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Siege of Gloucester — Lord Falkland visits the Trenches – Battle of
Newbury - Lord Falkland is killed by a Musket-shot — Character of Lord Falkland — He was known as a Poet and Theologian — His Mother attempted to convert him to the Church of Rome — His Religious Opinions — His married Life — His personal Appearance and bodily Endowments — His Literary Tastes — His Official Qualifications - His Parliamentary Speeches – Opinions of Contemporaries respecting him — Place of his Burial — His Children.
On the 5th of August, 1643, propositions for peace were made by the House of Lords to the Commons in a conference. The Commons were little inclined to listen to these propositions, and, on a petition of the Common Council of London against peace, the Commons de. termined to reject the Lords' propositions.
The differences that had arisen between the Princes and the Earl of Hertford were adjusted, though not healed, by the King; and the time thus occupied had occasioned some delay in following up the advantages obtained by the success against Bristol. The question now arose in what service the army should be next engaged. On this point there was great division of opinion ; at length the decision was made in favour of laying siege to Gloucester. The enterprise was unsuccessful in itself, and disastrous in its consequences to the King's position. The failure was attributed by those
Parl. Hist., vol. ii, p. 156.
who were in favour of the attempt to the manner in which their advice had been acted upon ;' whilst by those who had objected to this course the evil consequences were looked upon as the natural fruits of an ill-advised plan. On the 10th of August the King ranged his army on the top of a hill within two miles of Gloucester, and on that day summoned the city to surrender. The summons was not obeyed, and preparations for the siege were instantly commenced.”
Lord Falkland had accompanied the King to Gloucester, and was now active in “ visiting the trenches and “ nearest approaches to discover what the enemy did.”: It was on this occasion that his too reckless disregard of personal danger drew from Sir Edward Hyde an affectionate remonstrance against his thus exposing himself to risks which formed no part of the duty of his office, “but,” as he added, “might be understood rather " to be against it.” Lord Clarendon tells us that to this Lord Falkland merrily replied that his “ office “ could not take away the privilege of his age; and " that a Secretary in war might be present at the “ greatest secret of danger.” 4
The Earl of Essex assembled his forces at Hounslow Heath on the 22nd of August, and marched from thence to the relief of Gloucester. He had to traverse a country already eaten bare, and defended by half the King's body of horse; but he succeeded in his undertaking. On the 5th of September the siege of Gloucester was raised, and the King's army retired to Esham. The Ear) of Essex marched to Tewkesbury, seized upon Cirencester, then directed his march through North Wilts on his way back to London ; Prince Rupert pursued his track, and a skirmish took place at Awborn-Chase near Hungerford. The following day, the 17th of September, the Earl of Essex advanced to Newbury, but found the King had been established there two hours before his arrival. This was a decided advantage to the King, and appeared to give him the option of the time when he would risk the next engagement. It was determined on the night of their arrival at Newbury not to engage without an almost certainty of victory. Lord Essex had drawn out his army and disposed his troops with admirable skill upon a height' within less than a mile from the town. Lord Clarendon attributes the commencement of the battle to the precipitate " courage of some young officers ” who were intrusted with important commands in the King's army, and who, undervaluing the courage of their opponents, frustrated the deliberate intentions of the preceding evening by attacking the enemy. Strong parties were successively engaged, and a general battle became inevitable. Lord Falkland had accompanied the King in his march from Gloucester to Newbury. Sir Edward Hyde, who had
Sir J. Culpepper strongly urged the necessity of getting possession of Gloucester. It does not appear what were the opinions of Lord Falkland or of Sir Edward Hyde.
Clarendon's . Hist. of the Rebellion,' vol. iv. p. 179. 3 Clarendon, Life,' vol. i. p. 165 ; Hist, of the Rebellion, vol. iv. p. 256.
* There is here a play upon the words secret and Secretary; the allusion being to the discovery of the enemy's hidden intentions.
been detained on business at Bristol after the King's departure, visited the Court for a short time during the siege before Gloucester, and then returned to Oxford, from whence he seems to have again remonstrated with Lord Falkland by letter on his constant exposure to uncalled-for risks. He represented to him that “ he “ suffered in his reputation with all discreet men by engag“ing himself unnecessarily in all places of danger, and " that it was not the office of a Privy Councillor and a Se“cretary of State to visit the trenches as he usually did, “ and conjured him, out of the conscience of his duty to “ the King, and to free his friends from those continual “ uneasy apprehensions, not to engage his person to “ those dangers which were not incumbent to him.” Lord Falkland's answer to him was “ That the trenches “ were now at an end ; there would be no more danger " there: that his case was different from other men's; “ that he was so much taken notice of for an impatient 66 desire of peace, that it was necessary that he should " likewise make it appear that it was not out of fear of “ the utmost hazard of war: he said some melancholic “ things of the time, and concluded that in few days " they should come to a battle, the issue whereof, he “ hoped, would put an end to the misery of the king“ dom."1
The battle came; the issue did little towards bringing about any decisive result to either party. It is said that on the morning of the battle Lord Falkland was very cheerful, and, seeking as usual the post where there was likely to be the hottest service, he put himself into
Clarendon, · Life,' vol. i. p. 165. VOL. I.
the head of Sir John Byron's regiment.' He was ordered to charge a body of foot ; the hedges on both sides were lined with the enemy's musketeers; as he advanced a musket-shot struck him in the lower part of
dead from his horse.
“ Thus fell that incomparable young man, in the “ four-and-thirtieth year of his age, having so much “ despatched the true business of life, that the eldest “ rarely attain to that immense knowledge, and the “ youngest enter not into the world with more inno“ cency; whosoever leads such a life needs be the less “ anxious upon how short warning it is taken from him.”?
The body was not found till the next morning; and on the day the news of Lord Falkland's death reached Oxford Sir Edward Hyde received the reply to that letter which he had addressed to him at Gloucester.3 The messenger had been employed on other service, which had delayed the delivery of this answer, and when it reached its destination it came as a voice from the grave. For many days Sir Edward Hyde was so absorbed in grief for the loss of his “dear friend,” that he was utterly incapable of composing his mind sufficiently to attend to any business; and his touching lamentations at being thus suddenly deprived of the “ joy and comfort of his life” 4 cannot fail to move the heart of every reader. For thirteen years there had subsisted between these two distinguished men a most “ entire
Clarendon, · Life,' vol. i. p. 164. . Hist. of the Rebellion, vol. iv. p. 257. 3 Life, vol. i. p. 165.
* Ibid., p. 164.