Margaret Cavendish Newcastle.

The life of William Cavendish, duke of Newcastle, to which is added the true relation of my birth, breeding and life online

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Online LibraryMargaret Cavendish NewcastleThe life of William Cavendish, duke of Newcastle, to which is added the true relation of my birth, breeding and life → online text (page 1 of 28)
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She Xonfcon Uibrarp










Edited by C. H. FIRTH, M.A

Regius Professor of Modern History in the University of Oxford

With Twelve Appendices and an Index







EDITOR'S PREFACE ... . . vii

TITLE .... .... xxxiii

DEDICATION . . ..... xxxiv


PREFACE ......... xxxix



THE FIRST BOOK ... . . i

THE SECOND BOOK . . ... 43

THE THIRD BOOK . ..... ^3



Ax EPISTLE .... ... 151

CASTLE. ... ... 155

APPENDICES . . . 1 79



THE first edition of this Life of the Duke of Newcastle was pub-
lished in 1667. It is a thin folio of about 200 pages. This
was followed in 1668 by a Latin version, translated by Walter
Charlton, well known in his later days as President of the
College of Physicians. In 1675 was published the third edi-
tion, a quarto ; for the translation, like the original edition,
is in folio. In 1872 a careful reprint of the first edition, edited
by Mark Antony Lower, was included in Russell Smith's
' Library of Old Authors '. In the present edition, the spel-
ling has been modernized, and the punctuation occasionally

The three editions published during the lifetime of the sub-
ject testify to the popularity of the book at a time when the
events recorded in it were still fresh in the memories of those
who read it, and it still retains an enduring interest for later
generations. Somewhat contradictory have been the judg-
ments passed upon it. The volume of Letters and Poems in
Honour of the Incomparable Princess, Margaret, Duchess of
Newcastle, printed in 1676, preserves the opinions of the
learned persons and learned bodies to whom the Duchess sent
presentation copies. The response of the University of Cam-
bridge was worthy of the gift and the giver. ' Hereafter, if
generous and highborn men shall search our library for a
model of a most accomplished general, they shall find it
expressed to the life, not in Xenophon's Cyrus, but in the
Duchess of Newcastle's William ! ... In regard we could
not be admitted to the favour of kissing your hand, we cease
not to bestow ten thousand embraces upon even- page of that
book which hath so noble and immortal a subject as is his
grace the Duke of Newcastle.' Whilst the heads of the
University were expressing themselves with the mixture of
gallantry and respect which becomes learned bodies on such
occasions, Pcpys was confiding to paper his contempt for the

viii Editor's Preface

book and its writer: 'March 18, 1668 Thence home, and
there in favour to my eyes staid at home, reading the ridicu-
lous history of my Lord Newcastle, wrote by his wife ; which
shows her to be a mad, conceited, ridiculous woman, and he
an ass to suffer her to write what she writes to him and of
him. So to bed, my eyes being very bad.' Without stopping
to inquire how far the state of the worthy Secretary's eyes
influenced his critical faculties, it may be taken for granted
that his recollections of the authoress influenced his judgment
of her book. Describing her visit to the Royal Society on
May 30, 1667, he had come to the conclusion that ' her dress
was so antick and her deportment so ordinary ' that he did
not like her at all, and expressed his terror lest her conduct
should make the Royal Society ridiculous. Perhaps it was
these very eccentricities and extravagances which had so
shocked Pepys which recommended the Duchess to Charles
Lamb. Certainly his larger sympathy, and keener insight,
enabled him to perceive in the style and in the writer those
finer qualities which the more conventional judgment of
Pepys had refused to recognize. Lamb never mentions with-
out praise 'that princely woman, thrice noble Margaret of
Newcastle '. For a book such as the Life of the Duke of New-
castle, a book ' both good and rare ', he held no binding too
good. ' No casket is rich enough, no casing sufficiently durable
to honour and keep safe such a jewel.'

