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State of the Court and Royal Army-Assembly of the Mock
or Mongrel Parliament at Oxford, and its proceedings -Ruin of the English-Irish Regiments brought by Charles to England-Entrance of the Scots, and their junction with Fairfand after his victories at Selby-Siege of York, and junction of Manchester's Army with Fairfax's and the Scottish-Exploits of Rupert, and Battle of Marston Moor-Character of Cromwell and of the Independents-Battle of Cropredy Bridge-Essex's Forces disarmed-Second Battle of Nerbury-Self-denying Ordinance-Fairfax—Montrose's proceedings in Scotland - Treaty of Uxbridge-Execution of Laud.
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In his attempt to escape from the wholesome controul of his grand council, Charles only in. curred a severer thraldom. To the complaints and insatiable demands of those who supported him, and who, putting a due value on their own services, shewed that they did not mean to vindi. cate his claims without a proper return, the royal ear must be ever open ; and if any received the slightest check in his unwarrantable pretensions, he threatened to leave the kingdom. Having set
the example of trampling upon all law but that of force, he taught the soldiers to regard the sword as the origin of legitimate government, and consequently to despise the council as subordinate to the army. With a respect for the law of the land, the officers threw off that likewise for military discipline, and the ordinary decency of morals, haying become addicted to the grossest intemperance and licentiousness, which soon infected the whole army. The council, which wanted all the vi. gour of a popular meeting, was rent into factions, all forgetting the cause in their intrigues for place, honours, and emolument, and each aiming at the ruin of his neighbour. But he, flattering himself that, after he had used his present instruments to overturn the constitution, he might either restrain or change them, was not moved by this melancho. ly posture of affairs, to conceive the idea of attempting to recover the place of a legal monarch ; yet it is most certain, that, as the government which he desired would have been opposed to the affections of his people, he must have been little better than the slave of the military, on whom alone, in that event, he could have depended *.
Charles, having learned advisers, who told him that, in their “ opinion, the act for the continuance of the parliament was void from the beginning, as it was not in the power of the king to bar himself from the power of dissolving it, which is to be deprived of an essential part of his sovereignty,” had
* Clar. vol. iii. p. 384, et seq. and other references in our preceding page 4 49.
formed the design of dissolving the par
to their opinion. But the grounds on which the plan was recommended and adopted, are best stated in the words of Clarendon. “ It might reasonably be hoped and presumed, that persons who had that duty to obey bis majesty's summons in coming thither, which would be none but such as had already absented themselves from Westminster, and thereby incensed those who remained there, would not bring ill and troublesome humours with them to disturb that service, which could only preserve them; but, on the contrary, would unite and conspire together to make the king superior to his and their enemies; and as to the advancing any propositions of peace, which there could be no doubt but they would be inclined to, nor would it be fit for his majesty to oppose them, there could be no inconve. nience, since their appearing in it would but draw reproach from those at Westminster, who would never give them any answer, or look upon them under any notion but as private persons and deserters of the parliament, without any qualification to treat, or be treated with, which would more provoke those at Oxford, and by degrees stir up more animosities between them *.” Thus did Charles consent even to this meeting, only from the hope that circumstances had deprived it of all independence, and that, far from accomplishing the object which he professed to have most at heart--the public peace -it would render the quarrel irreconcileable.
* Clar. Hist. vol. iii. p. 413, 414.
HISTORY OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE.
What had been foreseen immediately happened Meeting of
the mongrel when this assembly met. The parliament, which parlia had too fully experienced that propositions from the king were merely intended to cover intrigues for betraying them, had prudently prohibited any message from that quarter, except through the general ; and a letter was sent from the lords and commons assembled in parliament at Oxford, under cover to him, to be conveyed to those who trusted him. This, as it at once directly denied the authority under which he acted, he refused to forward ; and it was followed by a letter from the king's general for a safe conduct “to and from Westminster, for Mr. Richard Fanshaw and Mr. Thomas Offly.” The same conclusion arose from this, and Essex answered, that when his majesty required a safe conduct for the gentlemen mentioned to the two houses of parliament, it should be forwarded. Then followed another letter to Essex, enclosing one from the lords and commons of parliament assembled at Oxford, to the lords and commons of parliament assembled at Westminster, which drew from that body a spirited answer, vindicating their own character as the grand legislative assembly, yet professing their desire of accommodation ; and thus ended the matter according to the monarch's wish, while it afforded him a pretext for publishing a declaration, in the name of the lords and commons of parliament assembled at Oxford, full of reproaches against the parliament for continuing so calamitous a war, in spite of all his ceaseless la.