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Reign of Charles I. (Continued) page 3

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The next day Fairfax sent colonel Fiennes and his regiment to London with the prisoners and the colours taken, above a hundred of them, and he prayed that a day of thanksgiving might be appointed for the victory. But the most essential fruit of the victory was the reading in public and the parliament of the king's letters. In these the affair of the duke of Lorraine came to light - the attempt to bring in the Lorraines, the French, the Danes, and the Irish, to put down the parliament, whilst he had been making the most sacred protestations to that body that he abhorred bringing in foreign soldiers. There appeared his promise to give the catholics full liberty of conscience, whilst he had been vowing constantly that he would never abrogate the laws against popery. His letter to his wife, showing that at the treaty of Uxbridge he was merely conceding the name of a parliament, with a full determination, on the first opportunity, to declare it no parliament at all. These exposures were so dreadful, and gave such an assurance that the king was restrained by no moral principle, that the royalists would not believe the documents genuine till they had examined them for themselves; and for this examination the parliament gave the amplest opportunity. There were copies of his letters to the queen, in which he complained of the quarrels and harassing jealousies of his own courtiers and supporters, and of his getting rid of as many as he could by sending them on one pretence or another to her. The sight of these things struck his own party dumb with a sense of his hollowness and ingratitude; and the battle of Naseby itself was declared far less fatal to his interests than the contents of his cabinet. From this moment his ruin was certain, and the remainder of the campaign was only the last feeble struggles of the expiring cause. His adherents stood out rather for their own chance of making terms than from any possible hope of success.

The defeated and dishonoured king did not stop to pass a single night at Leicester, but rode on to Ashby that evening, and after a few hours' rest pursued his course towards Hereford. At Hereford, Rupert, fearful of the parliamentary army attacking their only remaining strong quarter, the west, left the king and hastened to Bristol, to put it into a state of defence. Charles himself continued his march into Wales, and took up his head-quarters at Raglan Castle, the seat of the marquis of Worcester. There, pretty sure that Fairfax was intending to go westward, he spent the time as though nothing had been amiss, hunting like his father, when he should have been studying the retrieval of his affairs, and passing the evenings in entertainments and giving of audiences. The most probable cause of Charles thus spending his time there and at Cardiff, to which he next retired, is that he was urging a transmission of an Irish army, and expecting it there. At the same time he could there more easily communicate with Rupert regarding the defence of the west of England.

Fairfax, supported by the brilliant genius and indefatigable exertions of Cromwell, proceeded to attack that last remaining stronghold of royalty - for Scarborough, Carlisle, and Pontefract were reduced in July by the Scots and the parliamentarians. The first encounter which they had was with the clubmen, who were out in the neighbourhood of Blandford, Dorchester, Shaftesbury, and Sherborne, to the number of ten thousand, led by a Mr. Hollis, of Dorchester, a Mr. Newman, and Sir Lewis Dives, the brother-in-law of lord Digby. Some of them were taken at Shaftesbury, and Hollis and Newman waited on Fairfax, demanding a safe- conduct to go to the king and parliament with petitions, which he refused, but behaved civilly to them lest they should join colonel Goring at Taunton. Cromwell came across another body of them between Sherborne and Shaftesbury, and rode up to two thousand of them posted in an old encampment on Hambleton Hill. They told him that ten thousand were assembling to demand the restoration of their comrades taken at Shaftesbury. Cromwell ordered them to return home and take care of their property, but they fired on him, on which he fell upon them, dispersed them, and took three hundred prisoners, whom he described as very silly, ignorant creatures, who promised that if he would let them go, they would be hanged before they would turn out again. At Sherborne he attacked Sir Lewis Dives, and took him, finding upon him letters containing royal commissions for raising clubmen, which plainly showed the nature of the institution.

The parliament forces under Cromwell marched on Bristol, where Rupert lay, whilst Fairfax met and defeated Goring at Lamport, and then besieged and took Bridgewater on the 23rd of July. Matters now appeared so threatening, that Rupert proposed to Charles to sue for peace; but the king rejected the advice with warmth, declaring that, speaking either as a soldier or a statesman, he saw nothing but ruin before him, yet as a Christian, he was sure God would not prosper rebels, and that nothing should induce him to give over the cause. He avowed that whoever staid by him must do it at the cost of his life, or of being made as miserable as the violence of insulting rebels could make him. But by the grace of God he would not alter, and bade him not on any consideration " to hearken after treaties." That he would take no less than he had asked for at Uxbridge.

