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Doddridge, Philip / The Life of Col. James Gardiner Who Was Slain at the Battle of Prestonpans, September 21, 1745
Produced by Ted Garvin, Lesley Halamek and PG Distributed Proofreaders




THE LIFE OF COL. JAMES GARDINER,


WHO WAS SLAIN AT THE BATTLE OF PRESTONPANS,


SEPTEMBER 21, 1745.



BY P. DODDRIDGE, D.D.



'Justior alter Nec pietate fuit, nec bello major et armis.'--VIRGIL




CHAPTER

I PARENTAGE AND EARLY DAYS.

II BATTLE OF RAMILLIES.

III MILITARY PREFERMENTS.

IV CHECKS OF CONSCIENCE.

V HIS CONVERSION.

VI LETTERS.

VII DOMESTIC RELATIONS.

VIII CONDUCT AS AN OFFICER.

IX INTIMACY WITH THE AUTHOR.

X DEVOTION AND CHARITY.

XI EMBARKS FOR FLANDERS.

XII RETURN TO ENGLAND.

XIII REVIVAL OF RELIGION.

XIV APPREHENSIONS OF DEATH.

XV BATTLE OF PRESTONPANS.

THE COLONEL'S PERSONAL APPEARANCE.

APPENDIX I

APPENDIX II




[*Transcriber's Note: At the time of this book, England still followed
the Julian calendar (after Julius Caesar, 44 B.C.), and celebrated New
Year's Day on March 25th (Annunciation Day). Most Catholic countries
accepted the Gregorian calendar (after Pope Gregory XIII) from some time
after 1582 (the Catholic countries of France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy
in 1582, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Switzerland within a year or two,
Hungary in 1587, and Scotland in 1600), and celebrated New Year's Day on
January 1st. England finally changed to the Gregorian calendar in 1752.
This is the reason for the double dates in the early months of the years
in this narrative. January 1687 in England would have been January 1688
in Scotland. Only after March 25th was the year the same in the two
countries. The Julian calendar was known as 'Old Style', and the
Gregorian calendar as 'New Style' (N.S.).

(Thus a letter written from France on e.g. August 4th, 1719 would be
dated August 4, N.S.)]




LIFE OF COL. JAMES GARDINER.



CHAPTER I.

PARENTAGE AND EARLY DAYS.


When I promised the public some larger account of the life and character
of this illustrious person, than I could conveniently insert in my sermon
on the sad occasion of his death, I was secure, that if Providence
continued my capacity of writing, I should not wholly disappoint the
expectation; for I was furnished with a variety of particulars which
appeared to me worthy of general notice, in consequence of that intimate
friendship with which he had honoured me during the last six years of his
life--a friendship which led him to open his heart to me, in repeated
conversations, with an unbounded confidence, (as he then assured me,
beyond what he had used with any other man living,) so far as religious
experiences were concerned; and I had also received several very valuable
letters from him during the time of our absence from each other, which
contained most genuine and edifying traces of his Christian character.
But I hoped further to learn many valuable particulars from the papers of
his own closet, and from his letters to other friends, as well as
from what they more circumstantially knew concerning him. I therefore
determined to delay the execution of my promise till I could enjoy these
advantages for performing it in the most satisfactory manner; nor have I,
on the whole, reason to regret that determination.

I shall not trouble the reader with all the causes which concurred to
retard these expected assistances for almost a whole year. The chief of
them was the tedious languishing illness of his afflicted lady, through
whose hands it was proper the papers should pass; together with the
confusion into which the rebels had thrown them when they ransacked
his seat at Bankton, where most of them were deposited. But having now
received such of them as have escaped their rapacious hands, and could
conveniently be collected and transmitted, I set myself with the greatest
pleasure to perform what I esteem not merely a tribute of gratitude to
the memory of my invaluable friend, (though never was the memory of any
mortal man more precious and sacred to me,) but of duty to God, and to my
fellow-creatures; for I have a most cheerful hope that the narrative I am
now to write will, under the divine blessing, be a means of spreading,
what of all things in the world, every benevolent heart will most desire
to spread, a warm and lively sense of religion.

