Alfred John Church.

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kingdom." Whatever the cause, it came to pass that in the month of May
the King's affairs were in such ill case that he was like to be
besieged in Oxford. The forces that he had with him were scarce a
third part as numerous as those that the Parliament had arrayed
against him; nor could he look for any present help from elsewhere,
Prince Rupert being on his march to relieve my Lord Derby (besieged in
his castle of Lathom), and Prince Maurice having sat down before Lyme
in the county of Dorset, a little fisher-town which he was not like to
take, and which, if taken, had been but of small account. The King
therefore had to retire his troops from Reading. Abingdon also, which
is not more than five miles from Oxford, was abandoned, though this
was against the King's desire and even command expressly given; so
that all Berkshire now was in the hands of Parliament by their two
commanders, the Earl of Essex and Sir William Waller, and the King was
forced to draw his whole force of horse and foot on the north side of
Oxford; nay more, the Parliament came into Oxfordshire, my Lord Essex
getting over the Thames at Sandford Ferry (which is three miles away
from Oxford), and halting on Bullingdon Green, whence he sent parties
of horse up to the very gates of the city. This was on the
twenty-ninth day of May. Meanwhile Sir William Waller also had crossed
the Thames and was come as far as Eynsham, where he lay at my father's
house, but did no damage, but was, on the contrary, cause of no small
profit to John Vickers, and so through him to my father; the said John
selling to him and his company poultry and eggs and the like at such a
price as did, in a way, avenge the King's wrongs. Now, therefore, the
King was well nigh surrounded, for some of my Lord Essex's horse had
gone forward as far as Woodstock, so that there was but one vacant
space left in the circle which the enemy had not yet occupied, to wit,
between Eynsham and Woodstock, and this space was of not more than six
miles.

So desperate indeed was the situation of affairs that there were many
now who counselled the King that he should give himself up to the Earl
of Essex, to which advice he gave this answer, as my father told me
who heard the very words as they came from his mouth. "'Tis possible I
shall be found in the hands of the Earl of Essex, but I shall be dead
first."

[Illustration: _Friar Bacon's House._]

On the third day of June, at eleven of the clock in the forenoon, as I
sat in my chamber, comes my father to me. I was reading, I remember,
in the twenty-seventh book of the Histories of Livy of how the Consul
Livius made a sudden march to join forces with his colleague against
Hasdrubal, then threatening to combine his army with Hannibal's to the
great danger of the commonwealth of Rome. My father had a more
cheerful look than I had seen in him since my coming home. Indeed, he
was one of them to whom the bare prospect of danger is a singular
great delight, so that the whistling of a bullet near to him would
rouse him as a draught of wine does other men, and would change his
ordinary mood, which was somewhat grave and reserved, to a most
uncommon gaiety and mirth. Says he, "Son Philip, I see you are set to
pull down Friar Bacon's house about your ears.[3] Nevertheless, put
away your books, if you have a mind for a ride to-night. My colonel is
sick of a fever, which he contracted, I take it, from toasting the
King too zealously last night at St. John's College, where they drink
perilously deep. 'Tis not a serious ailment, but it hinders him at the
present time from the saddle; and by the King's special word I am to
have command of the regiment. Further, the King said, 'Thou wilt need
some one to carry messages and the like, a young man of courage and
discretion, and a bold rider. Dost know of such a one?' Then I
said - let it not turn your head to hear such good opinions of
yourself - 'Sire, I have a son who would do his utmost to please your
Majesty.' Then he would know who you were; but when he heard that you
were a scholar, his face clouded somewhat, and he said, 'A scholar is
best at his books. 'Tis not the least evil of this most unhappy war
that it has changed this seat of learning into a barrack of soldiers.
Where shall I find preachers and counsellors if I turn my scholars
into troopers?' But when I told his Majesty that you were diligent at
your books, he said, 'Well, if the lad will take this ride as a
holiday and return hereafter to his books, it shall be as you wish.
Will you answer for him?' And when I said that I would it was settled
that you should come. But mind, son Philip, that you do not falsify my
word. And now I will have a word with Master Hood, your Rector, for
the King has promised that you shall have dispensation for the rest of
your term if perchance you have not kept it." And, indeed, I had kept
but half of Trinity term, which begins on the Wednesday after Whit
Sunday. The Rector made no hindrance, being always amenable to them
that are in authority. Only he would not give me permission to be
absent under his hand, which my father would gladly have had. "'Tis no
need," he said; but I do suspect that he would not do aught that might
be used in evidence against him. He is a good man, of wise carriage
and conduct, and learning sufficient for his place; but 'tis cardinal
doctrine with him that he must be Rector of Lincoln College. 'Tis not
altogether ill with the world, he thinks, so long as that be so.
Hitherto he has kept his profits and dignities while many have lost
them, as I shall show hereafter; and if, to speak profanely, Fortune
shall give another turn to her wheel, and the King have his own again,
I doubt not we shall find Master Hood[4] at the top in as good case as
ever.

