PRESBYTERIANS AND INDEPENDENTS. (1645-9.)
By Dr G. W. PROTHEUO and Colonel E. M. LLOYD.
The elements of the conflict .336
Scottish negotiations with the King . 337
French intervention. Parliamentary offers . 338
Charles surrenders to the Scots. The Newcastle Propositions . 339
The Scots give up the King .340
Proposed disbandment of the army . 341
The army resists, and carries off the King . 342
The army marches on London. Its demands . 343
"Heads of the Proposals." Cromwell's action . 344
The "Levellers." The "Agreement of the People" . 345
Charles leaves Hampton Court. The "Engagement" .346
The Four Bills and "Vote of No Addresses" . 347
Second Civil War. Risings in Wales and Kent . 348
Siege of Colchester. Scottish invasion . 349
Battle of Preston. Action of the fleet . 350
Fall of Colchester. End of war in England . 351
Temper of the army. Treaty of Newport . 352
"Remonstrance of the Army." Final proposal» .353
"Pride's Purge." The King at Windsor . 354
Trial and execution of the King .355
PRESBYTERIANS AND INDEPENDENTS. (1645-9.)
WE must at this point return to consider the tangled negotiations which were due to the position resulting from the military events that we have sketched, to the growing divergence between the forces whose union had gained the victory, and last, but not least, to the character of the King, who strove to recover by tortuous diplomacy at least a portion of what he had lost in the field. The chief parties in the game were now the King, intent mainly on preserving the Episcopalian Church and his control over the armed forces of the State ; the Parliament, pledged to Presbyterianism, but still more anxious to retain command of the army, and to reduce the Crown to impotence ; the Scots, resolved on the establishment of Presbyterianism in both kingdoms, but indifferent to other English demands. These three elements do not, however, exhaust the list. Behind the English Parliament stood the English army, now mainly composed of Independents-not as yet playing a leading part in negotiation, but resolved on obtaining liberty of conscience, whatever form of Church government might issue from the strife, and forming a growing body of opinion which no other party could ignore. In the background were the Irish Catholics, with whom Charles negotiated throughout ; the English Royalists, who, though beaten, decimated, and half-ruined, were ready, if the opportunity came, to renew the struggle ; and France, which, under the government of Mazarin, and assiduously plied by Queen Henrietta, was anxious-if such an object could be gained without military intervention-to see Charles come to his own again. The whole history of the three years from December, 1645, to January, 1649, is the history of one long, complicated, and futile intrigue, interrupted by a second civil war, and ending in the death of the King. The main stages of this conflict are marked by the flight of the King to the Scots; his surrender to the Parliament; his seizure at Holmby House, and the march of the army on London ; the Engagement and the Vote of No Addresses ; the second Civil War ; Pride's Purge ; and the scaffold at Whitehall.
As the struggle between Cavalier and Roundhead became more and more unequal, the King found fresh ground of hope in the disagreements of his enemies. The successes of the New Model army had strengthened the Independents. After Naseby, Cromwell had pressed on Parliament their claim to toleration : " I beseech you," he wrote to the Speaker, "not to discourage them"; and again, after the capture of Bristol, "from brethren in things of the mind we look for no compulsion but that of light and reason." The Presbyterians fought hard to maintain their ascendancy and to restrain the vagaries of the sects. In the House of Commons they had, as a rule, the majority. But nearly 150 new members had been added to the House to fill vacancies ; and it was now made up of groups rather than of parties. The House of Lords was also mainly Presbyterian, but it gradually became of less and less account.
The Scots soon began to scent danger, both from the English Parliament and the English army. They distrusted the somewhat unsteady Presbyterianism of the former; they feared still more the growing Independency of the latter. But they had hopes of the King, and, not reckoning on his stubborn adherence to the Episcopalian system, believed that the conditions they could offer would be more acceptable than those that would be enforced by the English Parliament and army. Within a month of the battle of Naseby, some Scottish lords tried to open a negotiation with Charles, but found him unwilling to go beyond what he had offered at Uxbridge. Two months later, after Montrose's final defeat at Philiphaugh, the Scottish Commissioners made more official overtures. Their anxiety for peace was not diminished by the fact that Parliament was slow to discharge its obligations towards the Scottish army, whose pay was much in arrears.
In the autumn of 1645 Parliament took some steps towards the establishment of the Presbyterian system, especially in London, which was becoming strongly Presbyterian ; but it was not till the following March that this policy was extended to the kingdom at large. Even then, it was not the Scottish system, pure and simple, that they intended to introduce, but one which the Scots stigmatised as Erastian, and which would have kept ecclesiastical control in lay hands, while allowing some measure of toleration to the sects. The Independents, on their part, demanded full liberty of conscience. On the initiative of the Lords, Parliament tried to satisfy them by appointing a committee (November) to consider means of "accommodation." The Independents, however, opened secret negotiations with the King ; and Parliament was driven (December) to consider propositions for peace. The discovery of a plot hatched by certain noblemen at Oxford, who, enraged at the rejection of the Independent overtures by the King, offered to hand him over to Parliament, forced the King to take a step forward. He expressed his willingness to negotiate, and proposed to come to Westminster for
Meanwhile the French Government had intervened. Mazarin had become uneasy at the progress of Parliament ; and, as a check upon it, he wished to renew the old relations between France and Scotland, and to induce Charles to throw himself on the support of the Scots. With this object he accredited an agent to them, Jean de Montreuil, who arrived in London in August. Terms of agreement were drawn up by the Scottish Commissioners ; and in January, 1646, Montreuil went to Oxford to urge the King to accept them and to join the Scottish army before Newark. The Queen, at first unwilling to negotiate, on account of the hope she nourished of active assistance from abroad, subsequently threw her weight into the same scale. The Scottish terms were practically a renewal of the Uxbridge Propositions, with the additional demand that Charles should take the Covenant. His answer was that he would rather lose his crown than his soul. His objection was not wholly religious, for, like his father, he held that " the nature of Presbyterian government is to steal or force the crown from the King's head." Beyond toleration for the Presbyterians in England he could not be induced to go, nor would he throw over Montrose.
