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Reign of Charles I. (Continued) page 7


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On the 5th of May he resolved, on the report of Hudson, to go to the Scots, and accordingly, early on that morning he rode into Southwell, to Montreuil's lodgings, and announced his intention of going to the Scots. The manner in which he was received there, is related in very contradictory terms by Ashburnham and Clarendon. Ashburnham says that some of the Scottish commissioners came to Montreuil's lodgings to receive him, and accompanied him with a troop of horse to the headquarters of the Scots' army at Kelham, where they went after dinner, and were well received, many lords coming instantly to wait on him with professions of joy that his majesty had so far honoured their army as to think it worthy of his presence after so long an opposition. Clarendon, on the other hand, declares that " very early in the morning he went to the general's lodgings, and discovered himself to him, who either was, or seemed to be, exceedingly surprised and confounded at his majesty's presence, and knew not what to say, but presently gave notice to the committee, who were no less perplexed."

Both of them, however, agree that the Scotch soon convinced Charles that they considered that he had surrendered himself unconditionally into their hands; that he had not complied with their conditions, and that there was no treaty actually between them; and from all that appears, this was the case. Charles had trusted to the assurances of Montreuil, and had really no written evidence of any engagement on the part of the Scots, nor were any ever produced. Some of the lords, says Ashburnham, desiring to know how they might best testify their gratitude to his majesty for the confidence he had reposed in them, he replied that the only way was to apply themselves to the performance of the conditions on which he had come to them. At the word conditions, lord Lothian expressed much surprise, and declared he knew of no conditions concluded, nor did he believe any of the commissioners residing with the army knew of such. On this Charles desired Montreuil to present a summary of the conditions concluded with the commissioners in London, sanctioned by the king of France. It should, however, be borne in mind that since then the army commissioners had met with the commissioners from London at Royston, and had agreed to the conditions to be offered to the king. When Ashburnham, therefore, affirms that many of the commissioners of the army still protested their ignorance of these conditions, it can only mean that such conditions were not concluded with the king, either there or anywhere, for Charles had never consented to accept them. When Charles, therefore, asked them what they meant, then, by inviting him to come to them, and why they had sent word that all differences were reconciled, and that David Leslie should meet him with an escort of horse, they replied that this was on the understanding that his majesty meant to accept their terms, from which they had never receded, and that they now thought that by his coming to them he had meant to accept the cardinal condition - the taking of the covenant.

Charles must have been well aware of the truth of all this, but he was a man who played fast and loose so constantly, that it was impossible to make any treaty with him. At the very time that he was preparing to leave Oxford, so alive were all these quibbles and evasions in his mind, that he wrote to lord Digby, expressing his intention to get to London if he could, "not," he says, "without hope that I shall be able so to draw either the presbyterians or the independents to side with me, for extirpating one another, that I shall really be king again." A sufficient proof that on setting out from Oxford, he had held himself loose from any compact with the Scots, and did not mean to go to them at all if he could manage to cozen the presbyterians or independents to take his part, and " extirpate one another."

Such a man was as slippery as an eel. He now insisted solemnly on the existence of the very conditions that he had purposely kept clear of, and never meant to accept if he could succeed with the other parties. The Scotch stood by their offered terms, and exhorted him to accept the covenant, intreating him with tears and on their knees to take it, or to sanction the presbyterian worship if he could not adopt it, and pledging themselves on that condition to fight for him to the last man. But this Charles would not do. He was still - though beaten, and, without a soldier to come to his rescue, voluntarily surrendered to his enemies - as full of the persuasion of the divinity of kingship as ever. He therefore undertook to give the word to the guard, in virtue of his being the chief person in the army; but old Leven quickly undeceived him, by saying, "I am the older soldier; your majesty had better leave that office to me."

