Daniel Defoe.

Memoirs of a Cavalier A Military Journal of the Wars in Germany, and the Wars in England. From the Year 1632 to the Year 1648 online

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They were generally tall swinging fellows; their swords were
extravagantly, and, I think, insignificantly broad, and they carried
great wooden targets, large enough to cover the upper part of their
bodies. Their dress was as antique as the rest; a cap on their heads,
called by them a bonnet, long hanging sleeves behind, and their
doublet, breeches, and stockings of a stuff they called plaid, striped
across red and yellow, with short cloaks of the same. These fellows
looked, when drawn out, like a regiment of merry-andrews, ready for
Bartholomew Fair. They are in companies all of a name, and therefore
call one another only by their Christian names, as Jemmy, Jocky, that
is, John, and Sawny, that is, Alexander, and the like. And they scorn
to be commanded but by one of their own clan or family. They are all
gentlemen, and proud enough to be kings. The meanest fellow among them
is as tenacious of his honour as the best nobleman in the country,
and they will fight and cut one another's throats for every trifling

But to their own clans or lairds, they are the willingest and most
obedient fellows in nature. Give them their due, were their skill in
exercises and discipline proportioned to their courage, they would
make the bravest soldiers in the world. They are large bodies, and
prodigiously strong; and two qualities they have above other nations,
viz., hardy to endure hunger, cold, and hardships, and wonderfully
swift of foot. The latter is such an advantage in the field that I
know none like it; for if they conquer, no enemy can escape them, and
if they run, even the horse can hardly overtake them. These were some
of them, who, as I observed before, went out in parties with their

There were three or four thousand of these in the Scots army, armed
only with swords and targets; and in their belts some of them had a
pistol, but no muskets at that time among them.

But there were also a great many regiments of disciplined men, who,
by their carrying their arms, looked as if they understood their
business, and by their faces, that they durst see an enemy.

I had not been half-an-hour in their camp after the ceremony of giving
our names, and passing their out-guards and main-guard was over, but
I was saluted by several of my acquaintance; and in particular, by one
who led the Scotch volunteers at the taking the castle of Oppenheim,
of which I have given an account. They used me with all the respect
they thought due to me, on account of old affairs, gave me the word,
and a sergeant waited upon me whenever I pleased to go abroad.

I continued twelve or fourteen days among them, till the pacification
was concluded; and they were ordered to march home. They spoke very
respectfully of the king, but I found were exasperated to the last
degree at Archbishop Laud and the English bishops, for endeavouring to
impose the Common Prayer Book upon them; and they always talked with
the utmost contempt of our soldiers and army. I always waived the
discourse about the clergy, and the occasion of the war, but I could
not but be too sensible what they said of our men was true; and by
this I perceived they had an universal intelligence from among us,
both of what we were doing, and what sort of people we were that were
doing it; and they were mighty desirous of coming to blows with us. I
had an invitation from their general, but I declined it, lest I should
give offence. I found they accepted the pacification as a thing not
likely to hold, or that they did not design should hold; and that
they were resolved to keep their forces on foot, notwithstanding the
agreement. Their whole army was full of brave officers, men of as
much experience and conduct as any in the world; and all men who know
anything of the war, know good officers presently make a good army.

Things being thus huddled up, the English came back to York, where
the army separated, and the Scots went home to increase theirs; for I
easily foresaw that peace was the farthest thing from their thoughts.

The next year the flame broke out again. The king draws his forces
down into the north, as before, and expresses were sent to all the
gentlemen that had commands to be at the place by the 15th of July. As
I had accepted of no command in the army, so I had no inclination at
all to go, for I foresaw there would be nothing but disgrace attend
it. My father, observing such an alteration in my usual forwardness,
asked me one day what was the matter, that I who used to be so forward
to go into the army, and so eager to run abroad to fight, now showed
no inclination to appear when the service of the king and country
called me to it? I told him I had as much zeal as ever for the king's
service, and for the country too: but he knew a soldier could not
abide to be beaten; and being from thence a little more inquisitive, I
told him the observations I had made in the Scots army, and the people
I had conversed with there. "And, sir," says I, "assure yourself, if
the king offers to fight them, he will be beaten; and I don't love to
engage when my judgment tells me beforehand I shall be worsted."
And as I had foreseen, it came to pass; for the Scots resolving to
proceed, never stood upon the ceremony of aggression, as before, but
on the 20th of August they entered England with their army.

