by Mowbray Morris
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English Worthies

Edited by Andrew Lang




New York D. Appleton and Company 1887


"An Account of the Proceedings of the Estates in Scotland:" London, 1689.

Balcarres' "Memoirs touching the Revolution in Scotland:" printed for the Bannatyne Club, 1841.

Browne's "History of the Highlands and the Highland Clans:" 2nd ed., 1845.

Burnet's "History of My Own Time," ed. 1809.

Burt's "Letters from the North of Scotland," ed. 1818.

Burton's "History of Scotland," 2nd ed.

Cannon's "Historical Records of the British Army."

"Memoirs of Captain John Creichton:" Scott's edition of Swift's Works, vol. xii. ed. 1883.

"Memoirs of Sir Ewan Cameron of Lochiel:" printed for the Abbotsford Club, 1842.

Chambers's "History of the Rebellions in Scotland:" Constable's Miscellany, vol. xlii.

"The Cloud of Witnesses," 1714.

Dalrymple's "Memoirs of Great Britain and Ireland," 2nd ed., 1771.

Defoe's "Memoirs of the Church of Scotland," 1714.

"Memoirs of the Lord Viscount Dundee," &c., 1714.

"Letters of the Viscount of Dundee, with Illustrative Documents:" printed for the Bannatyne Club, 1826.

Lt.-Colonel Fergusson's "Laird of Lag," 1886.

Fountainhall's "Historical Notices of Scottish Affairs:" printed for the Bannatyne Club, 1848.

Howie's "Heroes for the Faith, or Lives of the Scots Worthies," edited by William McGavin, ed. 1883.

Kirkton's "True History of the Church of Scotland from the Restoration to the year 1678," edited by C.K. Sharpe, 1817. This edition includes Russell's account of the murder of Archbishop Sharp and of the affairs at Drumclog and Glasgow.

"The Lauderdale Papers:" printed for the Camden Society, 1884-5.

"The Leven and Melville Papers:" printed for the Bannatyne Club, 1843.

"The Lives of the Lindsays," 2nd ed., 1858.

Macpherson's "Original Papers," 1775.

Macaulay's "History of England," ed. 1882.

"Memoirs of the War carried on in Scotland and Ireland, 1689-91," by Major-General Hugh Mackay: printed for the Abbotsford Club, 1833.

"Life of Lieut.-General Hugh Mackay of Scowrie," by John Mackay of Rockfields, 1836.

Napier's "Memorials and Letters Illustrative of the Life and Times of John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee," 1859-62.

"New Statistical Account of Scotland," 1845.

Pennant's "Tour in Scotland," 1774.

Scott's "Tales of a Grandfather."

Simpson's "Times of Claverhouse," 1844.

Simpson's "Gleanings in the Mountains," 1846.

Shield's "Short Memorial of the Sufferings and Grievances of the Presbyterians in Scotland," 1690.

Stewart's "Sketches of the Highlanders of Scotland," 1822.

"Remarks on Col. Stewart's Sketches of the Highlanders," 1823.

Walker's "Biographia Presbyteriana," 1732, reprinted at Edinburgh 1837.

Wodrow's "History of the Sufferings of the Church of Scotland," Burn's ed. 1838.



John Graham, Viscount of Dundee, best known, perhaps, in history by his territorial title of Claverhouse, was born in the year 1643. No record, indeed, exists either of the time or place of his birth, but a decision of the Court of Session seems to fix the former in that year—the year, as lovers of historical coincidences will not fail to remark, of the Solemn League and Covenant.[1]

He came of an ancient and noble stock. The family of Graham can be traced back in unbroken succession to the beginning of the twelfth century; and indeed there have been attempts to encumber its scutcheon with the quarterings of a fabulous antiquity. Gram, we are told, was in some primeval time the generic name for all independent leaders of men, and was borne by one of the earliest kings of Denmark. Another has surmised that if Graham be the proper spelling of the name, it may be compounded of Gray and Ham, the dwelling, or home, of Gray; but if Grame, or Graeme, be the correct form, then we must regard it as a genuine Saxon word, signifying fierce, or grim. Such exercises are ingenious, and to some minds, possibly, interesting; but they are surely in this case superfluous. A pedigree, says Scott laughingly as he sits down to trace his own, is the national prerogative of every Scottishman, as unalienable as his pride and poverty; but he must be very poor or very proud who cannot find his account in the legitimate pedigree of the House of Montrose.

The first of the branch of Claverhouse, which took its name from a small town in Forfarshire a few miles to the north of Dundee, was John, son of John Graham of Balargus in the same shire. Graham of Balargus was the son of another John, who was the second son of Sir Robert Graham of Fintrey, the eldest son of Robert Graham of Strathcanon, son and heir of Sir William Graham of Kincardine, by his wife the Lady Mary Stuart, widow of George first Earl of Angus and daughter of King Robert the Third—the unhappy king of "The Fair Maid of Perth." The grandson of John Graham was Sir William Graham of Claverhouse, the chosen friend of his cousin, the gallant and unfortunate Marquis of Montrose. By his wife Marion, daughter of Thomas Fotheringham of Powrie, Sir William had two sons, George and Walter, of whom the latter was the ancestor of those Grahams of Duntroon who at a later period assumed the title of Dundee. George left one son, another Sir William, who married Lady Jean Carnegie, daughter of the first Earl of Northesk, and by her had four children—two daughters, Margaret and Anne, and two sons, John and David. David is, as will be seen, not unrecorded in the annals of his country; but his name has been completely eclipsed by that of his elder brother, the "bloody Claver'se" of the Whigs, the "bonnie Dundee" of the Jacobites, one of the most execrated or one of the most idolised characters in the history of this kingdom, according to the temper and the taste of the writers and readers of history.

The register of that year shows that the two brothers matriculated at Saint Leonard's College in the University of Saint Andrews, on February 13th, 1665. Before this date all is a blank. Of John's boyish years history and tradition are equally silent. Long after his death, indeed, some idle stories became current, as their fashion is, of prophecies and prodigies in that early time. His nurse is said to have foretold that a river taking its name from a goose would prove fatal to him, and to have lamented that her child's career of glory had been frustrated because he had been checked in the act of devouring a live toad. This last story sounds much like a popular version of the Grecian fable of Demophooen, as told in the Homeric hymn to Demeter. But, as a matter of fact, it was a legend current of the infancy both of the Regent Morton and of Montrose himself before it was given to Claverhouse; and possibly of many other youthful members of the Scottish aristocracy, who happened to make themselves obnoxious to a class of their countrymen whose piety seems to have added no holy point to their powers of invective. There is an ingenious fancy, and, at least, as much reason as is generally displayed in mythological researches, in the surmise that this particular legend may have owed its origin to the French connection with Scotland, a connection which would naturally have found little favour in the eyes of the followers of John Knox.

Claverhouse seems to have neglected neither the studies nor the discipline of the University. He has, indeed, in our own time been denied enough even of the common intellectual culture of his day to save him from ridicule as a blockhead. But there is no reason for this contemptuous statement. His own contemporaries, and others, who if not exactly contemporaries have at least as good right to be heard as a writer of our own time, have left very different testimony. Burnet, who, though connected by marriage with Claverhouse and at one time much in his confidence, was the last of men to praise him unduly, has vouched both for his abilities and virtues. Dalrymple, who was certainly no Jacobite, though censured by the Whigs for his indulgence to James, has described him as from his earliest youth an earnest reader of the great actions recorded by the poets and historians of antiquity. More particular testimony still is offered by a writer whose work was not, indeed, undertaken till nearly fifty years after the battle of Killiecrankie, but whose pictures of those men and times have all the freshness and colour of a contemporary. The author of those memoirs of Lochiel of which Macaulay has made such brilliant use, has credited Claverhouse with a considerable knowledge of mathematics and general literature, especially such branches of those studies as were likely to be of most use to a soldier. Lastly, Doctor Munro, Principal of the College of Edinburgh, when charged before a Parliamentary Commission with rejoicing at the news of Killiecrankie, denied at least that he had rejoiced at the death of the conqueror, for whom he owned "an extraordinary value," such as, in his own words, "no gentleman, soldier, scholar, or civilised citizen will find fault with me for."[2]

It would be as foolish to take these witnesses too literally, as it is foolish to call Claverhouse a blockhead because he could not spell correctly. For many years after his death men of position and abilities far more distinguished and acknowledged than his, were not ashamed to spell with a recklessness that would inevitably now entail on any fourth-form boy the last penalty of academic law. Scott says that Claverhouse spelled like a chambermaid; and Macaulay has compared the handwriting of the period to the handwriting of washerwomen. The relative force of these comparisons others may determine, but it is certain that in this respect at least Claverhouse sinned in good company. The letters of even such men as the Lord Advocate, Sir George Mackenzie, and the Dalrymples,—letters written in circumstances more favourable to composition than the despatches of a soldier are ever likely to be—are every whit as capricious and startling in their variations from the received standard of orthography. If it is impossible quite to agree with his staunch eulogist, Drummond of Bahaldy, that Claverhouse was "much master in the epistolary way of writing," at least his letters are plain and to the purpose; and the letters of a soldier have need to be no more.

