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Patrick Gordon was the second son of John Gordon of Auchluichries in the parish of Crochdan, now, if we mistake not, called Cruden, in the county of Aberdeen, who was descended from the younger branch of the Gordon family, the Gordons of Haddo, now Earls of Aberdeen, and Barons Haddo, the elder branch being Dukes of Gordon. His mother's name was Maria Ogilvie. Her eldest son was called Alexander, and her second son, Patrick, was born on the 31st of March, 1635. Auchluichries appears to have been a good estate in those days; the mansion-house was dignified with a square tower and the title of Auchluichries Castle, and its proprietors were connected with the first families in the county. They were Catholics, and consequently excluded from education at any of the Scotch universities, and from every profession or calling in their native country. From 1640 to 1651 the two sons received the rudiments of their education at country schools in the neighbourhood. Very superior those Scotch country schools must have been, in that age, to any schools to be found now in country parishes in Scotland. Speaking and writing Latin, a rudimentary knowledge of science, and a training of the faculties to enter with advantage on higher studies, appear to have been given in such common country schools; but above all they formed the characters of men singularly qualified to play a manly part in the rude game of life.
At sixteen years of age Patrick Gordon, having no prospects at home, wished to go abroad to finish his education and to push his fortune; and as he was involved in some love affair not approved of by his family, his parents and his uncle consented and fitted him out. Foreign service, the Swedish, Polish, Austrian, Dutch, French, was then, and long before, what India and the British Colonies have since become, the field in which the Cadets of Scotch families of the higher class, excluded by the feudal law of succession from any share of the landed patrimony at home, sought a living and an establishment. The trading class, also, of the Scotch people, owing to the poverty of their native country, had to seek business in the markets of Poland and the countries on the south side of the Baltic; thus in Riga, Dantzig, and all the considerable towns on the Baltic Coast, the Scotchkrämers', that is shop-keepers, and travelling merchants or pedlars, attending the great fairs in the interior of the country, were a recognised and important branch of the mercantile community, occupying distinct factories, streets, and even quarters of the towns, often with considerable privileges.
Patrick Gordon embarked in June 1651, from Aberdeen, in a large merchant vessel carrying eighteen guns-the trade between Aberdeen and Dantzig employs no such large vessels now as such an equipment would imply due time landed at Weichselmunde (the mouth of the Vistula), and walked to Dantzig. At the inn there, he made acquaintance with some Dutch travellers going to Königsberg, and went with them in the Königsberg coach through Elbing, to Frauensburg, where he fell in with a countryman, Robert Blackhall, a priest, and vicar of one of the canons of that cathedral. It is remarkable that a public coach for passengers should have been established in this part of Europe at so early a date. Gordon, by the advice of this friend, entered the Jesuits' college at Braunsberg, a short distance from Frauensburg, to carry on his studies in science and the languages. He remained with them three years, and in this time, with the previous elementary education he had received at the country schools in Scotland, he appears to have acquired a perfect command of Latin, French, German, Polish, so as to correspond freely in those languages, and such a knowledge of practical mathematics and mechanics, that he was unrivalled as a military engineer among the men of talent from all countries attracted to the service of Russia. After studying three years at this college, Gordon found the way of living too dull and uniform, and he determined to return to Scotland. One morning early, without taking leave of, or making his intention known to, any one, he started from the Jesuits' college, and, to save expense, walked to Dantzig, a distance of fourteen or fifteen German miles. Being a zealous Catholic, Gordon has not fully explained the causes of his abrupt departure without money or letters of introduction from this Jesuits' establishment. On arriving at Dantzig he found that all the vessels for Scotland that season had already sailed. He went up the Vistula to Culm, wandered to Thorn and Warsaw, and at last reached Posen, without expense, in the retinue of a nobleman returning from the Diet. Here he found several English or Scotch merchants, who received him kindly, furnished him with money, and recommended him to a young nobleman on his travels, who gave him a place among his attendants to Hamburgh. That city was full of officers of all countries recruiting for the army of Charles Gustavus, who had succeeded to the throne of Sweden, and was preparing for a campaign against Poland. Young Gordon renounced his intention of returning to Scotland, and enlisted in a troop of cavalry in the Swedish
service, raised and commanded by a countryman, Captain Gardine.
The military adventurers from Scotland, in foreign service, appear to have been engaged on two distinct principles at that time. Some raised regiments at home,—each captain, lieutenant, and ensign bringing a stipulated number of men for his commission, and joined the army they intended to serve in, with their proprietary regiments. They were proprietary, because each officer had a real property in his commission, having invested money in bringing together the number of men to be produced for it, either by recruiting at home, and by bounty in the towns, or, in the country, by arrangements with the small tenants or clansmen on the family estate. This was the origin of the purchase and sale of commissions in the British army. The retiring officer had actually paid the money in raising recruits for his commission, and was, in strict justice, entitled to be repaid by his successor. In the Thirty Years War, a large proportion of the Swedish army was composed of such Scotch regiments, and even so late as the beginning of the present century a Scotch brigade was kept up on this principle by the Dutch Government. The other principle was that of the gentleman adventurer joining a regiment, either native or foreign, as a volunteer or cadet, serving in the ranks as a private soldier, but entitled to his promotion to an ensigncy in his turn, on a vacancy occurring in the regiment.
