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away all surviving traces of what they held to be idolatrous worship, they laid a profane and sacrilegious hand on all the religious emblems and artistic decorations of the chapel. In a newspaper of the time we read the following paragraph :
“Sir Robert Harlow gave order for the putting down and demolishing of the popish and superstitious pictures at Hampton Court, where this day the altar was taken down, and the table brought into the body of the church, the rails pulled down, and the steps levelled, and the popish pictures and superstitious images that were in the glass windows were also demolished, and order given for the new glazing them with plain glass; and among the rest, there was pulled down the picture of Christ nailed to the cross, which was placed right over the altar, and the pictures of Mary Magdalen and others weeping by the foot of the cross, and some other such idolatrous pictures were pulled down and demolished.”
The following year, 1646, saw Charles's flight from the besieged city of Oxford to Newark, where the Scotch were encamped, and where he surrendered himself into their hands-a confidence which they rewarded, not many months after, by selling him to the English Parliament, from whose control he was transferred to the custody of the army. By them he was treated with much more consideration and generosity than he had experienced at the hands of the Scotch or the Parliament, and after several removes was eventually installed, on August 24th, 1647, in his Palace of Hampton Court, which had been prepared for his reception, his goods and household servants having been transferred thither from Oxford after the surrender of that city.
Here he remained for a period of some two months and a half, in a state of comparative ease and dignity, "rather as a guarded and attended prince than as a conquered and purchased captive.” He dined in public in the Presence Chamber with the same state and ceremony as formerly, and, when dinner was over, any gentleman who wished was admitted to kiss his hand.
Among those who came was John Evelyn the diarist, who records under date October roth, 1647: “I came to Hampton Court, where I had the honour to kiss his Majesty's hand, he being in the power of those execrable villains, who not long after murdered him.”
The citizens also flocked from London in considerable numbers, as they had formerly done at the end of a Pro
CHARLES BROUGHT CAPTIVE TO THE PALACE.
gress, when the King had been some months absent from London. All his old servants, too, had free access to him, and many Cavaliers, who had done him active service in the Civil War, came to pay their respects, and were allowed to confer with him without reservation, Even his two most intimate and faithful followers, Mr. John Ashburnham and Sir John Berkeley, who had been voted delinquents by the Parliament, and who had fled beyond the seas, were permitted to return and to take up their abode within the palace, and to be constantly about the King's person.
He had also the consolation of the administrations of his own divines of the Church of England, who “could administer spiritual comfort according to the rites of that Church.”
But what pleased him most was being allowed access to his children, who were then staying under the care of the Earl of Northumberland at Sion House, whither he was sometimes allowed to ride over to see them, and whence they occasionally came to stay at the palace with him. must have been an affecting scene to behold the King, forgetting awhile the cares and troubles that beset him on all sides, amid the domestic joys which formed the one bright spot in his unfortunate career.
He found relaxation also in hunting in the park, playing at tennis, and in similar recreations.
Nevertheless, he was still so far under surveillance as to have the Parliamentary Commissioners always residing with him in the palace, as well as a guard of soldiers under Colonel Whalley, one of the officers of the Parliamentarian army, who was always in attendance on him, nominally for his protection only, but in reality more for his supervision, and with strict injunctions against his removal.
At the same time the headquarters of the army were now at Putney, a place chosen for the purpose, as being at an equal distance from the Parliament in London, and the King at Hampton Court; and from Putney came Cromwell and the other superior officers to pay their respects to King Charles. It was observed that “Fairfax kissed the royal hand; but Cromwell and his son-in-law, Ireton, though they did not come behind the general in phrases of loyalty, seemed to decline the ceremonial.”
There can be little doubt, indeed, that the magnetic influence of royal smiles was beginning to work on the acrid austerity of the Roundhead soldiers. “The King," says Clarendon, "enjoyed himself at Hampton Court much more to his content than of late; the respects of the chief officers of the army seeming much greater than they had been. Cromwell himself came oftener, and had long conferences with him ; talked with more openness than he had done, and appeared more cheerful.” Charles had also the sagacity to try and win over Cromwell's wife, who was presented to him by his own desire, Ashburnham taking her by the hand and leading her up to Charles, who received her very graciously, and afterwards entertained her, with the wives of Ireton and Whalley, at dinner.
The exact nature of the negotiations that were all this time in progress between Charles and Cromwell have not been positively ascertained. Some have maintained that Cromwell was sincerely and disinterestedly endeavouring to compose the quarrel between the King and the Parliament; while others have gone so far as to declare that Cromwell was prepared, if it should suit his personal aims to betray the popular cause, to undertake the restoration of the monarch to all his former prerogatives, on condition of receiving for himself the Earldom of Essex and a pension of £10,000 a year.
However this may be, it is certain that the question of an accommodation between Charles and the army was much discussed between them, and that the terms which the officers were ready to offer him were much more favourable than those of the Parliament. Had he but clearly understood his real position and frankly accepted their overtures, and could he only have brought himself to treat them with the same candour with which, it seems, they were dealing with him, there is no reason to suppose that an agreement might not have been come to, which would have led to his being once more firmly established on his throne, though of course with a much diminished prerogative.
But while Charles was negotiating with Cromwell, he was, at the same time, dallying with the rival propositions of the Parliament, vainly imagining that by intrigue and kingcraft he could succeed in playing off one party against
CROMWELL'S CONFERENCES WITH CHARLES I. 223
the other, and act as arbiter between both, to his own advantage. It would be beyond the scope of our narrative to detail the many ins and outs of the negotiations—the nine
teen propositions of the army, the counter propositions of
Parliament, the King's answers; and the suggestions, alterations, and modifications that transformed the posture of affairs from day to day.
Suffice it to say that the rough, straightforward Roundhead soldiers found out at last that Charles was utterly untrustworthy, and that while he was affecting to agree with them, he was in truth playing a double, if not a treble game—intriguing with the Scottish Commissioners for a concerted invasion of England by a numerous army in the spring, as well as bargaining with the Parliament. Accordingly they gave up in disgust all idea of an arrangement with him, and gradually ceased to come any longer to Hampton Court.
They were probably led to take this course not a little also by the murmurs that were beginning to be heard against them in the army, especially among the new sect of Levellers, for their conciliatory dispositions towards "the man of sin, Charles Stuart," and their unholy bargaining with the children of Satan. An impeachment was even threatened against Cromwell.
Nevertheless, an appearance of friendly feeling towards the King was still kept up by the heads of the army for some time after they had resolved to have no more to do with him. For this they have been accused, and perhaps not unjustly, of duplicity; but as Ireton himself said, "He gave us words, and we paid him in his own coin, when we found he had no real intention to the people's good, but to prevail by our factions, to regain by art what he had lost by fight.” With him, in fact, there was always some mental reservation that nullified the force of any compact which contained concessions to those who, in his eyes, were nothing else but rebels in arms against their anointed sovereign. The cast of his mind, in fact, as well as his methods, was distinctly feminine rather than manly, and it was a sort of character excessively obnoxious and irritating to the sturdy, robust, Roundhead soldiers.
Meanwhile Charles continued the same mode of life at Hampton Court as heretofore, playing tennis, riding or walking in the park, keeping up a voluminous correspondence with his wife in France, and giving audiences to visitors. Nevertheless, he seems to have begun, about this time, to have a presentiment that a crisis was impending in his affairs; and to his friends who came to him he bade a tender farewell, as though he were parting with them for a long time, if not for ever.