In Scotland the course of events was very different. There the law itself was a grievance; and James had perhaps incurred more unpopularity by enforcing it than by violating it. The Church established by law was the most odious institution in the realm. The tribunals had pronounced some sentences so flagitious, the Parliament had passed some acts so oppressive, that, unless those sentences and those Acts were treated as nullities, it would be impossible to bring together a Convention commanding the public respect and expressing the public opinion. It was hardly to be expected, for example, that the Whigs, in this day of their power, would endure to see their hereditary leader, the son of a martyr, the grandson of a martyr, excluded from the Parliament House in which nine of his ancestors had sate as Earls of Argyle, and excluded by a judgment on which the whole kingdom cried shame. Still less was it to be expected that they would suffer the election of members for counties and towns to be conducted according to the provisions of the existing law. For under the existing law no elector could vote without swearing that he renounced the Covenant, and that he acknowledged the Royal supremacy in matters ecclesiastical. Such an oath no rigid Presbyterian could take. If such an oath had been exacted, the constituent bodies would have been merely small knots of prelatists: the business of devising securities against oppression would have been left to the oppressors; and the great party which had been most active in effecting the Revolution would, in an assembly sprung from the Revolution, have had not a single representative.
William saw that he must not think of paying to the laws of Scotland that scrupulous respect which he had wisely and righteously paid to the laws of England. It was absolutely necessary that he should determine by his own authority how that Convention which was to meet at Edinburgh should be chosen, and that he should assume the power of annulling some judgments and some statutes. He accordingly summoned to the parliament house several Lords who had been deprived of their honours by sentences which the general voice loudly condemned as unjust; and he took on himself to dispense with the Act which deprived Presbyterians of the elective franchise.
The consequence was that the choice of almost all the shires and burghs fell on Whig candidates. The defeated party complained loudly of foul play, of the rudeness of the populace, and of the partiality of the presiding magistrates; and these complaints were in many cases well founded. It is not under such rulers as Lauderdale and Dundee that nations learn justice and moderation.
Nor was it only at the elections that the popular feeling, so long and so severely compressed, exploded with violence. The heads and the hands of the martyred Whigs were taken down from the gates of Edinburgh, carried in procession by great multitudes to the cemeteries, and laid in the earth with solemn respect. It would have been well if the public enthusiasm had manifested itself in no less praiseworthy form. Unhappily throughout a large part of Scotland the clergy of the Established Church were, to use the phrase then common, rabbled. The morning of Christmas day was fixed for the commencement of these outrages. For nothing disgusted the rigid Covenanter more than the reverence paid by the prelatist to the ancient holidays of the Church. That such reverence may be carried to an absurd extreme is true. But a philosopher may perhaps be inclined to think the opposite extreme not less absurd, and may ask why religion should reject the aid of associations which exist in every nation sufficiently civilised to have a calendar, and which are found by experience to have a powerful and often a salutary effect. The Puritan, who was, in general, but too ready to follow precedents and analogies drawn from the history and jurisprudence of the Jews, might have found in the Old Testament quite as clear warrant for keeping festivals in honour of great events as for assassinating bishops and refusing quarter to captives. He certainly did not learn from his master, Calvin, to hold such festivals in abhorrence; for it was in consequence of the strenuous exertions of Calvin that Christmas was, after an interval of some years, again observed by the citizens of Geneva. But there had arisen in Scotland Calvinists who were to Calvin what Calvin was to Laud. To these austere fanatics a holiday was an object of positive disgust and hatred. They long continued in their solemn manifestoes to reckon it among the sins which would one day bring down some fearful judgment on the land that the Court of Session took a vacation in the last week of December.
On Christmas day, therefore, the Covenanters held armed musters by concert in many parts of the western shires. Each band marched to the nearest manse, and sacked the cellar and larder of the minister, which at that season were probably better stocked than usual. The priest of Baal was reviled and insulted, sometimes beaten, sometimes ducked. His furniture was thrown out of the windows; his wife and children turned out of doors in the snow. He was then carried to the market place, and exposed during some time as a malefactor. His gown was torn to shreds over his head: if he had a prayer book in his pocket it was burned; and he was dismissed with a charge, never, as he valued his life, to officiate in the parish again. The work of reformation having been thus completed, the reformers locked up the church and departed with the keys. In justice to these men it must be owned that they had suffered such oppression as may excuse, though it cannot justify, their violence; and that, though they were rude even to brutality, they do not appear to have been guilty of any intentional injury to life or limb.
The disorder spread fast. In Ayrshire, Clydesdale, Nithisdale, Annandale, every parish was visited by these turbulent zealots. About two hundred curates--so the episcopal parish priests were called--were expelled. The graver Covenanters, while they applauded the fervour of their riotous brethren, were apprehensive that proceedings so irregular might give scandal, and learned, with especial concern, that here and there an Achan had disgraced the good cause by stooping to plunder the Canaanites whom he ought only to have smitten. A general meeting of ministers and elders was called for the purpose of preventing such discreditable excesses. In this meeting it was determined that, for the future, the ejection of the established clergy should be performed in a more ceremonious manner. A form of notice was drawn up and served on every curate in the Western Lowlands who had not yet been rabbled. This notice was simply a threatening letter, commanding him to quit his parish peaceably, on pain of being turned out by force.
The Scottish Bishops, in great dismay, sent the Dean of Glasgow to plead the cause of their persecuted Church at Westminster. The outrages committed by the Covenanters were in the highest degree offensive to William, who had, in the south of the island, protected even Benedictines and Franciscans from insult and spoliation. But, though he had, at the request of a large number of the noblemen and gentlemen of Scotland, taken on himself provisionally the executive administration of that kingdom, the means of maintaining order there were not at his command. He had not a single regiment north of the Tweed, or indeed within many miles of that river. It was vain to hope that mere words would quiet a nation which had not, in any age, been very amenable to control, and which was now agitated by hopes and resentments, such as great revolutions, following great oppressions, naturally engender. A proclamation was however put forth, directing that all people should lay down their arms, and that, till the Convention should have settled the government, the clergy of the Established Church should be suffered to reside on their cures without molestation. But this proclamation, not being supported by troops, was very little regarded. On the very day after it was published at Glasgow, the venerable Cathedral of that city, almost the only fine church of the middle ages which stands uninjured in Scotland, was attacked by a crowd of Presbyterians from the meeting houses, with whom were mingled many of their fiercer brethren from the hills. It was a Sunday; but to rabble a congregation of prelatists was held to be a work of necessity and mercy. The worshippers were dispersed, beaten, and pelted with snowballs. It was indeed asserted that some wounds were inflicted with much more formidable weapons.
Edinburgh, the seat of government, was in a state of anarchy. The Castle, which commanded the whole city, was still held for James by the Duke of Gordon. The common people were generally Whigs. The College of Justice, a great forensic society composed of judges, advocates, writers to the signet, and solicitors, was the stronghold of Toryism: for a rigid test had during some years excluded Presbyterians from all the departments of the legal profession. The lawyers, some hundreds in number, formed themselves into a battalion of infantry, and for a time effectually kept down the multitude. They paid, however, so much respect to William's authority as to disband themselves when his proclamation was published. But the example of obedience which they had set was not imitated. Scarcely had they laid down their weapons, when Covenanters from the west, who had done all that was to be done in the way of pelting and hustling the curates of their own neighbourhood, came dropping into Edinburgh, by tens and twenties, for the purpose of protecting, or, if need should be, of overawing the Convention. Glasgow alone sent four hundred of these men. It could hardly be doubted that they were directed by some leader of great weight. They showed themselves little in any public place: but it was known that every cellar was filled with them; and it might well be apprehended that, at the first signal, they would pour forth from their caverns, and appear armed round the Parliament house.
It might have been expected that every patriotic and enlightened Scotchman would have earnestly desired to see the agitation appeased, and some government established which might be able to protect property and to enforce the law. An imperfect settlement which could be speedily made might well appear to such a man preferable to a perfect settlement which must be the work of time. Just at this moment, however, a party, strong both in numbers and in abilities, raised a new and most important question, which seemed not unlikely to prolong the interregnum till the autumn. This party maintained that the Estates ought not immediately to declare William and Mary King and Queen, but to propose to England a treaty of union, and to keep the throne vacant till such a treaty should be concluded on terms advantageous to Scotland.
It may seem strange that a large portion of a people, whose patriotism, exhibited, often in a heroic, and sometimes in a comic form, has long been proverbial, should have been willing, nay impatient, to surrender an independence which had been, through many ages, dearly prized and manfully defended. The truth is that the stubborn spirit which the arms of the Plantagenets and Tudors had been unable to subdue had begun to yield to a very different kind of force. Customhouses and tariffs were rapidly doing what the carnage of Falkirk and Halidon, of Flodden and of Pinkie, had failed to do. Scotland had some experience of the effects of an union. She had, near forty years before, been united to England on such terms as England, flushed with conquest, chose to dictate. That union was inseparably associated in the minds of the vanquished people with defeat and humiliation. And yet even that union, cruelly as it had wounded the pride of the Scots, had promoted their prosperity. Cromwell, with wisdom and liberality rare in his age, had established the most complete freedom of trade between the dominant and the subject country. While he governed, no prohibition, no duty, impeded the transit of commodities from any part of the island to any other. His navigation laws imposed no restraint on the trade of Scotland. A Scotch vessel was at liberty to carry a Scotch cargo to Barbadoes, and to bring the sugars of Barbadoes into the port of London. The rule of the Protector therefore had been propitious to the industry and to the physical wellbeing of the Scottish people. Hating him and cursing him, they could not help thriving under him, and often, during the administration of their legitimate princes, looked back with regret to the golden days of the usurper.
The Restoration came, and changed every thing. The Scots regained their independence, and soon began to find that independence had its discomfort as well as its dignity. The English parliament treated them as aliens and as rivals. A new Navigation Act put them on almost the same footing with the Dutch. High duties, and in some cases prohibitory duties, were imposed on the products of Scottish industry. It is not wonderful that a nation eminently industrious, shrewd, and enterprising, a nation which, having been long kept back by a sterile soil and a severe climate, was just beginning to prosper in spite of these disadvantages, and which found its progress suddenly stopped, should think itself cruelly treated. Yet there was no help. Complaint was vain. Retaliation was impossible. The Sovereign, even if he had the wish, had not the power, to bear himself evenly between his large and his small kingdom, between the kingdom from which he drew an annual revenue of a million and a half and the kingdom from which he drew an annual revenue of little more than sixty thousand pounds. He dared neither to refuse his assent to any English law injurious to the trade of Scotland, nor to give his assent to any Scotch law injurious to the trade of England.
The complaints of the Scotch, however, were so loud that Charles, in 1667, appointed Commissioners to arrange the terms of a commercial treaty between the two British kingdoms. The conferences were soon broken off; and all that passed while they continued proved that there was only one way in which Scotland could obtain a share of the commercial prosperity which England at that time enjoyed. The Scotch must become one people with the English. The Parliament which had hitherto sate at Edinburgh must be incorporated with the Parliament which sate at Westminster. The sacrifice could not but be painfully felt by a brave and haughty people, who had, during twelve generations, regarded the southern domination with deadly aversion, and whose hearts still swelled at the thought of the death of Wallace and of the triumphs of Bruce. There were doubtless many punctilious patriots who would have strenuously opposed an union even if they could have foreseen that the effect of an union would be to make Glasgow a greater city than Amsterdam, and to cover the dreary Lothians with harvests and woods, neat farmhouses and stately mansions. But there was also a large class which was not disposed to throw away great and substantial advantages in order to preserve mere names and ceremonies; and the influence of this class was such that, in the year 1670, the Scotch Parliament made direct overtures to England. The King undertook the office of mediator; and negotiators were named on both sides; but nothing was concluded.
The question, having slept during eighteen years, was suddenly revived by the Revolution. Different classes, impelled by different motives, concurred on this point. With merchants, eager to share in the advantages of the West Indian Trade, were joined active and aspiring politicians who wished to exhibit their abilities in a more conspicuous theatre than the Scottish Parliament House, and to collect riches from a more copious source than the Scottish treasury. The cry for union was swelled by the voices of some artful Jacobites, who merely wished to cause discord and delay, and who hoped to attain this end by mixing up with the difficult question which it was the especial business of the Convention to settle another question more difficult still. It is probable that some who disliked the ascetic habits and rigid discipline of the Presbyterians wished for an union as the only mode of maintaining prelacy in the northern part of the island. In an united Parliament the English members must greatly preponderate; and in England the bishops were held in high honour by the great majority of the population. The Episcopal Church of Scotland, it was plain, rested on a narrow basis, and would fall before the first attack. The Episcopal Church of Great Britain might have a foundation broad and solid enough to withstand all assaults.
Whether, in 1689, it would have been possible to effect a civil union without a religious union may well be doubted. But there can be no doubt that a religious union would have been one of the greatest calamities that could have befallen either kingdom. The union accomplished in 1707 has indeed been a great blessing both to England and to Scotland. But it has been a blessing because, in constituting one State, it left two Churches. The political interest of the contracting parties was the same: but the ecclesiastical dispute between them was one which admitted of no compromise. They could therefore preserve harmony only by agreeing to differ. Had there been an amalgamation of the hierarchies, there never would have been an amalgamation of the nations. Successive Mitchells would have fired at successive Sharpes. Five generations of Claverhouses would have butchered five generations of Camerons. Those marvellous improvements which have changed the face of Scotland would never have been effected. Plains now rich with harvests would have remained barren moors. Waterfalls which now turn the wheels of immense factories would have resounded in a wilderness. New Lanark would still have been a sheepwalk, and Greenock a fishing hamlet. What little strength Scotland could under such a system have possessed must, in an estimate of the resources of Great Britain, have been, not added, but deducted. So encumbered, our country never could have held, either in peace or in war, a place in the first rank of nations. We are unfortunately not without the means of judging of the effect which may be produced on the moral and physical state of a people by establishing, in the exclusive enjoyment of riches and dignity, a Church loved and reverenced only by the few, and regarded by the many with religious and national aversion. One such Church is quite burden enough for the energies of one empire.
But these things, which to us, who have been taught by a bitter experience, seem clear, were by no means clear in 1689, even to very tolerant and enlightened politicians. In truth the English Low Churchmen were, if possible, more anxious than the English High Churchmen to preserve Episcopacy in Scotland. It is a remarkable fact that Burnet, who was always accused of wishing to establish the Calvinistic discipline in the south of the island, incurred great unpopularity among his own countrymen by his efforts to uphold prelacy in the north. He was doubtless in error: but his error is to be attributed to a cause which does him no discredit. His favourite object, an object unattainable indeed, yet such as might well fascinate a large intellect and a benevolent heart, had long been an honourable treaty between the Anglican Church and the Nonconformists. He thought it most unfortunate that one opportunity of concluding such a treaty should have been lost at the time of the Restoration. It seemed to him that another opportunity was afforded by the Revolution. He and his friends were eagerly pushing forward Nottingham's Comprehension Bill, and were flattering themselves with vain hopes of success. But they felt that there could hardly be a Comprehension in one of the two British kingdoms, unless there were also a Comprehension in the other. Concession must be purchased by concession. If the Presbyterian pertinaciously refused to listen to any terms of compromise where he was strong, it would be almost impossible to obtain for him liberal terms of compromise where he was weak. Bishops must therefore be allowed to keep their sees in Scotland, in order that divines not ordained by Bishops might be allowed to hold rectories and canonries in England.
Thus the cause of the Episcopalians in the north and the cause of the Presbyterians in the south were bound up together in a manner which might well perplex even a skilful statesman. It was happy for our country that the momentous question which excited so many strong passions, and which presented itself in so many different points of view, was to be decided by such a man as William. He listened to Episcopalians, to Latitudinarians, to Presbyterians, to the Dean of Glasgow who pleaded for the apostolical succession, to Burnet who represented the danger of alienating the Anglican clergy, to Carstairs who hated prelacy with the hatred of a man whose thumbs were deeply marked by the screws of prelatists. Surrounded by these eager advocates, William remained calm and impartial. He was indeed eminently qualified by his situation as well as by his personal qualities to be the umpire in that great contention. He was the King of a prelatical kingdom. He was the Prime Minister of a presbyterian republic. His unwillingness to offend the Anglican Church of which he was the head, and his unwillingness to offend the reformed Churches of the Continent which regarded him as a champion divinely sent to protect them against the French tyranny, balanced each other, and kept him from leaning unduly to either side. His conscience was perfectly neutral. For it was his deliberate opinion that no form of ecclesiastical polity was of divine institution. He dissented equally from the school of Laud and from the school of Cameron, from the men who held that there could not be a Christian Church without Bishops, and from the men who held that there could not be a Christian Church without synods. Which form of government should be adopted was in his judgment a question of mere expediency. He would probably have preferred a temper between the two rival systems, a hierarchy in which the chief spiritual functionaries should have been something more than moderators and something less than prelates. But he was far too wise a man to think of settling such a matter according to his own personal tastes. He determined therefore that, if there was on both sides a disposition to compromise, he would act as mediator. But, if it should prove that the public mind of England and the public mind of Scotland had taken the ply strongly in opposite directions, he would not attempt to force either nation into conformity with the opinion of the other. He would suffer each to have its own church, and would content himself with restraining both churches from persecuting nonconformists, and from encroaching on the functions of the civil magistrate.
The language which he held to those Scottish Episcopalians who complained to him of their sufferings and implored his protection was well weighed and well guarded, but clear and ingenuous. He wished, he said, to preserve, if possible, the institution to which they were so much attached, and to grant at the same time entire liberty of conscience to that party which could not be reconciled to any deviation from the Presbyterian model. But the Bishops must take care that they did not, by their own rashness and obstinacy, put it out of his power to be of any use to them. They must also distinctly understand that he was resolved not to force on Scotland by the sword a form of ecclesiastical government which she detested. If, therefore; it should be found that prelacy could be maintained only by arms, he should yield to the general sentiment, and should merely do his best to obtain for the Episcopalian minority permission to worship God in freedom and safety.
It is not likely that, even if the Scottish Bishops had, as William recommended, done all that meekness and prudence could do to conciliate their countrymen, episcopacy could, under any modification, have been maintained. It was indeed asserted by writers of that generation, and has been repeated by writers of our generation, that the Presbyterians were not, before the Revolution, the majority of the people of Scotland. But in this assertion there is an obvious fallacy. The effective strength of sects is not to be ascertained merely by counting heads. An established church, a dominant church, a church which has the exclusive possession of civil honours and emoluments, will always rank among its nominal members multitudes who have no religion at all; multitudes who, though not destitute of religion, attend little to theological disputes, and have no scruple about conforming to the mode of worship which happens to be established; and multitudes who have scruples about conforming, but whose scruples have yielded to worldly motives. On the other hand, every member of an oppressed church is a man who has a very decided preference for that church. A person who, in the time of Diocletian, joined in celebrating the Christian mysteries might reasonably be supposed to be a firm believer in Christ. But it would be a very great mistake to imagine that one single Pontiff or Augur in the Roman Senate was a firm believer in Jupiter. In Mary's reign, every body who attended the secret meetings of the Protestants was a real Protestant: but hundreds of thousands went to mass who, as appeared before she had been dead a month, were not real Roman Catholics. If, under the Kings of the House of Stuart, when a Presbyterian was excluded from political power and from the learned professions, was daily annoyed by informers, by tyrannical magistrates, by licentious dragoons, and was in danger of being hanged if he heard a sermon in the open air, the population of Scotland was not very unequally divided between Episcopalians and Presbyterians, the rational inference is that more than nineteen twentieths of those Scotchmen whose conscience was interested in the matter were Presbyterians, and that not one Scotchman in twenty was decidedly and on conviction an Episcopalian. Against such odds the Bishops had but little chance; and whatever chance they had they made haste to throw away; some of them because they sincerely believed that their allegiance was still due to James; others probably because they apprehended that William would not have the power, even if he had the will, to serve them, and that nothing but a counterrevolution in the State could avert a revolution in the Church.
As the new King of England could not be at Edinburgh during the sitting of the Scottish Convention, a letter from him to the Estates was prepared with great skill. In this document he professed warm attachment to the Protestant religion, but gave no opinion touching those questions about which Protestants were divided. He had observed, he said, with great satisfaction that many of the Scottish nobility and gentry with whom he had conferred in London were inclined to an union of the two British kingdoms. He was sensible how much such an union would conduce to the happiness of both; and he would do all in his power towards the accomplishing of so good a work.
It was necessary that he should allow a large discretion to his confidential agents at Edinburgh. The private instructions with which he furnished those persons could not be minute, but were highly judicious. He charged them to ascertain to the best of their power the real sense of the Convention, and to be guided by it. They must remember that the first object was to settle the government. To that object every other object, even the union, must be postponed. A treaty between two independent legislatures, distant from each other several days' journey, must necessarily be a work of time; and the throne could not safely remain vacant while the negotiations were pending. It was therefore important that His Majesty's agents should be on their guard against the arts of persons who, under pretence of promoting the union, might really be contriving only to prolong the interregnum. If the Convention should be bent on establishing the Presbyterian form of church government, William desired that his friends would do all in their power to prevent the triumphant sect from retaliating what it had suffered.