It is, of course, unlikely that he could have been, even for those days, a cultivated man. The studies of youth are but the preparation for the culture of manhood; and after his three quiet years at Saint Andrews were done, his leisure for study must have been scant indeed. But all we know of his character, temperament, and habits of life forbid the supposition that he wasted that precious time either in idleness or indulgence. His bitterest enemies have borne witness to his singular freedom from those vices which his age regarded more as the characteristics than the failings of a gentleman. The most scurrilous of the many scurrilous chroniclers of the Covenanters' wrongs has owned in a characteristic passage that his life was uniformly clean.[3] Gifted by nature with quick parts, of dauntless ambition and untiring energy both of mind and body, he was not the man to have let slip in idleness any chance of fortifying himself for the great struggle of life, or to have neglected studies which might be useful to him in the future because they happened to be irksome in the present. It is only, therefore, in reason to suppose that he managed his time at the University prudently and well, and this may easily be done without assuming for him any special intellectual gifts or graces.

But, as a matter of strict fact, from the date of his matriculation to the year 1672 nothing is really known of Claverhouse or his affairs. It has, however, been generally assumed that, after the usual residence of three years at the University, he crossed over into France to study the art of war under the famous Turenne. As the practice was common then among young men of good birth and slender fortune, it is not unlikely that Claverhouse followed it. A large body of English troops was a few years later serving under the French standard. In 1672 the Duke of Monmouth, then in the prime of his fortune, joined Turenne with a force of six thousand English and Scottish troops, amongst whom marched John Churchill, a captain of the Grenadier company of Monmouth's own regiment. But the military glory Claverhouse is said to have won in the French service cannot have been great: his studies in the art of war must have been mainly theoretical. In the year 1668, the year in which Claverhouse is said to have left Scotland for France, Lewis had been compelled to pause in his career of conquest. The Triple Alliance had in that year forced upon him the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle. He had been compelled to restore Franche Comte, though he still kept hold of the towns he had won in the Low Countries. But the joy with which all parties in England welcomed this alliance had scarcely found expression when Charles, impatient of the economy of his Parliament and indifferent to its approval, opened those negotiations which, with the help of his sister the Duchess of Orleans, and that other Duchess, Louisa of Portsmouth, resulted in the secret treaty of Dover. We are not now concerned to examine the particulars of a transaction which even Charles himself did not dare to confide entirely to his ministers, familiar as the Cabal was with shameless deeds. It is enough for our present purpose to remember that, in return for a large annual subsidy and the promise of help should England again take up arms against her king, Charles bound himself to aid Lewis in crushing the rising power of Holland and to support the claims of the House of Bourbon to the throne of Spain. Supplies were obtained for immediate purposes by closing the Exchequer, an act which ruined half the goldsmiths in London. As a set-off against this, a royal proclamation, arrogating to itself powers only Parliament could rightly exercise, suspended the laws against Nonconformists and Catholics. The latter were, indeed, allowed to say Mass only within their private houses, but to dissenters of every other class was granted the freest liberty of public worship.

The declaration of war followed close on the declaration of indulgence. The immediate result of the latter was the release of John Bunyan from an imprisonment of twelve years, and the publication of the "Pilgrim's Progress." A more important and lasting result was the Revolution of 1688. Both declarations were unpopular, but the Declaration of Indulgence was the most unpopular of the two. It was unpopular with the zealous Churchman for the concessions it made both to Papist and Puritan. It was unpopular with the Puritan because he was compelled to share it with the Papist. It was unpopular with the Papist because it was less liberal to him than to the Puritan. It was unpopular with all classes of patriotic Englishmen alike, because it directly violated that prerogative of the Legislature for which so much English blood had been already shed. It was soon, indeed, repealed, and its repeal was soon followed by the dissolution of the Cabal, the passing of the Test Act, and peace with Holland. But though the fears of the nation were thus laid to rest for a time, it now first became clear to those who could look beyond the passing day, and whose vision was sharpened by the memory of what had been, how surely England was moving under the son back again to a state of things which had cost the father his crown and his life.

But to return to the declaration of war. Lewis received, and probably expected to receive, but little support from his English allies, and in a furious action fought off the coast of Suffolk De Ruyter more than held his own against the combined fleets of France and England. But on land the French King carried all before him. Led by Conde and Turenne, the ablest captains of the age, a vast host poured across the Rhine. The Dutch were waked from the vain dreams of a French alliance, into which they had been lulled by the chiefs of the great merchant class which had risen to power on the fall of the House of Orange, only to find themselves helpless. Town after town opened its gates to the invader: three out of the seven provinces of the Federation were already in his hands: his watch-fires were seen from the walls of Amsterdam. In the first mad paroxysm of their despair the people rose against their leaders. De Ruyter, who had borne their flag to victory on many a hard fought day, was insulted in the public streets: the Grand Pensionary, John De Witt, and his brother Cornelius were brutally murdered before the palace of the States-General at the Hague. The office of Stadtholder was re-established; and the common voice called back to it a prince of that House which twenty years ago had been excluded for ever from the affairs of a State which had never existed without it.

William Henry, great-grandson of the founder of the Dutch Republic, hereafter to be known as William the Third of England, was then in his twenty-second year. The heroic spirit of William the Silent lived again in the frail body of his descendant. Without a moment's hesitation he accepted the hard and thankless task imposed upon him. With wise counsel and brave words he calmed and revived the drooping hearts of his countrymen. He rejected with scorn the offers both of Charles and Lewis to seduce him from his allegiance. He replied to Buckingham's remonstrances on the folly of a struggle which could only mean ruin to the Commonwealth, that he would fight while there was a ditch left for him to die in. His courage spread. The Dutch flew to arms: without a regretful voice they summoned to their aid their last irresistible ally: the dykes were cut, and soon the waters, destroying to save, spread over all that trim and fertile land. The tide of invasion was checked, and with the next spring it began to roll slowly backward. The great princes of the Continent became alarmed at this new prospect of French ambition. The sluggish Emperor began to bestir himself. Spain, fast dwindling to the shadow of that mighty figure which had once bestrode two worlds, sent some troops to aid a cause which was, indeed, half her own. By sea the Dutch could do no more than keep their flag flying, but it says much for their sailors that they could do that against a foe their equal in skill and courage, and almost always their superior in numbers. On land they were more successful. The Bishop of Munster was driven back from the walls of Groningen: Naerden and Bonne were retaken: before the summer was over the whole electorate of Cologne was in the hands of William and his allies. The campaign of 1674 was less fortunate to the young general. Charles had, it is true, been compelled by his Parliament to make a peace more favourable than the Dutch could have hoped for; but in almost every direction Lewis made good again the ground he had lost in the previous year. William, indeed, took Grave, but he was compelled to raise the siege of Oudenarde. A large force of Germans under the Elector of Brandenburg was driven out of Alsace across the Rhine by Turenne, who had a short while before completely routed the Imperial troops under the Duke of Lorraine at Sintzheim. Franche Comte was reconquered in a few weeks. But the most notable action of the year was the battle of Seneff, fought near Mons on August 11th between William and Conde. It was long, bloody, and indecisive; but it raised William's reputation for courage and ability to the highest pitch, and drew from his veteran opponent one of those compliments a brave soldier is always glad to pay a foeman worthy of his steel. "The Prince of Orange," said Conde, "has acted in everything like an old captain, except in venturing his life too like a young soldier."

The battle of Seneff has for us, too, a particular importance. It gives us, according to some of his biographers, the first glimpse of Claverhouse as a soldier. The story goes that, at an early period of the fight, William with a handful of his men was closely beset by a large body of French troops. In making his way back to his own lines the Prince's horse foundered in some marshy ground, and he would inevitably have been either killed or made prisoner had not Claverhouse, who was of the party, mounted him on his own charger and brought him safe out of the press. For this service William gave the young soldier (who was, however, the Prince's senior by seven years) a captain's commission in his own regiment of Horse Guards, commanded by the Count de Solmes who led the English van on the day of the Boyne. This story has been contemptuously rejected by Macaulay as a Jacobite fable composed many years after both actors in the scene were dead. The story may not be true, but Macaulay's reasons for rejecting it are not quite exact. Reports of Claverhouse's gallantry at Seneff were certainly current during his lifetime. It is mentioned, for example, in a copy of doggerel verses addressed to Claverhouse by some nameless admirer on New Year's Day 1683.[4] And there is yet more particular testimony, though, like the former, it is of that nature which a historian will always feel himself at liberty to reject if it does not match with the rest of his case, and which counsel on the opposite side are accordingly at equal liberty to make use of. In the memoirs of Lochiel mention is made of a Latin poem written by a certain Mr. James Philip of Amryclos, in Forfarshire, who bore Dundee's standard at Killiecrankie. Lochiel's biographer does not quote the Latin text, but gives translations of certain passages. The original manuscript, bearing the date 1691, is now in the Advocates' Library at Edinburgh. Napier had seen this "Grameis," as the work is called, and compared it with the translations, which he declares to be very imperfect, as, from the specimens he gives, they undoubtedly are. Macaulay, who never saw the Latin text, owns to have taken a few touches from the passages quoted in the memoirs for his inimitable picture of affairs in the Highlands during the days immediately preceding Killiecrankie; but the passage recording the early gallantry of the conqueror at Killiecrankie he did not take.[5]

It is unfortunate that the tale of these early years should assume so controversial a tone. But where all, or almost all, is sheer conjecture, it is inevitable that the narrative must rest rather on argument than fact. The precise moment when Claverhouse transferred his services from the French to the Dutch flag is, in truth, no more certain than the date of his birth is certain, or his conduct at Saint Andrews, or, indeed, than it is certain that he ever at any time served under Lewis. The tale of those English services under the French King is in the last degree confused and doubtful. If it is so in the case of such a man as Marlborough, small wonder that it is so in the case of such a man as Claverhouse, whose name was practically unknown till ten years before his death. That he did, however, at one time bear arms in the Dutch ranks seems as indisputable as any part of the scanty story of the first two-and-thirty years of his life can be said to be. But beyond this it is impossible to go.

