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Lucy Hutchinson (1620–1681). Memoirs of Colonel Hutchinson. 1906.

The Life of John Hutchinson: 1646

Poyntz drew a line about the town, and made a very regular entrenchment and approaches, in such a soldier-like manner as none of them who had attempted the place before had done. Most of that winter they lay in the field, and the governor, carried on by the vigour and the greatness of his mind, felt no distemper then by that service, which all his captains and the soldiers themselves endured worse than he. Besides daily and hourly providences, by which they were preserved from the enemy’s cannons and sallies, there were some remarkable ones, by which God kept the governor’s life in this leaguer. Once as Poyntz and he, and another captain, were riding to view some quarter of the town, a cannon bullet came whizzing by them, as they were riding all abreast, and the captain, without any touch of it, said he was killed; Poyntz bid him get off, but he was then sliding down from his horse, slain by the wind of the bullet; they held him up till they got off from the place, but the man immediately turned black all over. Another time the governor was in his tent, and by chance called out; when he was scarce out of it, a cannon bullet came and tore up the whole tent, and killed the sentinel at the door. But the greatest peril wherein all on the English side were, was the treachery of the Scots, which they had very good reason to apprehend might have been the cutting off of all that force. Sir Thomas Fairfax had now besieged Oxford, and the king was stolen out of the town and gone in disguise, no man knew whither, but at the length he came into the Scots’ army. They had before behaved themselves very oddly to the English, and been taking sundry occasions to pick quarrels, when at the last certain news was brought to the English quarters, that the king was come to the Scots, and by them received at Southwell. The English could then expect nothing but that the Scots, joining with those that were in Newark, would fall upon them, who were far inferior in number to the other, and therefore they all prepared themselves as well as they could, to defend themselves in their trenches. The governor had then very fine horses at the leaguer, which he sent home to the garrison; but while they were in expectation of being thus fallen upon, the king had more mind to be gone; and because the Scots knew not how to break up their quarters while the town was not taken, the king sent to my Lord Bellasis, the governor of Newark, to surrender up the place immediately, which he did upon pretty handsome terms, but much discontented that the king should have no more regard to them who had been so constant to his service. The governor with his regiment was appointed to receive the town and the arms, and to quarter in it; where he now went and had the greatest danger of all, for the town was all over sadly infected with the plague; yet it so pleased God that neither he nor any of the fresh men caught the infection, which was so raging there that it almost desolated the place.

Whether the king’s ill council or his destiny led him, he was very failing in this action; for had he gone straight up to the parliament and cast himself upon them, as he did upon the Scots, he had in all probability ruined them, who were highly divided between the presbyterian and independent factions; but in putting himself into the hands of the mercenary Scotch army, rather than the parliament of England, he showed such an embittered hate to the English nation, that it turned many hearts against him. The Scots in this business were very false both to the parliament and to the king. For them to receive and carry away the king’s person with them, when they were but a hired army, without either the consent or knowledge of the parliament, was a very false carriage of them; but besides that, we had certain evidences that they were prepared, and had an intent to have cut off the English army who beleaguered Newark, but that God changed their counsels and made them take another course, which was to carry the king to Newcastle, where they again sold him to the parliament for a sum of money.

