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. (Concluded.) page 8


Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 <8> 9 10 11

With such a man all treaty had long been hopeless; he would never consent to the demands upon him, and without his consent the whole war had been in vain; nay, did he consent, it was equally certain that, once at liberty, he would break every engagement. What was to be done? The Independents and the army had come to a solemn conviction that there was but one way out of it. The king must be tried for his treason to the nation, and dealt with as any other incorrigible malefactor.

Cromwell, on his way back from Scotland, had called at Pontefract, to take vengeance on the assassins of colonel Rainsborough, but finding affairs pressing in London, left Lambert to reduce the place and secure the murderers, and hastened towards the capital. He had relied much on colonel Hammond to keep the king safe, and not to give him up into the hands of parliament, till full justice had been obtained. But no result accruing from the treaty, the commissioners prepared to take their leave of the king on the 28th. On the 25th Hammond had received an order from Fairfax to proceed to head-quarters at Windsor, and on the 26th colonel Ewer, a zealous republican, arrived at Newport to take charge of the king, and confine him in Carisbrook Castle, or elsewhere.

Hammond, who knew well what was the meaning of this, refused to give up his charge, declaring that in all military matters he would obey his general, but that this charge was committed to him by the parliament, and that he would yield it to no order but theirs. Ewer returned, but the next day was the last day of the commissioners. Charles, seeing the desperate pass at which matters had arrived, suddenly gave way, and conceded that the seven individuals excepted from pardon should take their trials - namely, the marquis of Newcastle, Sir Marmaduke Lang- dale, who had been confined in Nottingham Castle, but had escaped, lord Digby, Sir Richard Grenville, Sir Francis Doddrington, lord Byron, and Mr. Justice Jenkins; that the bishops should be abolished, and their lands vested in the crown till a final settlement of religion.

Commissioners took their leave, Charles solemnly warning the lords of the party that in his ruin they saw their own. Though he had given up everything at the last moment, he could not flatter himself that this would be accepted, because he knew that the army, which held the real power, had protested against this treaty altogether, as a violation of the vote of non-addresses, and had no faith in his observance of any conditions whatever. With the commissioners, Hammond also took his leave, and the king was left in the hands of major Rolfe, a man who had been charged with a design to take away the king's life six months before. But Charles was not intended to remain in this man's custody; a body of troops under lieutenant-colonel Cobbet was already on its way to receive the charge. The friends of the king, on learning this, once more implored him to endeavour to escape. The duke of Richmond, the earl of Lindsay, and colonel Coke, urged him to instant flight; they acquainted him with the watchword, and Coke told him he had a boat and horses ready. But all their persuasions were vain; Charles would not move. He pleaded that he had given his parole to the parliament for twenty days after the treaty. And this was the same man who had been writing north and south during the whole treaty, to assure his friends that he meant to break his word on every point of the treaty, the first moment that he was at liberty. The real reason, we may believe, why Charles did not attempt to escape, was, that he had no hope of it. In all his attempts he never had escaped, and must have had a full conviction that he never could. At five in the morning Gobbet and his troop arrived, and the king was informed that he must arise and accompany it.

The king, greatly agitated, demanded to see the order for his removal, and to know whither they designed to carry him. Cobbet told him they should take him out of the island, but would not show his order. His nobles, bishops, and officers of his household crowded round in alarm and confusion, but there was no alternative; the king was obliged to take his leave of them, with much sorrow, and was conducted to Hurst Castle, on the opposite coast of Hampshire. "The place," says Warwick, "stood in the sea, for every tide the water surrounded it, and it contained only a few dog-lodgings for soldiers, being chiefly designed for a platform to command the ships." The sight of this dreary place struck a serious terror of assassination into his heart, for he never would believe that, though the levellers talked of it, they would ever dare to bring an anointed king to a public trial. Unfortunately, his own officers had lately been rendering assassination familiar to the public mind, for besides the gallant colonel Rainsborough, they had murdered several other officers of less note, and there was a rumour that they had made a compact to get rid of the king's enemies in this manner. Charles, however, was to learn that the officers of the parliamentary army disdained murder, and dared arraign a king.

