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Under Many Flags
Chapter VI. Sir James Turner (continued)


TURNER was too restless to keep his parole to the letter. He visited the principal Dutch towns— voyaged to Copenhagen—and finding no employment, listened to a proposal from Lord Carnegie that he should accompany him back to Scotland. His parole had two months to run; but disregarding the obligation of honour, he accepted Lord Carnegie’s offer, and the two were landed on the Scottish coast “the very night before Cromwell beat the Scottish army at Dunbar.” When the news of that great victory reached him, Turner stole off to Fife, where his wife joined him, and they spent the winter at Desart.

The soldier of fortune in those days seems to have been insensible to all the higher impulses, whether of loyalty to a person, fidelity to a cause, or patriotic devotion to a country. He killed for lucre or the mere love of fighting, and fought indifferently under any standard. His sole virtue— though even this was sometimes wanting—was faithfulness to his employer so long as he received his wages. There was no elevated aim or purpose in his life; his trade was bloodshed; and he carried it on in a most mercenary spirit. Thus one need not be surprised that Turner speedily professed his Presbyterian and Royalist sympathies, and made his peace with the Kirk by unsaying all that he had said, and repenting for all he had done. As an experienced officer he was gladly welcomed, and was at once appointed Adjutant-General of the army that was being raised to restore Charles II. and establish the supremacy of the Kirk. In this capacity he served during the disastrous campaign which ended in the total defeat of the Royal army at Worcester, September 2, 1651, and in this last battle was taken prisoner.

As he had broken his parole, it is likely he would have had but short shrift; and at Oxford, where the prisoners halted on their way to London, he contrived to effect his escape. With the help of his host, whom he describes as “a barger, a barber, and a shoemaker,” he got out on the roof of the house where he was billeted, made his way into an empty house next door, and slipped past all the guards, both horse and foot, not without “obstructions” and some “merry passages,” which, he observes, were not so pleasant at the time as was afterwards the recollection of them. For two days and nights he lay in the garret of a new house, which was both doorless and windowless. As soon as the search was over, and the other prisoners, with their escort, were well advanced towards London, he crept out of his hiding-place, and disguised in mean attire, took the same direction, in company with half-a-dozen watermen, who had all served in the Royal army, under Charles I.

“The first day,” he writes, “I walked afoot to Morley, which was twenty miles from Oxford, but my feet were so spoiled with the clouted shoes which I wore, and myself so weary, that my companions were forced to carry me almost the last two miles. Lusty, strong, and loyal fellows they were, but extremely debauched. They missed not an alehouse in the way, and my paying for all the ale and beer they drank (for I thank God they would drink no wine) did not at all trouble me; but it was a vexation to me to drink cup for cup with them, else they should have had no good opinion of me, and to them I was necessitated to reveal myself, my honest barger going before us all the way on horseback, and so serving us for a scout. At Morley I hired an old carcase of a horse from a knavish old fellow, who made himself exceeding merry with me, jeering me very broadly; and indeed I was in so woeful a plight that I was ridiculous enough, neither could any man have conceived that ever I had been an officer in any army of the world. On horseback I came to Brentford, thirteen miles from Morley, and seven from London, and rode through at least two hundred red-coats that had convoyed my countrymen to Titlefield, but was well seconded in passing them by my trusty comrades, the watermen. At Brentford I took oars, and in the night-time landed at Westminster Stairs, which I had never seen; for I came in an evil hour to London, where I had never been before. I was lodged that night with an honest Welshman, to whom my barger revealed what I was, that he might make me known to some of the royal party, for I had no acquaintances in that great city.”

In a short time three influential Royalists came to his assistance, and he lay in strict seclusion in Westminster, until an opportunity offered for him to get to Dover, and thence to cross to Calais. As soon as possible he went on to Paris, where he was graciously received by the young King, Charles II. Soon afterwards, Lieutenant-General Middleton, who had escaped from the Tower, also arrived; and quite a little court gathered round his saturnine Majesty. Turner retired to a private house in the Faubourg St. Antoine, to study French, some knowledge of which our keen-witted Scot had acquired, with no other help than that of a Grammar and Dictionary, during his period of compulsory leisure at Hull.

