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The quarrel between the Earl of Manchester and Oliver Cromwell: an episode of the English Civil War online

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qualities that must have been imparted to it by those who assisted him in drawing
it up. In any document in the preparation of which Cromwell took part I should
say that the tersest and most emphatic parts, and essentially the most perspicuous,
were alwavs his. Substantially and throughout, this Narrative appears to me to be
Cromwell's own, with suggestions from Haselrig, and perhaps from Waller.



of Manchester's military conduct, from his parting with the armies
of Fairfax and the Scots in Yorkshire after Marston Moor (July
1644) to his conjunction with the armies of Essex and Waller in
the South for the second battle of Newbury, and the abortive issue of
that conjunction in the affair of Donnington Castle (Nov. 1644).
We have already given the purport of the document as far as to the
beginning of that slow and reluctant movement of the Earl out of
his comfortable dormancy in the Eastern Counties which did bring
him at last into conjunction with Essex and Waller. Cromwell,
however, devotes more space to Manchester's delinquencies in the
sequel. Why had the Earl, after his long and obdurate stay at
Beading in October, marched southwards to Basingstoke, as if that
were the place for a proper conjunction, instead of directly west-
wards, where Sir William Waller was anxiously expecting him, and
whither the orders of the Houses and of the Derby House Com-
mittee had so pressingly pointed him? Had he thus marched
westward, the conjunction of the three armies might easily have
been at Salisbury ; in which case the issue of the campaign would
have been different — the King still to the west of Salisbury river,
without a foot of ground on the other side of it, except two or three
Royalist towns and castles, hard beset by the Parliament ! Then
the neglects and delays between the conjunction at Basingstoke and
the Battle of Newbury, including one actual proposal of retreat, from
the disgrace of which, Manchester now acting as Commander-in-
Chief, the armies were saved only by the remonstrances of Waller
and Sir Arthur Hasilrig! Then at the Battle of Newbury itself
what blunders of the Earl, what avoiding of the part he had
expressly undertaken in the battle, so that the battle was rendered
less effective than it might have been; and, above all, when the
battle had been won, what dogged opposition to the earnest requests
of Waller, Hasilrig, and Cromwell himself, that the whole army
should be marched Oxford-ways in pursuit of the King, or at least
that Manchester would lend some foot to assist the horse in pursuit !
" Neither would be granted, his Lordship expressing extreme un-


willingness thereto, making excuses and delays, speaking for his
return into his Association, and much for peace." For the next
twelve days it had been the same, the Earl either refusing to move,
or always making little movements the wrong way, thus positively
playing into the hands of the King, and making his return and his
relief of Donnington Castle not only possible but easy ! And at
the last moment, when, after the relief of Donnington Castle, there
was the chance of relieving all by another great battle with the
King, how had the Earl acted?

His Lordship, having now no further evasion left to shift it off under
another name, plainly declared himself against fighting, and, having
spent much time in viewing the enemy while they drew off, and pre-
paratory discourses, a council being called, he made it the question
whether 'twere prudent to fight. With all earnestness and solicitousness
he urged all discouragements against it, opposed all that was said for it.
And, amongst other things, it being urged that, if we now let the King
go off with such honour, it would give him reputation both at home and
abroad . . . but if we beat him now it would lose him everywhere . . .
his Lordship, replying, told the council he would assure them there was
no such thing, adding (with vehemence) this principle against fighting:
that, if we beat the King ninety-nine times, he would be King still, and
his posterity, and we subjects still ; but, if he beat us but once, we should
be hanged and our posterity be undone. Thus it was concluded not to

On the whole Cromwell could come to no other conclusion than
that which he had expressed at the outset of his narrative: viz., that
the Earl of Manchester was the man in England most blameable
for recent mishaps, and that his " backwardness to all action " had
proceeded not so much from dullness of mind as from a rooted
" principle of unwillingness " to seethe Parliament too successful.
Whitlocke's recollection of Cromwell's narrative is that it " gave
great satisfaction to the Commons," and that, in the matter of
Donnington Castle, it " seemed, but cautiously enough, to lay more
blame on the Lord-General's army [Essex's] than upon any other."


