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port, to which they might be securely assigned ; nor had he
of his own table for the term of one month.” The single ship which reached him with supplies by running ashore, brought about 200 barrels of powder, 2,000 or 3,000 arms, and seven or eight field-pieces; and with this he took the field, but in so helpless and apparently hopeless a condition, that even after he had set up that standard, which was so ominously blown down by a tempest, Clarendon says, it must solely be imputed to his own resolution, that he did not even then go to London and throw himself on the mercy of the parliament, which would have been surrendering at discretion to an enemy that gave no quarter. But he relied upon the goodness of his cause, and upon the loyalty and love of his subjects. That reliance did not deceive him : the gentlemen of England came forward with a spirit which enabled him to maintain the contest no inconsiderable time upon equal terms, and which, under the direction of more vigorous counsels, might many times have given him complete suc
But it was otherwise appointed. Whoever has attentively perused the history of those unhappy years must have perceived that this war, more perhaps than any other of which the events have been recorded, was determined rather by accidents and blunders, than by foreseen and prepared combinations. The man who most contributed to the
king's utter overthrow by his actions, and the only man who from the beginning perceived wherein the strength of the king lay, and by what principle it might be opposed with the surest prospect of success, was Cromwell.
During the proceedings which provoked the war, Cromwell took no conspicuous part, but he was one of that number upon whose votes the leaders of the disaffected party could always rely. He was sincerely a puritan in his religious notions, in that respect more sincere than many of those with whom he then acted : for political speculations he probably cared less; but being a resolute man, and one whose purposes were straight forward, though he frequently proceeded by crooked ways, he, like his cousin Hampden, when he drew the sword, threw away the scabbard. When the war began, he received a captain's commission, and raised a troop of horse in his own country. Then it was that he gave the first proof of that sagacity which made him afterward the absolute master of three kingdoms : in what manner it was now exercised
best be told in his own curious words. “I was a person,” said he, “that from my first employment was suddenly preferred and lifted up from lesser trusts to greater, from my
first being a captain of a troop of horse ; and I did labor as well as I could, to discharge my trust : and God blessed me as it pleased him; and I did truly and plainly; and then in a way of foolish simplicity (as it was judged by very great and wise men, and good men too) desired to make my instruments to help me in this work ; and I will deal plainly with you; I had a very worthy friend then, and he was noble person,
and I know his memory is very grateful to all, Mr. John Hampden. At my first going out into this engagement, I saw their men were beaten at every hand; I did indeed, and desired him that he would make some additions to my Lord Essex's army of some new regiments; and I told him I would be serviceable to him in bringing such men in, as I thought had a spirit that would do something in the work. This is very true that I tell you, God knows I lie not. *Your troops,' said I, are most of them old decayed serving men, and tapsters, and such kind of fellows; and,' said I, 'their troops are gentlemen's sons, younger sons, and persons of quality : do you think that the spirits of such base and mean fellows will ever be enabled to encounter gentleman that have honor, and courage, and resolution in them ? Truly, I presented him in this manner conscientiously; and truly I did tell him, “You must get men of a spirit : and take it not ill what I say (I know you will not), of a spirit that is likely to go on as far as gentlemen will go, or else I am sure you will be beaten still ;' I told him so, I did truly. He was a wise and worthy person, and he did
think that I talked a good notion, but an impracticable one. Truly I told him I could do somewhat in it; I did so; and truly I must needs say that to you, I raised such men as had the fear of God before them, and made some conscience of what they did; and from that day forward, I must say to you, they were never beaten, and wherever they engaged against the enemy, they beat continually."
Acting upon this principle, Cromwell raised a troop of horse among his countrymen, mostly freeholders and freeholders' sons, men thoroughly imbued with his own puritanical opinions, and who engaged in the war “ upon matter of conscience.:” and thus, says Whitelocke, “ being well armed within by the satisfaction of their own consciences, and without by good iron arms, they would as one man stand firmly, and charge desperately."* Cromwell knew his men, and on this occasion acting without hypocrisy, tried whether their consciences were proof; for upon raising them he told them fairly that he would not cozen them by perplexed expressions in his commission to fight for king and parliament: if the king chanced to be in the body of the enemy, he would as soon discharge his pistol upon him, as upon any private man; and if their consciences would not let them
[* Whitelocke, ed. 1732, p. 72.]
do the like, he advised them not to enlist themselves under him.
He tried their courage also, as well as their consciences, by leading them into a false ambuscade; about twenty turned their backs and fled ; upon which Cromwell dismissed them, desiring them however to leave their horses for those who would fight the Lord's battles in their stead. And as the Lord's battle was to be fought with the arm of flesh, he took special care that horse and man in his troop should always be ready for service; and by making every man trust to himself alone, in all needful things, he enabled them all to rely upon each other, and act with confidence, without which courage is of little avail.
For this purpose he required them to keep their arms clean, bright and fit for immediate use ; to feed and dress their own horses, and if need were, to sleep upon the ground with them. The officers wishing that this select troop should be formed into what they called 'a gathered church,' looked about for a fitting pastor, and it is to their credit that they pitched upon a man distinguished for his blameless manner of life, his undoubted piety, and his extraordinary talents. They invited Baxter to take charge of them. That remarkable man was then at Coventry, whither he had gone
after the battle at Edgehill with a purpose to stay there, as a safe place, till one side or other had gotten the victory and the war was end