Solitary studies, however, were never at any time to Turner’s taste. The old war-horse scented the smell of battle afar, and eagerly responded to an invitation from Lieutenant-General Middleton, who had been appointed Captain-General of all the King’s forces in the kingdom of Scotland. These forces were non-existent, but Middleton was bound for Holland and Germany to levy contributions from loyal Scots for obtaining arms and ammunition, with which to equip the volunteers he hoped to rally to the King’s standard. On this service Turner was also dispatched; and sufficient funds being raised, the adventurous Cavaliers landed at various points on the coast of Fife in the spring of 1654. Their expedition, however, came very speedily to a disastrous end. Scotland was firmly ruled by Cromwell’s lieutenants, and showed no inclination to hazard another insurrection. Turner’s experiences were of a painful and pitiful kind. A soldier of fortune’s life had its dark as well as its bright side; and of this dark side he now saw more than he cared for; so that he made haste to throw up the losing game, and recross the inauspicious sea to Ostend.

At Aix-la-Chapelle he had an audience of the King; but his past career had not been of a kind to entitle him to a place in the royal councils, and, perceiving that he was unacceptable, he wandered away into Holland, visited the Queen of Bohemia at the Hague, and then returned in November to his wife at Bremen. The year 1655 he spent in idleness; but in the following spring his resources being exhausted, he found that he must once more go “a-colonelling,” as Butler puts it, and, as a preliminary, sent his wife to her friends in Scotland. He gives quite a pathetic account of their parting:

“Finding no passage from Amsterdam to Scotland, I took my wife from thence to Rotterdam; and after a month’s stay there and at the Hague, I found a good vessel bound for Leith, and in it my wife embarked. William Bruce, now Sir William, and Baronet and Clerk of the Bills, was likewise a passenger; at which I was glad, knowing he would do my wife all the good offices he could. I went with her below the Briell, where with a very sad heart I took my leave of her; finding then how sensible and touching a sorrow it is to part with a beloved yoke-fellow. I thought this separation of mine from her did too near resemble death ; for I had no visible ground for any hope to see her again; I not being permitted to come to the country whither she was going, and there being but small probability that I could expect any fortune so soon as might invite her to take a share of it. But,

(As fra regunt homines, sed regit astra Deus.
‘The stars above governeth men below,
But the Almighty rules the stars, we know.’

We put our trust in God, and He, Who never deserted those who put their confidence in Him, did not disappoint us. She landed safely, notwithstanding of a storm, and a great many Spanish capers at sea.”

The disconsolate Cavalier rejoined General Middleton, after his wife’s departure, and went with him to Dantzic, in the hope of engaging the King of Poland in the cause of Charles II. Deposed kings have few friends, and nothing came of the journey but disappointment and debt. Turner borrowed some moneys, and went on a mission of his own making to Copenhagen, being wishful to sell his sword to the Danish King, who was then at war with Sweden. He received an immediate commission to raise a regiment of foot one thousand strong, and for this purpose returned to Holland; but while busily engaged in recruiting he received information of the death of the King, and was once more thrown out of employment. We may suppose, however, that he made a profit out of the transaction; for in spite of his doleful apprehensions he was able again to send for his wife, who joined him at the Hague, and they lived there together for a couple of years “with much content.”

At the Restoration our Cavalier made his appearance in London, losing no time in petitioning the King to remember his faithful service. His Majesty asked to whom he wished his petition to be referred for consideration. Turner named the two most powerful of the Scottish nobles, the Earls of Lauderdale and Middleton. The former promised that he would get the King to confirm in England whatever the latter proposed in Scotland, thus relieving himself of responsibility. The truth seems to be, that Turner was trusted by neither party. At all events, as Middleton did nothing in Turner’s behalf, Lauderdale’s good-will was never put to the test. Our soldier of fortune, grievously disappointed, wished to go back to Scotland. On taking leave of the King, he was flattered with some very gracious expressions, and received the honour of knighthood; an honour, he says, which he had not desired nor deserved. Probably; but then it cost the King nothing, and was a cheap way of paying off a debt.