During these secret negotiations with the Scots, the King made offers to the Parliament, proposing to restore the Church to the condition in which it had been under Elizabeth respecting doctrine and ceremonial, and to grant full liberty of conscience, including even the use of the Directory recently drawn up by the Assembly of Divines at Westminster; but he would make no promises about Ireland or the militia. These propositions were considered on January 16 ; but various discoveries prevented Parliament from paying serious attention to them. Lord Digby's correspondence, captured at Sherburn, had made the Houses aware of the King's dealings with the Scottish lords in the previous August, and of his attempts to secure help from Holland, Denmark, France, and Ireland. In January they learned of the offers made by the Scots, and of negotiations carried on by Sir Kenelm Digby in the Queen's name with the Pope, which were to result in an expedition of several thousand French soldiers paid by the French clergy. They also learned, and published to the world, the treaty concluded by Glamorgan in Ireland, in which he pledged the King to all that the Pope's nuncio, Rinuccini, thought fit to demand, in order to obtain 10,000 Irish for service in England. Charles disavowed Glamorgan; but the affair helped to confirm what Rinuccini spoke of as "the common belief of his inconstancy and untrustworthiness."
Influenced by a sense of common danger and by the pressure of Montreuil, the Scots now modified their terms, withdrawing their demand that Charles should take the Covenant, or accept all the Uxbridge Propositions (March 19). Parliament having again refused to let the
King come to Westminster, he now offered to join the Scots at Newark. The Scots engaged to receive him, on a vague promise about Presbyterianism, trusting to enforce more definite terms when they had him in their power. Time was pressing, for Fairfax had done his work in the west, and was approaching Oxford. Charles made overtures to the Parliamentary General ; but, as these met with no response, he set out from Oxford, on April 27, disguised and accompanied by only two attendants. After approaching London, as if still uncertain what to do, he turned northward, and put himself into Scottish hands at Southwell on May 5. Two days later, Newark having surrendered at the King's orders, the Scottish army retired, with their prisoner, upon Newcastle.
Meanwhile, fortress after fortress had fallen ; and, with the surrender of Oxford (June 24,1646), the war was practically over. Parliament had already voted (May 19) that the Scottish army was no longer needed, and should be paid off; but nine months were to pass before they surrendered their prize. Charles' reception in the Scottish camp was by no means what he expected. On his arrival he found himself a prisoner. He declared that he was " barbarously treated." His captors disavowed the assurances which had been given to him through Montreuil, and declared that he had come to their camp without any agreement whatever. He had expressed his willingness to be instructed in their Church principles, and he was taken at his word. They pressed him to sign the Covenant, or at all events consent to the establishment of Presbyterianism in all three kingdoms. They made him send orders to his garrisons to capitulate, and to Montrose to lay down his arms. Nevertheless, the terms they offered were far better, politically speaking, than those on which the Parliament insisted. Argyll wished to establish a form of Presbyterianism, which, in England at least, might be elastic in system and not intolerant in practice, and to restore the monarchy on a constitutional basis. But Argyll was a statesman ; the majority of his colleagues were less open to compromise. Still, if Charles could have frankly accepted Presbyterianism, he would have had the Scots at his back. It is to his credit, if it was his misfortune, that he remained firm on the essential point.
In July Parliament had formulated its terms; and, at the end of that month, Parliamentary Commissioners arrived in the north, to discuss what were afterwards known as the Newcastle Propositions. These included a demand that Charles should take the Covenant, allow it to be enforced on all his subjects, and accept a reformation of the Church on that basis, with stringent laws against recusants. Parliament was to control the army and navy for twenty years, and after that time to arrange for their future administration. All high officials were to be named by Parliament. Many Royalists were to be proscribed; and the rebellion in Ireland was to be put down as Parliament should direct. What place was left for the King in these conditions it is hard to see. An intolerant
Presbyterian and parliamentary tyranny was to be set up. The King, still hoping for assistance from France, made an evasive reply. The Scots pressed him to take the Covenant, offering, if he would do so, to support his rights in other respects. The Queen, who thought one heretic as bad as another, begged him to throw over the Church.
At length, on the rupture of the Irish peace, and the dissipation of hopes from France, the King informed the Scottish Commissioners (October 13) that he was ready to give up the militia for ten years, or even for life, and to grant Presbyterianism for five years, provided that a regulated Episcopacy should follow. These proposals failed to satisfy the Scots; still less could they satisfy the English Parliament. The two bodies now came to terms. The Scots had already offered to withdraw their forces on payment of their expenses and arrears. They estimated these at half-a-million ; Parliament offered £400,000, which the Scots agreed to accept. The Houses voted that they should dispose of the King ; and the Scottish Parliament, convinced at last that Charles was obdurate, assented. At the end of January, 1647, the Scots, having received half the sum to be paid them, handed over the King to the English Commissioners, and left Newcastle. By February 11 the last of them had recrossed the Tweed. They have been much blamed for "selling their King"; but this is unjust. The money they received was in discharge of a debt incurred by the Parliament which their assistance had saved. They rendered up the King because he refused to assent to the only terms which would have enabled them to raise their fellow-countrymen in his behalf.
