Cromwell was now master of England, and ruled with all that authority which is so freely granted to a revolutionary leader, and so often denied to a lawful monarch. The great body of the English stood aghast with horror when they discovered that regicide, and the substitution of an illegal tyranny for one which at least was legal, was the end of all their hopes. The new ruler was aware of the precariousness of his position. The safety of his head, as well as the continuance of his power, depended on the caprice of the multitude; and he saw that the sword alone could maintain him in the elevated position to which he had risen, and the still more elevated position to which he aspired. We scarcely imagine him to have been more religious or less humane than many of his contemporaries, though it is evident that he required a great show of the kind of religion then fashionable to support his character as a reformer, and that he considered himself obliged to exercise wholesale cruelties to consolidate his power.
The rightful heir to the English throne was then at the Hague, uncertain how to act and whither he should turn his steps. He wished to visit Ireland, where he would have been received with enthusiastic loyalty by the Catholics; but Ormonde persuaded him, from sinister motives, to defer his intention. Ormonde and Inchiquin now took the field together. The former advanced to Dublin, and the latter to Drogheda. This town was held by a Parliamentary garrison, who capitulated on honorable terms. Monck and Owen O’Neill, in the meantime, were acting in concert, and Inchiquin captured supplies which the English General was sending to the Irish chief. Newry, Dundalk, and the often-disputed and famous Castle of Trim surrendered to him, and he marched back to Ormonde in triumph. As there appeared no hope of reducing Dublin except by famine, it was regularly blockaded; and the Earl wrote to Charles to inform him that his men were so loyal, he could “persuade half his army to starve outright for his Majesty.”
Ormonde now moved his camp from Finglas to Rathmines, and at the same time reinforcements arrived for the garrison, under the command of Colonels Reynolds and Venables. The besiegers made an attempt to guard the river, and for this purpose, Major-General Purcell was sent to take possession of the ruined Castle of Bagotrath, about a mile from the camp. Ormonde professed to have expected an attack during the night, and kept his men under arms; but just as he had retired to rest, an alarm was given. Colonel Jones had made a sortie from the city; the sortie became for a brief moment an engagement, and ended in a total rout. The Earl was suspected; and whether he had been guilty of treachery or of carelessness, he lost his credit, and soon after left the kingdom.