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 writers.
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.
INTRODUCTION. PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION. TEXT: Part I. Part II. NOTES.
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 them.
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 time.
'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 it.
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 done.
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 paternal estate.
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 acknowledge it.
This accident of our horse was, as we afterwards found, of some use to us. We had left our two servants behind us at Calais to bring our baggage after us, by reason of some dispute between the captain of the packet and the custom-house officer, which could not be adjusted, and we were willing to be at Paris. The fellows followed as fast as they could, and, as near as we could learn, in the time we lost our way, were robbed, and our portmanteaus opened. They took what they pleased; but as there was no money there, but linen and necessaries, the loss was not great.
Our guide carried us to Amiens, where we found the express and our two servants, who the express meeting on the road with a spare horse, had brought back with him thither.
We took this for a good omen of our successful journey, having escaped a danger which might have been greater to us than it was to our servants; for the highwaymen in France do not always give a traveller the civility of bidding him stand and deliver his money, but frequently fire on him first, and then take his money.
We stayed one day at Amiens, to adjust this little disorder, and walked about the town, and into the great church, but saw nothing very remarkable there; but going across a broad street near the great church, we saw a crowd of people gazing at a mountebank doctor, who made a long harangue to them with a thousand antic postures, and gave out bills this way, and boxes of physic that way, and had a great trade, when on a sudden the people raised a cry, "Larron, Larron!" (in English, "Thief, thief"), on the other side the street, and all the auditors ran away, from Mr Doctor to see what the matter was. Among the rest we went to see, and the case was plain and short enough. Two English gentlemen and a Scotchman, travellers as we were, were standing gazing at this prating doctor, and one of them catched a fellow picking his pocket. The fellow had got some of his money, for he dropped two or three pieces just by him, and had got hold of his watch, but being surprised let it slip again. But the reason of telling this story is for the management of it. This thief had his seconds so ready, that as soon as the Englishman had seized him they fell in, pretended to be mighty zealous for the stranger, takes the fellow by the throat, and makes a great bustle; the gentleman not doubting but the man was secured let go his own hold of him, and left him to them. The hubbub was great, and 'twas these fellows cried, "Larron, larron!" but with a dexterity peculiar to themselves had let the right fellow go, and pretended to be all upon one of their own gang. At last they bring the man to the gentleman to ask him what the fellow had done, who, when he saw the person they seized on, presently told them that was not the man. Then they seemed to be in more consternation than before, and spread themselves all over the street, crying, "Larron, larron!" pretending to search for the fellow; and so one one way, one another, they were all gone, the noise went over, the gentlemen stood looking one at another, and the bawling doctor began to have the crowd about him again. This was the first French trick I had the opportunity of seeing, but I was told they have a great many more as dexterous as this.
We soon got acquaintance with these gentlemen, who were going to Paris, as well as we; so the next day we made up our company with them, and were a pretty troop of five gentlemen and four servants.
As we had really no design to stay long at Paris, so indeed, excepting the city itself, there was not much to be seen there. Cardinal Richelieu, who was not only a supreme minister in the Church, but Prime Minister in the State, was now made also General of the King's Forces, with a title never known in France before nor since, viz., Lieutenant-General "au place du Roi," in the king's stead, or, as some have since translated it, representing the person of the king.
Under this character he pretended to execute all the royal powers in the army without appeal to the king, or without waiting for orders; and having parted from Paris the winter before had now actually begun the war against the Duke of Savoy, in the process of which he restored the Duke of Mantua, and having taken Pignerol from the duke, put it into such a state of defence as the duke could never force it out of his hands, and reduced the duke, rather by manage and conduct than by force, to make peace without it; so as annexing it to the crown of France it has ever since been a thorn in his foot that has always made the peace of Savoy lame and precarious, and France has since made Pignerol one of the strongest fortresses in the world.
As the cardinal, with all the military part of the court, was in the field, so the king, to be near him, was gone with the queen and all the court, just before I reached Paris, to reside at Lyons. All these considered, there was nothing to do at Paris; the court looked like a citizen's house when the family was all gone into the country, and I thought the whole city looked very melancholy, compared to all the fine things I had heard of it.
The queen-mother and her party were chagrined at the cardinal, who, though he owed his grandeur to her immediate favour, was now grown too great any longer to be at the command of her Majesty, or indeed in her interest; and therefore the queen was under dissatisfaction and her party looked very much down.
The Protestants were everywhere disconsolate, for the losses they had received at Rochelle, Nimes, and Montpelier had reduced them to an absolute dependence on the king's will, without all possible hopes of ever recovering themselves, or being so much as in a condition to take arms for their religion, and therefore the wisest of them plainly foresaw their own entire reduction, as it since came to pass. And I remember very well that a Protestant gentleman told me once, as we were passing from Orleans to Lyons, that the English had ruined them; and therefore, says he, "I think the next occasion the king takes to use us ill, as I know 'twill not be long before he does, we must all fly over to England, where you are bound to maintain us for having helped to turn us out of our own country." I asked him what he meant by saying the English had done it? He returned short upon me: "I do not mean," says he, "by not relieving Rochelle, but by helping to ruin Rochelle, when you and the Dutch lent ships to beat our fleet, which all the ships in France could not have done without you."
