Memoirs of a Cavalier
Part 1 out of 6
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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.
By Daniel Defoe
Edited with Introduction and Notes by Elizabeth O'Neill
Daniel Defoe is, perhaps, best known to us as the author of _Robinson
Crusoe_, a book which has been the delight of generations of boys and
girls ever since the beginning of the eighteenth century. For it was
then that Defoe lived and wrote, being one of the new school of prose
writers which grew up at that time and which gave England new forms
of literature almost unknown to an earlier age. Defoe was a vigorous
pamphleteer, writing first on the Whig side and later for the Tories
in the reigns of William III and Anne. He did much to foster the
growth of the newspaper, a form of literature which henceforth became
popular. He also did much towards the development of the modern novel,
though he did not write novels in our sense of the word. His books
were more simple than is the modern novel. What he really wrote were
long stories told, as is _Robinson Crusoe_, in the first person and
with so much detail that it is hard to believe that they are works of
imagination and not true stories. "The little art he is truly master
of, is of forging a story and imposing it upon the world as truth." So
wrote one of his contemporaries. Charles Lamb, in criticizing Defoe,
notices this minuteness of detail and remarks that he is, therefore,
an author suited only for "servants" (meaning that this method can
appeal only to comparatively uneducated minds). Really as every boy
and girl knows, a good story ought to have this quality of seeming
true, and the fact that Defoe can so deceive us makes his work the
more excellent reading.
The _Memoirs of a Cavalier_ resembles _Robinson Crusoe_ in so far as
it is a tale told by a man of his own experiences and adventures. It
has just the same air of truth and for a long time after its first
publication in 1720 people were divided in opinion as to whether it
was a book of real memoirs or not. A critical examination has shown
that it is Defoe's own work and not, as he declares, the contents of
a manuscript which he found "by great accident, among other valuable
papers" belonging to one of King William's secretaries of state.
Although his gifts of imagination enabled him to throw himself into
the position of the Cavalier he lapses occasionally into his own
characteristic prose and the style is often that of the eighteenth
rather than the seventeenth century, more eloquent than quaint. Again,
he is not careful to hide inconsistencies between his preface and the
text. Thus, he says in his preface that he discovered the manuscript
in 1651; yet we find in the _Memoirs_ a reference to the Restoration,
which shows that it must have been written after 1660 at least. There
is abundant proof that the book is really a work of fiction and that
the Cavalier is an imaginary character; but, in one sense, it is a
true history, inasmuch as the author has studied the events and spirit
of the time in which his scene is laid and, though he makes many
mistakes of detail, he gives us a very true picture of one of the most
interesting periods in English and European history. The _Memoirs_
thus represent the English historical novel in its beginnings, a much
simpler thing than it was to become in the hands of Scott and later
The period in which the scene is laid is that of the English Civil
War, in which the Cavalier fought on the side of King Charles I
against the Puritans. But his adventures in this war belong to the
second part of the book. In the first part, he tells of his birth and
parentage, the foreign travel which was the fashionable completion
of the education of a gentleman in the seventeenth century, and his
adventures as a volunteer officer in the Swedish army, where he gained
the experience which was to serve him well in the Civil War at home.
Many a real Cavalier must have had just such a career as Defoe's hero
describes as his own. After a short time at Oxford, "long enough for
a gentleman," he embarked on a period of travel, going to Italy by
way of France. The Cavalier, however, devotes but little space to
description, vivid enough as far as it goes, of his adventures in
these two countries for a space of over two years. Italy, especially,
attracted the attention of gentlemen and scholars in those days,
but the Cavalier was more bent on soldiering than sightseeing and he
hurries on to tell of his adventures in Germany, where he first really
took part in warfare, becoming a volunteer officer in the army of
Gustavus Adolphus, the hero King of Sweden, and where he met with
those adventures the story of which forms the bulk of the first part
of the _Memoirs_.
To appreciate the tale, it will be necessary to have a clear idea
of the state of affairs in Europe at the time. The war which was
convulsing Germany, and in which almost every other European power
interfered at some time, was the Thirty Years' War (1618--1648), a
struggle having a special character of its own as the last of the
religious wars which had torn Europe asunder for a century and the
first of a long series of wars in which the new and purely political
principle of the Balance of Power can be seen at work. The struggle
was, nominally, between Protestant and Catholic Germany for, during
the Reformation period, Germany, which consisted of numerous states
under the headship of the Emperor, had split into two great camps. The
Northern states had become Protestant under their Protestant princes.
The Southern states had remained, for the most part, Catholic or had
been won back to Catholicism in the religious reaction known as the
Counter-Reformation. As the Catholic movement spread, under a Catholic
Emperor like Ferdinand of Styria, who was elected in 1619, it was
inevitable that the privileges granted to Protestants should be
curtailed. They determined to resist and, as the Emperor had the
support of Spain, the Protestant Union found it necessary to call in
help from outside. Thus it was that the other European powers came to
interfere in German affairs. Some helped the Protestants from motives
of religion, more still from considerations of policy, and the long
struggle of thirty years may be divided into marked periods in which
one power after another, Denmark, Sweden, France, allied themselves
with the Protestants against the Emperor. The _Memoirs_ are
concerned with the first two years of the Swedish period of the war
(1630--1634), during which Gustavus Adolphus almost won victory
for the Protestants who were, however, to lose the advantage of his
brilliant generalship through his death at the battle of Luetzen in
1632. Through the death of "this conquering king," the Swedes lost the
fruits of their victory and the battle of Luetzen marks the end of what
may be termed the heroic period of the war. Gustavus Adolphus stands
out among the men of his day for the loftiness of his character as
well as for the genius of his generalship. It is, therefore, fitting
enough that Defoe should make his Cavalier withdraw from the Swedish
service after the death of the "glorious king" whom he "could never
mention without some remark of his extraordinary merit." For two years
longer, he wanders through Germany still watching the course of the
war and then returns to England, soon to take part in another war at
home, namely the Civil War, in which the English people were divided
into two great parties according as they supported King Charles I or
the members of the Long Parliament who opposed him. According to the
_Memoirs_, the Cavalier "went into arms" without troubling himself "to
examine sides." Defoe probably considered this attitude as typical
of many of the Cavalier party, and, of course, loyalty to the king's
person was one of their strongest motives. The Cavalier does not enter
largely into the causes of the war. What he gives us is a picture of
army life in that troubled period. It will be well, however, to bear
in mind the chief facts in the history of the times.
From the beginning of his reign, Charles had had trouble with his
parliaments, which had already become very restless under James I.
Charles's parliaments disapproved of his foreign policy and their
unwillingness to grant subsidies led him to fall back on questionable
methods of raising money, especially during the eleven years
(1629--1640) in which he ruled without a parliament. Charles had no
great scheme of tyranny, but avoided parliaments because of their
criticism of his policy. At first the opposition had been purely
political, but the parliament of 1629 had attacked also Charles's
religious policy. He favoured the schemes of Laud (archbishop of
Canterbury 1633--1649) and the Arminian school among the clergy, who
wished to revive many of the old Catholic practices and some of the
beliefs which had been swept away by the Reformation. Many people
in England objected not only to these but even to the wearing of the
surplice, the simplest of the old vestments, on the use of which Laud
tried to insist. This party came to be known as Puritans and they
formed the chief strength of the opposition to the King in the Long
Parliament which met in 1640. For their attack on the Church led many
who had at first opposed the King's arbitrary methods to go over to
his side. Thus, the moderate men as well as the loyalists formed a
king's party and the opposition was almost confined to men who hated
the Church as much as the King. The Puritans who loved simplicity
of dress and severity of manners and despised the flowing locks and
worldly vanities which the Cavaliers loved were, by these, nicknamed
Roundheads on account of their short hair. Defoe, in the _Memoirs_,
gives us less of this side of the history of the times than might have
been expected. The war actually began in August, 1642, and what
Defoe gives us is military history, correct in essentials and full
of detail, which is, however, far from accurate. For instance, in his
account of the battle of Marston Moor, he makes prince Rupert command
the left wing, whereas he really commanded the right wing, the left
being led by Lord Goring who, according to Defoe's account, commanded
the main battle. He conveys to us, however, the true spirit of the
war, emphasizing the ability and the mistakes on both sides, showing
how the king's miscalculations or Rupert's rashness deprived the
Royalist party of the advantages of the superior generalship and
fighting power which were theirs in the first part of the war and how
gradually the Roundheads got the better of the Cavaliers. The detailed
narrative comes to an end with the delivery of the King to the
Parliament by the Scots, to whom he had given himself up in his
extremity. A few lines tell of his trial and execution and the
_Memoirs_ end with some pages of "remarks and observations" on the
war and a list of coincidences which had been noted in its course.
