HotFreeBooks.com
The Life of John Milton Vol. 3 1643-1649
by David Masson
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

"For the preventing of the growth and spreading of Heresy and Blasphemy: Be it ordained ... That all such persons as shall, from and after the date of this present Ordinance, willingly, by preaching, teaching, printing, or writing, maintain and publish that there is no God, or that God is not present in all places, doth not know and foreknow all things, or that He is not Almighty, that He is not perfectly Holy, or that He is not Eternal, or that the Father is not God, the Son is not God, or that the Holy Ghost is not God, or that They Three are not One Eternal God; or that shall in like manner maintain and publish that Christ is not God equal with the Father, or shall deny the Manhood of Christ, or that the Godhead and Manhood of Christ are several natures, or that the Humanity of Christ is pure and unspotted of all sin; or that shall maintain and publish, as aforesaid, that Christ did not die, nor rise from the dead, nor is ascended into Heaven bodily, or that shall deny His death is meritorious in the behalf of Believers; or that shall maintain and publish, as aforesaid, that Jesus Christ is not the Son of God; or that the Holy Scripture, videlicet [here comes in the entire list of the Canonical Books of the Old and New Testaments], is not the Word of God; or that the bodies of men shall not rise again after they are dead; or that there is no Day of Judgment after death:—All such maintaining and publishing of such Error or Errors, with obstinacy therein, shall, by virtue hereof, be adjudged Felony: And all such persons [here is explained the process by which they are to be accused and brought to trial].. and in case the indictment be found and the party upon his trial shall not abjure the said Error, and defence and maintenance of the same, he SHALL SUFFER THE PAINS OF DEATH, AS IN CASE OF FELONY, WITHOUT BENEFIT OF CLERGY..."

"Be it further ordained, by the authority aforesaid, That all and every person or persons that shall publish or maintain, as aforesaid, any of the several Errors hereafter ensuing, videlicet [here a long enumeration of minor forms of Religious Error, such as "that man by nature hath free will to turn to God," that God may be worshipped by pictures and images, that there is a Purgatory, "that man is bound to believe no more than by his reason he can comprehend," "that the baptizing of infants is unlawful," that the observation of the Lord's Day is not obligatory, or "that the Church-government by Presbytery is Anti- Christian or unlawful"], shall be [ordered to renounce their Error or Errors in public congregation, and, in case of refusal,] COMMITTED TO PRISON...."

Imagine that going forth, just as the Second Civil War had begun, as the will and ordinance of Parliament! One wonders that the Concordat between Parliament and the Army, arranged by Cromwell and the other Army- chiefs in the preceding November, was not snapped on the instant. One wonders that the Army did not wheel in mass round Westminster, haul the legislating idiots from their seats, and then undertake in their own name both the war and the general business of the nation. The behaviour of the Army, however, was more patient and wise. Parliament could be reckoned with afterwards; meanwhile let it pass what measures it liked, so long as it did not absolutely throw up its trust and abandon all to the King! Till Parliament should do that, the fighting which the Army had to do at any rate might as well be done in the name of the Parliament!

Really there seemed a chance that even the last extremity of faint- heartedness would be reached, and that Parliament would throw up its national trust. Here, for example, were some of its proceedings in June and July, of which Cromwell must have heard, with rather strange feelings, in the midst of his hard work in Wales, Lambert in his watch against the Scots in the north, and Fairfax and Ireton in their siege of Colchester. June 3, 7, and 8, the two Houses, of their own accord, or on earnest Petitions from the City, agreed to drop all the impeachments and other proceedings voted in the preceding year at the instance of the Army against members of their own body, and against City officials implicated in the Presbyterian tumults in London, and in particular to invite the Seven peccant Peers and the survivors of the Eleven peccant Commoners to return to their places. June 30 and July 3 the proposal to re-open a Treaty with the King was after much intermediate debating, brought to a bearing by a formal agreement of the two Houses to rescind their No- Address Resolutions of January, and by a vote of the Commons that the Propositions to be submitted to the King for his assent before farther treaty should be these three—Presbytery for three years, the Militia with Parliament for ten years, and the Recall by the King of all Proclamations and Declarations against the Parliament. Even this, so much more favourable to the King than former offers, the Lords thought too harsh; and they refused (July 5) to make the Treaty conditional on the King's prior assent to the three Propositions. Nor was this the only proof that the bravery of the Lords had evaporated even more completely than that of the Commons. On July 14, when it was known that Hamilton's Army of Scots was actually in England, the Commons did vote that the invaders were public enemies, and that all Englishmen who should abet them should be accounted traitors; but the Lords (July 18) refused to concur in that vote. Were the soldiers of Parliament, then, to be fighting against invaders whom one of the Houses did not regard as public enemies?—In short, the fact had come to be that, in the beginning of August, the forces of Fairfax, Lambert, and Cromwell, were conducting a war in the name of Parliament which Parliament and the City of London were taking every means to stop. A Petition of the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Common Council of the City, presented to the Lords Aug. 8 (the last of scores of Petitions in the same sense that had for a month or two been poured in), expressed the general Presbyterian feeling. "The government of the Church still unsettled; blasphemy, heresy, schism, and profaneness increased; the relief of bleeding Ireland obstructed; the war, to their great astonishment, renewed; the people of England thereby miserably impoverished and oppressed; the blood of our fellow-subjects spilt like water upon the ground; our Brethren of Scotland now entered into this kingdom in a hostile manner, his Highness the Prince of Wales commanding at sea a considerable part of the Navy, and other ships under his power, having already made stay of many English ships with merchandise and provisions to a very great value:"—these were the complaints; and the Petitioners humbly conceived there was no visible remedy but the "speedy freeing of his Majesty" from restraint, and "a Personal Treaty" with him for "restoring him to his just rights." The City was to have its will. The Commons (July 28) had abandoned, by a majority of 71 to 64, their intention to require assent to the three Propositions in preparation for a Treaty, and had agreed to a general and open Treaty, such as the Lords desired; communications on the subject had been made to the King; and, though his Majesty would have preferred to treat in London, he consented (Aug. 10) that the place should be Newport in the Isle of Wight.—Note also two contemporary incidents of deep significance. On the 2nd of August Major Robert Huntingdon, Cromwell's former Major, presented to the Lords, in the form of a Paper of "Sundry Reasons inducing him to lay down his Commission," what was really a series of charges of High Treason against Cromwell; the Paper was that day duly entered in the Lords Journals for future occasion; and it was with the utmost difficulty, and much contrivance of the Speaker, that the same Paper was kept out of the Commons. Such was the first incident; the other is thus given by Rushworth under date Aug. 14: "Colonel Denzil Holles came this day to the House and sat." This means that the chief of the Eleven, the Arch- Presbyterian of the House, the man who hated Cromwell worse than poison, had come back at this juncture to re-assume the Presbyterian leadership. After that Major Huntingdon's charges against Cromwell were not likely to be kept long out of the Commons by any contrivance of the Speaker. [Footnote: The facts in this account of the conduct of Parliament from Feb. to Aug. 1648 are from the Parliamentary History, the Lords and Commons Journals, and Rushworth. The dates given will indicate the exact places in these authorities.]

If ever a General fought for his country with the rope round his neck, that General was Cromwell, as he now fought for England. No one knew this better than himself, when, with his hardy troops hurried north from their severe service in Wales, he joined Lambert among the Yorkshire hills (Aug. 10 or thereabouts), to deal with the army of Hamilton and Langdale. Let him fail in this enterprise, let him succeed but doubtfully in it, and, in the relapse into Royalism which would then be universal, the first uproar of execration would be against him, and London would either never see him again or see him dragged to death. Fail!-succeed but doubtfully! When the wicked plot against the just and gnash upon him with their teeth, doth not the Lord laugh at them and see that their day is coming? It was in this faith that Cromwell, descending westward from the Yorkshire hills after his junction with Lambert, hurled himself, with his little army of not more than 9,000 in all, right athwart the track of Hamilton and his 24,000 of mixed Scots and English advancing through Lancashire. The result was THE THREE DAYS' BATTLE OF PRESTON (Aug. 17- 19), in which the Scots and their English allies were totally ruined. About 3,000 were slain; 10,000 were taken prisoners; of the host of fugitives only a portion succeeded in attaching themselves to Monro, who had been lying considerably to the rear of the main battle and now picked up its fragments for a retreat northwards; the rest were dispersed miserably hither and thither, so that for weeks afterwards poor Scots were found begging about English farmhouses, either pretending to be dumb lest their speech should betray them, or trying vainly to pass for Yorkshiremen. Hamilton, with a fraction of the fugitives, made his way into Staffordshire, but had to surrender himself a prisoner Aug. 25.

The collapse of the King's cause, begun in Lancashire Aug. 17-19, was to be absolute within the next fortnight. On the 28th of August the Prince of Wales withdrew from his useless hovering about the south-east coast and sailed back with his fleet to Holland; whence most of the ships were recovered in due time, the officers remaining in exile, but the crews only too glad to return to their allegiance to Parliament. On the same day the town of Colchester, after a siege of more than six weeks, during which the most hideous extremities of famine had been endured by the poor townsmen, surrendered at mercy to Fairfax. Above 3,000 soldiers, with their officers, thus became prisoners. Two of the chief officers, Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle, selected for special reasons, were shot immediately after the surrender by order of the Council of War; the others, including the Earl of Norwich and Lord Capel, were reserved for the disposal of Parliament. [Footnote: Rushworth, VII. 1225-1248; Parl. Hist. III. 992-1002; Lords and Commons Journals; Carlyle's Cromwell, I. 279-299.]