However in August 1662, as the result of incessant solicitation, something more was done for him. He was commissioned to raise a company of foot, with which he was sent to keep order in Glasgow. Ho remained there until 1663. In March 1665 he was'^again dispatched to the West country, with one hundred and twenty foot and thirty horse, to put the laws concerning Church ordinance in force, or in other words, to wring out of the people on any plausible pretext the largest sum of money possible, in order to fill the royal treasury at Edinburgh. He stayed in Glasgow for two months and reduced the country into tolerable obedience. Soon afterwards he was sent to Ayr, Irvine, and Kilmarnock, to assist in disarming all persons but those entrusted with official duties. Next he was dispatched to Galloway, which was in a very disturbed state. There his stern and cold temper made itself painfully felt; and his cruelty and unscrupulousness attached perpetual odium to his name. The spirit in which he carried out his orders we may infer from an official report, drawn up some years later, in which he was condemned for—

1. Quartering of soldiers for levying of fines and impositions; 2. Exacting cess or quartering money for more soldiers than were actually present, sometimes for double the number or more; 3. Cess exacted for divers days, sometimes eight, ten, or more, before the party did actually appear; 4. Imposing of fines and quartering before any previous citation or hearing of parties, and so on. Such oppression, not unnaturally, provoked the people of the West to insurrection.

One November day, at Dairy, four peasants interfered to prevent three or four ruffianly soldiers from ill-using a poor old man. In the scuffle a pistol was fired, and a soldier wounded. The peasants knew that “if taken, they would certainly be hanged, and they resolved to go through with it,” and stand to their defence as best they might. There was a post of twelve soldiers hard by. Securing the co-operation of some of their neighbours, they attacked and overcame them, and carried off their weapons. The successful rioters then remembered that Sir James Turner was at Dumfries, and if they did not seize upon him, he would assuredly seize upon them, when their fate would soon be decided—a hasty trial and the nearest gibbet. A country gentleman, the Lord of Bascute, sided with them; numerous sympathizers came in ; and with fifty horsemen and a crowd of peasants on foot, they marched into Dumfries, surrounded Turner’s house, and as most of his force had been sent to Leith, easily made him prisoner.

What befell afterwards he relates with his usual complacency—

“The Captain (of the insurgents) mounted me on his own horse, and there was good reason for it, for he mounted himself on a far better one of mine, besides those he disposed of to others. Some gentlemen, out of affection, followed me out of Dumfries; one whereof was rudely commanded back, and two others were carried eight miles further, almost as prisoners. Yet I had the opportunity to tell one of them, that so soon as he returned to town, he shall immediately post away a servant of mine (whom he knew I trusted) to my Lord Archbishop of Glasgow, to acquaint him with all that had passed. It was a great addition to my grief to know that my lord at that time, because of a fever whereof he was not recovered, might fall in a relapse, and so not only endanger his life, but render him incapable to pay the King and the Church that service which otherwise I knew he was both able and willing to do, yet I thought it more fitting he should have it from my servant than from another, who would not perhaps have given him so right an information.

“That night I was lodged at the minister’s house at Glencairn, but the rebels did not let me stay long there, being frighted from thence by a mis-intelligence they had, that the Earl of Annandale and my Lord Drumlanrig were following them with a strong party of friends and vassals. I found it was in vain for me to offer to persuade the Captain, that it was purely impossible for these Lords, in so short a time, to get so many men together as could encounter his party, which consisted of above nine score men, more than the half whereof consisted of horsemen, indifferently well mounted, with swords, pistols, and carabines; the rest were afoot, armed with muskets, pikes, swords, scythes, and pitchforks. When they had carried me away from thence, they put a strong guard upon me, and with much difficulty I was permitted to speak to the Captain, who a little before had dismissed twenty of my soldiers, whom he had taken in the country, telling them they should have no quarter hereafter, if they served the Prelates any more. They had killed one Hamilton, a soldier of my own company, the night before, because he would neither take the Covenant, nor cared for their quarter. I did plead, I could be no prisoner of war, and therefore desired I might be set at liberty, which was refused me with much scorn and contempt.

