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people particularly objected. The English were divided on this
subject ; and partly on this account, and partly because they
imd foolish expectations that the Parliament would be able to
take off nearly all the taxes, numbers of them sometimes wa-
vered, and inclined towards the king.

I believe myself, that if at this, or almost any other period
of his life, the king could have been trusted by any man not
out of his senses, he might have saved himself and kept his
throne. But, on the English army being disbanded, he plotted
with the officers again, as he had done before, and established
the fact beyond all doubt by putting his signature of approval
to a petition against the Parliamentary leaders which was drawn
up by certain officers. When the Scottish army was disbanded,
he went to Edinburgh in four days, — which was going very fast
at that time, — to plot again, and so darkly too, that it is difficult
to decide what his whole object was. Some suppose that he
wanted to gain over the Scottish Parliament, as he did in fact
gain over, by presents and favors, many Scottish lords and men
of power. Some think that he went to get proofs against the
Parliamentary leaders in England of their having treasonably
invited the Scottish people to come and help them. With what-
ever object he went to Scotland, he did little good by going.
At the instigation of the Earl of Montrose, a desperate man who
was then in prison for plotting, he tried to kidnap three Scottish
lords who escaped. A committee of the Parliament at home,
who had followed to watch him, writing an account of this In-
cident, as it was called, to the Parliament, the Parliament made
a fresh stir about it ; were, or feigned to be, much alarmed for
themselves ; and wrote to the Earl of Essex, the commander-in-
chief, for a guard to protect them.

It is not absolutely proved that the king plotted in Ireland
besides, but it is very probable that he did, and that the queen
did, and that he had some wild hope of gaining the Irish people
over to his side by favoring a rise among them. Whether or no,
they did rise in a most brutal and savage rebellion ; in which,
encouraged by their priests, they committed such atrocities upon
numbers of the English, of both sexes and of all ages, as no-
body could believe, but for their being related on oath by eye-


witnesses. Whether one hundred thousand or two hundred
thousand Protestants were murdered in this outbreak is uncer-
tain ; but that it was as ruthless and barbarous an outbreak as
ever was known among any savage people is certain.

The king came home from Scotland, determined to make a
great struggle lor his lost power. He believed, that, through
his presents and favors, Scotland would take no part against
him ; and the Lord Mayor of London received him with such a
magnificent dinner that he thought he must have become
popular again in England. It would take a good many lord
mayors, however, to make a people ; and the king soon found
himself mistaken.

Not so soon, though, but that there was a great oppositior.
in the Parliament to a celebrated paper put forth by Pym and,
Hampden and the rest, called " The Remonstrance ; " which
set forth all the illegal acts that the king had ever done, but
politely laid the blame of them on his bad advisers. Even when
it was passed, and presented to him, the king still thought him-
self strong enough to discharge Balfour from his command in thft
Tower, and to put in his place a man of bad character, to whom
the Commons instantly objected, and w^hom he was obliged to
abandon. At this time, the old outcry about the bishops be-
came louder than ever ; and the old Archbishop of York was so
near being murdered as he went down to the House of Lords,
— being laid hold of by the mob and violently knocked about,
in return for very foolishly scolding a shrill boy who was yelp-
ing out " No bishops ! " — that he sent for all the bishops who
were in town, and proposed to them to sign a declaration, that,
as they could no longer without danger to their lives attend their
duty in Parliament, they protested against the lawfulness of
everything done in their absence. This they asked the king to
send to the House of Lords, which he did. Then the House of
Commons impeached the whole party of bishops, and sent them
off to the Tower.

Taking no warning from this, but encouraged by there being
a moderate party in the Parliament who objected to these strong
measures, the king, on the 3d of January, 1642, took the rashest
step that ever was taken by mortal man.