I was too young in the world to be very sensible of this before, and therefore was something startled at the charge; but when I came to discourse with this gentleman, I soon saw the truth of what he said was undeniable, and have since reflected on it with regret, that the naval power of the Protestants, which was then superior to the royal, would certainly have been the recovery of all their fortunes, had it not been unhappily broke by their brethren of England and Holland, the former lending seven men-of-war, and the latter twenty, for the destruction of the Rochellers' fleet; and by these very ships the Rochellers' fleet were actually beaten and destroyed, and they never afterwards recovered their force at sea, and by consequence sunk under the siege, which the English afterwards in vain attempted to prevent.
These things made the Protestants look very dull, and expected the ruin of all their party, which had certainly happened had the cardinal lived a few years longer.
We stayed in Paris, about three weeks, as well to see the court and what rarities the place afforded, as by an occasion which had like to have put a short period to our ramble.
Walking one morning before the gate of the Louvre, with a design to see the Swiss drawn up, which they always did, and exercised just before they relieved the guards, a page came up to me, and speaking English to me, "Sir," says he, "the captain must needs have your immediate assistance." I, that had not the knowledge of any person in Paris but my own companion, whom I called captain, had no room to question, but it was he that sent for me; and crying out hastily to him, "Where?" followed the fellow as fast as 'twas possible. He led me through several passages which I knew not, and at last through a tennis-court and into a large room, where three men, like gentlemen, were engaged very briskly two against one. The room was very dark, so that I could not easily know them asunder, but being fully possessed with an opinion before of my captain's danger, I ran into the room with my sword in my hand. I had not particularly engaged any of them, nor so much as made a pass at any, when I received a very dangerous thrust in my thigh, rather occasioned by my too hasty running in, than a real design of the person; but enraged at the hurt, without examining who it was hurt me, I threw myself upon him, and run my sword quite through his body.
The novelty of the adventure, and the unexpected fall of the man by a stranger come in nobody knew how, had becalmed the other two, that they really stood gazing at me. By this time I had discovered that my captain was not there, and that 'twas some strange accident brought me thither. I could speak but little French, and supposed they could speak no English, so I stepped to the door to see for the page that brought me thither, but seeing nobody there and the passage clear, I made off as fast as I could, without speaking a word; nor did the other two gentlemen offer to stop me.
But I was in a strange confusion when, coming into those entries and passages which the page led me through, I could by no means find my way out. At last seeing a door open that looked through a house into the street, I went in, and out at the other door; but then I was at as great a loss to know where I was, and which was the way to my lodgings. The wound in my thigh bled apace, and I could feel the blood in my breeches. In this interval came by a chair; I called, and went into it, and bid them, as well as I could, go to the Louvre; for though I knew not the name of the street where I lodged, I knew I could find the way to it when I was at the Bastille. The chairmen went on their own way, and being stopped by a company of the guards as they went, set me down till the soldiers were marched by; when looking out I found I was just at my own lodging, and the captain was standing at the door looking for me. I beckoned him to me, and, whispering, told him I was very much hurt, but bid him pay the chairmen, and ask no questions but come to me.
I made the best of my way upstairs, but had lost so much blood, that I had hardly spirits enough to keep me from swooning till he came in. He was equally concerned with me to see me in such a bloody condition, and presently called up our landlord, and he as quickly called in his neighbours, that I had a room full of people about me in a quarter of an hour. But this had like to have been of worse consequence to me than the other, for by this time there was great inquiring after the person who killed a man at the tennis-court. My landlord was then sensible of his mistake, and came to me and told me the danger I was in, and very honestly offered to convey me to a friend's of his, where I should be very secure; I thanked him, and suffered myself to be carried at midnight whither he pleased. He visited me very often, till I was well enough to walk about, which was not in less than ten days, and then we thought fit to be gone, so we took post for Orleans. But when I came upon the road I found myself in a new error, for my wound opened again with riding, and I was in a worse condition than before, being forced to take up at a little village on the road, called ——, about —— miles from Orleans, where there was no surgeon to be had, but a sorry country barber, who nevertheless dressed me as well as he could, and in about a week more I was able to walk to Orleans at three times. Here I stayed till I was quite well, and took coach for Lyons and so through Savoy into Italy.
I spent nearly two years' time after this bad beginning in travelling through Italy, and to the several courts of Rome, Naples, Venice, and Vienna.
When I came to Lyons the king was gone from thence to Grenoble to meet the cardinal, but the queens were both at Lyons.
The French affairs seemed at this time to have but an indifferent aspect. There was no life in anything but where the cardinal was: he pushed on everything with extraordinary conduct, and generally with success; he had taken Susa and Pignerol from the Duke of Savoy, and was preparing to push the duke even out of all his dominions.