Thus, in the end of August 1648, the SECOND CIVIL WAR, with the exception of a few relics, was trampled out. Events then resolved themselves into two distinct courses, running parallel for a time, but one of which proved itself so much the more powerful that at last it disdained the pretence of parallelism with the other and overflooded the whole level.

In the first place, there was the progress of that TREATY OF NEWPORT to which the two Houses had pledged themselves while the war was going on. Delays had occurred in arranging particulars with the King, and it was not till Sept. 1 that the Commissioners of the two Houses were appointed. They were, for the Lords, the Earls of Northumberland, Pembroke, Salisbury, and Middlesex, and Viscount Saye and Sele, and, for the Commons, Viscount Wenman (of the Irish Peerage), Denzil Holles, Glynn, Vane the younger, William Pierrepoint, Sir Harbottle Grimstone, Sir John Potts, John Crewe, Samuel Browne, and John Bulkley. Their instructions were to proceed to the Isle of Wight, and there, all together or any eight of them (of whom two must be lords), to treat with the King for forty days on the Propositions formerly presented to him at Hampton Court, taking these Propositions in a fixed order and doing their best to get his Majesty to agree to them, but receiving any counter-proposals he might make, and transmitting these to the two Houses. All demands on the King and all answers or proposals from him were to be in writing; but the debates might be oral between the Commissioners and his Majesty. Not to partake in these debates, but to be present at them by permission, and to form a kind of Council with whom the King might retire to consult on difficult points, were to be a largish body of Royalist lords, divines, lawyers, and others, to whom, at his special request, leave had been given to repair to the island and to be in attendance on him throughout the Treaty. Among these were the Duke of Richmond, the Marquis of Hertford, the Earls of Lindsey and Southampton, Bishops Juxon, Duppa, and Dr. Saunderson, Sir Orlando Bridgman, Sir Thomas Gardiner, and Mr. Geoffrey Palmer. Finally, the King was to be on his parole not to attempt an escape during the Treaty, nor for twenty days afterwards. More than one attempt of the kind had been made during the four months of the Civil War. The wonder is that, while the Prince of Wales was off the English coast with his fleet, a rescue of the King had not somehow been effected. [Footnote: Parl. Hist III. 1001-4; Commons Journals, Sept. 1.]

Not till Friday Sept. 15 did the Parliamentary Commissioners arrive in the Isle of Wight. They were accompanied by Messrs. Marshall, Nye, Vines, Seaman, and Caryl, from the Assembly of Divines. The Treaty began on Monday the 18th, in a house in the town of Newport selected as the most suitable for the purpose. At the head of a table, under a canopy of state, sat the King; the lords, divines, and lawyers, permitted to be present as listeners in his behalf, stood grouped behind his chair; the Parliamentary Commissioners sat at the sides of the table, with a space between them and his Majesty. It was hoped at first by the Commissioners that the Treaty would be a short one. That the King would accept the Propositions one by one, without criticism or demur, as fast as they could be tabled, was the desire, above all, of Holles, Glynn, and the other Presbyterian Commissioners. To their surprise, even to their horror, Charles had never been more captious or guarded in his highest kingliness than he was now found in the depths of his doubled ruin. Over the Proposition first presented—that for annulling all declarations and acts against Parliament—he was so dilatory that not till Sept. 25 was it completely passed, and then only with the proviso that his assent to it should have no force until the whole Treaty should be concluded. On the Church question, also brought forward the first day, he was more hopelessly unimpressible. The Proposition on this question being complex, he framed his first Answer so as to include only some of the points and evade the others. He consented to the establishment of Presbytery for three years, but not to the perpetual alienation of the Bishops' lands; and as to the abolition of Episcopacy and the obligation of the Covenant he said not a word. Then, these points being pressed, he argued and re- argued, day after day, conceding only that Episcopacy should be limited, and the like, till the Commissioners, despairing of any full agreement on that Proposition, left it, and passed to others (Oct. 9). On some of these others, including that on the Militia, he chose to acquiesce at once; but a second block occurred on the Proposition relating to Delinquents (Oct. 13-17). All this while, the King was the sole speaker on his side, retiring now and then to consult with his advisers, and of course framing his written Papers with their advice, but always resuming the oral debate himself, and showing an ability both in actual reasoning and in the conduct of the business generally which surprised some of the Commissioners. The necessity of continual reference to the two Houses increased the delay. There had been various debates in both on the progress of the Treaty as reported by the Commissioners, and on the 12th of October the Commons had voted the King's answer on the Church question unsatisfactory. The King, in consequence, revised his Answer on this question, and offered, among other things, to consent to the abolition of Archbishops and all other grades of the hierarchy, if the single office of Bishops were preserved. This revised Answer the Commons voted unsatisfactory, Oct. 26, the Lords agreeing substantially next day; and on the 30th of October the Commons passed a similar vote respecting the Answer on Delinquents. At this point, therefore, the Treaty may be considered to have come to a stop. At the same time there came to a stop a written controversy on the Church question, which had been going on collaterally between his Majesty and the Divines of the Assembly attending the Commissioners. The controversy was a repetition of that between the King and Henderson at Newcastle. It had begun Oct. 2, and it was wound up by his Majesty in a long last Paper Nov. 1.

It was mainly on the Episcopacy question that the Treaty was wrecked; or rather it was on this question that the King had chosen that there should be the appearance of wreck. For, in truth, the Treaty on his side, like his former Treaties, had been all along a pretence. Though his doom was staring him in the face, he could not see it, but had again been mustering up wild hopes of some great turn of the wheel in his favour if he could but procrastinate enough. Had not the Marquis of Ormond, for example, effected a landing in Wexford, with a view to a junction with the Irish Roman Catholic Confederates? Might not something come out of that? Or might there not be some help yet from the Prince of Wales in Holland, or from the Queen's and Jermyn's plottings at Paris, or from the Scots after all? To take advantage of any or all of these contingencies, a temporary refuge on the Continent might be necessary; and so, when the time of his parole should be over, a means of escape must be devised! Such having been Charles's mood when he began the Treaty, one does not wonder at finding that he had been behaving with his usual duplicity while it was in progress. "To deal freely with you," he had secretly written to one correspondent on the day when he had accepted the Proposition on the Militia question, "the great concession I made this day was merely in order to my escape, of which if I had not hope, I would not have done it." Again to the Marquis of Ormond in Ireland, "Though you will hear that this Treaty is near, or at least most likely to be, concluded, yet believe it not; but pursue the way you are in with all possible vigour: deliver also that my command to all your friends, but not in public way." With such a man, now as ever, a Treaty was absurd.

Parliament did not break off the Treaty, even when its failure had become apparent, but allowed it to straggle on. The term of forty days first fixed had been prolonged to Nov. 4, and on that day most of the Commissioners left Newport on their return to London. Six of them, however, remained behind, on the chance that his Majesty might yet see his way to more complete concessions on the Church question. On this mere chance the Treaty was prolonged to Nov. 18, and again to Nov. 25; and, as his Majesty had begged Parliament that he might have the assistance of such new advice on the Church question as could be given by Usher, ex- Bishops Brownrigg, Prideaux, and Warner, and Drs. Ferne and Morley, leave had been granted to these divines to proceed to Newport. Nothing to the purpose came of their advice; for in the King's final letters from Newport to the two Houses, dated Nov. 18 and Nov. 21, he is as firm as ever on the necessity and Apostolical origin of the order of Bishops, quotes 1 Timothy v. 22 and Titus i. 5 in that behalf, and protests that he can go no farther than his previous offer of a reduction of Episcopacy to its barest Apostolical simplicity. On Friday the 24th of November these letters were voted unsatisfactory by both Houses, but it was resolved (not without a division in the Commons) to allow the King two days more. The Treaty was to be considered at an end on the night of Monday the 27th, and on the next day, with or without satisfaction, the Commissioners still on duty were to take their leave. By the King's parole he would be bound not to attempt an escape from the island till twenty days after that. Colonel Hammond, observing signs that the King meant to assume that the terms of his original parole had ceased to be binding, had prudently insisted on its public renewal. [Footnote: For the account of the treaty of Newport my authorities have been—Parl. Hist III. 1013-1133, with references at the chief dates to Rushworth and the Lords and Commons Journals; Works of King Charles I. (1651), pp. 191-286 of third paging; Godwin, II. 608-618.]

Meanwhile, in utter disgust at this protracted play of negotiation between Parliament and the King in the Isle of Wight, there had been forming itself that other agency which was to interpose irresistibly, and hurry all to a real catastrophe.