Of his own accord and without advice, he sent the attorney-
general to the House of Lords, to accuse of treason certain
members of Parliament who as popular leaders were the most
obnoxious to him : Lord Kimbolton, Sir Arthur Haselrig, Den-
zil Hollis, John Pym (they used to call him King Pym, he pos-
sessed such power and looked so big), John Hampden, anrj



William Strode. The houses of those members he caused to
be entered, and their papers to be sealed up. At the same
time, he sent a messenger to the House of Commons demand-
ing to have the five gentlemen who were members of that House
immediately produced. To this the House replied that they
should appear as soon as there was any legal charge against
them and immediately adjourned.

Next day, the House of Commons sent into the city to let
the lord mayor know that their privileges are invaded by the
king, and that there is no safety for anybody or anything.
Then, when the five members are gone out of the way down
comes the king himself, with all his guard, and from two to three
hundred gentlemen and soldiers, of whom the greater part
were armed. These he leaves in the hall ; and then, with his
nephew at his side, goes into the House, takes off his hat, and
walks up to the speaker's chair. The speaker leaves it, the
king stands in front of it, looks about him steadily for a little
while, and says he has come for those five members. No one
speaks, and then he calls John Pym by name. No one speaks,
and then he calls Denzil Hollis by name. No one speaks, and
then he asks the Speaker of the House where those five mem-
bers are ? The speaker, answering on his knee, nobly replies
that he is the servant of that House, and that he has neither
eyes to see nor tongue to speak anything but what the JH buse
commands him. Upon this, the king, beaten from that time
evermore, replies that he will seek them for himself, for they have
committed treason ; and goes out, with his hat in his iiand,
amid some audible murmurs from the members.

No words can describe the hurry that arose out of lioors
when all this was known. The five members had gons for
safety to a house in Coleman Street, in the city, where they
were guarded all night ; and indeed the whole city watched in
arms like an army. At ten o'clock in the morning, the king,
already frightened at what he had done, came to the Guildhall,
v/ith only half a dozen lords, and made a speech to the people,
hoping they would not shelter those whom he accused of treason.
Next day, he issued a proclamation for the apprehension of the
five members ; but the Parliament minded it so little, that they
made great arrangements for having them brought down to
Westminster in great state, five days afterwards. The king was
so alarmed now at his own imprudence, if not for his own safety,
that he left his palace at Whitehall, and went away with his
queen and children to Hampton Court.

\t was the nth of M4v^- wh^n the five members were carried



in state and triumph to Westminster. They were taken by
water. The river could not be seen for the boats on it; and
the five members were hemmed in by barges full of men and
great guns, ready to protect them at any cost. Along the
Strand a large body of the train-bands of London, under their
commander, Skippon, marched to be ready to assist the little
fleet. Beyond them, came a crowd who choked the streets,
roaring incessantly about the bishops and the papists, and cry-
ing out contemptuously, as they passed Whitehall, " What has
become of the king ? " With this great noise outside the House
of Commons, and with great silence within, Mr. Pym rose, and
informed the House of the great kindness with which they had
been received in the city. Upon that the House called the
sheriffs in and thanked them, and requested the train-bands,
under their commander Skippon, to guard the House of Com-
mons every day. Then came four thousand men on horseback
out of Buckinghamshire, offering their services as a guard too,
and bearing a petition to the king, complaining of the injury
that had been done to Mr. Hampden, who was their vounty-
man, and much beloved and honored.

When the king set off for Hampton Court, the gentlemen
and soldiers who had been with him followed him out of town
as far as Kingston-upon Thames ; next day. Lord Digby came
to them from the king at Hampton Court, in his coach and six,
to inform them that the king accepted their protection. This,
the Parliament said, was making war against the kingdom ; and
Lord Digby fled abroad. The Parliament then immediately
applied themselves to getting hold of the military power of the
country, well knowing that the king was already trying hard to
use it against them, and that he had secretly sent the Earl of
Newcastle to Hull, to secure a valuable magazine of arms and
gunpowder that was there. In those times, every county had
its own magazines of arms and powder, for its own train-bands,
or militia ; so the Parliament brought in a bill claiming the
right (which up to this time had belonged to the king) of ap-
pointing the lord lieutenants of counties, who commanded these
train-bands ; also, of having all the forts, castles, and garrisons
in the kingdom put into the hands of such governors as they,
the Parliament, could confide in. It also passed a law depriv-
ing the bishops of their votes. The king gave his assent to
that bill, but would not abandon the right of appointing the
lord lieutenants, though he said he was willing to appoint such
as might be suggested to him by the Parliament. When the
Earl of Pembroke asked him whether he would not give way


on that question for a time, he said, " By God ! not for on^
hour ; " and upon this he and the Parliament went to war.

