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Commencement of the Civil War.- State of parties.Bat
tle of Edge Hill.--King's attempt on Brentford.—Negociation at Oxford.--Landing of the Queen.—Policy of Charles in regard to Ireland and Scotland.- Actions in various Quarters.-Fall of Reading..Death of Hampden.-Battle of Stratton.-Of Lansdown-Of Roundwaydown.-Bristol taken.-Siege of Glo'ster.-Battle of Newbury.--State of Affairs.-The Solemn League and Covenant, and arming of the Scots.-Cessation with Ireland.--Death of Pym.
Ir may not be improper, at the commencement of State of hostilities, to take a concise view of the state of parties. parties. Of the nobility, too many had been ori. ginally attached to the court, as the fountain of their own power, and still wished to promote its schemes: others, having been lately struck with apprehensions that the spirit which animated the Commons and the great mass of the people, was hostile to their exclusive privileges ; and expecting preferment from, while they dreaded the vengeance of, the court, which they imagined would be ultimately successful, and would doubtless mark out those in highest place for the first sacrifices, had, after temporizing for a time, joined VOL. III.
the king. Many in the lower house, actuated by similar motives, had also deserted their duty in Parliament, and fled to the royal standard: but we have already shewn the vanity of that idea which presupposes that they wished complete success to the monarch, or were actuated by generous motives of loyalty. They still hoped for accommodation as the only resource against tyranny in the king and encroachment in the people, and the scrambling for office, and honours, &c. the heart-burnings and jealousies, together with the desertion of their royal master in his utmost need, all detailed by Clarendon*,-strip their characters of that air of romance with which certain historians have so sedulously clothed them. There were even some prudent members of the peer. age, who, wisely calculating chances, arrayed one part of their sons on one side and another on the other,--the plan so generally pursued afterwards in Scotland,—that the titles and estates might be preserved in the family. But the great aristocracy, on whom the king so much relied, though they could bring their immediate dependents into the field, were in other respects rather calculated to grace the court, and by their influence in society, support it in an hour of peace, than prevail in the present conflict. The rank and title on which their claim to public respect was founded in ordinary times, naturally disposed them to confide in these advantages, instead of cultivat. ing the habits of mental energy and activity requisite for such a crisis; and accordingly, the sloth which sprang from their situation was remarked even by their friends. As officers, they proved rather jolly companions than good soldiers ; and each removal by death or otherwise : was hurtful to the cause, since the influence over their dependents was lost, and, merit never having been rewarded with place, the king wanted others to supply their room. Even the common soldiery were composed of materials far inferior to those of the parliament; for the aristocracy, though they might call their dependents into the field, could never inspire that zeal which actuates men deeply interested in the public government, and ardent for the preservation of freedom. The foot, therefore, was even at the beginning inferior to that of the parliament; but many of a good station having entered into the ranks of the cavalry *, a far higher spirit prevailed in that department of the military. It is true that some individuals of eminent talent did resort to the king; but as these were politicians, calculated for the closet, not the field, and who were destitute of the vigour or influence of a popular meeting, while Charles only followed their counsel, when it corresponded with his secret designs, which he
* See particularly vol. iii. p. 361-2.; iv. p. 554, et seq.
• Clarendon pretends that one troop of cavalry possessed more property than all the commons who voted the war at Westminster ; but he prudently restrains from all particulars by which his statement could have been contradicted ; yet Mr. Hume adopts it, though he had also maintained that the commons' house in the beginning of this reign possessed three times the wealth of the house of peers.
never thoroughly revealed even to them, their abilities and accomplishments were of comparatively small advantage. The old clergy and highchurch party strictly adhered to the royal side; and Charles depended greatly on the whole Catholic body, who zealously supported him, from the hope of promoting both their religion and their influence in the state.
In talent, zeal, and energy, the opposite party were infinitely superior. No age nor country ever could boast of a greater number of admirable statesmen than at this period dignified the English parliament: Their capacity for affairs was equalled only by their unremitting assiduity. A committee of the most eminent was appointed to manage the war as well as foreign business, and being ever res. ponsible to the general body when it required information, their whole powers were exerted to merit its approbation. Hence, the parliament, though a public body, could act with the requisite secrecy, while they lost no opportunity of diving into the most secret consultations and projects of their adversaries; and in this were so successful, that no measure was, at any time, devised by the royal party, whether in regard to foreign connections, supplies of arms, or internal action, that escaped their vigilance. The most confidential ser. vants of Charles indeed were always ready to be. tray him; but they who betrayed the laws and rights of their country could not, without a foolish presumption, be expected to stand true to the prince, whose services imported treachery to the
state : the cold, formal, and forbidding manner of Charles, was incompatible with affection to his per. son.
Towns are the region of liberal spirit, and of the talent calculated to vindicate one's rights : 'and the metropolis and the other independent towns were all equally zealous for the parliament. The haughty carriage of the nobility, which bespoke contempt for the sober citizen, was returned with no friendly feeling by men whose independent fortunes did not raise them to proportional respect. The numerous monopolies and obstructions to trade had inflamed the mass of the inhabitants on pure grounds of pecuniary interest, as had the arbitrary measures of the court, both in regard to civil and political liberty, struck them with dismay. So anxious had the prince been to suppress the spirit of the capital, that he had interferred with the appointment of their magistrates; and even in the hour of his greatest necessity, during the Scottish invasion, he had meditated greater changes: On the same principle, he eagerly, against law, interdicted the resort thither of the nobility and gentry. It is unnecessary to remark that the support of the towns was a sure fund of money, if not of men. , sit
In the country, the greater portion of the prin. cipal gentry, and almost all the inferior, together with the freeholders and yeomen, were heartily inclined to the popular, side ; and as these inferior ranks were prepared to arm in defence of the cause, it is easy to conceive that, when embodied, they would be actuated with a spirit and intelligence to