The Scots having withdrawn to their own country, and the King having been brought south and lodged at Holmby House in Northamptonshire, Parliament and army were now left face to face, to settle their own differences and their dispute with the King as best they could. The Presbyterian majority in the Houses and in the City of London appear to have thought that, having got rid of one body of inconvenient allies, it would be comparatively easy to dispense with the other. There were several reasons which made them anxious to accomplish this end. In the first place, it would leave their hands free to deal with the King. Secondly, the existence of an armed force, now predominantly Independent, was an obstacle to the settlement of the ecclesiastical question on a strictly Presbyterian basis. Lastly, the cost of the army was enormous, and imposed a strain on the resources of the country which, though borne with more or less equanimity while the war lasted, was now regarded as unnecessary, and would, if continued, make the Parliamentary Government highly unpopular. The Parliamentary revenue has been calculated at about a million and a half, more than twice as much as Charles had ever enjoyed. Of this sum the army and the navy together swallowed up, in 1647, about three-fifths. The ravages of war, bad harvests, and a natural falling-off of trade, weakened
In February, 1647, a scheme for the reduction of the army was brought forward ; it passed both Houses by March 6. No infantry was to be kept in England, except in garrisons ; the fortresses were to be mostly demolished, so that the number of garrison-troops would be but small ; on an emergency, infantry for the field could be furnished by the trained bands. The cavalry, as requiring more training, was to be kept up at the figure of 6600. A force of about 12,500 men, horse and foot, was to be sent to Ireland ; this force, however, was not to be composed of existing units, but of volunteers-a measure which would destroy that potent military element, esprit de corps. The remaining infantry, amounting to about half that of the New Model army, were to disappear. Had Parliament at the same time satisfied the soldiers1 just claims for arrears of pay, there might have been some chance for this project ; but money was scarce, and Parliament neglected this indispensable condition of success.
A deputation was sent to Saffron Waiden, where the bulk of the army was encamped, to invite volunteers for Ireland ; but only about one in ten accepted the invitation. The officers put inconvenient questions, asking especially for satisfaction in regard to arrears, and security for pay and subsistence if they went to Ireland. The arrears varied from about four months to ten or more, and amounted in all to over =f?330,000. The soldiers also demanded an indemnity for their actions in the war. Had they got satisfaction on these points, many would have been willing to go to Ireland, preserving their regimental organisation and under Fairfax and Cromwell as their leaders ; but Parliament had made choice of Skippon and Massey, both Presbyterians ; and it evidently intended to break up the army and get rid of the prominent Independents. The soldiers argued, "If they be thus scornfully dealt withal for their faithful services whilst the sword is in their hands, what shall their usage be when they are dissolved ! "
They therefore drew up a petition to Fairfax, asking his assistance in obtaining the above-mentioned demands and certain others of a moderate nature. Parliament, highly indignant, declared the petition to be mutinous, but made no motion to redress the wrong. As, however, the Parliamentary Commissioners with the army failed to obtain volunteers for Ireland, and many of those who had offered their services withdrew, Parliament was compelled, in April, to vote six weeks' arrears °f PaJ> afterwards increased to eight, to be paid on disbandment. Such
Meanwhile Parliament had been casting about for the means of offering armed resistance, if necessary, to the petitioners, and had issued orders remodelling the City militia, from which all Independents were to be excluded. But a much larger design was now being hatched. Plans were considered for bringing the Scots again upon the scene ; and four Commissioners, with Lauderdale at their head, were sent by the Scottish Committee of Estates to England, with instructions to reopen negotiations with the King. Ostensibly they were to support the Newcastle Propositions ; secretly they were instructed to drop the demand that the King should take the Covenant, and to insist only on a temporary adoption of Presbyterianism. On May 13 Lauderdale was allowed to go to Holmby House, whence the King had, on the previous day, addressed a communication to Parliament offering to adopt Presbyterianism for three years, and to resign the militia for ten. A few days later Parliament agreed to accept this offer as a basis for discussion.
