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Reign of Charles I. (Continued) page 4

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At Oxford Charles received the cheering news that Montrose had achieved another brilliant victory over the covenanters. He had, on again issuing from the mountains, menaced Perth, where the Scottish parliament was sitting, and then descended into the lowlands. It was evident that he was acting in concert with the king, who at that very time was making his hurried march for the borders. He crossed the Forth near Stirling, where at Kilsyth he was met by Baillie and his new army. The committee of estates would insist on Baillie giving battle. Fasting and prayer for four days had been held, and they were confident of success. But at the first charge the cavalry of the covenanters were scattered: the infantry fled almost without a blow, and such was the fury of the pursuit, that five thousand of them were slain. This victory opened all the lowlands to the royalists. Argyll and the principal nobles escaped by sea to England- Glasgow opened its gates to the conqueror, and the magistrates of Edinburgh hastened to implore his clemency towards the city, and to propitiate him by liberating all the royalist prisoners, promising obedience to the king. Most of these liberated prisoners, and many of the nobility, joined the standard of Montrose.

Had the king been able to effect his junction with him at this moment, the effect must have been great, but it could only have occasioned more bloodshed, without insuring any decided victory, for all England was by this time in the hands of the parliament. Sir David Leslie, instead of following the king with his cavalry southward again, had continued his march northward, to prevent any inroad on the part of Montrose, and the earl of Leven, quitting Hereford, advanced northward to support him. Charles immediately quitted Oxford, and advanced to Hereford, where he was received in triumph. Thence he set out to relieve' Rupert, who was besieged by Fairfax and Cromwell in Bristol; but on reaching Raglan Castle, he heard the appalling news that it had surrendered. The prince had promised to hold it for four months, yet he surrendered in the third week of the siege. It was concluded by Fairfax to storm it on the 10th of September, 1645, which was done accordingly. It was assaulted by the troops under colonel Welden, commissary-general Ireton, Cromwell, Fairfax, general Skippon, colonels Montague, Hammond, Rich, and Rainsborough, from different sides at the same time, The town was set on fire in three places by the royalists themselves, and Rupert, foreseeing the total destruction of the city, capitulated. He was allowed to march out, and was furnished with a convoy of cavalry, and the loan of one thousand muskets to protect them from the people on the way to Oxford, for he had made himself so detested by his continual ravagings of the inhabitants that they would have knocked him and his men on the head; even as he passed out of the city the people crowded round with fierce looks, and muttered, "Why not hang him?"

We have Cromwell's account of the taking of the place, who says that the royal fort was victualled for three hundred and twenty days, and the castle for nearly half as long. That there was abundant stores of ammunition, with one hundred and forty cannon mounted, between two and three thousand muskets, and a force of nearly six thousand men in foot, horse, train-bands, and auxiliaries. Well might Charles feel confounded at the surrender. He was so exasperated, that he overwhelmed Rupert with reproaches: he even accused him of cowardice or treason, revoked his commission, and ordered him to quit the kingdom. He ordered the council to take him into custody if he showed any contumacy. He arrested Rupert's friend, colonel Legge, and gave the prince's office of governor of Oxford to Sir Thomas Glenham. And yet Rupert appears to have only yielded to necessity. He was more famous at the head of a charge of horse than for defending cities. Bristol was carried by storm by a combination of the best troops and the most able commanders of the parliament army, and was already burning in three places. Further resistance could only have led to indiscriminate massacre.

But great allowance must be made for the irritation of Charles. The fall of Bristol coming after the defeat of Naseby, was a most disheartening event, and it was quickly followed by news still more prostrating.