The person by whose advice William appears to have been at this time chiefly guided as to Scotch politics was a Scotchman of great abilities and attainments, Sir James Dalrymple of Stair, the founder of a family eminently distinguished at the bar, on the bench, in the senate, in diplomacy, in arms, and in letters, but distinguished also by misfortunes and misdeeds which have furnished poets and novelists with materials for the darkest and most heartrending tales. Already Sir James had been in mourning for more than one strange and terrible death. One of his sons had died by poison. One of his daughters had poniarded her bridegroom on the wedding night. One of his grandsons had in boyish sport been slain by another. Savage libellers asserted, and some of the superstitious vulgar believed, that calamities so portentous were the consequences of some connection between the unhappy race and the powers of darkness. Sir James had a wry neck; and he was reproached with this misfortune as if it had been a crime, and was told that it marked him out as a man doomed to the gallows. His wife, a woman of great ability, art, and spirit, was popularly nicknamed the Witch of Endor. It was gravely said that she had cast fearful spells on those whom she hated, and that she had been seen in the likeness of a cat seated on the cloth of state by the side of the Lord High Commissioner. The man, however, over whose roof so many curses appeared to hang, did not, as far as we can now judge, fall short of that very low standard of morality which was generally attained by politicians of his age and nation. In force of mind and extent of knowledge he was superior to them all. In his youth he had borne arms: he had then been a professor of philosophy: he had then studied law, and had become, by general acknowledgment, the greatest jurist that his country had produced. In the days of the Protectorate, he had been a judge. After the Restoration, he had made his peace with the royal family, had sate in the Privy Council, and had presided with unrivalled ability in the Court of Session. He had doubtless borne a share in many unjustifiable acts; but there were limits which he never passed. He had a wonderful power of giving to any proposition which it suited him to maintain a plausible aspect of legality and even of justice; and this power he frequently abused. But he was not, like many of those among whom be lived, impudently and unscrupulously servile. Shame or conscience generally restrained him from committing any bad action for which his rare ingenuity could not frame a specious defence; and he was seldom in his place at the council board when any thing outrageously unjust or cruel was to be done. His moderation at length gave offence to the Court. He was deprived of his high office, and found himself in so disagreeable a situation that he retired to Holland. There he employed himself in correcting the great work on jurisprudence which has preserved his memory fresh down to our own time. In his banishment he tried to gain the favour of his fellow exiles, who naturally regarded him with suspicion. He protested, and perhaps with truth, that his hands were pure from the blood of the persecuted Covenanters. He made a high profession of religion, prayed much, and observed weekly days of fasting and humiliation. He even consented, after much hesitation, to assist with his advice and his credit the unfortunate enterprise of Argyle. When that enterprise had failed, a prosecution was instituted at Edinburgh against Dalrymple; and his estates would doubtless have been confiscated had they not been saved by an artifice which subsequently became common among the politicians of Scotland. His eldest son and heir apparent, John, took the side of the government, supported the dispensing power, declared against the Test, and accepted the place of Lord Advocate, when Sir George Mackenzie, after holding out through ten years of foul drudgery, at length showed signs of flagging. The services of the younger Dalrymple were rewarded by a remission of the forfeiture which the offences of the elder had incurred. Those services indeed were not to be despised. For Sir John, though inferior to his father in depth and extent of legal learning, was no common man. His knowledge was great and various: his parts were quick; and his eloquence was singularly ready and graceful. To sanctity he made no pretensions. Indeed Episcopalians and Presbyterians agreed in regarding him as little better than an atheist. During some months Sir John at Edinburgh affected to condemn the disloyalty of his unhappy parent Sir James; and Sir James at Leyden told his Puritan friends how deeply he lamented the wicked compliances of his unhappy child Sir John.
The Revolution came, and brought a large increase of wealth and honours to the House of Stair. The son promptly changed sides, and cooperated ably and zealously with the father. Sir James established himself in London for the purpose of giving advice to William on Scotch affairs. Sir John's post was in the Parliament House at Edinburgh. He was not likely to find any equal among the debaters there, and was prepared to exert all his powers against the dynasty which he had lately served.
By the large party which was zealous for the Calvinistic church government John Dalrymple was regarded with incurable distrust and dislike. It was therefore necessary that another agent should be employed to manage that party. Such an agent was George Melville, Lord Melville, a nobleman connected by affinity with the unfortunate Monmouth, and with that Leslie who had unsuccessfully commanded the Scotch army against Cromwell at Dunbar. Melville had always been accounted a Whig and a Presbyterian. Those who speak of him most favourably have not ventured to ascribe to him eminent intellectual endowments or exalted public spirit. But he appears from his letters to have been by no means deficient in that homely prudence the want of which has often been fatal to men of brighter genius and of purer virtue. That prudence had restrained him from going very far in opposition to the tyranny of the Stuarts: but he had listened while his friends talked about resistance, and therefore, when the Rye House plot was discovered, thought it expedient to retire to the Continent. In his absence he was accused of treason, and was convicted on evidence which would not have satisfied any impartial tribunal. He was condemned to death: his honours and lands were declared forfeit: his arms were torn with contumely out of the Heralds' book; and his domains swelled the estate of the cruel and rapacious Perth. The fugitive meanwhile, with characteristic wariness, lived quietly on the Continent, and discountenanced the unhappy projects of his kinsman Monmouth, but cordially approved of the enterprise of the Prince of Orange.
Illness had prevented Melville from sailing with the Dutch expedition: but he arrived in London a few hours after the new Sovereigns had been proclaimed there. William instantly sent him down to Edinburgh, in the hope, as it should seem, that the Presbyterians would be disposed to listen to moderate counsels proceeding from a man who was attached to their cause, and who had suffered for it. Melville's second son, David, who had inherited, through his mother, the title of Earl of Leven, and who had acquired some military experience in the service of the Elector of Brandenburg, had the honour of being the bearer of a letter from the new King of England to the Scottish Convention.
James had intrusted the conduct of his affairs in Scotland to John Graham, Viscount Dundee, and Colin Lindsay, Earl of Balcarras. Dundee had commanded a body of Scottish troops which had marched into England to oppose the Dutch: but he had found, in the inglorious campaign which had been fatal to the dynasty of Stuart, no opportunity of displaying the courage and military skill which those who most detest his merciless nature allow him to have possessed. He lay with his forces not far from Watford, when he was informed that James had fled from Whitehall, and that Feversham had ordered all the royal army to disband. The Scottish regiments were thus left, without pay or provisions, in the midst of a foreign and indeed a hostile nation. Dundee, it is said, wept with grief and rage. Soon, however, more cheering intelligence arrived from various quarters. William wrote a few lines to say that, if the Scots would remain quiet, he would pledge his honour for their safety; and, some hours later, it was known that James had returned to his capital. Dundee repaired instantly to London. There he met his friend Balcarras, who had just arrived from Edinburgh. Balcarras, a man distinguished by his handsome person and by his accomplishments, had, in his youth, affected the character of a patriot, but had deserted the popular cause, had accepted a seat in the Privy Council, had become a tool of Perth and Melfort, and had been one of the Commissioners who were appointed to execute the office of Treasurer when Queensberry was disgraced for refusing to betray the interests of the Protestant religion.
Dundee and Balcarras went together to Whitehall, and had the honour of accompanying James in his last walk, up and down the Mall. He told them that he intended to put his affairs in Scotland under their management. "You, my Lord Balcarras, must undertake the civil business: and you, my Lord Dundee, shall have a commission from me to command the troops." The two noblemen vowed that they would prove themselves deserving of his confidence, and disclaimed all thought of making their peace with the Prince of Orange.
On the following day James left Whitehall for ever; and the Prince of Orange arrived at Saint James's. Both Dundee and Balcarras swelled the crowd which thronged to greet the deliverer, and were not ungraciously received. Both were well known to him. Dundee had served under him on the Continent; and the first wife of Balcarras had been a lady of the House of Orange, and had worn, on her wedding day, a superb pair of emerald earrings, the gift of her cousin the Prince.
The Scottish Whigs, then assembled in great numbers at Westminster, earnestly pressed William to proscribe by name four or five men who had, during the evil times, borne a conspicuous part in the proceedings of the Privy Council at Edinburgh. Dundee and Balcarras were particularly mentioned. But the Prince had determined that, as far as his power extended, all the past should be covered with a general amnesty, and absolutely refused to make any declaration which could drive to despair even the most guilty of his uncle's servants.
Balcarras went repeatedly to Saint James's, had several audiences of William, professed deep respect for his Highness, and owned that King James had committed great errors, but would not promise to concur in a vote of deposition. William gave no sign of displeasure, but said at parting: "Take care, my Lord, that you keep within the law; for, if you break it, you must expect to be left to it."
Dundee seems to have been less ingenuous. He employed the mediation of Burnet, opened a negotiation with Saint James's, declared himself willing to acquiesce in the new order of things, obtained from William a promise of protection, and promised in return to live peaceably. Such credit was given to his professions that he was suffered to travel down to Scotland under the escort of a troop of cavalry. Without such an escort the man of blood, whose name was never mentioned but with a shudder at the hearth of any Presbyterian family, would, at that conjuncture, have had but a perilous journey through Berwickshire and the Lothians.
February was drawing to a close when Dundee and Balcarras reached Edinburgh. They had some hope that they might be at the head of a majority in the Convention. They therefore exerted themselves vigorously to consolidate and animate their party. They assured the rigid royalists, who had a scruple about sitting in an assembly convoked by an usurper, that the rightful King particularly wished no friend of hereditary monarchy to be absent. More than one waverer was kept steady by being assured in confident terms that a speedy restoration was inevitable. Gordon had determined to surrender the castle, and had begun to remove his furniture: but Dundee and Balcarras prevailed on him to hold out some time longer. They informed him that they had received from Saint Germains full powers to adjourn the Convention to Stirling, and that, if things went ill at Edinburgh, those powers would be used.
At length the fourteenth of March, the day fixed for the meeting of the Estates, arrived, and the Parliament House was crowded. Nine prelates were in their places. When Argyle presented himself, a single lord protested against the admission of a person whom a legal sentence, passed in due form, and still unreversed, had deprived of the honours of the peerage. But this objection was overruled by the general sense of the assembly. When Melville appeared, no voice was raised against his admission. The Bishop of Edinburgh officiated as chaplain, and made it one of his petitions that God would help and restore King James. It soon appeared that the general feeling of the Convention was by no means in harmony with this prayer. The first matter to be decided was the choice of a President. The Duke of Hamilton was supported by the Whigs, the Marquess of Athol by the Jacobites. Neither candidate possessed, and neither deserved, the entire confidence of his supporters. Hamilton had been a Privy Councillor of James, had borne a part in many unjustifiable acts, and had offered but a very cautious and languid opposition to the most daring attacks on the laws and religion of Scotland. Not till the Dutch guards were at Whitehall had he ventured to speak out. Then he had joined the victorious party, and had assured the Whigs that he had pretended to be their enemy, only in order that he might, without incurring suspicion, act as their friend. Athol was still less to be trusted. His abilities were mean, his temper false, pusillanimous, and cruel. In the late reign he had gained a dishonourable notoriety by the barbarous actions of which he had been guilty in Argyleshire. He had turned with the turn of fortune, and had paid servile court to the Prince of Orange, but had been coldly received, and had now, from mere mortification, come back to the party which he had deserted. Neither of the rival noblemen had chosen to stake the dignities and lands of his house on the issue of the contention between the rival Kings. The eldest son of Hamilton had declared for James, and the eldest son of Athol for William, so that, in any event, both coronets and both estates were safe.
But in Scotland the fashionable notions touching political morality were lax; and the aristocratical sentiment was strong. The Whigs were therefore willing to forget that Hamilton had lately sate in the council of James. The Jacobites were equally willing to forget that Athol had lately fawned on William. In political inconsistency those two great lords were far indeed from standing by themselves; but in dignity and power they had scarcely an equal in the assembly. Their descent was eminently illustrious: their influence was immense: one of them could raise the Western Lowlands: the other could bring into the field an army of northern mountaineers. Round these chiefs therefore the hostile factions gathered.
The votes were counted; and it appeared that Hamilton had a majority of forty. The consequence was that about twenty of the defeated party instantly passed over to the victors. At Westminster such a defection would have been thought strange; but it seems to have caused little surprise at Edinburgh. It is a remarkable circumstance that the same country should have produced in the same age the most wonderful specimens of both extremes of human nature. No class of men mentioned in history has ever adhered to a principle with more inflexible pertinacity than was found among the Scotch Puritans. Fine and imprisonment, the sheers and the branding iron, the boot, the thumbscrew, and the gallows could not extort from the stubborn Covenanter one evasive word on which it was possible to put a sense inconsistent with his theological system. Even in things indifferent he would hear of no compromise; and he was but too ready to consider all who recommended prudence and charity as traitors to the cause of truth. On the other hand, the Scotchmen of that generation who made a figure in the Parliament House and in the Council Chamber were the most dishonest and unblushing timeservers that the world has ever seen. The English marvelled alike at both classes. There were indeed many stouthearted nonconformists in the South; but scarcely any who in obstinacy, pugnacity, and hardihood could bear a comparison with the men of the school of Cameron. There were many knavish politicians in the South; but few so utterly destitute of morality, and still fewer so utterly destitute of shame, as the men of the school of Lauderdale. Perhaps it is natural that the most callous and impudent vice should be found in the near neighbourhood of unreasonable and impracticable virtue. Where enthusiasts are ready to destroy or to be destroyed for trifles magnified into importance by a squeamish conscience, it is not strange that the very name of conscience should become a byword of contempt to cool and shrewd men of business.
The majority, reinforced by the crowd of deserters from the minority, proceeded to name a Committee of Elections. Fifteen persons were chosen, and it soon appeared that twelve of these were not disposed to examine severely into the regularity of any proceeding of which the result had been to send up a Whig to the Parliament House. The Duke of Hamilton is said to have been disgusted by the gross partiality of his own followers, and to have exerted himself, with but little success, to restrain their violence.
Before the Estates proceeded to deliberate on the business for which they had met, they thought it necessary to provide for their own security. They could not be perfectly at ease while the roof under which they sate was commanded by the batteries of the Castle. A deputation was therefore sent to inform Gordon that the Convention required him to evacuate the fortress within twenty- four hours, and that, if he complied, his past conduct should not be remembered against him. He asked a night for consideration. During that night his wavering mind was confirmed by the exhortations of Dundee and Balcarras. On the morrow he sent an answer drawn in respectful but evasive terms. He was very far, he declared, from meditating harm to the City of Edinburgh. Least of all could he harbour any thought of molesting an august assembly which he regarded with profound reverence. He would willingly give bond for his good behaviour to the amount of twenty thousand pounds sterling. But he was in communication with the government now established in England. He was in hourly expectation of important despatches from that government; and, till they arrived, he should not feel himself justified in resigning his command. These excuses were not admitted. Heralds and trumpeters were sent to summon the Castle in form, and to denounce the penalties of high treason against those who should continue to occupy that fortress in defiance of the authority of the Estates. Guards were at the same time posted to intercept all communication between the garrison and the city.
Two days had been spent in these preludes; and it was expected that on the third morning the great contest would begin. Meanwhile the population of Edinburgh was in an excited state. It had been discovered that Dundee had paid visits to the Castle; and it was believed that his exhortations had induced the garrison to hold out. His old soldiers were known to be gathering round him; and it might well be apprehended that he would make some desperate attempt. He, on the other hand, had been informed that the Western Covenanters who filled the cellars of the city had vowed vengeance on him: and, in truth, when we consider that their temper was singularly savage and implacable; that they had been taught to regard the slaying of a persecutor as a duty; that no examples furnished by Holy Writ had been more frequently held up to their admiration than Ehud stabbing Eglon, and Samuel hewing Agag limb from limb; that they had never heard any achievement in the history of their own country more warmly praised by their favourite teachers than the butchery of Cardinal Beatoun and of Archbishop Sharpe; we may well wonder that a man who had shed the blood of the saints like water should have been able to walk the High Street in safety during a single day. The enemy whom Dundee had most reason to fear was a youth of distinguished courage and abilities named William Cleland. Cleland had, when little more than sixteen years old, borne arms in that insurrection which had been put down at Bothwell Bridge. He had since disgusted some virulent fanatics by his humanity and moderation. But with the great body of Presbyterians his name stood high. For with the strict morality and ardent zeal of a Puritan he united some accomplishments of which few Puritans could boast. His manners were polished, and his literary and scientific attainments respectable. He was a linguist, mathematician, and a poet. It is true that his hymns, odes, ballads, and Hudibrastic satires are of very little intrinsic value; but, when it is considered that he was a mere boy when most of them were written, it must be admitted that they show considerable vigour of mind. He was now at Edinburgh: his influence among the West Country Whigs assembled there was great: he hated Dundee with deadly hatred, and was believed to be meditating some act of violence.
On the fifteenth of March Dundee received information that some of the Covenanters had bound themselves together to slay him and Sir George Mackenzie, whose eloquence and learning, long prostituted to the service of tyranny, had made him more odious to the Presbyterians than any other man of the gown. Dundee applied to Hamilton for protection,: and Hamilton advised him to bring the matter under the consideration of the Convention at the next sitting.
Before that sitting, a person named Crane arrived from France, with a letter addressed by the fugitive King to the Estates. The letter was sealed: the bearer, strange to say, was not furnished with a copy for the information of the heads of the Jacobite party; nor did he bring any message, written or verbal, to either of James's agents. Balcarras and Dundee were mortified by finding that so little confidence was reposed in them, and were harassed by painful doubts touching the contents of the document on which so much depended. They were willing, however, to hope for the best. King James could not, situated as he was, be so ill advised as to act in direct opposition to the counsel and entreaties of his friends. His letter, when opened, must be found to contain such gracious assurances as would animate the royalists and conciliate the moderate Whigs. His adherents, therefore, determined that it should be produced.
When the Convention reassembled on the morning of Saturday the sixteenth of March, it was proposed that measures should be taken for the personal security of the members. It was alleged that the life of Dundee had been threatened; that two men of sinister appearance had been watching the house where he lodged, and had been heard to say that they would use the dog as he had used them. Mackenzie complained that he too was in danger, and, with his usual copiousness and force of language, demanded the protection of the Estates. But the matter was lightly treated by the majority: and the Convention passed on to other business.
It was then announced that Crane was at the door of the Parliament House. He was admitted. The paper of which he was in charge was laid on the table. Hamilton remarked that there was, in the hands of the Earl of Leven, a communication from the Prince by whose authority the Estates had been convoked. That communication seemed to be entitled to precedence. The Convention was of the same opinion; and the well weighed and prudent letter of William was read.
It was then moved that the letter of James should be opened. The Whigs objected that it might possibly contain a mandate dissolving the Convention. They therefore proposed that, before the seal was broken, the Estates should resolve to continue sitting, notwithstanding any such mandate. The Jacobites, who knew no more than the Whigs what was in the letter, and were impatient to have it read, eagerly assented. A vote was passed by which the members bound themselves to consider any order which should command them to separate as a nullity, and to remain assembled till they should have accomplished the work of securing the liberty and religion of Scotland. This vote was signed by almost all the lords and gentlemen who were present. Seven out of nine bishops subscribed it. The names of Dundee and Balcarras, written by their own hands, may still be seen on the original roll. Balcarras afterwards excused what, on his principles, was, beyond all dispute, a flagrant act of treason, by saying that he and his friends had, from zeal for their master's interest, concurred in a declaration of rebellion against their master's authority; that they had anticipated the most salutary effects from the letter; and that, if they had not made some concession to the majority, the letter would not have been opened.
In a few minutes the hopes of Balcarras were grievously disappointed. The letter from which so much had been hoped and feared was read with all the honours which Scottish Parliaments were in the habit of paying to royal communications: but every word carried despair to the hearts of the Jacobites. It was plain that adversity had taught James neither wisdom nor mercy. All was obstinacy, cruelty, insolence. A pardon was promised to those traitors who should return to their allegiance within a fortnight. Against all others unsparing vengeance was denounced. Not only was no sorrow expressed for past offences: but the letter was itself a new offence: for it was written and countersigned by the apostate Melfort, who was, by the statutes of the realm, incapable of holding the office of Secretary, and who was not less abhorred by the Protestant Tories than by the Whigs. The hall was in a tumult. The enemies of James were loud and vehement. His friends, angry with him, and ashamed of him, saw that it was vain to think of continuing the struggle in the Convention. Every vote which had been doubtful when his letter was unsealed was now irrecoverably lost. The sitting closed in great agitation.
It was Saturday afternoon. There was to be no other meeting till Monday morning. The Jacobite leaders held a consultation, and came to the conclusion. that it was necessary to take a decided step. Dundee and Balcarras must use the powers with which they had been intrusted. The minority must forthwith leave Edinburgh and assemble at Stirling. Athol assented, and undertook to bring a great body of his clansmen from the Highlands to protect the deliberations of the Royalist Convention. Every thing was arranged for the secession; but, in a few hours, the tardiness of one man and the haste of another ruined the whole plan.
The Monday came. The Jacobite lords and gentlemen were actually taking horse for Stirling, when Athol asked for a delay of twenty-four hours. He had no personal reason to be in haste. By staying he ran no risk of being assassinated. By going he incurred the risks inseparable from civil war. The members of his party, unwilling to separate from him, consented to the postponement which he requested, and repaired once more to the Parliament House. Dundee alone refused to stay a moment longer. His life was in danger. The Convention had refused to protect him. He would not remain to be a mark for the pistols and daggers of murderers. Balcarras expostulated to no purpose. "By departing alone," he said, "you will give the alarm and break up the whole scheme." But Dundee was obstinate. Brave as he undoubtedly was, he seems, like many other brave men, to have been less proof against the danger of assassination than against any other form of danger. He knew what the hatred of the Covenanters was: he knew how well he had earned their hatred; and he was haunted by that consciousness of inexpiable guilt, and by that dread of a terrible retribution, which the ancient polytheists personified under the awful name of the Furies. His old troopers, the Satans and Beelzebubs who had shared his crimes, and who now shared his perils, were ready to be the companions of his flight.
Meanwhile the Convention had assembled. Mackenzie was on his legs, and was pathetically lamenting the hard condition of the Estates, at once commanded by the guns of a fortress and menaced by a fanatical rabble, when he was interrupted by some sentinels who came running from the posts near the Castle. They had seen Dundee at the head of fifty horse on the Stirling road. That road ran close under the huge rock on which the citadel is built. Gordon had appeared on the ramparts, and had made a sign that he had something to say. Dundee had climbed high enough to hear and to be heard, and was then actually conferring with the Duke. Up to that moment the hatred with which the Presbyterian members of the assembly regarded the merciless persecutor of their brethren in the faith had been restrained by the decorous forms of parliamentary deliberation. But now the explosion was terrible. Hamilton himself, who, by the acknowledgment of his opponents, had hitherto performed the duties of President with gravity and impartiality, was the loudest and fiercest man in the hall. "It is high time," he cried, "that we should look to ourselves. The enemies of our religion and of our civil freedom are mustering all around us; and we may well suspect that they have accomplices even here. Lock the doors. Lay the keys on the table. Let nobody go out but those lords and gentlemen whom we shall appoint to call the citizens to arms. There are some good men from the West in Edinburgh, men for whom I can answer." The assembly raised a general cry of assent. Several members of the majority boasted that they too had brought with them trusty retainers who would turn out at a moment's notice against Claverhouse and his dragoons. All that Hamilton proposed was instantly done. The Jacobites, silent and unresisting, became prisoners. Leven went forth and ordered the drums to beat. The Covenanters of Lanarkshire and Ayrshire promptly obeyed the signal. The force thus assembled had indeed no very military appearance, but was amply sufficient to overawe the adherents of the House of Stuart. From Dundee nothing was to be hoped or feared. He had already scrambled down the Castle hill, rejoined his troopers, and galloped westward. Hamilton now ordered the doors to be opened. The suspected members were at liberty to depart. Humbled and brokenspirited, yet glad that they had come off so well, they stole forth through the crowd of stern fanatics which filled the High Street. All thought of secession was at an end.