However, as my father desired, I went to the king's army, which was
then at York, but not gotten all together. The king himself was at
London, but upon this news takes post for the army, and advancing a
part of his forces, he posted the Lord Conway and Sir Jacob Astley,
with a brigade of foot and some horse, at Newburn, upon the river
Tyne, to keep the Scots from passing that river.

The Scots could have passed the Tyne without fighting; but to let us
see that they were able to force their passage, they fall upon his
body of men and notwithstanding all the advantages of the place, they
beat them from the post, took their baggage and two pieces of cannon,
with some prisoners. Sir Jacob Astley made what resistance he could,
but the Scots charged with so much fury, and being also overpowered,
he was soon put into confusion. Immediately the Scots made themselves
masters of Newcastle, and the next day of Durham, and laid those two
counties under intolerable contributions.

Now was the king absolutely ruined; for among his own people the
discontents before were so plain, that had the clergy had any
forecast, they would never have embroiled him with the Scots, till he
had fully brought matters to an understanding at home. But the
case was thus: the king, by the good husbandry of Bishop Juxon, his
treasurer, had a million of ready money in his treasury, and upon that
account, having no need of a Parliament, had not called one in twelve
years; and perhaps had never called another, if he had not by this
unhappy circumstance been reduced to a necessity of it; for now
this ready money was spent in two foolish expeditions, and his army
appeared in a condition not fit to engage the Scots. The detachment
under Sir Jacob Astley, which were of the flower of his men, had
been routed at Newburn, and the enemy had possession of two entire

All men blamed Laud for prompting the king to provoke the Scots, a
headstrong nation, and zealous for their own way of worship; and Laud
himself found too late the consequences of it, both to the whole cause
and to himself; for the Scots, whose native temper is not easily to
forgive an injury, pursued him by their party in England, and never
gave it over till they laid his head on the block.

The ruined country now clamoured in his Majesty's ears with daily
petitions, and the gentry of other neighbouring counties cry out for
peace and Parliament. The king, embarrassed with these difficulties,
and quite empty of money, calls a great council of the nobility at
York, and demands their advice, which any one could have told him
before would be to call a Parliament.

I cannot, without regret, look back upon the misfortune of the king,
who, as he was one of the best princes in his personal conduct that
ever reigned in England, had yet some of the greatest unhappinesses in
his conduct as a king, that ever prince had, and the whole course of
his life demonstrated it.

1. An impolitic honesty. His enemies called it obstinacy; but as I was
perfectly acquainted with his temper, I cannot but think it was his
judgment, when he thought he was in the right, to adhere to it as a
duty though against his interest.

2. Too much compliance when he was complying. No man but himself would
have denied what at some times he denied, and have granted what at
other times he granted; and this uncertainty of counsel proceeded from
two things.

1. The heat of the clergy, to whom he was exceedingly devoted, and for
whom, indeed, he ruined himself.

2. The wisdom of his nobility.

Thus when the counsel of his priests prevailed, all was fire and
fury; the Scots were rebels, and must be subdued, and the Parliament's
demands were to be rejected as exorbitant. But whenever the king's
judgment was led by the grave and steady advice of his nobility and
counsellors, he was always inclined by them to temperate his measures
between the two extremes. And had he gone on in such a temper, he had
never met with the misfortunes which afterward attended him, or had
so many thousands of his friends lost their lives and fortunes in his

I am sure we that knew what it was to fight for him, and that loved
him better than any of the clergy could pretend to, have had many
a consultation how to bring over our master from so espousing their
interest, as to ruin himself for it; but 'twas in vain.