The second statement may refer to portions of Cromwell's speech in
the House apart from that charge against Manchester which alone
it was necessary to reduce to writing ; and the first statement seems
quite authentic. The Commons Journals for Nov. 25, 1644, show
what occurred immediately after Waller and Cromwell had addressed
the House. The whole business was referred for inquiry and report
to a Committee of the House, previously appointed for army matters,
of which Mr. Zouch Tate, one of the members for Northampton,
was chairman; and this Committee was empowered to examine
witnesses and send for all necessary papers, including letters des-
patched or received by the Committee of both Kingdoms.

The Earl of Manchester must have known pretty exactly that
same day all that had happened in the Commons. His place for
replying was, of course, in the House of Lords — not now, it is to
be remembered, that unbroken body of 150 peers, temporal and
spiritual, which had existed before the Civil War, but the mere
Parliamentarian fragment of it, consisting of about thirty peers in
all, of whom seldom more than fifteen were present. Here, for the
first time since his return from his campaign, Manchester appeared
on the 26th of November, the day after Cromwell's impeachment of
him in the other House; and the Lords Journals of that and the few
following days show the steps taken by him and his brother peers : —

Tuesday, Nov. 26. — The Earl of Manchester signified to this House
" That, since he attended this House last, he hath had the honour to be
in employment in some of the armies of Parliament, and some actions of
the army where his lordship was hath not given satisfaction to some ; an
account whereof he will be ready to give to this House when he shall be
appointed." And this House appointed Thursday next for his Lordship
to give this House an account thereof.

Thursday, Nov. 28. — The Earl of Manchester made to this House a
large narrative of the carriage of the affairs of the army at Newbury, and
of some speeches spoken by Lieutenant-Colonel \_sic~] Cromwell, which
concerns much the honour of this House and the Peers of England, and
the good and interest between the two kingdoms of England and Scotland.


Hereupon the House nominated these Lords Committees following, to
consider what is fit to be done upon that which the Earl of Manchester
delivered this day to this House :— Lord General [the Earl of Essex],
Lord Admiral [the Earl of Warwick], the Earl of Northumberland, the
Earl of Pembroke, the Earl of Salisbury, Lord North. Any three to
meet this afternoon, at three of the clock, in the Lord Keeper's lodgings.

Monday, Dec. 2.— The Earl of Manchester acquainted the House,
" That he having made a Narrative to their Lordships concerning the
business of the affairs of the army at Newbury and other affairs, and by
their Lordships commanded to put it down in writing, which he has
accordingly done, and is ready to present it to the House:" Which the
House received, and caused it to be read (Here enter them.)— the narra-
tive being of two parts, one concerning the bxxsiness touching the affairs
of the army at Donnington Castle, the other concerning Lieutenant-
General Cromwell.

The House being satisfied with the Earl of Manchester's Narrative
concerning the affairs of the army at Donnington Castle, there being
nothing appearing to the contrary, it is Ordered, To communicate the
same to the House of Commons. And that narrative concerning
Lieutenant-Colonel [sic] Cromwell, in regard he is a member of the
House of Commons, the House resolved, To communicate the narrative
to them at a Conference; and the Lord Wharton and the Lord North are
appointed to read the papers at the Conference.

A message was sent to the House of Commons by Mr. Serjeant
Whitfield and Mr. Sergeant Fynch, to desire a Conference, so soon as it
may stand with their conveniency, in the Painted Chamber, [1.] Touch-
ing a Narrative concerning the affairs of the army at Donnington Castle ;
2. Concerning a Narrative wherein a member of their House is concerned.