On the following day it was resolved that the kingdom should be put into a posture of defence. The preamble of this resolution contained a severe reflection on the perfidy of the traitor who, within a few hours after he had, by an engagement subscribed with his own hand, bound himself not to quit his post in the Convention, had set the example of desertion, and given the signal of civil war. All Protestants, from sixteen to sixty, were ordered to hold themselves in readiness to assemble in arms at the first summons; and, that none might pretend ignorance, it was directed that the edict should be proclaimed at all the market crosses throughout the realm.
The Estates then proceeded to send a letter of thanks to William. To this letter were attached the signatures of many noblemen and gentlemen who were in the interest of the banished King. The Bishops however unanimously refused to subscribe their names.
It had long been the custom of the Parliaments of Scotland to entrust the preparation of Acts to a select number of members who were designated as the Lords of the Articles. In conformity with this usage, the business of framing a plan for the settling of the government was now confided to a Committee of twenty-four. Of the twenty-four eight were peers, eight representatives of counties, and eight representatives of towns. The majority of the Committee were Whigs; and not a single prelate had a seat.
The spirit of the Jacobites, broken by a succession of disasters, was, about this time, for a moment revived by the arrival of the Duke of Queensberry from London. His rank was high and his influence was great: his character, by comparison with the characters of those who surrounded him, was fair. When Popery was in the ascendent, he had been true to the cause of the Protestant Church; and, since Whiggism had been in the ascendent, he had been true to the cause of hereditary monarchy. Some thought that, if he had been earlier in his place, he might have been able to render important service to the House of Stuart. Even now the stimulants which he applied to his torpid and feeble party produced some faint symptoms of returning animation. Means were found of communicating with Gordon; and he was earnestly solicited to fire on the city. The Jacobites hoped that, as soon as the cannon balls had beaten down a few chimneys, the Estates would adjourn to Glasgow. Time would thus be gained; and the royalists might be able to execute their old project of meeting in a separate convention. Gordon however positively refused to take on himself so grave a responsibility on no better warrant than the request of a small cabal.
By this time the Estates had a guard on which they could rely more firmly than on the undisciplined and turbulent Covenanters of the West. A squadron of English men of war from the Thames had arrived in the Frith of Forth. On board were the three Scottish regiments which had accompanied William from Holland. He had, with great judgment, selected them to protect the assembly which was to settle the government of their country; and, that no cause of jealousy might be given to a people exquisitely sensitive on points of national honour, he had purged the ranks of all Dutch soldiers, and had thus reduced the number of men to about eleven hundred. This little force was commanded by Andrew Mackay, a Highlander of noble descent, who had served long on the Continent, and who was distinguished by courage of the truest temper, and by a piety such as is seldom found in soldiers of fortune. The Convention passed a resolution appointing Mackay general of their forces. When the question was put on this resolution, the Archbishop of Glasgow, unwilling doubtless to be a party to such an usurpation of powers which belonged to the King alone, begged that the prelates might be excused from voting. Divines, he said, had nothing to do with military arrangements. "The Fathers of the Church," answered a member very keenly, "have been lately favoured with a new light. I have myself seen military orders signed by the Most Reverend person who has suddenly become so scrupulous. There was indeed one difference: those orders were for dragooning Protestants, and the resolution before us is meant to protect us from Papists."
The arrival of Mackay's troops, and the determination of Gordon to remain inactive, quelled the spirit of the Jacobites. They had indeed one chance left. They might possibly, by joining with those Whigs who were bent on an union with England, have postponed during a considerable time the settlement of the government. A negotiation was actually opened with this view, but was speedily broken off. For it soon appeared that the party which was for James was really hostile to the union, and that the party which was for the union was really hostile to James. As these two parties had no object in common, the only effect of a coalition between them must have been that one of them would have become the tool of the other. The question of the union therefore was not raised. Some Jacobites retired to their country seats: others, though they remained at Edinburgh, ceased to show themselves in the Parliament House: many passed over to the winning side; and, when at length the resolutions prepared by the Twenty Four were submitted to the Convention, it appeared that the party which on the first day of the session had rallied round Athol had dwindled away to nothing.
The resolutions had been framed, as far as possible, in conformity with the example recently set at Westminster. In one important point, however, it was absolutely necessary that the copy should deviate from the original. The Estates of England had brought two charges against James, his misgovernment and his flight, and had, by using the soft word "Abdication," evaded, with some sacrifice of verbal precision, the question whether subjects may lawfully depose a bad prince. That question the Estates of Scotland could not evade. They could not pretend that James had deserted his post. For he had never, since he came to the throne, resided in Scotland. During many years that kingdom had been ruled by sovereigns who dwelt in another land. The whole machinery of the administration had been constructed on the supposition that the King would be absent, and was therefore not necessarily deranged by that flight which had, in the south of the island, dissolved all government, and suspended the ordinary course of justice. It was only by letter that the King could, when he was at Whitehall, communicate with the Council and the Parliament at Edinburgh; and by letter he could communicate with them when he was at Saint Germains or at Dublin. The Twenty Four were therefore forced to propose to the Estates a resolution distinctly declaring that James the Seventh had by his misconduct forfeited the crown. Many writers have inferred from the language of this resolution that sound political principles had made a greater progress in Scotland than in England. But the whole history of the two countries from the Restoration to the Union proves this inference to be erroneous. The Scottish Estates used plain language, simply because it was impossible for them, situated as they were, to use evasive language.
The person who bore the chief part in framing the resolution, and in defending it, was Sir John Dalrymple, who had recently held the high office of Lord Advocate, and had been an accomplice in some of the misdeeds which he now arraigned with great force of reasoning and eloquence. He was strenuously supported by Sir James Montgomery, member for Ayrshire, a man of considerable abilities, but of loose principles, turbulent temper, insatiable cupidity, and implacable malevolence. The Archbishop of Glasgow and Sir George Mackenzie spoke on the other side: but the only effect of their oratory was to deprive their party of the advantage of being able to allege that the Estates were under duress, and that liberty of speech had been denied to the defenders of hereditary monarchy.
When the question was put, Athol, Queensberry, and some of their friends withdrew. Only five members voted against the resolution which pronounced that James had forfeited his right to the allegiance of his subjects. When it was moved that the Crown of Scotland should be settled as the Crown of England had been settled, Athol and Queensberry reappeared in the hall. They had doubted, they said, whether they could justifiably declare the throne vacant. But, since it had been declared vacant, they felt no doubt that William and Mary were the persons who ought to fill it.
The Convention then went forth in procession to the High Street. Several great nobles, attended by the Lord Provost of the capital and by the heralds, ascended the octagon tower from which rose the city cross surmounted by the unicorn of Scotland. Hamilton read the vote of the Convention; and a King at Arms proclaimed the new Sovereigns with sound of trumpet. On the same day the Estates issued an order that the parochial clergy should, on pain of deprivation, publish from their pulpits the proclamation which had just been read at the city cross, and should pray for King William and Queen Mary.
Still the interregnum was not at an end. Though the new Sovereigns had been proclaimed, they had not yet been put into possession of the royal authority by a formal tender and a formal acceptance. At Edinburgh, as at Westminster, it was thought necessary that the instrument which settled the government should clearly define and solemnly assert those privileges of the people which the Stuarts had illegally infringed. A Claim of Right was therefore drawn up by the Twenty Four, and adopted by the Convention. To this Claim, which purported to be merely declaratory of the law as it stood, was added a supplementary paper containing a list of grievances which could be remedied only by new laws. One most important article which we should naturally expect to find at the head of such a list, the Convention, with great practical prudence, but in defiance of notorious facts and of unanswerable arguments, placed in the Claim of Right. Nobody could deny that prelacy was established by Act of Parliament. The power exercised by the Bishops might be pernicious, unscriptural, antichristian but illegal it certainly was not; and to pronounce it illegal was to outrage common sense. The Whig leaders however were much more desirous to get rid of episcopacy than to prove themselves consummate publicists and logicians. If they made the abolition of episcopacy an article of the contract by which William was to hold the crown, they attained their end, though doubtless in a manner open to much criticism. If, on the other hand, they contented themselves with resolving that episcopacy was a noxious institution which at some future time the legislature would do well to abolish, they might find that their resolution, though unobjectionable in form, was barren of consequences. They knew that William by no means sympathized with their dislike of Bishops, and that, even had he been much more zealous for the Calvinistic model than he was, the relation in which he stood to the Anglican Church would make it difficult and dangerous for him to declare himself hostile to a fundamental part of the constitution of that Church. If he should become King of Scotland without being fettered by any pledge on this subject, it might well be apprehended that he would hesitate about passing an Act which would be regarded with abhorrence by a large body of his subjects in the south of the island. It was therefore most desirable that the question should be settled while the throne was still vacant. In this opinion many politicians concurred, who had no dislike to rochets and mitres, but who wished that William might have a quiet and prosperous reign. The Scottish people,--so these men reasoned,--hated episcopacy. The English loved it. To leave William any voice in the matter was to put him under the necessity of deeply wounding the strongest feelings of one of the nations which he governed. It was therefore plainly for his own interest that the question, which he could not settle in any manner without incurring a fearful amount of obloquy, should be settled for him by others who were exposed to no such danger. He was not yet Sovereign of Scotland. While the interregnum lasted, the supreme power belonged to the Estates; and for what the Estates might do the prelatists of his southern kingdom could not hold him responsible. The elder Dalrymple wrote strongly from London to this effect, and there can be little doubt that he expressed the sentiments of his master. William would have sincerely rejoiced if the Scots could have been reconciled to a modified episcopacy. But, since that could not be, it was manifestly desirable that they should themselves, while there was yet no King over them, pronounce the irrevocable doom of the institution which they abhorred.
The Convention, therefore, with little debate as it should seem, inserted in the Claim of Right a clause declaring that prelacy was an insupportable burden to the kingdom, that it had been long odious to the body of the people, and that it ought to be abolished.
Nothing in the proceedings at Edinburgh astonishes an Englishman more than the manner in which the Estates dealt with the practice of torture. In England torture had always been illegal. In the most servile times the judges had unanimously pronounced it so. Those rulers who had occasionally resorted to it had, as far as was possible, used it in secret, had never pretended that they had acted in conformity with either statute law or common law, and had excused themselves by saying that the extraordinary peril to which the state was exposed had forced them to take on themselves the responsibility of employing extraordinarily means of defence. It had therefore never been thought necessary by any English Parliament to pass any Act or resolution touching this matter. The torture was not mentioned in the Petition of Right, or in any of the statutes framed by the Long Parliament. No member of the Convention of 1689 dreamed of proposing that the instrument which called the Prince and Princess of Orange to the throne should contain a declaration against the using of racks and thumbscrews for the purpose of forcing prisoners to accuse themselves. Such a declaration would have been justly regarded as weakening rather than strengthening a rule which, as far back as the days of the Plantagenets, had been proudly declared by the most illustrious sages of Westminster Hall to be a distinguishing feature of the English jurisprudence. In the Scottish Claim of Right, the use of torture, without evidence, or in ordinary cases, was declared to be contrary to law. The use of torture, therefore, where there was strong evidence, and where the crime was extraordinary, was, by the plainest implication, declared to be according to law; nor did the Estates mention the use of torture among the grievances which required a legislative remedy. In truth, they could not condemn the use of torture without condemning themselves. It had chanced that, while they were employed in settling the government, the eloquent and learned Lord President Lockhart had been foully murdered in a public street through which he was returning from church on a Sunday. The murderer was seized, and proved to be a wretch who, having treated his wife barbarously and turned her out of doors, had been compelled by a decree of the Court of Session to provide for her. A savage hatred of the judges by whom she had been protected had taken possession of his mind, and had goaded him to a horrible crime and a horrible fate. It was natural that an assassination attended by so many circumstances of aggravation should move the indignation of the members of the Convention. Yet they should have considered the gravity of the conjuncture and the importance of their own mission. They unfortunately, in the heat of passion, directed the magistrates of Edinburgh to strike the prisoner in the boots, and named a Committee to superintend the operation. But for this unhappy event, it is probable that the law of Scotland concerning torture would have been immediately assimilated to the law of England.
Having settled the Claim of Right, the Convention proceeded to revise the Coronation oath. When this had been done, three members were appointed to carry the Instrument of Government to London. Argyle, though not, in strictness of law, a Peer, was chosen to represent the Peers: Sir James Montgomery represented the Commissioners of Shires, and Sir John Dalrymple the Commissioners of Towns.
The Estates then adjourned for a few weeks, having first passed a vote which empowered Hamilton to take such measures as might be necessary for the preservation of the public peace till the end of the interregnum.
The ceremony of the inauguration was distinguished from ordinary pageants by some highly interesting circumstances. On the eleventh of May the three Commissioners came to the Council Chamber at Whitehall, and thence, attended by almost all the Scotchmen of note who were then in London, proceeded to the Banqueting House. There William and Mary appeared seated under a canopy. A splendid circle of English nobles, and statesmen stood round the throne: but the sword of state as committed to a Scotch lord; and the oath of office was administered after the Scotch fashion. Argyle recited the words slowly. The royal pair, holding up their hands towards heaven, repeated after him till they came to the last clause. There William paused. That clause contained a promise that he would root out all heretics and all enemies of the true worship of God; and it was notorious that, in the opinion of many Scotchmen, not only all Roman Catholics, but all Protestant Episcopalians, all Independents, Baptists and Quakers, all Lutherans, nay all British Presbyterians who did not hold themselves bound by the Solemn League and Covenant, were enemies of the true worship of God. The King had apprised the Commissioners that he could not take this part of the oath without a distinct and public explanation; and they had been authorised by the Convention to give such an explanation as would satisfy him. "I will not," he now said, "lay myself under any obligation to be a persecutor." "Neither the words of this oath," said one of the Commissioners, "nor the laws of Scotland, lay any such obligation on your Majesty." "In that sense, then, I swear," said William; "and I desire you all, my lords and gentlemen, to witness that I do so." Even his detractors have generally admitted that on this great occasion he acted with uprightness, dignity, and wisdom.
As King of Scotland, he soon found himself embarrassed at every step by all the difficulties which had embarrassed him as King of England, and by other difficulties which in England were happily unknown. In the north of the island, no class was more dissatisfied with the Revolution than the class which owed most to the Revolution. The manner in which the Convention had decided the question of ecclesiastical polity had not been more offensive to the Bishops themselves than to those fiery Covenanters who had long, in defiance of sword and carbine, boot and gibbet, worshipped their Maker after their own fashion in caverns and on mountain tops. Was there ever, these zealots exclaimed, such a halting between two opinions, such a compromise between the Lord and Baal? The Estates ought to have said that episcopacy was an abomination in God's sight, and that, in obedience to his word, and from fear of his righteous judgment, they were determined to deal with this great national sin and scandal after the fashion of those saintly rulers who of old cut down the groves and demolished the altars of Chemosh and Astarte. Unhappily, Scotland was ruled, not by pious Josiahs, but by careless Gallios. The antichristian hierarchy was to be abolished, not because it was an insult to heaven, but because it was felt as a burden on earth; not because it was hateful to the great Head of the Church, but because it was hateful to the people. Was public opinion, then, the test of right and wrong in religion? Was not the order which Christ had established in his own house to be held equally sacred in all countries and through all ages? And was there no reason for following that order in Scotland except a reason which might be urged with equal force for maintaining Prelacy in England, Popery in Spain, and Mahometanism in Turkey? Why, too, was nothing said of those Covenants which the nation had so generally subscribed and so generally violated? Why was it not distinctly affirmed that the promises set down in those rolls were still binding, and would to the end of time be binding, on the kingdom? Were these truths to be suppressed from regard for the feelings and interests of a prince who was all things to all men, an ally of the idolatrous Spaniard and of the Lutheran bane, a presbyterian at the Hague and a prelatist at Whiteball? He, like Jelin in ancient times, had doubtless so far done well that he had been the scourge of the idolatrous House of Ahab. But he, like Jelin, had not taken heed to walk in the divine law with his whole heart, but had tolerated and practised impieties differing only in degree from those of which he had declared himself the enemy. It would have better become godly senators to remonstrate with him on the sin which he was committing by conforming to the Anglican ritual, and by maintaining the Anglican Church government, than to flatter him by using a phraseology which seemed to indicate that they were as deeply tainted with Erastianism as himself. Many of those who held this language refused to do any act which could be construed into a recognition of the new Sovereigns, and would rather have been fired upon by files of musketeers or tied to stakes within low water mark than have uttered a prayer that God would bless William and Mary.
Yet the King had less to fear from the pertinacious adherence of these men to their absurd principles, than from the ambition and avarice of another set of men who had no principles at all. It was necessary that he should immediately name ministers to conduct the government of Scotland: and, name whom he might, he could not fail to disappoint and irritate a multitude of expectants. Scotland was one of the least wealthy countries in Europe: yet no country in Europe contained a greater number of clever and selfish politicians. The places in the gift of the Crown were not enough to satisfy one twentieth part of the placehunters, every one of whom thought that his own services had been preeminent, and that, whoever might be passed by, he ought to be remembered. William did his best to satisfy these innumerable and insatiable claimants by putting many offices into commission. There were however a few great posts which it was impossible to divide. Hamilton was declared Lord High Commissioner, in the hope that immense pecuniary allowances, a residence in Holyrood Palace, and a pomp and dignity little less than regal, would content him. The Earl of Crawford was appointed President of the Parliament; and it was supposed that this appointment would conciliate the rigid Presbyterians, for Crawford was what they called a professor. His letters and speeches are, to use his own phraseology, exceeding savoury. Alone, or almost alone, among the prominent politicians of that time, he retained the style which had been fashionable in the preceding generation. He had a text of the Old Testament ready for every occasion. He filled his despatches with allusions to Ishmael and Hagar, Hannah and Eli, Elijah, Nehemiah, and Zerubbabel, and adorned his oratory with quotations from Ezra and Haggai. It is a circumstance strikingly characteristic of the man, and of the school in which he had been trained, that, in all the mass of his writing which has come down to us, there is not a single word indicating that he had ever in his life heard of the New Testament. Even in our own time some persons of a peculiar taste have been so much delighted by the rich unction of his eloquence, that they have confidently pronounced him a saint. To those whose habit it is to judge of a man rather by his actions than by his words, Crawford will appear to have been a selfish, cruel politician, who was not at all the dupe of his own cant, and whose zeal against episcopal government was not a little whetted by his desire to obtain a grant of episcopal domains. In excuse for his greediness, it ought to be said that he was the poorest noble of a poor nobility, and that before the Revolution he was sometimes at a loss for a meal and a suit of clothes.
The ablest of Scottish politicians and debaters, Sir John Dalrymple, was appointed Lord Advocate. His father, Sir James, the greatest of Scottish jurists, was placed at the head of the Court of Session. Sir William Lockhart, a man whose letters prove him to have possessed considerable ability, became Solicitor General.
Sir James Montgomery had flattered himself that he should be the chief minister. He had distinguished himself highly in the Convention. He had been one of the Commissioners who had tendered the Crown and administered the oath to the new Sovereigns. In parliamentary ability and eloquence he had no superior among his countrymen, except the new Lord Advocate. The Secretaryship was, not indeed in dignity, but in real power, the highest office in the Scottish government; and this office was the reward to which Montgomery thought himself entitled. But the Episcopalians and the moderate Presbyterians dreaded him as a man of extreme opinions and of bitter spirit. He had been a chief of the Covenanters: he had been prosecuted at one time for holding conventicles, and at another time for harbouring rebels: he had been fined: he had been imprisoned: he had been almost driven to take refuge from his enemies beyond the Atlantic in the infant settlement of New Jersey. It was apprehended that, if he were now armed with the whole power of the Crown, he would exact a terrible retribution for what he had suffered. William therefore preferred Melville, who, though not a man of eminent talents, was regarded by the Presbyterians as a thoroughgoing friend, and yet not regarded by the Episcopalians as an implacable enemy. Melville fixed his residence at the English Court, and became the regular organ of communication between Kensington and the authorities at Edinburgh.
William had, however, one Scottish adviser who deserved and possessed more influence than any of the ostensible ministers. This was Carstairs, one of the most remarkable men of that age. He united great scholastic attainments with great aptitude for civil business, and the firm faith and ardent zeal of a martyr with the shrewdness and suppleness of a consummate politician. In courage and fidelity he resembled Burnet; but he had, what Burnet wanted, judgment, selfcommand, and a singular power of keeping secrets. There was no post to which he might not have aspired if he had been a layman, or a priest of the Church of England. But a Presbyterian clergyman could not hope to attain any high dignity either in the north or in the south of the island. Carstairs was forced to content himself with the substance of power, and to leave the semblance to others. He was named Chaplain to their Majesties for Scotland, but wherever the King was, in England, in Ireland, in the Netherlands, there was this most trusty and most prudent of courtiers. He obtained from the royal bounty a modest competence; and he desired no more. But it was well known that he could be as useful a friend and as formidable an enemy as any member of the cabinet; and he was designated at the public offices and in the antechambers of the palace by the significant nickname of the Cardinal.