His young daughter was betrothed to the Prince of Orange.
On pretence of taking her to the country of her future husband,
the queen was already got safely away to Holland, there to
pawn the crown-jewels for money to raise an army on the king's
side. The lord admiral being sick, the House of Commons now
named the Earl of Warwick to hold his place for a year. The
king named another gentleman ; the House of Commons took
its own way, and the Earl of Warwick became lord admiral
without the king's consent. The Parliament sent orders down
to Hull to have that magazine removed to London ; the king
went down to take it himself. The citizens would not admit
him into the town, and the governor would not admit him into
the castle. The Parliament resolved, that whatever the two
Houses passed, and the king would not consent to, should be
called an Ordinance, and should be as much a law as if he did
consent to it. The king protested against this, and gave notice
that these ordinance were not to be obeyed. The king, at-
tended by the majority of the House of Peers, and by many
members of the House of Commons, established hiniself at
York. The chancellor went to him with the Great Seal, and
the Parliament made a new Great Seal. The queen sent over
a ship full of arms and ammunition, and the king issued letters
to borrow money at high interest. The Parliament raised
twenty regiments of foot, and seventy-five troops of horse ; and
the people willingly aided them with their money, plate, jewelry,
and trinkets, — the married women even with their wedding-
rings. Every member of parliament who. could raise a troop or
a regiment in his own part of the country dressed it according
to his taste and in his own colors, and commanded it. Fore-
most among them all, Oliver Cromwell raised a troop of horse,
thoroughly in earnest and thoroughly well armed, who were,
perhaps, the best soldiers that ever were seen.

In some of these proceedings, this famous Parliament passed
the bounds of previous law and custom, yielded to and favored
riotous assemblages of the people, and acted tyrannically in
imprisoning some who differed from the popular leaders. But
again, you are always to remember that the twelve years during
which the king had had his own wilful way had gone before ;
and that nothing could make the times what thy might, could,
would, or should have been if those twelve years had never
rolled away.


Third Part.

I shall not try to relate the particulars of the great civil

war between King Charles the First and the Long ParHament,
which lasted nearly four years, and a full account of which
would fill many large books. It was a sad thing that Eng-
lishmen should once more be fighting against Englishmen on
English ground ; but it is some consolation to know that on
both sides there was great humanity, forbearance, and honor.
The soldiers of the Parliament were far more remarkable for
these good qualities than the soldiers of the king (many of
whom fought for mere pay, without much caring for the cause) ;
but those of the nobility and gentry who were on the king's
side were so brave, and so faithful to him, that their conduct
cannot but command our highest admiration. Among them
were great numbers of Catholics, who took the royal side be-
cause the queen was so strongly of their persuasion.

The king might have distinguished some of these gallant
spirits, if he had been as generous a spirit himself, by giving
them the command of his army. Instead of that, however,
true to his old high notions of royalty, he intrusted it to his
two nephews. Prince Rupert and Prince Maurice, who were of
royal blood, and came over from abroad to help him. It might
have been better for him if they had stayed away ; since Prince
Rupert was an impetuous, hot-headed fellow, whose only idea
was to dash into battle at all times and seasons, and lay about

The general-in-chief of the Parliamentary army was the
Earl of Essex, a gentleman of honor and an excellent soldier.
A little while before the war broke out, there had been some
rioting at Westminster, between certain officious law-students
and noisy soldiers, and shopkeepers and their apprentices
and the general people in the streets. At that time the king's
friends called the crowd Roundheads, because the apprentices
wore short hair ; the crowd, in return, called their opponents
Cavaliers, meaning that they were a blustering set, who pre-
tended to be very military. These two words now began to
be used to distinguish the two sides in the civil war. The
royalists also called the parliamentary men Rebels and Rogues,
while the parliament men called them Malignants, and spoke of
themselves as the Godly, the Honest, &c.

