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FROM THE HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
State of England after the Death of Charles I. The confusions which overspread England after the murder of Charles I., proceeded as well from the spirit of refinement and innovation, which agitated the ruling party, as from the dissolution of all that authority, both civil and ecclesiastical, by which the nation had ever been accustomed to be governed. Every man had framed the model of a republic; and, however new it was, or fantastical, he was eager in recommending it to his fellow-citizens, or even imposing it by force upon them. Every man had adjusted a system of religion, which being derived from no traditional authority, was peculiar to himself; and being founded on supposed inspiration, not on any principles of human reason, had no means, besides cant and low rhetoric, by which it could recommend itself to others. The levellers insisted on an equal distribution of power and property, and disclaimed all dependence and subordination. The millenarians or fifth-monarchy-men required, that government itself should be abolished, and all human powers be laid in the dust, in order to pave the way for the dominion of Christ, whose second coming they suddenly expected. The Antinomians even insisted, that the obligations of morality and natural law were suspended, and that the elect, guided by an internal principle more perfect and divine, were superior to the beggarly elements of justice and humanity. A considerable party declaimed against tithes and hireling priesthood, and were resolved that the magistrate should not support by power or revenue any ecclesiastical establishment. Another party inveighed against the law and its professors; and on pretence of rendering more simple the distribution of justice, were desirous of abolishing the whole system of English jurisprudence, which seemed interwoven with monarchical government.
Even those among the republicans, who adopted not such extravagancies, were so intoxicated with their saintly character that they supposed themselves possessed of peculiar privileges; and all professions, oaths, laws, and engagements had, in a great measure, lost their influence over them. The bands of society were every where loosened, and the irregular passions of men were encouraged by speculative principles, still more unsocial and irregular.
The royalists, consisting of the nobles and more considerable gentry, being degraded from their authority, and plundered of their property, were inflamed with the highest resentment and indignation against those ignoble adversaries, who had reduced them to subjection. The presbyterians, whose credit had first supported the arms of the parliament, were enraged to find that, by the treachery or superior cunning of their associates, the fruits of all their successful labours were ravished from them. The former party, from inclination and principle, zealously attached themselves to the son of their unfortunate monarch, whose memory they respected, and whose tragical death they deplored. The latter cast their eye towards the same object; but they had still many prejudices to overcome, many fears and jealousies to be allayed, ere they could cordially entertain thoughts of restoring the family, which they had so grievously offended, and whose principles they regarded with such violent abhorrence.
The only solid support of the republican independent faction, which, though it formed so small a part of the nation, had violently usurped the government of the whole, was a numerous army of near fifty thousand men. But this army, formidable from its discipline and courage, as well as its numbers, was actuated by a spirit that rendered it dangerous to the assembly which had assumed the command over it. Accustomed to indulge every chimera in politics, every frenzy in religion, the soldiers knew little of the subordination of citizens, and had only learned, from apparent necessity, some maxims of military obedience. And while they still maintained, that all those enormous violations of law and equity, of which they had been guilty, were justified by the success with which Providence had blessed them; they were ready to break out into any new disorder, wherever they had the prospect of a like sanction and authority.
What alone gave some stability to all these unsettled humours, was the great influence both civil and military acquired by Oliver Cromwell. This man, suited to the age in which he lived, and to that alone, was equally qualified to
gain the affection and confidence of men by what was mean, vulgar, and ridiculous in his character, as to command their obedience by what was great, daring, and enterprising. Familiar even to buffoonery with the meanest sentinel, he never lost his authority: transported to a degree of madness with religious extacies, he never forgot the political purposes to which they might serve. Hating monarchy, while a subject; despising liberty, while a citizen; though he retained for a time all orders of men under a seeming obedience to the parliament; he was secretly paving the way, by artifice and courage, to his own unlimited authority.
The parliament, for so we must henceforth call a small and inconsiderable part of the house of commons, having murdered their sovereign with so many appearing circumstances of solemnity and justice, and so much real violence and even fury, began to assume more the air of a civil, legal power, and to enlarge a little the narrow bottom upon which they stood. They admitted a few of the excluded and absent members, such as were liable to least exception; but on condition that these members should sign an approbation of whatever had been done in their absence with regard to the king's trial; and some of them were willing to acquire a share of power on such terms: the greater part disdained to lend their authority to such apparent usurpations. They issued some writs for new elections, in places where they hoped to have interest enough to bring in their own friends and dependants. They named a council of state, thirty-eight in number, to whom all addresses were made, who gave orders to all generals and admirals, who executed the laws, and who digested all business before it was introduced into parliament. They pretended to employ themselves entirely in adjusting the laws, forms, and plan of a new representative; and as soon as they should have settled the nation, they professed their intention of restoring their power to the people, from whom they acknowledged they had entirely derived it.