To Montgomery was offered the place of Lord Justice Clerk. But that place, though high and honourable, he thought below his merits and his capacity; and he returned from London to Scotland with a heart ulcerated by hatred of his ungrateful master and of his successful rivals. At Edinburgh a knot of Whigs, as severely disappointed as himself by the new arrangements, readily submitted to the guidance of so bold and able a leader. Under his direction these men, among whom the Earl of Annandale and Lord Ross were the most conspicuous, formed themselves into a society called the Club, appointed a clerk, and met daily at a tavern to concert plans of opposition. Round this nucleus soon gathered a great body of greedy and angry politicians. With these dishonest malecontents, whose object was merely to annoy the government and to get places, were leagued other malecontents, who, in the course of a long resistance to tyranny, had become so perverse and irritable that they were unable to live contentedly even under the mildest and most constitutional government. Such a man was Sir Patrick Hume. He had returned from exile, as litigious, as impracticable, as morbidly jealous of all superior authority, and as fond of haranguing, as he had been four years before, and was as much bent on making a merely nominal sovereign of William as he had formerly been bent on making a merely nominal general of Argyle. A man far superior morally and intellectually to Hume, Fletcher of Saltoun, belonged to the same party. Though not a member of the Convention, he was a most active member of the Club. He hated monarchy: he hated democracy: his favourite project was to make Scotland an oligarchical republic. The King, if there must be a King, was to be a mere pageant. The lowest class of the people were to be bondsmen. The whole power, legislative and executive, was to be in the hands of the Parliament. In other words, the country was to be absolutely governed by a hereditary aristocracy, the most needy, the most haughty, and the most quarrelsome in Europe. Under such a polity there could have been neither freedom nor tranquillity. Trade, industry, science, would have languished; and Scotland would have been a smaller Poland, with a puppet sovereign, a turbulent diet, and an enslaved people. With unsuccessful candidates for office, and with honest but wrongheaded republicans, were mingled politicians whose course was determined merely by fear. Many sycophants, who were conscious that they had, in the evil time, done what deserved punishment, were desirous to make their peace with the powerful and vindictive Club, and were glad to be permitted to atone for their servility to James by their opposition to William. The great body of Jacobites meanwhile stood aloof, saw with delight the enemies of the House of Stuart divided against one another, and indulged the hope that the confusion would end in the restoration of the banished king.
While Montgomery was labouring to form out of various materials a party which might, when the Convention should reassemble, be powerful enough to dictate to the throne, an enemy still more formidable than Montgomery had set up the standard of civil war in a region about which the politicians of Westminster, and indeed most of the politicians of Edinburgh, knew no more than about Abyssinia or Japan.
It is not easy for a modern Englishman, who can pass in a day from his club in St. James's Street to his shooting box among the Grampians, and who finds in his shooting box all the comforts and luxuries of his club, to believe that, in the time of his greatgrandfathers, St. James's Street had as little connection with the Grampians as with the Andes. Yet so it was. In the south of our island scarcely any thing was known about the Celtic part of Scotland; and what was known excited no feeling but contempt and loathing. The crags and the glens, the woods and the waters, were indeed the same that now swarm every autumn with admiring gazers and stretchers. The Trosachs wound as now between gigantic walls of rock tapestried with broom and wild roses: Foyers came headlong down through the birchwood with the same leap and the same roar with which he still rushes to Loch Ness; and, in defiance of the sun of June, the snowy scalp of Ben Cruachan rose, as it still rises, over the willowy islets of Loch Awe. Yet none of these sights had power, till a recent period, to attract a single poet or painter from more opulent and more tranquil regions. Indeed, law and police, trade and industry, have done far more than people of romantic dispositions will readily admit, to develope in our minds a sense of the wilder beauties of nature. A traveller must be freed from all apprehension of being murdered or starved before he can be charmed by the bold outlines and rich tints of the hills. He is not likely to be thrown into ecstasies by the abruptness of a precipice from which he is in imminent danger of falling two thousand feet perpendicular; by the boiling waves of a torrent which suddenly whirls away his baggage and forces him to run for his life; by the gloomy grandeur of a pass where he finds a corpse which marauders have just stripped and mangled; or by the screams of those eagles whose next meal may probably be on his own eyes. About the year 1730, Captain Burt, one of the first Englishmen who caught a glimpse of the spots which now allure tourists from every part of the civilised world, wrote an account of his wanderings. He was evidently a man of a quick, an observant, and a cultivated mind, and would doubtless, had he lived in our age, have looked with mingled awe and delight on the mountains of Invernessshire. But, writing with the feeling which was universal in his own age, he pronounced those mountains monstrous excrescences. Their deformity, he said, was such that the most sterile plains seemed lovely by comparison. Fine weather, he complained, only made bad worse; for, the clearer the day, the more disagreeably did those misshapen masses of gloomy brown and dirty purple affect the eye. What a contrast, he exclaimed, between these horrible prospects and the beauties of Richmond Hill! Some persons may think that Burt was a man of vulgar and prosaical mind: but they will scarcely venture to pass a similar judgment on Oliver Goldsmith. Goldsmith was one of the very few Saxons who, more than a century ago, ventured to explore the Highlands. He was disgusted by the hideous wilderness, and declared that he greatly preferred the charming country round Leyden, the vast expanse of verdant meadow, and the villas with their statues and grottoes, trim flower beds, and rectilinear avenues. Yet it is difficult to believe that the author of the Traveller and of the Deserted Village was naturally inferior in taste and sensibility to the thousands of clerks and milliners who are now thrown into raptures by the sight of Loch Katrine and Loch Lomond. His feelings may easily be explained. It was not till roads had been cut out of the rocks, till bridges had been flung over the courses of the rivulets, till inns had succeeded to dens of robbers, till there was as little danger of being slain or plundered in the wildest defile of Badenoch or Lochaber as in Cornhill, that strangers could be enchanted by the blue dimples of the lakes and by the rainbows which overhung the waterfalls, and could derive a solemn pleasure even from the clouds and tempests which lowered on the mountain tops.
The change in the feeling with which the Lowlanders regarded the highland scenery was closely connected with a change not less remarkable in the feeling with which they regarded the Highland race. It is not strange that the Wild Scotch, as they were sometimes called, should, in the seventeenth century, have been considered by the Saxons as mere savages. But it is surely strange that, considered as savages, they should not have been objects of interest and curiosity. The English were then abundantly inquisitive about the manners of rude nations separated from our island by great continents and oceans. Numerous books were printed describing the laws, the superstitions, the cabins, the repasts, the dresses, the marriages, the funerals of Laplanders and Hottentots, Mohawks and Malays. The plays and poems of that age are full of allusions to the usages of the black men of Africa and of the red men of America. The only barbarian about whom there was no wish to have any information was the Highlander. Five or six years after the Revolution, an indefatigable angler published an account of Scotland. He boasted that, in the course of his rambles from lake to lake, and from brook to brook, he had left scarcely a nook of the kingdom unexplored. But, when we examine his narrative, we find that he had never ventured beyond the extreme skirts of the Celtic region. He tells us that even from the people who lived close to the passes he could learn little or nothing about the Gaelic population. Few Englishmen, he says, had ever seen Inverary. All beyond Inverary was chaos. In the reign of George the First, a work was published which professed to give a most exact account of Scotland; and in this work, consisting of more than three hundred pages, two contemptuous paragraphs were thought sufficient for the Highlands and the Highlanders. We may well doubt whether, in 1689, one in twenty of the well read gentlemen who assembled at Will's coffeehouse knew that, within the four seas, and at the distance of less than five hundred miles from London, were many miniature courts, in each of which a petty prince, attended by guards, by armour bearers, by musicians, by a hereditary orator, by a hereditary poet laureate, kept a rude state, dispensed a rude justice, waged wars, and concluded treaties. While the old Gaelic institutions were in full vigour, no account of them was given by any observer, qualified to judge of them fairly. Had such an observer studied the character of the Highlanders, he would doubtless have found in it closely intermingled the good and the bad qualities of an uncivilised nation. He would have found that the people had no love for their country or for their king; that they had no attachment to any commonwealth larger than the clan, or to any magistrate superior to the chief. He would have found that life was governed by a code of morality and honour widely different from that which is established in peaceful and prosperous societies. He would have learned that a stab in the back, or a shot from behind a fragment of rock, were approved modes of taking satisfaction for insults. He would have heard men relate boastfully how they or their fathers had wreaked on hereditary enemies in a neighbouring valley such vengeance as would have made old soldiers of the Thirty Years' War shudder. He would have found that robbery was held to be a calling, not merely innocent, but honourable. He would have seen, wherever he turned, that dislike of steady industry, and that disposition to throw on the weaker sex the heaviest part of manual labour, which are characteristic of savages. He would have been struck by the spectacle of athletic men basking in the sun, angling for salmon, or taking aim at grouse, while their aged mothers, their pregnant wives, their tender daughters, were reaping the scanty harvest of oats. Nor did the women repine at their hard lot. In their view it was quite fit that a man, especially if he assumed the aristocratic title of Duinhe Wassel and adorned his bonnet with the eagle's feather, should take his ease, except when he was fighting, hunting, or marauding. To mention the name of such a man in connection with commerce or with any mechanical art was an insult. Agriculture was indeed less despised. Yet a highborn warrior was much more becomingly employed in plundering the land of others than in tilling his own. The religion of the greater part of the Highlands was a rude mixture of Popery and Paganism. The symbol of redemption was associated with heathen sacrifices and incantations. Baptized men poured libations of ale to one Daemon, and set out drink offerings of milk for another. Seers wrapped themselves up in bulls' hides, and awaited, in that vesture, the inspiration which was to reveal the future. Even among those minstrels and genealogists whose hereditary vocation was to preserve the memory of past events, an enquirer would have found very few who could read. In truth, he might easily have journeyed from sea to sea without discovering a page of Gaelic printed or written. The price which he would have had to pay for his knowledge of the country would have been heavy. He would have had to endure hardships as great as if he had sojourned among the Esquimaux or the Samoyeds. Here and there, indeed, at the castle of some great lord who had a seat in the Parliament and Privy Council, and who was accustomed to pass a large part of his life in the cities of the South, might have been found wigs and embroidered coats, plate and fine linen, lace and jewels, French dishes and French wines. But, in general, the traveller would have been forced to content himself with very different quarters. In many dwellings the furniture, the food, the clothing, nay the very hair and skin of his hosts, would have put his philosophy to the proof. His lodging would sometimes have been in a hut of which every nook would have swarmed with vermin. He would have inhaled an atmosphere thick with peat smoke, and foul with a hundred noisome exhalations. At supper grain fit only for horses would have been set before him, accompanied by a cake of blood drawn from living cows. Some of the company with which he would have feasted would have been covered with cutaneous eruptions, and others would have been smeared with tar like sheep. His couch would have been the bare earth, dry or wet as the weather might be; and from that couch he would have risen half poisoned with stench, half blind with the reek of turf, and half mad with the itch.
This is not an attractive picture. And yet an enlightened and dispassionate observer would have found in the character and manners of this rude people something which might well excite admiration and a good hope. Their courage was what great exploits achieved in all the four quarters of the globe have since proved it to be. Their intense attachment to their own tribe and to their own patriarch, though politically a great evil, partook of the nature of virtue. The sentiment was misdirected and ill regulated; but still it was heroic. There must be some elevation of soul in a man who loves the society of which he is a member and the leader whom he follows with a love stronger than the love of life. It was true that the Highlander had few scruples about shedding the blood of an enemy: but it was not less true that he had high notions of the duty of observing faith to allies and hospitality to guests. It was true that his predatory habits were most pernicious to the commonwealth. Yet those erred greatly who imagined that he bore any resemblance to villains who, in rich and well governed communities, live by stealing. When he drove before him the herds of Lowland farmers up the pass which led to his native glen, he no more considered himself as a thief than the Raleighs and Drakes considered themselves as thieves when they divided the cargoes of Spanish galleons. He was a warrior seizing lawful prize of war, of war never once intermitted during the thirty-five generations which had passed away since the Teutonic invaders had driven the children of the soil to the mountains. That, if he was caught robbing on such principles, he should, for the protection of peaceful industry, be punished with the utmost rigour of the law was perfectly just. But it was not just to class him morally with the pickpockets who infested Drury Lane Theatre, or the highwaymen who stopped coaches on Blackheath. His inordinate pride of birth and his contempt for labour and trade were indeed great weaknesses, and had done far more than the inclemency of the air and the sterility of the soil to keep his country poor and rude. Yet even here there was some compensation. It must in fairness be acknowledged that the patrician virtues were not less widely diffused among the population of the Highlands than the patrician vices. As there was no other part of the island where men, sordidly clothed, lodged, and fed, indulged themselves to such a degree in the idle sauntering habits of an aristocracy, so there was no other part of the island where such men had in such a degree the better qualities of an aristocracy, grace and dignity of manner, selfrespect, and that noble sensibility which makes dishonour more terrible than death. A gentleman of this sort, whose clothes were begrimed with the accumulated filth of years, and whose hovel smelt worse than an English hogstye, would often do the honours of that hovel with a lofty courtesy worthy of the splendid circle of Versailles. Though he had as little booklearning as the most stupid ploughboys of England, it would have been a great error to put him in the same intellectual rank with such ploughboys. It is indeed only by reading that men can become profoundly acquainted with any science. But the arts of poetry and rhetoric may be carried near to absolute perfection, and may exercise a mighty influence on the public mind, in an age in which books are wholly or almost wholly unknown. The first great painter of life and manners has described, with a vivacity which makes it impossible to doubt that he was copying from nature, the effect produced by eloquence and song on audiences ignorant of the alphabet. It is probable that, in the Highland councils, men who would not have been qualified for the duty of parish clerks sometimes argued questions of peace and war, of tribute and homage, with ability worthy of Halifax and Caermarthen, and that, at the Highland banquets, minstrels who did not know their letters sometimes poured forth rhapsodies in which a discerning critic might have found passages which would have reminded him of the tenderness of Otway or of the vigour of Dryden.
There was therefore even then evidence sufficient to justify the belief that no natural inferiority had kept the Celt far behind the Saxon. It might safely have been predicted that, if ever an efficient police should make it impossible for the Highlander to avenge his wrongs by violence and to supply his wants by rapine, if ever his faculties should be developed by the civilising influence of the Protestant religion and of the English language, if ever he should transfer to his country and to her lawful magistrates the affection and respect with which he had been taught to regard his own petty community and his own petty prince, the kingdom would obtain an immense accession of strength for all the purposes both of peace and of war.
Such would doubtless have been the decision of a well informed and impartial judge. But no such judge was then to be found. The Saxons who dwelt far from the Gaelic provinces could not be well informed. The Saxons who dwelt near those provinces could not be impartial. National enmities have always been fiercest among borderers; and the enmity between the Highland borderer and the Lowland borderer along the whole frontier was the growth of ages, and was kept fresh by constant injuries. One day many square miles of pasture land were swept bare by armed plunderers from the hills. Another day a score of plaids dangled in a row on the gallows of Crieff or Stirling. Fairs were indeed held on the debatable land for the necessary interchange of commodities. But to those fairs both parties came prepared for battle; and the day often ended in bloodshed. Thus the Highlander was an object of hatred to his Saxon neighbours; and from his Saxon neighbours those Saxons who dwelt far from him learned the very little that they cared to know about his habits. When the English condescended to think of him at all,--and it was seldom that they did so,--they considered him as a filthy abject savage, a slave, a Papist, a cutthroat, and a thief.
This contemptuous loathing lasted till the year 1745, and was then for a moment succeeded by intense fear and rage. England, thoroughly alarmed, put forth her whole strength. The Highlands were subjugated rapidly, completely, and for ever. During a short time the English nation, still heated by the recent conflict, breathed nothing but vengeance. The slaughter on the field of battle and on the scaffold was not sufficient to slake the public thirst for blood. The sight of the tartan inflamed the populace of London with hatred, which showed itself by unmanly outrages to defenceless captives. A political and social revolution took place through the whole Celtic region. The power of the chiefs was destroyed: the people were disarmed: the use of the old national garb was interdicted: the old predatory habits were effectually broken; and scarcely had this change been accomplished when a strange reflux of public feeling began. Pity succeeded to aversion. The nation execrated the cruelties which had been committed on the Highlanders, and forgot that for those cruelties it was itself answerable. Those very Londoners, who, while the memory of the march to Derby was still fresh, had thronged to hoot and pelt the rebel prisoners, now fastened on the prince who had put down the rebellion the nickname of Butcher. Those barbarous institutions and usages, which, while they were in full force, no Saxon had thought worthy of serious examination, or had mentioned except with contempt, had no sooner ceased to exist than they became objects of curiosity, of interest, even of admiration. Scarcely had the chiefs been turned into mere landlords, when it became the fashion to draw invidious comparisons between the rapacity of the landlord and the indulgence of the chief. Men seemed to have forgotten that the ancient Gaelic polity had been found to be incompatible with the authority of law, had obstructed the progress of civilisation, had more than once brought on the empire the curse of civil war. As they had formerly seen only the odious side of that polity, they could now see only the pleasing side. The old tie, they said, had been parental: the new tie was purely commercial. What could be more lamentable than that the head of a tribe should eject, for a paltry arrear of rent, tenants who were his own flesh and blood, tenants whose forefathers had often with their bodies covered his forefathers on the field of battle? As long as there were Gaelic marauders, they had been regarded by the Saxon population as hateful vermin who ought to be exterminated without mercy. As soon as the extermination had been accomplished, as soon as cattle were as safe in the Perthshire passes as in Smithfield market, the freebooter was exalted into a hero of romance. As long as the Gaelic dress was worn, the Saxons had pronounced it hideous, ridiculous, nay, grossly indecent. Soon after it had been prohibited, they discovered that it was the most graceful drapery in Europe. The Gaelic monuments, the Gaelic usages, the Gaelic superstitions, the Gaelic verses, disdainfully neglected during many ages, began to attract the attention of the learned from the moment at which the peculiarities of the Gaelic race began to disappear. So strong was this impulse that, where the Highlands were concerned, men of sense gave ready credence to stories without evidence, and men of taste gave rapturous applause to compositions without merit. Epic poems, which any skilful and dispassionate critic would at a glance have perceived to be almost entirely modern, and which, if they had been published as modern, would have instantly found their proper place in company with Blackmore's Alfred and Wilkie's Epigoniad, were pronounced to be fifteen hundred years old, and were gravely classed with the Iliad. Writers of a very different order from the impostor who fabricated these forgeries saw how striking an effect might be produced by skilful pictures of the old Highland life. Whatever was repulsive was softened down: whatever was graceful and noble was brought prominently forward. Some of these works were executed with such admirable art that, like the historical plays of Shakspeare, they superseded history. The visions of the poet were realities to his readers. The places which he described became holy ground, and were visited by thousands of pilgrims. Soon the vulgar imagination was so completely occupied by plaids, targets, and claymores, that, by most Englishmen, Scotchman and Highlander were regarded as synonymous words. Few people seemed to be aware that, at no remote period, a Macdonald or a Macgregor in his tartan was to a citizen of Edinburgh or Glasgow what an Indian hunter in his war paint is to an inhabitant of Philadelphia or Boston. Artists and actors represented Bruce and Douglas in striped petticoats. They might as well have represented Washington brandishing a tomahawk, and girt with a string of scalps. At length this fashion reached a point beyond which it was not easy to proceed. The last British King who held a court in Holyrood thought that he could not give a more striking proof of his respect for the usages which had prevailed in Scotland before the Union, than by disguising himself in what, before the Union, was considered by nine Scotchmen out of ten as the dress of a thief.
Thus it has chanced that the old Gaelic institutions and manners have never been exhibited in the simple light of truth. Up to the middle of the last century, they were seen through one false medium: they have since been seen through another. Once they loomed dimly through an obscuring and distorting haze of prejudice; and no sooner had that fog dispersed than they appeared bright with all the richest tints of poetry. The time when a perfectly fair picture could have been painted has now passed away. The original has long disappeared: no authentic effigy exists; and all that is possible is to produce an imperfect likeness by the help of two portraits, of which one is a coarse caricature and the other a masterpiece of flattery.
Among the erroneous notions which have been commonly received concerning the history and character of the Highlanders is one which it is especially necessary to correct. During the century which commenced with the campaign of Montrose, and terminated with the campaign of the young Pretender, every great military exploit which was achieved on British ground in the cause of the House of Stuart was achieved by the valour of Gaelic tribes. The English have therefore very naturally ascribed to those tribes the feelings of English cavaliers, profound reverence for the royal office, and enthusiastic attachment to the royal family. A close inquiry however will show that the strength of these feelings among the Celtic clans has been greatly exaggerated.
In studying the history of our civil contentions, we must never forget that the same names, badges, and warcries had very different meanings in different parts of the British isles. We have already seen how little there was in common between the Jacobitism of Ireland and the Jacobitism of England. The Jacobitism of the Scotch Highlander was, at least in the seventeenth century, a third variety, quite distinct from the other two. The Gaelic population was far indeed from holding the doctrines of passive obedience and nonresistance. In fact disobedience and resistance made up the ordinary life of that population. Some of those very clans which it has been the fashion to describe as so enthusiastically loyal that they were prepared to stand by James to the death, even when he was in the wrong, had never, while he was on the throne, paid the smallest respect to his authority, even when he was clearly in the right. Their practice, their calling, had been to disobey and to defy him. Some of them had actually been proscribed by sound of horn for the crime of withstanding his lawful commands, and would have torn to pieces without scruple any of his officers who had dared to venture beyond the passes for the purpose of executing his warrant. The English Whigs were accused by their opponents of holding doctrines dangerously lax touching the obedience due to the chief magistrate. Yet no respectable English Whig ever defended rebellion, except as a rare and extreme remedy for rare and extreme evils. But among those Celtic chiefs whose loyalty has been the theme of so much warm eulogy were some whose whole existence from boyhood upwards had been one long rebellion. Such men, it is evident, were not likely to see the Revolution in the light in which it appeared to an Oxonian nonjuror. On the other hand they were not, like the aboriginal Irish, urged to take arms by impatience of Saxon domination. To such domination the Scottish Celt had never been subjected. He occupied his own wild and sterile region, and followed his own national usages. In his dealings with the Saxons, he was rather the oppressor than the oppressed. He exacted black mail from them: he drove away their flocks and herds; and they seldom dared to pursue him to his native wilderness. They had never portioned out among themselves his dreary region of moor and shingle. He had never seen the tower of his hereditary chieftains occupied by an usurper who could not speak Gaelic, and who looked on all who spoke it as brutes and slaves; nor had his national and religious feelings ever been outraged by the power and splendour of a church which he regarded as at once foreign and heretical.