It was now necessary to apprise the parliament of the king having entered their camp - a piece of intelligence which produced a wonderful sensation. Fairfax had already announced to the parliament that the king had escaped out of Oxford, and was believed to have gone towards London, whereupon the two houses had issued a proclamation forbidding any one to harbour or conceal his person on pain of high treason, and of forfeiting the whole of their estate, and being put to death without mercy. All papists, and other disaffected persons, were ordered, on the supposition that the king might be in London, to remove before the 12th of May to twenty-five miles' distance from the metropolis, leaving, before going, a notice at Goldsmiths' Hall of the places to which they intended to retire. When the letter arrived from the Scotch commissioners, the parliament was filled with extreme jealousy and alarm. There had long been a feeling of the design of the Scots, supported by the presbyterians, assuming an undue power; and now to hear that they had the king in their hands was dreadfully embarrassing. They instantly sent word to the Scots that his majesty must be disposed of according to the will of the two houses of parliament, and that for the present he must be sent to Warwick Castle; that Ashburnham and Hudson, the king's attendants, should be sent for by the sergeant-at- arms or his deputy, to be dealt with as delinquents; and that a narrative must be prepared of the manner in which the king came to the Scottish camp, and forthwith sent to the two houses. To enforce these orders, they commanded Poyntz to watch the Scotch army with five thousand men, and Sir Thomas Fairfax to prepare to follow him.

The Scotch were not prepared to enter into a civil war with England for the restoration of the king, who would not comply even with their propositions; but they knew too well the power they possessed in the possession of his person, to let tie parliament frighten them out of their advantage till they had secured their own terms with them. They therefore immediately addressed a letter to the parliament, expressing their astonishment at finding the king coming among them, for which they solemnly but untruly protested there had been no treaty nor capitulation. Perhaps they saved their word by meaning no treaty concluded. They assured the two houses that they would do everything possible to maintain a right understanding betwixt the two kingdoms, and therefore solicited their advice, as they had also sent to solicit that of the committee of estates in Scotland, as to the best measures to, be adopted for the satisfactory settlement of the affairs of the kingdom. Charles also sent to parliament, repeating his offers of accommodation, and requesting the two houses to forward to him the propositions for peace. To show his sincerity, he ordered his officers to surrender the fortresses still in their hands to the committee of both kingdoms for the English parliament. He had offered to surrender them to the Scots, but they refused to accept them, knowing that it must embroil them with the parliament. This surrender on the part of the king, on the 10th of June, closed the war. The last to pull down the royal standard was the old marquis of Worcester, the father of Glamorgan, who held Raglan Castle, and who, though he was eighty years of age, was compelled by parliament to travel from Raglan to London, where he immediately died. Worcester had refused to give up Raglan, as it was his own house. He did not surrender it till the 19th of August. Oxford was given up on the 24th of June. Rupert and Maurice were suffered to withdraw to the continent. The duke of York, Charles's second son, was sent up to London to the keeping of parliament, and put under the care of the earl of Northumberland.

Things being in this position, and both the king and the Scots being anxious to keep at a distance from Fairfax and his army till tke terms were settled, the Scots rapidly retreated to Newcastle, carrying the king with them.

The treaty betwixt the Scots and the English parliament was now carried on with much diplomacy on both sides, and was not finally settled till the 16th of January, 1647. The Scots, soon after leaving Newark, proposed a meeting with the parliamentary commissioners, to explain the reasons of their retreat northwards, and also for not surrendering Ashburnham and Hudson; but the meeting did not take place, and soon after Ashburnham contrived to escape and get into France, to the queen. Charles said that he could have escaped, too, had he been so disposed; but Hudson attempting it, was stopped.

Charles did not neglect to try the effect of brilliant promises on David Leslie and others of the Scotch officers, if they would side with him and make a junction with Montrose for his restoration. He offered to make David earl of Orkney, but the committee of estates sent the earls of Argyll and Loudon, and lord Lanark, to Newcastle, to see that all was kept in order in the camp; and they told Charles plainly that he must take the covenant, and order Montrose to disband his forces in the Highlands, if he expected them to do anything important for him. Charles consented to order the disbanding of Montrose's followers and his retirement to France, but he could not bring himself to accept the covenant. In fact, on the same day that he gave the order to surrender his remaining fortresses, he sent a letter to the English parliament, informing them that he was in full freedom, and in a capacity to settle with them a peace, and offering to surrender the question of religion to the assembly of divines at Westminster, to place the militia in their hands as proposed at Uxbridge, for seven years, and, in short, to do all in his power to settle the kingdom without further effusion of blood. The parliament, however, were too sensible of their power, and knew that he was in no condition to make war on them, to notice such overtures, further than they thought his terms now too high.

