Page images

well signified to an individual who does not, as to one who does, belong to it; and if he were permitted to take a single step, out of his mere unauthorized conception of the designs of parliament from what he had seen passing there, the inevitable consequence would be, that, under such a pretext, he would promote the views of the particular faction to which he belonged. Again, as to obedience being more easily exacted from a member, than from a servant regularly appointed, from his aptitude to the business, the idea is no less groundless, since a member would naturally act in conjunction with a faction within doors, which would exert all its influence to support his preceedings, and it would be a matter of difficulty to disgrace him, while another could receive his instructions only from his constituents, and might be removed without a breach of delicacy: Nor did it follow that men of sufficient rank could not be found without the precincts of both houses. But it is strange, indeed, first, that Mr. Hume should have relied so confidently upon the argument founded on the inexperience of the commanders, which the two houses were by this new arrangement obliged to appoint, since the result so immediately and decisively belied it; and, secondly, that he should have conceived it so essential that the great military commanders should be elected from members of parliament, when the reasoning was so directly refuted by the expe. rience of his own age; for though there be no law against the appointment of members in either house, the majority of those in greatest command have not held places in the senate. It is singular that Whitelocke himself, in the course of four pages from the transcript of his speech, mentions the absolute necessity that there was for a new arrangement*.

The self-denying ordinance met with a different reception in the upper house. The lords, conceiving that it struck particularly at their privi. leges, since those only of the commons who were returned to parliament were exempted, while their whole body were thus excluded; and, unwilling to offend Essex, Manchester, and others, as well as anxious to continue them in command, purposely delayed the bill in spite of messages from the commons, and after a conference, finally, on the 15th of January, rejected it. This gave rise to the first New movisible breach between the houses : But, in the army. mean time, even the lords were sensible that some new arrangement was absolutely necessary; and as the commons brought in an ordinance for newmodelling the army to 7000 horse and dragoons, and 14,000 foot, in all, and to put it under Sir Thomas Fairfax as general, and Skippon as serjeant-majorgeneral, the upper house, though with some modifications, passed it. Essex and the rest having at length perceived, that though they might retain the name of commanders, they had lost the power, resigned their commissions on the 1st of April; and the commons having passed and transmitted to the

f the

* Whitelocke, p. 123.

lords another ordinance to the same effect, though somewhat modified, as the self-denying one, it was now passed by the upper house.

As Cromwell retained a command in the army in spite of the ordinance, the whole has been ascribed to the cunning device of that famous person and his party. But the self-denying ordinance, as it was accompanied with such memorable effects, has been the subject of misrepresenta. tion; and it seldom fails, that when individuals rise by certain conjunctures, people overlook the progress of the ascent, and, contemplating the last stage only, ascribe to early deep laid policy, what had been of later growth. That it was the ardent wish of Cromwell and of his party, that he should obtain a military cominand, is undoubted. But that this was the object of the new model, may well be questioned. From the posture of affairs, it was absolutely necessary to adopt some speedy measure to defeat the designs of other parties and advance their own; and though the new model of the army might not elevate Cromwell as a general, it promised, under Fairfax, to exalt the party of which Cromwell was now at the head. He had formerly urged decisive measures which must have frustrated his hopes of holding the chief command; and as an active leader in parliament, with such an arıny under Fairfax, he

But it never could have been anticipated, that by certain conjunctures a pretext should have been afforded for a short dispensation of the self-denying ordinance in his favour; and far less could he, if his party were, as


is alleged, the inferior in number, expect that any pretext would have been successful. It is easy to assert that the majority were juggled; but it is difficult to believe that men of their penetration, assisted by the Scottish commissioners, inveterate enemies of Cromwell, should have been so readily the dupes of a project to which they had such aversion. Had the self-denying ordinance, and that for the new model been speedily passed, he never could have had a pretext for continuing in the army. It was only on the 27th of February that he was ordered by the parliament, which he had till then attended, to join Sir William Waller, that he might march with him to the relief of Melcombe, and the places adjacent, as well as prevent levies and recruits there by the king *: And it was his eminent services at this juncture which led to a dispensation in his favour for forty days, as matters became critical : But had the self-denying ordinance, and that for the new model been passed as soon as was expected, both Waller and Cromwell must have been, on the 27th of February, out of command, and neither could have been sent on the employment. On the 11th of May, both houses, without a division, granted him, as being then on actual service, a dispensation from the ordinance for forty days, and the battle of Naseby occurred within the time limited. By another ordinance, they also, at the request of Fairfax and his officers, on the eve of that memorable engagement, ap

[blocks in formation]

pointed him lieutenant-general of the horse during the pleasure of both houses. Nor is it wonderful. All had the utmost confidence in his capacity for war, and affairs were to the last degree criti. cal *. They who wished a speedy and effectual termination to hostilities, and dreaded the results of a great engagement, were anxious for the assistance of such a genius. His enemies, who de. sired to protract the sanguinary struggle, imagined that the new modelled army, commanded, as they alleged, by officers without experience, for Skippon was the only old soldier retained, would be so unsuccessful as to cover the commanders with disgrace, and lead to the recal of Essex; and as they were eager to tarnish the fame of Cromwell, and thus divest him of influence, we may presume that they were not averse to afford him an opportunity to lose the laurels he had gain. ed. On the other hand, if the new model were immediately successful, which could alone overcome all the odium that attached to the invidious measure of removing the old commanders, and consequently prevent a recurrence to the old arrangement, the army could speedily be put upon a new footing, since the self-denying ordinance only subsisted during the war, and the Scottish army still continued in England as a check upon the other. Besides, little was apprehended from such a temporary and subordinate appointment as that of Cromwell; nor could any one have predicted the

* Journals.

« PreviousContinue »