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may well believe that his own feelings were no less agitated. The peaceful settlement which he had so long pursued seemed farther off than ever, and he can have brought with him no friendly thoughts of a King who would neither accept reasonable terms for himself, nor abdicate in favour of those who would. On April 29 the chief men of the army held a prayer-meeting to inquire ' into the causes of that sad dispensation,' and in a discussion which followed on the 30th Cromwell urged those present thoroughly to consider their actions as an army and their conduct as private Christians, that they might discover the cause of 'such sad rebukes' as were upon them by reason of their iniquities. That day no definite result was arrived at, but on the next, news having arrived that the forces in Wales had suffered a check, Fairfax ordered Cromwell to take the command in those parts. Before Cromwell set out for his new command one more meeting was held. "Presently," we are told by one who was present, "we were led and helped to a clear agreement amongst ourselves, not any dissenting, that it was the duty of our day, with the forces we had, to go out and fight against those potent enemies which that year in all places appeared against us, with humble confidence, in the name of the Lord only, that we should destroy them; also enabling us then, after serious seeking His face, to come to a very clear and joint resolution on many grounds at large then debated amongst us, that it was our duty, if ever the Lord brought us back again in peace, to call Charles Stuart, that man of blood, to an account for the blood he had shed and mischief he had done to his utmost against the Lord's cause and people in these poor nations."
To what other conclusion could these men possibly come? How were they likely to recognise the deeply seated belief in the justice of his Church and cause which lay behind the slippery trickiness of Charles? and how, even if they had recognised it, could they have counted it to him for righteousness? For many a month Cromwell had staved off this decision. Now, he could not reconcile it to his conscience to stave it off any longer; his conscience in this, no doubt, concurring with his interests. He left the Presbyterians at Westminster to their own devices—to pass an ordinance which imposed the bitterest penalties on heresy, and to toy with the idea of a fresh negotiation with Charles, content that they had been brought into line with the army in opposition to a Cavalier insurrection at home and a Scottish invasion from abroad. Every indication served to convince the Houses of the Royalist character of the insurrection. There were tumults either actually breaking out or threatened in Suffolk, in Essex and in Surrey, and in every case a resolution to support the King was either declared or implied. Such a development was no more to the taste of the Presbyterians than to that of the soldiers, and the army was therefore able to calculate on the support of a Parliament which, though it might detest the principles of the soldiers, was unable to dispense with their services.
That army was not one to be easily defeated. Before Cromwell reached his appointed station, he heard that Horton had overcome the Welshmen at St Fagans. The political effect of the victory was immense. "To observe the strange alteration," wrote a London Independent to a friend in the army, "the defeating of the Welsh hath made in all sorts is admirable. The disaffected to the army of the religious Presbyterians now fawn upon them—partly for fear of you, and partly in that they think you will keep down the Royal party which threatened them, in their doors, in the streets, to their faces with destruction, and put no difference between Presbyterian and Independent." On May 19 the Common Council of the City declared its readiness to live and die with the Parliament, at the same time requesting that a fresh negotiation should be opened with the King—a proposal which was at once accepted. The Royalists were bitterly disappointed. "How long," jibed one of them, " halt ye between two opinions? If Mammon be God, serve him; if the Lord be God, serve Him. If Fairfax be King, serve him; if Charles be King, restore him." To Fairfax and Cromwell the decision of the City must have come as a great relief. The work before them was hard enough, but there was no longer reason to despair.
So far as Fairfax was concerned, it had been intended that he should march against the Scots whilst Cromwell marched into Wales. A rising in Kent, followed by the defection of part of the navy, frustrated this design. On June i Fairfax defeated the Kentish Royalists at Maidstone, but a part of their forces crossing the Thames threw themselves into Essex in the hope of rallying the Royalists of the eastern counties to their side. Fairfax after a magnificently rapid march penned them into Colchester, where they could only be reduced by a long and tedious blockade. At the same time Cromwell, having pushed on through South Wales, was occupied with the siege of Pembroke Castle, which did not surrender till July II, thus leaving full time for the completion of the Scottish preparations. "I pray God," he had written to Fairfax whilst as yet the issue was undecided, " teach this nation and those that are over us, and your Excellency and all us that are under you, what the mind of God may be in all this, and what our duty is. Surely it is not that the poor godly people of this kingdom should still be made the object of wrath and anger, nor that our God would have our necks under a yoke of bondage; for these things that have lately come to pass have been the wonderful
works of God breaking the rod of the oppressor as in the day of Midian, not with garments much rolled in blood, but by the terror of the Lord, who will yet save His people and confound His enemies."
What a light is thrown upon Cromwell's thoughts by these words! No Parliamentary supremacy or rule of the majority—not even a general toleration after the fashion of Roger Williams or Milton was uppermost in his mind. Security for those whom he styled 'the poor godly people' was the main object of his striving, though he was too large-minded not to assign an important, if but a secondary place, to questions relating to the fall or preservation of Kings and Parliaments, as the institutional framework of political order without which even 'the poor godly people' could not enter the haven of safety.
Three days before Cromwell was released from Pembroke the Scottish army under the Duke of Hamilton had crossed the Border, sending before it a declaration against toleration either for the Common Prayer Book or for the worship of the sects. It was unlikely that if Charles were restored by Hamilton's means he would be required to fulfil more than that portion of the declaration which related to the repression of the sects. The Hamilton party, as the secular party in Scotland, was devoid of enthusiasm, and anxious to throw off the yoke of the clergy. Hamilton, however, was a most incompetent general. He and