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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a great deal of respect, "to make so good a choice for myself as you
can for me; and though my opinion differed from yours, its being your
opinion would reform mine, and my judgment would as readily comply as
my duty." "I gather at least from thence," said my father, "that your
designs lay another way before, however they may comply with mine; and
therefore I would know what it was you would have asked of me if I had
not offered this to you; and you must not deny me your obedience in
this, if you expect I should believe your readiness in the other."

"Sir," said I, "'twas impossible I should lay out for myself just
what you have proposed; but if my inclinations were never so contrary,
though at your command you shall know them, yet I declare them to be
wholly subjected to your order. I confess my thoughts did not tend
towards marriage or a settlement; for, though I had no reason to
question your care of me, yet I thought a gentleman ought always to
see something of the world before he confined himself to any part of
it. And if I had been to ask your consent to anything, it should have
been to give me leave to travel for a short time, in order to qualify
myself to appear at home like a son to so good a father."

"In what capacity would you travel?" replied my father. "You must go
abroad either as a private gentleman, as a scholar, or as a soldier."
"If it were in the latter capacity, sir," said I, returning pretty
quick, "I hope I should not misbehave myself; but I am not so
determined as not to be ruled by your judgment." "Truly," replied my
father, "I see no war abroad at this time worth while for a man to
appear in, whether we talk of the cause or the encouragement; and
indeed, son, I am afraid you need not go far for adventures of that
nature, for times seem to look as if this part of Europe would find us
work enough." My father spake then relating to the quarrel likely
to happen between the King of England and the Spaniard,' [1] for I
believe he had no notions of a civil war in his head.

In short, my father, perceiving my inclinations very forward to go
abroad, gave me leave to travel, upon condition I would promise to
return in two years at farthest, or sooner, if he sent for me.

While I was at Oxford I happened into the society of a young
gentleman, of a good family, but of a low fortune, being a younger
brother, and who had indeed instilled into me the first desires of
going abroad, and who, I knew, passionately longed to travel, but had
not sufficient allowance to defray his expenses as a gentleman. We
had contracted a very close friendship, and our humours being very
agreeable to one another, we daily enjoyed the conversation of
letters. He was of a generous free temper, without the least
affectation or deceit, a handsome proper person, a strong body, very
good mien, and brave to the last degree. His name was Fielding and we
called him Captain, though it be a very unusual title in a college;
but fate had some hand in the title, for he had certainly the lines of
a soldier drawn in his countenance. I imparted to him the resolutions
I had taken, and how I had my father's consent to go abroad, and would
know his mind whether he would go with me. He sent me word he would go
with all his heart.

My father, when he saw him, for I sent for him immediately to come
to me, mightily approved my choice; so we got our equipage ready, and
came away for London.

'Twas on the 22nd of April 1630, when we embarked at Dover, landed in
a few hours at Calais, and immediately took post for Paris. I shall
not trouble the reader with a journal of my travels, nor with the
description of places, which every geographer can do better than I;
but these Memoirs being only a relation of what happened either to
ourselves, or in our own knowledge, I shall confine myself to that
part of it.

We had indeed some diverting passages in our journey to Paris, as
first, the horse my comrade was upon fell so very lame with a slip
that he could not go, and hardly stand, and the fellow that rid with
us express, pretended to ride away to a town five miles off to get a
fresh horse, and so left us on the road with one horse between two of
us. We followed as well as we could, but being strangers, missed the
way, and wandered a great way out the road. Whether the man performed
in reasonable time or not we could not be sure, but if it had not been
for an old priest, we had never found him. We met this man, by a very
good accident, near a little village whereof he was curate. We spoke
Latin enough just to make him understand us, and he did not speak it
much better himself; but he carried us into the village to his house,
gave us wine and bread, and entertained us with wonderful courtesy.
After this he sent into the village, hired a peasant, and a horse for
my captain, and sent him to guide us into the road. At parting he
made a great many compliments to us in French, which we could just
understand; but the sum was, to excuse him for a question he had
a mind to ask us. After leave to ask what he pleased, it was if we
wanted any money for our journey, and pulled out two pistoles, which
he offered either to give or lend us.

