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gone into battle with half a heart. Such was Crom-
well's first onset.

The main battle was less victorious. The right of
the Parliamentary foot stood firm, but the rest being
overpressed gave ground and fell back in disorder.
The officers made fruitless attempts to check the con-
fusion of their inexperienced forces, and were obliged
to fall into the reserves with their colors, "choosing
rather to fight and die than to quit the ground they
stood on." It was at this point that Cromwell exe-
cuted his second movement; it was the crisis of the
battle. With singular exactness he repeated the tac-
tics that had won the memorable day at Marston.
There as here — Cromwell's wing victorious, the other
wing worsted, the foot in the center hard pressed,
Cromwell re-forming to the rescue. Rupert, like Gor-
ing's men at Marston, instead of leaving a detachment
to pursue Ireton's fugitive horse, and turning to help
the king's infantry in their work at the center, lost time
and a decisive opportunity. Cromwell, as at Marston,
observing the difficulties of the Parliamentary foot,
collected his whole force, save one regiment detailed to
watch or pursue the flight of Langdale's horsemen,
formed them again in line, set a new front toward the
left flank of the enemy's foot, and flung them with up-
lifted right arms and flashing swords to the relief of
the hotly pressed infantry of Fairfax and Skippon.
One of the Royalist brigades ofifered an obstinate re-
sistance. "The Parliamentarians strove hard to break
them, but even the Ironsides could not drive them in,
they standing with incredible courage and resolution,
though we attempted them in flank, front, and rear."
No impression was made until Fairfax called up his


own regiment of foot. Then the stubborn brigade of
Royalists gave way, and in a short time there was little
left in the whole of the field but the remnant of the
king's horse. Though some, says the modern soldier,
may hold Marston to offer a greater variety of striking
pictures and moments of more intensity (Hoenig, i.
203), there is scarcely a battle in history where cavalry
was better handled than at Naseby. In the tactics of
Naseby this second charge of the Cromwellian horse
stands out conspicuous for skill and vigor.

There was still, however, one more move to make
before victory was secure. Though aware of the dis-
aster that was overwhelming him, the king strove
bravely to rally the broken horse of his left wing. He
was joined by Rupert, at last returning from the bag-
gage-wagons and Naseby village, with his men and
horses exhausted and out of breath. Here the Royal-
ists made their last stand. It was in vain. The Par-
liamentary generals, with extraordinary alacrity, pre-
pared for a final charge, and their preparation was
hardly made before all was over and the day won.
Ireton, though severely wounded in the beginning of
the battle, had got his men together again, and he took
an active part in the new attack. The Parliamentary
foot, who had been thrown into disorder by the first
charge, and had then rallied "in a shorter time
than imaginable," now advanced at the top of their
speed to join the horse. For Oliver had got his force
of cavalry once more in hand, and made ready to bear
down on the enemy for a third and final charge. The
horsemen were again drawn up in two wings within
carbine-shot of the enemy, "leaving a wide space be-
tween the wings for the battle of the foot to fall in.
Thereby," says the eye-witness, "there was framed, as
it were in a trice, a second good battalia at the latter


end of the day, which the enemy perceiving, and that
if they stood they must expect a second charge from our
horse, foot, and artillery (they having lost all their
foot and guns before), and our dragoons having
already begun to fire upon their horse, they not willing
to abide a second shock upon so great disadvantage as
there was like to be, immediately ran away, both fronts
and reserves, without standing one stroke more." To
the king, gallantly heading his line, a curious and char-
acteristic thing happened. Lord Carnwath riding by
his side suddenly laid his hand upon the king's bridle,
and swearing sundry Scotch oaths, cried out, "Will
you go upon your death in an instant?" "Then," says
Clarendon, "before the king understood wdiat he would
have, he turned his horse round, and upon that they
all turned their horses and rode upon the spur, as if
they were every man to shift for himself."

