Micah Clarke, by Arthur Conan Doyle

Appendix

Note A.— Hatred of Learning among the Puritans.

In spite of the presence in their ranks of such ripe scholars as John Milton, Colonel Hutchinson, and others, there was among the Independents and Anabaptists a profound distrust of learning, which is commented upon by writers of all shades of politics. Dr. South in his sermons remarks that ‘All learning was cried down, so that with them the best preachers were such as could not read, and the best divines such as could not write. In all their preachments they so highly pretended to the Spirit, that some of them could hardly spell a letter. To be blind with them was a proper qualification of a spiritual guide, and to be book-learned, as they called it, and to be irreligious, were almost convertible terms. None save tradesmen and mechanics were allowed to have the Spirit, and those only were accounted like St. Paul who could work with their hands, and were able to make a pulpit before preaching in it.’

In the collection of loyal ballads reprinted in 1731, the Royalist bard harps upon the same characteristic:

‘We’ll down with universities
Where learning is professed,
Because they practise and maintain
The language of the beast.
We’ll drive the doctors out of doors,
And parts, whate’er they be,
We’ll cry all parts and learning down,
And heigh, then up go we!’

Note B.— On the Speed of Couriers.

It is difficult for us in these days of steam and electricity to realise how long it took to despatch a message in the seventeenth century, even when the occasion was most pressing. Thus, Monmouth landed at Lyme on the morning of Thursday, the 11th of June. Gregory Alford, the Tory mayor of Lyme, instantly fled to Honiton, whence he despatched a messenger to the Privy Council. Yet it was five o’clock in the morning of Saturday, the 13th, before the news reached London, though the distance is but 156 miles.

Note C.— On the Claims of the Lender of a Horse.

The difficulty touched upon by Decimus Saxon, as to the claim of the lender of a horse upon the booty gained by the rider, is one frequently discussed by writers of that date upon the usages of war. One distinguished authority says: Praefectus turmae equitum Hispanorum, cum proelio tuba caneret, unum ex equitibus suae turmae obvium habuit; qui questus est quod paucis ante diebus equum suum in certamine amiserat, propter quod non poterat imminenti proelio interesse; unde jussit Praefectus ut unum ex suis equis conscenderet et ipsum comitaretur. Miles, equo conscenso, inter fugandum hostes, incidit in ipsum ducem hostilis exercitus, quem cepit et consignavit Duci exercitus Hispani, qui a captivo vicena aureorum millia est consequutus. Dicebat Praefectus partem pretii hujus redemptionis sibi debere, quod miles equo suo dimicaverat, qui alias proelio interesse non potuit. Petrinus Bellus affirmat se, cum esset Bruxellis in curia Hispaniarum Regis de hac quaestione consultum, et censuisse, pro Praefecto facere aequitatem quae praecipue respicitur inter milites, quorum controversiae ex aequo et bono dirimendae sunt; unde ultra conventa quis obligatur ad id quod alterum alteri prasstare oportet.’ The case, it appears, ultimately went against the horse-lending praefect.

Note D.— On the Pronunciation of Exquisites.

The substitution of the a for the o was a common affectation in the speech of the fops of the period, as may be found in Vanbrugh’s Relapse. The notorious Titus Oates, in his efforts to be in the mode, pushed this trick to excess, and his cries of ‘Oh Lard! Oh Lard!’ were familiar sounds in Westminster Hall at the time when the Salamanca doctor was at the flood of his fortune.

Note E.— Hour-glasses in Pulpits.

In those days it was customary to have an hour-glass stationed in a frame of iron at the side of the pulpit, and visible to the whole congregation. It was turned up as soon as the text was announced, and a minister earned a name as a lazy preacher if he did not hold out until the sand had ceased to run. If, on the other hand, he exceeded that limit, his audience would signify by gapes and yawns that they had had as much spiritual food as they could digest. Sir Roger L’Estrange (Fables, Part II. Fab. 262) tells of a notorious spin-text who, having exhausted his glass and being half-way through a second one, was at last arrested in his career by a valiant sexton, who rose and departed, remarking as he did so, ‘Pray, sir, be pleased when you have done to leave the key under the door.’

Note F.— Disturbances at the old Gast House of Little Burton.

The circumstances referred to by the Mayor of Taunton in his allusion to the Drummer of Tedsworth are probably too well known to require elucidation. The haunting of the old Gast House at Burton would, however, be fresh at that time in the minds of Somersetshire folk, occurring as it did in 1677. Some short account from documents of that date may be of interest.