In 1677 he left William's service and returned to Scotland. An idle story was circulated some years afterwards of a brawl with one of William's officers who had received the regiment promised to Claverhouse, of a reprimand from William, and an indignant vow never to serve again under a prince who had broken his word. The judicial weight that has been brought to demolish this slender fabric is unnecessary. The story itself is not consistent with the characters of either men. It is very possible that the young soldier, like another young man of those days, may have grown "tired with knocking at preferment's door;" but, in truth, a reason to account for their parting is very easily found. With the campaign of 1677 all fighting on the Continent was stayed for a time. Claverhouse's profession was fighting. After the peace of Nimeguen in 1678 Scotland was the only European country then offering a chance of employment to a soldier of fortune. In 1677, accordingly, he resigned his commission in the Dutch service and crossed over into England, taking with him a reputation for courage and ability that at once recommended him to the King and Duke of York for a man likely to be useful in such affairs as they had then on hand. Indeed, the character that it is clear he brought back with him from Holland is alone sufficient to disprove the story of the quarrel in the courtyard at Loo.[6]


[1] Fountainhall's "Historical Notices:" Napier's "Memorials of Dundee," i. 183. The decision in question is dated July 24th, 1687, and certainly appears to prove that Claverhouse did not attain his majority till 1664, which would fix his birth in the year above given.

[2] The "Memoirs of the Life of Sir Ewan Cameron of Lochiel" were printed for the Abbotsford Club in 1842. They are believed to have been written between 1730 and 1740 by John Drummond of Bahaldy, a grandson, or great-grandson, of Lochiel. Several copies of the manuscript are in existence, of which the best is said by the editor to be the one then in the possession of Mr. Crawfurd of Cartsburn. It is written in a clear hand upon small quarto paper, and bound in two volumes. On the fly-leaf of the first volume is written "Aug. 7. 1732, Jo. Drummond." See also Burnet's "History of My Own Time," ii. 553; Dalrymple's "Memoirs of Great Britain and Ireland," i. 344; Burton's "History of Scotland," vii. 360; Napier's "Memorials of Viscount Dundee," i. 16-32, and 178-9. Burnet married Lady Margaret Kennedy, daughter of the Earl of Cassilis and aunt of Lady Dundee. In point of style and arrangement, of taste and temper—in everything, in short, which helps to make literature, Napier's book is perhaps as bad as it is possible for a book to be. But his industry is unimpeachable; and, through the kindness of the late Duke of Buccleuch, he was able to publish no less than thirty-seven letters written in Claverhouse's own hand to the first Duke of Queensberry, not one of which had been included in the collection printed for the Bannatyne Club in 1826, nor was, in fact, known to be in existence by anyone outside the family of Buccleuch. His book includes also the fragment of a memoir of Dundee and his times, left in manuscript by Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, of Hoddam, Walter Scott's friend. The memoir was thrown up, it is said, in despair on the appearance of "Old Mortality." Some idea of the extent to which Napier suffered from the Lues Boswelliana may be gathered from the fact that he regards even the Claverhouse of that incomparable romance as a libel.

[3] "The Hell wicked-witted, bloodthirsty Graham of Claverhouse hated to spend his time with wine and women."—"Life of Walter Smith," in Walker's "Biographia Presbyteriana."


"I saw the man who at St. Neff did see His conduct, prowess, martial gallantry: He wore a white plumach that day; not one Of Belgians wore a white, but him alone And though that day was fatal, yet he fought, And for his part fair triumphs with him brought."

Laing's "Fugitive Scottish Poetry of the Seventeenth Century."

[5] The passage occurs in the fifth book. Dundee, retreating before the forces of the Convention, is represented as musing over his camp-fire on the ingratitude of the Prince whose life he had once saved.

"Tu vero, Arctoae gentis praedo improbe, tanti Fons et origo mali, Nassovi, ingrate virorum, Immeritum quid me, nunc Caesaris arma secutum, Prosequeris toties, et iniquo Marte fatiges? Nonne ego, cum lasso per Belgia stagna caballo Agmina liligeri fugeres victricia Galli, Ipse mei impositum dorso salientis equi te Hostibus eripui, salvumque in castra reduxi? Haecne mihi meriti persolvis praemia tanti? Proh scelus! O Soceri rapti nequissime sceptri!"

The translation, which is certainly, as Napier calls it, both imperfect and free, is to this effect:

"When the fierce Gaul through Belgian stanks you fled, Fainting, alone, and destitute of aid, While the proud victor urged your doubtful fate, And your tired courser sunk beneath your weight; Did I not mount you on my vigorous steed, And save your person by his fatal speed? For life and freedom then by me restored I'm thus rewarded by my Belgick Lord. Ungrateful Prince!"

[6] The stories of Claverhouse's conduct at Seneff, and of the quarrel at Loo, are told in the "Life of Lieut.-General Hugh Mackay," by John Mackay of Rockfields, and in the "Memoirs of the Lord Viscount Dundee," published in 1714, and professing to be written by an officer of the army. This little book is remarkable chiefly as being the first recorded attempt at a biography of Dundee. The writer was possibly not an officer, nor personally acquainted with Dundee. But he had certainly contrived to learn a good deal about him and his affairs; and as later research has either corroborated or, at least, made probable, much of his information, it seems to me quite as fair to use it for Dundee, as to use the unsupported testimony of the Covenanters against him. According to his biographer, Mackay himself was Claverhouse's successful rival. According to the earlier writer, the man was David Colyear, afterwards Lord Portmore, and husband of Catherine Sedley, Lady Dorchester, James's favourite and ugliest mistress.


It will be necessary now to review the condition of Scotland at the time when Claverhouse began first to be concerned in her affairs, and of the causes political and religious—if, indeed, in Scottish history it be ever possible to separate the two—which produced that condition. Without clearly understanding the state of parties which then distracted that unhappy country, it will not be possible clearly to understand the position of Claverhouse; and without a clear understanding of his position, it will certainly not be possible to form a just estimate of his character. It is by too readily yielding to the charm of a writer, who had not then for his purpose the impartial estimate of a human character so much as the embellishment of a political principle, that public opinion has been for many years content to accept a savage caricature in place of a portrait. It would be impertinent to say that Macaulay did not understand the circumstances into which Claverhouse was forced, and the train of events which had caused them; but it would not have suited his purpose so clearly and strictly to have explained them that others might have traversed the verdict he intended to be established. He heard, indeed, and he determined to hear, only one side of the case: indeed, at the time he wrote, there was not much to be heard on the other; and on the evidence he accepted the verdict was a foregone conclusion. It is impossible altogether to acquit Claverhouse of the charges laid to his account, nor will any attempt here be made to do so; but even the worst that can be proved against him, when considered impartially with the circumstances of his position and the spirit of the time, will, I think, be found to take a very different complexion from that which has been somewhat too confidently given to them.[7]

When Charles the Second was restored to the throne of his fathers he was hailed in Scotland with the same tumultuous joy that greeted him in England. The Scottish nation was indeed weary of the past. It was weary alike of the yoke of Cromwell and of the yoke of the Covenant. The first Covenant—the Covenant of 1557—had been a protest against the tyranny of the Pope: the Covenant of 1643 was a protest against the tyranny of the Crown. It was the Scottish supplement, framed in the religious spirit and temperament of the Scottish nation, to the English protest against ship-money. The voice, first sounded among the rich valleys and pleasant woods of Buckinghamshire, was echoed in the churchyard of the Grey Friars at Edinburgh. Six months later the triumph of Presbyterianism was completed, when in the church of Saint Margaret's at Westminster the Commons of England ratified the Solemn League and Covenant of Scotland. Over the wild time which followed it will be unnecessary for our purpose to linger. The work was done: then followed the reaction. In both countries the oppressed became in turn the oppressors. The champions of religious liberty became as bigoted and intolerant as those whose intolerance and bigotry had first goaded them into rebellion. The old Presbyterian saw the rise of new modes of worship with the same horror that he had shown at the ritual of Laud. Milton protested that the "new Presbyter is but old Priest writ large." Within only four years of the outbreak of the civil war no less than sixteen religious sects were found existing in open defiance of the principles of faith which that war was pledged to uphold. One common bond, indeed, united these sects in sympathy: one and all repudiated with equal energy the authority of the Church to prescribe a fixed form of worship: a national Church was, in their eyes, as odious and impossible a tyranny as the divine right of kings. But this common hatred of the interference of a Mother Church could not teach them tolerance for each other. Cardinal Newman has described the enthusiasm of Saint Anthony as calm, manly, and magnanimous, full of affectionate loyalty to the Church and the Truth. "It was not," he says, "vulgar, bustling, imbecile, unstable, undutiful." The religious enthusiasm of the two nations at this time, though at heart sincere and just, was unfortunately in its public aspect the exact opposite of Saint Anthony's. There was the essential great meaning of the matter, to borrow Carlyle's words, but there were also the mean, peddling details. It was the misfortune of many, of three kings of England among the number, that the latter should seem the most vital of the two. Presbyterian and Independent, Leveller and Baptist, Brownist and Fifth Monarchy Man, one and all stood up and made proclamation, crying, "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else." Well might Cromwell adjure them in that war of words which followed the sterner conflict on the heights of Dunbar, "I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken."

