Alfred John Church.

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soon as he came within the door.

"Now beshrew this cloak," he said, with a laugh; "'tis cumbrous wear
for a midsummer day; but 'tis a rare thing if one has ought to hide;
better than a college gown; eh, Master Scholar?" Then we saw that he
had something in his hand wrapped in a napkin, which, when he had
unfolded, we saw a roasted capon.

"Ah!" he said; "if the King had had such politicians about him as I
am, he had been better served. Hear now how you have come by your
dinner. My good housekeeper, Dorothy Leggats, serves me up this capon,
one of a couple that a neighbour brought me yesterday. Now an I had
told her that I needed it for you, first there would have been loud
complainings, for the good woman believes in her heart that I starve
myself; then she would have gone 'clack, clack' over the whole
village, for the good woman can no more keep a secret than a sieve can
hold water. So, says I, rubbing my hands; 'That is a goodly sight for
a hungry man, Dorothy, but I have business on hand, affairs of State,
you understand, and I must not be disturbed for three hours at the
least. So if anyone come you must say that the parson has shut himself
in his chamber, and cannot be spoken with.' So I lock the door on her,
and slip out of the window, which, by good fortune, is near the road,
and here I am."

"We thank you much, sir;" I said, "but where shall you get your own

"Nay," answered the good man, "let me care for that. 'Tis little that
I can do for his Majesty, and I should be a bad subject if I should
think of myself when there are two stout soldiers in need, that can
strike a blow for him, which my cloth forbids me to do. I shall make
my Friday fast to-day, and give myself indulgence for flesh and fowl,
if such fall in my way, when Friday itself shall come."

"Ah! Master Parson," said John, "I reckon that you fast on other days
than Friday. But come, take a morsel with us; for there is more than
enough for us two."

We had some trouble to persuade him; but at the last he consented to
share with us; and a right jovial meal we had, though we had nothing
stronger to drink than a pitcher of water that John had drawn from the
well in the farmyard the night before. The good parson stayed talking
with us till, as he said, his time was out. He had been at Oxford, at
St. John's College, about forty years before, when the Archbishop of
Canterbury whom the Parliament so barbarously put to death, was his
tutor. Of him he had many things to say, of which I will here set down
one. "They did him an ill turn that brought him to Court, and put him
in the way of preferment and of office in the State. It had been well
for him as for the realm also if he had had no higher place than to be
president of his college. Learning never had a more duteous son nor
the King a worse counsellor."

When it was time for the good man to go he was much concerned to part
from us. "Were I ten years younger," said he, "I would ride with you,
cloth or no cloth. There are days when it may be said, 'Let him that
hath no sword sell his cloak and buy one,' though, to speak the truth,
I could not buy much with this of mine, so threadbare is it and
ragged. But an old man like me is best at home; I can pray for his
Majesty in the church so long as they suffer me to keep it, and when
they turn me out, if they extinguish my voice, still my thoughts will
be free. And now, my sons, take my blessing."