Ordered [while the two sergeants are away to the Commons requesting
a Conference of the two Houses], That these Lords following are appointed
to join with a proportionable number of the House of Commons to
examine the business of the army at Donnington Castle and the proceed-
ings thereof: — Lord General, Lord Admiral, Earl of Northumberland,
Earl of Pembroke, Earl of Salisbury, Earl of Denbigh, Lord North : any
three. The Speaker [of the Lords] was to let them [the Commons]
know at the Conference " that their Lordships have appointed seven lords


to examine the business of the army at Donnington Castle, and the pro-
ceedings thereof, and to desire that the House of Commons would appoint
a proportionable number of their House to join with them in the said
examination. For the latter part, in regard it concerned a member of
their House, their Lordships hare forborne to proceed in the business, as
being of a high nature, until their Lordships had communicated the
business to them [the Commons]. a

Both the Lords Journals and those of the Commons show that
the conference of the two Houses so requested was held that same
day (Dec. 2), and that consequently the Commons were then put
in possession of the two distinct documents which Manchester had
presented to the Lords as embodying what he had already delivered
to them orally: viz. (1) His counter-narrative of recent military
events, in exculpation of himself from the charges of Cromwell and
others ; and (2) A serious charge against Cromwell personally on
account of speeches said to have been uttered by hiin, at various
times, derogatory to the House of Lords and the whole order of the
Peerage, and tending also to offend the Scots and disturb the good
understanding between the two nations.

The first of these Papers has been preserved, and is given in
Eushworth, where it fills four folio pages (v. 733-736). Godwin
finds reason for thinking that it was penned by Denzil Holies; but
it is, at all events, in a studiously calm and dignified style, quite
befitting the character of the Earl himself. He begins with the
Battle of Newbury and the subsequent affair of Donnington Castle,
as the transactions in which he had been most distinctly blamed.
His defence, in general, is in these words: —

From the time I came to join with my Lord General's army I never
did anything without joint consent of those that were the best experienced

» These extracts from the Lords Journals I take from Mr. Bruce's MS. collection
of materials for his preface ; and I have not thought it necessary, with his careful
copies before me, to refer to the originals. I adhere to the copies even where they keep
the faulty grammar of the original, only translating the usual Comes of the Journals
into " Earl," or the like.



and chiefest commanders in all the armies; and herein I shall appeal to
those who were sent down from the Committee of both Kingdoms whether
upon all debates my expressions were not these, " I cannot pretend to
have any experience in this way ; therefore what you shall resolve I shall
observe ;" and I am confident that both they and all the commanders of
the Army will justify my practice made good my professions.

In the particulars of his version of the facts, however, there is a
continual pointing to Cromwell as one who had thwarted com-
mands and failed in duty. Thus, at Newbury Battle, the Earl
himself had done all he had undertaken, and other parts of the army
had behaved in such a way as to contribute to the success; "but
where those horses were that Lieutenant-General Cromwell com-
manded I have as yet had no certain account." Then, afterwards,
on the news of the King's return from Oxford for the relief of
Donnington Castle, when the Earl, after consulting with Skippon,
thought a rendezvous of all the dispersed horse necessary, and had
sent orders to that effect to Sir William Balfour and Cromwell,
what had Cromwell done?

He came unto me, and in a discontented manner expressed himself,
asking me whether I intended to flay my horse ; for, if I called them to a
rendezvous [after so much hard work recently], I might have their skins,
but no service from them. I told him my opinion was that it was abso-
lutely necessary, for, if it were not done, I doubted if we should have
them present when we had most use of them ; yet, he persisting in his
dislike of it, I told him he might do as he pleased.

Again, when the King had relieved Donnington Castle and
threatened battle, why had the army been obliged to remain on the
defensive and confine itself to repelling with its foot the charge of
the enemy? Because, though " some of my Lord General's horse
and some of Sir William Waller's " were on the side of the river
where the action was, " Lieutenant-General Cromwell had not
brought over any horse, notwithstanding I had desired him that all
of them might be drawn over on that side of the river." The Earl


then touches on the capital charge of his allowing the King after
all to retreat undisturbed instead of compelling him to a battle.
That had been done, he declares, by the unanimous consent of all
the commanders assembled in council, on the ground that a defeat
of the Parliamentary army at that time, with the Scottish auxiliaries
and other forces so far away in the north, might be fatal; and, in
taking that view himself, he had only agreed with others, and
especially with Sir Arthur Hasilrig. Here he reverts to his general
defence of having always acted by advice; after which, in two brief
closing paragraphs, he goes back to topics of older date than his
conjunction with Essex's army and Waller's. He had been blamed
for dilatoriness at Lincoln and neglect of the orders of the Com-
mittee of both Kingdoms to hasten southward and westward in
order to that conjunction. Lieutenant-General Cromwell himself
could be an efficient witness in answer to that charge, if he would
recollect certain particulars. Finally, about certain " discontents"
which " brake forth " in his army of the Associated Counties and
were really " the cause of retarding that service," the Earl does not
think it necessary to speak until desired to do so.