My own heart has been so much edified and animated by what I have read in
the memoirs of persons who have been eminent for wisdom and piety, that I
cannot but wish the treasure may be more and more increased; and I would
hope the world may gather the like valuable fruits from the life I am
now attempting, not only as it will contain very singular circumstances,
which may excite general curiosity, but as it comes attended with some
other particular advantages.

The reader is here to survey a character of such eminent and various
goodness as might demand veneration, and inspire him with a desire of
imitating it too, had it appeared in the obscurest rank; but it will
surely command some peculiar regard, when viewed in so elevated and
important a station, especially as it shone, not in ecclesiastical, but
_military_ life, where the temptations are so many, and the prevalence
of the contrary character so great, that it may seem no inconsiderable
praise and felicity to be free from dissolute vice, and to retain what in
most other professions might be esteemed only _a mediocrity of virtue_.
It may surely, with the highest justice, be expected that the title
and bravery of Colonel Gardiner will invite many of our officers and
soldiers, to whom his name has been long honourable and dear, to peruse
this account of him with some peculiar attention; in consequence of which
it may be a means of increasing the number, and brightening the character
of those who are already adorning their office, their country, and their
religion; and of reclaiming those who will see what they ought to be,
rather than what they are. On the whole, to the gentlemen of the sword I
would particularly offer these memoirs, as theirs by so distinguished
a title; yet I am firmly persuaded there are _none_ whose office is so
sacred, or whose proficiency in the religious life is so advanced, but
they may find something to demand their thankfulness, and to awaken their
emulation.



COLONEL JAMES GARDINER was the son of Capt. Patrick Gardiner of the
family of Torwoodhead, by Mrs.[*] Mary Hodge of the family of Gladsmuir.
The captain, who was master of a handsome estate, served many years in
the army of king William and queen Anne, and died abroad with the British
forces in Germany, soon after the battle of Hochstett, through the
fatigues he underwent in the duties of that celebrated campaign. He had
a company in the regiment of foot once commanded by Colonel Hodge, his
valiant brother-in-law, who was slain at the head of that regiment (my
memorial from Scotland says) at the battle of Steenkirk, which was fought
in the year 1692.

[*Transcriber's Note: Mrs. (Mistress), in that age, was the normal style
of address for an unmarried daughter from a prominent family, as well as
for a married lady.]

Mrs. Gardiner, our colonel's mother, was a lady of very respectable
character; but it pleased God to exercise her with very uncommon trials;
for she not only lost her husband and her brother in the service of their
country, as before related, but also her eldest son, Mr. Robert Gardiner,
on the day which completed the 16th year of his age, at the siege of
Namur, in 1695. But there is great reason to believe that God blessed
these various and heavy afflictions, as the means of forming her to that
eminent degree of piety which will render her memory honourable as long
as it continues.

Her second son, the worthy person of whom I am now to give a more
particular account, was born at Carriden, in Linlithgowshire, on the 10th
of January, A.D. 1687-8,--the memorable year of that glorious revolution
which he justly esteemed among the happiest of all events; so that when
he was slain in defence of those liberties which God then, by so gracious
a providence, rescued from utter destruction, i.e. on the 21st of
September 1745, he was aged 57 years, 8 months, and 11 days.

The annual return of his birth-day was observed by him in the latter
and better years of his life, in a manner very different from what is
commonly practised; for, instead of making it a day of festivity, I
am told he rather distinguished it as a season of more than ordinary
humiliation before God--both in commemoration of those mercies which he
received in the first opening of life, and under an affectionate sense,
as well of his long alienation from the great Author and support of his
being, as of the many imperfections which he lamented in the best of his
days and services.

I have not met with many things remarkable concerning the early days of
his life, only that his mother took care to instruct him, with great
tenderness and affection, in the principles of true Christianity. He was
also trained up in humane literature, at the school at Linlithgow, where
he made a very considerable progress in the languages. I remember to have
heard him quote some passages of the Latin classics very pertinently;
though his employment in life, and the various turns which his mind
took under different impulses in succeeding years, prevented him from
cultivating such studies.