Though the number and variety of the dissentients in England were far greater than in Scotland, where the bulk both of the people and the clergy stood firmly within the old Presbyterian lines, yet in the latter country the separation was far more bitter and productive of far more violent results. In the former the strong hand of Cromwell, himself an Independent, but keen to detect a useful man under every masquerade of worship, and prompt to use him, kept the sects from open disruption. Quarrel as they might among themselves, there was one stronger than them all, and they knew it. The old Committee of Estates, originally appointed by the Parliament as a permanent body in 1640, was not strong enough to control the spirit it had helped to raise: it was not even strong enough to keep order within its own house. The new Committee was but a tool in the hands of Argyle. The old Presbyterian viewed with equal dislike the sectaries of Cromwell, the men of the Engagement which had cost Hamilton his head, and the Malignants who had gathered to the standard of Montrose. The Resolutioner, who wished to repeal the Act of Classes, was too lukewarm: the Remonstrant was too violent. It was by this last body that the troubles we have now to examine came upon Scotland.

After the collapse of Hamilton's army at Uttoxeter in August 1648, a body of Covenanters assembled at Mauchline, in Ayrshire, to protest against the leniency with which the Engagement had been treated in the Estates, where, indeed, a considerable minority had been inclined openly to countenance it. Their leader was at first the Earl of Eglinton, a staunch Covenanting lord; but as they gathered strength Argyle joined them with his Highlanders, and the command soon passed into his hands. The Protesters marched upon Edinburgh. In an attempt to take Stirling Castle they were defeated by Sir George Monro with a division of Hamilton's army which had not crossed the border; but Argyle had better tools to work with than the claymores of his Highlanders. He opened negotiations with Cromwell, who led an army in person into Scotland, renewed the Covenant, laid before the Estates (the new Estates of Argyle and his party) certain considerations, as he diplomatically called them, demanding, among other things, that no person accessory to the Engagement should be hereafter employed in any public place or trust. The Committee were only too willing to have the support of Cromwell to what they themselves so vehemently desired. Two Acts were quickly passed: one reversing many of the acts of its predecessors and confirming the considerations: the other, known in history as the Act of Classes, defining the various misdemeanours which were to exclude men from sitting in Parliament or holding any public office, for a period measured by their offences, and practically to be determined by the judicatories of the Kirk.

This Mauchline Convention was popularly known at the time as the Whiggamores' Raid, a name memorable as the first introduction into history of a word soon to become only too familiar, and still a part of our political vocabulary.[8] Its immediate result was to throw the direction of affairs still more exclusively into the hands of the clergy: indirectly, but no less surely, it was the cause of the Pentland Rising and the savage persecution which followed, of the murder of Archbishop Sharp, of the battles of Drumclog and Bothwell Bridge, and of those terrible years still spoken of in Scotland as the "killing-time." It was, in short, like the wrath of Achilles, the spring of unnumbered woes.

Then followed the execution of Charles. Against this the whole body of Presbyterians joined in protesting. The hereditary right of kings was, indeed, as much a principle of the Covenant as their divine right was opposed to it; and the execution at Whitehall on January 30th, 1649, was regarded with as much horror by the Presbyterians of England as by the Presbyterians of Scotland.

The first act of the Estates was to proclaim the Prince of Wales king of Great Britain, their next to send a deputation to Holland to invite him to take possession of his kingdom. It had been better both for Charles and for Scotland that the invitation had never been accepted. The terms on which alone the Scots would see the son of Charles Stuart back among them as crowned king were such as only the direst necessity could have induced him to accept: they were such as it seems now amazing that even the most bigoted and inexperienced could really have believed that the son of his father, or, indeed, any man in his position, would keep one moment longer than circumstances compelled him. But his advisers, led on by Wilmot and Buckingham, bid him sign—sign everything, or all would be lost. He signed everything. First he put his hand to the Solemn League and Covenant: then to a second declaration promising to do his utmost to extirpate both Popery and Prelacy from all parts of his kingdom: finally, he consented to figure as the hero of a day of public fasting and humiliation for the tyranny of his father and the idolatry of his mother. And while he was acquiescing to each fresh demand with a shrug of his shoulders and a whispered jest to Buckingham, and in his heart as much hatred for his humiliators as he was capable of feeling for anybody, he was all the while urging on Montrose to strike that wild blow for his crown which was to lead the brave marquis to the scaffold. The deaths of Hamilton and Huntly had preceded the death of Montrose by a few weeks: a few more weeks and Charles was in Scotland, a crowned king in name, virtually a prisoner. Within little more than a year the fight at Dunbar, and the "crowning mercy" of Worcester, had bitterly taught him how futile was all the humiliation he had undergone.

It will be enough to briefly recall the main incidents of the years which intervened between the battle of Worcester and the Restoration. After the establishment of the Protectorate an Act of Indemnity was passed for the Scottish people. From this certain classes were excepted. All of the House of Hamilton, for instance, and some other persons of note, including Lauderdale: all who had joined the Engagement, or who had not joined in the protestation against it: all who had sat in Parliament or on the Committee of Estates after the coronation of Charles at Scone: all who had borne arms at the battle of Worcester. From this proscribed list, however, Argyle managed to extricate himself. He had fortified himself at Inverary, and summoned a meeting of the Estates to which the chiefs of the Royalist party had been bidden. To conquer him in his own stronghold would have been difficult, perhaps impossible, to English soldiers unused to such warfare. Cromwell wisely preferred to negotiate, and Argyle was not hard to bring to terms. He bound himself to live at peace with the Government, and to use his best endeavours to persuade others to do so. In return he was to be left unmolested in the free enjoyment of his estates, and in the exercise of religion according to his conscience.

The politicians were now silenced; but a noisier and more troublesome body had still to be reckoned with. In July, 1653, the General Assembly was closed, and Resolutioners and Remonstrants were sent to the right about together. Some measures, however, had to be taken to prevent them, not from cutting each other's throats, which would have suited the Government well enough, but from stirring up a religious war, which they would inevitably have done if left to the free enjoyment of their own humours. It was necessary so to strengthen the hands of one of the two parties that the other should be compelled to refrain at least from open hostilities. The Resolutioners, as the most tolerant and the mildest-mannered, would have been those Cromwell would have preferred to see in the ascendency. But the Resolutioners had acknowledged Charles, and were, after their own fashion, in favour of the royal title. The Remonstrants were accordingly preferred. They, indeed, denied the authority of the Commonwealth over spiritual matters, but they also denied the authority of Charles; and it was felt that at such a crisis the civil allegiance was of more value than the religious. A law was accordingly established dividing Scotland into five districts, in each of which certain members of the Remonstrant clergy were empowered to ordain ministers, as it were, to the exercise of their functions. At the same time it was not the object of Cromwell to exalt one party at the expense of the other so much as to strike a balance between the two; and in doing this he was much served by the tact and good sense of James Sharp, whose name now first begins to be heard in Scottish history. He was on the side of the Resolutioners, but he so managed matters as to be favourably regarded by the Government as a person likely to be of service to them in the event of any open disruption between the two bodies, without losing the confidence of his own party. The Court of Session was the next to go, and in its place rose the Commission of Justice, of which James Dalrymple, afterwards Lord Stair, the first Scottish lawyer of his day, was the most conspicuous member. In 1654 the Act for incorporating the Union between England and Scotland was passed by the Commonwealth. With that Commonwealth disappeared the Union, but the few years of its existence were fruitful of at least one great boon to Scotland. In those years was established free-trade between the two countries: a boon for Scotland which she never properly appreciated till she lost it by the Navigation Act of the Restoration: an alleged grievance to England which had its share in bringing that Restoration to pass; for it was then, and for long after, a fixed principle in the philosophy of English commerce that free-trade between the two countries meant pillaging Englishmen to enrich Scotchmen. A regular postal service was also established. The abortive rising known as Glencairn's Expedition was the only act of open hostility that broke those few years of comparative tranquillity; and the lenient terms granted by Monk to the Highland leader tended more than anything to show how weary of the long rule of disorder and bloodshed all the best of the two nations were growing. On September 3rd, 1658, Oliver Cromwell died, and in November of the following year Monk began his famous march to London. On May 25th, 1660, Charles the Second landed at Dover.

