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At the commencement of the civil war, all C H A p. Englishmen, who served abroad, were invited over, v^/^ and treated with extraordinary respect: And most i644. of them, being descended of good families, and, by reason of their absence, unacquainted with the new principles which depressed the dignity of the crown, had inlisted under the royal standard. But it is observable that, though the military profession requires great genius, and long experience, in the principal commanders, all its subordinate duties may be discharged by ordinary talents, and from superficial practice. Citizens and country gentlemen soon became excellent officers, and the generals of greatest fame and capacity happened, all of them, to spring up on the side of the parliament. The courtiers and great nobility, in the other party, checked the growth of any extraordinary genius among the subordinate officers; and every man there, as in a regular established government, was confined to the station in which his birth had placed him.

The king, that he might make preparations, during winter, for the ensuing campaign, summoned to Oxford all the members of either house, who adhered to his interests; and endeavoured to avail himself of the name of parliament, so passionately cherished by the English nation.1" The house of peers was pretty full; and besides the nobility employed in different parts of the kingdom, it contained twice as many members as commonly voted at Westminster. The house of commons consisted of about 140; which amounted not to above half of the other house of commons.c

So extremely light had government hitherto lain upon the people, that the very name of excise was unknown to them; and, among other evils arising from these domestic wars, was the introduction of

that

b Rush. vol. vi. p. 559. c Hem, p. 556. 574, 575.

° Lvii P' ^at impost into England. The parliament at West„_v^O minster, having voted an excise on beer, wine, and other commodities; those at Oxford imitated the example, and conferred that revenue on the king. And, in order to enable him the better to recruit his army, they granted him the sum of 100,000 pounds, to be levied by way of loan upon the subject. The king circulated privy-seals, countersigned by the speakers of both houses, requiring the loan of particular sums from such persons as lived within his quarters.d Neither party had as yet got above t lie pedantry of reproaching their antagonists with these illegal measures.

The Westminster parliament passed a whimsical ordinance, commanding all the inhabitants of London and the neighbourhood to retrench a meal a week; and to pay the value of it for the support of the public cause." It is easily imagined, that, provided the money were paid, they troubled themselves but little about the execution of their ordinance.

Such was the king's situation, that, in order to restore peace to the nation, he had no occasion to demand any other terms than the restoring of the laws and constitution; the replacing him in the same rights which had ever been enjoyed by his predecessors; and the re-establishing, on its ancient basis, the whole frame of government, civil as well as ecclesiastical. And, that he might facilitate an end seemingly so desirable, he offered to employ means equally popular, an universal act of oblivion, and a toleration or indulgence to tender consciences. Nothing, therefore, could contribute more to his interests than every discourse of peace, and every discussion of the conditions upon which that blessing could be obtained. For this reason, he solicited a treaty on all occasions, and desired a conference and mutual examination of pretensions,

'Rush. vol. vi. p. 590. 'Dugdale,p. 119. Rush. vol. vi.p. 748

sions, even when he entertained no hopes that any c J*v^jP* conclusion could possibly result from it.

For like reasons, the parliament prudently avoid- i644. ed, as much as possible, all advances towards negotiation, and were cautious not to expose too easily to censure those high terms, which their apprehensions or their ambition made them previously demand of the king. Though their partisans were blinded with the thickest veil of religious prejudices, they dreaded to bring their pretensions to the test, or lay them open before the whole nation. In opposition to the sacred authority of the laws, to the venerable precedents of many ages, the popular leaders were ashamed to plead nothing but fears and jealousies, which were not avowed by the constitution, and for which neither the personal character of Charles, so full of virtue, nor his situation, so deprived of all independent authority, seemed to afford any reasonable foundation. Grievances which had been fully redressed; powers either legal or illegal, which had been entirely renounced; it seemed unpopular and invidious, and ungrateful, any farther to insist on.

The king, that he might abate the universal veneration paid to the name of parliament, had issued a declaration, in which he set forth all the tumults by which himself and his partisans in both houses had been driven from London; and he thence inferred, that the assembly at Westminster was no longer a free parliament, and till its liberty were restored, was entitled to no authority. As this declaration was an obstacle to all treaty, some contrivance seemed requisite, in order to elude it.

A Letter was written in the foregoing spring, to the earl of Essex, and subscribed by the prince, the duke of York, and forty-three noblemen/ They there exhort him to be an instrument of restoring

'Clarendon, vol. iii. p. 442. Rush. vol. vi. p. 566. Whitlocke, p. 77.

Chap- storing peace, and to promote that happy end with vJ^O^j those by whom he was employed. Essex, though t&u. much disgusted with the parliament, though apprehensive of the extremities to which they were driving, though desirous of any reasonable accommodation; yet was still more resolute to preserve an honourable fidelity to the trust reposed in him. He replied, that as the paper sent him neither contained any address to the two houses of parliament, nor any acknowledgment of their authority, he could not communicate it to them. Like proposals had been reiterated by the king, during the ensuing campaign, and still met with a like answer from Essex.8

In order to make a new trial for a treaty, the king, this spring, sent another letter, directed to the lords and commons of parliament assembled at Westminster: But as he also mentioned, in the letter, the lords and commons of parliament assembled at Oxford, and declared that his scope and intention was to make provision that all the members of both houses might securely meet in a full and free assembly; the parliament, perceiving the conclusion implied, refused all treaty upon such terms.h And the king, who knew what small hopes there were of accommodation, would not abandon the pretensions which he had assumed; nor acknowledge the two houses, more expressly, for a free parliament.

This winter the famous Pym died; a man as much hated by one party, as respected by the other. At London, he was considered as the victim to national liberty, who had abridged his life by incessant labours for the interests of his country': At Oxford he was believed to have been struck with an uncommon disease, and to have been consumed

with

* Clarendon, vol. iii. p. 444. Rush. -vol. vi. p. 569. 570. Whitlocke, p. 94. h Clarendon, vol. iii. p. 449. Wbit

lockc, p. 79. 'Ibid. p. 66.

with vermin; as a mark of divine vengeance, for c H A P. his multiplied crimes and treasons. He had been vJl^O so little studious of improving his private fortune i6H. in those civil wars of which he had been one principal author, that the parliament thought themselves obliged, from gratitude, to pay the debts which he had contracted.k We now return to the military operations, which, during the winter, were carried on with vigour in several places, notwithstanding the severity of the season.

The forces brought from Ireland were landed at Mostyne, in North Wales; and being put under the command of lord Biron, they besieged and took the castles of Hawarden, Beeston, Acton, and Deddington-house.1 No place in Cheshire or the neighbourhood now adhered to the parliament, except Nantwich: And to this town Biron laid siege during the depth of winter. Sir Thomas Fairfax, alarmed at so considerable a progress of the royalists, assembled an army of 4000 men in Yorkshire, and, having joined sir William Brereton, was approaching to the camp of the enemy. Biron and his soldiers, elated with successes obtained in Ireland, had entertained the most profound contempt for the parliamentary forces; a disposition which, if confined to the army, may be regarded as a good presage of victory; but if it extend to the general, is the most probable forerunner of a defeat. Fairfax suddenly attacked the camp of the royalists. The f5th Jt», swelling of the river by a thaw divided one part of the army from the other. That part exposed to Fairfax, being beaten from their post, retired into the church of Acton, and were all taken prisoners: The other retreated with precipitation.TM And thus was dissipated, or rendered useless, that body of

forces

k Journ. 13th of February, J 643. 1 Rush. v«l. vi. p. 999. ■ Ibid. p. 301.

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