The foundation of an alliance between Scottish and English Presbyterians and an understanding with Charles being thus laid, Parliament proceeded to vote the disbandment of all soldiers who should not go to Ireland. The Agitators at once protested. Under Cromwell's influence Parliament offered some concessions; but on May 25 the majority decided to proceed with the disbandment, and to bring the artillery train from Oxford to London. The Agitators now determined to resist; the army got out of hand ; and mutinies broke out at Chelmsford and elsewhere. The Presbyterians were discussing a plan for removing the King to Scotland; some time previously the army had considered the advisability of capturing him for itself. Face to face with military anarchy, Cromwell was obliged to take a side ; and, with his connivance at least, Cornet Joyce carried off the King to Newmarket, where a general rendezvous had been arranged (June 4-8). Fairfax had nothing to do with Joyce's raid, but he and Cromwell joined the army at Newmarket; and, on the initiative of the latter, a "Solemn Engagement" was subscribed. Throwing the blame on their Presbyterian opponents
Emboldened by this success, yet anxious to justify its action in the eyes of the world, the army now widened its demands. Hitherto the soldiers had merely claimed justice and consideration for themselves ; they now began to assert the rights of the nation against a tyrannical Parliament, and to formulate political views. From their camp at Triploe Heath, a few miles south of Cambridge, they sent a remonstrance to the City of London (June 10), demanding a recognition of their rights, not as soldiers but as Englishmen, and threatening to enforce them. They then set out to march by Royston towards the capital. On June 15 they issued a "Declaration," in which they asserted their right, as not being "a mere mercenary army," to speak for the people whose liberties they had been called on to defend. For the first time they put forward a positive political programme, in the formulation of which the dominant influence of Henry Ireton has been traced. They demanded that Parliament should dissolve itself ; that the future duration of Parliaments should be fixed by statute ; that offences should be punished by law ; and that the right of petition should be recognised. The presentation of this remarkable document to the House of Commons was followed by charges against eleven members, including Holies and William Waller, whose suspension was demanded on the ground that they had sought to overthrow the rights and liberties of subjects, and had sown dissension between army and Parliament. Parliament refused these demands, whereupon the army moved to Uxbridge. The Commons gave way ; and, with permission of the House, the eleven members retired.
Other demands, more specially concerning the army itself, were subsequently put forward ; but the real point at issue was whether Parliament should remain predominantly Presbyterian, and therefore intolerant, or not. Some of the hotter heads in the army were for entering London and purging the House of Commons at once ; but Cromwell, who acted throughout as a mediator, dissuaded them for the time ; and the army withdrew to Bedford (July 22). The Presbyterians, encouraged by this apparent hesitation, recovered themselves. A mob from the City invaded the Houses, and compelled them to reverse their recent concession ; and the eleven members returned. Meanwhile the army had opened direct negotiations with the King, offering to restore him to the throne, and to accept Episcopacy, if only they could have complete toleration. Thus from the Scots and from the army he received offers of help, combined in the one case with Presbyterianism, in the other with religious liberty.
On July 17 Ireton had sketched out a policy for the army in the far-sighted plan called the " Heads of the Proposals." Under this scheme
Having made its intentions clear, the army now advanced upon London, which was almost in a state of anarchy. As it approached, some 67 Independent members, including the two Speakers, Manchester and Lenthall, joined it outside the walls, and returned with it when, on August 6, it marched through the City. The eleven members and other Presbyterians fled; and for a little time, the Independents had a majority in Parliament. The first collision between the military and the civil power had ended, naturally, in the victory of the army ; but the advantage which it had gained was only temporary.
Cromwell had for some time striven to reach a basis of agreement with the King-an attitude which brought him into suspicion with the hotter spirits in the army, who thought him to be bargaining for personal honours and private ends. As he was already suspected by the majority in Parliament, detested by many, and feared by all, his position as a mediator became very difficult. He was charged with hypocrisy; and his changes of front, though not difficult to explain on another hypothesis, gave some colour to the charge. As he said himself, when charged with ambition, "no one rises so high as he who knows not whither he is going." But an impartial estimate will not charge him with aiming at the height which he eventually reached. His talents had placed him in a position of responsibility from which he could not retire without shame, even had his fervent temper and his consciousness of ability allowed him to withdraw. Being there, he met each difficulty as it arose, not looking far ahead, but seeking the likeliest visible method of securing the objects on which his heart was set. Such a course, involving not a few sudden turns, was naturally open to misinterpretation.
At this time, convinced as Cromwell was throughout that a monarchy was the only stable form of government in England, he was resolved, if possible, to come to terms with the King. It was not his fault that an agreement with Charles could not be made. The " Heads of the Proposals " were modified to meet the King's views ; but Charles1 conviction that he
It was now that the nickname " Levellers," a designation which explains itself, was first applied to the advanced section of the Independent party. Their tenets came to light in "The Case of the Army fully stated " (October 9) and " The Agreement of the People," which appeared three weeks later. The former of these documents put forward the theory that, since "all power is originally and essentially in the whole body of the people," and " their free choice and consent by their representators, the only original foundation of all just government," Parliament, i.e. the representative Commons, must be supreme. Parliaments were to be biennial, and elected by manhood suffrage. It was implied that the Crown and the House of Lords were superfluous, or at least should be entirely subordinate. So complete a transfer of Divine Right from King to people had not hitherto been suggested.
The " Agreement," while in several respects repeating the " Heads of the Proposals," was peculiar in that it reserved, even from the otherwise omnipotent control of the representative Parliament, certain unalterable principles, the chief of which were : that all should enjoy complete religious liberty, that none should be forced to serve in the army, and that none should be exempt from the ordinary course of law. Here we find foreshadowed that principle of distinguishing certain inalienable rights of man, which was so marked a feature of both the American and the French Revolution. But such radical views as these were not endorsed by the leaders of the army. On the contrary, a committee appointed on Cromwell's initiative to consider these schemes drew up a fresh plan, which, while adopting the " Heads of the Proposals " in the main, with insignificant modifications, expressly preserved the monarchy and the House of Lords. This plan may be regarded as embodying the minimum demands of Cromwell and his more moderate allies.
Meanwhile, as the control of the militia became more and more the dominant consideration in Charles' mind, the Scottish Commissioners were gaining favour with him at the expense of their rivals. On their part, the Scots dreaded more and more the power and the radical doctrines of the army, and became more ready to make concessions to the King. They now urged him to escape. Acting on their advice, he secretly left Hampton Court, made his way to the south coast, and, hoping to find a vessel to convey him to France, crossed to the Isle of Wight. There he took refuge with Colonel Hammond, who lodged him in Carisbrooke Castle (November 14). On the same day, the exasperation of the army culminated in a dangerous mutiny at Ware, which was only suppressed by Cromwell at the risk of his own life. Discipline was restored, but it was significant that only one mutineer was punished. Cromwell's eyes seem to have been opened to the fact that further adhesion to the policy of mediation would destroy his hold upon the army. Thenceforward, though he did not abandon the hope of saving the monarchy, he ceased to be Charles' friend.
Charles' first step at Carisbrooke was to renew the negotiation with Parliament (November 16). He offered Presbyterianism for three years, with subsequent consideration of ecclesiastical reform, and the militia for life. There was to be a measure of toleration ; and the demands of the army were to be fairly considered. Thereupon Parliament made a selection from the Newcastle Propositions, which they embodied in what were called the Four Bills. The chief of these proposed to enact that Parliament should control the militia for twenty years ; that the Crown should never afterwards administer it without Parliamentary consent ; and that the present Parliament might adjourn itself whither it pleased. The Bills were submitted to the King on December 24s. But it can hardly be doubted that his previous offer must be regarded as a mere blind, put forward with the object of gaining time; for the intrigue with the Scots had now reached a head.
On December 26 Charles agreed with the Scottish Commissioners in what was afterwards known as the "Engagement." In this document it was arranged that the Covenant should be confirmed by Act of Parliament, though no one should be forced to take it ; that Presbyterianism should be established for three years, after which a religious settlement should be made with the King's assent ; and that the Sects, i.e. the Independents and other nonconformists, should be suppressed. The King was to control the militia ; and a new Parliament was to be called. The Scots were to support the disbandment of the army ; and, if this were refused, they were to issue a declaration asserting the King's rights over the militia, and to send an army into England in support of the claim. Other clauses were added, providing for the admission of Scotsmen to the Privy Council, and their employment in other places of trust. Of the perfidy of this transaction there can, unfortunately, be no doubt.
In November Charles had offered toleration to one party. Next month he expressly repudiated it in his agreement with another. Having thus taken a step which could only lead to civil war, he formally rejected (December 28) the Four Bills.
These intrigues were of course unknown to the public. All that was apparent was that the conflicting parties could not agree, and that the King's position was at least no worse than it had been at any time in the last year and a half. The country was sick of incertitude ; the Royalist reaction gained ground ; and riots broke out in many places. Parliament knew nothing of the Engagement, but they surmised the cause which emboldened the King to his last step. They were probably not without an inkling of the fact that the Scottish Commissioners had for some time been engaged in concerting measures with the English Royalists for a general rising, to coincide with their own invasion. On January 2,1648, the Commissioners left London.
Next day Parliament put an end to the Committee of Both Kingdoms, and placed executive power in the hands of its English members. The Commons also passed a vote that no further addresses should be sent to the King ; in other words, they treated him as a hostile power. The Lords, after much hesitation, accepted this " Vote of No Addresses " on January 15. This action was justified in a "Declaration" (February 11), a sort of repetition of the Grand Remonstrance, in which the King's misdeeds were set forth, especially his efforts to bring in forces from Ireland, France, Holland, and elsewhere, to undo the results of the four years' struggle, and to kindle anew the flames of civil war throughout the land. The Declaration was warmly supported by Cromwell, who was now trying to get the Prince of Wales proclaimed King in the place of his father. A curious sidelight of humour is thrown upon these darkening clouds in the incident related by Ludlow, when, after he had vainly tried to get Cromwell to declare himself for a monarchy or a republic, the two generals took to pelting each other, like boys, with cushions, till Cromwell ran away.
Preparations for the war that was felt to be inevitable were now begun by both sides. Signs of the Royalist reaction multiplied; and arrangements for a combined rising were actively pushed forward. The sailors of the fleet, long dissatisfied with the action of the army, were annoyed by the appointment of Rainborow, a leading "Leveller," to command them in the place of the Presbyterian Batten. It was hoped that they would declare for the King. In the Scottish Parliament, which met in March, there was a decided majority for Hamilton and war ; but Argyll, who clung to peace, had a strong party at his back, and was supported by the bulk of the ministers, who condemned the " Engagers " for upholding a non-covenanted King. Cromwell still strove to put off the evil day, and vainly tried to bring the King to abdicate in favour of the Prince of Wales. Another project of the same fertile brain, to
A few days later, news came to Westminster that the Scottish Parliament had resolved to raise an army. Their manifesto, issued on May 3, demanded that all Englishmen should take the Covenant, that all heresy should be suppressed, that the King should be brought near London for the purpose of negotiation, and that the Independent army should be disbanded. Royalism and the Covenant made an ill-assorted combination ; the Scots were aiming at irreconcilable ends ; and their host was divided in its aims. But the imminence of the danger brought the English Parliament and army nearer together than they had been for two years. Cromwell induced the House of Commons to consent, by a large majority, to a settlement under which government by King, Lords, and Commons would be retained, and toleration, under a Presbyterian system, would be secured. Who the King should be, was not declared. Then Cromwell hastened to Windsor, to meet the Agitators, in whom his continued efforts to win over the King had inspired a deep-seated distrust. After three days of anxious prayer and discussion, amid a tumult of emotion, the meeting agreed to prosecute the war with all their force, resolving, as one who was present has related, that " it was our duty, if ever the Lord brought us back in peace, to call Charles Stuart, that man of blood, to an account for the blood he had shed, and the mischief he had done to his utmost, against the Lord's cause and people in these poor nations." In such stern temper the second Civil War began.
The Royalist combination was formidable, but it was difficult to secure concert between its ill-assorted elements. The Scots wanted time for preparation, while the English Cavaliers feared that delay would enable Parliament to tie their hands. A premature explosion was brought about in South Wales by the disbandment of Laugharne's troops, which had won that country for Parliament in 1645, and by the dismissal of Poyer from the governorship of Pembroke Castle. By the beginning of May the insurrection had become so serious that Cromwell was sent to suppress it. Fairfax himself was to go north, for Berwick and Carlisle had been seized by Royalists. It became necessary to trust the City militia with the care of Parliament and the capital, though the riots which had lately occurred (April 9 and 10) gave good ground for uneasiness. The southern counties, fretted by the burdens they had to bear, were now as malcontent as those of the north. Essex, Kent, and Surrey petitioned for an arrangement with the King and the disbandment of the army. Towards the end of May there was an extensive rising in Kent; Dartford and Deptford were seized; while six ships lying in the Downs declared for the King, and helped to get possession of the castles on that part of the coast.
Fairfax had to postpone his march northward, and went to meet
About 5000 Royalists mustered at Chelmsford, and Norwich, disappointed of London, decided to lead them northward ; but Sir Charles Lucas, a Colchester man, persuaded him to take that town on his way, as a good recruiting ground. He arrived there on the 12th ; Fairfax appeared before the place next day with 5000 men, having crossed the Thames at Gravesend. Its old Roman walls made Colchester a sort of fortress. The Royalists were quickly driven into the town from the position they had taken up outside ; but an attempt to penetrate by one of the gates was repulsed ; and the Parliamentarians found they had a siege before them, for which they were ill provided. Fairfax, anxious to employ his troops elsewhere, offered good conditions-passes for the officers to go abroad, and pardons for the men. These terms were refused, for, as Lord Capel wrote to Langdale, " We here conceive that our tying and obliging Fairfax to us is the best way of proceeding for His Majesty's service.'"
While Fairfax was blockading Colchester, Cromwell, who found the rising in South Wales already half suppressed through Horton's victory at St Fagan's, was waiting for his siege-guns before Pembroke. His batteries opened fire on July 4, and a week later the town and castle surrendered. His work in South Wales was done, and he was badly needed in the north, for the Scots had crossed the border on the 8th. What caused more alarm at Westminster was the appearance of Lord Holland at Kingston on July 5, at the head of some 500 horsemen. He held a commission as the Royalist commander-in-chief, and hoped to gather an array from the southern counties. But he soon found that impatience of taxation was not the same thing as readiness to fight for the King. A few troops of Parliamentary horse proved more than a match for his men. He made his way with a small following to St Neots, and was taken prisoner there on July 10.
The Scottish army had been raised slowly and by compulsion. Royalism wore a Presbyterian mask in Scotland; and its programme was to set free Parliament as well as the King, and to settle religion. But many officers of experience, including the Leslies, kept aloof; the soldiers were raw; and the commander, the Duke of Hamilton, had neither military ability nor decision of character. At first only 10,000
Hamilton now held a council of war at Hornby, which decided for an advance through Lancashire, instead of crossing the fells into Yorkshire. Cromwell had less than 9000 men disposable, of whom 8,000 were Lancashire levies, but he reckoned it his business " to engage the enemy to fight." As the Scots moved south he struck west, and, marching up the Wharfe and down the Ribble, by August 17 he was near Preston, where he expected Hamilton would halt to collect his troops. The main body of the Scottish infantry was on the point of crossing the river there when Cromwell arrived. Most of their cavalry was at Wigan, fifteen miles south ; and 5000 men under Munro and Musgrave were at Kirkby Lonsdale, thirty miles north. Langdale was left to hold the Parliamentarians in check, while the Scots passed the Ribble to recover touch with their horse. The Cavaliers stood their ground gallantly for four hours, and were nearly all killed or taken. Leaving a force to hold Preston, Cromwell pursued Hamilton's army, which hurried southward, marching night and day. The Scottish foot surrendered at Warrington on the 20th ; and Cromwell, whose men were worn out with doing execution on the enemy for thirty miles, turned back, leaving the chase to Lambert, to whom Hamilton himself surrendered on the 25th at Uttoxeter. Munro retreated into Scotland, leaving his English allies to shift for themselves. He was followed by Cromwell, who went on to Edinburgh, and helped Argyll to get the better of the discredited Engagers. Cromwell remained in Scotland for about two months, and did not return to London till December.
The hopes of aid from France or Ireland had come to nothing ; and the attempts of the King to escape from Carisbrooke had failed. Nor did the fleet prove of much service to the Royal cause. The ships that had declared for the King in May had sailed for Holland, and had been joined by others. In the middle of July they put to sea with the Prince of Wales on board, and Willoughby of Parham as vice-admiral. They lay for some weeks in the Downs, capturing merchantmen, and were joined there by Batten, who brought the number of ships up to
By this time Colchester, which had looked in vain for help from the Prince, had been starved into surrender. Fairfax, reinforced by the trained bands of Suffolk, had drawn his lines tightly round it ; and the foot-soldiers of the garrison would not allow their officers and the horse to break out, leaving them behind. The news from Preston put an end to all hope of relief; and, as surrender became more certain and less urgent, the besiegers' terms grew harder. By the conditions signed on August 27 quarter was allowed to privates and subalterns, but superior officers "submitted to mercy." Two of them, Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle, were shot next day, " for some satisfaction to military justice, and in part of avenge for the innocent blood they have caused to be spilt, and the trouble, damage, and mischief they have brought upon the town, this country, and the kingdom." The two lords, Norwich and Capel, were reserved for the judgment of their peers. With the fall of Colchester, the war in England was practically over.
The execution of Lucas and Lisle has been denounced and defended from that day to this. " The manner of taking the lives of these worthy men was new and without example, and concluded by most men to be very barbarous,1" says Clarendon, " and was generally imputed to Ireton, who swayed the general, and was upon all occasions of an unmerciful and bloody nature." But, as Macaulay says of Monmouth, " every man who heads a rebellion against an established government stakes his life on the event." One may admire the man, and yet recognise the justice of the penalty. In the first civil war, King and Parliament had declared each other's adherents to be traitors ; but there were good reasons for not treating them as such. The case was by no means the same with the second war ; and cool-judging men might well come to the conclusion that some severity would be wholesome. When Sheridan was sent to restore order in Texas in May, 1865, after the Confederate Government had been broken up, Grant instructed him that those who resisted should not be regarded as belligerents, but were in the condition of outlaws. Both Lucas and Lisle had been paroled in the first war ; and that was doubtless one reason why they were " pitched upon for this example," though the ground taken by Fairfax and his council was that Parliament had pronounced them traitors and rebels.
The situation was now again something like what it had been in
February, 1647 ; but there were great differences. In the first place, it was no longer necessary to consider the Scots; the crushing defeat of Preston had deprived Presbyterianism of all hope of assistance from that quarter. In the second place, the temper of the army had changed ; and the time had come for them to redeem their vow. On the other hand, the end of the long struggle on the Continent was in sight ; and France and Holland would shortly be free to intervene, if they wished, in the affairs of England. The Peace of Westphalia was actually signed on October 24 (N.S.), 1648. The possibility of such intervention could not be ignored ; and the hope of it on one side, the fear of it on the other, had disastrous results. If it confirmed Charles in his expectant and dilatory attitude, it quickened the pace and embittered the decisions of his enemies. That the Fronde would effectually paralyse the French Government for some years to come could not have been foreseen when Colchester fell.
The first measures of the Parliament showed that the Presbyterians- for the eleven members had returned, and there was again a Presbyterian majoiity at Westminster-had learnt nothing, and were as fully determined as before to ignore the army which had saved them a second time. They passed a resolution repealing the vote of No Addresses (August 24); they completed their scheme for the establishment of Presbyterianism, without a vestige of toleration ; and on September 18 they reopened a negotiation, known as the Treaty of Newport, with the King.
Charles began by withdrawing his declarations against Parliament, but insisted that no concessions which he might make should be held valid until a complete scheme of settlement should be arranged. Parliament reluctantly accepted this stipulation ; and thus an air of unreality was spread, from the outset, over all that passed. Parliament then drew up a series of Bills, abolishing Episcopacy and the Prayer-Book, establishing the Presbyterian system and the use of the Directory, imposing the Covenant on all persons, including the King himself, and handing over military control to Parliament for twenty years. Charles, in his reply (September 28), refused to take the Covenant himself or to enforce it on others, but offered, as before, to accept Presbyterianism, with toleration, for three years, and to hand over the army and the nomination of officials for ten. After three years, the Bishops were to return, but with restricted powers. Ireland he was willing to leave to the tender mercies of Parliament. His offer was unanimously rejected (October 2). Thereupon he yielded so far as to accept the demand about the militia, and to propose further limitations on episcopal jurisdiction. Had Parliament been wise, it would have accepted these terms, than which Charles could not have been expected, without violation of his conscience, to offer anything better. But the Presbyterian majority was uncompromising; and on October 27 they rejected the terms. This virtually closed the negotiation, though the Parliamentary Commissioners remained at Newport till November 27.
Meanwhile the ill-humour of the army, and its irritation at the delay, were increasing daily. Petitions for a speedy settlement, or for iustice on the King, kept pouring in upon the Council of Officers, not from soldiers only but also from civilians. Losing patience, Ireton now drew up (October) the " Remonstrance of the Army," in which he showed the danger of protracted negotiation, and the impossibility of binding the King, on account not only of his character, but also of royalist theories as to the inalienable rights of the Crown. Insisting on the " sovereignty of the People," he demanded a speedy trial, on the ground that no one, not even a King, was exempt from the law ; and he hinted, not obscurely, that the trial should end in a sentence of death. The constitutional settlement which he proposed was, in the main, based upon the " Heads of the Proposals," but with the addition, taken from the " Agreement of the People," of the reservation of certain fundamental liberties. Nothing was said about ecclesiastical matters ; but it may be presumed that liberty of conscience was regarded as a fundamental right. On the other hand, all future Kings were to be admitted " upon the election of, and as upon trust from, the people," and were to renounce the " negative voice " (or veto) upon the decisions of the representative body or Commons in Parliament. Finally, the whole scheme was based on the notion of contract ; no one, from the King downwards, was to benefit by it who did not " consent and subscribe thereunto." A remarkable combination of thought and prowess, a very workshop of political ideas, was this body of militant Independents. In no other army, before or since, have so many constitutional theories or expedients been conceived.
The Remonstrance was considered by a Council of Officers, which met, under the presidency of Fairfax, at St Albans (November 7). The general deprecated extreme measures ; and a practical compromise was agreed upon. The treaty with the King was to go forward ; but the army was to take part in the negotiation, with a view to the enforcement of certain conditions. These were largely drawn from the " Heads of the Proposals "-biennial Parliaments, redistribution of seats, Council of State, and so forth ; but, while the existing Parliament was to fix a date for its dissolution, the army was not to be disbanded until after the meeting of the first biennial Parliament. It is noteworthy that nothing was said about the royal veto or about an ecclesiastical settlement ; but it may be presumed that religious liberty was regarded as otherwise secured. The concessions to be made by the King were not to be temporary but permanent. Certainty and finality were indispensable.
These terms were promptly laid before the King, who, on November 17, declined them as he had previously declined those of Parliament. By this refusal he practically signed his own death-warrant. The Council of Officers thereupon presented the Remonstrance to Parliament. Cromwell, who had hitherto acted with Fairfax in striving to defer the King's trial, was now convinced that further efforts were hopeless, and
The officers had for some time decided to destroy the independence of Parliament, which, it must be allowed, was no more representative of the nation as a whole than was the army. It was a question whether this should take place through a " purge " or a dissolution. Eventually the former method was preferred, partly as less violent, still more (probably) because a general election was out of the question and the remaining members would give some shadow of legality, however faint, to future proceedings. On December 6, Colonel Pride, with his men, stood at the door of the House of Commons, and turned back about one hundred and forty members. Most of these made no resistance, but some forty were taken into custody. Cromwell returned to London the same evening. He had not been consulted, but expressed his pleasure at the event. Fairfax had given no orders, but he made no attempt to prevent, or to undo, this act of violence, which obtained the name of " Pride's Purge.1'
The members left in the House lost no time in cancelling the votes which had reopened the negotiation with Charles in the previous August, but they declined to fix a date for their own dissolution. They were not pressed on this point, for their assistance was required in the approaching trial of the King. Charles was brought from Hurst to Windsor (December 19-23) ; and, at the instance of certain peers and with the consent of Cromwell, who still wished to defer the trial, final overtures were made to him. As the proposals appear to have involved changes which would have reduced the King to the position of " a Doge of Venice," it is not surprising that he refused even to see Denbigh, who brought them down. This refusal determined his fate. A hostile verdict being a foregone conclusion, it had been discussed whether the sentence should be death or deposition. Charles' last action put an end to Cromwell's hesitation. He decided for an immediate trial and the penalty of death.
On January 1, 1649, the Commons passed an ordinance establishing a Court, and resolved that it was treason in a King of England to levy war upon his Parliament. The Lords, who, though now reduced in numbers to something under a dozen, preserved some independent spirit and sense of law, unanimously rejected the ordinance as extra vires.
Thereupon the Lower House proceeded to act upon the principles laid down by Ireton, and resolved that "the people are, under God, the original of all just power"; that the Commons, as representing the people, " have the supreme power in this nation " ; and that their enactments, without consent of King or Lords, have the force of law. Next day they passed (January 6) an " Act " (as it was now called) setting up a Court of 135 Commissioners, to try the King, and stating in outline the charges to be brought. In the preamble to this Act he was accused of a design "to subvert the ancient and fundamental laws and liberties of this nation, and in their place to introduce an arbitrary and tyrannical government," and of having prosecuted this design "with fire and sword" and by means of "a cruel war." For these "high and treasonable offences" he might long since have been condignly punished, had not Parliament hoped to attain peace by other means ; but, since their leniency had only led to fresh commotions and invasions, and in order that no future ruler should follow his example, he was now to be brought to justice.
Of the Commissioners appointed only 52 appeared when the Court held its first sitting on January 8. Serjeant John Bradshaw was chosen to preside. Fairfax was present on the first occasion but on no other. On the 19th the actual trial began, in the same historic place, Westminster Hall, which had witnessed, eight years before, the impeachment of Charles1 greatest minister. On the charge being read, the King objected to the authority of the Court ; but his objection and those of others were overruled. It is useless to describe in detail the proceedings of a case in which law and precedent were set at naught, and the issue of which had long been decided elsewhere. In vain Charles demanded to be heard before the Lords and Commons ; the Court decided there could be no appeal. On the 27th the sentence was read to the prisoner ; on the 30th it was carried out in front of his palace of Whitehall, before a sorrowing and horror-stricken crowd.
Charles met his fate with the calmness and dignity which never deserted him. He died with forgiveness of his enemies on his lips, and a protest against the subjection of his country to the power of the sword. His character, with its good and bad sides, need not be discussed here. It is sufficiently displayed in the history of his reign ; and men will always hold various opinions of so mixed and contradictory a nature. It would be absurd to say that he alone was guilty of all the miseries that befell the State in his time ; others were also to blame-some, perhaps, as much as he. It was a hard fate which called Charles to rule the country at a crisis which required in a sovereign qualities that he did not possess. But the impartial verdict of History must be that, if, as is true, he died a martyr to his convictions, he died also a victim of his own incapacity and untrustworthiness.