Though the Remonstrants had won the upper hand for a time, the bulk of the Scottish nation had been all along on the side of the Resolutioners. Much as the character and religious views of Charles were to their distaste, the principle of the Covenant was for a king, and it was by the principle of the Covenant that the Scottish nation stood. The stern and narrow bigotry of the Remonstrants, whom their short taste of power had made of course more fanatical and more quarrelsome than ever, had almost succeeded in forcing the more moderate Presbyterians into the arms of the Royalists. A little tolerance, a little tact on the English side would probably have cemented the alliance. But it was not to be.

It is important to remember this. The extreme party with which Claverhouse had to deal no more represented the Scottish nation than the Irishmen who follow Mr. Parnell's call in the House of Commons represent their nation now, or than men like Napper Tandy and Wolfe Tone represented it a century ago. It seems still a common belief that Claverhouse and his troopers were sent to force upon a sober, patient, God-fearing nation a religion and a king that they abhorred. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The large majority of the Scottish nation was as eager to welcome Charles as the old squires who had lost their fortunes for his father, or the young bloods who hoped to find fortunes under the son. The narrow and blatant form of religion professed by the extreme party was as repulsive to the bulk of their countrymen as to the King himself.

These men were a remnant of the old Remonstrants of the Mauchline Convention. They had originally, as we have seen, looked to Argyle as their leader; but when Argyle ranged himself on the side of the young King there were some among them who would not follow him. These maintained, and so far they were unquestionably right, that the "young man Charles Stuart" was, for all his protestations and oaths, as much at heart a Malignant as his father; and that those who pretended to believe him were playing the Kirk and the Covenant false. When Cromwell marched into Scotland to win the battle of Dunbar these men had formed themselves into a separate party under Colonel Archibald Strachan, an able soldier who commanded that division of Leslie's army which had defeated Montrose in Rossshire. Strachan's design seems to have been to stand aloof for the present from either side; but from some not very intelligible cause he fell into disgrace with his party, and this is said to have so preyed upon his mind as to have caused his death. From that time the Wild Westland Whigs, as they began now to be called, had no ostensible leader. They withdrew sullenly to their own homes, contenting themselves during the remaining years of the Commonwealth with protesting against everybody and everything outside their own narrow circle. They must not be confounded with the general body of the Remonstrants, between whom and the Resolutioners Cromwell had to keep the balance. They were a people apart. Throughout the wild hill-districts of the Western Lowlands they preached their fierce crusade against all who were not prepared to stand by the spirit of the Covenant as they chose to interpret it. The toleration they demanded they would not give. No man should be free to worship God as he pleased: every man must worship Him in the way which seemed good to them, and in that way only. The moderate Presbyterians were as hateful to them as Charles himself and all his bishops; and they in their turn were as obnoxious to the majority of the Scottish nation as to the English Government. Cleric and layman alike was weary of the unending squabbles that had distracted the Church of Scotland since the days of Knox. They wished for peace; and no peace was possible so long as an ignorant and noisy minority would suffer it only at their own price.

One other point should also be remembered. It has been the custom to excuse the cruelties of the Covenanters, when they could not be denied, as the acts of men goaded into madness by years of persecution. This excuse will hardly serve. It might, indeed, serve to explain the murder of Sharp and the savage deeds of such men as Hamilton and Burley; but long before that time the Scottish fanatic had proved himself a match in ferocity for the bloodiest Malignant of them all. After Philiphaugh one hundred Irish prisoners were shot in cold blood, while a minister of the Covenanting Church stood by, reiterating in savage glee, "The wark goes bonnily on." About the same time eighty women and children were in one day flung over the bridge at Linlithgow for the crime of having been followers of the camp of Montrose. In 1647 three hundred of the Macdonalds who held a fortified post on a hill in Kintire surrendered at discretion to David Leslie. It is said that Leslie would have let them go but for his chaplain, John Nave. Borrowing the words of Samuel, "What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?" in a long and fiery harangue this man of God exhorted the conquerors to finish their work, and threatened their captain with the curse of Saul who spared the Amalekites. The prisoners were butchered to a man.[9]

If, then, it be but a delusion of later times that Scotland could at the Restoration have been conciliated into accepting a moderate form of Episcopacy, it is at least clear that there was at that time a strong party in the country anxious for a compromise between the two Churches, and willing to make all reasonable advances towards one. Unfortunately the first move on both sides was of a nature to make all chances of a compromise impossible.

Charles had conceived a violent dislike to Presbyterianism, and with his experiences of it the dislike was not unnatural. It was not, he told Burnet, a religion for gentlemen, and he found few among his court to contradict him. Scarcely had he settled himself in his capital when the Presbyterians were upon him. Sharp had already been some months in London as ambassador of the moderate party, the party of the old Resolutioners. But an easy way of reconciling Sharp's conscience was soon found. It is not precisely clear when the bargain was struck which was to convert the chosen champion of the Presbyterian Church into an archbishop, but struck it was, and in no long time. He had by Monk's advice visited Charles at Breda, and some suppose that the first interview completed the transformation. If so, he managed to delude his party very skilfully. His letters to the Assembly, though the light of subsequent events enables us to translate them more clearly than was possible at the time, were full of wise counsel, of apparently honest confessions of the many difficulties he foresaw in the way, and of protestations of fidelity and firmness which were no less implicitly believed. "I told him," said his colleague Robert Douglas, a man of very different stamp, when Sharp went up to London later for his ordination, "I told him the curse of God would be on him for his treacherous dealing; and that I may speak my heart of this man, I profess I did no more suspect him in reference to Prelacy than I did myself."[10]

Meanwhile the extreme party had not been idle. It will be perhaps most convenient henceforth to distinguish them as Covenanters: to call them Whigs, as Burnet and other historians of the time call them, would not convey to modern ears the significance it had for their contemporaries. Even those stern and unbending Tories of whom Mr. Gladstone was once the spokesman have long ceased to regard the men who are still sometimes called Whigs as the most fanatical members of the body politic. It would be no mere fanciful application of modern terms to distinguish the two parties of the Scottish Church as Liberals and Radicals; but it will for many reasons be best henceforth to write of them as Presbyterians and Covenanters.

The Covenanters, then, had not been idle. Shortly after the Restoration they had, through a deputation of their elders and ministers, called upon their brethren of the Church to unite with them in an address to the King, praying him, as a member of the Covenant with themselves, to remember his obligations to that sacred institution and zealously to prosecute its blessed work in all his three kingdoms. Toleration in things religious was especially denounced as a vast mischief disguised under the specious pretence of liberty for tender consciences. Schismatics were to be stamped out as sternly as Papists and Prelatists; and by Schismatics were meant all men, members of their own Church no less than of others, who ventured to differ from them on any point of doctrine whatsoever.

The Committee of Estates, which had resumed its sittings, did not like the job. They called the deputation a private meeting of some protesting ministers, and clapped the leaders into prison.

A government had now been formed for Scotland. Middleton was Lord High Commissioner, a soldier of fortune who had been raised to the peerage for the occasion. He was also named commander-in-chief of the forces and governor of Edinburgh Castle. With him were associated Glencairn as Lord Chancellor, Lauderdale as Secretary of State, Rothes as President of the Council, and Crawford as Lord Treasurer. The first proceeding of this Parliament, known in the gossip of the time as the Drunken Parliament from the too frequent condition of its chiefs, was to pass a Rescissory Act, repealing all measures that had become law since the year 1633, including even those passed by the Parliament professing the authority of Charles himself. This was followed by an Act "concerning religion and Church government," in which, after some pious but vague protestations of the royal design to "encourage the exercise of religion both public and private, and to suppress all profaneness and disorderly walking," it was promised that the administration by sessions, presbyteries, and synods would not for the present be interfered with. That present, however, soon passed. On May 27th, two days before the anniversary of the Restoration of the Monarchy, the Act for the Restoration of Episcopacy was made law. A previous Act had ordained May 29th to be kept holy; and the opposition taken to this by those who objected to all holidays as idolatrous had in turn produced a measure which practically marks the beginning of that system of vague bullying, as Dr. Burton has happily called it, which was in no long time to pass into a persecution anything but vague. On December 15th, in Westminster Abbey, Sharp was consecrated Primate of Scotland, and at the same time Fairfoul was raised to the see of Glasgow, Hamilton to the see of Galloway, and the good and gentle Leighton to the see of Dunblane.

Meanwhile the English Parliament had by its Navigation Act crushed for the time the short-lived hopes of Scottish commerce, and was now busy with an Act of Indemnity. This had been practically one of the conditions of the Restoration, but Scotland had not been included in the bargain. Argyle was the first to suffer from the omission. He had gone up to London to pay his court to the new King, but had been refused an audience. He was arrested, and, after a short sojourn in the Tower, sent back to Edinburgh to stand his trial for high treason before the Estates. He was found guilty and beheaded in the High Street on May 27th, 1661, two days after the anniversary of the more shameful death which he had helped to bring upon Montrose. As he had been expressly pardoned during the King's short reign in Scotland for all acts committed by him against the Crown up to the year 1657, and as his accusers could find no evidence of communications with the Parliament after that time, he must have been acquitted had it not been for Monk, who at the last moment produced certain letters written by Argyle to him when acting for Cromwell. Johnstone of Warriston was another victim, whom, like Argyle, it was no hard matter for judges who had a mind that way to bring within the compass of the law of treason. He, however, managed to get across to the Continent before he could be arrested. He was tried and condemned in his absence. After two years of painful shifts and wanderings he was tracked down in France by a man known as Crooked-back Murray, and sent back to his fate. A third victim was James Guthrie, the most vehement and active of the Covenanters, the framer of the original Remonstrance and author of a seditious pamphlet called "The Causes of the Lord's Wrath." With him would probably have suffered Samuel Rutherford, a minister as zealous as Guthrie, but of more education and manners. Fortunately for him, he died before the reign of punishment began; and the Government was forced to content itself with ordering his book "Lex, Rex," to be burned by the hangman at the Cross of Edinburgh and at the gate of the University of Saint Andrews, where he had been Professor of Divinity. In 1662, an Act of Indemnity was made law, by which future punishment for the past was adjusted by a scale of fines.