The latter, savouring somewhat of superstition, appear natural in
what purports to be a seventeenth century text, but the summing up of
conclusions about the war is rather such as might be made by a more or
less impartial observer at a later date than by one who had taken an
active part in the struggle. In reading the _Memoirs_ this mixture of
what belongs to the seventeenth century with the reflections of Defoe,
in many ways a typical eighteenth century figure, must be borne in
mind. The inaccuracies are pointed out in the notes, but these need
not prevent us from entering with zest into the spirit of the story.
4 _March_ 1908.
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.
TEXT: Part I.
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.
As an evidence that 'tis very probable these Memorials were written
many years ago, the persons now concerned in the publication assure
the reader that they have had them in their possession finished, as
they now appear, above twenty years; that they were so long ago found
by great accident, among other valuable papers, in the closet of an
eminent public minister, of no less figure than one of King William's
secretaries of state.
As it is not proper to trace them any farther, so neither is there any
need to trace them at all, to give reputation to the story related,
seeing the actions here mentioned have a sufficient sanction from all
the histories of the times to which they relate, with this addition,
that the admirable manner of relating them and the wonderful variety
of incidents with which they are beautified in the course of a private
gentleman's story, add such delight in the reading, and give such a
lustre, as well to the accounts themselves as to the person who was
the actor, that no story, we believe, extant in the world ever came
abroad with such advantage.
It must naturally give some concern in the reading that the name of a
person of so much gallantry and honour, and so many ways valuable
to the world, should be lost to the readers. We assure them no small
labour has been thrown away upon the inquiry, and all we have been
able to arrive to of discovery in this affair is, that a memorandum
was found with this manuscript, in these words, but not signed by any
name, only the two letters of a name, which gives us no light into the
matter, which memoir was as follows:--
"I found this manuscript among my father's writings, and I understand
that he got them as plunder, at, or after, the fight at Worcester,
where he served as major of ----'s regiment of horse on the side of
the Parliament. I.K."
As this has been of no use but to terminate the inquiry after the
person, so, however, it seems most naturally to give an authority to
the original of the work, viz., that it was born of a soldier; and
indeed it is through every part related with so soldierly a style, and
in the very language of the field, that it seems impossible anything
but the very person who was present in every action here related,
could be the relater of them.
The accounts of battles, the sieges, and the several actions of which
this work is so full, are all recorded in the histories of those
times; such as the great battle of Leipsic, the sacking of Magdeburg,
the siege of Nuremburg, the passing the river Lech in Bavaria; such
also as the battle of Kineton, or Edgehill, the battles of Newbury,
Marston Moor, and Naseby, and the like: they are all, we say, recorded
in other histories, and written by those who lived in those times, and
perhaps had good authority for what they wrote. But do those relations
give any of the beautiful ideas of things formed in this account?
Have they one half of the circumstances and incidents of the actions
themselves that this man's eyes were witness to, and which his memory
has thus preserved? He that has read the best accounts of those
battles will be surprised to see the particulars of the story so
preserved, so nicely and so agreeably described, and will confess
what we allege, that the story is inimitably told; and even the great
actions of the glorious King GUSTAVUS ADOLPHUS receive a lustre
from this man's relations which the world was never made sensible of
before, and which the present age has much wanted of late, in order to
give their affections a turn in favour of his late glorious successor.
In the story of our own country's unnatural wars, he carries on the
same spirit. How effectually does he record the virtues and glorious
actions of King Charles the First, at the same time that he frequently
enters upon the mistakes of his Majesty's conduct, and of his friends,
which gave his enemies all those fatal advantages against him, which
ended in the overthrow of his armies, the loss of his crown and life,
and the ruin of the constitution!
In all his accounts he does justice to his enemies, and honours
the merit of those whose cause he fought against; and many accounts
recorded in his story, are not to be found even in the best histories
of those times.
What applause does he give to gallantry of Sir Thomas Fairfax, to his
modesty, to his conduct, under which he himself was subdued, and to
the justice he did the king's troops when they laid down their arms!
His description of the Scots troops in the beginning of the war, and
the behaviour of the party under the Earl of Holland, who went over
against them, are admirable; and his censure of their conduct, who
pushed the king upon the quarrel, and then would not let him fight, is
no more than what many of the king's friends (though less knowing as
soldiers) have often complained of.
In a word, this work is a confutation of many errors in all the
writers upon the subject of our wars in England, and even in that
extraordinary history written by the Earl of Clarendon; but the
editors were so just that when, near twenty years ago, a person
who had written a whole volume in folio, by way of answer to and
confutation of Clarendon's "History of the Rebellion," would have
borrowed the clauses in this account, which clash with that history,
and confront it,--we say the editors were so just as to refuse them.
There can be nothing objected against the general credit of this work,
seeing its truth is established upon universal history; and almost all
the facts, especially those of moment, are confirmed for their general
part by all the writers of those times. If they are here embellished
with particulars, which are nowhere else to be found, that is the
beauty we boast of; and that it is that much recommend this work to
all the men of sense and judgment that read it.
The only objection we find possible to make against this work is, that
it is not carried on farther, or, as we may say finished, with the
finishing the war of the time; and this we complain of also. But then
we complain of it as a misfortune to the world, not as a fault in the
author; for how do we know but that this author might carry it on, and
have another part finished which might not fall into the same hands,
or may still remain with some of his family, and which they cannot
indeed publish, to make it seem anything perfect, for want of the
other parts which we have, and which we have now made public? Nor is
it very improbable but that if any such farther part is in being, the
publishing these two parts may occasion the proprietors of the third
to let the world see it, and that by such a discovery the name of the
person may also come to be known, which would, no doubt, be a great
satisfaction to the reader as well as us.
This, however, must be said, that if the same author should have
written another part of this work, and carried it on to the end of
those times, yet as the residue of those melancholy days, to the
Restoration, were filled with the intrigues of government, the
political management of illegal power, and the dissensions and
factions of a people who were then even in themselves but a faction,
and that there was very little action in the field, it is more than
probable that our author, who was a man of arms, had little share in
those things, and might not care to trouble himself with looking at
But besides all this, it might happen that he might go abroad again
at that time, as most of the gentlemen of quality, and who had an
abhorrence for the power that then governed here, did. Nor are we
certain that he might live to the end of that time, so we can give
no account whether he had any share in the subsequent actions of that
'Tis enough that we have the authorities above to recommend this part
to us that is now published. The relation, we are persuaded, will
recommend itself, and nothing more can be needful, because nothing
more can invite than the story itself, which, when the reader enters
into, he will find it very hard to get out of till he has gone through
MEMOIRS OF A CAVALIER.
It may suffice the reader, without being very inquisitive after my
name, that I was born in the county of Salop, in the year 1608, under
the government of what star I was never astrologer enough to
examine; but the consequences of my life may allow me to suppose some
extraordinary influence affected my birth.
My father was a gentleman of a very plentiful fortune, having an
estate of above L5000 per annum, of a family nearly allied to several
of the principal nobility, and lived about six miles from the town;
and my mother being at ---- on some particular occasion, was surprised
there at a friend's house, and brought me very safe into the world.
I was my father's second son, and therefore was not altogether so much
slighted as younger sons of good families generally are. But my father
saw something in my genius also which particularly pleased him, and so
made him take extraordinary care of my education.
I was taught, therefore, by the best masters that could be had,
everything that was needful to accomplish a young gentleman for the
world; and at seventeen years old my tutor told my father an academic
education was very proper for a person of quality, and he thought me
very fit for it: so my father entered me of ---- College in Oxford,
where I continued three years.
A collegiate life did not suit me at all, though I loved books well
enough. It was never designed that I should be either a lawyer,
physician, or divine; and I wrote to my father that I thought I had
stayed there long enough for a gentleman, and with his leave I desired
to give him a visit.
During my stay at Oxford, though I passed through the proper exercises
of the house, yet my chief reading was upon history and geography,
as that which pleased my mind best, and supplied me with ideas most
suitable to my genius; by one I understood what great actions had been
done in the world, and by the other I understood where they had been
My father readily complied with my desire of coming home; for besides
that he thought, as I did, that three years' time at the university
was enough, he also most passionately loved me, and began to think of
my settling near him.
At my arrival I found myself extraordinarily caressed by my father,
and he seemed to take a particular delight in my conversation. My
mother, who lived in perfect union with him both in desires and
affection, received me very passionately. Apartments were provided for
me by myself, and horses and servants allowed me in particular.
My father never went a-hunting, an exercise he was exceeding fond of,
but he would have me with him; and it pleased him when he found me
like the sport. I lived thus, in all the pleasures 'twas possible for
me to enjoy, for about a year more, when going out one morning with my
father to hunt a stag, and having had a very hard chase, and gotten
a great way off from home, we had leisure enough to ride gently back;
and as we returned my father took occasion to enter into a serious
discourse with me concerning the manner of my settling in the world.
