« AnteriorContinuar »
CROMWELL AT WORCESTER, AND THE ROMANCE
HOEVER advised Charles, the young king of
Scots, after the battle of Dunbar and the entire conquest of the Presbyterian cause by Cromwell, to invade England, had but little ability to read in the book of passing events. There was surely little to encourage such an attempt in the history of what had recently been achieved, in the character of Cromwell, or in the determination of the English people; probably the most encouraging circumstance was, that immediately after the battle of Dunbar, Cromwell was struck down by a serious and protracted illness. The young king came across the Border, reached Lancashire, in spite of very sorry success, apparently in hopeful and buoyant spirits. He had passed by Kendal and Preston to Warrington, there he received a check from Harrison and Lambert; he forced on his way, called on Shrewsbury, in passing, to surrender, but without effect. He then pushed on to Worcester. The city opened its gates and received the king and his army with every demonstration of affection, they provided for their many and grievous
wants, and the mayor and aldermen, with all the solemnity and circumstance they could command, attended the Herald who proclaimed Charles king of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland. Vain and empty boastfulness! But there was a stir of terror in England; London especially gave way to fearful alarms. A measure of success, and Charles and the army, which had pushed on from Scotland so far into one of the chief midland cities of England, would speedily be before the metropolis ; and Cromwell and his strong men were away.
Even lion-hearted Bradshaw was in fear. How was it that Cromwell had permitted this strange stride to be taken by the young man and his foolish advisers ?
The fidelity of Cromwell was suspected ; a universal panic of fear was spreading on every hand. It is quite noticeable how, as in this instance, writers like Mrs. Hutchinson, who never miss their opportunity of uttering their bitterness or their suspicions concerning Cromwell, are as full of alarm when he is absent from the spot which his genius alone could save. In this case there was little need for their fear; even while they were in their panic of wonder Cromwell had already saved them. He came on with a tremendous army, nearly three times as large as that which had conquered at Dunbar.
With nearly 30,000 men, on the 28th of August, 1651, he reached Worcester, and had all his regiments in position within two miles of the city. As to the condition of the royal army, hope and con