At this very time Charles was in active secret endeavour to obtain an army from Ireland and France. Glamorgan and the pope's nuncio were busy there; the queen was equally busy in France; Mazarin again promised her ten thousand men, and incited lord Jermyn to seize upon Jersey and Guernsey; and the king, though he had ordered Montrose to disband his forces and quit Scotland, again desired him to be ready to raise the royal standard once more in the Highlands in conjunction with the French and Irish. All these wild schemes, however, were knocked on the head by the earl of Ormond making peace with the parliament on condition that he should recover his estates. He surrendered the castle of Dublin and the fortresses to parliament, went over to England, and all hope of aid from Ireland was at an end.

Whilst these political designs were in agitation, Charles was deeply engaged with the religious difficulty of giving up episcopacy and consenting to the dominance of presbyterianism. He consulted Juxton, the ex-bishop of London, and gave him leave to advise with Dr. Sheldon and the late bishop of Salisbury, whether he might not accept presbyterianism as a man under compulsion, and therefore not really bound by it; and he was at the same time engaged with Alexander Henderson on the scriptural authority of episcopacy or presbyterianism. During this dispute, in which each champion supported his opinion with scriptural passages, and yet came no nearer than such disputants ever do, the Scotch divine was taken ill and died, and the royalists declared that the king had so completely worsted him, that he died of chagrin.

On the 23rd of July the English parliament at length made proposals of peace, sending the earls of Pembroke, Denbigh, and Montague, and six members of the commons, to Newcastle, to treat with him. The conditions were not so favourable as those offered at Uxbridge, things, indeed, being now very different; the great point, however, being the abandonment of episcopacy. They were to receive an answer or return in ten days; but the king would not yield the question of the church. The Scottish commissioners were present, and urged the king warmly to consent to the conditions, and thus to restore peace. The earls of Loudon and Argyll implored it on their knees. Then Loudon, chancellor of Scotland, told him "that the consequences of his answer to the propositions was so great, that on it depended the ruin of his crown and kingdoms; that the parliament, after many bloody battles, had got the strongholds and forts of the kingdom into their hands; that they had his revenue, excise, assessments, sequestrations, and power to raise all the men and money in- the kingdom; that they had gained victory over all, and that they had a strong army to maintain it, so that they might do what they would with church or state. That they desired neither him nor any of his race longer to reign over them, and had sent these propositions to his majesty, without the granting whereof the kingdom and his people would not be in safety; that if he refused to assent, he would lose all his friends in parliament, lose the city, and lose the country; and that all England would join against him as one man to process and dispose him, and to set up another government; and that both kingdoms for safety would be compelled to agree to settle religion and peace without him, to the ruin of his majesty and posterity;" and ho concluded by saying, "that if he left England, he would not be allowed to go and reign in Scotland."

This, it must be confessed, was plain and honest, and therefore loyal and patriotic speaking. The general assembly of the kirk had already come to this conclusion; but all was lost on the king. In former years it was attributed to the evil counsels of his courtiers that he went so wrong, but now it was seen that he was himself the true son of his father, and that nothing could drive him from his absolute notions of church and state but death. Many have judged, from his slippery conduct, and his many unprincipled subterfuges throughout his life, that his conduct was the result, not of conscience, but of mere obstinacy of temper; but in that they appear to be wrong to a certain extent. His temper was thoroughly obstinate and despotic, but he was strengthened in this obstinacy by his conscience on church matters. But what conscience, ask they, could a man have who was ready to perjure himself and deceive to gain his ends? That was the spirit of kingcraft imbibed by his education, and thoroughly engrafted on his obstinate nature; and he was as conscientious in his lies and political villainies as in anything else, because ho believed them employed for a sacred end. His queen, his friends, any one interested in him now saw that it was no longer a question of this or that church, but of his life and fortunes; that he must yield or perish. Mazarin had threatened to send over an army and assist his cause with force, if reason should not prevail with parliament. He now sent over Bellievre, as an ambassador extraordinary, to insist on parliament making terms with the king; but Bellievre no sooner arrived in the country, than he saw that it was useless to ask for more than parliament was disposed to give.

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Pictures for Reign of Charles I. (Continued) page 7

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