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The Life and Diary of Lieut. Col. J. Blackader
Chapter XVII


Continuation of Hostilities—Colonel Blackader proposes to resign— Campaign—Passing of the French Lines—Siege of Bouchain— Letters—Colonel Blackader sells his Commission, and leaves the Army—Arrives in London—Peace of Utrecht.

Advances were still making towards peace, and the British Cabinet was much inclined for pacific measures, but the mutual jealousies of the Allied Powers prevented them from acting with decision or unanimity : These divisions abroad, and the party contentions among the ministry at home, emboldened the French King to renew his exertions in the Netherlands; and Marshal Villars, as Commander of the forces, opened the campaign with a more numerous army than any that had taken the field since the commencement of the war. The Duke of Marlborough, notwithstanding his friends had lost their influence in the Queen’s councils, continued to preside over the Confederate arms, and this year gave fresh proofs of his extraordinary talents, and military capacity. The two most remarkable of his exploits were the passing of the French lines by stratagem, and the reduction of Bouchain. This was his last campaign, for such is the instability of human greatness, that on his return to England, he was prosecuted by the Attorney-General for the dishonest application of the public money, in consequence of a petition from the House of Commons to the Queen, and was by her removed from the command of the army, and from all his public offices.

This was also the last of Colonel Blackader’s campaigns, having quitted his regiment in the month of October, during the siege of Bouchain; and in course of next year, disposed of his commission. He never had any delight in the society of the army; and now that he was, from his office, unavoidably more exposed to it than he could wish, he became anxious to resign his post, and contemplated every new campaign with terror and aversion. He had begun, while in garrison, to negotiate about this affair, but the early summons to take the field, prevented the matter from coming to any conclusion..

January 6. I have this day been making a proposal that may be a crisis of my life, in quitting this employment. I commit it to thee, O Lord. I have only proposed, do thou dispose, and prosper it as far as thou seest fit for thy glory and my good. Let me have no wrong bias, or leaning to any selfish or worldly interest, but have thy glory singly before my eyes in every thing I do.

February 26.- Got orders to be ready to march, which is likely to make me begin my campaign very early. Serious and thoughtful about it. I see that most men of the world keep up their hearts by vain imaginations, and make themselves easy and cheerful; . B 4 is it not then a sad thought, that religion and reason should not have a like effect upon them ? O to live by faith ! That would do it. That would make us rejoice in infirmities, in temptations, in losses and sufferings. O for grace to practise more what we profess.

March 10. .We marched out of Ghent. This is an early commencement of the campaign. I have been uneasy about this command, as it chains me too much to ill company, which is not my element. The care about doing my duty properly, and other things, trouble me, which ought not; for I should commit all to God by faith. I have that unhappiness of temper which forms melancholy ideas of things before hand, that vanish away when it comes to the acting part.

March 13. Marching yesterday, and this morning I went upon command to take possession of a post which we were apprehensive the enemy designed to possess, but it fell out well, for we took peaceable possession of it. We posted our men the best way we could, I committed myself and my charge to him who is a fortress and a high tower to all that put their trust in him. I remembered and applied that promise in Josh. i. 9. and I observe Providence has ordered it so, that I am the first this campaign that has begun hostilities, qnd taken post in the enemy’s country. In thy name, O Lord, will we set up our banners.

March 15. We have been busily employed and much fatigued in fortifying ourselves, and guarding this post; but unless the Lord do keep it, the watchi men watch in vain,

March 26. Going abroad early to St. Amand, where I dined with the General. I committed all my way to God, for I find business never goes on well till I do this. An affair committed to God by prayer, is as good as done.

April 10. Went into Douay, and took a view of our attack at the siege. I had a serene, thankful frame of mind. Sitting alone in my chaise by the way, I meditated on the goodness of God, and his singular mercies to me. My business went well and smoothly on, and I had the same serene frame coming back at night. But Providence lets me see that all our earthly enjoyments are like Jonah’s gourd. There is a worm at the root of them. I observe that no sooner do I begin to rest any pleasure or satisfaction in any earthly comfort, than Providence gives some check, and lets me see there is nothing but vanity and emptiness in all; for when I arrived at home, the chaise going in at the coach-house gate, by some accident startling the horses, they took fright, and broke it in pieces. I should learn from this the unsatisfactoriness of earthly enjoyments, for at the very time we are hugging ourselves in our conveniences and pleasures, the Lord may be preparing a worm to gnaw and eat out the comfort of them,

April 17. Now the armies are taking the field on both sides, and probably will enter soon into action. I flee to thee, O Lord, to hide me under the shadow of thy wings, to enter into those chambers which thou hast provided for thy people in a day of trouble. This is my refuge. I received orders from Douay, to be ready to march in case the enemy make any attempt that way as they threaten to do. All the rest of the cantonment are marched.

April 19. This has been a quiet retreat these five weeks past, hut now that all the British. cantonment is come here—a hundred men of each of twenty regiments—it is become, as it were, a hell—nothing about me but cursing, blasphemy, violence, &c. All this while I was glad to stay here, now I would gladly march to get free of such company.

