George Nugent Grenville Nugent.

Some memorials of John Hampden : his party and his times online

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first gentry in it have become extinct, while several of the names in the
list are now to be found among the yeomen and fanners residing where
the manor-houses of their ancestors stood.

t For Charles's final and eloquent proclamation announcing his inten-
tion to nllsc t'lltr Standard, see Appendix D. It is a singular circumstance
that Clarendon, who must have been present at that memorable ceremony,
states it to have occurred on the 25th, whereas the proclamation itself
dates it three days before. This is the more remarkable, as this misstate-
ment of dates is calculated to lead to an inference that the Parliament's
order to Lord Essex to take command of the army preceded this act of the
King's; whereas it was voted on the 24th. when the news had reached
London of the standard being actually raised.


brother, the arm of the son raised against the parent, are
not among those which the most commonly present themselves
to afflict society in civil war. But it is that many of those
ties of habit and affection which bind men the most closely to
life are loosened : severed by public enmity, or, what is less
tolerable still than public enmity, suspicion and distrust.
These are unhappinesses which, in civil war, may be the lot
even of those whose condition leads them into the dispute
only as the attached and obedient followers of the standard
raised by some neighbouring influence, and among whom the
connexions of friendship and of kindred are, generally, the
least liable to be disturbed. But, with those on whom their
station imposes loftier callings, and who are answerable in the
highest degree for the course which they assign to themselves
and others, much more fearful are the trials which must hourly
occur; duties in conflict, every private affection opposed to
every public obligation, and every plea, the strongest, for
sympathy and protection, which cannot be answered.

Even things inanimate, which appeal to remembrance only,
j crowd in with their numberless associations, to tell us how un-
I natural a state of man is civil war. The village street barri-
caded; the house deserted by all its social charities, perhaps
occupied as the stronghold of a foe ; the church, where lie our
parents' bones, become a battery of cannon, an hospital for
wounded, a stable for horses, or a keep for captives ; the
accustomed paths of our early youth beset with open menace
or hidden danger ; its fields made foul with carnage ; and
the imprecations of furious hate, or the supplications of mortal
agony, coming to us in our own language, haply in the
very dialect of our peculiar province ; these are among the
familiar and frequent griefs of civil war.

The family of Hampden did not escape those divisions which
so unhappily distracted some of the noble houses at this time.
Mr. Alexander Ilampden had not only formed opinions which
M jiarated him entirely from his illustrious kinsman, but, about
a year after the commencement of the war, he gave testimony
of them by an act dishonouring to the name and station which
he bore. He engaged himself in Edmund Waller's plot; two
first cousins of John Hampden thus joining in a conspiracy
against the persons of the principal members of the Parliament,
which, if not originally a scheme of assassination, was one which
could have succeeded only by bloodshed, and for which two of


the subordinate agents suffered justly an ignominious death. The
first year of the civil war, grievous in so many ways for public
considerations to Hampden, was a time also of great domestic
affliction to him. Soon after the outbreak his eldest sou died.
But the severest blow was the loss of his favourite and beloved
daughter, Mrs. Kniglitley. Tin's was a sad visitation, the
memory of which hung gloomily over his spirit during the
short remainder of his life.*

It will not be improper here to direct our attention to the
system by which Hampden' s conduct from this period seems
to have been governed. From the time of Charing vinfcnt
entry into the House of Commons, Hampden' s carriage in
pubnc, which, we are told by Clarendon and others, had been
< Ver marked b\ modesty and mildness, 'became fiercer; and
' EeThrew away (lie scabbard when he drew the sword/ Mr.
Guthrie, a fair and candid writer, says that f if ITampden, in
' any part of his great plan, fell short of his usual sagacity, it
' was in thinking Charles to be more weak and wicked than
' he really was/ Perhaps this observation may have proceeded
from a rather inconsiderate acquiescence in the hasty conclusion
that, at such a crisis, the severest and most active course of
conduct necessarily betokens the most inveterate and irrecon-
cilable feelings. The contrary is often the case ; and an
attentive consideration makes it probable that it was so with
Hampden. It is true that, henceforward, we shall always find I
him foremost to urge the strongest and most decisive measures. |
To believe "that lie, whom all agree in accounting the most
sagacious and considerate of his party, was changed, in an hour
of resentment, to be the most intemperate and impracticable,
would be a supposition at variance with all moral probability.
This personal antipathy to Charles does not appear ; nor, if it
did, could it afford the just solution of his change of de-
meanour now. One, more probable, may be found in some
remarkable passages of what remains of his history. It is
sufficient, for the present, to bespeak attention to this fact,
that, in the execution of a great plan to which the mind has
with difficulty reconciled itself, the fiercest and most decisive
course is perfectly in unison with the soberest motives, and may
often be the wisest way of accomplishing the most moderate
ends. Lord Clarendon says of Falkland, that he was ' one of