I mention this exceeding courtesy of the curate because, though
civility is very much in use in France, and especially to strangers,
yet 'tis a very unusual thing to have them part with their money.

We let the priest know, first, that we did not want money, and next
that we were very sensible of the obligation he had put upon us; and
I told him in particular, if I lived to see him again, I would
acknowledge it.

This accident of our horse was, as we afterwards found, of some use
to us. We had left our two servants behind us at Calais to bring our
baggage after us, by reason of some dispute between the captain of the
packet and the custom-house officer, which could not be adjusted, and
we were willing to be at Paris. The fellows followed as fast as they
could, and, as near as we could learn, in the time we lost our way,
were robbed, and our portmanteaus opened. They took what they pleased;
but as there was no money there, but linen and necessaries, the loss
was not great.

Our guide carried us to Amiens, where we found the express and our two
servants, who the express meeting on the road with a spare horse, had
brought back with him thither.

We took this for a good omen of our successful journey, having escaped
a danger which might have been greater to us than it was to our
servants; for the highwaymen in France do not always give a traveller
the civility of bidding him stand and deliver his money, but
frequently fire on him first, and then take his money.

We stayed one day at Amiens, to adjust this little disorder, and
walked about the town, and into the great church, but saw nothing
very remarkable there; but going across a broad street near the great
church, we saw a crowd of people gazing at a mountebank doctor, who
made a long harangue to them with a thousand antic postures, and gave
out bills this way, and boxes of physic that way, and had a great
trade, when on a sudden the people raised a cry, "_Larron, Larron_!"
(in English, "Thief, thief"), on the other side the street, and all
the auditors ran away, from Mr Doctor to see what the matter was.
Among the rest we went to see, and the case was plain and short
enough. Two English gentlemen and a Scotchman, travellers as we were,
were standing gazing at this prating doctor, and one of them catched
a fellow picking his pocket. The fellow had got some of his money, for
he dropped two or three pieces just by him, and had got hold of
his watch, but being surprised let it slip again. But the reason of
telling this story is for the management of it. This thief had his
seconds so ready, that as soon as the Englishman had seized him they
fell in, pretended to be mighty zealous for the stranger, takes the
fellow by the throat, and makes a great bustle; the gentleman not
doubting but the man was secured let go his own hold of him, and left
him to them. The hubbub was great, and 'twas these fellows cried,
"_Larron, larron_!" but with a dexterity peculiar to themselves had
let the right fellow go, and pretended to be all upon one of their own
gang. At last they bring the man to the gentleman to ask him what the
fellow had done, who, when he saw the person they seized on, presently
told them that was not the man. Then they seemed to be in more
consternation than before, and spread themselves all over the street,
crying, "_Larron, larron_!" pretending to search for the fellow; and
so one one way, one another, they were all gone, the noise went over,
the gentlemen stood looking one at another, and the bawling doctor
began to have the crowd about him again. This was the first French
trick I had the opportunity of seeing, but I was told they have a
great many more as dexterous as this.

We soon got acquaintance with these gentlemen, who were going to
Paris, as well as we; so the next day we made up our company with
them, and were a pretty troop of five gentlemen and four servants.

As we had really no design to stay long at Paris, so indeed, excepting
the city itself, there was not much to be seen there. Cardinal
Richelieu, who was not only a supreme minister in the Church, but
Prime Minister in the State, was now made also General of the King's
Forces, with a title never known in France before nor since, viz.,
Lieutenant-General "au place du Roi," in the king's stead, or, as some
have since translated it, representing the person of the king.

