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CAPTAIN JOHN CREICHTON.
THE former part
of my life having been attended with some passages
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 ; some example to those who desire strictly to adhere to their duty and principles; and might serve to vin. dicate my reputation in Scotland, where I am well known ; that kingdom having been the chief scene of my acting, and where I have been represented, by a fanatick rebellious party, as a persecutor of the saints, and a man of blood.
* These memoirs contain a most striking picture of the spirit and calamities of those times : such a one as is not to be found in more general histories, where private distress is absorbed in the fate of nations.
Having lost the benefit of a thorough school education, by a most indiscreet marriage in all worldly views, although to a very good woman; and in consequence thereof, being forced to seek my fortune in Scotland as a soldier, where I forgot all the little I had learned, the reader cannot reasonably expect to be much pleased with my style, or methods or manner of relating; it is enough, if I never wilfully fail in point of truth, nor offend by malice or partiality. My memory, I thank God, is yet very perfect as to things long past ; although, like an old man, I retain but little of what has happened since I grew into years.
I am likewise very sensible of an infirmity in many authors, who write their own memoirs, and are apt to lay too much weight upon trifles : which they are vain enough to conceive the world to be as much concerned in as themselves; yet I remember that Plutarch, in his lives of great men (which I have, read in the English translation) says, that, the nature and disposition of a man's mind may be often better discovered by a small circumstance, than by an action or event of the greatest importance. And besides, it is not improbable that gray
have brought upon me a vanity, to desire that posterity may know what manner of man I was.
I lie under another disadvantage, and indeed a very great one, from the wonderful change of opinions, since I first made any appearance in the world." I was bred under the principles of the strictest loyalty to my prince, and in an exact conformity in discipline, as well as doctrine, to the church of England; which are neither altered nor shaken to this very day ; and I am now too old to mend. However, my
different sentiments, since my last troubles after the Revolution, have never had the least influence either upon my actions or discourse. I have submitted myself with entire resignation, according to St. Paul's precept, “ to the powers that be.”
I converse equally with all parties, and an equally favoured by all; and God knows, it is now of little consequence what my opinions are, under such a weight of age and infirmities, with a very scanty subsistence, which, instead of comforting, will hardly support me.
But there is another point, which requires a better apology than I am able to give : a judicious reader will be apt to censure me (and I confess with reason enough) as guilty of a very foolish superstition in relating my dreams, and how I was guided by them with success, in discovering one or two principal covenanters. I shall not easily allow myself to be, either by nature or education, more superstitious than other men : but I take the truth to be this: being then full of zeal against enthusiastical rebels, and better informed of their lurking holes than most officers in the army, this made so strong an impression on my mind, that it affected my dreams, when I was directed to the most probable places, almost as well as if I had been awake, being guided in the night by the same conjectures I had made in the day. There could possibly be no more in the matter; and God forbid I should pretend to a spirit of divination, which would make me resemble those very hypocritical saints, whom it was both my duty and inclination to bring to justice, for their many horrid blasphemies against God, rebellions against their prince, and barbarities toward their countrymen and fellow Christians,
My great-grandfather, Alexander Creichton, of the house of Dumfries, in Scotland, in a feud between the Maxwells and the Johnstons (the chief of the Johnstons being the lord Johnston, ancestor of the present marquis of Annandale) siding with the latter, and having killed some of the former, was forced to fly into Ireland, where he settled near Kinard, then a woody country, and now called Calidon : but within a year or two, some friends and relations of those Maxwells who had been killed in the feud, coming over to Ireland to pursue their revenge, lay in wait for my great-grandfather in the wood, and shot him dead, as he was going to church. This accident happened about the time that James the Sixth of Scotland came to the crown of England.
Alexander, my great-grandfather, left two sons, and as many daughters; his eldest son John lived till a year or two after the rebellion in 1641. His house was the first in Ulster set upon by the Irish, who took and imprisoned him at Dungannon ; bnt fortunately making his escape, he went to sir Robert Stuart, who was then in arms for the king, and died, in the service.
This John, who was my grandfather, left two sons, Alexander, my father, and a younger son, likewise named John; who being a child, but two or three years
old at his father's death, was invited to Scotland by the lady Dumfries, there educated by her, and sent to sea : he made several voyages to and from Barbadoes, then settled in Scotland, where he died some time after the Restoration, leaving, beside a daughter, one son; who, at my charges, was bred up a physician, and proved so famous in his profeson, that he was sent by her late majesty queen Anne VOL. X.
to cure the king of Portugal of the venereal disease. He had a thousand pounds paid him in hand, before he began his journey ; but when he arrived at Lisbon, the Portuguese council and physicians dissuaded that king from trusting his person with a foreigner. However his majesty of Portugal showed him several marks of his esteem, and, at parting, presented him with a very rich jewel, which he sold afterward for five hundred guineas. He staid there not above six weeks; during which time, he got considerable practice. After living many years in London, where he grew very rich, he died November 1726, and, as it is believed, without making a will; which is very probable, because, although he had no children, he left me no legacy, who was his cousin-german, and had been his greatest benefactor by the care and expense of his education. Upon this matter, I must add one circumstance more, how little significant soever it may be to others. Mr. archdeacon Maurice being at London, in order to his journey to France on account of his health, went to visit the doctor, and put him in mind of me, urging the obligations I had laid upon him. The doctor agreed to send me whatever sum of money the archdeacon should think reasonable, and deliver it to him on his return from his travels ; but unfortunately the doctor died two or three days before the archdeacon came back.
Alexander, my father, was about eighteen years old in 1641. The Irish rebellion then breaking out, he went to captain Gerard Irvin, his relation, who was then captain of horse, and afterward knighted by king Charles the Second. This gentleman, having a party for the king, soon after joined with sir Robert Stuart in the county of Donegal ; where, in the course of