* Sir Philip Warwick.


' those who believed that one great battle would end all
' differences/ Others there were, who resolutely ventured
all for themselves and for the country, without laying down in
their own minds any definite term to the war, or probable
occasion for a treaty. Thus, as was afterwards said, ' a sum-
' mer's triumph proved but a winter's story ; and the game,
' however it seemed won in autumn, was to be played over
' again in the spring/ *

But as, of all the King's advisers, Lord Falkland was the
most reluctant to begin the contest, and the most anxiously
thirsting for any probable overtures of a lasting peace, so,
among the parliamentary leaders, till the disputes had risen
so high as to preclude mediation, Hampden's conduct had
been the most conciliatory, the most ' public minded/ and the
least influenced by animosity or passion. But, from the taking
up of arms, as Lord Falkland was, thenceforward, of those on
the King's side, the most in favour of bold and rapid enterprises,
so was Hampden, in the Council of War and Committee of
Public Safety ; and, as he was the first to see how impracticable
was the hope of accommodation, till grounded upon some
decisive advantage, so was he unremitting to push for that
advantage, and to urge upon his tardier chiefs and compeers
such undertakings as might shorten the conflict, and hasten on
the treaty. Thus, if it had come to pass that fortune had
plainly declared for the King's side, Falkland would have been
the fittest of his counsellors to restrain his demands within
such bounds as a conqueror might be persuaded to respect ;
and, if the event had been favourable to the Parliament's cause,
Hampden would have had the best means of controlling that
party in success witliin or near those limits of privilege beyond
which they had not proceeded, until it became at least question-
able whether they could any longer defend privilege without
| invading prerogative. In the wisdom and influence of these
I two men lay the best hope of such a settlement, which, to be
permanent, must have been matter of compromise, and which,
to become matter of compromise, must have been founded upon
great power of dictation placed in prudent hands like theirs.
But of this more hereafter.

It was under the woody brows of his own beauteous
Chilterns that Hampden first published the ordinance to

* See Rush. vi. pp. 3, 4.


marshal the militia of his native county. The parishes and
hundreds, often with their preachers at the head, mustered at
their market-houses to march forth to training. In the dearth
of all the ordinary implements of war, arms and accoutrements
of the most grotesque fashion now left the walls where, from
the times of the civil wars of the two Roses, they had hung as
hereditary trophies in the manor-houses, the churches, and the
cottages of the yeomen. In the returns of arms, particularly
of the levies of the northern parts, at the first outbreak, the
long-bow, the brown bill, and the cross-bow, resumed their
place among the equipments of a man-at-arms.* It was not
till some months after, when the stores of Hull, and Newcastle,
and Plymouth, and of the Tower of London, were distributed,
that the match-lock and pistol found their way into the hands
of the ' ordered musqueteers and dragooners ' in the country
parts ; and, even to the end of the civil wars, large bodies of
men, besides the regular pike-men, were furnished only with
rude lances ; and, on the King's part, many thousands, parti-
cularly of the Welshmen, went to the battle with staves and
Danish clubs.

