« AnteriorContinuar »
on the other, which would enable him to grasp the reins of power on the old terms. “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 lo 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 a 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 \Vestminster. On August 6 Fairfax was named by the reconstituted Parliament Constable of the Tower, which had hitherto been guarded by the citizens, and was from henceforward to be garrisoned by a detachment of the army, whilst another detachment was left at \Vestminster 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.
\Vhat 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.” “l know nothing to the contrary," he said on another occasion, speaking of Holles 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. Crom\vell’s patience was exhausted. On August 20, to obtain a vote that the proceedings of the House, in the absence of the Speaker, had been null and void, he brought a cavalry regiment into Hyde Park. 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.
The one way of escape still lay in an understanding with the King. \Vith the King, however, no agreement was possible. Charles, hopelessly at fault in his judgment of passing events, stood aloof in the assurance that the strife amongst the opponents would serve but to weaken both. In the negotiations carried on with the army simultaneously with the latest Parliamentary struggle, he fought every point stubbornly. To extricate themselves from this difficulty, Cromwell and Ireton joined in a vote for resuscitating the Newcastle propositions, and allowed Charles to be formally requested to give his consent to those extravagant Presbyterian demands. Charles, driven to the wall, expressed his preference for The Heads of the Proposals. Cromwell and Ireton contrived to persuade themselves that he was in earnest, and gave their support to the King’s demand for a personal negotiation with Parliament on that basis.
Under these circumstances the Independent party and the army split