The real explanation of the readiness with which a large part of the population of the Highlands, twice in the seventeenth century, drew the sword for the Stuarts is to be found in the internal quarrels which divided the commonwealth of clans. For there was a commonwealth of clans, the image, on a reduced scale, of the great commonwealth of European nations. In the smaller of these two commonwealths, as in the larger, there were wars, treaties, alliances, disputes about territory and precedence, a system of public law, a balance of power. There was one inexhaustible source of discontents and disputes. The feudal system had, some centuries before, been introduced into the hill country, but had neither destroyed the patriarchal system nor amalgamated completely with it. In general he who was lord in the Norman polity was also chief in the Celtic polity; and, when this was the case, there was no conflict. But, when the two characters were separated, all the willing and loyal obedience was reserved for the chief. The lord had only what he could get and hold by force. If he was able, by the help of his own tribe, to keep in subjection tenants who were not of his own tribe, there was a tyranny of clan over clan, the most galling, perhaps, of all forms of tyranny. At different times different races had risen to an authority which had produced general fear and envy. The Macdonalds had once possessed, in the Hebrides and throughout the mountain country of Argyleshire and Invernessshire, an ascendancy similar to that which the House of Austria had once possessed in Christendom. But the ascendancy of the Macdonalds had, like the ascendancy of the House of Austria, passed away; and the Campbells, the children of Diarmid, had become in the Highlands what the Bourbons had become in Europe. The parallel might be carried far. Imputations similar to those which it was the fashion to throw on the French government were thrown on the Campbells. A peculiar dexterity, a peculiar plausibility of address, a peculiar contempt for all the obligations of good faith, were ascribed, with or without reason, to the dreaded race. "Fair and false like a Campbell" became a proverb. It was said that Mac Callum More after Mac Callum More had, with unwearied, unscrupulous, and unrelenting ambition, annexed mountain after mountain and island after island to the original domains of his House. Some tribes had been expelled from their territory, some compelled to pay tribute, some incorporated with the conquerors. At length the number of fighting men who bore the name of Campbell was sufficient to meet in the field of battle the combined forces of all the other western clans. It was during those civil troubles which commenced in 1638 that the power of this aspiring family reached the zenith. The Marquess of Argyle was the head of a party as well as the head of a tribe. Possessed of two different kinds of authority, he used each of them in such a way as to extend and fortify the other. The knowledge that he could bring into the field the claymores of five thousand half heathen mountaineers added to his influence among the austere Presbyterians who filled the Privy Council and the General Assembly at Edinburgh. His influence at Edinburgh added to the terror which he inspired among the mountains. Of all the Highland princes whose history is well known to us he was the greatest and most dreaded. It was while his neighbours were watching the increase of his power with hatred which fear could scarcely keep down that Montrose called them to arms. The call was promptly obeyed. A powerful coalition of clans waged war, nominally for King Charles, but really against Mac Callum More. It is not easy for any person who has studied the history of that contest to doubt that, if Argyle had supported the cause of monarchy, his neighbours would have declared against it. Grave writers tell of the victory gained at Inverlochy by the royalists over the rebels. But the peasants who dwell near the spot speak more accurately. They talk of the great battle won there by the Macdonalds over the Campbells.
The feelings which had produced the coalition against the Marquess of Argyle retained their force long after his death. His son, Earl Archibald, though a man of many eminent virtues, inherited, with the ascendancy of his ancestors, the unpopularity which such ascendancy could scarcely fail to produce. In 1675, several warlike tribes formed a confederacy against him, but were compelled to submit to the superior force which was at his command. There was therefore great joy from sea to sea when, in 1681, he was arraigned on a futile charge, condemned to death, driven into exile, and deprived of his dignities. There was great alarm when, in 1685, he returned from banishment, and sent forth the fiery cross to summon his kinsmen to his standard; and there was again great joy when his enterprise had failed, when his army had melted away, when his head had been fixed on the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, and when those chiefs who had regarded him as an oppressor had obtained from the Crown, on easy terms, remissions of old debts and grants of new titles. While England and Scotland generally were execrating the tyranny of James, he was honoured as a deliverer in Appin and Lochaber, in Glenroy and Glenmore. The hatred excited by the power and ambition of the House of Argyle was not satisfied even when the head of that House had perished, when his children were fugitives, when strangers garrisoned the Castle of Inverary, and when the whole shore of Loch Fyne was laid waste by fire and sword. It was said that the terrible precedent which had been set in the case of the Macgregors ought to be followed, and that it ought to be made a crime to bear the odious name of Campbell.
On a sudden all was changed. The Revolution came. The heir of Argyle returned in triumph. He was, as his predecessors had been, the head, not only of a tribe, but of a party. The sentence which had deprived him of his estate and of his honours was treated by the majority of the Convention as a nullity. The doors of the Parliament House were thrown open to him: he was selected from the whole body of Scottish nobles to administer the oath of office to the new Sovereigns; and he was authorised to raise an army on his domains for the service of the Crown. He would now, doubtless, be as powerful as the most powerful of his ancestors. Backed by the strength of the Government, he would demand all the long and heavy arrears of rent and tribute which were due to him from his neighbours, and would exact revenge for all the injuries and insults which his family had suffered. There was terror and agitation in the castles of twenty petty kings. The uneasiness was great among the Stewarts of Appin, whose territory was close pressed by the sea on one side, and by the race of Diarmid on the other. The Macnaghtens were still more alarmed. Once they had been the masters of those beautiful valleys through which the Ara and the Shira flow into Loch Fyne. But the Campbells had prevailed. The Macnaghtens had been reduced to subjection, and had, generation after generation, looked up with awe and detestation to the neighbouring Castle of Inverary. They had recently been promised a complete emancipation. A grant, by virtue of which their chief would have held his estate immediately from the Crown, had been prepared, and was about to pass the seals, when the Revolution suddenly extinguished a hope which amounted almost to certainty.
The Macleans remembered that, only fourteen years before, their lands had been invaded and the seat of their chief taken and garrisoned by the Campbells. Even before William and Mary had been proclaimed at Edinburgh, a Maclean, deputed doubtless by the head of his tribe, had crossed the sea to Dublin, and had assured James that, if two or three battalions from Ireland were landed in Argyleshire, they would be immediately joined by four thousand four hundred claymores.
A similar spirit animated the Camerons. Their ruler, Sir Ewan Cameron, of Lochiel, surnamed the Black, was in personal qualities unrivalled among the Celtic princes. He was a gracious master, a trusty ally, a terrible enemy. His countenance and bearing were singularly noble. Some persons who had been at Versailles, and among them the shrewd and observant Simon Lord Lovat, said that there was, in person and manner, a most striking resemblance between Lewis the Fourteenth and Lochiel; and whoever compares the portraits of the two will perceive that there really was some likeness. In stature the difference was great. Lewis, in spite of highheeled shoes and a towering wig, hardly reached the middle size. Lochiel was tall and strongly built. In agility and skill at his weapons he had few equals among the inhabitants of the hills. He had repeatedly been victorious in single combat. He was a hunter of great fame. He made vigorous war on the wolves which, down to his time, preyed on the red deer of the Grampians; and by his hand perished the last of the ferocious breed which is known to have wandered at large in our island. Nor was Lochiel less distinguished by intellectual than by bodily vigour. He might indeed have seemed ignorant to educated and travelled Englishmen, who had studied the classics under Busby at Westminster and under Aldrich at Oxford, who had learned something about the sciences among Fellows of the Royal Society, and something about the fine arts in the galleries of Florence and Rome. But though Lochiel had very little knowledge of books, he was eminently wise in council, eloquent in debate, ready in devising expedients, and skilful in managing the minds of men. His understanding preserved him from those follies into which pride and anger frequently hurried his brother chieftains. Many, therefore, who regarded his brother chieftains as mere barbarians, mentioned him with respect. Even at the Dutch Embassy in St. James's Square he was spoken of as a man of such capacity and courage that it would not be easy to find his equal. As a patron of literature he ranks with the magnificent Dorset. If Dorset out of his own purse allowed Dryden a pension equal to the profits of the Laureateship, Lochiel is said to have bestowed on a celebrated bard, who had been plundered by marauders, and who implored alms in a pathetic Gaelic ode, three cows and the almost incredible sum of fifteen pounds sterling. In truth, the character of this great chief was depicted two thousand five hundred years before his birth, and depicted,--such is the power of genius,--in colours which will be fresh as many years after his death. He was the Ulysses of the Highlands.
He held a large territory peopled by a race which reverenced no lord, no king but himself. For that territory, however, he owed homage to the House of Argyle. He was bound to assist his feudal superiors in war, and was deeply in debt to them for rent. This vassalage he had doubtless been early taught to consider as degrading and unjust. In his minority he had been the ward in chivalry of the politic Marquess, and had been educated at the Castle of Inverary. But at eighteen the boy broke loose from the authority of his guardian, and fought bravely both for Charles the First and for Charles the Second. He was therefore considered by the English as a Cavalier, was well received at Whitehall after the Restoration, and was knighted by the hand of James. The compliment, however, which was paid to him, on one of his appearances at the English Court, would not have seemed very flattering to a Saxon. "Take care of your pockets, my lords," cried his Majesty; "here comes the king of the thieves." The loyalty of Lochiel is almost proverbial: but it was very unlike what was called loyalty in England. In the Records of the Scottish Parliament he was, in the days of Charles the Second, described as a lawless and rebellious man, who held lands masterfully and in high contempt of the royal authority. On one occasion the Sheriff of Invernessshire was directed by King James to hold a court in Lochaber. Lochiel, jealous of this interference with his own patriarchal despotism, came to the tribunal at the head of four hundred armed Camerons. He affected great reverence for the royal commission, but he dropped three or four words which were perfectly understood by the pages and armourbearers, who watched every turn of his eye. "Is none of my lads so clever as to send this judge packing? I have seen them get up a quarrel when there was less need of one." In a moment a brawl began in the crowd, none could say how or where. Hundreds of dirks were out: cries of "Help" and "Murder" were raised on all sides: many wounds were inflicted: two men were killed: the sitting broke up in tumult; and the terrified Sheriff was forced to put himself under the protection of the chief, who, with a plausible bow of respect and concern, escorted him safe home. It is amusing to think that the man who performed this feat is constantly extolled as the most faithful and dutiful of subjects by writers who blame Somers and Burnet as contemners of the legitimate authority of Sovereigns. Lochiel would undoubtedly have laughed the doctrine of nonresistance to scorn. But scarcely any chief in Invernessshire had gained more than he by the downfall of the House of Argyle, or had more reason than he to dread the restoration of that House. Scarcely any chief in Invernessshire, therefore, was more alarmed and disgusted by the proceedings of the Convention.
But of all those Highlanders who looked on the recent turn of fortune with painful apprehension the fiercest and the most powerful were the Macdonalds. More than one of the magnates who bore that widespread name laid claim to the honour of being the rightful successor of those Lords of the Isles, who, as late as the fifteenth century, disputed the preeminence of the Kings of Scotland. This genealogical controversy, which has lasted down to our own time, caused much bickering among the competitors. But they all agreed in regretting the past splendour of their dynasty, and in detesting the upstart race of Campbell. The old feud had never slumbered. It was still constantly repeated, in verse and prose, that the finest part of the domain belonging to the ancient heads of the Gaelic nation, Islay, where they had lived with the pomp of royalty, Iona, where they had been interred with the pomp of religion, the paps of Jura, the rich peninsula of Kintyre, had been transferred from the legitimate possessors to the insatiable Mac Callum More. Since the downfall of the House of Argyle, the Macdonalds, if they had not regained their ancient superiority, might at least boast that they had now no superior. Relieved from the fear of their mighty enemy in the West, they had turned their arms against weaker enemies in the East, against the clan of Mackintosh and against the town of Inverness.
The clan of Mackintosh, a branch of an ancient and renowned tribe which took its name and badge from the wild cat of the forests, had a dispute with the Macdonalds, which originated, if tradition may be believed, in those dark times when the Danish pirates wasted the coasts of Scotland. Inverness was a Saxon colony among the Celts, a hive of traders and artisans in the midst of a population of loungers and plunderers, a solitary outpost of civilisation in a region of barbarians. Though the buildings covered but a small part of the space over which they now extend; though the arrival of a brig in the port was a rare event; though the Exchange was the middle of a miry street, in which stood a market cross much resembling a broken milestone; though the sittings of the municipal council were held in a filthy den with a roughcast wall; though the best houses were such as would now be called hovels; though the best roofs were of thatch; though the best ceilings were of bare rafters; though the best windows were, in bad weather, closed with shutters for want of glass; though the humbler dwellings were mere heaps of turf, in which barrels with the bottoms knocked out served the purpose of chimneys; yet to the mountaineer of the Grampians this city was as Babylon or as Tyre. Nowhere else had he seen four or five hundred houses, two churches, twelve maltkilns, crowded close together. Nowhere else had he been dazzled by the splendour of rows of booths, where knives, horn spoons, tin kettles, and gaudy ribands were exposed to sale. Nowhere else had he been on board of one of those huge ships which brought sugar and wine over the sea from countries far beyond the limits of his geography. It is not strange that the haughty and warlike Macdonalds, despising peaceful industry, yet envying the fruits of that industry, should have fastened a succession of quarrels on the people of Inverness. In the reign of Charles the Second, it had been apprehended that the town would be stormed and plundered by those rude neighbours. The terms of peace which they offered showed how little they regarded the authority of the prince and of the law. Their demand was that a heavy tribute should be paid to them, that the municipal magistrates should bind themselves by an oath to deliver tip to the vengeance of the clan every burgher who should shed the blood of a Macdonald, and that every burgher who should anywhere meet a person wearing the Macdonald tartan should ground arms in token of submission. Never did Lewis the Fourteenth, not even when he was encamped between Utrecht and Amsterdam, treat the States General with such despotic insolence. By the intervention of the Privy Council of Scotland a compromise was effected: but the old animosity was undiminished.
Common enmities and common apprehensions produced a good understanding between the town and the clan of Mackintosh. The foe most hated and dreaded by both was Colin Macdonald of Keppoch, an excellent specimen of the genuine Highland Jacobite. Keppoch's whole life had been passed in insulting and resisting the authority of the Crown. He had been repeatedly charged on his allegiance to desist from his lawless practices, but had treated every admonition with contempt. The government, however, was not willing to resort to extremities against him; and he long continued to rule undisturbed the stormy peaks of Coryarrick, and the gigantic terraces which still mark the limits of what was once the Lake of Glenroy. He was famed for his knowledge of all the ravines and caverns of that dreary region; and such was the skill with which he could track a herd of cattle to the most secret hidingplace that he was known by the nickname of Coll of the Cows. At length his outrageous violations of all law compelled the Privy Council to take decided steps. He was proclaimed a rebel: letters of fire and sword were issued against him under the seal of James; and, a few weeks before the Revolution, a body of royal troops, supported by the whole strength of the Mackintoshes, marched into Keppoch's territories. He gave battle to the invaders, and was victorious. The King's forces were put to flight; the King's captain was slain; and this by a hero whose loyalty to the King many writers have very complacently contrasted with the factious turbulence of the Whigs.
If Keppoch had ever stood in any awe of the government, he was completely relieved from that feeling by the general anarchy which followed the Revolution. He wasted the lands of the Mackintoshes, advanced to Inverness, and threatened the town with destruction. The danger was extreme. The houses were surrounded only by a wall which time and weather had so loosened that it shook in every storm. Yet the inhabitants showed a bold front; and their courage was stimulated by their preachers. Sunday the twenty-eighth of April was a day of alarm and confusion. The savages went round and round the small colony of Saxons like a troop of famished wolves round a sheepfold. Keppoch threatened and blustered. He would come in with all his men. He would sack the place. The burghers meanwhile mustered in arms round the market cross to listen to the oratory of their ministers. The day closed without an assault; the Monday and the Tuesday passed away in intense anxiety; and then an unexpected mediator made his appearance.
Dundee, after his flight from Edinburgh, had retired to his country seat in that valley through which the Glamis descends to the ancient castle of Macbeth. Here he remained quiet during some time. He protested that he had no intention of opposing the new government. He declared himself ready to return to Edinburgh, if only he could be assured that he should be protected against lawless violence; and he offered to give his word of honour, or, if that were not sufficient, to give bail, that he would keep the peace. Some of his old soldiers had accompanied him, and formed a garrison sufficient to protect his house against the Presbyterians of the neighbourhood. Here he might possibly have remained unharmed and harmless, had not an event for which he was not answerable made his enemies implacable, and made him desperate.
An emissary of James had crossed from Ireland to Scotland with letters addressed to Dundee and Balcarras. Suspicion was excited. The messenger was arrested, interrogated, and searched; and the letters were found. Some of them proved to be from Melfort, and were worthy of him. Every line indicated those qualities which had made him the abhorrence of his country and the favourite of his master. He announced with delight the near approach of the day of vengeance and rapine, of the day when the estates of the seditious would be divided among the loyal, and when many who had been great and prosperous would be exiles and beggars. The King, Melfort said, was determined to be severe. Experience had at length convinced his Majesty that mercy would be weakness. Even the Jacobites were disgusted by learning that a Restoration would be immediately followed by a confiscation and a proscription. Some of them did not hesitate to say that Melfort was a villain, that he hated Dundee and Balcarras, that he wished to ruin them, and that, for that end, he had written these odious despatches, and had employed a messenger who had very dexterously managed to be caught. It is however quite certain that Melfort, after the publication of these papers, continued to stand as high as ever in the favour of James. It can therefore hardly be doubted that, in those passages which shocked even the zealous supporters of hereditary right, the Secretary merely expressed with fidelity the feelings and intentions of his master. Hamilton, by virtue of the powers which the Estates had, before their adjournment, confided to him, ordered Balcarras and Dundee to be arrested. Balcarras was taken and confined, first in his own house, and then in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh. But to seize Dundee was not so easy an enterprise. As soon as he heard that warrants were out against him, he crossed the Dee with his followers, and remained a short time in the wild domains of the House of Gordon. There he held some communications with the Macdonalds and Camerons about a rising. But he seems at this time to have known little and cared little about the Highlanders. For their national character he probably felt the dislike of a Saxon, for their military character the contempt of a professional soldier. He soon returned to the Lowlands, and stayed there till he learned that a considerable body of troops had been sent to apprehend him. He then betook himself to the hill country as his last refuge, pushed northward through Strathdon and Strathbogie, crossed the Spey, and, on the morning of the first of May, arrived with a small band of horsemen at the camp of Keppoch before Inverness.
The new situation in which Dundee was now placed, the new view of society which was presented to him, naturally suggested new projects to his inventive and enterprising spirit. The hundreds of athletic Celts whom he saw in their national order of battle were evidently not allies to be despised. If he could form a great coalition of clans, if he could muster under one banner ten or twelve thousand of those hardy warriors, if he could induce them to submit to the restraints of discipline, what a career might be before him!
A commission from King James, even when King James was securely seated on the throne, had never been regarded with much respect by Coll of the Cows. That chief, however, hated the Campbells with all the hatred of a Macdonald, and promptly gave in his adhesion to the cause of the House of Stuart. Dundee undertook to settle the dispute between Keppoch and Inverness. The town agreed to pay two thousand dollars, a sum which, small as it might be in the estimation of the goldsmiths of Lombard Street, probably exceeded any treasure that had ever been carried into the wilds of Coryarrick. Half the sum was raised, not without difficulty, by the inhabitants; and Dundee is said to have passed his word for the remainder.
He next tried to reconcile the Macdonalds with the Mackintoshes, and flattered himself that the two warlike tribes, lately arrayed against each other, might be willing to fight side by side under his command. But he soon found that it was no light matter to take up a Highland feud. About the rights of the contending Kings neither clan knew any thing or cared any thing. The conduct of both is to be ascribed to local passions and interests. What Argyle was to Keppoch, Keppoch was to the Mackintoshes. The Mackintoshes therefore remained neutral; and their example was followed by the Macphersons, another branch of the race of the wild cat. This was not Dundee's only disappointment. The Mackenzies, the Frasers, the Grants, the Munros, the Mackays, the Macleods, dwelt at a great distance from the territory of Mac Callum More. They had no dispute with him; they owed no debt to him: and they had no reason to dread the increase of his power. They therefore did not sympathize with his alarmed and exasperated neighbours, and could not be induced to join the confederacy against him. Those chiefs, on the other hand, who lived nearer to Inverary, and to whom the name of Campbell had long been terrible and hateful, greeted Dundee eagerly, and promised to meet him at the head of their followers on the eighteenth of May. During the fortnight which preceded that day, he traversed Badenoch and Athol, and exhorted the inhabitants of those districts to rise in arms. He dashed into the Lowlands with his horsemen, surprised Perth, and carried off some Whig gentlemen prisoners to the mountains. Meanwhile the fiery crosses had been wandering from hamlet to hamlet over all the heaths and mountains thirty miles round Ben Nevis; and when he reached the trysting place in Lochaber he found that the gathering had begun. The head quarters were fixed close to Lochiel's house, a large pile built entirely of fir wood, and considered in the Highlands as a superb palace. Lochiel, surrounded by more than six hundred broadswords, was there to receive his guests. Macnaghten of Macnaghten and Stewart of Appin were at the muster with their little clans. Macdonald of Keppoch led the warriors who had, a few months before, under his command, put to flight the musketeers of King James. Macdonald of Clanronald was of tender years: but he was brought to the camp by his uncle, who acted at Regent during the minority. The youth was attended by a picked body guard composed of his own cousins, all comely in appearance, and good men of their hands. Macdonald of Glengarry, conspicuous by his dark brow and his lofty stature, came from that great valley where a chain of lakes, then unknown to fame, and scarcely set down in maps, is now the daily highway of steam vessels passing and reprising between the Atlantic and the German Ocean. None of the rulers of the mountains had a higher sense of his personal dignity, or was more frequently engaged in disputes with other chiefs. He generally affected in his manners and in his housekeeping a rudeness beyond that of his rude neighbours, and professed to regard the very few luxuries which had then found their way from the civilised parts of the world into the Highlands as signs of the effeminacy and degeneracy of the Gaelic race. But on this occasion he chose to imitate the splendour of Saxon warriors, and rode on horseback before his four hundred plaided clansmen in a steel cuirass and a coat embroidered with gold lace. Another Macdonald, destined to a lamentable and horrible end, led a band of hardy freebooters from the dreary pass of Glencoe. Somewhat later came the great Hebridean potentates. Macdonald of Sleat, the most opulent and powerful of all the grandees who laid claim to the lofty title of Lord of the Isles, arrived at the head of seven hundred fighting men from Sky. A fleet of long boats brought five hundred Macleans from Mull under the command of their chief, Sir John of Duart. A far more formidable array had in old times followed his forefathers to battle. But the power, though not the spirit, of the clan had been broken by the arts and arms of the Campbells. Another band of Macleans arrived under a valiant leader, who took his title from Lochbuy, which is, being interpreted, the Yellow Lake.