The conflicts which arose out of the meetings of parties,
acting under warrant to raise troops and collect the other
materials of war, gradually assumed the character of military
skirmishes ; and the towns, the high roads, and woods, through
which the supplies had to pass, became daily, and in almost
all parts of England, the scenes of encounters more or less
obstinate and bloody. By degrees, as these parties grew
larger in their numbers, and more confident in their strength,
they issued out from the fortified towns to try their arms and
spirit against bodies which they knew to be collecting in the
neighbourhood, and to drive in cattle for the magazines which,
in all parts, were in progress of being formed. As the summer
advanced, the corn, still green, was reaped by working parties
on each side, whether to swell with its unripe produce their
own guarded granaries, or, as was oftener the case, for forage
for their horses, or oftenest, in order to take it from the reach of
their enemies. This course had also the efi'ect, in the neighbour-
hood of 'the cities, of obliging the country people to follow their
food, and thus to enlist themselves and increase the garrisons.

The history of these wars, as they proceeded, casts a

* Mr. R. Grenvil's Returns.


peculiar interest on places, the names of which, as connected
with the events of later times, carry with them no very lofty
recollections. Even the small scale on which, throughout the
civil wars, operations, insignificant in themselves but mighty
in their consequences, were carried on, gives, at first hearing, a
homely and contracted sound to the story of the contest.
Thus, some men have made it matter of complaint, while
traversing the plains and passes of Greece, that they have
found that land, which has been made immortal by the
warrior's sword, by the poet's song, by the gown of the orator
the statesman and the philosopher, confined within such petty
limits as those between the Egean Sea and the mountain
boundary of her States. But this is an ill-considered feeling.
j What can more sustain the glory of that famous history than
1 the reflection, how narrow the space in which the spirit of
I freedom made good for ages her cause against the world ? No
trifling cause of admiration is it, that the powerful lessons of
liberty have sprung up into ripeness, and been reaped, and
stored up, even by other nations, from a germ like that of the
Grecian Republics, or the Commonwealth of England. He
who contemplates, without emotion, the victorious progress of
mighty empires, may yet feel some enthusiasm, when, standing
in a rocky pass, dark with pine and plane trees, or on a small
sandy plain broken only by a few rude and shapeless hillocks,
he is told, ' Here Grecian freedom bled, to die but not to be
' subdued, this is Thermopylae ; here she triumphed, you
' are among the graves of Marathon/ Then, though but the
ploughman be seen on Chalgrove now, though the names of
Birmingham, and Coventry, and Gloucester be no more known
but by the peaceful contests of busy trade, with all its powers
and all its enterprise, though a few hours of journey suffice
to carry us from the opening to the concluding scene, from
Oxford where Charles held his court, to where last he grappled
with his subjects at Naseby, we may acknowledge, in even
these names of familiar sound, the feelings which must ever
attach themselves to places made memorable by bold endeavour
or great achievement, by "the acts, or by the fall of men, who
have contributed to the fame of their native land.

Once aroused to the fearful necessity of taking arms, and of
using them, the principal leaders of the Puritans were rapid,
resolute, and unwearied, in all the various business of the
approaching war. They had matured their secret and sturdy


plan, and now worked with an energy which at first was
wanting among the greater part of the adherents to the
Royalist cause. They had added to their rigid morals a noble . J^
and simple vigour; ' thffrJhajLjMii/ OP/ says Sidney, 'the I S
( athletic habit of liberty^ for thfij^ontest ; ' they had made "
the^TawT'orGfocl. the stuoy or meir lives ij they found them
often in conflict with those of their rulers; they made their
choice, and solemnly appealed to the issue of battle, as men
who thoroughly believed themselves especially designed

' To some great work, His glory,
Arid people's safety." *

And many who had before looked with doubt and fear upon
the very name of liberty, now made proclamation of it with
their lips, inscribed it, and ' God with us/ upon their banners,
to challenge lawless prerogative: ano7 having drawn their
swords in its behalf, sheathed them not, until they had made
what long had been a bye-word and a grievous jest, their
leading cry to victory.