He told me, with a great deal of passion, that he loved me above all
the rest of his children, and that therefore he intended to do very
well for me; and that my eldest brother being already married
and settled, he had designed the same for me, and proposed a very
advantageous match for me, with a young lady of very extraordinary
fortune and merit, and offered to make a settlement of L2000 per annum
on me, which he said he would purchase for me without diminishing his
There was too much tenderness in this discourse not to affect me
exceedingly. I told him I would perfectly resign myself unto his
disposal. But as my father had, together with his love for me, a very
nice judgment in his discourse, he fixed his eyes very attentively on
me, and though my answer was without the least reserve, yet he
thought he saw some uneasiness in me at the proposal, and from thence
concluded that my compliance was rather an act of discretion than
inclination; and that, however I seemed so absolutely given up to what
he had proposed, yet my answer was really an effect of my obedience
rather than my choice.
So he returned very quick upon me: "Look you, son, though I give you
my own thoughts in the matter, yet I would have you be very plain with
me; for if your own choice does not agree with mine, I will be your
adviser, but will never impose upon you, and therefore let me know
your mind freely." "I don't reckon myself capable, sir," said I, with
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,'  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
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
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, matched 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
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
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
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,
stout fellows indeed. Here I saw the cardinal; there was an air of
church gravity in his habit, but all the vigour of a general, and
the sprightliness of a vast genius in his face. He affected a little
stiffness in his behaviour, but managed all his affairs with such
clearness, such steadiness, and such application, that it was no
wonder he had such success in every undertaking.
Here I saw the king, whose figure was mean, his countenance hollow,
and always seemed dejected, and every way discovering that weakness in
his countenance that appeared in his actions.
If he was ever sprightly and vigorous it was when the cardinal was
with him, for he depended so much on everything he did, he that was at
the utmost dilemma when he was absent, always timorous, jealous, and
After the review the cardinal was absent some days, having been to
wait on the queen-mother at Lyons, where, as it was discoursed, they
were at least seemingly reconciled.
I observed while the cardinal was gone there was no court, the king
was seldom to be seen, very small attendance given, and no bustle at
the castle; but as soon as the cardinal returned, the great councils
were assembled, the coaches of the ambassadors went every day to the
castle, and a face of business appeared upon the whole court.
Here the measures of the Duke of Savoy's ruin were concerted, and in
order to it the king and the cardinal put themselves at the head
of the army, with which they immediately reduced all Savoy, took
Chamberri and the whole duchy except Montmelian.
The army that did this was not above 22,000 men, including the Swiss,
and but indifferent troops neither, especially the French foot, who,
compared to the infantry I have since seen in the German and Swedish
armies, were not fit to be called soldiers. On the other hand,
considering the Savoyards and Italian troops, they were good troops;
but the cardinal's conduct made amends for all these deficiencies.
From hence I went to Pignerol, which was then little more than a
single fortification on the hill near the town called St Bride's, but
the situation of that was very strong. I mention this because of the
prodigious works since added to it, by which it has since obtained the
name of "the right hand of France." They had begun a new line below
the hill, and some works were marked out on the side of the town next
the fort; but the cardinal afterwards drew the plan of the works with
his own hand, by which it was made one of the strongest fortresses in
While I was at Pignerol, the governor of Milan, for the Spaniards,
came with an army and sat down before Casale. The grand quarrel,
and for which the war in this part of Italy was begun, was this: The
Spaniards and Germans pretended to the duchy of Mantua; the Duke
of Nevers, a Frenchman, had not only a title to it, but had got
possession of it; but being ill-supported by the French, was beaten
out by the Imperialists, and after a long siege the Germans took
Mantua itself, and drove the poor duke quite out of the country.
The taking of Mantua elevated the spirits of the Duke of Savoy, and
the Germans and Spaniards being now at more leisure, with a complete
army came to his assistance, and formed the siege of Montferrat.
For as the Spaniards pushed the Duke of Mantua, so the French by
way of diversion lay hard upon the Duke of Savoy. They had seized
Montferrat, and held it for the Duke of Mantua, and had a strong
French garrison under Thoiras, a brave and experienced commander; and
thus affairs stood when we came into the French army.
I had no business there as a soldier, but having passed as a Scotch
gentleman with the mob at Lyons, and after with her Majesty the
queen-mother, when we obtained the guard of her dragoons, we had also
her Majesty's pass, with which we came and went where we pleased. And
the cardinal, who was then not on very good terms with the queen, but
willing to keep smooth water there, when two or three times our passes
came to be examined, showed a more than ordinary respect to us on that
very account, our passes being from the queen.
Casale being besieged, as I have observed, began to be in danger, for
the cardinal, who 'twas thought had formed a design to ruin Savoy, was
more intent upon that than upon the succour of the Duke of Mantua; but
necessity calling upon him to deliver so great a captain as Thoiras,
and not to let such a place as Casale fall into the hands of the
enemy, the king, or cardinal rather, ordered the Duke of Montmorency,
and the Marechal D'Effiat, with 10,000 foot and 2000 horse, to march
and join the Marechals De La Force and Schomberg, who lay already with
an army on the frontiers of Genoa, but too weak to attempt the raising
the siege of Casale.
As all men thought there would be a battle between the French and the
Spaniards, I could not prevail with myself to lose the opportunity,
and therefore by the help of the passes above mentioned, I came to
the French army under the Duke of Montmorency. We marched through the
enemy's country with great boldness and no small hazard, for the Duke
of Savoy appeared frequently with great bodies of horse on the rear of
the army, and frequently skirmished with our troops, in one of which
I had the folly--I can call it no better, for I had no business
there--to go out and see the sport, as the French gentlemen called it.
I was but a raw soldier, and did not like the sport at all, for this
party was surrounded by the Duke of Savoy, and almost all killed, for
as to quarter they neither asked nor gave. I ran away very fairly,
one of the first, and my companion with me, and by the goodness of our
horses got out of the fray, and being not much known in the army, we
came into the camp an hour or two after, as if we had been only riding
abroad for the air.
This little rout made the general very cautious, for the Savoyards
were stronger in horse by three or four thousand, and the army always
marched in a body, and kept their parties in or very near hand.
I escaped another rub in this French army about five days after, which
had like to have made me pay dear for my curiosity.
The Duke de Montmorency and the Marechal Schomberg joined their army
about four or five days after, and immediately, according to the
cardinal's instructions, put themselves on the march for the relief of
The army had marched over a great plain, with some marshy grounds
on the right and the Po on the left, and as the country was so well
discovered that 'twas thought impossible any mischief should happen,
the generals observed the less caution. At the end of this plain was a
long wood and a lane or narrow defile through the middle of it.
Through this pass the army was to march, and the van began to file
through it about four o'clock. By three hours' time all the army was
got through, or into the pass, and the artillery was just entered
when the Duke of Savoy with 4000 horse and 1500 dragoons with every
horseman a footman behind him, whether he had swam the Po or passed it
above at a bridge, and made a long march after, was not examined, but
he came boldly up the plain and charged our rear with a great deal of
Our artillery was in the lane, and as it was impossible to turn them
about and make way for the army, so the rear was obliged to support
themselves and maintain the fight for above an hour and a half.
In this time we lost abundance of men, and if it had not been for two
accidents all that line had been cut off. One was, that the wood was
so near that those regiments which were disordered presently sheltered
themselves in the wood; the other was, that by this time the Marechal
Schomberg, with the horse of the van, began to get back through the
lane, and to make good the ground from whence the other had been
beaten, till at last by this means it came to almost a pitched battle.
There were two regiments of French dragoons who did excellent service
in this action, and maintained their ground till they were almost all
Had the Duke of Savoy contented himself with the defeat of five
regiments on the right, which he quite broke and drove into the wood,
and with the slaughter and havoc which he had made among the rest,
he had come off with honour, and might have called it a victory; but
endeavouring to break the whole party and carry off some cannon, the
obstinate resistance of these few dragoons lost him his advantages,
and held him in play till so many fresh troops got through the pass
again as made us too strong for him, and had not night parted them he
had been entirely defeated.
At last, finding our troops increase and spread themselves on his
flank, he retired and gave over. We had no great stomach to pursue him
neither, though some horse were ordered to follow a little way.
The duke lost about a thousand men, and we almost twice as many, and
but for those dragoons had lost the whole rear-guard and half our
cannon. I was in a very sorry case in this action too. I was with the
rear in the regiment of horse of Perigoort, with a captain of which
regiment I had contracted some acquaintance. I would have rid off at
first, as the captain desired me, but there was no doing it, for the
cannon was in the lane, and the horse and dragoons of the van eagerly
pressing back through the lane must have run me down or carried me
with them. As for the wood, it was a good shelter to save one's life,
but was so thick there was no passing it on horseback.