“Then I desired he would leave me in some place till I convalesced, which I hoped would be within a day or two, and that I would not fail to come to him upon my parole, which I promised not to break. But the wicked wretch told me that he was so far from believing my word, that he would not trust the King, my master, if he were there; and uttered such horrid speeches as are not fit for any loyal subject to rehearse. I then told him he might now dispose of me as he pleased, for after these expressions of his, it did not become me to make any further applications to him. Most part of that night was spent in riding, in regard my indisposition constrained my guards to march but slowly. Once they took me in to refresh at a place called Castlefairn; the honest woman of the house was but shrewdly used, because by her pitiful looks she did show she had commiseration of my condition. There was one of my guards called Cannon of Barnshalloch, who entertained me the whole night with discourses of death, by order, as I imagined, from the Captain. He told me, he believed it was concluded I should die, and therefore wished me to prepare for it, and to repent of all my heinous sins, especially of that crying one of my persecuting God’s people, who made conscience to keep the Covenant, to which all my actions showed me to be a mortal enemy. It is needless to repeat any more of his language or my answers to him; let it be enough to say that I endeavoured to learn from him whether my death was to be delayed till more of their forces were come together; his answer was, it was probable it might be delayed.

“On the 16th of the month we came to the old Clachan of Dairy, where they increased to two hundred and fifty. Master Hugh Henderson, late minister of Dumfries, who lived near that house, obtained leave of Gray that I might dine with him. And though he and I be of different persuasions, yet I will say that he entertained me with very real kindness, and desired the Captain to set me at liberty; whose answer was, that he could not dispose of me till he came to Ayrshire, where he was to receive further orders from his superiors. At this place Major Steuart of Monwhill gave me a visit, and though he be a Presbyterian, yet in plain language he called them both knaves and fools. It was reported to me that Captain Gray did here offer to resign his command to this Major Steuart, and that he absolutely refused it. I had often inquired what this Captain Gray was, and by what authority he did command these gentlemen he had never seen before ; but I was answered by them all, that they knew no more of him but that he called himself Captain Gray, and that he had brought an order with him to them all to obey him. I took much pains to learn from whom that order came, whether from one man as a general, or from more men as a council, a committee, or junto; but could never yet, by any means I could use, come to the knowledge of it.”

So far I have allowed this ingenious and selfsatisfied gentleman to speak for himself; but his stupendous egotism, his easy confidence in his superior knowledge and wisdom, renders him so incontinently prolix that, interesting as, in itself, is his narrative of adventure, I must now abridge and condense it, in justice to the reader’s patience and my limitations of space.

On Sunday, the 18th, the Covenanters, with their prisoner, marched to Dalmellington. On the way, the couple of guards who rode on either side of him chose, as a cheerful subject of discourse, the lawfulness of putting him to death on the Sabbath day, because he had compelled many precious Christians to transgress the Sabbath by preventing them from hearing their lawful pastors “in hills and woods,” and forcing them to go to church to hear “dumb dogs”—that is, the ministers of the Established Kirk.

By way of Tarbolton they moved on to Ayr, the strength of the insurgents being increased to seven hundred. They fell in with a Major Lermond, who accosted the shifty Cavalier with disagreeable frankness. He had known him, he said, when he was a gentleman ; but he was such no longer, being a persecutor of God’s saints, a slave to prelacy, and an instrument of its tyranny. Turner was lodged in an inn at Ayr, with three gentlemen in his apartment to keep him under watch and ward, and a guard of horse and foot below stairs.

