OREALD.COM - An Old Electronic Library
eng: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Reign of Charles I. (Continued) page 5


Pages: 1 2 3 4 <5> 6 7 8

Whilst Charles had been making these unhappy tours and detours, Fairfax and Cromwell had been clearing away his garrisons, and driving back his troops into the farthest west. Cromwell first addressed himself by command of parliament to reduce Winchester, Basing House, Langford House, and Donnington Castle. On Sunday, September 28th, he appeared before Winchester, which surrendered after a breach had been made; and, on the 14th of October, he also carried Basing by storm. Basing House and Donnington had long annoyed parliament and the country with their royal garrisons, so that there was no travelling the western road for them. Basing House belonged to the marquis of Winchester, and was one of the most remarkable places in the country. Hugh Peters, who was sent up by Cromwell to give an account of the taking of it to parliament, declaring that its circumvallation was above a mile in circumference. It had stood many a siege, one of four ' years, without any one being able to take it. Cromwell, however, now bombarded and stormed it, taking prisoners the marquis, Sir Robert Peak, and other distinguished officers. Eight or nine gentlemen of rank ran out as the soldiers burst in, and were treated with some unceremonious freedoms, but, says Peters, "not uncivilly, considering the action in hand."

Cromwell spent about five hundred cannon balls on it before making a breach into "this old nest of idolatry," as Peters called it. Seventy-four people were killed and one woman; and Peters gravely assured parliament that they measured an officer that was lying dead on the ground, and found him from the great toe to the crown of his head nine feet. It was, he said, provisioned for some years rather than months; four hundred quarters of wheat, bacon, divers rooms full, containing hundreds of flitches, cheese proportionable, with oatmeal, beef, pork, beer, divers cellars full, and that very good. Amongst the people found in it were poor old Inigo Jones, and Hollar, the celebrated engraver. "Robinson, the player," says Peters, "was killed, who a little before the storm was known to be mocking and scorning the parliament and our army." The marquis's state bed, which cost thirteen hundred pounds, excited much wonder in the beholders; "popish books many, with crosses and neat utensils."

This was the twentieth garrison taken this summer, and Cromwell gave it up to the plunder of the soldiery, so that there was not a piece of furniture, nor a piece of lead, nor an iron bar in any window left. "The plunder of the soldiers continued till Tuesday night; one soldier had one hundred and twenty pieces in gold to his share, others plate, others jewels; among the rest one got three bags of silver, which, he not being able to keep his own counsel, grew to be common pillage among the rest, and the fellow had but one half-crown left for himself at last. The soldiers sold the wheat to country people, which they held up at good rates awhile, but afterwards the market fell, and there were some abatements for haste. After that, they sold the household stuff, whereof there was good store, and the country loaded away many carts; and they continued a great while fetching out all manner of household stuff, till they fetched out all the stools, chairs, and other lumber, all which they sold to the country by piecemeal." The fire consumed the house itself, except the walls; they took three hundred prisoners, and could hear on the Tuesday night people crying in vaults for quarter, 'but could not come at them for rubbish. Government ordered the remains of the house to be carted away, any one being authorised to have brick or stone for fetching.

This gives us a lively idea of these scenes everywhere going on at that time; the soldiers singing psalms, and the commanders praying all the while. "The commander of the brigade, Cromwell," says Peters, "had spent much time with God in prayer, the night before the storm, and seldom fights without some text of Scripture to support him. This time he rested upon that blessed word of God written in the 115th Psalm, 8th verse, 'They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.'"

Having demolished Basing, Cromwell next summoned Langford House, near Salisbury, and thence he was summoned in haste down into the west, where, together, the two generals drove back Goring, Hop ton, Astley, and others, beating them at Langport, Torrington, and other places, storming Bridgewater, and forcing them into Cornwall, where they never left them till they had reduced them altogether next spring.

