« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
sake the Down, adding to it the Teutonic Hill likewise, though Dun itself in old Celtic signifies Hill. On this Doon Hill lies David Lesley with the victorious Scotch Army, upwards of Twenty-thousand strong ; with the Committees of Kirk and Estates, the chief Dignitaries of the Country, and in fact the flower of what the pure Covenant in this the Twelfth year of its existence can still bring forth. There lies he since Sunday night, on the top and slope of this Doon Hill, with the impassable heathcontinents behind him; embraces, as within outspread tiger claws, the base-line of Oliver's Dunbar peninsula; waiting what Oliver will do. Cockburnspath with its ravines has been seized on Oliver's left, and made impassable ; behind Oliver is the sea; in front of him Lesley, Doon Hill and the heath-continent of Lammermoor. Lesley's force is of Three-and-twenty-thousand,* in spirits as of men chasing ; Oliver's about half as many, in spirits as of men chased. What is to become of Oliver ?
Oliver on Monday writes this Note; sends it off, I suppose, by sea. Making no complaint for himself, the remarkable Oliver; doing, with grave brevity, in the hour the business of the hour. • He was a strong man,' so intimates John Maidstone, who knew him : ' in the dark perils of war, in the high places of the field, hope shone in him like a pillar of fire, when it had gone out in all the others.'t A genuine King among men, Mr. Maidstone! The divinest sight this world sees,—when it is privileged to see such, and not be sickened with the unholy apery of such! He is just now upon an engagement,' or complicated concern, very difficult.'
* 27,000 say the English Pamphlets; 16,000 foot and 7,000 horse, says Sir Edward Walker (p. 182), who has access to know.
† Passages in his Highness's last Sickness, already referred to.
• To Sir Arthur Haselrig, Governor of Newcastle : These.'
• Dunbar, 2d September, 1650.' DEAR SIR,
We are upon an Engagement very difficult. The Enemy hath blocked up our way at the Pass at Copperspath, through which we cannot get without almost a miracle. He lieth so upon the Hills that we know not how to come that way without great difficulty'; and our lying here daily consumeth our men, who fall sick beyond imagination.
I perceive, your forces are not in a capacity for present release. Wherefore, whatever becomes of us, it will be well for you to get what forces you can together; and the Sonth to help what they can. The business nearly concerneth all Good People. If your forces had been in a readiness to have fallen upon the back of Copperspath, it might have occasioned supplies to have come to us. But the only wise God knows what is best. All shall work for Good. Our spirits * are comfortable, praised be the Lord,—though our present condition be as it is. And indeed we have much hope in the Lord; of whose mercy we have had large experience.
Indeed do you get together what forces you can against them. Send to friends in the South to help with more. Let H. Vane know what I write. I would not make it public, lest danger should accrue thereby. You know what use to make hereof. Let me hear from you. I rest,
OLIVER CROMWELL.T The base of Oliver's Dunbar Peninsula,' as we have called it (or Dunbar Pinfold where he is now hemmed in, upon an entanglement very difficult'), extends from Belhaven Bay on his right, to Brocksmouth House on his left ; ' about a mile and a half from sea to sea.' Brocksmouth House, the Earl (now Duke) of Rox. burgh's mansion, which still stands there, his soldiers now occupy as their extreme post on the left. As its name indicates, it is the mouth or issue of a small rivulet, or Burn, called Brock, Brocksburn; which, springing from the Lammermoor, and skirting David Lesley's Doon Hill, finds its egress here into the sea. The
+ Communicated by John Hare, Esquire, Rosemont Cottage, Clifton. The Ms. at Clifton is a Copy, without date ; but has this title in an old hand: • Copy of an original Letter of Oliver Cromwell, written with his own hand, the day before the Battle of Dunbarr, to Sir A. Haselridge.'
reader who would form an image to himself of the great Tuesday, 3d of September, 1650, at Dunbar, must note well this little Burn. It runs in a deep grassy glen, which the South-country Officers in those old Pamphlets describe as a deep ditch, forty feet in depth, and about as many in width,'—ditch dug out by the little Brook itself, and carpeted with greensward, in the course of long thousands of years. It runs pretty close by the foot of Doon Hill; forms, from this point to the sea, the boundary of Oliver's position; his force is arranged in battle-order along the left bank of this Brocksburn, and its grassy glen; he is busied all Monday, he and his Officers, in ranking them there. Before sunrise on Monday,' Lesley sent down his horse from the Hill-top, to occupy the other side of this Brook; about four in the afternoon ' his train came down, his whole Army gradually came down; and they now are ranking themselves on the opposite side of Brocks. burn,-on rather narrow ground; corn-fields, but swiftly sloping upwards to the steep of Doon Hill. This goes on, in the wild showers and winds of Monday, 20 September, 1650, on both sides of the Rivulet of Brock. Whoever will begin the attack, must get across this Brook and its glen first; a thing of much disad. vantage.