[3] The tradition was that the house would fall when a more
learned man than the Friar should pass beneath it.

[4] Paul Hood held the Rectorship of Lincoln College from
1620 to 1668, and therefore outlasted the change from King
to Parliament, and from Parliament again to King. No other
head of a house was equally compliant or equally long lived.

[Illustration: King Charles the First.]

My father had, with no small difficulty, bespoken a horse for me, and
when I had settled my small affairs at College, I went down to William
Barnes his stables in S. Aldate's so as to make acquaintance with him.
The first sight of him dashed me somewhat. He was, I thought, over
small for me, having not more than thirteen hands in height, while my
stature exceeded six feet by three inches and more. But his colour
troubled me more than his littleness, for he was of the spotted kind,
such as they commonly use in shows. William Barnes perceived that I
was ill at ease, and would comfort me. "Nay, Master," he said, "'tis
an excellent beast for all his queer look. A good horse is ever of a
good colour, say I; and as for strength it does not always go with
bigness. I warrant he would carry three of you, if his back were long
enough. And if your legs be over long, you must shorten your
stirrups." Nor, indeed, were his commendations ill bestowed. It must
be confessed that there was much laughter when I was first seen on his
back, and laughter is sometimes almost as ill to bear as blows. But he
never failed me in any need. He never flinched at the noise of the
cannons - no, not when he heard it for the first time, whereas there
were, I noted, many horses that could never be trusted, but that they
would carry their riders clean off the field, to their no small
discredit, or straight into the enemy, to their no small danger. But
Spot - for so I called the good beast - was ever steady and obedient to
the rein, and if provender were short he was content to wait, nor yet
failed in strength, however long the day's work might be. Poor Spot,
he is with many another on Naseby Field. I am not ashamed to confess
that though I had, God knows, other and heavier griefs that day, I
shed tears to think I should see him no more. But I must return to the
time of which I am now speaking.

[Illustration: _A Halt of Officers._
_HANHART LITH._]

