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to investigate the case. — D.M.] The culprit, whose general cha-
racter was good, appealed to Cromwell, who interceded by letter
to Crawford on his behalf. [The letter, written at Cambridge and
dated 10th March 1643-4, was carried by Packer himself to
Crawford, then in Buckinghamshire. — D.M.] To his special
offence the lieutenant-colonel added that of being an Anabaptist,
" Admit he be," remarked Cromwell, " 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. I advised you formerly to bear
with men of different minds from yourself. . . . 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." a

" Carlyle's Cromwell, i. 201, ed. 1846 [i. 147-148. ed. 1857. J


It took nearly two centuries to make such opinions as these
of Cromwell to be generally admitted. In his time politicians
denounced them as highly dangerous, and divines as peculiarly
wicked. a Manchester, stirred up by Crawford, who had "a great
hand with him," b was strong against them; and hence a source of
strife between Cromwell and his commander-in-chief.

Nor was the strife upon this subject simply theoretical, or one
which in practice affected only a particular person, like this
Lieutenant-Colonel, here and there. At that time the question of
the rights of sectaries was really vital. It determined the whole
course of public policy.

At the commencement of the war between King and Parliament,
the people prepared for it as for a mere demonstration of strength,

a Somewhat too strongly stated. There was a considerable number of persons in
England in 1644, including some politicians and some divines, who had conceived
as wide and just ideas of toleration as any that have been generally admitted since ;
and Cromwell was but the most conspicuous public head of these, and their most
emphatic spokesman. — D.M.

b Baillie's Letters, ii. 229.

c Mr. Bruce seems here to anticipate a little. At the date at which we now are
(March 1644), it cannot be said that the strife between Cromwell and Manchester
had begun, but only that an influence leading to strife had been introduced between
them in the person of Crawford. In that letter of Cromwell's from which Bruce
has quoted (see the whole of it in Carlyle's Cromwell, i. 147-8, ed. 1857) there is no
sign of any idea on the part of Cromwell that Manchester would have differed from
him, or sided with Crawford, in the case of Packer. Manchester was then too busy,
he says, with the University Visitation to hear what Packer had to say in self-
defence ; but it seems to be implied that Cromwell, in writing the letter, could
assume that he and Manchester would be of one mind on the "Anabaptist"
objection. Not till afterwards, when gradually Crawford had acquired his " great
hand" with Manchester, is there any reason for characterising Manchester as
" strong against " those Toleration opinions of Cromwell which, till Crawford's
advent, he seems to have abetted, or at least allowed to Cromwell in the
recruiting and officering of the Ironsides. Possibly, however, his recent sittings
in the Westminster Assembly, and his communications with that body in the
business of new appointments in the University, may have given him a turn
already towards Presbyterian strictness, and so prepared the way for Crawford's
insinuations against Cromwell. — D.M.



or at most as for a contest in the arena. So badly had the King's
friends managed their cause, so little show had they made of their
real strength, that it was a common opinion that one battle would
end the struggle, that a victory clearly pronounced on either side
would bring the long-continued strife of words to an end. This
opinion was soon shown to be fallacious. The new course entered
upon when the King raised his standard [Aug. 1642] turned out
to be, not a battle, but a war. Still there were many persons on the
side of the Parliament, including the anti-royal leaders of the
highest social position, who went on dreaming that all that was
needed was a war of resistance. If they could but make such a
stand against the King as would convince him that he could no
more overpower them by arms than by the measures to which he
had previously had recourse, they imagined that he would submit
to the curtailments of his prerogative and the other alterations in
Church and State which they had determined to effect.

