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alike, were still for a national church, which they deemed
the ordinance of God, though how to frame a national
church on the Congregational plan was a problem which
the Congregationalists found difficult to solve.

The economical and political map of England was
widely different then from what it is now. The north
and north midland were backward, aristocratic, and still
half feudal. Only in a few little clothing-towns, such
as Manchester, Leeds, Bradford, or in Birmingham already
noted for its iron work, had the germs of the manufactur-
ing industry, and with them of radicalism, begun to ap-
pear. Wales and the west of England were, like the
north of England, economically backward and controlled
by local magnates. Wales still retained, with the Celtic
speech, something of her old nationality and her antago-
nism to England. The regions of commerce, manufact-
ures and the political sentiments connected with them,
were in the south and east, and here the parliament had
power. London was the core and the mainstay of the
Puritan cause, as well as the seat of the revolutionary
government. It was Presbyterian, and a limit was put


to its revolutionary tendencies by its wealth. In the
south and east, especially in the east, were the homes of
a stout yeomanry. Independents in religion, and destined
to supply the military sinews of the cause. A line drawn
from Hull to Southampton would roughly divide the coun-
try of the parliament from that of the king. But Bristol,
Gloucester, and Plymouth, though west of that line, were,
as trading cities, for the Commons. Parties, however, were
everywhere more or less mingled. London was the mili-
tary as well as the political centre of the parliament. That
of the king was Oxford, the advanced post of his loyal
west and the base of his operations against London.

Of the social classes, the nobles were now for the most
part on the side of the king, though a few still adhered to
the Commons. The wealthy gentry also, though with not
a few exceptions, were on the king's side. So were the
Anglican clergy, especially those of the cathedral cities.
So were the universities, Oxford more intensely than Cam-
bridge, which was in some degree under the influence of
the Puritan eastern counties. Though the division of
parties did not strictly coincide with that of classes, the
Cavaliers' was decidedly the patrician, the Roundheads'
the plebeian cause. The royalist historian could complain
after a battle that the losses were very unequal, because
while on the side of the parliament some obscure officer
was missing, or some citizen's wife bewailed the loss of
her husband, on the king's side twenty persons of honour
and quality had been slain. This became more marked as
the war went on and the thoroughly plebeian Independents
pushed themselves to the front on the parliamentary side.

The catholics, who largely belonged to old families in
the north, were on the side of the king, not because they


loved him, but because they feared and hated his Puritan
enemies, who were always thirsting for their blood. Their
hearts also turned to his catholic queen. Connection with
them did the king as much harm as their sympathy and
aid did him good. Nor did he shrink from throwing them
over when he thought it would serve his turn. Some aid
he got from the catholics of Ireland, with whom he car-
ried on irresolute intrigues. But he paid dearly for that
aid in the fury of popular wrath which was aroused by
any connection with rebel Irish and papists steeped in
protestant blood.

Of assistance from abroad the king got little, though
he tried in all quarters, in France, in Spain, in Holland,
in Denmark, and was ready even to bring on England
the mercenary bands of the Duke of Lorraine. A har-
vest of national odium was what he chiefly reaped by
these attempts. The aim of Mazarin, the crafty Italian
who now ruled the councils of France, was to weaken
England by division. Catholic monarchs at last looked
on with folded hands at the catastrophe of a heretic
throne. By the house of Orange, allied by marriage, sym-
pathy was shown and aid was lent, thanks largely to
the exertions of • Henrietta, a brave and energetic woman,
who, while she brought folly and violence to the king's
councils, infused spirit into his war.

Heavy cavalry was once more the principal arm, and
this at first gave an advantage to the royalist gentry, who
were horsemen. The infantry was composed partly of
pikemen, partly of musketeers with matchlocks, the two
forces being awkwardly combined. Besides the regular,
or, as Clarendon calls them, commanded, foot, irregu-
lar and half -armed levies were brought into the field.


