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of the sway of the legitimate line. The spirit of intes-
tine faction was redhot, but the wiser Scots knew by
instinct that the struggle before them was at bottom
as much a struggle for independent national existence,
as it had been in the days of Wallace and Bruce.
Equally the statesmen of the Commonwealth felt the
impossibility of establishing their own rule over the
host of malcontents in England, until they had sup-


pressed a hostile Scotland. The alliance between the
two neighboring nations which ten years before had
arisen from religious feeling in one and military needs
in the other, had now by slow stages become a struggle
for national predominance and a great consolidated
state. The proclamation of Charles II at Edinburgh,
the long negotiations with him in Holland, his surren-
der to the inexorable demand that he should censure
his father for resisting the Reformation, and his mother
for being an idolatress, that he should himself turn
Covenanter, and finally his arrival on the soil of Scot-
land, all showed that no time was to be lost if the union
of the kingdoms was to be saved.

An express messenger was sent to Ireland by the
Council of State in ]\Iarch (1650) to let Cromwell
know that affairs were urgent, and that they desired
his presence and assistance. He did not arrive until
the first of June. He was saluted with joyful accla-
mation on every side, from the magnanimous Fairfax
down to the multitudes that thronged the approaches to
Westminster. Both Parliament and the City gave him
formal thanks for his famous services in Ireland ;
which being added to the laurels of his English vic-
tories, "crowned him in the opinion of all the world for
one of the wisest and most accomplished leaders among
the present and past generations." As against a
popish Ireland, all English parties were united.

It was now that Fairfax, the brave and skilful com-
mander, but too wanting in the sovereign qualities of
decision and initiative to guide the councils of a revo-
lution, disappeared from conspicuous place. While
Cromwell was in Ireland, Fairfax had still retained
the office of lord-general, and Cromwell himself Avas
now undoubtedly sincere in his urgency that the old
arrang:ement should continue. Amoner other reasons


the presence of Fairfax was a satisfaction to that Pres-
byterian interest against whose active enmity the Com-
monwealth could hardly stand. Fairfax had always
shown himself a man of scruple. After a single at-
tendance he had absented himself from the trial of the
king, and in the same spirit of scruple he refused the
command of the army destined for the invasion of Scot-
land, on the ground that invasion would be a breach
of the Solemn League and Covenant. Human prob-
al)ilities, he said, are not sufficient ground to make war
upon a neighbor nation. The point may seem minute
in modern eyes ; but in Fairfax at least moral punctilio
had no association with disloyalty either to his
powerful comrade or to the Commonwealth. Crom-
well was at once (June 26) appointed to be captain-
general and commander-in-chief.

The Scottish case was essentially different from the
case of Ireland, and the national quarrel was definitely
described by Oliver. To Ireland he had gone to ex-
act vengeance, to restore some sort of framework to a
society shattered even to dissolution, and to wage war
against the practice of a hated creed. V^ery different
from his truculence against Irish prelates was his ear-
nest appeal to the General x\ssembly in Scotland. 'T
beseech you," he said, — enjoining a lesson that of all
lessons mankind are everywhere least willing to learn,
— "I beseech you, think it possible you may be mis-
taken." He protested that they wished well to the
honest people of Scotland as to their own souls, "it
being no part of our business to hinder any of them
from worshiping God in that way they are satisfied in
their conscience by the word of God they ought." It
was the political incoherencies of the Scots that forced
the war upon England. They pretended, he told them,
that to impose a king upon England was the cause of


God, and the satisfaction of God's people in both coun-
tries. Yet this king, who now professed to submit to
the co^'enant, had at that very moment a popish army
fighting under his orders in Ireland.

