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concessions. To Ireton he offered the government of Charles Ireland; to Cromwell the office of commander-in-chief, to Cromthe colonelcy of the King's guards, the title of Earl of well. Essex, and the Garter. Similiar advantages were offered to their principal friends. But Charles took care that these offers should be revealed to the agitators and the Levellers; and at the same time he received the Earls of Lauderdale and Lanark, and other Scottish commissioners, at Hampton Court, so that the two generals and their friends were placed in great difficulties; they did not dare to close with the King, for fear of the factions, and they were equally alarmed at the prospect of his alliance with the Presbyterians and the Scots. The distrust and anger of the soldiers was assuming a menacing form; secret, as well as open societies were formed at every station; Lilburne and the more violent even proposed to get rid of Cromwell by assassination, and purer agitators, called new agents, who were independent Appointof the general, were charged to watch the traitors (as the ment of officers were called), and serve the good cause in whatever agents." place, and at whatever price. Rainsborough, Harrison, Scott, and others, were at the head of this movement. While the army was thus disunited, the Royalists and Presbyterians were gradually forming a closer alliance, and quietly preparing to fall The Royalupon the factions at the first opportunity. A resolution style was agreed upon that the Scots should enter England rians unite. next spring, with a numerous army, and call on the Presbyterians for their aid; that Charles, if he were at liberty, otherwise the Prince of Wales, should sanction the enterprise by his presence; that Ormond should resume the government of Ireland, while Capel, Langdale, Musgrave, and the English Cavaliers, should secretly assemble the remains of the King's party in England.
discovers the King's
In the midst of this perplexity, one of Cromwell's spies gave him information of a letter from Charles to the Queen, containing the King's real designs Cromwell towards the army and its leaders. The letter, sewn up in the skirt of a saddle, would be found that night, at the Blue Boar Inn, Holborn, a treachery. servant unacquainted with the secret having to take the saddle to the inn, where a horse was waiting to convey the bearer of the letter to Dover. Cromwell and Ireton, disguised as private soldiers, went to the place, and obtained the letter; in it the King said that he was courted by both factions; that he should join the one which bade fairest for him, and that he thought he should rather treat with the Presbyterians than with the army. "For the rest," he added, "I alone understand my position; be quite easy as to the concessions which I may grant; when the time comes, I shall very well know how to treat these rogues, and, instead of a silken garter, I will fit them with a hempen halter."* (October.) This letter sealed the King's fate; the suspicions of the two generals were fully confirmed, and henceforward
* Hallam, I., 630, Notes; Guizot's Eng. Rev., 354; Forster's Lives, VI., 228-232
they were as free from uncertainty respecting their designs upon the King as they were respecting his towards them.
78. Charles escapes from Hampton Court. It was full time that the conduct of Cromwell and Ireton should cease to be wavering and undecided, for the army, excited by the Levellers, "The was in the greatest confusion. A paper, entitled "The Agreement Case of the Army," accompanied with another, under the People." name of "The Agreement of the People," had been drawn up, and presented to the general by the agitators, demanding a new constitution, in which the sovereign power should reside in the people and their representatives; equality of law, freedom of conscience, and freedom from forced service in time of war; triennial parliaments and .extension of the franchise. These demands were strenuously supported by Colonels Pride and Rainsborough, and as fiercely opposed by Cromwell and Ireton. The council of officers yielded so far as to require that parliament should make no more addresses to the King; but the two houses voted the papers destructive of the government, and ordered the authors to be prosecuted; although, at the same time, to please the soldiery, they resolved that the King was bound to give the royal assent to all laws for the public good, which had been passed and presented to him by the Lords and Commons (November 6th).
This daily increasing violence of the Levellers alarmed the King for his safety; he withdrew his word of honour not to attempt an escape; on which all his servants, except Legge, were dismissed, and his liberty was restrained. But the dark hints of the dangerous designs of his enemies, which reached him from all sides, the warning which Cromwell sent, so wrought upon his fears, that he, at last, contrived to escape from Hampton Court, on the evening of the 11th of November; and, attended by Legge, Ashburnham, and Berkeley, he safely reached Sutton, in Hampshire; and, while Berkeley and Ashburnham went to the Isle of Wight, to sound the disposition of Hammond, the governor, he found an asylum at Tickfield House. Hopes of Hammond's sympathy and assistance were grounded upon the fact, that he was nephew to one of the royal chaplains; but they were vain; he merely answered that he was a servant bound to obey the orders of his employers, and that he would act as an honest man. Strange to say, Berkeley and Ashburnham were satisfied with this mysterious answer, and they returned to the King with Hammond and the captain of Cowes Castle, to the great dismay of Charles, who saw at once the danger in which they had placed
him. With a cheerful countenance, however, yet with a misboding heart, he accompanied the two officers to the island, and was safely lodged in Carisbrook Castle (November 13th, 1647).