Our regiment was one of the first that was broke, and being all in
confusion, with the Duke of Savoy's men at our heels, away we ran into
the wood. Never was there so much disorder among a parcel of runaways
as when we came to this wood; it was so exceeding bushy and thick at
the bottom there was no entering it, and a volley of small shot from
a regiment of Savoy's dragoons poured in upon us at our breaking into
the wood made terrible work among our horses.
For my part I was got into the wood, but was forced to quit my horse,
and by that means, with a great deal of difficulty, got a little
farther in, where there was a little open place, and being quite spent
with labouring among the bushes I sat down resolving to take my fate
there, let it be what it would, for I was not able to go any farther.
I had twenty or thirty more in the same condition come to me in less
than half-an-hour, and here we waited very securely the success of the
battle, which was as before.
It was no small relief to those with me to hear the Savoyards were
beaten, for otherwise they had all been lost; as for me, I confess,
I was glad as it was because of the danger, but otherwise I cared not
much which had the better, for I designed no service among them.
One kindness it did me, that I began to consider what I had to do
here, and as I could give but a very slender account of myself for
what it was I run all these risks, so I resolved they should fight it
among themselves, for I would come among them no more.
The captain with whom, as I noted above, I had contracted some
acquaintance in this regiment, was killed in this action, and the
French had really a great blow here, though they took care to conceal
it all they could; and I cannot, without smiling, read some of the
histories and memoirs of this action, which they are not ashamed to
call a victory.
We marched on to Saluzzo, and the next day the Duke of Savoy presented
himself in battalia on the other side of a small river, giving us a
fair challenge to pass and engage him. We always said in our camp that
the orders were to fight the Duke of Savoy wherever we met him; but
though he braved us in our view we did not care to engage him, but we
brought Saluzzo to surrender upon articles, which the duke could not
relieve without attacking our camp, which he did not care to do.
The next morning we had news of the surrender of Mantua to the
Imperial army. We heard of it first from the Duke of Savoy's cannon,
which he fired by way of rejoicing, and which seemed to make him
amends for the loss of Saluzzo.
As this was a mortification to the French, so it quite damped the
success of the campaign, for the Duke de Montmorency imagining that
the Imperial general would send immediate assistance to the Marquis
Spinola, who besieged Casale, they called frequent councils of war
what course to take, and at last resolved to halt in Piedmont. A few
days after their resolutions were changed again by the news of the
death of the Duke of Savoy, Charles Emanuel, who died, as some say,
agitated with the extremes of joy and grief.
This put our generals upon considering again whether they should march
to the relief of Casale, but the chimera of the Germans put them by,
and so they took up quarters in Piedmont. They took several small
places from the Duke of Savoy, making advantage of the consternation
the duke's subjects were in on the death of their prince, and spread
themselves from the seaside to the banks of the Po. But here an enemy
did that for them which the Savoyards could not, for the plague got
into their quarters and destroyed abundance of people, both of the
army and of the country.
I thought then it was time for me to be gone, for I had no manner of
courage for that risk; and I think verily I was more afraid of being
taken sick in a strange country than ever I was of being killed in
battle. Upon this resolution I procured a pass to go for Genoa, and
accordingly began my journey, but was arrested at Villa Franca by a
slow lingering fever, which held me about five days, and then turned
to a burning malignancy, and at last to the plague. My friend, the
captain, never left me night nor day; and though for four days more I
knew nobody, nor was capable of so much as thinking of myself, yet it
pleased God that the distemper gathered in my neck, swelled and broke.
During the swelling I was raging mad with the violence of pain, which
being so near my head swelled that also in proportion, that my eyes
were swelled up, and for the twenty-four hours my tongue and mouth;
then, as my servant told me, all the physicians gave me over, as past
all remedy, but by the good providence of God the swelling broke.
The prodigious collection of matter which this swelling discharged
gave me immediate relief, and I became sensible in less than an hour's
time; and in two hours or thereabouts fell into a little slumber which
recovered my spirits and sensibly revived me. Here I lay by it till
the middle of September. My captain fell sick after me, but recovered
quickly. His man had the plague, and died in two days; my man held it
About the middle of September we heard of a truce concluded between
all parties, and being unwilling to winter at Villa Franca, I got
passes, and though we were both but weak, we began to travel in
litters for Milan.
And here I experienced the truth of an old English proverb, that
standers-by see more than the gamesters.
The French, Savoyards, and Spaniards made this peace or truce all for
separate and several grounds, and every one were mistaken.
The French yielded to it because they had given over the relief of
Casale, and were very much afraid it would fall into the hands of the
Marquis Spinola. The Savoyards yielded to it because they were afraid
the French would winter in Piedmont; the Spaniards yielded to it
because the Duke of Savoy being dead, and the Count de Colalto, the
Imperial general, giving no assistance, and his army weakened by
sickness and the fatigues of the siege, he foresaw he should never
take the town, and wanted but to come off with honour.
The French were mistaken, because really Spinola was so weak that had
they marched on into Montferrat the Spaniards must have raised the
siege; the Duke of Savoy was mistaken, because the plague had so
weakened the French that they durst not have stayed to winter in
Piedmont; and Spinola was mistaken, for though he was very slow, if he
had stayed before the town one fortnight longer, Thoiras the governor
must have surrendered, being brought to the last extremity.
Of all these mistakes the French had the advantage, for Casale, was
relieved, the army had time to be recruited, and the French had the
best of it by an early campaign.
I passed through Montferrat in my way to Milan just as the truce was
declared, and saw the miserable remains of the Spanish army, who by
sickness, fatigue, hard duty, the sallies of the garrison and such
like consequences, were reduced to less than 2000 men, and of them
above 1000 lay wounded and sick in the camp.
Here were several regiments which I saw drawn out to their arms that
could not make up above seventy or eighty men, officers and all, and
those half starved with hunger, almost naked, and in a lamentable
condition. From thence I went into the town, and there things were
still in a worse condition, the houses beaten down, the walls and
works ruined, the garrison, by continual duty, reduced from 4500 men
to less than 800, without clothes, money, or provisions, the brave
governor weak with continual fatigue, and the whole face of things in
a miserable case.
The French generals had just sent them 30,000 crowns for present
supply, which heartened them a little, but had not the truce been made
as it was, they must have surrendered upon what terms the Spaniards
had pleased to make them.
Never were two armies in such fear of one another with so little
cause; the Spaniards afraid of the French whom the plague had
devoured, and the French afraid of the Spaniards whom the siege had
The grief of this mistake, together with the sense of his master,
the Spaniards, leaving him without supplies to complete the siege of
Casale, so affected the Marquis Spinola, that he died for grief, and
in him fell the last of that rare breed of Low Country soldiers, who
gave the world so great and just a character of the Spanish infantry,
as the best soldiers of the world; a character which we see them so
very much degenerated from since, that they hardly deserve the name of
I tarried at Milan the rest of the winter, both for the recovery of my
health, and also for supplies from England.
Here it was I first heard the name of Gustavus Adolphus, the king of
Sweden, who now began his war with the emperor; and while the king
of France was at Lyons, the league with Sweden was made, in which the
French contributed 1,200,000 crowns in money, and 600,000 per annum
to the attempt of Gustavus Adolphus. About this time he landed in
Pomerania, took the towns of Stettin and Stralsund, and from thence
proceeded in that prodigious manner of which I shall have occasion to
be very particular in the prosecution of these Memoirs.
I had indeed no thoughts of seeing that king or his armies. I had
been so roughly handled already, that I had given over the thoughts
of appearing among the fighting people, and resolved in the spring
to pursue my journey to Venice, and so for the rest of Italy. Yet
I cannot deny that as every Gazette gave us some accounts of the
conquests and victories of this glorious prince, it prepossessed my
thoughts with secret wishes of seeing him, but these were so young
and unsettled, that I drew no resolutions from them for a long while
About the middle of January I left Milan and came to Genoa, from
thence by sea to Leghorn, then to Naples, Rome, and Venice, but saw
nothing in Italy that gave me any diversion.
As for what is modern, I saw nothing but lewdness, private murders,
stabbing men at the corner of a street, or in the dark, hiring of
bravos, and the like. These were to me the modern excellencies of
Italy; and I had no gust to antiquities.
'Twas pleasant indeed when I was at Rome to say here stood the
Capitol, there the Colossus of Nero, here was the Amphitheatre of
Titus, there the Aqueduct of----, here the Forum, there the Catacombs,
here the Temple of Venus, there of Jupiter, here the Pantheon, and the
like; but I never designed to write a book. As much as was useful I
kept in my head, and for the rest, I left it to others.