The success of Montrose had proved the ruin of his army. A Highland force is like a Highland torrent; under its clan chiefs, it is impetuous and overwhelming, but soon exhausted. The soldiers, gathered only for the campaign, no sooner collected a good booty than they walked off back to their mountains, and thus no Highland force, under the old clan system, ever effected any permanent advantage, especially in the Lowlands. So it was here; Montrose's descent from the hills resembled the torrent, and disappeared without any traces but those of ravage. He had secured no fortified places, nor obtained any means of permanent possession. He executed a few incendiaries, as they were called, at Glasgow, and then advanced towards the border, still in hope of meeting some royal forces. But the Gordon clan had disappeared; Colkitto had led back the other Highlanders to their mountains, and Montrose found himself at the head of only about six hundred men, chiefly the remains of the Irish. Meantime, Sir David Leslie, with his four thousand cavalry, was steadily advancing towards the Forth, evidently to put himself betwixt Montrose and the Highlands, and then suddenly wheeling westward, he returned on the unwary marquis, and surprised the commander who had before been accustomed to surprise every one else.

Montrose was in Selkirk, busy writing despatches to the king, and his little army was posted at Philiphaugh. Leslie had approached cautiously, and, favoured by the unvigilant carelessness of the royalists, came one night into their close vicinity. Early in the morning, under cover of a thick fog, he crossed the Ettrick, and appeared to their astonishment in the encampment on the Haugh. Notwithstanding their surprise, the soldiers formed hastily into a compact body; and Montrose, being informed of the danger, flew to the rescue at the head of a body of horse, but the odds were too great, the troops were surrounded and cut to pieces. In vain they begged quarter. Sir David consented, but the ministers raised a fierce shout of indignation, denounced the sparing of a single malignant as a sin, and the whole body was massacred. The historians of the covenanters themselves, inform us that they slew all the women and children found on the Haugh, and a few days afterwards drowned forty more, who had been saved by the country people, by throwing them over the bridge into the Avon, near Linlithgow. On the 23rd the Scottish parliament sanctioned these atrocities perpetrated under the name of religion, and ordered that "the Irische prisoners takin at and after Philiphaughe, in all the prissons of the kingdom, should be execut without any assaye or processe, conforme to the trettey betwixt both kingdoms." Turner, in his memoirs, confirms these statements of Balfour, Thurloe, and others, adding that, of the garrison of Dunavertie, three hundred men, who surrendered the next year to Sir David Leslie, at the king's mercy, "they put to the sword everie mother's son, except one young man, Machoul," whose life he begged. Of the noblemen and gentlemen who escaped with Montrose and got back to the Highlands, many were taken, and almost all of them were executed. The brilliant meteor of Montrose's chivalric career was burnt out, and he retired to the continent.

Before receiving this disastrous news, Charles resolved to make another effort to form a junction with Montrose. He retraced his steps through Wales, and advanced to the relief of Chester, which was invested by the parliamentarians. He reached that place on the 22nd of September, and posted the bulk of his cavalry on Rowton Heath, near the city, under Sir Marmaduke Langdale, himself being able to get into the city with a small body of troopers. But the next morning his cavalry at Rowton Heath was attacked by Poyntz, the parliamentary general, who had been carefully following on the king's heels, and now, having his little army penned betwixt his troops and those of the parliamentary besiegers, a simultaneous attack was made on the royalists from both sides. More than six hundred of Charles's troopers were cut to pieces, one thousand more obtained quarter, and the rest were dispersed on all sides. The king escaped out of the city and fled to Denbigh with the remnant of his cavalry. By this blow the only port which had been left open for his expected succours from Ireland, was closed. Still the news of Montrose's defeat at Philiphaugh had not reached him, and lord Digby advised the king to allow him to make the attempt to reach him with the seventeen hundred cavalry still remaining. Charles accepted the offer, but before Digby left, it was agreed that the king should get into his castle of Newark, as the securest place for him to abide the result. Having seen his majesty safely there, Digby set out northward. At Doncaster he defeated a parliamentary force, but was a few days after defeated himself by another at Sherborne. Notwithstanding this, with the remainder of his horse he pushed forward, entered Scotland, and reached Dumfries, but finding Montrose already defeated, he returned to the borders, and at Carlisle disbanded the troop. Sir Marmaduke Langdale and the officers retired to the Isle of Man, the men got home as they could, and Digby passed over to Ireland, to the marquis of Ormond But the greatest loss which Digby had made during this expedition, was that of his portfolio with his baggage, at Sherborne. In this, as in the king's at Naseby, the most unfortunate discoveries were made of his own proceedings, and of his master's affairs. There was a revelation of plot- tings and agents in sundry counties for bringing foreign forces to put down the parliament. Goffe was in Holland promoting a scheme for the marriage of the prince of Wales to the daughter of the prince of Orange, and for forces to be furnished in consequence. There were letters of the queen to Ireland, arranging to bring over ten thousand men, and of lord Jermyn - who was living at Paris with the queen in such intimacy, as to occasion much scandal - to Digby himself, regarding probable assistance from the king of Denmark, the duke of Lorraine, and the prince of Courland, and of money from the pope. But perhaps the most mischievous was a letter from Digby, written a few days before, letting out how much the marquis of Ormond was secretly in the king's interest, though appearing to act otherwise. These disclosures were precisely such as must wonderfully strengthen the parliament with the public, and sink still lower the king.