The reader knows the nature of the paction between the Parliament and the Army-chiefs which we have taken the liberty of calling by the name of The Concordat (ante, pp. 573-4, 583-4). It was the agreement of the Army-chiefs, in Nov. 1647, to suppress for the time the democratic manifestations of the Army and its pretensions to political dictation, leaving the conduct of affairs wholly to Parliament. This Concordat, as we saw, though it saved the country from the peril of an immediate democratic revolution, was theoretically a clumsy one. The political views of the Army were singularly clear and direct. A strictly constitutional government of King, Lords, and Commons, with a large increase of the power of the Commons, guaranteed Biennial Parliaments, and a thoroughly Reformed System of Representation—such had been the ideal of the Army-chiefs in their Heads of Proposals of August 1647; the Levellers had gone a good deal farther in their Agreement of the People in Nov. 1647, and had proposed the abolition of hereditary privileges, and the concentration of supreme power in a single Representative House; but in both documents alike Liberty of Conscience and Worship was laid down as axiomatic, with a demand that it should be so recognised in the future law of England, for the benefit of Episcopalian and Papist no less than of Presbyterian, Independent, and Sectary. How could an Army burning with these notions bind itself to be the silent servant of a Parliament whose behaviour hitherto, on the religious question generally, and on the political question very often, had been so muddled and fatuous? Better surely for the Army to raise its own political flag and coerce Parliament into the right way! That this had not been done had been owing partly to the unwillingness of Cromwell, Ireton, and the other chiefs to take the responsibility all at once of heading a movement in which the Levelling Principle would be let loose, but partly also because hopes had been conceived that the balance in Parliament had been turned in favour of the Independents. For several months, accordingly, the Army had not repented of the Concordat. Especially in January 1647-8, when the two Houses broke off their abortive Treaty with the King on the Four Bills, and passed their No- Address Resolutions, their boldness won renewed confidence from the Army. But, in the succeeding months, when the rumour of the Scottish Engagement with the King began to rouse Royalists and Presbyterians alike for a new war, and the absent Presbyterians of the Commons came back to their places to turn the votes, and these votes tended to a renewed Treaty with the King on the basis of a strict Presbytery, the disbandment of the Army, and the suppression of Sects,—then what could the Army do but spurn the Concordat? Like their own previous dealings with the King himself in the hope of winning him over, had not this Concordat been, after all, but a piece of carnal and crooked policy? To hold certain beliefs in the heart, and yet to consent to be the dumb instrument of those whose views were wholly different, or only half the same, could not be right in a reasoning body of free men, merely because they were called an Army! What had become of Cromwell's principles, avowed so frequently that the whole Army had them by heart—the principle "That every single man is judge of just and right as to the good or ill of a kingdom," and the principle "That the interest of honest men is the interest of the kingdom"? Nay, had not the Levellers had more of the real root of the matter in them than it had been convenient to allow, and had not the poor fellow who had been shot as a mutineer at the Rendezvous at Ware been in some sense a martyr? Now, at all events, would it not be necessary that at least something of the spirit of the Levellers, some of those proposals of theirs which had been lately suppressed as harsh and premature, should be revived with new credit, and adopted into the general creed of the Army?

That such self-reproaches for past mistakes, and such questionings as to the course of future duty, had become universal in the Army before the outbreak of the Second Civil War, is proved by very abundant evidence, but nowhere more strikingly than in the record of the famous Prayer- meeting of the Officers, with Cromwell among them, held at Windsor Castle in March or April 1648. Adjutant-general Allen, the writer of this record, had a vivid recollection of this meeting eleven years afterwards, and could then look back upon it as an undoubted turning-point in the history of the Army and of the nation. At that time, he says, the Army was "in a low, weak, divided, perplexed condition in all respects" and there were even some who, in the prospect of the Scottish invasion and a new war at such vast odds, argued that the Army ought to resist no longer, but break up, and change the policy of collective action into one of individual passive endurance. Others, however, still thought that more remained to be done in the way of active duty, and it was at their instance that the meeting was called. It lasted three days, and with most remarkable results. The first day was spent in prayer for light as to the causes of God's renewed anger and their own perplexities. On the second day Cromwell proposed, as the best method of inquiry among themselves, that they should all simultaneously engage in silent retrospection, both upon their own past "ways particularly as private Christians," and also upon their "public actions as an Army." If they should each and all be led, in such retrospection, to fasten on some one precise point of time as that at which the Lord had withdrawn His former countenance and things had begun to go wrong, might there not be a lesson in that unanimity? And lo! on the third day it was so. They had all, in their silent review of the past, fastened on one and the same point, as that at which their departure from the straight path of truth and simplicity had begun. It was a point beyond their Concordat with the Parliament, and lay among those prior negotiations of the Army-chiefs with the King personally out of which the Concordat had seemed a natural escape. It lay, says Allen, in "those cursed carnal conferences our conceited wisdom, our fears, and want of faith, had prompted us, the year before, to entertain with the King and his Party." And with this unanimous agreement on the question where the steps of error had begun there came a unanimous consent as to the right course of future duty. "We were led and helped," says Allen, "to a clear agreement amongst ourselves, not any dissenting, That it was the duty of our day, with the forces we had, to go out and fight against those potent enemies which that year in all places appeared against us...; and we were also enabled then, after serious seeking His face, to come to a very clear and joint resolution, on many grounds at large there debated amongst us, That it was our duty, if ever the Lord brought us back again in peace, to call Charles Stuart, that man of blood, to an account for that blood he had shed and mischief he had done to his utmost against the Lord's Cause and People in these poor Nations." [Footnote: See Allen's striking narrative (written in 1659) quoted at length in Carlyle's Cromwell, I. 263-266.]

This momentous resolution of the Army Officers, formed at Windsor most probably in April 1648, or just before Cromwell went off to suppress the Royalist rising in Wales, had lain dormant, but not wholly secret, in the bosom of the Army through all the four months of the renewed Civil War (May-Aug.). Not till the war was over, however, was the resolution formally announced. Even then it was done gradually. The first hints came from those Independents in the Commons who were in the confidence of the Armychiefs. In the debates preceding the Treaty of Newport some of these Independents had spoken with significant boldness, Mr. Thomas Scott for one declaring that "a peace with so perfidious and implacable a prince" was an impossibility; and, in fact, the Treaty was carried by the Presbyterians against the implied protest of the Independents. Then, just as the Treaty was beginning, there was presented to the House (Sept. 11) an extraordinary document purporting to be "The humble Petition of Thousands of well-affected Persons inhabiting the City of London, Westminster, the Borough of Southwark, Hamlets, and places adjacent." This Petition, said to have been penned by Henry Marten, was not merely a denunciation of the Treaty; it was a detailed democratic challenge. It proclaimed the House of Commons to be "the Supreme Authority of England," and declared that it was for this principle, and nothing short of this, that England had fought and struggled for six years; and, after a severe lecture to the House for its pusillanimity in never yet having risen to the full height of this principle, it enumerated twenty-seven things which were expected from it when it should do so. Among these were the repudiation of any sham of a power either in the King or in the Lords to resist the will of the Commons, the passing of a Bill for Annual Parliaments, the execution of justice on criminals of whatever rank, the "exemption of matters of Religion and God's worship from the compulsive or restrictive power of any authority upon earth," and the consequent repeal of the recent absurd Ordinance "appointing punishments concerning opinions on things supernatural, styling some Blasphemies, others Heresies." Such a Petition, signed by about 40,000 persons, in or near London, hitherto pre-eminently the Presbyterian city, was a signal for similar Petitions from other parts. On the 30th of September there came a Petition in the same sense from "many thousands" of the well-affected in Oxfordshire, and on the 10th of October there were Petitions from Newcastle, York, and Hull, and from Somerset. [Footnote: Parl. Hist, III. 1005-11; Whitlocke, II. 413, 419.]

These civilian Petitions having prepared the way, the Army itself spoke out at last. Since Sept. 16 the headquarters of the Army had been at St. Alban's; and it was thence that on the 18th of October letters from Fairfax announced to the House of Commons that Petitions from the Officers and Soldiers of different regiments had been presented to him, or were in preparation, some of which were of a political nature. One, in particular, from General Ireton's regiment, called for "impartial and speedy justice" upon public criminals, and demanded "that the same fault may have the same punishment in the person of King or Lord as in the poorest Commoner." Such petitions to Fairfax appear to have dropped in upon him from regiment after regiment at St. Alban's during the next fortnight. One Petition, however, heard of in London Oct. 30, was from Colonel Ingoldsby's regiment, then in garrison at Oxford. It also demanded "immediate care that justice should be done upon the principal invaders of our liberties, namely the King and his party;" it demanded, moreover, that "sufficient caution and strait bonds should be given to future Kings for the preventing the enslaving of the people;" and it went on to say that, as the Petitioners were almost past hope of these things from Parliament, and regarded the Treaty then in progress as a delusion, they could only pray his Excellency to "re-establish a General Council of the Army" to consider of some effectual remedies. This, in fact, was the practical conclusion on which the whole Army was bent, and to which all the regimental Petitions pointed. If Fairfax had yet any hesitations about complying, they must have been ended by what occurred in Parliament immediately afterwards. Not only were the two Houses still looking for some last chance from the Treaty of Newport, and extending the time of the Treaty again and again in the vain chose of this last chance; but in another matter, which lay wholly in their own power, their "half- heartedness" became apparent. At the very time when the Independents of London and other places, and the several regiments of Fairfax's Army, were calling for exemplary justice on the chief Delinquents in the late war, what were the punishments with which the Presbyterian majority in the Parliament proposed to let off those of the Delinquents who were then in custody? For the Duke of Hamilton (Earl of Cambridge in the English Peerage, and so liable to the pains of English treason) a fine of 100,000l., with imprisonment till it should be paid; and for the Earls of Holland and Norwich, Lord Capel, Lord Loughborough, and four others, simple banishment! Resolutions to this effect passed the Commons Nov. 10, and were sent up for the approval of the Lords. The Army, though prepared for almost anything from the "half-heartedness" of the Parliament, heard of this last exhibition of it with positive "amazement." What else, it was asked, now remained than that the Army itself as a whole should step forward, call its masters to a reckoning, and either compel them to be the instruments of a better policy, or take affairs into its own hands? Fairfax, with all his prudence, could not decline the responsibility: and accordingly a General Council of the Officers of the Army was held at St. Alban's under his presidency. It had sat about a week when (Nov. 16) a GRAND ARMY REMONSTRANCE, to be presented to the House of Commons, was unanimously adopted. [Footnote: Rushworth, VII. 1297-8, 1811-12, and 1830; Commons Journals, Nov. 10 1618, Whitlocke, II. 436.]

