Abbildungen der Seite

that God had declared against it. The present danger was from the levellers, whom Cromwell had at first encouraged, and with whom it is very possible that in one stage of his progress he may sincerely have sympathized. But being now better acquainted with men and with things, his wish was to build up and repair the work of ruin; all further demolition was to be prevented, and therefore by prompt severity he suppressed these men, who were so numerous and well organized as to have rendered themselves formidable by their strength as well as by their opinions. That object having been effected, he accepted the command in Ireland, to the surprise of his enemies, who desired nothing so much as his absence ; not having considered that with his means and temper he went to a sure conquest, and must needs return from it with a great accession of popularity

and power.

He arrived at Dublin [15th Aug., 1649] in a fortunate hour, just after the garrison had obtained a signal victory, in consequence of which the siege had been broken up. Without delay he marched against Drogheda,* where the Marquis of Ormond had placed a great number of his best troops, under Sir Arthur Aston, a brave and distinguished

[* 30 Sept. 1649. He began his attack on the 9th. The battles of Dunbar and Worcester were fought on the 3d of September. He summoned a parliament on the 3d of September, and he died on the 3d of September.]

he says,


officer. One assault was manfully repulsed. Cromwell led his men a second time to the breach, who then forced all the retrenchments, and gave no quarter according to his positive orders. There was a great contention among the soldiers who should get the governor for his share of the spoil, because his artificial leg was believed to be made of gold; the disappointment at finding it only of wood was somewhat abated by discovering two hundred pieces of gold sewn up in his girdle. Cromwell's own account of the slaughter is, that not thirty of the whole number of the defendants escaped with their lives. “I do not believe," “ neither do I hear, that

any officer caped with his life, save only one lieutenant, who, going to the enemy, said he was the only man that escaped of all the garrison. The enemy were filled upon

this with much terror, and truly I believe this bitterness will save much effusion of blood, through the goodness of God. I wish that all honest hearts may give the glory of this to God alone, to whom, indeed, the praise of this mercy belongs, for instruments they were very inconsiderable the work throughout.” Lord Clarendon says that all manner of cruelty was executed ; every Irish inhabitant, man, woman, and child, put to the sword, and three or four officers of name and of good families, whom some humaner soldiers concealed for four or five days, were then butcher

ed in cold blood. Ludlow relates that the slaughter continued two days, and that such extraordinary severity was used to discourage others. Hugh Peters

gave thanks for it in the cathedral at Dublin. The object was attained. Trim and Dundalk were abandoned to him without resistance ; Wexford was ill defended and easily taken; and Cromwell, with a reliance upon fortune arising, in this instance, equally from confidence in himself and contempt of his enemies, marched into Munster so far from all succor and all reasonable hope of supplies, that if the city of Cork had not been treacherously or pusillanimously given up to him, he and his army must have been reduced to the utmost danger.

In less than six months, though an infectious disease had broken out in his own army, Cromwell destroyed the last hopes of the royalists in Ireland, and exacted for a national crime, to which the massacre of St. Bartholomew's day is the only parallel in history, a vengeance to which no parallel can be found. No mercy was shown to any person who could be convicted of having shed protestant blood in that most merciless and atrocious rebellion. As many others as chose were allowed to enter into foreign services, and French and Spanish officers enlisted and transported not less than five and forty thousand men, though not five thousand could ever be raised for

the war upon

the king's service by all the unwearied exertions of Ormond, and all the promises and contracts which were made with him. Leaving Ireton with the command,* to pursue


system of extermination which the commonwealth intended, he obeyed the summons of parliament to put himself at the head of an army which was to march against Charles II., called at that time Charles Stuart, who was then in Scotland, in a situation something between that of a king and a prisoner. By Cromwell's desire the command was offered to Fairfax, who refused it, more because he was offended and ashamed at having discovered how mere a cipher he was become, than from any feeling of repentance for what he had done, and for what he had omitted to do, which was the heavier sin. In urging him to accept the command, Cromwell appeared so much in earnest that Ludlow believed him, and took him aside to entreat that he would not in compliment and humility obstruct the service of the nation by his refusal. When it was determined that Cromwell was to be general, Ludlow had a conference with him, in which Cromwell professed to desire nothing more than that the government might be settled in a free and equal commonwealth, which he thought the only probable means of keeping out

[* May, 1650. He arrived in London on the 31st. Whit lock, p.457, ed. 1732.]

the old family. He looked upon it, he said, that the design of the Lord was now to free his people from every burden, and to accomplish what was prophesied in the 110th Psalm; and then expounding that psalm for about an hour to Ludlow, and tickling him with expositions, professions, and praises, ended by letting him understand that if he pleased to accept the command of the horse in Ireland, the post would be at his service.*

A declaration was sent before Cromwell's army, addressed to all that are saints, and partakers of the faith of God's elect in Scotland." The saints, however, in Scotland were praying and preaching against Cromwell as heartily as they had ever performed pulpit-service against Charles ; and their presbyterian brethren in England, as well as the sober and untainted part of the people, were heartily wishing for his overthrow, and the return of the ancient order. His contempt for the Scotch had very nearly brought about the fulfilment of their desires : he got himself into a situation at Dunbar from which it was impossible to retreat, and where, from the want of provisions, the enemy must have had him at their mercy if they would only have avoided an action. But it was revealed to the preachers, by whom the general was controlled, that Agag was delivered into their hands ; and Cromwell, perceiving them through his glass

[* Ludlow's Memoirs, ed. 1771, pp. 136_'7.]

« ZurückWeiter »