It does not appear that a single chief who had not some special cause to dread and detest the House of Argyle obeyed Dundee's summons. There is indeed strong reason to believe that the chiefs who came would have remained quietly at home if the government had understood the politics of the Highlands. Those politics were thoroughly understood by one able and experienced statesman, sprung from the great Highland family of Mackenzie, the Viscount Tarbet. He at this conjuncture pointed out to Melville by letter, and to Mackay in conversation, both the cause and the remedy of the distempers which seemed likely to bring on Scotland the calamities of civil war. There was, Tarbet said, no general disposition to insurrection among the Gael. Little was to be apprehended even from those popish clans which were under no apprehension of being subjected to the yoke of the Campbells. It was notorious that the ablest and most active of the discontented chiefs troubled themselves not at all about the questions which were in dispute between the Whigs and the Tories. Lochiel in particular, whose eminent personal qualities made him the most important man among the mountaineers, cared no more for James than for William. If the Camerons, the Macdonalds, and the Macleans could be convinced that, under the new government, their estates and their dignities would be safe, if Mac Callum More would make some concessions, if their Majesties would take on themselves the payment of some arrears of rent, Dundee might call the clans to arms; but he would call to little purpose. Five thousand pounds, Tarbet thought, would be sufficient to quiet all the Celtic magnates; and in truth, though that sum might seem ludicrously small to the politicians of Westminster, though it was not larger than the annual gains of the Groom of the Stole or of the Paymaster of the Forces, it might well be thought immense by a barbarous potentate who, while he ruled hundreds of square miles, and could bring hundreds of warriors into the field, had perhaps never had fifty guineas at once in his coffers.
Though Tarbet was considered by the Scottish ministers of the new Sovereigns as a very doubtful friend, his advice was not altogether neglected. It was resolved that overtures such as he recommended should be made to the malecontents. Much depended on the choice of an agent; and unfortunately the choice showed how little the prejudices of the wild tribes of the hills were understood at Edinburgh. A Campbell was selected for the office of gaining over to the cause of King William men whose only quarrel to King William was that he countenanced the Campbells. Offers made through such a channel were naturally regarded as at once snares and insults. After this it was to no purpose that Tarbet wrote to Lochiel and Mackay to Glengarry. Lochiel returned no answer to Tarbet; and Glengarry returned to Mackay a coldly civil answer, in which the general was advised to imitate the example of Monk.
Mackay, meanwhile, wasted some weeks in marching, in countermarching, and in indecisive skirmishing. He afterwards honestly admitted that the knowledge which he had acquired, during thirty years of military service on the Continent, was, in the new situation in which he was placed, useless to him. It was difficult in such a country to track the enemy. It was impossible to drive him to bay. Food for an invading army was not to be found in the wilderness of heath and shingle; nor could supplies for many days be transported far over quaking bogs and up precipitous ascents. The general found that he had tired his men and their horses almost to death, and yet had effected nothing. Highland auxiliaries might have been of the greatest use to him: but he had few such auxiliaries. The chief of the Grants, indeed, who had been persecuted by the late government, and had been accused of conspiring with the unfortunate Earl of Argyle, was zealous on the side of the Revolution. Two hundred Mackays, animated probably by family feeling, came from the northern extremity of our island, where at midsummer there is no night, to fight under a commander of their own name: but in general the clans which took no part in the insurrection awaited the event with cold indifference, and pleased themselves with the hope that they should easily make their peace with the conquerors, and be permitted to assist in plundering the conquered.
An experience of little more than a month satisfied Mackay that there was only one way in which the Highlands could be subdued. It was idle to run after the mountaineers up and down their mountains. A chain of fortresses must be built in the most important situations, and must be well garrisoned. The place with which the general proposed to begin was Inverlochy, where the huge remains of an ancient castle stood and still stand. This post was close to an arm of the sea, and was in the heart of the country occupied by the discontented clans. A strong force stationed there, and supported, if necessary, by ships of war, would effectually overawe at once the Macdonalds, the Camerons, and the Macleans.
While Mackay was representing in his letters to the council at Edinburgh the necessity of adopting this plan, Dundee was contending with difficulties which all his energy and dexterity could not completely overcome.
The Highlanders, while they continued to be a nation living under a peculiar polity, were in one sense better and in another sense worse fitted for military purposes than any other nation in Europe. The individual Celt was morally and physically well qualified for war, and especially for war in so wild and rugged a country as his own. He was intrepid, strong, fleet, patient of cold, of hunger, and of fatigue. Up steep crags, and over treacherous morasses, he moved as easily as the French household troops paced along the great road from Versailles to Marli. He was accustomed to the use of weapons and to the sight of blood: he was a fencer; he was a marksman; and, before he had ever stood in the ranks, he was already more than half a soldier.
As the individual Celt was easily turned into a soldier, so a tribe of Celts was easily turned into a battalion of soldiers. All that was necessary was that the military organization should be conformed to the patriarchal organization. The Chief must be Colonel: his uncle or his brother must be Major: the tacksmen, who formed what may be called the peerage of the little community, must be the Captains: the company of each Captain must consist of those peasants who lived on his land, and whose names, faces, connections, and characters, were perfectly known to him: the subaltern officers must be selected among the Duinhe Wassels, proud of the eagle's feather: the henchman was an excellent orderly: the hereditary piper and his sons formed the band: and the clan became at once a regiment. In such a regiment was found from the first moment that exact order and prompt obedience in which the strength of regular armies consists. Every man, from highest to lowest, was in his proper place, and knew that place perfectly. It was not necessary to impress by threats or by punishment on the newly enlisted troops the duty of regarding as their head him whom they had regarded as their head ever since they could remember any thing. Every private had, from infancy, respected his corporal much and his Captain more, and had almost adored his Colonel. There was therefore no danger of mutiny. There was as little danger of desertion. Indeed the very feelings which most powerfully impel other soldiers to desert kept the Highlander to his standard. If he left it, whither was he to go? All his kinsmen, all his friends, were arrayed round it. To separate himself from it was to separate himself for ever from his family, and to incur all the misery of that very homesickness which, in regular armies, drives so many recruits to abscond at the risk of stripes and of death. When these things are fairly considered, it will not be thought strange that the Highland clans should have occasionally achieved great martial exploits.
But those very institutions which made a tribe of highlanders, all bearing the same name, and all subject to the same ruler, so formidable in battle, disqualified the nation for war on a large scale. Nothing was easier than to turn clans into efficient regiments; but nothing was more difficult than to combine these regiments in such a manner as to form an efficient army. From the shepherds and herdsmen who fought in the ranks up to the chiefs, all was harmony and order. Every man looked up to his immediate superior, and all looked up to the common head. But with the chief this chain of subordination ended. He knew only how to govern, and had never learned to obey. Even to royal proclamations, even to Acts of Parliament, he was accustomed to yield obedience only when they were in perfect accordance with his own inclinations. It was not to be expected that he would pay to any delegated authority a respect which he was in the habit of refusing to the supreme authority. He thought himself entitled to judge of the propriety of every order which he received. Of his brother chiefs, some were his enemies and some his rivals. It was hardly possible to keep him from affronting them, or to convince him that they were not affronting him. All his followers sympathized with all his animosities, considered his honour as their own, and were ready at his whistle to array themselves round him in arms against the commander in chief. There was therefore very little chance that by any contrivance any five clans could be induced to cooperate heartily with one another during a long campaign. The best chance, however, was when they were led by a Saxon. It is remarkable that none of the great actions performed by the Highlanders during our civil wars was performed under the command of a Highlander. Some writers have mentioned it as a proof of the extraordinary genius of Montrose and Dundee that those captains, though not themselves of Gaelic race or speech, should have been able to form and direct confederacies of Gaelic tribes. But in truth it was precisely because Montrose and Dundee were not Highlanders, that they were able to lead armies composed of Highland clans. Had Montrose been chief of the Camerons, the Macdonalds would never have submitted to his authority. Had Dundee been chief of Clanronald, he would never have been obeyed by Glengarry. Haughty and punctilious men, who scarcely acknowledged the king to be their superior, would not have endured the superiority of a neighbour, an equal, a competitor. They could far more easily bear the preeminence of a distinguished stranger, yet even to such a stranger they would allow only a very limited and a very precarious authority. To bring a chief before a court martial, to shoot him, to cashier him, to degrade him, to reprimand him publicly, was impossible. Macdonald of Keppoch or Maclean of Duart would have struck dead any officer who had demanded his sword, and told him to consider himself as under arrest; and hundreds of claymores would instantly have been drawn to protect the murderer. All that was left to the commander under whom these potentates condescended to serve was to argue with them, to supplicate them, to flatter them, to bribe them; and it was only during a short time that any human skill could preserve harmony by these means. For every chief thought himself entitled to peculiar observance; and it was therefore impossible to pay marked court to any one without disobliging the rest. The general found himself merely the president of a congress of petty kings. He was perpetually called upon to hear and to compose disputes about pedigrees, about precedence, about the division of spoil. His decision, be it what it might, must offend somebody. At any moment he might hear that his right wing had fired on his centre in pursuance of some quarrel two hundred years old, or that a whole battalion had marched back to its native glen, because another battalion had been put in the post of honour. A Highland bard might easily have found in the history of the year 1689 subjects very similar to those with which the war of Troy furnished the great poets of antiquity. One day Achilles is sullen, keeps his tent, and announces his intention to depart with all his men. The next day Ajax is storming about the camp, and threatening to cut the throat of Ulysses.
Hence it was that, though the Highlanders achieved some great exploits in the civil wars of the seventeenth century, those exploits left no trace which could be discerned after the lapse of a few weeks. Victories of strange and almost portentous splendour produced all the consequences of defeat. Veteran soldiers and statesmen were bewildered by those sudden turns of fortune. It was incredible that undisciplined men should have performed such feats of arms. It was incredible that such feats of arms, having been performed, should be immediately followed by the triumph of the conquered and the submission of the conquerors. Montrose, having passed rapidly from victory to victory, was, in the full career of success, suddenly abandoned by his followers. Local jealousies and local interests had brought his army together. Local jealousies and local interests dissolved it. The Gordons left him because they fancied that he neglected them for the Macdonalds. The Macdonalds left him because they wanted to plunder the Campbells. The force which had once seemed sufficient to decide the fate of a kingdom melted away in a few days; and the victories of Tippermuir and Kilsyth were followed by the disaster of Philiphaugh. Dundee did not live long enough to experience a similar reverse of fortune; but there is every reason to believe that, had his life been prolonged one fortnight, his history would have been the history of Montrose retold.
Dundee made one attempt, soon after the gathering of the clans in Lochaber, to induce them to submit to the discipline of a regular army. He called a council of war to consider this question. His opinion was supported by all the officers who had joined him from the low country. Distinguished among them were James Seton, Earl of Dunfermline, and James Galloway, Lord Dunkeld. The Celtic chiefs took the other side. Lochiel, the ablest among them, was their spokesman, and argued the point with much ingenuity and natural eloquence. "Our system,"--such was the substance of his reasoning, "may not be the best: but we were bred to it from childhood: we understand it perfectly: it is suited to our peculiar institutions, feelings, and manners. Making war after our own fashion, we have the expertness and coolness of veterans. Making war in any other way, we shall be raw and awkward recruits. To turn us into soldiers like those of Cromwell and Turenne would be the business of years: and we have not even weeks to spare. We have time enough to unlearn our own discipline, but not time enough to learn yours." Dundee, with high compliments to Lochiel, declared himself convinced, and perhaps was convinced: for the reasonings of the wise old chief were by no means without weight.
Yet some Celtic usages of war were such as Dundee could not tolerate. Cruel as he was, his cruelty always had a method and a purpose. He still hoped that he might be able to win some chiefs who remained neutral; and he carefully avoided every act which could goad them into open hostility. This was undoubtedly a policy likely to promote the interest of James; but the interest of James was nothing to the wild marauders who used his name and rallied round his banner merely for the purpose of making profitable forays and wreaking old grudges. Keppoch especially, who hated the Mackintoshes much more than he loved the Stuarts, not only plundered the territory of his enemies, but burned whatever he could not carry away. Dundee was moved to great wrath by the sight of the blazing dwellings. "I would rather," he said, "carry a musket in a respectable regiment than be captain of such a gang of thieves." Punishment was of course out of the question. Indeed it may be considered as a remarkable proof of the general's influence that Coll of the Cows deigned to apologize for conduct for which in a well governed army he would have been shot.
As the Grants were in arms for King William, their property was considered as fair prize. Their territory was invaded by a party of Camerons: a skirmish took place: some blood was shed; and many cattle were carried off to Dundee's camp, where provisions were greatly needed. This raid produced a quarrel, the history of which illustrates in the most striking manner the character of a Highland army. Among those who were slain in resisting the Camerons was a Macdonald of the Glengarry branch, who had long resided among the Grants, had become in feelings and opinions a Grant, and had absented himself from the muster of his tribe. Though he had been guilty of a high offence against the Gaelic code of honour and morality, his kinsmen remembered the sacred tie which he had forgotten. Good or bad, he was bone of their bone: he was flesh of their flesh; and he should have been reserved for their justice. The name which he bore, the blood of the Lords of the Isles, should have been his protection. Glengarry in a rage went to Dundee and demanded vengeance on Lochiel and the whole race of Cameron. Dundee replied that the unfortunate gentleman who had fallen was a traitor to the clan as well as to the King. Was it ever heard of in war that the person of an enemy, a combatant in arms, was to be held inviolable on account of his name and descent? And, even if wrong had been done, how was it to be redressed? Half the army must slaughter the other half before a finger could be laid on Lochiel. Glengarry went away raging like a madman. Since his complaints were disregarded by those who ought to right him, he would right himself: he would draw out his men, and fall sword in hand on the murderers of his cousin. During some time he would listen to no expostulation. When he was reminded that Lochiel's followers were in number nearly double of the Glengarry men, "No matter," he cried, "one Macdonald is worth two Camerons." Had Lochiel been equally irritable and boastful, it is probable that the Highland insurrection would have given little more trouble to the government, and that the rebels would have perished obscurely in the wilderness by one another's claymores. But nature had bestowed on him in large measure the qualities of a statesman, though fortune had hidden those qualities in an obscure corner of the world. He saw that this was not a time for brawling: his own character for courage had long been established; and his temper was under strict government. The fury of Glengarry, not being inflamed by any fresh provocation, rapidly abated. Indeed there were some who suspected that he had never been quite so pugnacious as he had affected to be, and that his bluster was meant only to keep up his own dignity in the eyes of his retainers. However this might be, the quarrel was composed; and the two chiefs met, with the outward show of civility, at the general's table.
What Dundee saw of his Celtic allies must have made him desirous to have in his army some troops on whose obedience he could depend, and who would not, at a signal from their colonel, turn their arms against their general and their king. He accordingly, during the months of May and June, sent to Dublin a succession of letters earnestly imploring assistance. If six thousand, four thousand, three thousand, regular soldiers were now sent to Lochaber, he trusted that his Majesty would soon hold a court in Holyrood. That such a force might be spared hardly admitted of a doubt. The authority of James was at that time acknowledged in every part of Ireland, except on the shores of Lough Erne and behind the ramparts of Londonderry. He had in that kingdom an army of forty thousand men. An eighth part of such an army would scarcely be missed there, and might, united with the clans which were in insurrection, effect great things in Scotland.
Dundee received such answers to his applications as encouraged him to hope that a large and well appointed force would soon be sent from Ulster to join him. He did not wish to try the chance of battle before these succours arrived. Mackay, on the other hand, was weary of marching to and fro in a desert. His men were exhausted and out of heart. He thought it desirable that they should withdraw from the hill country; and William was of the same opinion.
In June therefore the civil war was, as if by concert between the generals, completely suspended. Dundee remained in Lochaber, impatiently awaiting the arrival of troops and supplies from Ireland. It was impossible for him to keep his Highlanders together in a state of inactivity. A vast extent of moor and mountain was required to furnish food for so many mouths. The clans therefore went back to their own glens, having promised to reassemble on the first summons.
Meanwhile Mackay's soldiers, exhausted by severe exertions and privations, were taking their ease in quarters scattered over the low country from Aberdeen to Stirling. Mackay himself was at Edinburgh, and was urging the ministers there to furnish him with the means of constructing a chain of fortifications among the Grampians. The ministers had, it should seem, miscalculated their military resources. It had been expected that the Campbells would take the field in such force as would balance the whole strength of the clans which marched under Dundee. It had also been expected that the Covenanters of the West would hasten to swell the ranks of the army of King William. Both expectations were disappointed. Argyle had found his principality devastated, and his tribe disarmed and disorganized. A considerable time must elapse before his standard would be surrounded by an array such as his forefathers had led to battle. The Covenanters of the West were in general unwilling to enlist. They were assuredly not wanting in courage; and they hated Dundee with deadly hatred. In their part of the country the memory of his cruelty was still fresh. Every village had its own tale of blood. The greyheaded father was missed in one dwelling, the hopeful stripling in another. It was remembered but too well how the dragoons had stalked into the peasant's cottage, cursing and damning him, themselves, and each other at every second word, pushing from the ingle nook his grandmother of eighty, and thrusting their hands into the bosom of his daughter of sixteen; how the abjuration had been tendered to him; how he had folded his arms and said "God's will be done"; how the Colonel had called for a file with loaded muskets; and how in three minutes the goodman of the house had been wallowing in a pool of blood at his own door. The seat of the martyr was still vacant at the fireside; and every child could point out his grave still green amidst the heath. When the people of this region called their oppressor a servant of the devil, they were not speaking figuratively. They believed that between the bad man and the bad angel there was a close alliance on definite terms; that Dundee had bound himself to do the work of hell on earth, and that, for high purposes, hell was permitted to protect its slave till the measure of his guilt should be full. But, intensely as these men abhorred Dundee, most of them had a scruple about drawing the sword for William. A great meeting was held in the parish church of Douglas; and the question was propounded, whether, at a time when war was in the land, and when an Irish invasion was expected, it were not a duty to take arms. The debate was sharp and tumultuous. The orators on one side adjured their brethren not to incur the curse denounced against the inhabitants of Meroz, who came not to the help of the Lord against the mighty. The orators on the other side thundered against sinful associations. There were malignants in William's Army: Mackay's own orthodoxy was problematical: to take military service with such comrades, and under such a general, would be a sinful association. At length, after much wrangling, and amidst great confusion, a vote was taken; and the majority pronounced that to take military service would be a sinful association. There was however a large minority; and, from among the members of this minority, the Earl of Angus was able to raise a body of infantry, which is still, after the lapse of more than a hundred and sixty years, known by the name of the Cameronian Regiment. The first Lieutenant Colonel was Cleland, that implacable avenger of blood who had driven Dundee from the Convention. There was no small difficulty in filling the ranks: for many West country Whigs, who did not think it absolutely sinful to enlist, stood out for terms subversive of all military discipline. Some would not serve under any colonel, major, captain, serjeant, or corporal, who was not ready to sign the Covenant. Others insisted that, if it should be found absolutely necessary to appoint any officer who had taken the tests imposed in the late reign, he should at least qualify himself for command by publicly confessing his sin at the head of the regiment. Most of the enthusiasts who had proposed these conditions were induced by dexterous management to abate much of their demands. Yet the new regiment had a very peculiar character. The soldiers were all rigid Puritans. One of their first acts was to petition the Parliament that all drunkenness, licentiousness, and profaneness might be severely punished. Their own conduct must have been exemplary: for the worst crime which the most extravagant bigotry could impute to them was that of huzzaing on the King's birthday. It was originally intended that with the military organization of the corps should he interwoven the organization of a Presbyterian congregation. Each company was to furnish an elder; and the elders were, with the chaplain, to form an ecclesiastical court for the suppression of immorality and heresy. Elders, however, were not appointed: but a noted hill preacher, Alexander Shields, was called to the office of chaplain. It is not easy to conceive that fanaticism can be heated to a higher temperature than that which is indicated by the writings of Shields. According to him, it should seem to be the first duty of a Christian ruler to persecute to the death every heterodox subject, and the first duty of every Christian subject to poniard a heterodox ruler. Yet there was then in Scotland an enthusiasm compared with which the enthusiasm even of this man was lukewarm. The extreme Covenanters protested against his defection as vehemently as he had protested against the Black Indulgence and the oath of supremacy, and pronounced every man who entered Angus's regiment guilty of a wicked confederacy with malignants.
Meanwhile Edinburgh Castle had fallen, after holding out more than two months. Both the defence and the attack had been languidly conducted. The Duke of Gordon, unwilling to incur the mortal hatred of those at whose mercy his lands and life might soon be, did not choose to batter the city. The assailants, on the other hand, carried on their operations with so little energy and so little vigilance that a constant communication was kept up between the Jacobites within the citadel and the Jacobites without. Strange stories were told of the polite and facetious messages which passed between the besieged and the besiegers. On one occasion Gordon sent to inform the magistrates that he was going to fire a salute on account of some news which he had received from Ireland, but that the good town need not be alarmed, for that his guns would not be loaded with ball. On another occasion, his drums beat a parley: the white flag was hung out: a conference took place; and he gravely informed the enemy that all his cards had been thumbed to pieces, and begged them to let him have a few more packs. His friends established a telegraph by means of which they conversed with him across the lines of sentinels. From a window in the top story of one of the loftiest of those gigantic houses, a few of which still darken the High Street, a white cloth was hung out when all was well, and a black cloth when things went ill. If it was necessary to give more detailed information, a board was held up inscribed with capital letters so large that they could, by the help of a telescope, be read on the ramparts of the castle. Agents laden with letters and fresh provisions managed, in various disguises and by various shifts, to cross the sheet of water which then lay on the north of the fortress and to clamber up the precipitous ascent. The peal of a musket from a particular half moon was the signal which announced to the friends of the House of Stuart that another of their emissaries had got safe up the rock. But at length the supplies were exhausted; and it was necessary to capitulate. Favourable terms were readily granted: the garrison marched out; and the keys were delivered up amidst the acclamations of a great multitude of burghers.