This GRAND ARMY REMONSTRANCE of Nov. 1648 is another of those documents from the pen of Ireton which deserve to be rescued from the contemporary lumber with which they are associated, and to be carefully studied on account of their supreme interest in English History. The document is of most elaborate composition, and of a length about equal to fifty pages of this volume; for, in fact, though formally addressed to the House of Commons, it was intended as a kind of Pamphlet to the English nation, setting forth the Army's views in a reasoned shape, and the programme of action on which they had resolved:—There is first an exposition of the rule Salus Populi lex suprema, a rule admitted to be capable of abuse and misapplication, but declared nevertheless to have a real meaning. Then there is a review of the relations between the Parliament and the Army from the time of what we have called the Concordat. Fain, it is added, would the Army have seen that Concordat perpetual; most reluctant were they to break it. But what had happened? Had not Parliament itself lapsed from those honest No-Address Resolutions of ten months ago which expressed the true sense of the Concordat? Had they not, within a few months after passing those Resolutions, utterly forgotten them, and run after that wretched rag of delusive hope called "A Personal Treaty with the King"? Nay, though events had again proved that the fears that had partly swayed them in this direction were groundless—though the Lord had again laid bare His arm, and that small Army which they had ceased to trust and had well-nigh deserted and cast off, had been enabled to shiver all the banded strength of a second English Insurrection, aided by an invasion from Scotland—even after this rebuke from God, were they not still pursuing the same phantom of an Accommodation? Here the Remonstrants argue the whole subject most earnestly. Having laid down the principle that in every State the care of all matters of public concern must be in a Supreme Representative Council or Parliament, freely elected by the whole people, they maintain that any Kingship or other such office instituted in any State must be regarded as a creation of such Supreme Council for special ends and within special limits, and that any one holding such office who shall have been proved to have perseveringly abused his trust, or sought to convert it into a personal possession, may justly be called to account. They appeal to the entire recollection of Charles's reign whether he had not been such a false King, a cause of woe and war from first to last, a functionary guilty of the highest treason. But, if the past could be considered alone, and there were reasonable chance for the present and the future, they would not be relentless. "If there were good evidence of a proportionable remorse in him, and that his coming in again were with a new or changed heart," then, they say, "his person might be capable of pity, mercy, and pardon, and an accommodation with him, with a full and free yielding on his part to all the aforesaid points of public and religious interest in contest, might, in charitable construction, be just, and possibly safe and beneficial." But no such ground for charity, leniency, or tenderness had been afforded by Charles. Even now, while actually treating with the Parliament after his complete second ruin, was he not the same man as ever, dissembling, prevaricating, secretly expecting something from Ormond and the Irish Rebels? If such a man were restored to power, under whatever bonds, promises, guarantees, the consequences were but too obvious. All the credit, all the huzzas, of the new situation would be his; he would figure for a while as the Father of his People, the Restorer of would be forgotten, or would be remembered only as implicated in the confusion that had ceased; and in a short time there would be parties, factions, divisions, and the beginnings of a new spider-web of Court-government and Absolutism. "Have you not found him at this play all along? And do not all men acknowledge him most exquisite at it?" So the Remonstrance proceeds, page after page, in long, complex, wave-like sentences, every sentence vital, and the whole impressing one with the grave seriousness of spirit, and also the political thoughtfulness, with which it was drawn up.—Towards the end come the specific demands which the Army made on the Commons, and which they were resolved to enforce. These are divided into two sets:—I. Immediate Demands. These are five. First of all, it is demanded "That the capital and grand author of our troubles, the Person of the King, by whose commissions, commands, or procurement, and in whose behalf and for whose interest only, of will and power, all our wars and troubles have been, with all the miseries attending them, may be specially brought to justice for the treason, blood, and mischief he is therein guilty of." Next it is demanded that a limited time be set wherein the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York may return to England and render themselves: with the proviso that, if they do not so return, they are to be declared incapable for ever of any government or trust in the kingdom, and are to be treated without mercy as enemies and traitors if ever afterwards they are found in England; and also that, if they do return within the limited time, their cases are to be severally considered, and their past delinquencies (the Prince's being greatest, and "in appearance next unto his father's") either remitted or remembered for penalty as may be found fit; but that in any case all the estates and revenue of the Crown be sequestered for a good number of years, and applied to public uses, with reserve of a reasonable provision for the Royal Family and for old Crown- servants. Then it is demanded that a competent number of the King's chief instruments in the two Civil Wars may be brought, with him, in capital punishment. With this satisfaction to justice the Remonstrants would be content; and they recommend that there should be moderate and clement treatment of other Delinquents willing to submit, but with perpetual banishment and the confiscation of estates for those of them who should remain obdurate. Finally, the special claims of the Army are brought forward, and it is demanded that there shall be full payment of their damages and arrearages.—II. Prospective Demands. These point to the future Political Constitution of England. Under this head the Army demand (1) a termination of the existing Parliament within a reasonable time; (2) a guaranteed succession of subsequent Parliaments, annual or biennial, to be elected on such a system of suffrage and of redistribution of constituencies as should make them really representative of the whole people; (3) the temporary disfranchisement and disqualification of the King's adherents; and (4) a strict provision that Parliament, as the representative body of the people, should henceforth be supreme in all things, except such as would requestion the policy of the Civil War itself, and such as might trench on the foundations of common Right, Liberty, and Safety. In this last provision it is definitely stipulated as a necessary item that, should Kingship be kept up in England, it should be as an elective office merely, every successive holder of which should be chosen expressly by Parliament, and should have no veto or negative voice on laws passed by the Parliament. [Footnote: See the entire Remonstrance (well worth reading) in Parl. Hist. III. 1077]

This vast document, signed officially by John Rushworth, "by the appointment of his Excellency the Lord General and his General Council of Officers," was brought to the Commons, with a brief note from Fairfax himself, on Monday, Nov. 20. It was presented in all form by a deputation of officers, consisting of Colonel Ewer, Lieutenant-colonels Kelsay, Axtell, and Cooke, and three Captains. The House was thunderstruck, and for some hours there was a high and fierce debate. Some of the Independents among the members spoke manfully in favour of the Remonstrance; others were for temporizing; but the more resolute Presbyterians, among whom Prynne was conspicuous, resented the Remonstrance as an insolence "subversive of the law of the land and the fundamental constitutions of the kingdom," and protested that "it became not the House of Commons, who are a part of the Supreme Council of the Nation, to be prescribed to, or regulated and baffled by, a Council of Sectaries in Arms." Nothing of all this appears in the Journals of the House, but only this entry: "Ordered, That the debate upon the Remonstrance of the General and his General Council of Officers be resumed on Monday next." That "Monday next" was the 27th of November, the very day on which the Houses had agreed that the negotiations with the King at Newport should finally cease. [Footnote: Commons Journals, Nov. 20, 1648; Whitlocke, same date; Parl. Hist. III. 1127-8 (where extracts are given from a contemporary account of the in the Mercurius Pragmaticus).]

Cromwell, it is to be remembered, was not at this time in the immediate scene of action. After his victory over Hamilton at Preston (Aug. 17-19), he had remained in the north, to recover Berwick and Carlisle from the Scots, dispose of the remnant of the Scottish invading forces under Monro, and take such other measures against the Scottish Government as that no more should be feared from that quarter.