Artillery, both siege and field, was weak till it was
improved by Cromwell. Thus the castellated mansions of
the great nobles served as fortresses. Basing House, the
palace of the Marquis of Winchester, in Hampshire, stood
three sieges before it was taken by Cromwell. The nobles
and gentry had been used to command and their tenants
had been used to obey. This gave the royal army the
advantage of a natural organization till reverses had
taught the soldiers of the parliament the necessity of
discipline. The southern aristocracy of Planters had at
first the same advantage over the northern democracy
in the American civil war. The king had a first-rate
leader of cavalry, as far as dash and enterprise were con-
cerned, in his young and fiery nephew. Prince Rupert.
The parliamentary commander-in-chief, Essex, son of
queen Elizabeth's hapless favourite, and divorced husband
of her who was afterwards Lady Somerset, had been
chosen rather for his rank and popularity among the sol-
diery than for military genius, though he was a good
soldier, and amid all temptations and annoyances re-
mained thoroughly loyal to his cause. The fleet was
on the side of the parliament; the traditions of the navy
since its battles with Spain would be protestant. Parlia-
ment thus commanding the sea could debar the king from
foreign aid.

Of money the king was always in want. He had to
depend on gifts and loans from his partisans, college plate,
and other casual subventions. The parliament could
draw from the long purse of London and, commanding
the wealthy districts, it was able to levy regular taxes, to
which the financial genius of Pym, who had been bred
in the exchequer, added an excise upon all articles of


consumption. Recourse was had, however, almost from
the first, to a worse source of revenue, the sequestration
of the estates of those who were styled Delinquents.
Lack of pay compelled the king's troops to subsist by
plunder, to which Rupert, trained in German wars, was
of himself prone ; they thus set the people against them
and impaired their own discipline at the same time.

Among the Cavaliers were gentlemen, not less religious
than honourable, and as virtuous as any Puritan. Gren-
ville had prayers said at the head of all his regiments
before battle. But as a rule the Cavaliers were the
party of loose morality, free living, and profane language.
Their friends deplored the license, riot, and blasphemy
of their camps. They affected the extreme opposed to
Puritanism, and there was a hypocrisy on the devil's
side as well as on that of God. Among the Round-
heads, while there was much canting pharisaism, there was
also a stricter morality ; the morality of the best corps
was extremely strict ; and this told both in the field and
with the people.

While the war of the sword went on the war of the
pen did not cease. Pamphleteering was active on both
sides. Now political journalism, combining news with
editorial comment, has its birth. On each side there- is
a Mercury giving its one-sided intelligence with its party
judgments. Out of the throes of revolution a new power
has been born.

With the details of war political history does not deal.
The king sent forth his Commissions of Array, the par-
liament voted his commissioners traitors, and raised an
army for the defence of the king and parliament. The
closing of the gates of Hull against the king by the


1642 Hothams was the first blow. Charles set up his standard
at Nottingham, and the wind by blowing it down gave an
omen of his fate. A large resort to his camp showed at
once the reaction produced by the revolutionary pro-
ceedings of the parliament. Moving southwards from

1642 Shrewsbury, he encountered at Edgehill the army of the
parliament under Essex, better equipped and, as its em-
ployers thought, sure of an easy victory. Instead of an
easy victory, there was a drawn battle, which would have
been a victory for the king had not the fiery Rupert, after
breaking the parliamentary horse, galloped off in pursuit
and left the enemy to recover the field. Edgehill was a
confused hustle of untrained masses under inexperienced
commanders. But the gentry who fought for Charles
showed their superiority to the hired troopers of the
parliament. Cromwell, who commanded a troop of par-
liamentary light horse, saw that the moral force was with
the king, and that, to beat loyalty, enthusiasm must be
enlisted by the parliament. " Your troops," he said to
his cousin Hampden, "are most of them old decayed
serving men and tapsters, and such kind of fellows, and
their troops are gentlemen's sons and persons of quality.
Do you think that the spirits of such base and mean
fellows will ever be able to encounter gentlemen that
have honour and courage and resolution in them? . . .
You must get men of a spirit, and take it not ill what
I say — I know you will not — of a spirit that is likely
to go on as far as gentlemen will go, or else you will be
beaten still." In those words lay the secret of ultimate

