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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 gentlemen that have honour, 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 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 do the like, he advised them not to enlist themselves under him. He tried their courage also, as well as their consciences, by
[* Whitelock, ed. 1732, p. 72.]
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 ended; 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 afterwards 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 embodying 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 freeing 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 injur. ing Peterborough Cathedral, 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, 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 [23 July, 1643] was the first conspicuous action in which Cromwell was engaged : “this,” Whitelock says, “was 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 honoured grave! one of the many noble spirits who were cut off in that mournful
[* Whitelock, ed. 1732, p. 72. Whitelock calls him Colonel Cromwell ; he served at this time under Lord Willoughby of Parham.]
war.* 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.f 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 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 favourite 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 honour in so dangerous a passage. He loves not to meet a Fairfax, nor a Cromwell, nor any of those men that have so much religion and valour in them.” The battle of Marston Moor [2 July, 1644] 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 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 vic
[* Cousin to the loyal Marquis of Newcastle, and brother to the third Earl of Devonshire.]
[t Ludlow's Memoirs, ed. 1771, p. 30.].
tory 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, Cromwell's partizans, to magnify his reputation, gave out that certain troops of horse, picked men, all Irish and all Papists, had been appointed by Prince Rupert, to charge in that part where he was stationed. And reports as slanderous as those which charged him with want of courage, were spread abroad to give him the whole credit of the day: it was said that he had stopt the commander-in-chief, Manchester, in the act of flight, saying to him, “ You are mistaken, my lord: the enemy is not there !" The Earl of Manchester was as brave as Cromwell himself; no man who engaged in the rebellion demeaned himself throughout its course so honourably and so humanely (Colonel Hutchinson, in his station, perhaps alone excepted), and no man repented more sincerely, nor more frankly avowed his repentance for the part he had taken, when he saw the extent of the misery which he had largely contributed to bring upon his country.
Cromwell was now becoming an object of dislike or jealousy to those leaders of the rebellion whose reputation waned as his increased, or who had insanely supposed, when they let the waters loose, that it would at any time be in their power to restrain them again within their proper bounds. The open declaration which he made against the king at the commencement of hostilities, they had perhaps regarded with complacency, taking credit to
[* Hollis accuses him of cowardice not only at Marston-Moor, but at BasingHouse and Keynton. See Hollis's Life of Himself, in vol. i. of Maseres's Tracts.]