His task had been easy. The "Engagement" with the King, and the consequent invasion of England by a Scottish army in the King's interest, had been, as we know (ante, p. 589), the acts only of the Scottish party then in power, the party of Hamilton and Lanark; and they had been vehemently opposed and disowned by the party of Argyle and Loudoun, backed by the popular sentiment and by nearly the entire body of the Scottish clergy. When, therefore, the news of the disaster at Preston reached Scotland, the "Anti-Engagers" rose everywhere against the Government of the existing Committee of Estates, assailed it with reproaches and execrations, and prepared to call it to account. Lanark, who had been left as the chief of the Government after the capture of his brother, endeavoured for a while to hold his ground. He recalled Monro and the relics of the Scottish army from England, and took the field with their joint forces. Meanwhile, the zealous Covenanting peasantry of the western shires, nicknamed Whigs or Whigamores, having obeyed the summons of Argyle, Loudoun, and the Earls of Eglinton and Cassilis, and marched eastward to assist their brethren round Edinburgh, the forces of the Anti-Engagers had swelled into an army of more than 6,000 men, the command of which was assumed by old Leslie, Earl of Leven, with David Leslie under him. For some time the two armies, or portions of them, moved about in East Lothian, and between Edinburgh and Stirling; there were some skirmishes; and a conflict seemed imminent. In reality, however, most of the noblemen of the Committee of Estates had no heart for the enterprise into which Lanark was leading them. They saw it to be desperate, not only from the strength of the Whigamore rising in Scotland itself, but also because Cromwell was at hand in the north of England, in communication with Argyle and the other Whigamore chiefs, and ready to cross the borders for their help, if necessary. Accordingly, after some negotiation, a Treaty was arranged (Sept. 26). By the terms of this Treaty, Monro was to return to Ireland with his special portion of the troops; but otherwise both armies were to be disbanded, Lanark and all who had been concerned with him in the Engagement retiring from all places of trust, and the government of Scotland to be confirmed in the hands of Argyle and the Whigamores, who had already constituted themselves the new Committee of Estates de facto.

Although this arrangement had been effected without Cromwell's direct interference, he was actually in Scotland when it was made, having crossed the Tweed on the 2lst of September with an army of horse and foot. The next day he had been met by Argyle, Lord Elcho, and others, as a Deputation from the new Committee of Estates, bearing letters signed in the name of the Committee by their Chancellor Loudoun. The new Government of Scotland most handsomely surrendered to Cromwell the towns of Carlisle and Berwick, with apologies for the conduct of their predecessors in having seized them; and Cromwell, delaying some days about Berwick to see all duly performed there, was able to write letters thence to Fairfax and Speaker Lenthall (Oct. 2), praising Argyle and Elcho, and announcing that there was a very good understanding between "the Honest Party of Scotland" and himself. It was involved in this understanding, however, that Cromwell should visit Edinburgh, and add the weight of his personal presence to the re-establishment of the Argyle Government on the ruins of that of the Hamiltons. On Wednesday, Oct. 4, therefore, he did enter Edinburgh, with his officers and guard, and with Sir Arthur Haselrig in their company. They were escorted into the city with all ceremony by the authorities, and lodged by them in Moray House in the Canongate, the finest mansion at hand for their reception. For four days the people of Edinburgh, waiting in crowds outside Moray House, had the opportunity of studying the features of the great English Independent as he came out or went in, passing the English sentries on guard at the gate. For the Whigamore nobles and those select citizens, including the magistrates and city clergy, who had the privilege of calling on him, the opportunities were, of course, still closer; and on the fourth day (Saturday, Oct. 7) there was a sumptuous banquet in the Castle to him and his officers, at which the old Earl of Leven presided, and the Marquis of Argyle and other lords of the Committee of Estates were present.

So ended Cromwell's memorable first visit to Edinburgh; and, his real object having been accomplished (which was to pledge, the new Government of Scotland, and especially Argyle, to alliance in future with the advanced English party), he began his return journey southwards on the same day, only leaving Lambert, with two regiments of horse and two troops of dragoons, to be at the service of the Argyle Government so long as they might be wanted. A week later (Oct. 14) he was at Carlisle, seeing after the surrender of that town; and in the beginning of November he was at Pontefract in Yorkshire. Here he was to be delayed a while. The Castle of Pontefract, a very strong place, commanded by one Morris, still held out for the King, and was the refuge of much of the fugitive Cavalierism of the surrounding district, now in a mood of actual desperation. Sallies from the Castle for robbery and revenge had been frequent; and, just as Cromwell was expected in the neighbourhood, a party of the desperadoes, riding out in disguise, had gone as far as Doncaster, obtained admission to the lodging of Colonel Rainsborough there, under pretence of bringing him letters from Cromwell, and left him stabbed dead (Sunday, Oct. 29). The business of pacifying Yorkshire, which otherwise might have been left to Bainsborough, thus devolved upon Cromwell. He summoned Pontefract Castle to surrender Nov. 9; and, the surrender having been refused, he remained at Pontefract all the rest of that month, superintending the siege. [Footnote: Burnet's Hamiltons (edit. 1852), 465-482; Carlyle's Cromwell, I. 299-333; Rushworth, VII. 1314-15. The first open occurrence of the word Whig in British History was, I believe, in the circumstances described in the text at p.621. The original Whigs were the zealous Covenanting peasants, or true-blue Presbyterians, of Ayrshire, Lanarkshire, and other western Scottish counties; and the nickname was derived, it is supposed, either from the sound Whigh (meaning Gee-up) used by the peasantry of those parts in driving their horses, or simply from the word Whey (in Anglo-Saxon hwaeg), by comparison to the solemn Presbyterians to the sour watery part of milk separated from the curd in making cheese.]

Thus, through the three months in which the English Army and Independents were waxing more and more indignant at the Treaty with the King at Newport, and determining to break it down, and to bring the King to trial for his life with or without the concurrency of Parliament, Cromwell, as we said, was away from the immediate scene of action. There is not the least doubt, however, that he was aware generally of the proceedings of his friends in the south, and that one of their encouragements was the knowledge that Cromwell was with them. There are, however, actual proofs. Thus, about the middle of September, or just after the presentation to the Commons of the great London Petition asking the Commons to declare themselves the supreme authority of England, one finds Henry Marten, the framer of that Petition, on a journey to the north, for the purpose of consulting with Cromwell, then on his way to Scotland. Their consultation cannot have boon for nothing. At all events, after Cromwell returned into England and engaged in the siege of Pontefract Castle, his letters attest his interest in the proceedings of Ireton and the other Army officers at St. Alban's. In one letter, dated "near Pontefract," Nov. 20, he expresses his own anger and that of his officers at the recent lenient votes of the Commons in the case of the Duke of Hamilton and the other eminent Delinquents. On the same day he writes in the same sense to Fairfax, and forwards Petitions from the regiments under his command in aid of those which Fairfax had already received from the southern regiments. When these letters were written Cromwell had not heard of the adoption at St. Alban's of the Grand Army Remonstrance drawn up by his son-in-law, or at least did not know that on that very day it had been presented to the Commons. Before the 25th of November, however, he had received this news too, and had a full foresight of what it portended. For that is the date of one of the most remarkable letters he ever wrote, his letter from "Knottingley near Pontefract "to Colonel Robert Hammond, Governor of the Isle of Wight. This young Colonel, upon whom the sore trial had fallen of having the King for his prisoner, was, as we have said, one of Cromwell's especial favourites, and the long letter which Cromwell now addressed to him was in reply to one just received from Hammond, imparting to Cromwell his doubts respecting the recent proceedings of the Army, and his own agony of mind in the difficult and complicated duties of his office in the Isle of Wight. Cromwell's letter, so occasioned, begins "Dear Robin," and is conceived throughout in terms of the most anxious affection, struggling with a half-expressed purpose. He reasons earnestly with Hammond on his doubts and scruples, sympathizing with them so far, but at the same time combating them, and suggesting such queries as these—"first, Whether Salus Populi be a sound position? secondly, Whether in the way in hand [i.e. the Parliamentary rule as then experienced], really and before the Lord, before whom Conscience has to stand, this be provided for?... thirdly, Whether this Army be not a lawful Power, called by God to oppose and fight against the King upon some stated grounds, and, being in power to such ends, may not oppose one Name of Authority, for these ends, as well as another Name?" [i.e. may not oppose Parliament itself as well as the King.] He refers to the Grand Army Remonstrance, of the publication of which he has just heard. "We could perhaps have wished the stay of it till after the Treaty," he says, for himself and the officers of his northern part of the Army; "yet, seeing it is come out, we trust to rejoice in the will of the Lord, waiting His further pleasure." Again returning to the main topic, Hammond's scruples, he pleads almost yearningly with him: "Dear Robin, beware of men; look up to the Lord." Had Hammond really reasoned himself, with other good men, into that excess of the passive-obedience principle which maintained that as much good might come to England by an accommodation with the King as by breaking with him utterly? "Good by this Man," Cromwell exclaims, "against whom the Lord has witnessed, and whom thou knowest!" Then, after a few more sentences: "This trouble I have been at," he concludes, "because my soul loves thee, and I would not have thee swerve, or lose any glorious opportunity the Lord puts into thy hand." [Footnote: Rushworth, VII. 1265; Lords Journals, Nov. 21 (Hammond's Letter); Carlyle's Cromwell, I. 333-345.]