May 9. Was at the Duke’s quarters all the forenoon. Hearing of my brother’s death in Scotland, I took the resolution to go to Courtray to communicate the melancholy news to my wife. I arrived on the 11th, and bless the Lord who has given us a comfortable meeting with each other again.

May 15. We had a great alarm here this day, expecting the French were on their way to attack this town ; but their design was not here.

May 23. Left Courtray, and came to Tournay at night. Next day I came safe home to the army to my cottage. I praise thee, O Lord, who preservest my outgoings and my incomings, and lets no evil befall me—no plague come nigh my dwelling.

May 28. Taken up all day in reviewing before the Duke. All going well. I dined at a great man’s table, where others fell into snares by drinking, while I escaped. It is thy goodness, O Lord, and nothing in me.

June 3. Sabbath. Marched this day, (from the camp near Douay,) which was one of the severest I ever saw, by excessive heat. Several men marching in the ranks, fell down and died upon the very spot. The whole fields were like a field of battle, men lying panting and fainting. Most of the regiments did not bring above sixty or seventy men to the camp with their colours. I bless the Lord for his mercies to me. I have got the accommodation here of a cottage, though it is like to he pulled down about ray ears by the soldiers searching for wood and straw. If we would look more to those who are below us, and compare their condition with ours, it would make us more thankful and contented with our lot; for what makes us to differ? It is only the goodness of God that makes our circumstances better—the men are every whit as good as we.

June 22. In the afternoon I went out upon' command, where I continued for two days, doing my best to keep things in order upon my post. I came home at night, and bless God I have been kept out of snares and temptation.

June 26. Dining with company. This is a great folly in the army, that when a friend dines with ano-. ther, they are pressed to drink too much. I am always uneasy on these occasions. It is really an admiration to see men endowed with reason, and with immortal souls, so degrade themselves of that dignity, and lead such poor, animal, sensual lives as they do. O what fools,—what brutes,—what fiends has sin made man ! All this, I know, would sound harsh with the genteel world, whose example has dignified these customs, and given them the reputation of virtues. But that does not change the nature of the thing. Make me, O Lord, to escape the pollution that is in the world through sin. Most people think there can be no good company, or welcome without drinking; and many, even good sober men, have too warm a side to this custom. It is a great thing to get above the opinion of the world. This ruins many.

About this time the Colonel’s Lady had received letters from her father in Scotland, who had expressed an anxiety to see them, as some events had occurred in the family which rendered a visit desireable. The following from the Colonel, refers partly to that affair, and partly to the business of his commission.

Sabbath, June 24.

I received yours of yesterday, this forenoon. It is a satisfaction when letters come so soon to hand. I shall write to your father, God willing, when I can get leisure. You have done well in writing. I am hopeful he is not so anxious about seeing of you and me as you apprehend. I presume I know his temper as well as you do. He has affections that are strong enough, but they are masculine and reasonable, and that shew themselves more in doing good offices to his friends, than in fond desires of seeing them; and this is certainly the finest sort of love—most disinterested, for the other may rather be called self-love, the indulging of our own soft inclinations. But you must be a philosopher to enter into these sentiments and ways of reasoning.

I have been on command since I wrote last. I went out on Friday and came home yesternight. It was on a foraging party, an easy and short command; and the Major was with me. I have spoken to my Lord Stair about my affair; he relishes it very well, and says he had employed Captain Kennedy to speak to Colonel Preston ahout it when the regiment went out of camp to Harlebeck. We have not spoken about the terms, and there is no haste, for it cannot be finished until winter. I have not spoken of it to the Colonel; only in general I have told him that he must allow me to make my retreat out of the army. So now that I have tabled the affair I commit it entirely to kind Providence. I desire not to he anxious about it; for why should we he eager about any earthly concern ? It is not the change of place or employment that can make us easy.

When Captain M‘Leod comes here, I shall he very well satisfied, if I have time, to come and see you. For besides the attractive power that Courtray has by your being there, to bring me out of the army, it has also several other charms by the company I get there. But I should not tell this, for wives are jealous creatures. We are to be reviewed this week by my Lord Orkney, as General of the Foot, and are busy about our recruits. I am thine. J. B.

Madam Blackader, chez Mons. Col. Cunningham,
Commandant a Courtray,

July 5. Riding alone all day and coming to Lisle. I bless God who has defended and guarded me all this while in camp, where I was much exposed. This Lisle should be a continual remembrance to me, whenever I see it, for here I was compassed about with deliverance. (September 12, 1708 I went in the afternoon and visited the post I had at the attack, and was thankful for my escape. - :

The passing of the French lines, which we have already mentioned as the first memorable exploit this campaign, took place on the 25th. It was effected by stratagem, and celebrated by the writers of the times, as a feat of the most consummate generalship. These lines ran along the Scheldt from Bouchain to Arras, and by getting possession of them, a way was opened for besieging the former place, and even penetrating into the interior of France. The design was executed with the greatest secrecy. The army had orders to march in the evening, so soon as it was dark enough to strike their tents without being perceived by the enemy. They advanced with incredible expedition, and had possessed themselves of the passes on the river, before Marshal Villars was apprised of their destination, or prepared to oppose them. By this bold russe de guerre the Allies obtained a victory without striking a blow; and without losing one man, became masters of an important conquest which they would willingly have purchased at the expense of some thousand lives.