‘The first night that I was there, with Hugh Mellmore and Edward Smith, they heard as it were the washing of water over their heads. Then, taking the candle and going up the stairs, there was a wet cloth thrown at them, but it fell on the stairs. They, going up further, there was another thrown as before. And when they were come up into the chamber there stood a bowl of water, looking white, as though soap had been used in it. The bowl just before was in the kitchen, and could not be carried up but through the room where they were. The next thing was a terrible noise, like a clap of thunder, and shortly afterwards they heard a great scratching about the bedstead, and after that great knocking with a hammer against the bed’s-head, so that the two maids that were in bed cried out for help. Then they ran up the stairs, and there lay the hammer on the bed, and on the bed’s-head there were near a thousand prints of the hammer. The maids said that they were scratched and pinched with a hand which had exceeding long nails.

‘The second night that James Sherring and Thomas Hillary were there, James Sherring sat down in the chimney to fill a pipe of tobacco. He used the tongs to lift a coal to light his pipe, and by-and-by the tongs were drawn up the stairs and were cast upon the bed. The same night one of the maids left her shoes by the fire, and they were carried up into the chamber, and the old man’s brought down and set in their places. As they were going upstairs there were many things thrown at them which were just before in the low room, and when they went down the stairs the old man’s breeches were thrown down after them.

‘On another night a saddle did come into the house from a pin in the entry, and did hop about the place from table to table. It was very troublesome to them, until they broke it into small pieces and threw it out into the roadway. So for some weeks the haunting continued, with rappings, scratching, movements of heavy articles, and many other strange things, as are attested by all who were in the village, until at last they ceased as suddenly as they had begun.’

Note G.— Monmouth’s Progress in the West.

During his triumphal progress through the western shires, some years before the rebellion, Monmouth first ventured to exhibit upon his escutcheon the lions of England and the lilies of France, without the baton sinister. A still more ominous sign was that he ventured to touch for the king’s evil. The appended letter, extracted from the collection of tracts in the British Museum, may be of interest as first-hand evidence of the occasional efficacy of that curious ceremony.

‘His Grace the Duke of Monmouth honoured in his progress in the West of England, in an account of an extraordinary cure of the king’s evil.

‘Given in a letter from Crewkhorn, in Somerset, from the minister of the parish and many others.

‘We, whose names are underwritten, do certify the miraculous cure of a girl of this town, about twenty, by name Elizabeth Parcet, a poor widow’s daughter, who hath languished under sad affliction from that distemper of the king’s evil termed the joint evil, being said to be the worst evil. For about ten or twelve years’ time she had in her right hand four running wounds, one on the inside, three on the back of her hand, as well as two more in the same arm, one above her hand-wrist, the other above the bending of her arm. She had betwixt her arm-pits a swollen bunch, which the doctors said fed those six running wounds. She had the same distemper also on her left eye, so she was almost blind. Her mother, despairing of preserving her sight, and being not of ability to send her to London to be touched by the king, being miserably poor, having many poor children, and this girl not being able to work, her mother, desirous to have her daughter cured, sent to the chirurgeons for help, who tampered with it for some time, but could do no good. She went likewise ten or eleven miles to a seventh son, but all in vain. No visible hopes remained, and she expected nothing but the grave.

‘But now, in this the girl’s great extremity, God, the great physician, dictates to her, then languishing in her miserable, hopeless condition, what course to take and what to do for a cure, which was to go and touch the Duke of Monmouth. The girl told her mother that, if she could but touch the Duke she would be well. The mother reproved her for her foolish conceit, but the girl did often persuade her mother to go to Lackington to the Duke, who then lay with Mr. Speaks. “Certainly,” said she, “I should be well if I could touch him.” The mother slighted these pressing requests, but the more she slighted and reproved, the more earnest the girl was for it. A few days after, the girl having noticed that Sir John Sydenham intended to treat the Duke at White Lodge in Henton Park, this girl with many of her neighbours went to the said park. She being there timely waited the Duke’s coming. When first she observed the Duke she pressed in among a crowd of people and caught him by the hand, his glove being on, and she likewise having a glove to cover her wounds. She not being herewith satisfied at the first attempt of touching his glove only, but her mind was she must touch some part of his bare skin, she, weighing his coming forth, intended a second attempt. The poor girl, thus between hope and fear, waited his motion. On a sudden there was news of the Duke’s coming on, which she to be prepared rent off her glove, that was clung to the sores, in such haste that she broke her glove, and brought away not only the sores but the skin. The Duke’s glove, as Providence would have it, the upper part hung down, so that his hand-wrist was bare. She pressed on, and caught him by the bare hand-wrist with her running hand, crying, “God bless your highness!” and the Duke said “God bless you!” The girl, not a little transported at her good success, came and assured her friends that she would now be well. She came home to her mother in great joy, and told her that she had touched the Duke’s hand. The mother, hearing what she had done, reproved her sharply for her boldness, asked how she durst do such a thing, and threatened to beat her for it. She cried out, “Oh, mother, I shall be well again, and healed of my wounds!” And as God Almighty would have it, to the wonder and admiration of all, the six wounds were speedily dried up, the eye became perfectly well, and the girl was in good health. All which has been discovered to us by the mother and daughter, and by neighbours that know her.