The good effects of his mother's prudent and exemplary care were not so
conspicuous as she wished and hoped, in the earlier part of her son's
life; yet there is great reason to believe they were not entirely lost.
As they were probably the occasion of many convictions which in his
younger years were overborne, so I doubt not, that when religious
impressions took that strong hold of his heart which they afterwards did,
that stock of knowledge which had been so early laid up in his mind,
was found of considerable service. And I have heard them make the
observation, as an encouragement to parents, and other pious friends, to
do their duty, and to hope for those good consequences of it which may
not immediately appear.

Could his mother, or a very religious aunt, (of whose good instructions
and exhortations I have often heard him speak with pleasure,) have
prevailed, he would not have thought of a military life, from which it
is no wonder these ladies endeavoured to dissuade him, considering the
mournful experience they had of the dangers attending it, and the dear
relatives they had lost already by it. But it suited his taste; and the
ardour of his spirit, animated by the persuasions of a friend who greatly
urged it,[*] was not to be restrained. Nor will the reader wonder
that, thus excited and supported, it easily overbore their tender
remonstrances, when he knows that this lively youth fought three duels
before he attained to the stature of a man; in one of which, when he was
but eight years old, he received from a boy much older than himself, a
wound in his right cheek, the scar of which was always very apparent.
The false sense of honour which instigated him to it, might seem indeed
something excusable in those unripened years, and considering the
profession of his father, brother, and uncle; but I have often heard
him mention this rashness with that regret which the reflection would
naturally give to so wise and good a man in the maturity of life. And I
have been informed that, after his remarkable conversion, he declined
accepting a challenge, with this calm and truly great reply, which, in
a man of his experienced bravery, was exceedingly graceful: "I fear
sinning, though you know I do not fear fighting."

[*Note: I suppose this to have been Brigadier-General Rue, who had from
his childhood a peculiar affection for him.]




CHAPTER II.

BATTLE OF RAMILLIES.


He served first as a cadet, which must have been very early; and then, at
fourteen years old, he bore an ensign's commission in a Scotch regiment
in the Dutch service, in which he continued till the year 1702, when (if
my information be right) he received an ensign's commission from queen
Anne, which he bore in the battle of Ramillies, being then in the
nineteenth year of his age. In this ever-memorable action he received a
wound in his mouth by a musket-ball, which has often been reported to be
the occasion of his conversion. That report was a mistaken one; but as
some very remarkable circumstances attended this affair, which I have
had the pleasure of hearing more than once from his own mouth, I hope my
readers will excuse me, if I give him so uncommon a story at large.

Our young officer was of a party in the forlorn hope, and was commanded
on what seemed almost a desperate service, to dispossess the French of
the church-yard at Ramillies, where a considerable number of them were
posted to remarkable advantage. They succeeded much better than was
expected; and it may well be supposed that Mr. Gardiner, who had before
been in several encounters, and had the view of making his fortune to
animate the natural intrepidity of his spirit, was glad of such an
opportunity of signalizing himself. Accordingly he had planted his
colours on an advanced ground; and while he was calling to his men,
(probably in that horrid language which is so peculiar a disgrace to our
soldiery, and so absurdly common on such occasions of extreme danger,) he
received into his mouth a shot, which, without beating out of any of his
teeth, or touching the fore part of his tongue, went through his neck,
and came out about an inch and a half on the left side of the _vertebrę_.
Not feeling at first the pain of the stroke, he wondered what was become
of the ball, and in the wildness of his surprise began to suspect he had
swallowed it; but falling soon after, he traced the passage of it by his
finger, when he could discover it in no other way; which I mention as
one circumstance, among many which occur, to make it probable that the
greater part of those who fall in battle by these instruments of death,
feel very little anguish from the most mortal wounds.