The fight, which was desperately maintained at
every point throughout the day, with its issue often
doubtful, lasted three hours. The killed and wounded
were about five thousand. The Irish camp-followers
were slaughtered in cold blood. All the king's guns,
all his wagons and carriages, his colors and standards
were taken, and, worst of all, his private cabinet, con-
taining his most secret correspondence and papers.
This did him an injury almost as deep as the loss of a
battle, for the letters disclosed his truthlessness, and
the impossibility of ever trusting him. A weird and
vivid picture of the latest scenes of Naseby survives in
the story of Lady Herbert. She went with a retainer
to seek the body of her husband. It was a chill and
boisterous night. They met stragglers laden with
spoil ; and here and there lay a miserable wounded man
imploring help which they could not give. The living
array and throng of war had passed, and nothing re-

From the original portrait by Van Dyck at Hinchinbrook,
by permission of the Eatl of Sandwich.



mained but the still and motionless heaps of dead and
dying. The moon sometimes gave a prospect over the
encumbered field. Here the slain were piled closely
together, there they had fallen dispersed in broken
flight. Mangled limbs were scattered about, mixed
with the carcases of horses, gun-carriages, and broken
tumbrils. Elsewhere were small arms and fragments
of feathers and clothing. The spoilers of the dead
had now newly done their work ; but one or two strag-
gling women still moved up and down like specters
among the heaps of slaughter.

She made up to one of the women, and asked if she
could tell where the King's Guards had fought. *'Ay,
gossip. Be'st thou come a-rifling too? But i'faith
thou'rt of the latest. The swashing gallants were as
fine as peacocks ; but we've stript their bravery, I trow.
Yonder stood the King's tent, and yonder about do
most of them lie; but thou'lt scarce find a lading for
thy cattle now." She went by this direction toward
a rising ground, where the fragments of the royal tent
were still to be seen. The dead here lay wedged in close
heaps, indicating that the conflict had been long and
desperate. The combatants had often fallen in mor-
tal struggle, grasped together in the very attitude in
which they had given the death wounds. Such is hate-
ful war.

Toward the end of May, Digby writes in one of
his letters, "Ere one month be over, we shall have
a battle of all for all." The prediction came true.
If the battle had gone the other way Goring and the
king would have marched up to London, heartening
their men with the promise of the spoil of the richest
city in the realm, and the presence of the king and
his army in the metropolis might have created a situ-
Even now the


king had not lost his crown. Time had still golden
opportunities to offer him. Yet Naseby was one of
the decisive battles of English history. It destroyed
the last organized force that Charles was able to
raise; it demonstrated that the New Model had pro-
duced an invincible army; it transformed the nature
of the struggle, and the conditions of the case; it
released new interests and new passions ; it changed
the balance of parties; and it brought Cromwell into
decisive preeminence in all men's minds.


Cromwell's own account of Naseby is the tersest
bulletin on record, but he takes care to draw a political
moral for the hot party struggle then going on at
Westminster. "Honest men," he writes to the
Speaker, "served you faithfully in this action. Sir,
they are trusty; I beseech you, in the name of God,
not to discourage them. I wish their actions may
beget thankfulness and humility in all that are con-
cerned in it. He that ventures his life for the liberty
of his country, I wish he trust God for the liberty of
his conscience, and you for the liberty he fights for."
In plainer words, the House of Commons should not
forget how much the Independents had to do with
the victory, and that what the Independents fought
for was above all else liberty of conscience.

For the king the darkness was lightened by a
treacherous ray of hope from Scotland. The Scots,
w'hose aid had been of such decisive value to the Par-
liament at the end of 1643, on the stricken field at
Marston in the summer of 1644, and in the seizure
of Newcastle three months later, had been since of


little use. At Naseby they had no part nor lot, and
they even looked on that memorable day with a surly
eye; although it had indeed broken the malignants,
it had mightily exalted the Independents. A force of
Scots still remained on English ground, but they were
speedily wanted in their own country. One of the
fiercest of the lesser episodes of the war happened in
Scotland, where in the northern Highlands and else-
where the same feeling for the national line of their
princes came into life among chieftains and clans-
men that survived with so many romantic circum-
stances and rash adventures down to the rebellion
of 1745.

