Friends, Though Divided by G. A. Henty
Chapter XIII. Public Events.
For some days Harry remained quietly with his friend. He did not stir beyond the door, although he had but little fear of any of his old friends recognizing him. The two years which had passed since he was at school had greatly changed his appearance, and his closely-cut hair, and the somber and Puritanical cut of his garments so completely altered him that it would have been a keen eye indeed which had recognized him when merely passing in the street. A portion of each day he spent out in the garden strolling with Lucy, or sitting quietly while she read to him. The stiffness in his arm was now abating, and as the search for him had to a great extent ceased, he intended in a short time to make for Oxford.
The news from the various points at which the conflict still continued was everywhere disastrous for the king. Montrose had been defeated. The king, endeavoring to make his way north to join him, had been smartly repulsed. The Royalists were everywhere disorganized and broken. Negotiations were once again proceeding, and as the Scottish army was marching south, and the affairs of the crown seemed desperate, there was every hope that the end of the long struggle was approaching. Harry's departure was hastened by a letter received by Herbert from his father, saying that he had obtained leave from his regiment, and should be down upon the following day.
"My father will not blame me," Herbert said, "for what I have done, when he comes to know it. But I am rot sure that he would himself approve of your remaining here. His convictions are so earnest, and his sense of duty so strong, that I do not think he would harbor his nearest relative, did he believe him to be in favor of the king."
Harry next morning mounted a horse of Herbert's and started to ride from the town, after taking an affectionate farewell of his hosts. When two miles out of Abingdon he suddenly came upon a body of Parliament horse, in the leader of whom he recognized, by a great scar across his face, the officer with whom he had fallen out at Furness Hall. Relying upon his disguise, and upon the fact that it was only for a minute that the officer had seen him, he rode quietly on.
"Whom have we here?" the Roundhead said, reining in his horse.
"My name is Roger Copley, and I am making my way from London to my people, who reside in the west. There is no law, I believe, against my so doing."
"There is no law for much that is done or undone," the Roundhead said. "Malignants are going about the country in all sorts of disguises, stirring up men to ungodly enterprises, and we cannot be too particular whom we let pass. What hast thou been doing in London?"
"I have been serving my time as apprentice to Master Nicholas Fleming, the merchant in velvets and silks in the Chepe."
"Hast thou any papers to prove thy identity?"
"I have not," Harry said; "not knowing that such were needed. I have traveled thus far without interruption or question, and am surprised to find hindrance upon the part of an officer of the Commons."
"You must turn your horse, and ride back with me into Abingdon," the officer said. "I doubt me much that you are as you pretend to be. However, it is a matter which we can bring to the proof."
Harry wondered to himself of what proof the matter was capable. But without a word he turned his horse's head toward Abingdon. Scarcely a word was spoken on the way, and Harry was meditating whether he should say that he had been staying with his friend Herbert. But thinking that this might lead the latter into trouble, he determined to be silent on that head. They stopped at the door of the principal trader in the town and the captain roughly told his prisoner to alight and enter with him.
"Master Williamson," he said, "bring out some pieces of velvet. This man, whom I suspect to be a Cavalier in disguise, saith that he has been an apprentice to Master Nicholas Fleming, a velvet dealer of London. I would fain see how far his knowledge of these goods extends. Bring out five or six pieces of various qualities, and put them upon your table promiscuously, and not in order of value."
The mercer did as requested.
"These goods," he said, "were obtained from Master Fleming himself. I bought them last year, and have scarce sold a piece of such an article since."
Harry felt rather nervous at the thought of being obliged to distinguish between the velvets, for although he had received some hints and instructions from the merchant, he knew that the appearance of one kind of velvet differed but slightly from that of the inferior qualities. To his satisfaction, however, he saw at the end of the rolls the pieces of paper intact upon which Master Fleming's private marks were placed.
"I need not," he said, "look at the velvets, for I see my master's private marks upon them, and can of course tell you their value at once."
So saying, from the private marks he read off the value of each roll of velvet per yard, and as these tallied exactly with the amount which the mercer had paid for them, no further doubts remained upon the mind of the officer.
"These marks," he said to the mercer, "are, I suppose, private, and could not be read save by one in the merchant's confidence?"
"That is so," the mercer replied. "I myself am in ignorance of the meaning of these various symbols."