Cromwell's letter to Hammond was too late for its purpose. At Fairfax's head-quarters at St. Alban's it had been resolved that, until there should be a satisfactory answer from the Commons to the Army's Remonstrance, the Army must secure the main object of that Remonstrance by taking the King's person into its own custody. For the management of this business it was most important that the officer in command in the Isle of Wight should be one of unflinching Army principles. Hence, as the amiable Hammond's scruples were well known, and had indeed been communicated by him to Fairfax as well as to Cromwell, it had been resolved, partly in pity to him, partly in the interest of the business itself, to withdraw him from the Isle of Wight at that critical moment. Accordingly, on the 2lst of November, Fairfax had penned a letter to Hammond from St. Alban's, requiring his presence with all possible speed at head-quarters, and ordering him to leave the island meanwhile in charge of Colonel Ewer, the bearer of the letter. This letter did not reach Hammond till Nov. 25 (the very day when Cromwell was writing to him from Yorkshire); and it was not then delivered to him by Colonel Ewer in person, but by a messenger. The next day, Sunday, Nov. 26, Hammond wrote from Carisbrooke Castle to the two Houses of Parliament, informing them of what had happened, enclosing a copy of Fairfax's letter, and signifying his intention of obeying it. This communication was brought to London with all haste by Major Henry Cromwell, Oliver's second son, then serving under Hammond, and was the subject of discussion in both Houses on the 27th. Fairfax's intervention between Parliament and one of its servants was condemned as unwarrantable; a letter to that effect, but in mild terms, was written to Fairfax; and Major Cromwell was sent back with a despatch from both Houses to Hammond, instructing him to remain at his post. Before this despatch reached Hammond, however, there had been a meeting between him and Ewer, and some intricate negotiations, the result of which was that he and Ewer left the island together, Nov. 28, bound for the Army's head-quarters (then removed to Windsor)—Hammond entrusting the charge of the island in his absence, with strict care of the King's person, to Major Rolph and Captain Hawes, his subordinates at Newport, in conjunction with Captain Bowerman, the commandant at Carisbrooke Castle. Ewer having thus succeeded in withdrawing Hammond from his post, and having doubtless made other necessary arrangements while he hovered about the island, the execution of what remained was left to other hands, and principally to Lieutenant-colonel Cobbet and a Captain Merryman. [Footnote: Lords Journals, Nov. 27 and 30; Parl. Hist. III. 1133 et seq.; Rushworth. VII. 1338 et seq. In most modern accounts Ewer simply comes to the Isle of Wight, displaces Hammond, and removes the King. Not so by any means. It was a complicated transaction of seven or eight days; Ewer was in the trans-action, and perhaps the principal in it; but, except in his interview with Hammond, he keeps in the background.]

Not till the evening of Thursday, Nov. 30, does any suspicion of what was intended seem to have been aroused in the mind of the King. He was then still in his lodgings in Newport. The Treaty had come to an end three days before; the Parliamentary Commissioners for the Treaty had returned to London; most of the Royalist Lords and other Counsellors who had been assisting the King in the Treaty had also gone; only the Duke of Richmond, the Earls of Lindsey and Southampton, and some few others, remained. The stir through the island attending the close of the Treaty and the departure of so many persons had probably covered the coming and going of Ewer, his interview with Hammond, and certain arrivals and shiftings of troops which he had managed. But on the Thursday evening, about eight o'clock, the Duke of Richmond, the Earl of Lindsey, and a certain Colonel Cook, who was with them, were summoned from their lodgings in the town to the King's. A warning had that moment been conveyed to his Majesty that there were agents of the Army at hand to carry him off. Immediately Colonel Cook went to Major Rolph's room, and interrogated him on the subject. The answers were cautious and unsatisfactory. The fact was, though Major Rolph dared not then divulge it, that he and his fellow-deputies, Captain Hawes and Captain Bowerman, knew themselves to be superseded by Lieutenant-colonel Cobbet and Captain Merryman, who had arrived that day with a fresh warrant from Fairfax and the Army Council, empowering them to finish what Ewer had begun. Only inferring from Rolph's uneasiness that something was wrong, Colonel Cook returned to the King and the two Lords. There was farther consultation, and a second call on Rolph; after which Cook volunteered to go to Carisbrooke Castle for farther information. It was an excessively dark night, with high wind and plashing rain; and the King consented to the Colonel's going only after observing that he was young and might take no harm from it. The Colonel, accordingly, groped his way through the dark and rain over the mile and a half of road or cross-road intervening between Newport and the Castle. His object was to see the commandant, Captain Bowerman. After some considerable time, spent under the shelter of the gateway, he was admitted and did see Captain Bowerman, but only to find him sitting sulkily with about a dozen strange officers, who were evidently his masters for the moment, and prevented his being in the least communicative. Nothing was left for the Colonel but to grope his way back to Newport. It was near midnight when, with his clothes drenched with wet, he reached the King's lodgings; and there, what a change! Guards all round the house; guards at every window; sentinels in the passages, and up to the very door of the King's chamber, armed with matchlocks and with their matches burning! Major Rolph, glad to be out of the business, had gone to bed. They managed to rouse him, and to get the sentinels, with their smoke, removed to a more tolerable distance from the King's chamber-door. Then, for an hour or more, there was an anxious colloquy in the King's chamber, the Duke of Richmond and the Earl of Lindsey urging some desperate attempt to escape, but the King dubious and full of objections. Nothing could be done; and, about one o'clock, the Earl and the Colonel retired, leaving the King to rest, with the Duke in attendance upon him. There were then several hours of hush within, disturbed by sounds of moving and tramping without; but between five and six in the morning there came a loud knocking at the door of the King's dressing-room. When it had been opened, after some delay, a number of officers entered, headed by Colonel Cobbet. Making their way into the King's chamber, they informed him that they had instructions to remove him. On his asking whither, they answered, "To the Castle;" and, on his farther asking whether they meant Carisbrooke Castle, they answered, after some hesitation, that their orders were to remove him out of the island altogether, and that the place was to be Hurst Castle on the adjacent Hampshire mainland. Remarking that they could not have named a worse place, the King rose, was allowed to summon the Earl of Lindsey and all the rest of his household, and had breakfast. At eight o'clock coaches and horses were ready, and the King, having chosen about a dozen of his most confidential servants to accompany him, and taken a farewell of the rest of the sorrowing company, placed himself in charge of Colonel Gobbet and the troop of horse waiting to be his escort. Having seated himself in his coach, he invited Mr. Harrington, Mr. Herbert, and Mr. Mildmay to places beside him. Colonel Gobbet, as the commander of the party, was about to enter the coach also, when his Majesty put up his foot by way of barrier; whereupon Cobbet, somewhat abashed, contented himself with his horse. The cavalcade then set out, gazed after by all Newport, the Duke of Richmond allowed to accompany it for two miles. A journey of some eight miles farther brought them to the western end of the island, a little beyond Yarmouth; whence a vessel conveyed them, over the little strip of intervening sea, to Hurst Castle that same afternoon (Dec. 1). The so-called Castle was a strong, solitary, stone blockhouse, which had been built, in the time of Henry VIII., at the extremity of a long narrow spit of sand and shingle projecting from the Hampshire coast towards the Isle of Wight. It was a rather dismal place; and the King's heart sank as he entered it, and was confronted by a grim fellow with a bushy black beard, who announced himself as the captain in command. The possibility of private assassination flashed on the King's mind at the sight of such a jailor. But, Colonel Cobbet having superseded the rough phenomenon, the King was reassured, and things were arranged as comfortably as the conditions would permit. [Footnote: Rushworth, VII. 1344-8 (narrative of Colonel Cook); Ib. 1351 and Parl. Hist. III. 1147-8 (Letter to Parliament from Major Rolph and Captains Hawes and Bowerman); and Sir Thomas Herbert's Memoirs of Charles I. 112-124. The day of the King's abduction from Newport has been variously dated by historians. It was really Friday, Dec. 1.]

Meanwhile Fairfax and the Army, by whose orders, all punctually written and dated, this abduction of the King had been effected, were on the move to take advantage of it. On Monday the 27th of November, the Commons, instead of taking up the consideration of the Grand Army Remonstrance as they had proposed, had again adjourned the subject. On Wednesday the 29th, accordingly, there was a fresh manifesto from Fairfax and his Council of Officers at Windsor. After complaining of the delays over the Remonstrance and of the continued infatuation of the Commons over the farce of the Newport Treaty, they proceeded. "For the present, as the case stands, we apprehend ourselves obliged, in duty to God, this kingdom, and good men therein, to improve our utmost abilities, in all honest ways, for the avoiding those great evils we have remonstrated, and for prosecution of the good things we have propounded;" and they concluded with this announcement, "For all these ends we are now drawing up with the Army to London, there to follow Providence as God shall clear our way." This document, signed by Rushworth, reached the Commons on the 30th. They affected to ignore it, and still refused, by a majority of 125 to 58, to proceed to the consideration of the Army's Remonstrance. Next day, Friday Dec. 1, the tune was somewhat changed. The advanced guards of the Army were then actually at Hyde Park Corner, and the City and the two Houses were in terror. Saturday, Dec. 2, consummated the business. Despite an order bidding him back, Fairfax was then in Whitehall, his head-quarters close to the two Houses, and his regiments of horse and foot distributed round about. London and Westminster were, in fact, once more in the Army's possession. Nevertheless both Houses met that day in due form, and there was a violent debate in the Commons over the Treaty as affected by the new turn of affairs. The debate broke off late in the afternoon, when it was adjourned till Monday by a majority of 132 to 102. The news of the abduction of the King to Hurst Castle had not yet reached London, and Cromwell was still believed to be at Pontefract. [Footnote: Commons and Lords Journals of Nov. 27 to Dec. 2, 1648: Parl. Hist. III. 1134-1146; Rushworth, VII. 1349-59.]



CHAPTER II.

