« VorigeDoorgaan »
jesty having ordered the prince, in case of necessity, to go into France, and there to
soldiery was mutinous, disobedient, rapacious, and cowardly.-Goring's crew is still proverbial in the west. Fairfax, after having driven all before him, came up with and easily defeated the remains of these bodies at Torrington, then under the command of lord Hopton, which totally dissolved the western army. For, by treaty, the officers and soldiers laid down their arms, and were to have passes to their several houses, or beyond the seas if they desired it, engaging never to bear arms against the parliament. This was in March, 1645, 0. S. In the above account I have followed lord Clarendon, who imputes the loss of the west to the ill behaviour of the generals (lord Hopton excepted) and the soldiery. But lord Landsdown insists on it, that it was not generals or soldiers who were to blame, but the council in general, and more particularly the chancellor of the exchequer. “ The king," says he,“ had been fatally advised to a method that was pretended for the better government of his armies, which was, to appoint a civil council to inspect and regulate the conduct of his generals, and controll the military operations. This measure had given great disturbance to the brethren of the blade, old officers, and men of experience, who thought very reasonably that they were not to be told their trade by persons who knew nothing of it. Thus those who advised, and those who were to execute, lived in eternal contradiction and variance. The counsellors, says the chancellor, being men of better understandings and better expressions than the officers, commonly disposed his majesty to their opinions from concurring
be under his mother's care, who was to hàve the absolute and full power of his edu
with what was proposed by the officers. The best speech, it seems, carried it, as if the man who had the greatest command of words was best intitled to the command of troops. This raised an implacable animosity in the whole army against the council : and who can wonder at it? The lord Wilmot, though the best beloved and most popular officer in the army, and whom the chancellor confesses, notwithstanding the great liberties he takes with his character in all other respects, to have had more credit and authority in the troops than any other man, was yet put under an arrest at his post of command, upon a day of battle, and shamefully sent away a prisoner to Exeter, a sacrifice to the secretary and master of the rolls, who at that time were the great over-rulers in all debates by the volubility of their tongues, in which they excelled. The lord Piercy had the same fate at the same time, for no other reason that appears against either of those noble persons, but that they were beloved by the army, and hated by the council. This unnatural mixture of councils civil and military, when it came to be particularly applied to every part of the service, could not but create more and more distraction: and hence arose that unhappy division in men's minds which set honour and loyalty at variance. This infection was not yet spread into the west, where alone every thing continued quiet and hopeful, when the prince, too young and unexperienced to judge for hiinself, was sent down attended with one of these councils, of which the chancellor was president and supreme director. Sir Richard Granville was then at the head of the
cation, in all things except religion ; those to whom he was intrusted, on the near ap
troops. It is 'to be observed, that this very council itself was divided into parties : the earl of Berkshire, to whose care the prince's person and education was entrusted, was kept out of all secrets, and so were several others, though members of the same council. The chancellor and his immediate creatures governed the whole. It would be strange to imagine that the king, than whom there could not be a nicer judge, should commit so high and so important a trust as the care of his son, heir to his crown, to any person unqualified for it, at so critical a juncture: it was enough that his majesty had made the choice, to be convinced of that noble lord's merit; but it was his misfortune to be out of the chancellor's favour, as were almost all who had the honour to be appointed near his highness's person. These divisions and sub-divisions in the family and council, could promise nothing but confusion in every part of the administration, civil or military. The general soon found the effects of it. They began with an offer to retrench his allowance for the pay of his troops, upon pretence of economy, that out of those contributions there might be spared wherewithall to answer other services : to this he made a peremptory reply, that he neither could nor would command an army unpaid : his answer was resented, but they durst not proceed to any alteration; the whole army was as much concerned as the general. He proposed no scheme of any kind for carrying on the service but what was contradicted or rejected in the most contemptuous manner : this man who had been bred under prince Maurice, the greatest captain of the age; this
proach of the enemy, prepared to give obedience thereunto. Accordingly his high
man whose experience and activity was thought most necessary where action was to be; this man so beloved by the veteran regiments (the best judges of their officers) that they cared to follow nobody else, as the historian had told us before : this brave, this active, this experienced officer, could now, all on the sudden, offer nothing but wild notions and stark madness.-These disorders, daily increasing, Sir Richard at last fairly and honestly represents, in a letter to the prince, the impossibility of doing any thing with an army so distracted by different and contradictory orders : and recommends a more absolute command to be given to some person whom all would obey, and names the lord Hopton, who had formerly, commanded with great glory and success.” In consequence of this advice, Hopton was chosen general; but Sir Richard, on refusing to act under him, was put under an arrest, and committed to Launceston goal; where he continued till the fate of the west was determined. “ Thus it was that this fatal council gave the finishing stroke to the war, where alone any footing was left: the service every where languished, the soldiers gradually deserted, and the lord Hopton, though a braver or a better man could not be, was compelled, after some faint resistances, to disband and accept of such conditions as the enemy would give. Thus by an unaccountable interposition of mixt councils of swordmen and gownmen,
a Lord Landsdown's Works, vol. II. p. 209–217, 12mo. Lond. 1736. See also Sir Richard Greenville's own narrative of the proceedings of his majesty's affairs in the west: and Lord Hopton's relation of the same, in Ormonde's State Papers, by Carte, vol. I. p. 96--126. Lond. 1739.
ness, accompanied by his council, on the second of March, one thousand six hundred forty-five, 0. S. departed from Pendennis,
by unavoidable disputes and contradictions of persons of such different professions, incompatible in their opinions and decisions, that victorious body of western men, which had fought so many battles, obtained so many victories, invincible in the whole course of the war, flush'd with success in all encounters, and still in condition not only to have stood their ground, but to have attempted greater things, was by one rash measure, the effect of private prejudice, at once broken, scatter'd, dispers’d, and totally defeated. Nothing better is to be expected from divided councils. What then was left for the chancellor to do, but to shift the blame
where from himself? What could be more natural ? Not only Sir Richard, but every officer of the army, nay the soldiers themselves, the very private men, all who differed from him in the council, or in the prince's family, not one escapes the stroke of his pen! In this part of his history therefore (for I meddle with no other) he is rather to be supposed an advocate for his own conduct, than an impartial relator of the actions of others a.” Lord Clarendon throughout, is indeed more an advocate than an historian. I pretend not to exculpate Greenville: he was, probably, a bad man; as soldiers of fortune, in times of civil distractions, for the most part are: but it is no way unlikely, his censure of the councils of the chancellor of the exchequer, did not a little contribute to the shocking figure he makes in the history of the rebellion.Having given the sentiments of these two writers concerning the loss of the
* Landsdown, vol. II. p. 224.