"You will forgive me," the Parliament officer said to Harry. "In these times one cannot be too suspicious, and even the best friends of the Commons need not grudge a little delay in their journeyings, in order that the doings of the malignants may be arrested."
Harry in a few words assured the officer that he bore him no malice for his arrest, and that, indeed, his zeal in the cause did him credit. Then again mounting his horse, he quietly rode out of Abingdon. This time he met with no difficulties, and an hour later entered Oxford.
Here he found his father and many of his acquaintances. A great change had come over the royal city. The tone of boastfulness and anticipated triumph which had pervaded it before the second battle of Newbury had now entirely disappeared. Gloom was written upon all faces, and few entertained any hopes of a favorable termination to their cause. Here a year passed slowly and heavily. The great proportion of Sir Henry Furness' troop were allowed to return to their farms, as at present there was no occasion for their services in the field.
All this time the king was negotiating and treating; the Parliament quarreling furiously among themselves. The war had languished everywhere. In the west a rising had been defeated by the Parliament troops. The Prince of Wales had retired to France; and there was now no force which could be called an army capable of taking the field.
The bitterness of the conflict had for a long time ceased; and in the general hope that peace was at hand, the rancor of Cavalier against Roundhead softened down, A great many of the adherents of Charles returned quietly to their homes, and here they were allowed to settle down without interruption.
The contrast between this state of things and that which prevailed in Scotland was very strong, and has been noted by more than one historian. In England men struggled for principle, and, having fought the battle out, appeared to bear but little animosity to each other, and returned each to his own pursuits unmolested and unharmed. In Scotland, upon the other hand, after the defeat of Montrose, large numbers of prisoners were executed in cold blood, and sanguinary persecutions took place.
In Parliament the disputes between the Independents and Presbyterians grew more and more bitter, the latter being strengthened by the presence of the Scotch army in England. They were greatly in the majority in point of numbers; but the Independents made up for their numerical weakness by the violence of their opinions, and by the support of the army, which was entirely officered by men of extreme views.
The king, instead of frankly dealing with the Commons, now that his hopes in the field were gone, unhappily continued his intrigues, hoping that an open breach would take place between the parties. On the 5th of December he wrote to the speaker of the House of Lords, offering to send a deputation to Westminster with propositions for the foundation of a happy and well-grounded peace. This offer was declined, and he again wrote, offering himself to proceed to Westminster to great in person. The leaders of Parliament, and indeed with reason, suspected the sincerity of the king. Papers had been found in the carriage of the Catholic Archbishop of Tuam, who was killed in a skirmish in October, proving that the king had concluded an alliance with the Irish rebels, and that he had agreed, if they would land ten thousand men in England, that popery should be re-established in Ireland, and the Protestants brought under subjection. Letters which have since been discovered prove that in January, 1646, while urging upon the Parliament to come to terms, he was writing to the queen, saying that he was only deceiving them. In his letter he said:
"Now, as to points which I expected by my treaty at London. Knowing assuredly the great animosity which is betwixt the Independents and Presbyterians, I had great reason to hope that one of the factions would so address themselves to me that I might, without great difficulty, obtain my so just ends, and, questionless, it would have given me the fittest opportunity. For considering the Scots' treaty that would be besides, I might have found means to put distractions among them, though I had found none."
Such being the spirit that animated the king, there is little reason for surprise that the negotiations came to nothing. The last hope of the crown was destroyed when, on the 22d of March, Lord Astley, marching from Worcester to join the king at Oxford, was defeated at Stow, in the Wold, and the three thousand Cavaliers with him killed, captured, or dispersed. Again the king sent a message to Parliament, offering to come to Whitehall, and proposing terms similar to those which he had rejected when the negotiators met at Uxbridge. His real object, however, was to produce such an effect by his presence in London as would create a reaction in his favor. Three days after he had sent this message he wrote to Digby:
"I am endeavoring to get to London, so that the conditions may be such as a gentleman may own, and that the rebels may acknowledge me king, being not without hope that I shall be able so to draw either the Presbyterians or Independents to side with me for exterminating the one or the other, that I shall be really king again."