Such persons neither understood the character of the King nor
the necessary course of such a war. Party bitterness grew with
what it fed upon. It was strengthened by every victory and every
defeat, by every loss and every sacrifice. The relative positions of
the parties also gradually changed. The Parliament, with a view
to the maintenance of their own position, was compelled to assume,
within the portion of the kingdom which was under its control,
first one and then another of the functions of the executive. At
the end of two years (which is the period with which we are now
dealing) they had appointed lord-lieutenants and sheriffs, they had
made arrangements for the administration of justice, they had im-
pressed soldiers, had levied taxes, had held direct communications
with foreign governments, had made a separate treaty with the Scots,
and had called them into England to their military assistance. The
contest was no longer between two co-ordinate powers in one
system of government; it had become a war between two bodies
each of whom exercised an independent and sovereign jurisdiction,
a war which could only be what the King had all along designed


it to be, not merely one of defence, nor of resistance, but simply
and absolutely a war of conquest.

This was a lesson which the original Parliamentary leaders were
slow to learn. From the meeting of the Long Parliament they
had consistently pursued certain definite aims, settled probably, in
general terms, among themselves before the Parliament assembled.
They had determined I. To punish the evil counsellors who had
advised and assisted the King in his course of arbitrary govern-
ment ; II. To secure frequent meetings of Parliament ; III. To
reform the Courts of Law, which had been perverted, to purposes of
oppression; IV. To effect such a reform in the Church as should
prevent a fresh intrusion of Laudism. Whilst they were pursuing
these objects in a parliamentary way, the conduct of the King
compelled them for their own safety sake to add a V th object to
their programme, namely, To secure a temporary parliamentary
control over the militia ; and the war added a VI th , To exclude
from future power and influence those who had been the King's
principal military supporters.

The first three of these objects were accomplished and the fourth
and fifth were under discussion when the standard was raised. The
sixth could only receive its determination at the close of the war.
The fourth touched the conscience of the King, and the fifth his pride.
But he had yielded to the Scots [in their struggle with him for the
re-establishment of Presbytery in Scotland, 1638-1640. — D.M.]; he
had yielded [in England] in the case of triennial parliaments, and
in that of Strafford [1641] ; and there was ground for hope that he
might be induced to do so in other things. The case of the Militia
seemed peculiarly susceptible of diplomatic arrangement. Com-
bination of authority and limitation of time were bases upon which
arbitrators might work. Even the Church question did not seem
entirely insoluble. The consent of the King to the removal of the
Bishops from the House of Lords [Feb. 1641-2] was a great con-
cession to popular opinion, but it was made too late. In the first
instance that and some other modifications of the hierarchical


government would have sufficed. Even to a late period, if the
King had stood his ground, and the powerful friends of Episcopacy
had honestly contested the matter in parliament, a peaceful settle-
ment might have been come to. The war put an end to the possi-
bility of arrangement. Thenceforward the changes effected by
Parliament were in most instances the results of the necessities of
their political position. Presbyterianism was substituted in the
place of Episcopacy as a sacrifice to the league with Scotland.
There was indeed a large and influential party in England that
desired Presbyterianism in lieu of Episcopacy. The existence of
such a party is a necessary reaction against Laudism ; but that party
would have consented to a modified Episcopacy, and it was simply
the general anxiety to secure the military assistance of the Scots
which drove the Parliament into the adoption of this great organic

[Some correction of Mr. Brace's language is here necessary : —
The" great organic change " of which he speaks, viz., the substitu-
tion of Presbyterianism for Episcopacy in the National Church of
England, had not been accomplished at the date he has reached in
his narrative. The exclusion of bishops from the House of Lords
and from other places of secular authority and jurisdiction had been
carried, and assented to by the King, in Feb. 1641-2, six months
before the beginning of the Civil War ; various other acts and reso-
lutions relating to the Church had since then been passed by the two
Houses, amounting in the gross to an utter abolition of the Episcopal
form of Church government, root and branch ; and this fact had
been put on record in the ordinance of the two Houses, June 12,
1643, convoking the Westminster Assembly of Divines.

