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seeing it is come out, we trust to rejoice in the will of the Lord, waiting his further pleasure.” This can only mean that Ireton and his party were pressing forward of their own will, and without impulse from Cromwell at Pontefract. Yet it is equally evident that he did not disapprove. In concluding the letter he denounces the treaty of Newport as a “ruining, hypocritical agreement,” and remonstrates with those of their friends who expect good from Charles—“ good by this Man, against whom the Lord hath witnessed, and whom thou knowest!”

A writer of a hostile school has remarked in this memorable letter “ its cautious obscurity, shadowy significance; its suavity, tenderness, subtlety ; the way in which he alludes to more than he mentions, suggests more than pronounces his own argumentative intention, and opens an indefinite view, all the hard features of which he softly puts aside” (J. B. Mozley). Quite true; but what if this be the real Cromwell, and represent the literal working of his own habit and temper ?

When the letter reached the Isle of Wight Hammond was no longer there. The army had made up their minds to act, and the blow had fallen. The fate of the king was sealed. In this decision there is no evidence that Cromwell had any share. His letter to Hammond is our last glimpse of him, and from that and the rest the sounder conclusion seems to be that even yet he would fain have gone slow, but was forced to go fast. Charles might possibly even at the eleventh hour have made his escape, but he still nursed the illusion that the army could not crush the parliament without him. He had, moreover, given his parole. When reminded that he had given it not to the army but to the parliament, his sombre pride for once withstood a sophism. At break of the winter day (December 1) a body of officers broke into his chamber, put him into a coach, conducted him to the coast, and then

CHAP, VỊ

PRIDE'S PURGE

235

tradesolate and nat spit on the mained a fortnighet

transported him across the Solent to Hurst Castle, a desolate and narrow blockhouse standing at the edge of a shingly spit on the Hampshire shore. In these dreary quarters he remained a fortnight. The last scene was now rapidly approaching of that desperate drama in which every one of the actors -king, parliament, army, Cromwell—seemed as if engaged in a death struggle with some implacable necessity.

At Westminster, meanwhile, futile proceedings in the House of Commons had been brought to a rude close. The House resolved by a large majority once more (November 30) not to consider the army remonstrance, and the army promptly replied by marching into London two days later (December 2). Two days after that, the House with a long and very sharp discussion put upon record a protest against the forcible removal of the king without their knowledge or consent. They then proceeded to debate the king's answers to their commissioners at the Isle of Wight. A motion was made that the answers should be accepted, but the motion finally carried was in the weakened and dilatory form that the answers “ were a ground for the House to proceed upon for the settlement of the peace of the kingdom ” (December 5). This was the final provocation to the soldiers. The same afternoon a full consultation took place between some of the principal officers of the army and a number of members of parliament. One side were for forcible dissolution, as Cromwell had at one time been for it; the other were for the less sweeping measure of a partial purge. A committee of three members of the House and three officers of the army was ordered to settle the means for putting a stop to proceedings in parliament, that were nothing less than a forfeiture of its trust. These six agreed that the army should be drawn out next morning, and guards placed in Westminster Hall and the lobby, that “none might be permitted to pass into the House, but such as had continued faithful to the public interest." At seven o'clock next morning (December 6) Colonel Pride was at his post in the lobby, and before night one hundred and forty-three members had either been locked up or forcibly turned back from the doors of the House of Commons. The same night Cromwell returned from Yorkshire and lay at Whitehall where Fairfax already was, I suppose for the first time. “There," says Ludlow, “and at other places, Cromwell declared that he had not been acquainted with this design, yet, since it was done, he was glad of it and would endeavour to maintain

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The process was completed next day. A week later (December 15) the council of officers determined that Charles should be brought to Windsor, and Fairfax sent orders accordingly. In the depth of the winter night, the king in the desolate keep on the sea - shingle heard the clanking of the drawbridge, and at daybreak he learned that the redoubtable Major Harrison had arrived. Charles well knew how short a space divides a prince's prison from his grave. He had often revolved in his mind “ sad stories of the death of kings ”— of Henry VI., of Edward II. murdered at Berkeley, of Richard II. at Pontefract, of his grandmother at Fotheringay,—and he thought that the presence of Harrison must mean that his own hour had now come for a like mysterious doom. Harrison was no man for these midnight deeds, though he was fervid in his belief, and so he told the king, that justice was no respecter of persons, and great and small alike must be submitted to the law. Charles was relieved to find that he was only going “ to exchange the worst of his castles for the best," and after a ride of four days (December 19-23) through the New Forest, Winchester, Farnham, Bagshot, he found himself once more at the noblest of the palaces of

CHAP. VI

CHARLES AT WINDSOR.

237

the English sovereigns. Here for some three weeks he passed infatuated hours in the cheerful confidence that the deadlock was as immovable as ever, that his enemies would find the knot inextricable, that he was still their master, and that the blessed day would soon arrive when he should fit round their necks the avenging halter.

CHAPTER VII

THE DEATH OF THE KING

THE Commons meanwhile, duly purged or packed, had named a committee to consider the means of bringing the king to justice, and they passed an ordinance (January 1, 1649) for setting up to try him a High Court of Justice, composed of one hundred and fifty commissioners and three judges. After going through its three readings, and backed by a resolution that by the fundamental laws of the kingdom it is treason in the king to levy war against the parliament and kingdom of England, the ordinance was sent up to the Lords. The Lords only numbering twelve on this strange occasion, promptly, passionately, and unanimously rejected it. The fifty or sixty members who were now the acting House of Commons, retorted with revolutionary energy. They instantly passed a resolution (Jan. 4) affirming three momentous propositions : that the people are the original of power ; that the Commons in parliament assembled have the supreme power; and that what they enact has the force of law, even without the consent of either king or lords. Then they passed their ordinance over again, omitting the three judges, and reducing the commissioners to one hundred and thirty-five (January 6). Two days later the famous High Court of Justice met for the first time in the Painted Chamber, but out of one hundred and thirty-five persons named in the act,

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