In August, 1644, Montrose, disguised as a groom
and accompanied by two of his friends, rode across
the southwestern border from Carlisle and made his
way to Athole. There he was joined by a mixed con-
tingent of Highlanders and twelve hundred Irish,
lately brought over under Highland leadership into
Argyllshire. This was the beginning of a flame of
royalism that blazed high for a year, was marked by
much savagery and destruction, left three or four new
names upon the historic scroll of the bloody scuffles
between Campbells, Forbeses, Frasers, Macleans, Mac-
donalds, Gordons, Ogilvies, Grahams, and the rest,
and then finally died down at the battle of Philip-
haugh. Montrose reached the top of his success at
the engagement of Kilsyth, just two months after
Naseby. In another month the rushing meteor went
out. David Leslie, who fought at Cromwell's side
at Marston Moor and was now on duty in England,
took his force up to the border, crossed the Tweed,
found Montrose and his ragged and scanty force of
clansmen encamped at Philiphaugh, near Selkirk
(September 13, 1645), ^^^^ there fell suddenly upon


them, shattering into empty air both Montrose's fan-
tasies and the shadowy hopes of the dreaming king.

Charles's resohition was still unshaken. As he told
Digby, if he could not live like a king, he would die
like a gentleman. Six weeks after the fatal battle
he writes to Prince Rupert: "I confess that, speaking
either as a mere soldier or statesman. I must say that
there is no probability but of my ruin. But as a
Christian I must tell you that God will not suffer
rebels and traitors to prosper, or this cause to be over-
thrown. And whatever personal punishment it shall
please him to inflict upon me must not make me repine,
much less to give over this quarrel. Indeed, I can-
not flatter myself with expectations of good success
more than this, to end my days with honor and a good
conscience, which obliges me to continue my endeav-
ors, as not despairing that God may in due time
avenge his own cause. Though I must avow to all
my friends that he that will stay with me at this time
must expect and resolve either to die for a good cause,
or (which is worse) to live as miserable in maintain-
ing it as the violence of insulting rebels can make it."

This patient stoicism, which may attract us when
we read about it in a book, was little to the mind of
the shrewd soldier to whom the king's firm words were
written. Rupert knew that the cause was lost, and
counseled an attempt to come to terms. A disaster
only second to Naseby and still more unforeseen soon
followed. After a series of victorious operations in
the west, at Langport, Bridgewater, Bath, Sherborne,
Fairfax and Cromwell laid siege to Bristol, and after
a fierce and daring storm (September loth) Rupert,
who had promised the king that he could hold out
for four good months, suddenly capitulated and rode
away to Oxford under the humiliating protection of

Drawn by George T. Tobin after a print in the British Museum of the portrait by Peter OHv


a Parliamentary convoy. The fall of this famous
stronghold of the west was the severest of all the
king's mortifications, as the failure of Rupert's wonted
courage was the strangest of military surprises. That
Rupert was too clear-sighted not to be thoroughly
discouraged by the desperate aspect of the king's
affairs is certain, and the military difficulties of sus-
taining a long siege were thought, even by those who
had no reasons to be tender of his fame, to justify
the surrender. The king would listen to no excuses,
but wrote Rupert an angry letter, declaring so mean
an action to be the greatest trial of his constancy that
had yet happened, depriving him of his commissions,
and bidding him begone beyond the seas. Rupert
nevertheless insisted on following the king to Newark,
and after some debate was declared to be free of all
disloyalty or treason, but not of indiscretion. An-
other quarrel arose between the king and his nephews
and their partizans. The feuds and rivalries of Par-
.liament, at their worst, were always matched by the
more ignoble distractions and jealousies of the court.
Suspicions even grew up that Rupert and Maurice
were in a plot for the transfer of the crown to their
elder brother, the Elector Palatine. That the Elec-
tor had been encouraged in such aspirations by earlier
incidents was true.

