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Eliot's comrades were left with Pym at their head,
and before long they warned the king in words des-
tined to bear a terrible meaning that Eliot's blood still
cried for vengeance or for repentance. The case had
to some extent passed out of the hands of lawyers like
Selden and antiquaries like Cotton. Burke, in deal-
ing with the American Revolution, makes some
weighty comments upon the fact that the greater num-
ber of the deputies sent to the first Revolutionary Con-
gress were lawyers; and the legal character of the
vindication of civil freedom from the accession of
James I or earlier, was not wholly lost at Westminster
until the death of Charles I. But just as the lawyers
had eclipsed the authority of the churchmen, so now
they were themselves displaced by country gentlemen
with gifts of Parliamentary statesm.anship. Of this
new type Pym was a commanding instance. Pym was
not below Eliot in zeal, and he was better than Eliot
in measure, in judgment, and in sagacious instinct for
action. He instantly sounded the note. The redress
of grievances must go before the grant of a shilling
either for the Scotch war or anything else. The claim
of Parliament over prerogative was raised in louder
tones than had ever been heard in English constitu-
tional history before. The king supposed that his
proof that the Scots were trying to secure aid from
France would kindle the flame of old national antipa-
thies. England loved neither Frenchmen nor Scots.
Nations, for that matter, do not often love one another.
But the English leaders knew the emergency, knew
that the cause of the Scots was their own, and were as
ready to seek aid from Frenchmen as their successors a
generation later were to seek aid from Dutchmen.
The perception every hour became clearer that the
cause of the Scots was the cause of England, and with


wise courage the patriots resolved to address the king
against a war with his Scottish subjects. When this
intention reached his ears, though he must have fore-
seen a move so certain to fit the ParHamentary tactics
of the hour, Charles flew into a passion, called a coun-
cil for six o'clock the next morning, and apparently
with not more than the hesitating approval of Straf-
ford, hurriedly determined to dissolve the Parliament.
As usual with him this important decision was due to
levity, and not to calculation. Before night he found
out his mistake, and was impatiently asking whether
he could not recall the body that he had just dismissed.

The spirits of his opponents rose. Things, they
argued, must be worse before they could be better.
This Parliament, they said, would never have done
what was necessary to be done. Another Parliament
was inevitable ; then their turn at last would come ;
then they would meet the king and his ministers with
their own daring watchword ; then in good earnest
they would press on for Thorough with another and
an unexpected meaning. For six months the king's
position became every day more desperate. All the
wheels of prerogative were set in motion to grind out
gold. The sheriffs and the bailiffs squeezed only
driblets of ship-money. Even the judges grew un-
easy. Charles urged the City for loans, and threw
aldermen into prison for refusing; but the City was the
Puritan stronghold, and was not to be frightened.
He begged from France, from Spain, from the
moneyed men of Genoa, and even from the Pope of
Rome. But neither pope nor king nor banker would
lend to a borrower who had no security, financial,
military, or political. He tried to debase the coinage,
but people refused in fury to take copper for silver or
threepence for a shilling.

It was idle for Strafford to tell either the London


citizens or the Privy Council of the unsparing devices
by which the King of France filled his treasury.
Whether, if Charles had either himself possessed the
iron will, the capacious grasp, the deep craft and policy
of Richelieu, or had committed himself wholly into the
hands of StrafTord, who was endowed with some of
Richelieu's essentials of mastery, the final event would
have been different, is an interesting problem for his-
toric rumination. As it was, the whole policy of
Thorough fell into ruins. The trained bands were
called out and commissions of array were issued, but
they only spread distraction. The convocation of the
clergy heightened the general irritation, not only by
continuing against the constitution to sit after the
Parliament had disappeared, but by framing new
canons about the eastern position and other vexed
points of ceremony ; by proclaiming the order of kings
to be sacred and of divine right ; and finally by winding
up their unlawful labors with the imposition upon
large orders of important laymen of an oath never to
assent to alter the government of the church "by arch-
bishops, bishops, deans, etc." вАФ an unhappy and ran-
dom conclusion that provoked much rude anger and
derision. This proceeding raised in its most direct
form the central cjuestion whether under cover of the
royal supremacy the clergy were to bear rule indepen-
dent of Parliament. Even Laud never carried impolicy
further. Rioters threatened the palace at Lambeth,
and the archbishop, though no coward, was forced to
flee for refuge to Whitehall. Meanwhile the king's
military force, disaffected, ill disciplined, ill paid, and
ill accoutred, was no match for the invaders. The
Scots crossed the Tyne, beat the English at Newburn
(August 28), occupied Newcastle, and pushed on to
Durham and the Tees. There seemed to be nothing
to hinder their march to London, wrote an observer ;


