« PreviousContinue »
but with one word more. The result of the whole is, that there is not one fact proved, from which it can be reasonably inferred that Sir Charles Douglas was the inventor of this celebrated manæuvre. The testimony of Lord Rodney is unequivocally and conclusively hostile to his claims : But by far the worst witness against them is—himself! We have refused to take his own word against himself, as in competition with his commanderand we cannot take it, therefore, against Mr Clerk-against whom it is only given with a view to such a competition. He has been unjust to both, through deference and regard for the same distinguished individual, and the injustice must not be partially repaired. We cannot allow Sir Howard Douglas to restore his father against the sacrifices he made of bis own fame to the glory of his
commander, without insisting on a similar retribution to Mr Clerk. It is admitted to have been Sir Charles's principle and practice, to discredit any interference, even on just grounds, with the credit assumed by, or ascribed to, his Commander-in-chief; and it will be particularly observed, that the letter from St Lucie, which is as yet the only proof of his having so discredited the claims of Mr Clerk, is confessedly written to answer this public or ostensible purpose. It is not a private note or memorandum, made for the purpose of recording the true state of a recent transaction, or a spontaneous account of it transmitted to a private friend. It is a demi-official answer to a claim, which, even though just, we now know he would have thought it his duty to discredit, even to the prejudice of his own glory; and its object is distinctly spoken out in the concluding instructions to his correspondent,' which Sir Howard Douglas bas extracted—viz. to treat the claim so intimated for Mr Clerk as offensive to himself, and as highly injurious to the
person who commanded in chief on that celebrated day. The object and motive of the discredit thrown upon these claims is thus openly professed in the body of the letter itself; and the case of Mr Clerk, therefore, brought unequivocally within that interdicted sphere, of competition with the sacred rights of a commander-in-chief, within which, in his estimation, no inferior person was entitled to maintain any claims, whether just or unjust.
Sir Howard intimates, in his Additional Statement, that though Sir Charles persisted to the last in his public disclamation of any farther merit than Lord Rodney had publicly ascribed to him, he did communicate confidentially, to his family and intimate friends, his sense of having had less than justice rendered to him on that occasion ; and even insinuates, that, if he had not been suddenly cut off by death, he would probably have publicly asserted
his rights. All this we are most willing to believe; and we think nothing more probable than that he should have at last repented of his extravagant devotion to his admiral, and meditated the disclosure of those truths which he had been too long accessory in suppressing, but which Sir Howard has fortunately been still enabled to establish. In this retractation, however, of these virtual misrepresentations, we cannot but believe that he would have included what related to Mr Clerk, as well as wbat more immediately concerned himself: And while all the statements of Sir Howard are correctly explicable on that supposition, we must confess that we shall be grievously disappointed, and very painfully surprised, if a single private document ever sees the light, under the hand of Sir Charles Douglas, or a single confidential word of his is ever put in evidence by any surviving friend, importing that he seriously claimed for himself any thing more than what we have now allowed him-or ever denied that both he and his commander had been instructed by Mr Clerk in the general nature of the manæuvre in question, long before his individual services were required to secure its first execution.
Art. II.-Memoirs of his own Life and Times. 1632-70. By
Sir James Turner. 4to. Edinburgh, 1829.
o period of the history of England is so deeply and so de
servedly interesting as that which embraces the events of the civil war during the seventeenth century, in which Scotland and Ireland were equally involved. In consequence of the rival claims of successive competitors for the crown, or the turbulence of powerful and ambitious vassals, the country had often before been the theatre of internal conflicts, the interest of which, how great soever at the time, gradually subsided and was forgotten. But there was something magnificent, though terrible, in the spectacle of the people of three kingdoms, who owned the authority of one prince, and resembled one another so closely in language and manners, rising in arms, and ranging themselves under opposite standards, not in sudden tumult, nor to decide whether this or the other individual or family should inherit the crown, but in a contest which involved, on the one side, the prerogatives of an ancient monarchy and a richly endowed clergy, and on the other, national rights, liberty, laws, and religion ; one branch of the legislature in open hostility with the other two, and dividing between them the allegiance and
affections of the subjects; a king and his parliament, after long negotiation and mutual preparations, deliberately and formally proclaiming war against one another, and waging it for a course of years with dubious success; while the surrounding nations, as if awe-struck, stood at a distance, and remained passive spectators of the struggle. It is impossible to contemplate this scene with indifference, though we should not take into view the unexampled fermentation of opinion, in politics and religion, excited during the progress of this war of principle, which burst forth at last with such fury as to overturn the monarchy and the whole frame of the constitution, and to produce a commonwealth, with a military Protector at its head, whose death paved the way for the restoration of the royal family, and the re-establishment of the ancient order of things. Earlier portions of English history borrow much of their interest from extrinsic causes. Events which happened ages after the humiliation of King John, emblazoned Magna Charta, and consecrated the plain of Runnemede. In spite of Cressy, and Poictiers, and Agincourt, the reigns of the Edwards, and Henries, and Richards, would have been read by comparatively few, had they not been immortalised by the pen of Shakspeare, from whose pages, rather than those of Rapin or Hume, we recollect the order of their succession, and of the principal events connected with their names. But the transactions during the reign of Charles I. and the Commonwealth, stand in need of no adventitious aids to render them memorable. They have been recorded by many historians, and they have also furnished materials for fictitious composition ; but we do not detract from the splendid talents possessed by some of these authors, when we say, they have been indebted to their subject for the interest excited by their writings, more than their subject is indebted to them.