These offers were rejected by Parliament, and the army of Fairfax advanced toward Oxford. In the meanwhile, Montreuil, a special ambassador from France, bad been negotiating with the Scottish commissioners in London to induce the Scots to take up the cause of the king. He then proceeded to Edinburgh, and afterward to the Scotch army. At first the Scotch were willing to receive him; but they perceived the danger which would be involved in a quarrel with the English Parliament. Already there were many causes of dispute. The army had not received the pay promised them when they marched south, and being without money had been obliged to live upon the country, creating great disorders and confusion, and rendering themselves bitterly hated by the people. Thus their answers continued to be ambiguous, making no absolute promise, but yet giving a sort of encouragement to the king to place himself in their hands.
Toward the end of April Fairfax was drawing so close around Oxford that the king felt that hesitation was no longer possible, and accompanied only by his chaplain, Dr. Michael Hudson, and by a groom of his bedchamber, named Jack Ashburnham, he left Oxford at night, and after many adventures arrived at the Scotch army, before Newark, where upon his arrival "many lords came instantly to wait on his majesty, with professions of joy to find that he had so far honored their army as to think it worthy his presence after so long an opposition." Lord Leven, however, who commanded the Scotch army, while receiving the king with professions of courtesy and honor, yet gave him to understand that he must in some way consider himself as a prisoner. The king, at the request of the Scotch, signed an order to his governor of Newark, who had been for months bravely holding out, to surrender the place, and this having been done, the Scottish army with the king marched to Newcastle.
After the king's surrender to the Scotch the civil war virtually ceased, although many places still held out. Oxford, closely invested, maintained itself until the 22d of June, when it capitulated to Fairfax, upon the terms that the garrison "should march out of the city of Oxford with their horses and complete arms that properly belong under them proportionable to their present or past commands, flying colors, trumpets sounding, drums beating, matches alight at both ends, bullets in their mouths, and every soldier to have twelve charges of powder, match and bullet proportionable." Those who desired to go to their houses or friends were to lay down their arms within fifteen miles of Oxford, and then to have passes, with the right of free quarter, and those who wished to go across the sea to serve any foreign power were to be allowed to do so. This surrender was honorable to both parties, and upon the city being given up, the garrison marched out, and then scattered to their various houses and counties, without let or molestation from the troops of the Commons.
Harry Furness and his father had not far to go. They were soon installed in their old house, where although some confusion prevailed owing to its having been frequently in the occupation of bodies of Parliament troops, yet the damage done was not serious, and in a short time it was restored to its former condition. Several of the more valuable articles were allowed to remain in the hiding-places in which they had been concealed, as none could yet say how events might finally turn out. A portion of the Parliamentary troops were also disbanded, and allowed to return to their homes; among these were Master Rippinghall and his son, and for some months matters went on at Abingdon as if the civil war had never been. Harry often saw his friend Herbert; but so long as the king remained in a doubtful position in the army of the Scots, no close intercourse could take place between members of parties so opposed to each other.
The time went slowly with Harry, for after the past three years of excitement it was difficult to settle down to a quiet life at Furness Hall. He was of course too old now for schooling, and the times were yet too disturbed for men to engage in the field sports which occupy so large a portion of country life. Colonel Furness, indeed, had determined that in no case would he again take up arms. He was discontented with the whole course of events, and foresaw that, with the unhappy temper of the king, no favorable issue could possibly be looked for. He had done his best, he said, for the crown and would do no more. He told his son, however, that he should place no rein upon his inclinations should he choose to meddle further in the matter. Harry would fain have gone abroad, whither so many of the leading Cavaliers had already betaken themselves, and entered the service of some foreign court for a few years. But his father dissuaded him from this, at any rate for the present.
"These delays and negotiations," he said, "cannot last forever. I care not whether Presbyterians or Independents get the power over our unhappy country. The Independents are perhaps the more bigoted; the Presbyterians the more intolerant. But as the latter would certainly respect the royal authority more than the former, whose rage appears to me to pass the bounds of all moderation, I would gladly see the Presbyterians obtain the upper hand."