Cromwell improved the fall of Bristol as he had
improved Naseby. "Faith and prayer," he tells the
Speaker, "obtained this city for you. It is meet that
God have all the praise. Presbyterians, Independents,
and all here have the same spirit of faith and prayer,
the same presence and answer; they agree here, have
no names of difference; pity it is it should be other-
wise anywhere." So he urges to the end of his de-
spatch. Toleration is the only key-word. "All that


believe have the real unity, which is most glorious
because inward and spiritual. As for unity in forms,
commonly called uniformity, every Christian will
study that. But in things of the mind we look for
no compulsion but that of light and reason. In other
things God hath put the sword in the hands of the
Parliament for the terror of evildoers and the praise
of them that do well." These high refrains were not
at all to the taste of the Presbyterian majority, and
on at least one occasion they were for public purposes

After Bristol Winchester fell. Then Cromwell sat
down before Basing House, which had plagued and
defied the generals of the Parliament for many long
months since 1643. Its valorous defender was Lord
Winchester, a Catholic, a brave, pious, and devoted
servant of the royal cause, indirectly known to the
student of English poetry as husband of the young
lady on whose death, fourteen years earlier, Milton
and Ben Jonson had written verses of elegiac grief.
"Cromwell spent much time with God in prayer the
night before the storm of Basing. He seldom fights
without some text of scripture to support him." This
time he rested on the eighth verse of the One Hun-
dred and Fifteenth Psalm: "They that make them
[idols] are like unto them; so is every one that trust-
eth in them," — with private application to the theolo-
gies of the popish Lord Winchester. "We stormed
this morning," Oliver reports (October 14, 1645),
"after six of the clock; the signal for falling on was
the firing four of our cannon, which being done, our
men fell on with great resolution and cheerfulness."
Many of the enemy were put to the sword ; all the
sumptuous things abounding in the proud house were
plundered; "popish books, with copes and such uten-


sils," were flung into the purifying flame, and before
long fire and destruction had left only blackened ruins.
Among the prisoners was Winchester himself. In
those days the word in season was held to be an urgent
duty. Hugh Peters thought the moment happy for
proving to his captive the error of his idolatrous ways,
just as Cheynell hastened the end of Chillingworth
by thrusting controversy upon his last hour, and as
Clotworthy teased the unfortunate Laud at the in-
stant when he was laying his head upon the block
with questions upon what his assurance of salvation
was founded. The stout-hearted cavalier of Basing,
after long endurance of his pulpit tormentors, at last
broke out and said that "if the king had no more
ground in England than Basing House, he would still
adventure as he had done, and so maintain it to the

After Basing the king had indeed not very much
more ground in England or anywhere else. This was
the twentieth garrison that had been taken that sum-
mer. Fairfax, who had parted from Cromwell for a
time after the fall of Bristol, pushed on into Devon
and Cornwall, and by a series of rapid and vigorous
operations cleared the Royalist forces out of the west.
He defeated Hopton, that good soldier and honorable
man, first at Torrington and then at Truro, and his
last achievement was the capture of Exeter (April 9,
1646). Cromwell, who had joined him shortly after
the fall of Basing House, was with the army through-
out these operations, watching the state of affairs at
Westminster from a distance, in a frame of mind
shown by the exhortations in his despatches, and con-
stant to his steadfast rule of attending with close
diligence to the actual duties of the day, leaving other
things to come after in their place. After the fall of


Exeter, he was despatched hy Fairfax to report their
doings to the ParHament. He received the formal
thanks of the House of Commons, and a more soHd
recognition of his fideHty and service in the shape of
estates of the value of two thousand five hundred
pounds a year. Then Cromwell went back to Fair-
fax and the investment of Oxford.


Bool? Ebree



ONE Sunday at midnight (April 26, 1646) the
king at C3xford came secretly to an appointed
room in one of the colleges, had his hair and beard cut
short, was dressed in the disguise of a servant, and
at three in the morning, with a couple of companions,
crossed over Magdalen Bridge and passed out of the
gate, leaving behind him forever the gray walls and
venerable towers, the churches and libraries, the clois-
ters and gardens, of the ever-faithful city. He had
not even made up his mind whither to go, whether
to London or to the Scots. Riding through Maiden-
head and Slough, the party reached Uxbridge and
Hillingdon, and there at last after long and perplexed
debate he resolved to set his face northward, but with
no clear or settled design. For eight days men won-
dered whether the fugitive king lay hidden in London
or had gone to Ireland. Charles was afraid of Lon-
don, and he hoped that the French envoy would
assure him that the Scots were willing to grant him
honorable conditions. Short of this, he was inclined
rather to cast himself upon the English than to trust
his countrymen. His choice was probably the wrong
one. If he had gone to London he would have had
a better chance than ever came to him again, of wid-
ening the party divisions in the House of Commons,