This accident happened about five or six in the evening, on the 23d of
May, 1706; and the army, pursuing its advantages against the French,
without ever regarding the wounded, (which was, it seems, the Duke of
Marlborough's constant method,) our young officer lay all night on
the field, agitated, as may well be supposed, with a great variety of
thoughts. He assured me, that when he reflected upon the circumstance of
his wound, that a ball should, as he then conceived it, go through his
head without killing him, he thought God had preserved him by a miracle;
and therefore assuredly concluded that he should live, abandoned and
desperate as his state seemed to be. Yet (which to me appeared very
astonishing) he had little thoughts of humbling himself before God, and
returning to him after the wanderings of a life so licentiously begun.
But, expecting to recover, his mind was taken up with contrivances to
secure his gold, of which he had a good deal about him; and he had
recourse to a very odd expedient, which proved successful. Expecting to
be stripped, he first took out a handful of that clotted gore of which he
was frequently obliged to clear his mouth, or he would have been choked;
and putting it into his left hand, he took out his money, which I think
was about 19 pistoles, and shutting his hand, and besmearing the back
part of it with blood, he kept in this position till the blood dried in
such a manner that his hand could not easily fall open, though any sudden
surprise should happen, in which he might lose the presence of mind which
that concealment otherwise would have required.

In the morning the French, who were masters of that spot, though their
forces were defeated at some distance, came to plunder the slain; and
seeing him to appearance almost expiring, one of them was just applying
a sword to his breast, to destroy the little remainder of life, when, in
the critical moment, upon which all the extraordinary events of such a
life as his afterwards proved, were suspended, a Cordelier who attended
the plunderers interposed, (taking him by his dress for a Frenchman) and
said, "Do not kill that poor child." Our young soldier heard all that
passed, though he was not able to speak one word; and, opening his
eyes, made a sign for something to drink. They gave him a sup of some
spirituous liquor which happened to be at hand, by which he said he found
a more sensible refreshment than he could remember from anything he had
tasted either before or since. Then signifying to the friar to lean down
his ear to his mouth, he employed the first efforts of his feeble breath
in telling him (what, alas! was a contrived falsehood) that he was a
nephew to the governor of Huy, a neutral town in the neighbourhood; and
that if he could take any method of conveying him thither, he did not
doubt but his uncle would liberally reward him. He had indeed a friend at
Huy, who I think was governor, and, if I mistake not, had been acquainted
with the captain, his father, from whom he expected a kind reception; but
the relation was only pretended. On hearing this, they laid him on a sort
of hand-barrow, and sent him by a file of musqueteers towards the place;
but the men lost their way, and, towards the evening, got into a wood in
which they were obliged to continue all night. The poor patient's wound
being still undressed, it is not to be wondered at that by this time it
raged violently. The anguish of it engaged him earnestly to beg that they
would either kill him outright, or leave him there to die without the
torture of any further motion; and indeed they were obliged to rest for a
considerable time, on account of their own weariness. Thus he spent
the second night in the open air, without any thing more than a common
bandage to staunch the blood. He has often mentioned it as a most
astonishing providence that he did not bleed to death, which, under God,
he ascribed to the remarkable coldness of these two nights.

Judging it quite unsafe to attempt carrying him to Huy, from whence they
were now several miles distant, his convoy took him early in the morning
to a convent in the neighbourhood, where he was hospitably received, and
treated with great kindness and tenderness. But the cure of his wound was
committed to an ignorant barber-surgeon who lived near the house, the
best shift that could then be made, at a time when it may easily be
supposed persons of ability in their profession had their hands full of
employment. The tent which this artist applied, was almost like a peg
driven into the wound; and gentlemen of skill and experience, when they
came to hear of the manner in which he was treated, wondered how he could
possibly survive such management. But by the blessing of God on these
applications, rough as they were, he recovered in a few months. The Lady
Abbess, who called him her son, treated him with the affection and care
of a mother; and he always declared that every thing which he saw within
these walls, was conducted with the strictest decency and decorum. He
received a great many devout admonitions from the ladies there, and
they would fain have persuaded him to acknowledge what they thought so
miraculous a deliverance, by embracing the _Catholic faith_, as they were
pleased to call it. But they could not succeed; for though no religion
lay near his heart, yet he had too much of the spirit of a gentleman
lightly to change that form of religion which he wore, as it were loose
about him; as well as too much good sense to swallow those monstrous
absurdities of Popery which immediately presented themselves to him,
unacquainted as he was with the niceties of the controversy.




CHAPTER III.

MILITARY PREFERMENTS.