people were distracted as if the day of judgment were
hourly expected.

Charles again recalled Strafi'ord from Ireland, and
that courageous genius acquired as much ascendancy
as the levity of the king would allow. Never came
any man, he says, to so lost a business : the army alto-
gether unexercised and improvided of all necessaries,
the horse all cowardly, a universal affright in all, a
general disaffection to the king's service, none sen-
sible of his dishonor. Nothing could be gloomier.
A Parliament could not be avoided, as Pym and his
friends had foreseen, and they brought to bear, both
through their allies among the peers and by popular
petitions, a pressure that Charles was powerless to
resist. On the very eve of the final resolve, the king
had some reason to suspect that what had already hap-
pened in Scotland might easily happen in England,
and that if he did not himself call a Parliament, one
would be held without him.

The calling of the Long Parliament marked for the
king his first great humiliation. The depth of the
humiliation only made future conflict more certain.
E\erybody knew that even without any deep-laid or
sinister design Charles's own instability of nature, the
secret convictions of his conscience, the intrinsic plau-
sibilities of ancestral kingship, and the temptation of
accident, would surely draw him on to try his fortune
again. What was in appearance a step toward har-
monious cooperation for the good government of the
three kingdoms, was in truth the set opening of a des-
perate pitched battle, and it is certain that neither king
nor Parliament had ever counted up the chances of the
future. Some would hold that most of the conspicu-
ous political contests of history have been undertaken
upon the like uncalculating terms.



THE elections showed how Charles had failed to
gage the humor of his people. Nearly three hun-
dred of the four hundred and ninety members who had
sat in the Short Parliament were chosen over again.
Not one of those who had then made a mark in oppo-
sition was rejected, and the new members were be-
lieved almost to a man to belong in one degree or
another to the popular party. Of the five hundred
names that made up the roll of the House of Commons
at the beginning of the Long Parliament, the counties
returned only ninety-one, while the boroughs returned
four hundred and five, and it was in the boroughs that
hostility to the policy of the court was the sharpest.
Yet few of the Commons belonged to the trading class.
It could not be otherwise when more than four fifths of
the population lived in the country, when there were
only four considerable towns outside of London, and
when the rural classes were supreme. A glance at the
list shows us Widdringtons and Fenwicks from North-
umberland ; Curzons from Derbyshire ; Curwens from
Cumberland; Ashtons, Leighs, Shuttleworths, Bridg-
mans, from Lancashire; Lyttons and Cecils from
Herts ; Derings and Knatchbulls from Kent ; Ingrams,



W'entworths, Cholmeleys, Danbys, Fairfaxes, from the
thirty seats in Yorkshire; Grenvilles, Edgcombes,
Biillers, Rolles, Godolphins, Vyvyans, Northcotes,
Trevors, Carews, from the four-and-forty boroughs
of Cornwall.

These and many another historic name make the list
to-day read like a catalogue of the existing county fam-
ilies, and it is hardly an exaggeration to say that the
House of Lords now contains a smaller proportion of
ancient blood than the famous lineages that figure in
the roll of the great revolutionary House of Commons.
It was essentially an aristocratic and not a popular
house, as became only too clear five or six years later,
when Levelers and Soldiers came into the field of poli-
tics. The Long Parliament was made up of the very
flower of the English gentry and the educated laity.
A modern conservati\'e writer describes as the great
enigma, the question how this phalanx of country
gentlemen, of the best blood of England, belonging to
a class of strongly conservative instincts and remark-
able for their attachment to the crown, should have
been for so long the tools of subtle lawyers and repub-
lican theorists, and then have ended by acquiescing
in the overthrow of the Parliamentary constitution, of
which they had proclaimed themselves the defenders.
It is curious too how many of the leaders came from
that ancient seat of learning which was so soon to be-
come and for so long remained the center of all who
held for church and king. Selden was a member for
the University of Oxford, and Pym, Fiennes, Marten,
Vane, were all of them Oxford men. as well as Hyde.
Falkland. Digby, and others who in time passed over
to the royal camp. A student of our day has re-
marked that these men collectively represented a
larger relative proportion of the best intellect of the

