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Prefatory note.

This sermon on the death of Ireton, though printed, as we are told in the dedication, from the first notes which the author took, contains some beautiful and interesting thoughts, and is pervaded by a strain of peculiar tenderness and solemnity. Henry Ireton was the eldest son of German Ireton of Attenton, Nottinghamshire. He was born in 1610; entered Trinity College, Oxford, in 1626; and having graduated as bachelor of arts, devoted himself’ to the study of law at the Middle Temple. He entered the parliamentary army when the civil war commenced, and gave proof of singular courage and capacity. In 1646 he married Bridget, the eldest daughter of Cromwell; and by the powerful interest which he thus secured, as well as his own abilities, he obtained rapid promotion in the army. At the battle of Naseby he commanded the left wing of the parliamentary army, and was defeated by the impetuous charge of Prince Rupert. Led in the ardour of the struggle beyond his own rank, he was himself wounded and taken prisoner, but contrived soon afterwards to make his escape. It was at his suggestion that the secret council of officers was held, to consider what course should be taken in disposing of the king’s person. He was one of the judges on the king’s trial, and signed the warrant for his execution. In 1649 he was second in command to Cromwell in Ireland, was made president of Munster, and afterwards was left as lord deputy when Cromwell returned to England. In the midst of a successful career, he was seized, after having taken Limerick, with an inflammatory fever, on the 16th of November, and died on the 26th, 1651. His memory was honoured by a public funeral, and his remains were interred in Henry the Seventh’s Chapel in Westminster Abbey. His widow and his children, consisting of one son (Henry) and four daughters, had a grant of £2000 settled on them by Parliament out of the confiscated estates of the Duke of Buckingham. After the Restoration, his body was disinterred, gibbeted along with that of Cromwell, and buried at Tyburn.

Various testimonies might be adduced in proof of the high esteem in which he was held by his party. Burner affirms, that “he had the principles and temper of a Cassius;” — Hume, that “he was a memorable personage, much celebrated for his vigilance and capacity;” — Noble (“Memoir of the Cromwell Family,” vol. ii. p. 298), that “he was the most artful, dark, deliberate man of all the Republicans, by whom he was much beloved;” — Heath (“Flagellum,” p. 124), that “he was absolutely the best prayer-maker and preacher in the army; for which he may thank his education at Oxford;” — Ludlow (“Memoir,” vol. i. p. 33), that “he erected for himself a more glorious monument in the hearts of good men, by his affection to his country, his abilities of mind, his impartial justice, his diligence in the public service, and his other virtues; which were a far greater honour to his memory than a dormitory among the ashes of kings;” — and Carlyle (“Cromwell’s Letters and Speeches,” vol. i. p. 167) thus closes a reference to his death, — “One brave and subtle-working brain has ended; to the regret of all the brave. A man, able with his pen and his sword; very stiff in his ways.” — Ed.

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