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Rev. W. Dillingham. 7 THE PLOT OF CAPTAIN N. CONisby. 153
and there disposed them in a place appointed: whence the enemy fetched them by night, with the help of a little boat; and, upon certain days, brought him answers, and sometimes money for his reward, which he failed not to fetch at the place appointed.
When he was discov ed, he had drawn four men into his conspiracy: among others a Sergeant, who was the means of revealing it.
This Sergeant coming out of prison, where his Captain had caused him to be laid some days in irons, being all malcontent, chanced to meet with CONISBY: who told him he was glad to see him out of prison; withal asking him the reason of his so great and grievous punishment.
To whom, the Sergeant railing upon his Captain, sware earnestly, that he would be revenged for the wrong he had received, though it cost him his life.
CONISBY, supposing he had found a inan fit for his purpose, told him he might easily find the means to be revenged, without losing his life, and with his own profit and advancement; and that if he would follow his counsel, he should want no money.
The Sergeant began to listen to his words, and seemed inclinable enough to so advantageous a design, and ready to follow his advice. Whereupon CONISBY, having first made him swear secrecy, discovered himself: and presently asked him if he had the resolution to set fire on one of the Magazines; for which purpose, he himself had prepared a certain invention of powder, lead, and match.
This, the Sergeant undertook to perform ; which he said, “could not be difficult for him to do, being often sent to fetch powder for the soldiers.”
CONISBY assured him that he had practised [with] more associates; and that when he should have made the number up to twenty, he would then put the design in execution : which was, that one of the Magazines being set on fire, he would so work it, as to have the guard of a Sluice in a Bulwark near the enemy, who should then give on, and be admitted into the town.
The Sergeant seemed to hug the device, demanding only of CONISBY some assurance, under his hand, that he should have his recompence when the work should be performed. Which having once obtained, away he goes to the General, and discovers the practice to him.
Whereupon CONISBY being apprehended and put to the rack, confessed all, and that he came to Ostend with that purpose and intent: as also what instructions and promises he had received ; and what [ac]complices he had made, who were likewise apprehended and put in prison.
This plot failing, the enemy's only hope of taking the town was by
154 INSTANCES OF PRIDE AND COURAGE. [Rev. W. Dillingham
stopping up the haven, and so hindering the coming in of supplies.
To this purpose, the Old Haven on the west of the town, having been made dangerous and useless, and the defendents constrained to make a new one out of the Geule on the east side: the enemy had now so straitened this also, by their float (raft] of great planks bearing ordnance, on the Geule; that they of the town were fain to make a second new haven against the midst of the Old Town, by which means the enemy's designs were eluded, and the ships of supplies admitted into the town at pleasure.
This dangerous thrust being so handsomely put by, the encmy had no other play left but to storm : which he resolved upon, and prepared himself accordingly.
But in the meanwhile, it will not be amiss to take notice of a passage which happened in the town. A French Gentleman, disobeying his Sergeant, and thereupon causing a great tumult, was committed to prison ; and, eight days after, condemned by a Council of War, to be shot to death : but because he was descended of a good house, ali the French Captains interposed their earnest entreaties to General VERE, and begged his life; which was granted, upon condition that he should ask the Sergeant forgiveness. This, when he could not, by any means or persuasion be brought unto; he had eight days' respite granted him to resolve himself: which being past, and he continuing still as obstinate as ever, he was brought forth unto the place of execution, and tied to a stake. But when once he saw the harquebussiers ready to discharge; he began to be apprehensive of the horror of death, and promised to perform the sentence, and ask the Sergeant's forgiveness : which he forth with did, and thereupon was released. So much easier it is for pride and rashness to commit a fault, than heartily to acknowledge it.
A truer courage was that of another in the town during the siege. An English Gentleman of about 23 years of age, in a sally forth, had one of his arms shot off by a cannon : which taking up, he brought back with him into the town, unto the chirurgeon; and coming to his (the surgeon's] lodging, shewed it, saying, "Behold the arm, which but at dinner helped its fellow !” This he did and endured, without the least fainting, or so much as reposing upon his bed.
Not long after, on the 4th of December (1601), early in the morning, the besiegers gave a fierce and sharp assault on the English trenches : which take in the words of one present at it (evidently Sir Francis Vere's Page, HENRY HEXHAN, see op. 171, 174].
? 1610 .
THE ASSAULT OF 4TH DECEMBER, 1601.
IR FRANCIS VERE having been abroad the most
part of that night, was laid down to take his rest: but hearing the alarm that the English trenches were assaulted, and knowing of how great import
that work was for the defence of the town, pulling on his stockings, with his sword in his hand; he ran in all haste, unbraced, with some soldiers and Captain COULDWELL and myself (HENRY HEXHAM], into the works : where he found his own Company at push of pike, upon a turnpike (barrier) with the enemy; who crying in French, Entrez ! entrez ! advancez! advancez ! strove to enter that way; and sought to overturn the turnpike with their pikes.