From the portrait by Gerard Soest in the

National Portrait Gallery.



From the oiiginal portrait at Chequers

Court, by permission of

Mrs. Frankland-RusselUAstley.


After a portrait by Van Dyck.



country, of its energy and talents, than is looked for
now in the House of Commons. Whatever may be
the reply to the delicate question so stated, it is at any
rate true that of Englishmen then alive and of mature
powers only two famous names are missing, Milton and
Hobbes. When the Parliament opened Dryden was
a boy at Westminster School ; the future author of
"Pilgrim's Progress," a lad of twelve, was mending
pots and kettles in Bedfordshire; and Locke, the future
defender of the emancipating principles that now put
on practical shape and power, was a boy of eight.
Newton was not born until 1642, a couple of months
after the first clash of arms at Edgehill.

In the early days of the Rebellion the peers had
work to do not any less important than the Commons,
and for a time, though they had none of the spirit of
the old barons at Runnymede, they were in tolerable
agreement with the views and temper of the lower
House. The temporal peers were a hundred and
twenty-three, and the lords spiritual twenty-six, of
whom, however, when the Parliament got really to
business, no more than eighteen remained. Alike in
public spirit and in attainments the average of the
House of Lords was undoubtedly high. Like other
aristocracies in the seventeenth century, the English
nobles were no friends to high-flying ecclesiastical pre-
tensions, and like other aristocrats they were not with-
out many jealousies and grievances of their own
against the power of the crown. Another remark is
worth making. Either history or knowledge of hu-
man nature might teach us that great nobles often take
the popular side without dropping any of the preten-
sions of class in their hearts, and it is not mere peevish-
ness when the royalist historian says that Lord Say
and Sele was as proud of his quality and as pleased to


be distinguished from others by his title as any man

OHver Cromwell was again returned for the bor-
ough of Cambridge. The extraordinary circumstance
has been brought out that at the meeting of the Long
Parliament Cromwell and Hampden between them
could count no fewer than seventeen relatives and con-
nections: and by 1647 ^^^^ figure had risen from seven-
teen to twenty-three. When the day of retribution
came eight years later, out of the fifty-nine names on
the king's death-warrant, ten were kinsmen of Oliver,
and out of the hundred and forty of the king's judges
sixteen were more or less closely allied to him. Oliver
was now in the middle of his forty-second year, and his
days of homely peace had come once for all to an end.
Everybody knows the picture of him drawn by
a young Royalist ; how one morning he "perceived a
gentleman speaking, very ordinarily appareled in a
plain cloth suit made by an ill country tailor, with plain
linen, not very clean, and a speck or two of blood upon
his little band ; his hat without a hatband ; his stature
of a good size ; his sword stuck close to his side ; his
countenance swollen and reddish ; his voice sharp and
untunable, his eloquence full of fervor." Says this
too fastidious observer, "I sincerely profess it lessened
much my reverence unto that great council, for this
gentleman was very much hearkened unto."

Another recorder of the time describes "his body
as well compact and strong; his stature of the average
height ; his head so shaped as you might see in it both
a storehouse and shop of a vast treasury of natural
parts. His temper exceeding fiery; but the flame of
it kept down for the most part, is soon allayed with
these moral endowments he had. He was naturally


compassionate toward objects in distress, even to an
effeminate measure ; though God had made him a heart
wherein was left httle room for any fear but what Was
due to Himself, of which there was a large proportion,
yet did he exceed in tenderness toward sufferers."

