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six weeks’ pay should be offered to every disbanded soldier. It was a mere fraction of what was due, and a soldier need not be abnormally suspicious to come to the conclusion that, when once he had left the ranks, his prospect of getting satisfaction for the remainder of his claim was exceedingly slight. Thus driven to the wall, eight of the cavalry regiments chose, each of them, two Agitators, or, as in modern speech they would be styled, Agents, to represent them in the impending negotiation for their rights, jand the sixteen thus chosen drew up letters to the Generals, Fairfax, Cromwell, lreton and Skippon. As the cavalry was the most distinctively political portion of the army, the writers of these letters for the first time stepped beyond the bounds of material grievance, complaining of a design to break and ruin the army, and of the intention of “some who had lately tasted of sovereignty to become masters and degenerate into tyrants.” The House was beyond measure indignant, summoned to the bar three of the Agitators who brought the letters to \Vestminster; but on their refusal to answer, sent Cromwell, Ireton and Skippon to assure the soldiers that they should have the indemnity they craved, together with a considerable part of their arrears and debentures for the rest.
There is no reason to doubt that Cromwell sympathised with the soldiers in their desire for a just settlement of their claims, whilst he was still disinclined to support them in their design of gaining influence over the Government. \Vhen he reached Saffron \Valden he found that the infantry regiments had followed the example of the cavalry, and that a body of Agitators had been chosen to represent the whole army. The result of their conferences with the officers was the production of A Declaration of the Army, drawn up on May 16, with which Cromwell appears to have been entirely satisfied, as, while it insisted on a redress of practical grievances, it contained no claim to political influence. If the Houses had frankly accepted the situation Cromwell and his colleagues would have succeeded in averting, at least for a time, the danger of investing the army with political power.
On his return Cromwell found signs that the majority was even less
inclined to do justice to the soldiers than when he had left \Vestminster. During his absence, Parliamentary authority to discipline and train the militia of the City had been given to a committee named by the Common Council of London. The Common Council was a Presbyterian body, and its committee proceeded to eject every officer tainted with Independency. The City militia numbered l8,000 men, and it looked as if the majority in Parliament was preparing a force which might be the nucleus of an army to be opposed to the soldiers of Fairfax and Cromwell. In Scotland too, there was an army of more than 6,000 men, under the command of David Leslie—no inconsiderable general—which might perhaps be brought to the help of the Parliament against its own soldiers, as Leven’s army had, three years before, been brought to its assistance against the King. Charles, too, on May l2—Cromwell being still absent from \Vestminster—had at last replied to the proposals made to him early in the year, and had offered to concede Presbyterianism for three years, and the militia for ten, the clergy in the meanwhile being allowed to discuss the terms of a permanent settlement. As in the very probable event of their disagreeing, it would be easy for Charles, at the end of the three years, to contend that episcopacy was again the legal government of the Churchespecially as he was at once to return to \Vestminster, where he would be able to exercise all the influence which would again be at his command. On May I8 this offer was accepted by the English Presbyterians, as well as by the Scottish Commissioners, as a fair basis of an understanding with the King. No wonder that the soldiers took alarm, or that on the I9th the Agitators issued an appeal to the whole army to hang together in resistance.
Nevertheless, when Cromwell reappeared in the House on May 21, and read out the joint report of the deputation, he was able to declare his belief that the army would disband, though it would refuse to volunteer for Ireland. At first the House seemed ready to lake the reasonable course, approving of an ordinance granting the required indemnity, and favourably considering another to provide a real and visible security for so much of the arrears as was left unpaid. At the same time the arrears to be given