The same day that Charles was transferred to Hurst Castle, the parliament negatived the motion that the parliamentary remonstrance should be taken into consideration, and it voted a letter of Fairfax's, demanding pay for the army, or threatening to take it where it could be found, a high and unbeseeming letter. The same day, too, the council of officers addressed a declaration to parliament,, assuring it that, seeing that their remonstrance was rejected, they were come to the conclusion that the parliament had betrayed its trust to the people, and that the army would, therefore, appeal from their authority "to the extraordinary judgment of God, and all good people." They called on all faithful members to put their confidence in the army, and protest with them against the conduct of their colleagues. Parliament, on its part, sent to Fairfax an order that the army should not advance any nearer to the capital. But the army was advancing - several regiments from the neighbourhood of York - with the avowal that they were following the directions of Providence.

On the 1st of December the commons met, and as if indifferent to the advance of the army, voted thanks to Hollis, Pierpont, and lord Wenman, for their care and pains in the good treaty at Newport, and proceeded to read twice the report of the commissioners. Hollis, who, with his accused colleagues, was again in the house, moved that the king's answer should be voted satisfactory; but that question was adjourned till the next day, when the house adjourned again till the 4th of December - Fairfax, in defiance of their prohibition, having that day marched into the city, and quartered his troops round Whitehall, York House, St. James's, the Mews, and other places. On the 4th they went into the question of the treaty again, having debated all Friday and Saturday; and again on Monday continued the debate all day until five o'clock the next morning, Tuesday. Such a debate of three days and a night had never yet been known, for no subject of such supreme importance had ever yet come before parliament. Oliver Cromwell arrived in the midst of this memorable debate.

Sir Harry Vane the younger said that the treaty had been carried on for months, and that although the king had appeared to concede much at the last moment, yet they had his own declaration that he did not hold himself bound by promises which he might make, and that it was the conviction of himself, and thousands of others, that the king was not to be trusted. That he, therefore, moved that the house should return at once to its vote of non-addresses, which it ought never to have violated, should cease all negotiations, and settle the commonwealth on another model. Sir Henry Mildmay said the king was no more to be trusted than a caged lion set at liberty. This was the conviction of the whole body of the independents, and no doubt a solid and rational conviction. But the king did not lack defenders: Fiennes, to the astonishment of his party, advocated the adoption of the report, and even Prynne, who had suffered so under it, became a pleader for royalty, that he might chastise independency and the army. On a division it was found that a majority of thirty-six, being one hundred and forty against one hundred and four, had voted the concessions of Charles at Newport satisfactory, and offering sufficient grounds for settling the peace of the kingdom.

But the army, or, in other words, the independent and republican cause, was not going thus to be defeated. This great and determined party had come to the conclusion that the king, with whom they had been contending for twenty years, and whose lawless ambition, combined with an obstinacy and perfidiousness as unconquerable, had deluged the country with blood, and rent asunder its finest minds, was a perfectly hopeless subject, and could only be replaced in power to renew the same struggles, the same divisions, and the same bloodshed. To permit the presbyterian party, Scotch and English, to make terms with him, was only to exchange one phasis of religious despotism for another, and they were resolved to go through with their work. It may be said that they were themselves now exercising an arbitrary power, and resisting the legitimate influence of the very government by parliament which they had lately pronounced supreme. And there is no doubt that both they and the presbyterians had long outstripped the limits of constitutional conduct, and that there could be only one excuse for it, that they were become arbitrary to save the nation. Patriotism was their plea, and so long as they were purely patriotic, it was a good plea. In all ages men have been compelled to assume the supreme power to put down tyranny, and their cause was their justification. This was the justification of this new patriotic party, and in so far as they acted in accordance with their professions, it is a justification perfect and unassailable. As they and the presbyterians had been warranted in taking arms against Charles, they were now warranted in taking arms against Charles and presbyterianism coalescing to reinstate a perfect Proteus of absolutism, and to set up intolerant presbyterianism in the place of intolerant episcopacy. Nothing but the righteous cause of freedom, political and religious, could justify the proceedings now taken; but so long as that freedom was alone pursued, the justification was not only complete but glorious. They were now entering on a course which had no precedent, into which nothing but the most deep-seated sense of its necessity and its sacredness could have made them daring enough to enter, and through which nothing but a pure though a stern conscience could have supported them. According to the motive and the integrity of the unexampled deed, must they come out covered with eternal renown, or eternal infamy. They had weighed all costs and perils, and they went on with the same calm intrepidity with which they had entered the smoke of battle after battle, and had borne thence the banners of a victory which they themselves felt to come from God.

