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“for,” says he," so wise in matters of war was I, and all the country besides, that we commonly supposed that a very few days or weeks, by one other battle, would end the wars; and I believe that no small number of the parliament men had no more wit than to think so.” Baxter was at that time so zealous in his political feelings, that he thought it a sin for any man to remain neuter. But the invitation to take charge of a gathered church' did not accord with his opinions concerning ecclesiastical discipline. He therefore sent them a denial, reproving their attempt, and telling them wherein his judgment was against the lawfulness and convenience of their way. “ These very men,” he says, “ that then invited me to be their pastor, were the men that afterward headed much of the army, and some of them were the forwardest in all our changes; which made me wish that I had gone among them, however it had been interpreted; for then all the fire was in one spark.”
Cromwell exerted himself with so much zeal and success in imbodying and disciplining these troops, that he appears to have been raised to the rank of colonel for that service alone. The first act which he performed was to take possession of Cambridge, which Lord Capel would else have occupied; and to secure for the parliament the college plate, which otherwise would have been
sent to the king. At this time he paid his uncle and godfather, Sir Oliver, a visit for the purpose of taking away his arms and all his plate: but behaving with the greatest personal respect to the head of his family, he asked his blessing, and would not keep on his hat in his
presence. From Cambridge he kept down the loyal party in the adjoining counties of Suffolk and Norfolk, dispersing a confederacy which would soon have become formidable, and taking the whole of the stores which they had provided. This was a service which, in the language of the saints, was said to set the whole country right, by frecing it of the malignants. Stories of his cruelty were told at this time in the Mercurius Aulicus which were abominably false : men too easily believe evil of their enemies; and these calumnies obtained the readier credit, because he and his men conceived themselves to be doing a work of reformation in injuring Peterborough cathredal, demolishing the painted windows, breaking the organ, defacing tombs and statues, and destroying the books. But in other places where the ferocious spirit of puritanism was not called forth, their conduct was more orderly than that of any other troops who were engaged on the same side. One of the journals of the day says of them, “no man swears but he pays his twelvepence; if he be drunk, he is set in stocks, or worse ; if one calls the other
round-head, he is cashiered; insomuch that the countries where they come leap for joy of them, and come in and join with them. How happy were it if all the forces were thus disciplined !"
The relief of Gainsborough (230 July, 1643) was the first conspicuous action in which Cromwell was engaged : “ this.” Whitelock says, the beginning of his great fortunes, and now he began to appear to the world."* It was in this action that Charles Cavendish fell,
" The young, the lovely, and the brave !
Strew bays and flowers on his honored grave !" one of the many noble spirits who were cut off in that mournful war.t Cromwell says they had the execution of the enemy two or three miles, and that some of his soldiers killed two or three men apiece. He had a narrow escape the same year
under the earl of Manchester, when part of Newcastle's army were defeated near Horncastle. I His horse was killed under him, and as he rose he was again knocked down, by the cavalier who charged him, and who is supposed to have been Sir Ingram Hopton. He was however remounted, and found himself, with that singular good fortune
[* Whitelock, ed. 1732, p. 72. Whitelock calls him Colonel Cromwell ; he served at this time under Lord Willoughby of Parham.]
[t Cousin to the loyal marquis of Newcastle, and brother to the third earl of Devonshire.]
[t Ludlow's Memoirs, ed. 1771, p. 30.]
which always attended him, without a wound. At the close of the year he took Hilsdon house by assault, and alarmed Oxford.* Though Essex and Waller, who was called by his own party William the Conqueror, were still the favorite leaders of the parliamentary forces, Cromwell was now looked upon as a considerable person, and was opposed in public opinion to Prince Rupert, before they ever met as hostile generals in the field. When the prince was preparing to relieve York, the London journals represented him as afraid to try himself against this rising commander. “He would rather suffer," they said, “ his dear friends in York to perish than venture the loss of his honor in so dangerous a passage. He loves not to meet a Fairfax, nor a Cromwell, of those men that have so much religion and valor in them.” The battle of Marston Moor (20 July, 1.644) soon followed ; most rashly and unjustifiably brought on by Rupert, without consulting the marquis of Newcastle, by whom, in all prudence, he ought to have been directed, and at a time when nothing but an immediate action could have prevented the Scotch and parliamentary armies from quarrelling and separating, so that either, or both, would have been exposed to an utter overthrow. The Scotch, who were in the right wing, were completely routed; they fled in all directions, and [And so went on to Gloucester. Whitelock, p. 82.]
were taken or knocked on the head by the peasantry: their general himself was made prisoner ten miles from the field by a constable. But the fortune of the day was decided by the English horse under Fairfax and Cromwell. They were equal in courage to the king's troops, and superior in discipline: and by their exertions a victory was gained, of which they were left to make full advantage at leisure, owing to the egregious misconduct of the prince, and the resentment of the earl of Newcastle, which in that fatal hour prevailed over a noble mind, and made him forsake the post of duty in disgust.
Hollis in his memoirs has the folly as well as the baseness to accuse Cromwell of cowardice in this action.* Some intention of detracting from his deserts seems to have been suspected at the time. The“ Mercurius Britannicus” says,“ There came out something in print which made a strange relation of the battle : 'tis pity the gallant Cromwell and his godly soldiers are so little heard on, and they with God were so much seen in the battle! But in these great achievements by night, it is hard to say who did most, or who did least. The best way to end our quarrel of who did most, is to say God did all.” On the other hand, Crom
[* Hollis accuses him of cowardice not only at MarstonMoor, but at Basing-House and Keynton. See Hollis's Life of Himself, in vol. i., of Maseres's tracts.]