Behind Oliver's ranks, between him and Dunbar, stand his tents : sprinkled up and down, by battalions, over the face of this • Peninsula :' which is a low though very uneven tract of ground; now in our time all yellow with wheat and barley in the autumn season, but at that date only partially tilled,—describable by York. shire Hodgson as a place of plashes and rough bent-grass; terribly beaten by showery winds that day, so that your tent will hardly stand. There was then but one Farm-house on this tract, where now are not a few : thither were Oliver's Cannon sent this morning; they had at first been lodged in the Church,' an edifice standing then as now somewhat apart, at the south end of Dun. bar.' We have notice of only one other small house,' belike some poor shepherd's homestead, in Oliver's tract of ground : it stands close by the Brock Rivulet itself, and in the bottom of the little glen; at a place where the banks of it flatten themselves out into a slope passable for carts: this of course, as the one pass' in that quarter, it is highly important to seize. Pride and Lambert
lodged six horse and fifteen foot' in this poor hut early in the morning : Lesley's horse came across, and drove them out; killing some, and taking three prisoners; -and so got possession of this pass and hut; but did not keep it. Among the three prisoners was one musketeer, 'a very stout man, though he has but a wooden arm,' and some iron hook at the end of it, poor fellow. He ‘fired thrice, not without effect, with his wooden arm, and was not taken without difficulty : a handfast stubborn man; they carried him across to General Lesley, to give some account of himself. In several of the old Pamphlets, which agree in all the details of it, this is what we read:
General David Lesley (old Leven,' the other Lesley, ' being in the Castle of Edinburgh, as they relate*), asked this man, If the Enemy did intend to fight? He replied, “ What do you think we come here for ? We come for nothing else !”—“Soldier," says Lesley, “how will you fight, when you have shipped half of your men, and all your great guns?” The Soldier replied, “Sir, if you please to draw down your men, you shall find both men and great guns too !"—A most dogged handfast man, this with the wooden arm, and iron hook on it! One of the Officers asked, How he durst answer the General so saucily? He said, “ I only answer the question put to me !" ! Lesley sent him across, free again, by a trumpet: he made his way to Crom. well; reported what had passed, and added doggedly, He for one had lost twenty shillings by the business,-plundered from him in this action. The Lord General gave him thereupon two pieces,” which I think are forty shillings; and sent him away rejoicing.t- This is the adventure at the pass' by the shepherd's hut in the bottom of the glen, close by the Brocksburn itself.
And now farther, on the great scale, we are to remark very specially that there is just one other pass' across the Brocksburn; and this is precisely where the London road now crosses it; about a mile east from the former pass, and perhaps two
* Old Leven is here, if the Pamphlet knew; but only as a volunteer and without command, though nominally still General-in-chief.
Cadwell the Army-Messenger's Narrative to the Parliament (in Carte's Ormond Papers, i., 382). Given also, with other details, in King's Pamphlets, small 4to., no. 478, 98 9, 7, 10; no. 479, 81; &c., &c.
gunshots west from Brocksmouth House. There the great road then as now crosses the Burn of Brock; the steep grassy glen, or broad ditch forty feet deep,' flattening itself out here once more into a passable slope: passable, but still steep on the southern or Lesley side, still mounting up there, with considerable acclivity, into a high table-ground, out of which the Doon Hill, as outskirt of the Lammermoor, a short mile to your right, gra. dually gathers itself. There, at this pass,' on and about the present London road, as you discover after long dreary dim examining, took place the brunt or essential agony of the Battle of Dunbar long ago. Read in the extinct old Pamphlets, and ever again obstinately read, till some light rise in them, look even with unmilitary eyes at the ground as it now is, you do at last obtain small glimmerings of distinct features here and there,—which gradually coalesce into a kind of image for you; and some spectrum of the Fact becomes visible; rises veritable, face to face, on you, grim and sad in the depths of the old dead Time. Yes, my travelling friends, vehiculating in gigs or otherwise over that piece of London road, you may say to yourselves, Here without monument is the grave of a valiant thing which was done under the Sun; the footprint of a hero, not yet quite undistinguishable, is here !
• The Lord General about four o'clock,' say the old Pam. phlets, went into the Town to take some refreshment,' a hasty late dinner,' or early 'supper,' whichever we may call it ; 'and very soon returned back,'-having sent off Sir Arthur's Letter, I think, in the interim. Coursing about the field, with enough of things to order; walking at last with Lambert in the Park or Garden of Brocksmouth House, he discerns that Lesley is astir on the Hill-side; altering his position somewhat. That Lesley in fact is coming wholly down to the basis of the Hill, where his horse had been since sunrise : coming wholly down to edge of the Brook and glen, among the sloping harvest-fields there ; and also is bringing up his left wing of horse, most part of it, towards his right; edging himself, shogging,' as Oliver calls it, his whole line more and more to the right ! His meaning is, to get hold of Brocksmouth House and the pass of the Brook there ;*
* Baillie's Letters, iii., 111.