I observed the people degenerated from the ancient glorious
inhabitants, who were generous, brave, and the most valiant of all
nations, to a vicious baseness of soul, barbarous, treacherous,
jealous and revengeful, lewd and cowardly, intolerably proud and
haughty, bigoted to blind, incoherent devotion, and the grossest of
Indeed, I think the unsuitableness of the people made the place
unpleasant to me, for there is so little in a country to recommend it
when the people disgrace it, that no beauties of the creation can make
up for the want of those excellencies which suitable society procure
the defect of. This made Italy a very unpleasant country to me;
the people were the foil to the place, all manner of hateful vices
reigning in their general way of living.
I confess I was not very religious myself, and being come abroad into
the world young enough, might easily have been drawn into evils that
had recommended themselves with any tolerable agreeableness to nature
and common manners; but when wickedness presented itself full-grown in
its grossest freedoms and liberties, it quite took away all the gust
to vice that the devil had furnished me with.
The prodigious stupid bigotry of the people also was irksome to me; I
thought there was something in it very sordid. The entire empire the
priests have over both the souls and bodies of the people, gave me a
specimen of that meanness of spirit, which is nowhere else to be seen
but in Italy, especially in the city of Rome.
At Venice I perceived it quite different, the civil authority having
a visible superiority over the ecclesiastic, and the Church being more
subject there to the State than in any other part of Italy.
For these reasons I took no pleasure in filling my memoirs of Italy
with remarks of places or things. All the antiquities and valuable
remains of the Roman nation are done better than I can pretend to by
such people who made it more their business; as for me, I went to see,
and not to write, and as little thought then of these Memoirs as I ill
furnished myself to write them.
I left Italy in April, and taking the tour of Bavaria, though very
much out of the way, I passed through Munich, Passau, Lintz, and at
last to Vienna.
I came to Vienna the 10th of April 1631, intending to have gone from
thence down the Danube into Hungary, and by means of a pass, which I
had obtained from the English ambassador at Constantinople, I designed
to have seen all the great towns on the Danube, which were then in the
hands of the Turks, and which I had read much of in the history of
the war between the Turks and the Germans; but I was diverted from my
design by the following occasion.
There had been a long bloody war in the empire of Germany for twelve
years, between the emperor, the Duke of Bavaria, the King of
Spain, and the Popish princes and electors on the one side, and the
Protestant princes on the other; and both sides having been exhausted
by the war, and even the Catholics themselves beginning to dislike the
growing power of the house of Austria, 'twas thought all parties were
willing to make peace. Nay, things were brought to that pass that some
of the Popish princes and electors began to talk of making alliances
with the King of Sweden.
Here it is necessary to observe, that the two Dukes of Mecklenburg
having been dispossessed of most of their dominions by the tyranny
of the Emperor Ferdinand, and being in danger of losing the rest,
earnestly solicited the King of Sweden to come to their assistance;
and that prince, as he was related to the house of Mecklenburg, and
especially as he was willing to lay hold of any opportunity to break
with the emperor, against whom he had laid up an implacable prejudice,
was very ready and forward to come to their assistance.
The reasons of his quarrel with the emperor were grounded upon the
Imperialists concerning themselves in the war of Poland, where the
emperor had sent 8000 foot and 2000 horse to join the Polish army
against the king, and had thereby given some check to his arms in that
In pursuance, therefore, of his resolution to quarrel with the
emperor, but more particularly at the instances of the princes
above-named, his Swedish Majesty had landed the year before at
Stralsund with about 12,000 men, and having joined with some forces
which he had left in Polish Prussia, all which did not make 30,000
men, he began a war with the emperor, the greatest in event, filled
with the most famous battles, sieges, and extraordinary actions,
including its wonderful success and happy conclusion, of any war ever
maintained in the world.
The King of Sweden had already taken Stettin, Stralsund, Rostock,
Wismar, and all the strong places on the Baltic, and began to spread
himself in Germany. He had made a league with the French, as I
observed in my story of Saxony; he had now made a treaty with the Duke
of Brandenburg, and, in short, began to be terrible to the empire.
In this conjuncture the emperor called the General Diet of the empire
to be held at Ratisbon, where, as was pretended, all sides were
to treat of peace and to join forces to beat the Swedes out of the
empire. Here the emperor, by a most exquisite management, brought the
affairs of the Diet to a conclusion, exceedingly to his own advantage,
and to the farther oppression of the Protestants; and, in particular,
in that the war against the King of Sweden was to be carried on in
such manner as that the whole burden and charge would lie on the
Protestants themselves, and they be made the instruments to oppose
their best friends. Other matters also ended equally to their
disadvantage, as the methods resolved on to recover the Church lands,
and to prevent the education of the Protestant clergy; and what
remained was referred to another General Diet to be held at
Frankfort-au-Main in August 1631.
I won't pretend to say the other Protestant princes of Germany had
never made any overtures to the King of Sweden to come to their
assistance, but 'tis plain they had entered into no league with him;
that appears from the difficulties which retarded the fixing of the
treaties afterward, both with the Dukes of Brandenburg and Saxony,
which unhappily occasioned the ruin of Magdeburg.
But 'tis plain the Swede was resolved on a war with the emperor. His
Swedish majesty might, and indeed could not but foresee that if he
once showed himself with a sufficient force on the frontiers of the
empire, all the Protestant princes would be obliged by their interest
or by his arms to fall in with him, and this the consequence made
appear to be a just conclusion, for the Electors of Brandenburg and
Saxony were both forced to join with him.
First, they were willing to join with him--at least they could not
find in their hearts to join with the emperor, of whose power they
had such just apprehensions. They wished the Swedes success, and would
have been very glad to have had the work done at another man's charge,
but, like true Germans, they were more willing to be saved than to
save themselves, and therefore hung back and stood upon terms.
Secondly, they were at last forced to it. The first was forced to join
by the King of Sweden himself, who being come so far was not to be
dallied with, and had not the Duke of Brandenburg complied as he did,
he had been ruined by the Swede. The Saxon was driven into the arms
of the Swede by force, for Count Tilly, ravaging his country, made him
comply with any terms to be saved from destruction.
Thus matters stood at the end of the Diet at Ratisbon. The King
of Sweden began to see himself leagued against at the Diet both by
Protestant and Papist; and, as I have often heard his Majesty say
since, he had resolved to try to force them off from the emperor, and
to treat them as enemies equally with the rest if they did not.
But the Protestants convinced him soon after, that though they
were tricked into the outward appearance of a league against him at
Ratisbon, they had no such intentions; and by their ambassadors to him
let him know that they only wanted his powerful assistance to defend
their councils, when they would soon convince him that they had a due
sense of the emperor's designs, and would do their utmost for their
liberty. And these I take to be the first invitations the King of
Sweden had to undertake the Protestant cause as such, and which
entitled him to say he fought for the liberty and religion of the
I have had some particular opportunities to hear these things form the
mouths of some of the very princes themselves, and therefore am the
forwarder to relate them; and I place them here because, previous
to the part I acted on this bloody scene, 'tis necessary to let the
reader into some part of that story, and to show him in what manner
and on what occasions this terrible war began.
The Protestants, alarmed at the usage they had met with at the former
Diet, had secretly proposed among themselves to form a general union
or confederacy, for preventing that ruin which they saw, unless some
speedy remedies were applied, would be inevitable. The Elector of
Saxony, the head of the Protestants, a vigorous and politic prince,
was the first that moved it; and the Landgrave of Hesse, a zealous and
gallant prince, being consulted with, it rested a great while between
those two, no method being found practicable to bring it to pass, the
emperor being so powerful in all parts, that they foresaw the petty
princes would not dare to negotiate an affair of such a nature,
being surrounded with the Imperial forces, who by their two generals,
Wallenstein and Tilly, kept them in continual subjection and terror.
This dilemma had like to have stifled the thoughts of the union as
a thing impracticable, when one Seigensius, a Lutheran minister, a
person of great abilities, and one whom the Elector of Saxony made
great use of in matters of policy as well as religion, contrived for
them this excellent expedient.
I had the honour to be acquainted with this gentleman while I was at
Leipsic. It pleased him exceedingly to have been the contriver of so
fine a structure as the Conclusions of Leipsic, and he was glad to be
entertained on that subject. I had the relation from his own mouth,
when, but very modestly, he told me he thought 'twas an inspiration
darted on a sudden into his thoughts, when the Duke of Saxony calling
him into his closet one morning, with a face full of concern, shaking
his head, and looking very earnestly, "What will become of us,
doctor?" said the duke; "we shall all be undone at Frankfort-au-Main."
