« AnteriorContinuar »
'1‘llE NEW MODEL ARMY AND THE KING. 97 Then lining the steep northern bank of the Ribble with musketeers, he
drove Hamilton from the flat southern bank and, later on, across the Darwen which, near this point, flows into the Ribble. What followed was little more than mere pursuit. The Scots, half starved and discouraged, were beaten wherever they attempted to make a stand, and Hamilton at last surrendered at Uttoxeter, ‘eight days after the battle.
It was Cromwell’s first victory in an independent command, and if the Scottish leader had played into his hands, he had been wanting in no part of an efficient general‘ to profit by his folly. Once more, in his despatch announcing his success to the Speaker, he harped upon the old string, the duty of the Parliamentary Government to give protection to the “people of God." “Surely, Sir,” he wrote, “this is nothing but the hand of God, and wherever anything in this world is exalted or exalts itself, God will put it down; for this is the day wherein He alone will be exalted. It is not fit for me to give advice, nor to say a word what use you should make of this ; more than to pray you and all that acknowledge God, that they would take courage to do the work of the Lord in fulfilling the end of your magistracy in seeking the peace and welfare of this land; that all that will live peaceably may have countenance from you, and they that are incapable and will not leave troubling the land may speedily be destroyed out of the land.”
On August 27, ten days after the victory at Preston, Colchester capitulated, and as far as England was concerned, the second civil war was brought to an end, only a few fortresses in the north—incapable of prolonged resistance without succour from an army in the field—still holding out. It remained to be considered what policy should be adopted towards the defeated Scots, and first of all towards the thousands of prisoners captured at Preston and in the pursuit which followed. Of these a division was made—
those who had been pressed into the service being set at liberty under an
engagement never again to bear arms against the Parliament of England.
Those who had voluntarily taken service under Hamilton were transported to Barbados or Virginia, not, as is commonly said, as slaves, but as
servants subjected for a term of years to a master who usually dealt T3
with them far more harshly than with his negro slaves, but was at least bound to set them at liberty at the end of the appointed time.
The decision in this matter rested with Parliament—not with Cromwell. It was for Cromwell to follow up the relics of the Scottish army which he had left behind to the north of Preston, and which, after the defeat of their comrades, had retreated to Scotland. Nor could it be doubted that the word of the victorious general would have great weight with Parliament in the settlement of the outstanding complaints against Scotland which was now impending. It was fortunate that it was so, as Cromwell was just the man to turn to the best advantage the dispute between the Scottish parties now bursting into a flame. The defeat of Hamilton left the way open to Argyle and that party of the more fanatical clergy whose followers in the strongly Presbyterian west were known as \Vhiggamores, an appellation from which the later appellation of \Vhig was derived. The \Vest rose in arms, and the \Vhiggamore Raid—as it was called—swept from power those few partisans of Hamilton who were still at liberty, and placed Scotland once more in the hands of Argyle and the clergy. On September 21, whilst the conflict was still undecided, Cromwell entered Scotland, demanding the surrender of Berwick and Carlisle, still occupied by Scottish garrisons. Argyle, glad of English support to strengthen his nascent authority, gave a hearty consent; and, to display the overwhelming strength of the English army to the Scottish people, Lambert was sent forward in advance, Cromwell following with the bulk of the army and arriving in Edinburgh on October 4. On the 7th Cromwell returned to England, leaving Argyle under the protection of Lambert at the head of two regiments of horse. In the meanwhile Cromwell had come to an understanding with Argyle that no Scotsman who had supported the Engagement with Charles should be allowed to retain office, a stipulation as much in accordance with Argyle's wishes as with his own. A fanatic might have objected that it was unfitting a tolerationist to support the most intolerant clergy in Protestant Europe. As a statesman, Cromwell could but remember that unless England were to assume the direct control over the Government
of Scotland, it must leave such matters to local decision, especially as there were few or no Independents in Scotland to be wronged by any action which the new Government at Edinburgh might take. Yet there was undoubtedly a danger for the future in the divergency of aim between the followers of Argyle in Scotland and those of Cromwell in England.
