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themselves for comparative moderation. Because they could manage a party, they fancied themselves capable of managing a rebellion, not remembering, or not knowing, that
When evil strives, the worst have greatest names : and not perceiving that when Cromwell, in opposition to the impudent hypocrisy of the Parliament's language respecting the king, spoke boldly out like one who was resolved to go
all lengths, by that declaration he became the head of that party which, in all such convulsions, is sure to obtain the ascendency. From the known opinions of Ireton, and the probable ones of Hampden, the two men whom he seems to have regarded with most deference, it is most likely that he entered into the war as a republican; and now he scrupled not to let his principles be known, saying he hoped soon to see the time when there would not be a single lord in England, and when Lord Manchester would be called nothing more than Mr. Montague. But in his political as in his puritanical professions, Cromwell, who began in sincerity, was now acting a part. Experience was not lost upon so sagacious
The more he saw of others, the higher he was led to rate himself; and Hobbes seems to have taken the just view of his motives when he says that his main policy was always to serve the strongest party well, and to proceed as far as that and fortune would carry him.
But Cromwell, who seldom mistook the characters of men, deceived himself when he supposed that he could make Manchester his instrument, as he afterwards duped Fairfax. For this must have been his secret object when discoursing with him freely upon the state of the kingdom, and proposing something to which the Earl replied that the Parliament would never approve it, he made answer, “ My Lord, if you will stick firm to honest men, you shall find yourself in the head of an
that shall give the law to King and Parliament.” This startled Manchester, who already knew him to be a man of deep designs : and the manner in which the speech was received made Cromwell perceive that the earl must be set aside, as a person who was altogether unfit for his views. Their mutual dislike broke out after the second battle of Newbury.* Cromwell would have attempted to bring that doubtful conflict to a decided issue, by charging
[* 27th October, 1644. The first battle was fought 20th Sept., 1643.]
the King's army in their retreat ; and from the excellent discipline of his brigade, and his skill and intrepidity in action, it is probable he might have inflicted a severe blow upon troops who, it is acknowledged on their own part, were well enough pleased to be rid of an enemy that had handled them so ill. But Manchester thought the hazard too great in that season, being the winter, and that the ill consequences of a defeat would be far greater than the advantage to be gained by a victory; for, he said, if they should be routed before Essex’s army were reinforced, there would be an end of their pretences; and they should be all rebels and traitors, and executed as such by law. Cromwell repeated this to the House of Commons, and accused him of having betrayed the Parliament out of cowardice: Manchester justified himself, and in return charged Cromwell with the advice which he had offered him, to overawe both King and Parliament by means of the army. This open rupture occasioned much debate and animosity, and much alarm. “What,” it was said, “ shall we continue bandying one against another? See what a wide gap and door of reproach we open unto the enemy! A plot from Oxford could have done no more than work a distance between our best resolved spirits.” The Parliament, though indignant at first at what the Earl had said concerning the course of law in case of their overthrow, were on the other hand alarmed at the discovery of a danger from their own army, which, if it had been apprehended by far-sighted men, had never before been declared. Inquiry was called for, more on account of Cromwell's designs than the Earl's error of judgment; and the independents, as Cromwell's party now began to be called, chose rather to abandon their charge against Manchester, than risk the consequences of further investigation.
Manchester, on his part, made no further stir,-contented with as much repose as a mind not altogether satisfied with itself would allow him to enjoy. But Essex, the Lord General, who had acted less from mistaken principles than from weakness and vanity and pride, which made him the easy instrument of designing men, gave on this occasion the only instance of political foresight which he ever displayed. He perceived that Cromwell was a dangerous man; and taking council with Hollis and Stapleton, leading men among the Presbyterians, and with the
Scotch Commissioners, resolved, if it were possible, to disable one whose designs were so justly to be apprehended. In serving with the Scotch, Cromwell had contracted some dislike and some contempt for them; which they were not slow in perceiving, as indeed he took little pains to disguise it; and Essex was in hopes that the Scotch might be brought forward to overthrow a man whom he now considered a formidable rival, as by their means the plans for rebellion had first been ripened, and the superiority afterwards obtained for the parliamentary forces. A meeting was held at his house to deliberate upon the best mode of proceeding, and Whitelock and Maynard were sent for at a very late hour, to give their opinions as lawyers. The Scotch Chancellor explained the business to them in a characteristic speech. He began by assuring “Master Maynard and Master Whitelock” of the great opinion which he and his brethren had of their worth and abilities, else that meeting would not have been desired. “You ken vary weel,” said he, (as Whitelock reports his words) “ that Lieutenant General Cromwell is no friend of ours; and since the advance of our army into England, he hath used all underhand and cunning means to take off from our honour and merit of this kingdom ; an evil requital of all our hazards and services. But so it is; and we are nevertheless fully satisfied of the affections and gratitude of the gude people of this nation in the general. It is thought requisite for us, and for the carrying on the cause of the twa kingdoms, that this obstacle or remora may be removed out of the way, whom, we foresee, will otherwise be no small impediment to us and the gude design we have undertaken. He not only is no friend to us and to the government of our church, but he is also no well-wisher to his excellency, whom
you and we all have cause to love and honour: and if he be permitted to go on his ways, it may, I fear, endanger the whole business; therefore we are to advise of some course to be taken for the prevention of that mischief. You ken vary weel the accord twixt the twa kingdoms, and the union by the solemn league and covenant; and if any be an incendiary between the twa nations, how he is to be proceeded against. Now the matter is, wherein we desire your opinions, what you tak the meaning of this word incendiary to be, and whether Lieutenant General Cromwell be not sic an incendiary as is meant
thereby, and whilk way wud be best to tak to proceed against him, if he be proved to be sic an incendiary, and that will clip his wings from soaring to the prejudice of our cause. may ken that by our law in Scotland we clepe him an incendiary wha kindleth coals of contention, and raises differences in the state to the public damage, and he is tanquam publicus hostis patriæ. Whether your law be the same or not, you ken best wha are mickle learned therein: and, therefore, with the favour of his excellency we desire your judgments in these points.
