Page images
PDF
EPUB

tially 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 wel. come it the less cordially, that the sentiments which the author expresses on the leading questions which he has occasion to touch, differ widely froin 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 bimself 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 amiable 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 bis 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, he 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 employers, 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 bas 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, tossed 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, borses, 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 paid a visit to his native country in the preceding year, when every thing foreboded a breach between the sovereign and his ancient kingdom. But Turner was actuated neither by loyalty nor by love to religion and liberty: a mere soldier of fortune, it was immaterial to him on what side he drew his sword, and spilt his own blood or that of others; and therefore he left the determination to accident.

I had swallowed without chewing, in Germanie, a very dangerous maxime, which militarie men there too much follow ; which was, that so we serve our master bonnestlie, it is no matter what master we serve ; so, without examination of the justice of the quarrell, or regard of my duetie to either prince or countrey, I resolved to goe with that ship I first ren. counterd. After tuo days necessarie stay at Gottenberg, I hired a boat and went away in the evening; we rowed all night, and haveing pasd tuo Suedish castles, about breake of day we came neere Millstrand. Understanding the wind blew faire for both ships, I was advisd to step out, and goe a foot straight thorough the toune to the shoare, it being the neerer cut, whill the boate went a greater way about with my servant and coffer. I did so, and came just there as the Englishman was hoyseing his sailes. I askd him if he wold give me passage to Hull, (a place I have since beene too well acquainted with,) who told me he wold with all his heart, provided I wold presentlie step in. I beseeched him to stay till my servant and coffer came, without whom I could not goe;

bot no intreatie or prayer could prevaile with the inexorable skipper, for away he flew from me, as ane arrow from a bow. This onlie hinderd me to present my endeavours to serve the King against the Covenanters. I calld instantlie for the Dane who was bound for Scotland, resolving to serve either the one or the other without

any reluctance of mind; so deeplie was that base maxime rooted in my heart. The people pointed with their fingers to the ship, which had got a great way out from the shoare, and stayd there for a passenger whom the skipper had promisd to carry to Edinburgh. He was ane old man, who at taking his farewell of his friends the night before, had drunke so much that he had sleepd his time. Immediatlie I clapd in fresh men in my boate, the others being overwearied with rowing, and so came to the ship ; neither did the skipper make any scruple to ressave me, thogh at first he conceaved his old man was in my companie. To the neglect of this old man, nixt to all ruleing providence, may I attribute my goeing at that time to Scotland. On the sixth day after my embarkeing, we saw ourselvs not farre from Aberdeene. I was glad we were so farre north, because I had heard the king's ships were in the firth ; bot I was mistaken, for they were gone ; and no matter they had been gone sooner, for any good service they did the king there.'

Sir James wrote this in his old age, after he had adopted high monarchical opinions; and, though he confesses his former want of principle, yet it is evident he wished the reader of his narrative to believe that even at that early period his inclinations were with the king, and that he would have been glad of an opportunity of joining his standard ; a sunnosition not easily recon

[ocr errors]

cilable with his continuing to fight for the Parliament until the royal cause was ruined beyond recovery.

Repairing to Newcastle, where the Scottish army was encamped under General Leslie, afterwards Earl of Leven, he obtained the only vacant place which was left, that of major in Lord Kircudbright's regiment, consisting of the men of Galloway,--a place,' says he, “and a people, fatal to me.' Sir James does not say what share he got of the brotherlie present of • L.300,000 sterling,' with which the Parliament of England sent the Scottish army home; but he is careful to preserve the following piece of information.

• All this while I did not take the Nationall Covenant, not because I refused to doe it, for I wold have made no bones to take, sueare and signe it, and observe it too ; for I had then a principle, haveing not yet studied a better one, that I wrongd not my conscience in doeing any thing I was commanded to do by these whom I served. Bot the truth is, it was never offerd to me; everie one thinking it was impossible I could get into any charge, unles I had taken the Covenant either in Scotland or England.'

The Irish massacre having broken out in the end of 1641, the Parliament of Scotland sent an army of 10,000 men to assist in suppressing it; and among these Sir James went as major in Lord Sinclair's regiment. Nothing of importance occurs in this part of the Memoirs, if we except the accounts of the cruelties committed by the Irish, and the reprisals made upon them by the Protestant army, in which last the memorialist tells us he had no share, having confined himself to “bringing in store of cows, • with the flesh and milke whereof,' says he, we much refreshed

the decayed bodies and fainting spirits, not only of our sojours, • but of many of our officers also. Having remained two years in Ireland, where he got no more than what maintained him, he came to Scotland, whence, after some stay, he repaired to Newcastle, and joined his countrymen, who, under command of Leslie, had gone to the assistance of the English Parliament against the King. In reading the account which Sir James has given of the proceedings of the Scottish army in Ireland and England, we were particularly struck with his repeated attempts to fasten the charge of incapacity on the general. Not content with his own reflections on particular measures, he inserts a saying which a deceased nobleman was reported to have employed, " that the Earle of Leven's actions made not such noyse in the

world as those of General Lesley. It argues more than conceit when a subaltern officer, who had hitherto distinguished bimself chiefly in marauding expeditions, or by enlisting and training recruits, censures with such confidence and asperity the plans of a veteran, whose military talents and bravery had been long established. One example of this may suffice. In the beginning of 164 1, Major Turner was sent by his lieutenantgeneral to represent the destitute state of their regiment to General Leslie, who was at that time endeavouring to pass the Tyne near Newcastle. The gallant major, thinking that a detachment, which guarded the workmen employed in constructing a bridge of boats, was in danger, provided the enemy should make a sally from the town, went to the general's tent, and advised him to cause false alarms of an assault to be made round the walls. When I returned,' says he, 'I was ashamed to re• late the answer of that old captane; which was, that he fear

ed the brightness of the night (for it was moonshine) would • discover the burning matches to those on the walls. I told • bim the moonshine was a prejudice to the designe, for it would • hinder the matches to be seen; for the more lunts were seen, • the heiter for a false alarm.' This was no doubt a piece of information to the old captain! We think we could give almost the very words which Leven used on the occasion; but it would be too much; for it is worse than ridiculous to suppose for a moment that any man, not to say an experienced soldier, should feel an apprehension that the very thing by which he meant to create an alarm should be seen by the enemy. Sir James himself is, however, a reluctant witness to Leslie's generalship at the time referred to. The Scots,' says he, 'got over 'the river afterward, and by peecemale made Newcastle's armie,

almost as strong as their own, and far better sojours, moulder 6 away, and the relecks of it to take sanctuarie within the walls • of Yorke. Such was the king's sad fate, and the infatuated

stupidity of these under him.' (P. 32.) This last expression is a common one with the writer of the Memoirs. Had it not been for the fates, and the stupidity of his servants, the king would have been uniformly successful and victorious.

There is a fact mentioned near the beginning of the Memoirs, which may perhaps account for Sir James's feelings towards Leven : he had a quarrel with his brother in Germany, on which ground he supposes the general to have been afterwards unfavourable to him. But we suspect there was another reason for the general's coolness to Turner, and for that prejudice against him on the part of the Parliamentary Commissioners who attended the army, wbich he imputes to their suspicions of his political leanings. We refer to the violence of his temper, and those irregularities of conduct inconsistent with military discipline, and peculiarly offensive to his superiors at that time, in which he was apt to indulge. Bishop Burnet, who was intimate with him in his later days, says, - Sir James Turner was

6

« PreviousContinue »