Close on the heels of the Act of Indemnity followed one demanding from all persons holding any office of public trust a public abjuration of the Covenant, and another requiring all clergymen who had been appointed since 1649 to receive collation from the bishop of their diocese. Those who did not obey were, after a short respite, expelled from their parishes. Those who obeyed were regarded by their congregations as backsliders and self-seekers. Three hundred and fifty ministers were driven with their families from their homes in the depth of winter; and to supply their places new ministers were appointed, popularly known as the King's Curates. Another Act required attendance at the parish church on penalty of a fine graduated according to the rank of the absentee. Finally, to crown all, the Solemn League and Covenant was publicly burned at the market-cross of Edinburgh; and an aggravated copy of the English Five-mile Act against Non-jurors, known as the Mile Act, was passed, prohibiting all recusant clergymen from residing within twenty miles of their old parishes, within six miles of Edinburgh or any cathedral town, and within three miles of any royal burgh. The punishment for transgressing this law was to be the same as that for sedition.

Enough has now been said to show the nature of the bullying adopted by the Government. Over the years which still lie between us and the entry of Claverhouse on the stage I must pass more rapidly.

In 1663 Rothes succeeded Middleton as commissioner. The latter had been rash enough to measure his strength with Lauderdale, and had been signally worsted. To complete the legislative machinery a Conventicle Act was passed this year, declaring all assemblies of more than five persons, besides members of the family, unlawful and seditious. As most of their congregations had followed the expelled ministers into the wilderness, this new law so mightily increased the labours of the authorities that it was found necessary to institute a new tribunal of justice for the especial treatment of ecclesiastical offences. This was no less than a renewal of that old Court of High Commission which had been abolished by the Long Parliament twenty years before to the joy of the whole nation. To strengthen its hands a body of troops was sent down into the western shires, now the stronghold of the Covenant, to impose and exact the fines ordained by the Commission. Their leader was Sir James Turner, a man of some education, but rough and brutal. He had served on the Continent under Gustavus Adolphus, had fought under Leslie in the Presbyterian ranks, and had accompanied Hamilton with the Engagers into England. Turner, in his own memoirs, declares that he not only did not exceed his orders, but was even lenient beyond his commission. When, a few years later, in a momentary fit of indulgence, his acts were called in question by the Privy Council, the evidence hardly served to establish his assertion.

At length the West rose. On November 13th, 1666, four countrymen came into the little village of Dalry, in Galloway, in search of refreshment. There they found a few soldiers, driving before them a body of peasants to thresh out the corn of an old man who would not pay his fines. There was an argument and a scuffle: a pistol was fired and a soldier fell: the rest yielded. It was now too late to go back. Turner was posted at Dumfries with a considerable sum of money in his charge. It was determined to seize him. The four champions had now been joined by some fifty horsemen and a large body of unmounted peasants. Turner was made prisoner; and the money restored to the service of those from whose pockets it had been originally drawn.

The number of the insurgents had now risen to three thousand. They determined to march on Edinburgh, thinking to gather recruits on the way; but when they came within five miles of the city their hearts failed them. The weather was bitterly cold: provisions and arms were scarce: the peasantry of the more cultivated districts had proved either lukewarm to the cause or openly hostile: no recruits had come in, and their own ranks were growing daily thinner. At length they turned on their tracks and made once more for their western fastnesses. But they had now to reckon with a more dangerous foe than Turner.

The garrison in Edinburgh was commanded by Thomas Dalziel, a ferocious old soldier who had learned his trade in the Russian wars. His dress was as uncouth as his manners, and he wore a long white bushy beard that no steel had been suffered to touch since the death of the first Charles.[11] With all the regulars he could muster Dalziel was quickly after the fugitives. He came up with them on Rullion Green, a ridge of the Pentland Hills. Though now numbering scarce a thousand men, the Covenanters were strongly posted, and defended themselves bravely. The royal troops were twice driven back before they could carry the ridge, and night had fallen before the insurgents were fairly broken. The slaughter was not great; and it is significant of the unpopularity of their cause that the fugitives suffered more from the Lothian peasantry than from the victorious soldiers.

The Government could now assume the virtue of those who are summoned to quell an open rebellion. Dalziel was put in command of the insurgent districts, and his little finger was indeed found thicker than Turner's loins. Twenty men were hanged on one gibbet in Edinburgh and many others in various parts of the country: crowds were shipped off to the plantations: torture was freely applied, and the ingenious devices of the boot and the thumbkin were in daily requisition.[12] Dalziel was in his element. A prisoner reviled him at the council board for "a Muscovy beast who roasted men." The old savage struck the man with the hilt of his sword so fiercely in the mouth that the blood gushed out.

At length there came a lull. Weary of the useless butchery, which, hitherto, they had not perhaps fully realised, the English Government determined to see if indulgence could persuade where persecution was powerless to force. Orders to that effect were sent up to Edinburgh. The soldiers were withdrawn from the western shires. Sharp was bidden to retire to his see. Lauderdale took the place of Rothes as commissioner.

The character of Lauderdale is one of the most curious problems of the time. In his youth he had been as zealous for the Covenant as he now appeared to be zealous for Episcopacy. Hence some have supposed that his real design was by favouring the intolerance of the bishops to bring them to discomfiture, and to re-establish on their ruin the old Presbyterian Church, for which, despite the profligacy of his life and conversation, he was still believed to entertain as much veneration as he was capable of feeling for any form of religion. But whatever may have been his regard for the old Covenant of his youth, he was set as a rock against the men who were now as much opposed to any moderate observance of Presbyterian worship as the most inveterate Malignant at Whitehall.

The first Indulgence was passed in 1669, in favour of the ministers whom the Act of 1662 had driven from their parishes. Such as had since that time kept from open violation of the law were now to be reinstated in their livings where vacant. The manse and the glebe were to be theirs as formerly, but the stipend was not to be renewed. These terms were accepted by some forty or fifty clergymen. By the advice of the gentle Leighton, who almost alone among his brethren seems at this time to have dared, or to have been even willing, to counsel tolerance, a deputation, nicknamed "the Bishop's Evangelists," was sent into the West to preach the doctrine of this Indulgence. The pious crusade was in vain. The failure of the Pentland rising and its terrible sequel had turned those stubborn hearts to madness. Their weaker brethren were now classed with the apostate Sharp and the butcher Dalziel; and the Indulgence was declared a snare for the soul far more deadly than any torture the Government could devise for the body. Nor, if time could have strengthened Leighton's hands, was time allowed him. Following close upon the Indulgence came a fresh Act, now making not only all field-preaching a capital offence, but even laying heavy penalties on any exercise of the Presbyterian worship except under an Indulged minister. This again was soon followed by a fresh law against Intercommuning—that is to say, against all who should offer even the simplest act of common charity to a Covenanter—and promising large rewards to all who should give information against them or their protectors. By this law it is said that thousands of both sexes, including many persons of rank, suffered severely; and from it sprang a curious incident in the miserable history of this time.

An order was issued to the landed gentry of Renfrew and Ayr, the shires where the disaffection was strongest, requiring them to give bail that their servants and tenants should not only abstain from personal attendance at conventicles, but also from all intercourse with intercommuned persons. The gentry answered that such assurance was impossible. It was not, they said, within the compass of their power to do this thing. The reply from Edinburgh was short and conclusive: if the landlords could not keep order in their districts, order must be kept for them. A body of English troops had already been moved up to the border and an Irish force collected at Belfast; but a more ingenious mode of punishment was now devised. Since the barbarous excesses of the Highland clans under Montrose, it had become an acknowledged breach of the rules of civilised warfare to employ men who, like the Red Indians used in our own American wars, were amenable to no discipline and recognised no principles of humanity. Eight thousand of these savages were now let loose on the disobedient Lowlanders. The result was, indeed, not all that had been anticipated at Edinburgh. The Council had naturally enough expected that the descent of these plaided barbarians would be the signal for a general insurrection, which would relieve them of their troubles as certainly and much more conveniently than Dalziel's dragoons and Perth's thumbkins. While Highlander and Lowlander were cutting each other's throats, Lauderdale and his colleagues would have ample leisure to decide on the apportionment of the booty.[13] In this, however, they were disappointed. No armed resistance was offered. During the two months these marauders lived at free quarters, without any distinction between friend and foe, on a land which, compared with their own barren moors and mountains, was a paradise flowing with milk and honey, only one life was lost, and that the life of a Highlander. At length the scandal became too great even for Lauderdale. Hamilton, who, like his brother before him, had always stood by the Crown, went up to London with several gentlemen of rank to protest against a tyranny which they vowed was that of Turks rather than Christians. According to one account, the King would not see them: according to another, he admitted Hamilton to an interview, and, after hearing his protest, owned that many bad things had been done in Scotland, but none, so far as he could see, contrary to his interests. It was clear, however, that in this matter Lauderdale had gone too far. The Highlanders were ordered to return to their homes. They returned accordingly, laden with spoil such as they had never dreamed of, and of the use of a large part of which they were as ignorant as a Red Indian or a negro.[14]

The departure of the Highland host leaves the stage free for Claverhouse. It was at this crisis he returned to Scotland, and here this summary of one of the most miserable chapters in British history may fitly end.