Whitelock and Maynard were men of whom Lord Clarendon, who was intimate with them before the rebellion, has said, that “though they bowed their knees to Baal, and so swerved from their allegiance, it was with less rancour and malice than other men. They never led, but followed, and were rather carried away with the torrent than swam with the stream, and failed through those infirmities which less than a general defection and a prosperous rebellion could never have discovered.” Such men were not likely to advise bold measures, in which they might be called upon to bear a part. They admitted the meaning of the word incendiary as defined by the Scotch chancellor, and as it stood in the Covenant; but they required proofs of particular words or actions tending to kindle the fire of contention: they themselves had heard of none, and till the Scotch commissioners could collect such, they were of opinion that the business had better be deferred. And they spoke of the influence and favour which the person in question possessed. “I take Lieutenant General Cromwell,” said Whitelock, “to be a gentleman of quick and subtle parts, and one who hath, especially of late, gained no small interest in the House of Commons; nor is he wanting of friends in the House of Peers, nor of abilities in himself to manage his own part or defence to the best advantage.” † Hollis, Stapleton, and some others, related certain acts and sayings of Cromwell which they considered such proofs as the law required, and they were for proceeding boldly with the design. But the Scotch, who, at that time, had less at stake than the leaders of the English Presbyterians, chose the wary part; and Essex was always incapable of doing either good or evil, except as a tool in the hands of others.
[* Whitelock, p. 116, ed. 1732.] [t Whitelock, p. 117, ed. 1732.]
Cromwell was too able a politician not to have agents at all times in the enemy's quarters. Some who were present at this meeting were “ false brethren.” Whitelock and Maynard were liked by him the better for the opinion they had given ; the attack which they had averted might easily have put an end to his career of advancement: a sense of the danger which he had escaped quickened his own measures, and with the co-operation of his friends, and others with whom he then acted, the Selfdenying Ordinance was brought forward, an act which may justly be considered as the master-piece of his hypocritical policy. To effect this the alarm was first sounded by the “ drum ecclesiastic ;” the pulpits were manned on one of the appointed fast days, and the topic which the London preachers everywhere insisted on, was the reproach to which parliament was liable for the great emoluments which its members secured to themselves by the civil or military offices which they held ; the necessity of removing this reproach, and of praying that God would take his own work into his own hand, and inspire other instruments to perfect what was begun, if those he had already employed were not worthy to bring so glorious a design to a conclusion. Parliament met the next day, and Sir Harry Vane (who, though a thorough fanatic in his notions, could not have acted more hypocritically if he had been pure knave) told them that if ever God had appeared to them, it was in the exercise of yesterday ; he was credibly informed that the same lamentations and discourses as the godly preachers had made before them, had been made in all other churches ; and this could only have proceeded from the immediate Spirit of God. He then offered to resign an office which he himself held. Cromwell took
the strain ; desired that he might lay down his commission, enlarged upon the vices which were got into the army, “ the profaneness and impiety, and absence of all religion, drinking, gaming, and all manner of licence and laziness.” Till the whole army were new modelled, he said, and governed under a stricter discipline, they must not expect any notable success ; and he desired the parliament not to be terrified with an imagination that if the highest offices were vacant, they should not be able to fill them with fit men, for, besides that it was not good to put so much trust in any arm of flesh as to think such a cause depended upon any one man, he took
upon himself to assure them they had officers in their army