July 25. Last night we marched at nine o’clock, and continued it all night, and this day till three in the afternoon, and by the blessing of God have taken possession of the French lines without losing a man. This was performed by the excellent conduct, and to the great honour of our General, being one of the finest projects and best executed that has been during these wars. Not unto us, O Lord, but unto thee be the glory. It is thou who givest a spirit of judgment and conduct to those who have the direction and command, and a spirit of strength to those who are to execute these commands. Our enemies are taken in their own craftiness. We were long chained up, but when thy time comes, thou goest before us as the Captain of our host, and then we do great things. This was a sore fatiguing march of ten or twelve leagues: most of the army fell ill by the way, so that in the afternoon, when the French made a mien to oppose us, we had but a handful of men to oppose them, not more than 60 or 80 in a regiment. But the enemy retired, and we lay at arms all night. I bless God I was very well; cheerful and thankful. The Lord makes good that promise to me. Isa. xl. 29—31.

July 26. This morning we marched forward, the enemy being also on their march to oppose us. Their army drew up on a plain before us. We hear that it was very nearly carried in a council of war, that we should attack them; hut it was resolved otherwise to the regret of most part of the army. In such cases it may he said vox exercitus vox Dei. Our soldiers were much encouraged by their success in passing the lines, and the enemy much disheartened. I confess I was uneasy at it, for I look upon such fair opportunities of fighting as probable opportunities of defeating their army and ending the war. We are not to expect moral certainties; but when God delivers our enemies into our hand, and we let them escape, he oftentimes lets them he more troublesome afterward. I pray God it may not he so with us.

On the other hand, we are not to be suspicious of our General’s conduct. We have more reason to admire it, and to believe he knows a thousand times better what is to he done than we do. Submissive obedience is our duty, and I give it heartily. If any man deseiwes implicit obedience I think he does, both in respect of his capacity and his integrity. The Lord he blessed for what he has done, and direct us by his counsel what is further to he done for the improving this success. May he send peace and truth upon the earth. We marched most part of this night also, and stormy weather it was. I slept a little in a soldier’s tent till it was blown down about my ears, and the rain came in upon me. I bless God even for these little accommodations. We are more thankful in such circumstances for a^ small mercy, than for much greater ones when we are living at our ease and nothing to trouble us.

July 27. This morning we had a small march, and very bad weather. My mind was poring too much about public matters, and grudging lest the fruits of our good success he lost. This is not much my business; my duty is to he very thankful for the mercies we have met with. Providence will dispose of all for his own glory, Our design seems now to be the siege of Bouchain; and though this appears but a small thing, and no such enterprise as we might have hoped from our passing their lines, yet let us be thankful it is so well as it is, that we are gaining ground of the French in their own country, and baffling them. We are like to get a great deal of fatigue and trouble during this siege, the enemy’s army being entire and strong.

July 30. Quiet these two days. We got a sudden alarm this day by the French passing the Scheldt and coming over to us. Our army drew out in great haste, and marched to the right to our line of battle, and there expected them. But it turned out only a feint to cover their design on the other side, and to amuse us till they should take post between us and Douay, which, it is said, they have done. I always thought they would make this siege troublesome to us, and that we should have fought them. The enemy soon retired over the river, and we returned to our camp. In the afternoon we marched again to the right to cover the General’s quarters.

In the following letter to his Lady, of this date, he recapitulates very concisely the events of the preceding days.

Hordain, Tuesday, July 31. I have received both your letters, and hope you have received mine giving account of our passing the lines. We have reason to be very thankful that God is pleased still to favour us with success, though we are so unworthy of it. But I observe also, that Providence does it in such a manner as seems to make the war spin out longer; for on whatever side France has the thickest and strongest nests of garrisons, Providence turns our arms that way. He is dashing the potsherds of the earth together. Our march that time was very fatiguing; for we marched from nine at night till three in the afternoon next day; so that when we came to Arleux, where the French made some mien of opposing us, when the line drew up there was hardly above 70 or 80 of our regiment together that had not fallen by. We had another night’s march also on Wednesday’s night crossing the Scheldt, and yesterday again the line was drawn out and formed, the enemy having passed a considerable body of troops over the Scheldt towards us; so that every body expected a battle: but the French drew off again. It was but a feint their coming over, to cover their design of taking post on the other side between us and Douay, where they will be troublesome and make the siege uneasy.

