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THE old Hamlet of Naseby stands yet, on its old hill-top, very much as it did in Saxon days, on the Northwestern border of Northamptonshire; some seven or eight miles from Market-Harborough in Leicestershire; nearly on a line, and nearly midway, between that Town and Daventry. A peaceable old Hamlet, of perhaps five hundred souls; clay cottages for laborers, but neatly thatched and swept; smith's shop, saddler's shop, beer-shop, all in order; forming a kind of square, which leads off, North and South, into two long streets: the old Church, with its graves, stands in the centre, the truncated spire finishing itself with a strange old Ball, held up by rods; a 'hollow copper Ball, which came from Boulogne in Henry the Eighth's time,'-which has, like Hudibras's breeches, 'been at the Siege of Bullen.' The ground is upland, moorland, though now growing corn; was not enclosed till the last generation, and is still somewhat bare of wood. It stands nearly in the heart of England; gentle Dulness, taking a turn at etymology, sometimes derives it from Navel; 'Navesby, quasi Navelsby, from being,' &c.: Avon Well, the distinct source of Shakspeare's Avon, is on the Western slope of the high grounds; Nen and Welland, streams leading towards Cromwell's Fen-country, begin to gather themselves from boggy places on the Eastern side. The grounds, as we say, lie high; and are still, in their new subdivisions, known by the name of 'Hills,'' Rutput Hill,' Mill Hill,' 'Dust Hill,' and the like, precisely as in Rushworth's time: but they are not properly hills at all; they are broad blunt clayey masses, swelling towards and from each other, like indolent waves of a sea, sometimes of miles in extent.
It was on this high moor-ground, in the centre of England, that King Charles, on the 14th of June, 1645, fought his last Battle; dashed fiercely against the New-Model Army, which he
had despised till then and saw himself shivered utterly to ruin thereby. Prince Rupert, on the King's right wing, charged up the hill, and carried all before him;' but Lieutenant-General Cromwell charged downhill on the other wing, likewise carrying all before him,—and did not gallop off the field to plunder, he. Cromwell, ordered thither by the Parliament, had arrived from the Association two days before, amid shouts from the whole Army' he had the ordering of the Horse this morning. Prince Rupert, on returning from his plunder, finds the King's Infantry a ruin; prepares to charge again with the rallied Cavalry; but the Cavalry too, when it came to the point, broke all asunder,' -never to reassemble more. The chase went through Harborough; where the King had already been that morning, when in an evil hour he turned back, to revenge some 'surprise of an outpost at Naseby the night before,' and give the Roundheads battle.
Ample details of this Battle, and of the moments prior and posterior to it, are to be found in Sprigge, or copied with some abridgment into Rushworth; who has also copied a strange old Plan of the Battle; half plan, half picture, which the Sale-Catalogues are very chary of, in the case of Sprigge. By assiduous attention, aided by this Plan, as the old names yet stick to the localities, the Narrative can still be, and has lately been, pretty accurately verified, and the Figure of the old Battle dimly brought back again. The reader shall imagine it for the present. On the crown of Naseby Height stands a modern Battlemonument; but, by an unlucky oversight, it is above a mile to the east of where the Battle really was. There are likewise two modern Books about Naseby and its Battle; both of them without value.
The Parliamentary Army stood ranged on the Height still partly called Mill Hill,' as in Rushworth's time, a mile and half from Naseby; the King's Army, on a parallel Hill,' its back to Harborough ;-with the wide table of upland now named Broad Moor between them; where indeed the main brunt of the action still clearly enough shows itself to have been. There are hollow spots, of a rank vegetation, scattered over that Broad Moor; which are understood to have once been burial mounds;—some
of which have been (with more or less of sacrilege) verified as such. A friend of mine has in his cabinet two ancient grinderteeth, dug lately from that ground,-and waits for an opportunity to rebury them there.. Sound effectual grinders, one of them very large; which ate their breakfast on the fourteenth morning of June, two hundred years ago, and, except to be clenched once in grim battle, had never work to do more in this world !—' A stack of dead bodies, perhaps about 100, had been buried in this Trench; piled as in a wall, a man's length thick: the skeletons lay in courses, the heads of one course to the heels of the next;-one figure, by the strange position of the bones, gave us the hideous notion of its having been thrown in before death! We did not proceed far :-perhaps some half-dozen skeletons. The bones were treated with all piety; watched rigor. ously, over Sunday, till they could be covered in again.'* Sweet friends, for Jesus' sake forbear!