The political exposure was unanswerable, and Crom-
well spared no trouble to bring it home to the minds
of the godly. But the clergy hindered the passage of
these things to the hearts of those to whom he intended
them — a deceived clergy, "meddling with worldly poli-
cies and mixtures of earthly power, to set up that
which they call the Kingdom of Christ." Theirs was
no Kingdom of Christ, and if it were, no such means
as worldly policy would be effectual to set it up : it is
the sword of the Spirit alone that is powerful for the
setting up of that kingdom. This mystic spirituality,
ever the indwelling essence of Cromwell's faith, struck
no response in the dour ecclesiastics to whom he was
speaking. However all this might be, the battle must
be fought. To have a king imposed by Scotland
would be better than one imposed by Ireland, but if
malignants were destined to win, it were better to have
a restoration by English cavaliers than by Scottish
Presbyters, inflamed by spiritual pride and sodden in
theological arrogance. At a critical hour, six years
later, Cromwell deprecated despondency, and the argu-
ment was as good now as then. "We are English-
men; that is one good fact. And if God gave a
nation valor and courage, it is honor and a mercy."
It was upon this national valor and courage that he
now counted, and the crowning mercy of Worcester
in the autumn of 165 1 justified him. But many
sombre episodes intervened.

Cromwell (July 22) crossed the northern border
with a force of some sixteen thousand men. For five
weeks, until the end of August, he was involved in a


series of manoeuvers, extremely complicated in detail,
and turning on a fruitless attempt to draw the Scots
out of a strong and skilfully entrenched position in
Edinburgh, and to force them to an engagement in the
open. The general was David Leslie, who six years
ago had rendered such valiant and timely service on
the day of Marston Moor. He knew that time,
weather, and scarcity of supplies must wear Cromwell
out and compel him to recross the border, and Leslie's
skill and steadfastness, in the absence of any of those
rapid and energetic blows that usually marked Crom-
well's operations, ended in complete success. "There
is an impossibility," said Fleetwood, "in our forcing
them to fight — the passes being so many and so great
that as soon as we go on the one side, they go over on
the other." The English force retreated to Dunbar, a
shattered, hungry, discouraged host now some ten or
eleven thousand in number. Leslie, with a force twice
as numerous, bent southward to the hills that over-
look Dunbar, and there Cromwell was hemmed in. The
Scots were in high spirits at thus cutting him off from
Berwick. "In their presumption and arrogance they
had disposed of us and of their business, in sufficient re-
\-enge and wrath toward our persons ; and had swal-
lowed up the poor interest of England ; believing that
their army and their king would have marched to Lon-
don without any mterruption." This was indeed the
issue — a king restored by the Ultras of the Scottish
church, with a new struggle in England between Ma-
lignants and Presbyterians to follow after. "We lay
very near him," says Oliver, "being sensible of our dis-
advantage, having some weakness of flesh, but yet con-
solation and support from the Lord himself to our poor
weak faith. That because of their numbers, because
of their advantage, because of their confidence, because

From a print in the British Museum of a portrait by Sir Peter Lely, in the
collection of the Duke of Hamilton.



of our weakness, because of our strait, we were in the
Mount, and in the Mount of the Lord he would be seen ;
and that he would find a way of deliverance and salva-
tion for us ; and indeed we had our consolations and our
hopes." This was written after the event; but a note
written on September 2d to the governor of Newcastle,
shows with even more reality into how desperate a
position he felt that Leslie's generalship had driven
him. "We are upon an engagement very difficult.
The enemy hath blocked up our way at the Pass at
Copperspath, through which we cannot get without
almost a miracle. He lieth so upon the hills, that we
know not how to come that way without great diffi-
culty; and our lying here daily consumeth our men,
who fall sick beyond imagination. Whatever becomes
of us, it will be well for you to get what forces you can
together; and the south to help what they can. The
business nearly concerneth all good people. If your
forces had been here in a readiness to have fallen upon
the back of Copperspath, it might have occasioned sup-
plies to come to us. All shall work for good. Our
spirits are comfortable, praised be the Lord — though
our present condition be as it is." History possesses
no finer picture of the fortitude of the man of action,
with eyes courageously open to dark facts closing
round him, yet with alacrity, vigilance, and a kind of
cheerful hope, taking thought for every detail of the
business of the day. Where the purpose is lofty and
unselfish, this is indeed moral greatness.