Whereas it has been declared and resolved by the Lords and Com-
mons assembled in Parliament that the present Church government by
Archbishops, Bishops, their Chancellors, Commissaries, Deans, Deans
and Chapters, Archdeacons, and other ecclesiastical officers depending on
the hierarchy, is evil, and greatly offensive and burdensome to the king-
dom, and a great impediment to reformation and growth of religion, and


very prejudicial to the State and Government of this kingdom, and that
therefore they are resolved that the same shall be taken away, and that
such a government shall be settled in the Church as may be agreeable
to God's Holy Word, and most apt to procure and preserve the peace of
the Church at home, and nearer agreement with the Church of Scotland,
and other Reformed Churches abi'oad : —

Such is part of the preamble of this ordinance, and the ordinance
itself goes on to entrust to about 150 persons named, divines and
others, the business of deliberating such questions as to the future
constitution and standards of the Church as may be expressly referred
to them by Parliament, and of advising Parliament in the same.
When the Westminster Assembly did meet (July 1, 1643) it was
pretty clear that the drift of opinion among the active majority of the
members was towards Presbyterianism, and indeed it was afterwards
maintained that the members had been selected by the two Houses
beforehand with a view to that result; but not till after the Solemn
League and Covenanted. been made with the Scots, and some Scottish
divines and laymen had been added to the Assembly as assessors to
the English members, was the Assembly empowered to begin the
consideration of the form of Church government to be substituted
for Episcopacy (Oct. 1643). Then, partly in consequence of the
enthusiasm over the new compact with the Scots, and of the pre-
sence of Henderson and other Scottish divines in the Assembly, the
preponderance of Presbyterian opinion in that body was overwhelm-
ing — only five English divines, called "the Dissenting Brethren,"
questioning the Presbyterian theory of a Church, and putting in
arguments in favour of the rival theory known as Congregationalism
or Independency. Always outvoted in the debates, these five
Dissenters at length changed their tactics. Knowing Presbytery
to be predetermined on in the Assembly, and that a decisive recom-
mendation in favour of that form of Church government would go
from the Assembly to Parliament, they started a side-question, and
openly appealed on this question both to Parliament and to the
general public (Jan. 1643-4). This was the question of Toleration.


If Presbytery were to be set up in England, as seemed now certain,
was it to be an absolute Presbytery, compulsory on every man,
woman, and child ; or would some allowance be made for tender
consciences that could not reconcile themselves to all the details of
the Established Church, and would ministers like themselves be per-
mitted to preach in a peaceful non-Presbyterian way to such con-
gregations as might voluntarily gather round them ? Such was still
the state of the controversy at the point Mr. Bruce has reached in
his narrative, viz., March or April 1644. The establishment of
Presbytery had not yet been actually voted in England, nor did the
formal votes to that effect pass Parliament till the following year ;
it was only as good as voted, or certain to be voted.

In view of this, however, there was an enormous agitation of the
whole mind of the country. The very air was full of new questions
and new phrases. Now first did most Englishmen hear of the
dispute between Presbytery and Independency, and learn
what it was all about. Presbyterian divines, both English and
Scottish, put forth pamphlets upon pamphlets, explaining the Pres-
byterian system, i. e. , that system in which, while each parish or
congregation has its own Church Court, consisting of the minister
and lay elders, yet, for the purposes of control and unity, there must
be a regular gradation of superior judicatories, called the Presbytery
or Classis (the District Court, supervising a group of congregations),
the Provincial Synod (the periodical court of a whole shire or of
several shires, supervising all the Presbyteries within its bounds),
and the General Assembly (the annual or occasional meeting of
representative ministers and lay elders for the whole nation). They
demonstrated the divine origin of this system, and its adaptation to
human society ; and they pointed to Scotland as an example of its
admirable working. The five Dissenting Brethren and their allies,
on the other hand, put forth pamphlets maintaining the divine
origin and the superior freedom of Congregationalism, the main
principle of which is the " independency " of individual congrega-
tions, though it admits the utility of correspondence between different