and he would have shown the Enghsh that he had
that confidence in their loyalty which at this, as al-
most at every other stage, the general body of them
were little likely to disappoint or to betray. After all
it mattered less where Charles was than what he was.
If, in the language of the time, God had hardened
him, if he was bent on "tinkling on bishops and delin-
quents and such foolish toys," he might as well try
his shallow arts in one place as another. Do what
he would, grim men and grim facts had now fast hold
upon him. He found his way to Harrow, thence to
St. Albans, and thence to Downham. There the dis-
guised king stayed at a tavern until word came from
Montereul — not very substantial, as it proved — that
the Scots would give the assurances that he desired.
Ten days after leaving Oxford Charles rode into the
Scottish quarters at Southwell. He was never a free
man again. Before the end of June Oxford surren-
dered. The generals were blamed for the liberality
of the terms of capitulation, but Cromwell insisted on
their faithful observance, for he knew that the war
was now at an end, and that in civil strife clemency
must be the true policy.

With the close of the war and the surrender of the
person of the king a new crisis began, not less decisive
than that which ended in the raising of the royal stan-
dard four years before, but rapidly opening more ex-
tensive ground of conflict and awakening more for-
midable elements. Since then Europe has learned, or
has not learned, the lesson that revolutions are apt to
follow a regular order. It would be a complete mis-
take, however, to think that England in 1647 was at
all like France after the return of Bonaparte from his
victorious campaigns in Italy. They were unlike, be-
cause Cromwell was not a bandit, and the army of

Fiom the portrait by C Janssen in the Nauonal Portrait Gallery


the New Model was not a standing force of many
tens of thousands of men, essentially conscienceless
and only existing for war and conquest. The task
was different. No situations in history really repro-
duce themselves. In France the fabric of government
had been violently dashed to pieces from foundation
to crest. Those ideas in men's minds by which na-
tional institutions are molded, and from which they
mainly draw their life, had become faded and power-
less. The nation had no reverence for the throne, and
no affection either for the king while he was alive,
or for his memory after they had killed him. Not a
single institution stood sacred. In England, in 1647,
no such terrible catastrophe had happened. A con-
fused storm had swept over the waters, many a brave
man had been carried overboard, but the ship of state
seemed to have ridden out the hurricane. The king
had been beaten, but the nation never dreamed of any-
thing but monarchy. The bishops had gone down,
but the nation desired a national church. The lords
had dwindled to a dubious shadow, but the nation
cherished its unalterable reverence for Parliament.

The highest numbers in a division, even in the
early days of the Long Parliament, do not seem to
have gone above three hundred and eighty out of a
total of near five hundred. After the war broke out
they naturally sank to a far lower figure. At least
a hundred members were absent in the discharge of
local duties. A hundred more took the side of the
king, and shook the dust of Westminster from off
their feet. On the first Self-denying Ordinance one
hundred and ninety members voted. The appoint-
ment of Fairfax to be commander-in-chief was carried
by one hundred and one against sixty-nine. The ordi-
nary working strength was not above a hundred. The


weakness of moral authority in a house in this condi-
tion was painfully evident, but so too were the diffi-
culties in the way of any remedy. A general disso-
lution, as if the country were in deep tranquillity
instead of being torn and wearied by civil convulsion,
was out of the question. Apart from the technical
objection of calling a new Parliament without tlje
king and the king's great seal, the risk of throwing
upon doubtful constituencies all the vital issues then
open and unsettled, was too formidable for any states-
man in his senses to provoke.

The House proceeded gradually, and after Naseby
issued writs in small batches. Before the end of
1646 about two hundred and thirty-five new members
had been returned, and of these the majority either
professed independency or leaned toward it, or at
least were averse to Presbyterian exclusiveness, and
not a few were officers in the army. Thus in all

Online LibraryJohn MorleyOliver Cromwell → online text (page 14 of 35)