Cromwell transferred his forces into Yorkshire to hasten the surrender of Pontefract and Scarborough, which still held out. The political interest of the day had shifted to the south. Parliament, as soon as it was relieved from danger, had determined to reopen the negotiation with the King, and the conference—known as The Treaty of Newport—commenced in the Isle of \Vight on September I8. In the regiments under Cromwell’s command, as well as in Fairfax’s army, the disgust was intense, and Ireton now took the lead in calling for a purge of the House which would get rid of such members as supported this piece of misplaced diplomacy. To complete the dissatisfaction of the army, the demands of Parliament included the establishment of Presbyterianism without a shadow of toleration on either hand. It is unnecessary here to follow up this negotiation in detail. The objection taken to Charles’s counter-proposals was less that they were themselves unjust, than that it was impossible to hinder him from slipping out of his promise whenever he felt strong enough to do so. Of this objection Ireton was the mouth-piece in Fairfax’s army, and on or about November IO, he laid before the Council of officers the draft of a Remunstrance 0/_ the Army. It touched on many constitutional proposals, but the clause of the greatest practical interest was that it asked “that the capital and grand author of all our troubles, the person of the King, may be speedily brought to justice for the treason, blood and mischief he is therein guilty of.” The suggestion was too much for Fairfax, and he carried his officers with him in favour of a proposal that the army should ask the King to assent to the heads of a constitutional plan which would have reduced the functions of the Crown to that influence which is so beneficially exercised at the present day.
This proposal made to the King on the l6th was, however, rejected at once.
The feeling of the army being what it was, Charles virtually signed his own death-warrant by this action, and it might seem to a superficial observer, as if his sufferings were due to his refusal to anticipate two centuries of history, and to abandon all the claims which had been handed down to him by his predecessors. To the careful enquirer, it is evident that the causes of the army’s demand lay far deeper. The men who made it were no constitutional pedants. It was the deep distrust with which Charles had inspired them that led to this drastic mode of setting him aside from the exercise of that authority which he had so constantly abused. It was his avoidance of open and honourable speech which brought Charles to the block. Those who imagine that he was brought to the scaffold because of his refusal to submit to the abolition of episcopacy, forget that it had been in his power to secure the retention of episcopacy when it was offered him in The [leads of the Proposals, if only he had consented to its being accompanied by a complete toleration.
The effect of the news which Cromwell from time to time received from the army in England may be traced in the letters written by him at this time. In one which he sent to Hammond on November 6 he justified his dealings with Argyle, suggesting that the example of Scotland, where one Parliament had been dissolved and another had been elected, might be followed in England. In a second letter, written on the 20th, after he had had time to consider the rejection by Charles of the proposal of the army, he replied bitterly to an order of the House to send up Sir John Owen, a prisoner taken in \Vales, in order that he might be banished. Cromwell angrily wrote that those who brought in the Scots had been adjudged traitors by Parliament, “this being a more prodigious treason than any that had been perfected before; because the former quarrel was that Englishmen might rule over one another, this to vassalise us to a foreign nation, and their fault who have appeared in this summer’s business is certainly double theirs who were in the first, because it is the repetition of the same offence against all the witnesses that God has borne, by making and abetting a second war.”
“To vassalise us to a foreign nation.” Here, in political matters at least,
was the head and front of Charles’s offending. lt was this that finally broke down Cromwell’s reluctance to shake himself loose from constituted authority. “God,” Hammond had written, “hath appointed authorities among the nations, to which active or passive obedience is to be yielded. This resides in England in the Parliament. Therefore active or passive resistance is forbidden.” To this reasoning Cromwell replied, on the 25th, by various arguments, closing with the daring suggestion that the army might, after all, be “a lawful power called by God to oppose and fight against the King upon some stated grounds; and, being in power to such ends,” might not they oppose “one name of authority for these ends as well as another name?" Whatever might be the worth of these considerations, no good was to be expected from Charles. “Good,” he protested, “by this man against whom the Lord hath witnessed, and whom thou knowest! "
Surely we have here laid bare before us Cromwellian opinion in the making. As in other men the wish was father to the thought. The desire, whether for private or for public ends, shapes the thoughts and, in Cromwell’s case, as the desires swept a wider compass than with most men, the thoughts took a larger scope and, to some extent, jostled with one another. The cloudy mixture would clear itself soon enough.
Meanwhile events followed quickly on one another in the south. Hammond, as too soft-hearted, was removed from Carisbrooke, and on December l, emissaries from the army removed Charles to Hurst Castle, where he could be more easily isolated. The foremost men in the army talked openly of putting the King to death, and adopted Cromwell’s suggestion that Parliament should be forcibly dissolved, and a new one elected in its place. In this sense a Declaration was issued on November 30, and on December 2, the army marched into London. The Commons showed themselves to be unaffected by threats of violence and voted on the 5th that the King’s offers were “a ground for the course to proceed upon for the settlement of the peace of the kingdom." The scheme of a dissolution favoured by the army was wrecked on the resistance of the Independent members of the House. There was to be a purge, not a dissolution followed