The contemporary and more secret paper, containing Manchester's
report of highly inflammatory sayings in which Cromwell had for
some time been indulging, has not come down in the Journals of
either House, or in any of the collections; nor, unfortunately, has
Mr. Bruce's research recovered it. We have the means of guessing,
however, what was the nature of those utterances of Cromwell here
and there in his wrath which were now remembered against him
and gathered into one mass by Manchester to be hurled at his head.
With others of the Independents and forward spirits he had
observed that the shred of a House of Lords nominally adhering to
Parliament, and still acting as an Upper House with all the pomp
and forms that had belonged to that House in its complete state,
was really a clog on the energies of the other House, impeding
what was proposed there, and causing languour and half-heartedness
in the war. How was it possible for men of large estates and great


family interests to avoid making the safety of those estates and
interests a prime consideration in all their debates and methods,
and so looking forward anxiously to any reconciliation with the
King that would restore the status quo ante, with only the few
changes deemed indispensable? Perceiving this, Cromwell had
begun to doubt whether the war would ever be finished until the
fragment. of the House of Peers had been swept out of the way;
and he had, perhaps, pushed his speculation farther, and begun to
question the desirableness of any peerege whatever, or at least any
peerage of the existing sort, in the future constitution of England.
Never afraid of bold speaking, and indeed liable, on occasion, to
sudden gusts and phrenzies of expression, he had talked in this strain
among his friends, and perhaps sometimes in more miscellaneous
company. At least once, it appears, whether in passionate earnest-
ness or in a moment of semi-humorous confidence, he had surprised
Manchester himself with some outbreak of the kind.

General Cromwell declared to the Earl of Manchester his hatred of
the Nobility and House of Peers, wishing there was never a lord in
England, and saying he loved such and such because they loved not lords,
and that it would not be well till he [Edward Montagu, Eaxd of Man-
chester] was but Mr. Montagu.

Such is the record, long afterwards, in Holles's memoirs, a repeat-
ing, perhaps, one of the anecdotes of Cromwell that figured in
Manchester's present paper. But we have a more exact and com-
plete description of the contents of the paper, written at the very
moment by one who was at the centre of information and in all
the secrets of the Presbyterian party — the Scottish Commissioner
Baillie. "Always, my Lord Manchester," writes Baillie, December
1, to Scotland, " has cleared himself abundantly to the House of
Lords, and there has recriminate Cromwell as one who has avowed
his desire to abolish the Nobility of England ; who has spoken con-
tumeliously of the Scots' intention of coming to England to establish
a P. 18, as quoted in Pari. Hist. iii. 349.


their Church government (in which Cromwell said he would draw
his sword against them) — also against the Assembly of Divines ;
and has threatened to make a party of Sectaries, to extort by force,
both from King and Parliament, what conditions they thought
meet." a The Scots, therefore, with their pertinacious pushing of
their Presbyterian system in all its strictness upon England, and
their loan of their vaunted auxiliary army solely for that end, had
become, equally with the English Nobility, a subject of Cromwell's
comments; and, despite his union with them in the Solemn League
and Covenant, his comments on them, and on the Westminster
Assembly as virtually their organ, had been growing more and
more disrespectful. In bringing this out in his paper, Manchester
had done a most politic thing in his own interest. The little
phalanx of Scots then in London, as members of the Committee of
both Kingdoms, lay Commissioners for other purposes, or Divines
in the Westminster Assembly, were a very powerful body, not to
be insulted with impunity. They had long looked askance on
Cromwell as the champion of Independency, and now was their
time for action. " It's like, for the interest of our nation,'' proceeds
Baillie in the same letter, " we must crave reason of that Darling
of the Sectaries, and in obtaining his removal from the army (which
himself by his over-rashness has procured) to break the power of
that potent faction. This is our present difficile exercise : we had
need of your prayers." To understand what was really meant by
this, we must turn to Whitlocke.