1642 Charles advanced to London and was not far from end-
ing the war at a blow. Milton's sonnet pleading for the


Muses' bower against the violence of the captor is the
sweet memorial of the city's alarm. Londoners, however,
weie more warlike then than they are now, and the
trained bands under Skippon behaved well. The par-
liamentary general. Sir William Waller, had a run of
success which earned him the title of William the Con-
queror; but fortune presently turned against him and his
army was destroyed. Bristol fell, weakly surrendered, as i643
a court-martial found, by its intellectually brilliant gov-
ernor, Nathaniel Fiennes. In the north the Fairfaxes,
father and son, after some gallant exploits, performed in
conjunction with the radical populations of the little
clothing-towns, were overthrown at Adwalton Moor.
Hampden, the second chief, and perhaps the moral pillar
of the parliamentary cause, went from a skirmish at
Chalgrove Field, clinging to his horse's neck, with a
wound of which in a few days he died. Pym, the 1643
political pillar of the cause, sank beneath his load of toil
and care, and was interred in Westminster Abbey with
heraldic pomp which showed that so far at least this was
a gentleman's revolution. Before he died he had to com-
bat a peace movement, to face peace mobs crying that
he was a traitor and threatening to tear him to pieces, to
deal with a conspiracy, in which the poet Waller was
concerned and narrowly escaped with his head, for the
betrayal of London to the king. His last service was a
visit to the camp of Essex to assure himself of the loyalty
of the commander. There were flights of peers from
London to Oxford, and had not the queen's temper re-
pelled them, there would have been more.

For the first two years and a half fortune mocked the
sanguine hopes of the parliament. The turning-point is


commonly taken to have been the siege of Gloucester,
1643 formed by Charles and raised by Essex, who marched
from London with an army largely composed of the city
1643 trained bands. In the battle of Newbury, fought by
Essex on his retreat, the trained bands showed that the
citizen was still a soldier. Here fell Falkland, throwing
away his life, as it seems, when he saw that the hope of
peace was gone. It is in the siege of Gloucester that
we get a glimpse, through Clarendon, of the middle class
Puritan who furnished a subject for " Hudibras." The
king having sent a trumpet with a summons, " within
less than the time prescribed, together with the trumpeter,
returned two citizens from the town, with lean, pale,
sharp, and bald visages, indeed faces so strange and un-
usual, and in such a garb and posture, that at once made
the most severe countenance merry, and the most cheerful
hearts sad ; for it was impossible such ambassadors could
bring less than a defiance. The men, without any circum-
stances of duty or good manners, in a pert, shrill, undis-
mayed accent, said they had brought an answer from the
godly city of Gloucester to the king; and were so ready
to give insolent and seditious answers to any qtiestion,
as if their business were chiefly to provoke the king to
violate his own safe conduct." The answer of the godly
city was, " We, the inhabitants, magistrates, officers, and
soldiers, within this garrison of Gloucester, unto his
Majesty's gracious message return this humble answer ;
That we do keep this city, according to our oaths and
allegiance, to and for the use of his Majesty and his royal
posterity; and do accordingly conceive ourselves wholly
bound to obey the commands of his Majesty, signified by
both Houses of parliament: and are resolved, by God*s


help, to keep this city accordingly." To the constitu-
tional figment embodied in this answer the Roundheads
adhered with a truly English tenacity of forms.

Necessity had by this time compelled the leaders of the
parliament to stretch out their hands for aid to the Pres-
byterians of Scotland. Dire the necessity must have been
if it could constrain Liberals like Vane and Marten to
accept not only the alliance but the yoke of an austere
and narrow theocracy which maintained that Presbyteri-
anism was divine ; which held the dark creed of Calvin ;
which, through its church courts, exercised a searching
inquisition into private life ; which enforced the Mosaic
Sabbath; which within a few months put thirty witches
to death in one county. Only to the Presbyterian
party in parliament union with the Kirk would be wel-
come. As the conditions of their assistance the Scotch
required that England, besides paying them well, should
enter into a Solemn League and Covenant for the reli-
gious union of the two kingdoms ; in other words, for the
establishment of Presbyterianism in both of them. Par-
liamentary England did take the Solemn League and
Covenant, though for the most part with a wry face, and 1643
not without furtive exceptions. Acceptance became the
regular test of the party. A Scotch delegation was
admitted to the Assembly of Divines. The Assembly
framed an ecclesiastical polity on the Presbyterian model 1647
which was approved by parliament and was set on foot
in London, Lancashire, and, less perfectly, in some other
districts. London saw a provincial Presbyterian synod.
With the polity was combined a Presbyterian confes- 1647-
sion of faith which is still the doctrinal standard of the
Scottish church, embodying the extreme principles of


