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bours to terminate the bleeding misery of his king. dom *
Charles's mongrel parliament, as himself desig. nated it, imitated the conduct of the two houses at Westminster in ordaining taxes. It allowed a loan of L.100,000 on privy seal, which was compul. sorily levied, and imposed a duty on wine, beer, and other commodities, while it granted its authority to raise troops, whether by impressment or voluntary service. The excise was first introduced by the long parliament, and it afforded to the royalist party which thus followed the example, a field for declamation: as that it had hitherto been the reproach against foreign states, that they were subjected to it, and that the bare apprehension of such a thing at the commencement of this reign had excited a general alarm. It is not, however, the name, but the substance, which ought to excite abhorrence. England gloried in her superiority to foreign states, because no tax could be imposed in that kingdom except by the voice of the commu. nity, expressed by their legitimate organ the parliament; while, in other states, imposts were levied at the will of the prince, and fell almost exclusively upon the lower classes, lest the higher, who alone possessed a shadow of political influence, should revolt against a tyrannical government. The people of England had, on the same grounds, justly entertained the greatest apprehensions of a
* Clar. ii. p. 413-14, 440, et seg. Whitelocke, p. 80, et seq.
Rush. vol. v. p. 559, et seq.
of this : not, hor: ought to
superior be impex f' the com rgan then -osts were ell almost? t the high Cal influe
king who, in the face of every constitutional principle, h ad resolved to impose an excise of his own accord, and to introduce foreign troops to exact it. But it is not so wonderful that the royalists of that age, who merely desired a pretext for clamour, should, though they followed the example which might have closed their mouths, have stigmatised the parliament on that ground, as that the elegant historian to whom we have so often alluded, should have said, that “ so extremely light had govern. ment hitherto lain upon the people, that the very name of excise was unknown to them ;" før, of the invention of monopolies in Elizabeth's time, he remarks, that had she gone on during a tract of years at her own rate, England, the seat of riches and arts, and commerce, would have contained at present as little industry as Morocco or the coast of Barbary;” and, he well knew, first, that monopolies, which were against the old fundamental laws. had since been directly prohibited by statute ; and, secondly, that Charles had so shackled every manufacture, nay, raw commodity, by that pernicious system, so raised the ordinary articles of consumption, that industry and commerce had been palsied, and the people oppressed by the dearth of the articles. The removal of these monopolies had since given such a spring and energy to the national spirit, that, in spite of a civil war, the taxes of parliament had become comparatively insignificant, while the people knew that they were imposed for an object that could alone secure public and priyate liberty, and for which almost any temporary
governme me growth ensions of
5. p. 532,
sacrifice ought to be reckoned inconsiderable. Such were the first proceedings of the mongrel parliament. But Charles, not content with the taxes which even it imposed, issued orders, under the penalty of fire and sword, to the inhabitants of Ox. fordshire, and the neighbouring counties, to bring in their corn, hay, &c. for which, indeed, he pro. fessed his purpose to pay at moderate rates. His parliament adjourned itself during the summer; and we shall give some accounts of its after proceedings in their place *.
Charles had hitherto been disappointed in his expectations of great assistance from France; but, on the death of Louis XIII. he flattered himself with the prospect of more friendly counsels. To his mortification, however, Mazarine only sent the Count Harcourt to propose a mediation between him and his parliament—which of course ended in nothing t.
In November 1643, some of the English regi. and fate of ments which had been raised for the service of Irethe EnglishIrish regi. land, were brought by Charles to England, and were
afterwards joined by more; but, though the officers were sufficiently disposed towards the service, the privates were inclined to mutiny against what they conceived to be treason to their religion and country. The officers entertained the most profound contempt for the parliamentary troops, and their first success seemed to justify their presumption ;
* Rush. ib. C'lar. ib.
+ Clar. vol. iii. p. 398, et seq. State Papers, vol. ii. p. 157. et seq. Appendix to Evelyn's Mem. p. 263. et seq.
but Sir Thomas Fairfax soon convinced them of their error. Having landed at Moystyne, in North Wales, and been put under the command of Lord Byron, lately Sir John Byron, they took Wawar.. den Castle, then Beeston Castle, which was so disgracefully surrendered that the governor was executed for cowardice: Northwich, Crew-house, Dedington-house, and lastly, Acton-church, yield. ed to them, leaving no place in Cheshire or the neighbourhood in possession of the opposite party except Nantwich; and this town was laid seige to in the depth of winter. Alarmed for so important a place, parliament ordered Sir Thomas Fairfax, in the month of January, when his horse had been greatly injured by the preceding campaign, the foot also much harassed, and the roads very deep, to undertake its relief. The spirit of this gallant commander was instantly infused into his troops, and he led them on to victory. Byron had divided his army, and placed it on opposite sides of the river, but Fairfax in vain attempted to attack one part before the other joined it; for his own artillery was not come up, and the junction was effected before he was prepared for action. The battle was sharp, but of short duration. Byron's forces gave way on all sides, and a great part having retreated to Acton-church, “ were caught as in a trap.” Two hundred only of the van. quished were slain ; but a great number of offi. cers, and fifteen hundred common soldiers were taken prisoners: The victors also took the whole of the enemy's ordnance, and twenty-two pairs of colours : a hundred and twenty women, who, armed with long knives, are reported to have done mischief, also fell into their hands. Amongst the prisoners was the famous Colonel George Monk, who was sent to London, and, after a short interval, joined the parliament party. This victory was gained with the loss of fifty men; and thus, in a great measure, was dissipated that army on which Charles had so much relied, for a great portion abhorring the service, joined the parliament *
Still resolved upon putting into execution his project of introducing the native Irish, the king granted fresh powers to Antrim to seduce Monro, whose army alone, as it was well observed, prevented the Irish from being poured in endless succession upon the western coast t. But Monro was incorruptible, and the native troops which were introduced into England were as unsuccessful as the army which had been raised to reduce and chastise them. As these gave no quarter, but continued that detestable mode of warfare to which they had been accustomed in their rebellion, parliament most properly passed an ordinance against giving
* Whitelocke, p. 81. Rush. vol. v. p. 299, et seq. Carte's Let. vol. i. p. 29. et seq. Clar. vol. iii. p. 456, et seq. Clarendon is wrong in supposing that Fairfax began the attack before both the enemy's divisions were united. Fairfax hoped to have done so, but was disappointed. See his own dispatch. Sir Robert Byron, in a letter to the Marquis of Ormonde, says, that the enclosures prevented the royalist horse from assisting the foot.
+ Baillie's Let. vol. i. p. 395. Clar. Papers, vol. i. p. 165. et seg.
* Rush. vol. v. p. 783. Mr. Hume says, that Prince Rupert, by making some reprisals, soon repressed this inhumanity ; but surely if Rupert were justified in making reprisals, the opposite party were, in