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Cromwell replied by a renewed attack on Manchester’s inefficient generalship. Yet it was not in accordance with the character of the man who had stopped the headlong rush of his squadrons at Marston Moor to allow a great public cause to be wrecked by personal recriminations. On December 9 Zouch Tate, himself a strong Presbyterian, reported from a committee which had been appointed to consider the questions at issue between the two generals, ‘that the chief causes of our division are pride and covetousness’. It is immaterial whether Tate had or had not come to a previous understanding with Cromwell to damp down the fires of controversy which threatened to rend the Parliamentary party into warring factions. What was of real importance is that Cromwell followed with an admission that, unless the war was brought to a speedy conclusion, the kingdom would become weary of Parliament. “For what,” he added, “do the enemy say? Nay, what do many say that were friends at the beginning of the Parliament? Even this, that the members of both Houses have got great places and commands and a sword into their hands, and, what by interest of Parliament, and what by power in the army, will perpetually continue themselves in grandeur, and not permit the war speedily to end, lest their own power should determine with it. This I speak here to our faces is but what others do utter behind our backs.” Then, after calling for the more vigorous prosecution of the war, and advising that all charges against individual commanders should be dropped, he proceeded to express a hope that no member of either House would scruple to abandon his private interests for the public good. Later in the day, Tate gave point to Cromwell’s suggestion by moving that so long as the war lasted, no member of either House should hold any command, military or civil, conferred on him by Parliament. The idea struck root. It satisfied those who misdoubted Essex and Manchester, as well as those who misdoubted Cromwell. That Cromwell was in earnest in proposing to exclude himself is evident. The majority in both Houses was Presbyterian, and if the so-called Self-Denying Ordinance brought in to give effect to Tate’s proposal by refusing to members of either House the right of holding commands in the army or ofiices in the State had been passed in the form in which it was drawn up, nothing short of a repeal of that ordinance could have enabled him to command even a single troop.
That a door was left open was entirely the fault of the House of Lords in rejecting this ordinance on January 13, 1645. By this time both parties in the Commons were of one mind in pushing on an ordinance for a new model of the army, from which it would be easy to exclude peers, whether the Self-Denying Ordinance were passed or no. On January 21 the
Commons named Fairfax as General and Skippon as Major-General of the new army. The post of Lieutenant-General, which carried with it the command of the Horse, was significantly left open. No legislation now barred the way to Cromwell’s appointment, but the House thought it desirable to make their action in the matter dependent on the line finally taken by the Lords. On February I5 the Lords passed the New Model Ordinance. A few days later, the negotiation with the King which is known as the Treaty of Uxbridge, came to an end, and Parliament was now committed to the design of meeting Charles in the field with an army commanded by professional soldiers, and withdrawn from local and political influences. In such an army nothing more would be heard of the dangers of success which had loomed so large before the eye of Manchester. Apparently to save the Parliamentary officers from the indignity of tendering the resignation of their commissions, a new Self-Denying Ordinance was passed on April 3, by which members of either House were discharged from their military or civil posts within forty days afterwards. There was nothing to prevent the reappointment of Cromwell on the one hand, or of Essex or Manchester on the other, if the two Houses should combine in doing so,
THE NEW MODEL ARMY AND THE PRESBYTERIANS.
THE 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 situation be met. The failure of the negotiations at Uxbridge had convinced the Presbyterians—at least for the moment—that Charles would give 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, Cromwell’s work. Men are led by their passions more than by their reason, and if Cromwell had continued his invectives against Manchester, he would have roused an opposition which would have left little chance 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 es-., tablishment 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, there would be many who would 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 1645. 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 into the