Calvin, and declaring that " by the decree of God for the
manifestation of his glory some men and angels are pre-
destinated unto everlasting life, and others fore-ordained
to everlasting death." But the generally slack and im-
perfect adoption of the system in England showed that
there was little enthusiasm for it among the people. In
England there had been no John Knox. The English
parliament, though it might be Presbyterian, was not theo-
cratic and had no intention of placing itself and the king-
dom under ecclesiastical domination. It remained true to
lay supremacy, the characteristic of the English Reforma-
tion of which Selden and his circle were the resolute
upholders. While it accepted the Presbyterian constitu-
tion and the profession of faith framed by the Westmin-
ster Assembly, it firmly insisted upon keeping for itself
the supreme jurisdiction and the power of the keys, which
was to be exercised by a parliamentary commission. It
sharply questioned the claim of the Presbyterian organiza-
tion to be divine, and read the Assembly a severe lesson
on that subject. High-flying theocrats, especially those of
the Scotch delegation, deplored such Erastianism, but in

Nor could the Scotch and English Presbyterians by
their combined force succeed to anything like the full
extent of their fanatical wishes in excluding toleration, a
monster in their eyes hardly less hateful than in those of
an Inquisitor, though neither they nor any other pro-
testant sect ever, like the Inquisition, carried the rack into
the recesses of conscience. Heresy, unchained by civil
discord, was presenting itself to their alarmed and horri-
fied eyes, not only in the decorous and respectable forms
of the Congregational Independents, such as Goodwin and


Nye, or in the comparatively decorous and respectable
forms of Cromwell and his religious circle, but in those
of Anabaptists, Anti-Trinitarians, Antinomians, Anti-Scrip-
turists, Anti-Sabbatarians, Millenarians, Soul-Sleepers or
Mortalists, Seekers, Familists, Fifth-Monarchy Men, Liber-
tines, Muggletonians, Ranters, and all the wild sects bred
by disordered fancy and ignorant interpretation of in-
spired scriptures in a time of feverish excitement. Anti-
nomianism was accused, and very likely in the case of
some maniacs with justice, of sanctifying license and even
crime, as Munzer and John of Leyden had done in their
day. Society as well as the church seemed to be threat-
ened by an anarchy not only spiritual but moral. Among
the moral anarchists was numbered John Milton, who,
amid the din of political controversy and the clash of civil
arms, was passionately pleading, as an unhappy husband,
for liberty, not to say license, of divorce. Parliament
at last under Presbyterian domination passed an ordinance
for the punishment of heresy and blasphemy, and in the
case of capital heresies, such as the denial of the Trinity
or the Incarnation, with death.

A joint committee of both kingdoms was formed as an
executive. In it a historian sees a foreshadowing at once
of a union of England with Scotland, and of the cabinet
system of government.

This was the hour of Presbyterian ascendancy in the
parliament. Presently Laud, who, since his impeach-
ment, had been in his prison, and through its bars had
blessed Strafford on the way to execution, was brought to
the block under a thin pretence of high treason, really as i645
a popish innovator and an enemy of the Kirk. The old
man was harmless, and his execution was one of the most

VOL. I — 35


savage, and, as a perversion of the treason law, one of
the most noxious, among the acts of the revolution. It
made him a party saint; and in our day he has been
well-nigh canonized by ritualists, in whom he and his
school live again, and who go nearer than he went to
Rome, far outrunning the ceremonialism by which he gave
offence in his consecration of the church of St. Catherine
Cree. Persecution of catholic priests and witch-burning
also marked and disgraced the Presbyterian's reign.