On the 21st his guards were changed. The men were proved to be of rougher texture than their predecessors; and half-a-dozen breaking into his room dragged him from it with great rudeness, and in such haste that he had no time to settle with his landlord! His horse not being ready, he was made to trudge afoot almost out of the town; but encountering fortunately the officer who had been previously in command, he was carried back to the inn, where he was allowed to discharge his reckoning and enjoy his morning draught. The march being resumed, he was mounted on a slowfooted horse, and deprived of his spurs, to lessen his chances of escape; but Calhoun, a bankrupt merchant of Glasgow, who held him in charge, behaved with very much respect and civility.

At Ochiltree lodgings were found for him in the principal alehouse, where he was “indifferently well used,” and visited by some of the Covenanters, both officers and ministers. And here I may note that he seems to have had really very little to complain of in the way of treatment, notwithstanding the evil reputation he had acquired as an “oppressor” and “enemy of God’s people.” Some sharp reproaches were occasionally hurled at him, but this was all. He makes the most of every petty grievance in that garrulous and not always, I fear, too veracious narrative of his; it is evident, however, that he experienced no very harsh usage or special privation.

From Ochiltree they pushed on to Muirkirk, and thence to Douglas—in the neighbourhood of Scott’s Castle Dangerous—where the command of the Covenanters was taken up by an experienced soldier, Colonel Wallace. They then numbered about four hundred horse, armed with sword, or sword and pistol; and five hundred foot, carrying musket, pike, sword, scythe, or pitchfork, according to their degree—some, nothing but a great long staff. When a couple of troops of cavalry were skirmishing against each other by way of exercise, Sir James was moved to admiration by the agility of both the horsemen and their steeds, the excellent order kept in the ranks, and the high degree of discipline attained in so brief a period.

Their object being Edinburgh, our insurgents kept their course to the east, crossing the Clyde at Lanark, where Sir James’s fastidious sense of right and wrong was much shocked by their behaviour, though I find nothing in it that was worse than his own when he trailed a pike in the German wars. "It was an ordinary thing,” he says, “for any of them all to call for anything was necessary for either horse or man, and say they would pay it when they came back ”—which, probably, most, if not all, of them may have meant to do. He adds, sarcastically, that this was but “a peccadillo in both officers and soldiers, for a great sin it could not be in such saints, who, say they, have the only true right to the creature.” It must be remembered, however, that Turner is by no means a trustworthy authority as to the action of those whom he calls “the sectaries.” He tells the following curious story, by the way, which, if true, may be taken as a measure of the hatred he had inspired by his exactions.

A certain person who, he says, shall be nameless, desiring to see him as a prisoner and environed with drawn swords, Major Lermond led him out of his corner, round about the Tolbooth, and before a high window where that person stood. There were many signs of joy, and much laughter passed betwixt him and the Major, yet he endeavoured to keep so within the window that Sir James Turner might not espy him, but in vain. “It was a ridiculous action,” comments Sir James, “of that foolish Major, to satisfy any man’s curiosity by abusing himself and the charge he then exercised. And to the other I shall say, it was below a gentleman, and unbeseeming a good subject, to desire to glut his eyes with the sight of the low condition and captivity of one who professed loyalty to the King.”

At Lanark the insurgents were joined by some forty or fifty sympathizers, attaining their maximum of numbers, which Turner puts at eleven hundred, though some authorities estimate it at three thousand. Descending from the Lanarkshire hills, with the Royal army under General Thomas Dalyell (or Dalziel—a soldier of fortune, like Turner, who had seen much service against the Turks and Tartars, and had been raised to the rank of General by the Czar Alexis Michaelovitch) in hot pursuit, they crossed a wide stretch of moorland and morass, ascended the vast shoulder of the Pentlands, and approached within five miles of the Scottish capital. There they were drawn up in two squadrons of horse and one division of foot, and harangued by one of their ministers, who, in ardent language, desired them to remember that Covenant and oath of God which they had taken, and their duty to carry themselves not only devoutly towards God, but civilly and discreetly towards men. He assured them that their friends were ready to receive and embrace them with open arms, and to furnish them with all necessaries for back and belly, as also with all things which might render them able to meet their enemies. “But,” said he, “you must not stop there, for to be civil to those who are good to you deserves neither thanks nor reward. I entreat you to use all imaginable discretion to those who are not of your persuasion; endeavour to gain them with love, and by your good carriage stop the mouths of your adversaries.”

