Read CHAPTER III of The Life of Col. James Gardiner Who Was Slain at the Battle of Prestonpans‚ September 21‚ 1745, free online book, by P. Doddridge, on


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, (Sep, 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.”