect me to enter into a vindication of brewing ; for I hold that only those businesses are legitimate that tend to the public good, and that all commercial undertakings that tend to debase and injure the people, are unchristian and immoral. I have no doubt, however, that Robert Cromwell and his good wife believed brewing to be necessary, and conducted the business legitimately; and why I refer to it here is to say, that for a man of education and refinement, in addition to tearing a numerous family and attending to household duties, at the same time to look well after a business, béspeaks qualities of no common kind, and accounts, I believe, for some of those traits in her son Oliver that have made his name famous in history. In 1617 she again became a widow, and was, left with the sole care of her children. Here was a trial of her powers ; many would have sunk under it; but Mrs. Cromwell, like a true, noblehearted woman, braced herself for the task, and humbly seeking grace from above, resolved to do, if possible, a mother's and father's part. Her industry and care, with the blessing of God, enabled her to provide for six daughters, besides helping her son; and the future history of all her children attests the care and attention she must have bestowed upon them. Believe me, the best testimony to a mother's greatness and worth, is the future lives of her children. All mothers live over again in the history and experience of their families. Children are generally second editions of their mothers, and hence the importance of a mother's influence.
In 1620 (three years after his father's death), Oliver was married to a lady whose history I shall presently sketch ; and, I suppose for want of sufficient means to keep a separate establishment, took his wife home to live with his mother. It speaks well for wife and mother that for eleven years they lived together on terms of much affection,Oliver during the time assisting in the brewing; and at the same time, there were, I believe, great thoughts brewing' in his mind, that were by-and-bye to develope in actions that have left an indelible stamp upon English history. In 1631, Mrs. Cromwell gave Oliver some £2,000 (a considerable sum in those days), which enabled him to take and stock a large grazing farm at St. Ives. History records
that one of the conditions on which the money was lent, was, that Cromwell was to come weekly to see his mother-a bargain he conscientiously carried out. Mrs. Cromwell was fond of all her children, but Oliver was her favourite. We find that her house was frequented by all the gentry of the neighbourhood, and was also the resort of most of the noted Puritans of that time, and there is no doubt that Mrs. Cromwell's sympathies with the Puritans, and intercourse with them, helped mightily to mould the future character of Oliver. As age advanced, she retired from business, but not from Huntingdon. She lived, however, to see her favourite son rise to the highest position in the state; and, to his honour be it spoken, that mother shared the advance with her son. All admit that Cromwell's attention to his mother was unremitting, and his love for her intense. No cares of state, or public duties, interfered with his attention to his mother. This noble woman died at Whitehall, at the advanced age of ninety-four, in the year 1654: just before she died, she called Oliver to her bedside, and stretching out her arms, and embracing him, said—“The LORD cause his face to shine upon you, and comfort you, and preserve you from all your adversaries, and enable you to do great things for the glory of GOD and to the relief of His people.—My dear son, I leave my heart with thee ; good night!" Such were the last words of this noble woman: no wonder then, I think, that the life of such a woman drew from Andrew Marvel the following testimony S
And thou, great Cromwell, for whose happy birth,
But never any did them honour so. It will help to make my sketches more orderly and systematic, if I now give you a brief memoir of Cromwell's wife and one of his daughters. Elizabeth Bourchier was the daughter of Sir James Bourchier, and was born in 1598. She was well educated, and religiously brought up. Her father had a house and estate in Essex, and he also kept a house in London, and it is probable that it was there that Oliver first met her. The history of the courtship has not come down to us. I wish it had; but we know that on the 22nd of August, 1620, they were married at Saint Giles's Church, Cripplegate. She brought Cromwell a considerable fortune, and, what was much more important (though I do not wish to undervalue fortune), she brought him domestic happiness and a well-furnished mind. What a theme for the artist and poet was the marriage of Cromwell to Elizabeth Bourchier! To see that strong, self-willed, hardheaded man, who was to upset a throne, and by his sword subdue kingdoms, standing with the soft hand of Elizabeth Bourchier in his ! Who can tell how much that tender woman helped to influence and soften that hard, earnest, powerful man? She is represented as having been a careful, frugal, amiable, and virtuous wife and mother. It is said she
was at home in the kitchen, and at the same time could dignify the most exalted station. The letters of this estimable woman to her husband, children, and friends, are full of the most beautiful and christian sentiments, and prove her to have been a woman of eminent piety and intelligence. In 1642 she was introduced to Charles I., at Hampton Court. Lord Ashburnham presented her to Charles, and she and two of her daughters afterwards dined with the king. At that time Cromwell was on good terms with Charles I., and the latter little thought, I suppose, that he was entertaining the wife of him who would within twenty years break down his power, and bring him to the block. Soon after this, the breach began between Charles and his Parliament, which divided the whole country into two parties, and made England for a time a scene of civil commotion and strife. I have not time to trace the history of this noble woman in all the changes through which she passed. Suffice it to say, she acted with dignity and grace in the exalted station to which she was lifted, though it was evident her taste and inclination would have led her to choose a humbler path. De facto, she was the queen, and Oliver was the king of this country; and it speaks something for the character and principles of a woman who can bear such giddy heights without having her head turned. Her letters, and history, show that she was much more anxious to cultivate piety in her family, and keep it alive in her own heart, than she was to retain the position to which she had been raised.
When, on the 16th of December, 1653, Cromwell was made Protector, she was ävérse to it, and tried to induce her husband not to accept it ; and when on the 14th of April, 1654, Cromwell removed from the Cock Pit in St. James' Park, to Whitehalì, the residence of royalty, she is said to have been much averse to the changé. Exalted rank brings trials as well as pleasures. This has been proved in the sorrowful experienee of many of the crowned heads of the world. The wife of Louis Philippe is reported to have said "The man who invented the proverb, "happy as a king,' could never have worn a crown.” Mrs. Cromwell experienced and shared the trials of her husband, and this led her often to sigh for a more quiet and less exalted position. She is said to have urged with great eamestness on Cromwell the request made by Charles II., namely, that if he would consent to his becoming King, he would enter into an engagement to give him the highest position in the state, next to royalty, and any amount of money he might demand. Cromwell knew, however, that the liberties of England, for which he had fought, would not be safe in the hands of Charles, and he therefore refused the request. Mrs. Cromwell has been accused by some of the Royalists of having used her influence to procure emoluments and places for her friends; but if this were true, it seems strange. That she entirely overlooked her relations, not one of whom, as far as I can find, ever obtained any office, civil or military, though she had two brothers living, and many other relations. It was not to be expected that in her position she should escape the tongue of slander, and hence you will not be surprised that her charaeter was maligned. A writer however, in the “Quarterly Review” has justly said " She was a woman whose irreproachable life might have protected her from obloquy and insult.” I appeal to the character and history of her children as an evidence of the purity and piety of the wife of Cromwell. Her sons were meň of noble characters, and honourable lives. Her daughters were admired, esteemed, and loved by all who knew them. One of the modes in which the Protectress tried to do good, was to maintain, educate, and assist, clergymen's daughters whose fathers were unable to support them.
In August, 1658, Mrs. Cromwell had to bear the loss of one of her daughters (Mrs. Claypole) ; and on the 3rd of September, in the same year, her husband fell, at the age of