To decide between these conflicting sentences, and expound
the precise amount of truth contained in each, would be a
tedious and ungrateful task. This at least may be said, that
the ' generous and highborn men ' who follow the recommen-
dation of the Cambridge Senate and study this Life as a contri-
bution to military history will find little in it which they could
not learn more fully and accurately from the pages of Rush-
worth or Whitelock. An occasional incident or anecdote,
the name of a forgotten officer, or the locality of an obscure
skirmish, an account of the Duke's personal share in one or
two engagements, sum up the amount of its contributions to
tiie military history of the civil wars. The special interest of
the book lies rather in the picture of the exiled royalist, cheer-
fully sacrificing everything for the King's cause, struggling
with his debts, talking over his creditors, never losing confi-
dence in the ultimate triumph of the right, and on his return

Editor's Preface ix:

setting to work uncomplainingly to restore his ruined estate.
It lies rather in the portrait drawn of a great English nobleman
of the seventeenth century ; his manners and his habits, his
occupations and amusements, his maxims and his opinions,
his domestic policy and his alliances with neighbouring poten-
tates, all are recorded and set down with the loving fidelity
of a Boswell. For the account of her husband's exile and the
description of his daily life the Duchess depended on her own
observations and recollections. But for that part of the book
which treats of his warlike exploits she relied on the informa-
tion she received from his secretary, John Rolleston.

Rollcston had filled a position which must have enabled
him to know the truth on many doubtful points, and to explain,
had he thought fit, the causes which determined the strategy
of his General. It is therefore much to be regretted that so
meagre an account is given of many important incidents and
resolutions during the Yorkshire campaigns. For these
campaigns exercised a decisive influence on the course of the
Civil War in the eastern and midland counties, and had New-
castle been a more capable general, the northern army might
have forestalled the New-Model. The first and one of the
most important services of Newcastle was the occupation of
the town from which he took his title. The ports of the south
and east of England, from Bristol to the towns of the York-
shire coast, were all in the hands of the Parliament, and with-
out communication with the Continent the King could hardly
have conducted one campaign. The possession of Newcastle
enabled him to receive the arms and ammunition which he
urgently needed, and supplied, a landing-place for the old
soldiers who flocked from Holland and (icrmany to officer
his armies. In the next place, the great territorial influence
of Lord Newcastle enabled him to raise an army in the four
northern counties with unusual speed ; and. at a period when
2000 or 3000 men was a large army, to advance with double
that number into Yorkshire, and occupy York just when it
was on the point of falling into the hands of Lord Fairfax.
Considering the great superiority of his forces, Newcastle's
operations against Lord Fairfax, which commenced in Decem-
ber 1642, can hardly be considered very creditable to his
military talents. It required three separate attacks to expel
the Fairfaxes from the West Riding. The first commenced

x Editor's Preface

with the attack on Tadcastcr (December 7, i<x[-) : was
followed by the repulse of Sir William Savile from Bradford
(December 18, 1^)42) ; and was brought to an end by the
brilliant recapture of Leeds by Sir Thomas Fairfax (January
23, 1643). The second began in April with an unsuccessful
attack on Leeds, and was marked by the capture of Rotherham
(May 4) and Sheffield (May 9). Again Sir Thomas Fairfax,
by the surprise of Wakefield on May 21, 1643, forced the
royalists to retreat. The third and successful attack began
with the capture of Howley Hall and the battle of Adwalton
Moor (June 30). and ended with the capture of Bradford and
Leeds, and the flight of the Fairfaxes to Hull.

In the interval between the first and second of these attacks
occurred the controversy between Newcastle and Lord Fairfax,
recorded in the opposing proclamations printed by Rushworth.
Newcastle sent Fairfax a characteristic challenge to come
out and fight, to follow ' the exampcs of our heroic ancestors,
who used not to spend their time in scratching one another
out of holes, but in pitched fields determined their doubts.'
Lord Fairfax replied by a refusal ' to follow the rules of Amadis
dc Gaule, or the Knight of the Sun, which the language of the
declaration seems to affect in offering pitched battles ' : but
withal protested his willingness to offer battle wheresoever
he found an opportunity. With these taunts were combined
legal arguments on the rights of kings and subjects, discus-
sions on the lawfulness of employing Catholics and sectaries,
and accusations of plunder and indiscipline against each other's

The conquest of the West Riding left Hull the only impor-
tant place in Yorkshire in the hands of the Parliament. Charles
summoned Newcastle to move southwards, and ordered him
to march through the eastern association on London J . He
obeyed so far as to march into Lincolnshire, where he recap-
tured Gainsborough (July 30) and garrisoned Lincoln, but
at the end of August he returned into Yorkshire to besiege
Hull. The combined movement on London planned by the
King might have changed the fortune of the war, for at the
end of July the Parliament had no army capable of keeping

1 ' He had orders to march into the associated counties, when, upon the t.ikine of
liristul, his Majesty had a purpose to have marched towards London on the other side.'
Cl-ir-iid' n, Kfbfllmn, vh'i, 86. See also vii, 177. Other statements are quoted in
the not? Vj p. 2').