[7] This is, perhaps, the best place to disclaim all intention of scoffing at this great writer and historian. It is a common impertinence of the day in which I have no wish to join. It is not, I hope, an impertinence to say that only those who have, for their own purposes, been forced to follow closely in his tracks can have any just idea of the unwearying patience and acuteness with which he has examined the confused and so often conflicting records of that time, or of the incomparable skill with which he has brought them into a clear continuous narrative. To glean after Macaulay is indeed a barren task. So far, then, from affecting to cavil at his work, I must acknowledge that without his help this little book would have been still less. Yet I do think he has been hard upon Claverhouse. Perhaps the scheme of his history did not require, or even allow him, to examine the man's character and circumstances so closely as a biographer must examine them. It is still more important to remember that the letters discovered by Napier in the Queensberry Archives were not known to him. Had he seen them, I am persuaded that he would have found reason to think less harshly of their writer.

[8] "The south-west counties of Scotland have seldom corn enough to serve them round the year; and the northern parts producing more than they need, those in the west come in the summer to buy at Leith the stores that come from the north; and from a word 'whiggam,' used in driving their horses, all that drove were called the 'whiggamores,' and shorter, the 'whiggs.' Now in that year, after the news came down of Duke Hamilton's defeat, the ministers animated the people to rise and march to Edinburgh; and they came up, marching on the head of their parishes, with an unheard-of fury, praying and preaching all the way as they came. The Marquis of Argyle and his party came and headed them, they being about 6,000. This was called the Whiggamores' Inroad: and even after that all that opposed the Court came in contempt to be called Whiggs: and from Scotland the word was brought into England, where it is now one of our unhappy terms of distinction."—Burnet, i. 58. See also Scott's "Tales of a Grandfather," ch. xii. Mr. Green, however, thought the word whig might be the same as our whey, implying a taunt against the "sour-milk faces" of the fanatical Ayrshiremen.—"History of the English People," iii. 258.

[9] Sharpe's notes to Kirkton's "History of the Church of Scotland," pp. 48-9. See also Wishart's "Memoirs of Montrose."

[10] "The Lauderdale Papers." The most important passages in Sharp's letters will be found in Burton's history, vii. pp. 129-146.

[11] "Memoirs of Captain John Creichton," pp. 57-9.

[12] The torture of the thumbkin is said to have been introduced into Scotland by Lord Perth, who had seen it practised in Russia. But, according to Fountainhall, something very like it had been previously known under the homely name of "Pilliwincks," or "Pilniewinks."

[13] "Duke Lauderdale's party depended so much on this that they began to divide, in their hopes, the confiscated estates among them, so that on Valentine's Day, instead of drawing mistresses they drew estates."—Burnet, ii. 26.

[14] "When the Highlanders went back one would have thought they had been at the sacking of some besieged town, by their baggage and luggage. They were loaded with spoil. They carried away a great many horses and no small quantity of goods out of merchants' shops, whole webs of linen and woollen cloth, some silver plate bearing the names and arms of gentlemen. You would have seen them with loads of bedclothes, carpets, men and women's wearing clothes, pots, pans, gridirons, shoes and other furniture whereof they had pillaged the country."—Wodrow, ii. 413.


Claverhouse was not left long in idleness. In 1664, the year of the first Indulgence, it had been determined to withdraw the regular troops altogether from Scotland, leaving their place to be supplied by the local militia, which was now practically raised to the condition of a standing army and, contrary to immemorial law, placed under the immediate authority of the Crown. But the bishops and their clergy had demurred. They had little fancy for being left with no other protection than a half-disciplined rabble, who, ready as they might be to act against their troublesome countrymen, had no more respect for a lawn sleeve than for a homespun jerkin. A few troops of regular cavalry were therefore retained, and one regiment of Foot Guards. The former were commanded by Athole, the latter by Linlithgow. Towards the end of 1677 a fresh troop of cavalry was raised, and the command given to the young Marquis of Montrose, grandson to him who had died on the scaffold and kinsman to Claverhouse.

Claverhouse applied to him for employment, and it appears from Montrose's answer that the application had been warmly backed by the Duke of York. "You cannot imagine," runs the letter, "how overjoyed I should be to have any employment at my disposal that were worthy of your acceptance; nor how much I am ashamed to offer you anything so far below your merit as that of being my lieutenant; though I be fully persuaded that it will be a step to a much more considerable employment, and will give you occasion to confirm the Duke in the just and good opinion which I do assure you he has of you." The writer goes on to say that he himself was expecting instant promotion, and to promise his kinsman a share in whatever fortune might befall him: none but gentlemen, he adds, are to ride in his troop. The offer was accepted, and the promotion was not long delayed.

The Indulgence had failed, as by some at least of those who had countenanced it it had been expected to fail. The Opposition, led at Edinburgh by Hamilton and Argyle, and backed in London by Monmouth and Shaftesbury, which had for some time past been working openly against Lauderdale, had also for the moment failed. The Commissioner's hands were strong. With the King and the Duke of York at his back, and, in Edinburgh, Sharp, Burnet, and the majority of the Episcopalian clergy, together with all the needy nobles who loved best to fish in troubled waters, Lauderdale could afford, as he thought then, to laugh at all opposition. To assume that his design had been from the first to goad the West into open rebellion affords, indeed, a simple explanation of a policy that in its persistent unwisdom and brutality seems strangely irrational and monstrous, even for such times and men. But it is rash to take any policy as certain in those dark and crooked councils, unless it be—as probably in Lauderdale's case it was, and as it assuredly was in the case of most of his creatures—the policy of personal aggrandisement. At any rate, after the failure of the Indulgence had been made clear even to those hopeful spirits who still, with Leighton, had believed it possible to efface years of wrong by a few grudging concessions, the cruel game was renewed with fresh vigour. The Highlanders, indeed, had gone, but their place was now to be filled by a more dangerous because a more disciplined foe. Orders were given to raise three new troops of cavalry for special service in Scotland. The Earls of Home and Airlie were chosen by Lauderdale to command two of these troops: the third was, at the King's express desire, given to Claverhouse. At the same time, Athole, who was now in opposition with Hamilton and Argyle, was superseded by Montrose, and Linlithgow named commander-in-chief of all the royal forces in Scotland.

Claverhouse now for the first time steps in his own person on the stage of Scottish history. Eleven years later, in 1689, he passes off it for ever. It is with the tale of that brief time, so crowded with action, so variously recorded, that we shall be from this point concerned.

He was now in his thirty-fifth year. Confused and conflicting as the witnesses of his life and character may be, of the man himself as he looked to the eyes of his contemporaries there is the clearest testimony. Over the mantelpiece of Scott's study in Castle Street hung the only picture in the room—a portrait of Claverhouse. An original portrait Lockhart calls it, but which of the five portraits engraved in Napier's volumes it may have been, if any of them, I cannot tell. All these engravings, with a unanimity not common in the portraiture of the time, show the same face: a face of delicate, almost feminine beauty, framed in the long full love-locks of the period.[15] The eyes are large and dark, the figure small but well made, and the general expression of the countenance one of almost boyish smoothness and simplicity. His manners were gentle and courteous, though reserved: his habit of life was, as has been already said, singularly decorous: he was scrupulous in the observance of all religious ordinances. After his death an old Presbyterian lady, who had lodged below him in Edinburgh, told Lochiel's biographer how astonished she had been to find one of his profession so regular in his devotions. In truth, one of the most curious, and at the same time one of the most indisputable, points in the life of this singular man is the contrast between those public actions which have had so large a share in moulding the popular impression, and his private character and conduct. And not less curious is the contrast between the reality of his personal appearance and the counterfeit presentment likely to be fostered by a too liberal adherence to that impression. It would be difficult to imagine a more complete surprise than awaits those who turn for the first time from the stern, brutal, and profane soldier of the historian's page to the high-bred and graceful gentleman of the painter's canvas.