When his liberty was regained by an exchange of prisoners, and his health
thoroughly established, he was far from rendering unto the Lord according
to that wonderful display of divine mercy which he had experienced.
I know very little of the particulars of those wild, thoughtless and
wretched years which lay between the 19th and 30th of his life; except
that he frequently experienced the divine goodness in renewed instances,
particularly in preserving him in several hot military actions, in all
which he never received so much as a wound after this, forward as he was
in tempting danger; and yet that all these years were spent in an entire
alienation from God, and in an eager pursuit of animal pleasure as his
supreme good. The series of criminal amours in which he was almost
incessantly engaged during this time, must probably have afforded some
remarkable adventures and occurrences; but the memory of them has
perished. Nor do I think it unworthy of notice here, that amidst all the
intimacy of our friendship, and the many hours of cheerful as well as
serious converse which we spent together, I never remember to have heard
him speak of any of these intrigues, otherwise than in the general with
deep and solemn abhorrence. This I the rather mention, as it seemed a
most genuine proof of his unfeigned repentance, which I think there is
great reason to suspect, when people seem to take a pleasure in relating
and describing scenes of vicious indulgence, which they yet profess to
have disapproved and forsaken.

Amidst all these pernicious wanderings from the paths of religion,
virtue, and happiness, he approved himself so well in his military
character, that he was made a lieutenant in that year, viz. 1706; and I
am told he was very quickly after promoted to a cornet's commission in
Lord Stair's regiment of the Scots Greys, and, on the 31st of January,
1714-15, was made captain-lieutenant in Colonel Ker's regiment of
dragoons. He had the honour of being known to the Earl of Stair some time
before, and was made his aid-de-camp; and when, upon his Lordship's being
appointed ambassador from his late Majesty to the court of France, he
made so splendid an entrance into Paris, Captain Gardiner was his master
of the horse; and I have been told that a great deal of the care of that
admirably well-adjusted ceremony fell upon him; so that he gained great
credit by the manner in which he conducted it. Under the benign influence
of his Lordship's favour, which to the last day of his life he retained,
a captain's commission was procured for him, dated July 22, 1715, in
the regiment of dragoons commanded by Colonel Stanhope, now Earl of
Harrington; and in 1717 he was advanced to the majority of that regiment,
in which office he continued till it was reduced on November 10, 1718,
when he was put out of commission. But when his Majesty, king George I.,
was thoroughly apprised of his faithful and important services, he gave
him his sign-manual, entitling him to the first majority that should
become vacant in any regiment of horse or dragoons, which happened, about
five years after, to be in Croft's regiment of dragoons, in which he
received a commission, dated 1st June, 1724; and on the 20th of July the
same year, he was made major of an older regiment, commanded by the Earl
of Stair.

As I am now speaking of so many of his military preferments, I will
dispatch the account of them by observing, that, on the 24th January
1729-30, he was advanced to the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the same
regiment, long under the command of Lord Cadogan, with whose friendship
this brave and vigilant officer was also honoured for many years. And he
continued in this rank and regiment till the 19th of April, 1743, when
he received a colonel's commission over a regiment of dragoons lately
commanded by Brigadier Bland, at the head of which he valiantly fell, in
the defence of his sovereign and his country, about two years and a half
after he received it.

We will now return to that period of his life which was passed at Paris,
the scene of such remarkable and important events. He continued (if I
remember right) several years under the roof of the brave and generous
Earl of Stair, to whom he endeavoured to approve himself by every
instance of diligent and faithful service. And his Lordship gave no
inconsiderable proof of the dependence which he had upon him, when, in
the beginning of 1715, he entrusted him with the important dispatches
relating to a discovery which, by a series of admirable policy, he had
made of a design which the French king was then forming for invading
Great Britain in favour of the Pretender; in which the French apprehended
they were so sure of success, that it seemed a point of friendship in one
of the chief counsellors of that court to dissuade a dependent of his
from accepting some employment under his Britannic majesty, when proposed
by his envoy there, because it was said that in less than six weeks there
would be a revolution in favour of what they called the family of the
Stuarts. The captain dispatched his journey with the utmost speed; a
variety of circumstances happily concurred to accelerate it; and they
who remember how soon the regiments which that emergency required, were
raised and armed, will, I doubt not, esteem it a memorable instance, both
of the most cordial zeal in the friends of the government, and of the
gracious care of Divine Providence over the house of Hanover and the
British liberties, so inseparably connected with its interest.

