Page images
PDF
EPUB

LETTER XCVIII.

The Lord General, leaving the Clergy to meditate these Queries in the seclusion of their Castle rock, sets off westward, on the second day after, to see whether he cannot at once dislodge the Governing Committee-men and Covenanted King; and get possession of Stirling, where they are busily endeavoring to rally. This, he finds, will not answer, for the moment.

'To the Right Honorable the Lord President of the Council
of Stale: These. '

Edinburgh, 25th September, 1650

* * * On Saturday the 14th instant, we marched six miles towards Stirling; and, by reason of the badness of the ways, were forced to send back two pieces of our greatest artillery. The day following, we marched to Linlithgow, not being able to go farther by reason of much rain that fell that day. On the 16th, we marched to Falkirk , and the next day following, within cannon-shot of Stirling;—where, upon Wednesday the 18th, our Army was drawn forth, and all things in a readiness to storm the Town.

But finding the work very difficult; they having in the Town Twothousand horse and more foot; and the place standing upon a river not navigable for shipping to relieve the same,' so that' we could not, with safety, make it a Garrison, if God should have given it into our hands: —upon this, and other considerations, it was not thought a fit time to storm. But such was the unanimous resolution and courage both of our Officers and Soldiers, that greater could not be (as to outward appearance) in men.

On Thursday, the 19th, we returned from thence to Linlithgow; and at night we were informed that, at Stirling, they shot off their great guns for joy their King was come thither. On Friday, the 20th, three Irish soldiers came from them to us; to whom we gave entertainment in the Army; they say, Great fears possessed the soldiers when they expected us to storm. That they know not whether old Leven be their General or not, the report being various ; but that Sir John Brown, a Colonel of Jieir Army, was laid aside. That they are endeavoring to raise all the Forces they can, in the North; that many of the soldiers, since our victory, are offended s ;their Ministers; that Colonel Gilbert Ker and Colonel Strachan are go i with shattered forces to Glasgow, to levy soldier? there. As yet we hear not of any of the old Cavaliers being entertained as Officers among them; 'the expectation of' which occasions differences betwixt their Ministers and the Officers of the Army.

The same day we came to Edinburgh ' again.' Where we abide without disturbance; saving that about ten at night, and before day in the morning, they sometimes fire three or four great guns at us; and if any of our men come within musket-shot, they fire at them from the Castle But, blessed be God, they have done us no harm, except one soldier shot (but not to the danger of his life), that I can be informed of. There are some few of the inhabitants of Edinburgh returned home ; who, perceiving our civility, and 'our' paying for what we receive of them, repent their departure; open their shops, and bring provisions to the market. It's reported they have in the Castle provisions for fifteen months; some say, for a longer time. Generally the poor acknowledge that our carriage to them is better than that of their own Army; and ' that' had they who are gone away known so much, they would have stayed at home. They say, one chief reason wherefore so many are gone was, They feared we would have imposed upon them some oath wherewith they could not have dispensed.

I am in great hopes, through God's mercy, we shall be able this Win ter to give the People such an understanding of the justness of our Cause, and our desires for the just liberties of the People, that the better sort of them will be satisfied therewith; although, I must confess, hitherto they continue obstinate. I thought I should have found in Scotland a conscientious People, and a barren country: about Edinburgh, it is as fertile for corn as any part of England; but the People generally ' are so' given to the most impudent lying, and frequent swearing, as is incredible to be believed.

I rest,

'Your Lordship's most humble servant,'

Oliver Cromwell *

What to do with Scotland, in these mixed circumstances, is a question. We have friends among them, a distinct coincidence with them in the great heart of their National Purpose, could they understand us aright; and we have all degrees of enemies among them, up to the bitterest figure of Malignancy itself. What to do? For one thing, Edinburgh Castle ought to be reduced. 'We have put forces into Linlithgow, and our Train is 'lodged in Leith,' Lesley's old citadel there; 'the rest being so

* Newspapers (in Parliamentary History, nix., 404).

• great that we cannot march with our Train.' Do we try Edinburgh Castle with a few responsive shots from the Calton Hill; or from what point? My Scotch Antiquarian friends have not informed me. We decide on reducing it by mines.