The war broke out at Portsmouth, where that double traitor
Goring had again gone over to the king, and was beseiged by
the Parliamentary troops. Upon this, the king proclaimed the


Earl of Essex, and the officers serving under him, traitors, and
called upon his luyal subjects to meet him in arms, at Notting-
ham, on the 25th of August. But his royal subjects came about
him in scanty numbers ; and it was a windy, gloomy day, and
the royal standard got blown down ; and the whole affair was
very melancholy. The chief engagements after this took place
in the vale of the Red Horse near Banbury, at Brentford, at
Devizes, at Chalgrave Field (when Mr. Hampden was so sorely
wounded, while fighting at the head of his men, that he died
within a week), at Newbury (in which battle Lord Falkland,
one of the best noblemen on the king's side, was killed), at
Leicester, at Naseby, at Winchester, at Marston Moor near
York, at Newcastle, and in many other parts of England and
Scotland. These battles were attended with various successes.
At one time, the king was victorious ; at another time, the Par-
liament. But almost all the great and busy towns were against
the king; and when it was considered necessary to fortify
London, all ranks of people, from laboring men and women up
to lords and ladies, worked hard together with heartiness and
good-will. The most distinguished leaders on the parliamentary
side were Hampden, Sir Thomas Fairfax, and, above all, Oliver
Cromwell, and his son-in-law Ireton.

During the whole of this war, the people, to whom it was
very expensive and irksome, and to whom it was made the
more distressing by almost every family being divided, — some
of its members attaching themselves to one side and some to
the other, were over and over again most anxious for peace.
So were some of the best men in each cause. Accordingly,
treaties of peace were discussed between commissioners from
the Parliament and the king, — at York, at Oxford (where the
king held a little parliament of his own), and at Uxbridge.
But they came to nothing. In all these negotiations, and in all
his difficulties, the king showed himself at his best. He was
courageous, cool, self-possessed, and clever ; but the old taint
of his character was always in him, and he was never for one
single moment to be trusted. Lord Clarendon, the historian,
one of his highest admirers, supposes'that he had unhappily
promised the queen never to make peace without her consent,
and that this must often be taken as his excuse. He never
kept his word from night to morning. He signed a cessation
of hostilities with the blood-stained Irish rebels for a sum of
money, and invited the Irish regiments over to help him against
the Parliament. In the battle of Naseby, his cabinet was
seized, and was found to contain a correspondence with the


queen, in which he expressly told her that he had deceu^ed the
Parliament, — a mongrel Parliament, he called it now, as an im-
provement on his old term of vipers, — in pretending to reco<> -
nize it, and to treat with it ; and from which it further appeared
that it had long been in secret treaty with the Duke of Lor-
raine for a foreign army of ten thousand men. Disappointed
in this, he sent a most devoted friend of his, the Earl of Gla-
morgan, to Ireland, to conclude a secret treaty with the Catholic
powers, to send him an Irish army of ten thousand men ; \\\
return for which he was to bestow great favors on the Catholic
religion. And when this treaty was discovered in the carriage
of a fighting Irish archbishop who was killed in one of the
many skirmishes of those days, he basely denied and deserted
his attached friend, the earl, on his being charged with high
treason ; and even worse than this — had left blanks in the
secret instructions he gave with his own kingly hand, expressly
that he might thus save himself.