Samson Agoui.->tes.


a 2




Posture of the two parties Their motives and objects Falkland, and others
who take part for the King Sir Bevill Grenvil Hie letter to Sir John
Trelawney Formation of the Parliament Armies Loans, and Contributions
of Money and Plate The Fleet declares for the Parliament King's condi-
tions from Nottingham rejected Hampden captures the King's Oxfordshire
Commissioners at Ascot Conflicts in divers parts Siege and surrender
of Portsmouth Coventry and Northampton attacked by the King's troops
Lord Brook Brook and Hampden repulse the King's troops at Southam
Conditions of submission proposed to Lord Brook before Warwick His
Answer He assembles his levies, and harangues his officers, at Warwick

AT the time of raising the standard, the King's affairs wore
but a discouraging aspect : and they continued to do so for
some weeks after. He had been led into too sanguine a calcu-
lation both of his actual strength and of the rapidity with
which it might be increased. His standard floated over the
rising ground on which it had been planted, daily and nightly
guarded, and graced with all the ceremony and splendour
befitting so majestic a symbol of war; the royal pavilion and
the tents of the nobles and the gentry were pitched around it,
and the household and body-guard formed a brave encamp-
ment in the rear ; each morning, soon after sunrise, the heralds
assembled, by sound of trumpet, at its foot, and then dis-
persed themselves through the towns and country adjacent,
making proclamation and summons in the King's name.
Bands of military music played throughout the day, and in the
course of it the King himself frequently appeared. But the
people of the country did not flock in from around to enlist
themselves in the cause; and even the spectacle soon ceased


to attract. In truth, the King had not husbanded wisely his
means of display. He had been too much seen among the
ordinary and not very popular preparations for the war ; and,
above all, he had taken the field, and unsuccessfully, before he
raised his standard^ He had at that time not above three or
four hundred regular troops with him iu and about Nottingham.
It is true that he knew the greater part of the gentry of
England to be in his favour; true also that he knew how
great an advantage he possessed in having the choice of his
own time, and of his own terms too, for beginning the war.
For still the Parliament could not, with any show of regard to
its own repeated declarations, nor consistently with what was
still its undoubted policy, make any hostile movement in advance
of him. He was also at liberty to hold a much more unre-
served and decisive tone than theirs. His published statements
were more calculated to address themselves to the feelings of
all classes : they abounded in topics to be dealt with much
more freely than those of the Parliament ; and the language
of a King, casting himself and his royal cause upon the
sympathies of his people, had a charm which did not belong
to the colder reasonings of the opposing party. The Parlia-
ment were fain, in their replies, to use his name, jointly with
their own, as the sanction and vindication of their quarrel,
professing ' that the separation of the King from the Parlia-
' ment could not be without a destruction of the Government,
' and that the dividers were enemies to the State/ The King
had no measures to keep. In phrases more quickly intelligible,
and more easily communicable through the country, he called
them ' rebels and traitors to God and the King, who raised a
' hand against the ancient monarchy of the laud and against
' the Lord's anointed/ The Parliament represented him as in
the thraldom of a malignant faction. He protested that his
acts and his cause were his own. They proposed to 'redeem
him from those that took him a voluntary captive, and would
separate him from his Parliament ; they professed to fight
against his will only, not against his person, which they
desired to rescue and preserve, nor against his authority,
which was with them/ The King ' disowned their service
as a scorn, that they should say they fought for King and
Parliament when their armies were ready to charge him in
the field/ *

* Baxter's Life.


These were mighty advantages, of which Charles well knew
the value, and to which he frequently and powerfully appealed.
There was no class or description of his subjects to whom he
did not separately apply himself, and very generally with
success. To the unreflecting the cause which bore the King's
name singly had a sound at once brilliant and holy ; to the
vain-glorious it appeared bedecked with decorations and titles,
and hopes of reward springing fresh from the fountain, so
called, of honour; to the dissolute it recommended itself as
contrasted with the sway of a party, the severity of whose
personal observances, and whose system of moral government
over others, were distasteful and irksome. Besides, there were
some, not a few, of those soldiers of fortune, whose experience
in the art of war was brought to market, and considered of
high value, in a country inexperienced in that science, to
whom the cavalier's side showed in prospect more occasions of
preferment and of plunder. London herself, with all her spoil,
was in view.

