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There is therefore a great dark void, from February, 1641, to January, 1643, through which the reader is to help himself from Letter III. over to Letter IV., as he best may. How has pacific England, the most solid pacific country in the world, got all into this armed attitude; and decided itself to argue henceforth by pike and bullet till it get some solution? Dryasdust, if there remained any shame in him, ought to look at those wagonloads of Printed Volumes, and blush! We, in great haste, offer the necessitous reader the following hints and considerations.
It was mentioned above that Oliver St. John, the noted Puritan Lawyer, was already, in the end of January, 1641, made SolicitorGeneral. The reader may mark that as a small fraction of an event showing itself above ground, completed; and indicating to him a grand subterranean attempt on the part of King Charles and the Puritan Leaders, which unfortunately never could become a fact or event. Charles, in January last or earlier (for there are no dates discoverable but this of St. John's), perceiving how the current of the Nation ran, and what a humor men were getting into, had decided on trying to adopt the Puritan leaders, Pym, Hampden, Holies and others, as what we should now call his 'Ministers:' these Puritan men, under the Earl of Bedford as chief, might have hoped to become what we should now call a 'Majesty's Ministry,' and to execute peaceably, with their King presiding over them, what reforms had grown inevitable. A most desirable result, if a possible one; for of all men these had the leas*, notion of revolting, or rebelling against their King!
Thi3 negotiation had been entered into, and entertained as a possibility by both parties: so much is indubitable: so much and nothing more, except that it ended without result.* It would in
* Whitlocke, Clarendon; see Forster's Statesmen, ii., 150-7.
our days be the easiest negotiation; but it was then an impossible one. For it meant that the King should content himself with the Name of King, and see measures the reverse of what he wished, and meant, take effect by his sanction. 'Which, in sad truth, had become a necessity for Charles I. in the England of 1641. His tendency and effort has long been the reverse of England's; he cannot govern England, whatever he may govern! And yet to have admitted this necessity,—alas, was it not to have settled the whole Quarrel, without the eight-and-forty years of fighting, and confused bickering and oscillation, which proved to be needful first? The negotiation dropped; leaving for visible result only this appointment of St. John's. His Majesty on that side saw no course possible for him.
Accordingly he tried it in the opposite direction, which also, on - failure by this other, was very natural for him. He entered into secret tamperings with the Officers of the English Army; which, lying now in Yorkshire, ill-paid, defeated, and in neighborhood of a Scotch Army victoriously furnished with 8501. a-day, was very apt for discontent. There arose a 'first Army-Plot' for delivering Strafford from the Tower; then a second Army-Plot for some equally wild achievement, tending to deliver Majesty from thraldom, and send this factious Parliament about its busi ness. In which desperate schemes, though his Majesty strove not to commit himself beyond what was necessary, it became and still remains indubitable that he did participate ;—as indeed, the former course of listening to his Parliament having been abandoned, this other of coercing or awing it by armed force was tht only remaining one.
T These Army-Plots, detected one after another, and investigated and commented upon, with boundless interest, in Parliament and out of it, kept the Summer and Autumn of 1641 in continual alarm and agitation; taught all Opposition persons, and a factious Parliament in general, what ground they were standing on ;—and in the factious Parliament, especially, could not but awaken the liveliest desire of having the Military Force put in such hands as would be safe for them. 'The Lord-Lieutenants of Counties,' this factious Parliament conceived an unappeaseable desire of knowing who these were to be :—this is what they mean by 'Power of the Militia;' on which point, as his Majesty would not yield a jot, his Parliament and he,—the point becoming daily more important, new offences daily accumulating, and the split ever widening,—ultimately rent themselves asunder, and drew swords to decide it.
Such was the well-known consummation ; which in Cromwell's next Letter we find to have arrived. Here are a few Dates which may assist the reader to grope his way thither. From ' Mr. Willingham in Swithin's Lane' in February, 1641, to the Royal Standard at Nottingham in August, 1642, and ' Mr. Barnard at . Huntingdon' in January, 1643, which is our next stage, there is a long vague road; and the lights upon it are mostly a universal dance of will-o'-wisps, and distracted fire-flies in a state of excitement,—not good guidance for the traveller!
Monday, 3d May. Strafford's Trial being ended, but no sentence yet given, Mr. Robert Baillie, Minister of Kilwinning, who was here among the Scotch Commissioners at present, saw in Palaceyard, Westminster, 'some thousands of Citizens and Apprentices' (Miscellaneous Persons and City Shopmen, as we should now call them), who rolled about there 'all day,' bellowing to every Lord as he went in or came out, 'with a loud and hideous voice:' "Justice on Strafford! Justice on Traitors !"*— which seemed ominous to the Reverend Mr. Baillie.
Monday next, 10th May, his Majesty accordingly signed sen tence on Strafford; who was executed on the Wednesday following :—no help for it. A terrible example; the one supremely able man the King had. On the same MondayK 10th May, his Majesty signed likewise another Bill, That this Parliament should not be dissolved without its own consent. A Bill signed in order that the City might lend him money on good Security of Parliament; money being most pressingly wanted, for our couple of hungry Armies, Scotch and English, and other necessary occasions. A Bill which seemed of no great consequence except, financial; but which, to a People reverent of Law, and never in
the wildest clash of battle-swords giving up its religious respect for the constable's baton, proved of infinite consequence. His Majesty's hands are tied; he cannot dismiss this Parliament, as he has done the others;—no, not without its own consent.
August 10th. Army-Plotters having fled beyond seas; the Bill for Triennial Parliaments being passed; the Episcopacy-Bill seing got to sleep, and by the use of royal varnish a kind of composure or hope of composure being introduced; above all things, money being now borrowed to pay the Armies and disband them —his Majesty on the 10th of the month* set out for Scotland. To hold a Parliament, and compose matters there, as his Majesty gave • out. T° see what old or new elements of malign Royalism could still be awakened to life there, as the Parliament surmised, who greatly opposed his going.—Mr. Cromwell got home to Ely again, for six weeks, this autumn; there being a recess from 9th September when the business was got gathered up, till 20th October when his Majesty was expected back. An Interim Committee, and Pym from his 'Lodging at Chelsea,' f managed what of indispensable might turn up. ^jr
November 1st. News came to London, to the reassembled Parliament,:}: that an Irish Rebellion, already grown to be an Irish Massacre, had broken out. An Irish Catholic imitation of the late Scotch Presbyterian achievements in the way of :religious liberty ;'—one of the best models, and one of the worst imitations ever seen in this world. Erasmus's Ape, observipg Erasmus shave himself, never doubted but it too could shave. One knows what a hand the creature made of itself, before the edgetool could be wrenched from it again! As this poor Irish Rebellion unfortunately began in lies and bluster, and proceeded in lies and bluster, hoping to make itself good that way, the ringleaders had started by pretending or even forging some warrant from the King; which brought much undeserved suspicion on his Majesty, and greatly complicated his affairs here for a long while.
November 22d. The Irish Rebellion blazing up more and
• Wharton's Laud, p 02.
t His Report, Commons Journals, ii., 289
t Laud, 62: Commons Journals, in die