Such being the case, we need not wonder that the documents illustrative of this period should be numerous.
Whether the history of it has yet been written in a manner worthy of its importance, we shall not presume here to determine, but sure we are, there is no lack of materials for such a work. This is no doubt to be ascribed, in a great degree, to the anxiety felt by the parties, political and religious, which grew out of the confusions of that time, to bring forward what they deemed favourable to their respective views. But even at present, when the violence of party-spirit has subsided, and the parties themselves are nearly confounded and lost, additions are daily making to the mass which is already collected. It would be unreasonable to expect, that recent discoveries should supply facts entirely now, or furnish grounds for a representation of events substantially different from any which has already been given to the public. But nothing is unnecessary or superfluous which throws the least light on the incidents of so great an era, or tends either to corroborate or to invalidate statements which rest on doubtful and contested authority. On this ground, the publishers of the work now before us are entitled to our thanks : * we do not welcome it the less cordially, that the sentiments which the author expresses on the leading questions which he has occasion to touch, differ widely from our own; and we hasten to give our readers an idea of its contents, taking the liberty, as we proceed, to intersperse a few relative facts from other sources which are not accessible to many.
The author of these Memoirs served during the Civil Wars as an officer in all the three kingdoms; and accordingly writes in many instances of transactions which he saw, and in which he sustained a part. But a great portion of the work, and that which will probably attract the chief attention of most readers, relates to Scotland, and particularly to that transaction which gained for the author a notoriety not of the most enviable kiud. We refer to the insurrection suppressed at Pentland in the year 1666. This part of the Memoirs is properly an apology or defence, and indeed the work generally partakes of this character. We may take an opportunity, before we have done, of making some remarks on the degree of success which has attended the author's attempt to set himself right with the public; for the Memoirs were evidently intended for publication, though his friends were discouraged from executing the purpose by the untoward event of the Revolution, and the great change of measures and principles to which it gave rise. In the meantime we may state that the Editor, in his Preliminary Notice, has in substance expressed our opinion, when, speaking of the letters addressed to Sir James Turner, after his removal from military employment, he says, they will be found to exhibit some ami6 able contrasts to those darker impressions of his character, • which have been too deeply, and it is to be feared, too justly,
stamped on the contemporary history of his age, ever to be effaced.' Sir James Turner was born in the year 1614, but in what
* Its publication is mainly, we believe we may safely say wholly, owing to the encouragement afforded to the undertaking by the BANNATYNE CLUB-one hundred copies of the work baving been subscribed for by that Association. The public is farther indebted to the learned and accomplished Vice-President of the Club, for those Editorial labours which have insured the fidelity and accuracy of the impression,
part of Scotland he does not say; nor does he give us any information respecting his parentage. We only learn that he went through the usual course of Philosophy at the College of Glasgow, where, though, by his own confession, he made small proficiency, it is probable he acquired that taste for letters which he retained during life. Being of a buoyant and roving disposition, he was averse to the labours of a sedentary employment, and chose the profession of arms. As Scotland was at that time in profound peace, he turned his eyes, like many of his adventurous countrymen, to the continent, where Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, was in the career of his victories as the champion of the Protestant cause, and of the liberties of Germany. Having obtained the post of ensign in a regiment of Scots, raised by Colonel Lumsden, be set out with them for the continent in the year 1632; but he never saw the Swedish hero, who had gone into the interior of Germany, and soon after fell in the battle of Latzen. A better field for acquiring military skill, and a worse school for forming personal character, could not be found by a young man, than that in which Turner was now placed. After the death of their magnanimous leader, whose clemency was as conspicuous as his valour, and of whom it has been said that he traversed Germany with the sword in one • hand and mercy in the other,' the allied army began to imitate those cruelties which had excited such horror in the Imperialists; and the auxiliaries, including the Scots, being often employed in the most hazardous services, and ill paid, as they thought, by their cmployers, learnt to remunerate themselves by plundering and oppressing the peaceable inhabitants, with whom they felt no sympathy in language or manners. In the account which Turner has given us of the proficiency he made in this species of warfare, we can discover those early habits which subsequently influenced his conduct in bis native country.
• The tuo companies (of Scots and English) were bot badlie used, toss. ed to and fro, in constant danger of ane enemie, and without pay. Bot I had learnd so much cunning, and became so vigilant to lay hold on opportunities, that I wanted for nothing, horses, clothes, meate, nor moneys; and made so good use of what I had learned, that the whole time I servd in Germanie, I sufferd no such miserie as I had done the first yeare and a halfe that I came to it.'
Having remained nearly eight years on the continent, during which time he was more than once thrown out of employment, and on one occasion had projected a journey to Persia, Sir James returned home in 1640, to take part in the hostilities which had been renewed between Charles I. and Scotland. He was not altogether ignorant of the ground of the quarrel, having