So he blessed us and went his way. We two lay hiding till it grew
dark, and then setting out arrived without misadventure at Burrough
Hill, where the King lay. We saw the light of Sir Thomas Fairfax's
camp at Kislingbury on our right hand, and once were constrained to
hide ourselves in a thicket, so near came some of the enemy's
horsemen. But scarce had we come to his Majesty's camp ('twas about
four of the clock in the morning) when there comes an order that the
army should march, the King proposing to go towards Newark, where he
had a strong garrison, with whom, as with other forces which he
expected, he could strengthen himself. It had been well had he done
so! So accordingly we set fire to the huts and departed, making a
short stage to Market Harborough, where we rested that night, that is
to say the van of the army, for the rear was at Naseby, his Majesty
himself sleeping at Lubbenham, which lies between the two. I had gone
to bed betimes, being not a little wearied with my journey, having
ridden two nights. (It is commonly thought among soldiers that
journeying will weary a man by night more than by day, for all that he
may so shun the heat, it being against nature to wake at such hours.)
I had scarce slept an hour (to me it seemed but five minutes, so weary
was I with sleep) when there comes an alarm, the rear coming in with
no small confusion from Naseby, where the Parliament men had suddenly
fallen upon them, and, taking some prisoners, had driven the rest
northward. I perceived that there was small hope of sleep that night,
and so rose and made ready for what might happen. I was quartered with
my father (whom his Majesty would always have near him) in a house in
the village, and coming out into the street, saw the King set out for
Harborough, where the Prince Rupert lay, my father riding with him in
the carriage. This was about an hour before midnight. In the space of
three hours or thereabouts my father comes back. There was a cloud
upon his face, and I could see that he was ill-pleased. "We are
resolved to fight," says he, "and 'twill be a marvel if we are not
well beaten. I was at the Council by his Majesty's favour, and heard
the debate, though it did not become one of my station to thrust in my
voice. The greater part were urgent for battle, the Prince being
especially vehement. Reason for fighting heard I none from him or from
any other; but his Highness's pride was affronted because the
Parliament men had fallen upon the King's army. They must teach the
Roundheads, forsooth, to bear themselves more modestly, as if that was
good reason for putting the whole future of the realm upon the cast of
a die. For 'tis nothing less than that, son Philip. If we be beaten
to-day, and I fear much that we shall, there is an end to the King's
cause. The King was for delay and gathering his forces together, but
was overborne, and gave way, as indeed it is too much his failing to
do, to these hot-blooded youngsters, who think that war is but a
matter of hard blows. But come, we must be moving; the army is to be
drawn together about a mile south from Harborough."



It was about five of the clock in the morning on Saturday, the 14th
day of June, that the drawing up of the King's army was finished. In
the centre was my Lord Astley with about two thousand five hundred
foot; on the right the Prince Rupert with about two thousand horse;
and on the left Sir Marmaduke Langdale with the northern horse, about
sixteen hundred in all. In the reserves were about thirteen hundred,
horse and foot together; so that there were in all scarce eight
thousand, the horse and foot being well nigh equal in number.

About eight of the clock in the morning comes a rumour that the enemy
had retired. Thereupon the scout-master is sent out, and certain
horsemen with him, among whom was John Talboys and I, to make further
discovery. We rode about two miles and a half, or, it may be three,
and saw nothing. Then said the scout-master: "This report is
manifestly true; these rascals are in great fear of us, and have
fled." Thereupon he turned back with his company to carry the tidings
to the King. Then says John Talboys to me: "I take it Master
Scout-master has scarce gone far enough. Do you see yonder height?
What say you to going thither? If we can see nothing there, then 'tis
plain that they are indeed gone."

We rode as he had said, and no sooner were we gotten to the top of the
hill than we saw the enemy almost under our feet. So close were we to
them that a gunner aimed a small cannon that he had at us, and we
could hear the bullet pass over our heads. "We have seen enough," says
John; "let us go back."

Thereupon we galloped back, and found that the Prince had moved
forward some horsemen and musqueteers, as thinking that the report of
the enemy's retreat, which, indeed, had been in some sort confirmed by
the scout-master, was true. We told him what we had seen, but he
seemed to be persuaded in his mind that the enemy were now retreating.
So he says to me: "Ride to my Lord Astley and tell him to come forward
with all the haste he can, if he would not have the enemy escape us;
and you," he said, turning to John Talboys, "carry the same words to
Sir Marmaduke." It was not for me to question his bidding, so I rode
with all the speed I could, and delivered the message to my Lord
Astley, who, nothing questioning, for the Prince being in the van
could not but know the truth, gave orders to advance with all speed.

When we came to the hill-top (the same at which the scout-master had
halted) we saw, I being in the following of my Lord Astley, the Prince
Rupert in the level ground below us, and on the brow of the hill
beyond, to which John Talboys and I had ridden, the army of the
Parliament. These last drew back so soon as we came into their
view - it was but a hundred yards or so - the better to hide themselves
and their plans; but we, or at the least some of us, imagined that
they fled. Thereupon we moved on the faster, so fast indeed that we
left behind much of our ordnance. Indeed, it is scarce to be believed
how all through the day we continually put ourselves at a

