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CHAPTER VIII.

CROMWELL: THE BATTLE OF MARSTON MOOR.

IT

T was on the field of Marston that the military

genius of Cromwell first shone conspicuously. Marston Moor, seven miles from York. How came that battle to be fought at all? The old city of York is a venerable city ; crowned with its tiara of proud towers, she stands, like an old queen, on the banks of the Ouse. And she has witnessed memorable things in the course of her history,--for she has a defined history approaching two thousand years,—but not one more memorable than that great fight in which, for the first time, the genius of Cromwell rose triumphant and complete upon the field. York, the old city, was in possession of the Royalists; and so weak were they, that it seemed the Roundheads, who lay encamped before the city, must soon find an entrance there. But just then the fiery Rupert came plunging across the Lancashire hills, after his cruel massacre at Bolton. He had with him 20,000 of the flower of the Royalist and Cavalier army; and the Puritan forces drew out from York to Marston Moor. Had Rupert contented himself with relieving and succouring York, the whole tide of conflict might have been different; but he did not know the strength of his foes. Charles, indeed, had written to him, "If York be lost, I shall esteem my crown to be little less [than lost]." There, outside of the city, lay the Royalist army,-lay the protecting host of Rupert ; and there, yonder, along the moor, the armies of the Parliament. It was a calm summer evening, on the second of July, 1644. We can scarcely even now think that Rupert, in all his thoughtlessness, could have wished to hazard a battle when the advantages, so decidedly his own, could only have been jeoparded and risked by conflict; and yet, let us recollect that the letter of Charles to him was carried by him on his heart, to the day of his death, as his warrant for that well-fought, fatal field; and as we have said, he did not know the strength of that army of yeomen and volunteers ; above all, he did not know Cromwell. The evening of the day closed in gloom, the heavens were covered with clouds, thick, black, murky masses swept over the sky. Hymns of triumph rose from the ranks of the Roundheads and the Parliament, while Prince Rupert would have a sermon preached before him and the army; and his chaplain took a text, which seemed to challenge the issue of the morrow, from Joshua: “The Lord God of gods, the Lord God of gods, He knoweth, and Israel he shall know ; if it be rebellion, or in transgression against the Lord, save us not this day." Still, dark and gloomy, and more gloomy, fell the evening ; thunder muttered along the heavens, and the forked flame glanced on the mighty mass of iron-clad men.

Between the two armies lay a drain. On the opposite bank to the Royalist forces, in the centre, stood Leven and Fairfax, the commanders of the Parliament; on the left yonder, Cromwell and his Ironsides. Rupert had, with wild, furious, characteristic energy, fallen upon the centre, and his life-guards had scattered and routed them, so that amidst the storm of shot, the maddening shouts, the thundering hoof, pursuing and pursued, they swept across yonder field, cutting down remorselessly all, scattering the whole host like leaves before the storm-wind. Goring, the other Royalist general, was not idle; his desperadoes charged on, and with wild, tumultuous rout they hewed down the fugitives by scores. Two-thirds of the field were gained for Rupert and for Charles. Lord Fairfax was defeated. He fled through the field, through the hosts of the Cavaliers, who supposed him to be some Royalist general ; he posted on to Cawood Castle, arrived there, and in the almost or entirely deserted house he unbooted and unsaddled himself, and went like a wise old soldier to bed. But amidst all that rout, the carnage and flying confusion, ONE man held back his troops. Cromwell, there to the left, when he saw how the whole Royalist force attacked the centre, restrained the fiery impatience of his Ironsides; he drew them off still farther to the left; his eye blazed all on fire, till the moment he uttered his short, sharp passionate word to the troops, "CHARGE, IN THE NAME OF THE MOST HIGH!” Beneath the clouds, beneath the storm, beneath the night heavens flying along, he scattered the whole mass. We know it was wondrous to see him in those moods of highly-wrought enthusiasm ; and his watchword always struck along the ranks. “Truth and Peace !” he thundered along the lines; “Truth and Peace!” in answer to the Royalist cries of “God and the King !” “Upon them-upon them !” That hitherto almost unknown man, and his immortal hosts of Puritans, poured upon the Cavaliers. The air was alive with artillery. Cromwell seized the very guns of the Royalists, and turned them upon themselves. Thus, when the Royalists returned from the scattering the one wing of their foes, they found the ground occupied by victors. The fight was fought again, but fought in vain ; in vain was Rupert's rallying cry, “For God and for the King!” Through the black and stormy night was seen the gleaming steel of other hostile lines. The Cavaliers were scattered far and wide over the plain-over the country ; while amidst the fire, thousands of the dead lying there, and the shattered carriages, Rupert made the last effort of flying from the field to York; across the bean-field, over the heath, the agonized young fieryheart made his way. And there, amidst the gathering silence, and amidst the groans of the dying, rises the magnificent military genius of Cromwell!

Marston Moor was the first most decided collision of the hostile armies. We have given in a few touches a concise and succinct account of this great and momentous conflict; but, even in so brief a life of Cromwell as the present, it ought not to be so hastily

dismissed. A graphic pencil might employ itself in a description of the fine old city, besieged for three months, where provisions were growing scarce, and in whose beautiful minster that day—it was a Sabbathday-affecting accents had given tender pathos to the liturgies imploring aid from Heaven. It would be no difficult task to realize and describe the streets of the ancient and magnificent city as they were on that day, and if Rupert had been wise, it seems as if the city might have been relieved and Cromwell's great opportunity lost; but the two vast ironclad masses lay out beyond there-nearly fifty thousand men, all natives of the same soil-stretching away almost to Tadcaster-skirting Bramham Moor, upon which, ages before Mother Shipton had prophesied that a great battle would be fought,-a prophecy which, in this instance, received very creditable approximation to fulfilment. It was, as we have said, on the 2nd of July, 1644, The day wore on while successive movements and counter movements took place. Scarcely a shot had been fired. When both armies were completely drawn up, it was after five in the evening, and nearly another hour and a half passed with little more than a few cannon shots. The lazy and nonchalant Newcastle considered all was over for that day, and had retired to his carriage, to prepare himself by rest for whatever might betide on the morrow. Even Rupert and Cromwell are believed to have expected that their armies would pass the night on the field. It was a bright summer evening, closing apparently in storm ;

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