But in the meantime everywhere else things looked ill; the troops were ill-paid, the magazines empty, the people mutinous, and a general disorder seized the minds of the court; and the cardinal, who was the soul of everything, desired this interview at Grenoble, in order to put things into some better method.
This politic minister always ordered matters so, that if there was success in anything the glory was his, but if things miscarried it was all laid upon the king. This conduct was so much the more nice, as it is the direct contrary to the custom in like cases, where kings assume the glory of all the success in an action, and when a thing miscarries make themselves easy by sacrificing their ministers and favourites to the complaints and resentments of the people; but this accurate refined statesman got over this point.
While we were at Lyons, and as I remember, the third day after our coming thither, we had like to have been involved in a state broil, without knowing where we were. It was of a Sunday in the evening, the people of Lyons, who had been sorely oppressed in taxes, and the war in Italy pinching their trade, began to be very tumultuous. We found the day before the mob got together in great crowds, and talked oddly; the king was everywhere reviled, and spoken disrespectfully of, and the magistrates of the city either winked at, or durst not attempt to meddle, lest they should provoke the people.
But on Sunday night, about midnight, we were waked by a prodigious noise in the street. I jumped out of bed, and running to the window, I saw the street as full of mob as it could hold, some armed with muskets and halberds, marched in very good order; others in disorderly crowds, all shouting and crying out, "Du paix le roi," and the like. One that led a great party of this rabble carried a loaf of bread upon the top of a pike, and other lesser loaves, signifying the smallness of their bread, occasioned by dearness.
By morning this crowd was gathered to a great height; they ran roving over the whole city, shut up all the shops, and forced all the people to join with them from thence. They went up to the castle, and renewing the clamour, a strange consternation seized all the princes.
They broke open the doors of the officers, collectors of the new taxes, and plundered their houses, and had not the persons themselves fled in time they had been very ill-treated.
The queen-mother, as she was very much displeased to see such consequences of the government, in whose management she had no share, so I suppose she had the less concern upon her. However, she came into the court of the castle and showed herself to the people, gave money amongst them, and spoke gently to them; and by a way peculiar to herself, and which obliged all she talked with, she pacified the mob gradually, sent them home with promises of redress and the like; and so appeased this tumult in two days by her prudence, which the guards in the castle had small mind to meddle with, and if they had, would in all probability have made the better side the worse.
There had been several seditions of the like nature in sundry other parts of France, and the very army began to murmur, though not to mutiny, for want of provisions.
This sedition at Lyons was not quite over when we left the place, for, finding the city all in a broil, we considered we had no business there, and what the consequence of a popular tumult might be we did not see, so we prepared to be gone. We had not rid above three miles out of the city but we were brought as prisoners of war, by a party of mutineers, who had been abroad upon the scout, and were charged with being messengers sent to the cardinal for forces to reduce the citizens. With these pretences they brought us back in triumph, and the queen-mother, being by this time grown something familiar to them, they carried us before her.
When they inquired of us who we were, we called ourselves Scots; for as the English were very much out of favour in France at this time, the peace having been made not many months, and not supposed to be very durable, because particularly displeasing to the people of England, so the Scots were on the other extreme with the French. Nothing was so much caressed as the Scots, and a man had no more to do in France, if he would be well received there, than to say he was a Scotchman.
When we came before the queen-mother she seemed to receive us with some stiffness at first, and caused her guards to take us into custody; but as she was a lady of most exquisite politics, she did this to amuse the mob, and we were immediately after dismissed; and the queen herself made a handsome excuse to us for the rudeness we had suffered, alleging the troubles of the times; and the next morning we had three dragoons of the guards to convoy us out of the jurisdiction of Lyons.
I confess this little adventure gave me an aversion to popular tumults all my life after, and if nothing else had been in the cause, would have biassed me to espouse the king's party in England when our popular heats carried all before it at home.
But I must say, that when I called to mind since, the address, the management, the compliance in show, and in general the whole conduct of the queen-mother with the mutinous people of Lyons, and compared it with the conduct of my unhappy master the King of England, I could not but see that the queen understood much better than King Charles the management of politics and the clamours of the people.
Had this princess been at the helm in England, she would have prevented all the calamities of the Civil War here, and yet not have parted with what that good prince yielded in order to peace neither. She would have yielded gradually, and then gained upon them gradually; she would have managed them to the point she had designed them, as she did all parties in France; and none could effectually subject her but the very man she had raised to be her principal support—I mean the cardinal.
We went from hence to Grenoble, and arrived there the same day that the king and the cardinal with the whole court went out to view a body of 6000 Swiss foot, which the cardinal had wheedled the cantons to grant to the king to help to ruin their neighbour the Duke of Savoy.
The troops were exceeding fine, well-accoutred, brave, clean-limbed, 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 irresolute.
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 Europe.
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 Casale.
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 fury.
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 killed.
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 out well.
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 almost ruined.
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 soldiers.
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 after.
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 idolatry.
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 war.
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 German nation.
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 accommodation.
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 safety.
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 70,000 men.
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 afterwards found.
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 thing certain.
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.