I bless God I am very well, and was never better than yesterday, when we expected to have come to an engagement. God forbid that I should boast of myself, for I find I have not that fund of natural gifts that some have, and may complain of much weakness. But in God will I boast. It is he that supplies me liberally with through-bearing grace. Of myself I can do nothing, but through him I can do all things. And, indeed, I am so weary of the war, that I am glad when I see it likely to come to a decisive action. Besides, the fatigues we have had, and are likely to have during this siege, make me believe that we should rather have brought it to a decision. But Providence does all for then best. It is our duty to obey and follow, and not to dictate or prescribe rules. There are six British Regiments to be at this siege, and it comes just to us; so that we lie by for a warrant as we did at the siege of Douay. And in appearance it would he better to be at this, than the next which probably may be Valenciennes, both a stronger town, and a worse time of the year. But in this also, let us be very easy. The disposing of .our lot, and every circumstance in it, is in the hand of a kind and gracious God. Let this make you easy and cheerful. It is better to have these experiences in our lot, than to be becalmed in the midst of our enjoyments, without these rousing providences. We are not lying in the line, but on the right of the army, covering the General’s quarters. I would not for the price of my Commission have been from the army upon this march. It was well ordered I came that day with General Murray. Give my humble service to Colonel Cunningham and his kind family. The Lord’s presence be with you. Thine. J. B.

Madam Blackader, chez Mons. Col. Cunningham, Commandant Courtray.

August 1. We are busy fortifying our camp, expecting alarms from the near neighbourhood of the enemy.

August 3. On command this day, overseeing the workmen at our trenches, which we have now put into so good posture of defence, that we do not fear the enemy’s attack.

August 5. Sabbath. Much of my time spent in company and conversation, unsuitable to a Sabbath. Alas, how can it be otherwise, living in this army, where there is so much to check the growth of grace, and so little to strengthen it.—We were likely to have marched to-night upon some expedition about this siege, and it being referred to lot by throwing the dice, Providence ordered it so that we stay here.

August 10. Lying quietly these five days. I met with an occasion of being put out of humour, but I bless God, who, by his grace, subdues my corruption, and gives me any thing of a meek and quiet spirit. I find that heat and passion, and unreasonable humour, I am least able to bear of any thing. I am fond, by all means, of living peaceably with all men, and would have them live so with me,

Of the proceedings and situation of both armies at this time, the letters contain more particulars than the Diary. We shall therefore transcribe one or two of them.

Camp near Bouchain, August 5.

I received yours of Tuesday; but I cannot get writing so oft as I would incline, for it has been an unsettled sort of time since we passed the lines—much hurry mad alertness. Things begin now to come to some better settlement, and the siege to have a much better aspect. The town is now fully invested, and it is not doubted but we shall be able to make the siege, and we even hope it will not prove so troublesome as we at first apprehended; and it is thought the French may march off when they find they cannot hinder it. We ought not to murmur that we do not immediately reap all the fruits that we proposed to ourselves; or that we find difficulties in prosecuting our good success. Providence could as easily have made us defeat their army, as surprise their lines; and as easily have opened a door to us into their country and their strongest towns, as into this fortress. But it is our concern to do our duty, and leave the disposal of events to him who orders all for his own glory.

I told you in my last what regiments are to be at the siege. Our regiment is upon command now too, lying out of the line on the right. We are very well intrenched over all, and lie very peaceably and quietly, though we are lying so near one another, that our soldiers and theirs sometimes speak together, the river only being between us. But both armies are well intrenched, so that there is no appearance of either of us making attempts upon each other. I have not got quarters here, the village being all occupied before we came. But I am very well in my tent. Keep your mind easy, and let us not grudge to be crossed in our inclinations and humours, as to the possessing of our earthly comforts and satisfactions, for we should not consider what is pleasing, but what is best for us. The Lord’s blessing and presence be ever with you. Thine. J. B,

Madam Blackader, chez Mons. Col, Cunningham,
Commandant a Courtray,

Camp, Friday, August 10.

——Our post here is still very peaceable; for as near as we lie to one another, there is no disturbance. The Siege is likely to go on very well. We have altogether cut off their communication with the town, so that this siege, we hope, will not be so tedious as we feared.1 It is thought the enemy may make some movement, and march off from this post, when they cannot relieve the town. I can give no guess how long it may last, or what 'more will be done, or if any other siege will be taken in hand. No doubt, if time allow, they design to make as great progress as possible this campaign. But our great concern is to do our duty on every occasion where Providence posts us. Some of us are wishing to be on this siege, as being easier than it would be at the end of the campaign, at a stronger town and worse weather. For my part I have neither wishes nor fears upon the subject.

I think you have no reason to be uneasy about not hearing from Scotland. You know your father writes but seldom; if he were worse we would have heard. I have no letters or news from thence, hut what the public gives us. You hear of that business of the Faculty of Advocates about that medal, and the Pretender. I do not well understand it; hut there seems to he mad humours a-breeding and going through the Island. I can scarce believe what they say, that the Lord Arniston has the chief hand in it. He was always looked upon as very well affected to the government. It is like enough to be his son indeed. There is good news that we hear yesterday of the Muscovites beating the Turks, and making a peace with them. This will be mortifying to the French King.

It is a great mercy, and we ought to be very thankful that Providence gives us such success. We are apt to be weary and discontented, because the steps are so slow, and that the war spins out so long that there is yet no prospect of ending it, by gaining those ends for which we entered into it. But God’s ways and thoughts are as far above ours, as the heavens are above the earth; and there is a day coming wherein the infinite wisdom, and justice, and holiness of God shall be displayed before all the world, as to all that falls out hear.

