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THE

Retrospective Review.

VOL. XII. PART II.

ART. I.-Memorials of the Civil War in the County of Devon.

HAVING, in a former number, intimated our design to avail ourselves of such documents (both public and private, printed and in MS.) as have come to our hands, illustrative of the proceedings of both parties during the Civil Wars within the county of Devon, we trust that no further preface is wanted to the execution of such an intention. Profoundly interesting as is the subject of that eventful struggle to all classes of English readers, it may appear difficult, at this time, to clothe any general history of the period with enough of novelty to render the performance acceptable. The attempt at confining the attention to the limits of a particular district, claims, at least, the merit of originality; and it is hoped that the minuteness of detail, and the frequency of biographical and genealogical illustration, which no other plan would admit of, will be thought, in such an attempt as the present, not only excusable, but an advantage fairly taken of the occasion to stamp the circumstances of locality and individual identity on the actions commemorated. We have again to express our acknowledgments of the liberality of the keepers of the State Paper Office, for much of what is most curious and observable in the following memoranda.

To those who have attentively studied the history of the Civil Wars of England, nothing is more evident than the extreme advantage derived from the union and resolution with which the parliament opened, and continued its successful resistance to its monarch. It is singular, where there was no ostensible head to so

VOL. XII. PART II.

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large a party, except a considerable number of self-supported and almost self-constituted legislators, who, moreover, were in constant dispute concerning minor points, that the necessary spirit of unity should have been so long maintained; while, where the presence of the King of England, invested with seemingly absolute power, might have been expected to combine in one constant effort the united chivalry of the country, quarrels, divisions, and a perpetually vacillating and irresolute spirit seem to have presided alike in the sessions of the cabinet and the councils of the field. In the eastern provinces of the kingdom, almost uninterrupted peace was maintained by the presence of the parliament: while in the west and north, where lay the very strength and resources of the royalists, every town and station was disputed by the adherents of the opposite faction, their united strength being presented to meet the constant attacks of their separate enemies. Thus, in Somersetshire, the exertions of a single family (the Pophams) were sufficient to prevent the western part of the county from decided adherence to the royal party; while in the more important province of Devon, of which we now more particularly treat, although the mass of the population was, at the commencement (and so continued), decidedly royalist, a combination of parliamentary gentlemen and yeomen seems to have been formed, which all the romantic successes of the arms of Charles, in that quarter, could never dissolve or disunite.

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When the first general act of open disobedience was committed, by the raising of the militia, it appears, from the histories of the times, that the proceedings of the parliament were conducted with much more regularity than those of the king's commission of array. The lord-lieutenant, appointed by parliament, opened his commission in the county town, was joined by his nominated deputy-lieutenants, and other gentlemen who were most disposed to activity in the cause, and presided in the levying of the trained bands, and other forces of the county; after which, he, probably, seldom exercised any other act of power, his attendance being for the most part required in parliament: nor does he seem to have had any authority in raising the pecuniary supplies of the county. For this purpose, parliamentary committees were formed: a powerful and well-constituted instrument of oppression or of liberation, as the circumstances might occasion. These were composed mostly of the gentlemen of the county, with a sufficient number of agents of the parliament, besides members of the House itself, to prevent them from forming themselves into separate and independent powers: which was further guarded against by the care taken that the money raised in the county for its own defence, should not be immediately applied to that purpose, but should be

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transmitted, as far as possible, to the head-quarters of the party; thence to return in the shape of supplies for the troops, and payment for the agents. And the promptness with which the necessary measures were taken for assertion of the power of parliament was such, that the king was clearly seen to be the aggressor, or, at least, the beginner of the war, and to act the part which is usually that of the rebel. It must, moreover, be observed, that the members for every county and borough had a supreme interest in the preservation both of the government generally, and (separately) of their own peculiar district: while the king, who was unable or unwilling to call a parliament until after the commencement of military operations, had only to rely on the personal affection of those who voluntarily embraced his cause, and whose personal interest was almost always in opposition to that of their party. Thus, his commission of array was sent, in many instances, to three or four principal persons of the county, whose quarrels and divisions speedily counteracted their extensive power.

From these early beginnings, a complete difference may be traced in the nature of the contest, as carried on by each of the opposed parties, during the three first and most interesting years of the war; for, in the last, the forces employed on both parts were reduced already to the description of regular armies, In the west of England, the trained bands were early raised by the parliament: but they formed an irregular and ineffective militia. The great magazine, from which they drew their numerous recruits, was to be found among the manufacturers, the clothiers of Somerset and of the east of Devon, and the artizans of the towns. From these populous districts, great numbers were assembled at once, and comparatively formidable armies collected in an astonishingly short space of time. But these troops, though easily called into existence, were (as the militia of cities have invariably proved,) incapable of being kept in action. Inexperienced and unconscious of their own strength, they fled upon the resolute charge of a far inferior number. They were, moreover, (if it be possible, at this distance of time, to form a correct idea of the force and equipments of that epoch,) too generally armed with the musket, or matchlock-weapons which, in the hands of undisciplined artizans, were of very little effect, and which exposed them (the bayonet not having been then invented) to the charge of a body of cavalry, absolutely unprovided with the means of resistance. The pike, (a more appropriate weapon,) was employed frequently with far greater

* See in Rushworth, vol. 4. p. 658, accounts of the commissioners of array.

Success. At the first battle of Newbury, a division of the London trained bands, armed in this manner, repulsed the reiterated attacks of the best cavalry of England, under their formidable leader, Prince Rupert. Resolution and obstinacy were qualities that never deserted them; and better or braver troops, for the defence of walled towns, it was impossible to find, as was proved in many famous sieges, particularly in that part of the country of which we now treat. They were also extremely wanting in officers. The small extent of the powers which the parliament confided to its military servants, and the habit of relying on that body for all directions and every kind of support, rendered them incapable of employing their own energies in enterprising schemes, which alone could supply life and vigour to the unorganized force of a nation totally unused to

war.

On the contrary, those who carried on the affairs of the king were, at first, rather independant chieftains than military officers. By collecting their friends and dependants, they formed a spirited body of cavalry after which, they trusted mostly to the spirit of loyalty, or the hope of plunder, to induce the adventurous youth of their districts to form into companies of infantry, and rally round the standard of monarchy. By desultory enterprises, always accompanied with pillage, and frequently with cruelty, they gradually formed their force into a little army; and then suddenly attacked the posts of their enemies, whose vigilance was seldom sufficient to ensure them against being taken by surprise. If, however, they were strong enough to resist the impression of the royalists, the latter had to expect in return a heavy retaliation, under the more legalized names of fines and contributions, for their own arbitrary oppression. And if, on the other hand, the arms of the royalists succeeded in driving within their fortifications their mechanic enemies, their march through the country was generally little more than the track of a ship on the ocean: the waters closed immediately behind them, and as soon as the regiments of the Malignants moved off to advocate the cause of their master in other districts, Committee-men and Sequestrators re-commenced their operations; thanksgivings were offered up for their escape from "Egyptian slavery;" and, except where (as in Devonshire) the spirit of the country was absolutely against them, they speedily resumed their government in the appointed places. In the month of August, 1642, the whole county of Devon was in the undisturbed possession of the committees of parliament. The gentry of the county, although generally in favour of the king, were intimidated and disunited; yet still ready to join in any enterprise that might have a chance of success, against the overwhelming power of their adversaries. Three

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