Though my father had been secret as to the purpose of the ride, as he
named it, to which he called me, I had little doubt what this might
be. Yet was I somewhat mistaken. For thinking that the King was
intending to go forth from Oxford, where, as I have said, he was near
to being surrounded, to some part where he might have freer action,
and to do this with a small company of followers, I found, coming down
to the north gate, which I did about half-past eight on the evening,
that there was a whole army assembled. There were, as I did afterwards
discover, about 6,000 men, of whom the greater part were horse. The
horse were drawn up in a very fair array in Port Meadow, which had
been conveniently chosen for this purpose, as lying low and so being
out of sight of the enemy. The foot soldiers, marching down the lane
that runs by Aristotle's Well, there joined them; and so, about nine
of the clock, when it was now beginning to grow dark, we set off, the
horse, whereof my father's regiment was the foremost, being in front,
and the footmen following after with as much haste as they might. And,
indeed, besides that all were picked men, 'twas not a march in which
any would desire to linger, so great was the danger lest the enemy's
forces, being much more numerous, should close upon us. These, as I
have before said, were on either side of us, but on the present
occasion the army of Lord Essex was the more to be dreaded, seeing
that it had pushed forward its outposts so far as Woodstock town,
whereas we, marching by Picksey and Oxsey Mead, and over Worton Heath,
skirted the very walls of Woodstock Park. Our chief care was
concerning a certain bridge over the Evenlode River that is hard by
the village of Long Hanborough, whether it were held by the enemy or
no. For if it was so held we should have to fight for it, and if we
fought it would be small odds whether we got the better or the worse,
for we could scarce hope, being checked upon our way, to outstrip our
pursuers. About midnight there was a consultation held among the
leaders, whereof the outcome was this, that my father with two hundred
horsemen, each carrying a musqueteer behind him, rode forward with as
much speed as they could command, being specially chosen for their
courage and for the strength and quickness of their horses. It was
purposed that these should occupy and hold the bridge at Hanborough.
With these I rode, and when we were come to the bridge, and by God's
providence found it vacant, says my father to me, "Son Philip, ride
back to the army with all the speed you can, and tell the good news to
the King." So I rode, putting spurs to my horse, though indeed the
good beast needed not spur nor whip; and when I arrived at the army I
found the King, with whom was the whole inception and conduct of the
affair from the beginning to the end, had ridden to the front. And
when he saw me, careful and troubled as he was about the matter, he
had much ado to keep from laughter, so strange a figure did we show.
But when he heard my news, he said, "This is excellent good tidings;
never came more welcome Mercury than thou. And that need be a
marvellous good beast of thine, be his looks what they may, for thee
to have gone and returned so speedily. But spare him now, and follow
quietly."

There is no need to write of this march at length, though indeed it
was marvellously well conceived and executed. Let it suffice then to
say so much as follows. We proceeded without halt till the afternoon,
when we came to Burford, which is distant from Oxford about sixteen
miles. There we refreshed ourselves awhile, and his Majesty was so
graciously disposed that he would have my father and me to sup with
him and the great lords that were about his person. After supper he
talked with my father awhile about military affairs, asking his
opinion in the most courteous fashion; and he had also a few words
with me about my books, not forgetting to warn me that I must not
neglect them for any pleasures or excitements of war. About nine of
the clock the King, desiring to put as much space as might be between
himself and his pursuers, gave command to march, which was performed,
but not without some murmuring. And, indeed, it was a laborious march,
for though our way for the most part lay along the valley, yet at the
last, it being little short of midnight, we made a steep ascent, and
so having mounted the height with no small pains, descended the same
with no less to Bourton-on-the-Water. Here we rested for the night,
keeping under such shelter as we could find, or, the greater part of
us, under none at all. We had marched, I take it, not less than thirty
miles, which is no small achievement, especially for an army that had
been for many months past in garrison. The next day betimes we set
forth again, the King intending at the first to halt at Evesham, but
after hearing that General Waller was in pursuit, and that crossing
the Avon at Stratford might so cut him off from Worcester, to which
place he was bound, changed his purpose and went on without halt to
Worcester. And here I must record a marvellous deliverance from
instant danger that befell me on my way. 'Twas at Pershore in
Worcestershire, where there is a bridge over the Avon. This the King
commanded should be broken down, and gave commandment accordingly to
the officer that had the charge of such matters. But he being either
new to his business, or overhasty to finish the matter, lest the enemy
should perchance come up and find it undone, set fire to the gunpowder
wherewith it was to be destroyed, before the due time. By this
misadventure Major Bridges, a very skilful and courageous man, was
killed, and with him also three other officers and about twenty common
soldiers. I myself was like to have perished with these, being thrown
into the river, by the falling of the bridge. But being somewhat
before the others I escaped, for whereas they were done to death by
the force of the explosion, I did but lose my footing and fall into
the river. And here again my good steed showed how excellent a beast
he was, for he swam most bravely against the stream, and in the end
landed me on the bank, being not much the worse, save for the wetting.
From Evesham the King rode to Worcester, where the townsfolk received
him with much rejoicing.




CHAPTER VII.

OF THE FIGHT AT COPREDY BRIDGE.


Of his Majesty's marchings and counter-marchings, after his coming to
the City of Worcester, I shall not write in this place, save to say
that they were ordered with such skill as utterly confounded his
pursuers. But they that read this book will, I doubt not, pardon me if
I speak somewhat particularly of the battle which his Majesty fought
at Copredy Bridge, seeing that it was the first battle in which I had
a hand.

