Page images


Commons Journals, 17th March, 1646: 'Ordered, That the Committee of the Army do write unto the General and acquaint him that this House takes notice of his care in ordering that none of the Forces under his Command should quarter nearer than Five-and-twenty Miles of this City: That notwithstanding his care and directions therein, the House is informed that some of his Forces are quartered much nearer than that; and To desire him to take course that his former Orders, touching the quartering of his Forces no nearer than Twenty-five Miles, may be observed.'

'To his Excellency Sir Thomas Fairfax, General of the Parliament's Army: These.'

'London,' 19th March, 1646


This enclosed Order I received; but, I suppose, Letters from the Committee of the Army to the effect of this are come to your hands before this time. I think it were very good that the distance of Twenty-five Miles be very strictly observed; and they are to blame that have exceeded the distance, contrary to your former appointment. This Letter I received this evening from Sir William Massam,* a Member of the House of Commons; which I thought fit to send you; his House being much within that distance of Twenty-five Miles of London. I have sent the Officers down, as many as I could well light of. Not having more at present, I rest,

Your Excellency's most humble servant,


The troubles of the Parliament and Army are just beginning. The order for quartering beyond twenty-five miles from London, and many other 'orders' were sadly violated in the course of this season !—' Sir W. Massam's House,'' Otes in Essex,' is a place known to us since the beginning of these Letters.

The Officers ought really to go down to their quarters in the Eastern Counties; Oliver has sent them off, as many of them as he ' could well light of.'

* Masham. t Sloane Mss., 1519, fol. 74

The Presbyterian System is now fast getting into action: on the 20th of May, 1647, the Synod of London, with due Prolocutor or Moderator, met in St. Paul's.* In Lancashire too the System is fairly on foot; but I think in other English Counties it was somewhat lazy to move, and never came rightly into action, owing to impediments. Poor old Laud is condemned of treason, and beheaded, years ago; the Scots, after Marston Fight, pressing heavy on him; Prynne too being very ungrateful. That 'performance' of the Service to the Hyperborean populations in so exquisite a way, has cost the Artist dear! He died very gently; his last scene much the best, for himself and for us. The two Hothams also, and other traitors, have died.'

* Rush worth, vi., 489; Whitlocke (p. 249), dates wrong.


Oitr next entirely authentic Letter is at six months distance: a hiatus not unfrequent in this Series; but here most especially to be regretted; such a crisis in the affairs of Oliver and of England transacting itself in the interim. The Quarrel between City and Army, which we here see begun; the split of the Parliament into two clearly hostile Parties of Presbyterians and Independents, represented by City and Army; the deadly wrestle of these two Parties, with victory to the latter, and the former flung on its back, and its 'Eleven Members' sent beyond Seas: all this transacts itself in the interim, without autograph note or indisputably authentic utterance of Oliver's to elucidate it for us. We part with him laboring to get the Officers sent down to Saffron Walden; sorrowful on the Spring Fast-day in Covent Garden: we find him again at Putney in Autumn; the insulted Party now dominant, and he the most important man in it. One Paper which I find among the many published on that occasion, and judge pretty confidently, by internal evidence, to be of his writing, is here introduced; and there is no other that I know of.

How this Quarrel between City and Army, no agreement with the King for the present being possible, went on waxing; developing itself more and more visibly into a Quarrel between Presbyterianism and Independency; attracting to the respective sides of it the two great Parties in Parliament and in England generally: all this the reader must endeavor to imagine for himself,— very dimly, as matters yet stand. In books, in Narratives old or new, he will find little satisfaction in regard to it. The old Narratives, written all by baffled enemies of Cromwell,* are full of mere blind rage, distraction and darkness; the new Narratives, believing only in 'Machiavelism,' &c, disfigure the matter still

* Holles's Memoirs; Waller's Vindication of his Character; Clement Walker's History of Independency, &c, &c.

more. Common History, old and new, represents Cromwell as saving underhand,—in a most skilful and indeed prophetic manner,—fomented or originated all this commotion of the elements; steered his way through it by ' hypocrisy,' by 'master-strokes of duplicity,' and such like. As is the habit hitherto of History.

'The fact is,' says a- Manuscript already cited from, ' poor History, contemporaneous and subsequent, has treated this matter in a very sad way. Mistakes, misdates; exaggerations, unveracities, distractions; all manner of misseeings and misnotings in regard to it, abound. How many grave historical statements still circulate in the world, accredited by Bishop Burnet and the like, which on examination you will find melt away into after-dinner rumors,—gathered from ancient red-nosed Presbyterian gentlemen, Harbottle Grimston and Company, sitting over claret under a Blessed Restoration, and talking to the loosely recipient Bishop in a very loose way! Statements generally with some grain of harmless truth, misinterpreted by those red-nosed honorable persons; frothed up into huge bulk by the loquacious Bishop above mentioned, and so set floating on Time's Stream. Not very lovely to us, they, nor the red-noses they proceeded from! I do not cite them here; I have examined most of them; found not one of them fairly believable;—wondered to see how already, in one generation, earnest Puritanism being hung on the gallows or thrown out into St. Margaret's Churchyard, the whole History of it had grown mythical, and men were ready to swallow all manner of nonsense concerning it. Ask for dates, ask for proofs: Who saw it, heard it; when was it, where? A misdate, of itself, will do much. So accurate a man as Mr. Godwin, generally very accurate in such matters, makes "a master-stroke of duplicity" merely by mistake of dating :* the thing when Oliver did say it, was a creditable truth, and no master-stroke or stroke of any kind!

'"Master-strokes of duplicity;" "false protestations;" "fomenting of the Army discontents:" alas, alas! It was not Cromwell that raised these discontents; not he, but the elemental Powers! Neither was it, I think, " by master-strokes of duplici.

* Godwin, ii., 300; citing Walker, p. 31 (should be p. 33)

ty" that Cromwell steered himself victoriously across such a devouring chaos; no, but by continuances of noble manful simplicity I rather think,—by meaning one thing before God, and meaning the same before men as a strong man does. By conscientious resolution; by sagacity and silent wariness and promptitude; by religious valor and veracitys—which, however it may fare with foxes, are really after all the grand source of clearness for a man in this world!' We here close our Manuscript.

Modern readers ought to believe that there was a real impulse of heavenly Faith at work in this Controversy; that on both sides, more especially on the Army's side, here lay the central element of all; modifying all other elements and passions ;—that this Controversy was, in several respects, very different from the common wrestling of Greek with Greek for what are called 'Political objects !'—Modern readers, mindful of the French Revolution, will perhaps compare these Presbyterians and Independents to the G.ironde and the Mountain. And there is an analogy; yet with differences. With a great difference in the situations; with the difference, too, between Englishmen and Frenchmen, which is always considerable; and then with the difference between believers in Jesus Christ and believers in Jean Jacques, which is still more considerable!

A few dates, and chief summils of events, are all that can be indicated here, to make our ' Manifesto' legible.

f From the beginnings of this year, 1647, and earlier, there had often been question as to what should be done with the Army. The expense of such an Army, between twenty and thirty thousand men, was great; the need of it, Royalism being now subdued, seemed small; besides it was known that there were many in it who ' had never taken the Covenant,' and were never likely to take it. This latter point, at a time when Heresy seemed rising like a hydra,* and the Spiritualism of England was developing itself in really strange ways, became very important too,—became gradually most of all important, and the soul of the whole Controversy.


* See Edwards's Gangrcena (London, 1C46) for many furious details of it

« PreviousContinue »