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much as was needed for keeping up the navy, together with an army of 30,000 men, which sum, to which no definite limits were placed, was to be raised out of the customs “and such other ways and means as shall be agreed upon by the Protector and Council." As to the army and navy thus secured, the Protector was to dispose and order them with the consent of Parliament during its short session, but during all the rest of the three years with the consent of the Council only. It would, however, be a mistake to say that the Instrument established absolute government in England. The Protector was bound to act under the control of the Council, and though scarcely any record of the political action of that body has been preserved, there is enough to show that whilst Cromwell’s personal influence over it was necessarily great, it was by no means a mere tool in his hands. It was therefore a real constitutional control to which the Protector was subjected, though that control was in the hands of a body meeting in secret and sufficiently self-centred to make no bid for popularity by the speeches made in the course of discussions taking place within it, as a more popular assembly would have done. Finally, religious liberty was secured for all congregations which did not admit “Popery or Prelacy,” whilst the right of issuing ordinances with the force of law was granted to the Protector and Council till the first Parliament met.
It has frequently been urged that the Instrument was the earliest example of that system of fixed constitutions, of which the most notable instance is that of the United States, and must therefore rank with such constitutions rather than with the system of Parliamentary supremacy which was ultimately adopted in England. The comparison with the,American constitution, however, can only stand with those who are resolved to fix their attention on similarities and to ignore differences. The Instrument, it is true, resembled the Constitution of the United States in refusing to submit the holders of executive authority to the constant control of the legislature, and in setting forth the relations between the bodies of the State in a written document. On more important points there is a world-wide distinction. In America, the whole federal constitution is redolent of popular control. Every
four years the President is re-elected or replaced, and though Congress cannot
On December I6, I653, Oliver was installed at \Vestminster as Lord
The Protectorate was at least placed beyond immediate danger by the
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adhesion of the army and the fleet. Scarcely less important was the concurrence of the judges, amongst them that honourable man and eminent lawyer Matthew Hale, who had won Oliver’s approbation by his services in the cause of law-reform. Hale, indeed, informed the Protector that as he was personally desirous of seeing a Royalist restoration, he could only remain on the bench on the condition that he should be excused from taking part in the trials of political prisoners. Oliver at once made the required stipulation. The compromise was creditable to both the parties concerned.
The Protector, by his assumption of the government, had roused up enemies enough to make him chary of dispensing with the support of so valuable a helper. To the Royalists, who hoped to strike at a single person more easily than at a Parliament, were added the Fifth Monarchy preachers, who held that Oliver was “the vile person to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom,” but who should “come in peaceably and obtain the kingdom by flatteries,” as foretold by the Prophet Daniel. They were the more dangerous as they were known to have supporters in the army, especially as Harrison, who shared their opinions, had been thought of by the advanced members of the nominated Parliament as a possible substitute for Oliver in the command. The first repressive action of the Protectorate was therefore to place two of the most turbulent of the preachers under lock and key, and to deprive Harrison of his commission. Such men were only really dangerous by their hold on a portion of the army, whilst the Commonwealth’s men, such as Bradshaw and Vane, though not in the least likely to head an armed resistance, were strong in the conviction which they shared with a considerable number of their countrymen, that the only possibility of defence against the evils of military rule was to be found in a recurrence to legality. It is true that with them legality consisted in the restoration of a sovereign Parliament, whilst the Royalists saw it in the restoration of the King, but it is evident that if ever time and circumstances should fuse the two ideas together, a body of opinion would be created which would try to the uttermost the
fabric of a government raised on other principles.