« ZurückWeiter »
long debates, and some contests between the two houses, it was carried. Essex was laid aside to exculpating and vindicating his celebrated ancestor, is to be expected ;—there are cases in which erroneous opinions have their root in such good and noble feelings, that he who would eradicate them must profess a sterner philosophy than a good man would willingly adopt. In the present instance it has been overlooked by Mr. Cromwell, that the fast of which he speaks was ordered to implore a blessing on the intended new model of the army, after the ordinance was past; and that that of which Clarendon speaks was appointed to “ seek God and desire his assistance to lead them out of the perplexities they were in.” A punster of that age said that fast days were properly so called because they came so fast—they were frequently three or four in a month. He has also failed to observe that the direct allusion to the preceding fast was made not by Cromwell, but by Sir Harry Vane. And when he censures Lord Clarendon for “ taking upon himself to determine the motives of those who brought about that ordinance," he forgets that the same motives are hinted at, not obscurely, by Rushworth, and directly stated by Whitelock, upon the arowal of some of the parties themselves. “ Some of them," he says, “confess that this was their design ; and it was apparent in itself, and the reason of their doiug this was to make way for others, and because they were jealous that the lordgeneral was too much a favorer of peace, and that he would be too strong a supporter of monarchy and of nobility and other old constitutions, which they had a mind to alter." The only apparent error which Mr. Cromwell has pointed out in Lord Clarendon's statement is his saying that Whitelock voted for the ordinance, Whitelock having inserted in his memorials his speech against that measure. But it is very probable that he who opposed the ordinance in December when it was brought forward, might have assented to it three months afterward for the reason assigned by Clarendon, “ that there would be a general dissatisfaction among the people of London if it were rejected."
reflect at leisure upon the irreparable evils which, through his agency, had been brought upon the kingdom, and Sir Thomas Fairfax was appointed general in his stead.
Few men have ever possessed in such perfection as Cromwell the art of rendering others subservient to purposes which they abhorred, and of making individuals of the most opposite characters, views, and principles, co-operate in a design which they would all have opposed if they had perceived it. This rare dissembler availed himself at the same time of the sensual and profligate unbeliever, the austere sectarian, and the fierce enthusiast ; and played his master-game at once with Vane and Fairfax, though the former had the craft of the serpent, and the latter the simplicity of the dove, however unlike that bird in other respects. When Fairfax looked back upon his exploits, he rightly accounted them as his greatest misfortunes, and desired no other memorial of them than the act of oblivion : but he well knew that errors like his are not to be forgotten—that they are to be recorded as a warning for others; and the meager memorial which he left of his own actions is not so valuable for anything as for the expression of that feeling, wishing that he had died before he accepted the command after the self-denying ordinance was passed. By votes of the two houses of parliament," he says, “I was nominated, though
most unfit, and so far from desiring it, that had not so great an authority (which was then unseparated from the royal interest) commanded my obedience, and had I not been urged by the persuasion of my nearest friends, I should have refused so great a charge. But whether it was from a natural facility in me that betrayed my modesty, or the powerful hand of God, which all things must obey, I was induced to receive the command—though not fully recovered from a dangerous wound which I had received a little before, and which I believe, without the miraculous hand of God, had proved mortal. But here, alas ! when I bring to mind the sad consequences that crafty and designing men have brought to pass since those first innocent undertakings, I am ready to let go that confidence I once had with God, when I could say with Job, • till I die I will not remove my integrity from me, nor shall my heart reproach me so long as I live.' But I am now more fit to take up his complaint, and say, 'why did I not die ? Why did I not give up the ghost when my life was on the confines of the grave ?" Fairfax was a good soldier, but he had no other talents. It is saying little for him that he meant well, seeing he was so easily persuaded not only to permit wicked actions to be done, but to commit them himself. His understanding was so dull, that even in this passage he speaks . of the parliament as not being at that time separa
ted from the interests of the king; and his feelings were so obtuse, that even when he penned this memorial he felt no remorse for the execution of Lucas, and Lisle, and the excellent Lord Capel, whose blood was upon his head, but justified what he had done as according to his commission and the trust reposed in him !
Such a man was easily induced to request that the ordinance might be dispensed with in Cromwell's behalf, first for a limited time and then in. definitely, to act under him as commander of the horse. They crippled the royal forces in the west, where so much zeal and heroic virtue had successfully been displayed on the king's side, but where everything now went to ruin under the profligate misconduct of Goring, a general who, notwithstanding his unquestionable courage and military talents, ought to have been considered as disqualified for any trust by his vices. Ere long they were ordered to the north, where Charles had struck a great blow by the taking of Leicester (May, 1645), and where his fortunes might still have been retrieved had it not been for the unsteadiness and irresolution of those about him, and that unhappy diffidence of himself which made him so often act against his own judgment in deference to others.
« With shaking thoughts no hands can draw aright !" After some injudicious movements, the effect of
bad information and vacillating councils, the king met the enemy at Naseby (14th June, 1645). All those accidents upon which so much depends in war were against him ; his erroneous information continued till the very hour of the action, so that, the good order in which his army had been drawn up was broken, and the advantageous position which they had occupied abandoned ; in the action itself the same kind of misconduct, which had proved so disastrous at Marston Moor, was committed, with consequences still more fatal. Prince Rupert in time of action always forgot the duty of a general, suffering himself to be carried away by mere animal courage ; no experience, however dearly brought, was sufficient to cure him of this fault. His charge, as usual, was irresistible ; but having broken and routed that wing of the enemy which was opposed to him, he pursued them as if the victory were secure. In this charge Ireton was wounded, thrown from his horse, and taken. The day was won by Cromwell, whose name is not mentioned by Ludlow in his account of the battle !* An unaccountable incident contributed to, and perhaps mainly occasioned its loss. Just as the king, at the head of his reserve, was about to charge Cromwell's horse, the earl of Carnewarth suddenly seized his bridle, exclaiming, with two or three full-mouthed Scottish oaths,
" Will [* Ludlow's Memoirs, p. 65, ed. 1771.]