79. The general officers confront the Levellers at Ware. The consternation which the King's escape excited in Westminster Hall, was considerably increased when Cromwell informed the house of the King's safe custody in Carisbrook Castle, and still more by an event which now took place. The increasing violence of the Levellers, and the mutinous disposition of the army, had induced Fairfax and the council of officers to dismiss the agitators to their respective regiments, and assemble the army in three brigades, on three different days, in the hope of putting an end to its dissensions. On the appointed day, the first brigade, that on which the officers could rely, mustered in Corkbush field, between Hertford and Ware, and a remonstrance which the officers had drawn up in the general's name, was read to each regiment in succession. The brigade received this address with joyful acclamations. But two regiments, Harrison's cavalry and Robert Lilburne's infantry, not belonging to it, had come to the meeting without orders, and in a state of the fiercest excitement. The latter had expelled all their officers above the rank of lieutenant, except Captain Bray, who was now in command of them, and every soldier wore on his hat a copy of The Agreement of the People, with this motto, "The people's freedom and the soldier's rights." Harrison's regiment, after some debate, submitted; Lilburne's regiment remained obstinate. "Take that paper from your hats," exclaimed Cromwell. They refused. He then darted into their ranks, and seized the ringleaders, three of whom were condemned to death on the spot; and lots being drawn, one, Richard Arnell, was immediately shot, and the rest marched off to prison. By this act of vigour, subordination was restored for the time, and the other meetings passed off quietly. But Cromwell soon discovered that the Levellers constituted two-thirds of the army, and that it was necessary for him to retrace his steps if he wished to retain his former influence. With this view, he made a public acknowledgment of his error in Cromwell having corresponded with the King, and solemnly apologizes promised to stand or fall with the army. A solemn fast with the was kept to celebrate this event; and Cromwell, in the King. assembly of the officers, confessed, with tears, "that his eyes, dazzled by the glory of the world, had not clearly discerned the work of the Lord;" and he therefore humbled
himself, and desired their prayers. Ireton followed him in the same strain.*
80. The King rejects the four bills. The King experienced no change of treatment in consequence of his escape from Hampton Court, and he soon recommenced his former intrigues. He sent Sir John Berkeley to congratulate Cromwell and his friends on the results of the meeting at Ware, and to remind them of their promises; and by a message to parliament (November 16th), he proposed, in addition to his former terms, to surrender the command of the army during his life, to exchange the profits of the court of wards for a yearly income, and to undertake the payment of the money due to the military and the public creditors. But the parliament paid no attention to his message; and Cromwell sent this word to him by Berkeley, "I will do my best to serve the King, but he must not expect that I shåll ruin myself for his sake." The King's apprehensions were re-awakened by these discouraging things, and he again meditated an escaped at escape. He might have effected his purpose, for a vessel sent by the Queen had been cruising about the island for several days. But a fresh intrigue re-animated his hopes. On the 14th of December, the House of Commons voted that four propositions should be presented to him, in the form of bills, and that if he accepted them he should be allowed to come and treat with the parliament personally. These bills were—
Charles might have
(1) That the command of the sea and land forces should appertain to parliament for 20 years, with power of continuation thereafter, if the safety of the kingdom should seem to require it.
(2) That the King should revoke all his declarations, proclamations, and other acts published against the house, imputing to it illegality and rebellion.
(3) That he should annul all the patents of peerage he had granted since the 20th of May, 1642, and grant no future peerages, without the consent of parliament.
(4) That the two houses should have the power of adjourning from place to place at their discretion.
The Scots remonstrated against these propositions, and their commissioners, Lords Lauderdale, Lanark, and others, proceeded to Carisbrook, at the same time that Lord Denbigh and the parliamentary commissioners went with them to the King (December). They relaxed from their former obstinacy, and at once concluded a treaty with the King, by which they promised to invade England in the spring, and re-establish The King's him on the throne, on condition that he confirmed the Presbyterian system for three years, he and his friends, however, not being required to conform to it; and that at the end
treaty with the Scots.
* Guizot's Eng. Rev., 363-367; Lingard, X., 223-224; Carlyle's Cromwell, I., 245.
of that term the assembly of divines should settle the constitution of the church in concert with the parliament. Other stipulations, to the advantage of Scotland, but highly offensive to the honour of England, accompanied this general concession. The treaty was secretly signed, and hidden in a garden in the island, until it could be taken away in safety. Having thus definitively settled with the Scots, Charles rejected the four bills, and resolved to escape the same evening (December 28th). But his gaolers were aware of his purpose; the gates were immediately closed, his servants were dismissed, and an attempt to release him, made by the inhabitants of Newport, was suppressed, and its leader hanged. The two houses now resolved that they would The cease all communications with him; and that if any resolves to person renewed them without leave, he should be subject to the penalties of high treason. These resolutions were carried by a majority of 141 to 92; the Committee of Public Safety was restored, and ordered to act alone, without the aid of foreign coadjutors, on which the Scottish commissioners who had sat upon it, demanded the arrears still due to their army, and retired to their own country (January, 1648).**
have no more dealings with
81. Agitation of the country at this juncture. These resolutions were equivalent to the establishment of a republic, and they caused an extraordinary ferment throughout the country, which was not allayed by the law reforms which parliament passed to appease the people. For the war committees in every county still exercised the most oppressive tyranny, the monthly tax for the support of the army was larger than ever, and there were numerous other restrictions which the parliament now exercised in full rigour. All who had borne arms against parlia- severities ment were forbidden to come within twenty miles of Royalists. London; the justices of the peace were revised; and all delinquents were deprived of their right to vote at any election, whether municipal or parliamentary, and disqualified from holding any political office or trust. Finally, the censorship of the press was entrusted to a committee which sat daily, and the army once more marched through London with all the paraphernalia of war. The Levellers and republicans congratulated themselves upon these rigorous measures, as signal proofs of their strength; but Cromwell and those immediately around him thought otherwise. Throughout the country, he saw the principal freeholders, the rich citizens, all persons of note, and everyone who had anything at stake, retiring from public affairs, forsaking the committees and local Lingard, X., 225-228; Guizot's Eng. Rev., 367-374.