The Characters Are
Mrs. Cromwell, Oliver’s mother
Elizabeth Cromwell, his wife
Bridget Cromwell, his daughter
two agents to the earl of Bedford
A member of Parliament
the Speaker of the house of commons
Bassett, an officer of the House
the mayor of Ely
Neal, Secretary to Charles
Farm labourers—Members of Parliament
CROMWELL’S house at Ely, about the year 1639. An early summer evening. The window of the room opens on to a smooth lawn, used for bowling, and a garden full of flowers.
OLIVER’S wife, ELIZABETH CROMWELL, is sitting at the table, sewing. In a chair by the open window MRS. CROMWELL, his mother, is reading. She is eighty years of age.
Mrs. Cromwell: Oliver troubles me, persuading everywhere. Restless like this.
Elizabeth: He says that the time is uneasy, and that we are part of it.
Mrs. Cromwell: There’s a man’s house. It’s enough surely.
Elizabeth: I know. But Oliver must be doing. You know how when he took the magistracy he would listen to none of us. He knows best.
Mrs. Cromwell: What time is John coming?
Elizabeth: By nightfall he said. Henry Ireton is coming with him.
Mrs. Cromwell: John Hampden is like that, too. He excites the boy.
Elizabeth: Yes, but mother, you will do nothing with Oliver by thinking of him as a boy.
Mrs. Cromwell: Of course he’s a boy.
Elizabeth: He’s forty.
Mrs. Cromwell: Methuselah.
Mrs. Cromwell: I said Methuselah.
Elizabeth: He says John’s the bravest man in England.
Mrs. Cromwell: Just because he won’t pay a tax. How if everybody refused to pay taxes? If you don’t have taxes, I don’t see how you are to have a government. Though I can’t see that it governs anybody, except those that don’t need it.
Elizabeth: Oliver says it’s a wrong tax, this ship money.
Mrs. Cromwell: There’s always something wrong. It keeps men busy, I suppose.
Elizabeth: But it was brave of John.
Mrs. Cromwell: I know, I know. But why must he come here to-night of all in the year? Oliver’s like somebody out of the Bible about to-morrow as it is. This will make him worse. I wish John no harm, but—well, I hope he’s got a bad horse.