Some of his Gentlemen were slashing off the heads of their pikes : among the rest, Lieutenant-Colonel PROUD (who was afterwards slain at Maestricht), which he took notice of, and shortly after made him a Lieutenant.
The enemy being repulsed and beaten off; Sir FRANCIS VERE (to the end our men might give fire the better upon them, from the town and Bulwarks that flanked these works, both with our ordnance and small shot) commanded the soldiers to take some straw from the huts within the works, and making wisps of it, to set it on fire, upon the parapet of the work, and upon the heads of their pikes : by which light the enemy were discovered, so that our men gave fire bravely upon them from the town and works; and shot into their battalions which had fallen on, and their men that were carrying off their dead. So that upon this attempt, the enemy lost a matter of 500 men, which lay under our works and between their trenches.
The enemy being retreated into his works, Sir FRANCIS Vere called me to him, and said, “ Boy, come now, pull up my stockings, and tie my points !" and so returned home again to his rest.
· The next Remarkable in the series of this famous siege was that memorable Treaty which General Vere entertained with the Archduke : of which I know none better able to give an account than Sir JOHN OGLE, who had much at stake in the business, and was well acquainted with the several passages thereof; of which he hath left behind him the following account.
Sir FRANCIS VERE's Parley at Ostend: written by Sir John OGLE,
there present. Fter the battle of Nieuport, the Archduke CHARLES, desirous to clear Flanders, in the year following (1601), sat down with his army before Ostend: unto which, the Lords the States sent Sir FRANCIS VERE, their General to defend it.
He having good numbers of men, thought
it most serviceable for the States, to employ them so, as he might keep the enemy at arm's end, and a fair distance from the town. To this purpose, he possessed himself of several advantageous pieces of ground, fortifying upon them so well as the time would give him leave. But they were morsels as well for the enemy's tooth as his, and therefore cost both bickering and blood on both sides, till at the last, what with numbers, artillery, and better commodity of access, he was forced to quit the most of them; and that, ere he brought them to any perfection of strength whereby to make any resistance.
Such as were nearest the town, and under the succour of his own power, as the three Quarriers or Squares, with some few others, he kept and maintained as long as he stayed there. Yet when, by protract of time and casualties of war, he found his numbers wasted, and himself (the enemy creeping upon him) so straitened as he was thrust merely upon the defence; he saw he was not in his proper element. Nor indeed, was he: for the truth is, his virtues, being great, strong, and active, required more elbow room ; having their best lustre where they had the largest foil to set them off.
Sir J. Ogle.] REPLIES TO OBJECTIONS AS TO THE TREATY. 157
The works of Battle, Invasion, and the like were the proper objects of his spirit. The limits of Ostend were much too narrow for him: yet did he, there, many things worth the observation and reputation of so great a Captain as he was. Amongst the rest, that of his Parley (negotiations with the Archduke ALBERT) was of most eminent note; and as most noted, so most and worst censured, and that as well by Sword as Gown-men. Yea, his judgement (which even by his enemies hath often been confessed to be one of the most able that ever our nation delivered to the world, in matters of his profession) was in the action taxed censured), and that in print, too, for his manner of carriage in this business.
Now because I was, in some sort, the only instrument he used in the managing thereof, and best acquainted with all passages : I have (for the love I owe to Truth, and his memory) thought good to set down in writing, what I have hitherto delivered to the Lords the States General in their council chamber ; as also, some time after that, to the Prince MAURice of Nassau, and the Earl WILLIAM his cousin, concerning this matter.
Yet ere I come to the Relation, it shall not be amiss to wipe away two main aspersions which I have often met withal, by way of objection; and are as well in every man's mouth, as in EMANUEL DE METEREN's book.
The first, and that is the word, it lucked well! judging the fact by the event; but reservedly condemning the purpose, for had not the shipping come, say they, as it did, what would have become of the town? He would have given it up!
Colonel UTENHOVEN, a man of note and yet living, one of their own nation, a Governor of a town, knows better: and the following treatise shall also make it appear otherwise ; and that he had not the least thought of rendering the town, though succour had not come to him at all. This point therefore shall here need no further enlargement.
The second is that he might have carried the matter otherwise, and have drawn less jealousy upon himself, by acquainting the Captains with it sooner ; considering it was done without the privity of the Lords the States : nor was it fitting, to bring an enemy through such secret passages.
This, at the first view, seems to say somewhat, as borrow