Page images

1648, (not in Scobell) "for the better regulating and ordering the sequestration of the estates of papists and delinquents, and for reforming and preventing abuses in the managing of the same." By this it is ordered that the solicitors of every county, &c. where such are appointed, and, where none, the sequestrators or collectors of the respective committees, shall send up to the treasurers for sequestrations, at Guildhall, a true and perfect inventory of all personal estates sequestred, and exact particular of all annual rents, &c., arising out of lands sequestred, within their respective counties; and a particular of all estates, real and personal, which have been discharged from sequestration; and to certify the grounds thereof; with an account of payments, &c., upon pain of twenty pounds for every month's delay after three months limited for making the return, without reasonable cause shewn to the committee for indemnity. No estate, &c., sequestred, to be taken out of the hands of the committee by whom sequestred, but to be sold or let, &c. by the directions of the same committee-the money to be paid into the hands of the treasurers, at Guildhall, in manner and form provided, which treasurers are thereby authorized to employ certain persons, at reasonable salaries, for expediting the affairs of sequestrations. All persons having in their hands any sequestration money (without sufficient cause) unpaid, to pay the same within a month upon pain of double the forfeiture. All persons having by violence or other indirect way got into their hands any sequestration money, in like manner to pay the same, and, in default, to be cashiered and forfeit all pay due to them, and therein to be proceeded against as parliament shall think fit. There are also provisions for holding of courts leet, &c., and for indemnity.

This is succeeded (25 Aug. 1648) by " An additional ordinance, for the better regulating, and speedy bringing in the sequestration monies arising out of real and personal estates of papists and delinquents, already or hereafter to be sequestred, according to former ordinances"-with the particulars of which it appears unnecessary now to detain our readers.

The latter ordinances (passed within a few months before the king's execution) afford in themselves a sufficient commentary on the nature of the abuses which they profess to remedy, and are a valuable index to the history of the times. The returns which were made, and accounts kept, in pursuance of them, would (it is obvious) furnish almost all that is wanting to our complete knowledge of the transactions referred to, and of the proceedings and character of the individuals concerned in them, besides much of (what we must otherwise remain in great ignorance of) the internal machinery and policy of a government, the greater portion of whose public acts and monu

ments are either generally considered as having perished with it, or have not occurred to the professed historians of these affairs to be worth the trouble of finding.

A very considerable and extensive portion-if not the whole of the extraordinary documents which have thus been regarded as irretrievable, or as buried beneath the dust and cobwebs of an impenetrable oblivion, has recently emerged to light through the indefatigable research and industry of a gentleman to whom the public is under obligations, the extent of which cannot as yet be valued even by those who are best acquainted with the nature of them-Mr. Lemon, the deputy keeper of records, at the State-paper Office-to whom (as far as we know) an incidental tribute paid to him by Sir James Mackintosh, in the course of a late debate in the House of Commons, on the state of the records of the kingdom, has been the only acknowledgement yet made for his very important services-services which, on other points unconnected with our present subject, we know to have been very eminent, and which, on this particular point, consist in the actual discovery and detection-no less than the painful and laborious examination and arrangement of books and bundles of papers-(the latter-many of them already and the rest in a progress for being-selected and bound together,) to the extent of many hundred folio volumes -containing the reports and proceedings of the various committees of parliament, the returns made by the county commissioners, and the correspondence between parliament and the country, during the whole period of the Usurpation. Without enlarging any further on the general historical value of these documents, we will merely advert to their obvious importance as respects the local historian and topographer, (so great, that we may venture to say, since this discovery has been made, no work can be published on the subject of county history that will not be obviously and materially defective without a previous examination of them), and even as regards the private evidences of property.

To convey some general idea of the nature and actual value of these (in our judgement) inestimable documents, it seems necessary, in the first place, to acquaint our readers with the names and offices of the several committees and commissioners which acted under the authority of parliament during the period of the Interregnum, and which, (we apprehend) even to persons most versed in the histories of those times, is altogether, or in great measure, unknown. At least we are not acquainted with any historical work which either contains, or professes to communicate the requisite information, and we are ourselves enabled to give it, through the same authentic and highly liberal channel which we have already noticed, from a letter addressed

to Sir Joseph Williamson, Secretary of State, about the year 1687, in the shape of a report, on this very subject. From this it appears that there are, in the first place, "The Committee of Lords and Commons for Sequestrations," which began in 1643, upon the first ordinance, sat originally at Derby-house, thence removed to Goldsmiths' Hall, about 1645 or 6, and afterwards to Haberdashers' Hall, under Cromwell, at which last place it continued to sit till 1659. Next were "the Commissioners for compounding and managing Estates under Sequestrations, and for Indemnity," who sat first at Goldsmiths', and then at Haberdashers' Hall. Then came a separate "Committee for Sequestrations," which sat at Camden-house, by virtue of the same first ordinance, though in what respect they differed from the first mentioned committee, what was their peculiar office, or of whom composed, we are unable at present to discover. The "Committee for plundered ministers" sat in the Old Palace, at the house of Mr. Phelps, who acted as their Registrar.-The "Commissioners for sale of Estates and Sequestration" at Drury-house, and those "for sale of the King's and Queen's lands" (who appear to have been the same persons acting under a separate commission) at Worcester-house. Another set of commissioners were those "for advance of money and for indemnity," whose books were kept (and probably, who themselves held their sittings) at Haberdashers' Hall. In 1658, on the occasion of Sir George Booth's insurrection, a new sequestration was ordered, and the same persons who were the commissioners of 1655 were ordered to sit in it; but of these last proceedings we have at present no further information, and can vouch for the accuracy of the preceding statement upon no other authority than that of the anonymous report made to Sir Joseph Williamson, except so far as the books themselves authenticate it which are marked with the names, and contain the proceedings of all these several committees and commissioners. These, under their several heads and departments, comprise not merely a list of the names of delinquents and papists throughout the kingdom, with the particulars and value of their respective properties, and the amount of the fines paid by them on compounding, but also the nature of the acts of delinquency severally charged against them, so as to bring each and every of them within the scope of some or other of the provisions of the several ordinances-the ground upon which they ask to be admitted to compound, as stated in their petitions-the depositions of witnesses examined to the truth of their several statementsthe reasons for indemnity or allowances in respect of particular items claimed by several, with the proceedings in respect of such claims, and many other circumstances which it does not immediately occur to us to make mention of. They comprise