Whether Leslie's idea was to allow the English to
retreat until they were engaged in the pass, and then
to fall upon them in the rear ; or to drive them slowly
across the border in humiliation and disgrace, we can-
not tell. No more can we tell for certain whether
Cromwell still held to his first project of fortifying


Dunbar, or intended at all costs to cut his way through.
Leslie had naturally made up his mind that the English
must either move or surrender, and in either case if
he remained on the heights victory was his. Unluck-
ily for him, he was forced from his resolve, either by
want of water, provisions, and shelter for his force, or
else by the impatience of his committee, mainly min-
isters, who were weary of his triumphant Fabian
strategy, and could not restrain their exultation at the
sight of the hated Sectaries lying entrapped at their
feet, shut in between the sea at their back and a force
twice as strong as them in front, with another force
cutting them ofif from the south in a position that one
man could hold against forty. Their minds were full
of Saul, Amalekites, Moabites, the fords of Jordan,
and all the rest of it, just as Oliver was full of the
Mount of the Lord, taking care, however, never to let
texts do duty for tactics. In an evil moment on the
morning of September 2d the Scots began to descend
the hill and to extend themselves on the ledge of a
marshy glen at the foot. Cromwell walking about with
Lambert, with a watchful eye for the hills, discerned
the unexpected motions. "I told the major-general,"
says Cromwell, "I thought it did give us an opportunity
and advantage to attempt upon the enemy. To which
he immediately replied, that he had thought to have
said the same thing to me. So that it pleased the Lord
to set this apprehension upon both of our hearts at the
instant." They called for Monk; then going to their
quarters at night they all held a council of war, and
explained their plans to some of the colonels, and these
cheerfully concurred. Leslie's move must mean either
an immediate attack, or a closer blockade; in either
case, the only chance was to be first to engage. They
determined to fall on at daybreak, though as it hap-


pened the battle did not open before six (September 3).
The weather was wet and stormy. The voice of
prayer and preaching sounding through the night-
watches showed the piety and confirmed the confidence
of the EngHsh troopers. The Scots sought sheher
behind the shocks of corn, against the wind and rain
from the sea, instead of obeying the orders to stand to
their arms. "It was our own laziness,'' said LesHe ;
'T take God to witness that we might have as easily
beaten them as we did James Graham at Philiphaugh,
if the officers had stayed by their troops and regi-

The English and the Scots faced one another across
a brook with steep banks, only passable at a narrow
ford, and here the fight was. The rout of Dunbar has
been described once for all by Carlyle, in one of the
famous masterpieces of modern letters, with a force of
imagination, a faithfulness in detail, a moral depth, a
poetic beauty, that help to atone for the perplexing
humors and whimsical philosophies that mar that fine
biography. It is wise for others not to attempt to turn
into poetry the prose of politics and war. The battle
opened with a cannonade from the English guns, fol-
lowed by a charge of horse under Lambert. The
enemy were in a good position, had the advantage of
guns and foot against Lambert's horse, and at first
had the best of it in the struggle. Before the English
foot could come up, Cromwell says, "the enemy made
a gallant resistance, and there was a very hot dispute
at swords' point between our horse and theirs." Then
the first line of foot came up, and "after they had dis-
charged their duty (being overpowered with the
enemy) received some repulse which they soon re-
covered. For my own regiment did come seasonably
in, and at the push of pike did repel the stoutest regi-


ment the enemy had there, which proved a great
amazement to the residue of their foot. The horse in
the meantime did with a great deal of courage and
spirit beat back all opposition; charging through the
bodies of the enemy's horse and of their foot; who
were after the first repulse given, made by the Lord
of Hosts as stubble to their swords. The best of the
enemy's horse being broken through and through in
less than an hour's dispute, their whole army being put
into confusion, it became a total rout, our men having
the chase and execution of them near eight miles."

