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who was much younger than himself; but his rise from this period wa. exceedingly rapid. He gained the confidence of Cromwell to a very high degree, and is said to have had more influence over him than any other of his friends. Whitlock says, “ he was very active and industrious, and of good abilities. He made much use of his pen, wherein his having been bred a lawyer was a help to him.” At the battle of Naseby, Ireton took the command of the left wing by the special desire of Cromwell. The attack upon this wing, conducted by Prince Rupert, was so furious, that it was for a time driven back, and Ireton himself, having received two wounds, was made prisoner ; but in the sequel of the battle made his escape. From this period Ireton took ar active part in all the affairs of the parliament, and is said to have drawn up the famous Remonstrance in behalf of the army. Most of the papers emanating from the army, as well as Lord Fairfax's letters to the parliament, are attributed to his pen. He was also employed in drawing up the instrument for the king's trial, and sat as one of his judges.
In 1649 the rump parliament made Ireton major-general to Cromwell in his Irish expedition. After Cromwell returned to England he committed the conduct of affairs to Ireton, who completely reduced that kingdom to the authority of the parliament. But Ireton fell a sacrifice to his zeal in the public cause. He suffered great fatigue in conducting the siege of Limerick, and after having taken the place, was seized by the plague, and died Nov. 1651. His body was brought to Westminster, and buried in Henry VII.'s chapel with great pomp. But after the restoration the body was disinterred, drawn to Tyburn on a sledge, then hung upon a gallows, and afterwards buried under it in a pit with others.
Mrs Hutchinson, in the memoirs of her husband, speaks of the high esteem which the colonel bore to Ireton, and of his entire confidence in his judgment. Ludlow, also—who viewed him in a post of great power and great temptation, that of deputy of Ireland, being next in commandgives the following account of his conduct in one instance which will speak much for the generous and patriotic feelings which animated all his conduct : “ The parliament ordered an act to be brought in for settling £2,000 per annum on the lord-deputy Ireton, the news of which being brought over was so unacceptable to him, that he said they had many just debts, which he desired they would pay before they made any such presents ; that he had no need of their land, and would not have it; and that he should be more contented to see them doing the service of the nation, than so liberal in disposing of the public treasure."
The character of Ireton has been traduced by Clarendon and such like party-writers, in the most shameful manner, but their charges are all vague and general, and many of them utterly without foundation. The firm, sober, and resolved character of Ireton made him many enemies. The royalists considered him as their most formidable adversary ; and the advocates of license hated as much as they feared him.-His character is thus delineated by Cooke, chief-justice of Munster, his special and particular friend : “Never had commonwealth a greater loss. because undoubtedly there never was a more able, painful, provident, and industrious servant. He discharged his duty to all people, and acted every part so well, as if he had been born only for that particular. He was a patron, father, and husband to the fatherless and widow. For
uprightness, single-heartedness, and sincerity, he exercised them to his enemies; and, though he was very sparing of his promises to the rebels, yet was he more liberal in his performances. He was a most exact justiciary in all matters of moral righteousness, and with strength of solid reason had a most piercing judgment and a large understanding. He was willing to hear truth from the meanest soldier. For so great a stock of knowledge, such extraordinary abilities in matters of learning, military, judicial, political, mathematical, moral, rational, and divine, I say, for every thing requisite and desirable, both as a man and a Christian, I think it will be hard with many candles to find his equal. I believe few men knew more of the art of policy and self-interested prudentials, but never man so little practised them. If he erred in any thing, (as error and humanity are inseparable,) it was in too much neglecting himself, seldom thinking it time to eat till he had done the work of the day, at nine or ten at night; and then would sit up as long as any man had business with him. Indeed, he was every thing from a foot-soldier to a general. He is and shall be most dear to my remembrance; and, of all the saints I ever knew, I desire to make him my precedent."
Bigby, Earl of Bristol.
BORN A. D. 1580.-DIED A. D. 1653.
John Digby, by no means an inconsiderable man in his day, was the fourth son of Sir George Digby of Coleshill, in Warwickshire. He entered Magdalen college, Oxford, in 1595. After completing his education at Oxford, he pased two or three years in France and Italy. After his return to England, happening to be in Warwickshire when Catesby's band made their mad attempt to carry off the princess Elizabeth, he was sent to court by Lord Harrington with the intelligence of that enterprise, and its defeat,—a mission in which he acquitted himself so well that James, taking a fancy to him, appointed him gentleman of the privy-chamber, and in the following February conferred on him the honour of knighthood,
In 1611, he was sent ambassador to Spain, and again in 1614. In the course of these missions, he discovered that the earl of Somerset was in the pay of the Spanish ministry, and reported the fact to his suvereign. But James was both too partial and too timid to punish the favourite for an offence in which so many of his courtiers and ministers notoriously participated, and the matter was hushed. The ambassador’s fidelity, however, was rewarded by a new embassy to Spain for the purpose of treating for the land of the infarita, and he acquitted himself so much to James's satisfaction on this occasion also, that he conferred on him the dignity of a baron, by the title of Lord Digby of Sherborne. After an intervening embassy to the German States, he was despatched a fourth time to Spain, in company with Sir Walter Aston, in 1622. Various obstacles had sprung up to impede James's favourite project for an alliance between his son Charles and the infanta,
'Gidwin's Cominonwealth. --Collier.- Whitlock.