[Illustration: _A Cavalry Skirmish._

The Prince Rupert began the battle, charging the enemy's left wing. I
saw him and his horsemen gallop up the slope of the hill past some
thick hedges, from which came forth a fire of musketry (the hedges
being lined with dragoons on foot) which emptied some saddles, yet not
so many as to check them. More of the Prince's doings I could not see,
he passing from our view when he had got to the brow of the hill; but
I heard that he broke the enemy's left wing, scattering them all ways,
and then rode on as if he would have taken the baggage. 'Tis said that
the captain of the baggage guard took him for Sir Thomas Fairfax, he
wearing a red Spanish cloak after his lordship's fashion, and went to
him, hat in hand, and asked: "How goes the day?" thinking that he was
the General; and that thereupon the Prince asked whether they would
have quarter, which they refused, and gave him a volley instead, which
beat him and his horsemen off. On the other wing the Parliament men
did not wait for our coming but charged Sir Marmaduke Langdale's
horse, taking advantage of the ground, and to such a purpose that,
after some smart blows given and taken, our horsemen were beaten off,
and, indeed, fought no more that day.

Nevertheless, it seemed for a while as if the day would go well for
us, for the main body of our foot charging against the main body of
theirs did great execution upon them. The lines fired but one volley
upon each other, nor did either do much damage, aiming too high, as
young soldiers are wont to do, and then came to swords and the butt
ends of their muskets. I do protest that however much I might be
minded to magnify myself and my deeds, I could by no means tell what I
did that day. I know only this that I found my sword somewhat hacked
and some shrewd cuts in my buff-coat, but wound had I none save a
bruise upon the forepart of the left shoulder from a musket bullet
that by great happiness had spent itself before ever it came near to
me. But altogether we used our swords and muskets to such good purpose
that the enemy fled, though the officers for the most part, and
especially they that had the colours, stood bravely to their posts.
The victory being, as we judged, thus assured, my Lord Astley
bethought him whether he could not succour the left wing, which the
King also, who was with his guards in the reserve, was making ready to
support in their need. Whereupon he sends me with this message to the
King: "Does your Majesty need help?" This I was on the point to
deliver, his Majesty being at the head of his guards, and preparing to
charge, when I saw my Lord Carnworth, who was riding next to the King,
lay his hand upon his bridle, the next moment my Lord cried out with a
great oath: "Will you go upon your death in an instant?" and so
saying, turned the Kings horse round. After this the command was
given: "March to the right." Now this marching to the right led them
away both from helping their own and from charging the enemy. In whose
voice it was given I cannot affirm, but 'tis certain that it was too
readily obeyed. When my father, who was setting the second line of the
guards in order, saw what was doing, he rode with all the speed of his
horse to the King and said: "Pardon me, sir, but it is ruin absolute
if we leave the field in this fashion." Then the King, who here again
had yielded against his will and better judgment to the worse counsel,
cried with a loud voice: "Stand." But, though some obeyed this
command, yet for the greater part it was too late. Almost at the
instant of the King's speaking came a musket shot from the enemy's
ranks and wounded my father, entering by the left arm, which it broke,
and lodging in his shoulder. It was fired from close at hand, but by
whom I saw not. I have always thanked God for this, for else I had
hated the man who fired, though he did but his duty to his masters. My
father reeled in his saddle and was like to have fallen, but John
Talboys, riding by him, held him up. The next moment my good beast
falls dead with a shot, that passing my leg so close that it tore the
leather of my boot, entered behind his foreleg and so passed, I take
it, to his heart. Certain it is that he fell and never stirred more.
The King was much concerned to see my father hurt (he had ever a
tender heart for his friends, though it must be confessed that he
could desert them when occasion demanded), and said to John Talboys:
"Carry Colonel Dashwood to as safe a place as you can find." Thereupon
they rode off at a fair pace, my father having recovered somewhat from
the first shock of his wound, I following as best I could on foot. And
with this ends all that I saw of the battle of Naseby. The time was
then, as near as I could reckon, about noon.

[Illustration: _A Pikeman_.