In July 1655, Gordon was with the Swedish cavalry, encamped near Stettin, in the army commanded by Field Marshal Wittenberg. He was then twenty years of age, and he commenced a diary, in his native language, in which he wrote not only the personal incidents of every day as they occurred to him, but the operations of the army, the causes of the war, and all the political and military movements, day by day, as they came to his knowledge; and in this spirit of observation and inquiry, he continued his diary through all the phases of a varied and eventful life, from the condition of a private soldier to that of commander in chief of the Russian army. Throughout this lengthened period, the transactions of almost every day, the marches and halts across the steppes, the dinners and entertainments given or received in his quarters at Moscow, the company, the expenses, all these circumstances appear in the minute detail and in that truthful light which give a charm even to the idle court-gossip of his contemporary Pepys; with this difference, that Gordon's is the diary of a man of great talent and sound sense, Pepys's the diary of a puppy and a courtier.
The full publication of this diary would be a great boon to literature, that is, its publication in the original English, or rather Scotch language, in which Gordon wrote it. Originally it filled eight or nine thick quarto volumes. Some of these are unfortunately lost, or at least there is a chasm in the manuscript from the year 1667, when Gordon returned from his embassy to England, to 1677, when the war against the Turks and the first campaign against Tschigirin commenced, and another from 1678 to 1684, in which period the conquest of Tschigirin was accomplished and Gordon had returned from Kiew to Moscow as commander in chief of the Russian army in the metropolis. It is still more to be regretted that what is published of this singular and interesting Diary has been sadly mutilated and deformed by the German editors. It fell unfortunately into the hands of two German historiographers, Müller, and his assistant Stritter. Stritter translated the work out of the original English such English, no doubt, as was spoken in Aberdeenshire when Gordon was a boy into German for the use of his superior M. Müller, and both appear to have considered only its importance to Russian history as a document ascertaining the routes, skirmishes, and other military operations of the campaigns which annexed the countries between the Dnieper and the Don, and the old fortress of Asof, with the territory it commands, to the Russian empire. They omitted almost entirely those small personal incidents and remarks which, if we may judge from what they have retained, would have afforded a curious picture of the manners of the age and people in Russia, and would have been more truly historical than all the dates and facts they could extract from it. They carried this blind spirit of omission and mutilation so far in translating this Diary, as to alter the original text, and instead of using the present person, as, I went, I said, I saw,' which was undoubtedly Gordon's own form of expression in his Diary, they use the third person and say, 'Gordon went, Gordon said, Gordon saw.' From this translation by Stritter, faulty even to absurdity, out of the Scotch of Gordon into German, several translations into Russian have been made. This work by Prince Obolenski and Dr. Posselt, is merely a republication of Stritter's translation, with all its faults, in two volumes, of which, however, the last contains a small portion of Gordon's Diary, in which his personality is restored to him in speaking or acting, and it contains a promise of publishing, in 1852, the rest of the Diary up to the year of Gordon's death in 1699. The energetic old man appears to have wielded the pen as well as the sword to the last. It was in 1699 that he returned from
conquering the old, and fortifying the new, Asof. The number of letters he writes, in the last years of his life, almost daily, in English, French, Latin, Russian, appears marvellous, and, with all this correspondence, he regularly brings up his Diary, and besides is often occupied with long official reports. Few
men have lived so busy a life with the pen and the sword as Patrick Gordon.
About the end of the year 1655, Gordon left the troop of his countryman, Captain Gardine, and entered as a volunteer into the regiment of the Swedish count, Pontus de la Gardie. The regiment was surprised by the Poles in its winter quarters, and Gordon was taken prisoner. After a long confinement, he was liberated by the intercession of a Franciscan monk, Father Innes, on condition of taking service in the Polish army. He enlisted, accordingly, as a dragoon, in the troop of the Starost of Sandets, and next day was on his march to Lublin, where the King of Poland was collecting his army to raise the siege of Warsaw. After the great battle near Warsaw, in July 1656, Gordon was again taken prisoner by a party of Brandenburgh soldiers, and brought before the Swedish Field Marshal Douglas. He obtained his liberty, and enlisted in a corps of Scotchmen in the Swedish service, which Douglas was raising, and which he intended to be a school for the formation of officers. The number of Scotchmen engaged in those Swedish wars was much greater than historians tell of. In all the regiments on both sides, Gordon meets Scotch officers, besides regiments composed entirely of Scotch. He mentions as nothing extraordinary, about this time, viz., in the summer of 1656, Lord Cranstoun came to Pillan with 2,500 Scotch for the 'Swedish service.' In the 17th century the number of Scotchmen in the military service of different continental states, which were kept up by recruiting in Scotland, cannot have been less than 25,000 men. Switzerland is now the only country in Europe which furnishes regiments, on the same principle, to the armies of other states, and even there the old system of the capitulations is no longer legal. The pay, especially in the Swedish service, was very small, but free quarters, booty, and the ransom of prisoners, made the position of the officers at least rather lucrative. The capture of horses and cattle, allowing the peasants to redeem them for a suitable present, appears to have been a common proceeding. Gordon, say the editors, before he marched, found means to get possession of two horses without money. He acknowledges that this was not right, but, in the Swedish army, it was impossible to subsist without plunder. He told the captain of the troop of his booty, and