1643 In the darkest hour of the parliamentary cause the light
of hope had continued to shine in the Associated East-
ern Counties. There the Puritan yeomanry was strong.
There, under the Earl of Manchester, commanded Oliver
Cromwell, who, taking up the soldier's trade at the age of
forty-two, had made himself a first-rate leader of cavalry,
and had shown his insight into the situation and his
appreciation of moral force by forming among the yeomen
of his district a corps in which strict discipline was united
with fiery enthusiasm, and which presently earned for
itself the name of the Ironsides. The Scotch army, under

1644 Lord Leven and David Leslie, had entered England.
Forming a junction with it, the parliamentary forces of
the north under the Fairfaxes, and those of the Eastern
Counties' Association under Manchester and Cromwell,

1644 laid siege to York. The city was held by the Marquis of
Newcastle, a characteristic figure of the age, at once a
lord of the still half-feudal north with a great body of
retainers, and an elegant grandee of the Renaissance. To
save York Rupert rushed from the south. He raised the

1644 siege, but, not content with that exploit, resolved, against
the advice of the marquis, to fight a pitched battle. On

1644 the edge of Marston Moor, near York, the two armies,


with a few yards of ground and a ditch between them,
faced each other through a midsummer afternoon. In the
evening, when the marquis had retired to his carriage,
over-tension or accident brought on a battle, which came,
not as it comes now, with long-range firing and advance
of skirmishers, but with sword-stroke, with push of pike,
and with the shock of masses of mailed cavalry hurled
against each other. Rupert's fiery charge broke the
Roundheads in his front, but his headlong pursuit of them
left the field to be won by Cromwell, who, having also
broken the troops in his front, kept his well-disciplined
men in hand and turned the day. The result was a com-
plete and bloody victory for parliament, with the loss of
the north for the king. The regiment of Newcastle's
retainers, called the Whitecoats, showed their northern
valour and their feudal fidelity by falling every man in
his rank.

Marston was an Independents' victory, and Cromwell,
the leader of the Independents, did not fail to dwell upon
that fact. " It had all the evidences," he said, " of an
absolute victory obtained by the Lord's blessing upon the
godly party principally." Of the Scotch, while some had
done much more than Cromwell chose to admit, some had
shared the partial rout of the left wing. Their general
had been swept off the field in the press, and royalists
delighted to say that he had been taken up by a village

Now came the inevitable division between the Pres-
byterians, who wanted the exclusive establishment of their
rigid system of church government without toleration of
any other sect, and the Independents, of whom the more
moderate, such as Goodwin and Nye, wanted Congrega-


tional liberty bounded by sobriety of doctrine, while the
more thorough-going wafited non-conformity and enthu-
siasm without bounds. The division between Presbyte-
rians and Independents coincided in the main with that
between the patrician and plebeian sections of the parlia-
mentary party. Cromwell had no hatred of gentlemen ;
he said that he honoured a gentleman who was so indeed ;
he called himself a gentleman in speaking of his birth.
But he wanted good soldiers, and the low-born man as
well as the sectary who could fight was welcomed to
the ranks of his Ironsides. To him a good officer was
a good officer, though he might once, as sneering aris-
tocrats said, have filled a dung-cart.

Congregationalism stopped short of liberty of conscience.
The few minds into which that principle fully found its way
were generally prepared for it by the experience of perse-
cution. Roger Williams had preached it and won recog-
nition for it in Rhode Island, but to England he preached
in vain. Of the churches the Baptist deserves the credit
of being its first sanctuary. The English Baptists in
Amsterdam had said in their confession of faith, "The
magistrate is not to meddle with religion or matters of
conscience, nor compel men to this or that form of religion,
because Christ is the king and law-giver of the church
and conscience." Cromwell might not refuse to part with
a good soldier who was denounced to him as an Anabap-
tist, but, while his heart was large, and he flouted religious
squeamishness when it crossed a practical need, it is not
likely that he had distinctly embraced the principle of
liberty of conscience. Nearer to embracing it was Milton,
in whose broad and exalted allegiance to freedom of
opinion, bounded, it appears, only by the public morality


which must bound all freedom, it may perhaps be said that
the principle was virtually born. Roman Catholicism was
still regarded by the whole protestant body not only as
idolatry, but as potential treason, which might become
actual treason at the bidding of the pope. Anglicanism

Online LibraryGoldwin SmithThe United kingdom; a political history → online text (page 39 of 84)