Charles lying now at Oxford, his council, seeing that his army was destroyed, except the portion that was cooped up by the victorious generals in the west, and which every day was forced into less compass, advised him strongly to treat with the parliament, as his only chance. They represented that they had no funds even for subsistence, except what they seized from the country around, which exasperated the people, and made them ready to rise against them. There were some circumstances yet in his favour, and these were the jealousies and divisions of his enemies. The parliament and country were broken up into two great factions of presbyterians and independents. The presbyterians were by far the most numerous, and were zealously supported by the Scots, who were nearly all of that persuasion, and desired to see their form of religion made predominant over the whole country. They were as fiercely intolerant as the catholics, and would listen to nothing but the entire predominance of their faith and customs. But the independents, who claimed and offered liberty of conscience, and protested against any ruling church, possessed almost all the men of intellect in parliament, and the chiefs at the head of the army. Cromwell, in his letter from the field of Naseby, called for toleration of conscience, and Fairfax urged the same doctrine in all his despatches from the west. There was, moreover, a jealousy growing as to the armies of the Scots, who had got most of the garrisons in the north of England and Ireland into their hands. These divisions opened to him a chance of treating with one party at the expense of the other, and in his usual way he made overtures to all. To the Scots he offered not only full concession of all their desires, but great advantages from the influence which their alliance with him would give. To the independents he offered the utmost toleration of religious opinion, and all the rewards of preeminence in the state and the army. To the presbyterians he was particularly urged by the queen to promise the predominance of their church and the like advantages. With the catholics of Ireland he was equally in treaty; but whilst his secret negotiations were going on in Ireland, the Scots endeavoured to bring theirs to a close, by applying to the queen in Paris. Three great changes had taken place, all favourable to Charles. Both the king, Louis XIII., and cardinal Richelieu, were dead. Richelieu had never forgiven Charles his attempts on, Rochelle, and to raise the Huguenots into an independent power in France, nor his movements in Flanders against his designs. Mazarin, who now succeeded as the minister of Louis XIV., had no particular resentment against Charles, and though cautious in taking direct measures against the English parliament, did not oppose any of the attempts at pacification betwixt the king and his subjects. The Scots had always found Richelieu their ally, and they now applied to his successor to assist them in bringing matters to bear with Charles. In consequence of this, Montreuil was sent over to London, who conferred with the Scottish commissioners, and then conveyed to Charles their proposals. But the king, who had promised them all concessions consistent with his honour, found the very first proposition to be that episcopacy should be for ever abolished not only in Scotland, but in England, and presbytery made the established church. He had conceived that they would be satisfied with the supremacy of their faith in their own country, and he at once refused this demand. It was in vain that Montreuil pointed out to him that the Scots and the presbyterians of England were agreed upon this point, and that consequently any arrangement with the latter party must inevitably be upon the same basis. Charles declared that rather than consent to any such terms, he would agree with the independents. Montreuil replied that the Scots sought only to make him king, first having their own wishes as to religion gratified; but the independents, he was confident, contemplated nothing less than the subversion of his throne. He informed him that the queen had given to Sir Robert Murray a written promise that the king would accede to the demand of the Scots, which promise was now in the hands of the Scottish commissioners; moreover, that it was the earnest desire of both the queen, the queen-regent of France, and of the cardinal Mazarin.

Nothing, however, could shake Charles's resolution on this head, and he therefore made a direct application to parliament to treat for an accommodation. They received his offer coolly, almost contemptuously. He desired passports, for his commissioners, or a safe conduct for himself, that they might treat personally; but it was bluntly refused, on the ground that he was not to be trusted, having, on all similar occasions, employed the opportunities afforded to endeavour to corrupt the fidelity of the commissioners. Not to appear, however, to reject the treaty, they sent fresh proposals to him, but so much more stringent than those at Uxbridge, that it was plain that they were rather bent on delaying than treating. The king was now in a very different position since the battle of Naseby and the fall of Bristol; and it was obviously the interest pf parliament to allow Fairfax and Cromwell to put down his last remains of an army in the west, when they would have nothing to do but to inclose the king in Oxford, and compel him to submit at discretion. Montreuil, seeing this, again urged him to come to terms with the Scots, and that not a moment was to be lost. But nothing could move him to consent to their demand of a universal presbyterianism, and he again, on the 26th of January, 1646, demanded a personal interview with the parliament at Westminster. His demand, however, arrived at a most unfortunate crisis, for the discovery of his negotiations with the Irish catholics was just made: the entire correspondence was in the hands of the commons, and the whole house was in the most violent ferment of indignation. The king's letter was thrown aside and left without notice.