How General Cromwell fell upon the main body of the King's army, and,
Sir Thomas Fairfax's reserves coming up at the same time, brake it in
pieces, is known to all. The Prince came back from his idle seeking
for plunder, and would have rallied them that remained, but could
avail nothing. It is to be noted, indeed, that the King's men both at
this and at other times lacked the steadfastness of their enemies, who
would stay obstinately in their place, even when they were overborne
by greater strength, and being driven back would rally again. But
these things the King's men would never do; so that when they gained a
victory, it was not completed, for want of a second charge, and when
they suffered defeat, it was a disaster beyond all remedy. I count it,
indeed, no small proof of this defect, that of our army more than a
half suffered themselves to be taken prisoners, who might surely have
escaped, or, it may be, restored the day, had they only had the heart
to rally to each other. As for ourselves, we had in this respect great
good fortune, which came about in this way. When the horsemen of the
Parliament's army were riding about the field, gathering in the
prisoners, Sir Thomas Fairfax comes upon us, where we were, my father
lying upon the ground, and John Talboys and I sitting on either side.
There was some acquaintance, or rather friendship, between the General
and my father, they having met at the Court, to which my father would
sometimes go, and there talking much together of military affairs, for
which my Lord had had, from a boy, a very singular liking. When he saw
my father, and knew who he was, he showed in his face a great concern
and said, "This is a sorry sight, Master Dashwood, to behold you thus
lying here. Indeed, it is the curse of this most hateful war that
there is a double bitterness even in victory. They who conquer must
always lament their friends that have fallen in the battle, but now we
must needs lament our enemies also, who are indeed often our friends
by old acquaintance and kindness. But say, can I do aught for you

"Sir," said my father, "I doubt not that this bullet has sped me
beyond all hope of recovery. But if, as may be, I have yet a few days
to live, I would fain spend them elsewhere than in a prison. My son
here is a scholar of Oxford, whom I would gladly send back to his
books, now that the King's cause is lost beyond repair, as I doubt not
that it is. And I would gladly have my good friend John Talboys here
to take care of me till I die. Can you give me a pass that shall keep
us from the prison?"

"You shall have it," said the General, "having first promised, as I
doubt not you are ready to do, that you will not for the space of
three years bear arms against the Parliament."

"I promise," said my father, "and that the more readily, knowing that
I shall never bear arms again."

John Talboys and I also promised. Therefore the General gave to each
of us a pass in these words, the name only being changed: -

"_Suffer Philip Dashwood the elder, late of the King's army, who has
promised not to bear arms against the Parliament for the space of
three years from this date, to pass whither-soever he will._"

This was about three of the clock in the afternoon, the battle having
been then two hours ended.



At the edge of Naseby Field, somewhere, if my memory serves me, near
to the north-east corner, there was a small hollow, used in former
times for digging of clay or gravel, but then overgrown with trees. It
was a steep descent all round, and fenced with a paling, save in one
place only, where was - or, I should rather say, had been - a road (for
now the bushes almost covered it), by which the carts had been used to
go down for loading of the stuff. Thither John Talboys and I carried
my father, purposing to find such shelter for him for the night as the
place could give, for the air was somewhat cold and nipping, as it is
wont to be in these counties of the Midlands up to midsummer - yea, and
past it. We had but poor provision, especially for one that was
wounded, as we could not but fear, to the death. Yet with our
horsemen's cloaks on some dried grass, of which we found abundance,
and the saddle from my poor beast Spot for a pillow, we made a
passable bed. "'Tis the very lap of luxury," said my dear father, a
true soldier in every way, and in none more than in that which St.
Paul will have to be a soldier's special virtue, that he can bear
hardness. For food we had some eggs hard boiled and the half of a loaf
of bread, and some salted pork. These were of Jack Talboys' providing.
He was an old campaigner, and would as lief forget his provision of
food as his musket. For myself, I had had no such forethought, and
brought nothing to the common stock but the flask of sherry sack,
which my good friend Master Webberley, pressed upon me when I bade him
farewell. Truly, I blessed him for his forethought, for all that my
father could swallow was now and then a morsel of bread sopped in the
wine. It was plain to be seen that the hollow was used as a camping
place by gipsies and the like, for there was a hearth where a fire had
been, with great stones about it. I too would fain have lighted a
fire, for the night, as I have said, was chill, and my father, for
loss of blood and stiffness of his wounds, lacked warmth, but Talboys
would not have it.

