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at all events, was so convinced that the officers were prepared, almost unconditionally, to restore him to his former power, that he gave it as a reason for distrusting them, that they had not asked him for personal favours in return. There can be no doubt that Cromwell refrained at this time from pressing the King hardly. He was present at the meeting of Charles with his children, now permitted to visit him for the first time since the beginning of the civil war. Himself a devoted father, he was touched by the affecting scene. The King, he told Berkeley, was the' uprightest and most conscientious man of his three kingdoms'. Yet he was too keen-sighted to be blind to the other side of his character. He wished, he said, that his Majesty would be more frank and not so strictly tied to narrow maxims.
Already Cromwell's apparent devotion to the King's person was not unnaturally drawing forth harsh criticisms from those who failed to understand the essential unity underlying divergencies in his action. Some at least amongst the Agitators were joining the Presbyterians in sarcasms directed against the man who was everything by turns; who had at one time taken the Covenant—at another time accepted the disbandment of the army; at another time again had made himself the instrument of the army in its resistance of disbandment. Cromwell took no notice of such calumnies. He was more concerned with the eagerness of the Agitators to march upon Westminster with the object of forcing the Houses to condemn the eleven members who were again stirring, and of crushing the discontent which was simmering amongst the City population. Happily the mere threat of force had been sufficient, and Parliament virtually abandoned its hostile attitude by naming Fairfax Commander-in-chief of all the forces in the country. Would it be so easy to deal with Charles? By July 23, The Heads of the Proposals, probably drawn up by Ireton—who, of all the officers, was the most versed in constitutional lore—with the assistance of Colonel Lambert, having been adopted by the Army Council, were submitted to the King. So far as religion was concerned, they anticipated the settlement of the Revolution of 1688, leaving all forms of worship—including that of the condemned Prayer Book—to the voluntary choice of the worshipper. So far as politics were concerned, provision was to be made, not merely for making the King responsible to Parliament, but for making Parliament responsible to the people. There were to be biennial Parliaments, elected by enlarged constituencies, and a Council of State was to be formed, to whose consent in important matters the King was to bow. The first Council was to remain in office for at least seven years. How it was to be nominated after that was left uncertain, probably till the question had been threshed out in discussion with the King. The army leaders had yet to discover how little profit such a discussion would bring. Charles was not prepared to abandon his old position for that of constitutional King, limited, as he had never been limited before, by opposing forces. If he had spoken his objections clearly out it would have been easy to criticise him as one who was blind to the forces which were governing events: it would have been impossible to hold him morally at fault. The course which he took could not but lead to disaster. Listening to the army leaders, he yet conspired against them, still placing his hopes on the assistance of a Scottish army, and speculating on the chances of a breach between the army on the one side and the Parliament and the City on the other, which would enable him to grasp the reins of power under the old conditions. "I shall see them glad ere long," he told Berkeley, "to accept more equal terms." He even went so far as to imagine that Fairfax and Cromwell were to be bribed by offers of personal advantage to re-establish his fallen throne on other terms than those now offered to him. "You cannot," he told them, "do without me. You will fall into ruin if I do not sustain you." He was partly supported by his knowledge that though the City authorities had yielded to the sway of the army, the City apprentices were in a state of disquiet and had broken into the House of Commons, compelling the members to vote a series of Presbyterian resolutions in defiance of the army. In misplaced confidence in this movement in the City, Charles entered into communication with Lauderdale, the ablest member of a body of Scottish Commissioners who had recently arrived nominally to urge the King to accept the Parliamentary terms, but in reality to negotiate v separate agreement between the Scots and the King. Charles eagerly closed with their proposals and allowed Lauderdale to send a message to Edinburgh urging the equipment of a Scottish army for the invasion of England. Unluckily for him, mob-violence was a feeble reed on which to lean. The Speaker of the two Houses, together with the Independent members, took refuge with the army, and the army treating them as the genuine Parliament reconducted them to Westminster. On August 6 Fairfax was named by the reconstituted Parliament Constable of the Tower, which though it had hitherto been guarded by the citizens was from henceforward to be garrisoned by a detachment of the army, whilst another detachment was left at Westminster as a guard to the Houses. The remainder of the soldiers, to show their power, tramped through the City, passing out by London Bridge on the march to Croydon—Cromwell riding at the head of the cavalry.
What could be the possible end of such demonstrations? Every time they were employed, the appeal to force was placed more clearly in evidence, in spite of all efforts to minimise it. Scarcely had the regiments filed out of the City when the Presbyterian majority reasserted itself in Parliament. On the other hand, the Agitators raised their voices for a purge of Parliament which would thrust out those members who had sat and voted under the influence of the mob. Cromwell was growing impatient. "These men," he said of the eleven members, some of whom had returned to their seats when the House was under the dominion of the mob, " will never leave till the army pull them out by the ears." "I know nothing to the contrary," he said on another occasion, speaking of Holies and Stapleton, "but that I am as well able to govern the kingdom as either of them." On this, the eleven members left their seats for good and all, six of them taking refuge on the Continent. Yet the majority in the Commons was Presbyterian still, and refused to vote at the dictation of the army. Cromwell's patience was exhausted. On August 20 he brought a cavalry regiment into Hyde Park in order to obtain a vote that the proceedings of the House, in the absence of the Speaker, had been null and void. Under this threat, the majority gave way, and Cromwell, who had the whole army behind him, gained his immediate end. Once more he was drifting forwards in the direction of that military despotism which neither he nor his comrades desired to establish.