On November 27, the thirteenth day of the insurrection, the Covenanters advanced to Colin-ton, two miles from Edinburgh. At some points of their march they were visible from the Castle, but out of range of its guns. They encamped in a place defensible enough against sudden attacks “by reason of a church and churchyard, and a stone bridge" the river, because of the great rains, being unfordable. But a terrible disappointment awaited them. There was no rising in the city as they had been led to expect; the saints came not forth to battle with the ungodly; no brave spirits offered to swell their scanty ranks; even “the necessaries for back and belly” were not forthcoming. There, in the black gloom of the November night, they realized that their cause was hopeless; that they had committed themselves to an enterprise which never had any prospect of success. Colonel Wallace saw that his only chance was a hasty return to the West; and quickly putting his little force, which was rapidly diminishing by desertions, into motion, he re-crossed the green slopes of the Pentlands by House of Muir to Rullion Green on their southern side. There they were overtaken by Dalziel and his army; and Wallace, perceiving that an action was inevitable, posted his half-starved men and horses on a bold ridge that rises out of the natural valley (November 28). It was not without some sharp fighting, nor until two attacks had been beaten off, that Dalziel, with all his superiority in numbers, discipline, and equipment, overcame the resistance of those gallant peasants. But, overcome by repeated charges, at nightfall they broke and fled.

Sir James Turner’s experiences on this memorable occasion he narrates with his characteristic air of superiority.

At the outset of the fight, his guards were ordered to come down from their position on the summit of the ridge, and take up ground in the rear of the main body, “ only to make a show.” As soon as he saw that the Covenanters were being overpowered, he addressed these men with his usual bonhomie—“My friends,” said he, “the day will be either yours or ours. If yours, I am still your prisoner, and I believe I shall not be long troubled with you after your victory. If the day prove ours, your lives and mine are in equal danger. If then the Kings forces gain the victory, defend you me from the violence of your party in their flight, and I shall assure you of your lives.”

To this proposal those of his guards who remained with him—eight in all, the other eight having fled—readily assented. “Then put your swords in your left hands,” said he, “and hold up your right hands to heaven, and let both you and me swear the performance of our mutual promises.” Which was presently done. “And who will now say,” remarked Sir James, humorously, “that I am not a Covenanter?” A few minutes later, he heard the Covenanting ministers crying aloud, and very frequently, “The God of Jacob! The God of Jacob!” This was when they saw a temporary check on the part of the Kings troops. Turner asked them the meaning of their shout. They replied, Could he not see that the Lord was fighting for them With a good deal of passion, he told them that they did not understand the course of the fight, for they would see those troops whom they thought beaten quickly rally and make a stand; and as he spake, the whole body of Dalziel’s foot and the left wing of his horse advanced firmly and in good order, with trumpets sounding and drums beating. “And in one word,” exclaimed Turner, “if your party do not reel, run, and fly within a quarter of an hour, then I shall be contented you pistol me.”

“It fell out so,” says Turner, “that though the rebels for their number fought desperately enough, yet it pleased the Lord they were beaten, and their horse fled apace.” While he was meditating how to avail himself of this opportunity, came one Cannon of Mondroget, bleeding freely from his wounds; and told him he must go with him. Turner answered that he was so ill mounted that he could not keep his pace, and that he knew he was not allowed the use of a spur. It was probable, said the Covenanter, that some of their officers might be made prisoners, and Turner might help by exchange to relieve them; therefore, forward he must go, for he neither could nor would leave him behind, much as it was against his inclination. But the Royal dragoons were galloping up; and Turner, catching sight of their shining corselets, advised Mondroget to take thought of his own life and not seek another’s. The Covenanter perceived that the tables were turned, and rode away, fast and far. Four more of Turner’s guards had beaten a retreat; the others he persuaded to turn with him, and he bade a drummer of his, who had followed his fortunes, make known to any officer he came across that his master was on the field. The drummer fell in with a servant of the Duke of Hamilton, who soon afterwards rode up, and giving Turner and his prisoners—for such his former guards had become—the pass-word and the sign, conducted the former to his Grace, by whom he was received with the utmost kindness and courtesy. The Duke gave orders that the four peasants should be kindly used, and eventually, on Turners application, they were set free.