‘Henry Clark, minister; Captain James Bale, &c &c. Whoever doubts the truth of this relation may see the original under the hands of the persons mentioned at the Amsterdam Coffee House, Bartholomew Lane, Royal Exchange.’

In spite of the uncouth verbiage of the old narrative, there is a touch of human pathos about it which makes it worthy of reproduction.

Note H.— Monmouth’s Contention of Legitimacy.

Sir Patrick Hume, relating a talk with Monmouth before his expedition, says: ‘I urged if he considered himself as lawful son of King Charles, late deceased. He said he did. I asked him if he were able to make out and prove the marriage of his mother to King Charles, and whether he intended to lay claim to the crown. He answered that he had been able lately to prove the marriage, and if some persons are not lately dead, of which he would inform himself, he would yet be able to prove it. As for his claiming the crown, he intended not to do it unless it were advised to be done by those who should concern themselves and join for the delivery of the nations.’

It may be remarked that in Monmouth’s commission to be general, dated April 1668, he is styled ‘our most entirely beloved and natural son.’ Again, in a commission for the government of Hull, April 1673, he is ‘our well-beloved natural son.’

Note I.— Dragooners and Chargers.

The dragoons, being really mounted infantry, were provided with very inferior animals to the real cavalry. From a letter of Cromwell’s (‘Squire Correspondence,’ April 3, 1643), it will be seen that a dragooner was worth twenty pieces, while a charger could not be obtained under sixty.

Note J.— Battle of Sedgemoor.

A curious little sidelight upon the battle is afforded by the two following letters exhibited to the Royal Archaeological Institute by the Rev. C. W. Bingham.

‘To Mrs. Chaffin at Chettle House.’

‘Monday, about ye forenoon, July 6, 1685.’

‘My dearest creature,— This morning about one o’clock the rebbells fell upon us whilest we were in our tents in King’s Sedgemoor, with their whole army. . . . We have killed and taken at least 1000 of them. They are fled into Bridgewater. It is said that we have taken all their cannon, but sure it is that most are, if all be not. A coat with stars on ‘t is taken. ‘’Tis run through the back. By some ’tis thought that the Duke rebbell had it on and is killed, but most doe think that a servant wore it. I wish he were called, that the wars may be ended. It’s thought he’ll never be able to make his men fight again. I thank God I am very well without the least hurt, soe are our Dorsetshire friends. Prythee let Biddy know this by the first opportunity. I am thyne onely deare, TOSSEY.’

BRIDGEWATER: July 7, 1685.

‘We have totally routed the enemies of God and the King, and can’t hear of fifty men together of the whole rebel army. We pick them up every houre in cornfields and ditches. Williams, the late Duke’s valet de chambre, is taken, who gives a very ingenious account of the whole affair, which is too long to write. The last word that he said to him was at the time when his army fled, that he was undone and must shift for himself. We think to march with the General this day to Wells, on his way homeward. At present he is 3 miles off at the camp, soe I can’t certainly tell whether he intends for Wells. I shall be home certainly on Saturday at farthest. I believe my deare Nan would for 500 pounds that her Tossey had served the King to the end of the war.

I am thyne, my deare childe, for ever.’

Note K.— Lord Grey and the Horse at Sedgemoor.

It is only fair to state that Ferguson is held by many to have been as doughty a soldier as he was zealous in religion. His own account of Sedgemoor is interesting, as showing what was thought by those who were actually engaged on the causes of their failure.