congregations and occasional meetings for consultation. With the
main question as between the two systems, however, was blended
that side question of Toleration which the Dissenting Brethren had
started. Would the Presbyterians, while establishing their system,
concede some amount of toleration under it? One cannot now per-
ceive any necessary or logical reason, inherent in the nature of the
Presbyterian system of Church government, why they should not
have agreed to do so ; and it might be a curious speculation what
would have happened if they had so agreed. Had the English and
Scottish Presbyterians in 1644 consented to set up Presbytery with
a toleration, how the future course of English history might have
been changed ! In fact, they would hear of nothing of the kind.
Absolute, universal, strict, compulsory Presbytery was their sole
idea of Presbytery ; toleration or liberty of conscience, name or
thing, much or little, was their bugbear, their horror, the condensa-
tion in one phrase of all that was hideous, abominable, and to be
resisted. In other words, anti-toleration was proclaimed as a neces-
sary tenet of true Presbyterianism. All the more naturally the
doctrine of liberty of conscience became precious to the small minority
of English parliamentarian divines who had adopted the theory of
Congregationalism or Independency, and to the scattered thousands
of persons throughout England who, for the same or for other
reasons, looked forward with dread to the substitution of absolute
Presbytery for the Prelacy that had been abolished. Nay, the
interpretation of the phrase " liberty of conscience " grew bolder
and bolder.— D.M.]

When it [i. e. the virtual adoption of Presbytery in lieu of the
abolished Episcopacy, though with the question of Toleration in
reserve. — D.M.] was accomplished, the old leaders of the move-
ment party had finished their contemplated work of rational
reformation. They were not blind, we may feel well assured, to
the inconveniences and irregularities attendant upon their hasty
legislation. But, satisfied with what they esteemed to be their clear
gain in having got rid of an intolerant hierarchy based upon Popish


principles, fondly attached to Popish ceremonies, and animated by
a Popish spirit, they trusted to time and to subsequent limitations
and qualifications to accommodate the change to the customs and
notions of the English people.

Such feelings brought them necessarily into strong harmony with
the popular desire for peace. The miseries of the war which had
desolated the country for a couple of years had excited in the
minds of the timid and the restless an ardent longing for the close
of the unnatural strife. These feelings were forced upon the
attention of the Parliament by the representations of excited
multitudes; and, although such men as Essex, Northumberland, and
Manchester in the one house, and [Holies, Stapleton, and Whit-
locke] in the other, neither partook in the despondency nor the
mutability of the populace, they might well feel that, having revised
all the great establishments of the kingdom and accomplished such
legislative changes as indicated that England of the Future which they
desired, and having secured such military assistance as gave them a
clear superiority in the field, the time had come for an earnest and ur-
gent endeavour to put an end to the pending anarchy by an arrange-
ment with their unwilling sovereign. Nor was there absent from
their minds another feeling which urged them still more strongly
to desire a peace. What evils might result from such a decided
superiority of either party as would enable it to dictate terms of
submission to its conquered adversaries ! Such an ascendancy, on
whichever side it occurred, would be followed by forfeitures and
proscription, and would probably alter all the institutions of the
country. Considerations like these led them to favour a military
policy of exhaustion rather than of conquest. Such a policy was
exemplified in the heavy inactivity of Essex. It discouraged
audacity and enterprise. It opposed the recklessness of Eupert by
steadiness, fortitude, and discretion. By such a policy it was hoped
that the resources of the King would be exhausted, and he would
be compelled to yield to England that freedom in relation to eccle-
siastical affairs which had already been extorted from him by the Scots.


