Through Great Britain and Ireland With Cromwell - H. E. Marshall

Oliver's First Visit to Scotland

The second Civil War was really over. But Oliver always liked to do what he had in hand thoroughly. So, "to make an end of the business of Scotland," he marched northward. Back, across the Pennines, into Yorkshire he went once more. Then northward, now riding through wild moor-land, now tramping down the long, wide street of Northallerton, passing not far from the famous battle-field of the Standard; across the Tees and Wear, by the bare plains of Durham, now smoky with collieries, to Durham itself with its grand cathedral and frowning castle perched above the town; by Alnwick with its castle, so often the scene of strife between Englishman and Scot, nearer and nearer to the border, until he came to Berwick-on-Tweed.

Oliver Cromwell


Once Berwick was a great seaport. Now it is of little note except for its salmon fisheries. Lying as it does on the border, it has been fought and struggled for more than any other town. It had belonged now to one country, now to the other, until at length it was made into a county by itself, and still remains so.

But Cromwell did not now want to fight with the Scots. He knew that many of them were still on the side of the Parliament. It was only the "Engagers," as those who had followed Hamilton were called, who were on the King's side. So, from Alnwick, Oliver wrote letters to the leaders of the Scottish Parliament, telling them that he came in peace. And, welcomed as a friend, the great soldier rode towards Edinburgh.

It was an October day on which he first saw the grey old town sitting "Queen of the unconquered North" high upon her hills. Edinburgh is a city set upon hills and guarded by hills. There is Arthur's Seat couched like a sleeping lion, from which once the great British King, Arthur, looked down upon his fighting legions. There is the Calton with its monuments, and last, the rugged Castle rock, crowned with battlements, frowning down upon green gardens and upon the fairest street in all the kingdom.

Edinburgh takes its name from Edwin the Fair, King of Deira, who built a fort there in 629. But the Scots called it Dunedin—that is, the hill of Edwin. And it is often called the Maiden City, for there the daughters of the King used to live.

Edinburgh is the capital of, and, with its port of Leith, the second city in, Scotland. But although it has many advantages, although it is near a coal field and upon a waterway reaching far inland, and opposite the northern continental ports, it is not its trade which makes the city famous, but its beauty and its history.

The Castle, "crowned with battlements and towers," is full of memories. So too are the crowded narrow streets which lead from the Castle to the Palace of Holyrood—the palace in which kings and princes and fair queens have played their parts and passed away. Now Cromwell was feasted here "with a noble entertainment." In his heavy boots he tramped up and down the High Street and the Canongate, from his lodgings in the Earl of Moray's fine new house, to Holyrood and the Castle. He had many talks with the grave Scottish nobles and solemn divines, bending them to his will, as he bent all men.

Then, they having readily promised that none of the "Engagers" should ever again be allowed to have any power, Oliver marched home once more, well pleased with his work. "I do think the affairs of Scotland are in a thriving posture as to the interest of honest men," he writes; "and Scotland is like to be a better neighbour to you now."

Meantime, while Cromwell was fighting and conquering in the north, the Parliament, freed from his overbearing will, were doing as they liked. Once more they tried to come to an agreement with the King. Once more letters and visits passed between them.

But the time when the King might have saved himself by giving in had gone. The army, looking on, grew more and more angry. They would have no more dealings with "Charles Stuart, that man of blood." They wished to punish him as the grand author of all their troubles. But the Parliament would not listen to the army, and went on trying to make an agreement with the King.

Then, early one winter's morning, an officer burst into the King's room, telling him to make ready to come with him. Again, as once before, the King asked to see his orders. But the officer refused to show any order. So, seeing nothing else for it, Charles said a sad farewell to the friends who were with him, and prepared to go.

Thus once again Charles was the prisoner of the army. This time he was taken to Hurst, a damp and dreary castle on the shores of Hampshire. It was lonely and desolate, being surrounded by water except where a narrow shingly path joined it to the land. The King had never given up hope of being at length able to escape. But now when he saw the thick walls of this dark and lonely castle, his heart sank within him.