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to waive all forms, ceremonies, or compliments forthwith (not waiting for order or leave) to attempt the quenching thereof, without farther scruple as thereunto called of God, .. then much more are we obliged and called, when we behold the great mansion-house of the Commonwealth, and of this Army, on fire, all ready to be devoured with slavery, confusion, and ruin, and their national native freedom (the price of our treasure and blood) wrested out of their hands, as at this présent appeareth to our best understanding,” etc. This letter was dated at Hempstead, October 15, 1647, and signed by the Agitators, for the regiments of horse of Cromwell, Ireton, Fleetwood, Rich, and Whalley, the core of the Ironsides. Though prolix, it contains no cant or superstition. Is there not, indeed, much beauty and pathos here? And now let us see what is recommended in a paper of proposals received in Parliament, November 1, from the Army.
Having by our late labors and hazards made it appear to the world at how high a rate we value our just freedom; and God having so far owned our cause as to deliver the enemies thereof into our hands, we do now hold ourselves bound in mutual duty to each other, to take the best care we can for the future, to avoid both the danger of returning into a slavish condition, and the changeable remedy of another war.'. .. That hereafter our Representatives [Parliaments] be neither left to an uncertainty for the time, nor made useless to the ends for which they were intended, we declare, I. That the people of
1 From the letter to Fairfax accompanying “ The Case of the Whole Army." Rushworth : Historical Collections, VII, p. 846, etc.
England being at this day very unequally distributed by counties, cities, and boroughs, for elections of their deputies in Parliament, ought to be more indifferently [impartially] proportioned, according to the number of inhabitants." The clause goes on to demand the arrangement of this before the end of the present Parliament, which, in the 2d article, the soldiers request may take place in September, 1648, to prevent the inconvenience arising from the long continuance of the same persons in authority. After providing in the 3d article that Parliament shall be chosen biennially, every second March, we find in article 4, a most significant declaration : “ That the power of this and all future Representatives [Parliaments] of this nation is inferior only to theirs who chuse them, and extends, without the consent of any other person or persons, to the enacting, altering, and repealing of laws, to appointments of all kinds, to making war and peace, to treating with foreign states," etc. ; with the following limitations, however: “I. That matter of religion, and the ways of God's worship, are not at all intrusted by us to any human power, because therein we cannot admit or exceed a tittle of what our consciences dictate to be the mind of God, without wilful sin : nevertheless, the public way of instructing the nation, so it be not compulsive, is referred to their discretion.” Other limitations are, that there shall be no impressing of men for service; that after the present Parliament no one is to be questioned for anything said or done in the late disturbances; that laws are to affect all alike, and to be equal and good. “These things we declare to be our native rights,” the document concludes, and we are compelled to maintain them, “ not only by the example of our ancestors, whose blood was often spent in vain for the recovery of their freedoms, suffering themselves through fraudulent accommodations to be still deluded of the fruit of their victory, but also by our own woeful experience, who, having long expected and dearly earned the establishment of those certain rules of government, are yet made to depend for the settlement of our peace and freedom, upon him that intended our bondage and brought a cruel war upon us.'
This manifesto was signed by nine regiments of horse and seven of foot. Had Roger Williams and Samuel Adams put their heads together, could the outcome have been better? “The power of this and all future Parliaments of this nation is inferior only to theirs who chuse them, and extends, without the consent of any other person or persons, to the enacting, altering, and repealing of laws, to appointments of all kinds, to making war and peace, to treating with foreign states," no exception to be made but in the matter of religion, — that to be intrusted to no human power, but each man to choose as his conscience may dictate.
Who the man was who formulated so finely these utterances, no one can say. They came from the rank and file : under some one of those steel headpieces worked the brain that outlined this noble polity, in which there was no place for King, Lord, or Prelate, because the People was to be Sovereign. The leaders felt uneasy. Cromwell could not yet go so far; Ireton now rejected it with indignation.1
1 Godwin: History of the Commonwealth, II, p. 451.
At a meeting convened in November to establish harmony between chiefs and soldiers, when the latter rejected a statement in which the leaders to the name and essential prerogatives of a King were provided for, Ireton abruptly departed, declaring that such a matter must not be touched upon. Vane, too, no doubt at this time was appalled at such extreme ideas. Both Court, Presbytery, and Prelacy were hateful, but Royalty and an Upper House seemed too potent and deeply rooted to be disturbed. How untried and chimerical the scheme of a republic, in which all precedents were to be disregarded and tradition to be sacrificed ! From whom, too, did the ideas emanate? from men of no social importance, from Levellers, fanatical, haughtily insubordinate, discountenanced by every class in society hitherto held to be respectable !
But at such times men think quickly. The leaders took the ideas of the rank and file, and before the year ended the chiefs and the soldiers
December 22, the shortest day meeting of the of the dark English winter, a public reconciliation took place amid fasting and prayer. Together they sought the Lord from nine in the morning until seven at night, Cromwell and Ireton among others praying fervently and pathetically. The assembly came forth hand in hand, and the condition of union was that Charles Stuart, that man of blood, should be called to account.1
1 Guizot: History of English Revolution, p. 388, American ed.; also Life of Young Sir Henry Vane, pp. 281, 282.
THE ENGLISH COMMONWEALTH.
Oliver Cromwell, Protector, 1653.
Civil war of 1648.
DURING the year 1648, a struggle took place in England in which the Ironsides won a victory against
tremendous odds. The King, in the hands
of his captors, seeking to draw advantage from the distractions which prevailed among them, at last leagued himself secretly with the Presbyterians of Scotland, promising them indulgence for their form of worship and an extirpation of the party of tolerance, if by their help he could come again to the enjoyment of his own.
The warfare which followed was more desperate than that of the earlier civil war. The King was not in the field, and the disposition to spare was far less. To the Scotch, the English Presbyterians joined themselves in multitudes, men who till now had fought stubbornly for the Houses; while the old Cavaliers, whether Catholic or Anglican, rode forth again in actual combat, or with sword on thigh only waited for a favorable moment. But the Independents, now thoroughly united, were without fear, and matchless both in the field and in counsel. While Vane headed off plots at Westminster, Ireton and Fairfax, and above all Cromwell, smote with a warlike efficiency scarcely ever paralleled. Royalism