Imágenes de páginas
PDF
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[ocr errors]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]

CHAPTER II.

Tm: New MODEL ARMY AND “rut: PRESBYTERIANS.

nu New Model Army had been accepted by both
Houses and by both parties in either House, because
in no other way could the difficulties of the situa-
tion be met. The failure of the negotiations
at Uxbridge had convinced the Presbyterians—at
least for the moment—that Charles would give

[graphic]

no help towards the settlement of the nation on any basis that their narrow minds could recognise as acceptable, and if the war was to be continued, what prospect was there of success under the old conditions? Nevertheless, the creation of the New Model was, in the main, CromwelI’s work. Men are led by their passions more than

[ocr errors]

by their reason, and if Cromwell had continued his invectives against Manchester, he would have roused an opposition which would have left little hope of the realisation of the hopes which he cherished most deeply in his heart. All through the discussion he had shown not only a readiness to sacrifice his own personal interests, but a determination to avoid even criticism of the actions of his opponents in all matters of less importance, provided that he had his way in the one thing most important of all. Without a word of censure he had left the Presbyterians not only to negotiate with Charles, but to pass votes for the establishment of intolerant Presbyterianism in England. The skill with which he avoided friction by keeping himself in the background, whilst he allowed others to work for him, doubtless contributed much to his success. It revealed the highest qualities of statesmanship on the hypothesis that he was acting with a single eye to the public good. It revealed the lowest arts of the trickster, on the hypothesis that he was scheming for his own ultimate advantage. As human nature is constituted, it was certain that there would be many to convince themselves that the lower interpretation of his conduct was the true one.

At all events, the New Model Army was being brought into shape in the spring of I6’i5. It was composed partly of men pressed into the service, partly of soldiers who had served in former armies. That the Puritan, and even the Independent element, was well represented amongst the cavalry of which Cromwell’s troops formed the nucleus, there can be little doubt; and even amongst the infantry, the fact that it could only be recruited from those parts of England which at that time acknowledged the authority of the Houses, and that in those counties Puritanism was especially rife, would naturally introduce Ointo the ranks a considerable number of Puritans, whether Independent or not. The army, however, was certainly not formed on the principles which had guided Cromwell in the selection of his first troopers, and indeed it was impossible to select 30,000 men on the exclusive plan which had been found possible in the selection of a single troop or a single regiment. \Vhat chiefly

[ocr errors][merged small]

so far as the rank and file were concerned—distinguished the New Model
from preceding armies, was that it was regularly paid. Hitherto the
soldiers had been dependent on intermittent Parliamentary grants, or still
more intermittent efforts of local committees. All this was now to be
changed. A regular taxation was assessed on the counties for the
support of the new army, and constant pay put an end to the deser-
tions on a large scale which had afflicted the former commanders, thus
rendering it possible to bring the new force under rigorous discipline, a
discipline which punished even more severely offences against morality
than those directed against military efficiency.

The higher the state of discipline is, the more important is the selection
of officers; and here at least Cromwell’s views had full scope. On the
mere ground that it was desirable to place command in the hands of
men who were most strenuous in the prosecution of the war, the pre-
ference was certain to be given to those who were least hampered by
a desire to make terms with an unbeaten King—in other words, to
Independents rather than to Presbyterians. In another way Cromwell’s
ideas were carried out. “I had rather,” he had once said, “ have a plain
russet-coated captain that knows what he fights for, and loves what he
knows, than that which you call a gentleman and nothing else. l honour
a gentleman that is so indeed." There was no distinction of social rank
amongst the officers of the New Model. Amongst them were men of old
families such as Fairfax and Montague, side by side with He\vson, the
cobbler, and Pride, the drayman. If ever the army should be drawn within
the circle of politics, much_ would follow from the adoption of a system of
promotion which grounded itself on military efficiency alone.

For the present the services of the new army were required solely in the field. On April 20 Cromwell, who was permitted to retain his commission forty days after the ordinance had passed, and whose allotted term had not yet expired, was sent with his cavalry to sweep round the King’s headquarters at Oxford and to break up his arrangements for moving the artillery

needed to enable Rupert to again take the field. Cromwell’s movement
O

[ocr errors]
[graphic][graphic][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »