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Title: Oliver Cromwell
Author: Gardiner, Samuel Rawson, 1829-1902
Language: English
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OLIVER CROMWELL


      *      *      *      *      *      *

WORKS BY SAMUEL RAWSON GARDINER


  HISTORY OF ENGLAND, from the Accession of James I. to the Outbreak
    of the Civil War, 1603-1642. 10 vols. crown 8vo, 5_s._ net each.

  A HISTORY OF THE GREAT CIVIL WAR, 1642-1649. 4 vols. crown 8vo,
    5_s._ net each.

  A HISTORY OF THE COMMONWEALTH AND THE PROTECTORATE. 1649-1660. 4
    vols. crown 8vo, 5_s._ net each.

  A STUDENT'S HISTORY OF ENGLAND. From the Earliest Times to 1885.

    Vol. I. B.C. 55-A.D. 1509. With 173 Illustrations. Crown 8vo, 4_s._
    Vol. II. 1509-1689. With 96 Illustrations. Crown 8vo, 4_s._
    Vol. III. 1689-1901. With 109 Illustrations. Crown 8vo, 4_s._

  *.* _Complete in One Volume, with 378 Illustrations. Crown 8vo,
    12s._

  A SCHOOL ATLAS OF ENGLISH HISTORY. Edited by SAMUEL RAWSON
    GARDINER, D.C.L., LL.D. With 66 Coloured Maps and 22 Plans of
    Battles and Sieges. Fcp. 4to, 5_s._

  CROMWELL'S PLACE IN HISTORY. Founded on Six Lectures delivered at
    Oxford. Crown 8vo, 3_s._ 6_d._

  OLIVER CROMWELL. With Frontispiece. Crown 8vo, 5_s._ net.

  WHAT GUNPOWDER PLOT WAS: a Reply to Father Gerard. With 8
    Illustrations and Plans. Crown 8vo, 5_s._

  THE FIRST TWO STUARTS AND THE PURITAN REVOLUTION, 1603-1660. 4
    Maps. Fcp. 8vo, 2_s._ 6_d._

  THE THIRTY YEARS' WAR, 1618-1648. With a Map. Fcp. 8vo, 2_s._ 6_d._

  OUTLINE OF ENGLISH HISTORY, B.C. 55-A.D. 1901. With 67 Woodcuts and
    17 Maps. Fcp. 8vo, 2_s._ 6_d._


  THE FRENCH REVOLUTION, 1789-1795. By Mrs. S. R. GARDINER. With 7
    Maps. Fcp. 8vo, 2_s._ 6_d._


    LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO.
    39 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON
    NEW YORK, BOMBAY, AND CALCUTTA

      *      *      *      *      *      *


[Illustration: Printed in Paris

OLIVER CROMWELL

_From the Original Panel by Samuel Cooper at Sidney Sussex College,
Cambridge._]


OLIVER CROMWELL

by

SAMUEL RAWSON GARDINER, M.A.

Hon. D.C.L. Oxford: Litt.D. Cambridge: LL.D. Edinburgh
Ph.D. Göttingen: Late Fellow of Merton College
Honorary Student of Christ Church
Fellow of King's College, London

With Frontispiece

New Impression



Longmans, Green, and Co.
39 Paternoster Row, London
New York, Bombay, and Calcutta
1909



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER I.
    KING AND PARLIAMENT.                                 1

  CHAPTER II.
    THE NEW MODEL ARMY AND THE PRESBYTERIANS.           56

  CHAPTER III.
    THE NEW MODEL ARMY AND THE KING.                   101

  CHAPTER IV.
    THE LAST YEARS OF THE LONG PARLIAMENT.             166

  CHAPTER V.
    THE NOMINATED PARLIAMENT AND THE PROTECTORATE.     213

  CHAPTER VI.
    A PARLIAMENTARY CONSTITUTION.                      264



PREFACE.


The following work gives within a short compass a history of Oliver
Cromwell from a biographical point of view. The text has been revised
by the author, but otherwise is the same in a cheaper form as that
which was published by Messrs. Goupil with illustrations in their
Illustrated Series of Historical Volumes.



OLIVER CROMWELL.



CHAPTER I.

KING AND PARLIAMENT.


Oliver Cromwell, the future Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of
England, was born at Huntingdon on April 25, 1599, receiving his
baptismal name from his uncle, Sir Oliver Cromwell of Hinchingbrooke, a
mansion hard by the little town. It was at Huntingdon that the father
of the infant, Robert Cromwell, had established himself, farming lands
and perhaps also adding to his income by the profits of a brewhouse
managed by his wife, Elizabeth--a descendant of a middle-class Norfolk
family of Steward--originally Styward--which, whatever writers of
authority may say, was not in any way connected with the Royal House of
Scotland.

"I was," said Cromwell in one of his later speeches, "by birth a
gentleman, living neither in any considerable height nor yet in
obscurity. I have been called to several employments in the nation,
and--not to be overtedious--I did endeavour to discharge the duty of
an honest man in those services to God and His people's interest, and
to the Commonwealth." The open secret of Cromwell's public life is set
forth in these words:--his aim being: first, to be himself an honest
man; secondly, to serve God and the people of God; and thirdly, to
fulfil his duty to the Commonwealth. In this order, and in no other,
did his obligations to his fellow-creatures present themselves to his
eyes. For the work before him it could not be otherwise than helpful
that his position in life brought him into contact with all classes of
society.

What powers and capacities this infant--or indeed any other infant--may
have derived from this or the other ancestor, is a mystery too deep for
human knowledge; but at least it may be noted that the descent of the
Cromwells from Sir Richard Williams, the nephew of Thomas Cromwell,
the despotic Minister of Henry VIII., brought into the family a Welsh
strain which may have shown itself in the fervid idealism lighting up
the stern practical sense of the warrior and statesman.

Of Oliver's father little is known; but his portrait testifies that
he was a man of sober Puritanism, not much given to any form of
spiritual enthusiasm--very unlike his elder brother, Sir Oliver, who
had inherited not only the estate, but the splendid ways of his father,
Sir Henry Cromwell--the Golden Knight--and who, after running through
his property, was compelled to sell his land and to retire into a
more obscure position. As the little Oliver grew up, he had before
his eyes the types of the future Cavalier and Roundhead in his own
family. So far as parental influence could decide the question, there
could be no doubt on which side the young Oliver would take his stand.
His education was carried on in the free school of the town, under
Dr. Beard, the author of _The Theatre of God's Judgments Displayed_,
in which a belief in the constant intervention of Providence in the
punishment of offenders was set forth by numerous examples of the
calamities of the wicked. Though Oliver afterwards learned to modify
the crudeness of this teaching, the doctrine that success or failure
was an indication of Divine favour or disfavour never left him, and he
was able, in the days of his greatness, to point unhesitatingly to the
results of Naseby and Worcester as evidence that God Himself approved
of the victorious cause.

In 1616 Cromwell matriculated at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge,
where his portrait now adorns the walls of the College hall. After a
sojourn of no more than a year, he left the University, probably--as
his father died in that year--to care for his widowed mother and his
five sisters, he himself being now the only surviving son. It is said
that not long afterwards he settled in London to study law, and though
there is no adequate authority for this statement, it derives support
from the fact that he found a wife in London, marrying in 1620, at
the early age of twenty-one, Elizabeth Bourchier, the daughter of a
City merchant. The silence of contemporaries shows that, in an age
when many women took an active part in politics, she confined herself
to the sphere of domestic influence. The one letter of hers that is
preserved displays not merely her affectionate disposition, but also
her helpfulness in reminding her great husband of the necessity of
performing those little acts of courtesy which men engaged in large
affairs are sometimes prone to neglect. She was undoubtedly a model of
female perfection after the Periclean standard.

Of Cromwell's early life for some years after his marriage we have
little positive information. His public career was opened by his
election in 1628 to sit for Huntingdon in the Parliament which insisted
on the Petition of Right. Though his uncle had by this time left
Hinchingbrooke, and could therefore have had no direct influence on the
electors, it is quite likely that the choice of his fellow-townsmen
was, to a great extent, influenced by their desire to show their
attachment to a family with which they had long been in friendly
relation.

Even so, however, it is in the highest degree improbable that Cromwell
would have been selected by his neighbours, to whom every action of
his life had been laid open, unless they had had reason to confide in
his moral worth as well as in his aptitude for public business. Yet
it is in this period of his life that, if Royalist pamphleteers are
to be credited, Cromwell was wallowing in revolting profligacy, and
the charge may seem to find some support from his own language in a
subsequent letter to his cousin, Mrs. St. John: "You know," he wrote,
"what my manner of life hath been. Oh! I lived in and loved darkness,
and hated light. I was a chief--the chief of sinners. This is true,
I hated godliness, yet God had mercy upon me." It has however never
been wise to take the expressions of a converted penitent literally,
and it is enough to suppose that Cromwell had been, at least whilst
an undergraduate at Cambridge, a buoyant, unthinking youth, fond of
outdoor exercise; though, on the other hand, whilst he never attained
to proficiency as a scholar, he by no means neglected the authorised
studies of the place. Much as opinion has differed on every other point
in his character, there was never any doubt as to his love of horses
and to his desire to encourage men of learning. It may fairly be argued
that his tastes in either direction must have been acquired in youth.

One piece of evidence has indeed been put forward against Cromwell. On
the register of St. John's parish at Huntingdon are two entries--one
dated 1621, and the other 1628--stating that Cromwell submitted in
those years to some form of Church censure. The formation of the
letters, however, the absence of any date of month or day, and also the
state of the parchment on which the entries occur, leave no reasonable
doubt that they were the work of a forger. It does not follow that the
forger had not a recollection that something of the kind had happened
within local memory, and if we take it as possible that Cromwell was
censured for 'his deeds,' whatever they may have been, in 1621, and
that in 1628 he voluntarily acknowledged some offence--the wording
of the forged entry gives some countenance to this deduction--may we
not note a coincidence of date between the second entry and one in
the diary of Sir Theodore Mayerne--the fashionable physician of the
day--who notes that Oliver Cromwell, who visited him in September of
that year, was _valde melancholicus_. Even if no heed whatever is to
be paid to the St. John's register, Mayerne's statement enables us
approximately to date that time of mental struggle which he passed
through at some time in these years, and which was at last brought
to an end when the contemplation of his own unworthiness yielded to
the assurance of his Saviour's love. "Whoever yet," he wrote long
afterwards to his daughter Bridget, "tasted that the Lord is gracious,
without some sense of self, vanity and badness?" It was a crisis in his
life which, if he had been born in the Roman communion, would probably
have sent him--as it sent Luther--into a monastery. Being what he was,
a Puritan Englishman, it left him with strong resolution to do his work
in this world strenuously, and to help others in things temporal, as he
himself had been helped in things spiritual.

English Puritanism, like other widely spread influences, was complex
in its nature, leading to different results in different men.
Intellectually it was based on the Calvinistic theology, and many were
led on by it to the fiercest intolerance of all systems of thought
and practice which were unconformable thereto. Cromwell's nature
was too large, and his character too strong, to allow him long to
associate himself with the bigots of his age. His Puritanism--if not as
universally sympathetic as a modern philosopher might wish--was moral
rather than intellectual. No doubt it rendered him impatient of the
outward forms in which the religious devotion of such contemporaries
as George Herbert and Crashaw found appropriate sustenance, but at
the same time it held him back from bowing down to the idol of the
men of his own party--the requirement of accurate conformity to the
Calvinistic standard of belief. It was sufficient for him, if he and
his associates found inspiration in a sense of personal dependence on
God, issuing forth in good and beneficent deeds.

When, in 1628, Cromwell took his seat in the House of Commons he
would be sure of a good reception as a cousin of Hampden. There is,
however, nothing to surprise us in his silence during the eventful
debates on the Petition of Right. He was no orator by nature, though
he could express himself forcibly when he felt deeply, and at this
time, and indeed during the whole of his life, he felt more deeply
on religious than on political questions. The House, in its second
session held in 1629, was occupied during the greater portion of its
time with religious questions, and it was then that Cromwell made his
first speech, if so short an utterance can be dignified by that name.
"Dr. Beard," he informed the House, "told him that one Dr. Alablaster
did at the Spital preach in a sermon tenets of Popery, and Beard being
to repeat the same, the now Bishop of Winton, then Bishop of Lincoln,
did send for Dr. Beard, and charged him as his diocesan, not to preach
any doctrine contrary to that which Alablaster had delivered, and
when Beard did, by the advice of Bishop Felton, preach against Dr.
Alablaster's sermon and person, Dr. Neile, now Bishop of Winton, did
reprehend him, the said Beard, for it."

The circumstances of the time give special biographical importance to
the opening of this window into Cromwell's mind. The strife between
the Puritan clergy and the Court prelates was waxing high. The latter,
whilst anxious to enforce discipline, and the external usages which,
though enjoined in the Prayer Book, had been neglected in many parts of
the country, were at the same time contending for a broader religious
teaching than that presented by Calvin's logic; but knowing that they
were in a comparatively small minority they, perhaps not unnaturally,
fell back on the protection of the King, who was in ecclesiastical
matters completely under the influence of Laud. The result of Charles's
consultations with such Bishops as were at hand had been the issue of
a Declaration which was prefixed to a new edition of the articles, and
is to be found in Prayer Books at the present day. The King's remedy
for disputes in the Church on predestination and such matters was to
impose silence on both parties, and it was in view of this policy
that Cromwell raked up an old story to show how at least twelve years
before, his old schoolmaster, Dr. Beard, had been forbidden to preach
any doctrine but that which the member for Huntingdon stigmatised
as Popish, and this too by a prelate who was now seeking, in a less
direct way, to impose silence on Puritan ministers. Other members of
Parliament had striven to oppose the ecclesiasticism of the Court by
the intolerant assertion that Calvinism alone was to be preached.
Cromwell did nothing of the kind. He did not even say that those who
upheld what he calls 'tenets of Popery' were to be silenced. He merely
asked that those who objected to them might be free to deliver their
testimony in public. There is the germ here of his future liberal
policy as Lord Protector--the germ too of a wide difference of opinion
from those with whom he was at this time acting in concert.[A]

      [A] My argument would obviously not stand if the remainder
          of the speech printed in Rushworth were held to be
          genuine. There is, however, good reason to know that it
          is not (_Hist. of Eng._, 1603-1642, vii., 56, note).

Little as we know of Cromwell's proceedings during the eleven years in
which no Parliament sat, that little is significant. His interference
in temporal affairs was invariably on the side of the poor. In 1630
a new charter was granted to Huntingdon, conferring the government
of the town on a mayor and twelve aldermen appointed for life. To
this Cromwell raised no objection, taking no special delight in
representative institutions, but he protested against so much of the
charter as, by allowing the new corporation to deal at its pleasure
with the common property of the borough, left the holders of rights
of pasture at their mercy; and, heated by a sense of injustice to
his poorer neighbours, he spoke angrily on the matter to Barnard,
the new mayor. Cromwell was summoned before the council, with the
result that the Earl of Manchester, appointed to arbitrate, sustained
his objections, whilst Cromwell, having gained his point, apologised
for the roughness of his speech. It is not unlikely that it was in
consequence of this difference with the new governors of the town that
he shortly afterwards sold his property there, and removed to St.
Ives, where he established himself as a grazing farmer. Nor was he
less solicitous for the spiritual than for the temporal welfare of his
neighbours. Many Puritans were at this time attempting to lessen the
influence of the beneficed clergy, who were, in many places, opposed to
them, by raising sums for the payment of lecturers, who would preach
Puritan sermons without being bound to read prayers before them. The
earliest extant letter of Cromwell's was written in 1636 to a City
merchant, asking him to continue his subscription to the maintenance of
a certain Dr. Wells, 'a man of goodness and industry and ability to do
good every way'. "You know, Mr. Story," he adds, "to withdraw the pay
is to let fall the lecture, and who goeth to warfare at his own cost?"

In 1636 Cromwell removed to Ely, where he farmed the Cathedral tithes
in succession to his maternal uncle, Sir Thomas Steward. Soon after
he was settled in his new home, there were disturbances in the fen
country which the Earl of Bedford and his associates were endeavouring
to drain. On the plea that the work was already accomplished, the new
proprietors ordered the expulsion of cattle from the pastures scattered
amongst the waters. The owners, egged on by one at least of the
neighbouring gentry, tumultuously resisted the attempt to exclude them
from their rights of commonage. We are told, too, that 'it is commonly
reported by the commoners in the said fens and the fens adjoining, that
Mr. Cromwell, of Ely, hath undertaken--they paying him a groat for
every cow they have upon the common--to hold the drainers in writ of
law for five years, and that in the mean time they should enjoy every
foot of their commons'. That Cromwell should have taken up the cause
of the weak, and at the same time should have attempted to serve them
by legal proceedings, whilst keeping aloof from their riotous action,
is a fair indication of the character of the man. No wonder he grew in
popularity, or that in 1640 he was elected by the borough of Cambridge
to both the Parliaments which met in that year.

In the Short Parliament Cromwell sat, so far as we know, as a
silent member. Of his appearance in the Long Parliament we have the
often-quoted description of his personal appearance from a young
courtier. "I came into the House," wrote Sir Philip Warwick, "one
morning well clad, and perceived a gentleman speaking whom I knew
not, very ordinarily apparelled, for it was a plain cloth suit which
seemed to be made by an ill country tailor; his linen was plain, and
not very clean; and I remember a speck or two of blood upon his little
band, which was not larger than his collar. His hat was without a
hat-band. His stature was of a good size; his sword stuck close to
his side; his countenance swollen and reddish, his voice sharp and
untuneable, and his eloquence full of fervour, for the subject matter
would not bear much of reason, it being on behalf of a servant of Mr
Prynne's who had dispersed libels against the Queen for her dancing
and such like innocent and courtly sports; and he aggravated the
imprisonment of this man by the council-table unto that height that
one would have believed the very Government itself had been in great
danger by it. I sincerely profess it lessened much my reverence unto
that great council, for he was very much hearkened unto; and yet I
lived to see this very gentleman whom, by multiplied good escapes,
and by real but usurped power, having had a better tailor, and more
converse among good company, appear of great and majestic deportment
and comely presence." Curiously enough the so-called servant of
Prynne--he was never actually in Prynne's service at all--was no other
than John Lilburne, who was such a thorn in the flesh to Cromwell
in later years. In undertaking the defence of the man who had been
sentenced to scourge and imprisonment for disseminating books held
to be libels by Charles and his ministers, Cromwell announced to his
fellow-members his own political position. In life--and above all in
political life--it is not possible to satisfy those who expect the
actions of any man to be absolutely consistent. Later generations may
be convinced not only that Charles was sincere in following a course
which he believed to be the right one, but that this course commended
itself to certain elements of human nature, and was, therefore, no
mere emanation of his own personal character. It nevertheless remains
that he was far from being strong enough for the place which he had
inherited from his predecessors, and that in wearing the garments of
the Elizabethan monarchy, he was all too unconscious of the work which
the new generation required of him--all too ready to claim the rights
of Elizabeth, without a particle of the skill in the art of government
which she derived from her intimate familiarity with the people over
which she had been called to rule.

Charles's unskilfulness was the more disastrous, as he came to the
throne during a crisis when few men would have been able to maintain
the prestige of the monarchy. On the one hand the special powers
entrusted to the Tudor sovereigns were no longer needed after the
domestic and foreign dangers which occupied their reigns had been
successfully met. On the other hand, a strife between religious parties
had arisen which called for action on lines very different from
those which had commended themselves to Elizabeth. In throwing off
the authority of the Roman See, Elizabeth had the national spirit of
England at her back, whilst in resisting the claims of the Presbyterian
clergy, she had the support of the great majority of the laity. By
the end of her reign she had succeeded in establishing that special
form of ecclesiastical government which she favoured. Yet though the
clergy had ceased to cry out for the supersession of episcopacy by the
Presbyterian discipline, the bulk of the clergy and of the religious
laity were Puritan to the core. So much had been effected by the
long struggle against Rome and Spain and the resulting detestation
of any form of belief which savoured of Rome and Spain. During the
twenty-two years of the peace-loving James, religious thought ceased
to be influenced by a sense of national danger. First one, and then
another--a Bancroft, an Andrewes, or a Laud, men of the college or
the cathedral--began to think their own thoughts, to welcome a wider
interpretation of religious truths than that of Calvin's Institute,
and, above all, to distrust the inward conviction as likely to be
warped by passion or self-interest, and to dwell upon the value of
the external influences of ritual and organisation. To do justice to
both these schools of thought and practice at the time of Charles's
accession would have taxed the strength of any man, seeing how
unprepared was the England of that day to admit the possibility of
toleration. The pity of it was that Charles, with all his fine feelings
and conscientious rectitude, was unfitted for the task. Abandoning
himself heart and soul to the newly risen tide of religious thought,
his imagination was too weak to enable him to realise the strength
of Puritanism, so that he bent his energies, not to securing for his
friends free scope for the exercise of what persuasion was in them, but
for the repression of those whom he looked upon as the enemies of the
Church and the Crown. With the assistance of Laud he did everything in
his power to crush Puritanism, with the result of making Puritanism
stronger than it had been before. Every man of independent mind who
revolted against the petty interference exercised by Laud placed
himself by sympathy, if not by perfect conviction, in the Puritan ranks.

Neither in Elizabeth's nor in Charles's reign was it possible
to dissociate politics from religion. Parliament, dissatisfied
with Charles's ineffectual guidance of the State, was still more
dissatisfied with his attempt to use his authority over the Church to
the profit of an unpopular party. The House of Commons representing
mainly that section of the population in which Puritanism was the
strongest--the country gentlemen in touch with the middle-class in
the towns--was eager to pull down Laud's system in the Church, and to
hinder the extension of Royal authority in the State. To do this it was
necessary not only to diminish the power of the Crown, but to transfer
much of it to Parliament, which, at least in the eyes of its members,
was far more capable of governing England wisely.

That Cromwell heartily accepted this view of the situation is evident
from his being selected to move the second reading of the Bill for the
revival of annual Parliaments, which, by a subsequent compromise, was
ultimately converted into a Triennial Act ordaining that there should
never again be an intermission of Parliament for more than three years.
The fact that he was placed on no less than eighteen committees in
the early part of the sittings of the Parliaments shows that he had
acquired a position which he could never have reached merely through
his cousinship with Hampden and St. John. That he concurred in the
destruction of the special courts which had fortified the Crown in the
Tudor period, and in the prosecution of Strafford, needs no evidence to
prove. These were the acts of the House as a whole. It was the part he
took on those ecclesiastical questions which divided the House into two
antagonistic parties which is most significant of his position at this
time.

However much members of the House of Commons might differ on the
future government of the Church, they were still of one mind as to
the necessity of changing the system under which it had been of late
controlled. There may have been much to be said on behalf of an
episcopacy exercising a moderating influence over the clergy, and
guarding the rights of minorities against the oppressive instincts of a
clerical majority. As a matter of fact this had not been the attitude
of Charles's Bishops. Appointed by the Crown, and chosen out of one
party only--and that the party of the minority amongst the clergy and
the religious laity--they had seized the opportunity of giving free
scope to their own practices and of hampering in every possible way
the practices of those opposed to them. It was no Puritan, but Jeremy
Taylor, the staunch defender of monarchy and episcopacy, who hit the
nail on the head. "The interest of the bishops," he wrote, "is conjunct
with the prosperity of the King, besides the interest of their own
security, by the obligation of secular advantages. For they who have
their livelihood from the King, and are in expectance of their fortune
from him, are more likely to pay a tribute of exacted duty than others
whose fortunes are not in such immediate dependency on His Majesty.
It is but the common expectation of gratitude that a patron paramount
shall be more assisted by his beneficiaries in cases of necessity than
by those who receive nothing from him but the common influences of
government."

As usual, it was easier to mark the evil than to provide an adequate
remedy. The party which numbered Hyde and Falkland in its ranks, and
which afterwards developed into that of the Parliamentary Royalists,
was alarmed lest a tyrannical episcopacy should be followed by a still
more tyrannical Presbyterian discipline, and therefore strove to
substitute for the existing system some scheme of modified episcopacy
by which bishops should be in some way responsible to clerical
councils. Cromwell was working hand in hand with men who strove to meet
the difficulty in another way. The so-called Root-and-Branch Bill,
said to have been drawn up by St. John, was brought to the House of
Commons by himself and Vane. By them it was passed on to Hazlerigg,
who in his turn passed it on to Sir Edward Dering, by whom it was
actually moved in the House. As it was finally shaped in Committee,
this bill, whilst absolutely abolishing archbishops, bishops, deans
and chapters, transferred their ecclesiastical jurisdiction to bodies
of Commissioners to be named by Parliament itself. Cromwell evidently
had no more desire than Falkland to establish the Church Courts of the
Scottish Presbyterian system in England.

This bill never passed beyond the Committee stage. It was soon
overshadowed by the question whether Charles could be trusted or
not. The discovery of the plots by which he had attempted to save
Strafford's life, and the knowledge that he was now visiting Scotland
with the intention of bringing up a Scottish army to his support
against the Parliament at Westminster strengthened the hands of the
party of Parliamentary supremacy, and left its leaders disinclined
to pursue their ecclesiastical policy till they had settled the
political question in their own favour. Important as Charles's own
character--with its love of shifts and evasions--was in deciding
the issue, it must not be forgotten that the crisis arose from a
circumstance common to all revolutions. When a considerable change is
made in the government of a nation, it is absolutely necessary, if
orderly progress is to result from it, that the persons in authority
shall be changed. The man or men by whom the condemned practices have
been maintained cannot be trusted to carry out the new scheme, because
they must of necessity regard it as disastrous to the nation. The
success of the Revolution of 1688-89 was mainly owing to the fact that
James was replaced by William; in 1641 neither was Charles inclined
to fly to the Continent, nor were the sentiments of either party
in the House such as to suggest his replacement by another prince,
even if such a prince were to be found. All that his most pronounced
adversaries--amongst whom Cromwell was to be counted--could suggest was
to leave him the show and pomp of royalty, whilst placing him under
Parliamentary control and doing in his name everything that he least
desired to do himself. It was a hopeless position to be driven into,
and yet, the feeling of the time being what it was, it is hard to see
that any remedy could be found.

Before Charles returned from Scotland, which he had visited in the vain
expectation of bringing back with him an army which might give him the
control over the English Parliament, an event occurred which brought
to light the disastrous impolicy of his opponents in leaving upon the
throne the man who was most hostile to their ideas. The Irish Roman
Catholic gentry and nobility, having been driven into Royalism by fear
of Puritan domination, had agreed with Charles to seize Dublin and to
use it as a basis from which to send him military aid in his struggle
against the Parliament of England. In October 1641, before they could
make up their minds to act, an agrarian outbreak occurred in Ulster,
where the native population rose against the English and Scottish
colonists who had usurped their lands. The rising took the form of
outrage and massacre, calculated to arouse a spirit of vengeance in
England, even if report had not outrun the truth--much more when
the horrible tale was grossly exaggerated in its passage across the
sea. Before long both classes of Roman Catholic Irishmen, the Celtic
peasants of the North and the Anglo-Irish gentry of the South, were
united in armed resistance to the English Government.

It was a foregone conclusion that an attempt to reconquer Ireland would
be made from England. Incidentally the purpose of doing this brought to
a point the struggle for the mastery at Westminster. If an army were
despatched to Ireland it would, as soon as its immediate task had been
accomplished, be available to strike a decisive blow on one side or the
other. It therefore became all-important for each side to secure the
appointment of officers who might be relied on--in one case to strike
for the Crown, in the other case to strike for the Commons. Pym, who
was leading his party in the House with consummate dexterity, seized
the opportunity of asking, not merely that military appointments
should be subject to Parliamentary control, but that the King should
be asked to take only such councillors as Parliament could approve of.
Cromwell was even more decided than Pym. The King having named five new
bishops, in defiance of the majority of the Commons, it was Cromwell
who moved for a conference with the Lords on the subject, and who, a
few days later, asked for another conference, in which the Lords should
be asked to join in a vote giving to the Earl of Essex power to command
the trained bands south of the Trent for the defence of the kingdom,
a power which was not to determine at the King's pleasure, but to
continue till Parliament should take further order.

Cromwell was evidently for strong measures. Yet there are signs that
now, as at other times in his life, he underestimated the forces
opposed to him. His allies in the Commons, Pym and Hampden at their
head, were now bent on obtaining the assent of the House to the Grand
Remonstrance, less as an appeal to the King than as a manifesto to the
nation. The long and detailed catalogue of the King's misdeeds in the
past raised no opposition. Hyde was as ready to accept it as Pym and
Hampden. The main demands made in it were two: first, that the King
would employ such councillors and ministers as the Parliament might
have cause to confide in; and secondly, that care should be taken
'to reduce within bounds that exorbitant power which the prelates
have assumed to themselves,' whilst maintaining 'the golden reins of
discipline,' and demanding 'a general synod of the most grave, pious,
learned and judicious divines to consider all things necessary for the
peace and good government of the Church'. So convinced was Cromwell
that the Remonstrance would be generally acceptable to the House, that
he expressed surprise when Falkland gave his opinion that it would
give rise to some debate. It was perhaps because the Remonstrance
had abandoned the position of the Root-and-Branch Bill and talked
of limiting episcopacy, instead of abolishing it, that Cromwell
fancied that it would gain adherents from both sides. He forgot how
far controversy had extended since the summer months in which the
Root-and-Branch Bill had been discussed, and how men who believed that,
if only Charles could be induced to make more prudent appointments,
intellectual liberty was safer under bishops than under any system
likely to approve itself to a synod of devout ministers, had now
rallied to the King.

It was, by this time, more than ever, a question whether Charles could
be trusted, and Cromwell and his allies had far stronger grounds in
denying than their opponents had in affirming that he could. After all,
the ecclesiastical quarrel could never be finally settled without
mutual toleration, and neither party was ready even partially to accept
such a solution as that. As for Cromwell himself, he regarded those
decent forms which were significant of deeper realities even to many
who had rebelled against the pedagogic harshness of Laud, as mere
rags of popery and superstition to be swept away without compunction.
With this conviction pressing on his mind, it is no wonder that, when
the great debate was over late in the night, after the division had
been taken which gave a majority of eleven to the supporters of the
Remonstrance, he replied to Falkland's question whether there had been
a debate with: "I will take your word for it another time. If the
Remonstrance had been rejected, I would have sold all I had the next
morning, and never have seen England any more; and I know there are
many other honest men of the same resolution."

There was in Cromwell's mind a capacity for recognising the strength of
adverse facts which had led him--there is some reason to believe[B]--to
think of emigrating to America in 1636 when Charles's triumph appeared
most assured, and which now led him to think of the same mode of escape
to a purer atmosphere if Charles, supported by Parliament, should
be once more in the ascendant. On neither of the two occasions did
his half-formed resolution develop into a settled purpose, the first
time because, for some unknown reason, he hardened his heart to hold
out till better times arrived; the second time because the danger
anticipated never actually occurred.

      [B] See the argument for the probability of the traditional
          story, though the details usually given cannot be true,
          in Mr. Firth's _Oliver Cromwell_, 37.

In the constitutional by-play which followed--the question of the
Bishops' protest and the resistance to the attempt on the five
members--Cromwell took no prominent part, though his motion for an
address to the King, asking him to remove the Earl of Bristol from
his counsels on the ground that he had formerly recommended Charles
to bring up the Northern army to his support, shows in what direction
his thoughts were moving. The dispute between Parliament and King
had so deepened that each side deprecated the employment of force by
the other, whilst each side felt itself justified in arming itself
ostensibly for its own defence. It was no longer a question of
conformity to the constitution in the shape in which the Tudors had
handed it down to the Stuarts. That constitution, resting as it did on
an implied harmony between King and people, had hopelessly broken down
when Charles had for eleven years ruled without a Parliament. The only
question was how it was to be reconstructed. Cromwell was not the man
to indulge in constitutional speculations, but he saw distinctly that
if religion--such as he conceived it--was to be protected, it must be
by armed force. A King to whom religion in that form was detestable,
and who was eager to stifle it by calling in troops from any foreign
country which could be induced to come to his aid, was no longer to be
trusted with power.

So far as we know, Cromwell did not intervene in the debates on the
control of the militia. He was mainly concerned with seeing that the
militia was in a state of efficiency for the defence of Parliament. As
early as January 14, 1642, soon after the attempt on the five members
had openly revealed Charles's hostility, it was on Cromwell's motion
that a committee was named to put the kingdom in a posture of defence,
and this motion he followed up by others, with the practical object
of forwarding repression in Ireland or protection to the Houses at
Westminster. Though he was far from being a wealthy man, he contributed
£600 to the projected campaign in Ireland, and another £500 to the
raising of forces in England. Mainly through his efforts, Cambridge
was placed in a state to defend itself against attack. Without waiting
for a Parliamentary vote, he sent down arms valued at £100. On July 15
he moved for an order 'to allow the townsmen of Cambridge to raise two
companies of volunteers, and to appoint captains over them'. A month
later the House was informed that 'Mr. Cromwell, in Cambridgeshire,
hath seized the magazine in the castle at Cambridge,' that is to say,
the store of arms--the property of the County--ready to be served out
to the militia when called upon for service or training, 'and hath
hindered the carrying of the plate from that University; which, as was
reported, was to the value of £20,000 or thereabouts'. Evidently there
was one member of Parliament prompt of decision and determined in will,
who had what so few--if any--of his colleagues had--the makings of a
great soldier in him.

When at last Essex received the command to create a Parliamentary army,
Cromwell accepted a commission to raise a troop of arquebusiers--the
light horse of the day--in his own county. He can have had no
difficulty in finding recruits, especially as his popularity in the
fen-land had been, if possible, increased by his conduct in a committee
held in the preceding summer, where he bitterly resented an attempt
of the Earl of Manchester to enclose lands in defiance of the rights
of the commoners. He was, however, resolved to pick the sixty men he
needed. We can well understand that in choosing his subordinates he
would be inspired by an instinctive desire to prize those qualities
in his soldiers which were strongly developed in his own character,
in which strenuous activity was upheld by unswerving conviction and
perfervid spiritual emotion. He could choose the better because
he had neighbours, friends and kinsmen from whom to select. The
Quarter-master of his troop was John Desborough, his brother-in-law,
whilst another brother-in-law, Valentine Wauton, though not actually
serving under Cromwell, rallied to his side, and became the captain
of another troop in the Parliamentary army. To the end of his career
Cromwell never forwarded the prospects of a kinsman or friend unless
he was persuaded of his efficiency, though he never shrank from the
promotion of kinsmen whom he believed himself able to trust in order to
shake off the charge of nepotism from himself.

The sobriety of Cromwell's judgment was as fully vindicated by his
choice of the cavalry arm for himself, as by the selection of his
subordinates. If the result of the coming war was to be decided by
superiority in cavalry, as would certainly be the case, the chances
were all in favour of the Royalist gentry, whose very nickname of
'cavaliers' was a presage of victory, and who were not only themselves
familiar with horsemanship from their youth up, but had at their
disposal the grooms and the huntsmen who were attached to their
service. "Your troops," he said some weeks later to his cousin Hampden,
after the failure of the Parliamentary horse had become manifest,
"are most of them old decayed serving men and tapsters, and such kind
of fellows; and their troops are gentlemen's sons and persons of
quality. Do you think the spirits of such base and mean fellows will
ever be able to encounter gentlemen that have honour and courage and
resolution in them?... You must get men of spirit, and, take it not
ill what I say--I know you will not--of a spirit that is likely to go
on as far as gentlemen will go, or else you will be beaten still." The
importance of a good cavalry was in those days relatively much greater
than it is now. A body of infantry composed in about equal proportions
of pikemen and musketeers, the latter armed with a heavy and unwieldy
weapon, only to be fired at considerable intervals, and requiring the
support of a rest to steady it, needed to be placed behind hedges to
resist a cavalry charge. It was a recognised axiom of war that a foot
regiment marching across open country required cavalry as a convoy to
ward off destructive attacks by the enemy's horse. So unquestioned was
the inferiority of infantry, that unless the horsemen who gathered
round Charles's standard when it was displayed on the Castle Hill at
Nottingham could be overpowered, the resistance of the Parliamentary
army could hardly be prolonged for many months. That they were
overpowered was the achievement of Cromwell, and of Cromwell alone.

It was something that Cromwell had gathered round him his sixty
God-fearing men. It was more, that he did not confide, as a mere
fanatic would have done, in their untried zeal. His recruits were
subjected to an iron discipline. The hot fire of enthusiasm for the
cause in which they had been enlisted burnt strongly within them.
They had drawn their swords not for constitutional safeguards, but in
the service of God Himself, and God Himself, they devoutly trusted,
would shelter His servants in the day of battle against the impious
men who were less their enemies than His. It was no reason--so they
learnt from their captain--that they should remit any single precaution
recommended by the most worldly of military experts. Cromwell almost
certainly never told his soldiers--in so many words--to trust in God
and keep their powder dry. Yet, apocryphal as is the anecdote, it
well represents the spirit in which Cromwell's commands were issued.
The very vividness of his apprehension of the supernatural enabled
him to pass rapidly without any sense of incongruity from religious
exhortations to the practical satisfaction of the demands of the
material world.

When on October 23, 1642, the first battle of the war was fought
at Edgehill, Cromwell's troop was one of the few not swept away by
Rupert's headlong charge, probably because coming late upon the field
he did not join the main army till the Royalist horse had ceased to
trouble it. At all events, he took his share in the indispensable
service rendered by the little force of cavalry remaining at Essex's
disposal, when in the opposing ranks there was no cavalry at all. It
was the co-operation of this force which, by assailing in flank and
rear the King's foot regiments, whilst the infantry broke them up in
front, enabled the Parliamentary army to claim at least a doubtful
victory in the place of the rout which would have befallen it if
Rupert, on his late return, had found his master's foot in a condition
to carry on the struggle. Whatever else Cromwell learnt from his first
experience of actual warfare, he had learnt from Rupert's failure
after early success never to forget that headlong valour alone will
accomplish little, and that a good cavalry officer requires to know
when to draw rein, as well as when to charge, and to subordinate the
conduct of the attack in which he is personally engaged to the needs of
the army as a whole.

Many months were to pass away before Cromwell was to measure swords
with Rupert. He remained under Essex almost to the end of the year, and
was present at Turnham Green, when Essex saw Charles, after taking up a
position at Brentford in the hope of forcing a passage to London, march
off to Reading and Oxford without attempting to strike a blow. Towards
the end of 1642, or in the early part of 1643, Cromwell had work
found for him which was eventually to breathe a new spirit into the
Parliamentary army. Enormous as was the advantage which the devotion
of London conferred upon Parliament, London by no means exercised that
supreme influence which was exercised by Paris in the times of the
French Revolution. Both parties, therefore, put forth their efforts
in organising local forces, but of all the local organisations which
were brought into existence, the only one entirely successful was the
Eastern Association, comprising Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridge
and Herts, and that mainly because Cromwell was at hand to keep it
up to the mark. There was to be a general fund at the service of the
association, whilst the forces raised in the several shires of which it
was composed were to be at the disposal of a common committee.

In England generally the first half of 1643 was a time of desultory
fighting, alternating with efforts to make peace without the conditions
which might have brought peace within sight. It was not to be expected
either that Parliament would accept Charles on his own terms, or that
Charles would bow down to any terms which Parliament was likely to
offer. Cromwell, at least, took no part in these futile negotiations,
and did all that in him lay to clear the counties of the Eastern
Association from Royalists, and to put them in a state of defence
against Royalist incursions. At some time later than January 23, and
before the end of February, he was promoted to a colonelcy. In March he
was fortifying Cambridge, and urgently pleading for contributions to
enable him to complete the work. Again we find him sending to arrest
a Royalist sheriff who attempted to collect soldiers at St. Alban's,
and then hurrying to Lowestoft to crush a Royalist movement in the
town. After this no more is heard of Royalism holding up its head in
any corner of the association, and to the end of the war no Royalist
in arms again set foot within it. By the end of May it was joined by
Huntingdonshire, the county of Cromwell's birth.

Cromwell's superabundant energy was employed in other ways than in
contending against armed men. Laud's enforcement of at least external
signs of respect to objects consecrated to religious usage had provoked
a reaction which influenced Puritanism on its least noble side. A
certain Dowsing has left a diary, showing how he visited the Suffolk
churches, pulling down crosses, destroying pictures and tearing up
brasses inscribed with _Orate pro animâ_, the usual expression of
mediæval piety towards the dead. At Cambridge, Cromwell himself,
finding opposition amongst those in authority in the University, sent
up three of the Heads of Houses in custody to Westminster, and on a
cold night in March shut up the Vice-Chancellor and other dignitaries
in the public schools till midnight without food or firing, because
they refused to pay taxes imposed by Parliament.

Nor was it only with open enemies that Cromwell and those who
sympathised with him had to deal. Of all forms of war civil strife is
the most hideous, and it is no wonder that the hands of many who had
entered upon it with the expectation that a few months or even weeks
would suffice to crush the King were now slackened. Was it not better,
they asked, to come to terms with Charles than to continue a struggle
which promised to drag out for years? Negotiations opened at Oxford
in the spring failed, indeed, to lead to peace, because neither party
had the spirit of compromise, but they were accompanied or followed by
the defection from the Parliamentary ranks of men who, at the outset,
had stood up manfully against the King, such as Sir Hugh Cholmley,
who hoisted the royal colours over Scarborough Castle, which had been
entrusted to him by the Houses; and the Hothams, father and son, who,
whilst nominally continuing to serve the Parliament, were watching for
an opportunity of profitable desertion. Such tendencies were encouraged
by the vigour with which the King's armies were handled, and the
successes they gained in the early summer. On May 16 the Parliamentary
General, the Earl of Stamford, was defeated at Stratton, with the
result that Sir Ralph Hopton was able to overrun the Western counties
at the head of the Royalist troops, and though defeated on Lansdown by
Sir William Waller, was succoured by a Royalist army which, on July 13,
crushed Waller's army on Roundway Down; whilst on July 26 Bristol was
taken by Rupert, and the whole of the Southern counties thrown open
to the assaults of the King's partisans. Farther east, though Essex
succeeded in capturing Reading, his army melted away before disease
and mismanagement. On June 18 Hampden was mortally wounded at Chalgrove
Field. Lord Fairfax and his son, Sir Thomas Fairfax, were with
difficulty holding their own in the West Riding of Yorkshire against
a Royalist force under the command of the Earl of Newcastle. By the
middle of the year, the Parliamentary armies were threatened with ruin
on almost every side.

The one conspicuous exception to these tales of disaster was found in
the news from the Eastern Association, where Cromwell's vigour upheld
the fight. Yet Cromwell had no slight difficulties against which to
contend. When, by the end of April, he had cleared the shires of the
association from hostile forces, he made his way into Lincolnshire,
and called on the neighbouring military commanders of his own party
to join him in an attack on the Royalist garrison at Newark, from
which parties issued forth to overawe and despoil the Parliamentarians
of the neighbourhood. Those upon whom he called--Sir John Gell at
Nottingham, the Lincolnshire gentry, and Stamford's son, Lord Grey of
Groby, in Leicestershire, were in command of local forces, and placed
the interests of their own localities above the common good. Stamford's
mansion at Broadgates, hard by Leicester, was exposed to attack from
the Royalist garrison at Ashby-de-la-Zouch, and consequently Lord Grey
hung back from joining in an enterprise which would leave Leicester at
the mercy of the enemy, and his example was followed in other quarters.
"Believe it," wrote Cromwell wrathfully, "it were better, in my poor
opinion, Leicester were not, than that there should not be found an
immediate taking of the field by our forces to accomplish the common
ends." To subordinate local interests to the 'common ends' was as much
the condition of Cromwell's success as the discipline under which he
had brought the fiery troops under his command.

The result of that discipline was soon to appear. On May 13 he fell
in near Grantham with a cavalry force from Newark far outnumbering
his own. Taking a lesson from Rupert, who had taught him at Edgehill
that the horse, and not the pistol, was the true weapon of the mounted
horseman, he dashed upon the enemy, who weakly halted to receive the
charge, and was thoroughly beaten in consequence. Cromwell, as usual,
piously attributed his success to the Divine intervention. "With this
handful," he wrote "it pleased God to cast the scale."

The success of Cromwell's horse was all the more reason why financial
support should be accorded to its commander. Voluntary contributions
were still the backbone of the resources of Parliament, though a system
of forced payments was being gradually established. "Lay not," wrote
Cromwell to the Mayor of Colchester, "too much on the back of a poor
gentleman who desires, without much noise, to lay down his life and
bleed the last drop to serve the cause and God. I ask not money for
myself; I desire to deny myself, but others will not be satisfied."

Cromwell once more called on the local commanders to gather their
forces, not for an attack on Newark, but for a march into Yorkshire to
the relief of the Fairfaxes. Early in June some 6,000 men were gathered
at Nottingham. Once more the effort came to nothing. The commanders
excused themselves from moving, on the plea that the Fairfaxes did
not need their help. One of their number, the younger Hotham, was
detected in an intrigue with the enemy. Mainly by Cromwell's energy
he was seized, and ultimately, together with his father, was sent
to London, where they were both executed as traitors. In Yorkshire
the tide was running against the Fairfaxes. On June 30 they were
defeated at Adwalton Moor. The whole of the West Riding was lost, and
the commanders forced to take refuge in Hull. Newcastle, with his
victorious army, would soon be heard of in Lincolnshire, where Lord
Willoughby of Parham had lately seized Gainsborough for Parliament.
Among the troops ordered to maintain this advanced position was
Cromwell's regiment, and on July 28 that regiment defeated a strong
body of Royalist horse near Gainsborough. Later in the day news was
brought that a force of the enemy was approaching from the North.
Cromwell, whose cavalry was supported by a body of foot, went out to
meet it, only to find himself face to face with Newcastle's whole
army. Though the Parliamentary infantry took flight at once, the horse
retired by sections, showing a bold front, and regaining the town with
the loss of only two men. This cavalry, which combined the dash of
Grantham with the discipline of Gainsborough, spelt victory for the
Parliamentary side.

Yet, at the moment, the prospect was gloomy enough. On July 30
Gainsborough surrendered, and unless Cromwell's forces could be
augmented, there was little to intervene between Newcastle's army and
London. "It's no longer disputing," wrote Cromwell to the Committee at
Cambridge, "but out instantly all you can. Almost all our foot have
quitted Stamford; there is nothing to interrupt an enemy but our horse
that is considerable. You must act lively. Do it without distraction.
Neglect no means."

Cromwell knew that more than his own name was required to rally the
force needed at this desperate conjuncture. At his instance Parliament
appointed the new Earl of Manchester--who, as Lord Kimbolton, had
been the one member of the House of Lords marked out by the King for
impeachment together with the five members of the House of Commons--as
Commander of the Eastern Association, and ordered an army of 10,000
men to be raised within its limits. Whilst in the South, Essex
raised the siege of Gloucester, and was successful enough at Newbury
to make good his retreat to London, Manchester's new army, in which
Cromwell commanded the horse, defeated a party of Royalists at Winceby,
compelled Newcastle to raise the siege of Hull, and retook Lincoln,
which had fallen into the hands of the enemy. Lincolnshire was now
added to the Eastern Association, the one part of England on which the
eyes of the Parliamentary chiefs could rest with complete satisfaction.

Sooner or later Cromwell would have to face other questions than
those of military efficiency. When Pym and his supporters drew up
the Grand Remonstrance, they did not contemplate the introduction of
any principle of religious liberty. The Church was to be exclusively
Puritan, on some plan to be settled by Parliament upon the advice of an
Assembly of Divines. That Assembly met on July 1, 1643, and if it had
been left to itself, would probably have recommended the adoption of
some non-episcopalian system of Church-government; whilst Parliament,
faithful to the traditions of English governments, would have taken
care that the clergy should be placed under some form of lay government
emanating from Parliament itself. In the summer of 1643 it was
impossible to separate questions of ecclesiastical organisation from
those arising out of the political necessities of the hour. It was
known that Charles was angling for the support of Ireland and Scotland,
and if Parliament was not to be overborne, it was necessary to meet
him on the same ground. In Ireland Charles was fairly successful.
On September 15 his Lord Lieutenant obtained from the Confederate
Catholics, who were in arms against his Government, a cessation of
hostilities, which would enable him to divert a portion of his own
troops to the defence of the King's cause in England; ultimately, as he
hoped, to be followed by an army levied amongst the Irish Catholics.
Charles's attempt to win Scotland to his side was less successful. The
predominant party at Edinburgh was that led by the Marquis of Argyle,
who had climbed to power with the help of the Presbyterian organisation
of the Church, and who justly calculated that, if Charles gained his
ends in England, the weight of his victorious sword would be thrown
into the balance of the party led by the Duke of Hamilton. That party
however, embracing as it did the bulk of the Scottish nobility, would
not only have made short work of Argyle's political dictatorship, but
would have taken good care that the Presbyterian clergy should, in some
way or other, be reduced to dependence on the laity. When, therefore,
English Parliamentary Commissioners arrived in Edinburgh to treat for
military assistance, they were confronted by a demand that they should
accept a document known as the Solemn League and Covenant, binding
England to accept the full Scottish Presbyterian system with its
Church Courts, claiming as by Divine right to settle all ecclesiastical
matters without the interference of the lay government. It is true that
this demand was somewhat veiled in the engagement to reform religion in
the Church of England, 'according to the example of the best reformed
Churches,' so as to bring the Churches in both nations to the nearest
conjunction and uniformity. The leading English Commissioner, however,
the younger Sir Henry Vane, was one of the few Englishmen who at this
time championed a system of religious liberty, and he now succeeded in
keeping a door open by proposing the addition of a few words, declaring
that religion was to be reformed in England according to the Word of
God, as well as by the example of the best reformed Churches. In this
form the Covenant was brought back to Westminster, and in this form it
was sworn to by the members of Parliament, and required to be sworn to
by all Englishmen above the age of eighteen. Few indeed amongst the
members of Parliament willingly placed their necks under the yoke. It
was the price paid for Scottish armed assistance, simply because that
assistance could be had on no other terms. The alliance with the Scots
was the last work of Pym, who died before the Scottish army, the aid of
which he had so dearly purchased, crossed the Borders into England.

There were two ways of opposing the Scottish system of Divine-right
Presbyterianism, the old one of the Tudor and Stuart Kings, placing
the Church under lay control; and the new one, proclaiming the right
of individuals to religious liberty, which was advocated by Vane, and
was in the course of the next few months advocated by a handful of
Independent ministers in the Assembly of divines, and by writers like
Roger Williams and Henry Robinson in the press. Like all new doctrines,
it made its way slowly, and for long appeared to the great majority of
Englishmen to be redolent of anarchy. The freedom from restraint which
every revolution brings, together with the habit of looking to the
Bible as verbally inspired, had led to the growth of sects upholding
doctrines, some of which gave rational offence to men of cultivated
intelligence and encouraged them to look for a remedy to the repressive
action of the State. On the other hand, a small number of men, most
of them attached to the Independent or Baptist bodies, fully accepted
the principle of religious liberty, at least within the bounds of
Puritanism. For the present the question was merely Parliamentary; but
it might easily be brought within the sphere of military influence,
and it was not without significance that, though Essex and Waller, who
had comparatively failed as generals, were on the side of Presbyterian
repression, Cromwell, who had shown himself to be the most successful
soldier in England, declared himself on the side of liberty. In
the sectarian sense indeed, Cromwell never attached himself to the
Independent or to any other religious body. In firm adherence to the
great doctrine of toleration, which spread abroad from the Independents
or from the Baptists, who were but Independents with a special doctrine
added to their tenets, Cromwell was the foremost Independent of the day.

Not that Cromwell indeed reached his conclusions as did Roger Williams,
by the light of pure reason. The rites prescribed in the Prayer Book
were to him a mockery of God. On January 10, 1644, he ordered a
clergyman, who persisted in using the old service in Ely Cathedral,
to leave off his fooling and come down from his place. But he had no
liking for the Covenant, and avoided committing himself to it till the
beginning of February, 1644, when he swore to it on his appointment
as Lieutenant-General in Manchester's army, doubtless laying special
stress in his own mind on the loop-hole offered by Vane's amendment.
The cause of religious liberty appealed to him on practical grounds.
How was he to fight the enemy, unless he could choose his officers for
their military efficiency, and not for their Presbyterian opinions? The
Major-General of Manchester's army--Crawford, a Scot of the narrowest
Presbyterian type--had objected to the promotion of an officer named
Packer, who was an Anabaptist. "Admit he be," wrote Cromwell in reply,
"shall that render him incapable to serve the public?... Sir, the State
in choosing men to serve it takes no notice of their opinions. If they
be willing faithfully to serve it--that satisfies. Take heed of being
sharp, or too easily sharpened by others, against those to whom you
can object little but that they square not with you in every opinion
concerning matters of religion."

It might be that religious liberty would in the long run suffer more
than it would gain from military support, just as the principles of
Andrewes and Laud suffered more than they gained by the support of
Charles. Already the regiments under Cromwell's command swarmed with
enthusiasts who spent their leisure in preaching and arguing on the
most abstruse points of divinity, agreeing in nothing except that
argument was to be met by argument alone. Their iron discipline and
their devotion to the cause permitted a freedom which would have been
a mere dissolvent of armies enlisted after a more worldly system.
As Cromwell stepped more pronouncedly to the front, his advocacy of
religious liberty would become well-nigh irresistible.

On January 19, 1644, the Scottish army, under the Earl of Leven,
crossed the Tweed. Newcastle was pushed back into York, where he was
besieged by the combined forces of Leven and the Fairfaxes. On May 6
Lincoln, which had been regained by the Royalists, was retaken by
Manchester, who together with Cromwell pushed on to join in the siege
of York. Rupert, however, having been sent northward by Charles,
succeeded in raising the siege; and on July 2 a battle was fought on
Marston Moor, in which the Royalist army, successful at first, was
utterly crushed by Cromwell's skill. Having routed Rupert's horse,
he drew bridle and hurried back to the assistance of the Scottish
infantry, which was holding its own against overwhelming numbers of
the enemy. The King's regiments of foot were routed or destroyed by
his impetuous charge. Cromwell had redeemed the day after the three
generals, Leven, Manchester and the elder Fairfax, had fled from that
which they deemed to be a complete disaster. Before long the whole of
the North of England, save a few outlying fortresses, was lost to the
King.

In the South, matters were going badly for Parliament. Waller's
army, checked at Cropredy Bridge, melted away by desertion; whilst
Essex, attempting an inroad into Cornwall, was followed by the King.
Essex himself and his cavalry succeeded in making their escape, but
on September 2 the whole of his infantry surrendered to Charles
at Lostwithiel. Unless Manchester came to the rescue, it would be
impossible to avert disaster. Manchester, however, was hard to move.
Between him and his Lieutenant-General there was no longer that good
understanding which was essential to successful action. Manchester,
longing for peace on the basis of a Presbyterian settlement of the
Church, could not be brought to understand that, whether such an ending
to the war were desirable or not, it could never be obtained from
Charles. Cromwell, on the other hand, aimed at religious toleration
for the sects, and that security which, as his practical nature taught
him, was only attainable by the destruction of the military defences
in which Charles trusted. That those defences were the ramparts of
the city of destruction, he never doubted for an instant. Writing in
his most serious mood immediately after the victory of Marston Moor,
to the father of a youth who had there met his death-wound, his own
losses rose before his mind. Of his four sons, two had already passed
away:--Robert, leaving behind him a memory of unusual piety, had died
in his schoolboy days; whilst Oliver, who had charged and fled at
Edgehill had lately succumbed to small-pox in the garrison at Newport
Pagnell. Yet it was not only to the example of his own sorrow that
Cromwell mainly looked as a balm for a father's bereavement. "Sir," he
wrote, "you know my own trials this way, but the Lord supported me with
this that the Lord took him into the happiness we all pant for and live
for. There is your precious child full of glory, never to know sin or
sorrow any more. Before his death he was so full of comfort that to
Frank Russell and myself he could not express it, 'it was so great
above his pain'. This he said to us--indeed it was admirable. A little
after, he said one thing lay upon his spirit. I asked him what that
was? He told me it was that 'God had not suffered him to be any more
the executioner of his enemies'." Between a Cromwell eager to destroy
the enemies of God and a Manchester eager to make peace with those
enemies no good understanding was possible, especially as in the eyes
of Manchester the prolongation of the war meant the strengthening of
that sectarian fanaticism to which Cromwell looked as the evidence of a
vigorous spiritual life.

In Manchester the desire for peace showed itself in sheer reluctance to
make war. Cromwell fumed in vain against the Scots and their resolution
to force their Presbyterianism upon England. "In the way they now carry
themselves," he told Manchester, "pressing for their discipline, I
could as soon draw my sword against them as against any in the King's
army." "He would have," he added at another time, "none in his army
who were not of the Independent judgment, in order that if terms were
offered for a peace such as might not stand with the ends that honest
men should aim at, this army might prevent such a mischief." This
attack on the Scots led to an attack on the English nobility, amongst
whom the sects found scant favour. He hoped, he said in words long
afterwards remembered against him, to 'live to see never a nobleman
in England'. He is even reported to have assured Manchester that it
would never be well till he was known as plain Mr. Montague. Manchester
persisted in doing nothing till a distinct order was given him to march
to the defence of London, now laid open by Essex's mishap.

Manchester's reluctance to engage in military operations was probably
strengthened by the knowledge that Vane, who, since Pym's death in
the winter of 1643, was the most prominent personage amongst the war
party at Westminster, had come down to York, at the time of the siege,
to urge the generals, though in vain, to consent to the deposition of
the King, and he could not but suspect that the arrival of Charles
Louis, Elector Palatine, the eldest surviving son of Charles's sister
Elizabeth, on August 30, had something to do with a design for placing
him on his uncle's throne. The design, if it really existed, came
to nothing, probably because it was hopeless to carry it out in the
teeth of the generals. It was only with the utmost difficulty that
Manchester's hesitation was overcome, and that he was induced to face
Charles's army at Newbury. The battle fought there on October 27 was a
drawn one. That it did not end in a Parliamentary victory was mainly
owing to Manchester's indecision. When, a few days later, the King
reappeared on the scene, he was allowed to relieve Donnington Castle,
in the immediate neighbourhood of Newbury, no attempt whatever being
made to hinder his operations. In the controversy which followed,
Manchester went to the root of the matter when he said, "If we beat
the King ninety and nine times, yet he is King still, and so will
his posterity be after him; but if the King beat us once we shall
all be hanged, and our posterity made slaves". "My Lord," answered
Cromwell, "if this be so why did we take up arms at first? This is
against fighting ever hereafter. If so, let us make peace, be it never
so base." Each of the two men had fixed upon one side of the problem
which England was called upon to solve. Manchester was appalled by the
political difficulty. There stood the Kingship accepted by generation
after generation, fenced about with safeguards of law and custom, and
likely to be accepted in one form or another by generations to come. A
single decisive victory gained by Charles would not only expose those
who had dared to make war on him to the hideous penalties of the law of
treason--but would enable him to measure the terms of submission by his
own resolves. If Manchester had had the power of looking into futurity,
he would have argued that no military success--not even the abolition
of monarchy, and the execution of the monarch--would avail to postpone
the restoration of Charles's heir for more than a little while.

Cromwell's reply did not even pretend to meet the difficulty. It
was not in him to forecast the prospects of kingship in England, or
to vex his mind with the consequences of a problematical Royalist
victory. It was enough for him to grasp the actual situation. It is
true that, at this time, he had not got beyond the position from which
the whole of the Parliamentary party had started at the beginning of
the war--the position that the war must be ended by a compact between
King and Parliament. To Cromwell, therefore, whose heart was set upon
the liberation of those who in his eyes were the people of God, and the
overthrow of ceremonial observances, the immediate duty of the moment
was to secure that, when the time of negotiation arrived, the right
side should be in possession of sufficient military force to enable it
to dictate the terms of peace. It was his part not to consider what the
King might do if he proved victorious, but to take good care that he
was signally defeated. Strange to say, the folly of the Presbyterian
party--strong in the two Houses, and in the support of the Scottish
army--was playing into Cromwell's hands. On November 20, ten days
after Cromwell's altercations with Manchester, Parliament sent to
Oxford terms of peace so harsh as to place their acceptance outside the
bounds of possibility. The royal power was to be reduced to a cipher,
whilst such a form of religion as might be agreed upon by the Houses
in accordance with the Covenant was to be imposed on all Englishmen,
without toleration either for the sects favoured by Cromwell, or for
the Church of Andrewes and Laud which found one of its warmest and most
conscientious supporters in Charles. Every man in the three kingdoms,
including the King himself, was to be bound to swear to the observance
of the Covenant. Such a demand naturally met with stern resistance.
"There are three things," replied Charles, "I will not part with--the
Church, my crown, and my friends; and you will have much ado to get
them from me." It needed no action on the part of Cromwell to secure
the failure of such a negotiation, and, so far as we are aware, no word
passed his lips in public on the subject.

On November 25 Cromwell appeared in Parliament to urge on the one
thing immediately necessary, the forging of an instrument by which
the King might be ruined in the field. The existing military system
by which separate armies, to a great extent composed of local forces,
and therefore unable to subordinate local to national objects, had
been placed under commanders selected for their political or social
eminence, had completely broken down. So well was this recognised that,
two days before Cromwell's arrival at Westminster, a committee had
been appointed without opposition to 'consider of a frame or model of
the whole militia'. It was perhaps to assist the committee to come to
a right conclusion that, upon his arrival at Westminster, Cromwell
indignantly assailed Manchester as guilty of all the errors which had
led to the deplorable result at Newbury. Manchester was not slow in
throwing all the blame on Cromwell, and it seemed as if the gravest
political questions were to be thrust aside by a personal altercation.
So angry were the Scottish members of the Committee of both kingdoms,
a body which had recently been appointed to direct the movements of
the armies, that they won over the Presbyterian leaders, Essex and
Holles, to look favourably on a scheme for bringing an accusation
against Cromwell as an incendiary who was doing his best to divide
the King from his people, and one of the kingdoms from the other. At
a meeting held at Essex House the Scottish Earl of Loudoun asked the
English lawyers present whether an incendiary who was punishable by the
law of Scotland was also punishable by the law of England. The English
lawyers threw cold water on the scheme, Whitelocke asking to see the
evidence on which the charge was founded, whilst Maynard declared that
'Lieutenant-General Cromwell is a person of great favour and interest
with the House of Commons, and with some of the Peers likewise,
and therefore there must be proofs, and the most clear and evident
against him, to prevail with the Parliament to adjudge him to be an
incendiary'. Neither Whitelocke nor Maynard was eager to bell the cat.

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
offices 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 15 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.



CHAPTER II.

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 establishment 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 ranks a considerable number of Puritans, whether Independent
or not. The army, however, was certainly not formed on the principles
which had guided Cromwell in the selection of his first troopers, and
indeed it was impossible to select 30,000 men on the exclusive plan
which had been found possible in the enlistment of a single troop or
a single regiment. What chiefly--so far as the rank and file were
concerned--distinguished the New Model from preceding armies was that
it was regularly paid. Hitherto the soldiers had been dependent on
intermittent Parliamentary grants, or still more intermittent efforts
of local committees. All this was now to be changed. A regular taxation
was assessed on the counties for the support of the new army, and the
constant pay thus secured was likely to put an end to the desertions on
a large scale which had afflicted former commanders, thus rendering it
possible to bring the new force under rigorous discipline, a discipline
which punished even more severely offences against morality than those
directed against military efficiency.

The higher the state of discipline the more important is the selection
of officers; and here at least Cromwell's views had full scope. On
the mere ground that it was desirable to place command in the hands
of those who were most strenuous in the prosecution of the war, the
preference was certain to be given to men who were least hampered by
a desire to make terms with an unbeaten King--in other words, to
Independents rather than to Presbyterians. In another way Cromwell's
ideas were carried out. "I had rather," he had once said, "have a plain
russet-coated captain that knows what he fights for, and loves what he
knows, than that which you call a gentleman and nothing else. I honour
a gentleman that is so indeed." There was no distinction of social
rank amongst the officers of the New Model. Amongst them were men of
old families such as Fairfax and Montague, side by side with Hewson,
the cobbler, and Pride, the drayman. If ever the army should be drawn
within the circle of politics, much would follow from the adoption of a
system of promotion which grounded itself on military efficiency alone.

For the present the services of the new army were required solely
in the field. On April 20 Cromwell, who was permitted to retain his
commission forty days after the ordinance had passed, and whose
allotted term had not yet expired, was sent with his cavalry to sweep
round the King's head-quarters at Oxford in order to break up his
arrangements for sending out the artillery needed by Rupert if he was
again to take the field. Cromwell's movement was completely successful.
He not only scattered a Royalist force at Islip, and captured
Blechington House by sheer bluff, but he swept up all the draught
horses on which Charles had counted for the removal of the guns, and
thus incapacitated the enemy from immediate action. Rupert had to wait
patiently for some time before he could leave his quarters.

It is seldom that men realise at first the necessary consequences of
an important change, and, on this occasion, the Committee of Both
Kingdoms and the Parliament itself were slow to discover that, if the
new army was to achieve victory, its movements must be guided, not by
politicians at Westminster, but by the general in the field. The first
act of the Committee was to send Fairfax with eleven thousand men to
the relief of Taunton, where Blake, who not long before had defended
Lyme against all the efforts of the Royalists to take it, was now
holding out to the last with scanty protection from the fortifications
he had improvised. The Committee's orders, necessary perhaps at first,
were persisted in even after it was known that Charles had been joined
at Oxford by the field army which had hitherto protected the besiegers
of Taunton in the West, and that, whilst a much smaller force than
eleven thousand men would be now sufficient to raise the siege, every
soldier that could be spared was needed farther east. The next blunder
of the Committee was even worse. Charles had marched to the North with
all the force he could gather, in the hope of undoing the consequences
of Marston Moor. If there was one lesson which the Committee ought
to have learnt from the campaign of the preceding year it was that
it is useless to besiege towns whilst the enemy's army remains
unbeaten in the field. Yet when every military consideration spoke
with no uncertain voice for the policy of following up Charles's army
without remission till it had been defeated, the sage Committee-men
at Westminster ordered Fairfax to besiege Oxford. Charles, at liberty
to direct his movements where he would, had been deflected from his
course, and on May 31 had stormed Leicester. The news shook the
Committee's resolution to keep the direction of the army in its own
feeble hands. On June 2 it directed Fairfax to break up the siege of
Oxford. On the 4th a petition from the London Common Council asked
that, though the forty days during which Cromwell kept his appointment
under the Self-Denying Ordinance had now elapsed, he might be placed at
the head of a new army to be raised in the Eastern Association. Another
petition from Fairfax's officers asked that he might be placed in the
vacant lieutenant-generalship. The Commons agreed, but, for the present
at least, the Lords withheld their consent. At a later time, when
events had rendered refusal impossible, the Lords gave their consent
to an appointment for which Cromwell was certainly not disqualified by
anything in the Self-Denying Ordinance in the form in which they had
allowed it to pass; considering that that Ordinance merely demanded
the surrender of his commission, without imposing any bar to his
reappointment.

When on June 14 the army under Fairfax found itself in presence of the
King at Naseby, Cromwell was once more in command of the horse. As
usual in those days the infantry was in the centre. On the two wings
were the cavalry, that on the right under Cromwell in person, that on
the left under Ireton. Ireton was driven back by Rupert, who, having
learned nothing since his headlong charge at Edgehill, dashed in
pursuit without a moment's thought for the fortunes of the remainder
of the King's army. Cromwell, after driving off the horse opposed to
him, drew rein, as he had done at Marston Moor, to watch the sway of
the battle he had left behind him. Seeing his duty clear, he left three
regiments to continue the pursuit, and with the remainder fell upon the
Royalist infantry, and with the help of Fairfax's own foot destroyed or
captured the whole body. Rupert returned too late to do anything but
join Charles in his flight. Five thousand prisoners had been taken, of
whom no less than five hundred were officers, while Charles's whole
train of artillery remained in the hands of the victors. That Cromwell
had contributed more than any other man to this crushing victory was
beyond dispute.

Cromwell, as was his usual habit, ascribed this success to Divine
aid. "I can say this of Naseby," he wrote, "that when I saw the enemy
draw up and march in gallant order towards us, and we a company of
poor ignorant men to seek to order our battle, the General having
commanded me to order all the horse, I could not--riding alone about
my business--but smile out to God praises in assurance of victory,
because God would, by things that are not, bring to naught things that
are, of which I had great assurance--and God did it." No doubt, as has
been said, Cromwell omitted to mention that the Parliamentary army had
numbers on its side--not much less than 14,000, opposed to 7,500. But
it was not the numerical superiority of the Parliamentarians which won
the day. It did not enable Ireton to withstand Rupert, and the infantry
in the centre was already giving way when Cromwell returned to assist
it. It was the discipline rather than the numbers of Cromwell's horse
aided by the superb generalship of their commander that gained the day.
Cromwell, when he wrote of his soldiers as 'poor ignorant men,' was
doubtless glancing back in thought at his own early criticism of the
fugitives at Edgehill. The yeomen and peasants whom he had gathered
round him owed much to discipline and leadership; but they owed much
also to the belief embedded in their hearts that they were fighting in
the cause of God.

After the victory at Naseby the issue of the struggle was practically
decided. There was another fight at Langport, where Fairfax defeated a
force with which Goring attempted to guard the western counties; but
after this the war resolved itself into a succession of sieges which
could end but in one way as Charles had no longer a field army to
bring to the relief of Royalist garrisons. For some months Cromwell,
sometimes in combination with Fairfax, sometimes in temporary command
of a separate force, was untiring in the energy which he threw into
his work. Charles was full of combinations which never resulted in
practical advantage to his cause. At one time his hopes were set upon
Montrose, who, after his brilliant victories, expected to bring an
army of Highlanders to aid of the royal cause. At another time he
looked with equal hopefulness to Glamorgan, who was to conduct an
Irish army to England. Montrose's scheme was wrecked at Philiphaugh,
and Glamorgan's concessions to the Irish Catholics were divulged and
had to be disavowed. On March 31, 1646 Sir Jacob Astley bringing 3,000
men, the last Royalist force in existence, to the relief of Charles at
Oxford, was forced to surrender at Stow-on-the-Wold. "You have done
your work," said the veteran to his captors, "and may go play, unless
you will fall out among yourselves." Though Oxford and Newark were
still untaken, the end of the war was now a mere question of days.

"Honest men," wrote Cromwell to Speaker Lenthall soon after the
victory of Naseby "served you faithfully in this action. Sir, they are
trusty--I beseech you in the name of God, not to discourage them--I
wish this action may beget thankfulness and humility in all that are
concerned in it. He that ventures his life for the liberty of his
country, I wish he trust God for the liberty of his conscience, and
you for the liberty he fights for." "All this," he continued three
months later, in the same strain, after the storm of Bristol, "is none
other than the work of God; he must be a very atheist that doth not
acknowledge it. It may be thought that some praises are due to those
gallant men of whose valour so much mention is made:--Their humble suit
to you and all that have an interest in this blessing is that, in the
remembrance of God's praises, they may be forgotten. It's their joy
that they are instruments of God's glory and their country's good. It's
their honour that God vouchsafes to use them.... Sir, they that have
been employed in this service know that faith and prayer obtained this
city for you: I do not say ours only, but of the people of God with
you and all England over, who have wrestled with God for a blessing
in this very thing. Our desires are that God may be glorified by the
same spirit of faith by which we ask all our sufficiency and have
received it. It is meet that He have all the praise. Presbyterians,
Independents, all had here the same spirit of faith and prayer, the
same presence and answer; they agree here, know no names of difference;
pity it is it should be otherwise anywhere! All that believe have the
real unity which is most glorious because inward and spiritual in the
Body and to the Head. As for being united in forms, commonly called
uniformity, every Christian will, for peace sake, study and do as far
as conscience will permit. And from brethren, in things of the mind, we
look for no compulsion but that of light and reason. In other things,
God hath put the sword in the Parliament's hands for the terror of
evil-doers and the praises of them that do well. If any plead exemption
from that, he knows not the Gospel; if any would wring that out of your
hands, or steal it from you, under what pretence soever, I hope they
shall do it without effect."

No words can better depict the state of Cromwell's mind at this time.
Of the religion to which the King and his followers clung there is
no question in his thoughts. He would be unwilling to listen to the
suggestion that it was to be counted as religion in any worthy sense.
Parliament, mutilated as it was, is the authority ordained by God to
keep order in the land. For that very reason Parliament was bound
to allow full liberty to God's children, whatever might be their
differences on matters of discipline or practice. Within the limits
of Puritanism, no intolerance might be admitted. A common spiritual
emotion--not external discipline or intellectual agreement--was
the test of brotherhood. So resolved was the House of Commons to
discountenance this view of the case, that in ordering the publication
of Cromwell's two despatches, it mutilated both of them by the omission
of the passages advocating liberty of conscience.

At the present day we are inclined to blame Cromwell, not for going
too far in the direction of toleration, but for not going far enough.
In the middle of the seventeenth century the very idea of toleration
in any shape was peculiar to a chosen few. That the majority of
the Puritan clergy were bitterly opposed to it affords no matter
for surprise. As men of some education and learning, and with a
professional confidence in the certainty of their own opinions, they
looked with contempt not merely on views different from their own, but
also on the persons who, often without the slightest mental culture,
ventured to produce out of the Bible schemes of doctrine sometimes
immoral, and very often--at least in the opinions of the Presbyterian
divines--blasphemous and profane. Even where this was not the case,
there remained the danger of seeing the Church of England--which was
held to have been purified by the abolition of episcopacy and the
banishment of the ceremonies favoured by the bishops--degenerate
into a chaos in which a thousand sects battled for their respective
creeds, instead of meekly accepting the gospel dealt out to them
by their well-instructed pastors. Richard Baxter was a favourable
specimen of the Presbyterian clergy. Conciliatory in temper, he
was yet an ardent controversialist, and, for a few months after the
battle of Naseby, he accepted the position of chaplain to Whalley's
regiment, with the avowed intention of persuading the sectaries to
abandon their evil ways. He soon discovered that the greater part of
the infantry of the New Model Army was by no means sectarian or even
Puritan in its opinions. "The greatest part of the common soldiers," he
wrote, "especially of the foot, were ignorant men of little religion,
abundance of them such as had been taken prisoners or turned out of
garrisons under the King, and had been soldiers in his army; and these
would do anything to please their officers." In other words, the
sectarian officers could command the services of the army as a whole,
backed as they would be by the most energetic of the private soldiers.
Nor was Baxter longer in discovering that the military preachers
were ready to question received doctrine in politics as well as in
religion. "I perceived," he declared, "they took the King for a tyrant
and an enemy, and really intended to master him, and they thought if
they might fight against him they might kill or conquer him, and if
they might conquer they were never more to trust him further than he
was in their power; and that they thought it folly to irritate him
either by wars or contradictions in Parliament, if so be they must
needs take him for their King, and trust him with their lives when
they had thus displeased him." These audacious reasoners went further
still. "What," they asked, "were the Lords of England but William the
Conqueror's colonels, or the Barons but his majors, or the Knights
but his captains?" "They plainly showed me," complained Baxter, "that
they thought God's providence would cast the trust of religion and the
Kingdom upon them as conquerors; they made nothing of all the most wise
and godly in the armies and garrisons that were not of their way. _Per
fas aut nefas_, by law or without it, they were resolved to take down
not only Bishops and liturgy and ceremonies, but all that did withstand
their way. They ... most honoured the Separatists, Anabaptists and
Antinomians; but Cromwell and his council took on them to join
themselves to no party, but to be for the liberty of all."

'To be for the liberty of all' was recognised as being Cromwell's
position. There is every reason to suppose that he had at this time
little sympathy with the aspirations of those who would have made
the army the lever wherewith to obtain political results otherwise
unobtainable. In his Bristol despatch he had pointedly adhered to
the doctrine that the sword had been placed by God in the hands of
Parliament, and for the present he was inclined to look to Parliament
alone for the boon he asked of it. What makes Cromwell's biography
so interesting is his perpetual effort to walk in the paths of
legality--an effort always frustrated by the necessities of the
situation.

It is difficult for us, nursled as we are under a regime of religious
liberty, to understand how hateful Cromwell's proposal was in the eyes
of the vast majority of his contemporaries. Not only did it shock those
who looked down with scorn on the vagaries of the tub-preacher, but
it aroused fears lest religious sectarianism should, by splitting up
the nation into hostile parties, lead the way to political weakness.
To every nation it is needful that there be some bond of common
emotion which shall enable it to present an undivided front against
its enemies, and such a bond was more than ever needful at a time when
loyalty to the throne had been suspended. It was Cromwell's merit to
have seen that this bond would be strengthened, not weakened, by the
permission of divergencies in teaching and practice, so long as there
was agreement on the main grounds of spiritual Puritanism. If on the
one hand he was behind Roger Williams in theoretical conception, he
was in advance of him in his attempt to fit in his doctrines with the
practical needs of his time.

Some assistance Cromwell had from men with whom, on other grounds, he
had little sympathy. The Westminster Assembly of divines, which had
been sitting since 1643, had done its best to impose the Presbyterian
system on England, but in the House of Commons there was a small
group of Erastian lawyers, with the learned Selden at their head,
which was strong enough to carry Parliament with it in resistance
to the imposition upon England of a Scottish Presbyterianism--that
is to say, of an ecclesiastical system in which matters of religion
were to be disposed of in the Church Courts without any appeal to
the lay element in the State; though, on the other hand, it must not
be forgotten that in those very Church Courts the lay element found
its place. The Erastians, however, preferred to uphold the supreme
authority of the laity represented in Parliament--as the lawyers of the
preceding century had upheld the authority of the laity represented
in the King--probably because they knew that the lay members of the
Presbyterian assemblies were pretty sure to fall under the influence
of the clergy. Selden indeed was no admirer of the enthusiasms of the
sects; but his cool, dispassionate way of treating their claims would,
in the end, make for liberty even more certainly than the burning zeal
of a Williams or a Cromwell.

With the surrender of Astley at Stow-on-the-Wold a new situation was
created. The time had arrived to which Cromwell had looked forward
after the second battle of Newbury, the time when Charles--no longer
having any hope of dictating terms to his enemies--would probably be
ready to accept some compromise which might give to Cromwell and the
Independent party that religious freedom which the Presbyterians at
Westminster found it so hard to concede. It did not need a tithe of
Cromwell's sagacity to convince him that a settlement would have a far
greater chance of proving durable if it were honestly accepted by the
King than if it were not. Yet it did not augur well for a settlement
that Charles, knowing that if he remained at Oxford a few weeks would
see him a prisoner in the hands of the army, rode off towards Newark,
which was at that time besieged by the Scots, and on May 5, 1646, gave
himself up to the Scottish commander at Southwell. The Scots having
extracted from him an order to the Governor of Newark to surrender the
place, marched off, with him in their train, to Newcastle, where they
would be the better able to maintain their position against any attack
by the army of the English Parliament. If Charles expected to make the
Scots his tools, he was soon undeceived. He was treated virtually as a
prisoner under honourable restraint, and given to understand that he
was expected to establish Presbyterianism in England.

A few days before Charles left Oxford, Cromwell had come up to
Westminster to take part in the discussions on a settlement which
were certain to follow on the close of the war. He saw his views
better supported in the House of Commons than they had been when he
was last within its walls. A series of elections had taken place to
fill the seats vacated by the expulsion of Royalists, and the majority
of the recruiters--as the new members were called--were determined
Independents, that is to say, favourers of religious liberty within the
bounds of Puritanism. Amongst them were Ireton, who had commanded the
left wing at Naseby, and who was soon to become Cromwell's son-in-law;
Fleetwood, now a colonel in the New Model Army, Blake, the defender
of Taunton, hereafter to be the great admiral of the Commonwealth
and Protectorate, together with other notables of the army. Yet the
Presbyterians still kept a majority in the House. They had already,
on March 14, secured the passing of an ordinance establishing
Presbyterianism in England, though it was to differ from the Scottish
system in that the Church was placed, in the last resort, under the
supreme authority of Parliament. An English Presbyterian could not,
even when we needed Scottish help, conform himself entirely to the
Scottish model. It is true that the ordinance was only very partially
carried out, but there can be little doubt that it would have been
more generally obeyed if the negotiations, which the Parliamentary
majority in accordance with the Scots were conducting with the King at
Newcastle, had been attended with success.

That Cromwell watched these negotiations with the keenest interest
may be taken for granted; but he does not seem to have had any
opportunity, as a simple member of the House, for doing more. We 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, 1647,
the Scottish soldiers, 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 1647 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 not even an approximate estimate can be
given 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 the entire absence of any
popular desire amongst the laity outside the families of the Royalist
gentry and their immediate dependants to bring back either episcopacy
or the Prayer Book. Riots there occasionally were, but these were
riots because amusements had been stopped, and especially because the
jollity of Christmas was forbidden; not because the service in church
was conducted in one way or another. It is sometimes forgotten that
the Puritan or semi-Puritan clergy had a strong hold upon the Church
down to the days of Laud, and that the Calvinistic teaching which had
been in favour even with the bishops towards the close of the reign of
Elizabeth had been widely spread down to the same time, so that the
episcopalians could not count on that resistance to organic change
which would certainly have sprung up if the Laudian enforcement of
discipline had continued for seventy years instead of seven.

Whilst episcopacy found its main support in the King, the sects found
their main support in the army, and Parliament at once fell in with
the popular demand for weakening the army. Before February was over,
it had resolved that 6,600 horse and dragoons should be retained in
England, but that, except the men needed for a few garrisons, none of
the infantry of the New Model Army should be kept in the service. Their
place was to be supplied by a militia which, consisting as it did of
civilians pursuing their usual avocations for the greater part of the
year, and, except in times of invasion or rebellion, only called out
for a few days' drill, would be most unlikely to join in any attempt
to cross the wishes of Parliament. Cavalry, moreover, being, in the
long run, unable to act without the support of infantry, the 6,600
horse kept on foot would be powerless to impose a policy by force on
the Parliament. As more than half of the infantry, whose services in
England were no longer required, would be needed to carry on the war in
Ireland, now almost entirely in the hands of the so-called rebels, it
was thought that the number necessary for this purpose would volunteer
for service in that country, and the rest be readily induced to return
amongst the civilian population out of which they had sprung.

Having thus, in imagination, weakened the army as a whole, the
Presbyterian majority proceeded to deal with the officers of
the cavalry destined for service in England. Retaining Fairfax
as Commander-in-Chief, they voted that no officer should serve
under him who refused to take the Covenant, and to conform to the
Church-government established by Parliament. They also voted that,
with the exception of Fairfax, no officer should hold a higher rank
than that of colonel; in other words, they pronounced the dismissal of
Lieutenant-General Cromwell from the service. It was characteristic
of Cromwell that in a letter written by him to Fairfax his personal
grievance finds no place. "Never," he writes, "were the spirits of men
more embittered than now. Surely the Devil hath but a short time. Upon
the Fast-day," he adds in a postscript, "divers soldiers were raised,
as I heard, both horse and foot--near two hundred in Covent Garden--to
prevent us soldiers[C] from cutting the Presbyterians' throats! These
are fine tricks to mock God with." Yet, irritated as he was, he gave no
sign of any thought of resistance. "In the presence of Almighty God,
before whom I stand," he declared to the House, "I know the army will
disband and lay down their arms at your door whenever you will command
them." His own dismissal he took calmly. Towards the end of March he
was in frequent conference with the Elector Palatine who had offered
him a command in Germany, where the miserable Thirty Years' War was
still dragging on, and where the cause of toleration, apparently lost
in England, might possibly be served.

      [C] This is Carlyle's reading, but the original manuscript
          is torn, and what indications there are show that the
          words cannot be 'us soldiers'. But I have no emendation
          to suggest.

The Presbyterian leaders, Holles, Stapleton, Maynard, and the rest
of them, must have flattered themselves that they were at last in
the full career of success. To have Cromwell's word for it that the
army would accept disbandment, and to see the back of the man whom
they most feared, was a double stroke of fortune on which they could
hardly have calculated. In their delight at the good fortune which had
fallen into their laps, they forgot, in the first place, that there
were many officers, besides Cromwell, who mistrusted their policy;
and in the second place that, if these officers were to be deprived
of their influence over the private soldiers, care must be taken to
leave no material grievance of the latter unrelieved. On March 21 and
22 a deputation from Parliament which met forty-three officers in
Saffron Walden Church was told that no one present would volunteer for
Ireland unless a satisfactory answer were given to four questions:
What regiments were to be kept up in England? Who was to command in
Ireland? What was to be the assurance for the pay and maintenance of
the troops going to Ireland? Finally, what was to be done to secure
the arrears due to the men and indemnity for military actions in the
past war which a civil court might construe into robbery and murder? In
addition to these demands, a petition was drawn up in the name of the
soldiers, asking for various concessions, of which the principal ones
concerned the arrears and the indemnity. If the Presbyterian leaders
had been possessed of a grain of common sense, they would have seen
that they could not retain the submission of an army and be oblivious
of its material interests. As it was, they treated the action of the
soldiers as mere mutiny, summoned the leading officers to the bar, and
declared all who supported the petition to be enemies of the State and
disturbers of the peace.

Cromwell's position was one of great difficulty. As a soldier and a
man of order, he abhorred any semblance of mutiny, and he had shown
by his readiness to accept a command in Germany that he had no wish
to redress the balance of political forces by throwing his sword into
the scale; but it did not need his distrust of the political capacity
of the Presbyterian leaders to help him to the conclusion that they
were wholly in the wrong in their method of dealing with the army.
It was not a case in which soldiers refused to obey the commands of
their superiors in accordance with the terms of their enlistment. They
were asked to undertake new duties, and in the case of those who were
expected to betake themselves to Ireland, actually to volunteer for a
new service, and yet, forsooth, they were to be treated as mutineers,
because they asked for satisfaction in their righteous claims.

Cromwell, even if he had wished to oppose the army to the Parliament,
would have had nothing to do but to sit still, whilst his opponents
accumulated blunder after blunder. The House of Commons being unable to
extract any signs of yielding from the officers whom it had summoned
to the bar, sent them back to their posts. It then appointed Skippon,
a good disciplinarian, of no special repute as a general, to command
in Ireland; after which, without offering in any way to meet the
soldiers' demands, it sent a new body of commissioners, amongst whom
was Sir William Waller, a stout adherent of the Presbyterian cause, to
urge on the formation of a new army for Ireland. The commissioners, on
their arrival at Saffron Walden, were not slow in discovering that the
officers did not take kindly to the idea of Skippon's command. "Fairfax
and Cromwell," they shouted, "and we all go." The commissioners gained
the promise of a certain number of officers and soldiers to go to
Ireland; but, on the whole, their mission was a failure. They had not
been empowered to offer payment of arrears, and, as they ought to
have foreseen, the indignation of the large number of soldiers who
complained that they were being cheated of their pay, threw power into
the hands of the minority, known as the "Godly party," which held
forth the doctrine that, now that Parliament was shrinking from the
fulfilment of its duty, it was time for the army to step forward as a
political power, and to secure the settlement of the nation on the
basis of civil and religious liberty. The idea was also entertained
that it would be easier for the army than it had been for Parliament to
come to terms with the King, and that it was for the soldiers to fetch
him from Holmby and to replace him, on fair conditions, on the throne.

Of Cromwell's feelings during these weeks we have little evidence.
From the house which, since the preceding year, he had occupied with
his family in Drury Lane, he watched events, without attempting to
modify them. In the latter part of April both he and Vane, who was
now his fast friend, with a tie cemented by a common interest in
religious liberty, absented themselves, save on a few rare occasions,
from the sittings of Parliament. The incalculable stupidity of the
Presbyterian leaders must have made Cromwell more than ever doubtful
of the possibility of getting from them a remedy for the evils of the
nation. By the end of April it was known that only 2,320 soldiers had
volunteered for Ireland. Then, and not till then, Parliament came to
the conclusion that something ought to be done about the arrears,
and ordered that 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, and the
sixteen thus chosen drew up letters to the Generals, Fairfax, Cromwell,
Ireton 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, beyond measure indignant, summoned to the bar
three of the Agitators who brought the letters to Westminster; but on
their refusal to answer questions put to them without order from their
military constituents, 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. When he reached Saffron Walden 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 Parliamentary majority was
even less inclined to do justice to the soldiers than when he had left
Westminster. 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 18,000 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 12--Cromwell being
still absent from Westminster--had at last replied to the proposals
made to him early in the year, and had offered to concede the militia
for ten years, and a Presbyterian establishment for three, the clergy
being allowed to discuss in the meanwhile the terms of a permanent
settlement. 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 Church--especially
as he was at once to return to Westminster, where he would be able to
exercise all the influence which would again be at his command. On
May 18 this offer was however 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 19th 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 take 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 in hand were raised from the pay of six weeks
to that of eight. Yet whatever the Presbyterians might offer, they
were unable to trust the army, and on the 23rd they discussed with
Lauderdale, who was in England as a Scottish member of the Committee
of Both Kingdoms, and Bellièvre, who was the Ambassador of the King
of France, a scheme for bringing a Scottish army into England. Talk
about securing the King's person, which had prevailed in some regiments
a short time before, had come to their ears, and furnished them with
the excuse that they were but anticipating their opponents. They
accordingly proposed to counteract this design by removing Charles
either to some English town, or even to Scotland. Their hopes of being
able to carry out this daring project were the higher as Colonel
Graves, who commanded the guard at Holmby, was himself a Presbyterian
on whom they could depend to carry out their instructions.

Though nothing was absolutely settled, the conduct of the House
of Commons reflected the policy of its leaders. It dropped its
consideration of the ordinance assigning security for the soldiers'
arrears and resolved to proceed at once to disband the army, beginning
on June 1. The announcement of this resolution brought consternation
to those who were doing their best to keep the soldiers within the
bounds of obedience. "I doubt," wrote the author of a letter which was
probably addressed by Ireton to his father-in-law, "the disobliging of
so faithful an army will be repented of; provocation and exasperation
make men think of what they never intended. They are possessed, as far
as I can discern, with this opinion that if they be thus scornfully
dealt with for their faithful services whilst the sword is in their
hands, what shall their usage be when they are dissolved?" Two days
later, another writer, speaking of the commissioners appointed by
Parliament to disband the regiments, added the prophetic words: "They
may as well send them among so many bears to take away their whelps".
It was perfectly true. When on June 1 the commissioners attempted to
disband Fairfax's regiment at Chelmsford, it broke into mutiny and
marched for Newmarket, where Fairfax had appointed a rendezvous to
consider the situation. It was not that the mass of the army had any
inclination to interfere in politics. "Many of the soldiers," wrote
the commissioners, "being dealt with, profess that money is the only
thing they insist upon, and that four months' pay would have given
satisfaction."

Such an event could not but drive Cromwell to reconsider his position.
Whether he liked it or not, the army had, through the bungling of the
Presbyterian leaders, broken loose from the authority of Parliament. It
was impossible for him to give his support to Parliament when it was
about, with the aid of the Scottish army, to restore the King on terms
which, whether the King or the Presbyterians gained the upper hand
in the game of intrigue which was sure to follow, could only end in
the destruction of that religious liberty for the sects which, though
without legal sanction, had been gained as a matter of fact. Yet the
alternative seemed to be the abandonment of the country to military
anarchy, or if that were averted to the sway of the army over the
State. Only one way of escape from the dilemma presented itself, and
that way Cromwell seized.

Cromwell, it must once more be said, was no Republican or Parliamentary
theorist. Parliament was to him mainly an authority under which he
had fought for the great ends he had in view. Now that it had sunk
to be no more than a tool in the hands of politicians who, aiming at
the establishment of an ecclesiastical despotism, could think of no
better means wherewith to compass their evil ends than the rekindling
of the conflagration of civil war with the aid of a Scottish army and
of French diplomacy, and who had proved themselves bunglers in their
own noxious work, it was necessary to look about for some fresh basis
of authority, which would save England from the danger of falling
under the sway of a Prætorian guard. Nor was that basis far to seek.
Cromwell had fought the King unsparingly--not to destroy him, but to
reduce him to the acceptance of honourable terms. The terms which the
Presbyterians had offered to Charles had not been honourable. They had
demanded that he should proscribe his own religion and impose upon his
subjects an ecclesiastical system which he believed to be hateful to
God and man. Was this to be the result of all the blood and treasure
that had been expended? What if the King could be won to bring back
peace and good government to the land by fairer treatment and by the
restoration of his beneficent authority? The call for a restoration of
the King to power did not arise merely from the monarchical theories
of a few enthusiasts. It was deeply rooted in the consciousness of
generations. A few years before it had been inconceivable to Englishmen
that order could be maintained without a king, and with the great mass
of Englishmen this view was still prevalent. We can hardly go wrong if
we suppose that Cromwell shared the hope that Charles, by more generous
treatment than that which Parliament had accorded to him, would allow
the chiefs of the army to mediate between him and Parliament, and
consent to accept the restitution of so much of his authority as would
safeguard the religious and political development of the country on
the lines of reform rather than on those of revolution. If this, or
anything like this, was to be accomplished, the conjuncture would admit
of no delay. In a few days--perhaps in a few hours--the plans of the
Presbyterian leaders would be matured, and Charles would be spirited
away from Holmby, either to be hurried off to Scotland, or to be placed
under the care of the new Presbyterian militia in London. The commander
of the guard at Holmby, Colonel Graves, was prepared to carry out any
instructions which might reach him from his leaders at Westminster. Not
only this, but on May 31, the day before the meeting at Chelmsford,
a Parliamentary committee had issued orders to seize the artillery
of the army at Oxford, and thus to weaken its powers of action as a
military force. The situation was one which, by the necessity of the
case, must have occupied the attention of the Agitators, and though no
certainty is to be reached, it is probable that it was with them that
the plan adopted originated rather than with Cromwell. Again and again
in the course of his career he will be found hanging back from decisive
action involving a change of front in his political action, and there
is every indication that, on this occasion too, he accepted--and that
not without considerable hesitation--a design which had been formed by
others.

Such hesitation, however, was with him perfectly consistent with the
promptest and most determined action when the time for hesitation
was at an end. On May 31, the day on which the order for seizing the
artillery at Oxford was despatched from London, a meeting was held at
Cromwell's house in Drury Lane, at which was present a certain Cornet
Joyce, who had apparently been authorised by the Agitators to secure
the artillery at Oxford, and then to proceed to Holmby to hinder the
removal of the King by the Presbyterians, if not to carry him off to
safer quarters. For such an action as this the Agitators, as they well
knew, had no military authority to give, and for that authority it
was useless to apply to Fairfax, who, much as he sympathised with the
soldiers in their grievances, had none of the revolutionary decision
required by the situation. Cromwell, whose general approbation had
probably been secured beforehand, now gave the required instructions,
and Joyce was able to set out with the assurance that he was about to
act under the orders of the Lieutenant-General.

There is reason to believe that Cromwell's instructions only gave
authority for the removal of the King from Holmby conditionally on its
appearing that he could in no other way be preserved from abduction by
the Presbyterians. When on June 1 Joyce arrived at Oxford, he found
that the garrison had resolved to refuse the delivery of the guns, and
on the following day he marched on to Holmby with some 500 horsemen
at his back. On his arrival Graves took to flight, and the garrison
of the place at once fraternised with the new-comers. In the early
morning of the 3rd Joyce, followed by his men, was let in by a back
door asserting that he had come to hinder a plot 'to convey the King
to London without directions of the Parliament'. "His mission," he
further stated, was "to prevent a second war discovered by the design
of some men privately to take away the King, to the end he might side
with that intended army to be raised; which, if effected, would be the
utter undoing of the kingdom." To this profession his actions were
suitable. During the whole of the day he remained quiet, never hinting
for an instant that he had any intention of doing more than preserve
the King's person against violence. In the course of the day, however,
he took alarm at some rumours of an impending attack, and made up his
mind, probably nothing loth, that the danger could only be met by
removing the King to safer quarters. About half-past ten at night he
roused Charles from his slumbers, invited him to follow him on the
following morning, and on giving assurances that no harm would follow
received the promise he required. On the morning of the 4th, as Charles
stepped from the door of the house, he was confronted by Joyce and his
500 troopers. The King at once asked whether Joyce had any commission
for what he was doing. "Here," replied Joyce, turning in the saddle as
he spoke, and pointing to the soldiers he headed, "is my commission. It
is behind me." "It is a fair commission," replied Charles, "and as well
written as I have seen a commission in my life: a company of handsome,
proper gentlemen, as I have seen a great while." Having selected
Newmarket as his place of residence, Charles not unwillingly, as it
seemed, set out in this strange companionship. On that very morning, or
on the previous evening, Cromwell, feeling himself no longer safe at
Westminster, slipped away and rode off to join the army at Newmarket.
Both Fairfax and Cromwell declared for the King's return to Holmby,
no doubt considering Joyce's removal of the King to be unnecessary,
and, under the circumstances, unauthorised. It was only on Charles's
positive refusal to return that he was allowed to continue his journey.

It would not be long before the army would have to experience the
difficulties which beset a negotiation with Charles. It had first
to come to an understanding with Parliament. Before Cromwell's
arrival, the Agitators had presented to Fairfax a representation of
their old complaints, accompanied with a reminder to Parliament that
some particular persons--the Presbyterian leaders were evidently
aimed at--had been to blame. In another declaration, known as _A
Solemn Engagement of the Army_, these complaints were more forcibly
reiterated, with the addition, first of a demand for the erection
of a Council of the army, composed partly of officers and partly of
Agitators; and secondly, of a vindication of the army from harbouring
wild schemes, 'such as to the overthrow of magistracy, the suppression
or hindering of Presbytery, the establishment of Independent
government, or the upholding of a general licentiousness in religion
under pretence of liberty of conscience'. That these two clauses were
added under Cromwell's influence--if not by his own pen--can hardly be
doubted. On the one hand, if the army was to intervene in politics,
it must speak through some organ, having, as far as possible, the
character of a political assembly; and, on the other hand, it must be
made clear to all that its aims were as little subversive as possible.
If the Presbyterians would acknowledge that their designs had met with
an insuperable obstacle, and would resign power into hands more likely
to use it with prudence, the crisis might be tided over without leaving
behind it more evil consequences than were necessarily connected with
the intervention of an armed force.

Unhappily the Presbyterians were the most unlikely persons in the
world to grasp the realities of the situation. They firmly believed,
not only that their cause was just, but that the army--without a
shadow of excuse--had deliberately, even before the London militia had
been reorganised, plotted the seizure of the King's person, with the
object of establishing anarchy in the Church and military despotism
in the State. Each party, in short, was convinced that it was acting
on the defensive; and, in politics, as in all other spheres of life,
results are to be traced less to facts which actually exist than to
the assumptions relating to those facts in the minds of the actors.
Parliament actively pursued its preparations for resistance, planning
the formation of the nucleus of a fresh army at Worcester, and granting
permission to the City to raise cavalry as well as infantry. The
soldiers were undoubtedly right in holding that nothing less than the
outbreak of another civil war was impending.

Before the irrevocable step was taken, Parliament sent commissioners to
persuade the army to disband on the payment of an additional £10,000.
On the 10th, the commissioners finding the soldiers at a rendezvous on
Triploe Heath were received by a general refusal to accept the terms
till they had been examined by the new Army Council. The army then
significantly marched to Royston, several miles on the road to London.
In the evening a letter was sent off to the magistrates of the City,
the chief supporters of the new Presbyterian military organisation.
It can hardly be questioned that this letter represented the ideas
at that time entertained by Cromwell, or that in great part, if not
entirely, it was written by him. Striving to blind himself to the
fact that he was heading military resistance to the civil power,
he announced that those in whose name he spoke were acting, not as
soldiers, but as Englishmen. "We desire," he proceeded, "a settlement
of the kingdom and of the liberties of the subject according to the
votes and declarations of Parliament which, before we took up arms,
were by Parliament used as arguments and inducements to invite us and
divers of our dear friends out--some of whom have lost their lives in
this war, which being by God's blessing finished, we think we have as
much right to demand and see a happy settlement, as we have to our
money, or the other common interest of soldiers that we have insisted
upon." Then followed a renewal of the protest that the army had no wish
to introduce licentious liberty, or to subvert the Civil Government.
"We profess," continued Cromwell, "as ever in these things, when the
State has once made a settlement, we have nothing to say, but submit or
suffer. Only we could wish that every good citizen and every man that
walks peacefully in a blameless conversation, may have liberties and
encouragements, it being according to the just policy of all States,
even to justice itself." Then followed the practical conclusion. "These
things are our desires--beyond which we shall not go, and for the
obtaining these things we are drawing near your city--declaring with
all confidence and assurance that, if you appear not against us in
these our just desires, to assist that wicked party that would embroil
us and the kingdom, neither we nor our soldiers shall give you the
least offence." Should things proceed otherwise, it would not be the
army that would give way. "If after all this," continued Cromwell,
"you, or a considerable number of you, be seduced to take up arms in
opposition to, or hindrance of these our just undertakings, we hope, by
this brotherly premonition, we have freed ourselves from all that ruin
which may befall that great and populous city; having hereby washed our
hands thereof."

The army marched, and the City at once made its submission. The bare
facts of the case told heavily against Cromwell in the eyes of those
whose schemes he had frustrated. In May he had protested that the army
would disband at a word from Parliament, and had renounced all thought
of bringing military force to control affairs of State. In June he had
made himself the leader of the army to disperse a force which was being
raised by the orders of Parliament. The very words in which he, writing
in the army's name, had announced his decision must also have told
against him. It would have been far better if he had simply announced
that the new circumstances which had arisen had forced upon him the
conviction that he had gone too far and had driven him to acknowledge
to himself and others that obedience to a Parliament might have its
limits, and that those limits had now been reached. The line, it would
have been easy to say, must be drawn when Parliament was preparing
civil war, not in defence of the rights of Englishmen, but to impose
upon the country a system alien to its habits with the assistance of
a Scottish army. Unhappily it was in Cromwell's nature to meet the
difficulty in another way. When most inconsistent he loved to persuade
himself that he had always been consistent, and in taking refuge in
the statement that the army put forward its claim to be heard as
Englishmen rather than as soldiers, he committed himself to a doctrine
so manifestly absurd that it could only be received with a smile of
contemptuous disbelief. Cromwell, in fact, stood at the parting of
the ways. For him there was but one choice--the choice between entire
submission to Parliamentary authority and the establishment of military
control. No wonder that he instinctively shrunk from acknowledging,
even to himself, the enormous importance of the step he was taking:
still less wonder that he did not recognise in advance the unavoidable
consequences of the choice--the temporary success which follows in the
wake of superior force, and the ultimate downfall of the cause which
owes its acceptance to such means.

The immediate results developed themselves without long delay. The
army, doing its best to carry on the work of violence under legal
forms, proceeded to charge eleven of the leading Presbyterian members
with attempting to throw the kingdom into fresh war, as well as with
other misdemeanours. The accused persons retaliated by pressing
forward their scheme for gaining the assistance of a Scottish army,
and for bringing up English forces devoted to their cause against the
army under Fairfax and Cromwell. Fairfax and Cromwell were too near
the centre of affairs to be so easily baffled by specious words. On
June 26 a menacing letter from the army made the eleven members feel
that their position was untenable, and voluntarily--so at least they
asserted--they withdrew from their seats in Parliament. Who could now
doubt that--under the thinnest of veils--the army had taken the supreme
control of the government into its hands?



CHAPTER III.

THE NEW MODEL ARMY AND THE KING.


In his desire to escape from the undoubted evils of military
government, Cromwell had the best part of the army behind him. Nor
did it, at the moment, appear very difficult to attain this object by
coming to terms with the King, especially as the army leaders were
prepared to make concessions to Charles's religious scruples. Claiming
freedom for themselves in matters of conscience, they were ready to
concede it in return, and, for the first time since he had ridden
out of Oxford, Charles was allowed to receive the ministrations of
his own chaplains, and to join in offering prayer and praise in the
familiar language of the Prayer Book of the Church. It was a long step
towards the settlement of that religious question which had created so
impassable a gulf between the King and the Presbyterians.

The constitutional question remained to be discussed, and the burden
of framing terms to bind the King fell upon Cromwell's son-in-law,
Ireton, rather than upon Cromwell himself. Cromwell indeed would never
have consented to see Charles replaced in the old position, but he
was unskilled in constitutional niceties, and he left such details to
others. The main difficulty of the situation was not long in revealing
itself. Charles, who had been removed to Windsor, talked as if the
dispute between the Houses and the soldiers might be referred to his
decision. "Sir," replied Ireton, "you have an intention to be the
arbitrator between Parliament and us; and we mean to be it between
your Majesty and Parliament." It was not that there was any definite
constitutional idea in Charles's mind. With him it was rather a matter
of feeling than of reason that he could occupy no other place in the
State than that which tradition confirmed by his own experience had
assigned to the man who wore the crown. For him as for another as weak
for all purposes of government, as richly endowed with the artistic
temperament as himself,

      Not all the waters of the salt, salt sea
      Could wash the balm from an anointed King.

Under whatever forms, Parliamentary or constitutional, he and no other
was to be the supreme arbiter, empowered to speak in due season the
decisive word--always just, always in the right. What was passing
before his eyes did but confirm him in his delusion. There had been
a quarrel between army and Parliament. Where was it to end unless he
sat in judgment to dispense equity to both? Against that will--call
it firm or obstinate, as we please--so inaccessible to the teaching
of facts, so clinging to the ideas which had inspired his life, the
pleadings of Cromwell and Ireton would be vain.

Of this Cromwell had no suspicion. He had never had personal dealings
with the King, and had little insight into his peculiar character. On
July 4 he saw him at Caversham, where Charles had been established,
in order that he might be near Reading, now the head-quarters of the
army. He fell at once under the charm of Charles's gracious manner, and
fancied that a few days would bring about an agreement. In full accord
with Fairfax, he hoped to establish the throne on a constitutional and
Parliamentary basis. Neither Charles nor any of those who were under
his influence could understand the sincerity of this purpose. The
French Ambassador, Bellièvre, seems to have sounded Cromwell on the
object of his ambition, and to have received the memorable reply: "No
one rises so high as he who knows not whither he is going". To Sir John
Berkeley, an ardent Royalist, Cromwell explained that the army asked
only 'to have leave to live as subjects ought to do, and to preserve
their consciences,' thinking that no man could enjoy his estates unless
the King had his rights. Probably Cromwell, in his conversation, had
emphasised the points which the army was willing to concede, and had
minimised those on which it expected Charles to yield. Charles, at
all events, was so convinced that the officers were prepared, almost
unconditionally, to restore him to his former power, that he gave it as
a reason for distrusting them, that they had not asked him for personal
favours in return. There can be no doubt that Cromwell refrained at
this time from pressing the King hardly. He was present at the meeting
of Charles with his children, now permitted to visit him for the first
time since the beginning of the civil war. Himself a devoted father,
he was touched by the affecting scene. The King, he told Berkeley, was
the 'uprightest and most conscientious man of his three kingdoms'. Yet
he was too keen-sighted to be blind to the other side of his character.
He wished, he said, that his Majesty would be more frank and not so
strictly tied to narrow maxims.

Already Cromwell's apparent devotion to the King's person was not
unnaturally drawing forth harsh criticisms from those who failed to
understand the essential unity underlying divergencies in his action.
Some at least amongst the Agitators were joining the Presbyterians
in sarcasms directed against the man who was everything by turns;
who had at one time taken the Covenant--at another time accepted the
disbandment of the army; at another time again had made himself the
instrument of the army in its resistance of disbandment. Cromwell took
no notice of such calumnies. He was more concerned with the eagerness
of the Agitators to march upon Westminster with the object of forcing
the Houses to condemn the eleven members who were again stirring,
and of crushing the discontent which was simmering amongst the City
population. Happily the mere threat of force had been sufficient, and
Parliament virtually abandoned its hostile attitude by naming Fairfax
Commander-in-chief of all the forces in the country. Would it be so
easy to deal with Charles? By July 23, _The Heads of the Proposals_,
probably drawn up by Ireton--who, of all the officers, was the most
versed in constitutional lore--with the assistance of Colonel Lambert,
having been adopted by the Army Council, were submitted to the King.
So far as religion was concerned, they anticipated the settlement
of the Revolution of 1688, leaving all forms of worship--including
that of the condemned Prayer Book--to the voluntary choice of the
worshipper. So far as politics were concerned, provision was to be
made, not merely for making the King responsible to Parliament, but
for making Parliament responsible to the people. There were to be
biennial Parliaments, elected by enlarged constituencies, and a Council
of State was to be formed, to whose consent in important matters the
King was to bow. The first Council was to remain in office for at least
seven years. How it was to be nominated after that was left uncertain,
probably till the question had been threshed out in discussion with
the King. The army leaders had yet to discover how little profit such
a discussion would bring. Charles was not prepared to abandon his old
position for that of constitutional King, limited, as he had never been
limited before, by opposing forces. If he had spoken his objections
clearly out it would have been easy to criticise him as one who was
blind to the forces which were governing events: it would have been
impossible to hold him morally at fault. The course which he took
could not but lead to disaster. Listening to the army leaders, he yet
conspired against them, still placing his hopes on the assistance of
a Scottish army, and speculating on the chances of a breach between
the army on the one side and the Parliament and the City on the
other, which would enable him to grasp the reins of power under the
old conditions. "I shall see them glad ere long," he told Berkeley,
"to accept more equal terms." He even went so far as to imagine
that Fairfax and Cromwell were to be bribed by offers of personal
advantage to re-establish his fallen throne on other terms than those
now offered to him. "You cannot," he told them, "do without me. You
will fall into ruin if I do not sustain you." He was partly supported
by his knowledge that though the City authorities had yielded to the
sway of the army, the City apprentices were in a state of disquiet
and had broken into the House of Commons, compelling the members to
vote a series of Presbyterian resolutions in defiance of the army. In
misplaced confidence in this movement in the City, Charles entered
into communication with Lauderdale, the ablest member of a body of
Scottish Commissioners who had recently arrived nominally to urge the
King to accept the Parliamentary terms, but in reality to negotiate
a separate agreement between the Scots and the King. Charles eagerly
closed with their proposals and allowed Lauderdale to send a message
to Edinburgh urging the equipment of a Scottish army for the invasion
of England. Unluckily for him, mob-violence was a feeble reed on which
to lean. The Speaker of the two Houses, together with the Independent
members, took refuge with the army, and the army treating them as
the genuine Parliament reconducted them to Westminster. On August 6
Fairfax was named by the reconstituted Parliament Constable of the
Tower, which though it had hitherto been guarded by the citizens was
from henceforward to be garrisoned by a detachment of the army, whilst
another detachment was left at Westminster as a guard to the Houses.
The remainder of the soldiers, to show their power, tramped through the
City, passing out by London Bridge on the march to Croydon--Cromwell
riding at the head of the cavalry.

What could be the possible end of such demonstrations? Every time
they were employed, the appeal to force was placed more clearly
in evidence, in spite of all efforts to minimise it. Scarcely had
the regiments filed out of the City when the Presbyterian majority
reasserted itself in Parliament. On the other hand, the Agitators
raised their voices for a purge of Parliament which would thrust out
those members who had sat and voted under the influence of the mob.
Cromwell was growing impatient. "These men," he said of the eleven
members, some of whom had returned to their seats when the House was
under the dominion of the mob, "will never leave till the army pull
them out by the ears." "I know nothing to the contrary," he said on
another occasion, speaking of Holles and Stapleton, "but that I am as
well able to govern the kingdom as either of them." On this, the eleven
members left their seats for good and all, six of them taking refuge on
the Continent. Yet the majority in the Commons was Presbyterian still,
and refused to vote at the dictation of the army. Cromwell's patience
was exhausted. On August 20 he brought a cavalry regiment into Hyde
Park in order to obtain a vote that the proceedings of the House, in
the absence of the Speaker, had been null and void. Under this threat,
the majority gave way, and Cromwell, who had the whole army behind him,
gained his immediate end. Once more he was drifting forwards in the
direction of that military despotism which neither he nor his comrades
desired to establish.

The one way of escape still lay in an understanding with the King. With
the King, however, no agreement was possible. Charles, hopelessly at
fault in his judgment of passing events, stood aloof in the assurance
that the strife amongst the opponents would serve but to weaken both.
In the negotiations carried on with the army simultaneously with the
latest Parliamentary struggle, he fought every point stubbornly.
To extricate themselves from this difficulty, Cromwell and Ireton
joined in a vote for resuscitating the Newcastle propositions, and
allowed Charles to be formally requested to give his consent to
those extravagant Presbyterian demands. Charles, driven to the wall,
expressed his preference for _The Heads of the Proposals_. Cromwell and
Ireton contrived to persuade themselves that he was in earnest, and
gave their support to the King's demand for a personal negotiation with
Parliament on that basis.

Under these circumstances the Independent party and the army split
in two. The greater number of the superior officers, together with
the Parliamentary leaders of the party, Vane, St. John and Fiennes,
supported Cromwell and Ireton in an attempt to persuade Parliament to
open the negotiations asked for by the King. As was not unnatural,
there were others, Rainsborough in the army, and Marten in the House
of Commons, who gathered round them a new Republican party, declaring
it useless to enter into a fresh discussion with Charles, and
even talking of imprisoning him in some fortress. Coalescing with
the Presbyterians, who wished merely to summon Charles to accept a
selection from the Newcastle Propositions, they beat Cromwell on the
vote, in spite of his warning that by disowning the King they were
playing into the hands of men who 'were endeavouring to have no other
power to rule but the sword'. Inside and outside the House Cromwell
was denounced as a mere time-server, who had no other end in view
but his own interests. Cromwell's only answer was to urge Charles
more pressingly than before to make the concessions without which his
restoration to any kind of authority was out of the question. Conscious
of his own integrity, he still hoped for the best, even from Charles.
"Though it may be for the present," he wrote to a friend, "a cloud may
be over our actions to those who are not acquainted with the grounds
of them, yet we doubt not God will clear our integrity and innocence
from any other ends we aim at but His glory and the public good." Yet
September passed away, and Charles had made no sign.

Charles's silence did but strengthen the party amongst the soldiers
which aimed at cutting the political knot with the sword. In the Army
Council indeed Cromwell was still predominant, and on October 6 it
agreed to meet on the 14th, to formulate terms which the King might
be able to accept. In the interval everything was done to come to a
private understanding with Charles. Charles, however, was trusting to
the probable Scottish invasion, and saw in the events taking place more
closely under his eyes no more than a chance of discrediting Cromwell
and his associates. When the Army Council met on the 14th, the subject
of continuing the negotiations had to be dropped. The position was well
explained in a letter from a Royalist. "The secret disposition," he
wrote, "is that there is no manner of agreement between the King and
the army; all this negotiation having produced no other effect but to
incline some of the chief officers not to consent to his destruction,
which I believe they will not, unless they be over-swayed; but cannot
observe that they are so truly the King's as that they will pass the
Rubicon for him, which if they could do, considering the inclination
of the common soldiers, and generally of the people they might do
what they would; but they are cold, and there is another faction of
desperate fellows as hot as fire."

Almost, if not altogether, in despair, Cromwell sought a compromise
with the Presbyterians on the basis of the temporary establishment of
Presbyterianism as the national religion, with as large a toleration
as he could persuade them to grant. When the House of Commons refused
to extend toleration to the worship authorised by the Prayer Book, it
was obvious that the scheme was not one which had a chance of obtaining
the assent of Charles. Cromwell's hope of uniting Parliament and army
in bringing pressure upon the King was as completely frustrated as his
former hope of bringing about an understanding between the King and
the army. His impotence could not but give encouragement to the other
'faction of desperate fellows as hot as fire' to demand a settlement
on quite another basis from that on which Cromwell and the other army
leaders had vainly attempted to found a Government.

In all his efforts, Cromwell's aim had been to strengthen the chances
in favour of the new toleration by intertwining it with the old
constitutional pillars of King and Parliament. His schemes, based as
they were on a thoroughly political instinct which warned him against
the danger of cutting the State adrift from its moorings, had broken
down mainly in consequence of the resistance of the King. It was but
natural that earnest men should seek new modes of gaining their ends
when the old ones proved ineffective. As the years of revolution passed
swiftly on, new and more drastic schemes appeared upon the surface,
not, as is often said, because in some unexplained way revolutions tend
in themselves to strengthen the hands of extreme men, but because the
force of conservative resistance calls forth more violent remedies.
The misgovernment of Buckingham and Laud had fostered the Parliamentary
idea. The resistance of Parliament to toleration had led to the
conception by the army leaders of the idea of Parliamentary reform,
and now the failure of those leaders produced the plan of founding a
government not on institutions sanctified by old use and wont, but on a
totally new democratic system. Outside the army, the main supporter of
the new principles was John Lilburne, who had been a lieutenant-colonel
in Manchester's army before the formation of the New Model, a man
litigious and impracticable, but public-spirited and prepared to accept
the consequences of his actions on behalf of his fellow-citizens or
of himself. During the troubles he spent a great part of his life in
prison, and at the present time he had been more than a year in the
Tower. He had a large following in the army, and early in October five
regiments deposed their Agitators, and choosing new ones, set them to
draw up a political manifesto which, under the name of _The Case of the
Army Truly Stated_, was laid before Fairfax on the 18th.

The new thing in this scheme of the recently elected Agitators was
not that they proposed to fix the institutions of the State by means
of written terms. That had been done again and again by Parliament in
various propositions submitted to Charles since the commencement of
the Civil War, and more recently by the army leaders in _The Heads
of the Proposals_. What was new was that they proposed in the first
place to secure religious freedom and other rights by the erection of
a paramount law unalterable by Parliament; and in the second place to
establish a single House of Parliament--all mention of King or House
of Lords was avoided--with full powers to call executive ministers
to account--a House which was to be elected by manhood suffrage--an
innovation which they justified on the ground that 'all power is
originally and essentially in the whole body of the people of this
nation'. It was a complete transition from the principles of the
English Revolution to those of the French.

Against the foundation of a government on abstract principles,
Cromwell's whole nature--consonant in this with that of the vast
majority of the English people--rose in revolt. On the 20th he
poured out his soul in the House of Commons in a three-hours' speech
in praise of monarchy, urging the House to build up the shattered
throne, disclaiming on behalf of the whole body of officers any
part in the scheme of the party of the new Agitators, who were now
beginning to be known as Levellers. It was to no purpose. Monarchy
without a King was itself but an abstract principle, and Charles would
accept no conditions which would not leave him free to shake off any
constitutional shackles imposed upon him. Only four days before
the delivery of Cromwell's speech, Charles had assured the French
Ambassador that he trusted in the divisions in the army, which would be
sure to drive one or other of the disputants to his side.

The immediate result of Charles's resolution to play with the great
questions at issue was an attempt by Cromwell and the officers to
come to terms with the Levellers. On October 28 a meeting of the Army
Council was held in Putney Church, to which several civilian Levellers
were admitted, the most prominent of whom was Wildman, formerly a major
in a now-disbanded regiment. Fairfax being out of health, Cromwell
took the chair. The Agitators put the question in a common-sense
form. "We sought," one of them said, "to satisfy all men, and it was
well; but, in going to do it, we have dissatisfied all men. We have
laboured to please the King; and, I think, except we go about to cut
all our throats, we shall not please him; and we have gone to support
a House which will prove rotten studs.[D] I mean the Parliament, which
consists of a company of rotten members." Cromwell and Ireton--they
continued--had attempted to settle the kingdom on the foundations of
King and Parliament, but it was to be hoped that they would no longer
persist in this course. Ireton could but answer that he would never
join those who refused to 'attempt all ways that are possible to
preserve both, and to make good use, and the best use that can be of
both, for the kingdom'. The practical men had become dreamers, whilst
the dreamers had become practical men. The Levellers, at least, had a
definite proposal to make, whilst Cromwell and Ireton had none. Since
the appearance of _The Case of the Army_, the Agitators had reduced its
chief requirements into a short constitution of four articles, which
they called _The Agreement of the People_, intending, it would seem, to
send it round the country for subscription, thus submitting it to what,
in modern days, would be called a plebiscite, though apparently it was
to be a plebiscite in which only affirmative votes were to be recorded.
Nothing could be more logical than this attempt to find a basis of
authority in the popular will, if the other basis of authority, the
tradition of generations, was to be of necessity abandoned.

      [D] _I.e._ props.

Cromwell, of all men in the world, was reduced to mere negative
criticism. The proposal of the Agitators, he admitted, was plausible
enough. "If," he said, "we could leap out of one condition into another
that had so precious things in it as this hath, I suppose there would
not be much dispute; though perhaps some of these things may be well
disputed; and how do we know if, whilst we are disputing these things,
another company of men shall gather together, and they shall put out
a paper as plausible as this? I do not know why it may not be done
by that time you have agreed upon this, or got hands to it, if that
be the way; and not only another and another, but many of this kind;
and if so, what do you think the consequence would be? Would it not be
confusion?... But truly I think we are not only to consider what the
consequences are ... but we are to consider the probability of the ways
and means to accomplish it, that is to say that, according to reason
and judgment, the spirits and temper of this nation are prepared to
receive and go along with it, and that those great difficulties which
lie in our way are in a likelihood to be either overcome or removed.
Truly to anything that's good, there's no doubt on it, objections may
be made and framed, but let every honest man consider whether or no
these be not very reasonable objections in point of difficulty; and
I know a man may answer all difficulties with faith, and faith will
answer all difficulties really where it is, as we are very apt all of
us to call faith that perhaps may be but carnal imagination and carnal
reasoning."

Not a word had Cromwell to say on behalf of any possible understanding
with the King. All that he could do was to stave off a declaration in
favour of the establishment of a democratic Republic, by proposing
that the Army Council should reduce into formal shape the engagements
entered upon at Newmarket and Triploe Heath. As those engagements
had been put forward as demands to Parliament--not to the King,
this suggestion at least thrust aside for the time being the thorny
question of the possibility of coming to an understanding with Charles.
Cromwell's proposal, however, was not likely to secure unanimity.
Wildman, on behalf of the Levellers, refused to be bound by engagements
which he personally held to be unjust. On this Cromwell asked for
the appointment of a committee to examine this question, as well as
any others upon which there was a difference of opinion. He pleaded
with his audience not to approach the matters in controversy 'as two
contrary parties'. His hearers were in no temper to profit by the
suggestion. Wildman threw out a hint that if Parliament were to patch
up an arrangement with the King, it would detract from natural right.
The expression at once divided the assembly into two camps. Ireton
declared that there was no such thing as natural right. Cromwell asked
for the appointment of a committee to discuss the questions that
had been raised about the engagements of the army. A Captain Audley
sensibly urged the controversialists to remember that it was no time
for empty disputation. "If we tarry long," he said, "the King will
come and say who will be hanged first." Neither Audley's judicious
remark, nor Cromwell's words thrown in from time to time in favour
of peace, could stop the wrangle, which at least served to draw from
Cromwell the nearest approach he ever made to the enunciation of a
constitutional principle. Though the Council of the Army, he declared,
was not 'wedded and glued to forms of government,' it was prepared
to maintain the doctrine that 'the foundation and the supremacy is
in the people--radically in them--and to be set down by them in
their representations,' in other words by their representatives in
Parliament. To conciliate this doctrine with the upholding of the
ancient constitution, reformed indeed, but unaltered in its main
features, was the problem which the nation solved for itself in 1689,
but which neither the nation nor Cromwell could contrive to solve so
long as Charles I. refused to face the teaching of events.

On the following day, after a prayer-meeting held in compliance with a
suggestion from the pious Colonel Goffe, the Army Council met again,
to resolve, after long debate, to lay aside the consideration of the
engagements of the army and to proceed at once to the examination
of _The Agreement of the People_. This determination was a check to
Cromwell, who had proposed the committee. It was not long before his
prudence was justified. A debate sprang up on the question of manhood
suffrage, claimed by the Levellers as being in accordance with natural
right, and rejected by their opponents, to whom natural right was
a mere absurdity. After a fierce dispute, Cromwell did his best to
persuade the meeting to avoid abstract considerations, and to content
itself with the discussion of such questions as whether the existing
franchise could be in any way improved. His characteristic tendency
to look to the preservation of ancient rights finding no scope in any
possible scheme for the retention of the monarchy, fixed itself on the
question of the constitution of Parliament. Colonel Rainsborough, who,
on questions relating to Parliamentary elections, was the chief speaker
on the side of the Levellers, proposed an appeal from the Army Council
to the Army at large. His proposal found no support and the Council
broke up without coming to a decision.

After this Cromwell had his way. On the 30th the committee which he
suggested, and on which both parties were represented, met to consider
the points at issue. The constitutional scheme to which its assent was
given followed the lines of _The Heads of the Proposals_ more than
those of _The Agreement of the People_. It proposed reforms, not an
entire shifting of the basis of government. Above all, it adhered to
the view that the new constitution should come into existence by an
agreement between King and Parliament--not by an appeal to the natural
rights of man. In the long run Cromwell was justified by the event. On
no other basis would the distressed nation find rest. His wisdom so far
as present results were concerned was less conspicuous.

The next meeting of the Army Council was held under discouraging
circumstances. Charles, who had for some time been established at
Hampton Court, had refused to renew the parole which he had given, and
it had been found necessary to strengthen his guards. Though there
was no accurate knowledge at Putney of his intrigue with the Scots,
enough had leaked out to raise grave suspicion, and when, on November
1, Cromwell again took the chair, he called on those present to 'speak
their experiences as the issue of what God had given in answer to
their prayers'. The result was distinctly unfavourable to the King.
One said that the negative voice of the King and Lords must be taken
away; another that he could no longer pray for the King; a third that
their liberties must be recovered by the sword. Cromwell did his best
to stem the tide. Pointing out, just as a modern historian might do,
that there had been faults on both sides, he called on 'him that was
without sin amongst them to cast the first stone'. He then turned to
the more practical question of the difficulty of maintaining discipline
in the army, if the authority of Parliament were shut off. "If there
be no Parliament," he argued, "they are nothing, and we are nothing
likewise." Though Cromwell was not yet prepared to strike at the King,
he no longer regarded his comprehension in the new constitution as
absolutely essential. He was even ready to accept the new democratic
basis of _The Agreement of the People_, if there should be a wide
demand for it. He must look, he said, for 'a visible presence of the
people, either by subscriptions or numbers--for in the government of
nations that which is to be looked after is the affections of the
people'. For the present, however, he seemed most inclined to trust
in Parliament as the source of authority. On one thing he was clear,
that the discipline of the army must not be ruined by such an appeal
to the general body of the soldiers in support of the Agreement as
Rainsborough had contemplated. "I must confess," he said, "that I have
a commission from the General, and I understand what I am to do by it.
I shall conform to him according to the rules and discipline of war ...
and therefore I conceive it is not in the power of any particular men,
or any particular man in the army, to call a rendezvous of a troop, or
regiment, or in the least to disoblige the army from the commands of
the General.... Therefore I shall move what we shall centre upon. If it
have but the face of authority, if it be but a hare swimming over the
Thames I will take hold of it rather than let it go."

It was hard, indeed, in those days, to say where the face of authority
was to be found, and Cromwell was far from being able to solve the
question. The most innocent suggestion made by his opponents was that
the army must purge Parliament and declare the King responsible for
the ruin of the country. Goffe declared that it had been revealed to
him that the sin of the army lay in its tampering with God's enemies,
in other words, with Charles. Cromwell struck in with an expression of
distrust in personal revelations. He himself, he explained, was guided
by God's dispensations, that is to say, in more modern phrase, by the
requirements of the situation. He acknowledged that danger was to be
apprehended from the King and House of Lords, and that it was not his
intention 'to preserve the one or the other with a visible danger and
destruction to the people and the public interest'. On the other hand,
he refused to accept it as certain that God had determined to destroy
King and Lords, though he thought it probable that it was so. In the
end, the constitutional discussion was transferred to a committee.

For a right judgment of Cromwell's character and habits of procedure
no evidence exists of such importance as that which has been thus
summarised. Here at least is laid bare before us his reluctance to
abandon an untenable position, long after it has become clear to more
impatient spirits that it has become untenable. Yet his hesitation is
not based on any timorous reluctance to act. It arises from his keen
sense of the danger of any alternative policy, a sense which will be
overmastered as soon as action in one direction or the other becomes a
manifest necessity. On November 8, seeing that the Levellers were bent
on pushing forward their proposal of manhood suffrage, he obtained a
vote from the Army Council directing that both officers and Agitators
should be sent back to their regiments. There can be little doubt
that the danger was greater than was thus indicated, and that there
was truth in a story which charged the Levellers with intending, at
this time, to purge the Parliament and to bring the King to trial. On
the 11th, at all events, the brave but fanatical Colonel Harrison was
calling for the prosecution of the King, and on the same day Cromwell
sent to Whalley, who commanded the guard at Hampton Court, to provide
against any attempt on Charles's person. Similar warnings had reached
Charles himself, and on the evening of the same day he quietly made his
escape. On the 14th, after the failure of a scheme for the provision
of a vessel from Southampton to carry him to France, he reached
Carisbrooke, where the Governor of the Castle was Robert Hammond,
Cromwell's cousin. Cromwell's first task was to ensure the discipline
of the army. His persistent efforts to keep up negotiation with the
King had exposed him to the distrust of the Levellers, and it is said
that some of them had resolved to murder him in his bed. There was no
time to be lost. On the 15th a rendezvous of a third part of the army
was to be held on Corkbush Field, not far from Ware, and there could be
no doubt that the Levellers would make desperate attempts to seduce
the regiments from their military obedience. To meet the danger, a
manifesto was issued in the name of Fairfax and the Army Council, in
which Fairfax offered to give his support to the early dissolution of
Parliament and to a plan for making the House of Commons 'as near as
may be, an equal representative of the people that are to elect'. For
the rest, every soldier would be expected to sign a form of adhesion to
the General and the Council. Speaking broadly, the conflict was between
the men who knew the importance of maintaining the discipline of the
army, and those who would reduce it to an armed mob eager to compel
Parliament to adopt the democratic system of _The Agreement of the
People_. On the 15th the soldiers gathered to the appointed rendezvous
on Corkbush Field, where most of the regiments, with more or less
reluctance, submitted to their officers. Two, those of Harrison and
Robert Lilburne, both of which had been ordered elsewhere, mutinously
made their appearance with copies of _The Agreement of the People_ in
their hats, as well as the motto "England's Freedom! Soldiers' Rights!"
A few words from Fairfax reduced Harrison's regiment to obedience.
Cromwell, finding that Lilburne's men defied his order to remove the
papers from their hats, rode into the ranks with his sword drawn, on
which the regiment, with one accord, did as it was bidden. Three of
the ringleaders were condemned to death by a court-martial held on
the spot, and then ordered to throw dice for their lives. He who threw
lowest was shot in the presence of the whole force, and the mutiny was
brought to an end.

By this time the weary round of negotiation was beginning afresh.
Charles sent up new proposals to the Parliament, proposals which, if he
were in earnest, might possibly serve as a foundation for an agreement.
It concerned Parliament and army alike to discover whether Charles, who
for many months had shown no sign of eagerness for settlement, was now
aiming at anything more than an excuse to enable him to gain time for
an arrangement with the Scots. So suspicious had the officers grown
that Ireton was heard to say that if peace were to be made between King
and Parliament, he hoped it would be such as that the army 'might,
with a safe conscience, fight against both'. If we are to believe a
story, told indeed only after the Restoration, but which has inherent
probability in it, Cromwell and Ireton, having reason to suppose that
a letter from Charles to the Queen would be carried by a man who was
to stay the night at the Blue Boar in Holborn, disguised themselves
as troopers, and waited in the inn drinking beer till the messenger
arrived. Then, ripping up his saddle, they found the expected letter,
from which they learnt that 'the King had acquainted the Queen that he
was now courted by both the factions, the Scotch Presbyterians and the
army, and which bid fairest for him should have him, but he thought
he should close with the Scots sooner than the other'. According to
another account, the letter also assured Henrietta Maria that she need
not concern herself about any concessions he might make, as 'he should
not look upon himself as obliged to keep any promises made so much on
compulsion whenever he had power enough to break them'.

Whatever may be the exact truth about the intercepted letter, it is
exceedingly likely that Cromwell, in some way or other, received
intelligence which confirmed his growing belief in Charles's
untrustworthiness. This view of the case is confirmed by the fact
that, not long after, the Parliament prepared four Bills, not as a
basis of a settlement, but as a test to show whether Charles was in
earnest or not, principally by asking him to abandon his control over
the militia. On the other hand Charles so misconceived his position
as to send Berkeley to Fairfax with a request that he would support
him in asking for a personal treaty unfettered by any conditions
whatsoever. When, on November 28, Berkeley arrived at head-quarters,
Fairfax briefly referred him to Parliament, whilst neither Cromwell nor
Ireton would enter into conversation with him. To the soldiers who had
mistrusted him Cromwell professed 'that the glories of this world had
so dazzled his eyes that he could not discern clearly the great works
the Lord was doing; that he was resolved to humble himself, and desired
the prayers of the saints, that God would be pleased to forgive his
self-seeking'. On the following morning he sent a message to Berkeley
in a more worldly strain, bidding him 'be assured he would serve His
Majesty as long as he could do it without his own ruin, but desired
that he would not expect that he should perish for his sake'. Such at
least was the form given to the message by Berkeley when he wrote his
Memoirs at a later date, and we may at least take it as established
that Cromwell made it clear to Charles that, after what had happened,
it was perfectly hopeless to expect the army to bring pressure on
Parliament in his favour.

Charles turned to the Scots. There were two parties in Scotland--the
party of the ministers of the Kirk, headed by the Marquis of Argyle,
and the party of the nobility, headed by the Duke of Hamilton, of which
the leading members were the Duke's brother, the Earl of Lanark, and
the Earl of Lauderdale, both of whom, like many other Scottish nobles,
had thrown themselves into the Presbyterian movement so long as it was
directed against Bishops, but had rallied to the Crown as soon as the
Ministers strove to make themselves independent of the nobility. It was
this latter party that was represented by the Scottish Commissioners
in England, and on December 26 Charles signed an agreement with
them--_The Engagement_, as it was called--which gave him his own way
in England, allowing him to put an end to all toleration of the sects,
and to grant a dominant position to Presbyterians for three years
only. Against the English Parliament and the army the Scots were to
claim for the Crown the power over the militia, the control over the
Great Seal, the bestowal of honours and offices, the choice of Privy
Councillors, and the negative voice in Parliament. In support of this
settlement, which included a disbandment of the army and a dissolution
of Parliament, a Scottish army was to march into England. Of all the
Scotsmen embarked in this scheme, the only man of marked ability was
Lauderdale, and though no direct evidence exists on the subject, it
seems likely enough that the Engagement was mainly, if not altogether,
his work. If the suggestion be accepted that the picture by Janssen in
the possession of the present Duke, in which a paper is being handed
by Lauderdale to Lanark, represents the transference of the Engagement
from the former to the latter, it would lend additional strength to the
supposition founded on the relative intellectual powers of the two men.
However this may be, it is certain that two days after the signature of
_The Engagement_, Charles rejected the Four Bills which had been laid
before him by the English Parliament, thus showing his own belief that
it was no longer needful for him to keep up even the semblance of an
understanding with the Houses at Westminster.

That the result of a successful Scottish invasion would be to restore
Charles to the throne on the old conditions, and to sweep away
everything for which any English party had struggled, can hardly be
doubted. It is true that _The Engagement_ was buried in the garden
of Carisbrooke Castle, and that not a word of its contents reached
any English ears. Yet from the rejection of the Four Bills, following
on the visit of the Scottish Commissioners to Carisbrooke, it was
evident that some dangerous project was on foot, and even those who
had welcomed a Scottish army in 1643, when it invaded England at their
bidding, were likely to be scandalised at the intervention of another
Scottish army in opposition to themselves. To Cromwell and to the
soldiers of every grade, the prospect of seeing those objects for which
they had shed their blood wrenched from them by a Scottish invasion,
was peculiarly offensive. In the army all quarrels were hushed and all
offences pardoned in face of the obvious danger. What was more, the
leading officers assured Parliament that the army might be relied upon
against the invaders. The extreme Levellers indeed continued to regard
Cromwell as a time-server and a hypocrite, and some even of those who
were ready to accept his co-operation were somewhat suspicious. "If
you prove not an honest man," said Hazlerigg to him, "I will never
trust a fellow with a great nose for your sake."

Under the circumstances Charles's Royalist friends were sent away from
Carisbrooke, and he himself, after a futile attempt to escape, treated
as a prisoner under lock and key. A vote that no further addresses
should be made to the King passed the Commons. For some time the
Lords refused their concurrence, and it was only on a threat of the
intervention of the army that they gave way. After the struggle was at
an end, two regiments occupied Whitehall and the Mews. The supremacy
of the army in the State was growing more pronounced as each political
difficulty arose. There are good reasons for believing that before
the end of January, 1648, Cromwell, to whom the interference of the
army in politics was almost as objectionable as the establishment of
a democracy on abstract principles, proposed to transfer the Crown
from Charles to the Prince of Wales; preserving the office whilst
changing the persons. No proposal could have been more statesmanlike;
but, unhappily, it was not possible to carry it into effect. The
whole of the Royal family was too exasperated against the enemies of
its head to lend itself to such a transaction. There can be no doubt
that Cromwell had, by this time, abandoned all thought of looking to
Charles as the basis of the political settlement he desired. About
the end of February a letter from Charles to the Queen was intercepted
which convinced those into whose hands it fell that the writer was
preparing to take the aggressive against his opponents. Early in
February Cromwell was found amongst the supporters of a Parliamentary
declaration intended to uphold the vote of No Addresses, in which
Charles's misdemeanours were set forth at length, somewhat in the
fashion of the Grand Remonstrance. His attempt to bring into England
Germans, Spaniards, Frenchmen, Lorrainers, and Danes as well as
Irishmen was one of the principal counts against him. Cromwell is even
said to have 'made a severe invective against monarchical government,'
though it is probable that his argument was directed less against a
hereditary chief-magistracy bound by constitutional limitations than
against a system under which the King retained the ultimate decision
of all questions in his own hands. At all events, he refused to commit
himself absolutely to Republicanism, thereby exasperating those who,
like Marten, and even his own bosom friend--the younger Vane--had come
to the conclusion that, in the England of that day, a Republic was the
only alternative to an absolute monarchy.

It was about this time that a meeting took place, the proceedings
at which were recorded by Edmund Ludlow, himself a Republican or
Commonwealth's-man--to use the term in use amongst contemporaries.
Anxious to bring men of different opinions into line against Charles,
Cromwell gave a dinner to the leaders of the various parties, after
which a conference was held in which, according to Ludlow, Cromwell and
his friends 'kept themselves in the clouds, and would not declare their
judgments either for a monarchical, aristocratical or democratical
government, maintaining that any of them might be good in themselves,
or for us according as Providence should direct us'. The old difference
of opinion between the men of practice and the men of theory was, on
this occasion, aggravated by the fact that many theoretical upholders
of a Commonwealth drew the very practical conclusion that not only were
Charles's subjects absolved from their allegiance, but that it was the
duty of Parliament to call the King to account for the blood that had
been shed in England in consequence of his misdeeds. The conference
begun in the interests of peace bade fair to lead to open division, and
Cromwell, to silence angry vituperation, flung a cushion at Ludlow's
head and ran downstairs. Ludlow in his turn threw the cushion back at
Cromwell, and, as he proudly boasted, 'made him hasten down faster than
he desired'. A rough piece of horseplay, it at all events served its
purpose in quieting a strife which, every minute that it lasted, was
doing injury to the cause which Cromwell desired to serve.

At no time did Cromwell fix beforehand the methods by which he
intended to work, though he never had any doubt of the object against
which his energies were to be directed. He had contended first against
irresponsible monarchical power, then in turn against military anarchy,
Presbyterian tyranny, the political supremacy of the army, and abstract
theories of government. He was ready to meet each danger as it arose,
with the help of all who, whatever their opinions on other points might
be, were ready to join him in attacking the abuse which he wished at
the time to abate. If, like Ludlow, they persisted in looking too far
ahead, there was nothing for it but to silence them, if it were but by
flinging cushions at their heads.

In the Spring of 1648 Cromwell and his political allies had thus
to deal with a very complicated situation. They had to face not
merely Charles's intrigue with the Scots, but also the widely spread
discontent in England. Especially in the towns, men were weary of
military dictation, and of the increased taxation by which the army
was supported. Parliament too was as unpopular as the army. Englishmen
were no less weary of the prolonged uncertainty which neither army nor
Parliament seemed capable of bringing to an end. In their longing for
a settled government, a considerable part of the population turned
their eyes to the throne, as the ancient basis of authority and order.
If England had been polled, there would probably have been a large
majority in favour of Charles's restoration to power, and yet, it was
precisely amongst those whose system was most democratic that the most
intense opposition to a restoration was to be found.

To Cromwell, man of order and discipline as he was, a restoration
unaccompanied with security against the old mischief was intolerable.
Of his own disinterestedness he gave at this time undeniable proof.
Parliament having granted him lands valued at £1,680 a year, proceeded
to reduce his pay at the same time that it reduced that of other
officers, by the large sum of £1,825. Far from taking umbrage at this
diminution of his income, he presented not less than £5,000 to the
public cause, and also abandoned the arrears due to him, which at that
time amounted to £1,500. Certainly dangers were gathering thickly.
An intercepted letter from the King's agent at the Hague disclosed
Charles's expectation to be succoured not only by an Irish army but
by a Dutch one. Common prudence taught Cromwell to do everything in
his power to conciliate any party that might stand by his side against
so extensive a combination. When his scheme for placing the Prince of
Wales on the throne was revived about the middle of March, some of
the Episcopal clergy preferred an understanding with the army to an
understanding with the Scots. Towards the end of the month, Cromwell
was still in negotiation with members of the Royalist party, the
purport of which it is impossible to define, but which probably had its
rise in his persistent desire to maintain royalty in some shape or form
as a basis of order. It is at least certain that he gained much obloquy
from his own party. "I know," he wrote to a friend, "God has been above
all ill reports, and will in His own time vindicate me. I have no cause
to complain." It was never Cromwell's way to answer calumny by a public
explanation of his conduct.

At last, however, Cromwell came to the conclusion that nothing was to
be hoped from an understanding with the Royalists; and it therefore
became more necessary to secure the co-operation of the English
Presbyterians. An attempt to win the City Magistrates by concessions
was, however, promptly repulsed. On April 6 it became known in London
that Charles had all but succeeded in effecting his escape, and on
the 9th a City mob was rushing westwards along the Strand with the
intention of overpowering the soldiers at Whitehall and the Mews. A
charge of cavalry ordered by Cromwell drove them back, but it was not
till the following day that the tumult was suppressed. All this while
the Hamilton party, which was keen for an invasion of England, was
gaining strength in Scotland. So black did the outlook become that
one more appeal was made to the King, and there are strong reasons
for believing that he was warned that, if he persisted in refusing
compliance to the demands made upon him--whatever they may have
been--Parliament would proceed, on April 24, to depose him, and to
crown the Duke of York, who was still in their hands, as James II.
Charles replied by sanctioning a plan for his son's escape, and before
the appointed day arrived the boy was well on his way to the Continent.

The first resistance to Parliament came from an unexpected quarter.
As early as on February 22, Colonel Poyer, the Governor of Pembroke
Castle, had refused to deliver up his charge till his arrears had
been paid, and on March 23 he had proceeded to seize the town. At
first no more than a local difficulty was apprehended, and Colonel
Horton was despatched to suppress the rising. On his arrival he wrote
that he was likely to have the whole of South Wales on his hands.
Almost at the same time it was known at Westminster that a Scottish
army was actually to be raised. Presbyterian as was the majority of
the English Parliament, it had no mind to have even its favourite
religion established by an invading army of Scots, especially as that
army would be the army of the Scottish nobility, who were supposed
not to feel any warm attachment to the Presbyterian cause except
so far as their own interests were connected with it. It was the
hesitation of the English Presbyterians between their political and
their ecclesiastical aims which alone could have given a free hand to
Fairfax and Cromwell. It was Cromwell who, seconded by Vane, carried
a vote in the House for granting concessions which the City under
the pressure of the recent intelligence, was now prepared to accept
as satisfactory. A further vote that the House would not alter the
fundamental government of the kingdom by King, Lords and Commons, was
supported by the leading Independents. The House then proceeded to
declare itself ready to concur in a settlement on the ground of the
propositions laid before the King at Hampton Court, that is to say, on
the ground of the establishment of Presbyterianism without any liberty
of conscience whatsoever. Whether Cromwell was in his place when the
last two votes were taken is uncertain. At all events we can hardly
be wrong in supposing that he had no objection to the Presbyterians
amusing themselves with another hopeless negotiation whilst the army
took the field. He had had too much experience of Charles's character
as a diplomatist to imagine that he was likely to aim at anything more
than hoodwinking his opponents till the time came when he might deem it
advisable to hoodwink his allies.

Cromwell's presence was imperatively needed at head-quarters, which
were now established at Windsor. He found the army in an agitated
condition, and we may well believe that his own feelings were no
less agitated. The peaceful settlement which he had so long pursued
seemed farther off than ever, and he can have brought with him no
friendly thoughts of a King who would neither accept reasonable terms
for himself, nor abdicate in favour of those who would. On April 29
the chief men of the army held a prayer-meeting to inquire 'into the
causes of that sad dispensation,' and in a discussion which followed
on the 30th Cromwell urged those present thoroughly to consider their
actions as an army and their conduct as private Christians, that they
might discover the cause of 'such sad rebukes' as were upon them by
reason of their iniquities. That day no definite result was arrived
at, but on the next, news having arrived that the forces in Wales had
suffered a check, Fairfax ordered Cromwell to take the command in those
parts. Before Cromwell set out for his new command one more meeting was
held. "Presently," we are told by one who was present, "we were led and
helped to a clear agreement amongst ourselves, not any dissenting, that
it was the duty of our day, with the forces we had, to go out and fight
against those potent enemies which that year in all places appeared
against us, with humble confidence, in the name of the Lord only, that
we should destroy them; also enabling us then, after serious seeking
His face, to come to a very clear and joint resolution on many grounds
at large then debated amongst us, that it was our duty, if ever the
Lord brought us back again in peace, to call Charles Stuart, that man
of blood, to an account for the blood he had shed and mischief he had
done to his utmost against the Lord's cause and people in these poor
nations."

To what other conclusion could these men possibly come? How were they
likely to recognise the deeply seated belief in the justice of his
Church and cause which lay behind the slippery trickiness of Charles?
and how, even if they had recognised it, could they have counted it
to him for righteousness? For many a month Cromwell had staved off
this decision. Now, he could not reconcile it to his conscience to
stave it off any longer; his conscience in this, no doubt, concurring
with his interests. He left the Presbyterians at Westminster to
their own devices--to pass an ordinance which imposed the bitterest
penalties on heresy, and to toy with the idea of a fresh negotiation
with Charles, content that they had been brought into line with the
army in opposition to a Cavalier insurrection at home and a Scottish
invasion from abroad. Every indication served to convince the Houses of
the Royalist character of the insurrection. There were tumults either
actually breaking out or threatened in Suffolk, in Essex and in Surrey,
and in every case a resolution to support the King was either declared
or implied. Such a development was no more to the taste of the
Presbyterians than to that of the soldiers, and the army was therefore
able to calculate on the support of a Parliament which, though it might
detest the principles of the soldiers, was unable to dispense with
their services.

That army was not one to be easily defeated. Before Cromwell reached
his appointed station, he heard that Horton had overcome the Welshmen
at St. Fagans. The political effect of the victory was immense. "To
observe the strange alteration," wrote a London Independent to a friend
in the army, "the defeating of the Welsh hath made in all sorts is
admirable. The disaffected to the army of the religious Presbyterians
now fawn upon them--partly for fear of you, and partly in that they
think you will keep down the Royal party which threatened them, in
their doors, in the streets, to their faces with destruction, and put
no difference between Presbyterian and Independent." On May 19 the
Common Council of the City declared its readiness to live and die with
the Parliament, at the same time requesting that a fresh negotiation
should be opened with the King--a proposal which was at once accepted.
The Royalists were bitterly disappointed. "How long," jibed one of
them, "halt ye between two opinions? If Mammon be God, serve him; if
the Lord be God, serve Him. If Fairfax be King, serve him; if Charles
be King, restore him." To Fairfax and Cromwell the decision of the
City must have come as a great relief. The work before them was hard
enough, but there was no longer reason to despair.

So far as Fairfax was concerned, it had been intended that he should
march against the Scots whilst Cromwell marched into Wales. A rising in
Kent, followed by the defection of part of the navy, frustrated this
design. On June 1 Fairfax defeated the Kentish Royalists at Maidstone,
but a part of their forces crossing the Thames threw themselves into
Essex in the hope of rallying the Royalists of the eastern counties
to their side. Fairfax after a magnificently rapid march penned them
into Colchester, where they could only be reduced by a long and tedious
blockade. At the same time Cromwell, having pushed on through South
Wales, was occupied with the siege of Pembroke Castle, which did not
surrender till July 11, thus leaving full time for the completion of
the Scottish preparations. "I pray God," he had written to Fairfax
whilst as yet the issue was undecided, "teach this nation and those
that are over us, and your Excellency and all us that are under you,
what the mind of God may be in all this, and what our duty is. Surely
it is not that the poor godly people of this kingdom should still be
made the object of wrath and anger, nor that our God would have our
necks under a yoke of bondage; for these things that have lately come
to pass have been the wonderful works of God breaking the rod of the
oppressor as in the day of Midian, not with garments much rolled in
blood, but by the terror of the Lord, who will yet save His people and
confound His enemies."

What a light is thrown upon Cromwell's thoughts by these words! No
Parliamentary supremacy or rule of the majority--not even a general
toleration after the fashion of Roger Williams or Milton was uppermost
in his mind. Security for those whom he styled 'the poor godly people'
was the main object of his striving, though he was too large-minded
not to assign an important, if but a secondary place, to questions
relating to the fall or preservation of Kings and Parliaments, as the
institutional framework of political order without which even 'the poor
godly people' could not enter the haven of safety.

Three days before Cromwell was released from Pembroke the Scottish
army under the Duke of Hamilton had crossed the Border, sending before
it a declaration against toleration either for the Common Prayer Book
or for the worship of the sects. It was unlikely that if Charles were
restored by Hamilton's means he would be required to fulfil more than
that portion of the declaration which related to the repression of
the sects. The Hamilton party, as the secular party in Scotland, was
devoid of enthusiasm, and anxious to throw off the yoke of the clergy.
Hamilton, however, was a most incompetent general. He and his army, in
short, had no advantage but that of numbers over the well-disciplined
and fiery enthusiasts who followed Cromwell. They neither trusted God
nor kept their powder dry.

Though the invading army entered England by way of Carlisle, Cromwell
marched against them not through Lancashire but through Yorkshire.
He had to supply his men with shoes and stockings from Northampton
and Coventry, and to halt at Doncaster to pick up the artillery which
was forwarded him from Hull, as well as to rejoin Lambert, who was in
command of the small force which it had been possible to despatch to
the North whilst Cromwell was detained at Pembroke, and who had been
doing his best to delay the progress of the Scots till Cromwell was
ready to strike home. On its march through Lancashire, Hamilton's army,
some 21,000 strong, pushed slowly forward in a long straggling column,
the van and the rear at too great distance from each other to be able
to concentrate in case of an attack. On August 17, when Cromwell had
crossed the hills into Ribblesdale and was close at hand upon his
left flank, Hamilton, who had pushed on his cavalry to Wigan sixteen
miles in advance, sent the bulk of his infantry across the Ribble at
Preston, leaving Sir Marmaduke Langdale with 3,600 English Royalists
on the north bank, whilst another detachment was some miles in the
rear. It did not need much generalship to overwhelm an army under
such leadership as this. Cromwell fell upon Langdale, who had posted
his small force to the greatest advantage behind hedges, and after a
hard tussle, carried the position and captured the greater part of
the division. 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 the
despatch in which he announced 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 any 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, though he usually dealt with them far more
harshly than with his negro slaves, 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 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 that settlement of the outstanding complaints against Scotland which
was now impending. It was fortunate that this 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
Whiggamores, an appellation from which the later appellation of Whig
was derived. The West rose in arms, and the Whiggamore 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 yet 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 that a tolerationist should give his support to 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 Wight on September 18. 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 mouthpiece in Fairfax's army, and on or about November 10, he laid
before the Council of officers the draft of a _Remonstrance of the
Army_. It touched on many constitutional proposals, but the clause
of the greatest practical interest 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 16th 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
inquirer, 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 Heads 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 Wales, 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. It 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 1
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 House 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 by a general election. The plan thus agreed
on was carried into practice on the morning of the 6th, when Colonel
Pride stood with a military guard at the door of the House, turning
back or arresting the members who had voted for a continuance of the
negotiation with the King. When Cromwell returned to Westminster,
on the evening of the same day, he declared that he had not 'been
acquainted with the design; yet, since it was done, he was glad of it,
and would endeavour to maintain it'. As 'Pride's purge' had not been
resolved on before the previous night it was physically impossible
that he should have been informed of the resolution taken. There can
be little doubt that he had given his sanction to the other plan of a
dissolution, and had also concurred in the language ascribed to Ireton
and Harrison on the previous evening. "Where," they had said of the
House, "have we either law, warrant, or commission to purge it, or can
anything justify us in doing it but the height of necessity to save the
kingdom from a new war that they, with the conjunction of the King,
will presently vote and declare for, and to procure a new and free
representative, and so successive and free representatives, which this
present Parliament will never suffer, and without which the freedoms of
the nation are lost and gone!" It will be worth while to remember these
words, when the continuance of the now truncated Parliament was at last
brought to an end.

It was Cromwell's habit to accept the second best, when the best proved
unattainable. As to subjecting the King to a traitor's death, Cromwell,
as on so many other occasions, exercised a moderating influence.
Ireton, it seems, would have been satisfied if Charles were tried and
sentenced, after which he might be left in prison till he consented 'to
abandon his negative voice, to part from Church lands' and 'to abjure
the Scots'. Cromwell even wanted the trial itself to be deferred. By a
small majority the Army Council resolved that Charles's life should be
spared. As a last effort in this direction, Lord Denbigh was despatched
to Windsor--to which place Charles had been removed--to lay before him
conditions on which he might yet be permitted to live. Charles, who
cannot but have known the nature of the overtures now brought, refused
even to see the messenger. Though no direct evidence has reached us, it
can hardly be doubted that the terms offered included the renunciation
of the negative voice and the abandonment of the Church, that is to
say, of Bishops' lands; in other words, the abandonment of control
over legislation and of episcopacy. Here at last Charles found no
possibility of evasion, and driven as he was to the wall, the true gold
which was in him overlaid by so much ignorance and wrong-headedness
revealed itself in all its purity. For him the only question was
whether he should betray the ordinance of God in Church and State. The
incapable ruler--the shifty intriguer--was at once revealed as the
sufferer for conscience' sake.

Neither Cromwell nor his brother-officers had an inkling of this. To
them Charles, in refusing this final overture, had asserted his right
to be the persecutor of the godly and the obstructor of all beneficent
legislation. Their patience was at length exhausted. On January 1,
1649, an ordinance was sent up to the Lords creating a High Court of
Justice for the trial of the King, accompanied by a resolution that
'by the fundamental laws of this kingdom it is treason in the King
of England for the time being to levy war against the Parliament and
Kingdom of England'. 'If any man whatsoever,' said Cromwell when this
ordinance was under debate, 'hath carried on the design of deposing the
King, and disinheriting his posterity; or, if any man hath yet such
a design, he should be the greatest traitor and rebel in the world;
but since the Providence of God hath cast this upon us, I cannot but
submit to Providence, though I am not yet provided to give you advice'.
In the last words were the last symptoms of hesitation on Cromwell's
part. Somehow or other all his efforts to save Charles from destruction
had failed, and it was as much in Cromwell's nature to attribute the
failure to Providence as it was in Charles's nature to regard himself
as the earthly champion of the laws of God.

The House of Lords having refused to pass the ordinance, the House
of Commons declared 'the people to be, under God, the original of
all just power,' and in consequence, 'the Commons of England in
Parliament assembled' to be capable of giving the force of law to their
enactments. From this time forth the name of an Act was given to the
laws passed by a single House. On January 6, such an Act erected a
High Court of Justice for the trial of the King, on the ground that he
had had a wicked design to subvert his people's rights, and with this
object had levied war against them, and also, having been spared, had
continued to raise new commotions. Therefore, that no chief officer
or magistrate might hereafter presume to contrive the enslaving or
destroying of the nation, certain persons were appointed by whom
Charles Stuart was to be tried.

Having once given his consent to the trial, Cromwell threw himself
into the support of the resolution with all his vigour. "I tell you,"
he replied to some scruples of young Algernon Sidney on the score of
legality, "we will cut off his head with the crown upon it." When a
majority of the members of the Court refused to sit; when divisions of
opinion arose amongst those who did sit; when difficulties, in short,
of any kind arose, it was Cromwell who was ready with exhortation and
persuasion to complete the work which they had taken in hand. His
arguments appear to have been directed not to the technical point
whether Charles had levied war against the nation or not, but to
convince all who would listen that there had been a breach of trust
in his refusal to do his utmost for the preservation of the people.
Charles, on the other hand, maintained, as he was well entitled to do,
that he was not being tried by any known law, and that the violence
used against him would lead to the establishment of a military
despotism over the land. Nothing he could say availed to change the
determination of the grim masters of the hour. On January 27 sentence
of death was pronounced by Bradshaw, the President of the Court, and on
the 30th this sentence was carried into execution on a scaffold erected
in front of the Banqueting House of his own palace of Whitehall.

That Cromwell, once his mind made up, had contributed more than any
other to this result can hardly be doubted. If we are to accept a
traditional story which has much to recommend it, we have something
of a key to his state of mind. "The night after King Charles was
beheaded," we are told, "my Lord Southhampton and a friend of his got
leave to sit up by the body in the Banqueting House at Whitehall.
As they were sitting very melancholy there, about two o'clock in the
morning, they heard the tread of somebody coming very slowly upstairs.
By-and-by the door opened, and a man entered very much muffled up
in his cloak, and his face quite hid in it. He approached the body,
considered it very attentively for some time, and then shook his
head--sighed out the words, 'Cruel necessity!' He then departed in the
same slow and concealed manner as he had come. Lord Southhampton used
to say that he could not distinguish anything of his face, but that by
his voice and gait he took him to be Oliver Cromwell."

Whether there was indeed any such necessity may be disputed for ever,
as well as that other question whether the army had a right to force on
the trial and execution in the teeth of the positive law of the land.
The main issue was whether, whatever positive law might say, a king was
not bound by the necessities of his position to be the representative
of the nation, acting on its behalf, merging his own interests in those
of his people, refusing to coerce them by foreign armies, and owing to
them, whenever it became prudent to speak at all, the duty of uttering
words of simple truth. So Elizabeth had acted: so Bacon had taught.
That Charles's own conduct was moulded on far different principles it
is impossible to deny. Confidence in his own wisdom was inherent in his
nature, and there is no reason to doubt that he soberly believed his
critics and antagonists to be so heated by faction that he was actually
unable to do his best for the nation as well as for himself unless he
called foreign armies to his aid, and raised false expectations in the
hope of throwing off each party with whom he was treating, as soon
as a convenient opportunity arrived. Such an attitude could not but
engender resistance, and when long persisted in, necessarily called
forth an attitude equally unbending. That which to Cromwell was at one
time a cruel necessity--at another time a decree of Providence--was
but the natural result of the offence given by Charles to men who
required plain dealing in a ruler from whom nothing but ill-concealed
deceitfulness was to be had. The final struggle had come to be mainly
one over the King's retention of the Negative Voice, which, if he
had been permitted to retain it, would enable him to hinder all new
legislation which did not conform to his personal wishes. No doubt he
had both law and tradition on his side, but, on the other hand, his
antagonists could plead that the law of the land must depend on the
resolution, not of a single person, but of the nation itself.

"Fortunately or unfortunately," I can but repeat here what I have
already said elsewhere, "such abstract considerations seldom admit
of direct application to politics. It is at all times hard to
discover what the wishes of a nation really are, and least of all
can this be done amidst the fears and passions of a revolutionary
struggle. Only after long years does a nation make clear its definite
resolves, and, for this reason, wise statesmen--whether monarchical or
republican--watch the currents of opinion, and submit to compromises
which will enable the national sentiment to make its way without a
succession of violent shocks. Charles's fault lay not so much in his
claim to retain the Negative Voice, as in his absolute disregard of
the conditions of the time, and of the feelings and opinions of every
class of his subjects with which he happened to disagree. Even if those
who opposed Charles in the later stages of his career failed to rally
the majority of the people to their side, they were undoubtedly acting
in accordance with a permanent national demand for that government by
compromise which slowly, but irresistibly, developed itself in the
course of the century.

"Nor can it be doubted that, if Charles had, under any conditions,
been permitted to reseat himself on the throne, he would quickly have
provoked a new resistance. As long as he remained a factor in English
politics, government by compromise was impossible. His own conception
of government was that of a wise prince, constantly interfering to
check the madness of the people. In the Isle of Wight he wrote down
with approval the lines in which Claudian, the servile poet of the
Court of Honorius, declared it to be an error to give the name of
slavery to the service of the best of princes, and asserted that
liberty never had a greater charm than under a pious king. Even on
the scaffold he reminded his subjects that a share in government was
nothing appertaining to the people. It was the tragedy of Charles's
life that he was utterly unable to satisfy the cravings of those who
inarticulately hoped for the establishment of a monarchy which, while
it kept up the old traditions of the country, and thus saved England
from a blind plunge into an unknown future, would yet allow the people
of the country to be to some extent masters of their own destiny.

"Yet if Charles persistently alienated this large and important
section of his subjects, so also did his most determined opponents.
The very merits of the Independents--their love of toleration and of
legal and political reform, together with their advocacy of democratic
change--raised opposition in a nation which was prepared for none of
these things, and drove them step by step to rely on armed strength
rather than upon the free play of constitutional action. But for this,
it is probable that the Vote of No Addresses would have received a
practically unanimous support in the Parliament and the nation, and
that in the beginning of 1648 Charles would have been dethroned, and
a new government of some kind or other established with some hope
of success. As it was, in their despair of constitutional support,
the Independents were led, in spite of their better feelings, to the
employment of the army as an instrument of government.

"The situation, complicated enough already, had been still further
complicated by Charles's duplicity. Men who would have been willing to
come to terms with him despaired of any constitutional arrangement in
which he was to be a factor, and men who had been long alienated from
him were irritated into active hostility. By these he was regarded
with increasing intensity as the one disturbing force with which no
understanding was possible and no settled order consistent. To remove
him out of the way appeared, even to those who had no thought of
punishing him for past offences, to be the only possible road to peace
for the troubled nation. It seemed that, so long as Charles lived,
deluded nations and deluded parties would be stirred up by promises
never intended to be fulfilled, to fling themselves, as they had flung
themselves in the Second Civil War, against the new order of things
which was struggling to establish itself in England.

"Of this latter class Cromwell made himself the mouthpiece. Himself a
man of compromises, he had been thrust, sorely against his will, into
direct antagonism with the uncompromising King. He had striven long to
mediate between the old order and the new, first by restoring Charles
as a constitutional King, and afterwards by substituting one of his
children for him. Failing in this, and angered by the persistence with
which Charles stirred up Scottish armies and Irish armies against
England, Cromwell finally associated himself with those who cried out
most loudly for the King's blood. No one knew better than Cromwell that
it was folly to cover the execution of the King with the semblance of
constitutional propriety, and he may well have thought that, though
law and constitution had both broken down, the first step to be taken
towards their reconstruction was the infliction of the penalty of death
upon the man who had shown himself so wanting in the elementary quality
of veracity upon which laws and constitutions are built up. All that
is known of Cromwell's conduct at the trial points to his contempt for
the legal forms with which others were attempting to cover an action
essentially illegal."

A further question which has been often mooted is whether
Cromwell--whatever may be said on the purity of his motives--did not
commit a blunder in respect of the interests of himself and his cause.
If those who have discussed this problem mean that the attempt to
establish a free government during Cromwell's lifetime was rendered
more difficult by the execution of the King, it is hard to gainsay
their opinion, though the estrangement of the bulk of the population
from the new order, in consequence of the execution, is probably very
much exaggerated. Those who, like the Cavaliers, had been mulcted of
a portion of their estates had an additional reason for detesting a
government which had used them so ill, and there must have been a
certain number amongst the crowds who read the _Eikon Basilike_--the
little book in which Charles's vindication of his life was supposed
to have been written by his own hand--who were permanently affected
by that sentimental production of Dr. Gauden. If, however, it is
argued that Cromwell and his allies might possibly have succeeded in
establishing a government to their taste if they had abstained from
inflicting the last penalty on the King, it can only be answered that
other causes made their success in the highest degree improbable.
Their plans for the benefit of the people were on the one hand too
far advanced to secure popular support; and, on the other hand, too
defective in fair-play to their opponents to deserve it. Puritanism was
not, and never could be the national religion, and though it made more
enemies through its virtues than through its defects, those who strove
to enforce its moral and social precepts needed a strong military force
at their backs. The irritation caused by the interference of the army
in religion and politics, and by the demands on the tax-payer which
the maintenance of the army rendered necessary, would surely have been
fatal to any government resting on such a basis, even if Charles had
been suffered to prolong his days. If there remains any interest in
Cromwell's career after the execution of the King it arises from his
constantly renewed efforts to throw off this incubus, and his repeated
failures to achieve his purpose.



CHAPTER IV.

THE LAST YEARS OF THE LONG PARLIAMENT.


During the last weeks of Charles's life, the army, in co-operation
with some of the Levellers, had drawn up an enlarged edition of _The
Agreement of the People_, a task which was completed on January 15.
In accordance with Cromwell's wish, this proposed constitution was
laid before Parliament on the 20th for its approval, instead of being
imposed on Parliament by a previous vote amongst the so-called well
affected. Parliament being sufficiently busy at the time, laid the
proposal aside with a few well-chosen compliments. The members had no
wish to engage, at such a moment, in the uncertainties of a general
election.

There can be little doubt that in this matter Parliament was
instinctively in the right. That mutilated Assembly to which modern
writers give the name of 'the Rump,' though no such word was employed
by contemporaries till its reappearance on the scene some time after
Cromwell's death, was in possession of the field. It now contented
itself with proclaiming England to be a Commonwealth without King or
House of Lords, and with electing an annually renewable Council of
State to perform executive functions under its own control. The first
political act of the sovereign Parliament was to order the execution
of the Duke of Hamilton, the Earl of Holland, and Lord Capel, who,
having taken the King's part in the last war, had been condemned by
a High Court of Justice, similar to the one that had sent Charles
to the block. For the moment the most serious danger to the young
Commonwealth arose from the opposition of Lilburne and the Levellers,
who, not content with asking, on the ground of abstract principles,
for the immediate foundation of a democratic Republic in the place of
the existing makeshift arrangement, extended their propaganda to the
army itself, appealing to the private soldiers against the officers.
Lilburne and three of his supporters were summoned before the Council.
Lilburne, having threatened to burn down any place in which he might be
imprisoned, was directed to retire. From the outer room he listened to
the voices in the Council chamber. "I tell you, sir," said Cromwell,
"you have no other way of dealing with these men but to break them,
or they will break you; yea, and bring all the guilt of the blood and
treasure shed and spent in this kingdom upon your heads and shoulders;
and frustrate and make void all that work that, with so many years'
industry, toil and pains you have done, and so render you to all
rational men in the world as the most contemptiblest generation of
silly, low-spirited men in the earth, to be broken and routed by such a
despicable, contemptible generation of men as they are, and therefore,
Sir, I tell you again, you are necessitated to break them." We can
sympathise with Lilburne now in his desire to establish government by
the people, to confirm individual right, and to restrain the commanders
of the army from political power. Yet, after all, the practical
necessities of the hour were on Cromwell's side.

It was not long before the mutinous spirit to which Lilburne appealed
showed itself in the army. A regiment quartered at Salisbury refused
obedience to its officers, and roamed about the country seeking for
other bodies of troops with which to combine. Fairfax set out from
London in chase, and on the night of May 14 Cromwell, by a forced
march with his cavalry, overtook the mutineers at Burford. Three were
executed, and the remainder submitted to the inevitable.

It was the more necessary to keep the army in hand, as there was
renewed fighting in prospect. The eldest son of the late King, now
claiming the title of Charles II., was about to make an effort to seat
himself on his father's throne, and hoped, as his father had hoped
before him, to have on his side the forces of Scotland and Ireland.
For many years the problem of the relations between the three countries
had been inviting a solution. Both Scotland and Ireland had social
and political interests of their own, and the natural reluctance of
the inhabitants of either country to see these merged in those of the
wealthier and more numerous people of England would in any case have
called for delicate handling. The rise for the first time of a powerful
army in England made her relations with the two other countries even
more difficult than before, and had contributed fully as much as
zeal for Presbyterianism to the ridiculous scheme of re-establishing
Charles I. as a covenanting King. After the defeat of Hamilton, indeed,
Argyle and the Scottish clergy had welcomed Cromwell's support in
the overthrow of the power of the nobility, but the dread of English
predominance had not been entirely dispelled, and the King's execution
added a sentimental grievance to other causes of alarm. In refusing
to allow any English government to dispose of Scotland, the Scots
were undoubtedly within their rights; but when on February 5 they
proclaimed Charles II. not merely as King of Scotland, but as King
of Great Britain, France and Ireland, they took up a position which
no English government could allow to remain unchallenged, whilst in
adding a condition that Charles was to be admitted to power only on his
engagement to rule according to the National Covenant and the Solemn
League and Covenant, they put forward the monstrous claim to control
the religious development of England and Ireland, as well as of their
own country.

The necessity--according to these conditions--of coming to an
understanding with Charles, made Scotland little dangerous for the
moment, and enabled the English Parliament to turn its attention to
Ireland, to which Charles I. had looked hopefully after the failure
of the Hamilton invasion. Ormond, who had formerly headed Charles's
partisans in Ireland, now returned to that country as the King's
Lord Lieutenant, and brought under his leadership, not only his old
followers, but the army of the Confederate Catholics. Though Owen
O'Neill, at the head of an army raised amongst the Celts of Ulster,
kept aloof, the way seemed open for Ormond to attack Dublin, which was
now guarded by a Parliamentary garrison under Michael Jones, and was
almost the only place in Ireland still holding out for England. As in
Scotland, so in Ireland, the question was not so much whether England
was to win forcible mastery over those portions of the British Isles
outside her borders, as whether they were to be used to determine the
political institutions of England herself. The attacks on Ireland and
Scotland, which were now to follow, were in a certain sense acts of
defensive warfare.

To no man more than Cromwell was this thought present. An Englishman of
Englishmen--his bitterest complaint against the late King had been that
he had attempted to 'vassalise' England to a foreign nation, and when
on March 15 he was named to the command, he explained to his brother
officers the reasons which inclined him to accept the post. "Truly,"
he said, "this is really believed:--If we do not endeavour to make
good our interest there, and that timely, we shall not only have our
interest rooted out there, but they will, in a very short time, be able
to land forces in England and put us to trouble here; and I confess I
have these thoughts with myself that perhaps may be carnal and foolish:
I had rather be overrun with a Cavalierish interest than a Scottish
interest; had rather be overrun by a Scottish interest than an Irish
interest, and I think of all this is most dangerous; and, if they shall
be able to carry on their work, they will make this the most miserable
people in the earth; for all the world knows their barbarism--not
of any religion almost any of them, but, in a manner, as bad as
Papists--and truly it is thus far that the quarrel is brought to this
State that we can hardly return into that tyranny that formerly we were
under the yoke of ... but we must at the same time be subject to the
kingdom of Scotland and the kingdom of Ireland for the bringing in of
the King. Now it should awaken all Englishmen who perhaps are willing
enough he should have come in upon an accommodation; but now he must
come in from Ireland or Scotland."

In these words are revealed the convictions that dominated Cromwell's
action at this period of his life. So far as it lay in him, he would
never admit that Scotland, still less that Ireland, should impose a
government upon England. On July 12 he set out for Ireland. Before
he could embark he received the welcome news that Michael Jones had
defeated Ormond at Rathmines, and that Dublin was consequently out
of danger. When he landed at Dublin, his intention was, as soon
as possible, to make his way into Munster and rally round him the
Protestant colonists who formed a considerable part of the population
of the towns on the coast. It was, however, necessary first to protect
Dublin from an attack from the north, from which quarter Owen O'Neill,
who, after long hesitation, had thrown in his lot with Ormond, was
expected to advance. Accordingly, on September 1, Cromwell marched
upon Drogheda, which was held for the King by a garrison of about
2,800 men, mainly composed of Irishmen, under Sir Arthur Aston. On the
10th Cromwell summoned the place, and on the refusal of the governor
to surrender opened a cannonade on the south-eastern angle. It was
impossible for the garrison--short of ammunition as it was--to hold out
long, and on the second day, when a breach had been effected, Cromwell
gave the word to storm. The assailants, though twice driven back, were,
on the third attempt, successful. Aston, with about three hundred men,
took refuge on a huge artificial mound, known as the Mill Mount. Angry
at the prolonged resistance, Cromwell gave the word to put to the sword
all who were in arms. The hasty word was ruthlessly obeyed, and some
two thousand men were slaughtered in cold blood. There is no doubt that
in what he did, Cromwell was covered by the strict law of war, which
placed a garrison refusing surrender outside the pale of mercy; but the
law had seldom been acted on in the English war, and it is permissible
to doubt whether Cromwell would have acted on it on this occasion, if
the defenders had been others than 'Irish Papists,' as he scornfully
called them. The memory of the Ulster massacre of 1641, not merely as
it really was, but accompanied by all the exaggerations to which it had
been subjected by English rumour, was ever present to his mind, and he
regarded every Irishman in arms, not as an honourable antagonist, but
as either a murderer or a supporter of murderers.

Yet even Cromwell seems to have thought the deed deserving of excuse.
"Truly," he wrote to Bradshaw, the President of the Council, "I believe
this bitterness will save much effusion of blood through the goodness
of God. I wish that all honest hearts may give the glory of this to
God alone, to whom indeed the praise of this mercy belongs." "I am
persuaded," he assured Lenthall, "that this is a righteous judgment of
God upon those barbarous wretches who have imbrued their hands in so
much innocent blood, and it will tend to prevent the effusion of blood
for the future, which are the satisfactory grounds for such actions,
which otherwise cannot but work remorse or regret."

Leaving a garrison behind him in Drogheda, Cromwell marched to the
south by way of Wexford. There too a slaughter took place, though
this time it was brought on by the act of the townsmen, who continued
their resistance after the walls had been scaled. The story often
repeated of the two or three hundred women killed in the market place
is pure fiction, of which nothing is heard till after the middle of the
eighteenth century. On the other hand, both at Drogheda and Wexford
priests were put to death without mercy. Whether these cruelties, in
the long run, rendered Irishmen more ready to submit to the invaders
may be doubted, but they certainly made Cromwell's path easier whilst
the terror spread by them was recent. Wexford fell on October 11. On
the 17th Cromwell summoned New Ross. "I have this witness for myself,"
he wrote to the Governor, "that I have endeavoured to avoid effusion
of blood--this being my principle that the people and the places where
I come may not suffer except through their own wilfulness." Two days
later he was asked whether he would grant liberty of conscience. "I
meddle not," he answered, "with any man's conscience, but if by liberty
of conscience, you mean liberty to exercise the mass, I judge it best
to use plain dealing, and to let you know that where the Parliament of
England have power that will not be allowed of." Cromwell's principle
in Ireland was very much what Elizabeth's had been in England. Men
might hold what religious opinions they pleased, but toleration was
not to be extended to the Roman Catholic worship. The distinction may
appear unjustifiable in the eyes of the present generation. It was
perfectly familiar to the statesmen of the seventeenth century.

Before long Cromwell's hope of support from the Protestants in the
south was amply justified. Cork was the first of the coast towns in
Munster to rise in his favour, and others soon followed the example.
Waterford, on the other hand, held out, being assisted by the winter
rains. The first months of 1650 were employed in the reduction of towns
further inland, such as Kilkenny and Clonmel, though the garrison of
the latter place succeeded in making its escape. After the surrender
of Clonmel Cromwell left Ireland, his services being required at home.
Ireton, who remained behind as Lord Deputy, had nearly completed the
conquest when he died in November 1651 of a disease caused by his
devotion to the calls of duty, though the last fortified post did not
surrender till April 1653.

Cromwell's reason for treating the Irish Roman Catholics with peculiar
harshness may be gathered from a controversy in which he took part
some time before he left the country. In December 1649 the Irish
Prelates assembled at Clonmacnoise issued a Declaration in which they
warned their flocks that Cromwell was bent on extirpating the Catholic
religion, and could not effect his purpose 'without the massacring or
banishment of the Catholic inhabitants'. They proceeded to point out
that those who were spared by the sword were doomed to impoverishment,
as by English Acts of Parliament already passed, 'the estates of the
inhabitants of this kingdom are sold, so there remaineth now no more
but to put the purchasers in possession by the power of forces drawn
out of England, and for the common sort of people, to whom they show
any more moderate usage at present, it is to no other end but for their
private advantage, and for the better support of their army, intending
at the close of their conquest, if they can effect the same--as God
forbid--to root out the commons also, and plant this land with colonies
to be brought hither out of England--as witness the number they have
already sent hence for the Tobacco Islands--and put enemies in their
place'. The Prelates concluded by declaring that, henceforth, clergy
and laity would unite to defend the Church, the King and the nation.

In one part of this declaration the Prelates had referred to the
English army as 'the common enemy'. "Who is it," asked Cromwell
wrathfully in reply; "that created this common enemy? I suppose you
mean Englishmen. The English! Remember, ye hypocrites, Ireland was once
united to England; Englishmen had good inheritances, which many of them
purchased with their money, they or their ancestors, from many of you
and your ancestors. They had good leases from Irishmen for long time to
come, great stocks thereupon, houses and plantations erected at their
cost and charge. They lived peaceably and honestly amongst you; you had
generally equal benefit of the protection of England with them, and
equal justice from the laws--saving what was necessary for the State,
upon reasons of State, to put upon some few people apt to rebel upon
the instigation of such as you. You broke the union; you unprovoked
put the English to the most unheard of and most barbarous massacre
without respect of sex or age that ever the sun beheld, and at a time
when Ireland was at perfect peace, and when, through the example of
English industry, through commerce and traffic, that which was in the
natives' hands was better to them than if all Ireland had been in their
possession and not an Englishman in it; and yet then, I say, was this
unheard of villainy perpetrated through your instigation, who boast
of peace-making and union against the common enemy. What think you, by
this time? Is not my assertion true? Is God--will God be with you? I am
confident He will not."

Such was the picture which framed itself in Cromwell's mind in the
contemplation of the troubles of 1641. It was no long by-past history
that he ignored--though the race against which his sword was drawn
was one singularly retentive of the tradition of days long-ago. It
was the occurrences which had passed in his own life-time which he
misinterpreted. The Irish peoples and tribes, it seemed, had had
no grievances of which to complain. They had never, forsooth, been
ousted from their land by the chicanery of English lawyers and English
statesmen. As for their religion, it was hardly to be regarded as a
religion at all. Favour enough was shown to them if they were allowed
to bury their creed in their hearts, though they were deprived of
those consolations on which those who held their faith were far more
dependent than the adherents of other Churches. That Cromwell believed
every word he said is not to be doubted. This representation of Irish
problems and of Irish facts was no creation of his own mind. It was the
common--probably the universal belief of Englishmen of his own day.

Nor was Cromwell any more original in propounding remedies. "We are
come," he continued, "to take an account of the innocent blood that
hath been shed, and to endeavour to bring them to account--by the
blessing of Almighty God, in whom alone is our hope and strength--who
by appearing in arms seek to justify the same. We come to break the
power of a company of lawless rebels who, having cast off the authority
of England, live as enemies to human society, whose principles--the
world hath experience of--are to destroy and subjugate all men not
complying with them. We come--by the assistance of God--to hold forth
and maintain the lustre and glory of English liberty, in a nation where
we have an undoubted right to do it, whereas the people of Ireland--if
they listen not to such seducers as you are--may equally participate
in all benefits to use liberty and fortune equally with Englishmen, if
they keep out of arms." Irishmen, in short, were to be what Englishmen
were, or to bear the penalty. It was the old remedy of the Elizabethans
and of Strafford. It is not so much the victorious sword that alienates
as the contempt of the conqueror for all that the conquered are in
themselves or for all that they hold dear. Yet it must be acknowledged
that in whatever proportion the guilt of past errors may be divisible
between English and Irish, no English government could endure longer to
face that danger of invasion from the side of Ireland, which had so
constantly threatened England since first her civil broils began. Under
these circumstances, an English conquest of Ireland was inevitable
as soon as it was undertaken by a disciplined army. Irishmen were
too deeply riven asunder by diversities of race and institutions to
unite in common resistance; and even if these difficulties could be
removed, there was no common leader who commanded universal devotion.
Conquered--Ireland was bound to be, but it was unfortunate for both
peoples that she was conquered at a time when the religious and
political ideas of Englishmen were, more than ever before or since, the
antithesis of those of Irishmen. It was when a Puritan Government took
in hand what they hoped to be the regeneration of Ireland that the real
difficulties of the task would be made manifest.

No such gulf was open between England and Scotland, yet the
apprehension of fresh troubles approaching from Scotland caused the
Government at Westminster to recall Cromwell in May 1650. For some
time a negotiation had been carried on at Breda between the exiled
Charles II. and a body of commissioners who had been sent by the
extreme Presbyterians now dominant in Edinburgh, with the object of
persuading the young King to accept their assistance to regain his
other kingdoms on conditions which could not fail to be most repulsive
to him. He was to disallow the treaty concluded by Ormond, by which
the Irish were exempted from the penal laws, though in that treaty
lay his sole hope of resisting Cromwell in that country; he was to
establish Presbyterianism both in England and Ireland without a shred
of toleration either for the sects or for that Church of which he was
himself a member, and he was to sign the two Covenants, marking his own
adhesion to the Scottish form of religion. Against these terms Charles
long struggled, but on May 1 he signed the draft of an agreement
assenting to them, which was sent to Scotland for approval, accompanied
by a demand on his part for their modification. Before an answer was
received, Charles heard that his most gallant champion, Montrose, had
been defeated and hanged as a traitor. A day or two later, on June 1,
he was informed that his request for the modification of the Scottish
terms had been rejected at Edinburgh. On the 2nd Charles embarked for
Scotland without signing anything, and it was only on June 11, off
Heligoland, that he affixed his name to the treaty, and only on the
23rd, off Speymouth, that he swore to the Covenants, as the treaty
required him to do. There can be little doubt that he intended to cast
off the bondage as soon as an opportunity arrived. It is doubtful
which was the greater, the ignorance of the Scottish Government in
supposing that their conditions could be imposed on England, or their
folly in imagining that Charles would be bound by his oath to become
their accomplice. Of this Government Argyle was still the leading
personality, but that shrewd statesman only held his own by submitting
to the crowd of fanatics, clerical and lay, whom he had once hoped to
control, and who now made themselves his masters. Secret communications
had long been passing between Charles and his English supporters. They
were expected to rise in support of the Scots, but as to the engagement
to establish Presbyterianism, it 'was by most refused, and resolved to
be broken by those who took it'.

Under these circumstances, Cromwell's return had been ardently expected
by all who had attached themselves to the existing Government. Whilst
he was still absent, Parliament had secured to him the use of the
Cockpit--a house opposite Whitehall--and also of St. James's House and
Spring Gardens; and had afterwards voted to him an additional grant
of lands bringing in £2,500 a year. On June 1 he had a magnificent
reception as he crossed Hounslow Heath, and on the 4th received the
thanks of Parliament for his services. The first question mooted was
on whom should be bestowed the command of the army destined for the
north. As long as it was expected that the troops were to act on the
defensive, Fairfax was ready to go with Cromwell serving under him, as
in old days, as his Lieutenant-General.

On June 20, when it was resolved, doubtless at Cromwell's suggestion,
that the English army should invade Scotland to anticipate an attack
which was regarded as inevitable, Fairfax's hesitations began, and
after a brief delay he offered to resign his commission. Cromwell
did his best to combat his arguments, which proceeded rather from
a general feeling of distrust of the tendency of the Commonwealth
Government than from any distinct resolve to separate himself from it.
Cromwell's persuasions were of no avail, and on June 26 he received the
appointment of Lord General, which Fairfax was now permitted to resign.
Cromwell's mind was set on something more than military success. In
a conversation with Ludlow who was about to leave for Ireland, he
discoursed for an hour on the 110th Psalm. "He looked," he said, "on
the design of the Lord in this day to be the freeing of the people
from every burden." Especially he found hard words to fling at the
lawyers--those sons of Zeruiah who had hitherto stood in the way of the
simplifying of the law in favour of poorer litigants.

On June 28 Cromwell set out for his command. At Berwick on July 19 he
found himself at the head of 16,000 men, whilst the Scottish army,
under the command of David Leslie, numbered 26,000. For the first
time in his life Cromwell was opposed to a general who was a capable
strategist. The Scottish army, moreover, had the advantage of position.
Occupying Edinburgh Castle and the fortified city sloping eastwards
beneath it, Leslie had thrown up intrenchments from the foot of the
Canongate to Leith, to bar the way to any army threatening to cut off
the city from its port. Cromwell, having failed to carry this line,
retreated to Musselburgh to prepare for his next step.

Though the Scots had the advantage of military position, their army
had none of the coherence of the English. The clergy, under whose
influence it had been gathered, had a shrewd suspicion that Charles
was not whole-hearted in his devotion to the Kirk. They were afraid
of his influence on the soldiers, and when he made his appearance
at Leith they compelled him to withdraw. His expulsion was followed
by a purge of the army, and in three days no fewer than 80 officers
and 3,000 soldiers were dismissed as not coming up to the proper
spiritual or moral standard. To the clergy Cromwell's appeal was
directed in vain. "I beseech you," he wrote to them, "in the bowels
of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken." It was the very
last thing they were prepared to do. To them sectarianism was an evil
to be combated at all hazards, and Cromwell's entreaties to join him
in brotherly union met with no response. Yet amongst the stricter
Presbyterian laity there were some--such as Strachan and Ker--who felt
uncomfortable at being told that they were fighting for a malignant
King. Cromwell having posted himself, on August 13, on Braid Hill,
to the south of Edinburgh, committed one of the greatest faults of
which a general is capable. His eagerness to win over those whom--in
spite of their contumelious rejection of his claim--he persisted in
regarding as his brothers in religion, led him to subordinate war to
diplomacy. For the first time in his military career he was hesitating
and tentative, prone to delay action, and above all inspired by the
hope that action might be avoided. Even if he had acted more promptly
it is possible that he might have failed against so wary an antagonist
as Leslie. His plan, probably the best under the circumstances, was
to march on Queensferry, in order to cut the communications of the
Scottish army with its base of supplies in Fife, communications which
could not be maintained lower down the Firth where the English fleet
was master of the sea. Leslie held the inner line, and when at last,
on August 27, Cromwell advanced towards Queensferry, he found Leslie
across his path, posted behind a morass. He could but turn back once
more to Musselburgh, after which, giving up the game he had been
playing for some weeks, he found himself, on September 1, at Dunbar.
Leslie followed, taking care to avoid a battle and drawing up his
army on Doon Hill, whose steep slopes looked down on the flatter
ground on which Cromwell's forces lay. Blocking the route to England
by occupying the defile at Cockburnspath, Leslie had but to remain
where he was to force Cromwell--now commanding less than half his
former numbers--either to surrender or to ship the best part of his
force for England--the fleet which accompanied him not affording space
for the accommodation of his whole army. "The enemy," wrote Cromwell,
"lieth so upon the hills that we know not how to come that way without
difficulty, and our lying here daily consumeth our men who fall sick
beyond imagination." There could be little doubt that even if the army
secured its retreat to its own country, its failure to defeat the Scots
would be followed by a general rising of the Cavaliers in England.

Humanly speaking, the prospect was a dark one, and Cromwell could but
console himself with his trust in divine assistance. "All," he wrote,
"shall work for good; our spirits are comfortable, praised be the
Lord, though our present condition be as it is, and indeed we have
much hope in the Lord, of Whose mercy we have had large experience."
With him faith in Divine protection was consistent with the adoption
of every military measure by which an adversary's mistakes could be
turned to his own advantage. It was otherwise with the clergy and their
adherents, who exercised so much influence on the Doon Hill. There had
been fresh purging of the Scottish army, and soldiers had again been
dismissed--not for any lack of military efficiency, but because their
views of the Covenant were insufficiently exalted. It is said that the
men who were thus weakening their own fighting power grew impatient
with Leslie for not crushing the enemy by an immediate onslaught. Other
causes may have combined to make the postponement of a conflict almost
impossible. There was no water on the Doon Hill, and provisions for
23,000 men must have been hard to come by in that bleak region. At all
events, on the 2nd the Scots began to move down the Hill. The struggle
was to be transformed from a competition in strategy to a competition
in tactics, and Cromwell, sure of mastery in that field, was rejoiced
at the sight which met his eyes. In the early morning of the 3rd a plan
of action brilliantly conceived was skilfully carried into execution;
and the Scots, after a brave resistance, broke and fled. As the sun
rose out of the sea, Cromwell, with the joyful exclamation on his lips:
"Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered," pushed his victorious
cavalry in pursuit. Before they drew rein, 3,000 of the enemy had been
slain, and 10,000 captured together with the whole of the artillery.
Never again did a Scottish army take the field to impose its religion
upon a recalcitrant England.

"Surely," wrote Cromwell, after the battle had been won, "it's probable
the Kirk has done their do. I believe their King will set up upon his
own score now, wherein he will find many friends." Charles himself
seems to have taken the same view of the situation if it be true that,
on receiving the news from Dunbar, he gave thanks to God 'that he was
so fairly rid of his enemies'. At all events the key to the history of
the next twelve months in Scotland is the attempt to convert a clerical
into a national resistance. To Cromwell, an attempt to force England
into political conformity with Scotland was as much to be resisted as
an attempt to impose on her the Scottish religion. It was the despotic
tendencies, not the fervour of that religion, that he disliked. The
association of the laity with the clergy in the government of the
Church was insufficient for him. His ideal community was one in which
every layman was capable of performing spiritual functions. He would
not listen to the objection of a colonel who complained that one of his
officers 'was a better preacher than fighter'. "Truly," he replied, "I
think that he that prays and preaches best, will fight best. I know
nothing will give like courage as the knowledge of God in Christ will,
and I bless God to see any in this army able and willing to impart
the knowledge they have, for the good of others; and I expect it be
encouraged by all the chief officers in this army especially; and I
hope you will do so. I pray receive Captain Empson lovingly; I dare
assure you he is a good man and a good officer. I would we had no
worse."

Unluckily there was no response amongst the Scottish laymen to such
an appeal as this. They were satisfied--if religiously inclined--with
the part assigned to them on Kirk Sessions or Presbyteries, and
preferred to take their sermons from an ordained minister. Even those
Presbyterians who distrusted a malignant King held aloof from the
sectarian Englishman.

In England, the news of the great victory was enthusiastically
received. One hundred and sixty Scottish flags were hung up in
Westminster Hall, and Parliament ordered that a medal, known as the
'Dunbar Medal,' the first war medal granted to an English army, should
bear Cromwell's likeness on one side. Against this glorifying of
himself Cromwell protested in vain, but for all that he could say, his
own lineaments were not excluded. His work in Scotland was however far
from being accomplished. The victory of Dunbar was in time followed
by the surrender of Edinburgh Castle, brought about, it is said, by
the treachery of the governor; but it was in vain that the conqueror
attempted to win over the extreme Covenanters who held out in the west
under Strachan and Ker, and in the end he had to send Lambert against
them. Lambert fell upon them at Hamilton and broke their power of
resistance.

In the meantime, the tendency to resist the pretensions of the clergy
was slowly making its way. On January 1, 1651, Charles was duly
crowned at Scone, swearing not only to approve of the Covenants in
Scotland, but to give his Royal assent to acts and ordinances of
Parliament, passed and to be passed, enjoining the same in his other
dominions. The young King protested his sincerity and begged the
Ministers present to show him so much favour as 'that if in any time
coming they did hear or see him breaking that Covenant, they would tell
him of it, and put him in mind of his oath'. For all that, Charles was
busily undermining the party of the Covenant. One by one the leaders
of the Hamilton party--Hamilton himself--a brother of the Duke who
had been beheaded at Westminster,--and who, when still only Earl of
Lanark, had been deeply concerned in patching up the Engagement with
Charles I.--Middleton, the rough soldier who had fought Charles I., and
Lauderdale, the ablest of those Presbyterians who had rallied to the
throne, were admitted, after humbly acknowledging their offences to the
Kirk, to take their seats in Parliament, and to place their swords at
the King's disposal. Argyle, who had triumphed over these men in his
prosperity, was driven to seek refuge in his Highland home at Inverary.
His policy of heading a democratic party organised by the clergy had
fallen to the ground without hope of recovery. The national movement
had passed into the hands of the nobility.

In the spring and early summer of 1651 Cromwell had thus to face
a resistance based on a national policy rather than on extreme
Covenanting grounds. For the present he had to leave his enemies
unassailed. He was lying at Edinburgh, stricken down by illness, and
for some time his life was despaired of. More than ever, indeed, he had
the strength of England to fall back on. Englishmen had no desire to
submit to Scottish dictation. Conspiracies for a Royalist insurrection
were firmly suppressed, and suspected Royalists committed to prison as
a preventive measure. At the same time a body of the new militia, which
had been recently organised, was entrusted to Harrison--the fierce
enthusiast who had been left in charge of the forces remaining in
England, and who was now directed to guard the northern border against
the Scottish invasion.

At last Cromwell was himself again. In the first days of June Charles's
new army lay at Stirling. The seizure and imprisonment of his English
partisans had deprived him of all hope of raising a diversion in the
south, and Leslie was compelled to fall back on the defensive tactics
by which he had guarded Edinburgh the year before. During the first
fortnight of July Cromwell laboured in vain to bring on an engagement.
Leslie, strongly posted amongst the hills to the south of Stirling, was
not to be induced to repeat the error he had committed at Dunbar, and
this time provisions and water could be obtained without difficulty.
If Cromwell did not intend to waste his army away, he must transfer it
to the enemy's rear, with a certain result of leaving the road open
for their advance into England. Six months before, whilst the chiefs
of English royalism were still at large, it would have been a most
hazardous plan. Now that they were under arrest, it might be attempted
with impunity. Lambert was sent across to North Queensferry, and on
July 20 he defeated, at Inverkeithing, a Scottish force sent out from
Stirling against him. Before long Cromwell followed his lieutenant,
and on August 2 Perth fell into his hands. The communications of
the Scottish army at Stirling were thus cut, and there was nothing
before it but to march southwards on the uncertain prospect of being
still able to find allies in England. That Cromwell had been able to
accomplish this feat was owing partly to his command of the sea, which
had enabled him with safety to send Lambert across the Forth, partly to
his knowledge that the materials of the Scottish army were far inferior
to those of his own. Had Leslie been at the head of a force capable
of meeting the invaders in the field, Cromwell at Perth might indeed
have found himself in an awkward position, as, in case of defeat, he
might easily have been driven back to perish in the Highlands. On the
other hand, it must be acknowledged that the English General had been
learning from his opponent. It was now--unless the campaign of Preston
be excepted, when his march upon Hamilton's flank had been decided by
the necessity of picking up his artillery in Yorkshire--that Cromwell,
for the first time in his life, developed strategical power, that is to
say, the power of combining movements, the result of which would place
the enemy in a false position. Already, before he followed Lambert, he
had summoned Harrison to Linlithgow, and had ordered him to keep the
Scots in check as they marched through England.

The first rumour that the Scottish army had broken up from Stirling
and was on its way to the south reached Cromwell on August 1. On
the 2nd, leaving 6,000 men under Monk--a soldier well tried in the
Irish wars--to complete the subjugation, he started in pursuit. "The
enemy," he wrote to Lenthall, "in his desperation and fear, and out of
inevitable necessity, is run to try what he can do this way." Cromwell
was never less taken by surprise. "I do apprehend," he continued,
"that if he goes for England, being some few days' march before us,
it will trouble some men's thoughts, and may occasion some men's
inconveniences, of which I hope we are as deeply sensible, and have
been, and I trust shall be as diligent to prevent as any. And indeed
this is our comfort that in simplicity of heart as towards God we have
done to the best of our judgments, knowing that if some issue were not
put to this business it would occasion another winter's war to the
ruin of your soldiery, for whom the Scots are too hard in respect of
enduring the winter difficulties of this country, and would have been
under the endless expense of the treasure of England in prosecuting
this war. It may be supposed we might have kept the enemy from this by
interposing between him and England, which truly I believe we might;
but how to remove him out of this place without doing what we have
done, unless we had a commanding army on both sides of the river of
Forth, is not clear to us; or how to answer the inconveniences above
mentioned we understand not. We pray, therefore, that--seeing there
is a probability for the enemy to put you to some trouble--you would,
with the same courage grounded upon a confidence in God, wherein you
have been supported to the great things God hath used you in hitherto,
improve, the best you can, such forces as you have in readiness as may
on the sudden be gathered together to give the enemy some check until
we shall be able to reach up to him, which we trust in the Lord we
shall do our utmost endeavour in."

Instructions were despatched to Harrison to attend the enemy's march
upon his flanks whilst Lambert hung upon his rear as he moved by way
of Carlisle and Lancaster. Cromwell himself pushed on by the eastern
route to head off the Scots as soon as he could gain sufficiently
upon their slower march. The only question of importance was to know
which of the opposing armies could gain most assistance in England.
In Lancashire indeed the Earl of Derby raised a force for the King,
but he was defeated by Robert Lilburne at Wigan, and was himself
captured. When on August 22 Charles reached Worcester, scarcely a
single Englishman had joined him. Large bodies of militia, on the
other hand, flocked to Cromwell's standard; and when on September
3--the anniversary of Dunbar--the final battle was fought at Worcester,
Cromwell commanded some 31,000 men, whilst the Scottish army did not
number above 16,000. Cromwell having laid bridges of boats across the
Severn and the Teme, was able to shift his regiments from one bank to
the other of either stream as occasion served, and the Scots, fighting
their best, were crushed by superior numbers as well as by superior
discipline. Charles, when all was lost, rode away from the place of
slaughter, and after an adventurous journey, made his escape to France.
"The dimensions of this mercy," wrote Cromwell, "are above my thoughts.
It is, for aught I know, a crowning mercy. Surely if it be not, such
a one we shall have, if this provoke those that are concerned in it
to thankfulness, and the Parliament to do the will of Him who hath
done His will for it and for the nation, whose good pleasure it is
to establish the nation and the change of government, by making the
people so willing to the defence thereof, and so signally blessing the
endeavours of your servants in this great work."

Was it really in defence of 'the change of government that the people
had sided with Cromwell? Or was it merely that they would not tolerate
a Scottish conquest? At all events, the tide of feeling gave to the
Parliament a momentary strength. Of the notable Scots engaged, Hamilton
had fallen at Worcester, and the greater number of the remainder were
now consigned to English prisons. Of the few Englishmen who had risen,
Derby was beheaded at Bolton-le-Moors, four of his followers being
subsequently executed. The subjugation of Scotland was completed by
Monk.

As for Cromwell, he settled down into a quiet and unpretentious life,
attending to the discipline of the army, and ready in his place in
Parliament to forward the cause which he had most at heart--the
establishment of that Commonwealth to which his victories had given a
breathing-space. To him, as to many disinterested observers, the time
had come to found the government no longer on the sword, but on the
consent of the nation, and there can be little doubt that at no time
between 1642 and 1660 was there more chance of gaining a majority for
the new system than this. Cromwell, at least, did everything in his
power to procure a vote for an early dissolution. It was only, however,
by a majority of two that Parliament agreed to fix a date for its
dissolution, following the vote by a resolution postponing that event
for three years. There can be little doubt that this resolution found
support amongst those members who were fattening on corruption; but
there was also something to be said for the view taken some time before
by Marten, when he compared the Commonwealth to Moses, because the
members now sitting 'were the true mother to this fair child, the young
Commonwealth,' and therefore its fittest nurses. A general election
is always somewhat of a lottery, and it was the weakest part of the
system--or want of system--on which the Commonwealth was based, that
it never represented the people as a whole, and that its actions might
easily have been repudiated by them if they had been consulted.

Baffled in his desire to secure an immediate appeal to the electors,
Cromwell prepared to use the time which the members had secured for
themselves, by coming to an understanding with the leading statesmen
on the principles of the future Government. He had never committed
himself to the doctrine that the executive authority ought to be
placed directly in the hands of an elected assembly or of a council
subordinated to it. When at the conference now held the lawyers
pleaded that Charles II. or the Duke of York might be called on to
accept the government if the rights of Englishmen could be safeguarded,
he replied somewhat oracularly: "That will be a business of more than
ordinary difficulty; but really, I think, if it may be done with safety
and preservation of our rights as Englishmen and Christians, that a
settlement with somewhat of a monarchical power in it would be very
effectual". It is very unlikely that Cromwell, being what he was, had
as yet formed any settled design in his own mind, but the tendency
towards the course which eventually established the Protectorate is
quite evident. To secure the rights of Englishmen and Christians rather
than to strengthen the absolute supremacy of Parliaments had been his
constant aim. Whether he reflected that if the monarchical power was
to be given to some one not of the House of Stuart, it could hardly be
given to any other man than himself, is a question which every one must
answer as he thinks fit.

The conference had led to no decision, and during the first half
of 1652 Cromwell had enough to do in defending religious liberty
against those who had constituted themselves its champions. Before
the Battle of Worcester had been fought, Parliament had passed a
Blasphemy Act, for the punishment of atheistical, blasphemous and
execrable opinions. In the following February, the publication of a
Socinian catechism startled even the professed tolerationists. John
Owen, the foremost Independent minister of the day, now--owing to the
influence of Cromwell--Dean of Christchurch and Vice-Chancellor of the
University of Oxford, was almost certainly the author of a scheme of
ecclesiastical organisation presented by himself and twenty-six others
to the Committee for the Propagation of the Gospel. This scheme in
its main lines was subsequently adopted under the Protectorate. There
was to be an established Church, ministered to by orthodox persons
accepted by a body of triers, without regard to smaller points of
discipline, on condition that they presented a testimonial 'of their
piety and soundness of faith,' signed by six orthodox persons, and
these ministers upon proof of unfitness were liable to be removed
by a body of Ejectors. Other religious bodies were to be allowed to
meet for worship, but Unitarians and those opposing the principles of
Christianity were to be excluded from toleration. A list of fifteen
fundamental propositions which no one was to be permitted to deny was
set forth by Owen and his supporters. At this Cromwell took alarm.
"I had rather," he said, "that Mahometism were permitted amongst us
than that one of God's children be persecuted." The stand taken by him
secured the warm approval of Milton. "Cromwell," wrote the poet, whose
blindness had been hastened by his services to the State:

      "Cromwell, our chief of men, who through a cloud
        Not of war only, but detractions rude,
        Guided by faith and matchless fortitude,
        To peace and truth thy glorious way hast ploughed,
      And on the neck of crowned Fortune proud
        Hast reared God's trophies, and his work pursued,
        While Darwen stream with blood of Scots imbrued,
        And Dunbar field resound thy praises loud,
      And Worcester's laureate wreath: yet much remains
        To conquer still; Peace hath her victories
        No less renowned than War: new foes arise
      Threatening to bind our souls with secular chains,
        Help us to save free conscience from the paw
        Of hireling wolves, whose Gospel is their maw."

Though Milton, in his unpractical idealism, was for discontinuing all
public support to the clergy, whilst Cromwell, so far as we can judge,
was merely for substituting some other mode of payment for the unequal
burden of the tithe as it was levied in those days, they concurred on
the point of extending religious liberty to the uttermost, and in this
Cromwell had the army behind him. For the moment, however, the decision
was postponed, as the Commonwealth had become involved in a war which
occupied the thoughts of its rulers.

In the Dutch war, which broke out in 1652, neither Cromwell nor his
brother officers had much part. Ever since the beginning of the
Commonwealth a maritime war with France had virtually existed under
the pretext of reprisals for injury done by French ships to English
trade. The seizure of French goods in Dutch vessels had irritated the
Netherlanders, and the Navigation Act passed in 1651 had taken away
much of the trade done by them in English ports. In May, 1652, Tromp,
the great Dutch admiral, had been sent out with orders to resist the
right of search, and on approaching an English fleet commanded by
Blake, he had neglected to lower his flag, as required by English
commanders in satisfaction of their claim to enforce the Sovereignty
over the British Seas, a claim which the Commonwealth had received
from the Monarchy. An action resulting brought on war between the
two peoples. In this war, neither Cromwell nor the army sympathised.
Holding as they did that the force of England, if used at all, should
be used for the advantage of Protestantism, they disliked a war waged
against a Protestant nation. On the other hand they had no wish to
see the English navy playing a craven part; and believing that Tromp
had kept his flag flying as a studied insult, they offered no direct
opposition to the war. Yet, as long as it was in progress, whenever
any overture likely to lead to peace was made, it was sure to have the
support of Cromwell and the officers.

If the Commonwealth leaders were immersed in preparations for
war, the officers of the army had not forgotten their demand for
reforms in Church and State, and in contemplating the slackness of
Parliament with regard to these reforms, their minds were again set
on a dissolution of Parliament at a time far earlier than that which
had been fixed by the House itself. Towards the end of July the Army
Council--now composed of officers alone--had considered a petition to
be addressed to Parliament, and had asked 'that a new representative
be forthwith elected'. When the petition was finally submitted to
Parliament, this clause had given place to another merely requesting
Parliament to consider of some qualifications which would secure 'the
election only of such as are pious and faithful in the interests of
the Commonwealth to sit and serve as members in the said Parliament,'
in this way shifting from a demand for a dissolution to be followed
by a general election, to a demand for partial elections to fill up
existing vacancies. Though no direct evidence exists, there are strong
reasons for believing that this substitution was made in consequence of
Cromwell's intervention. Even then he did not append his signature to
the petition.

It was as a mediator--not as a partisan--that Cromwell bore himself
at the time when the army--after an interval of more than two years
and a half--once more began to put pressure on Parliament. On the one
hand Parliament was not only discredited by its inability to undertake
the reforms demanded, but still more by the widely spread belief
that many of its members had made full use of their opportunities
to feather their own nests. On the other hand, this discredited
House, though, mutilated as it was, it had scarcely a semblance of
constitutional right, was yet the only body remaining in existence to
which even a semblance appertained. Cromwell might not be an authority
on constitutional law, but he had an instinctive apprehension for the
truth on which all constitutional law is based--that the first thing
necessary in the institutions of any country is not that they shall
be theoretically defensible, but that they should meet with general
acceptance. Those who like ourselves can look back on that stirring
time from the safe vantage ground which we occupy, can see that, so far
as constitutional questions were concerned, the work of the men of the
seventeenth century was to substitute Parliament for the Crown as the
basis of authority, and we have, accordingly, considerable difficulty
in placing ourselves in the position of those to whom only part of the
drama had been unrolled. In 1652, at least, it was impossible to appeal
to the truncated Parliament as in any way representing the nation.
Yet how was it possible to base authority on any new Parliament which
should even approximate to such a representation? Except with extreme
theorists there was no desire to evoke such a spectre. Already in 1650
Vane, speaking on behalf of the Parliamentary majority, had advocated
a scheme of partial elections which left the members in possession
of their seats, and the army leaders now proposed to substitute for
this a general election modified by qualifications which would exclude
all men of Royalist proclivities. The question at this time dividing
Parliament and Army was therefore merely the choice of the best means
of controlling the national verdict. The plan on either side might
be one that men might reasonably adopt according to different points
of view. Neither was likely to excite enthusiasm or to be generally
accepted as a new basis of authority round which the nation could be
expected to rally. There is no reason to suppose that Cromwell had
anything better to propose, and it is certain that the theory, accepted
at the present day, that it is better to allow a nation to learn by
experience of misfortune than to force it, even to its own benefit, in
a given direction, had no supporters in 1652, and least of all was it
likely to find an advocate in Cromwell.

Cromwell had the strongest faith in the virtue of conferences at which
such problems could be threshed out by men of good-will separated only
by intellectual differences. It had been by an appeal to a committee
that he had surmounted the difficulties which had faced him when the
Levellers, in 1647, called prematurely for the trial of the King. He
now, in October, 1652, secured the meeting of a conference between
the leading members of Parliament and the principal officers. "I
believe," he afterwards declared, "we had at least ten or twelve
meetings, most humbly begging and beseeching of them that by their
own means they would bring forth those good things which had been
promised and expected; that so it might appear they did not do them by
any suggestion from the army, but from their own ingenuity, so tender
were we to preserve them in the reputation of the people." Vane and
Bradshaw, and even, politically speaking, Henry Marten, the champions
of the existing Parliament, were men of the highest character, and were
justly apprehensive of giving way either to a military dictatorship,
or to a Royalist reaction. Cromwell, on the other hand, had his eye
increasingly fixed on the immediate evils of the present system. "How
hard and difficult a matter was it," he complained at a somewhat
later date, "to get anything carried without making parties, without
things unworthy of a Parliament." In November he opened his mind to
Whitelocke. "As for members of Parliament," he said, "the army begins
to have a strange distaste against them, and I wish there were not
too much cause for it; and really their pride and ambition, and their
self-seeking, engrossing all places of honour and profit to themselves
and their friends, and their daily breaking forth into new and violent
parties and factions; their delay of business and design to perpetuate
themselves and to continue the power in their own hands; their meddling
in private matters between party and party contrary to the institution
of Parliament, their injustice and partiality in those matters, and
the scandalous lives of some of the chief of them; these things, my
lord, do give much ground for people to open their mouths against
them and to dislike them; nor can they be kept within the bounds of
justice and law or reason, they themselves being the supreme power
of the nation, liable to no account of any, nor to be controlled or
regulated by any other power; there being none superior or co-ordinate
with them." Cromwell was evidently harking back to his proposal for
mixing something of monarchy with the existing institutions. "Unless,"
he continued, "there be some authority and power so full and so high
as to restrain and keep things in better order, and that may be a
check to these exorbitances, it will be impossible in human reason to
prevent our ruin." To Whitelocke's constitutional objections he replied
sharply: "What if a man should take upon him to be a King?" Whitelocke
replied that it would be better to recall Charles II. Cromwell's
utterance was plainly unpremeditated, and may be taken as a sign that
the idea of his own elevation was, even at this early date, present in
his mind, at least as a possibility, though it was far from having as
yet crystallised itself into a settled design.

It was no restoration of kingship, but the speedy choice of a new
Parliament that was in the thoughts of Cromwell's subordinates. In
January, 1653, a circular was sent by them to the regiments, asking
the soldiers, as well as the officers, to approve of a petition for
'successive Parliaments consisting of men faithful to the interests of
the Commonwealth, men of truth, fearing God and hating covetousness,'
as well as for law reform and liberty of conscience. For some time it
seemed as if Parliament would consent to hasten its own dissolution.
In March, however, though a bill for new elections was considered, the
pace slackened, and the hopes of the army again fell. In the army,
indeed, there was far from being complete unanimity. A party headed
by Lambert would have been content with a new Parliament from which
members hostile to the Commonwealth were excluded, whilst the perfervid
Harrison advocated the principles of the Fifth Monarchy, and asked that
the government should be entrusted to moral and religious men, without
recourse to popular election. Both Lambert and Harrison concurred
in urging Cromwell to proceed to a forcible dissolution. Cromwell
hesitated long. "I am pushed on," he complained, "by two parties to do
that, the consideration of the issue whereof makes my hair stand on
end."

If only Parliament could have been induced to clear the way for its
successor on the terms proposed by the army, Cromwell would have been
the first to rejoice. In the early part of April he was still prepared
to stand by Parliament if it would proceed in earnest with the Bill for
the new elections. Yet on the 6th, one of the days appointed for its
consideration, the Bill was quietly passed over. By degrees it came
out that the Bill, when completed, would be one authorising Vane's
pet scheme of partial elections, the old members not only retaining
their seats but forming an election committee with power to exclude
any member whose presence was distasteful to them. There are even
reasons to believe that it was intended that this arrangement should be
a permanent one, and that each successive Parliament should have the
right of shedding such members as were not to its taste. Moreover, as
soon as the Bill was passed, Parliament was to adjourn till November,
that it might be out of its power to repeal or amend the act under
military pressure.

Such an arrangement must have irritated Cromwell to the uttermost. On
April 15, having been absent from Parliament for a month, he returned
to his place to plead against it. "It is high time," was the answer
vouchsafed by one of the leading personages to his pleading for a new
Parliament, "to choose a new general." Cromwell, in reply, offered
his resignation, but as no officer could be found to take his place,
the demand for it was soon dropped. Still anxious for a compromise,
he made a fresh proposal. Why should not the difficulty be got over
by a temporary suspension of the Parliamentary system, and a body of
right-thinking men appointed to take into consideration the necessities
of the time, and to prepare the way for its re-establishment. This
proposal was taken into consideration at a meeting of officers and
Parliamentarians on the 19th, but, as might have been expected, it
provoked opposition and, after a sitting prolonged far into the night,
the conference broke up on an undertaking given, as it would seem, by
Vane, that the members of the House who were present would do their
best to hinder the progress of the Bill on the following morning.

When the morning arrived, the House, taking the bit between its teeth,
threw aside the engagements of its leaders and insisted on proceeding
with the Bill. To the pecuniary interests of the Parliamentary rank
and file it was far more important to escape the necessity of facing
their constituents than it was to such men as Vane or Bradshaw, who
would almost certainly be re-elected in any case. Yet it has never been
alleged that either Vane or Bradshaw took steps to persuade the excited
House to act in conformity with the promise given the evening before.
Harrison at once despatched a message to Cromwell to warn him of the
danger, and Cromwell evidently regarded the action of the members as
a clear breach of faith on the part of Vane. Hurrying to the House,
without giving himself time to change the plain black clothes and the
grey worsted stockings which appear to have been considered unsuitable
to a member in his place in Parliament, he sat for a while in silence.
When the Speaker put the question that 'this Bill do pass,' he rose to
speak. Dwelling at first on the pains and care of the public good which
had characterised the early days of the Long Parliament, he proceeded
to blame the members for their later misconduct, holding up to scorn
'their injustice, delays of justice, self-interest, and other faults
... charging them not to have a heart to do anything for public good,'
and to have 'espoused the corrupt interest of Presbytery and lawyers
who were the supporters of tyranny and oppression'. Their last crime
was the present attempt to perpetuate themselves in power. "Perhaps,"
he continued, his wrath growing upon him as he spoke, "you think this
is not Parliamentary language. I confess it is not, neither are you to
expect any such from me." Then striding up and down the floor of the
House, he pointed to individual members, charging them with corruption
or immorality. "It is not fit," he added, "that you should sit as a
Parliament any longer. You have sat long enough, unless you had done
more good." Then, upon a remonstrance from Sir Peter Wentworth, he took
the final step. "Come, come!" he cried, "I will put an end to your
prating. You are no Parliament. I say you are no Parliament. I will
put an end to your sitting." Then turning to Harrison, he uttered the
fateful words, "Call them in; call them in". The door was thrown open
and thirty or forty musketeers tramped in. "This," exclaimed Vane, "is
not honest, yea it is against morality and common honesty." It was to
Vane's broken word that Cromwell, whether truly or falsely, attributed
the necessity of acting as he was now doing. Doubtless with a touch of
sadness in his voice, he addressed his old friend--his brother, as he
had long styled him--with the veiled reproof: "Oh, Sir Henry Vane! Sir
Henry Vane! The Lord deliver me from Sir Henry Vane!"

The hall of meeting was soon cleared. Harrison handed Speaker Lenthall
down from the chair. Algernon Sidney had to be removed with some show
of compulsion. Most of the members yielding to the inevitable trooped
out without even this nominal resistance. "It's you," said Cromwell as
they filed past him, "that have forced me to this, for I have sought
the Lord night and day that He would rather slay me than put me upon
the doing of this work." Glancing at the mace he asked "What shall
we do with this bauble?" Ordering Captain Scott to remove it from
the table, he bade him take it away. When all was over, carrying the
Bill on Elections under his cloak, he returned to Whitehall. In the
afternoon he dispersed--in like manner--the Council of State, assuring
its members that they could sit no longer, the Parliament having been
dissolved. "Sir," replied Bradshaw, "we have heard what you did at the
House in the morning, and before many hours all England will hear it;
but, Sir, you are mistaken to think that the Parliament is dissolved;
for no power under heaven can dissolve them but themselves; therefore
take you notice of that."



CHAPTER V.

THE NOMINATED PARLIAMENT AND THE PROTECTORATE.


As at the trial of the King, so in the ejection of Parliament,
Cromwell had been thrown back on the employment of military force.
Legality was clearly against him on both occasions. Yet it must not
be forgotten that he was the last to concur in the employment of
force; and that there was much to be said for his assertion that the
sitting members were no Parliament. Reduced by the flight of Royalists
to the King in 1642 and by Pride's Purge in 1648, they had, after an
existence of twelve years and a half, little remaining to them of that
representative character which is the very being of a Parliament. At
all events, this time, at least, Cromwell was secure of popular favour.
Not a single voice was raised in defence of the expelled members. In
the evening some wag scrawled on the door of the Parliament House:
"This House to be let unfurnished". The Parliament disappeared amidst
general derision. For all that, the work before Cromwell was one of
enormous--perhaps even of hopeless--difficulty. Without Parliament
or King, the nation was thrown upon its own resources to reconstruct
its institutions as best it might. It was inevitable that in such
stress of storm it should hark back to the old paths, and should see
no prospect of settled government, save in the restoration of the
throne, or at least in the election of another Parliament. Yet this
was the very thing that Cromwell and all who were associated with
him most dreaded. It was but too probable that such a solution would
sweep away not only Puritanism, but all hope of political reform.
Everything for which the army had fought and for which the nation had
suffered was at stake, and it was not in human nature--certainly not in
Cromwell's nature--to make such a sacrifice without a struggle. That
such a struggle could only be prolonged with the support of the army
was self-evident. Cromwell, however, was the last of men to desire to
establish a purely military government, and the army, to do it justice,
was commanded by men who were, for the most part, desirous to support
their general in the experiment of establishing a civil government
which would have dispensed with the interference of military power.
The tragedy--the glorious tragedy--of Cromwell's subsequent career lay
in the impossibility of permanently checking the instincts of military
politicians to intervene in favour of those guarantees regarded by them
as indispensable for the maintenance of the cause which they had so
long upheld with all their might.

Distrust of the constituencies was the prominent feature of Cromwell's
next move. The compromise offered by him of the temporary establishment
of a non-elective body to prepare a basis of settlement whilst
Parliamentary institutions remained in abeyance, was now adopted by the
officers. Lambert,--who advocated a scheme for establishing a Council
of State, apparently with provision for the increased independence
of the executive, together with the election of a Parliament with
restricted functions,--was unable to enforce his views. A small Council
of State was established to carry on current affairs, but it was in
the Council of Officers that the main question of the constitution was
to be determined. Cromwell, after some hesitation, rallied to a very
different scheme which had been suggested by Harrison, the brilliant
soldier who dreaded to see the government in the hands of any but the
Saints. Cromwell, however, whilst accepting Harrison's views on the
whole, determined to modify them, in order to make the new assembly
something more than a group of pious fanatics. He was consequently
now anxious that it should include notable personages--even Fairfax
was suggested--who had contended against the King, but who had no
connection with the extreme sections of the community which found
favour in Harrison's eyes. It was eventually resolved that the Council
of Officers should invite nominations from the Congregational Churches
in each county, reserving to itself the power of rejecting persons so
named, and also of adding names which found no place on the list. On
June 8 the persons finally selected received writs issued in the name
of Cromwell as Lord General. An attempt had been made to secure the
inclusion not only of Fairfax but of Vane, but neither of them would
accept a place in the new assembly.

On July 4 the nominees of the army took their seats at Westminster.
Cromwell, at all events, threw himself entirely into the spirit of
the occasion. In a long speech he manifested his delight at seeing
the government at last entrusted to the hands of the godly. No such
authority, he proclaimed triumphantly, had ever before been entrusted
to men on the ground that they owned God and were owned by Him. For
once the emotional side of his nature had gained the upper hand over
his practical common-sense. In long detail he told of the misconduct
of the late Parliament, and repelled the idea that he had had any
intention of substituting his own authority for that of the discarded
House. It had been incumbent on him and his colleagues 'not to grasp
at the power ourselves, or to keep it in military hands, no, not for a
day, but, as far as God enabled us with strength and ability, to put
it into the hands of proper persons that might be called from the
several parts of the nation'. "This necessity," he proceeded to aver;
"and I hope we may say for ourselves, this integrity of concluding to
divest the sword of all power in the civil administrations, hath been
that that hath moved us to put you to this trouble." Then, enlarging
on the providential character of the mission of the members of the new
assembly, he urged them with many Scriptural quotations to take up
their authority as men whom God had placed as rulers of the land. What,
then, was to be said of that ideal of elected Parliaments, which had
sunk so deeply into the minds of that generation? "If it were a time,"
he suggested, "to compare your standing with those that have been
called by the suffrages of the people--which who can tell how soon God
may fit the people for such a thing? None can desire it more than I!
Would all were the Lord's people; as it was said, 'Would all the Lord's
people were prophets': I would all were fit to be called." In time,
indeed, this might be possible when the good and religious conduct of
this assembly had won the people to the love of godliness. "Is not this
the likeliest way to bring them to their liberties?" Finally, after
much enforcement of the encouragements held forth by the Prophets and
the Psalmists, he resigned all the power provisionally exercised by
himself into the hands of his hearers, announcing to them that their
power also was to be provisional. They were to hold it only till
November 3, 1654, and then to give place to a second assembly to be
elected by themselves--an assembly which was to sit for no more than a
year, in which time it was to make provision for the future government
of the country.

Contrary, as it would seem, to the intention of those by whom it
had been called, the new assembly audaciously assumed the name of
Parliament. Its real position being that of a mere body of nominees,
Lilburne was once more brought into the field. In 1649 Lilburne had
been tried and acquitted, but had subsequently been banished by the
Long Parliament, which had added to its sentence a declaration that he
would be guilty of felony if he, at any time, returned to England. He
now reappeared in London, where he was sent to prison, again tried, and
again acquitted. The line taken by him and his followers was that the
so-called Parliament now in existence was no Parliament at all, as it
was not elected by the people. With Cromwell's full consent, Lilburne
was retained in confinement, being ultimately removed to Jersey, where
no writ of habeas corpus could deliver him.

For a time Lilburne's attack consolidated the alliance between the Lord
General and the nominees to whom political power had been entrusted.
Yet it was not long before Cromwell's practical sense took alarm at
their proceedings. It was indeed not the case, as has often been
said, that the majority of the members were mere enthusiasts, but
the enthusiasts settled down to Parliamentary work, seldom absenting
themselves from the House, and being always ready to vote when a
division was called; whilst those who distrusted them could not always
be brought to a due sense of the importance of their Parliamentary
duties, and were apt to be led away by interest or pleasure from
supporting their opinions by their votes. Two questions were soon found
to divide the parties, that of law reform, more especially the reform
of Chancery, and that of a religious organisation other than compulsory
uniformity under Bishops or Presbyters. On both these questions
Cromwell was intensely interested, and there can be little doubt that
if the nominated Parliament had conducted itself with due regard for
practical exigencies, it would have retained his good-will to the end.
Unfortunately this was not the case. It proposed a total abolition
of the Court of Chancery, thus handing over to the hostile judges of
the Common Law that system of equity which had been growing up with
beneficial results for generations, whilst it also took in hand with a
light heart the codification of the law, though not a single practising
lawyer had a seat in the House, in the hope that 'the great volumes
of law would come to be reduced into the bigness of a pocket book'.
No wonder that Cromwell dropped into a friend's ear the words: "I am
more troubled now with the fool than with the knave". No wonder either
that in September he drew aside from Harrison, under whose influence he
had decided in favour of summoning the nominees, and that he listened
with greater respect to Lambert, the military representative of
constitutionalism and the determined opponent of political fanaticism.

Cromwell's position was rendered difficult by his association with
this ill-starred assembly. On September 14 a broadside was scattered
in the streets charging him with treason to 'his Lords the people of
England,' not because he had broken up the miserable remnant of the
Long Parliament, but because he had stood in the way of the election of
a new House, and it is highly probable that a large number of people
who had nothing to do with the distribution of broadsides shared in
this opinion. Still greater was the danger of an appeal to the army,
with which the writers concluded. It was known that many of the
soldiers, and even of the officers, were restive under the suspension
of popular elections, and it was found necessary to secure submission
by cashiering Lieutenant-Colonel Joyce, who had formerly, as a cornet,
carried off the King from Holmby House, and who now threw himself on
the side of those who cried out for constitutional rights.

On the subject of Church organisation, Parliament was as subversive
as on the subject of law reform, many of its members held with the
Fifth Monarchy preachers, that the government of the State ought to be
exclusively in the hands of the Saints, and, not unnaturally, concluded
that they were themselves the Saints; thus taking a broad issue in
defiance of the theory that the government ought to be administered or
controlled by the elected representatives of the nation. The immediate
dispute, however, turned on the unwillingness of the advanced party to
continue any sort of endowment of the clergy. Cromwell, it is true,
on more than one occasion had expressed himself strongly against the
existing tithe system and would have been perfectly ready to concur
in any plan for the removal of its abuses, or for substituting for
it--as had been suggested in _The Agreement of the People_ presented
by the army--a more equitable mode of raising the money needed by the
clergy. Further than that he was not likely to go, and matters were
brought to a crisis by a resolution passed on November 17 for the
abolition of patronage, and still more by the decision of the House on
December 10--though only by a majority of two--to reject a scheme of
Church-government founded in the main on the lines drawn by Owen, in
which the payment of tithes was taken as a financial basis.

Some time before the last vote was taken, the principal officers, under
Lambert's leadership, had had under consideration a plan of a written
constitution in which the executive power was to be strengthened and
conferred upon Cromwell with the title of King, whilst the legislative
power was to be conferred on an elected assembly, thus embodying the
ideas which had been enunciated by Cromwell in his conference with the
lawyers and politicians at the end of 1651. When this constitution was
complete it was shown to Cromwell, who objected to the royal title,
and who seems also to have been unwilling to have anything to do with
another violent dissolution. On December 10, when the vote on Church
organisation was taken, Lambert and his allies found their opportunity.
It is probable that they promised Cromwell that the House should be
dissolved by its own action, and that, on receiving this assurance,
he preferred not to be informed of the course by which this desirable
end was to be attained. The course indeed was simple enough. The
conservative reformers, if they chose to attend in anything like their
full strength, were in a majority, and on the 12th they got up early
and flocked to the House, where, before their bewildered opponents
could rally in force, they immediately voted that Parliament should
resign its powers into the hands of the Lord General. Then, starting
for Whitehall in procession with the Speaker at their head, they
announced to Cromwell the decision they had taken. Their advanced
colleagues kept their seats, but upon attempting to remonstrate were
expelled by a body of soldiers. As in the absence of the Speaker they
could not technically be considered to be a House, those who interfered
were able to aver, without literary untruthfulness, that there had been
no forcible dissolution of Parliament.

In a very short time Cromwell had agreed with the officers on the
constitution to be adopted under the name of _The Instrument of
Government_. The executive power was to reside in a Lord Protector and
Council, the members of which were to be appointed for life, Cromwell
being named as the first Protector. The legislative power was assigned
without restriction to a Parliament elected by constituencies formed,
so far as the counties were concerned, upon a new franchise, the
franchise in the boroughs being left in its old anomalous condition.
This latter concession to prejudice was, however, of less importance,
as a sweeping redistribution of seats, copied with little alteration
from the scheme put forward in _The Agreement of the People_, largely
increased the number of the county members, and disfranchised in
equally large numbers the smaller boroughs which had fallen under the
influence of the country gentlemen. The Parliament thus constituted
was to meet once in three years and to sit at least for five months.
Any Bill passed by this body was to be suspended for twenty days to
give an opportunity for the Protector to explain objections he might
entertain to it. If Parliament refused to listen to his objections,
the Bill became law in spite of him, provided that it contained nothing
contrary to the Instrument itself. The negative voice about which so
much had been heard in the last years of Charles I. was, therefore,
not assigned to the Protector. For all that, the control over the
executive is of greater importance to the development of representative
institutions than legislative independence, and in this respect the
hold of Parliament over the executive was of the flimsiest description,
consisting merely of the right to propose six names whenever there
was a vacancy in the Council, out of which the Council would select
two, and the Protector again make his choice between the two. Even the
financial arrangements, through which Parliaments usually make their
way to power, were settled in such a way as to debar the elected House
from obtaining even indirect control. It is true that the Instrument
started with the sweeping generalisation that 'no tax, charge, or
imposition' was to be 'laid upon the people but by common consent in
Parliament,' but this statement was followed by a clause assigning
to the Protector £200,000 for civil expenses, besides as much as was
needed for keeping up the navy, as well as an army of 30,000 men, and
this sum, to which no definite limits were placed, was to be raised
out of the customs 'and such other ways and means as shall be agreed
upon by the Protector and Council'. As to the army and navy thus
secured, the Protector was to dispose and order them with the consent
of Parliament during its short session, but during all the rest of the
three years with the consent of the Council only. It would, however, be
a mistake to say that the Instrument established absolute government
in England. The Protector was bound to act under the control of the
Council, and though scarcely any record of the political action of
that body has been preserved, there is enough to show that whilst
Cromwell's personal influence over it was necessarily great, it was
by no means a mere tool in his hands. The constitutional control to
which the Protector was subjected was therefore a real one, though that
control was in the hands of a body meeting in secret and sufficiently
self-centred to make no bid for popularity by the speeches made in
the course of discussions amongst its members, as a more popular
assembly would have done. Finally, religious liberty was secured for
all congregations which did not admit 'Popery or Prelacy'; whilst the
right of issuing ordinances with the force of law was granted to the
Protector and Council till the first Parliament met.

It has frequently been urged that the Instrument was the earliest
example of that system of fixed constitutions, of which the most
notable instance is that of the United States, and must therefore rank
with such constitutions rather than with the system of Parliamentary
supremacy which was ultimately adopted in England. The comparison
with the American constitution, however, can only stand with those
who are resolved to fix their attention on similarities and to ignore
differences. The Instrument, it is true, resembles the Constitution
of the United States in refusing to submit the holders of executive
authority to the constant control of the legislature, and in setting
forth the relations between the bodies of the State in a written
document. On more important points there is a world-wide distinction.
In America, the whole federal constitution is redolent of popular
control. Every four years the President is re-elected or replaced,
and though Congress cannot dismiss a President except by a judicial
impeachment, it has complete control over the finances, and can leave
him without supply. Add to this the ingrained habit of the American
people in giving vent to popular opinion, and in pressing it on the
notice of the government which it has given to itself, and we shall
find little cause to seek in the Constitution of the United States for
a justification of the Instrument--a document drawn up by soldiers and
endowing the chief of the State and his councillors with a lifelong
tenure of office, with an abundant armed force, and with a power of
taxation adequate to all ordinary requirements in time of peace. The
question raised by the Instrument was not whether the national control
was to be exercised indirectly through Parliament, or directly
through a popular vote, but whether it should be exercised at all.
The constitutional principles alike respected in England and America
are diametrically opposed to those on which the government of the
Protectorate was founded.

On December 16, 1653, Oliver was installed at Westminster as Lord
Protector under the conditions of the Instrument. His Council
consisted of seven officers and eight civilians, the most notable
of the latter being Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper--better known by the
title long afterwards conferred on him by Charles II. as the Earl of
Shaftesbury--who had been an active member of the Councils formed after
the break-up of the Long Parliament. Little as is known of his actions
during this period of his life, his rallying to the Protectorate
can only be explained as the result of the conviction that Oliver
was in earnest in his intention of giving to the new government a
preponderatingly civilian character, and of keeping it out of the hands
of fanatics on one hand, and of soldiers on the other. In Thurloe, who
had acted as Secretary to the Council since the spring of 1652, the
Protector acquired an official whose ability was beyond dispute, who
was appalled by no labours, and one who, with the aid of the network of
spies whose poverty he utilised, was keen-sighted in penetrating the
secrets of conspirators at home and abroad.

The Protectorate was at least placed beyond immediate danger by the
adhesion of the army and the fleet. Scarcely less important was the
concurrence of the judges, amongst them that honourable man and eminent
lawyer Matthew Hale, who had won Oliver's approbation by his services
in the cause of law-reform. Hale, indeed, informed the Protector that
as he was personally desirous of seeing a Royalist restoration, he
could only remain on the bench on the condition that he should be
excused from taking part in the trials of political prisoners. Oliver
at once gave the required promise. The compromise was creditable to
both the parties concerned.

The Protector, by his assumption of the government, had roused up
enemies enough to make him chary of dispensing with the support of so
valuable a helper. To the Royalists, who hoped to strike at a single
person more easily than at a Parliament, were added the Fifth Monarchy
preachers, who held that Oliver was 'the vile person to whom they
shall not give the honour of the kingdom,' but who should 'come in
peaceably and obtain the kingdom by flatteries,' as foretold by the
Prophet Daniel. They were the more dangerous as they were known to
have supporters in the army, especially as Harrison, who shared their
opinions, had been thought of by the advanced members of the nominated
Parliament as a possible substitute for Oliver in the command. The
first repressive action of the Protectorate was therefore to place
two of the most turbulent of the preachers under lock and key, and to
deprive Harrison of his commission. Such men were only really dangerous
by their hold on a portion of the army, whilst the Commonwealth's men,
such as Bradshaw and Vane, though not in the least likely to head an
armed resistance, were strong in the conviction which they shared with
a considerable number of their countrymen, that the only possibility
of defence against the evils of military rule was to be found in a
recurrence to legality. It is true that with them legality consisted
in the restoration of a sovereign Parliament, whilst the Royalists saw
it in the restoration of the King, but if ever time and circumstances
should fuse the two ideas together, a body of opinion would be created
which would try to the uttermost the fabric of a government raised on
other principles.

Oliver's task was necessarily conditioned by the nature of the
opposition he had to encounter. His new system, if it were to have
a chance of becoming permanent, would have to commend itself to
that large majority of men who follow no ideals, but are content to
live under any rule, whatever may have been its origin, if only the
rulers confer upon them a reasonable amount of protection, and are
sufficiently in sympathy with the governed to be regarded with love
rather than with fear. It was this quality that had mainly helped
Elizabeth to make a doubtful legal position a step in her triumphant
career, and it was to Elizabeth alone amongst recent English sovereigns
that Oliver looked with respect and admiration. Nor was he deficient
in many of the characteristics which had made Elizabeth great. He
had the same patriotism, the same skill in the selection of agents,
the same impatience of partisan bitterness in Church and State, the
same readiness to trust in the healing virtues of time. The chief
obstacles in the way of a repetition of Elizabeth's success lay, not
merely in the stain of the king's blood upon his hands, but also in his
leadership of an army of which the officers shaped their conduct in
accordance with distinct religious and political ideas. He had risen
to power by the sympathy of these men. Was it possible to secure the
sympathy of the nation without alienating the army to the support of
which he must look till he could place his authority on a wider basis?

In the first and easiest portion of the task before the Protector,
the redress of grievances weighing upon the people, there was no
hesitation. The Instrument had conferred upon Oliver and his Council
the right of issuing ordinances with the force of law up to the meeting
of Parliament; and in little more than eight months no fewer than
eighty-two of these ordinances had been issued subject to amendment,
if Parliament chose to interfere. The Council was, in fact, like the
Cabinet of to-day, far more capable of initiating legislation than a
Parliament consisting of several hundred members, and that so little
criticism attended these ordinances may be taken as satisfactory
evidence that there was good reason for that strengthening of the
government which had been the main argument of the founders of the new
constitution. The ordinance for the reform of Chancery was certainly
exposed to the conservative objections of the lawyers and was, no
doubt, susceptible of improvement, but it aimed at the removal of
acknowledged abuses, especially at accelerating the movements of a
Court whose long delays had caused that wide-spread irritation which
had given support even to the exaggerated proposals of the nominated
Parliament.

Still more important was the adoption of the new scheme of Church
government. The minister presented to a living was required to have
a certificate of fitness from three persons of known godliness and
integrity, one of them being a settled minister; afterwards he was to
hand this certificate to certain commissioners known as Triers and to
obtain their testimony that he was 'a person for the grace of God in
him, his holy and unblamable conversation, as also for his knowledge
and utterance, able and fit to preach the gospel'. Having become an
incumbent, he was liable to expulsion by a local body of Ejectors for
immorality or for holding blasphemous or atheistical opinions. As
long as he was maintained in his post, he might uphold any Puritan
system he pleased and organise his congregation on the Presbyterian,
Independent, or Baptist system, if he could persuade them to follow
him. Those persons, whether lay or clerical, who objected to the
system upheld in their parish church, were at liberty to form separate
congregations--gathered Churches, as they were called--at their own
discretion. Later on, towards the close of 1655, Oliver's tolerant
spirit gave way to the return of the Jews, who had been exiled from
England since the reign of Edward I. A few Unitarians were no doubt
excluded from the benefits of his toleration. Moreover, the Society of
Friends, now rising into importance under the leadership of George Fox,
was also threatened with exclusion as presumably guilty of blasphemy,
though the Protector himself not infrequently interfered on behalf of
its members. Even if this had been otherwise, the Society put in no
claim for participation in a legal support or even for acknowledgment
by the State.

That the Church thus constituted was but a Puritan Church is the
charge commonly brought against the system of the Protectorate. That
it was so is certainly not to be denied, but, after all, it must be
remembered that, so far as opposition to Puritanism was based on
definite religious grounds, and not merely on moral slackness, it was
confined to a comparatively small number of Englishmen. Before the
days of Laud, the clergy of the Church had been for the most part, so
far as their teaching was concerned, Puritan in their ideas, and lax
in their ceremonial observances, and thus the ecclesiastical changes
initiated by the Long Parliament had been received by the bulk of the
laity rather as the removal of innovations than as the establishment of
something entirely new. The honour in which episcopacy and the Prayer
Book were now held was mainly confined to the Royalist gentry and to
scholars expelled from the Universities, and was therefore understood
to be closely connected with political aims. Even so, there was no
attempt as yet on the part of the Government to suppress the use of the
Prayer Book in private houses, and there is reason to suppose that if
no political disturbances had followed, no such attempt would have been
made at a later time. The system of the Protectorate was undoubtedly
the most tolerant yet known in England--more tolerant, indeed, than
public opinion would, if left to itself, have sanctioned.

Not only by its legal reforms did the Protectorate strive to commend
itself to the nation. Oliver had never thrown his heart into the Dutch
war, and a little before he dissolved the Long Parliament, a great
English victory in a battle which began off Portland and ended under
Cape Grisnez, had secured the mastery over the Channel to the English
fleet. That fleet rallied to the new Government; even Blake, who was
hostile at first, accepting the result of political changes, and
finally throwing in his lot with the Protectorate, on the ground that
it was the business of the navy to leave politics alone, and--though
the expression is not traceable on sufficient evidence to Blake's
lips--'to keep foreigners from fooling us'. The wound that Blake
received off Portland incapacitated him from taking a considerable
part in the later battles of the war, the burden lying for the most
part on Monk, who won victories off the Gabbard in June and off the
Texel in July, not long after the nominated Parliament had entered on
its unlucky career. In the latter conflict, Tromp, the great Dutch
admiral whose ill success was due not to any failure of his powers or
to any want of manliness in his crews, but to the inefficiency of the
Government he served, was killed by a shot as he was entering into the
battle. Even whilst the nominated Parliament was still in session, a
negotiation with the Dutch had been opened, and this negotiation, which
was countenanced by Oliver from the first and carried on earnestly by
him as Protector, ended in a peace signed on April 5, 1654.

Those who wish to estimate the value of Oliver's foreign policy and
its bearing upon the fortunes of the government he hoped to establish
will do well to study at length the story of his negotiation with
the Dutch, and of his contemporary excursions into the domain of
Continental affairs. It is beyond doubt that he was desirous of peace
with the Dutch on the ground that they were Protestants, and that
he was also desirous of allying himself with other Protestant States
for the protection of Protestants under persecution by Roman Catholic
Governments. Yet, not only did this fail to hinder him from exacting
hard terms from the Dutch, but the motive of his diplomacy is revealed
in his eagerness to make an agreement with his actual enemies a step
to immediate hostilities with other nations. At one time he proposed
a plan for the partition between England and the Netherlands of so
much of the globe as lies outside Europe whilst he was at the same
time negotiating with the Governments of France and Spain, offering to
make common cause with one or the other in the war then raging between
them. No doubt some religious element could be imported into either
quarrel. To help Spain against France, at least in the way he proposed,
was to vindicate the French Protestants against a persecution to which
they were to some extent exposed, in spite of the acceptance by their
Government of the Edict of Nantes. To assist France against Spain was
to weaken the most bigoted Roman Catholic Government in existence.

What we are here concerned with, however, is not the details of
Oliver's foreign policy, but its conception as a whole. It is true
that the existing position of affairs in Europe,--in which France and
Spain were neutralising the forces of one another--was almost an
invitation to the strong military and naval power of the Protectorate
to extend its influence at the expense of one or other of the rivals;
but, so far as this consideration may have played its part in
bringing Oliver to a decision, it has left no traces in his recorded
words. Obviously, when he undertook the negotiation with the Dutch,
he had two courses before him, either to lay the foundations of a
general peace, or to leave himself free to push military and naval
enterprises in other directions. It was the latter course on which he
resolved--a course which has gained him the admiration of a posterity
prompt to recognise in Oliver the ruler who, having received from the
Commonwealth an excellently organised army and navy, was the first
to apply those potent instruments of conquest to the acquisition
of over-sea dominion. What posterity has failed to observe is that
this design was incompatible with his other design of settling the
government of England on a constitutional basis. By his resolve to
seek military employment for the magnificent force that he had welded
together, and to find reasons for going to war with some nation or
other, rather than be driven into war by the necessity of upholding
the honour and interests of the country, Oliver was compelled to keep
up a military and naval establishment which may not have been in
excess of the taxable capacity of the nation; but which at all events
imposed a burden much heavier than that to which Englishmen had been
accustomed to submit. Before Parliament met, after many hesitations he
had resolved to send out one fleet under Blake into the Mediterranean
to enforce the release of English prisoners taken by the pirates of the
Barbary coast, and another fleet under Penn to seize upon Hispaniola or
some other West Indian island as a response to the refusal of Spain to
allow English merchantmen to trade even with English colonies in the
West Indies, as well as to various acts of violence already committed
by Spanish officials in American waters.

That in both these cases Oliver was justified in seeking redress can
hardly be denied. As regards Spain, he had already made a twofold
demand on Cardenas, the Spanish ambassador, first, for liberty of trade
in the Indies--not necessarily, so far as our information goes, for
liberty of trade with Spanish possessions--and, secondly, for entire
liberty of religion for English merchants and sailors in their own
houses on Spanish soil and in their ships in Spanish ports--he not
being satisfied with the offer of Spain to renew the stipulations of
the treaty signed by Charles I., in which the Inquisition was debarred
from acting against English Protestants so long as they created
no scandal. Both demands were promptly rejected. "It is," replied
Cardenas, "to ask my master's two eyes." Oliver's notion that he could
attack a Spanish colony in the West Indies and yet remain at peace
with Spain can only be explained by his admiration for Elizabethan
methods, which led him to suppose that the existing Spanish Government
would be as ready as that of Philip II. to put up with a system which
kept peace in Europe whilst war was being waged in America. It is not,
however, with problems of international morality that we are at present
concerned. Before Blake could sail for the Mediterranean or Penn for
the West Indies, Parliament would meet, and would be confronted with
the fact that, in addition to his fleets, the Protector had on foot a
land force of 57,000 men, a number exceeding by no less than 27,000
the 30,000 which the Instrument itself had laid down as the normal
strength of the army. It is true that he could hardly have met his
engagements with a smaller force. Ireland was only recently subdued;
an insurrection against the English conquerors--known as Glencairn's
rising--was in full swing in Scotland; the dread of a Royalist movement
in England required the maintenance of more troops than would be
needed in quieter times, whilst other regiments were already preparing
for embarkation in the West Indian fleet. On the other hand, when
it is remembered that it was through his command of the services of
these soldiers that Oliver had been raised to power, that he could
still count on their support to maintain him in it, and that he was
calling upon the nation to bear the burden of enterprises which he had
originated without asking its consent, can it be matter of wonder that
at such a time there should be some effort on the part of a Parliament
which had come to look upon itself as representing the nation to
impose limits upon the burdens which had already far outgrown even the
prescriptions of the Instrument itself?

The elections to the first Protectorate Parliament were held under
peculiar conditions. In the boroughs still permitted to return
members the old conditions existed, but in the counties to which a
redistribution of seats had transferred the electoral power, hitherto
possessed by small villages under the influence of the neighbouring
landowners, the Instrument had established a uniform franchise of the
ownership of real or personal property worth £200. So far as we can
trace any direct issue before the constituencies, the elections turned
on the approval or renunciation of the policy of the advanced party in
the nominated Parliament, and on this the electorate gave no uncertain
sound. That party was practically swept away, and a full approbation
thereby accorded to the conservative policy which had been the main
strength of the appeal made to the country by the new government. It
did not follow that the new constitution would meet with the same
approbation. A not inconsiderable number of the Commonwealth men, such
as Bradshaw and Hazlerigg, sore at their expulsion from the benches of
the Long Parliament, had been returned, together with a goodly company
of political Presbyterians, who might be expected to do their best to
free Parliament from the shackles of the Instrument.

Under these circumstances, Oliver's speech at the opening of Parliament
was a masterpiece of skill. Dwelling on the points on which he and the
majority of his hearers were in agreement, he kept out of sight those
on which differences might arise. He called for healing and settlement,
for orderly government which might replace the confusions of the past
and stem the tide of fanaticism in the present. He dwelt not on the
extent of the liberty of conscience proclaimed in the Instrument,
but on the restrictions imposed in that document, especially on such
teachers as 'under the profession of Christ, hold forth and practise
licentiousness'. He held up for acceptance the doctrine that, when
such a result was to be feared, it was the duty of the magistrate to
intervene. He protested against the notion that it was antichristian
for a minister to receive ordination, and also against the notion
that the Fifth Monarchy was about to commence, and that it was 'for
men, on this principle, to betitle themselves that they are the only
men to rule kingdoms, govern nations, and give laws to people, and
determine of property and liberty and everything else'. Then came
Oliver's appeal for support on the grounds of the difficulties he had
inherited from his predecessors--troubles in Ireland and Scotland,
trade with Portugal and France interrupted, as well as a war with the
Dutch; after which he set forth the benefits of the Instrument, the
legal and ecclesiastical reforms it had rendered possible, the peace
with the Dutch, and the commercial treaties concluded with Sweden and
Denmark. Finally came a hint that Parliament might well be liberal
with its supplies, as in spite of the enormous burdens weighing upon
it, the Government had diminished, by no less than £30,000 a month,
the assessment tax by which army and navy were in part supported.
It has often been doubted whether Oliver had in him the making of a
Parliamentary tactician. Those who reply in the affirmative may point
to this speech in defence of their opinion, especially if we accept the
evidence of the Dutch ambassadors that Oliver--in words subsequently
omitted from the published speech--concluded by a direct invitation to
the House to take into consideration the Instrument, no doubt expecting
its easy acceptance by men who were as desirous of order as himself.
Confirmatory of this conclusion is the fact that when the Parliamentary
debates opened and the question was asked whether the House was
prepared to leave the government under the control of a single man,
it was a member of the Council who demanded that all other business
should be laid aside till the Instrument had been submitted to the
approval of the House.

When this demand had been complied with, it became evident that the
majority of the members were in favour of imposing further restrictions
on the Protector which would make him no more than a tool in the hands
of Parliament. Such a position Oliver absolutely declined to accept,
and on its being known that Harrison had been seeking the advantage
of his own party by stirring up confusion at Westminster, and had
boasted that he would have 20,000 men at his back, he struck firmly and
sharply. Harrison was sent for under guard, and Parliament was ordered
to attend the Protector in the Painted Chamber.

The speech which the Protector delivered to the members may rank as
the ablest which is known to have fallen from his lips. There can be
no doubt that he would personally have preferred the retention of the
Instrument as it stood, but he was aware of the objections taken to
it, and all that we know leads us to believe that those objections
were shared by members of his own Council. At all events, after a
justification of his own conduct in relation to the preparation of the
Instrument, and an argument that it had been accepted by the electors
who had been bound by its terms to acknowledge the settlement of the
Government in a single person and Parliament, he proceeded to offer
a compromise. He was prepared to substitute for the Instrument a
Parliamentary constitution, provided that four conditions were admitted
as fundamentals to be handed down to posterity as unassailable. The
first was that the country was to be governed by a single person and a
Parliament; the second, that Parliaments were not to make themselves
perpetual; the third, that liberty of conscience should be respected;
the fourth, that neither Protector nor Parliament should have absolute
power over the militia. It speaks volumes for Oliver's power of
seeing into the heart of a situation, that whilst the Instrument of
Government, and the absolute supremacy of a single House with power
to defy dissolution, have alike passed into the realms of unrealised
theory, every one of Oliver's fundamentals has been adopted by the
nation--not indeed in any written constitution, but with the stronger
and more enduring guarantee of a practice accepted beyond dispute by
the conscience of the people itself. The four fundamentals on behalf
of which he now appealed to the House formed the political legacy
bequeathed by him to posterity.

To obtain acquiescence in this compromise, Oliver directed that
no member should take his seat who refused to sign the following
declaration: "I do hereby freely promise and engage to be true and
faithful to the Lord Protector and the Commonwealth of England,
Scotland and Ireland, and shall not, according to the tenor of the
indentures whereby I am returned to serve in this present Parliament,
propose or give my consent to alter the Government as it is settled
in one person and a Parliament". Those who refused subscription were
excluded from all participation in the business of the House.

