Oliver stayed little more than a year at Cambridge, for in the following June his father died, and once more he rode
home to Huntingdon. Now he had to take his place as head of the house, and care for his mother and his sisters.
But in those days, it was thought right that every country gentleman should know something of law. So once more
Oliver put on his travelling dress, mounted his horse, and set out for London, there to study law. This was a
much longer journey than he had taken before. We can imagine how excited the country boy—for he was little
more—would be when he first rode into the great city, the capital of the kingdom.
London! To those of us who have seen it, what a picture the name calls up. Here are endless streets, miles upon
miles of them, flanked by high houses, and pavements crowded with hundreds and thousands of people hurrying to
and fro. In the roadway there is a thick and constant stream of cabs, carts, 'buses, grand carriages with
prancing horses, little donkey-carts, unwieldy, noisy motors, and silent, swift electric cars. The air seems
thick with sound, as the life of the great city hums and roars its way through the teeming streets.
 The great broad river, too, which rolls under the many bridges on its way to the sea, is a busy thoroughfare.
Up and down go mighty ships, clumsy barges, graceful little craft, laden with merchandise from all parts of the
world. The banks are black with warehouses and noisy with shipbuilding. Everywhere there is clamour and bustle.
It is a huge, busy, human hive, this London, the chief seaport in the kingdom, the richest and most populous
city in all the world. And besides being the centre of trade, London is the seat of government, for there, in
the stately halls at Westminster, Lords and Commons gather to make the laws by which the land shall be ruled.
London has grown to such importance and such greatness partly through its position. It lies upon the broad
estuary of the Thames, on the eastern shores of Britain, making it easy to reach the European ports. The
channel is safe, as the Wash is not, and wider and deeper than the Humber, although not deep enough for the
great ships which are now built, so that many of them cannot come up to the port of London. It has one great
fault as a port. It has no coal fields near, nor yet iron ore. These have to be brought a great distance, which
makes them dear. So it is to be feared that some of the large shipbuilders will go away from the Thames to
places nearer coal fields. Yet in spite
 of this fault, London has grown to be the heart of a vast network of road-, rail-, and water-ways, which lead
out to all the world, and return again, carrying man and merchandise, as the veins and arteries carry blood to
and from the heart of our body.
The London which Oliver looked upon was, of course, little like the London which we know. The streets were
narrow and dirty, the houses mostly built of wood. Still it was a great and wonderful city. There mingled gay
cavaliers, richly clad and decked with feathers and laces, sober Puritans, quaintly dressed soldiers,
tradesmen, and merchants, a many-coloured crowd.
But again, of Oliver's life in this great city we know little. He made some friends, however—among them a
certain Sir James Bourchier. This we know, for in 1620, when Oliver was twenty-one, he married Elizabeth,
daughter of Sir James. The marriage took place at St. Giles's Church, Cripplegate. Then the young couple went
home to Huntingdon.
There are people who say that Oliver was a naughty boy and a wild young man. Whether that be so or not, now at
least he settled down quietly to farm the land which had been left him by his father. For the next ten years he
lived a simple country life with his old mother and his good housewife Elizabeth.
While the years passed peacefully in
Hunting-  don, the King and his people had begun to quarrel. "The King can do no wrong," said James, and he tried to have
all his own way. He tried, for one thing, to force every one to be of the same church—the English Church. But
many did not like the English Church. It was too much like the Roman Catholic, which they hated. They wanted to
do away with bishops, and robes and ceremonies, and have a very simple service. "No Bishop, no King," said
James. And so the quarrel grew.
In 1625 James died, and his son Charles came to the throne. But with the new King things went no better. He
wanted his own way quite as much as his father had done. So the quarrel between the King and people, between
the King and Parliament, grew worse. Twice Charles called a Parliament. Twice, after a few weeks, he dissolved
it in a passion, because the Commons would not vote him money unless he promised something in return. Then in
1628 he called a third Parliament. To this, as member for the town of Huntingdon, went Oliver Cromwell.
This was a remarkable Parliament. It passed an Act called the Petition of Right. This Act forbade the King to
tax the people without first getting leave from Parliament. It forbade that men should be put in prison without
a reason. It forbade that soldiers and sailors should be sent to live in people's houses, whenever and for
 as long a time as the King pleased. These were really no new laws. They were old ones, which the King had
forgotten and broken. Charles, however, still went on taxing the people without leave, and the quarrel grew
worse. Then the King ordered the Parliament to dissolve. At this the members were very angry, and as the
Speaker tried to leave the hall, two of them held him down in his chair, crying, "He shall sit here till it
please the House to rise."
There the Speaker was held, while the doors were locked, so that no man might go out and no man, not even the
King's messenger, might come in. Then the Commons declared once more that it was against the law for the King
to levy taxes without the consent of Parliament, and that any one paying such taxes was a traitor to the
liberty of his country. For a few minutes the old hall rang with cheers. Then the members quickly scattered,
for it was rumoured that soldiers were coming. That was the end of Parliament for the time, and Charles,
finding that he could not make it do what he wanted, ruled without calling another for eleven years.
After taking part in these exciting doings Oliver went home, to settle down once more quietly to his farming.
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