On the twenty-eighth day of June, being a Friday, the army lay for the
night in the field, eastward of Banbury. The next day the King marched
to the North, having the Cherwell River on his left hand, Sir William
Waller at the same time coasting on the other side of the river. My
father and I were with the rear of the army, in which were a thousand
foot and two brigades of horse of which the one was commanded by my
Lord Northampton, and the other by my Lord Cleveland. In this latter
was the regiment of which my father had charge for the time. About
noon we halted to dine. This business finished, we began again to
march, not expecting that the enemy, who was some way distant from the
river, would fall upon us. But about two of the clock we noted that
the body of the army - with which was the King himself - had since
dinner made such haste that there was now a great space left between
them and us; for we had received no command to quicken our marching.
Being somewhat uneasy at this - for it was not to be doubted that Sir
William Waller, being a man experienced in warfare, would take
occasion of this dividing of the army to fall upon us - we spied
certain scattered horsemen riding towards us, with such hurry and
confusion as men are when they are pursued. While we wondered what
this might mean comes a rider post-haste to my Lord Cleveland, and
says:

"My Lord, be on your guard, and make ready to defend yourselves. The
enemy has taken Copredy Bridge, which the Dragoons were keeping for
the King, and will cross the river in a short space of time. 'Tis said
that he has five thousand men and twenty pieces of cannon."

These numbers were exaggerated by fame, as is commonly the case, for
there were, in truth, little more than half the number. At the same
time, we perceived that a brigade of horse, which we reckoned at about
a thousand, had crossed the river by a certain ford, which was a mile
below the bridge, and was ready to fall upon us in the rear. These
latter, being the nearer to us of the two, seemed to my Lord Cleveland
to demand his first care. Thereupon he drew up his brigade to a rising
ground, which faced the ford aforesaid, and passed the word that we
should make ready to charge. Then we all descended from our horses and
looked to our saddle-girths, that they should not fail us, and to the
trimming of our pistols. Then, mounting again, we drew our swords, and
so sat waiting for the word. Whether during that said waiting I felt
any fear I can scarce say. 'Tis, indeed, a mighty difficult thing
clearly to distinguish between fear and other feelings that are
somewhat akin to it. The Latins had a certain word - _trepidare_,
to wit - which has a singular variety of meaning. That it has something
to do with "trembling" there can scarce be doubt, and it does often
signify such agitation of mind as is commonly shown by trembling; yet
sometimes also its meaning seems to be "haste" only; and, indeed, a
man may tremble for eagerness and not for fear. That I had any thought
of flying or shrinking back I can, with a good conscience, deny. A man
must be beside himself with fear that should think of such a thing;
but my heart beat mighty quick, and I thought of them that were dear
to me as might one who thinks to see them no more. While these things
were in my mind comes my father, riding along in front of the line, to
see that all were ready. When he comes to me - I being placed at the
right end of the line - he laid his right hand on my shoulder, and
said, "Be steady, son Philip; let not your horse carry you too fast.
That you be not too slow I need not warn you." ('Twas marvellous what
heart he put into me by these words, which seemed to take my courage
as something beyond doubt.) "Give the point of your sword to an enemy
rather than the edge, and keep your pistols for a last resource, when
you shalt find yourself in close quarters with an enemy and like to be
hard pressed."

