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Swift replied, “Sir, I have heard much of your adventures; that they are fresh in your memory ; that you can tell them with great humour; and that you have taken memorandums of them in writing.” To which the Captain said, “I have; but no one can understand them but myself.” Then Dr. Swift rejoined, “Sir, get your manuscripts, read them to me, and tell me none but genuine stories; and then I will place them in order for you, prepare them for the press, and endeavour to get you a subscription among my friends, as you may do among your own. The Captain soon after waited on the Dean with his papers, and related many adventures to him ; which the Dean was so kind as to put in order of time, to correct the style, and make a small book of, entitled, THE MEMOIRS OF CAPTAIN John CREICHTON. A subscription was immediately set on foot, by the Dean's interest and recommendation, which raised for the Captain above two hundred pounds, and made the remaining part of his life very happy and easy.
HE author of these Memoirs, Captain John
Creichton, is still alive, and resides in the northern parts of this kingdom. He is a very honest and worthy man, but of
the old stamp; and it is probable that some of his principles will not relish very well in the present disposition of the world. His Memoirs are therefore to be received like a posthumous work, and as containing facts which very few alive, except himself, can remember; upon which account, none of his generous subscribers are, in the least, answerable for many opinions relating to the public, both in church and state, which he seems to justify; and in the vindication of which, to the hazard of his life, and the loss of his fortune, he spent the most useful part of his days. Principles, as the world goes, are little more than fashion; and the apostle tells us, that “the fashion of this world passeth away.” We read with pleasure the memoirs of several authors, whose party we disapprove, if they be written with nature and truth. Curious men are desirous to see what can be said on both sides; and even the virulent flat relation of Ludlow, though written in the spirit of rage, prejudice, and vanity, does not want its advocates. This inclines me to think, that the Memoirs of Captain Creichton may not be unacceptable to the curious of every party; because, from my knowledge of the man, and the testimony of several considerable persons, of different political denominations, I am confident that he has not inserted one passage or circumstance which he did not know, or, from the best intelligence he could get, believe to be true.
These Memoirs are therefore offered to the world in their native simplicity. And it was not with little difficulty that the author was persuaded by his friends to recollect and put them in order, chiefly for his own justification, and partly by the importunity of several eminent gentlemen, who had a mind that they should turn to some profit to the author.
The Captain having made over all his little estate to a beloved daughter, upon her marriage, on the condition of being entertained in her house for the small remainder of his life, has put it out of his own power either to supply his incidental wants, to pay some long contracted debts, or to gratify his generous nature in being farther useful to his family: on which accounts he desires to return his most humble thanks to his worthy subscribers; and hopes they will consider him no farther than as an honest, wellmeaning man, who, by his own personal courage and conduct, was able to distinguish himself, under many disadvantages, to a degree, that few private lives have been attended with so many singular and extraordinary events.
Besides the great simplicity in the style and manner of the author, it is a very valuable circumstance, that his plain relation corrects many mistaken passages in other historians, which have too long passed for truths; and whoever impartially compares both, will probably decide in the Captain's favour : for the memory of old men is seldom deceived in what passed in their youth and vigour of age: and if he has at any time happened to be mistaken in circumstances of time or place, (with neither of which I can charge him,) it was certainly against his will. Some of his own personal distresses and actions, which he has related, might be almost the subject of a tragedy. *
Upon the whole, comparing great things to small, I know not any Memoirs that more resemble those of Philip de Comines (which have received so universal approbation) than those of Captain Creichton; which are told in a manner equally natural, and with equal appearance of truth, although, I confess, upon affairs in a more obscure scene, and of less import
* It may be in general observed, upon Creichton's Memoirs, that he is borne out by corresponding authorities on most occasions, in which he gives his own personal evidence. In some instances he assumes greater personal importance than we can trace him to have possessed, as where he pretends to have commanded at the skirmish of Airs-moss, which certainly was not the case. In his estimate of numbers in the field he is guilty of gross exaggeration ; a fault common in military men of subordinate rank, who have not, and cannot have, any certain means of estimating a force opposed to them, unless it falls within the compass of their
eye. He seenis to have possessed an ample portion of courage and fidelity to his cause, unqualified by any spark of humanity towards those who were opposed to him.
JHE former part of my life having been
attended with some passages and events, not very common to men of my private and obscure condition, I have (perhaps
induced by the talkativeness of old age) very freely and frequently communicated them to several worthy gentlemen, who were pleased to be my friends, and some of them my benefactors. These persons professed themselves to be so well entertained with my story, that they often wished it could be digested into order, and published to the world; believing that such a treatise, by the variety of incidents, written in a plain unaffected style, might be, at least, some amusement to indifferent readers; of some example to those who desire strictly to adhere to their duty and principles; and might serve to vindicate my reputation in Scotland, where I am well known; that kingdom having been