2. Battle of Dunbar, September 3, 1650.
The advance of the English army under Cromwell was not able to appease_ or soften the animosities among the parties in Scotland. The clergy were still resolute to exclude all but their more zealous adherents. As soon as the Eng. lish parliament found that the treaty between the king and the Scots would probably terminate in an accommodation, they made preparations for a war which they saw would in the end prove inevitable. Cromwell, having broken the force and courage of the Irish, was sent for; and he left the command of Ireland to Ireton, who governed that kingdom in the character of deputy, and with vigilance and industry persevered in the work of subduing and expelling the natives.
It was expected that Fairfax, who still retained the name of general, would continue to act against Scotland, and appear at the head of the forces; a station for which he was well qualified, and where alone he made any figure. But Fairfax, though he had allowed the army to make use of his name in murdering their sovereign, and offering violence to the parliament, had entertained unsurmountable scruples against invading the Scots, whom he considered as zealous presbyterians, and united to England by the sacred bands of the covenant. He was farther disgusted at the extremities into which he had already been hurried; and was confirmed in his repugnance by the exhortations of his wife, who had great influence over him, and was herself much governed by the presbyterian clergy.
Fairfax having resigned his commission, it was bestowed on Cromwell, who was declared captain-general of all the forces in England. This command, in a commonwealth, which stood entirely by arms, was of the utmost importance; and was the chief step which this ambitious politician had yet made towards sovereign power. He immediately marched his forces, and entered Scotland with an army of 16,000 men.
The command of the Scottish army was given to Eesley, an experienced officer, who formed a very proper plan of defence. He entrenched himself in a fortified camp between Edinburgh and Leith, and took care to remove from the counties of Merse and the Lothians every thing that could serve to the subsistence of the English army. Cromwell advanced to the Scottish camp, and endeavoured by every expedient to bring Lesley to a battle: the prudent Scotchman knew that, though superior in numbers, his army was much inferior in discipline to the English; and he carefully kept himself within his entrenchments. By skirmishes and small rencounters he tried to confirm the spirits of his soldiers; and he was successful in these enterprises. His army daily increased both in numbers and courage. The king came to the camp; and having exerted himself in an action, gained on the affections of the soldiery, who were more desirous of serving under a young prince of spirit and vivacity, than under a committee of talking gown-men.
The clergy were
alarmed. They ordered Charles immediately to leave the camp. They also purged it carefully of about four thousand Malignants and Engagers, whose zeal had led them to attend the king, and who were the soldiers of chief credit and experience in the nation. They then concluded, that they had an army composed entirely of saints, and could not be beaten. They murmured extremely, not only against their prudent general, but also against the Lord, on account of his delays in giving them deliverance; and they plainly told him, that if he would not save him from the English sectaries, he should no longer be their God. An advantage having offered itself on a Sunday, they hindered the general from making use of it, lest he should involve the nation in the guilt of sabbath-breaking
Cromwell found himself in a very bad situation. He had no provisions but what he received by sea. He had not had the precaution to bring these in sufficient quantities, and his army was reduced to difficulties. He retired to Dunbar. Lesley followed him, and encamped on the heights of Lammermure, which overlook that town. There lay many difficult passes between Dunbar and Berwick, and of these Lesley had taken possession. The English general was reduced to extremities. He had even embraced a resolution of sending by sea all his foot and artillery to England, and of breaking through, at all hazards, with his cavalry. The madness of the Scottish ecclesiastics saved him from this loss and dishonour.
Night and day the ministers had been wrestling with the Lord in prayer, as they termed it; and they fancied that they had at last obtained the victory. Revelations, they said, were made them, that the sectarian and heretical army, together with Agag, meaning Cromwell, was delivered into their hands. Upon the faith of these visions, they forced their general, in spite of his remonstrances, to descend into the plain, with a view of attacking the English in their retreat. Cromwell, looking through a glass, saw the enemy's camp in motion; and foretold, without the help of revelations, that the Lord had delivered them into his hands. He gave orders immediately for an attack (3rd Sept.). In this battle it was easily observed that nothing, in military actions, can supply the place of discipline and experience; and that, in the presence of real danger, where men are not accustomed to it, the fumes of enthusiasm presently dissipate, and lose their influence. The Scots, though double in number to the English, were soon put to flight, and pursued with great slaughter. The chief, if not only, resistance was made by