On the morning of the 6th of December major-general Skippon discharged the train-bands which had guarded the two houses of parliament, and colonel Rich's cavalry and colonel Pride's regiment of foot took their places. Colonel Pride took the lead in the proceeding, which has thence acquired the name of Pride's Purge. The army determined to purge the parliament of all those who were weak enough or mischievous enough to consent to the return of the king on his own promises, which had long ceased to mean anything but deceit. Fairfax was engaged in conversation with some of the members, and colonel Pride, placing some of his soldiers in the Court of Requests, and others in the lobby of the commons, stood in the latter place with a list of its members in his hand, and as they approached - lord Grey of Groby, who stood by him as one of the doorkeepers, informing him who the members were - he stopped such as were in his list, and sent them to the Queen's Court, the Court of Wards, and other places appointed for their detention, by the general and council of the army. Fifty-two of the leading presbyterians were thus secured, and the next day, others who had passed the first ordeal were also removed, so that Pride's Purge had left only about fifty members for a house, who were independents, for others had fled into the country, or hidden themselves in the city to escape arrest. On the whole, forty-seven members were imprisoned, and ninety-six excluded. The purged remainder acquired the well-known name of the Rump.

The independents were now uncontrolled; the royal party in Scotland, weakened by the defeat of Hamilton's army, were opposed by the covenanters, who again denounced the curse of Meroz from the pulpit against all who did not rise in defence of the solemn league and covenant. Loudon and Eglington were appointed commanders, and the earl of Argyll, with his Highlanders, joining them, they, with the forces of Cassilis from Carrick and Galloway, marched to Edinburgh. This wild army advancing from the west, were called the Whiggamores, either from whiggam, a phrase used in driving their horses, or whig (whey), a beverage of sour milk, which was one of their articles of food. Whichever it was, the term was soon used to designate an enemy of the king, and in the next reign was adopted as a nickname for the opponents of the court, whence our political term whig. Lord Lanark and Monroe were glad to treat with the whiggamores, and disbanded their troops, so that Argyll being a great partisan of Cromwell's, nothing more was to be feared in the north, On Cromwell's visit Berwick and Carlisle had been surrendered to him.

On the sitting of the purged parliament on the 6th, the first day of Pride's weeding out the suspected members, Cromwell appeared in his place, and was received with acclamations for his services in the north. The 8th was kept as a solemn fast, and a collection was made for the wives and widows of the poor soldiers. They then adjourned to the 11th, and on Sunday, Hugh Peters, the great enthusiast of republicanism, preached a sermon in St. Margaret's, Westminster, from the text, "Bind your king with chains, and your nobles with fetters of iron;" and he did not hesitate in the sermon to characterise the king as Barabbas, the great murderer, tyrant, and traitor. It was remarkable that not only four earls and twenty commoners of note sate out this sermon, but the prince palatine himself, Charles's nephew. Charles's own family, whatever their pretences, had clearly given him up to his fate, or the prince, with his powerful fleet, would never have scoured the coasts of the south of England for several weeks without a single attempt to save his father, the impetuous prince Rupert being on board, and one of his chief counsellors.

<<< Previous page <<< >>> Next page >>>
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 <8> 9 10 11

Pictures for Reign of Charles I. (Concluded.) page 8

Cromwell discovering the Kings letter
Cromwell discovering the Kings letter >>>>
Carisbrook Castle
Carisbrook Castle >>>>
Cromwell suppressing the mutiny
Cromwell suppressing the mutiny >>>>
Carisbrook
Carisbrook >>>>
John Bradshaw
John Bradshaw >>>>
Hurst Castle
Hurst Castle >>>>
Removal of Charles
Removal of Charles >>>>
King Charles summonde to execution
King Charles summonde to execution >>>>

Home | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About