also a great mass of curious and instructive correspondence between the parliament committees and the county commissioners and their solicitors, collectors, and agents, forming altogether a body of secret information, as to the state of the country and its principal families, and chief landed proprietors, which no other collection of papers, at any other period of history, can by any possibility be found to exhibit, and which leaves us in utter astonishment at the neglect in which they have been so long suffered to lie-a neglect only to be accounted for by the jealousy of some of the guardians of state documents, and the supineness of others-but with which the present age will not have long to reproach itself, now that the liberal vigilance of parliament is awakened on the subject of the state of public records throughout the kingdom, and so ably and actively seconded by the intelligence and industry of the principal officers to whose custody their preservation is committed.

To revert from the description of the documents themselves to the vast and neglected repository which contains them—the State-paper Office-we cannot acquit ourselves of the obligation which Mr. Lemon has laid upon us, in common with all lovers of the history and antiquities of their country, without adverting to another and very different source of obligationwhich, in the opinion of many, would greatly outweigh the merit of all his other services-the accidental discovery made by him of an original work by our great Milton-a work in magnitude and importance of subject, surpassing all that has hitherto been known of his remains in prose-and which, though some faint traces of its having once had existence were retained by the curious inquirer, was supposed to have utterly perished, or to be placed as far beyond the reach of recovery as the lost Decades of Livy. For our own parts, we should certainly have expected almost as soon to find either those precious volumes, or a play of Menander, or any other of the "Opera deperdita" of the ancients, as an unpublished treatise of Milton, in any unexplored corner of that venerable fabric. Yet, there it was in fact discovered, and very recently, in making search for relics of a very different description-and the pleasure, and the credit of such a discovery could by no one person living have been so well merited, as by the very praiseworthy and liberal-minded individual to whom it is due. We shall not anticipate the gratification to which he is so justly entitled, of making known to the public himself the circumstances attendant upon this precious finding, and which identify it to be that which it professes, beyond the possibility of doubt or cavil; but we shall merely suggest, that it affords an additional motive for leaving no corner undisturbed and unransacked of the place which contained it, into the unknown recesses of which, we believe, that

even the industry of Mr. Lemon has not hitherto been able more than half way to penetrate.

ART. VII.-V. C. Andreæ Alciati Mediolanensis jurisconsulti, Emblemata, cum facili et compendiosa explicatione, qua obscura illustrantur, dubiaque omnia solvuntur, per Claudium Minoem Divionensem. Ejusdem Alciati Vita. Editio novissima, in qua explicationes emblematum propriis locis additæ sunt. Antverpia. 1692.

A Choice of Emblemes and other Devises, for the most part gathered out of sundrie writers, Englished and Moralized. And divers newly devised, by Geffrey Witney. A Worke adorned with a varietie of matter, both pleasant and profitable: wherein those that please maye finde to fit their fancies: because herein, by the office of the eie, and the eare, the minde maye reape dooble delighte throughe holsome preceptes, shadowed with pleasant devises: both fit for the vertuous, to their incoraging: and for the wicked, for their admonishing and amendment. Imprinted at Leyden, in the house of Christopher Plantyn, by Francis Raphelengius, 1586.

Minerva Britanna; or a Garden of Heroical Devises, and furnished, and adorned with Emblems and Impresas of sundry natures newly devised, moralized and published by Henry Peacham, M. of Artes. Lond. 1612.

[ocr errors]

* We shall do no injustice to the gentleman, who has made this discovery, and is therefore entitled to all the credit of its first announcement, by merely stating that it appears to be the identical work which is referred to by Anthony Wood, in his account of Milton (Athena Oxonienses), as a theological writer, under some such title as " Idea Theologiæ," and stated to have got into the hands of the author's friend, Cyriac Skinner; since which it is not known what had become of it. It was found in a neglected corner of the old State-Paper Office, Whitehall, wrapped in a cover, directed to "Mr. Skinner, merchant,' together with a MS. copy of some of Milton's Latin Letters, already published. And, besides the name of the author written on the titlepage, it is identified by a comparison of the hand-writing, which Mr. Todd has (we are informed) examined and ascertained to be that of Edward Phillips, the nephew of Milton (in the first 100 pages, which are fairly copied,) and that of one of his two daughters, with many interlineations in that of the other, (during the remainder of the work, consisting of between 4 and 500 pages). It is a treatise in Latin, divided into books and chapters, of considerable extent, and appearing to be in a state of complete preparation for the press.

« PreviousContinue »