In the meantime a party was growing up which took a totally
different view of the position of affairs, both political and religious.
When they found victory followed by sluggishness and consequently
yielding small or no results, when the destruction of one royalist
army was succeeded by a period of inactivity which enabled the
King to form another, these men began to exclaim, " Shall the
sword devour for ever?" They chimed in with those whose
anxiety was for peace, but they sought it, not by outcry, nor by
vainer endeavours to come to terms with an opponent who refused
to admit the constitutional status of those with whom he treated,
but by directing all the national energies to obtain a victorious
close of the war. They accepted the issue offered by the King and
threw upon him the responsibility of the result. As means to their
end they advocated discipline and intelligence among the troops,
unity in command, activity in operations, and improvement to the
very utmost of all opportunities. In these views they had many
supporters, but the leading advocates of these opinions were men
who went much farther. They had no desire that the King should
close with the terms that were now offered to him, which comprised
the substitution of Presbyterianism for Episcopacy. Both these
schemes of ecclesiastical government claimed a foundation jure
divino. This party denied the foundation, and found no shelter
against past grievances in the substitution of the one scheme for
the other. They aimed at procuring what was then termed freedom
of conscience, a modified toleration of sectaries within a certain pale —
the first ray of the fuller light that has since risen upon ourselves; 3

• Mr. Bruce is not absolutely right in describing the doctrine of Toleration tbat
had appeared in English society in 1644 as merely " the first ray of the fuller light
that has since risen upon ourselves." There were very various grades of the
doctrine even then ; and, though most of the respectable people who advocated
Toleration did only mean " a modified toleration of sectaries within a certain pale,"
there were some thinkers whose notions of Toleration were as wide and exceptionless
as any that have since been known. Indeed Voluntaryism in its utmost extreme, as
denying the right of the civil power to establish, endow, patronise, or in any way
favour any form of religious belief, or interfere with any mis-belief or no-belief, was
then a proclaimed speculation. — D.M.



nnd in that particular they were most unpopular. But the
point in which the popular voice went with them helped them on
in spite of its union with that which was disliked, and so it was
that they made way, and were shielded from the obloquy which, had
they stood only upon the latter point, might possibly have over-
whelmed them. Among their leaders it is scarcely necessary to
remark that Oliver Cromwell was pre-eminent.

They who would picture to themselves Oliver Cromwell, at the
period in which we have here to deal with him, must regard him
not merely as a man whose actions were controlled by a strong,
determined will, nor merely as a soldier strict in discipline, distin-
guished at all times by steady energy, in decision prompt, in execu-
tion unwavering. All these unquestionably he was, and probably those
who did not know him the most intimately described him over and
above as cold, reserved, unfeeling; but these things would scarcely
have constituted a difference between Cromwell and multitudes ot
other resolute and peremptory men. He was much more. In him
there was not merely a pre-determined judgment upon the points in
dispute, but one which he believed to be infallible, because communi-
cated to his mind by the Spirit of God. Call it enthusiasm, cant,
fanaticism , hypocrisy, or what you will. He saw God's Church defiled
by hirelings. He witnessed how they strove to bring back within the
sacred precincts the soul-destroying trumpery of rejected super-
stitions. They who profaned God's Church could not be otherwise
than enemies of the Lord of Hosts. To oppose them was the cause
of God. It was in this cause, uniting the hero with the prophet, that
he drew his sword ; and, whenever his efforts were triumphant, he
devoutly believed the success to be a token of God's approval — the
flashing of his sword to be the lightning of God's vengeance.

These were the principles which he inculcated upon his Ironsides,
and they in their turn, as much by their good conduct as by their
achievements, made disciples and proselytes wherever they went,
and that in spite of the angry opposition of Scots, of Presbyterians,


of all who desired a royal restoration upon any terms, and of those
who were alarmed at the multitude of enthusiastic sectaries who
sprang up upon the removal of the over-stringent restraints of the
Established Church. The sudden withdrawal of a rigorous religious
system is always followed by an outburst of irregular enthusiasm.
So it was at the Reformation, so on the occasion with which we are
now dealing, and so it always will be. In the present instance the
effects must have been greatly heightened by the unwise conduct of
the Parliament in abolishing the Episcopal Government without
substituting anything in its place for a considerable time. The
Cavaliers commented as if with satisfaction upon those wild explo-

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Online LibraryDavid MassonThe quarrel between the Earl of Manchester and Oliver Cromwell: an episode of the English Civil War → online text (page 3 of 17)