Under this character he pretended to execute all the royal powers in
the army without appeal to the king, or without waiting for orders;
and having parted from Paris the winter before had now actually begun
the war against the Duke of Savoy, in the process of which he restored
the Duke of Mantua, and having taken Pignerol from the duke, put it
into such a state of defence as the duke could never force it out of
his hands, and reduced the duke, rather by manage and conduct than
by force, to make peace without it; so as annexing it to the crown of
France it has ever since been a thorn in his foot that has always
made the peace of Savoy lame and precarious, and France has since made
Pignerol one of the strongest fortresses in the world.

As the cardinal, with all the military part of the court, was in the
field, so the king, to be near him, was gone with the queen and all
the court, just before I reached Paris, to reside at Lyons. All these
considered, there was nothing to do at Paris; the court looked like a
citizen's house when the family was all gone into the country, and
I thought the whole city looked very melancholy, compared to all the
fine things I had heard of it.

The queen-mother and her party were chagrined at the cardinal, who,
though he owed his grandeur to her immediate favour, was now grown too
great any longer to be at the command of her Majesty, or indeed in her
interest; and therefore the queen was under dissatisfaction and her
party looked very much down.

The Protestants were everywhere disconsolate, for the losses they had
received at Rochelle, Nimes, and Montpelier had reduced them to an
absolute dependence on the king's will, without all possible hopes of
ever recovering themselves, or being so much as in a condition to
take arms for their religion, and therefore the wisest of them plainly
foresaw their own entire reduction, as it since came to pass. And I
remember very well that a Protestant gentleman told me once, as we
were passing from Orleans to Lyons, that the English had ruined them;
and therefore, says he, "I think the next occasion the king takes to
use us ill, as I know 'twill not be long before he does, we must all
fly over to England, where you are bound to maintain us for having
helped to turn us out of our own country." I asked him what he meant
by saying the English had done it? He returned short upon me: "I do
not mean," says he, "by not relieving Rochelle, but by helping to ruin
Rochelle, when you and the Dutch lent ships to beat our fleet, which
all the ships in France could not have done without you."

I was too young in the world to be very sensible of this before, and
therefore was something startled at the charge; but when I came to
discourse with this gentleman, I soon saw the truth of what he said
was undeniable, and have since reflected on it with regret, that the
naval power of the Protestants, which was then superior to the royal,
would certainly have been the recovery of all their fortunes, had it
not been unhappily broke by their brethren of England and Holland,
the former lending seven men-of-war, and the latter twenty, for the
destruction of the Rochellers' fleet; and by these very ships the
Rochellers' fleet were actually beaten and destroyed, and they never
afterwards recovered their force at sea, and by consequence sunk under
the siege, which the English afterwards in vain attempted to prevent.

These things made the Protestants look very dull, and expected the
ruin of all their party, which had certainly happened had the cardinal
lived a few years longer.

We stayed in Paris, about three weeks, as well to see the court and
what rarities the place afforded, as by an occasion which had like to
have put a short period to our ramble.

Walking one morning before the gate of the Louvre, with a design to
see the Swiss drawn up, which they always did, and exercised just
before they relieved the guards, a page came up to me, and speaking
English to me, "Sir," says he, "the captain must needs have your
immediate assistance." I, that had not the knowledge of any person
in Paris but my own companion, whom I called captain, had no room to
question, but it was he that sent for me; and crying out hastily to
him, "Where?" followed the fellow as fast as 'twas possible. He led
me through several passages which I knew not, and at last through a
tennis-court and into a large room, where three men, like gentlemen,
were engaged very briskly two against one. The room was very dark, so
that I could not easily know them asunder, but being fully possessed
with an opinion before of my captain's danger, I ran into the room
with my sword in my hand. I had not particularly engaged any of them,
nor so much as made a pass at any, when I received a very dangerous
thrust in my thigh, rather occasioned by my too hasty running in,
than a real design of the person; but enraged at the hurt, without
examining who it was hurt me, I threw myself upon him, and run my
sword quite through his body.