‘Now besides these two troops, whose officers though they had no great skill yet had courage enough to have done something honourably, had they not for want of a guide met with the aforesaid obstruction, there was no one of all the rest of our troops that ever advanced to charge or approached as near to the enemy as to give or receive a wound. Mr. Hacker, one of our captains, came no sooner within view of their camp than he villainously fired a pistol to give them notice of our approach, and then forsook his charge and rode oft with all the speed he could, to take the benefit of a proclamation emitted by the King, offering pardon to all such as should return home within such a time. And this he pleaded at his tryal, but was answered by Jeffreys “that he above all other men deserved to be hanged, and that for his treachery to Monmouth as well as his treason to the King.” And though no other of our officers acted so villainously, yet they were useless and unserviceable, as never once attempting to charge, nor so much as keeping their men in a body. And I dare affirm that if our horse had never fired a pistol, but only stood in a posture to have given jealousy and apprehension to the enemy, our foot alone would have carried the day and been triumphant. But our horse standing scattered and disunited, and flying upon every approach of a squadron of theirs, commanded by Oglethorpe, gave that body of their cavalry an advantage, after they had hovered up and down in the field without thinking it necessary to attack those whom their own fears had dispersed, to fall in at last in the rear of our battalions, and to wrest that victory out of their hands which they were grasping at, and stood almost possessed of. Nor was that party of their horse above three hundred at most, whereas we had more than enough had they had any courage, and been commanded by a gallant man, to have attacked them with ease both in front and flank. These things I can declare with more certainty, because I was a doleful spectator of them; for having contrary to my custom left attending upon the Duke, who advanced with the foot, I betook myself to the horse, because the first of that morning’s action was expected from them, which was to break in and disorder the enemy’s camp. Against the time that our battalions should come up, I endeavoured whatsoever I was capable of performing, for I not only struck at several troopers who had forsaken their station, but upbraided divers of the captains for being wanting in their duty. But I spoke with great warmth to my Lord Grey, and conjured him to charge, and not suffer the victory, which our foot had in a manner taken hold of, to be ravished from us. But instead of hearkening, he not only as an unworthy man and cowardly poltroon deserted that part of the field and forsook his command, but rode with the utmost speed to the Duke, telling him that all was lost and it was more than time to shift for himself. Wherebye, as an addition to all the mischief he had been the occasion of before, he drew the easy and unfortunate gentleman to leave the battalions while they were courageously disputing on which side the victory should fall. And this fell most unhappily out, while a certain person was endeavouring to find out the Duke to have begged of him to come and charge at the head of his own troops. However, this I dare affirm, that if the Duke had been but master of two hundred horse, well mounted, completely armed, personally valiant, and commanded by experienced officers, they would have been victorious. This is acknowledged by our enemies, who have often confessed they were ready to fly through the impressions made upon them by our foot, and must have been beaten had our horse done their part, and not tamely looked on till their cavalry retrieved the day by falling into the rear of our battalions. Nor was the fault in the private men, who had courage to have followed their leaders, but it was in those who led them, particularly my Lord Grey, in whom, if cowardice may be called treachery, we may safely charge him with betraying our cause.’

Extract from MS. of Dr. Ferguson, quoted in ‘Ferguson the Plotter,’ an interesting work by his immediate descendant, an advocate of Edinburgh.

Note L.— Monmouth’s Attitude after Capture.

The following letter, written by Monmouth to the Queen from the Tower, is indicative of his abject state of mind.

‘Madam,— I would not take the boldness of writing to your Majesty till I had shown the King how I do abhor the thing that I have done, and how much I desire to live to serve him. I hope, madam, by what I have said to the King today will satisfy how sincere I am, and how much I detest all those people who have brought me to this. Having done this, madam, I thought I was in a fitt condition to beg your intercession, which I am sure you never refuse to the distressed, and I am sure, madam, that I am an object of your pity, having been cousened and cheated into this horrid business. Did I wish, madam, to live for living sake I would never give you this trouble, but it is to have life to serve the King, which I am able to doe, and will doe beyond what I can express. Therefore, madam, upon such an account as I may take the boldness to press you and beg of you to intersaid for me, for I am sure, madam, the King will hearken to you. Your prairs can never be refused, especially when it is begging for a life only to serve the King. I hope, madam, by the King’s generosity and goodness, and your intercession, I may hope for my life which if I have shall be ever employed in showing to your Majesty all the sense immadginable of gratitude, and in serving of the King like a true subject. And ever be your Majesty’s most dutiful and obedient servant, MONMOUTH.’

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Last updated Friday, March 14, 2014 at 21:33