The unfortunate monarch was every day becoming more completely involved in the toils of his enemies, and reduced to deeper humiliation. A most humbling proof of how thoroughly he had fallen was given him at Newark, by his own nephews and courtiers. Prince Rupert, whom Charles had ordered to quit the kingdom, instead of obeying, made his appearance at Belvoir Castle, only ten miles from Newark, and was evidently bent on forcing his way to the royal presence. Charles, indignant at his audacity, sent him peremptory orders to keep away. But Rupert, paying no attention to the royal command, instantly set out for Newark, and Sir Richard Willis, the governor of Newark Castle, lord Gerrard, and others of the king's officers, went out with a hundred horse to escort him in. This was a proof of the insubordination of his immediate attendants that was very significant to Charles, and they presently marched into his presence, followed by a numerous body in arms, Rupert saying he was come to give a true account of his surrender of Bristol, and to demand a justification. The king, who had always been taught, and especially by his foolish father, that the presence of royalty was almost as sacred as that of the divinity, was almost speechless with chagrin and rage at this conduct. Rupert and Maurice remained and supped with liim, and would not relieve him of their presence till he had reluctantly signed an acknowledgment that Rupert was guiltless of treason, but not of indiscretion. There was, undoubtedly, much room for the prince's vindication, and the zeal with which he had always served his uncle, though destitute of discretion, demanded a revocation of the king's hasty condemnation; yet the manner of seeking it was itself an additional offence. But the mortification of Charles was not to end even there. He determined to get away from Newark to Oxford, and not deeming it safe to leave Willis there after his evident partisanship with the prince, he informed him that he had appointed him captain of his guards, and would leave lord Ballasis as governor of Newark.

Willis, who knew very well the king's reason, instantly went to the princes, who came again into the king's presence with Gerrard and a rabble of officers, and demanded Willis's restoration to the governorship, Rupert declaring that he was dismissed from that for having taken his part. At this insolent violation of all respect for the royal person, Charles became transported with rage, and, starting from the table at which he was dining, bade them all begone and never see his face again. The rebellious nephews and courtiers deigned to withdraw, but sent in a paper demanding a trial for Willis, or passports for themselves and as many horse as chose to accompany them. Charles sent them the passports, and they left the castle with two hundred horse, but only to retire to Belvoir, whence they sent to the parliament to solicit passports to go beyond the seas. These the parliament were only too glad to grant, but the disloyal company made no use of them, and we shall find that the princes contrived to reconcile themselves again to their uncle, and were shut up with him in Oxford. Charles did not linger long after his ungracious nephews.. The enemy was pressing close on his quarters, and at midnight, on the 3rd of November, he quitted Newark with five hundred horse, and reached Belvoir, where the governor, Sir Gervas Lucas, attended him with his troop till break of day. Thence the king made a harassing and dangerous journey to Oxford, pursued by detachments of the enemy as he passed Burleigh-on-the- Hill, the garrison sallying and killing some of his attendants. In the evening Charles was obliged to rest for five hours at Northampton, and then push forward by Banbury, and so reached Oxford the next evening, "finishing," says Clarendon, "the most tedious and grievous march that our king was exercised in." In truth, never was a king reduced to such a melancholy and pitiable condition - a condition which cannot be contemplated without commiseration, blind and incorrigible believer as he was in the divine right of despotism.

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