"When he delivered his mind in the House," says a
third, going beyond the things that catch the visual
eye, "it was with a strong and masculine excellence,
more able to persuade than to be persuaded. His ex-
pressions were hardy, opinions resolute, asseverations
grave and vehement, always intermixed (Andronicus-
like) with sentences of Scripture, to give them the
greater weight, and the better to insinuate into the
affections of the people. He expressed himself with
some kind of passion, but with such a commanding,
wise deportment till, at his pleasure, he governed and
swayed the House, as he had most times the leading
voice. Those who find no such wonders in his speeches
may find it in the effect of them."

We have yet another picture of the inner qualities
of the formidable man, drawn by the skilled pencil of
Clarendon. In the early days of the Parliament,
Cromwell sat on a Parliamentary committee to ex-
amine a case of inclosure of waste in his native county.
The townsmen, it was allowed, had come in a riotous
and w^arlike manner with sound of drum and had
beaten down the obnoxious fences. Such doings have
been often heard of, but perhaps not half so often as
they should have been, even down to our own day.
Lord Manchester, the purchaser of the lands inclosed,
issued writs against the offenders, and at the same time
both he and the aggrieved commoners presented peti-
tions to Parliament. Cromwell moved for a refer-
ence to a committee. Hyde was chairman, and


afterward was often heard to describe the demeanor
of his turbulent colleague. The scene brings Oliver
too vividly before us ever to be omitted.

Cromwell, says Hyde, ordered the witnesses and petidoners
in the method of the proceeding, and seconded and enlarged
upon what they said with great passion ; and the witnesses
and persons concerned, who were a very rude kind of people,
interrupted the council and witnesses on the other side with
great clamour when they said anything that did not please
them ; so that Mr. Hyde was compelled to use some sharp re-
proofs and some threats to reduce them to such a temper that
the business might be quietly heard. Cromwell, in great fury,
reproached the chairman for being partial, and that he dis-
countenanced the witnesses by threatening them ; the other
appealed to the committee, which justified him, and declared
that he behaved himself as he ought to do ; which more in-
flamed him [Cromwell] who was already too much angry.
When upon any mention of matter of fact, or of the proceed-
ing before and at the enclosure, the Lord Mandevil desired
to be heard, and with great modesty related what had been
done, or explained what had been said, Mr. Cromwell did
answer and reply upon him with so much indecency and
rudeness, and in language so contrary and offensive, that
every man would have thought that, as their natures and
their manners were as opposite as it was possible, so their
interest could never have been the same. In the end, his
whole carriage was so tempestuous, and his behaviour so
insolent, that the chairman found himself obliged to repre-
hend him, and tell him that if he, Mr. Cromwell, proceeded
in the same manner, he, Mr. Hyde, would presendy adjourn
the committee, and the next morning complain to the House
of him.

Such was the outer Cromwell.

The twofold impulse of the times has been already

From the copy m the National Portrait Gallery
of the original portrait by Van Dyck.



indicated, and here is Cromwell's exposition of it: "Of
the two greatest concernments that God hath in the
world, the one is that of religion and of the preserva-
tion of the professors of it; to give them all due and
just liberty ; and to assert the truth of God. The other
thing cared for is the civic liberty and interest of the
nation. Which, though it is, and I think it ought to
be, subordinate to the more peculiar interest of God,
yet it is the next best God hath given men in this
world ; and if well cared for, it is better than any rock
to fence men in their other interests. Besides, if any
whosoever think the interests of Christians and the in-
terest of the nation inconsistent, I wish my soul may
never enter into their secrets."