Claverhouse seems to have received his commission in the autumn of 1678. The earliest of his letters extant is dated from Moffat, a small town in the north of Dumfriesshire, on December 28th. It is addressed to Lord Linlithgow, and contains this significant passage: "On Tuesday was eight days, and Sunday there were great field-conventicles just by here, with great contempt of the regular clergy, who complain extremely when I tell them I have no order to apprehend anybody for past misdemeanours."[16] And this scrupulous observance of his orders, at a time when a little excess of zeal was unlikely to be regarded as a very serious blunder, is yet more strikingly illustrated in his next letter, written a week later from Dumfries. In that town, at the southern end of the bridge over the Nith, the charity of some devout Covenanting ladies had lately set up a large meeting-house. The clergy, as wild against the Covenanters as Lauderdale himself, were very importunate with Claverhouse to demolish this hotbed of disaffection; but he, though he confessed privately to his chief his annoyance at seeing a conventicle held with impunity "at our nose," answered all importunities with a calm reference to his orders. The southern end of the bridge was in Galloway, and in Galloway his commission did not run. The authority of the Deputy-Sheriff of the shire was therefore called into play, and with his countenance the offending building was quickly razed to the ground. In his report of this business Claverhouse writes:—"My Lord, since I have seen the Act of Council, the scruple I had about undertaking anything without the bounds of these two shires is indeed frivolous, but was not so before. For if there had been no such act, it had not been safe for me to have done anything but what my order warranted; and since I knew it not, it was to me the same thing as if it had not been. And for my ignorance of it, I must acknowledge that till now, in any service I have been, I never inquired further in the laws than the orders of my superior officers." This will not be the only occasion on which Claverhouse will be found keeping strictly within the lines of his commission, instead of, as he has been so frequently charged with doing, wantonly and savagely exceeding it.

This Deputy-Sheriff (or Steward, as the phrase then ran) needs a word to himself, both on his own account, as representing a certain phase of character unfortunately too common to the time, and as the real author of many of the cruel deeds of which Claverhouse so long has borne the blame. Sir Robert Grierson of Lag was regarded in his own district with an energy of hatred to which even the terror inspired by Claverhouse gave place, and which has survived to a time within the memory of men still living. In the early years of this century the most monstrous traditions of his cruelty were still current, and are not yet wholly extinct. In a vaulted chamber of the house in which he lived, on the English road some three miles south of Dumfries, is still shown an iron hook from which he is said to have hung his Covenanting prisoners; and a hill in the neighbourhood is still pointed out as that down which he used, for his amusement, to send the poor wretches rolling in a barrel filled with knife-blades and iron spikes,—an ingenious form of torture, commonly supposed to have been invented by the Carthaginians two thousand years ago for the particular benefit of a Roman Consul. The dark and mysterious legend of Sir Robert Redgauntlet, with which Wandering Willie beguiled the way to Brokenburn-foot, was a popular tradition of Sir Robert Grierson, or Lag (as, in the familiar style of the day he was more commonly called) in Scott's own lifetime: the fatal horseshoe, the birth-mark of all the Redgauntlet line, was believed to be conspicuous on the foreheads of every true Grierson in moments of anger; and it was a grandson of old Lag himself who sat to Scott for the portrait of the elder Redgauntlet, the rugged and dangerous Herries of Birrenswark. Within the last fifty years it was a custom of Halloween in many of the houses in Dumfriesshire and Galloway to celebrate by a rude theatrical performance the evil memory of the Laird of Lag.[17]

Born of a family which had held lands in Dumfriesshire since the fifteenth century, and had figured at various times on the troubled stage of Scottish history, Lag was undoubtedly a man of some parts and capacity for public affairs, but coarse, cruel and brutal beyond even the license of those times. The Covenanting historians charge him with vices such as even they shrank from attributing to Claverhouse; and, careful as it is always necessary to be in taking the evidence of such witnesses, it is abundantly clear that even these ingenious romancists would have been hard put to it to stain the memory of Lag. Later historians have been sometimes less careful in distinguishing between the two men. At least in one striking instance, the misdeeds of this ruffian have been circumstantially charged to the account of his more famous and important colleague.

It will be remembered that in the picture Macaulay has drawn of Claverhouse the soldiers under his command, and by implication Claverhouse himself, figure as relieving their sterner duties by a curious form of relaxation. They would call each other, he says, by the names of devils and damned souls, mocking in their revels the torments of hell. The authority for this surprising statement is Robert Wodrow, who was not born when Claverhouse returned to Scotland, and whose history of the Scottish Church was not published till more than thirty years after the battle of Killiecrankie.[18] Wodrow's work is very far from being the contemptible thing some apologists for Claverhouse would have us believe; but he is not a witness whose unsupported testimony it is always safe to take for gospel-truth. He wrote at a time when the naturally romantic imagination of the Scottish peasantry, stimulated by the memories of old men who had known the evil times, had largely embellished the facts he set himself to chronicle; and following the fashion of his day (indeed, as one may say, the fashion of many historians who cannot plead Wodrow's excuse), he was not always careful to separate the romance from the reality, even where the latter might have better served his turn. But considering all the circumstances—the circumstances of the time, of his subject, and of his own prepossessions, he is a writer whom it is impossible to disregard; and, indeed, compared with the other Covenanting chroniclers he stands apart as the most sober and impartial of historians. Where he got the story that has been so ingeniously fashioned into an indictment against Claverhouse is not clear. The passage runs as follows:—"Dreadful were the acts of wickedness done by the soldiers at this time, and Lag was as deep as any. They used to take to themselves, in their cabals, the names of devils and persons they supposed to be in hell, and with whips to lash one another, as a jest upon hell. But I shall draw a veil over many of their dreadful impieties I meet with in papers written at this time." This is not exactly the sort of evidence any judge but a hanging judge would allow, though it would serve well enough the turn of a prosecutor. It is at any rate evidence which no one, with any experience of the sort of gossip the annalists of the Covenant were content to call history, would care to take seriously. But whatever its value may really be, so far as it goes it is evidence not against Claverhouse but against Lag. It is clear from Wodrow that the story refers not to the royal soldiers but to the local militia; and a writer a little later than Wodrow makes it still more clear that the men supposed thus to have disported themselves in their cups were those commanded by Lag. John Howie, an Ayrshire peasant and a Cameronian of the strictest sect, who was not born till fourteen years after Wodrow had published his history, has given Lag a particular place in the Index Expurgatorius of his "Heroes for the Faith." There we may read how this "prime hero for the promoting of Satan's kingdom" would, "with the rest of his boon companions and persecutors, feign themselves devils, and those whom they supposed in hell, and then whip one another, as a jest upon that place of torment." Claverhouse, as has been already shown, was himself singularly averse to all rioting and drunkenness, as well as to profane amusements of every kind; and, as he was indisputably one of the sternest disciplinarians who ever took or gave orders, it is unlikely that he would have countenanced any such unseemly revels in the men under his command, with whom, moreover, he was in these years thrown into unusually close personal contact. But, in truth, the story, so far as he is concerned, is too foolish to need any solemn refutation. It has been only examined at this length as furnishing a signal instance of the recklessness with which the misdeeds of others have been fathered on him.[19]

The work Claverhouse now found to do must have been singularly distasteful to one who had seen war on a great scale under such captains as William and Conde. It was at once undignified and dangerous; and though danger was all to his taste, it was one thing to risk one's life in open battle with enemies worthy of a soldier's steel, and another and very different thing to run the chance of a stray bullet from behind a haystack or through a cottage window. The line of country he had to patrol (for his work was really little more than that) was all too large for the forces at his disposal. The enemies with whom he had mostly to deal were either old men or women, for the Covenanters were well supplied with intelligence, and generally had ample warning of his movements, quick and indefatigable as they were. "If your lordship give me any new orders, I will beg they may be kept as secret as possible, and sent for me so suddenly as the information some of the favourers of the fanatics are to send may be prevented."[20] And again:

"I obeyed the orders about seizing persons in Galloway that very night I received it, as far as it was possible; that is to say, all that was within forty miles, which is the most can be ridden in one night; and of six made search for, I found only two, which are John Livingston, bailie of Kirkcudbright, and John Black, treasurer there. The other two bailies were fled, and their wives lying above the clothes in the bed, and great candles lighted, waiting for the coming of the party, and told them, they knew of their coming, and had as good intelligence as they themselves; and that if the other two were seized on, it was their own faults, that would not contribute for intelligence. And the truth is, they had time enough to be advertised, for the order was dated the 15th, and came not to my hands till the 20th. I laid the fellow in the guard that brought it, so soon as I considered the date, where he has lain ever since, and had it not been for respect to Mr. Maitland [Lauderdale's nephew] who recommended him to me I would have put him out of the troop with infamy."[21]

The letters written during the first months of his commission are full of warnings of this sort. And he had other complaints to make, which must have been still more against the grain. He was so inadequately supplied with money by the Council that he found it a hard matter to pay his men, and harder still to pay the country people for the necessary provisions and forage; for, so far from quartering his men at large upon the peasantry, he seems, at any rate in those first months, to have been scrupulous to pay at the current rates for all he required to a degree that matches rather with the niceties of modern warfare than the customs of those rough times.

In March Claverhouse was appointed Deputy-Sheriff of Dumfriesshire by a particular warrant from Whitehall, and Andrew Bruce of Earlshall, one of his lieutenants, was nominated with him. This step gave great offence to Queensberry, who, as Sheriff of the shires of Dumfries and Annandale, by law held all such patronage in his own hand, and marks the beginning of the petty jealousy which from this time forward he seems to have shown to Claverhouse whenever he dared, and which rose afterwards, as we shall see, to a serious height. But Queensberry was no match for Lauderdale; and Claverhouse was duly settled in his new office, which, while strengthening his hands and enabling him to dispense with many tedious formalities, at the same time considerably increased his labours.

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