We hear there are eleven regiments coming up, and Murray’s is said to be one, and the Fuzileers. Captain Dalrymple is gone down to Antwerp for money ; let me hear if you want any, and I shall write him to leave you some as he comes through. We have no reason to want or to complain, we have enough, and I trust the blesting of God with it. My humble service to Colonel Cunningham; I shall give myself the honour to write him when I get more time. I am thine. J. B.

Madam Blackader, chez Mons. Col. Cunningham, I Commandant a Courtray. J

Bouchain, August 13. Monday.

The trenches were opened on Saturday, on this side of the town. There is to he an attack also on this side; and we would have been upon it; but it is otherwise ordered. The whole army that lie on this side are to be concerned, and to carry it on, which will make it easy to us all. There are to be three regiments in the trenches every day, and there being sixty. it will not come above once to our turn. We broke ground last night on this side, with four battalions of Guards covering, with little or no loss. I was on command on Saturday, which was both short and easy, having gone out at nine in the morning, and returned in the evening. We were perfecting the lines of our army in front. They are so strong, that we do not think the French will try them. Monsieur Villars is reckoned to have lost much reputation, since our passing the lines. They say most of his Generals are much discontented.

Let us be living by faith, cheerfully committing future events to the direction of God, possessing our souls in patience. We are too hasty, and would have all great events crowded into our own times, that we might see God’s enemies destroyed by battles and victories. .. But we should consider that providences run in a parallel to the time of the world’s duration; some accomplished in one age, some in another, but all in their right and proper season, which will make a beautiful and comely prospect when all is perfected.

I am thine. J. B.

Madam Blackader, chez Mons. Col. Cunriingham, Commandant a Courtray.

Colonel Preston, about this time, having obtained the appointment of Brigadier, Colonel Blackader, had his ambition prompted him, might have risen to a higher command. But he had ceased to look upon these things with an eye of youthful vanity, or mercenary hope, considering them as encumbrances, to be shunned rather than coveted.

August 17. Abroad at court all the forenoon. He who is above me in the regiment, has now got a greater post which takes him, in a manner, out of the regiment* whereby my charge becomes greater. I do not now look upon it with the eyes of youthful vanity and ambition, as a step of rising and pushing forward. I view it as a heavier charge and burden upon my shoulders, which, the Lord knows, I am not able for. But this is all my hope and confidence, that he who sends none a warfare on their own charges, when he calls me to any duty, be it never so difficult, will give me grace to go through with it. I have greater inclination to leave this employment, than to rise in it. Our Brigadier’s commission, we hear, is come over with Brigadier Panton.

August 21; Getting an alarm this morning between twelve and one; we marched to our alarm post, and remained till five. I was calm and composed. This post which the French have taken makes us uneasy.

August 22. This night we were again at arms all night, and marched to our alarm post, where we lay till sun-rising. In the midst of all these confusions God is a refuge. This is all my comfort and peace, for from every other quarter, nothing but trouble. The humour of those we have to do with, and the society we live in, are among the greatest uneasinesses we meet with in the world. There is nothing I have a greater aversion and fear of than living in strife and contention. I would live with all the .world peaceably, quietly, and innocently, and would have every body about me calm and easy.

August 25. I visited the siege on all sides, seeing what was most observable and curious about all the works and trenches.

Of this alarm, and some other particulars, the Colonel gives an account in a letter to his Lady, of this date.

Thursday, August 23. :

Since I last wrote to you we had an alarm which has given us both fatigue and trouble. On Monday night, about twelve, they gave the alarm at the village where we lie* by firing upon a redoubt and battery we have. We hurried out immediately and^ marched down to our alarm post; but the French retired from this place, and in the meantime attacked Hordain, and took some of our Generals there; but the regiments there repulsed them, and then they came up our side of the river and attacked a post we have at Etrum, and took it, and have fortified themselves there. But we, to prevent any trouble from them, have made a strong line between us and them, all the way. from this to Hordain; so we reckon ourselves better and safer than we were before. It has given us fatigue; for Monday and Tuesday both nights we lay at our arms, upon our alarm posts; and our picquets are to lie at arms on the lines every night as long as. the siege lasts.

This is one of the most troublesome sieges we have ever made, by the near, neighbourhood of the French army; but yet we hope, by the blessing of God, to finish it with success and honour, which will indeed give a great reputation to our, General. It is hoped we may have the town in eight, days. Our regiment has mot been, in the trenches yet. We are to be in on Monday if the Basse-Ville he not over before that time. I bless God who strengthens me for fatigue, and carries me through: the doing of: my duty. I see his goodness in defending and taking care of1 every thing about, us; for our regiment might have been at Hordain when it was attacked. We threw the dice for going there when we came to this village, and so we missed it. The lot is cast into the lap, but the disposing of it is of the Lord. I am. thine. J. B.

Madam Blackader, chez Mons. Col. Cunningham,
Commandant a Courtray.

