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The Haunters and the Haunted edited by Ernest Rhys online
XL LORD STRAFFORD'S WARNING
By the Rev. JOHN MASTIN
In the Rev. John Mastin's _History of Naseby_ is cited a story of an apparition that was supposed to have appeared to Charles the First at Daintree, near Naseby, previous to the famous battle of that name.
The army of Charles, says the historian, consisting of less than 5000 foot, and about as many horse, was ordered to Daintree, whither the King went with a thorough resolution of fighting. The next day, however, to the surprise of Prince Rupert and all the rest of the army, this design was given up, and the former one of going to the north resumed. The reason of this alteration in his plans was alleged to be some presages of ill-fortune which the King had received, and which were related to me, says Mr Mastin's authority, by a person of Newark, at that time in His Majesty's horse. About two hours after the King had retired to rest, said the narrator, some of his attendants hearing an uncommon noise in his chamber, went into it, where they found His Majesty sitting up in bed and much agitated, but nothing which could have produced the noise they fancied they had heard. The King, in a tremulous voice, inquired after the cause of their alarm, and told them how much he had been disturbed, apparently by a dream, by thinking he had seen an apparition of Lord Strafford, who, after upbraiding him for his cruelty, told him he was come to return him good for evil, and that he advised him by no means to fight the Parliament army that was at that time quartered at Northampton, for it was one which the King could never conquer by arms. Prince Rupert, in whom courage was the predominant quality, rated the King out of his apprehensions the next day, and a resolution was again taken to meet the enemy. The next night, however, the apparition appeared to him a second time, but with looks of anger assuring him that would be the last advice he should be permitted to give him, but that if he kept his resolution of fighting he was undone. If His Majesty had taken the advice of the friendly ghost, and marched northward the next day, where the Parliament had few English forces, and where the Scots were becoming very discontented, his affairs might, perhaps, still have had a prosperous issue, or if he had marched immediately into the west he might afterwards have fought on more equal terms. But the King, fluctuating between the apprehensions of his imagination and the reproaches of his courage, remained another whole day at Daintree in a state of inactivity. The battle of Naseby, fought 14th June 1645, put a finishing stroke to the King's affairs. After this he could never get together an army fit to look the enemy in the face. He was often heard to say that he wished he had taken _the warning_, and not fought at Naseby; the meaning of which nobody knew but those to whom he had told of the apparition which he had seen at Daintree, and all of whom were, subsequently, charged to keep the affair secret.