Editor's Preface xi

the field. Waller's forces had been reduced to a fc\v hundred
horse, Essex's troops were diminished by disease and deser-
tion, and disheartened by failure, and the army of the Eastern
association was still in the process of formation. Even if the
march on London had been unattempted, a vigorous inva-
sion of the Eastern association might have made a breach in
that stronghold of Puritanism, and would almost certainly
have prevented the relief of Gloucester. The reasons which
led Newcastle to disobey the King's order are differently
stated. Warwick asserts that his desire to retain his inde-
pendent command was the chief motive. To this was added
the opposition of the gentlemen of Yorkshire to the proposed
scheme, their objections to leaving their own county, and
their urgent appeals to Newcastle to capture Hull and put a
stop to Fairfax's inroads into Yorkshire. It was on this last
ground that Newcastle based his refusal, but there is little
doubt that it coincided with his own inclinations 1 . From
the time that Newcastle turned back into Yorkshire his good
fortune ended. One day (October i i. 164 ;) saw the defeat of
his field army at Winceby, and the rout of the besieging army
under the walls of Hull. November and December were spent
in recruiting his shattered forces, and in January 1644 he was
called northwards to oppose the entry of the Scots into Eng-
land. Slowly the Scots forced their way south, Newcastle
ever attempting to bring on a general action, and ever failing
through Lcsly's judicious choice of positions. Though he
was able by means of his great superiority in cavalry to cut
off their provisions, he could never absolutely reduce them to
extremity, and his best horse were ruined by the severity of
the season. At the same time, he had to contend against
the criticisms of his own party, and even thought of laying
down his commission to escape their complaints. ' I per-
ceive ', wrote the King to him. ' that the Scots are not the
only, or the least enemies you contest with at tins ime : where-
fore I must tell you in a word you must as much contemn the
impertinent or malicious tongues and pens of those that are
or profess to be your friends, as well as you despise the sword
of an equal enemy. The truth is. it either you or my Lord
Ethyn leave my service. I am sure all the north is lost. Remem-
ber all courage is not in fighting, constancy in a good cause

xii Editor's Preface

being the chief, and the despising of slanderous tongues and
pens being not the least ingredient.' x This letter was written
on April 6, 1644, and on the iith of the same month New-
castle's lieutenant, Bcllasis, was defeated and taken prisoner,
and the Marquis himself forced to make a hurried retreat to
York, where the united armies of Fairfax, Lcsly, and Man-
chester closed in upon him, and made his surrender only a
question of time. Prince Rupert raised the siege ; but, not
content with that, and misunderstanding the King's orders,
pursued the retreating enemy, and, against the advice of the
Marquis, forced on the battle of Marston Moor. In that
battle the Marquis held no command, but fought as a private
gentleman at the head of a company of volunteers. The day
after, he, with his immediate friends, made his way to Scar-
borough and embarked for the Continent. If he had been
content to remain in England, and laboriously recommence
the task of raising armies for the King, he might have con-
siderably retarded the loss of the north. There were a hundred
examples of men, less eminent in position and command,
who struggled cheerfully, even though with little hope of
success, until all further resistance was impossible. But
Newcastle, loyal though he was, held no such troublesome
and exacting a view of his duty. His wife represents him as
leaving England because he saw there was nothing else to
be done, and was ' loath to have aspersions cast upon him '
for failing to do what was impossible. Another account
makes him reply to Rupert's persuasions to recruit his forces
for another eltort, by saying ' I will not endure the laughter
of the court.' Clarendon, whilst discussing the causes of
this retirement, seizes the opportunity to draw one of those
portraits which no biographer can leave unquoted :

All that can be said for the Marquis is. that he was utterly
tired with a condition and employment so contrary to his
humour, nature, and education, that he did not at all con-
sider the means or the way that would let him out of it. and
free him for ever from having more to do with it. And it was
a greater wonder, that he sustained the vexation and fatigue
of it so long, than that he broke from it with so little circum-
spection. He was a very fine gentleman, active and full of
courage, and most accomplished in those qualities of horsc-

' !!ii-, Ordinal Letters. I. iii. :,*.