In the lull in military operations caused by the retirement of the
several armies into winter quarters, propositions for peace had again
been revived. Commissioners from the two Houses, with some of
the Scottish Commissioners, had gone from London (Nov. 20) with
overtures to the King at Oxford ; they had had interviews with
him, and had brought back answers ; and matters were thus in train
for that great Treaty of Uxbridge which occupies so much
space, with such a zero of result, in the history of the Civil War.
1 Baillie, ii. 245.


It was a crisis, therefore, when the various elements in the leader-
ship of what had all along been the more Conservative party among
the Parliamentarians — Essex and his stately brother peers, Holies
and his Presbyterian associates in the Commons, and the Scottish
Commissioners — might well unite in an attempt to disgrace and
disable such a representative of the more revolutionary party as
Cromwell. He was in London, away from his Ironsides, and again
for the time a mere Member of Parliament ; and had not his quarrel
with Manchester given them the opportunity ? Why not convert
Manchester's charge against him in the Lords into a public State
prosecution to be regularly tried at law ? This, in fact, was the
"difficile exercise" in which, Baillie tells us, he and his fellow-
Scots in London were engaged, and for success in which he begged
the prayers of his co-Presbyters in Scotland. Probably because it
failed, we hear little more of it from Baillie; but a passage in
Whitlocke supplies the deficiency. It is that famous passage where
Whitlocke describes a private conference held at Essex House in the
Strand within a few days after the date of Baillie's letter. Summoned
to Essex House, "one evening very late," by an urgent message from
the lord of the mansion, but not knowing on what business, Whit-
locke and his fellow-lawyer Maynard, we are told, found a small
company already with the Lord General, consisting of "the Scots
Commissioners, Mr. Holies, Sir Philip Stapleton, Sir John Meyrick
[three of the leading Presbyterians of the Commons], and divers
other friends." After some preliminaries, the Scottish Chancellor
Loudoun, at the request of Essex, opened to the two lawyers the
purpose of the meeting. He did so very warily, and in his peculiar
Scottish dialect, which Whitlocke tries to reproduce. " Ye ken
vary weele that Lieutenant- General Cromwell is no friend of ours;"
«« he not only is no friend to us and to the government of our Church,
but he is also no well-w T isher to his Excellency [Essex] , whom you
and we all have cause to love and honour : " — these are two of his
reported expressions, with the addition: "It is thought requisite
for us, and for the carrying on of the cause of the tway kingdoms,


that this obstacle or remora may be removed out of the way." Could
this be dorje? In Scotland there would have been no difficulty in
such a case. By the law of Scotland any incendiary might be
brought to trial; and "we clepe him an incendiary whay kindleth
coals of contention and raises differences in the State to the public
damage." Now in the Solemn League and Covenant between the
two nations this word had been adopted — one of the paragraphs of
that document expressly binding both nations " to endeavour the
discovery of such as have been or shall be incendiaries," that they
might be brought to public trial. But did the law of England
recognise the kind of criminal called an incendiary, and provide
means for bringing him to account? This was the point on which the
Scots desired the judgment of Whitlocke and Maynard. " Whether
your law be the same or not you ken best, who are mickle learned
therein." Both Whitlocke and Maynard assured the company in
reply that the law of England did recognise incendiaries and could
deal with them ; but they both suggested serious doubts as to the
proposal to bring Cromwell within that category. They were not
aware of proofs against him sufficient for the purpose ; the collection
of such proofs would be difficult; he was a man of great parts, and
great interest in the Commons and throughout the country; it
would not do for persons in such high authority as the Lord
General and the Scottish Commissioners to appear in such a business
unless they could be sure of success. Here, Whitlocke adds, Holies,
Stapleton, and some others, struck smartly in, mentioning acts and
words of Cromwell's that ought to prove him an incendiary, denying
his great interest in the Commons, and urging immediate procedure.

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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 7 of 17)