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CHAP. IV

RECRIMINATIONS

151

men than themselves. He desired to have none in the army but such as were of the independent judgment, because these would withstand any peace but such as honest men would aim at. He vowed that if he met the king in battle, he would as lief fire his pistol at the king as at anybody else. Of their brethren the Scots he had used contumelious speech, and had even said that he would as cheerfully draw the sword upon them as upon any in the army of the king.

The exasperation to which events had brought both the energetic men like Cromwell, and the slower men like Essex, had reached a dangerous pitch. One evening, very late, the two lawyers Whitelocke and Maynard were summoned to attend Lord Essex. They found the Scottish commissioners with him, along with Holles, Stapleton, and others of the presbyterian party. The question was whether by English law Cromwell could be tried as an incendiary, as one who kindles coals of contention and raises differences in the state to the public damage. Of this move the Scots were the authors. “ Cromwell is no good friend of ours," they said, “ and ever since our army came into England he has used all underhand and cunning means to detract from our credit." He was no friend either to their church. Besides that, he was little of a well-wisher to the lord-general whom they had such good reason to love and honour. Was there law enough in England to clip his wings ?

The lawyers gave a sage reply. English law, they said, knows, but not very familiarly, the man who kindles the burning flames of contention. But were there proofs that Oliver was such an incendiary? It would never do for persons of so great honour and authority as Essex and the Scots to go upon ground of which they were not sure. Again, had they considered the policy of the thing ? “I take Lieutenant-General Cromwell,” said Whitelocke, “ to be a gentleman of quick and subtle parts, and one who

hath, especially of late, gained no small interest in the House of Commons; nor is he wanting of friends in the House of Peers, or of abilities in himself to manage his own defence to the best advantage.” The bitter Holles and his presbyterian group were very keen for proceeding : they thought that there was plenty of evidence, and they did not believe Cromwell to be so strong in the Commons as was supposed. In the end it was the Scots who judiciously saved their English allies from falling into the scrape, and at two o'clock in the morning the party broke up. Whitelocke or another secretly told Cromwell what had passed, with the result that he only grew more eager than before.

II

A hundred and thirty years later a civil war again broke out among the subjects of the British crown. The issues were not in form the same. Cromwell fought for the supremacy of parliament within the kingdom; Washington fought against the supremacy of parliament over Englishmen across the Atlantic Ocean. It is possible that if Charles I. had been as astute and as unscrupulous as George III., the struggle on the English ground might have run a different course. However that may be, in each case the two wars were in their earlier stages not unlike, and both Marston Moor and Bunker Hill rank amongst those engagements that have a lasting significance in history, where military results were secondary to moral effect. It was these encounters that first showed that the champions of the popular cause intended and were able to make a stand-up fight against the forces of the monarchy. In each case the combatants expected the conflict to be short. In each case the battle of popular liberty was first fought by weak bodies, ill-paid, ill-disposed to discipline, mounted on cart-horses and armed

CHAP. IV

CHAP. IV SUFFERING OF THE COUNTRY 153 with fowling-pieces, mainly anxious to get back to their homes as soon as they could, and fluctuating from month to month with the humours, the jealousies, or the means of the separate counties in England, or the separate States in America. “ Short enlistments," said Washington, “and a mistaken dependence on militia, have been the origin of all our misfortunes; the evils of a standing army are remote, but the consequence of wanting one is certain and inevitable ruin. To carry on the war systematically, you must establish your army on a permanent and national footing.” What Washington said in 1776 was just what Cromwell said in 1644.

The system had broken down. Officers complained that their forces melted away, because men thought they would be better treated in other counties, and all comers were welcomed by every association. One general grumbles that another general is favoured in money and supplies. The governors of strong towns are in hot feud with the committee of the town. Furious passages took place between pressed men and the county. committees. Want of pay made the men sulky and mutinous, and there were always “evil instruments” ready to trade on such moods.

The Committee of Both Kingdoms write to a colonel commanding in the west in the year of Naseby, that they have received very great complaints from the country of the intolerable miscarriage of his troopers ; already great disservice is done to the parliament by the robbing, spoiling, and plundering of the people, they also giving extreme offence by their swearing, drinking, and all kinds of debaucheries. Exemplary punishment should be inflicted upon such notorious misdemeanants. The sufferings of some parts of the country were almost unbearable. The heavy exactions of the Scots in Cumberland and Westmorland for month

after month brought the inhabitants of those counties to despair, “ and necessity forced the distressed people in some parts to stand upon their defence against the taxings and doing of the soldiers." In Northumberland and Durham the charges on the farmers were so heavy that the landlord had little or nothing, and was only too glad if his tenants could but keep a fire in the farmhouses and save them from ruin. The Yorkshire men complained that they were rated in many districts for the Scottish horse at more than double the value of their lands in the best times. On each side at this time the soldiers lived in the main upon plunder. They carried off cattle and cut down crops. They sequestered rents and assessed fines. They kept up a multitude of small forts and garrisons as a shelter to flying bands, who despoiled the country and fought off enemies who would fain have done the same, and could have done no worse.

Apart from the waste and brutality intrinsic in war, the general breakdown of economic order might well alarm the instincts of the statesman. “Honest industry,” cried one voice of woe, “is quite discouraged, being almost useless. Most men that have estates are betrayed by one side or another, plundered, sequestered. Trading—the life and substance of thousands—decaying, eaten up with taxes ; your poor quite ready to famish, or to rise to pull relief from rich men's hands by violence. Squeezed by taxes, racked by war, the anvil, indeed, of misery, upon which all the strokes of vengeance fall.” A covetous eye had long been cast upon the endowments of the church. “The stop of trade here,” Baillie wrote even so far back as 1641, “ has made this people much poorer than ordinary ; they will noways be able to bear their burden if the cathedrals fall not." From its first phases in all countries the reformation of faith went with designs upon the church lands. And so it was in England now.

CHAP. IV

THE ARMY REORGANISED

155

“You will never get your service done,” said Waller, “ until you have an army entirely your own, and at your own command.” This theme was the prime element in the New Model—the substitution of one army under a single commander-in-chief, supported by the parliament, instead of sectional armies locally levied and locally paid. The second feature was the weeding out of worthless men, a process stigmatised by presbyterians out of temper as a crafty means of filling the army with sectaries, a vile compound of Jew, Christian, and Turk, mere tools of usurping ambition. The third was the change in the command. The new army was entrusted to Sir Thomas Fairfax as commanderin-chief, with liberty to name his own officers subject to ratification by the two Houses. The honest Skippon, a valiant fighter and a faithful man, was made major-general, and the higher post of lieutenant - general was left significantly open. The army of which Essex was lord-general numbered on paper twenty-five thousand foot and five thousand horse. In 1644 it was fixed at seven thousand foot and three thousand five hundred horse. The army of the New Model was to consist of twenty-two thousand men in all, fourteen thousand four hundred being foot and the rest horse and dragoons. A trooper received about what he would have received for labour at the plough or with the waggon.

The average substantive wealth in the army was not high. Royalists were fond of taunting them with their meagre means, and vowed that the whole pack of them from the lord-general to the horsefarrier could not muster one thousand pounds a year in land among them. Yet in Fairfax's new army, of the officers of the higher military rank no fewer than thirty out of thirty-seven were men of good family. Pride the drayman, and Hewson the cobbler, and Okey the ship-chandler, were among the minority who rose from the common ranks.

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