Editor's Preface xii'i

manship, dancing, and icncing which accompany a good
breeding ; in which his delight was. Besides that, he was
amorous in poetry and music, to which he indulged the greatest
part of his time ; and nothing could have tempted him out
of those paths of pleasure, which he enjoyed in a full and
ample fortune, but honour and ambition to serve the King,
when he saw him in distress, and abandoned by most of those
who were in the highest degree obliged to him, and by him.
He loved monarchy, as it was the foundation and support
of his own greatness ; and the Church, as it was well consti-
tuted for the splendour and security of the Crown ; and
religion, as it cherished and maintained that order and obedi-
ence that was necessary to both ; without any other passion
for the particular opinions which were grown up in it, and
distinguished it into parties, than as he detested whatsoever
was like to disturb the public peace. . . . He liked the pomp
and absolute authority of a general well, and preserved the
dignity of it to the full ; and for the discharge of the outward
state and circumstances of it, in acts of courtesy, affability,
bounty, and generosity he abounded ; which in the infancy
of a war became him, and made him for some time very
acceptable to men of all conditions. But the substantial
part, and fatigue of a general, he did not in any degree under-
stand (being utterly unacquainted with war) nor could submit
to 1 ; but referred all matters of that nature to his lieutenant-
general. King ... In all actions of the field he was still
present, and never absent in any battle : in all which he gave
instances of an invincible courage and fearlessness in danger ;
in which the exposing of himself notoriously did sometimes
change the fortune of the day when his troops began to give
ground. Such articles of action were no sooner over, than
he retired to his delightful company, music, or his softer
pleasures, to all which he was so indulgent, and to his ease,
that he would not be interrupted upon what occasions soever :
insomuch as he sometimes denied admission to the chiefest
officers of the army, even to (ieneral King himself, for two
days together ; from whence many inconveniences fell out. . .
The strange manner of the Prince's coming, anil undclibcratcd
throwing himself, and all the King's hopes, into that sudden
and unnecessar engagement, b which all the force the

xiv Editor's Preface

Marquis had raised, and with so many difficulties preserved,
was in a moment cast away and destroyed, so transported him
with passion and despair, that he could not compose himself
to think of beginning the work again, and involving himself
in the same undelightful condition of life, from which he might
now be free. He hoped his past meritorious actions might
outweigh his present abandoning the thought of future action ;
and so without further consideration, as hath been said, he
transported himself out of the kingdom.' l

Very similar is the judgment passed on Newcastle by
another contemporary, Sir Philip Warwick. ' He was a
gentleman of grandeur, generosity, loyalty, and steady and
forward courage ; but his edge had too much of the razor in
it : for he had a tincture of a romantic spirit, and had the
misfortune to have somewhat of the poet in him : so as he
chose Sir William Davcnant, an eminent good poet, and loyal
gentleman, to be lieutenant-general of his ordnance. This
inclination of his own and such kind of witty society (to be
modest in the expression of it) diverted many counsels, and
lost many opportunities, which the nature of that affair this
great man had now entered into required.' '-

The very defects which, according to these two authorities,
prevented Newcastle from being a successful general, have
given him an additional claim to the remembrance of posterity.
His o\vn writings, and his patronage of other writers, combine
to secure him a niche in the literature of his age.