TROUBLES IN THE BARBICAN HOUSEHOLD: CHRISTOPHER MILTON'S COMPOSITION SUIT: MR. POWELL'S COMPOSITION SUIT: DEATH OF MR. POWELL: HIS WILL: DEATH OF MILTON'S FATHER—SONNET XIV. AND ODE TO JOHN ROUS-ITALIAN REMINISCENCES: LOST LETTERS FROM CARLO DATI OF FLORENCE: MILTON'S REPLY TO THE LAST OF THEM—PEDAGOGY IN THE BARBICAN: LIST OF MILTON'S KNOWN PUPILS: LADY RANELAGH—EDUCATIONAL REFORM STILL A QUESTION: HARTLIB AGAIN: THE INVISIBLE COLLEGE: YOUNG ROBERT BOYLE AND WILLIAM PETTY— REMOVAL FROM BARBICAN TO HIGH HOLBORN—MEDITATIONS AND OCCUPATIONS IN THE HOUSE IN HIGH HOLBORN: MILTON'S SYMPATHIES WITH THE ARMY CHIEFS AND THE EXPECTANT REPUBLICANS—STILL UNDER THE BAN OF THE PRESBYTERIANS: TESTIMONY OF THE LONDON MINISTERS AGAINST HERESIES AND BLASPHEMIES: MILTON IN THE BLACK LIST—ANOTHER LETTER FROM CARLO DATI: TRANSLATION OF NINE PSALMS FROM THE HEBREW—MILTON THROUGH THE SECOND CIVIL WAR: HIS PERSONAL INTEREST IN IT, AND DELIGHT IN THE ARMY'S TRIUMPH: HIS SONNET TO FAIRFAX—BIRTH OF MILTON'S SECOND CHILD: ANOTHER LETTER FROM CARLO DATI.

The two years and four months of English History traversed in the last chapter were of momentous interest to Milton at the time, were preparing an official career of eleven years for him at the very centre of affairs, and were to furnish him with matter for comment, and indeed with risk and responsibility, to the end of his days. While they were actually passing, however, his life was rather private in its tenor, and we have to seek him not so much in public manifestations as in his household and among his books.

PROBLEMS IN THE BARBICAN HOUSEHOLD: CHRISTOPHER MILTON'S COMPOSITION SUIT: MR. POWELL'S COMPOSITION SUIT: DEATH OF MR. POWELL: HIS WILL: DEATH OF MILTON'S FATHER

We left the household in Barbican a rather overcrowded one, consisting not merely of Milton, his wife, their newly-born little girl, his father, and his two nephews, but also of his Royalist father-in-law Mr. Powell, with Mrs. Powell, and several of their children, driven to London by the wreck of the family fortunes at Oxford. For some months, we now find, the state of poor Mr. Powell's affairs continued to be a matter of anxiety to all concerned.

On the 6th of August, 1646, or as soon as possible after Mr. Powell's arrival in London, he had applied, as we saw, to the Committee at Goldsmiths' Hall for liberty to compound for that portion of his sequestered Oxfordshire estates which was yet recoverable. Milton's younger brother, Christopher, we saw, was at the same time engaged in a similar troublesome business. Ho too was suing out pardon for his delinquency on condition of the customary fine on his property; and, according to his own representation to the Goldsmiths' Hall Committee, the sole property he had consisted of a single house in the city of London, worth 40l. a year.

The Goldsmiths' Hall Committee being then overburdened with similar applications of Delinquents from all parts of England, the cases of Mr. Powell and Christopher Milton had waited their turn.

The case of Christopher Milton came on first. His delinquency had been very grave. He had actually served as one of the King's Commissioners for sequestrating the estates of Parliamentarians in three English counties. There seems, therefore, to have been a disposition at head-quarters to be severe with him. On the 24th of September the Committee at Goldsmiths' Hall did fix his fine for his London property at 80l. (i.e. a tenth of its whole value calculated at twenty years' purchase), receiving the first moiety of 40l. down, and accepting "William Keech, of Fleet Street, London, goldbeater," as Christopher's co-surety for the payment of the second moiety within three months. But they do not seem to have been satisfied that the young barrister had given a correct account of his whole estate; and it was intimated to him that, while the 80l. would restore to him his London property, the House of Commons would look farther into his case, and he might have more to pay on other grounds. In fact, his case was protracted not only through the rest of 1646, but for five years longer, the Goldsmiths' Hall Committee never letting him completely off all that while, but instituting inquiries repeatedly in Berks and Suffolk, with a view to ascertain whether he had not concealed properties in those counties in addition to the small London property for which he had compounded. [Footnote: It is rather difficult to follow Christopher Milton's case through the Composition Records and other notices respecting it; but here is the substance of the first of them:— Aug. 7, 1646, Delinquent's Application to Compound, with statement of his property, referred to Sub-Committee (Hamilton's Milton Papers, 128, 129); Aug. and Sept. 1646, Various proposals of the Committee as to the amount of his fine—at 80l. or "a tenth," at 200l. or "a third"— ending, ending Sept. 24, in the imposition of a fine of 80l. for his London property, with a hint that there might be farther demand (Hamilton, 62 and 129-30, and Todd. I. 162-3); Undated, but seemingly after Dec. 1646, Note of Christopher Milton as a defaulter for the latter moiety of his fine (Hamilton, 62). The case runs on through subsequent years to 1652; nay, as late as Feb. 1657-8 there is trace of it (Hamilton, 130, Document lxvi.).]

Mr. Powell's case, for different reasons, was more complex. On the 2lst of Nov. 1646, or somewhat more than three months after he had petitioned the Goldsmiths' Hall Committee for leave to compound, he sent in the necessary "Particular of Real and Personal Estate" by which his composition was to be rated. He had been living all the while in his son- in-law's house in Barbican; and the delay may have arisen from those circumstances of perplexity, already known to the reader (ante, pp. 473-483), which rendered it difficult for him to estimate what the amount of his remaining property might really be. In the "Particular" now sent in, though he still designates himself "Richard Powell of Forest-hill," the Forest-hill mansion and lands are totally omitted, as no longer his property in any practical sense, but transferred by legal surrender to his creditor Sir Robert Pye. All that he can put on paper as his own is now (1) his small Wheatley property of 40l. a year; (2) his "personal estate in corn and household stuff," left at Forest-hill before the siege of Oxford, and estimated at 500l. if it could be properly recovered and sold; (3) his much more doubtful stock of "timber and wood," also left at Forest-hill, and worth 400l. on a similar supposition; and (4) debts owing to him to the amount of 100l. Against these calculated assets, of about 1,800l. altogether, he pleads, however, a burden of 400l., with arrears of interest, due to Mr. Ashworth by mortgage of the Wheatley property, and also 1,200l. of debts to various people, and a special debt of 300l. "owing upon a statute" to his son-in-law Mr. John Milton. As a reason for leniency, the fact is moreover stated that he had lost 3,000l. by the Civil War. Actually, if his account is correct, he was insolvent; or, if his debt to his son-in-law were regarded as cancelled, he had but about 200l. left in the world. In criticising his account, however, the Committee would be sharp-sighted. They would remember that it was his interest, on the one hand, to rate his debts and losses at the highest figure, and, on the other hand, to represent at the lowest figure all his remaining property, except those items of "corn and household stuff," and "timber and wood," which he held to have been illegally disposed of by Parliamentary officials, and for the recovery of which he might bring forward a claim against Parliament. How the Committee, or the sub-Committee to whom the case was referred Nov. 26, did proceed in their calculations can only be conjectured; but the result was that they charged Mr. Powell on his whole returned property, without any allowance whatever for his debts. This appears from three documents in the State Paper Office, all of date Dec. 1646. On the 4th of that month Mr. Powell went through the two formalities required by law of every Delinquent before composition. He subscribed the National Covenant in the presence of "William Barton, minister of John Zachary" (the same clergyman who had administered the Covenant to Christopher Milton seven months before); and he took the so-called "Negative Oath" in presence of another witness. On the same day, before a third witness, he took another and more special oath, to the effect that the debts mentioned in his return to the Goldsmiths' Hall Committee were genuine debts, "truly and really owing by him," and that the estimate of his losses by the Civil War there set down was also just. Nevertheless, in the paper drawn up on the 8th of December by two of the Goldsmiths' Hall officials, containing an abstract of Mr. Powell's case, in which his own statements are accepted, and notice is taken of a request he had made for an allowance of 400l. off the value of the Wheatley property on account of the mortgage to that amount with which it was burdened, the fine is fixed by these ominous words at the close: "Fine at 2 yeeres value, 180l." The officials had been strict as Shylock. Taking the Wheatley property at Mr. Powell's own valuation of 40l. a year, without allowing his claim of a half off for the Ashworth mortgage, they had added 50l. a year as the worth of the remaining 1,000l. made up by the three other capital items in his return, and thus appraised him as worth 90l. a year in all. At the customary rate of two years' value, his fine therefore was to be 180l. The debts of the Delinquent might amount to more than his estimated property, as he said they did; but that was a matter between himself and the world at large, and not between him and the Commissioners for Compositions. [Footnote: The documents the substance of which is here given will be found in the Appendix to Hamilton's Milton Papers (pp. 76-78).—The Rev. William Barton seems to be the person of that name already known to us as author of that Metrical Version of the Psalms which the Lords favoured against Rous's (ante, pp. 425 and 512). He may have been an acquaintance of Milton's; at all events, as minister of a church in Aldergate Ward, he was conveniently near to Barbican.]