When he had said so much the trumpet sounded for a charge, and we set
spurs to our horses, and rode, slowly at the first, and keeping our
ranks passably well, but afterwards at our horses' full speed, and in
a certain disorder. I do believe that the veriest coward upon earth
could not fear if he once found himself riding in a charge; a man
cannot choose but forget himself, and, if he have no courage of his
own, he takes that of his company and is content to meet dangers at
which he would otherwise tremble and grow pale. The enemy had scarce
finished their crossing of the river; and though they put on a bold
face, and even began to move forward to encounter us, they could not
stand, but were broken at the first encounter. For myself, I clean
forgot my father's command that I should give the point of my sword,
and struck lustily, often missing my blow altogether, and doing but
little at other times but blunting my sword. 'Twas all the better so
for one of the enemy's horse that was overthrown by our charge. He was
a lad of seventeen or thereabouts, a brave youth, for he would stand
his ground though his men left him. But now he and his horse went down
before us, and that straight in my way. Thereupon, being on the ground
and helpless, he cried "Quarter!" Now, whether or no I heard him is
more than I can say, but I must confess with shame that I was so
carried out of myself with the fury of battle that it was as if he had
not spoken, for I struck at him, so lying, with all my might. But the
fury which caused me so to forget myself did also make me altogether
miss my aim. God be thanked therefor! for otherwise that day had been
to me for all my life such a shame and sorrow as cannot be expressed.
As I was in the act to lift my sword again - for I will conceal
nothing - I felt a hand upon my arm that held it as with a grip of
iron; and my father, for it was he, cried in such a voice as I had
never before heard from his lips, "What savage is that that will slay
a Christian man when he cries 'Quarter'?" Thereat I dropped my sword,
being, so to speak, come to myself, and mightily ashamed. My father
leapt down from his horse, and said to the young man, "Yield yourself
to me, and you shall suffer no harm." Then the young man, who, now
that I had leisure, I could see to be a cornet, yielded up his sword,
and my father bade one of the troopers take him to the rear. This
done, he turned him to me and said, "I had almost as lief you were a
coward as a madman. Be you one or the other, this is not fit place for
you, and you had better depart."

"Nay, my father," I said, "disgrace me not. I will hold myself in
better check hereafter."

By this time the enemy had fallen back on their supports, and my Lord
Cleveland sounded the bugle, and we rode back slowly to our former
place. There was, I remember, a great ash-tree there, under which the
King stayed to take his dinner. Looking about him there, my Lord saw
another body of the enemy within musket shot of him and advancing upon
him (these were the Parliament men that had come over the bridge). I
doubt not but that in any case he would have charged them, though they
counted sixteen cornets of horse and as many colours of foot, but now
he was the more encouraged, because he saw that the body of the King's
army was drawing to his help. When the enemy saw him move forwards,
they halted, hiding behind the hedges, and delivered their volley of
musket and carbine shot, which volley, though it emptied some of our
saddles, stayed not our charge. Indeed, they did not abide our
approach (and, indeed, I have noted that for the most part there is
but little crossing of swords or pikes in battle, but they that give
place yield to the persuasion of superior force that they conceive in
their minds), but we drave them, with scarce a blow struck, beyond
their cannon. These also we took, being eleven in number, and besides
the cannon two barricadoes of wood drawn up on wheels; in each of
these were seven small guns of brass and leather, loaded with
case-shot, which, by God's mercy, they had not tarried to discharge;
else, I doubt not, we had suffered much damage. Certain of the
cannoneers were killed, and the general of the ordnance taken
prisoner. This was a certain Scotsman, by name Wemyss, who was in very
ill favour with the King's men, because, having been made
master-gunner of England, with a very considerable pension, to the
prejudice of many honest Englishmen, he took the first opportunity to
do him hurt. Many other prisoners were taken, nearly two hundred in
all. In this charge I bore myself more discreetly, riding as close as
I could to my father, but I found no occasion to cross swords with any
enemy, for here again they did not abide our charge, but turned when
we were about a pistol-shot from them. As for them that were slain,
who were in number more than the prisoners, they fell in the flight,
for the most part without striking a blow, though some parties of them
rallied and fought for their lives. Of our party there fell, chiefly
in this way, somewhat less than a score, among whom were two colonels
of regiments.

[Illustration: _A Gunner._
_HANHART LITH._]

Here was finished my part in this battle. Of what else was done that
day little needs to be said. The horsemen that crossed by the ford,
making head again and threatening our rear, were charged by my Lord
Northampton, and driven across the river; indeed, these stayed not at
all my Lord's approach, but fled so speedily and so far that 'tis said
they never returned again to their own army.

So far things went altogether well for the King. But when his Majesty
would himself attack the enemy he fared not so well. The bridge he


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