I took this interval when I sat still and only looked on, to make
these remarks, because I remember the best friends the king had were
at this time of that opinion, that 'twas an unaccountable piece
of indiscretion, to commence a quarrel with the Scots, a poor and
obstinate people, for a ceremony and book of Church discipline, at a
time when the king stood but upon indifferent terms with his people at

The consequence was, it put arms into the hands of his subjects to
rebel against him; it embroiled him with his Parliament in England, to
whom he was fain to stoop in a fatal and unusual manner to get money,
all his own being spent, and so to buy off the Scots whom he could not
beat off.

I cannot but give one instance of the unaccountable politics of his
ministers. If they overruled this unhappy king to it, with design to
exhaust and impoverish him, they were the worst of traitors; if not,
the grossest of fools. They prompted the king to equip a fleet against
the Scots, and to put on board it 5000 land men. Had this been all,
the design had been good, that while the king had faced the army upon
the borders, these 5000, landing in the Firth of Edinburgh, might
have put that whole nation into disorder. But in order to this, they
advised the king to lay out his money in fitting out the biggest ships
he had, and the "Royal Sovereign," the biggest ship the world had ever
seen, which cost him no less than £100,000, was now built, and fitted
out for this voyage.

This was the most incongruous and ridiculous advice that could be
given, and made us all believe we were betrayed, though we knew not by

To fit out ships of 100 guns to invade Scotland, which had not one
man-of-war in the world, nor any open confederacy with any prince or
state that had any fleet, 'twas a most ridiculous thing. An hundred
sail of Newcastle colliers, to carry the men with their stores and
provisions, and ten frigates of 40 guns each, had been as good a fleet
as reason and the nature of the thing could have made tolerable.

Thus things were carried on, till the king, beggared by the
mismanagement of his counsels, and beaten by the Scots, was driven to
the necessity of calling a Parliament in England.

It is not my design to enter into the feuds and brangles of this
Parliament. I have noted, by observations of their mistakes, who
brought the king to this happy necessity of calling them.

His Majesty had tried Parliaments upon several occasions before, but
never found himself so much embroiled with them but he could send them
home, and there was an end of it; but as he could not avoid calling
these, so they took care to put him out of a condition to dismiss

The Scots army was now quartered upon the English. The counties,
the gentry, and the assembly of lords at York, petitioned for a

The Scots presented their demands to the king, in which it was
observed that matters were concerted between them and a party in
England; and I confess when I saw that, I began to think the king in
an ill case; for as the Scots pretended grievances, we thought,
the king redressing those grievances, they could ask no more; and
therefore all men advised the king to grant their full demands. And
whereas the king had not money to supply the Scots in their march
home, I know there were several meetings of gentlemen with a design to
advance considerable sums of money to the king to set him free, and
in order to reinstate his Majesty, as before. Not that we ever advised
the king to rule without a Parliament, but we were very desirous of
putting him out of the necessity of calling them, at least just then.

But the eighth article of the Scots' demands expressly required, that
an English Parliament might be called to remove all obstructions of
commerce, and to settle peace, religion, and liberty; and in another
article they tell the king, the 24th of September being the time his
Majesty appointed for the meeting of the peers, will make it too long
ere the Parliament meet. And in another, that a Parliament was the
only way of settling peace, and bring them to his Majesty's obedience.

When we saw this in the army, 'twas time to look about. Everybody
perceived that the Scots army would call an English Parliament; and
whatever aversion the king had to it, we all saw he would be obliged
to comply with it; and now they all began to see their error, who
advised the king to this Scotch war.

While these things were transacting, the assembly of the peers meet at
York, and by their advice a treaty was begun with the Scots. I had the
honour to be sent with the first message which was in writing.

I brought it, attended by a trumpet and a guard of 500 horse, to
the Scots quarters. I was stopped at Darlington, and my errand being
known, General Leslie sent a Scots major and fifty horses to receive
me, but would let neither my trumpet or guard set foot within
their quarters. In this manner I was conducted to audience in the
chapter-house at Durham, where a committee of Scots lords who attended
the army received me very courteously, and gave me their answer in
writing also.