Charles, blind to the last, was still hoping for assistance from Ireland, and was elated by the news of successes from Montrose.

It will be recollected that the earls of Antrim and Montrose had been engaged by Charles to exert themselves in Ireland and Scotland on his behalf. Their first attempt was to take vengeance on the covenanting earl of Argyll, who had so much contributed to defeat the king's attempts on the Scottish church and government. Montrose, therefore, unfurled the royal standard as the king's lieutenant- general at Dumfries; but, having before been a strong covenanter, he did not all at once win the confidence of the royalists. His success was so poor that he returned to England. At Carlisle he was more effective in serving the king, and was made a marquis in consequence. After the battle of Marston Moor he again returned into the Highlands, and there learned the success of Antrim's labours in Ireland. He had sent over a body of fifteen hundred men under the command of his kinsman Alaster Macdonald, surnamed MacColl Keitache, or Colkitto. They landed at Knoydart, but a fleet of the duke of Argyll's burnt their ships, and hung in their rear waiting a fitting chance to destroy them. To their surprise they received no welcome from the Scotch royalists, but they continued their march to Badenoch, ravaging the houses and farms of the l covenanters, but every day menaced by the gathering hosts of their foes, and learning nothing of their ally, Montrose. At length Montrose obtained tidings of them: they met at Blair Athol, in the commencement of August, 1644. Montrose assumed the command, and published the royal commission. At the sight of a native chief the Highlanders flocked to his standard, and the covenanters saw to their astonishment an army of between three and four thousand men spring at once, as it were, out of the ground. Montrose wrote to Charles that if he could receive five hundred horse on his way, he would soon be in England with twenty thousand men.

The movements and exploits of Montrose now became rather a story of romance than of sober modern warfare. Argyll and lord Elcho dogged his steps, but he advanced or disappeared with his half-clad Irish and wild mountaineers, amongst the hills in a manner that defied arrest. At Tippermuir, in Perthshire, he defeated Elcho, took his guns ' and ammunition, and surprised and plundered the town of Perth. As was constantly the case, the Highlanders, once loaded with booty, slipped off to their homes; and, left alone with his Irish band, who were faithful because their way home was cut off, he retreated northward, in hope of joining the clan Gordon. He found himself stopped at the bridge of Dee by two thousand seven hundred covenanters under lord Burley, but he managed to cross at a ford higher up, and, falling on the rear of the covenanters, threw them into a panic flight. They fled to Aberdeen, pursued by the wild Irish and Highlanders, and the whole mass of pursuers and pursued rushed wildly into the city together. The place was given up to plunder, and for three days Aberdeen became a scene of horror and revolting licence, as it had been from an attack of Montrose four years before, when fighting on the other side. The approach of Argyll compelled the pillagers to fly into Banffshire, and, following the banks of the Spey, he crossed the mountain of Badenoch, and, after a series of wild adventures in Athol, Angus, and Forfar, he was met by the covenanters at Fyvie Castle, and compelled to retreat into the hills. His followers then took their leave of him, worn out with their mountain flights and skirmishes, and he announced his intention of retiring for the winter into the mountains of Badenoch.

The earl of Argyll, on his part, retired to Inverary, and sent his followers home. He felt secure in the mighty barrier of mountains around, which in summer offered a terrible route to an army, but now blockaded with snow, he deemed utterly impregnable. But he was deceived; the retirement of Montrose was a feint. He was busily employed in rousing the northern clans to a sweeping vengeance on Argyll, and the prospect of a rich booty. In the middle of December he burst through all obstacles, threaded the snow-laden defiles of the mountains, and descended with fire and sword into the plains of Argyll. The earl was suddenly roused by the people from the liills, whose dwellings were in flames behind them, and their cattle in the hands of the army of Montrose, and only effected his escape by pushing across Loch Tyne in an open boat. Montrose divided his host into three columns, which spread themselves over the whole of Argyll, burning and laying all waste. Argyll had set a price upon Montrose's head; and Montrose now reduced his splendid heritage to a black and frightful desert. The villages and cottages were burnt down, the cattle destroyed or driven off, and the people slain wherever found with arms in their hands. This lasted from the 13th of December to the end of January.