The novelty of the adventure, and the unexpected fall of the man by
a stranger come in nobody knew how, had becalmed the other two, that
they really stood gazing at me. By this time I had discovered that my
captain was not there, and that 'twas some strange accident brought
me thither. I could speak but little French, and supposed they could
speak no English, so I stepped to the door to see for the page that
brought me thither, but seeing nobody there and the passage clear,
I made off as fast as I could, without speaking a word; nor did the
other two gentlemen offer to stop me.

But I was in a strange confusion when, coming into those entries and
passages which the page led me through, I could by no means find my
way out. At last seeing a door open that looked through a house into
the street, I went in, and out at the other door; but then I was at
as great a loss to know where I was, and which was the way to my
lodgings. The wound in my thigh bled apace, and I could feel the blood
in my breeches. In this interval came by a chair; I called, and went
into it, and bid them, as well as I could, go to the Louvre; for
though I knew not the name of the street where I lodged, I knew I
could find the way to it when I was at the Bastille. The chairmen went
on their own way, and being stopped by a company of the guards as they
went, set me down till the soldiers were marched by; when looking out
I found I was just at my own lodging, and the captain was standing at
the door looking for me. I beckoned him to me, and, whispering, told
him I was very much hurt, but bid him pay the chairmen, and ask no
questions but come to me.

I made the best of my way upstairs, but had lost so much blood, that I
had hardly spirits enough to keep me from swooning till he came in.
He was equally concerned with me to see me in such a bloody condition,
and presently called up our landlord, and he as quickly called in his
neighbours, that I had a room full of people about me in a quarter
of an hour. But this had like to have been of worse consequence to me
than the other, for by this time there was great inquiring after the
person who killed a man at the tennis-court. My landlord was then
sensible of his mistake, and came to me and told me the danger I was
in, and very honestly offered to convey me to a friend's of his, where
I should be very secure; I thanked him, and suffered myself to be
carried at midnight whither he pleased. He visited me very often, till
I was well enough to walk about, which was not in less than ten days,
and then we thought fit to be gone, so we took post for Orleans. But
when I came upon the road I found myself in a new error, for my wound
opened again with riding, and I was in a worse condition than before,
being forced to take up at a little village on the road, called - - ,
about - - miles from Orleans, where there was no surgeon to be had,
but a sorry country barber, who nevertheless dressed me as well as he
could, and in about a week more I was able to walk to Orleans at three
times. Here I stayed till I was quite well, and took coach for Lyons
and so through Savoy into Italy.

I spent nearly two years' time after this bad beginning in travelling
through Italy, and to the several courts of Rome, Naples, Venice, and
Vienna.

When I came to Lyons the king was gone from thence to Grenoble to meet
the cardinal, but the queens were both at Lyons.

The French affairs seemed at this time to have but an indifferent
aspect. There was no life in anything but where the cardinal was: he
pushed on everything with extraordinary conduct, and generally with
success; he had taken Susa and Pignerol from the Duke of Savoy, and
was preparing to push the duke even out of all his dominions.

But in the meantime everywhere else things looked ill; the troops
were ill-paid, the magazines empty, the people mutinous, and a general
disorder seized the minds of the court; and the cardinal, who was the
soul of everything, desired this interview at Grenoble, in order to
put things into some better method.

This politic minister always ordered matters so, that if there was
success in anything the glory was his, but if things miscarried it was
all laid upon the king. This conduct was so much the more nice, as it
is the direct contrary to the custom in like cases, where kings assume
the glory of all the success in an action, and when a thing miscarries
make themselves easy by sacrificing their ministers and favourites
to the complaints and resentments of the people; but this accurate
refined statesman got over this point.

While we were at Lyons, and as I remember, the third day after our
coming thither, we had like to have been involved in a state broil,
without knowing where we were. It was of a Sunday in the evening, the
people of Lyons, who had been sorely oppressed in taxes, and the war
in Italy pinching their trade, began to be very tumultuous. We found
the day before the mob got together in great crowds, and talked oddly;
the king was everywhere reviled, and spoken disrespectfully of, and
the magistrates of the city either winked at, or durst not attempt to
meddle, lest they should provoke the people.