'Twas in this answer that they showed, at least to me, their design
of embroiling the king with his English subjects; they discoursed very
freely with me, and did not order me to withdraw when they debated
their private opinions. They drew up several answers but did not like
them; at last they gave me one which I did not receive, I thought it
was too insolent to be borne with. As near as I can remember it was
thus: The commissioners of Scotland attending the service in the army,
do refuse any treaty in the city of York.

One of the commissioners who treated me with more distinction than the
rest, and discoursed freely with me, gave me an opportunity to speak
more freely of this than I expected.

I told them if they would return to his Majesty an answer fit for me
to carry, or if they would say they would not treat at all, I would
deliver such a message. But I entreated them to consider the answer
was to their sovereign, and to whom they made a great profession of
duty and respect, and at least they ought to give their reasons why
they declined a treaty at York, and to name some other place, or
humbly to desire his Majesty to name some other place; but to send
word they would not treat at York, I could deliver no such message,
for when put into English it would signify they would not treat at

I used a great many reasons and arguments with them on this head,
and at last with some difficulty obtained of them to give the reason,
which was the Earl of Strafford's having the chief command at York,
whom they declared their mortal enemy, he having declared them rebels
in Ireland.

With this answer I returned. I could make no observations in the short
time I was with them, for as I stayed but one night, so I was guarded
as a close prisoner all the while. I saw several of their officers
whom I knew, but they durst not speak to me, and if they would have
ventured, my guard would not have permitted them.

In this manner I was conducted out of their quarters to my own party
again, and having delivered my message to the king and told his
Majesty the circumstances, I saw the king receive the account of the
haughty behaviour of the Scots with some regret; however, it was his
Majesty's time now to bear, and therefore the Scots were complied
with, and the treaty appointed at Ripon; where, after much debate,
several preliminary articles were agreed on, as a cessation of arms,
quarters, and bounds to the armies, subsistence to the Scots army, and
the residue of the demands was referred to a treaty at London, &c.

We were all amazed at the treaty, and I cannot but remember we used to
wish much rather we had been suffered to fight; for though we had been
worsted at first, the power and strength of the king's interest, which
was not yet tried, must, in fine, have been too strong for the Scots,
whereas now we saw the king was for complying with anything, and all
his friends would be ruined.

I confess I had nothing to fear, and so was not much concerned, but
our predictions soon came to pass, for no sooner was this Parliament
called but abundance of those who had embroiled their king with his
people of both kingdoms, like the disciples when their Master was
betrayed to the Jews, forsook him and fled; and now Parliament tyranny
began to succeed Church tyranny, and we soldiers were glad to see it
at first. The bishops trembled, the judges went to gaol, the officers
of the customs were laid hold on; and the Parliament began to lay
their fingers on the great ones, particularly Archbishop Laud and the
Earl of Strafford. We had no great concern for the first, but the
last was a man of so much conduct and gallantry, and so beloved by the
soldiers and principal gentry of England, that everybody was touched
with his misfortune.

The Parliament now grew mad in their turn, and as the prosperity of
any party is the time to show their discretion, the Parliament showed
they knew as little where to stop as other people. The king was not in
a condition to deny anything, and nothing could be demanded but they
pushed it. They attainted the Earl of Strafford, and thereby made
the king cut off his right hand to save his left, and yet not save
it neither. They obtained another bill to empower them to sit during
their own pleasure, and after them, triennial Parliaments to meet,
whether the king call them or no; and granting this completed his
Majesty's ruin.

Had the House only regulated the abuses of the court, punished evil
counsellors, and restored Parliaments to their original and just
powers, all had been well, and the king, though he had been more than
mortified, had yet reaped the benefit of future peace; for now
the Scots were sent home, after having eaten up two countries, and
received a prodigious sum of money to boot. And the king, though too
late, goes in person to Edinburgh, and grants them all they could
desire, and more than they asked; but in England, the desires of ours
were unbounded, and drove at all extremes.