For months the negotiations dragged wearily on, the king, as usual, maintaining an indecisive attitude between the two parties. At length, however, the negotiations ended in a manner which brought an eternal disgrace upon the Scotch, for they agreed, upon the receipt of a large sum of money as the deferred pay of the army, to deliver the king into the hands of the English Parliament. A great convoy of money was sent down from London, and the day that the cash was in the hands of the Scots they handed over the king to the Parliamentary commissioners sent down to receive him. The king was conducted to Holmby House, a fine mansion within six miles of Northampton, and there was at first treated with great honor. A large household and domestic servants were chosen for him, an excellent stable kept, and the king was allowed a large amount of personal liberty. The nobles and gentlemen of his court were permitted to see him, and in fact he was apparently restored to his rank and estate. The Presbyterian party were in power; but while they treated the king with the respect due to his exalted station, they had no more regard to the rights of his conscience than to those of the consciences of the people at large. He desired to have chaplains of the Episcopal church; but the Parliament refused this, and sent him two Presbyterian ministers, whom the king refused to receive.
While King Charles remained at Holmby Parliament quarreled furiously. The spirit of the Independents obtained a stronger and stronger hold upon the army. Cromwell himself, with a host of others, preached daily among them, and this general, although Fairfax was the commander-in-chief, came gradually to be regarded as the leader of the army. There can be no doubt that Cromwell was thoroughly sincere in his convictions, and the charges of hypocrisy which have been brought against him, are at least proved to be untrue. He was a man of convictions as earnest as those of the king himself, and as firmly resolved to override the authority of the Parliament, when the Parliament withstood him.
Three days after the king arrived at Holmby House the Commons voted that the army should be disbanded, with the exception of troops required for the suppression of rebellion in Ireland, and for the service of the garrisons. It was also voted that there should be no officers, except Fairfax, of higher rank than colonel, and that every officer should take the covenant and conform to the Presbyterian Church. A loan was raised in the city to pay off a portion of the arrears of pay due to the army. The sum, however, was insufficient, and there were great murmurings among the men and officers. Fourteen of the latter petitioned Parliament on the subject of arrears, asking that auditors should be appointed to report on what was due to them, and laying down some conditions with regard to their employment in Ireland. Five days afterward the House, on receipt of this petition, declared that whoever had a hand in promoting it, or any other such petition, was an enemy to the State, and a disturber of the public peace. The army were furious at this declaration. Deputations from them went to the House, and from the House to the army. The Presbyterian members were highly indignant at their pretensions, and Cromwell saw that the time was at hand when the army would take the affair entirely into their hands. The soldiers organized a council of delegates, called "Adjutators," to look after their rights. The Parliament voted eight weeks' pay, and a committee went to the army to see it disbanded. The army declined to disband, and said that eight times eight weeks' pay was due. The feeling grew hotter and hotter, and the majority in Parliament came to the conclusion that Cromwell should be arrested. Cromwell, however, obtained word of what was intended, and left London.
Upon the same day a party of soldiers went down to Holmby, and forcibly carried off King Charles from the Parliamentary commissioners, the troops stationed at Holmby fraternizing with their comrades. The king, under the charge of these new guards, arrived at Royston on the 7th of June, and Fairfax and Cromwell met him there. He asked if they had commissioned Joyce, who was at the head of the party of men who had carried him off, to remove him. They denied that they had done so.
"I shall not believe you," said the king, "unless you hang him."
And his majesty had good ground for his disbelief.
Cromwell returned to London and took his place in the House, and there blamed the soldiers, protesting that he would stick to the Parliament; but the same night he went away again down to the army, and there declared to them the actions and designs of Parliament. Commissioners came down on the 10th from the Commons; but the army formed up, and when the votes were read, refused to obey them. The same afternoon a letter, signed by Fairfax, Cromwell, Ireton, and ten other officers, was sent to the city, stating that they were about to advance upon London, and declaring that if the city did not take part against them "in their just desires to resist that wicked party which would embroil us and the kingdom, neither we nor our soldiers shall give you the least offense." The army marched to St. Albans, and thence demanded the impeachment of eleven members of the Commons, all leading Presbyterians. The city and Parliament were in a state of consternation. The army advanced to Uxbridge. It demanded a month's pay, and received it; but it continued to advance. On the 26th of April Parliament gave way. The eleven members retired from the House, the Commons passed a vote approving of the proceedings of the army, and commissioners were appointed.
All this time the king was treated as honorably as he had been when at Holmby House. He was always lodged at great houses in the neighborhood of the army--at the Earl of Salisbury's, at Hatfield, when the troops were at St. Albans, and at the Earl of Craven's, at Caversham, when the army moved further back. And at both of these places he was allowed to receive the visits of his friends, and to spend his time as he desired.
More critical times were now, however, at hand.