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While this was going on at Oxford, the work of putting London into a posture of defence was rapidly carried on. All hands to the spade. Trench works were dug deep and wide, and earth works run up strong and firm. Boys and women worked in the trenches. The Commons felt their danger, and bestirred themselves as brave men should.

Essex was still in command of the Parliamentary army, and hearing that the city of Gloucester had been invested by the Royal forces, he marched to its relief. His appearance broke up the Royal camp and delivered the city; but his return march was harassed by Rupert, and at Newbury disputed by the king.



the king's army was posted along the banks of the river, so as to prevent the passage of Essex's troops. "Every part where there was a chance of the Parliamentary forces attempting a crossing was strongly defended by breastworks, and musketeers lined the houses facing the river. It was supposed that Charles could easily keep the Roundheads at bay, and force them to retreat or starve. Essex drew up his forces, however, to great advantage upon an eminence called Bigg's Hill, about half a mile from the town, and Charles was prepared to wait for a chance of taking him at an advantage. But the rashness of the young cavaliers under such men as Digby, Carnarvon, and Jermyn, led to skirmishes with the Parliamentarians, and very soon Charles found himself so far involved, that he was obliged to give orders for a general engagement. The Royal horse charged that of Essex with a recklessness amounting almost to contempt; but though they threw them into disorder, they found it a different matter with the infantry, consisting of the train-bands and apprentices of London. They received the cavaliers on their pikes, and stood as immovable as a rock, and showed such resolute and steady spirit, that they soon allowed the horse to recover itself, and the whole army fought with desperation till it was dark. The effect was such, that Charles would not risk another day of it." During the night the king's troops withdrew, and the way was left open for Essex, who hurried on immediately to London.

Meantime there was one man rapidly rising with distinction and carrying with him the fortunes of the Commons. This was Oliver Cromwell. Various stories have been related of his boyhood—more or less to be relied on-none of them more curious than the following:When James was making his progress from Scotland to London on


the death of the queen, he and his retinue put up for a while at the house of the father of Oliver Cromwell. Oliver was then a child of three or four years old. He and Prince Charles (afterwards Charles I.)

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were playing together, when, the imperious behaviour of the young prince offended little Nol, and he struck the prince in the face and made the blood flow copiously. On another occasion he is said to have dreamt that the curtains of his bed were slowly withdrawn by a gigantic female


figure, who told him that before his death he should be the greatest man in England. In the third parliament of Charles I., Cromwell took his seat in parliament for Huntingdon. Heartily weary of the unconstitutional proceedings of the monarch, and seeing no clear way to an end, it is said that Cromwell and many other puritans who afterwards fought valiantly for the popular cause would have retired from England. Holland or in America they would have sought a new home and then the whole events of English history must have been changed. Without such men as Cromwell, Eliot, Pym, Hampden, and others of the same stamp, the king must have triumphed. But the king defeated himself. Those who would have quitted the scene of strife were not permitted to depart. Ships ready to weigh anchor were arbitrarily detained, and those who were willing to relinquish any part in the struggle were forced to remain When the civil war began Cromwell accepted a commission under the Parliament and as captain Oliver fought at Edge Hill. Subsequently he raised a troop of horse, of which he became colonel-a conspicuous man— one of whom King Charles remarked, "I would that some one would do me the good fortune to bring Cromwell to me dead or alive!" He was appointed lieutenant under the Earl of Manchester, but it was in vain that he endeavoured to move the heavy spirit of his superior. Cromwell saw plainly that a few bold strokes would put an end to the war; the earl hesitated; the other generals acted with incautious caution-to Oliver they seemed like men half asleep. He plumply declared there "never would be a good time in England till it had done with the Lords." He openly stated that if he met the king in battle, he would fire his pistol at him as at another man. The men under Cromwell's command resembled their leader; they were worthy of the name of Ironsides; they had learned to fear God and to know no other fear.

As the struggle of the King and the Commons went on, the alliance of the Scots became of increasing importance to each party. The king on his part was willing to concede, in terms at all events, anything the Scots might demand, provided they would render him assistance. But the covenanters doubted his royal word, and were loth to have anything to do with the royal cause; still there was a royalist party in Scotland— Montrose their chief man—and on their help the king had considerable reliance. The Commons were also anxious to conclude an alliance with the Scots, and the Scots on their part were not unwilling to treat with the English Commons. Commoners were therefore sent to Scotland from

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the English Parliament, chief of whom was Henry Vane. The proposition of the Scots was that they should invade England on the distinct understanding that the Parliament adopted the covenant and recognised through the two kingdoms the Presbyterian form of government, or, as they vaguely expressed it, "according to the pattern of the most reformed


Arrest of Puritans Embarking for the Colonies.

Church." Vane, relying on the vagueness of the expression, conceded the point, merely introducing the word league as well as covenant, thus giving to the alliance a political as well as religious character. The two houses signed the league and covenant on the 25th of September, 1643, and the Scots undertook to send an army of 21,000 men into England,

commanded by the Earl of Leven, and they were to receive thirty-one thousand pounds a month, one hundred thousand pounds of it in advance and another sum so soon as peace was concluded.

The Scots crossed the Tweed the 16th of January, 1644, and in conjunction with the Parliamentary forces, lay siege to York, defended by the Marquis of Newcastle. Towards the end of June, "Prince Rupert with an army of some twenty thousand fierce men, came pouring over the hills of Lancashire, where he had left harsh traces of himself, to relieve the Marquis of Newcastle," who was now beset by the Yorkshiremen under Fairfax, the Scots under Leven, and the "associated counties under Cromwell. On hearing of his approach the besiegers raised the siege and drew off in the direction of


The Scots having marched in advance, were hastily recalled, and formed into line of battle with their comrades in a large rye field on a rising ground, and presented an extensive and imposing front. Some hours were occupied in indecision on both sides, and it was not till five o'clock that the armies were in battle array. There was a ditch between them, and for two hours they gazed at each other, each loth to cross the boundary. Fiery Rupert was in less hurry to begin than usual, and the Marquis of Newcastle, who had no great liking for the smell of powder, had gone home in his carriage fully convinced there would be no battle till the morrow, but Rupert was not disposed to sleep on it. Watching a favourable opportunity, he made a sudden and desperate charge. He and his troopers rushed on the Parliament cavalry, and broke their line effectively. The charge was so impetuous, and at the same time so unexpected, that a panic seized the troops, and officers and men were in full flight before Rupert's horse. Intent only on the work in hand, Rupert pursued the fugitives,—there was all the excitement of a hunt about it,— and the fiery prince forgot all about what might become of the royal army with three thousand cavalry suddenly withdrawn. Excited to enthusiasm by Rupert's success, the royalist infantry rushed forward, and threw the troops under the command of Manchester, Leslie, and Fairfax, into the utmost confusion,-they also fled, and Cromwell was left alone with the right wing of the army to flee or to fight. "Nothing daunted, he attacked the royalist cavalry with such vigour, that he completely routed them, and then turned again to oppose the horse of Rupert, who were

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