The country being now cleared of all the enemy’s garrisons, Colonel Hutchinson went up to London to attend his duty there, and to serve his country as faithfully, in the capacity of a senator, as he had before in that of a soldier. When he came there he found a very bitter spirit of discord and envy raging, and the presbyterian faction (of which were most of those lords and others that had been laid aside by the self-denying ordinance), endeavouring a violent persecution, upon the account of conscience, against those who had in so short a time accomplished, by God’s blessing, that victory which he was not pleased to bestow on them. Their directory of worship was at length sent forth for a three years’ trial, and such as could not conform to it, marked out with an evil eye, hated and persecuted under the name of Separatist. Colonel Hutchinson, who abhorred that malicious zeal and imposing spirit which appeared in them, was soon taken notice of for one of the independent faction [whose heads were accounted Pierrepont, Vane, ——, St. John and some few other grandees, being men that excelled in wisdom and utterance, and the rest believed to adhere to them only out of faction, as if those who did not vain-gloriously lay out themselves, without necessity, but chose rather to hear and vote, had had no understanding of right and wrong but from the dictates of these great oracles]. Though, to speak the truth, they very little knew Colonel Hutchinson that could say he was of any faction; for he had a strength of judgment able to consider things himself and propound them to his conscience, which was so upright that the veneration of no man’s person alive, nor the love of the dearest friend in the world, could make him do the least thing, without a full persuasion that it was his duty so to act. He very well understood men’s gifts and abilities, and honoured those most whom he believed to manage them with most uprightness of soul, for God’s glory and the good of his country, and was so far from envying the just renown any man acquired that he rejoiced in it. He never was any man’s sectary, either in religious or civil matters, farther than he apprehended them to follow the rules of religion, honour, and virtue; nor any man’s antagonist, but as he opposed that which appeared to him just and equal. If the greatest enemy he had in the world had propounded anything profitable to the public, he would promote it; whereas some others were to blame in that particular, and chiefly those of the presbyterian faction, who would obstruct any good, rather than that those they envied and hated should have the glory of procuring it; the sad effects of which pride grew at length to be the ruin of the most glorious cause that ever was contended for. At the first, many gentlemen, eminent in gifts and acquirements, were as eminent in zealous improvement of them, for the advantage of God’s and their country’s interests, whereby they obtained just glory and admiration among all good men; but while the creature was so magnified, God, who was the principal author, was not looked upon, and gave them therefore up to become their own and others’ idols, and so to fall.

And now it grew to a sad wonder, that the most zealous promoters of the cause were more spitefully carried against their own faithful armies, by whom God had perfected their victory over their enemies, than against the vanquished foe, whose restitution they henceforth secretly endeavoured, by all the arts of treacherous, dissembling policy, in order that they might throw down those whom God had exalted in glory and power to resist their tyrannical impositions. At that time, and long after, they prevailed not, till that pious people too began to admire themselves, for what God had done by them, and to set up themselves above their brethren, and then the Lord humbled them again beneath their conquered vassals.

So long as the army only resisted unjust impositions, and remained firm to their first pious engagement, Mr. Hutchinson adhered to that party which protected them in the parliament house. His attendance there, changing his custom of life, into a sedentary employment, less suitable to his active spirit, and more prejudicial to his health, he fell into a long and painful sickness, which many times brought him near the grave, and was not perfectly cured in four years. The doctors could not find a name for it; but at the length resolved upon the running gout, and a cure, proper for that disease, being practised on him, took effect.

The truth is, his great mind so far surmounted the frailty of his flesh, that it would never yield to the tenderness of his constitution, nor suffer him to feel those inconveniences of martial toils, which often cast down his captains, men of more able bodies and healthful complexions, while the business was in hand; but when that was finished, he found, what he had not leisure to consider before, that his body’s strength was far unequal to the vigour of his soul.

After the surrender of Newark, Nottingham town and castle was continued a garrison for some time: between this and his greater employment at London, the governor divided himself. Meanwhile, upon the 15th day of July, 1646, propositions were sent to the king, then with the Scots at Newcastle, little higher than those which had been made him at Uxbridge; but he wove out delays, and would not assent to them, hoping a greater advantage by the difference between the two nations, and the factions in the city and parliament, which both he and all his party employed their utmost industry to cherish and augment. Both parliaments perceiving this, and not yet senseless of approaching destruction from the common enemy, began to be cemented by the king’s averseness to peace, and to consider how to settle the kingdom without him; and when they had agreed that the Scots should deliver up the English garrisons for a certain sum of money, it fell into debate how to dispose of the king’s person; where the debate was, not who should, but who should not have him. At the length, about January of the same year, two hundred thousand pounds was carried down by part of the army to Newcastle; and upon the payment of it, the Scots delivered their garrisons to the soldiers, and the king to certain commissioners of both houses of parliament, who conducted him honourably to his own manor of Holmeby, in Northamptonshire.