« AnteriorContinuar »
in their defeat. A council of war was called, and at the appointed time the attack was made.
"The Covenant-the Covenant," was the shout of the Scots; "the Lord of Hosts-the Lord of Hosts" the thundering answer of the English. The Scots, though double in number to the English, were soon
put to flight, and pursued, with great slaughter. The chief, if not the only, resistance was made by one regiment of Highlanders-a portion of the army which was least infected with fanaticism. But two of Oliver's regiments of foot that were in the van behaved themselves with such bravery that they not only sustained the charge of the enemy's horse, but
beat them back upon their foot, and, following them close, forced both horse and foot to retreat up the hill, from which they had ventured to make the attack. The body of the enemy, finding their vanguard, which consisted of their choicest men, thus thrown back upon them, began to shift for themselves, in the effort to do which they fell into such precipitation and disorder, that few of them dared to look behind them. "Almost from the first clash of the hostile weapons, it became apparent to which side the victory would incline. Never did Cromwell more enthusiastically, and yet more calmly, exert himself; never, with his slightly-silvered locks, and piercing looks of stern composure, did he appear so like the ancient genius of war, less contending for an uncertain triumph, than assuring it to every soldier of his little band, in whose every breast his energies expanded. In the thick of the fight, the sun then rising in majesty from the sea, he seized upon his appearance with a poet's feeling, united with an intense conviction of the presence and favour of the God of Battles, crying aloud, 'Now let God arise, and his enemies shall be scattered!' And, in truth, vain were all the advantages which the Scots derived from their numbers, and the pouring of their masses down, while the English had to toil and fight their way up, the steep hills of this bloody contest." No victory could have been more complete. About three thousand of the enemy were slain, and nine thousand taken prisoners. All their baggage, arms, artillery, and ammunition fell into the hands of the English. Cromwell pursued his advantage, and took possession of Edinburgh and Leith. Never had Cromwell obtained such a triumph. The successful issue of the battle determined "that in military action nothing 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."
After he had achieved this signal victory, Cromwell wrote to the Parliament in the following terms :—
"Thus you have the prospect of one of the most signal mercies God hath done for England and His people in the war; and now may it please you to give me the leave of a few words. It is easy to say the Lord hath done this. It would do you good to see and hear our poor foot going up and down, making their boast of God. But, Sir, it's in your hands, and by these eminent mercies God puts it more into your hands, to give glory to Him; to improve your power and His blessings, to His
praise. We that serve you, beg of you not to own us, but God alone. We pray you own His people more, for they are chariots and horsemen of Israel. Disown yourselves, but own your authority, and improve it to curb the proud and the insolent, such as would disturb the tranquillity of England, though under what specious pretences soever. Relieve the
oppressed; hear the groans of poor prisoners in England. Be pleased to reform the abuses of all professions; and if there be any one that makes many poor to make a few rich, that suits not a commonwealth. If He who strengthens your servants to fight, please to give you hearts to set upon these things, in order to His glory, and the glory of your commonwealth; then, besides the benefit England shall feel thereby, you shall shine forth to other nations, who shall emulate the glory of such a pattern, and, through the power of God, turn in to the like!
"These are our desires. And that you may have liberty and opportunity to do these things, and not to be hindered, we have been, and shall be (by God's assistance) willing to venture our lives; and will not desire you should be precipitated by importunities from your care of safety and preservation; but that the doing of these good things may have their place amongst those which concern wellbeing, and so be wrought in their time and order.
"Since we came into Scotland, it hath been our desire and longing to have avoided blood in this business, by reason that God hath a people here fearing His name, though deceived. And to that end have we offered much love unto such, in the bowels of Christ; and concerning the truth of our hearts therein, have we appealed unto the Lord. The ministers of Scotland have hindered the passage of these things to the hearts of those to whom we intended them. And now we hear, that not only the deceived people, but some of the ministers have also fallen in this battle. This is the great hand of the Lord, and worthy of the consideration of all those who take into their hands the instruments of a foolish shepherdto wit, meddling with worldly politics, and mixtures of earthly powers, to set up that which they call the Kingdom of Christ, which is neither it, nor if it were it, would such means be found effectual to that end; and neglect or trust not to the word of God-the sword of the Spirit which is alone powerful and able for the setting up of that kingdom; and when trusted to will be found effectually able to that end, and will also do it."
ORCESTER was the scene of the last struggle of the royalists with the republican party. There, on the 3rd of September-memorable day in the life of Oliver Cromwell- -was fought a decisive battle: a sharp fierce struggle on the part of the king's men-a slow sure fight on the part of the Commons. Defeated and dispirited in Scotland, the king and the Scottish royalists, picking up, as it were, such stray wayfaring royalists as could be found on their road-forced their way into England. As to King Charles he was right weary of the covenanters and the restraints which were put on him. Long prayers-long sermons-long graces over short commons-were scarcely in accordance with the genius of the merry monarch. He was glad to run the risk of utter failure rather than remain as he was, so that when the word was given to march over the border, he was one of the first who hailed it with delight. And the army, to the number of fourteen thousand men, quitted their camp, and proceeded by long marches, towards the south. Cromwell, whose mind was more vigorous than comprehensive, was confounded at the motions of the enemy. Wholly intent on an offensive war, he had
reduced himself to the necessity of supporting one of the defensive kind, and saw the king, with a numerous army, advancing into England, where his presence, from the general hatred which prevailed against the Parliament, was capable of producing some grand revolution.
But if this conduct was erroneous in Cromwell, he quickly repaired it by his vigour and activity. He despatched letters to the Parliament, exhorting them not to be alarmed at the approach of the Scots: he issued orders in all quarters for collecting forces to oppose the king: he despatched Lambert, with a body of cavalry, to hang upon the rear of the royal army, and annoy them in their march: and he himself, after leaving Monk with seven thousand men, to finish the reduction of Scotland, pursued the king with all possible expedition. Whatever hopes of assistance the king had entertained from an invasion of England, he soon found that the event did not answer his expectation. The Scots, discouraged at the prospect of so dangerous an enterprise, began to desert in great numbers. The English Presbyterians, utterly ignorant of the king's approach, were totally unprepared to join him. The royalists lay under the same disadvantage; and were further deterred from joining the Scottish army, by the rigid orders which the committee of ministers had issued, not to admit any, even in this desperate extremity, who would not consent to subscribe the covenant.
Charles advanced rapidly into England. He had crossed the Mersey. before Lambert and Harrison had formed a junction near Warrington and attempted to draw him into a battle near Knutsford Heath. But Charles eluded the temptation, and passed on to Worcester, where he was received with considerable show of loyal respect by the Mayor and Corporation. But the hopes of the king were blighted by the narrow bigotry of the Presbyterian ministers. They would still allow of no one taking up arms for the king but those who denounced "Popery and Prelacy," and were ready to subscribe the covenant.
When Charles ascertained late in August the number of his troops, he found that his whole force amounted to twelve thousand; and he learned about the same time that Cromwell was rapidly approaching with an army of thirty thousand.
From the tower of the cathedral Charles saw the armies drawing nearthe "boa" coiling its fold around the "lion.” It was the third of September, the anniversary of the battle of Dunbar. Lambert had crossed the Severn at Upton with ten thousand men. Cromwell a few