But the government had far more acrimonious and more pertinacious enemies in the Parliament House than in the Castle. When the Estates reassembled after their adjournment, the crown and sceptre of Scotland were displayed with the wonted pomp in the hall as types of the absent sovereign. Hamilton rode in state from Holyrood up the High Street as Lord High Commissioner; and Crawford took his seat as President. Two Acts, one turning the Convention into a Parliament, the other recognising William and Mary as King and Queen, were rapidly passed and touched with the sceptre; and then the conflict of factions began.
It speedily appeared that the opposition which Montgomery had organized was irresistibly strong. Though made up of many conflicting elements, Republicans, Whigs, Tories, zealous Presbyterians, bigoted Prelatists, it acted for a time as one man, and drew to itself a multitude of those mean and timid politicians who naturally gravitate towards the stronger party. The friends of the government were few and disunited. Hamilton brought but half a heart to the discharge of his duties. He had always been unstable; and he was now discontented. He held indeed the highest place to which a subject could aspire. But he imagined that he had only the show of power while others enjoyed the substance, and was not sorry to see those of whom he was jealous thwarted and annoyed. He did not absolutely betray the prince whom he represented: but he sometimes tampered with the chiefs of the Club, and sometimes did sly in turns to those who were joined with him in the service of the Crown.
His instructions directed him to give the royal assent to laws for the mitigating or removing of numerous grievances, and particularly to a law restricting the power and reforming the constitution of the Committee of Articles, and to a law establishing the Presbyterian Church Government. But it mattered not what his instructions were. The chiefs of the Club were bent on finding a cause of quarrel. The propositions of the Government touching the Lords of the Articles were contemptuously rejected. Hamilton wrote to London for fresh directions; and soon a second plan, which left little more than the name of the once despotic Committee, was sent back. But the second plan, though such as would have contented judicious and temperate reformers, shared the fate of the first. Meanwhile the chiefs of the Club laid on the table a law which interdicted the King from ever employing in any public office any person who had ever borne any part in any proceeding inconsistent with the Claim of Right, or who had ever obstructed or retarded any good design of the Estates. This law, uniting, within a very short compass, almost all the faults which a law can have, was well known to be aimed at the new Lord President of the Court of Session, and at his son the new Lord Advocate. Their prosperity and power made them objects of envy to every disappointed candidate for office. That they were new men, the first of their race who had risen to distinction, and that nevertheless they had, by the mere force of ability, become as important in the state as the Duke of Hamilton or the Earl of Argyle, was a thought which galled the hearts of many needy and haughty patricians. To the Whigs of Scotland the Dalrymples were what Halifax and Caermarthen were to the Whigs of England. Neither the exile of Sir James, nor the zeal with which Sir John had promoted the Revolution, was received as an atonement for old delinquency. They had both served the bloody and idolatrous House. They had both oppressed the people of God. Their late repentance might perhaps give them a fair claim to pardon, but surely gave them no right to honours and rewards.
The friends of the government in vain attempted to divert the attention of the Parliament from the business of persecuting the Dalrymple family to the important and pressing question of Church Government. They said that the old system had been abolished; that no other system had been substituted; that it was impossible to say what was the established religion of the kingdom; and that the first duty of the legislature was to put an end to an anarchy which was daily producing disasters and crimes. The leaders of the Club were not to be so drawn away from their object. It was moved and resolved that the consideration of ecclesiastical affairs should be postponed till secular affairs had been settled. The unjust and absurd Act of Incapacitation was carried by seventy-four voices to twenty-four. Another vote still more obviously aimed at the House of Stair speedily followed. The Parliament laid claim to a Veto on the nomination of the judges, and assumed the power of stopping the signet, in other words, of suspending the whole administration of justice, till this claim should be allowed. It was plain from what passed in debate that, though the chiefs of the Club had begun with the Court of Session, they did not mean to end there. The arguments used by Sir Patrick Hume and others led directly to the conclusion that the King ought not to have the appointment of any great public functionary. Sir Patrick indeed avowed, both in speech and in writing, his opinion that the whole patronage of the realm ought to be transferred from the Crown to the Estates. When the place of Treasurer, of Chancellor, of Secretary, was vacant, the Parliament ought to submit two or three names to his Majesty; and one of those names his Majesty ought to be bound to select.
All this time the Estates obstinately refused to grant any supply till their Acts should have been touched with the sceptre. The Lord High Commissioner was at length so much provoked by their perverseness that, after long temporising, he refused to touch even Acts which were in themselves unobjectionable, and to which his instructions empowered him to consent. This state of things would have ended in some great convulsion, if the King of Scotland had not been also King of a much greater and more opulent kingdom. Charles the First had never found any parliament at Westminster more unmanageable than William, during this session, found the parliament at Edinburgh. But it was not in the power of the parliament at Edinburgh to put on William such a pressure as the parliament at Westminster had put on Charles. A refusal of supplies at Westminster was a serious thing, and left the Sovereign no choice except to yield, or to raise money by unconstitutional means, But a refusal of supplies at Edinburgh reduced him to no such dilemma. The largest sum that he could hope to receive from Scotland in a year was less than what he received from England every fortnight. He had therefore only to entrench himself within the limits of his undoubted prerogative, and there to remain on the defensive, till some favourable conjuncture should arrive.
While these things were passing in the Parliament House, the civil war in the Highlands, having been during a few weeks suspended, broke forth again more violently than before. Since the splendour of the House of Argyle had been eclipsed, no Gaelic chief could vie in power with the Marquess of Athol. The district from which he took his title, and of which he might almost be called the sovereign, was in extent larger than an ordinary county, and was more fertile, more diligently cultivated, and more thickly peopled than the greater part of the Highlands. The men who followed his banner were supposed to be not less numerous than all the Macdonalds and Macleans united, and were, in strength and courage, inferior to no tribe in the mountains. But the clan had been made insignificant by the insignificance of the chief. The Marquess was the falsest, the most fickle, the most pusillanimous, of mankind. Already, in the short space of six months, be had been several times a Jacobite, and several times a Williamite. Both Jacobites and Williamites regarded him with contempt and distrust, which respect for his immense power prevented them from fully expressing. After repeatedly vowing fidelity to both parties, and repeatedly betraying both, he began to think that he should best provide for his safety by abdicating the functions both of a peer and of a chieftain, by absenting himself both from the Parliament House at Edinburgh and from his castle in the mountains, and by quitting the country to which he was bound by every tie of duty and honour at the very crisis of her fate. While all Scotland was waiting with impatience and anxiety to see in which army his numerous retainers would be arrayed, he stole away to England, settled himself at Bath, and pretended to drink the waters. His principality, left without a head, was divided against itself. The general leaning of the Athol men was towards King James. For they had been employed by him, only four years before, as the ministers of his vengeance against the House of Argyle. They had garrisoned Inverary: they had ravaged Lorn: they had demolished houses, cut down fruit trees, burned fishing boats, broken millstones, hanged Campbells, and were therefore not likely to be pleased by the prospect of Mac Callum More's restoration. One word from the Marquess would have sent two thousand claymores to the Jacobite side. But that word he would not speak; and the consequence was, that the conduct of his followers was as irresolute and inconsistent as his own.
While they were waiting for some indication of his wishes, they were called to arms at once by two leaders, either of whom might, with some show of reason, claim to be considered as the representative of the absent chief. Lord Murray, the Marquess's eldest son, who was married to a daughter of the Duke of Hamilton, declared for King William. Stewart of Ballenach, the Marquess's confidential agent, declared for King James. The people knew not which summons to obey. He whose authority would have been held in profound reverence, had plighted faith to both sides, and had then run away for fear of being under the necessity of joining either; nor was it very easy to say whether the place which he had left vacant belonged to his steward or to his heir apparent.
The most important military post in Athol was Blair Castle. The house which now bears that name is not distinguished by any striking peculiarity from other country seats of the aristocracy. The old building was a lofty tower of rude architecture which commanded a vale watered by the Garry. The walls would have offered very little resistance to a battering train, but were quite strong enough to keep the herdsmen of the Grampians in awe. About five miles south of this stronghold, the valley of the Garry contracts itself into the celebrated glen of Killiecrankie. At present a highway as smooth as any road in Middlesex ascends gently from the low country to the summit of the defile. White villas peep from the birch forest; and, on a fine summer day, there is scarcely a turn of the pass at which may not be seen some angler casting his fly on the foam of the river, some artist sketching a pinnacle of rock, or some party of pleasure banqueting on the turf in the fretwork of shade and sunshine. But, in the days of William the Third, Killiecrankie was mentioned with horror by the peaceful and industrious inhabitants of the Perthshire lowlands. It was deemed the most perilous of all those dark ravines through which the marauders of the hills were wont to sally forth. The sound, so musical to modern ears, of the river brawling round the mossy rocks and among the smooth pebbles, the dark masses of crag and verdure worthy of the pencil of Wilson, the fantastic peaks bathed, at sunrise and sunset, with light rich as that which glows on the canvass of Claude, suggested to our ancestors thoughts of murderous ambuscades and of bodies stripped, gashed, and abandoned to the birds of prey. The only path was narrow and rugged: a horse could with difficulty be led up: two men could hardly walk abreast; and, in some places, the way ran so close by the precipice that the traveller had great need of a steady eye and foot. Many years later, the first Duke of Athol constructed a road up which it was just possible to drag his coach. But even that road was so steep and so strait that a handful of resolute men might have defended it against an army; nor did any Saxon consider a visit to Killiecrankie as a pleasure, till experience had taught the English Government that the weapons by which the Highlanders could be most effectually subdued were the pickaxe and the spade.
The country which lay just above this pass was now the theatre of a war such as the Highlands had not often witnessed. Men wearing the same tartan, and attached to the same lord, were arrayed against each other. The name of the absent chief was used, with some show of reason, on both sides. Ballenach, at the head of a body of vassals who considered him as the representative of the Marquess, occupied Blair Castle. Murray, with twelve hundred followers, appeared before the walls and demanded to be admitted into the mansion of his family, the mansion which would one day be his own. The garrison refused to open the gates. Messages were sent off by the besiegers to Edinburgh, and by the besieged to Lochaber. In both places the tidings produced great agitation. Mackay and Dundee agreed in thinking that the crisis required prompt and strenuous exertion. On the fate of Blair Castle probably depended the fate of all Athol. On the fate of Athol might depend the fate of Scotland. Mackay hastened northward, and ordered his troops to assemble in the low country of Perthshire. Some of them were quartered at such a distance that they did not arrive in time. He soon, however, had with him the three Scotch regiments which had served in Holland, and which bore the names of their Colonels, Mackay himself, Balfour, and Ramsay. There was also a gallant regiment of infantry from England, then called Hastings's, but now known as the thirteenth of the line. With these old troops were joined two regiments newly levied in the Lowlands. One of them was commanded by Lord Kenmore; the other, which had been raised on the Border, and which is still styled the King's own Borderers, by Lord Leven. Two troops of horse, Lord Annandale's and Lord Belhaven's, probably made up the army to the number of above three thousand men. Belhaven rode at the head of his troop: but Annandale, the most factious of all Montgomery's followers, preferred the Club and the Parliament House to the field.
Dundee, meanwhile, had summoned all the clans which acknowledged his commission to assemble for an expedition into Athol. His exertions were strenuously seconded by Lochiel. The fiery crosses were sent again in all haste through Appin and Ardnamurchan, up Glenmore, and along Loch Leven. But the call was so unexpected, and the time allowed was so short, that the muster was not a very full one. The whole number of broadswords seems to have been under three thousand. With this force, such as it was, Dundee set forth. On his march he was joined by succours which had just arrived from Ulster. They consisted of little more than three hundred Irish foot, ill armed, ill clothed, and ill disciplined. Their commander was an officer named Cannon, who had seen service in the Netherlands, and who might perhaps have acquitted himself well in a subordinate post and in a regular army, but who was altogether unequal to the part now assigned to him. He had already loitered among the Hebrides so long that some ships which had been sent with him, and which were laden with stores, had been taken by English cruisers. He and his soldiers had with difficulty escaped the same fate. Incompetent as he was, he bore a commission which gave him military rank in Scotland next to Dundee.
The disappointment was severe. In truth James would have done better to withhold all assistance from the Highlanders than to mock them by sending them, instead of the well appointed army which they had asked and expected, a rabble contemptible in numbers and appearance. It was now evident that whatever was done for his cause in Scotland must be done by Scottish hands.
While Mackay from one side, and Dundee from the other, were advancing towards Blair Castle, important events had taken place there. Murray's adherents soon began to waver in their fidelity to him. They had an old antipathy to Whigs; for they considered the name of Whig as synonymous with the name of Campbell. They saw arrayed against them a large number of their kinsmen, commanded by a gentleman who was supposed to possess the confidence of the Marquess. The besieging army therefore melted rapidly away. Many returned home on the plea that, as their neighbourhood was about to be the seat of war, they must place their families and cattle in security. Others more ingenuously declared that they would not fight in such a quarrel. One large body went to a brook, filled their bonnets with water, drank a health to King James, and then dispersed. Their zeal for King James, however, did not induce them to join the standard of his general. They lurked among the rocks and thickets which overhang the Garry, in the hope that there would soon be a battle, and that, whatever might be the event, there would be fugitives and corpses to plunder.
Murray was in a strait. His force had dwindled to three or four hundred men: even in those men he could put little trust; and the Macdonalds and Camerons were advancing fast. He therefore raised the siege of Blair Castle, and retired with a few followers into the defile of Killiecrankie. There he was soon joined by a detachment of two hundred fusileers whom Mackay had sent forward to secure the pass. The main body of the Lowland army speedily followed.
Early in the morning of Saturday the twenty-seventh of July, Dundee arrived at Blair Castle. There he learned that Mackay's troops were already in the ravine of Killiecrankie. It was necessary to come to a prompt decision. A council of war was held. The Saxon officers were generally against hazarding a battle. The Celtic chiefs were of a different opinion. Glengarry and Lochiel were now both of a mind. "Fight, my Lord" said Lochiel with his usual energy; "fight immediately: fight, if you have only one to three. Our men are in heart. Their only fear is that the enemy should escape. Give them their way; and be assured that they will either perish or gain a complete victory. But if you restrain them, if you force them to remain on the defensive, I answer for nothing. If we do not fight, we had better break up and retire to our mountains."
Dundee's countenance brightened. "You hear, gentlemen," he said to his Lowland officers; "you hear the opinion of one who understands Highland war better than any of us." No voice was raised on the other side. It was determined to fight; and the confederated clans in high spirits set forward to encounter the enemy.
The enemy meanwhile had made his way up the pass. The ascent had been long and toilsome: for even the foot had to climb by twos and threes; and the baggage horses, twelve hundred in number, could mount only one at a time. No wheeled carriage had ever been tugged up that arduous path. The head of the column had emerged and was on the table land, while the rearguard was still in the plain below. At length the passage was effected; and the troops found themselves in a valley of no great extent. Their right was flanked by a rising ground, their left by the Garry. Wearied with the morning's work, they threw themselves on the grass to take some rest and refreshment.
Early in the afternoon, they were roused by an alarm that the Highlanders were approaching. Regiment after regiment started up and got into order. In a little while the summit of an ascent which was about a musket shot before them was covered with bonnets and plaids. Dundee rode forward for the purpose of surveying the force with which he was to contend, and then drew up his own men with as much skill as their peculiar character permitted him to exert. It was desirable to keep the clans distinct. Each tribe, large or small, formed a column separated from the next column by a wide interval. One of these battalions might contain seven hundred men, while another consisted of only a hundred and twenty. Lochiel had represented that it was impossible to mix men of different tribes without destroying all that constituted the peculiar strength of a Highland army.
On the right, close to the Garry, were the Macleans. Next to them were Cannon and his Irish foot. Then came the Macdonalds of Clanronald, commanded by the guardian of their young prince. On the left were other bands of Macdonalds. At the head of one large battalion towered the stately form of Glengarry, who bore in his hand the royal standard of King James the Seventh. Still further to the left were the cavalry, a small squadron consisting of some Jacobite gentlemen who had fled from the Lowlands to the mountains and of about forty of Dundee's old troopers. The horses had been ill fed and ill tended among the Grampians, and looked miserably lean and feeble. Beyond them was Lochiel with his Camerons. On the extreme left, the men of Sky were marshalled by Macdonald of Sleat.
In the Highlands, as in all countries where war has not become a science, men thought it the most important duty of a commander to set an example of personal courage and of bodily exertion. Lochiel was especially renowned for his physical prowess. His clansmen looked big with pride when they related how he had himself broken hostile ranks and hewn down tall warriors. He probably owed quite as much of his influence to these achievements as to the high qualities which, if fortune had placed him in the English Parliament or at the French court, would have made him one of the foremost men of his age. He had the sense however to perceive how erroneous was the notion which his countrymen had formed. He knew that to give and to take blows was not the business of a general. He knew with how much difficulty Dundee had been able to keep together, during a few days, an army composed of several clans; and he knew that what Dundee had effected with difficulty Cannon would not be able to effect at all. The life on which so much depended must not be sacrificed to a barbarous prejudice. Lochiel therefore adjured Dundee not to run into any unnecessary danger. "Your Lordship's business," he said, "is to overlook every thing, and to issue your commands. Our business is to execute those commands bravely and promptly." Dundee answered with calm magnanimity that there was much weight in what his friend Sir Ewan had urged, but that no general could effect any thing great without possessing the confidence of his men. "I must establish my character for courage. Your people expect to see their leaders in the thickest of the battle; and to day they shall see me there. I promise you, on my honour, that in future fights I will take more care of myself."
Meanwhile a fire of musketry was kept up on both sides, but more skilfully and more steadily by the regular soldiers than by the mountaineers. The space between the armies was one cloud of smoke. Not a few Highlanders dropped; and the clans grew impatient. The sun however was low in the west before Dundee gave the order to prepare for action. His men raised a great shout. The enemy, probably exhausted by the toil of the day, returned a feeble and wavering cheer. "We shall do it now," said Lochiel: "that is not the cry of men who are going to win." He had walked through all his ranks, had addressed a few words to every Cameron, and had taken from every Cameron a promise to conquer or die.
It was past seven o'clock. Dundee gave the word. The Highlanders dropped their plaids. The few who were so luxurious as to wear rude socks of untanned hide spurned them away. It was long remembered in Lochaber that Lochiel took off what probably was the only pair of shoes in his clan, and charged barefoot at the head of his men. The whole line advanced firing. The enemy returned the fire and did much execution. When only a small space was left between the armies, the Highlanders suddenly flung away their firelocks, drew their broadswords, and rushed forward with a fearful yell. The Lowlanders prepared to receive the shock; but this was then a long and awkward process; and the soldiers were still fumbling with the muzzles of their guns and the handles of their bayonets when the whole flood of Macleans, Macdonalds, and Camerons came down. In two minutes the battle was lost and won. The ranks of Balfour's regiment broke. He was cloven down while struggling in the press. Ramsay's men turned their backs and dropped their arms. Mackay's own foot were swept away by the furious onset of the Camerons. His brother and nephew exerted themselves in vain to rally the men. The former was laid dead on the ground by a stroke from a claymore. The latter, with eight wounds on his body, made his way through the tumult and carnage to his uncle's side. Even in that extremity Mackay retained all his selfpossession. He had still one hope. A charge of horse might recover the day; for of horse the bravest Highlanders were supposed to stand in awe. But he called on the horse in vain.
Belhaven indeed behaved like a gallant gentleman: but his troopers, appalled by the rout of the infantry, galloped off in disorder: Annandale's men followed: all was over; and the mingled torrent of redcoats and tartans went raving down the valley to the gorge of Killiecrankie.
Mackay, accompanied by one trusty servant, spurred bravely through the thickest of the claymores and targets, and reached a point from which he had a view of the field. His whole army had disappeared, with the exception of some Borderers whom Leven had kept together, and of Hastings's regiment, which had poured a murderous fire into the Celtic ranks, and which still kept unbroken order. All the men that could be collected were only a few hundreds. The general made haste to lead them across the Carry, and, having put that river between them and the enemy, paused for a moment to meditate on his situation.
He could hardly understand how the conquerors could be so unwise as to allow him even that moment for deliberation. They might with ease have killed or taken all who were with him before the night closed in. But the energy of the Celtic warriors had spent itself in one furious rush and one short struggle. The pass was choked by the twelve hundred beasts of burden which carried the provisions and baggage of the vanquished army. Such a booty was irresistibly tempting to men who were impelled to war quite as much by the desire of rapine as by the desire of glory. It is probable that few even of the chiefs were disposed to leave so rich a price for the sake of King James. Dundee himself might at that moment have been unable to persuade his followers to quit the heaps of spoil, and to complete the great work of the day; and Dundee was no more.
At the beginning of the action he had taken his place in front of his little band of cavalry. He bade them follow him, and rode forward. But it seemed to be decreed that, on that day, the Lowland Scotch should in both armies appear to disadvantage. The horse hesitated. Dundee turned round, and stood up in his stirrups, and, waving his hat, invited them to come on. As he lifted his arm, his cuirass rose, and exposed the lower part of his left side. A musket ball struck him; his horse sprang forward and plunged into a cloud of smoke and dust, which hid from both armies the fall of the victorious general. A person named Johnstone was near him and caught him as he sank down from the saddle. "How goes the day?" said Dundee. "Well for King James;" answered Johnstone: "but I am sorry for Your Lordship." "If it is well for him," answered the dying man, "it matters the less for me." He never spoke again; but when, half an hour later, Lord Dunfermline and some other friends came to the spot, they thought that they could still discern some faint remains of life. The body, wrapped in two plaids, was carried to the Castle of Blair.
