King Charles the Martyr, 1643-1649

By Esmé Wingfield-Stratford | Go to book overview
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gas-chambers of Auschwitz. Total inhumanity enlarges its scope in expanding circles of hate, until everything in human form outside the pale of the self-chosen Elect is marked down for liquidation or helotage.

What took place on the evening of Naseby and in the storm of Basing signalized the awakening of this spirit--so alien to the English nature--for perhaps the only time in the national history. Before it had worked itself out its effect would have been seen in the shambles of Drogheda and on the scaffold at Whitehall, though these, to be sure, are very half-hearted and tentative essays judged by the most up-to-date standards.


WE can hardly speak of a campaign after Naseby. There was never the faintest hope of the King's reversing that decision, and it is extraordinary, under the circumstances, that it should have taken not far short of a year to drive him to the surrender to which the Rebel commanders, if they had concentrated all their efforts on bringing him to book, ought easily to have forced him in the course of a few weeks. But instead they, or their political overlords at Westminster, preferred an exhaustive series of mopping up operations against the scattered Cavalier forces and strong points, that though equally certain in the long run, had the effect of drawing out the agony to no purpose, except that of providing a course of intensive field practice for the New Model, long enough to season it into the most formidable military force, in proportion to its size, anywhere in Europe.

It is possible that to one at least of its commanders such a slowing up of martial tempo may have been not unwelcome. For every month added to the war was playing into whatever hands should prove capable of grasping the instrument of supreme power that was being forged in its fires. And that those hands should be those of the New Model's titular commander can scarcely have stood within the prospect of anyone's belief--least of all that of his second-in-command. I do not suggest for a moment that Cromwell was, at this stage, planning to set up an eventual


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King Charles the Martyr, 1643-1649
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