Firm in his belief in direct communion with God, a
sovereign Power unseen ; hearkening for the divine
voice, his steps guided by the divine hand, yet he
moved full in the world and in the life of the world.
Of books, as we have seen, he knew little. Of the yet
more invigorating education of responsible contact
with large affairs, he had as yet had none. Into men
and the ways of men, he had enjoyed no opportunity
of seeing far. Destined to be one of the most famous
soldiers of his time, he had completed two thirds of his
allotted span, and yet he had never drilled a troop, nor
seen a movement in a fight or the leaguer of a stronghold
or a town. He was both cautious and daring; both
patient and swift; both tender and fierce; both sober
and yet willing to face tremendous risks : both cool in
head and yet with a flame of passion in his heart. His
exterior rough and unpolished, and with an odd turn
for rustic buffooneries, he had the quality of directing
a steady, penetrating gaze into the center of a thing.
Nature had endowed him with a power of keeping his
own counsel, that was sometimes to pass for dissimu-


lation; a keen eye for adjusting means to ends, that
was often taken for craft; and a high-hearted insis-
tence on determined ends, that by those who love to
think the worst was counted as guilty ambition. The
foundation of the whole was a temperament of energy,
vigor, resolution. Cromwell was one of the men who
are born to force great causes to the proof.

Before this famous Parliament had been many days
assembled, occurred one of the most dramatic moments
in the history of English freedom. Strafford was at
the head of the army at York. When a motion for a
grand committee on Irish affairs had been carried, his
friends in London felt that it was he who was struck
at, and by an express they sent him peremptory warn-
ing. His friends at York urged him to stay where he
was. The king and queen, however, both pressed him
to come, and both assured him that if he came he
should not suffer in his person, his honor, or his for-
tune. Strafford, well knowing his peril but un-
daunted, quickly posted up to London, resolved to
impeach his enemies of high treason for inviting the
Scots into the kingdom. Historians may argue for-
ever about the legalities of what had happened, but the
two great actors were under no illusions. The only
question was who should draw his sword first and get
home the swiftest thrust. The game was a terrible
one with fierce stakes, my head or thy head; and Pym
and Strafford knew it.

The king received his minister with favor, and again
swore that he would protect him. No king's word
was ever worse kept. Strafford next morning went


down to the House of Lords, and was received with
expressions of honor and observance. Unhickily for
him, he was not ready with his articles of charge, and
in a few hours it was too late. That afternoon the
blow was struck. Pym, who had as marked a genius
for quick and intrepid action as any man that ever sat
in the House of Commons, rose and said there was
matter of weight to be imparted. The lobby without
was quickly cleared, the door was locked, and the key
laid upon the table. The discussion on Strafford's
misdeeds in Ireland, and in his government as presi-
dent of the north, went on until between four and ftve
in the afternoon. Then Pym, with some three hun-
dred members behind him, passed through a throng
who had been gathered by the tidings that new things
were on foot, and on reaching the bar of the House of
Lords he told them that by virtue of a command from
the Commons in Parliament, and in the name of all
the Commons of England, he accused Thomas, Earl of
Strafford, of high treason, and desired his committal
to prison for a very few days until they produced the
articles and grounds of their accusation. Strafford
was in the palace at Whitehall during these proceed-
ings. The news fell like a thunderbolt upon his
friends around him, but he kept a composed and con-
fident demeanor. 'T will go," he said, "and look mine
accusers in the face." "With speed he comes to the
House; he calls rudely at the door; the keeper of the
black rod opens ; his lordship, with a proud, glooming
countenance, makes toward his place at the board-
head ; but at once many bid him rid the House."
When the Lords had settled their course, he was re-
called, commanded to kneel at the bar, and informed of
the nature of his delinquency. He went away in
custody. "Thus he, whose greatness in the morning


owned a power over two kingdoms, in the evening
straightened his person betwixt two walls." From
the Tower, whither he was speedily conveyed, he
wrote to his wife:

Albeit all be done against me that art and malice can devise,
with all the rigour possible, yet I am in great inward quietness,
and a strong belief God will deliver me out of all these troubles.
The more I look into my case, the more hope I have, and sure
if there be any honour and justice left, my life will not be in
danger ; and for anything else, time, I trust, will salve any other
hurt which can be done me. Therefore hold up your heart,
look to the children and your house, let me have your prayers,
and at last, by God's good pleasure we shall have our de-

The business lasted for some five months. The actual
trial began on March 22 (1641), and went on for
fourteen days. The memorable scene was the asser-
tion on the grandest scale of the deep-reaching prin-

Online LibraryJohn MorleyOliver Cromwell → online text (page 6 of 35)