Mackay, who was ignorant of Dundee's fate, and well acquainted with Dundee's skill and activity, expected to be instantly and hotly pursued, and had very little expectation of being able to save even the scanty remains of the vanquished army. He could not retreat by the pass: for the Highlanders were already there. He therefore resolved to push across the mountains towards the valley of the Tay. He soon overtook two or three hundred of his runaways who had taken the same road. Most of them belonged to Ramsay's regiment, and must have seen service. But they were unarmed: they were utterly bewildered by the recent disaster; and the general could find among them no remains either of martial discipline or of martial spirit. His situation was one which must have severely tried the firmest nerves. Night had set in: he was in a desert: he had no guide: a victorious enemy was, in all human probability, on his track; and he had to provide for the safety of a crowd of men who had lost both head and heart. He had just suffered a defeat of all defeats the most painful and humiliating. His domestic feelings had been not less severely wounded than his professional feelings. One dear kinsman had just been struck dead before his eyes. Another, bleeding from many wounds, moved feebly at his side. But the unfortunate general's courage was sustained by a firm faith in God, and a high sense of duty to the state. In the midst of misery and disgrace, he still held his head nobly erect, and found fortitude, not only for himself; but for all around him. His first care was to be sure of his road. A solitary light which twinkled through the darkness guided him to a small hovel. The inmates spoke no tongue but the Gaelic, and were at first scared by the appearance of uniforms and arms. But Mackay's gentle manner removed their apprehension: their language had been familiar to him in childhood; and he retained enough of it to communicate with them. By their directions, and by the help of a pocket map, in which the routes through that wild country were roughly laid down, he was able to find his way. He marched all night. When day broke his task was more difficult than ever. Light increased the terror of his companions. Hastings's men and Leven's men indeed still behaved themselves like soldiers. But the fugitives from Ramsay's were a mere rabble. They had flung away their muskets. The broadswords from which they had fled were ever in their eyes. Every fresh object caused a fresh panic. A company of herdsmen in plaids driving cattle was magnified by imagination into a host of Celtic warriors. Some of the runaways left the main body and fled to the hills, where their cowardice met with a proper punishment. They were killed for their coats and shoes; and their naked carcasses were left for a prey to the eagles of Ben Lawers. The desertion would have been much greater, had not Mackay and his officers, pistol in hand, threatened to blow out the brains of any man whom they caught attempting to steal off.
At length the weary fugitives came in sight of Weems Castle. The proprietor of the mansion was a friend to the new government, and extended to them such hospitality as was in his power. His stores of oatmeal were brought out, kine were slaughtered; and a rude and hasty meal was set before the numerous guests. Thus refreshed, they again set forth, and marched all day over bog, moor, and mountain. Thinly inhabited as the country was, they could plainly see that the report of their disaster had already spread far, and that the population was every where in a state of great excitement. Late at night they reached Castle Drummond, which was held for King William by a small garrison; and, on the following day, they proceeded with less difficulty to Stirling.
The tidings of their defeat had outrun them. All Scotland was in a ferment. The disaster had indeed been great: but it was exaggerated by the wild hopes of one party and by the wild fears of the other. It was at first believed that the whole army of King William had perished; that Mackay himself had fallen; that Dundee, at the head of a great host of barbarians, flushed with victory and impatient for spoil, had already descended from the hills; that he was master of the whole country beyond the Forth; that Fife was up to join him; that in three days he would be at Stirling; that in a week he would be at Holyrood. Messengers were sent to urge a regiment which lay in Northumberland to hasten across the border. Others carried to London earnest entreaties that His Majesty would instantly send every soldier that could be spared, nay, that he would come himself to save his northern kingdom. The factions of the Parliament House, awestruck by the common danger, forgot to wrangle. Courtiers and malecontents with one voice implored the Lord High Commissioner to close the session, and to dismiss them from a place where their deliberations might soon be interrupted by the mountaineers. It was seriously considered whether it might not be expedient to abandon Edinburgh, to send the numerous state prisoners who were in the Castle and the Tolbooth on board of a man of war which lay off Leith, and to transfer the seat of government to Glasgow.
The news of Dundee's victory was every where speedily followed by the news of his death; and it is a strong proof of the extent and vigour of his faculties, that his death seems every where to have been regarded as a complete set off against his victory. Hamilton, before he adjourned the Estates, informed them that he had good tidings for them; that Dundee was certainly dead; and that therefore the rebels had on the whole sustained a defeat. In several letters written at that conjuncture by able and experienced politicians a similar opinion is expressed. The messenger who rode with the news of the battle to the English Court was fast followed by another who carried a despatch for the King, and, not finding His Majesty at Saint James's, galloped to Hampton Court. Nobody in the capital ventured to break the seal; but fortunately, after the letter had been closed, some friendly hand had hastily written on the outside a few words of comfort: "Dundee is killed. Mackay has got to Stirling:" and these words quieted the minds of the Londoners.
From the pass of Killiecrankie the Highlanders had retired, proud of their victory, and laden with spoil, to the Castle of Blair. They boasted that the field of battle was covered with heaps of the Saxon soldiers, and that the appearance of the corpses bore ample testimony to the power of a good Gaelic broadsword in a good Gaelic right hand. Heads were found cloven down to the throat, and skulls struck clean off just above the ears. The conquerors however had bought their victory dear. While they were advancing, they had been much galled by the musketry of the enemy; and, even after the decisive charge, Hastings's Englishmen and some of Leven's Borderers had continued to keep up a steady fire. A hundred and twenty Camerons had been slain: the loss of the Macdonalds had been still greater; and several gentlemen of birth and note had fallen.
Dundee was buried in the church of Blair Athol: but no monument was erected over his grave; and the church itself has long disappeared. A rude stone on the field of battle marks, if local tradition can be trusted, the place where he fell. During the last three months of his life he had approved himself a great warrior and politician; and his name is therefore mentioned with respect by that large class of persons who think that there is no excess of wickedness for which courage and ability do not atone.
It is curious that the two most remarkable battles that perhaps were ever gained by irregular over regular troops should have been fought in the same week; the battle of Killiecrankie, and the battle of Newton Butler. In both battles the success of the irregular troops was singularly rapid and complete. In both battles the panic of the regular troops, in spite of the conspicuous example of courage set by their generals, was singularly disgraceful. It ought also to be noted that, of these extraordinary victories, one was gained by Celts over Saxons, and the other by Saxons over Celts. The victory of Killiecrankie indeed, though neither more splendid nor more important than the victory of Newton Butler, is far more widely renowned; and the reason is evident. The Anglosaxon and the Celt have been reconciled in Scotland, and have never been reconciled in Ireland. In Scotland all the great actions of both races are thrown into a common stock, and are considered as making up the glory which belongs to the whole country. So completely has the old antipathy been extinguished that nothing is more usual than to hear a Lowlander talk with complacency and even with pride of the most humiliating defeat that his ancestors ever underwent. It would be difficult to name any eminent man in whom national feeling and clannish feeling were stronger than in Sir Walter Scott. Yet when Sir Walter Scott mentioned Killiecrankie he seemed utterly to forget that he was a Saxon, that he was of the same blood and of the same speech with Ramsay's foot and Annandale's horse. His heart swelled with triumph when he related how his own kindred had fled like hares before a smaller number of warriors of a different breed and of a different tongue.
In Ireland the feud remains unhealed. The name of Newton Butler, insultingly repeated by a minority, is hateful to the great majority of the population. If a monument were set up on the field of battle, it would probably be defaced: if a festival were held in Cork or Waterford on the anniversary of the battle, it would probably be interrupted by violence. The most illustrious Irish poet of our time would have thought it treason to his country to sing the praises of the conquerors. One of the most learned and diligent Irish archeologists of our time has laboured, not indeed very successfully, to prove that the event of the day was decided by a mere accident from which the Englishry could derive no glory. We cannot wonder that the victory of the Highlanders should be more celebrated than the victory of the Enniskilleners, when we consider that the victory of the Highlanders is matter of boast to all Scotland, and that the victory of the Enniskilleners is matter of shame to three fourths of Ireland.
As far as the great interests of the State were concerned, it mattered not at all whether the battle of Killiecrankie were lost or won. It is very improbable that even Dundee, if he had survived the most glorious day of his life, could have surmounted those difficulties which sprang from the peculiar nature of his army, and which would have increased tenfold as soon as the war was transferred to the Lowlands. It is certain that his successor was altogether unequal to the task. During a day or two, indeed, the new general might flatter himself that all would go well. His army was rapidly swollen to near double the number of claymores that Dundee had commanded. The Stewarts of Appin, who, though full of zeal, had not been able to come up in time for the battle, were among the first who arrived. Several clans, which had hitherto waited to see which side was the stronger, were now eager to descend on the Lowlands under the standard of King James the Seventh. The Grants indeed continued to bear true allegiance to William and Mary; and the Mackintoshes were kept neutral by unconquerable aversion to Keppoch. But Macphersons, Farquharsons, and Frasers came in crowds to the camp at Blair. The hesitation of the Athol men was at an end. Many of them had lurked, during the fight, among the crags and birch trees of Killiecrankie, and, as soon as the event of the day was decided, had emerged from those hiding places to strip and butcher the fugitives who tried to escape by the pass. The Robertsons, a Gaelic race, though bearing a Saxon name, gave in at this conjuncture their adhesion to the cause of the exiled king. Their chief Alexander, who took his appellation from his lordship of Struan, was a very young man and a student at the University of Saint Andrew's. He had there acquired a smattering of letters, and had been initiated much more deeply into Tory politics. He now joined the Highland army, and continued, through a long life, to be constant to the Jacobite cause. His part, however, in public affairs was so insignificant that his name would not now be remembered, if he had not left a volume of poems, always very stupid and often very profligate. Had this book been manufactured in Grub Street, it would scarcely have been honoured with a quarter of a line in the Dunciad. But it attracted some notice on account of the situation of the writer. For, a hundred and twenty years ago, an eclogue or a lampoon written by a Highland chief was a literary portent.
But, though the numerical strength of Cannon's forces was increasing, their efficiency was diminishing. Every new tribe which joined the camp brought with it some new cause of dissension. In the hour of peril, the most arrogant and mutinous spirits will often submit to the guidance of superior genius. Yet, even in the hour of peril, and even to the genius of Dundee, the Celtic chiefs had gelded but a precarious and imperfect obedience. To restrain them, when intoxicated with success and confident of their strength, would probably have been too hard a task even for him, as it had been, in the preceding generation, too hard a task for Montrose. The new general did nothing but hesitate and blunder. One of his first acts was to send a large body of men, chiefly Robertsons, down into the low country for the purpose of collecting provisions. He seems to have supposed that this detachment would without difficulty occupy Perth. But Mackay had already restored order among the remains of his army: he had assembled round him some troops which had not shared in the disgrace of the late defeat; and he was again ready for action. Cruel as his sufferings had been, he had wisely and magnanimously resolved not to punish what was past. To distinguish between degrees of guilt was not easy. To decimate the guilty would have been to commit a frightful massacre. His habitual piety too led him to consider the unexampled panic which had seized his soldiers as a proof rather of the divine displeasure than of their cowardice. He acknowledged with heroic humility that the singular firmness which he had himself displayed in the midst of the confusion and havoc was not his own, and that he might well, but for the support of a higher power, have behaved as pusillanimously as any of the wretched runaways who had thrown away their weapons and implored quarter in vain from the barbarous marauders of Athol. His dependence on heaven did not, however, prevent him from applying himself vigorously to the work of providing, as far as human prudence could provide, against the recurrence of such a calamity as that which he had just experienced. The immediate cause of his defeat was the difficulty of fixing bayonets. The firelock of the Highlander was quite distinct from the weapon which he used in close fight. He discharged his shot, threw away his gun, and fell on with his sword. This was the work of a moment. It took the regular musketeer two or three minutes to alter his missile weapon into a weapon with which he could encounter an enemy hand to hand; and during these two or three minutes the event of the battle of Killiecrankie had been decided. Mackay therefore ordered all his bayonets to be so formed that they might be screwed upon the barrel without stopping it up, and that his men might be able to receive a charge the very instant after firing.
As soon as he learned that a detachment of the Gaelic army was advancing towards Perth, he hastened to meet them at the head of a body of dragoons who had not been in the battle, and whose spirit was therefore unbroken. On Wednesday the thirty-first of July, only four days after his defeat, he fell in with the Robertsons near Saint Johnston's, attacked them, routed them, killed a hundred and twenty of them, and took thirty prisoners, with the loss of only a single soldier. This skirmish produced an effect quite out of proportion to the number of the combatants or of the slain. The reputation of the Celtic arms went down almost as fast as it had risen. During two or three days it had been every where imagined that those arms were invincible. There was now a reaction. It was perceived that what had happened at Killiecrankie was an exception to ordinary rules, and that the Highlanders were not, except in very peculiar circumstances, a match for good regular soldiers.
Meanwhile the disorders of Cannon's camp went on increasing. He called a council of war to consider what course it would be advisable to take. But as soon as the council had met, a preliminary question was raised. Who were entitled to be consulted? The army was almost exclusively a Highland army. The recent victory had been won exclusively by Highland warriors. Great chiefs, who had brought six or seven hundred fighting men into the field, did not think it fair that they should be outvoted by gentlemen from Ireland and from the low country, who bore indeed King James's commission, and were called Colonels and Captains, but who were Colonels without regiments and Captains without companies. Lochiel spoke strongly in behalf of the class to which he belonged: but Cannon decided that the votes of the Saxon officers should be reckoned.
It was next considered what was to be the plan of the campaign. Lochiel was for advancing, for marching towards Mackay wherever Mackay might be, and for giving battle again. It can hardly be supposed that success had so turned the head of the wise chief of the Camerons as to make him insensible of the danger of the course which he recommended. But he probably conceived that nothing but a choice between dangers was left to him. His notion was that vigorous action was necessary to the very being of a Highland army, and that the coalition of clans would last only while they were impatiently pushing forward from battlefield to battlefield. He was again overruled. All his hopes of success were now at an end. His pride was severely wounded. He had submitted to the ascendancy of a great captain: but he cared as little as any Whig for a royal commission. He had been willing to be the right hand of Dundee: but he would not be ordered about by Cannon. He quitted the camp, and retired to Lochaber. He indeed directed his clan to remain. But the clan, deprived of the leader whom it adored, and aware that he had withdrawn himself in ill humour, was no longer the same terrible column which had a few days before kept so well the vow to perish or to conquer. Macdonald of Sleat, whose forces exceeded in number those of any other of the confederate chiefs, followed Lochiel's example and returned to Sky.
Mackay's arrangements were by this time complete; and he had little doubt that, if the rebels came down to attack him, the regular army would retrieve the honour which had been lost at Killiecrankie. His chief difficulties arose from the unwise interference of the ministers of the Crown at Edinburgh with matters which ought to have been left to his direction. The truth seems to be that they, after the ordinary fashion of men who, having no military experience, sit in judgment on military operations, considered success as the only test of the ability of a commander. Whoever wins a battle is, in the estimation of such persons, a great general: whoever is beaten is a lead general; and no general had ever been more completely beaten than Mackay. William, on the other hand, continued to place entire confidence in his unfortunate lieutenant. To the disparaging remarks of critics who had never seen a skirmish, Portland replied, by his master's orders, that Mackay was perfectly trustworthy, that he was brave, that he understood war better than any other officer in Scotland, and that it was much to be regretted that any prejudice should exist against so good a man and so good a soldier.
The unjust contempt with which the Scotch Privy Councillors regarded Mackay led them into a great error which might well have caused a great disaster. The Cameronian regiment was sent to garrison Dunkeld. Of this arrangement Mackay altogether disapproved. He knew that at Dunkeld these troops would be near the enemy; that they would be far from all assistance; that they would be in an open town; that they would be surrounded by a hostile population; that they were very imperfectly disciplined, though doubtless brave and zealous; that they were regarded by the whole Jacobite party throughout Scotland with peculiar malevolence; and that in all probability some great effort would be made to disgrace and destroy them.
The General's opinion was disregarded; and the Cameronians occupied the post assigned to them. It soon appeared that his forebodings were just. The inhabitants of the country round Dunkeld furnished Cannon with intelligence, and urged him to make a bold push. The peasantry of Athol, impatient for spoil, came in great numbers to swell his army. The regiment hourly expected to be attacked, and became discontented and turbulent. The men, intrepid, indeed, both from constitution and from enthusiasm, but not yet broken to habits of military submission, expostulated with Cleland, who commanded them. They had, they imagined, been recklessly, if not perfidiously, sent to certain destruction. They were protected by no ramparts: they had a very scanty stock of ammunition: they were hemmed in by enemies. An officer might mount and gallop beyond reach of danger in an hour; but the private soldier must stay and be butchered. "Neither I," said Cleland, "nor any of my officers will, in any extremity, abandon you. Bring out my horse, all our horses; they shall be shot dead." These words produced a complete change of feeling. The men answered that the horses should not be shot, that they wanted no pledge from their brave Colonel except his word, and that they would run the last hazard with him. They kept their promise well. The Puritan blood was now thoroughly up; and what that blood was when it was up had been proved on many fields of battle.
That night the regiment passed under arms. On the morning of the following day, the twenty-first of August, all the hills round Dunkeld were alive with bonnets and plaids. Cannon's army was much larger than that which Dundee had commanded. More than a thousand horses laden with baggage accompanied his march. Both the horses and baggage were probably part of the booty of Killiecrankie. The whole number of Highlanders was estimated by those who saw them at from four to five thousand men. They came furiously on. The outposts of the Cameronians were speedily driven in. The assailants came pouring on every side into the streets. The church, however, held out obstinately. But the greater part of the regiment made its stand behind a wall which surrounded a house belonging to the Marquess of Athol. This wall, which had two or three days before been hastily repaired with timber and loose stones, the soldiers defended desperately with musket, pike, and halbert. Their bullets were soon spent; but some of the men were employed in cutting lead from the roof of the Marquess's house and shaping it into slugs. Meanwhile all the neighbouring houses were crowded from top to bottom with Highlanders, who kept up a galling fire from the windows. Cleland, while encouraging his men, was shot dead. The command devolved on Major Henderson.
In another minute Henderson fell pierced with three mortal wounds. His place was supplied by Captain Munro, and the contest went on with undiminished fury. A party of the Cameronians sallied forth, set fire to the houses from which the fatal shots had come, and turned the keys in the doors. In one single dwelling sixteen of the enemy were burnt alive. Those who were in the fight described it as a terrible initiation for recruits. Half the town was blazing; and with the incessant roar of the guns were mingled the piercing shrieks of wretches perishing in the flames. The struggle lasted four hours. By that time the Cameronians were reduced nearly to their last flask of powder; but their spirit never flagged. "The enemy will soon carry the wall. Be it so. We will retreat into the house: we will defend it to the last; and, if they force their way into it, we will burn it over their heads and our own." But, while they were revolving these desperate projects, they observed that the fury of the assault slackened. Soon the Highlanders began to fall back: disorder visibly spread among them; and whole bands began to march off to the hills. It was in vain that their general ordered them to return to the attack. Perseverance was not one of their military virtues. The Cameronians meanwhile, with shouts of defiance, invited Amalek and Moab to come back and to try another chance with the chosen people. But these exhortations had as little effect as those of Cannon. In a short time the whole Gaelic army was in full retreat towards Blair. Then the drums struck up: the victorious Puritans threw their caps into the air, raised, with one voice, a psalm of triumph and thanksgiving, and waved their colours, colours which were on that day unfurled for the first time in the face of an enemy, but which have since been proudly borne in every quarter of the world, and which are now embellished with the Sphinx and the Dragon, emblems of brave actions achieved in Egypt and in China.
The Cameronians had good reason to be joyful and thankful; for they had finished the war. In the rebel camp all was discord and dejection. The Highlanders blamed Cannon: Cannon blamed the Highlanders; and the host which had been the terror of Scotland melted fast away. The confederate chiefs signed an association by which they declared themselves faithful subjects of King James, and bound themselves to meet again at a future time. Having gone through this form,--for it was no more,--they departed, each to his home. Cannon and his Irishmen retired to the Isle of Mull. The Lowlanders who had followed Dundee to the mountains shifted for themselves as they best could. On the twenty-fourth of August, exactly four weeks after the Gaelic army had won the battle of Killiecrankie, that army ceased to exist. It ceased to exist, as the army of Montrose had, more than forty years earlier, ceased to exist, not in consequence of any great blow from without, but by a natural dissolution, the effect of internal malformation. All the fruits of victory were gathered by the vanquished. The Castle of Blair, which had been the immediate object of the contest, opened its gates to Mackay; and a chain of military posts, extending northward as far as Inverness, protected the cultivators of the plains against the predatory inroads of the mountaineers.
During the autumn the government was much more annoyed by the Whigs of the low country, than by the Jacobites of the hills. The Club, which had, in the late session of Parliament, attempted to turn the kingdom into an oligarchical republic, and which had induced the Estates to refuse supplies and to stop the administration of justice, continued to sit during the recess, and harassed the ministers of the Crown by systematic agitation. The organization of this body, contemptible as it may appear to the generation which has seen the Roman Catholic Association and the League against the Corn Laws, was then thought marvellous and formidable. The leaders of the confederacy boasted that they would force the King to do them right. They got up petitions and addresses, tried to inflame the populace by means of the press and the pulpit, employed emissaries among the soldiers, and talked of bringing up a large body of Covenanters from the west to overawe the Privy Council. In spite of every artifice, however, the ferment of the public mind gradually subsided. The Government, after some hesitation, ventured to open the Courts of justice which the Estates had closed. The Lords of Session appointed by the King took their seats; and Sir James Dalrymple presided. The Club attempted to induce the advocates to absent themselves from the bar, and entertained some hope that the mob would pull the judges from the bench. But it speedily became clear that there was much more likely to be a scarcity of fees than of lawyers to take them: the common people of Edinburgh were well pleased to see again a tribunal associated in their imagination with the dignity and prosperity of their city; and by many signs it appeared that the false and greedy faction which had commanded a majority of the legislature did not command a majority of the nation.