They drew out the bishops from sitting in the House, made a
protestation equivalent to the Scotch Covenant, and this done, print
their remonstrance. This so provoked the king, that he resolves upon
seizing some of the members, and in an ill hour enters the House in
person to take them. Thus one imprudent thing on one hand produced
another of the other hand, till the king was obliged to leave them to
themselves, for fear of being mobbed into something or other unworthy
of himself.

These proceedings began to alarm the gentry and nobility of England;
for, however willing we were to have evil counsellors removed, and
the government return to a settled and legal course, according to the
happy constitution of this nation, and might have been forward enough
to have owned the king had been misled, and imposed upon to do things
which he had rather had not been done, yet it did not follow, that
all the powers and prerogatives of the crown should devolve upon the
Parliament, and the king in a manner be deposed, or else sacrificed to
the fury of the rabble.

The heats of the House running them thus to all extremes, and at last
to take from the king the power of the militia, which indeed was
all that was left to make him anything of a king, put the king upon
opposing force with force; and thus the flame of civil war began.

However backward I was in engaging in the second year's expedition
against the Scots, I was as forward now, for I waited on the king
at York, where a gallant company of gentlemen as ever were seen in
England, engaged themselves to enter into his service; and here some
of us formed ourselves into troops for the guard of his person.

The king having been waited upon by the gentry of Yorkshire, and
having told them his resolution of erecting his royal standard, and
received from them hearty assurances of support, dismisses them, and
marches to Hull, where lay the train of artillery, and all the
arms and ammunition belonging to the northern army which had been
disbanded. But here the Parliament had been beforehand with his
Majesty, so that when he came to Hull, he found the gates shut, and
Sir John Hotham, the governor, upon the walls, though with a great
deal of seeming humility and protestations of loyalty to his person,
yet with a positive denial to admit any of the king's attendants into
the town. If his Majesty pleased to enter the town in person with any
reasonable number of his household, he would submit, but would not
be prevailed on to receive the king as he would be received, with his
forces, though those forces were then but very few.

The king was exceedingly provoked at this repulse, and indeed it was
a great surprise to us all, for certainly never prince began a war
against the whole strength of his kingdom under the circumstances that
he was in. He had not a garrison, or a company of soldiers in his
pay, not a stand of arms, or a barrel of powder, a musket, cannon
or mortar, not a ship of all the fleet, or money in his treasury to
procure them; whereas the Parliament had all his navy, and ordnance,
stores, magazines, arms, ammunition, and revenue in their keeping.
And this I take to be another defect of the king's counsel, and a sad
instance of the distraction of his affairs, that when he saw how all
things were going to wreck, as it was impossible but he should see it,
and 'tis plain he did see it, that he should not long enough before it
came to extremities secure the navy, magazines, and stores of war, in
the hands of his trusty servants, that would have been sure to have
preserved them for his use, at a time when he wanted them.

It cannot be supposed but the gentry of England, who generally
preserved their loyalty for their royal master, and at last heartily
showed it, were exceedingly discouraged at first when they saw the
Parliament had all the means of making war in their own hands, and the
king was naked and destitute either of arms or ammunition, or money
to procure them. Not but that the king, by extraordinary application,
recovered the disorder the want of these things had thrown him into,
and supplied himself with all things needful.

But my observation was this, had his Majesty had the magazines, navy,
and forts in his own hand, the gentry, who wanted but the prospect of
something to encourage them, had come in at first, and the Parliament,
being unprovided, would have been presently reduced to reason. But
this was it that balked the gentry of Yorkshire, who went home again,
giving the king good promises, but never appeared for him, till
by raising a good army in Shropshire and Wales, he marched towards
London, and they saw there was a prospect of their being supported.

In this condition the king erected his standard at Nottingham, 22nd
August 1642, and I confess, I had very melancholy apprehensions of

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Online LibraryDaniel DefoeMemoirs of a Cavalier A Military Journal of the Wars in Germany, and the Wars in England. From the Year 1632 to the Year 1648 → online text (page 12 of 24)