'Sunday, 29th September, 1650. Resolution being taken for the springing of mines in order to the reducing of Edinburgh Castle; and our men beginning their galleries last night, the Enemy fired five pieces of ordnance, with several volleys of shot, from the Castle; but did no execution. We hope this work will take effect; notwithstanding the height, rockiness, and strength of the place.—His Excellency with his Officers met this day in the High Church of Edinburgh, forenoon and afternoon; where was a great concourse of people.' Mr. Stapylton, who did the Hursley Marriage-treaty, and is otherwise transiently known to mankind,—he, as was above intimated, occupies the pulpit there; the Scots Clergy still sitting sulky in their Castle, with Derby miners .now operating on them. 'Many Scots expressed much affection at the Doctrine preached by Mr. Stapylton, in their usual way of groans,'—Hum-m-mrrh!—' and it's hoped a good work is wrought in some of their hearts.'* I am sure I hope so. But to think of brother worshippers, partakers in a Gospel of this kind, cutting one another's throats for a Covenanted Charles Stuart,— Hum-m-mrrh!

* Newspapers (in Cromwelliana, p. 93).

LETTERS XCIX.-CVIII.

Haste and other considerations forbid us to do more than glance, timidly from the brink, into that sea of confusions in which the poor Scotch People have involved themselves by soldering Christ's Crown to Charles Stuart's! Poor men, they have got a Covenanted King; but he is, so to speak, a Solecism Incarnate: good cannot come of him, or of those that follow him in this course; only inextricability, futility, disaster and discomfiture can come. There is nothing sadder than to see such a Purpose of a Nation led on by such a set of persons; staggering into ever deeper confusion, down, down, till it fall prostrate into utter wreck. Were not Oliver here to gather up the fragments of it, the Cause of Scotland might now die; Oliver, little as the Scots dream of it, is Scotland's Friend too, as he was Ireland's: what would become of Scotch Puritanism, the one great feat hitherto achieved by Scotland, if Oliver were not now there! Oliver's Letters out of Scotland, what will elucidate Oliver's footsteps and utterances there, shall alone concern us at present. For sufficing which object, the main features of these Scotch confusions may become conceivable without much detail of ours.

The first Scotch Army, now annihilated at Dunbar, had been sedulously cleared of all Hamilton Engagers and other Malignant or Quasi-Malignant Persons, according to a scheme painfully laid down in what was called the Act of Classes,—a General-Assembly Act, defining and classifying such men as shall not be allowed to fight on this occasion, lest a curse overtake the Cause on their account. Something other than a blessing has overtaken the Cause :—and now, on rallying at Stirling with unbroken purpose of struggle, there arise in the Committee of Estates and Kirk, and over the - Nation generally, earnest considerations as to the methods of farther struggle; huge discrepancies as to the ground and figure it ought henceforth to take. As was natural to f; case, Three Parties now develope themselves: a middle one, and two extremes. The Official Party, Argyle and the Official Persons, especially the secular portion of them, think that the old ground should as much as possible be adhered to: Let us fill up our old ranks with new men, and fight and resist with the Covenanted Charles Stuart at the head of us, as we did before. This is the middle or Official opinion.

No, answers an extreme Party, Let us have no more to do with your covenanting pedantries; let us sign your Covenant one good time for all, and have done with it; but prosecute the King's Interest, and call on all men to 'join us in that. An almost openly declared Malignant Party this; at the head of which Lieutenant-General Middleton, the Marquis of Huntley and other Royalist Persons are raising forces, publishing manifestoes, in the Highlands near by. Against whom David Lesley himself at last has to march. This is the one extreme; the Malignant.or Royalist extreme. The amount of whose exploits was thisThey invited the poor King to run off from Perth and his Church-andState Officials, and join them; which he did,—rode out as if to hawk, one afternoon, softly across the South Inch of Perth, then galloped some forty miles; found the appointed place; a villanous hut among the Grampian Hills, without soldiers, resources, or accommodations, ' with nothing but a turf pillow to sleep on:' and was easily persuaded back, the day after ,* making his peace by a few more,—what shall we call them 1—poetic figments; which the Official Persons, with an effort, swallowed. Shortly after, by official persuasion and military coercion, this first extreme Party was suppressed, reunited to the main body; and need not concern us farther.

And now, quite opposite to this, there is another extreme Party ; which has its seat in 'the Western Shires,' from Renfrew down to Dumfries ;—which is, in fact, I think, the old Wiggamore Raid of 1648 under a new figure; these Western Shires being always given that way. They have now got a ' Western Army,' with Colonel Ker and Colonel Strahan to command it: and most of the Earls, Lairds, and Ministers in those parts have

• 4-6 October, Balfour, iv., 113-15.

« PreviousContinue »