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be taken for granted; but he does not seem to have had any opportunity, as a simple member of the House, for doing more. \Ve can indeed only conjecture, though with tolerable certitude, that he was well pleased with the widening of the breach between the Presbyterians and the King, caused by the determination of Charles to make no stipulation which would lead to the abolition of episcopacy. Nor can he have been otherwise than well pleased when, on January 30, I647, the Scottish army having received part of the sum due to them for their services in England, with promise of the remainder, marched for Scotland, having first delivered Charles over to commissioners appointed by the English Parliament, who conducted him to Holmby House, in Northamptonshire, which had been assigned to him by Parliament as a residence.
At last the time had arrived when a peaceful settlement of the distracted country appeared to have come in sight and, for the time at least, the Presbyterians seemed to have the strongest cards in their hands. They had a majority in Parliament, and it was for them, therefore, to formulate the principles on which the future institutions of the country were to be built. That the country was with them in wishing, on the one hand, for an arrangement in which the King could reappear as a constitutional factor in the Government, and, on the other hand, for a total or partial disbandment of the army, and a consequent relief from taxation, can hardly be denied. The great weakness, and, as it proved, the insuperable weakness of the Presbyterians lay in the incapacity of their leaders to understand the characters of the men with whom they had to deal. Right as they were in their opinion that the nation would readily accept a constitutional monarchy, it was impossible to persuade them, as was really the case, that Charles would never willingly submit to be bound by the limitations of constitutional monarchy, and still less to allow, longer than he could possibly help, the Church to be modelled after any kind of Presbyterian system. That he had the strongest possible conviction, on religious grounds, that episcopacy was of Divine ordinance, is beyond doubt, and on this point his tenacious, though irresolute mind, was strengthened by an assurance that in
fighting in the cause of the Bishops he was really fighting in the cause of God. Yet the controversy had a political as well as a religious side. In Scotland Presbyterianism meant the predominance of the clergy. In England, it would mean the predominance of the country nobility and gentry, who, either in their private capacity, or collectively in Parliament, presented to benefices, and in Parliament kept the final control over the Church in their own hands. Episcopacy, on the other hand, meant that the control over the Church was in the hands of men appointed by the King.
The folly of the Presbyterians appeared, not in their maintenance of their own views, but in their fancying that if they could only persuade Charles to agree to give them their way temporarily, they would have done sufficient to gain their cause. Early in I647 they proposed that Presbyterianism should be established in England for three years, and that the militia should remain in the power of Parliament for ten. They could not see that at the end of the periods fixed Charles would have the immense advantage of finding himself face to face with a system which had ceased to have any legal sanction. Common prudence suggested that whatever settlement was arrived at, it should, at least, have in favour of its continuance the presumption of permanency accorded to every established institution which is expected to remain in possession of the field till definite steps are taken for its abolition. _
It is possible indeed that the Presbyterians calculated on the unpopularity of episcopacy and of all that episcopacy was likely to bring with it. It is true that it is impossible to give even an approximate estimate of the numerical strength of ecclesiastical parties. No religious census was taken, and there is every reason to believe that, if it had been taken, it would have failed to convey any accurate information. There is little doubt that very considerable numbers, probably much more than a bare majority of the population, either did not care for ecclesiastical disputes at all, or at least did not care for them sufficiently to offer armed resistance to any form of Church-government or Church-teaching likely to be established either by Parliament or by King. Yet all the evidence we possess shows