"Why so, please your highness?" says the doctor. "Why, they will fight
with the King of Sweden with our armies and our money," says the duke,
"and devour our friends and ourselves by the help of our friends and
ourselves." "But what is become of the confederacy, then," said the
doctor, "which your highness had so happily framed in your thoughts,
and which the Landgrave of Hesse was so pleased with?" "Become of it?"
says the duke, "'tis a good thought enough, but 'tis impossible to
bring it to pass among so many members of the Protestant princes as
are to be consulted with, for we neither have time to treat, nor will
half of them dare to negotiate the matter, the Imperialists being
quartered in their very bowels." "But may not some expedient be found
out," says the doctor, "to bring them all together to treat of it in
a general meeting?" "'Tis well proposed," says the duke, "but in what
town or city shall they assemble where the very deputies shall not
be besieged by Tilly or Wallenstein in fourteen days' time, and
sacrificed to the cruelty and fury of the Emperor Ferdinand?" "Will
your highness be the easier in it," replies the doctor, "if a way may
be found out to call such an assembly upon other causes, at which the
emperor may have no umbrage, and perhaps give his assent? You know the
Diet at Frankfort is at hand; 'tis necessary the Protestants should
have an assembly of their own to prepare matters for the General Diet,
and it may be no difficult matter to obtain it." The duke, surprised
with joy at the motion, embraced the doctor with an extraordinary
transport. "Thou hast done it, doctor," said he, and immediately
caused him to draw a form of a letter to the emperor, which he did
with the utmost dexterity of style, in which he was a great master,
representing to his Imperial Majesty that, in order to put an end to
the troubles of Germany, his Majesty would be pleased to permit the
Protestant princes of the empire to hold a Diet to themselves, to
consider of such matters as they were to treat of at the General
Diet, in order to conform themselves to the will and pleasure of his
Imperial Majesty, to drive out foreigners, and settle a lasting peace
in the empire. He also insinuated something of their resolutions
unanimously to give their suffrages in favour of the King of Hungary
at the election of a king of the Romans, a thing which he knew the
emperor had in his thought, and would push at with all his might at
the Diet. This letter was sent, and the bait so neatly concealed, that
the Electors of Bavaria and Mentz, the King of Hungary, and several
of the Popish princes, not foreseeing that the ruin of them all lay in
the bottom of it, foolishly advised the emperor to consent to it.
In consenting to this the emperor signed his own destruction, for here
began the conjunction of the German Protestants with the Swede, which
was the fatalest blow to Ferdinand, and which he could never recover.
Accordingly the Diet was held at Leipsic, February 8, 1630, where the
Protestants agreed on several heads for their mutual defence,
which were the grounds of the following war. These were the famous
Conclusions of Leipsic, which so alarmed the emperor and the whole
empire, that to crush it in the beginning, the emperor commanded Count
Tilly immediately to fall upon the Landgrave of Hesse and the Duke of
Saxony as the principal heads of the union; but it was too late.
The Conclusions were digested into ten heads:--
1. That since their sins had brought God's judgments upon the whole
Protestant Church, they should command public prayers to be made to
Almighty God for the diverting the calamities that attended them.
2. That a treaty of peace might be set on foot, in order to come to a
right understanding with the Catholic princes.
3. That a time for such a treaty being obtained, they should appoint
an assembly of delegates to meet preparatory to the treaty.
4. That all their complaints should be humbly represented to his
Imperial Majesty and the Catholic Electors, in order to a peaceable
5. That they claim the protection of the emperor, according to the
laws of the empire, and the present emperor's solemn oath and promise.
6. That they would appoint deputies who should meet at certain
times to consult of their common interest, and who should be always
empowered to conclude of what should be thought needful for their
7. That they will raise a competent force to maintain and defend their
liberties, rights, and religion.
8. That it is agreeable to the Constitution of the empire, concluded
in the Diet at Augsburg, to do so.
9. That the arming for their necessary defence shall by no means
hinder their obedience to his Imperial Majesty, but that they will
still continue their loyalty to him.
10. They agree to proportion their forces, which in all amounted to
The emperor, exceedingly startled at the Conclusions, issued out a
severe proclamation or ban against them, which imported much the
same thing as a declaration of war, and commanded Tilly to begin,
and immediately to fall on the Duke of Saxony with all the fury
imaginable, as I have already observed.
Here began the flame to break out; for upon the emperor's ban, the
Protestants send away to the King of Sweden for succour.
His Swedish Majesty had already conquered Mecklenburg, and part of
Pomerania, and was advancing with his victorious troops, increased
by the addition of some regiments raised in those parts, in order to
carry on the war against the emperor, having designed to follow up
the Oder into Silesia, and so to push the war home to the emperor's
hereditary countries of Austria and Bohemia, when the first messengers
came to him in this case; but this changed his measures, and brought
him to the frontiers of Brandenburg resolved to answer the desires
of the Protestants. But here the Duke of Brandenburg began to halt,
making some difficulties and demanding terms, which drove the king to
use some extremities with him, and stopped the Swedes for a while,
who had otherwise been on the banks of the Elbe as soon as Tilly,
the Imperial general, had entered Saxony, which if they had done, the
miserable destruction of Magdeburg had been prevented, as I observed
before. The king had been invited into the union, and when he first
came back from the banks of the Oder he had accepted it, and was
preparing to back it with all his power.
The Duke of Saxony had already a good army which he had with infinite
diligence recruited, and mustered them under the cannon of Leipsic.
The King of Sweden having, by his ambassador at Leipsic, entered into
the union of the Protestants, was advancing victoriously to their aid,
just as Count Tilly had entered the Duke of Saxony's dominions. The
fame of the Swedish conquests, and of the hero who commanded them,
shook my resolution of travelling into Turkey, being resolved to see
the conjunction of the Protestant armies, and before the fire was
broke out too far to take the advantage of seeing both sides.
While I remained at Vienna, uncertain which way I should proceed, I
remember I observed they talked of the King of Sweden as a prince of
no consideration, one that they might let go on and tire himself in
Mecklenburg and thereabout, till they could find leisure to deal with
him, and then might be crushed as they pleased; but 'tis never safe
to despise an enemy, so this was not an enemy to be despised, as they
As to the Conclusions of Leipsic, indeed, at first they gave the
Imperial court some uneasiness, but when they found the Imperial
armies, began to fright the members out of the union, and that the
several branches had no considerable forces on foot, it was the
general discourse at Vienna, that the union at Leipsic only gave
the emperor an opportunity to crush absolutely the Dukes of Saxony,
Brandenburg, and the Landgrave of Hesse, and they looked upon it as a
I never saw any real concern in their faces at Vienna till news came
to court that the King of Sweden had entered into the union; but as
this made them very uneasy, they began to move the powerfulest methods
possible to divert this storm; and upon this news Tilly was hastened
to fall into Saxony before this union could proceed to a conjunction
of forces. This was certainly a very good resolution, and no measure
could have been more exactly concerted, had not the diligence of the
Saxons prevented it.
The gathering of this storm, which from a cloud began to spread over
the empire, and from the little duchy of Mecklenburg began to threaten
all Germany, absolutely determined me, as I noted before, as to
travelling, and laying aside the thoughts of Hungary, I resolved, if
possible, to see the King of Sweden's army.
I parted from Vienna the middle of May, and took post for Great Glogau
in Silesia, as if I had purposed to pass into Poland, but designing
indeed to go down the Oder to Custrim in the marquisate of
Brandenburg, and so to Berlin. But when I came to the frontiers of
Silesia, though I had passes, I could go no farther, the guards on
all the frontiers were so strict, so I was obliged to come back into
Bohemia, and went to Prague. From hence I found I could easily pass
through the Imperial provinces to the lower Saxony, and accordingly
took passes for Hamburg, designing, however, to use them no farther
than I found occasion.
By virtue of these passes I got into the Imperial army, under Count
Tilly, then at the siege of Magdeburg, May the 2nd.
I confess I did not foresee the fate of this city, neither, I believe,
did Count Tilly himself expect to glut his fury with so entire a
desolation, much less did the people expect it. I did believe they
must capitulate, and I perceived by discourse in the army that Tilly
would give them but very indifferent conditions; but it fell out
otherwise. The treaty of surrender was, as it were, begun, nay, some
say concluded, when some of the out-guards of the Imperialists finding
the citizens had abandoned the guards of the works, and looked to
themselves with less diligence than usual, they broke in, carried an
half-moon, sword in hand, with little resistance; and though it was
a surprise on both sides, the citizens neither fearing, nor the army
expecting the occasion, the garrison, with as much resolution as could
be expected under such a fright, flew to the walls, twice beat the
Imperialists off, but fresh men coming up, and the administrator of
Magdeburg himself being wounded and taken, the enemy broke in, took
the city by storm, and entered with such terrible fury, that,
without respect to age or condition, they put all the garrison and
inhabitants, man, woman, and child, to the sword, plundered the city,
and when they had done this set it on fire.
