Charles I and Cromwell. By G. M. Young. (Peter Davies. 7s. 6d.) Reviewed by JOSEPH CLAYTON This scholarly and highly engaging essay is uncommonly good reading. How 'did it come about that in less than three -years-1646 to 1649-King Charles, whose deposition was hardly contemplated, whose restoration most people expected, was brought to the scaffold? The problem has never been so fairly stated as it is in this book, nor so reasonably answered.
Mr. Young starts capitally with old Sir Jacob Astley sitting on a drum at Stowon-the-Wold talking cheerily to the victors of the parliamentary army. The civil war was over with that last battle; the difficulties of peace had begun. The chief difficulty was the king himself. "He was not only a king, he was an Anglican king." and so in the main were his people. But bishops were anathema to the Scots Presbyterians. and the Scots, brought in to overthrow the royalists, had been promised the abolition of episcopacy. And then Charles had no notion of becoming the new kind of constitutional king that Ireton, Cromwell's son-in-law, desired.
What with proposals from the army, proposals of Parliament, agitating pamphlets from John Lilburne and the Levellers, a manifesto called the "Agreement of the People" in favour of a pure democracy, and Charles for ever questioning and considering all the proposals put before him, those three years brought Ireton to the conclusion that the king was simply impossible. Cromwell assented. The republican minority in the army, nourished on Old Testament condemnations of kings, saw Charles as "a man of blood," and the tragedy moved to its fated end. Mr. Young has written a wise and witty book, admirable in its character studies and full of enlightenment.