At last, on the 27th day of April, 1649, the king found him-
self in the city of Oxford, so surrounded by the parliamentary
army, who were closing in upon him on all sides, that he felt
that if he would escape he must delay no longer. So that
night, having altered the cut of his hair and beard, he was
dressed up as a servant, and put upon a horse with a cloak
strapped behind him, and rode out of the town behind one of
his own faithful followers, with a clergyman of that country,
who knew the road well, for a guide. He rode towards Lon-
don as far as Harrow, and then altered his plans, and resolved,
it would seem, to go to the Scottish camp. The Scottish men
had been invited over to help the parliamentary army, and had
a large force then in England. The king was so desperately
intriguing in everything he did, that it is doubtful what he ex-
actly meant by this step. He took it, anyhow, and delivered
himself up to the Earl of Leven, the Scottish general-in-chief,
who treated him as an honorable prisoner. Negotiations be-
tween the Parliament on the one hand, and the Scottish au-
thorities on the other, as to what should be done with him
lasted until the following February. Then, when the king had
refused to the Parliament the concession of that old militia
ooint for twenty years, and had refused to Scotland the recogni-
tion of its solemn league and covenant, Scotland got a hand-
some sum for its army and its help, and the king into the bar-
gain. He was taken, by certain parliamentary commissioners
appointed to receive him, to one of iiis own bouses, called
Holmby House, near Althorpe, in Northamptonshire.



While the civil war was still In progress, John Pym died,
and was buried with great honor in Westminster Abbey, — not
with greater honor than he deserved, for the liberties of Eng-
lishmen owe a mighty debt to Pym and Hampden. The war
was but newly over when the Earl of Essex died, of an illness
brought on by his having overheated himself in a stag-hunt in
Windsor Forest. He, too, was buried in Westminster Abbey,
with great state. I wish it were not necessary to add that
Archbishop Laud died upon the scaffold, when the war was
not yet done. His trial lasted in all nearly a year ; and, it
being doubtful even then whether the charges brought against
him amounted to treason, the odious old contrivance of the
worst kings was resorted to, and a bill of attainder was brought
in against him. He was a violently prejudiced and mischiev-
ous person ; had had strong ear-cropping and nose-splitting
propensities, as you know ; and had done a world of harm.
But he died peaceably, and like a brave old man.

Fourth Part.

When the Parliament had got the king into their hands,
they became very anxious to get rid of their army, in which
Oliver Cromwell had begun to acquire great power ; not only
because of his courage and high abilities, but because he pro-
fessed to be very sincere in the Scottish sort of Puritan religion,
that was then exceedingly popular among the soldiers. They
were as much opposed to the bishops as to the pope himself \
and the very privates, drummers, and trumpeters, had such an
inconvenient habit of starting up and preaching long-winded
discourses, that I would not have belonged to that army on any

So the Parliament, being far from sure but that the army
might begin to preach and fight against them, now it had nothing
else to do, proposed to disband the greater part of it, to send
another part to serve in Ireland against the rebels, and co keep
only a small force in England. But the army would not con
sent to be broken up, except upon its own conditions ; and when
the Parliament showed an intention of compelling it, it acted
for itself in an unexpected manner. A certain cornet, of the
name of Joice, arrived at Holmby House one night, attended
by four hundred horsemen, went into the king's room with his
hat in one hand and a pistol in the other, and told the king that
he had come to take him away. The king was willing enough
to go, and only stipulated that he should be publicly required



to do so next morning. The next morning, accordingly, he
appeared on the top of the steps of the house, and asked Cor-
net Joice before his men and the guard set there by the ParUa-
ment, what authority he had for taking him away ? To this
Cornet Joice repUed, " The authority of the army." " Have
you a written commission ? " said the king. Joice, pointing to
his four hundred men on horseback, rephed, " That is my com-
mission." *' Well," said the king, smiling as if he were pleased,
" I never before read such a commission ; but it is written in a
fair and legible character. This is a company of as handsome,
proper gentlemen as I have seen a long while." He was asked
where he would like to live, and he said at Newmarket. So to
Newmarket he and Cornet Joice and the four hundred horse-
men rode ; the king remarking, in the same smiling way,
that he could ride as far at a spell as Cornet Joice or any man

The king quite believed, I think, that the army were his
friends. He said as much to Fairfax when that general, Oliver
Cromwell, and Ireton went to persuade him to return to the
custody of the Parliament. He preferred to remain as he was,
and resolved to remain as he was. And when the army moved
nearer and nearer to London to frighten the Parliament into

Online LibraryCharles DickensA child's history of England → online text (page 32 of 38)