While Captain Gardiner was at London, in one of the journeys he made upon
this occasion, he, with that frankness which was natural to him, and
which in those days was not always under the most prudent restraint,
ventured to predict, from what he knew of the bad state of the French
king's health, that he would not live six weeks. This was made known by
some spies who were at St. James's, and came to be reported at the court
of Versailles; for he received letters from some friends at Paris,
advising him not to return thither, unless he could reconcile himself to
a lodging in the Bastile. But he was soon free from that apprehension;
for, if I mistake not, before half that time was accomplished, Louis XIV.
died, (Sept. 1, 1715,) and it is generally thought his death was hastened
by a very accidental circumstance, which had some reference to the
captain's prophecy; for the last time he ever dined in public, which
was a very little while after the report of it had been made there,
he happened to discover our British envoy among the spectators. The
penetration of this illustrious person was too great, and his attachment
to the interest of his royal master too well known, not to render him
very disagreeable to that crafty and tyrannical prince, whom God had so
long suffered to be the disgrace of monarchy, and the scourge of Europe.
He at first appeared very languid, as indeed he was; but on casting his
eye upon the Earl of Stair, he affected to appear before him in a much
better state of health than he really was; and therefore, as if he had
been awakened on a sudden from some deep reverie, he immediately put
himself into an erect posture, called up a laboured vivacity into his
countenance, and ate much more heartily than was by any means advisable,
repeating two or three times to a nobleman, (I think the Duke of Bourbon)
then in waiting, "_Il me semble que je ne mange pas mal pour un homme qui
devoit mourir si tot._" "Methinks I eat very well for a man who is to die
so soon." But this inroad upon that regularity of living which he had for
some time observed, agreed so ill with him that he never recovered this
meal, but died in less than a fortnight. This gave occasion for some
humorous people to say, that old Louis, after all, was killed by a
Briton. But if this story be true, (which I think there can be no room to
doubt, as the colonel, from whom I have often heard it, though absent,
could scarce be misinformed,) it might more properly be said that he fell
by his own vanity; in which view I thought it so remarkable, as not to be
unworthy of a place in these memoirs.

The captain quickly returned, and continued, with small interruptions, at
Paris, at least till 1720, and how much longer I do not certainly know.
The Earl's favour and generosity made him easy in his affairs, though he
was, (as has been observed before,) part of the time, out of commission,
by breaking the regiment to which he belonged, of which before he was
major. This was in all probability the gayest part of his life, and the
most criminal. Whatever wise and good examples he might find in the
family where he had the honour to reside, it is certain that the French
court, during the regency of the Duke of Orleans, was one of the most
dissolute under heaven. What, by a wretched abuse of language, have been
called intrigues of love and gallantry, were so entirely to the major's
then degenerate taste, that if not the whole business, at least the whole
happiness of his life, consisted in them; and he had now too much leisure
for one who was so prone to abuse it. His fine constitution, than which
perhaps there was hardly ever a better, gave him great opportunities of
indulging himself in these excesses; and his good spirits enabled him to
pursue his pleasures of every kind in so alert and sprightly a manner,
that multitudes envied him, and called him, by a dreadful kind of
compliment, "the happy rake."




CHAPTER IV.

CHECKS OF CONSCIENCE.


Yet still the checks of conscience, and some remaining principles of so
good an education, would break in upon his most licentious hours; and
I particularly remember he told me, that when some of his dissolute
companions were once congratulating him on his distinguished felicity, a
dog happening at that time to come into the room, he could not forbear
groaning inwardly, and saying to himself, 'Oh that I were that dog!' Such
then was his happiness; and such perhaps is that of hundreds more who
bear themselves highest in the contempt of religion, and glory in
that infamous servitude which they affect to call liberty. But these
remonstrances of reason and conscience were in vain; and, in short, he
carried things so far in this wretched part of his life, that I am well
assured some sober English gentlemen, who made no great pretences to
religion, how agreeable soever he might have been to them on other
accounts, rather declined than sought his company, as fearing they might
have been ensnared and corrupted by it.

