Page images

dition of the army, and the means of efficaciously reforming it, having come before the lower house, Cromwell, while every one was unwilling to broach a subject of so delicate a nature, broke the deep silence thus, “ That it was now a time to speak, or for ever to hold the tongue; the important occa. sion being no less than to save a nation out of a bleeding, nay almost a dying condition, which the long continuance of the war had already brought it into, so that without a more speedy, vigorous, and effectual prosecution of the war, casting off all lingering proceedings, like soldiers of fortune be. yond sea, to spin out a war, we shall make the king. dom weary of us, and hate the name of a parliament. For what do the enemy say ? Nay, what do many say that were friends at the beginning of this parliament? Even this, that the members of both houses have got great places and commands, and the sword into their hands, and what by in. terest in parliament, and what by power in the ar. my, will perpetually continue themselves in grandeur, and not permit the war speedily to end, lest their own power should determine with it. This I speak here to our own faces, is but what others do utter abroad behind our backs. I am far from reflecting on any; I know the worth of those commanders, members of both houses, who are yet in power ; but, if I may speak my conscience without reflection upon any, I do conceive, if the army be not put into another method, and the war more vigorously prosecuted, the people can bear the war no ionger, and will enforce you to a dishonourable

Ficacioz Er houx

to brez - the ź

speak. tant de on out i


y brow


[ocr errors]

- vigas sting this Fortune i

e the line of a pari

peace. But this I would recommend to your prudence, not to insist upon any complaint or oversight of any commander-in-chief upon any occasion whatsoever ; for, as I must acknowledge myself guilty of oversights, so I know they can rarely be avoided in military affairs : therefore waving a strict inquiry into the causes of these things, let us apply ourselves to the remedy that is most necessary; and I hope we have such true English hearts, and zealous affections towards the general weal of our mother country, that no members of either house will scruple to deny themselves their own private interests for the public good ; nor account it a dishonour done to them, whatever the parliament shall resolve upon in this weighty affair *.” Another spoke thus : “ Whatever is the matter, which I list not so much to inquire after, two summers are past over, and we are not saved : our victories (the price of blood invaluable) so gallantly gotten, and, which is more pity, so graciously bestowed, seem to have been put into a bag with holes ; what we won one time we lost another : the treasure is exhausted, the country wasted : a summer's victory has proved but a winter's story; the game, however shut up with autumn, was to be new played in spring—as if the blood that has been shed were only to manure the field of war, for a more plentiful crop of contention. Men's hearts have failed them with the observation of these things, the cause whereof the

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

* This I conceive to be a sufficient proof of Cromwell's powers as a public speaker.

2 N 3


parliament has been tender of ravelling into. But men cannot be hindered from venting their opinions privately, and their fears which are various, and no less variously expressed ; concerning which I de. termine nothing ; but this I would say, 'tis apparent the forces being under several commanders, want of good correspondency amongst the chieftains has oftentimes hindered the public service*." After these speeches, Mr. Zouch Tate moved, that all members of either house should be precluded by ordinance from holding commands; and this having been seconded by the younger Vane and others, was, after a long debate, resolved by the house, when an ordinance in conformity with the vote was ordered to be brought in. On the 11th, the ordinance as prepared was read the first time; and a fast was voted on the same day for that house, to be held on the 18th, “ to humble themselves for their parliamentary and particular sins and failings, whereby they might obtain God's blessing in a better measure upon their endeavours for the future.” On the 12th, a petition was presented by many in London, encouraging the design. On Saturday the 14th, the ordinance was read a second time, and a committee of the whole house was appointed to consider it on the Wednesday following, (17th,)when some amendments were assented to, and a provision in favour of the lord-general, that the ordinance should not extend to him, was

* Surely there are fewer more eloquently condensed passages to be found in any language than this.

rejected by 100 to 93. Another proviso levelled at Cromwell's friends, that none should enjoy military command who would not subscribe an obligation to submit to any church government which should be agreed upon by both houses, upon the advice of the assembly of divines, was, with the ordinance itself, allowed to lie over till the next Thursday, or the day after the fast. The fast was assented to by the lords likewise ; and certain preachers were ordered by both houses to discharge the spiritual functions, while all strangers, even the attendants of members, were ordered to be excluded. This resolution by both houses was alleged to be for the purpose of affording the preachers an opportunity to expatiate upon the new intended model, or, as this was styled, the self-denying ordinance; but as it had previously been fully debated and determined upon in the lower house, the object could not be to move the commons, unless as to the proviso, regarding the subscription to submit to any church government agreed to by both houses, &c. and therefore we must conclude, that, if such a design were contemplated at all, it must have been directed towards the lords, where it was expected the ordi. nance would encounter the greatest opposition. Next day the proviso about church government was rejected by the commons, and the ordinance pass

ed *.

* Now the reader will be able to appreciate the correctness of Clarendon's statement, which is followed by Hume, and the nature of the latter's history of England. The story is, that the Independents knew not

White- In the debate about the self-denying ordinance locke's ar. gument on under the grand committee, Whitelocke spoke at the self-de

ng ordiconsiderable length against the measure; argu


how to propose the alterations, till they resorted to the method which had hitherto proved so successful—that of preparing and repairing things in the church, that they might afterwards grow to maturity in parliament. That they therefore proposed that they would have a solemn fast day, in which they would seek God, (which was the new phrase they brought from Scotland with their covenant,) and desire his assistance to lead them out of the perplexities they were in; and they took care to nominate fit preachers: that when the fast day came, (which was observed for eight or ten hours together in the churches,) the preachers prayed that “parliament might be inspired with those thoughts as might contribute to their honour, reputation," &c. : that they then expatiated upon public affairs, alleging the parliament lay under many reproaches for making places, &c. to themselves, and that the people despaired of ever seeing an end of the present calamities, &c. They again fell to their prayers, “ that God would take his own work into his hand; and if the instruments he had already employed were not worthy to bring so glorious a design to a conclusion, that he would inspire others more fit,” &c. When, continues he, the two houses met the next day after these devout animadversions, there was another spirit appeared in the looks of many of them. Sir Henry Vane told them, “ If ever God had appeared to them, it was in the exercise of yesterday; and that it appeared it proceeded from God, because (as he was credibly informed by many who had been auditors in the congregations) the same lamentations and discourses had been made in other churches, as the godly preachers had inade before them, which could therefore proceed only from the immediate inspiration of God;" and so forth. He also gives a speech for Cromwell, Clar. vol. iv. p. 564, et seq. Now we have given our dates from the Journals, which prove beyond all doubt that the new model was resolved upon before a fast was even voted, and that the ordinance itself had undergone the fullest discussion before the fast was held. But this is not all, The fast was only kept by the two houses; an ordinance for the general or national fast having been past next day, to be held on Christmas day, “ although it be the day on which the feast of the nativity of our Saviour was wont to be solemnized;" (Journ.) so that there could not be that concurrence in the language of the different churches, pretended to be alluded to by Vane. It is evident, therefore, as

« PreviousContinue »