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STRAFFORD AND LAUD BEHEADED.
judges were determined to condemn. He was sentenced to be beheaded, and the king was desired to give his consent to the sentence.
Charles was cruelly perplexed. He knew that every action for which Strafford was condemned had been done with a view of serving him, and it was a base return to give up his servant into the hands of his enemies. But the leaders of the Commons, and even the puritan preachers in their sermons, stirred up the people of London to demand the execution of Strafford. Fierce mobs surrounded the palace, and the queen and her mother, in dreadful alarm, entreated Charles to purchase peace and safety by the sacrifice of his friend. Strafford himself wrote a beautiful letter to his master, begging him not to spare his blood if the shedding of it would bring peace to the kingdom. Charles had one faithful counsellor near him, Bishop Juxon, who entreated his master not to listen to his fears, but to his conscience; but the king did not follow this upright counsel. He betrayed his friend, and, in so doing, committed the worst action of his life, and one for which he never ceased to reproach himself till his own head fell beneath the axe of the executioner.
In May 1641, Strafford was beheaded on Tower Hill, in the midst of a mob whose shouts and yells of triumph could not disturb the calm Christian courage with which he looked upon death. His fellow-captive, Archbishop Laud, was detained in prison four years, and was treated with more cruel injustice than Strafford. Before the end of that time. King Charles had lost all power to save any one, and could only grieve deeply when he heard that Laud had met the same fate as Strafford. Laud
suffered as became a Christian bishop, with piety and fortitude; his last words were a fervent prayer for the Church and the people of England.
REIGN OF CHARLES I.-(continued).
THE IRISH REBELLION, 1641.—BEGINNING OF THE CIVIL WAR, 1642.
-BATTLE OF EDGE HILL.-OLIVER CROMWELL.
(From 1641 to 1645.)
IN October 1641, a dreadful insurrection broke out in Ireland. The native chieftains, with the popish priests and bishops, had formed a plot for clearing the island of the English and Protestant settlers, and recovering the lands which had been granted to them. But while Strafford governed, they dared not resist his iron rule. Now, he was dead, and England in confusion, owing to the quarrel between the parliament and the king; and they thought it a good time to revolt. In a few weeks the north of Ireland was filled with bloodshed; 154,000 men, women and children were put to death, by every variety of torment which the cruelty of their murderers could invent.
The king did what he could to quell the insurrection, but he had hardly any power left, and some of his enemies in England were wicked enough to say that he did not wish to put down the rebels, and laid the guilt of their cruelties at his door. There was some little excuse for the men who uttered these slanders, for Charles in the course of his contests with the parliament did not always tell the exact truth; and, at this time, one of the rebel chiefs pretended that he
BEGINNING OF THE CIVIL WAR.
had obtained the king's consent to the revolt. But Charles was a sincere Protestant, and a very humane man, and though he would have been glad to enlist any loyal Irishmen, whatever their creed might be, to serve him against the parliament, he would have died rather than allow the slaughter of his innocent Protestant subjects.
The parliament had already abolished the tyrannical courts of the Star Chamber and High Commission, and had punished all the judges and officers who had acted unjustly for the king; but they were beginning to act quite as unjustly against him. Step by step, they deprived him of all his lawful authority. Several of the best and wisest men in the House of Commons came over now to the king's side; two-thirds of the House of Lords were already with him.
The parliament had taken into their own hands Hull, Portsmouth, and the Tower of London, in which places were stored the arms and ammunition laid up for the defence of the kingdom. They now required that the king should give up to them the power of calling out the militia. Charles refused, for this would have made the parliament absolute masters of England. But he saw plainly that he must either agree to all their demands and be nothing more than a puppet in their hands, or he must maintain his rights by force of arms.
Both sides prepared for war, and on the 22d of August, 1642, the king set up his standard at Nottingham. The first battle was fought on the 23d October, at Edge Hill, in Warwickshire. Neither party gained the victory, but many men were slain on both sides. The king now moved to Oxford, which
became his chief home as long as he was allowed to call any part of his kingdom his own. Large bodies of men were in arms for him in Yorkshire, Cornwall, and Wales, and almost every part of England became in turn the seat of war.
Most of the noblemen and gentlemen and a great number of the country people were for the king; the citizens of the large towns were, for the most part, against him, and so were those country gentlemen and farmers who had embraced the puritan principles. The parliament had also the assistance of the Scots. At first, the king had much success, for the loyal gentry and farmers who fought for him made better soldiers than the troops of the parliament.
But Charles, though surrounded by brave men, had no very good general. His nephew, Prince Rupert, distinguished himself by his dashing valour, but he was so rash in battle, and so impatient of control, that on the whole he did more mischief than good. Charles himself showed greater ability both for war and government than any of his servants, but he was apt to follow their advice rather than his own wiser counsels. The parliament, on the other hand, had one of the best generals that ever lived-Oliver Cromwell, a man of universal genius. He had been known only as a puritan country gentleman, till he made his appearance in the parliament of 1640—a rough-looking unpolished man, who spoke with warmth, but in so confused a manner that it was hard to make out what he meant. But he threw himself eagerly into the struggle against the king, raised a troop of horse which he commanded himself, and soon became famous for his military skill.
TYRANNY OF THE PARLIAMENT.
During some years, Lord Essex first, and then General Fairfax, were called commanders of the parliamentary army, but Cromwell was the leader to whom the troops really looked up. By his excellent discipline, he made them some of the best soldiers in the world. His own regiment were called Ironsides: they were Independents, filled with the fiercest enthusiasm for their own notions of religion and government, and ready to destroy both king and parliament that they might make England a republic.
The parliament and their army took to themselves the name of "The Saints," and "The Godly," and called all who loved the king, or fought for him, "Malignants." But amongst these so-called "Malignants," were some of the noblest and holiest men that ever trod on English ground. There were some other nicknames; the king's men were called "Cavaliers,” and the parliament men "Roundheads," because they wore their hair cut short and close; the Cavaliers, on the contrary, wore long flowing locks.
REIGN OF CHARLES I.-(continued).
TYRANNICAL GOVERNMENT OF THE PARLIAMENT AND THE PURI
TANS.—BATTLE OF NASEBY, 1645.-CHARLES TAKES REFUGE WITH THE SCOTS; AND IS GIVEN UP BY THEM TO THE PARLIAMENT, 1647.
(From 1643 to 1649.)
FOR about five or six years the parliament ruled without control. They said they were fighting for the laws and liberties of England, and all the while they were committing acts of greater oppression and