At this battle Mr. John Rushworth, our Historical Rushworth, had, unexpectedly, for some instants, sight of a very famous person. Mr. John is Secretary to Fairfax; and they have placed him to-day among the Baggage-wagons, near Naseby Hamlet, above a mile from the fighting, where he waits in an anxious manner. It is known how Prince Rupert broke our left wing, while Cromwell was breaking their left. A Gentleman of Public Employment in the late Service near Naseby' writes next day, 'Harborough, 15th June, 2 in the morning,' a rough graphic Letter in the Newspapers,† wherein is this sentence:
** 'A party of theirs that broke through the left wing of horse, came quite behind the rear to our Train; the Leader of them, being a person somewhat in habit like the General, in a red montero, as the General had. He came as a friend; our commander of the guard of the Train went with his hat in his hand, and asked him, How the day went? thinking it had been the General: the Cavalier, who we since heard was Rupert, asked
Ms. penes me.
+ King's Pamphlets, small 4to., no. 212, § 26, p. 2; the punctual contemporaneous Collector has named him with his pen : Mr. Rushworth's Letter, being the Secretary to his Excellency.'
him and the rest, If they would have quarter? They cried, No; gave fire, and instantly beat them off. It was a happy deliver ance,'-without doubt.
There were taken here a good few 'ladies of quality in carriages ;'—and above a hundred Irish ladies not of quality, tattery camp-followers' with long skean-knives about a foot in length,' which they well knew how to use; upon whom I fear the Ordinance against Papists pressed hard this day.* The King's Carriage was also taken, with a Cabinet and many Royal Autographs in it, which when printed made a sad impression against his Majesty,— gave in fact a most melancholy view of the veracity of his Majesty, "On the word of a King."† All was lost!—
Here is Cromwell's Letter, written from Harborough, or 'Haverbrow' as he calls it, that same night; after the hot Battle and hot chase were over. The original, printed long since in Rushworth, still lies in the British Museum,-with a strong steady signature,' which one could look at with interest. 'The Letter consists of two leaves; much worn, and now supported by pasting; red seal much defaced; is addressed on the second leaf.'
For the Honorable William Lenthall, Speaker of the Commons House of Parliament: These.
Harborough, 14th June, 1645.
Being commanded by you to this service, I think myself bound to acquaint you with the good hand of God towards you and us.
We marched yesterday after the King, who went before us from Daventry to Harborough; and quartered about six miles from him. This day we marched towards him. He drew out to meet us; both armies engaged. We, after three hours fight very doubtful, at last routed his army; killed and took about 5000,-very many officers, but of what quality we yet know not. We took also about 200 carriages, all he had; and all his guns, being 12 in number, whereof two were demicannon, two demi-culverins, and I think the rest sackers. We pursued
The King's Cabinet opened; or Letters taken in the Cabinet at Naseby Field (London, 1645) :-reprinted in Harleian Miscellany (London 1810), V., 514
the enemy from three miles short of Harborough to nine beyond, even to the sight of Leicester, whither the King fled.
Sir, this is none other but the hand of God; and to Him alone belongs the glory, wherein none are to share with Him. The General served you with all faithfulness and honor: and the best commendation I can give him is, That I daresay he attributes all to God, and would rather perish than assume to himself. Which is an honest and a thriving way :—and yet as much for bravery may be given to him, in this action, as to a man. Honest men served you faithfully in this action. Sir, they are trusty: I beseech you, in the name of God, not to discourage them. I wish this action may beget thankfulness and humility in all that are concerned in it. He that ventures his life for the liberty of his country, I wish he trust God for the liberty of his conscience, and you for the liberty he fights for. In this he rests, who is
Your most humble servant,
John Bunyan, I believe, is this night in Leicester,—not yet writing his Pilgrim's Progress on paper, but acting it on the face of the Earth, with a brown matchlock on his shoulder. Or rather, without the matchlock, just at present; Leicester and he having been taken the other day. Harborough Church' is getting 'filled with prisoners' while Oliver writes,—and an immense contemporaneous tumult everywhere going on!
The 'honest men who served you faithfully on this occasion' are the considerable portion of the Army who have not yet succeeded in bringing themselves to take the Covenant. Whom the Presbyterian Party, rigorous for their own formula, call 'Schismatics,' 'Sectaries,' Anabaptists,' and other hard names; whom Cromwell, here and elsewhere, earnestly pleads for. To Cromwell, perhaps as much as to another, order was lovely, and disorder hateful; but he discerned better than some others what order and disorder really were. The forest-trees are not in 'order' because they are all clipt into the same shape of Dutch dragons, and forced to die or grow in that way; but because in each of them there is the same genuine unity of life, from the inmost pith to the utmost leaf, and they do grow according to that!— Cromwell naturally became the head of this Schismatic Party,
* Harl. Mss., no. 7502, art. 5, p. 7; Rushworth, vi., 45.