Such is the whole story of this memorable hour's
tight as told by the victor. Rushworth, then Crom-
well's secretary, is still more summary. "About twilight
the general advanced with the army, and charged them
both in the valley and on the hill. The battle was
very fierce for the time; one part of their battalion
stood very stiffly to it, but the rest was presently
routed. I never beheld a more terrible charge of foot
than was given by our army; our foot alone making
the Scots foot give ground for three quarters of a mile
together." Whether the business was finally done by
Lambert's second charge of horse after his first repulse,
or whether Cromwell turned the day by a flank move-
ment of his own, the authorities do not enable us to
settle. The best of them says this : "The day broke,
and we in disorder, and the major-general (Lambert)
a-wanting, being ordering the guns. The general was
impatient; the Scots a-preparing to make the attempt
upon us, sounding a trumpet, but soon desisted. At
last the major-general came, and ordered Packer,
major to the general's regiment, Cough's and our two
foot regiments to march about Roxburgh House to-
ward the sea, and so to fall upon the enemy's flank,
which was done with a great deal of resolution; and

the original portrait at Chequers Court, by permission of
Mrs. Frankland-Russell-Astley.



one of the Scots brigades of foot would not yield,
though at push of pike and butt-end of musket, until a
troop of our horse charged from one end to another of
them, and so left them at the mercy of the foot. The
general himself comes in the rear of our regiment, and
commands to incline to the left; that was to take more
ground, to be clear of all bodies. And we did so, and
horse and foot were engaged all over the field; and the
Scots all in confusion. And the sun appearing upon
the sea, I heard Noll say, 'Now let God arise, and his
enemies shall be scattered' ; and he following us as we
slowly marched, I heard him say, T profess they run !'
and then was the Scots army all in disorder and running,
both right wing and left and main battle. They had
routed one another after we had done their work on
their right wing; and we coming up to the top of the
hill with the straggling parties that had been engaged,
kept them from bodying."

Cromwell's gazette was peculiar, perhaps not with-
out a moral for later days. "Both your chief com-
manders and others in their several places, and soldiers
also were acted (actuated) with as much courage as
ever hath been seen in any action since this war. I
know they look not to be named, and therefore I for-
bear particulars." Nor is a word said about the pre-
cise part taken by himself. An extraordinary fact
about the drove of Dunbar is that though the battle was
so fierce, at such close quarters, and lasted more than
an hour, yet the English did not lose thirty men, or
even as Oliver says in another place, not twenty.
They killed three thousand, and took ten thousand



FOR nearly a year after the victory at Dunbar Crom-
well remained in Scotland, and for five months of
the year, with short intervals followed by relapses, he
suffered from an illnesss from which he thought he
should die. On the day after Dunbar he wrote to his
wife: "My weak faith hath been upheld. I have been
in my inward man marvelously supported, though I
assure thee I grow an old man and feel infirmities of
age marvelously stealing upon me. Would my cor-
ruptions did as fast decrease." He was only fifty
years old, but for the last eight years his labors, hard-
ships, privations, and anxieties had been incessant and
severe. The winter in Ireland had brought on a long
and sharp attack of feverish ague. The climate of
Scotland agreed with him no better. The baffled
marches and counter-marches that preceded Dunbar,
in dreadful weather and along miry ways, may well
have depressed his vital energies. His friends in Lon-
don took alarm (February, 1656), and Parliament
despatched two physicians from London to see him,
and even made an order allowing him to return into
England for change of air. Of this unsolicited per-
mission he did not avail himself.

Both the political and the military operations in
Scotland between Dunbar and Worcester are as intricate


a tangle as any in Cromwell's career. The student
who unravels them in detail may easily convince us
what different results might have foUow^ed, if
military tactics had been other than they were, or if
religious quarrels had been less vivid and less stub-
born. The general outline is fairly plain. As Ranke
says, the struggle was not between two ordinary
armies, biit two politico-religious sects. On both sides
they professed to be zealous Protestants. On both
sides they professed their conviction of the immediate
intervention of Providence in their affairs. On both
sides a savory text made an unanswerable argument,
and English and Scots in the seventeenth century of
the Christian era found their morals and their politics
in the tribal warfare of the Hebrews of the old dis-
pensation. The English likened themselves to Israel
against Benjamin; and then to Joshua against the
Canaanites. The Scots repaid in the same scriptural
coin. The quarrel was whether they should have a
king or not, and whether there should be a ruling
church or not. The rout of Leslie at Dunbar had
thrown the second of these issues into a secondary