Newcastle's intimacy with Hobbes is attested by the stories
which the Duchess tells in order to illustrate her husband's
' natural understanding and observation ' (p. 106). Their
acquaintance began long before they were fellow-exiles, as
the letters from Hobbes to Newcastle, written between 1634
and 1637, sufficiently attest. These letters, now preserved
at Wclbeck, were published in 1893 in the Report of the His-
torical Manuscripts Commission on the Duke of Portland's
Papers (vol ii, pp. 124-30). The intimacy owed its origin
to Newcastle's interest in science and philosophy. Hobbes
communicated to Newcastle his observations and experi-
ments about light, motion, and other scientific question^
and his opinions about books. In one letter he mentions the
publication of Lord Herbert of Chcrburv's DC Vcntatc, 'a

2 Mfinoin, p. 135.

Editor's Preface xv

bookc concerning truth, which is a high point '. In a second,
he relates his unsuccessful attempts to obtain for Newcastle
a copy of Galileo's Dialogues : ' It is not possible to get it
for money. There were but few brought over at first, and
they that buy such bookes, are not such men as to part with
them againe. I heare say it is called in, in Italy, as a bookc
that will do more hurt to their religion than all the bookes
have done of Luther and Calvin, such opposition they thinke
is between their religion and naturall reason.' In a third
letter, after referring to Walter Warner, the mathematician
and philosopher, whom Newcastle also patronised, Hobbcs
sets forth his own aims and hopes. Warner, he says, cannot
fulfil Newcastle's expectations. ' For the soule I know he
has nothing to give your Lordship any satisfaction. I would
he could give good reasons lor the facultycs and passions of
the soule, such as may be expressed in playne English ; if he
can, he is the first that I ever heard ot could speake sense in
that subject. If he cannot, I hope to be the first.'

With the generosity which he habitually showed to wits
and men of learning Newcastle sent Hobbcs a present of money,
which Hobbcs received with dignity. The gift, he said, was
proportioned to Newcastle's goodness not to his service.
' If the world saw my little desert, so plainely as they sec your
great rewards, they might think me a mountebancke, and
that all I do or would do were in the hope of what I recoave.
I hope your Lordship does not thinke so, at least let me tell
your Lordship once for all, that though I honour you as my
Lord, yet my love to you is just of the same nature that it is
to Mr. Payne, bred out of private talke, without respect to
your purse.' Then, referring to his friend Payne, Hobbcs
laid down the principle that patrons who wished to encourage
the researches of learned men should reward the result rather
than contribute to the undertaking. ' I hope your Lordship
will not bestow much upon the hopes, but suffer the libcrall
sciences to be liberal!, and after some worthy effort your
Lordship then may be libcrall also.'

What attracted Hobbcs to Newcastle was Newcastle's
sympathy with his ideas ami his curiosity about questions
for which most noblemen of the time cared nothing. In one
of his letters he expresses to the Earl the hope that ' I may
have the happiness which your Lordship partly promises me.

xvi Editor's Preface

to conferrc meditations for a good time together, which will
be not only honor to me, but that happiness which I and all
that arc in love with knowledge, use to fancy to themselves
for the true happiness in this life.' Both men were ' in love
with knowledge ' but with the one it was the passion of a life-
time, with the other little more than a passing fancy.

In October 1636 Newcastle apparently invited Hobbes
to leave the household of the Earl of Devonshire, and establish
himself permanently at Welbeck. Reluctant though he was to
part with the Earl and Countess, Hobbes was very nearly
accepting the invitation. ' Though my Lady and my Lord
do both accept so wel of my service as I could almost engage
myself to serve them as a domestique all my life, yet the
extreame pleasure I take in study overcomes in me all other
appetites. I am not willing to leave my Lord, so as not to
do him any service that he thinkcs may not so well be done
by another ; but I must not deny myselfc the content to
study in the way I have begun, and that I cannot conceave I
shall do any where so well as at Wclbeckc. and therefore I
mean if your lordship forbid me not. to come thither as
soonc as I can. and stay as long as I can without inconvenience
to your Lordship.'

It is doubtful whether the long visit ever took place. One
year the plague prevented Hobbes from coming to Welbeck.
another year Newcastle's appointment as governor of Prince
Charles called him to London, and then came the Scottish
troubles and the Civil War. Doubtless the two met again in
London, but their next recorded meeting is that mentioned
by Waller when Gasscndi, Descartes, Hobbes and himself
dined at Newcastle's table at Paris about 1648.

Newcastle's chief interest however was not in philosophy
but in the drama. He was not only a dramatic author

Online LibraryMargaret Cavendish NewcastleThe life of William Cavendish, duke of Newcastle, to which is added the true relation of my birth, breeding and life → online text (page 1 of 28)