This calamity sure was the dreadfulest sight that ever I saw; the
rage of the Imperial soldiers was most intolerable, and not to be
expressed. Of 25,000, some said 30,000 people, there was not a soul to
be seen alive, till the flames drove those that were hid in vaults and
secret places to seek death in the streets rather than perish in the
fire. Of these miserable creatures some were killed too by the furious
soldiers, but at last they saved the lives of such as came out of
their cellars and holes, and so about two thousand poor desperate
creatures were left. The exact number of those that perished in
this city could never be known, because those the soldiers had first
butchered the flames afterwards devoured.
I was on the outer side of the Elbe when this dreadful piece of
butchery was done. The city of Magdeburg had a sconce or fort over
against it called the toll-house, which joined to the city by a very
fine bridge of boats. This fort was taken by the Imperialists a few
days before, and having a mind to see it, and the rather because from
thence I could have a very good view of the city, I was going over
Tilley's bridge of boats to view this fort. About ten o'clock in the
morning I perceived they were storming by the firing, and immediately
all ran to the works; I little thought of the taking the city, but
imagined it might be some outwork attacked, for we all expected
the city would surrender that day, or next, and they might have
capitulated upon very good terms.
Being upon the works of the fort, on a sudden I heard the dreadfulest
cry raised in the city that can be imagined; 'tis not possible to
express the manner of it, and I could see the women and children
running about the streets in a most lamentable condition.
The city wall did not run along the side where the river was with
so great a height, but we could plainly see the market-place and the
several streets which run down to the river. In about an hour's time
after this first cry all was in confusion; there was little shooting,
the execution was all cutting of throats and mere house murders. The
resolute garrison, with the brave Baron Falkenberg, fought it out
to the last, and were cut in pieces, and by this time the Imperial
soldiers having broke open the gates and entered on all sides, the
slaughter was very dreadful. We could see the poor people in crowds
driven down the streets, flying from the fury of the soldiers, who
followed butchering them as fast as they could, and refused mercy to
anybody, till driving them to the river's edge, the desperate wretches
would throw themselves into the river, where thousands of them
perished, especially women and children. Several men that could swim
got over to our side, where the soldiers not heated with fight gave
them quarter, and took them up, and I cannot but do this justice to
the German officers in the fort: they had five small flat boats, and
they gave leave to the soldiers to go off in them, and get what booty
they could, but charged them not to kill anybody, but take them all
Nor was their humanity ill rewarded, for the soldiers, wisely avoiding
those places where their fellows were employed in butchering the
miserable people, rowed to other places, where crowds of people stood
crying out for help, and expecting to be every minute either drowned
or murdered; of these at sundry times they fetched over near six
hundred, but took care to take in none but such as offered them good
Never was money or jewels of greater service than now, for those that
had anything of that sort to offer were soonest helped.
There was a burgher of the town who, seeing a boat coming near him,
but out of his call, by the help of a speaking trumpet, told the
soldiers in it he would give them 20,000 dollars to fetch him off.
They rowed close to the shore, and got him with his wife and six
children into the boat, but such throngs of people got about the boat
that had like to have sunk her, so that the soldiers were fain to
drive a great many out again by main force, and while they were doing
this some of the enemies coming down the street desperately drove them
all into the water.
The boat, however, brought the burgher and his wife and children safe,
and though they had not all that wealth about them, yet in jewels and
money he gave them so much as made all the fellows very rich.
I cannot pretend to describe the cruelty of this day: the town by
five in the afternoon was all in a flame; the wealth consumed was
inestimable, and a loss to the very conqueror. I think there was
little or nothing left but the great church and about a hundred
This was a sad welcome into the army for me, and gave me a horror and
aversion to the emperor's people, as well as to his cause. I quitted
the camp the third day after this execution, while the fire was hardly
out in the city; and from thence getting safe-conduct to pass into the
Palatinate, I turned out of the road at a small village on the Elbe,
called Emerfield, and by ways and towns I can give but small account
of, having a boor for our guide, whom we could hardly understand, I
arrived at Leipsic on the 17th of May.
We found the elector intense upon the strengthening of his army, but
the people in the greatest terror imaginable, every day expecting
Tilly with the German army, who by his cruelty at Magdeburg was become
so dreadful to the Protestants that they expected no mercy wherever he
The emperor's power was made so formidable to all the Protestants,
particularly since the Diet at Ratisbon left them in a worse case
than it found them, that they had not only formed the Conclusions of
Leipsic, which all men looked on as the effect of desperation rather
than any probable means of their deliverance, but had privately
implored the protection and assistance of foreign powers, and
particularly the King of Sweden, from whom they had promises of a
speedy and powerful assistance. And truly if the Swede had not with
a very strong hand rescued them, all their Conclusions at Leipsic had
served but to hasten their ruin. I remember very well when I was in
the Imperial army they discoursed with such contempt of the forces
of the Protestant, that not only the Imperialists but the Protestants
themselves gave them up as lost. The emperor had not less than 200,000
men in several armies on foot, who most of them were on the back of
the Protestants in every corner. If Tilly did but write a threatening
letter to any city or prince of the union, they presently submitted,
renounced the Conclusions of Leipsic, and received Imperial garrisons,
as the cities of Ulm and Memmingen, the duchy of Wirtemberg, and
several others, and almost all Suaben.
Only the Duke of Saxony and the Landgrave of Hesse upheld the drooping
courage of the Protestants, and refused all terms of peace, slighted
all the threatenings of the Imperial generals, and the Duke of
Brandenburg was brought in afterward almost by force.
The Duke of Saxony mustered his forces under the walls of Leipsic,
and I having returned to Leipsic, two days before, saw them pass the
review. The duke, gallantly mounted, rode through the ranks, attended
by his field-marshal Arnheim, and seemed mighty well pleased with
them, and indeed the troops made a very fine appearance; but I that
had seen Tilly's army and his old weather-beaten soldiers, whose
discipline and exercises were so exact, and their courage so often
tried, could not look on the Saxon army without some concern for them
when I considered who they had to deal with. Tilly's men were rugged
surly fellows, their faces had an air of hardy courage, mangled with
wounds and scars, their armour showed the bruises of musket bullets,
and the rust of the winter storms. I observed of them their clothes
were always dirty, but their arms were clean and bright; they were
used to camp in the open fields, and sleep in the frosts and rain;
their horses were strong and hardy like themselves, and well taught
their exercises; the soldiers knew their business so exactly that
general orders were enough; every private man was fit to command, and
their wheelings, marchings, counter-marchings and exercise were done
with such order and readiness, that the distinct words of command
were hardly of any use among them; they were flushed with victory, and
hardly knew what it was to fly.
There had passed some messages between Tilly and the duke, and he gave
always such ambiguous answers as he thought might serve to gain time;
but Tilly was not to be put off with words, and drawing his army
towards Saxony, sends four propositions to him to sign, and demands an
immediate reply. The propositions were positive.
1. To cause his troops to enter into the emperor's service, and to
march in person with them against the King of Sweden.
2. To give the Imperial army quarters in his country, and supply them
with necessary provisions.
3. To relinquish the union of Leipsic, and disown the ten Conclusions.
4. To make restitution of the goods and lands of the Church.
The duke being pressed by Tilly's trumpeter for an immediate answer
sat all night, and part of the next day, in council with his privy
councillors, debating what reply to give him, which at last was
concluded, in short, that he would live and die in defence of the
Protestant religion, and the Conclusions of Leipsic, and bade Tilly
The die being thus cast, he immediately decamped with his whole army
for Torgau, fearing that Tilly should get there before him, and so
prevent his conjunction with the Swede. The duke had not yet concluded
any positive treaty with the King of Swedeland, and the Duke of
Brandenburg having made some difficulty of joining, they both stood
on some niceties till they had like to have ruined themselves all at
Brandenburg had given up the town of Spandau to the king by a former
treaty to secure a retreat for his army, and the king was advanced
as far as Frankfort-upon-the-Oder, when on a sudden some small
difficulties arising, Brandenburg seems cold in the matter, and with
a sort of indifference demands to have his town of Spandau restored to
him again. Gustavus Adolphus, who began presently to imagine the duke
had made his peace with the emperor, and so would either be his enemy
or pretend a neutrality, generously delivered him his town of Spandau,
but immediately turns about, and with his whole army besieges him in
his capital city of Berlin. This brought the duke to know his error,
and by the interpositions of the ladies, the Queen of Sweden being the
duke's sister, the matter was accommodated, and the duke joined his
forces with the king.
