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MEMOIRS OF A CAVALIER.
Advertisement to the Edinburgh Edition of 1809.
WHETHER this interesting work is considered as a romance, or as a series of authentic memoirs, in which the only fabulous circumstance is the existence of the hero; it must undoubtedly be allowed to be of the best description of either species of composition, and to reflect additional lustre, even on the author of Robinson Crusoe.
There is so much simplicity and apparent fidelity of statement throughout the narrative, that the feelings are little indebted to those who would remove the veil; and the former editors, perhaps, have acted not unwisely in leaving the circumstances of its authenticity in their original obscurity. The Memoirs of a Cavalier, have long, however, been ascertained to be the production of DANIEL DE FOE. Both the first and second editions were published without date ; but, from other evidence, the work appears to have been written shortly after Robinson Crusoe, in 1720-1.
A few Notes have been added to the present edition, collected from the periodical publications of the time (now rare and curious), to exhibit the exact coincidence of the facts themselves, with the transactions narrated in these Memoirs.
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.
As an evidence that it is very probable these memorials were written many years ago, the persons now concerned in the publication, assure the reader, that they have had them in their possession finished, as they now appear, above twenty years. That they were so long ago found by great accident, among other valuable papers, in the closet of an eminent public minister, of no less figure than one of King William's secretaries of state.
As it is not proper to trace them any farther, so neither is there any need to trace them at all, to give reputation to the story related, seeing the actions here mentioned have a sufficient sanction from all the histories of the times to which they relate, with this addition, that the admirable manner of relating them, and the wonderful variety of incidents, with which they are beautified in the course of a private gentleman's story, add such delight in the reading, and give such a lustre, as well to the accounts themselves as to the person who was the actor, that no story, we believe, extar t in the world ever came abroad with such advantage.
It must naturally give some concern in the reading, that the name of a person of so much gallantry and honour, and so many ways valuable to the world, should be lost to the reader. We assure them no small labour has been thrown away upon the inquiry; and all we have been able to arrive to of discovery in this affair is, that a memorandum was
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.
found with this manuscript, in these words, but not signed by any name, only the two letters of a name, which gives us no light into the matter; which memoir was as follows: MEMORANDUM.—1 found this manuscript among my father's
writings, and I understand that he got them as plunder, at, or after, the fight at Worcester, where he served as major of — 's regiment of horse on the side of the parliament.
As this has been of no use but to terminate the inquiry after the person, so, however, it seems most naturally to give an authority to the original of the work, viz., That it was born of a soldier ; and, indeed, it is, through every part, related with so soldierly a style, and in the very language of the field, that it seems impossible anything, but the very person who was present in every action here related, could be the relator of them.
The accounts of battles, the sieges, and the several actions of which this work is so full, are all recorded in the histories of those times ; such as the great battle of Leipsic, the sacking of Magdeburg, the siege of Nuremburg, the passing the river Leck in Bavaria ; such also as the battles of Keynton, or Edge-hill; the battles of Newbury, Marstonmoor, and Naseby, and the like. They are all, we say, recorded in other histories, and written by those who lived in those times, and, perhaps, had good authority for what they wrote. But do those relations give any of the beautiful ideas of things formed in this account? Have they one half of the circumstances and incidents of the actions themselves that this man's eyes were witness to, and which his memory has thus preserved? He that has read the best accounts of those battles will be surprised to see the par
ticulars of the story so preserved, so nicely, and so agreeably described; and will confess what we allege, that the story is işimitably told; and even the great actions of the glorious King Gustavus Adolphus receive a lustre from this man’s relations, which the world was never made sensible of before, and which the present age has much wanted of late, in order to give their affections a turn in favour of his late glorious successor.
In the story of our own country's unnatural wars, he carries on the same spirit. How effectually does he record the virtues and glorious actions of King Charles I., at the same time that he frequently enters upon the mistakes of his majesty's conduct, and of his friends, which gave his enemies all those fatal advantages against him; which ended in the overthrow of his armies, the loss of his crown and life, and the ruin of the constitution.
In all his accounts he does justice to his enemies, and honours the merits of those whose cause he fought against ; and many accounts recorded in his story, are not to be found even in the best histories of those times.
What applause does he give to the gallantry of Sir Thomas Fairfax, to his modesty, to his conduct, under which he himself was subdued, and to the justice he did the king's troops when they laid down their arms.
His description of the Scots' troops in the beginning of the war, and the behaviour of the party under the Earl of Holland, who went over against them, are admirable ; and his censure of their conduct, who pushed the king upon the quarrel, and then would not let him fight, is no more than what many of the king's friends (though less knowing as soldiers) have often complained of.
In a word, this work is a confutation of many errors in all
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.
the writers upon the subject of our wars in England, and even in that extraordinary history written by the Earl of Clarendon ; but the editors were so just, that, when near twenty years ago, a person who had written a whole volume in folio, by way of answer to, and confutation of, Clarendon's history of the rebellion, would have borrowed the clauses in this account, which clash with that history, and confront it ; we say, the editors were so just as to refuse them.
There can be nothing objected against the general credit of this work, seeing its truth is established upon universal history; and almost all the facts, especially those of moment, are confirmed for their general part by all the writers of those times. If they are here embellished with particulars, which are nowhere else to be found, that is the beauty we boast of; and that it is that must recommend this work to all the men of sense and judgment that read it.
The only objection we find possible to make against this work is, that it is not carried on farther ; or, as we may say, finished, with the finishing the war of the time: and this we complain of also. But then we complain of it as a misfortune to the world, not as a fault in the author ; for how do we know but that this author might carry it on, and have another part finished which might not fall into the same hands, or may still remain with some of his family, and which they cannot indeed publish, to make it seem anything perfect, for want of the other parts which we have, and which we have now made public. Nor is it very improbable, but that if any such farther part is in being, the publishing these two parts may occasion the proprietors of the third to let the world see it; and that, by such a discovery, the name of the person may also come to be known, which would, no doubt, be a great satisfaction to the reader as well as to us.