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Poor king! "Who will bring me," cried he in despair, “this Cromwell, dead or alive?” Alas! your majesty, who?
Everywhere Rupert was Charles's evil genius. Everywhere his impetuosity injured himself, his cause, and his royal master. He galloped forward two miles to ascertain the intentions of Fairfax; and returning, sent word through the line that he was retreating. It was a ruse of Cromwell's. He had merely put in motion a few of his troops. Charles, trusting to the miserable deceiving and self-deception of Rupert, relinquished the favourable ground he occupied, and led his battalions into the plain. Here the great generals had fixed themselves in a remarkably strong position. Here they were thundering out their hymns in the very enthusiasm of a triumph, rather than in expectation of a battle. Upon the field
a altogether there were about 36,000 men. Rupert began the battle. He charged Ireton with such boldness, that even that lion-like officer sank before his terrible and bold and passionate onslaught. Fairfax that day, abandoning the privileges of a general, performed feats of valour in the thickest of the fight, bareheaded. He everywhere flamed resolution and courage over every part of the field, and especially among the ranks of his own men. But he failed to turn the fortune of the day. Ireton, on the left, was routed. Fairfax, in the centre, remained struggling, the fate of his men undecided. Cromwell and his Ironsides stood there, upon the right. They were attacked by Sir Marmaduke Langdale-he might as well have attacked a rock, when the Royalists recoiled. The Ironsides in turn attacked them, poured over them a terrible and heavy fire, routed them, sent three squadrons after them to prevent their rallying, and with the remaining four hastened to Fairfax, and, with an overpowering shock, dashed through, scattered, and cut down the Royalists, hoping for victory in the centre. In vain Charles, with remarkable bravery, sought to recover the fortune of the fight. He no doubt felt at that moment the hopeless ruin of his cause.
“One more charge," said the poor defeated king, “and we recover the day.”
This is the moment which Lord Macaulay has seized in his fine lyric, "The Battle of Naseby," too lengthy to quote entire. The following verses commence with the rout of the Roundheads, and the sudden rush down of Oliver with his Ironsides :
“ They are here ! They rush on! We are broken ! We are
gone ! Our left is borne before them like stubble on the blast. () Lord, put forth Thy might! O Lord, defend the right! Stand back to back, in God's name, and fight it to the last.
“Stout Skippon, hath a wound ; the centre hath given ground: Hark! hark! What means the trampling of horsemen on
our rear? Whose banner do I see, boys? 'Tis he, thank God, 'tis he
boys ! Bear up another minute : brave Oliver is here.
“ Their heads all stooping low, their points all in a row,
Like a whirlwind on the trees, like a deluge on the dykes,
Never was rout more thorough and complete. Two thousand men were left dead on the field. "God is with us!" had been the noble watchword of the Parliamentarians; "Queen Mary!" was the watchword of the Royalists. Is there not something very significant in the different success of such mottoes? The king here lost all. The prisoners taken were five thousand foot and three thousand horse. They captured the whole of Charles's artillery, eight thousand stand of arms, above a hundred pair of colours, the royal standard, the king's cabinet of letters alas!), and the whole spoil of the camp. That cabinet of letters revealed, beyond all question, the perfidy of the king ; proved that he never desired peace, and made his favourite exclamation, “On the word of a king," a bye-word, and, for some time, the synonym of a lie.
The letters were all published, after having been read aloud to the assembled citizens in Guildhall, that all the people might satisfy themselves of their monarch's probity. This battle was fought on the 14th of June, 1645, and increased Cromwell's influence amazingly.
And now we follow him through a long series of most daring and brilliant adventures, conquests, and expeditions. Rapidly he covered—he overspread the land with his victorious men of iron. His vigilance was wonderful. Town after town was taken. He swept over the country like a tempest. Leicester, and thence to Bridgewater, Shaftesbury, Bristol, Devizes. Summoning the last-mentioned town to surrender : “Win it, and wear it,” said the governor. Cromwell did both. He then stormed Berkeley Castle, and threw himself before Winchester. The last-named place surrendered by capitulation. While here he very courteously sent in to the Bishop of Winchester, and offered him a guard to secure his person; but the bishop, flying into the castle, refused his courtesy. Afterwards when the castle began to be battered by two pieces of ordnance, he sent to the lieutenant-general, thanking him for the great favour offered to him, and being now more sensible what it was, he desired the enjoyment of it. To whom the wise lieutenant-general replied, that since he made not use of the courtesy, but wilfully ran away from it, he must now partake of the same conditions as the others who were with him in the castle; and if he were taken, he must expect to be used as a prisoner of war. Another interesting incident illustrates Cromwell's strict severity in exacting compliance, from his own army, with its articles. When information was laid before him by the vanquished that they had been plundered by some of his soldiers on leaving the city, contrary to the terms granted to them, he ordered the offenders to be tried by a court-martial, at which they were sentenced to death. Whereupon he ordered the unfortunate men, who were six in number, to cast lots for the first sufferer; and after his execution, sent the remaining five, with a suitable explanation, to Sir Thomas Glenham, Governor of Oxford, requesting him to deal with them as he thought fit: a piece of conduct which so charmed the Royalist officer, that he immediateiy returned the men to Cromwell, with a grateful compliment, and expression of much respect.
Still on! on! After Winchester, Basing fell before him ; this was thought to be one of the most impregnable of fortresses. Then Salisbury; then Exeter, where he fought Lord Wentworth and took five hundred prisoners and six standards, one of which was the king's; then pouring along Cornwall, he scattered the last remnants of the Royalist army ; and, by-and-by, after innumerable other victories, entered London, greeted with extraordinary honours. The instant he entered the House, all the members rose to receive him, and the Speaker pronounced a long and elaborate eulogium, closing with “the hearty thanks of the House for his many services.” An annuity of £2,500 appears to have been granted to Cromwell and his family, including estates escheated to the Parliamentary cause. In the presence of all this, Hume's sneer at him as an inferior general is as laughable as it is contemptible and mean. Of those days of Cromwell's rapid flights hither and thither,