"There be worse things than cold," said he; "'tis not the first time
that I have passed the night on the field of battle, and I liked it
worse than the fighting. There be evil creatures about, I warrant you.
The birds that haunt such places are no doves, but kites and carrion
crows, and it would be well they should not spy us. They have a keen
sight of their own, and a bit of smoke would guide them finely." So we
were content to abide as we were.

I purposed to watch that night, and would have sworn that by no chance
should sleep overcome me. And yet I slept, and this, if I remember
right, before midnight. As long as my father was awake 'twas easy
enough to resist, but when he fell into a slumber, which he did, as
near as I could guess, about two hours after sunset, I soon began to
nod for all my good resolutions and endeavours.

'Twas just growing light the next morning when I was awaked by voices
raised in anger hard by me. Lifting myself to my feet, which for
stiffness I did with no small difficulty, I saw a stranger whom John
Talboys held by the collar of his coat. He was a man of a thickset
frame, somewhat under the common stature, his face burned by the sun
to a very dark brown that showed somewhat strangely against his light,
yellow hair, and eyes as blue as ever I saw. He had not altogether the
aspect of an Englishman, and his speech, too, though ready enough, had
a certain accent as of a foreigner. I liked not his look; there was
somewhat greedy and cunning, ay, and cruel, too, in his face, so far
as one could see it for the thick beard that he wore over his chin and
lips, ay, and up to his cheek-bones.

"Nay, my good man," I heard him say to John Talboys, "I meant no harm.
I am a poor pedlar, and there is my pack, which I left above, to
witness for me. And see, I have not a weapon, so that I could not do
any damage if I would."

"'Tis fine talking," said John Talboys, holding his coat firmly the
while; "I warrant, an I searched thee, I should find a sharp knife,
wherewith thou couldst shift in such warfare as thou wagest as well as
with a sword or musket. Thou art a pedlar, forsooth. Doubtless, and
hast other trades, too, to eke out thy profits in these hard times.
Didst think to find customers in this hollow, that thou camest
creeping into it? Is it thus that pedlars sell their goods, by putting
their hands in men's pockets? As for thy pack, I doubt not it is there
where thou sayest it is, but I reckon that thou thoughtest to carry it
away hence not lighter, but heavier: a ring, or a chain, or a
kerchief, or a pair of hose, or a doublet, so they were not stained by
blood, would have served thy purpose well, and the better that thou
payest no price for them, save a thrust with thy knife, if a man be so
set against all reason that he will not part with them to an honest
trader like thee for nought."

"Nay, my good friend," said the pedlar, and I noticed that his speech
was the less English-like the more haste he made to get out his words,
"nay, I am a Christian man, I have never harmed wounded men in my

"Thou a Christian man!" answered John, with great scorn and contempt;
"if thou art not Judas or Barabbas by name, may I never taste spiced
ale at Christmas again. I know thy sort, the eagles - God save the
mark! I should say rather the carrion crows that are gathered together
wheresoever the carrion is. But it was ill-luck of thine that brought
thee here to-day."

Therewith John shook him as a terrier dog may shake a rat, but my
father, who had been looking very steadfastly at the stranger,
signified by his gesture that he should stay his hand. This done, he
spake a few words in a tongue which I knew to be German, though I
understood it not. The stranger grew pale, so far as his sun-burning
would suffer him, and began to answer in the same language, but my
father broke in upon him with, "Nay, man, speak English, for I would
have no secrets from these." Thereupon the stranger said, "Do not
think too ill of me, honoured sir, if I follow for a livelihood such a
trade as these bad times have left me. There is but a poor market
nowadays for my wares, for the war has devoured all the money in the
land; and if I eke out my living by the war, what harm?"

"Nay, friend," said my father, "'tis not that war has come upon thee
here, and spoilt thy trade. Thou followest the war, and thy trade is
little else than a pretext and cloak for other things. Did I not see
thee twenty years ago, and that many hundred miles hence, doing the
same things, ay, and with the same excuse upon thy lips, that thou
wast a poor trader whom the evil war time had brought to ruin? Dost
remember that morning in Bohemia, and the provost-marshal's man

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Online LibraryAlfred John ChurchWith the King at Oxford → online text (page 6 of 14)