In vain did Cromwell, as his fashion was, appeal to
the testimony of results. He could not comprehend
how men worshiping the God of Israel, and thinking
themselves the chosen people, could so perversely ig-
nore the moral of Dunbar, and the yet more eminent
witness of the Lord against the family of Charles for
blood-guiltiness. The churchmen haughtily replied
they had not learned to hang the equity of their cause
upon events. "Events," retorted Oliver, with a scorn
more fervid than their own ; "what blindness on your
eyes to all those marvelous dispensations lately wrought
in England. But did you not solemnly appeal and


pray? Did we not do so too? And ought not you
and we to think with fear and treml:)Hng of the hand
of the great God in this mighty and strange appearance
of his, instead of slightly calling it 'an event.' Were
not both your and our expectations renewed fr(im
time to time, whilst we waited upon God, to see which
way he would manifest himself, upon our appeals?
And shall we after all these our prayers, fastings, tears,
expectations, and solemn appeals, call these bare
'events'? The Lord pity you."

After bitter controversies that propagated them-
selves in Scotland for generations to come, after all
the strife between Remonstrants, Resolutioners, and
Protesters, and after a victory by Lambert over the
zealots of the west, Scottish policy underwent a
marked reaction. Argyll, the shifty and astute oppor-
tunist, who had attempted to combine fierce Covenan-
ters with moderate Royalists, lost his game. The
fanatical clergy had been brought down from the mas-
tery which they had so arrogantly abused. The nobles
and gentry regained their ascendancy. The king
found a large force at last in line upon his side, and saw
a chance of throwing off the yoke of his Presbyterian
tyrants. All the violent and confused issues, political
and religious, had by the middle of 165 1 become sim-
plified into the one question of a Royalist restoration
to the throne of the two kingdoms.

The headquarters of the Scots were at Stirling, and
here David Leslie repeated the tactics that had been so
triumphant at Edinburgh. Well entrenched within a
region of marsh and moorland, he baffled all Oliver's
attempts to dislodge him or to open the way to Stirling.
The English invaders were again to be steadily wearied
out. Cromwell says, "We were gone as far as we could
in our counsel and action, and we did say to one an-


other, we knew not what to do." The enemy was at
his '"old lock," and with abundant supplies from the
north. "It is our business still to wait upon God, to
show us our way how to deal with this subtle enemy,
which I hope He will." Meanwhile, like the diligent
man of business that every good general must be, he
sends to the Council of State for more arms, more
spades and tools, more saddles and provisions, and
more men, especially volunteers rather than pressed
men. His position was not so critical as on the eve of
Dunbar, but it was vexatious. There w-as always the
risk of the Scots retiring in detached parties to the
Highlands and so prolonging the w^ar. On the other
hand, if he did not succeed in dislodging the king from
Stirling, he must face another winter with all the diffi-
culties of climate and health for his soldiers, and all
the expense of English treasure for the government at
Whitehall. For many w-eeks he had been revolving
plans for outflanking Stirling by an expedition
through Fife, and cutting the king off from his north-
ern resources. In this plan also there was the risk
that a march in force northward left the road to Eng-
land open, if the Scots in their desperation and fear
and inevitable necessity should try what they could do
in this way. In July Cromwell came at length to a
decision. He despatched Lambert with four thousand
men across the Forth to the shores of Fife, and after
Lambert had overcome the stout resistance of a force
of Scots of about equal numbers at Inverkeithing,
Cromwell transported the main body of his army on
to the same ground, and the w^hole force passing Stir-
ling on the left advanced north as far as Perth. Here
Cromwell arrived on August ist, and the City was sur-
rendered to him on the following day. This move
placed the king and his force in the desperate dilemma


that had been foreseen. Their suppHes would be cut
off, their men were beginning to desert, and the Eng-
lish were ready to close. Their only choice lay between
a hopeless engagement in the open about Stirling, and a
march to the south. "We must," said one of them,
"either starve, disband, or go with a handful of men into
England. This last seems to be the least ill, yet it ap-
pears very desperate." That was the way they chose;
they started forth (July 31) for the invasion of Eng-

Online LibraryJohn MorleyOliver Cromwell → online text (page 22 of 35)