The imposition of such restriction was doubtless condemnable on the
principle that the will of the electorate expressed through its
representatives must be taken as final in all disputes. Neither
Cromwell, however, nor his opponents had recognised such a principle.
Vane and Bradshaw had been ready to exclude Royalists, and other
unfit persons, whilst the authors of the Instrument had imposed
qualifications with a very similar object. If a test there was to be,
the one now selected was not only the lightest possible, but it was
one that had already been signed by each constituency on behalf of
its members, without which formality they were not, according to the
Instrument, entitled to take their seats. It left them perfectly at
liberty to propose any amendment of the constitution, even to vote
against any one of Oliver's fundamentals with the exception of the
first.

It is impossible here to enter into details of the constitutional
debates which followed. It is sufficient to say that the basis which
Parliament proposed to substitute for the Instrument was the revival
of the negative voice, so that no constitutional innovation could be
made without the Protector's consent. Of the four fundamentals, the
first two--the one relating to the position of the single person and
the other refusing to Parliament the right of perpetuating itself--were
accepted without opposition. The other two raised greater difficulties.
The House was very far from being anxious to extend religious liberty
as widely as the Protector desired, but it ultimately agreed to a
form of words which practically left the decision in his hands. The
absolutely insurmountable difficulty was found in the disposal of
the army. In the first place, Parliament held out for the diminution
of the numbers of the regular forces to the 30,000 men allowed by
the Instrument, and required that if more were needed they should be
raised in the form of a militia which would fall more readily under
the influence of the local gentry. In the second place, the House
resolved to limit its grant of supply to the taxation required for the
maintenance of the army for a term of five years only, thus reserving
to itself the ultimate financial control which spells sovereignty.
Cromwell's whole soul recoiled from the acceptance of a scheme which
would render nugatory the proposed constitutional restrictions of
Parliamentary omnipotence, by enabling Parliament, at the end of the
assigned term, to stop the supplies without which the army could not
be maintained; unless indeed, when that term reached its end, the
Protector chose to employ his army to crush the Parliament of 1659
as he had employed it to crush the Parliament of 1653. Parliamentary
supremacy or military despotism were the alternatives which Oliver or
his successor would have to face in the not very distant future.

If two men ride on one horse, one of them must ride in front, and this
sober physical truth is equally applicable to the realm of politics. No
paper constitution, however deserving of veneration, can prevent there
being some force in every nation capable of making itself supreme if
it chooses to do so. It may be the constituencies, as in England at
the end of the nineteenth century; the people consulted in mass, as
in the United States; or the army, as in England in the middle of the
seventeenth century. Such supremacy may be subjected to the checks of
written or unwritten constitutions, and may be thus thrust into the
background till called forth by some special crisis; but in the long
run it is impossible to prevent supreme power from exerting itself. The
defect of Oliver's fourth fundamental was that it sought to divide the
control of the army, or, in other words, Sovereignty, between Protector
and Parliament, at a time when the Protector was powerless to act in
defiance of the army. It is useless to deny that he was perfectly in
the right in hesitating to hand over supreme power to a Parliament
uncontrolled by the nation, and capable of using its financial
authority to demolish any system of government that might stand in
the way of the ambitions of its members. It is equally undeniable
that, as he was unable to depend on the nation as a whole, he had
nothing to fall back upon except a Protectorate which, in reality,
was controlled by the will of the leading officers, who found in the
provisions of the Instrument which they had themselves originated the
means of perpetuating their own power by securing--irrespective of the
concurrence of Parliament or nation--the levy of taxes, the amount of
which was fixed by the Protector and Council alone.

Oliver having once made up his mind to refuse his consent to the new
constitution, was anxious to hasten the dissolution of the Parliament.
The Instrument having provided that the House should sit for five
months, he opportunely remembered that the months by which the army's
pay was regulated were lunar months; and on January 22, 1655, when five
lunar months were expired, he pronounced its dissolution. The speech
in which he announced his determination was stamped with vexation of
spirit at the failure of his hopes, a vexation in itself by no means
unjustifiable. The tragedy of the situation lay in the undoubted fact
that however much they might differ on the means to be pursued, the
end at which Protector and Parliament aimed was identical, namely,
the conversion of the military into the civil state. Parliament had
counted it well done to leave Oliver in possession for five years,
whilst Oliver, conscious of his own rectitude of purpose, and ignoring
the consideration that at the end of five years he might no longer be
living, and that the Protectorate might have passed by demise into
less worthy hands, complained that he was not trusted. Why, he asked,
had they not come to him to talk the matter over? Why indeed, except
that Parliaments have their pride as well as Protectors, and that
this one had come to the conclusion that it was its duty to settle
the constitution rather than to accept a settlement from a knot of
soldiers. If it did not seek an opportunity to discuss such grave
questions with Oliver in person, at least it had had the advantage of
listening to what might be presumed to be his views when promulgated by
those members of his Council who were also members of the House.

In an elaborate defence of the Instrument, Oliver put his finger on
the real ground of offence. "Although," he declared in speaking of the
rights of the Protector, "for the present the keeping up and having in
his power the militia seems the most hard, yet, if it should be yielded
up at such a time as this when there is as much need to keep this cause
by it--which is evidently at this time impugned by all the enemies of
it--as there was to get it, what would become of all? Or if it should
not be equally placed in him and the Parliament, but yielded up at
any time, it determines the Power," _i.e._, hinders the exercise of
authority by the person in possession of power, "either from doing the
good he ought, or hindering Parliaments from perpetuating themselves,
or from imposing what religion they please on the consciences of men,
or what government they please upon the nation; thereby subjecting
us to dis-settlement in every Parliament, and to the desperate
consequences thereof: and if the nation shall happen to fall into a
blessed peace, how easily and certainly will their charge be taken off,
and their forces disbanded; and then, where will the danger be to have
the militia thus stated?"

It was impossible for the Protector to put his case more convincingly.
Yet, admirable as a criticism pointing out the danger likely to follow
on the adoption of the proposals of Parliament, Oliver's reasoning
pre-supposed the acceptance by Parliament of his own conviction that an
armed minority had the right to impose its principles on the unarmed
majority--the very belief which the authors of the Parliamentary
constitution were most determined to resist. Even if it had been
possible for any Puritan party to look for a solution of the problem
in an appeal to the unfettered judgment of the nation, it is evident
that Oliver would never have agreed to such an arbitration. On the one
side was the resolve to get what appeared to be the right thing done,
if necessary by force. On the other side was the resolve to eliminate
the element of force by subordinating it to the rule of Parliaments.
For the moment the decisive word rested with Oliver. "I think myself
bound," he said in conclusion, "as in my duty to God, and to the
people of these nations, for their safety and good in every respect--I
think it my duty to tell you that it is not for the profit of these
nations, nor for common and public good for you to continue longer, and
therefore I do declare unto you, that I do dissolve this Parliament."

History has pronounced in favour of the view taken by Oliver's
antagonists. The reliance on military power in which he had found his
refuge did more than all other facts put together to establish, for
good or for evil, a reliance on Parliament. It is the special mark
of his greatness that he put his whole heart after the dissolution
of his first Parliament into an effort to avoid the appearance even
of a temporary dictatorship. He shrank from being a military ruler,
even under the plea of the necessity of the times. His holding back
the dissolution of Parliament till the fifth month--lunar month as it
was--had been accomplished, offers the key-note of the position as
he judged it. The Parliamentary constitution had perished stillborn.
The constitution of the Instrument was in full force, and was to be
observed, even though it were to his own detriment. The Instrument
enabled the Protector and Council to levy such taxation as they thought
fit for 30,000 men and for a navy sufficient for defence, whilst he had
now on foot some 57,000 soldiers, and, in addition to the home fleet,
two others had already been despatched--the one to the Mediterranean,
the other to the West Indies. Yet the Protector was able to announce
that he would content himself with levying the Assessment money at
the low amount of £80,000 a month on the three nations, an amount
which the dissolved Parliament had fixed as sufficient for the forces
named in the Instrument. Such a decision left the Government with
enormous forces--as forces were in those days reckoned--which it had
no visible means of paying; but it was an announcement in the most
practical form, that, as soon as the existing situation would admit,
the military expenditure should be brought down to the requirements
of the Instrument. The announcement was accompanied by a proclamation
setting forth the principles on which the Protector had decided to act
on the thorny question of religious liberty. There was to be complete
freedom for all who contented themselves with setting forth their
opinions, without 'imposing' on the conscience of others or disturbing
their worship. The last clause, which was aimed at the new Society of
Friends, commonly styled Quakers by the irreverent multitude, sought to
put a stop to their practice of carrying on their polemics in churches
where congregations were assembled. To the exhortations of George Fox
himself the Protector listened with respect. "Come again to my house,"
said Oliver, "for if thou and I were but an hour a day together, we
should be nearer one to the other. I wish you no more ill than I do to
my own soul." A reverence for genuineness, in whatever shape, was not
the least admirable of Oliver's characteristics.

The clause against 'imposing' was more widely sweeping in its aims. It
struck at the claims of the Roman Papacy, and the English episcopacy,
as well as at the designs of the late Parliament to establish lists
of opinions to which toleration should be refused. It struck also at
all attempts to snatch at political power with the object of serving
religious ends. Oliver's breach with Parliament had roused attacks from
every quarter. There were the Fifth Monarchy men who rejected every
form of secular government and whose leaders were not to be silenced
except by placing them under guard. Harrison himself had to be placed
under arrest. It was not work that Oliver would have chosen. "I know,"
wrote Thurloe, "it is a trouble to my Lord Protector to have any one
that is a saint in truth to be grieved or dissatisfied with him." The
Cavaliers might be regarded as hereditary enemies. In the last summer
a Cavalier plot to assassinate the Protector had been discovered,
and two of the plotters, Gerard and Vowel, had been executed. Whilst
Parliament was still in session, Thurloe's spies--who were to be found
in every land in which their services were required--brought him news
of a projected insurrection, and it had been one of Oliver's charges
against the members, that their delay in settling the Government had
fostered the plot. In March futile attempts to rise were made in
various parts of the country, the only one which gained the dignity
of an actual insurrection being that in which Penruddock and others
gathered in arms at Salisbury, seized the judges of assize in their
beds and marched off in the hope of rallying the scattered Royalists
of the west. The insurgents, however, were dispersed in Devonshire,
where many of them were captured. In the end a few of the ringleaders
were tried and executed, whilst a large number of their adherents were
transported without legal trial to Barbados. Such procedure, whether it
be counted as an evasion or as a breach of the law, was evidence of the
difficulty which Oliver would increasingly feel in meeting his enemies
otherwise than by the exertion of arbitrary power.

A more difficult question arose when two judges sent to try Royalist
prisoners in the north doubted their competency, on the ground that
an ordinance defining the offences constituting treason, which the
Protector, in accordance with the Instrument, had issued before
the meeting of Parliament, could not make a rebellion against the
Protectorate to be High Treason. The two judges were at once dismissed,
and soon afterwards Chief Justice Rolle was compelled to resign office
because he was unwilling to enforce the payment of customs upon a
certain Cony; whilst the three lawyers who argued on Cony's behalf--one
of them being Serjeant Maynard, who lived to welcome William III.--that
he was not to pay duties imposed by Protector and Council without the
consent of Parliament, were sent to prison till they had apologised.
One historian after another has accompanied his account of these
proceedings with the observation that there was here a conflict between
law and the tyrant's plea, necessity. There was nothing of the sort.
The question was whether the Instrument was a valid constitution.
If it was, there could be no reasonable doubt that rebels against
the Protectorate were legally traitors, or that customs-duties
applicable to the payment of the army and navy were legally set, not by
Parliament, but by Protector and Council.

If all that Oliver and his councillors had asked of the Instrument
had been to enable them to carry on the government till the lapse of
three years drove them to summon another Parliament, they might have
been well content. They could not, however, forget that they were the
leaders of the party of reform, and the Instrument itself had deprived
them of the power of initiating reforms except through Parliament.
The authority to issue ordinances with the force of law had ceased
with the meeting of Parliament, and all that could now be done was to
urge the Commissioners of the Great Seal to carry out the ordinance
for the reform of Chancery, and, upon their refusal, to replace them
by others likely to be more complacent. The result was a movement in
opposition to the Instrument amongst some of Oliver's partisans, by
which he was hampered as well as assisted. It was natural that such a
movement should also have the character of opposition to the military
party from whom the Instrument had proceeded. Already in the late
Parliament an unsuccessful effort had been made to confer the title of
King on Oliver in the hope that the civilian element in the Government
would be thereby strengthened. In the summer of 1655 a petition was
circulated in the City asking the Protector to assume legislative power
on the invitation of the subscribers. Oliver was far too prudent to
follow such a will-of-the-wisp, and the petition was suppressed by the
Council. The needs that had called it forth could not so easily be
dismissed, especially as the Protector's desire to reform abuses was
strongly reinforced by his need of money--a need which was dramatically
exhibited when the soldiers of his guard broke into his kitchen and
carried off the dinner cooked for his own table, telling him to his
face that as they had not received their pay, they had taken some of it
in kind.

If Oliver was to make both ends meet, it could only be by reductions
in the army, and to effect these he needed the co-operation of the
officers, whilst so far as Scotland and Ireland were concerned,
reductions which might have been dangerous in January had ceased to be
dangerous in July. Monk, who had been sent back to the north as soon
as he could be spared from the Dutch war, had reduced the Highlands to
submission; and Ireland, which had been earlier subjected by English
arms, was now to have imposed on her that thorough-going system
of English colonisation which is usually known as the Cromwellian
settlement, the principles of which had, however, been laid down by
preceding Governments. Those of the landowning class who were unable
to prove, to the satisfaction of English judges, that they had shown
constant good affection to the English Government, even if they had
taken no part against England in the late war--that is to say, the
great bulk of the class which had anything to lose amongst the Irish
Catholics--were driven off into the devastated lands of Connaught,
and their estates were divided amongst English soldiers and other
Englishmen who had lent money for the support of the war upon the
security of confiscated land. Henceforth there was to be in three of
the Irish provinces a class of landed proprietors of English birth
and the Protestant religion surrounded by peasants and labourers who
were divided from them by racial and religious differences of the most
extreme kind. Such an arrangement boded ill for the future peace of
the country. The immediate result was untold misery to the sufferers
and the kindling of hope in English bosoms that at last Ireland would
be peopled by a race loyal to the institutions and religion of her
conquerors.

In any case the scheme for the plantation of Ireland would diminish the
number of soldiers required to hold the country, and before the end
of July the assent of the chiefs of the army in England having been
obtained, the Council also sanctioned not merely a sweeping reduction
in the strength of the regiments in Great Britain, but a diminution of
the amount of the pay both of officers and soldiers. Once more Oliver
had acted in accordance with the Instrument, and with the wishes of
the dissolved Parliament. The £60,000 a month which Parliament had
thought sufficient for the assessment was not exceeded, whilst the army
was reduced at least approximately to the numbers accepted alike by
Parliament and the Instrument. It might be hard to give a satisfactory
answer to those who denied the validity of the Instrument; but, if this
validity were acknowledged, it would be equally hard to refute those
who argued that Oliver was doing his best to rule as a constitutional
magistrate.

Would it be possible for Oliver to persist in this attitude to the
end, in spite of the growing demands on the exchequer? In March, 1655,
Penruddock's rising had extracted from Oliver an order for the calling
out and organisation of the militia, which was, however, countermanded
upon the prompt repression of the insurrection. In May, however, the
officers who recommended the reduction of the army, also recommended
the establishment of a militia for purposes of police, and as the
summer advanced and the information which came in from Thurloe's spies
announced that the Royalist plots were by no means at an end, this plan
assumed greater consistency. The scheme of appointing a militia-police
had at least this to be said in its favour, that the proposal had been
favoured by Parliament. If Parliament had been allowed to work out
its own scheme, it would probably have subjected the militia to local
officers, and provided for its wants by local payments. Oliver took
care to bring it into disciplinary connection with the army, by placing
it under eleven Major-Generals. Taxation for its support he could not
demand without infringing on the Instrument. In his perplexity he, or
one of his advisers, hit upon a plan for raising supplies from the
Royalists alone, who were called on to contribute a tenth of their
income for the purpose. It was their refusal to submit peaceably to
a settled Government which had caused the difficulty, and it was for
them to bear the expense of the measures which had been necessitated
by their misconduct. Such an exaction, being no general taxation,
might be considered by interested parties as saving the authority of
the Instrument. Of any sympathetic feeling with the Royalists whose
property had been diminished by past confiscations, and whose political
and religious ideals had been thrown to the ground, there was, it is
needless to say, nothing in Oliver's mind. They were but enemies to be
crushed, or at least to be reduced to impotence.

That the Royalists had religious ideals of their own was a provocation
which made it easy to deny them the toleration which they had hitherto
virtually enjoyed. The familiar cadences of the Book of Common Prayer
had become to them a symbol of political as well as of religious
faith, whilst the voice of the often long-winded, and sometimes
irrelevant ejaculator of prayers of his own conception, stood for them
as the embodiment of the forces which had conspired to murder their
king, to deprive them of the broad acres sold to satisfy the demands
of sequestrators, and to exclude them from all share in the public
interests of the country which they loved as devotedly as any Puritan
could possibly do. It was now that Oliver committed the mistake--which
thousands of others in like circumstances have committed--of
confounding the symbol with the cause. The use of the Common Prayer
Book was proscribed as thoroughly as the mass. Noblemen and gentlemen
were prohibited from entertaining the ejected clergy of their own
Church as chaplains or tutors of their children. Yet, after all, the
persecution was sharp only for a time, and not only was the inquisition
into the religious practices of domestic life soon abandoned, but the
Episcopalian clergy were led to understand that no harm should befall
them so long as they abstained from thrusting themselves upon the
notice of the public.

It was not only in relation to religious toleration that Oliver was
driven by his position to modify his earlier principles. At one time
he had fully sympathised with the Independent party in its efforts to
secure the liberty of the press. Of libels on his own character and
person he had been widely tolerant. Step by step the Long Parliament
had imposed restrictions on the press, and these restrictions were
continued under the Protectorate. At last, in October 1655, the final
blow fell. Only two weekly newspapers were permitted to appear, and
both these newspapers were to be edited by an agent of the Government.
Milton, now incapacitated by blindness from active employment in the
service of the State, must have winced at hearing that his chosen
hero, who had long ago turned his back on a voluntary system of
Church-government, had now turned his back on the central doctrine of
the Areopagitica. Oliver, we may be sure, took all these proceedings
as a matter of course. He held himself to have been placed in the seat
of authority not to advance the most beneficent theories, but to keep
order after the fashion of a constable in a discordant world. Neither
Milton nor himself believed in the political rights of majorities.
If the nation chose to raise itself up against the cause of God, so
much the worse for the nation. "I say," he had announced to his first
Parliament, "that the wilful throwing away of this government--so owned
by God, so approved by men, so testified to in the fundamentals of
it--and that in relation to the good of these nations and posterity;
I can sooner be willing to be rolled into my grave and buried with
infamy, than I can give my consent unto." Oliver doubtless held that
the partitioning of England into eleven districts, each under a
military chief, was consistent with at least a literal observance of
'this Government,' as he himself had called it.

It is possible that if the Major-Generals had confined themselves to
keeping watch over the Royalist gentry, with occasionally breaking
up their religious meetings, and with driving away the chaplains and
the tutors of their sons, they would have caused less irritation than
they did. The army, however, or in plainer terms, the occupants of
its higher posts, from the Lord Protector downwards, were the most
systematic upholders of that aggressive Puritan morality, which was
diluted with greater worldliness in other circles. It is no doubt
untrue that Justices of the Peace, as has sometimes been suggested,
were altogether inefficient during the Protectorate; but they were not
loved by the Cavalier gentry, whose estates were often larger than
their own; and, like all local authorities, they were hampered by the
local feeling which, even amongst those who willingly accepted the
Protectorate, was, though certainly not Episcopalian, far from being as
acutely Puritan as was desired at head-quarters. A statute inflicting
the penalty of death upon adulterers had been reduced almost to a dead
letter by the unwillingness of juries to convict; and--to take an
instance from the daily amusements of the people--the bear-garden at
Southwark had survived the prohibition of one Puritan Government after
another, till, a few weeks after the appointment of the Major-Generals,
Pride, who had once blocked the doors of Parliament, slew the bears
with his own hands, and closed the exhibition.

As to the Major-Generals themselves, they were soon instructed to
tighten the reins of discipline, co-operating with willing and
spurring unwilling magistrates to suppress not merely treason and
rebellion, but vice and immorality. Their orders were to put down
horse-racing, cock-fighting and other sports which brought together
crowds of doubtful fidelity to the Government. They were told to
promote godliness and virtue, and to see to the execution of the laws
against drunkenness, blasphemy, swearing, play-acting, profanation
of the Lord's Day, and so forth; and also to put down gaming-houses
in Westminster and ale-houses in the country, lest evil and factious
men should congregate in them. They were to keep an open eye on
the beneficed clergy, calling for the ejection of those who either
showed tendencies favourable to the Book of Common Prayer, or brought
disgrace by laxity of conduct on the Puritanism they professed. During
the first six or nine months of 1656, when these men ruled supreme,
the anti-Puritan fervour which was before long to lay low both the
Protectorate and the Commonwealth, ceased to be the special note of
particular classes and rooted itself in general society, far outside
the circle of ordinary royalism.



CHAPTER VI.

A PARLIAMENTARY CONSTITUTION.


It was all the worse for Oliver from the financial point of view,
that he was now pursuing a foreign policy which--whatever opinion we
may have of it on other grounds--at least increased the burdens of
the nation to a point at which Englishmen began to grow restive. Even
before the signature of the Dutch peace in the spring of 1654, Oliver
had cast about in his mind for a foreign policy, and it was only on
rare occasions that he appears to have contemplated the possibility
of keeping peace with all nations unless he were compelled to engage
in war in defence of the honour or interests of the country. He
seems to have regarded the victorious fleet bequeathed to him by the
Commonwealth and the victorious army which he had done more than any
other man to forge into an instrument of dominion, as inviting him to
choose an enemy to be the object of his defiance, rather than sure
guards for the country which he ruled. The sword itself drew on the
man, and the weakness of the two great Continental nations, France and
Spain, embroiled in an internecine war, each coveting the alliance of
England, and each dreading her enmity, increased its attractive power.

Not that Oliver was without principles underlying his actions. He had
indeed two--not always easily reconcileable. He wanted to increase
the trade of the country by strengthening its maritime power, and he
wanted to uphold the cause of God in Europe by the formation of a great
Protestant alliance against what he believed to be the aggressive
Papacy. This second principle gave to his actions a nobility which only
an honest devotion to higher than material interests can impart, whilst
at the same time it led him into the greatest practical mistakes of his
career, because he was always ready to overestimate the persecuting
tendencies of the Roman Catholic States, which, since the Peace of
Westphalia, had been local and spasmodic, and to overestimate the
strength of religious conviction in the rulers of Protestant States,
as well as to imagine it possible to unite these last in a Protestant
crusade. It was a still more deplorable result that his own character
became somewhat deteriorated by the constant effort to persuade himself
that he was following the higher motives, when in reality material
considerations weighed most heavily in the scale.

In truth, Oliver's day of rule lay between two worlds--the world
in which the existence of Protestantism had been really at stake,
at the time when men so alien from the dogmatism of the sects as
Drake, Raleigh and Sidney had enlisted in its cause--and the world of
trade and manufacture, which was springing into being. Oliver's mind
comprehended both. Doubtless his mind was the roomier that it could
respond to the double current, but it was not to be expected that a
generation whose face was set in the direction of material interests
should be otherwise than impatient of a call to the Heavens to place
themselves on the side of English trade.

During the greater part of 1654 Oliver had been hesitating whether
to ally himself with Spain or with France. For some time he inclined
to the side of Spain. His religious sympathies were touched by the
sufferings of the French Huguenots. The succour which he proposed
to convey to them would have brought him into direct alliance with
Spain, and it was only the revelation of Spanish financial and
military weakness which turned him aside from his project. Then came
a suggestion long weighed and finally taken up, for carrying on war
against the Spanish West Indies. It would be hard to deny that, even in
modern eyes, a _casus belli_, apart from all ideal schemes of weakening
the Government which sheltered the Inquisition, was to be found--not
in the refusal of the Spanish authorities to allow English ships to
trade in the Spanish islands, but in the deliberate seizure of English
ships and the enslavement of English crews guilty of no other crime
than that of being bound for Barbados or for some other English colony.
The strangest part of the matter is that Oliver closed his eyes to the
natural consequence of an attack upon a Spanish colony. He fancied
that it would be still possible to carry out the Elizabethan plan of
keeping peace in Europe and making war in the Indies. He was probably
strengthened in this opinion by the fact that, almost from the first
days of the Commonwealth, a war of reprisals had been going on at sea
with France without disturbing the nominally amicable relations between
the two countries. Why should he not take a West Indian Island as a
reprisal for the seizure of English ships, and peace be maintained with
Spain as if nothing had happened?

Before the end of 1654 two fleets sailed on their several missions.
The one, under Blake, entered the Mediterranean, where he was most
hospitably received by the Governors of the Spanish ports and by the
officials of the Grand Duke of Tuscany at Leghorn. He ransomed a number
of English captives at Algiers, but the Bey of Tunis, some of whose
subjects had recently been sold for galley-slaves to the Knights of
Malta by an English scoundrel, was naturally less compliant. Blake
destroyed nine of his vessels at Porto Farina, but Tunis itself was
inaccessible, and he was unable to recover a single English slave
from that quarter. Penn sailed for Barbados with some 2,500 soldiers
on board under Venables. Both in Barbados and in other English islands
reinforcements were shipped, and with this ill-compounded force a
landing was effected in Hispaniola. The attempt to seize on the city
of San Domingo failed, and the expedition sailed for Jamaica, at that
time little more than a desert island, and established itself in
possession. Some years passed before the colony became self-supporting,
but Oliver was unremitting in his resolution not only to increase
the numbers of the first military settlers, but to supply them with
all things necessary for the foundation of homes in the wilderness.
It was annoying that the first operations in the Spanish West Indies
had opened with a check, but it was doubtless fortunate that the new
English colony was not built up on Spanish foundations. The soldiers
who, on their march towards San Domingo, pelted with oranges an image
of the Virgin which they had torn down from the walls of a deserted
monastery, would hardly have been at their best in the midst of a Roman
Catholic population.

Much to Oliver's surprise, the news of the proceedings of his men in
Hispaniola aroused the bitterest indignation at Madrid, an indignation
already, to some extent, aroused when Blake sailed out through the
Straits of Gibraltar to meet and capture the treasure ships expected
from America. The features of Philip IV. as--thanks to the brush of
Velasquez--they meet us in every noted gallery in Europe, are not
those of a man remarkable for wisdom, but he had none of the lingering
hesitancy of his grandfather, Philip II. He ordered the seizure of the
property of English merchants in Spanish harbours; and Oliver, after
balancing for two years between France and Spain, had the question
decided by his own mistaken belief that the world of Elizabeth remained
unchanged. The breach with Spain necessitated a reconsideration of the
relations between England and France. Ever since his accession to the
Protectorate, Oliver had evaded the demands of the French Ambassador,
Bordeaux, for a cessation of the war of reprisals at sea which had been
bequeathed him by the Commonwealth. As English privateers captured
more prizes than those of the French, he was in no hurry to bring the
situation to an end till he obtained of Mazarin, the virtual ruler of
France, a tacit understanding that the Huguenots should no longer be
maltreated, and an express undertaking to expel from France the English
Royal family and the chief Royalists in attendance on the exiled Court.
Whilst these questions were still under discussion, an event occurred
which, more than any other single action in his life, brought into
relief the higher side of Cromwell's character and policy. In January,
1655, the young Duke of Savoy--or rather his mother, who, though he
had come to years of discretion, acted in his name--ordered that the
Vaudois, whose religion, though now akin to the Protestantism of the
seventeenth century, dated from mediæval times, should be removed from
the plain at the foot of the Piedmontese Valleys into which they had
spread, to the upper and barer reaches, on the pretext that they had
broken the bounds assigned them by his ancestors. In April his troops
entered the valley, slaying and torturing as they went. When the
news reached England in May, Oliver's heart was moved to its depths.
He ordered a day of humiliation to be held, and a house-to-house
visitation to collect money for the sufferers. Upwards of £38,000 was
gathered in the end, the Protector heading the list with £2,000. He
sent a Minister to Turin to remonstrate, but his warmest appeals were
addressed to Mazarin, the all-powerful Minister of Louis XIV., as
some French troops, acting as allies of the Duke in his war against
the Spaniards in Italy, had been concerned in the massacre. Mazarin
was plainly told that there would be no treaty with France till these
massacres were stopped. The French Minister had been so long deluded of
his hope of a treaty that this threat alone might not have terrified
him, but he feared that Oliver would hire the Protestant Swiss to
take part against the Duke of Savoy, and that all thought of fighting
the Spaniards in Italy would have to be laid aside for that year.
Communications passed between Paris and Turin, and the Duke of Savoy
issued his pardon--such was the term employed--to the surviving Vaudois.

Milton's sonnet marks well this highest point of the Protector's action
upon Continental States:--

      Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints, whose bones
          Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold;
          Even them who kept thy truth so pure of old,
          When all our fathers worshipped stocks and stones
      Forget not: in thy book record their groans
          Who were thy sheep, and in their ancient fold
          Slain by the bloody Piedmontese, that rolled
          Mother with infant down the rocks. Their moans
      The vales redoubled to the hills, and they
          To heaven. Their martyred blood and ashes sow
          O'er all the Italian fields, where still doth sway
      The triple Tyrant; that from these may grow
          A hundred fold, who having learnt thy way
          Early may fly the Babylonian woe.

In championing the Vaudois, Oliver's Puritanism had served the noblest
interests of humanity. With somewhat of the poet's fervour Milton
saw in the defence of the oppressed victims of the Duke of Savoy a
challenge to the spiritual tyranny of Papal Rome. It made Oliver,
we may be sure, more ready to take up the challenge of Spain, and
to come to terms with the French Government which had spoken on
the side of tolerance. Yet, enthusiastically Puritan as he was, he
could not deal with the external affairs of England from a merely or
even a mainly religious point of view. His position would not allow
it--nor his character. The mingling of spiritual with worldly motives
might produce strange results. At one time it elevated and ennobled
action. At another time the two motives might clash together, the one
frustrating the other. In the stand taken by Oliver on behalf of the
Vaudois, the spiritual had predominated over the material aim. In the
breach with Spain, his belief in the predominance of the religious
motive burnt strongly in Oliver's own mind: it was less conspicuous to
onlookers.

The first result of the quarrel between England and Spain was the
conclusion of a commercial treaty with France, which put an end to the
war of reprisals which had now lasted more than six years. All question
of a closer alliance was reserved, perhaps rather because it demanded
time for consideration than because there was any doubt in Oliver's
mind as to his intention in the matter. Before the war had been far
prolonged the exiled King took refuge in the Spanish Netherlands,
holding close communication with Englishmen who plotted the destruction
of the Protector, whilst privateers issuing from Dunkirk and Ostend
preyed upon English commerce and irritated the London merchants who
had no enthusiasm for a religious war, and who regretted the loss of
their goods seized in Spanish ports. In the spring and summer of 1656
the necessity of doing something against an active enemy established
so near the English coast would have driven Oliver into the arms of
France even if he had not already contemplated such an alliance. Yet
it was during these very months that the desired end seemed to be
eluding his grasp. Mazarin, unwilling to allow an English garrison to
occupy Dunkirk as the price of the Protector's alliance, was doing
his best to come to terms with Spain, which would have enabled him
to dispense with English aid. It was not till the approach of autumn
that the French Minister, discovering that his overtures to Philip
IV. had been made in vain, bowed to the inevitable, and agreed to
hand over Dunkirk to England, if it could be wrested from Spain by
the united effort of the two countries. What a vista was opened up of
vast military and naval expenditure by the mere enunciation of such a
project! The reduction of the army in the summer of 1655 could hardly
be maintained under these altered circumstances; and with an increased
army and navy, what chance was there for that government according to
the Instrument which had been the corner-stone of Oliver's domestic
policy?

The difficulty was the greater because in the summer of 1656 it
appeared that the plan of policing the country by a militia under
Major-Generals had broken down financially. Meetings of officers were
summoned in June to discuss the situation, and though the Protector was
at first inclined to raise fresh taxation on his own sole authority, he
soon recognised that such a step would be too unpopular to meet with
success, and resolved that another Parliament must be summoned. Before
the new Parliament met, Oliver had recourse to one of those startling
privileges which the Instrument might be quoted as having conferred on
his Government. That constitution assigned to the Council the right
of examining and rejecting such members as might be elected without
possessing the qualifications imposed by it on members of Parliament,
a right which the Council now exercised in the rejection of at least
ninety-three hostile members. In the case of Royalists chosen by
constituencies the Council was undoubtedly in the right in annulling
their elections, at least so far as the constitution was concerned.
In refusing admission to Republicans like Scott and Hazlerigg it was
compelled to have recourse to a quibble. It was true that the Council
was empowered by the Instrument to reject members who were not 'of
known integrity'. That body with at least the tacit approval of the
Protector now interpreted those words as giving them power to reject
members not of known integrity to the existing constitution. For
once in his life Oliver demeaned himself to act in the spirit of a
pettifogging attorney. Base as the action was, it was only possible
because the greater number of those admitted to their seats, whether
through the pressure put upon the country by the Major-Generals, or
because they looked with more hopefulness to the Protector, were now
prepared to give him their support. In the speech with which Oliver
opened the session on September 17, he did his best to rouse the
indignation of his hearers against Spain. "Why, truly," he urged, "your
great enemy is the Spaniard. He is a natural enemy. He is naturally so;
he is naturally so throughout--by reason of that enmity that is in him
against whatsoever is of God." It was the key-note of Oliver's feeling
in this matter in his more exalted mood. His sentiments as a patriotic
Englishman found vent in a long catalogue of wrongs suffered at the
hands of Spaniards from Elizabeth's time to his own. His defiance of
Spain was followed by an attack on Charles Stuart,--now dwelling on
Spanish soil, and hopefully looking to Spain for troops to replace
him on the throne--in which he referred to him as 'a captain to lead
us back into Egypt'. Then came a retrospect on the Cavalier plots and
a justification of the Major-Generals, who had been established to
repress them. The war with Spain must be prosecuted vigorously--in
other words, money must be voted to maintain the struggle at home
and abroad. Oliver's speech did not all turn upon what ordinary men
term politics. "Make it a shame," he cried, "to see men bold in sin
and profaneness, and God will bless you. You will be a blessing to
the nation; and by this will be more repairers of breaches than by
anything in the world. Truly these things do respect the souls of men,
and the spirits--which are the men. The mind is the man. If that be
kept pure, a man signifies somewhat; if not, I would very fain see what
difference there is betwixt him and a beast. He hath only some activity
to do some more mischief." It was the voice of the higher--because more
universal--Puritanism which rang in these words, a voice which soared
to worlds above the region of ceremonial form or doctrinal dispute,
echoing, as from the lips of a man of practical wrestlings with the
world, the voice of the imaginative poet who, in the days of his youth,
had taught that

      So dear to Heaven is saintly chastity
      That, when a soul is found sincerely so,
      A thousand liveried angels lackey her,
      Driving far off each thing of sin and guilt,
      And in clear dream and solemn vision
      Tell her of things that no gross ear can hear,
      Till oft converse with heavenly habitants
      Begin to cast a beam on the outward shape,
      The unpolluted temple of the mind,
      And turns it by degrees to the soul's essence
      Till all be made immortal.

Oliver had to touch earth again with a financial statement and to crave
for Parliamentary supplies. A demand for money was not particularly
welcome to the members, and they preferred to wrangle for some weeks
over the case of James Naylor, a fanatic who had allowed himself to
be greeted as the Messiah by his feminine admirers. In October news
came that Stayner, in command of a detachment from Blake's fleet,
had destroyed or captured a part of the Plate Fleet off the Spanish
coast, and in the following month the carts were rolling through the
London streets on their way to the Tower with silver worth £200,000.
Emboldened by this success, Oliver's confidants brought in a bill
perpetuating the decimation of the Royalists by act of Parliament. The
bill was rejected, and hard words were spoken of the Major-Generals.
Oliver accepted the decision of the House, and the Major-Generals were
withdrawn.

There is good reason to believe that Oliver consented willingly to the
vote. He was never one to persist in methods once adopted, if he could
obtain his larger aims in some other way. The debates had revealed that
the house was divided into two parties, a minority clinging to the army
as a political force, and a majority calling for the establishment of
the government on a civil basis. The latter was even more devoted to
the Protector than the former, and Oliver, who in his heart concurred
with their views, was prepared, as indeed he had been prepared in
1654, to submit the Instrument to revision. The difference was that
he was assured now--as he had not been assured then--that Parliament
would sustain the fundamental principles which he regarded as the most
precious part of the constitution.

In January, 1657, a fresh attempt to assassinate the Protector--this
time by Miles Sindercombe--gave reason, or perhaps excuse, for
loyal demonstrations, and a month later the House entered upon the
discussion of a proposal for a constitutional revision, ultimately
known as _The Humble Petition and Advice_, of which the article which
attracted the most general attention was that which reconstituted the
Kingship in the person of Oliver, with the power of nominating his
own successor. The demand for the revival of the Kingship was no mere
work of zealous flatterers. The crown was held in the House to be the
symbol of civilian as opposed to military government, but for this
reason the offer of it was assailed by the leading officers, headed
by Lambert who, in 1653, had offered the crown to the man to whom he
now refused it. So far as the officers were concerned, they appear to
have been actuated, in part at least, by a dread that a Parliamentary
Protectorate would in the end turn out to be other than a Puritan
Protectorate. Lambert's own motives were somewhat more difficult to
unravel. Possibly he regarded a Kingship by the grace of Parliament
less of a boon than a Kingship by the grace of the army. Still more
probably was he moved by a personal grievance in seeing Fleetwood,
who had now returned from Ireland, higher than himself in the favour
of the Protector, perhaps even in the favour of the army. In any case
he carried on the campaign with consummate skill, keeping aloof from
the constitutional question, and throwing all his strength into the
argument--which the rudest soldier could understand--that the army had
not rejected one king in order to set up another. When he won over
Fleetwood and Desborough, the son-in-law and brother-in-law of the
Protector, to his side, he had practically won the game, especially
as he was able to back a petition against a revival of the Royal
title by the subscription of a hundred officers. Oliver kept up the
negotiation with Parliament as long as he could, but in the end he
refused the crown offered to him rather than alienate the army. The
remaining articles of the Humble Petition and Advice were then agreed
to, and on June 26 Oliver was solemnly installed as Protector, under a
Parliamentary title, with all but Royal pomp at Westminster Hall.

Too much has been made by some modern writers of Oliver's defeat on
the question of the Kingship. The title, as he himself truly said,
would have been but a feather in his cap. It is doubtful whether its
acceptance would have disarmed a single enemy. The rocks upon which
the Protector was running were of a far too substantial character to
be removed by the assumption of an ill-fitting symbol. Whether he wore
a crown or not, no one could have regarded Oliver as Charles I. had
been regarded; or even as William III., who in some sort continued the
Protector's work, came afterwards to be regarded.

Apart from the really unimportant question of the crown, the military
party had for the time been beaten all along the line. Not only had the
Major-Generals disappeared, and Lambert himself, driven to surrender
all his offices, military or civil, retired to the cultivation of
tulips at Wimbledon; but the Humble Petition and Advice, that is
to say, a Parliamentary constitution, had entirely displaced the
Instrument of government as the fundamental law of the three nations.
The more important of the stipulations of the new constitution
were necessarily of the nature of a compromise. In return for the
establishment of a second House composed of his own nominees, the
Protector was able to abandon the claim of the Council to exclude
members of what must now be regarded as the House of Commons--seeing
that a vote with which he was dissatisfied would be of no avail if
it was no more than the vote of a single House. Nor was it only an
occasional check on the old House that he had gained. The new House,
nominated by himself in the first place, was endowed with the right
in the future of excluding from its benches any new member nominated
by himself or by a future Protector. As he took care to name none who
were not strong Puritans and devoted to the Protectorate, he expected
that the new House would be able, for all time, to reject legislation
contrary to the interests of Puritanism or to the Protectoral
constitution. The question of finance, which had wrecked the last
Parliament, was settled in a way equally satisfactory to the Protector.
The number of soldiers to be kept on foot was passed over in silence,
whilst the same sum, £1,800,000, which had been approved by the first
Protectorate Parliament as needful for the wants of the army and navy
together with those of the domestic government, was now granted, not
for five years as had been proposed by the former Parliament, but
till the Protector and the two Houses agreed to alter it. The scheme
by which the Instrument had fixed the strength of the army at 30,000
men, and had then left the Protector and Council free to levy whatever
supplies they thought needful for its support, was deliberately left
out of account. On paper, the terms of agreement showed fairly enough.
England had at last got a constitution which was no production of
a military coterie. Protector and Parliament were at last at one.
Unfortunately, those who had welcomed this fair concord took little
account of the forces which were likely to govern events in the not far
distant future--the force of the army, whose handiwork had been set at
nought--the force of the Parliamentary tradition strengthened by the
work of the Long Parliament--and, above all, the force of discontent
with the shifting sands on which the new Government was built, a
discontent which might easily show itself in a national call for the
restoration of the Stuart King--not because his person was loved, but
because he would bring with him what appeared to be the strong basis of
old use and wont.