But on Sunday night, about midnight, we were waked by a prodigious
noise in the street. I jumped out of bed, and running to the window,
I saw the street as full of mob as it could hold, some armed with
muskets and halberds, marched in very good order; others in disorderly
crowds, all shouting and crying out, "Du paix le roi," and the like.
One that led a great party of this rabble carried a loaf of bread upon
the top of a pike, and other lesser loaves, signifying the smallness
of their bread, occasioned by dearness.

By morning this crowd was gathered to a great height; they ran roving
over the whole city, shut up all the shops, and forced all the
people to join with them from thence. They went up to the castle, and
renewing the clamour, a strange consternation seized all the princes.

They broke open the doors of the officers, collectors of the new
taxes, and plundered their houses, and had not the persons themselves
fled in time they had been very ill-treated.

The queen-mother, as she was very much displeased to see such
consequences of the government, in whose management she had no share,
so I suppose she had the less concern upon her. However, she came into
the court of the castle and showed herself to the people, gave money
amongst them, and spoke gently to them; and by a way peculiar to
herself, and which obliged all she talked with, she pacified the mob
gradually, sent them home with promises of redress and the like; and
so appeased this tumult in two days by her prudence, which the guards
in the castle had small mind to meddle with, and if they had, would in
all probability have made the better side the worse.

There had been several seditions of the like nature in sundry other
parts of France, and the very army began to murmur, though not to
mutiny, for want of provisions.

This sedition at Lyons was not quite over when we left the place,
for, finding the city all in a broil, we considered we had no business
there, and what the consequence of a popular tumult might be we did
not see, so we prepared to be gone. We had not rid above three miles
out of the city but we were brought as prisoners of war, by a party of
mutineers, who had been abroad upon the scout, and were charged
with being messengers sent to the cardinal for forces to reduce the
citizens. With these pretences they brought us back in triumph, and
the queen-mother, being by this time grown something familiar to them,
they carried us before her.

When they inquired of us who we were, we called ourselves Scots; for
as the English were very much out of favour in France at this time,
the peace having been made not many months, and not supposed to
be very durable, because particularly displeasing to the people of
England, so the Scots were on the other extreme with the French.
Nothing was so much caressed as the Scots, and a man had no more to
do in France, if he would be well received there, than to say he was a
Scotchman.

When we came before the queen-mother she seemed to receive us with
some stiffness at first, and caused her guards to take us into
custody; but as she was a lady of most exquisite politics, she did
this to amuse the mob, and we were immediately after dismissed; and
the queen herself made a handsome excuse to us for the rudeness we had
suffered, alleging the troubles of the times; and the next morning we
had three dragoons of the guards to convoy us out of the jurisdiction
of Lyons.

I confess this little adventure gave me an aversion to popular tumults
all my life after, and if nothing else had been in the cause, would
have biassed me to espouse the king's party in England when our
popular heats carried all before it at home.

But I must say, that when I called to mind since, the address, the
management, the compliance in show, and in general the whole conduct
of the queen-mother with the mutinous people of Lyons, and compared it
with the conduct of my unhappy master the King of England, I could not
but see that the queen understood much better than King Charles the
management of politics and the clamours of the people.

Had this princess been at the helm in England, she would have
prevented all the calamities of the Civil War here, and yet not have
parted with what that good prince yielded in order to peace neither.
She would have yielded gradually, and then gained upon them gradually;
she would have managed them to the point she had designed them, as she
did all parties in France; and none could effectually subject her but
the very man she had raised to be her principal support - I mean the
cardinal.

We went from hence to Grenoble, and arrived there the same day that
the king and the cardinal with the whole court went out to view a body
of 6000 Swiss foot, which the cardinal had wheedled the cantons to
grant to the king to help to ruin their neighbour the Duke of Savoy.

The troops were exceeding fine, well-accoutred, brave, clean-limbed,



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 2 of 24)