Yet I cannot find that in these most abandoned days he was fond of
drinking. Indeed, he never had any natural relish for that kind of
intemperance, from which he used to think a manly pride might be
sufficient to preserve persons of sense and spirit; as by it they give up
every thing that distinguishes them from the meanest of their species, or
indeed from animals the most below it. So that if ever he fell into any
excesses of this kind, it was merely out of complaisance to his company,
and that he might not appear stiff and singular. His frank, obliging, and
generous temper procured him many friends; and these principles, which
rendered him amiable to others, not being under the direction of true
wisdom and piety, sometimes made him, in the ways of living he pursued,
more uneasy to himself than he might, perhaps, have been, if he could
have entirely overcome them; especially as he never was a sceptic in his
principles, but still retained a secret apprehension that natural and
revealed religion, though he did not much care to think of either, were
founded in truth. And, with this conviction, his notorious violations of
the most essential precepts of both could not but occasion some secret
misgivings of heart. His continual neglect of the great Author of his
being, of whose perfections he could not doubt, and to whom he knew
himself to be under daily and perpetual obligations, gave him, in some
moments of involuntary reflection, inexpressible remorse; and this at
times wrought upon him to such a degree, that he resolved he would
attempt to pay him some acknowledgments. Accordingly, for a few mornings
he did it, repeating in retirement some passages out of the Psalms, and
perhaps other scriptures which he still retained in his memory; and
owning, in a few strong words, the many mercies and deliverances he had
received, and the ill returns he had made for them.

I find, among the other papers transmitted to me, the following verses,
which I have heard him repeat, as what had impressed him a good deal
in his unconverted state; and as I suppose they did something towards
setting him on this effort towards devotion, and might probably furnish
a part of these orisons, I hope I need make no apology to my reader for
inserting them, especially as I do not recollect that I have seen them
any where else.

Attend, my soul! the early birds inspire
My grovelling thoughts with pure celestial fire;
They from their temperate sleep awake, and pay
Their thankful anthems for the new-born day.
See how the tuneful lark is mounted high,
And, poet-like, salutes the eastern sky!
He warbles through the fragrant air his lays,
And seems the beauties of the morn to praise.
But man, more void of gratitude awakes,
And gives no thanks for the sweet rest he takes;
Looks on the glorious sun's new kindled flame,
Without one thought of Him from whom it came.
The wretch unhallowed does the day begin,
Shakes off his sleep, but shakes not off his sin.

But these strains were too devout to continue long in a heart as
yet quite unsanctified; for how readily soever he could repeat such
acknowledgments of the Divine power, presence, and goodness, and own his
own follies and faults, he was stopped short by the remonstrances of
conscience as to the flagrant absurdity of confessing sins he did not
desire to forsake, and of pretending to praise God for his mercies, when
he did not endeavour to live to his service, and to behave in such a
manner as gratitude, if sincere, would plainly dictate. A model of
devotion where such sentiments made no part, his good sense could not
digest; and the use of such language before a heart-searching God, merely
as an hypocritical form, while the sentiments of his soul were contrary
to it, justly appeared to him such daring profaneness, that, irregular as
the state of his mind was, the thought of it struck him with horror.
He therefore determined to make no more attempts of this sort, and was
perhaps one of the first who deliberately laid aside prayer from some
sense of God's omniscience, and some natural principle of honour and
conscience.