Oliver was not wholly absorbed in constitutional struggles or in
foreign conflicts. In administration his Government stands supreme
above all which had preceded it, because no other ruler united so
wide a tolerance of divergencies of opinion with so keen an eye for
individual merit. He could gather round him the enthusiastic Milton to
pen those dignified State Papers in which he announced his resolutions
to the Powers of Europe; Andrew Marvell, the most transparently
honest of men, who, with all his admiration for Oliver, had mingled
in the verses written by him as a panegyric on his patron those lines
recording Charles's dignified appearance on the scaffold, which will be
remembered when all his other writings in prose or verse are forgotten.
In Oliver's Council sat Bulstrode Whitelocke, the somewhat stolid
lawyer, who, too cautious to give a precedent approval to Oliver's
revolutionary acts, was always ready to accept the situation created by
them, and yet sufficiently inspired by professional feeling to resign
his post as Commissioner of the Great Seal rather than accept the
Protector's reforms in the Court of Chancery. There too sat Nathaniel
Fiennes, the second son of Lord Saye and Sele, not indeed a statesman
with broad views, but ready at any moment to pen State papers in
defence of a Government which had rescued him from the neglect into
which he had fallen--probably undeservedly--in consequence of his hasty
surrender of Bristol in the Civil War. Amongst Oliver's diplomatists
were Morland and Lockhart. Amongst his admirals, the honoured Blake
and the ever-faithful Montague. Amongst those who at one time or
another were his chaplains were Owen, the ecclesiastical statesman, and
Howe, whose exemplary piety led him to doubt whether the Protector's
household was sufficiently religious, and whose broad-minded charity
prepared him to abandon the Church of the Restoration, not because it
was un-Puritan, but because it was exclusive.

Yet, after all is said, the list of ancient allies driven by the
Protector from public life, and in some cases actually deprived of
liberty, was even more noteworthy. The most placable of men could
hardly have avoided a quarrel with John Lilburne, of whom it was
said that if he alone were left alive in the world, John would
dispute with Lilburne and Lilburne with John; but it is at least
remarkable that under Oliver's sway Vane, whom he had long dealt
with as a brother; Harrison, who had fought under him from the very
beginning of the Civil War, and who had stood by his side when the
members of the Long Parliament were thrust out of doors; Hazlerigg,
who had kept guard over the English border in the crisis of Dunbar;
Okey, who had led the dragoons at Naseby; Overton, the trusted
Governor of Hull, next to London the most important military post in
England; Lambert, who had taken a foremost part in the preparation
of the Instrument of Government; Cooper, who had been one of his
most trusted councillors--to say nothing of confidants of less
conspicuous note--were either in prison or in disgrace. When the second
Protectorate, as it is sometimes called, was launched on its course,
the only man not connected with the family of the Protector, who
still occupied anything like an independent position, was Monk, the
Governor and Commander-in-Chief in Scotland, and it is probable that
he owed his authority to the distance which kept him from interfering
in English politics. The true explanation appears to be that the men
from whom Oliver parted were men not merely of definite principles, but
of definite ideas. Each one had made up his mind that England was to
be served by the establishment of some particular form of government,
or some particular course of action. Oliver's mind was certainly not
without the guidance of definite principles. He could not conceive it
to be right to abandon religion to men who, whether Episcopalian or
Presbyterian, would impose fetters on the freedom of 'the people of
God'. He could not admit the claim of an hereditary monarch or of an
elected Parliament to decide against the best interests of the country.
Within these limits, however, his mind was more elastic than those of
his opponents. Steadied by his high aims, he could vary the methods
with which he combated each evil of the day as it arose. Those who
attached themselves to him in his struggle against the King or against
the different Parliaments of his time, or against the military power,
were as incapable as he was capable of facing round to confront each
new danger as it arose. From the moment that each partial victory was
won, the old friends had to be reasoned with, then discarded, and at
last restrained from doing mischief. As years went on, Oliver, in spite
of the abilities of those still serving under him, became increasingly
an isolated man. Not only did his strong sense of religion in its
Puritan form alienate those who were not Puritans or not religious,
but his frequent changes of attitude bewildered that easy-going mass
of mankind which sticks to its own theory, more especially if its own
interests are embodied in it, and regards all change of political
method as a veil intended to conceal moral turpitude. Oliver had
decidedly lost adherents since the establishment of the Protectorate.

It was probably the increasing sense of the untrustworthiness of
political support, rather than nepotism in its ordinary sense, which
led the Protector to rely more and more on the services of members of
his own family. His younger son, Henry Cromwell, was now Lord Deputy
of Ireland. His son-in-law, Fleetwood, was not only a member of the
Council, but, now that Lambert was in disgrace, the most influential
officer in the army, marked out for its command if Oliver were to
pass away. His brother-in-law, Desborough, occupied a position hardly
inferior. Two other brothers-in-law, Colonel John Jones and Colonel
Valentine Wauton, were members of the Council in England or Ireland.
Lockhart, one of the few Scotchmen who had rallied to the Protectorate,
and who was engaged as a diplomatist in riveting the bonds between
France and England, took to wife the Protector's niece. A son-in-law,
John Claypole, was now Master of the Horse. In the army, Whalley and
Ingoldsby were his cousins. Not one of these, however, failed to occupy
with credit the position he had acquired, whilst Oliver's reluctance
to push forward Richard, the elder of his surviving sons, may be taken
as evidence that his affection for his family did not override his
devotion to the State. Richard's tastes lay in the direction of dogs
and horses. He had recently broken his leg, hunting in the New Forest,
and, upon his recovery, was brought up to Westminster to assume his
place, on the establishment of the second Protectorate. Before that
time, only two of the Councillors not holding other office, Lambert
and Strickland, had received the title of "Lord," probably having it
verbally conferred upon them, and certainly not, as has been sometimes
said, in connection with any Household appointment. Officials of
high rank had--like the Lord Deputy and the Lord Keeper of the old
monarchy--been entitled Lords, as in the case of Whitelocke, now Lord
Commissioner of the Treasury, and Fiennes, Lord Commissioner of the
Great Seal. Gradually usage, quickly sanctioned by official notice,
gave the title of Lord to the Protector's sons and sons-in-law, and
of Lady to his daughters. The Lord Richard was only admitted to the
Council on the last day of 1657, and was treated with some of the
observances due to the heir, but till the last his father held back
from exercising that power of nominating a successor which had been
conferred on him by the latest constitution.

So far as in him lay, Oliver took care that his family should be an
example to all the families in the land. Strict as he was in banishing
not merely vice, but the folly that leads to vice, he was no more
opposed to reasonable amusement than other more sober Puritans of
the day. Music and song had a special charm for him, and amongst
his soldiers he showed his appreciation of a healthy jest, laughing
heartily, for instance, on his way to the campaign of Dunbar, when
one of them slammed an overturned cream-tub on the head of another.
After the victory at Worcester he was heard of in a hawking party
near Aylesbury, and if he prohibited horse-races, together with the
drama, cock-fights and bear-baitings, it was not because he disliked
amusement, but partly because he set himself against the immorality
with which these particular amusements were accompanied, and partly
because the confluence of spectators concealed the assembling of
Royalist and other conspirators. Of horses he was quite as good a
judge as his son Richard, and it was from a spirited pair of runaway
steeds which had been given to him by the Count of Oldenburg that he
nearly met his death in the early days of the Protectorate. Of late
years Oliver's enjoyment of country life had been much curtailed. Other
rulers had been in the habit of making summer progresses which took
them away from business and the life of towns. Oliver--if he invented
nothing else--may be regarded as the inventor of that modified form of
enjoyment to which hard-worked citizens have, in our day, given the
name of the 'week-end'. Liable to assault on every hand, he did not
venture to leave the seat of Government for long, and he found repose
in a weekly visit to Hampton Court, which lasted from Saturday to
Monday, the length of his sojourn being only rarely extended by illness
or some unusual family occurrence.

The domestic life of the Protector was all that might be expected from
a man whose heart was as warm as his spirit was high. In the midst of
his most arduous labours he seldom passed a day, as long as he was at
Whitehall, on which he did not dine and sup in the family circle, and
up till his aged mother's death in 1654 he was in the habit of visiting
her every night before she retired to rest. Of his four daughters two
were already married, the eldest, Bridget, after the death of her first
husband, Ireton, having become the wife of Fleetwood; and the second,
the sprightly and graceful Elizabeth, had married John, otherwise
Lord Claypole, whom the Protector had entrusted with the charge of
his stables, under the style of Master of the Horse. On November 11,
1657, some months after the commencement of the second Protectorate,
Frances, the youngest of the four, was married to Robert Rich, the
grandson of the Earl of Warwick, the Lord High Admiral of the Long
Parliament, and in the following week her sister Mary was married to
Lord Fauconberg. The first of these two marriages was long delayed by
the Protector's doubts as to the character of the suitor, as well as by
his dissatisfaction with the proposed settlement--Oliver's moral sense
once more entwining itself with his practical decisions. It was said at
the time that he valued the Fauconberg alliance more than that with the
Warwick family, as winning over a Royalist peer to his side.

Not one of Oliver's four daughters ever gave their father cause for
real anxiety. Though they were less strenuous than himself and
sometimes needed, in his judgment, to be spurred on to higher spiritual
aims, he never seems to have addressed them otherwise than as those who
were worthy of parental love. If he really preferred Lady Claypole to
his other daughters, it was most likely because she was more sprightly
and less outwardly pious than her sisters. "Your sister Claypole," he
had written to Bridget soon after she had become Ireton's wife, "is, I
trust in mercy, exercised with some perplexed thoughts. She sees her
own vanity and carnal mind; bewailing it. She seeks after--as I hope
also--what will satisfy: and thus to be a seeker is to be of the best
sect next to a finder; and such an one shall every faithful humble
seeker be at the end. Happy seeker, happy finder! Who ever tasted
that the Lord is gracious, without some sense of self, vanity, and
badness? Who ever tasted that graciousness of His, and could go less in
desire--less than pressing after full enjoyment?" Of Bridget herself he
writes with fuller assurance. "Dear Heart," he continues, "press on;
let no husband, let not anything cool thy affections after Christ. I
hope he will be an occasion to inflame them. That which is best worthy
of love in thy husband is that of the image of Christ he bears. Look
on that, and love it best, and all the rest for that. I pray for thee
and him; do so for me." Yet even Bridget was far from answering to the
modern conception of the Puritan lady, as is testified by the splendid
yellow silk petticoat which has been handed down from generation to
generation in the family of her eldest daughter. Nevertheless it was
not Bridget's vanity which was most on her father's mind. Five years
later, in writing to his wife from Edinburgh, he begs her to 'mind
poor Betty,' _i.e._ Elizabeth, Lady Claypole, 'of the Lord's great
mercy,' and to urge her to 'take heed of a departing heart and of being
cozened with worldly vanities and worldly company, which I doubt she
is too subject to'. The liveliness which caused such searchings of
heart was doubtless the tie which bound more firmly Oliver's love to
her. One day we hear of her demurely assuring Whitelocke that it was
fear of his great influence which had caused her father to send him
out of the way to Sweden when he was about to assume the Protectorate.
At another time we are told of her driving with her cousin Ingoldsby
and two of her sisters, all the three ladies dressed in green, whilst
the courtier-like crowd watch their movements and bow as they pass.
Then we hear of the scornful language in which, with the pride of a
lady by birth as well as by her father's advancement, she accounted
for the absence of the wives of some of the Major-Generals from an
entertainment at which she took part: "I warrant you they are washing
their dishes at home as they used to do". Yet withal she had an open
ear for trouble, and a ready tongue to plead not in vain the cause of
the innocent with her father. By the summer of 1657 her health had been
failing, and at one time her life had been despaired of.

Oliver's own health was far from being such as to promise length of
days. Though he had had no serious illness since the time when his life
was in danger in Scotland after the toils and anxiety of the Dunbar
campaign, short spells of ill-health are frequently mentioned, and the
Venetian Ambassador, presented to him in the autumn of 1655, noticed
the shaking hand with which he held his hat in welcoming him, a symptom
of weakness which left its mark on his hand-writing during the later
period of his life. In the summer of 1657 he was detained at Hampton
Court by illness, apparently of the character of malarial fever, for
more than a week. Yet his spirit was as high, his resolution as strong
as ever. At no time had the state of public affairs made larger demands
upon his mental powers than in the last fourteen months of his life.
It is true that the adoption of the new Parliamentary constitution
had appeared for a moment to have solved the problem of domestic
government, but his sagacity would have been far less than it was if he
had imagined that all his difficulties were at an end.

If, on the other hand, the Protector looked abroad, fortune appeared to
smile. Whilst Parliament was still in session, news arrived that Blake
had destroyed the Spanish treasure fleet under the protection of forts
in the harbour of Santa Cruz in Teneriffe. It was the most hazardous,
and consequently the most glorious action of a noble and patriotic
life. Worn out by toils and exposure, Blake sought and obtained leave
to come home in search of the rest he so sorely needed. Before the
vessel that bore him reached Plymouth his spirit had passed away. The
great admiral was honoured with a public funeral in Westminster Abbey.

Spain, with her supply of treasure from the Indies cut short, was
incapacitated from serious warlike effort, and already the alliance
was forged which was to force her into submission. Even before the
victory was won at Santa Cruz a treaty had been signed between Oliver
and Louis XIV., arranging for a joint attack on the Spanish fortresses
of Dunkirk, Mardyke and Gravelines, the first two to fall to the share
of England, the last to that of France. An English force of 6,000 men
was to be combined with a French force of 20,000, the blockade at sea
being entrusted to an English fleet. Half the English contingent was
at once despatched under Sir John Reynolds, but either the necessities
of war, or the reluctance of Mazarin to carry out his engagements, led
him to prefer the distant siege of Montmédy to an attack on the coast
towns, and it was only after a warm expostulation from the Protector
that measures were taken to carry out the treaty. Of the quality of
the English contingent there could be no doubt. Turenne--whose praise
in military matters was praise indeed--declared that he had never
seen finer troops. As soon as Mazarin was found to be in earnest, the
remaining 3,000 men were despatched to Flanders, and before the end
of October Mardyke was captured and loyally placed in the hands of
an English garrison. Farther than this it was impossible to go at so
advanced a season. In the summer of 1658, the combined armies defeated
the Spaniards on the Dunes, and Dunkirk itself was added to the
possessions of England on the Continent.

The wisdom of a foreign policy which gave England a land-frontier in
Europe has been often discussed, and the conflict of argument has
not yet died away. It is true that in later years this country has
had forced on it the task of securing colonial possessions which,
in some cases for thousands of miles, march with territories held
by independent, and possibly hostile States. There is, however,
no comparison between an enormous territory, such as the Dominion
of Canada, inhabited by an increasing and loyal population, and a
fortified post, such as that of Dunkirk, the inhabitants of which were
alien in race and religion from the English garrison which was to hold
them down, especially as Dunkirk was a mere port on the edge of a
Continent held by great nations, two of which coveted its possession,
and would certainly leave no stone unturned to recover it. The only
parallels in our history worth considering are the occupation of Calais
in the middle ages, and of Gibraltar in modern times. It is idle to
speculate whether, if Dunkirk had not been surrendered amicably to
France by Charles II., it would have undergone the fate of Calais, but
it is not idle to remind ourselves that, whilst Gibraltar is occupied
in order to keep the sea open, and has never been used as a threat to
the independence of Spain, Dunkirk, as we know from Thurloe, to whom
all the secrets of Oliver's mind were revealed, was occupied in the
first place, as a menace to the Dutch maritime power, and in the second
place, to enable England to interfere with effect against either France
or Spain, whilst it was believed by Mazarin that Oliver's main object
was to crush the growing power of France. These pretensions might be
condemned or defended on abstract grounds, leaving out of account any
particular circumstances or any particular time. What is absolutely
certain is that such a policy, if it were to be successful, required
not merely the prolongation of Oliver's life, but the continuation, and
more than the continuation of his military system. At a time when the
English nation--it matters not whether with just cause, or from mere
impatience of a taxation which it was well able to bear--was bitterly
complaining of the heavy burdens imposed by the necessity of keeping
up the existing army, Oliver was embarking on a foreign policy which
would topple down with a crash unless that army were doubled--perhaps
even trebled--to make head against the enemies it would arouse. It
was a policy condemned in advance if only by the desperate financial
embarrassments which must follow in its train, when France was no
longer bound to England by her need of help against Spain. The
hostility of France might indeed be confronted by a Government strong
in the devotion of its people, and in the accumulated wealth of another
half-century of commerce--strong too in an alliance with military
Powers, based on the need of joining in resistance to a common danger.
If Oliver had been granted those twenty more years of life which
enthusiastic worshippers hold necessary for the success of his schemes,
it can hardly be doubted that a European coalition would have been
formed against the Protector long before it was formed against Louis
XIV.

Such a danger, great as it was from the mere political claims of the
Protector, was immensely increased by his attempt to inspire his
foreign policy--hazardous enough in itself--with a moral and religious
sentiment which found but little echo in England, and none whatever on
the Continent. No doubt it was Oliver's highest glory that he aimed
at something more satisfying than the material gain and the material
power which are often held to be the sufficing objects of a nation's
endeavour, and his interference on behalf of the victims of Piedmontese
cruelty has sunk as deeply into the memories of Englishmen as the
massacre of Drogheda has sunk into the memories of Irishmen. It is to
be hoped that no one whose opinion is worth having will ever reproach
Oliver for having sought to use his strength in defence not only of the
power and interests of his country, but also of her honour--an honour
which consists, not in a touchy resentment of slights, but mainly in
her readiness to help in the higher service of mankind beyond her
own borders as well as within them. Yet there is no effort requiring
greater discretion, greater accuracy in ascertaining the relative
importance of complex facts, greater knowledge of the temper of those
who are likely to be affected by the action intended for the benefit of
others.

It was precisely in this direction that Oliver's mind was most
defective. From the beginning of the Protectorate he had overestimated
the danger to Protestantism from the Roman Catholic Powers, and had
striven in vain to form a great Protestant alliance to resist what was
scarcely more than an imaginary danger. The massacre of the Vaudois had
confirmed his belief that the danger was a permanent one, and his war
with Spain had brought him into sharp antagonism with a Roman Catholic
Power of intensest bigotry. We may therefore give full credence to
Thurloe when he adds to the causes which induced Oliver to occupy
Dunkirk, his hope that the possession of the place would be serviceable
to his great design of weakening not merely Spain, but the whole House
of Austria, as being engaged in a conspiracy for the injury and, if
possible, the destruction of Protestantism. That this view of the case
was a gross anachronism, no one familiar with the history of Europe
will now deny. Isolated instances indeed there were--and there were
likely to be more--of the persecution of Protestants by Roman Catholic
Governments, but the tendency to form European alliances on the basis
of religion was a thing of the past. So far indeed as Dunkirk was in
question--and both critics and admirers of the foreign policy of the
Protectorate have been apt to argue as if it concerned France and Spain
alone--Oliver's intentions in this direction are of little interest, as
he did not live long enough even to attempt to make his new port the
basis of a European war. It is in his Baltic policy that the defects of
his method were most clearly revealed.

The policy of Sweden had long been directed to the acquisition of
possessions on the opposite coast of the Baltic, a policy which Oliver
had more recently followed on a smaller scale with regard to the lands
beyond the Channel. With a territory more thinly populated and poorer
than that of England, the Kings of Sweden had, like the Commonwealth
and Protectorate, gathered an army too large to be supported except by
offensive war. The command of the Baltic Sea was the object in view,
and in 1648, at the end of the Thirty Years' War, Sweden found herself
in possession, not merely of Finland and the coast districts as far
south as Riga, but of Western Pomerania, of the port of Wismar and of
the secularised Bishoprics of Bremen and Verden. It was a policy even
more provocative than that pursued by Oliver, because it concerned
not merely the possession of a solitary point beyond the sea, but the
possession of territories commanding the mouths of such rivers as the
Oder, flowing into the Baltic, and the Elbe and the Weser, flowing
into the North Sea. In 1655 the warrior-king, Charles X., who in the
year before had succeeded to the Swedish throne upon the abdication of
Christina, plunged into a war with Poland, which threatened to give him
the command of the Vistula as well. In all this England had an interest
because it was of great importance to her that the whole trade of the
Baltic, whence she derived the materials without which she would have
been unable to send her fleets to sea, should not pass entirely into
the hands of one great military Power. It was this view of the case
which commended itself to the Dutch, and led in 1656 to their sending a
fleet into the Baltic to preserve the independence of Dantzic. Such a
view could not be lost sight of by Oliver, but it was not in his nature
to content himself with the chase after purely material interests.
Ever since the summer of 1655, when Charles X. made overtures for his
alliance, the Protector had been striving to give to it the character
of a general Protestant League for the purpose of striking a blow at
the German branch of the House of Austria.

Oliver's whole scheme can only be described as the product of
consummate ignorance--ignorance in supposing that Charles X.,
aggressive, self-centred and careless of everything but his own
interests as a king and as a soldier, was another Gustavus Adolphus--or
rather another such disinterested enthusiast as Gustavus Adolphus
appeared in the imagination of Englishmen--ignorance too in fancying
that either Austria and Poland on the one hand, or Brandenburg and
Denmark on the other, were likely to govern their movements by
religious rather than by political motives.

The crisis came in 1657, the year in which Oliver was raised by
Parliament to the constitutional Protectorate. Charles X. having
secured a hold on the mouth of the Vistula by his occupation of Western
Prussia had naturally become an object of suspicion to Frederick
William of Brandenburg--the Great Elector, as he was subsequently
styled--who saw with displeasure the growing power of Sweden on the
Baltic coast and who was urged by every consideration of policy to
secure for himself the strip of land which intervened between part
of his own possessions and the sea. Frederick III. of Denmark again,
fearing the ultimate loss of his own territory beyond the Sound, took
the opportunity of declaring against Charles, and both Brandenburg and
Denmark, Protestant as they were, looked for the support of Leopold,
who had just succeeded to the Austrian hereditary estates. Leopold,
however, instead of hurrying to the assistance of these two States, was
held back by purely political interests, and showed little inclination
to assist them. Charles X. took the opportunity and led his army
through Holstein into Schleswig and Jutland without difficulty, thus
gaining possession of the whole of the Continental States of the King
of Denmark.

The Swedish King had been ready to fool Oliver to the top of his bent.
Though he had nothing of the spirit of the crusader, he was quite
prepared to gain what advantage he could out of Oliver's enthusiasm.
Happily for England, he had rejected the Protector's proposal--made
in the spring of 1657--to take over the secularised Archbishopric of
Bremen as a security for a loan, the Archbishopric being required by
Oliver as a basis for an advance into Germany in an attack upon the
German Catholic States, a project far more unwise than the occupation
of the Flemish ports, and one which, if it had been carried into
effect, would have left little room for Oliver's panegyrists to dwell
upon the excellence of his foreign policy. For the remainder of the
year Charles was quite ready to discuss the Protestant alliance, if
only he were not required to carry it into immediate action. No doubt
he would be ready at some future time to attack Austria or any other
country if there was anything to be gained by it. For the present he
was occupied with his quarrel with Denmark, and till that had been
brought to a conclusion, there was nothing else to be done.

It was at this moment that Oliver opened the second session of his
second Parliament. Full of satisfaction with his own foreign policy,
he was also full of grieved surprise at the misconduct of Frederick
of Denmark and of Frederick William of Brandenburg, who, not without
the good will of the Dutch Republic, had thrown themselves in the path
of the new Gustavus Adolphus. Within a few days of the opening of the
session, Oliver held up to Parliament a picture of Papal Europe seeking
'everywhere Protestants to devour'. "What is there in all the parts
of Europe," he asked at last, "but a consent, a co-operating, at this
very time and season, to suppress everything that stands in the way
of the Popish powers?" "I have," he added, "I thank God, considered,
and I would beg you to consider a little with me, what that resistance
is that is likely to be made to this mighty current which seems to
be coming from all parts upon all Protestants? Who is there that
holdeth up his head to oppose this danger? A poor prince; indeed poor;
but a man in his person as gallant, and truly I think I may say, as
good as any these last ages have brought forth; and a man that hath
adventured his all against the Popish interest in Poland, and made his
acquisition still good for the Protestant religion. He is now reduced
into a corner; and what addeth to the grief of all--more grievous than
all that hath been spoken of before--I wish it may not be too truly
said--is, that men of our religion forget this and seek his ruin."
The cause of Charles X. had become very dear to Oliver, and ought, he
imagined, to be very dear to the English people. The 'Popish plot'
against the Swedish king loomed largely in his eyes. "It is a design,"
he continued, "against your very being; this artifice, and this complex
design against the Protestant interest--wherein so many Protestants
are not so right as were to be wished! If they can shut us out of the
Baltic Sea,"--with Oliver the consideration of material prosperity was
never far distant from his spiritual enthusiasm--"and make themselves
masters of that, where is your trade? Where are your materials to
preserve your shipping? Where will you be able to challenge any right
by sea, or justify yourselves against a foreign invasion on your own
soil? Think upon it; this is the design! I believe if you will go and
ask the poor mariner in his red cap and coat, as he passeth from ship
to ship, you will hardly find in any ship but they will tell you this
is designed against you. So obvious is it, by this and other things,
that you are the object; and, in my conscience, I know not for what
else, but because of the purity of the profession amongst you, who have
not yet made it your trade to prefer your profit before your godliness,
but reckon godliness the greater gain."

It was Oliver's head--not his heart--that was at fault. But a few days
after these words were spoken, Charles X. was tramping with his army
over the ice of the two Belts, in that marvellous march which landed
him in Zealand, and compelled Frederick III. to sign the Treaty of
Roeskilde which abandoned to Sweden the Danish possessions to the
east of the Sound. What then were Oliver's Ambassadors doing when
that treaty was negotiating? They were but arguing as any Dutchman or
Brandenburger might have argued, on behalf of the material interests
of their own country. They favoured Charles's wish to annex the Danish
provinces beyond the Sound, because it would leave the passage into the
Baltic under the control of two Powers instead of one. They opposed
his wish to annex more than two provinces of Norway, in order that the
monopoly of the timber trade might not fall into his hands. Of the
Protestant alliance not a word was spoken.

For all that, the Protestant alliance had not passed out of Oliver's
mind. Now that Denmark was crushed, Charles professed himself to be
quite ready to attack Leopold of Austria, if only he were allowed to
crush Brandenburg first; and in May an English Ambassador was sent
to Berlin to plead with the Elector of Brandenburg to join England
and Sweden against Leopold, to whose support Frederick William was
looking against an unprovoked attack from Charles. Happily for England,
Frederick William refused to countenance this insane proposal, and
in August Charles renewed the war against Denmark, with a fixed
determination to bring the whole of the Scandinavian territory under
his own sway, before he involved himself in those further complications
in Germany, in which Oliver, supported by Mazarin, was anxious to
involve him. "France," said the King of Sweden, "wants to limit me
and to prescribe the course I am to take, and England attempts to do
the same, but I will put myself in a position to be independent of
their orders." His Ministers spoke even more openly of their future
plans. When Denmark and Norway had been annexed, and the Baltic brought
under the undisputed control of Sweden, Courland and West Prussia must
inevitably pass into their master's hands. Then with an army of 40,000
men, supported by a navy of 100 ships, the Swedish army would march
through Germany into Italy, visit the Pope, and plunder Rome. "Their
first thought is pillage," added the French Ambassador who reported
these vapourings perhaps not without exaggeration. Charles X. was a
great soldier, but he was by no means the oppressed saint of Oliver's
imagination.

There can be little doubt that the maintenance of a war in the heart of
Germany, even with a Swedish ally, would have been far beyond Oliver's
means. The occupation of the Flemish ports had taxed his resources to
the uttermost. In the speech in which he had sung the high praises of
the Swedish king, he had been obliged to plead the necessities of the
army as a ground for his demand for fresh supplies. The pay of the army
was far in arrear, and it was on the army that he depended to keep down
hostile parties at home and to stave off a Royalist attack from abroad.
Nor was that army needed for purposes of mere defence. Picturing to
himself the majority of the Continental nations as actuated by a wild
desire to assail England, he inferred that attack was the best defence.
"You have counted yourselves happy," he said to Parliament, "in being
environed with a great ditch from all the world beside. Truly you will
not be able to keep your ditch, nor your shipping, unless you turn your
ships and shipping into troops of horse and companies of foot; and
fight to defend yourselves on _terra firma_."

This then was what Oliver's much-lauded foreign policy had come
to--more regiments, and even higher taxation than what the vast
majority of Englishmen believed to be far too high already. A great
Continental war, with all its risks and burdens, was dangled before the
eyes of a Parliament to which such an outlook had no attractions. That
Parliament was no longer the body which had voted the new constitution.
Not only were there now two Houses, but the composition of the older
House had been significantly altered. The most determined supporters of
the Protectorate had been withdrawn to occupy the benches of the new
House, whilst the clause of _The Humble Petition and Advice_, which
prohibited the Protector from ever again excluding members duly elected
from what had now become the House of Commons, opened its doors to
his most determined enemies. The men who now found their way to their
seats, such as Hazlerigg and Scott, were opposed heart and soul to the
whole system of the Protectorate, and longed for the re-establishment
of Parliamentary supremacy. Such men were the more dangerous because
they were sufficiently versed in Parliamentary tactics to know the
advantage of a rallying cry which would bring the lukewarm to their
side. The powers and attributes of the other House were ill-defined
in the constitutional document to which it owed its birth, and it was
easy to gain adherents by urging that it was not entitled either to the
name or the privileges of the House of Lords of the Monarchy. After
some days of wrangling, the Protector resolved to put an end to the
debates. It was hard, he complained, to have accepted a constitutional
settlement on the invitation of that very Parliament, and then to have
it brought into question. "I can say," he continued, "in the presence
of God--in comparison with whom we are but like poor creeping ants upon
the earth--I would have been glad to have lived under my wood side
to have kept a flock of sheep, rather than to have undertaken such a
government as this. But undertaking it by the advice and petition of
you, I did look that you who had offered it unto me should make it
good."

Such language must appear to those who judge by the recorded words and
actions of this Parliament to be without adequate justification. It is
undeniable that the constitution contained no definition of the powers
of the new House, and if there had been no other than the ostensible
question at issue, it would have been unreasonable in Oliver to hurry
on a crisis before attempting, directly or indirectly, to suggest terms
of compromise. As a matter of fact this question of the other House was
very far from covering the whole ground of debate. A petition to which
thousands of signatures were appended was being circulated in the City,
asking for a complete restitution of Parliamentary supremacy and--no
doubt to catch the support of a certain section of the army--for an
enactment that no officer or soldier should be cashiered without the
sentence of a court martial. Oliver was perfectly right in holding
that the attack on the other House was equivalent to an assault on the
constitutional Protectorate. He had himself looked to that House as
restoring to him in another form the powers which he had abandoned when
he let fall the Instrument. By keeping in his own hands the selection
of its members, and providing that that House should have a veto on
subsequent nominations--the principle of inheritance being totally
excluded--he imagined that he had sufficiently provided for the future.
His objects in so doing may be taken as those set forth by a writer who
had ample means of gathering his intentions. "It was no small task for
the Protector to find idoneous men for this place, because the future
security of the honest interest seemed--under God--to be laid up in
them; for by a moral generation, if they were well chosen at the first,
they would propagate their own kind, when the single person could not,
and the Commons, who represented the nation, would not, having in them
for the most part the spirit of those they represent, which hath little
affinity with a respect of the cause of God." It is easy to criticise
such a principle from a modern point of view. Yet if the morality of
Oliver's political actions are ever to be judged fairly, it must never
be forgotten that the right of an honest Government to prevent the
people from injuring themselves by out-voting the saner members of the
community was--rather than any democratic or Parliamentary theory--the
predominant note of his career. It is this at least which explains his
assent to the choice of the nominated Parliament, as well as his breach
with the Parliaments which he dismissed in 1655 and 1658.

Such views could not but lead the Protector to a breach with his second
Parliament as well. The men who were grumbling at the insolence of his
new lords were, as he well knew, prepared to follow up their attack by
another more directly aimed at his own authority. The remainder of the
Protector's speech is only intelligible on this supposition. Professing
his intention to stand by the new constitution, he accused his
opponents of a design to subvert it. "These things," he asseverated,
"lead to nothing else but to the playing of the King of Scots' game--if
I may so call him--and I think myself bound before God to do what I can
to prevent it; and if this be so, I do assign it to this cause--your
not assenting to what you did invite me to by your Petition and Advice,
as that which might prove the settlement of the nation; and if this
be the end of your sitting, and this be your carriage, I think it
high time that an end be put to your sitting. And I do dissolve this
Parliament! And let God be judge between you and me!"

No man knew better than Oliver the weight of the blow that had fallen
on him. His attempt to govern constitutionally with a Parliamentary
constitution had proved as impracticable as his attempt to govern
constitutionally with a military constitution. For a whole week he shut
himself up, meditating apart from his Council on the means of repairing
the disaster. Only once during the whole time did he even appear in
his family circle. Then after prolonged consultation with advisers
gathered from far and near, he resolved to summon another Parliament
to meet in that very spring. He at least would stand firmly by the
constitution to which he had sworn, and he could but hope that the
nation would be equally loyal when the choice between ordered liberty
and the unrestricted government of a single House was fairly set before
the electors. It was the remedy applied afterwards by William III. to a
similar mischief, and not applied in vain.

Unfortunately for Cromwell the circumstances were not the same. It
is unnecessary here to discuss the relative merits of written and
unwritten constitutions on the one hand, or of a dominant Parliament
and a dominant executive on the other. The one form of government or
the other may be desirable in different nations or at different times.
The one thing needful is that the institutions of a nation, whatever
they be, shall be supported by the national sentiment. It was this
that Oliver had never succeeded in evoking, because he had never
appealed to it, and he was hardly likely to succeed in evoking it now.
He could, for a time--and only for a time--rule England with an army.
He could not rule it with a piece of paper. At no long distance, as he
already saw, the unchecked supremacy of Parliament would bring back
the Stuarts, because the traditional hold of the old monarchy upon
the minds of men was the only power capable of keeping in check alike
the tyranny of the army, and the anarchy which could not but arise
if contending parties were left to struggle for the mastery without
fear of military intervention. Oliver's own power for good was growing
feebler. Financial embarrassments gathered round him. The sailors and
soldiers went unpaid, even though Bremen had not been occupied and no
English army was struggling--it can hardly be doubted--towards certain
defeat in the heart of Germany.

The Parliament he contemplated never came into existence. Another great
Royalist plot took up for a time all the energies of the Government.
Oliver, with his usual clemency, contented himself with two executions,
those of Dr. Hewit and Sir Henry Slingsby, whilst three more victims
expiated their share in a project for raising a tumult in London. Once
again affairs appeared to take a more favourable turn. The victory of
the Dunes, in which the French army, aided by 6,000 English troops,
overthrew the Spaniards, was won on June 4, whilst the surrender of
Dunkirk on the 14th, together with the subsequent gains of the allies
in Flanders put out of the question any landing of the exiled King in
England with Spanish aid. The thought of bringing a new Parliament
together might seem capable of realisation under these happy auspices,
and preparations were made for its meeting in November.

Whether that Parliament, if ever it had met, would have supported the
Protectorate more firmly than its predecessors, is a question which can
never be answered. All that can be said is that the radical elements
of the situation remained unchanged. Oliver had been deeply saddened
by his failure, and his anxious thoughts told on his already enfeebled
health. Death had been busy in his family circle. Young Rich, the newly
wedded husband of his daughter Frances, died in February.[E] On August
6 his best-beloved daughter, Lady Claypole, passed away after a long
and painful illness. Oliver's sorrowing vigils by her bedside broke
down what remained to him of bodily endurance. Now and again indeed
he was able to take the air, and on one of these occasions George Fox
coming to talk with him on the persecutions of the Friends, marked the
changed expression of his face. "Before I came to him," noted Fox,
"as he rode at the head of his life-guard, I saw and felt a waft of
death go forth against him; and when I came to him he looked like a
dead man." On August 24 the Protector moved to Whitehall. The ague from
which he suffered increased in violence. On Sunday, August 29, prayers
were offered up in the churches for his recovery. The following day
was the day of that great storm which fixed itself in the memory of
that generation. The devil, said the Cavaliers, had come to fetch home
the soul of the murderer and tyrant. Around the bedside of the dying
potentate more friendly eyes were keeping watch. "The doctors," wrote
Thurloe to Henry Cromwell far away in Ireland, "are yet hopeful that
he may struggle through it, though their hopes are mingled with much
fear." Twenty-four hours later the hopeful signs were still dwelt on.
"The Lord," wrote Fleetwood, "is pleased to give some little reviving
this evening; after a few slumbering sleeps, his pulse is better."
Scriptural words of warning and comfort were constantly on the sick
man's lips. "It is a fearful thing," he three times repeated, "to
fall into the hands of the living God." The anxious questioning was
answered by his strong assurance of mercy. "Lord," he muttered, as the
evening drew in, "though I am a miserable and wretched creature, I am
in covenant with Thee through grace, and I may, I will come to Thee for
Thy people. Thou hast made me, though very unworthy, a mean instrument
to do them some good, and Thee service, and many of them have set too
high a value upon me, though others wish, and would be glad of my
death. Lord, however Thou do dispose of me, continue and go on to do
good for them. Give them consistency of judgment, one heart, and mutual
love; and go on to deliver them, and with the work of reformation, and
make the name of Christ glorious in the world. Teach those who look too
much on Thy instruments to depend more upon Thyself. Pardon such as
desire to trample upon the dust of a poor worm, for they are Thy people
too. And pardon the folly of this short prayer; even for Jesus Christ's
sake. And give us a good night, if it be Thy pleasure. Amen."

      [E] Her second marriage with Sir John Russell took place
          after the Restoration.

Before long hope ceased to be possible. Oliver himself knew that his
life was rapidly drawing to an end. "I would," he said, "be willing to
be further serviceable to God and His people, but my work is done." A
few more prayers, a few more words, and on September 3, the anniversary
of Dunbar and Worcester, as well as of the hopeful meeting of his first
Parliament, the tried servant of God and of his country entered into
the appointed rest from all his labours.

The man--it is ever so with the noblest--was greater than his work.
In his own heart lay the resolution to subordinate self to public
ends, and to subordinate material to moral and spiritual objects of
desire. His work was accomplished under the conditions to which all
human effort is subject. He was limited by the defects which make
imperfect the character and intellect even of the noblest and the
wisest of mankind. He was limited still more by the unwillingness of
his contemporaries to mould themselves after his ideas. The blows that
he had struck against the older system had their enduring effects.
Few wished for the revival of the absolute kingship, of the absolute
authority of a single House of Parliament, or of the Laudian system of
governing the Church. In the early part of his career Oliver was able
to say with truth of his own position: "No one rises so high as he who
knows not whither he is going". The living forces of England--forces
making for the destruction of those barriers which he was himself
breaking through, buoyed him up--as a strong and self-confident
swimmer, he was carried onward by the flowing tide. In the latter
portion of the Protector's career it was far otherwise. His failure to
establish a permanent Government was not due merely to his deficiency
in constructive imagination. It was due rather to two causes: the
umbrage taken at his position as head of an army whose interference in
political affairs gave even more offence than the financial burdens it
imposed on a people unaccustomed to regular taxation; and the reaction
which set in against the spiritual claims of that Puritanism of which
he had become the mouthpiece. The first cause of offence requires
no further comment. As for the second, it is necessary to lay aside
all sectarian preoccupations, if ever a true historic judgment is
to be formed. It was no reaction against the religious doctrines or
ecclesiastical institutions upheld by the Protector that brought about
the destruction of his system of government. It is in the highest
degree unlikely that a revolution would ever have taken place merely
to restore episcopacy or the Book of Common Prayer. So far as the
reaction was not directed against militarism, it was directed against
the introduction into the political world of what appeared to be too
high a standard of morality, a reaction which struck specially upon
Puritanism, but which would have struck with as much force upon any
other form of religion which, like that upheld by Laud, called in the
power of the State to enforce its claims.

Nor is this all that can be said. Even though Oliver was in his own
person no sour fanatic, as Royalist pamphleteers after the Restoration
falsely asserted; it is impossible to deny that he strove by acts of
government to lead men into the paths of morality and religion beyond
the limit which average human nature had fixed for itself. In dealing
with foreign nations his mistake on this head was more conspicuous,
because he had far less knowledge of the conditions of efficient action
abroad than he had at home. It may fairly be said that he knew less of
Scotland than of England, less of Ireland than of Great Britain, and
less of the Continent than of any one of the three nations over which
he ruled. It has sometimes been said that Oliver made England respected
in Europe. It would be more in accordance with truth to say that he
made her feared.

It is unnecessary here to pursue this subject further. The development
of this theme is for the historian of England rather than for the
biographer of the Protector. Oliver's claim to greatness can be
tested by the undoubted fact that his character receives higher and
wider appreciation as the centuries pass by. The limitations on his
nature--the one-sidedness of his religious zeal, the mistakes of his
policy--are thrust out of sight, the nobility of his motives, the
strength of his character, and the breadth of his intellect, force
themselves on the minds of generations for which the objects for which
he strove have been for the most part attained, though often in a
different fashion from that which he placed before himself. Even those
who refuse to waste a thought on his spiritual aims remember with
gratitude his constancy of effort to make England great by land and
sea; and it would be well for them also to be reminded of his no less
constant efforts to make England worthy of greatness.

Of the man himself, it is enough to repeat the words of one who knew
him well: "His body was well compact and strong; his stature under six
feet--I believe about two inches--his head so shaped as you might see
it a store-house and shop both--of a vast treasury of natural parts.
His temper exceeding fiery, as I have known; but the flame of it kept
down for the most part, or soon allayed with those moral endowments
he had. He was naturally compassionate towards objects in distress,
even to an effeminate measure; though God had made him a heart wherein
was left little room for any fear but was due to Himself, of which
there was a large proportion--yet did he exceed in tenderness towards
sufferers. A larger soul, I think, hath seldom dwelt in a house of
clay."


ABERDEEN: THE UNIVERSITY PRESS.



      *      *      *      *      *      *



Transcribers' note:

A table of contents was added by the transcriber.

Punctuation and spelling were made consistent when a predominant
preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected. Many missing periods, and a
few missing commas, were silently added where extra spacing indicated
they should have been printed.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained.





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