But the duke of Saxony had like to have been undone by this delay,
for the Imperialists, under Count de Furstenberg, were entered his
country, and had possessed themselves of Halle, and Tilly was on
his march to join him, as he afterwards did, and ravaging the
whole country laid siege to Leipsic itself. The duke driven to this
extremity rather flies to the Swede than treats with him, and on the
2nd of September the duke's army joined with the King of Sweden.
I had not come to Leipsic but to see the Duke of Saxony's army, and
that being marched, as I have said, for Torgau, I had no business
there, but if I had, the approach of Tilly and the Imperial army was
enough to hasten me away, for I had no occasion to be besieged there;
so on the 27th of August I left the town, as several of the principal
inhabitants had done before, and more would have done had not the
governor published a proclamation against it, and besides they knew
not whither to fly, for all places were alike exposed. The poor people
were under dreadful apprehensions of a siege, and of the merciless
usage of the Imperial soldiers, the example of Magdeburg being fresh
before them, the duke and his army gone from them, and the town,
though well furnished, but indifferently fortified.
In this condition I left them, buying up stores of provisions,
working hard to scour their moats, set up palisadoes, repair their
fortifications, and preparing all things for a siege; and following
the Saxon army to Torgau, I continued in the camp till a few days
before they joined the King of Sweden.
I had much ado to persuade my companion from entering into the
service of the Duke of Saxony, one of whose colonels, with whom we had
contracted a particular acquaintance, offering him a commission to be
cornet in one of the old regiments of horse; but the difference I had
observed between this new army and Tilly's old troops had made such
an impression on me, that I confess I had yet no manner of inclination
for the service, and therefore persuaded him to wait a while till we
had seen a little further into affairs, and particularly till we had
seen the Swedish army which we had heard so much of.
The difficulties which the Elector-Duke of Saxony made of joining with
the king were made up by a treaty concluded with the king on the 2nd
of September at Coswig, a small town on the Elbe, whither the king's
army was arrived the night before; for General Tilly being now entered
into the duke's country, had plundered and ruined all the lower part
of it, and was now actually besieging the capital city of Leipsic.
These necessities made almost any conditions easy to him; the greatest
difficulty was that the King of Sweden demanded the absolute command
of the army, which the duke submitted to with less goodwill than he
had reason to do, the king's experience and conduct considered.
I had not patience to attend the conclusions of their particular
treaties, but as soon as ever the passage was clear I quitted the
Saxon camp and went to see the Swedish army. I fell in with the
out-guards of the Swedes at a little town called Beltsig, on the river
Wersa, just as they were relieving the guards and going to march, and
having a pass from the English ambassador was very well received by
the officer who changed the guards, and with him I went back into
the army. By nine in the morning the army was in full march, the king
himself at the head of them on a grey pad, and riding from one brigade
to another, ordered the march of every line himself.
When I saw the Swedish troops, their exact discipline, their order,
the modesty and familiarity of their officers, and the regular living
of the soldiers, their camp seemed a well-ordered city; the meanest
country woman with her market ware was as safe from violence as in the
streets of Vienna. There were no women in the camp but such as being
known to the provosts to be the wives of the soldiers, who were
necessary for washing linen, taking care of the soldiers' clothes, and
dressing their victuals.
The soldiers were well clad, not gay, furnished with excellent arms,
and exceedingly careful of them; and though they did not seem so
terrible as I thought Tilly's men did when I first saw them, yet the
figure they made, together with what we had heard of them, made them
seem to me invincible: the discipline and order of their marchings,
camping, and exercise was excellent and singular, and, which was to
be seen in no armies but the king's, his own skill, judgment, and
vigilance having added much to the general conduct of armies then in
As I met the Swedes on their march I had no opportunity to acquaint
myself with anybody till after the conjunction of the Saxon army,
and then it being but four days to the great battle of Leipsic, our
acquaintance was but small, saving what fell out accidentally by
I met with several gentlemen in the king's army who spoke English very
well; besides that there were three regiments of Scots in the army,
the colonels whereof I found were extraordinarily esteemed by the
king, as the Lord Reay, Colonel Lumsdell, and Sir John Hepburn. The
latter of these, after I had by an accident become acquainted with, I
found had been for many years acquainted with my father, and on that
account I received a great deal of civility from him, which afterwards
grew into a kind of intimate friendship. He was a complete soldier
indeed, and for that reason so well beloved by that gallant king, that
he hardly knew how to go about any great action without him.
It was impossible for me now to restrain my young comrade from
entering into the Swedish service, and indeed everything was so
inviting that I could not blame him. A captain in Sir John Hepburn's
regiment had picked acquaintance with him, and he having as much
gallantry in his face as real courage in his heart, the captain had
persuaded him to take service, and promised to use his interest to get
him a company in the Scotch brigade. I had made him promise me not
to part from me in my travels without my consent, which was the only
obstacle to his desires of entering into the Swedish pay; and being
one evening in the captain's tent with him and discoursing very freely
together, the captain asked him very short but friendly, and looking
earnestly at me, "Is this the gentleman, Mr Fielding, that has done
so much prejudice to the King of Sweden's service?" I was doubly
surprised at the expression, and at the colonel, Sir John Hepburn,
coming at that very moment into the tent. The colonel hearing
something of the question, but knowing nothing of the reason of it,
any more than as I seemed a little to concern myself at it, yet after
the ceremony due to his character was over, would needs know what I
had done to hinder his Majesty's service. "So much truly," says the
captain, "that if his Majesty knew it he would think himself very
little beholden to him." "I am sorry, sir," said I, "that I should
offend in anything, who am but a stranger; but if you would please to
inform me, I would endeavour to alter anything in my behaviour that is
prejudicial to any one, much less to his Majesty's service." "I shall
take you at your word, sir," says the captain; "the King of Sweden,
sir, has a particular request to you." "I should be glad to know two
things, sir," said I; "first, how that can be possible, since I am
not yet known to any man in the army, much less to his Majesty? and
secondly, what the request can be?" "Why, sir, his Majesty desires you
would not hinder this gentleman from entering into his service, who
it seems desires nothing more, if he may have your consent to it." "I
have too much honour for his Majesty," returned I, "to deny anything
which he pleases to command me; but methinks 'tis some hardship you
should make that the king's order, which 'tis very probable he knows
nothing of." Sir John Hepburn took the case up something gravely, and
drinking a glass of Leipsic beer to the captain, said, "Come, captain,
don't press these gentlemen; the king desires no man's service but
what is purely volunteer." So we entered into other discourse, and the
colonel perceiving by my talk that I had seen Tilly's army, was mighty
curious in his questions, and seeming very well satisfied with the
account I gave him.
The next day the army having passed the Elbe at Wittenberg, and joined
the Saxon army near Torgau, his Majesty caused both armies to draw
up in battalia, giving every brigade the same post in the lines as he
purposed to fight in. I must do the memory of that glorious general
this honour, that I never saw an army drawn up with so much variety,
order, and exact regularity since, though I have seen many armies
drawn up by some of the greatest captains of the age. The order by
which his men were directed to flank and relieve one another, the
methods of receiving one body of men if disordered into another, and
rallying one squadron without disordering another was so admirable;
the horse everywhere flanked lined and defended by the foot, and the
foot by the horse, and both by the cannon, was such that if those
orders were but as punctually obeyed, 'twere impossible to put an army
so modelled into any confusion.
The view being over, and the troops returned to their camps, the
captain with whom we drank the day before meeting me told me I must
come and sup with him in his tent, where he would ask my pardon for
the affront he gave me before. I told him he needed not put himself
to the trouble, I was not affronted at all; that I would do myself the
honour to wait on him, provided he would give me his word not to speak
any more of it as an affront.
We had not been a quarter of an hour in his tent but Sir John Hepburn
came in again, and addressing to me, told me he was glad to find me
there; that he came to the captain's tent to inquire how to send to
me; and that I must do him the honour to go with him to wait on the
king, who had a mind to hear the account I could give him of the
Imperial army from my own mouth. I must confess I was at some loss in
my mind how to make my address to his Majesty, but I had heard so much
of the conversable temper of the king, and his particular sweetness of
humour with the meanest soldier, that I made no more difficulty, but
having paid my respects to Colonel Hepburn, thanked him for the honour
he had done me, and offered to rise and wait upon him. "Nay," says
the Colonel, "we will eat first, for I find Gourdon," which was the
captain's name, "has got something for supper, and the king's order is
at seven o'clock." So we went to supper, and Sir John, becoming very
friendly, must know my name; which, when I had told him, and of what
place and family, he rose from his seat, and embracing me, told me he
knew my father very well, and had been intimately acquainted with
him, and told me several passages wherein my father had particularly
obliged him. After this we went to supper, and the king's health being
drank round, the colonel moved the sooner because he had a mind to
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