HARLINGTON HOUSE AND THE
CHAPEL OF HERNE.
THE removal of Cromwell by death was the removal of the one strong man alone capable of controlling the conflicting forces of the Commonwealth. Richard Cromwell succeeded to the position of Lord Protector, but not to the inheritance of his father's genius, and in eight months had vanished into private life again, glad, in his easygoing way, to be rid of the trouble of ruling a nation he was not strong enough to govern. The Army party having disposed of him, restored the Parliament his father had dismissed in 1653. It was not, however, the representative body it had been when elected in 1640. It had not been before its constituents for twenty years; many of its original members had been set aside by unconstitutional means, and when the House was called, forty-two Members were all that could be mustered; at no period, indeed, of its now renewed session were there ever more than one hundred and twenty-two belonging to it. Nothing could be said for it except that it was in power, and its continued existence naturally caused grave dissatisfaction in the nation.
Still there were some willing to hope good of it. Six weeks after it met, a petition was presented "from divers Freeholders and others well affected to the Commonwealth of England, within the county of Bedford," who desire as they say to stir up the flagging zeal of Parliament that it may set about the removal of Tithes, the reformation of Courts of Law, the securing of Religious Toleration, so that no man may be imprisoned, or his goods distrained without the breach of some known law. The petitioners further pray that the militia may be placed only in the hands of persons faithful to the good old cause, and finally express the opinion that if their petition be not granted the Parliament will find their places as slippery to them as they were to those who went before them.1 This petition went up____________________