August 29. This day our regiment went into the trenches. I bless the Lord who made them safe and easy to us, and that .we had no loss. I spent the day quietly though among the noise of cannon, bombs, &c., and no accident befel me.

Thursday, August 80.

We are just come from the trenches, where we have had a quiet night; and none wounded save a serjeant of Captain Ferguson’s. We still expect to be masters of the town in four or five days. Time runs away, this, is- the. day the battle of Tanniers was, fought. The remembrance.- of,,..the, many, experiences of . God’s .goodness to. us, should! encourage us to. trust in him. cheerfully in time; coming. I have got a house hard, by the. , regiment, by Colonel* Kerr’£ regiment marching out of .this. camp.. I have, got Mr Harris,’ commission, to. give .him; and have thanked the Brigadier for the- regard he has: paid/to our; recommendation. ... It is one; of the greatest comforts have if. I were to leave, the regiment, that I,haye got that charitable good office carried through.

You .will, excuse, me. not enlarging in this, letter, being fatigued all yesterday, having no sleeplast night, nor this day,. nor. will not till night. The.-Lord’s peace and blessing rest with you. J. B.

Madam Blackader, chez Mons. Col. Cunningham,
Commandant a Courtray.

September. .1. I was. on command yesterday,; and came off this morning.> Every thing went on. smoothly? The Lord makes all I do to prosper well., The-town is capitulating this night. Blessed he God who. countenances, and gives success to. all; our undertakings.

September 4. I went in to see the town- which we have just taken.. It. is. nothing but a heap of rubbish; so ruined. Mankind , are made the scourges of the earth, to punish each other, for their sins.

While the army was lying at Bouchain, , Colonel Blackader was negotiating with the General respecting the disposal, of,, liisj commission. As .nothing remarkable occurs during, this period of, inactivity, we shall transcribe two. or. three, of. his letters: for this month, which contain more particulars than the Diary.

Bouchain, September 2.

You will probably have heard before this reaches you, that this town has at last fallen into our hands. They began to capitulate yesterday about two o’clock. They are to be prisoners of war; which still seems to throw the' greater discredit upon Marshal Villars, to see a garrison taken prisoners in his sight, and that he could not relieve them. We have reason to bless God it is so well over, for our army has been in very critical circumstances, has had many posts to defend^ and many accidents to fear. But the goodness of God has brought us well and honourably through, and, to him be the praise, .where it is originally due. It is thought we may lie here eight or ten days till we repair the works, and put the town in some posture of defence. What we shall do after that, time only can discover.

September 3. The garrison marched out this forenoon. The soldiers go to the French army, for we were in debt to them about 1500 men; but the officers are prisoners till they be relieved.—I am sorry that you are complaining. Take care of yourself. Be not anxious or melancholy, for you have no reason. God deals bountifully and kindly with us, and grants us the same blessings that he did to Jabez: He keeps u3 from all evil that it may not grieve us, and what would we have more? Should we complain that our enjoyments are out of our sight, and lying at the mercy of Providence? No; we should rather rejoice that there is an occasion of exercising faith and dependence, and a larger field of experiences of God’s faithfulness in fulfilling his promises to us. We have need of all these things. If we look into our own hearts we shall find it so. We hear that Lord Albemarle is gone down to the Hague to advise about the further operations of the campaign.

The Lord’s presence and blessing rest with you. I am thine. . J. B.

Madam Blackader, chez Mons. Col. Cunningham
Commandant a Courtray.

Bonchain, September 8. ~ There is no news since my last. We are busy about this town; and would as gladly have it up now, as before to throw it down. I believe we shall yet lie here ten days. We are at an utter uncertainty still about our future operations. Some are wagering we shall make another siege, others that we shall not; and every body wishes the last may gain. I see none so public-spirited in the army as to wish for another siege.

I am very well pleased with your scheme sent in your last letter, for the rest of the campaign, to go and lie where the most and best forage is. It is really very naturally expressed, and one can see, from your style, that you profit by the conversation of men of business and Commandants of frontier places. But if we should take your advice, to go and lie where there is best forage, what if that should prove to be about Ypres, and the neighbourhood of the poor Cas-tellany of Courtray; then, I am afraid, some of your family would wish us back again at Cambray or Valenciennes. But without jesting, there is such a talk that our army, if we do no more, may come to lie thereabout to- consume the forage about Ypres : so you had best advertise the boors to bring their corn to that-town ; it will be an act of charity done to the poort boors, and the Governor will be no loser.

I shall also consider of your other' scheme, Which seems' to' be pretty well laid, except that of Running over in a dogger, which I do not like. I know1 you mean only of taking that occasion of going to Ghent. I can give no resolution on that head till we see farther about us. I am ready to determine whatever way duty calls, which I think is a better temper than to be bent upon any thing. In such, a case Lgene-fally find there is a snare. I desire to be seriously concerned to know what is duty, and beg .grace to follow it when discovered; and I hope the Lord will direct-by his spirit, and cause us to walk in alright way wherein" we shall not stumble, Jerem. xxxi.9, and be as a voice behind us, saying, To-morrow is Ordered tofbe kept a day of thanksgiving for the taking of Bouchain. It is to be Wished that repentance and reformation were joined with itrmore than we see. I am thine. J. B.