On October 17th, 1645, the titular archbishop of Tuam was killed in a skirmish betwixt two parties of Scotch and Irish near Sligo, and in his carriage was discovered copies of a most extraordinary negotiation, which had been going on for a long time in Ireland betwixt Charles and the catholics, for the restoration of popish predominance in that country, on condition of their sending an army to put down the parliament in England.

We have already spoken of the confederate Irish catholics, who maintained an army for their own defence, and had a council at Kilkenny. Charles had instructed the marquis of Ormond, the lord-lieutenant of Ireland, to make a peace with these confederates: he had some time ago obtained a, cessation of hostilities, but they would not consent to a permanent peace, nor to furnish the king troops until they obtained a legal guarantee for the establishment of their own religion. Lord Ormond, in his endeavours, did not satisfy the king, or rather his position disabled him from consenting publicly to such a treaty, as it would have roused all the protestants, and the Scotch and the English parliament against him. Charles, therefore, who was always ready with soipe underhand intrigue to gain his ends, and break his bargain when it became convenient, sent over lord Herbert, the son of the marquis of Worcester, and whom he now created earl of Glamorgan, to effect this difficult matter. Glamorgan is known to literary readers as the author of "A Century of Inventions," which he published when marquis of Worcester, and which Hume describes as "a ridiculous compound of lies, chimeras, and impossibilities." It is clear that Hume never lead the book, which any one in Partington's modern edition may convince himself of. The marquis was of a scientific and speculative turn, and one of the " chimeras and impossibilities " in the book, is the mention of poor De Caus, whom the marquis saw in the Bicetre prison, in Paris, confined as a madman, for having written a treatise, "Des effets de la vapeur" the wonderful effects of steam, which, if De Caus's urgent memorial to the French ministry had been attended to, might have anticipated our steamships and railroads two centuries.

Glamorgan was as zealous in his loyalty as in his speculative pursuits. He and his father had spent two hundred thousand pounds in the king's cause, and he was now engaged in an enterprise where he risked everything for Charles - name, honour, and life. He was furnished with a warrant which authorised him to concede the demands of the catholics regarding their religion, and to engage them to send over ten thousand men. After many difficulties he reached Dublin, communicated to Ormond the plan, saw with him the catholic deputies in Dublin, and then hastened to Kilkenny, to arrange with the council there. But at this time occurred the revelation of the scheme by the seizure of the archbishop of Tuam's papers. The parliament was thrown into a fury; the marquis of Ormond, to make his loyalty appear, seized Glamorgan, and threw him into prison, and the king sent a letter to the two houses of parliament, utterly disavowing the commission of Glamorgan, and denouncing the warrant in his name a forgery. All this had been agreed upon before, betwixt the king and Glamorgan, should any discovery take place, and on searching for Glamorgan's papers, a warrant was found, not sealed in the usual manner, and the papers altogether informal, so that the king might by this means be able to disavow them. But that Ormond and the council of Kilkenny had seen a real and formal warrant, there can be no question. The king, by a second letter to the two houses, reiterated his disavowal of the whole affair, and assured them that he had ordered the privy council in Dublin to proceed against Glamorgan for his presumption. The proceedings were conducted by lord

Digby, who assumed a well-feigned indignation against Glamorgan, accusing him of high treason. The animus with which this accusation appeared to be made has induced many to believe that Digby was really incensed, because he had not been let wholly into the secret of Glamorgan's commission; and his letter to the king on the subject, noticed by Clarendon as rude and unmanly, would seem to confirm this. However, Glamorgan, on his part, took the whole matter very cheerfully, allowed the king's disclaimers without a remonstrance or evidence of vexation, and produced a copy of his secret treaty with the catholics, in which he had inserted an article called a defeasance, by which the king was bound by the treaty no further than he pleased till he had seen what the catholics did for him, and that the catholics should keep this clause secret till the king had done all in his power to secure their claims.

<<< Previous page <<< >>> Next page >>>
Pages: 1 2 3 4 <5> 6 7 8

Pictures for Reign of Charles I. (Continued) page 5

Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell >>>>
Marquis of Ormond
Marquis of Ormond >>>>
Winceslaus Hollar
Winceslaus Hollar >>>>
The flight from Naseby
The flight from Naseby >>>>
King Charles
King Charles >>>>
Holmby Castle
Holmby Castle >>>>
King Charles
King Charles >>>>

Home | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About