Either the decision of the Goldsmiths' Hall Committee broke Mr. Powell down unexpectedly, or he had been ailing before it came. It is possible, indeed, that he had been confined to Milton's house during the negotiation, signing the Covenant and other necessary documents there, and unable to walk even the little distance between Barbican and Goldsmiths' Hall. Certain it is that he died there on or about the 1st of January, 1646-7, leaving the following will, executed but a day or two before:—

"In the name of God, Amen!—I, Richard Powell, of Forresthill, alias Forsthill, in the countie of Oxon, Esquire, being sick and weak of bodie, but of perfect minde and memorie, I praise God therefore, this thirtieth daie of December in the yeare of our Lord God one thousand six hundred fortie and six, doe make and declare this my will and testament in manner and forme following:—First and principallie, I comend my soule to the hands of Almighty God my Maker, trusting by the meritts, death, and passion of his sonn Jesus Christ, my Redeemer, to have life everlasting; and my bodie I comitt to the earth from whence it came, to be decentlie interred according to the discretion of my Executor hereafter named.—And, for my worldlie estate which God hath blessed rue withall, I will and dispose as followeth:—Imprimis, I give and bequeathe unto Richard Powell, my eldest son, my house at Forresthill, alias Forsthill, in the countie of Oxford, with all the household stuffe and goods there now remaining, and compounded for by me since at Goldsmiths' Hall, together with the woods and timber there remaining; and all the landes to my said house of Forresthill belonging and heretofore therewith used, together with the fines and profitts of the said landes and tenements, to the said Richard Powell and his heires and assignes for ever: to this intent and purpose, and it is the true meaning of this my last will, that my landes and goods shalbe first employed for the satisfieing of my debts and funerall expenses, and afterwards for the raiseing of portions for his brothers and sisters soe far as the estate will reach, allowing as much out of the estate abovementioned unto my said sonn Richard Powell as shall equal the whole to be devided amongst his brothers and sisters, that is to saie the one halfe of the estate to himselfe and the other halfe to be devided amongst his brothers and sisters that are not alredie provided for; in which devision my will is that his sisters have a third parte more than his brothers.—My will and desire is that my said sonn Richard doe, out of my said landes and personall estate herein mentioned, satisfy his mother, my dearely-beloved wife Ann Powell, that bond I have entered into for the makeing her a joynture, which my estate is not in a condition now to dischardge.—And, lastlie, I doe by this my last will and testament make and ordaine my sonn Richard Powell my sole executor of this my last will, and I doe hereby revoke all former wills by me made whatsoever. And my will farther is that, in case my sonn Richard Powell shall not accept the executorshipp, then I doe hereby constitute and appointe, and doe earnestly desire, my dearely beloved wife Ann Powell to be my sole executrix, and to take upon her the mannageing of my estate abovementioned to the uses and purposes herein expressed. And, in case she doe refuse the same, then I desire my loveing friend Master John Ellston of Forresthill to take the executorshipp uppon him and to performe this my will as is herebefore expressed; to whom I give twentie shillings, to buy him a ring. And my earnest desire is that my wife and my sonn have no difference concerning this my will and estate.— Item, I give and bequeathe to my sonn Richard Powell all my houses and landes at Whately in the countie of Oxford, and all other my estate reall and personall in the kingdom of England and dominion of Wales, to the use, intent, and purpose above herein expressed: And my desire is that my daughter Milton be had a reguard to in the satisfieing of her portion, and adding thereto in case my estate will beare it. And, for this estate last bequeathed, in case my sonn take not upon him the executorshipp, then my will is my beloved wife shall be sole executrix, unto whom I give the landes and goods last abovementioned, to the uses and purposes herein mentioned. In case she refuses, then I appoint Master John Ellstone my executor, to the uses and purposes above-mentioned.—In witness hereof I have hereto put my hand and seale the daie and yeare first above-written.—For the further strengthening of this my last will, I doe constitute and appoint my loveing friends, Sir John Curson and Sir Robert Pye the elder, Knights, to be overseers of this my last will, desireing them to be aiding and assisting to my executor to see my last will performed, according to my true meaning herein expressed, for the good and benefitt of my wife and children; and I give them, as a token of my love, twentie shillings apiece, to buy them each a ring, for their paines taken to advise and further my executor to performe this my will. "RICHARD POWELL.

"Subscribed, sealed, and acknowledged to be his last will, in the presence of

"JAMES LLOYD, JOHN MILTON, HENRY DELAHAY." [Footnote: Found by me at Doctors' Commons.—The date assigned for Mr. Powell's death depends on his widow's statement on oath, four years afterwards (Feb. 27, 1650-1), that "said Richard Powell, her late husband, died near the first day of January, in the year of our Lord 1646, at the house of Mr. John Milton situate in Barbican, London." (Todd, I. 57.)]

While this is clearly the will of a dying man whose property is in such a state of wreck and confusion that he knows not whether any provision whatever will arise out of it for his wife and family, there are certain suggestions in it of a contrary tenor. It is evident, for example, that Mr. Powell had not given up all hope that his main property, the mansion and lands of Forest-hill, might ultimately be recovered. Though these are entirely omitted in the Particular of his Estate given in a month before to the Goldsmiths' Hall Committee for Compositions, they figure in his will so expressly that one sees the testator did not consider them quite lost. This, followed by the kindly mention of Sir Robert Pye in the end of the will, and the appointment of that knight as one of the overseers to assist the executor in carrying out the will, confirms a guess which we have already hazarded (ante, pp. 475-6): viz. that the entry of Sir Robert Pye into possession of the Forest-hill estate during the siege of Oxford was not the harsh exercise of his legal right to do so, nor even only the natural act of a prudent creditor seeing no other way of recovering a large sum lent to a neighbour, but in part also a friendly precaution in the interests of that neighbour himself and his family. That Forest-hill, if it were to be alienated from the Powells, should pass into the possession of Sir Robert Pye, an old friend of the family, might be for their advantage in the end. Though nominally proprietor, he would regard himself as interim possessor for the Powells; and, should they ever be able to reclaim their property, and to pay the 1,400l. and arrears of interest for which it had been pledged, they would find Sir Robert or his family more accommodating than strangers would have been. Something of this kind must have been in Mr. Powell's mind when he made his will. He clung to the Forest-hill property; it was worth much more really than the sum for which it had been alienated; he looked forward to some arrangement in that matter between his heir and Sir Robert Pye, in which Sir Robert himself would advise and assist. Then, as the smaller Wheatley property was also really worth more than the 40l. a year at which it was rated, and as, besides other chances only vaguely hinted, the family had immediate claims for 500l. on account of goods left at Forest-hill, 400l. on account of timber, and l00l. in miscellaneous debts, why, on the whole, with patience and good management, should there not be enough to discharge all obligations, and still leave something over for the heir, the widow, and the other eight or nine children, in the proportions indicated? Alas! if this were the possibility, it had to be arrived at, the testator foresaw, through a dense medium of present difficulties. The very items of most importance in the meantime, if his widow and children were to be saved from actual straits, were the items of greatest uncertainty. The household goods, the timber, and the debts due, were estimated together at 1,000l. of cash; but it was cash which had to be rescued from the four winds. Nay, most of it had to be rescued from worse than the four winds—from the Parliamentary Government itself, and from its agents in Oxfordshire. The household stuff and goods at Forest-hill! Had they not been sold in June last by the Oxfordshire sequestrators to Matthew Appletree of London, carted off by that dealer, and dispersed no one knew whither? The timber at Forest-hill! Had not that also vanished, most of it voted in July last by the two Houses of Parliament themselves to the people of Banbury for repairs of their church and other buildings? To be sure, the Goldsmiths' Hall Committee, by accepting these portions of Mr. Powell's property at his own valuation and including them in their calculation of his fine for Delinquency, had virtually pledged Government that they should be restored. But then the fine had not been paid. Notwithstanding the statement in Mr. Powell's will that he had compounded for his property, the case was not really so. The Committee had fixed his composition at 180l., and so had admitted him to compound; but, as he had not yet paid the usual first moiety, the transaction was really incomplete at his death. Who was to pursue the matter to completeness, undertaking on the one hand to pay the composition to Government, and on the other obliging Government to reproduce the value of the goods and timber that had been made away with by itself or by its Oxfordshire agents? All this too was in the testator's mind, and hence his difficulty in fixing on an executor. His eldest son and heir, Richard, then a youth of five-and-twenty, was to have the first option of this office; if he shrank from it, then the widow was to be the sole executrix; but, if she also shrank from it, a certain "Master John Ellston of Forest-hill," in whom Mr. Powell had confidence, was entreated to take it up. This Ellston, it is implied, understood the business, and, as acting for the family, might expect the advice of Sir Robert Pye and Sir John Curzon. [Footnote: The "Ellston" of the will may be the "Eldridge" mentioned in a previously quoted document (ante, p. 478) as having 100l. worth of Mr. Powell's timber on his premises. If so, Mr. Hamilton (92) has miscopied "Eldridge" for "Ellston" or "Ellstone" in that document.]

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19     Next Part
Home - Random Browse