The gaiety the splendour the inlaid armour the braided
love-lock the glittering badge of a sovereign's, or, more
precious still, of a court lady's favour dazzled the eyes and
warmed the fancies of the young ; the venerable sacrednesss of
antique institutions, the hazardous indistinctness of new, and
a proneness to seek shelter under the edifice of power even
after its foundations had been shaken, fixed the hearts of the
old : while, to the gentry and the nobles, the lofty associations
of chivalry, and the generous recollections of hereditary and
personal fealty, gave a powerful bias in a quarrel where
neutrality \vas seldom practicable, and never honourable.
These were interests and passions likely all to lead men to the
party of the King. Meanwhile, public principle and a sense of
duty may be admitted to have equally guided both ways in
this great dispute. And, doubtless, on both sides these in-
fluences had equal power. So long as subsidies so long as quar-
terings of troops so long as Bishops' tyrannies and Popish inno-
vations so long as outrages on the privileges of the Parliament
and the liberties of the people, were uppermost in men's minds
while grievances met their eyes at every turn, and the alter-
native of resistance was only contemplated distantly and in prin-
ciple, the popular voice was loud against the King ; but, loud in
its outcry against the grievance, the popular voice must not
always be expected to be equally firm in support of the remedy,


when the time for applying the remedy shall have arrived.
The Londoners and the counties had, with a wonderful accord-
ance of feeling, acknowledged that their liberties were inseparably
involved in the independence of Parliament. They had gone
along with Parliament, not only in the grand remonstrance,
but even in its claim upon the power over the militia, and
confessed it to be founded purely and simply on the necessity
of self-defence. Even the King's standard displayed at Not-
tingham at first failed as a talisman on the minds of the
people. As yet, they had seen only preparations for hostilities
which they thought the King had provoked, and had been
weak enough to suppose that mere preparations and a display
of power on the other side might produce concessions and give
security. Sanguine in their hopes of avoiding the extremity
of war, they had still to learn that, until forced by defeat, it is
not in the nature of a King who has been nursed in notions of
divine right to treat in good faith with a once revolted people,
or of a once revolted people to have any confidence in the good
faith of a King. But when the menace ceased, and its accom-
plishment arrived, resolutions began to waver and to change.

It is said by a court writer, after the Bestoration, that Sir
Benjamin Rudyard, who died about this time, declared on~nTs
deathbed that Pym and Hampden told him ' that they thought
' the King so ill-beloved by his subjects, that he could never
' be able to raise an army to oppose them/ * If this be
believed, it needs not to be remarked in what an error Pym and
Hampden had indulged themselves. But it is not very like
truth. The difficulties which both had met with, during their
unremitting exertions to execute the ordinances for the militia,
and to hinder the success of the commission of array, must, to
men of their sagacity, have sooner brought conviction of their
error. It is however certain that the party, generally, con-
fident in their own strength, and hoping to the last that a
protracted civil war might be avoided, very much underrated
the influence of the royalist spirit.

Many who had, through danger and disrepute, proved them-
selves friends of liberty, and whose names, so long as the
memory of good men is safe, are a sufficient answer to any
scandal on their motives, now took arms for the King. They
had opposed prerogative, when liberty was oppressed and in

* See Brief Chron. of the Civil Wars.


peril ; they offered themselves to support what they conceived
to be the essentials of monarchy, when the Parliament leaders
began to feel their power and to be the rulers of the state. At
a crisis of this sort, decisive as each man's conduct must be on
his own fortunes, and, perhaps, on those too of his country,
and fierce as is the conflict on which he is entering, it is, with
reflecting persons, generally the result of the most nicely
balanced considerations. One, who, at the first outbreak of
civil dissensions, can take his part without hesitation, must
generally take it without any very grave or fixed view of the
principles which have governed his decision. There never yet
was a civil war in which either side had a clear case of unquali-
fied right against a clear case of unmitigated wrong. It is

Online LibraryGeorge Nugent Grenville NugentSome memorials of John Hampden : his party and his times → online text (page 31 of 45)