TVladamBlackader, chez Mons. Col. Cunningham
Commandant a Courtray.

September 23.

I am very glad to find your thoughts so just . and moderate on the subject of my last. It is what i expected from one who is so reasonable, and so resigned to the will of God. It is a mercy that both of us are so easy upon that head, for this is a frame of mind I greatly desire, and for which I have often prayed.—I can say nothing yet about my obtaining leave to go to Scotland, the Brigadier himself being yet undetermined about his own going. Meantime, let us put all our concerns into His hands, who taketh care of us, and knows best what is good for us.

I have just received yours, and your father’s letters. I own I have not foresight enough to foresee or answer all the difficulties that can be proposed in the affair; and I believe it would he easy to find flaws and failures in all human . securities and determinations; because such is tlie nature of human affairs, that they are not capable of an infallible security. All we can do is, to act according to the best of our judgment. When things come to an' anxious perplexity, that they must be managed by a cunning dexterity, they are then above my reach and calibre. Every one has their proper talents; artifice is not mine. I see no better foundation to put it on than this: At such a day as I give, you are to pay me such a sum of money, and then you are to be Lieutenant Colonel; if you fail in payment, then I have my post, aifd yon have your money. But I will riot break my heart about these things. The Lord direct and guide by his Spirit. In am thine. J. B.

Madam Blackader, chez Mons. Col. Cunningham.
Commandant a Courtray

The person with whom the Colonel was bn terms regarding the disposal of his commission, was Lord Forrester. But the Brigadier having signified that a fellow-officer would be more acceptable to him than, a stranger, the Major of his own regiment was advised to become the purchaser. The sum, however, which he was able to advance, £2000 sterling, not being thought adequate to the value of the commission, this project was laid aside, and the former negotiation continued.

Saturday, September 29.

This proposal of the Major’s that I told you of is now over; for upon second thoughts he does not find it convenient for him. It was also the Brigadier’s advice to him not to lay out the small stock he had that way, for he thought it too great a risk for a man that has a family. So the affair is gone into its former train again, and my lord and I have very nearly agreed. I put it upon this foot. I am to have £2600 sterling, for it, with a draw-back of a shilling per pound; if free of this, then £2500. I give him till the 20th of March to pay the money; failing which, or if proper security is not given, the bargain is dissolved. I make £1600 to be paid in London, and the rest in Edinburgh. So let it take what course Providence pleases to give it.

My lord has a mind to go away, if he get leave, in three or four days; and I intend also to ask leave; but I know Lord Orkney is very nice in granting it. If I come, I think of bringing the chaise. Tournay is now the ordinary road. The Brigadier told me yesterday that both General Murray and Colonel Cunningham had intelligence from Ypres, that the French may probably have some design on the Lys, so it is expected some troops may march that way.. I know not what to do with Andrew, (his servant,) I would gladly do something for him, now he is growing old. I propose getting him into Chelsea, as a sergeant. He inclines to stay in my service, and to dispose of the other which, he says, will give £30 to £40. I am just going on command, which, I hope, will be short, as it is but the piquet I came off in the morning. I am thine. . . J. B.

Madam Blackader, cbez Mons. Col. Cunningham
Commandant a Courtray.

The Colonel readily obtained leave of absence, and took his departure; uncertain whether his arrangements with Lord Forrester might not miscarry, and call him hack to the regiment next campaign. His apprehensions, however, were never destined to berealized, for the commission was disposed of, and the stipulations punctually fulfilled at the appointed time. Before quitting Bouchain, he addressed a petition to the Commander-in-chief, soliciting permission to retire from the service, which was granted. The following is a copy of the petition :—

To His Grace the Duke of Marlborough, The Petition of Lieutenant-Colonel Blackader, &c.

Humbly Sheweth,

That I have served in this regiment since the late happy Revolution, and have been several times wounded in the service, particularly at the battle of Blenheim, and at the siege of Lisle.

My Lord, If my natural strength and vigour were' any way equal to the zeal with which I have served these twenty-two years, the hopes of seeing an end put to this long and troublesome war, by your Grace’s wise and happy conduct,’ would still support me under all its growing fatigues: But, my Lord, my grey hairs increasing fast upon me do give me notice that it is time I should think of a retreat. Also, the circumstances of my private affairs in North Britain, do require my attendance there.

May it therefore please your Grace to allow me (by disposing of my commission to a gentleman much better qualified for the service) to retire out of the army, and turn my sword into a plough-share.