Argyll by that time had mustered the clan Campbell, and lord Seaforth the mountaineers of Moray, Ross, Sutherland, and Caithness, to bear down on the invaders. Montrose, therefore, led forth his Highlanders and Irish to encounter them, and came first on Argyll and his army at Inverlochy Castle, in Lochaber. There he totally defeated Argyll, and slew nearly fifteen hundred of his people. This success brought to his standard the whole clan Gordon and others. The whole north was in their power, and they marched from Inverlochy to Elgin and Aberdeen. At Brechin they were met by Baillie with a strong force, which protected Perth; but Montrose marched to Dunkeld, and thence to Dundee, which he entered, and began plundering, when Baillie arrived with his covenanters, and caused him to retire. Once more he escaped to the mountains, but this time not without severe losses, for his indignant foes pursued him for threescore miles, cutting off many of his soldiers, besides what had perished in the storming of Dundee. When he appeared again it was at Auldearn, a village near Nairn, where, on the 4th of May, a bloody battle was fought betwixt him and the covenanters, under the victorious Hurry, two thousand men being said to be left upon the field.

The general assembly addressed a sharp remonstrance to the king, which was delivered to him soon alter the battle of Naseby, but it produced no effect. In fact, it was more calculated to inflame a man of Charles's obstinate temper, for it recapitulated all his crimes against Scotland, from his first forcing the common prayer upon them till then, and called on him to fall down at the footstool of the Almighty and acknowledge his sins, and no longer steep his kingdom in blood. They did not merely remonstrate; the covenanters continued to fight. But, unfortunately, their commanders having divided their forces, as Hurry was defeated at Auldearn, so Baillie was soon afterwards routed at Alford, in Aberdeenshire, with such effect, that scarcely any but his principal officers and the cavalry escaped. Again the covenanters raised a fresh army of ten thousand men, and sent them against Montrose, and the Scottish army, which lay on the borders of England under the earl of Leven, commenced their march southward, to attack the king himself. On the 2nd of July, the very day on which Montrose won the battle of Alford, they were at Melton Mowbray, whence they marched through Tamworth and Birmingham into Worcestershire and Herefordshire. On the 22nd they stormed Canon-Froom, a garrison of the king's betwixt Worcester and Hereford, and as they were pressing on, Charles sent Sir William Fleming to endeavour to seduce the old earl of Leven and the earl of Calendar from their faith to parliament by magnificent promises, but they sent his letters to the parliament, and marched on and laid siege to Hereford.

Charles thus pressed upon by the Scottish army, quitted Cardiff, and made a grand effort to reach the borders of Scotland to effect a junction with Montrose. He flattered himself that could he unite his forces with those of Montrose, by the genius of that brilliant leader all his losses would be retrieved, and that he should bear down all before him. But he was not destined to accomplish this object. He at first approached Hereford, as if he designed the attempt of raising the siege, but this was too hazardous; and, dismissing his foot, he dashed forward with his cavalry to cut his way to the north. But the earl of Leven sent after him Sir David Leslie, with nearly the whole body of the Scottish cavalry; and from the north, the parliamentarian commanders, Poyntz and Rossiter, put themselves in motion to meet him. He had made a rapid march through Warwickshire and Northamptonshire to Doncaster, when these counter-movements of the enemy convinced him that to reach the borders was hopeless; and he made a sudden divergence south-east, to inflict a flying chastisement on those counties of the eastern association, which had so long kept him at bay, and sent out against him the invincible Cromwell and his ironsides. These were now engaged in the west, and he swept through Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire, ravaging and plundering without stint or remorse. On the 24th of August he took Huntingdon itself by assault; but he did not delay, but continued his marauding course through Woburn and Dunstable, thence into Buckinghamshire, and so to Oxford, where he arrived on the 28th. In this flying expedition, Charles and his soldiers had collected much booty from his subjects, and especially from the town of Huntingdon, no doubt with much satisfaction, from its being Cromwell's residence.

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