Such was the end of our Cavalier’s experiences as a captive; and such, too, was the end of the fourteen days’ insurrection, which he had provoked by his severities. For these severities he was called to account by the Government, and it must be admitted that he made an adequate defence. There was also much debate about a sum of ,£38,000 which he had raised: what became of it is by no means clear, and at this distance of time is by no means important. But I do not think that much of it stuck in our Cavalier’s hands; as a matter of fact, the Privy Council exonerated him. The official inquiry into his various alleged offences was concluded in May 1668. Thereafter he lived in strict retirement—a disappointed man, whose adventures had brought him no great profit and but small distinction. In his Memoirs, however, he attempts to make the best of things, and poses with some skill as a man more sinned against than sinning. “Though I profess myself,” he writes,

“no Stoic, nor have I indeed that apathy or insensibility of the strokes of Fortune and afflictions whereof they foolishly boast, yet I may without vanity say that the King’s displeasure with me being set aside, I have been but little moved with those changes of fortune that hath befallen me, nor have they brangled my resolutions from looking on prosperity and adversity with an equal eye, nor shall hinder me, so far as God shall enable me with grace, to keep a good conscience before God, an unspotted loyalty to my prince, and fair and honest dealing with all men, at least in as high a degree as man in the state of imperfection can reach to.

“I am writing this in the month of February, of the year of our Lord 1670, and entering in the fifty-sixth year of my own age, being in indifferent good health; my body, considering the fatigue of my life, not very crazy ; the intellectuals which God hath bestowed upon me sound enough; and my memory so good, but though I never used to keep notes in writing, and that I have written within these last four months the Introduction to my Discourses, and the Introduction to this long Narration, with the Narration itself, in which are comprehended the most remarkable passages of my life; yet all and every one of them represented themselves as freshly to my remembrances as if they had been but the occurrences of yesterday. To God only wise, be glory for ever. Amen.”

Turner, it must in all honesty be said, was no Dugald Dalgetty; no rough, rude, unlettered mercenary, but a man of considerable acquirements, and not without a certain sense of duty. It was his boast—and a justifiable one—that he rendered faithful service to his employers. As to the cause or principles represented by those employers he was not particularly scrupulous; but at bottom he was a Royalist, and attached to the Stuart dynasty. That he was of a stern and severe temper is affirmed by his contemporaries, and proved by his actions. Bishop Burnet’s character of the man is not very flattering, but I fear it is true—“ He was naturally firm, but was mad when he was drunk, and that was very often. He was a learned man, but had always been in armies, and knew no other rule but to obey orders. He told me he had no regard to any laws, but acted as he was commanded in a military spirit.”

In his romance of Old Mortality, Scott makes Major Bellenden refer to the most important of the works of this learned Cavalier and swash-bucklering scholar—“For my part,” says the Major, “I have not read a book these twenty years except my Bible, The Whole Duiy of Man; and, of late years, Turner’s Pallas Armata, a Treatise on the Pike Exercise, and I don’t like his discipline much neither.”

That his range of reading was tolerably extensive, we may infer from the titles of his MS. Essays or Discourses preserved in the Advocates’ Library, Edinburgh, such as Duties of Sovereigns and Subjects, Orators and Preachers, Magic, The Jewish Cabbala, Anger, Reveiige, Duels, Cruelty. While in his Miscellanies he touches upon the following characters: Francesco Petrarca, Edward III., Lucrezia Borgia, Orlando, Julius Scaliger, Mary Stuart, Raymond Lulli, Cardinal Mazarin, Wallenstein, Villiers Duke of Buckingham, Mary Tudor Queen of England, King Charles, Gustavus of Sweden, and Queen Christina.

The date of Turner’s death is generally given as 1685; his widow survived until 1716.


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