« AnteriorContinuar »
"shall that render him incapable to serve the public? . . . Sir, the State in choosing men to serve it takes no notice of their opinions. If they be willing faithfully to serve it—that satisfies. Take heed of being sharp, or too easily sharpened by others, against those to whom you can object little but that they square not with you in every opinion concerning matters of religion."
It might be that religious liberty would in the long run suffer more than it would gain from military support, just as the principles of Andrewes and Laud suffered more than they gained by the support of Charles. Already the regiments under Cromwell's command swarmed with enthusiasts who spent their leisure in preaching and arguing on the most abstruse points of divinity, agreeing in nothing except that argument was to be met by argument alone. Their iron discipline and their devotion to the cause permitted a freedom which would have been a mere dissolvent of armies enlisted after a more worldly system. As Cromwell stepped more pronouncedly to the front, his advocacy of religious liberty would become well-nigh irresistible.
On January 19, 1644, the Scottish army, under the Earl of Leven, crossed the Tweed. Newcastle was pushed back into York, where he was besieged by the combined forces of Leven and the Fairfaxes. On May 6 Lincoln, which had been regained by the Royalists, was retaken by Manchester, who together with Cromwell pushed on to join in the siege of York. Rupert, however, having been sent northward by Charles, succeeded in raising the siege; and on July 2 a battle was fought on Marston Moor, in which the Royalist army, successful at first, was utterly crushed by Cromwell's skill. Having routed Rupert's horse, he drew bridle and hurried back to the assistance of the Scottish infantry, which was holding its own against overwhelming numbers of the enemy. The King's regiments of foot were routed or destroyed by his impetuous charge. Cromwell had redeemed the day after the three generals, Leven, Manchester and the elder Fairfax, had fled from that which they deemed to be a complete disaster. Before long the whole of the North of England, save a few outlying fortresses, was lost to the King.
In the South, matters were going badly for Parliament. Waller's army, checked at Cropredy Bridge, melted away by desertion; whilst Essex, attempting an inroad into Cornwall, was followed by the King. Essex himself and his cavalry succeeded in making their escape, but on September 2 the whole of his infantry surrendered to Charles at Lostwithiel. Unless Manchester came to the rescue, it would be impossible to avert disaster. Manchester, however, was hard to move. Between him and his LieutenantGeneral there was no longer that good understanding which was essential to successful action. Manchester, longing for peace on the basis of a Presbyterian settlement of the Church, could not be brought to understand that, whether such an ending to the war were desirable or not, it could never be obtained from
Charles. Cromwell, on the other hand, aimed at religious toleration for the sects, and that security which, as his practical nature taught him, was only attainable by the destruction of the military defences in which Charles trusted) That those defences were the ramparts of the city of destruction, he never doubted for an instant. Writing in his most serious mood immediately after the victory of Marston Moor, to the father of a youth who had there met his death-wound, his own losses rose before his mind. Of his four sons, two had already passed away:—Robert, leaving behind him a memory of unusual piety, had died in his schoolboy days; whilst Oliver, who had charged and fled at Edgehill had lately succumbed to small-pox in the garrison at Newport Pagnell. Yet it was not only to the example of his own sorrow that Cromwell mainly looked as a balm for a father's bereavement. "Sir," he wrote, "you know my own trials this way, but the Lord supported me with this that the Lord took him into the happiness we all pant for and live for. There is your precious child full of glory, never to know sin or sorrow any more. Before his death he was so full of comfort that to Frank Russell and myself he could not express it,' it was so great above his pain'. This he said to us—indeed it was admirable. A little after, he said one thing lay upon his spirit. I asked him what that was? He told me it was that' God had not suffered him to be any more the executioner of his enemies'." Between a Cromwell eager to destroy the enemies of God and a Manchester eager to make peace with those enemies no good understanding was possible, especially as in the eyes of Manchester the prolongation of the war meant the strengthening of that sectarian fanaticism to which Cromwell looked as the evidence of a vigorous spiritual life.
In Manchester the desire for peace showed itself in sheer reluctance to make war. Cromwell fumed in vain against the Scots and their resolution to force their Presbyterianism upon England. "In the way they now carry themselves," he told Manchester, "pressing for their discipline, I could as soon draw my sword against them as against any in the King's army." "He would have," he added at another time, "none in his army who were not of the Independent judgment, in order that if terms were offered for a peace such as might not stand with the ends that honest men should aim at, this army might prevent such a mischief." This attack on the Scots led to an attack on the English nobility, amongst whom the sects found scant favour. VHe hoped, he said in words long afterwards remembered against him, to 'live to see never a nobleman in England'. He is even reported to have assured Manchester that it would never be well till he was known as plain Mr. Montague. Manchester persisted in doing nothing till a distinct order was given him to march to the defence of London, now laid open by Essex's mishap.
Manchester's reluctance to engage in military operations was probably strengthened by the knowledge that Vane, who, since Pym's death in the winter of 1643, was the most prominent personage amongst the war party at Westminster, had come down to York, at the time of the siege, to urge the generals, though in vain, to consent to the deposition of the King, and he could not but suspect that the arrival of Charles Louis, Elector Palatine, the eldest surviving son of Charles's sister Elizabeth, on August 30, had something to do with a design for placing him on his uncle's throne. The design, if it really existed, came to nothing, probably because it was hopeless to carry it out in the teeth of the generals. It was only with the utmost difficulty that Manchester's hesitation was overcome, and that he was induced to face Charles's army at Newbury. The battle fought there on October 27 was a drawn one. That it did not end in a Parliamentary victory was mainly owing to Manchester's indecision. When, a few days later, the King reappeared on the scene, he was allowed to relieve Donnington Castle, in the immediate neigh