These secret debates with himself and ineffectual efforts would sometimes
return; but they were overborne again and again by the force of
temptation, and it is no wonder that in consequence of them his heart
grew yet harder. Nor was it softened or awakened by some very memorable
deliverances which at this time he received. He was in extreme danger by
a fall from his horse, as he was riding post I think in the streets of
Calais. When going down a hill, the horse threw him over his head, and
pitched over him; so that when he rose, the beast lay beyond him, and
almost dead. Yet, though he received not the least harm, it made no
serious impression on his mind. On his return from England in the
packet-boat, if I remember right, but a few weeks after the former
accident, a violent storm, that drove them up to Harwich, tossed them
from thence for several hours in a dark night on the coast of Holland,
and brought them into such extremity, that the captain of the vessel
urged him to go to prayers immediately, if he ever intended to do it at
all; for he concluded they would in a few minutes be at the bottom of the
sea. In this circumstance he did pray, and that very fervently too; and
it was very remarkable, that while he was crying to God for deliverance,
the wind fell, and quickly after they arrived at Calais. But the major
was so little affected with what had befallen him, that when some of his
gay friends, on hearing the story, rallied him upon the efficacy of his
prayers, he excused himself from the scandal of being thought much in
earnest, by saying "that it was at midnight, an hour when his good mother
and aunt were asleep, or else he should have left that part of the
business to them;"--a speech which I should not have mentioned, but as
it shows in so lively a view the wretched situation of his mind at that
time, though his great deliverance from the power of darkness was then
nearly approaching. He recounted these things to me with the greatest
humility, as showing how utterly unworthy he was of that miracle of
divine grace by which he was quickly after brought to so true and so
permanent a sense of religion.




CHAPTER V.

HIS CONVERSION.


And now I am come to that astonishing part of his story, the account of
his conversion, which I cannot enter upon without assuring the reader
that I have sometimes been tempted to suppress many circumstances of
it; not only as they may seem incredible to some, and enthusiastical to
others, but I am very sensible they are liable to great abuses; which was
the reason that he gave me for concealing the most extraordinary from
many persons to whom he mentioned some of the rest. And I believe it was
this, together with the desire of avoiding every thing that might look
like ostentation on this head, that prevented his leaving a written
account of it, though I have often entreated him to do it, as I
particularly remember I did in the very last letter I ever wrote him, and
pleaded the possibility of his falling amidst those dangers to which I
knew his valour might, in such circumstances, naturally expose him. I was
not so happy as to receive any answer to this letter, which reached him
but a few days before his death; nor can I certainly say whether he had
or had not complied with my request, as it is very possible a paper of
this kind, if it were written, might be lost amidst the ravages which the
rebels made when they plundered Bankton.

The story, however, was so remarkable, that I had little reason to
apprehend I should ever forget it; and yet, to guard against all
contingencies of that kind, I wrote it down that very evening, as I heard
it from his own mouth; and I have now before me the memoirs of that
conversation, dated Aug. 14, 1739, which conclude with these words,
(which I added that if we should both have died that night, the world
might not have lost this edifying and affecting history, or have wanted
any attestation of it I was capable of giving): "N.B. I have written down
this account with all the exactness I am capable of, and could safely
take an oath of it as to the truth of every circumstance, to the best of
my remembrance, as the colonel related it to me a few hours ago." I do
not know that I had reviewed this paper since I wrote it, till I set
myself thus publicly to record this extraordinary fact; but I find it
punctually to agree with what I have often related from my memory, which
I charged carefully with so wonderful and important a fact. It is with
all solemnity that I now deliver it down to posterity as in the sight
and presence of God; and I choose deliberately to expose myself to those
severe censures which the haughty but empty scorn of infidelity, or
principles nearly approaching it, and effectually doing its pernicious
work, may very probably dictate upon the occasion, rather than to smother
a relation, which may, in the judgment of my conscience, be like to
conduce so much to the glory of God, the honour of the gospel, and the
good of mankind. One thing more I will only premise, that I hope none who
have heard the colonel himself speak something of this wonderful scene,
will be surprised if they find some new circumstances here; because he
assured me, at the time he first gave me the whole narration, (which was
in the very room in which I now write,) that he had never imparted it
so fully to any living before; yet, at the same time, he gave me full
liberty to communicate it to whomsoever I should in my conscience
judge it might be useful to do it, whether before or after his death.
Accordingly I did, while he was alive, recount almost every circumstance
I am now going to write, to several pious friends; referring them at the
same time to the colonel himself, whenever they might have an opportunity
of seeing or writing to him, for a further confirmation of what I told
them, if they judged it requisite.



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Library mainpage -> Doddridge, Philip -> The Life of Col. James Gardiner Who Was Slain at the Battle of Prestonpans, September 21, 1745