October 1. Yesterday having taken my resolution to depart, I went in the afternoon to ask leave, and found all the Generals so easy and accessible, that I met not with the smallest difficulty. This morning I left the army at Bouchain. The Lord only knows whether ever I shall return to it again. I refer my life to his will and disposal. If his presence go with me, I am glad to go; if it be his pleasure I should return, I am also satisfied. I was melancholy in the morning at parting with some of my kind friends, and the corps I have lived in these twenty-two years. But through the day I had a serene, thankful mind, while riding alone in my chaise. I applied that saying of Jacob’s, Gen. xxxii. 10. So may I say, I am less than the least of all his mercies, for with my Lieutenant’s Partisan, I passed over to this country about twenty-one years ago, and now the Lord sends me out of the army with abundance of reputation, and the conveniences of life; for I was ashamed to hear of the kind and obliging things which my Lord Duke spoke about me to the Generals with him, after I was gone out I say not this to flatter myself, or to be fuel to vanity; but to stir up thankfulness. O the goodness and mercy with which God has followed me these twenty-two years since I came to this employment, how wonderfully preserved, protected, and honoured! in so much that there has scarce heen an action in which I have been, but Providence did kindly make some accidents fall out, which procured me greater reputation in the army. Not unto me, but unto thee be the praise; for hadst thou withheld thy grace I should have misbehaved on every occasion; and had contempt and shame instead of honour. I have seen officers more deserving in themselves, who have been toiling through fatigues and dangers for twenty or thirty years, and who had gathered a good stock of reputation,—I have seen them lose it all in one day, or in an hour. And it would have been so with me, if the Lord had left me; but he has always furnished me very liberally. I praise him who enabled me to live in such an army, suitable to the profession of religion, though, I confess, with much weakness, and many failings on my part. This is a great and wonderful mercy, and it is also remembered in the army, I hope, to the honour of God and the credit of religion.

I came safe to Tournay at night. I have, not had more serenity of mind and thankfulness than I had all this day. I take this for a good omen that the presence of the Lord shall go with me. I spent the next day there quietly, meditating on the goodness of God to me. Thou hast been my hiding-place, my shield, my glory, the uplifter of my head.

October 3. Travelling to Courtray, where I arrived safe. I bless God for giving us a happy meeting and bringing the campaign to a comfortable issue.

October 9. We left Courtray and travelled all day to Ghent.

October 16. Left Ghent and came with an escort to Sas, where we intend taking ship for Rotterdam. We were to have sailed early next morning; but by an accident of a rope breaking, and the water failing, we were stopped all day. This at first made us uneasy ; but it turned out very fortunate; for there came a very great storm, which might have put us in danger if we had gone. It frequently happens so with us, that things which we are vexed at and reckon to be crosses, are by the wise providence of God made to be our choicest mercies.

October 18. Sailed this morning, and with a good wind came to Rotterdam at twelve o’clock next day.

While at Rotterdam Mrs. Blackader was seized with a violent fever, in which she was dangerously ill, and confined for nearly a month. In December she recovered so far as to enable them to prosecute their journey.

December 25. This day we left Rotterdam. Thy goodness and mercy, O Lord, has followed us here; may thy presence be with us during this voyage.

December 28. This forenoon we embarked in the yachts that carry over Prince Eugene and the Prussian Ambassador to London. We essayed to get over the shallows and out of the Maese, but could not, and cast anchor and lay there all night. Next day we got over, and in the evening stood out to sea; but not finding the Man of War that was to convoy us, we were obliged to come back and anchor before Helvoet, where we lay tossing all night.

December 30. In the afternoon our convoy came out: we weighed anchor and prosecuted our voyage till midnight with a good wind. But the wind then turning contrary, we were obliged to change our course more northerly towards Yarmouth.

December 31. In the afternoon we came to anchor between Yarmouth and Harwich. There we were tossed for another night, and next morning we wrought up to Harwich and landed.

January 2. We had a pleasant voyage up the river to Ipswich, and in two days arrived safe in London. > Now that thou has brought us to Britain again, O Lord, let us have thy presence and blessing here as we have had abroad.

The Colonel continued in London until the 23d of March, to await the final conclusion of his transaction with Lord Forrester. This matter was conducted amicably, and without further interruption, and terminated to the entire satisfaction of both parties. “We have now finished our bargain about my post, according to our previous appointment, and having made my demission, I now look upon myself as out of the army. I remark the kind dealing of Providence with me; for the 25th, two days hence, is the day on which, by Act of Parliament, I would have lost my post if I had gone to a Presbyterian meeting. Now by the goodness of God I am delivered out of this snare, for this law does not touch me, having no post. I knew not this, nor did I suspect it last summer when I entered into the agreement. But God who leads the blind by the way they know not, was leading me by the hand and taking me out of the army in the best and fittest time. I desire to adore and admire the mercy and goodness of God, to me in his providence, and to trust in him cheerfully in the time to come. Make thy way plain to me, that I who am a way-faring man, and a fool may not err therein.” The remainder of the continental war presented nothing memorable. Marlborough being disposted, the command was bestowed on the Duke of Ormond; but as negotiations for peace had been set on foot, he had secret orders to refrain from offensive hostilities. This prevented him from co-operating with Prince Eugene, who was resolved to press the war with vigour; and in consequence, the French gained some advantages and recovered several of the towns they had lost. The whole campaign was, on the part of England, a studied artifice to deceive the Allies. But it was destined to be the last, for the conference which had been opened at Utrecht, in the beginning of the year, terminated in a treaty of peace,, which was concluded and signed April 11, 1713.

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