These adversaries being thus disposed of, the Master of Lovat invested the castle of Downie with an armed force, and soon took possession of a fortress, tenanted only by a defenceless woman, the Dowager Lady Lovat. But that lady was a Murray; one of a resolute family, and descended on her mother's side from a Stanley. She was the grand-daughter of Charlotte de la Tremouille, who defended Latham House against the Parliamentary forces in 1644. Notwithstanding that armed men were placed in the different apartments of the castle, she was undaunted. Attempts were made by the Master of Lovat to compel her to sign certain deeds, securing to him that certainty of the right to the estates, for which he was ready to plunge in the deepest of crimes. She was firm—she refused to subscribe her name. Her refusal was the signal, or the incentive, for the completion of another plot, of a last resource,—a compulsory marriage between the Master of Lovat and herself.
The awful and almost incredible details of that last act of infuriated villany, prove Lady Lovat to have been a woman of strong resolution, and of a deep sensibility. The ceremony of marriage was pronounced by Robert Monro, Minister of Abertaaffe. The unhappy Lady Lovat's resistance and prayers were heard in the very court-yard below, although the sound of bagpipes were intended to drown her screams. Morning found the poor wretched being, to make use of one of the expressions used by an eye-witness, "out of her judgment; she spoke none, but gave the deponent a broad stare." For several days reason was not restored to her, until, greeted by one of her friends with the epithet "Madam," she answered, "Call me not Madam, but the most miserable wretch alive." The scene of this act of diabolical wickedness is razed to the ground: Castle Downie was burned by the royal troops, in the presence of him who had committed such crimes within its walls, and of three hundred of his clansmen, shortly after the battle of Culloden.
It appears from a letter written by Thomas Lovat, the father of the Master, to the Duke of Argyle, that he and his son were shortly "impeached for a convocation," and for making prisoners of Lord Salton and Lord Mungo Murray, for which they were charged before him, were fined, discharged their fines, and "gave security to keep the peace." So lightly was that gross invasion of the liberty that threatened the lives of others at first treated! "We have many advertisements," adds Thomas Lovat, "that Athole is coming here in person, with all the armed men he is able to make, to compel us to duty, and that without delay. If he come, so we are resolved to defend ourselves; the laws of God, of nature, and the laws of all nations, not only allowing, but obliging all men, vim vi repellere. And I should wish from my heart, if it were consistent with divine and human laws, that the estates of Athole and Lovat were laid as a prize, depending on the result of a fair day betwixt him and me." It was, perhaps, an endeavour to avert the impending ruin and devastation that followed, that the Master of Lovat gave their liberty to Lord Saltoun and Lord Mungo Murray, although not until he had threatened them both with hanging for interfering with his inheritance, and compelling Lord Saltoun to promise that he would, on arriving at Inverness, send a formal obligation for eight thousand pounds, never more to concern himself with the affairs of the Lovat estate, and that neither he nor the Marquis of Athole would ever prosecute either Lord Lovat or his son, or their clan in general, for the disgrace they had received in having been made prisoners, for any of the transactions of this affair.
But it was evident that, in spite of this concession, the vengeance of the Marquis of Athole never slept; and that he was resolved to wreak it upon the head of the wretch who had for ever blasted the happiness of his sister.
The Master of Lovat was shortly aware that it would no longer be prudent to remain with his victim in the castle of Downie. His wife, as it was then his pleasure to call her, remained in a condition of the deepest despair. She would neither eat nor drink whilst she was in his power; and her health appears to have suffered greatly from distress and fear. In the dead of night she was summoned to leave Castle Downie, to be removed to a more remote and a wilder region, where the unhappy creature might naturally expect, from the desperate character of her pretended husband, no mitigation of her sorrows. Since rumours were daily increasing of the approach of Lord Athole's troops, the clan of Fraser was again, when Lady Lovat was conveyed from the scene of her anguish, called forth to assist their leader, and the wail of the coronach was again heard in that dismal and portentous night: for portentous it was. This crime, the first signal offence of Simon Fraser, stamped his destiny. Its effects followed him through life: it entailed others: it was the commencement of a catalogue of iniquities almost unprecedented in the career of one man's existence.
Crushed, broken-spirited, afraid of returning to her kindred, whose high fame she seems to have thought would be sullied by her misfortunes, Lady Lovat was conducted by Fraser to the Island of Aigas. They stole thither on horseback, attended by a single servant, and arriving at the sea-shore, they there took a boat, and were carried to the obscure island which Fraser had chosen for his retreat. Thomas Fraser of Beaufort, the father of Simon, thus writes to the Duke of Argyle respecting this singular and revolting union.
"We have gained a considerable advantage by my eldest son's being married to the Dowager of Lovat; and if it please God they live together some years, our circumstances will be very good. Our enemies are so galled at it, that there is nothing malice or cruelty can invent but they design and practice against us; so that we are forced to take to the hills, and keep spies at all parts; by which, among many other difficulties, the greatest is this,—that my daughter-in-law, being a tender creature, fatigue and fear of bloodshed may put an end to her, which would make our condition worse than ever."
And now there took place, in the mind of Lady Lovat, one of those singular revulsions which experience teaches us to explain rather than induces us to believe as neither impossible nor uncommon. Lady Lovat, it is said upon the grave authority of a reverend biographer, became attached to the bonds which held her. "Here," says Mr. Arbuthnot, in his Life of Lord Lovat, "he continued a month or six weeks, and by this time the captain had found means to work himself so effectually into the good graces of the lady, that, as he reported, 'she doated on him, and was always unhappy at his absence.'" However true or however false this representation may be, the marriage service was again, as it was said, solemnized, at the suggestion of the Master of Lovat, and with the free consent of Lady Lovat. On the twenty-sixth of October, 1697, we find Simon Fraser writing in the following terms to the Laird of Culloden. The answer is not given in the Culloden Papers, but it not improbably contained a recommendation to repeat the marriage ceremonials:—
"Beaufort, the 26th of Oct., 1797.
"Thir Lords att Inverness, with the rest of my implacable enemies, does so confound my wife, that she is uneasy till she see them. I am afraid that they are so madd with this disapointment, that they will propose something to her that is dangerous, her brother having such power with her; so that really, till things be perfectly accommodatt, I do nott desire they should see her, and I know not how to manage her. So I hope you will send all the advice you can to your oblidged humble servant,
"I hope you will excuse me for not going your lenth, since I have such a hard task at home."
FROM SIMON FRASER TO THE LAIRD OF CULLODEN.
"Nov. 23rd, 1697.
"I pray you receive the inclosed acompt of my business, and see if your own conscience, in sight of God, doth not convince you that it is literally true. I hade sent it to you upon Saturday last, but you were not at home; however, I sent it that day to the Laird of Calder, who, I hope, will not sitt down on me, but transmitt it to my best friends; and I beseech you, Sir, for God's sak, that you do the like. I know the Chancellour is a just man, notwithstanding his friendship to my Lord Tilliberdine. I forgive you for betraying of me; but neither you, nor I, nor I hope God himself, will forgive him that deceived you, and caused you to do it. I am very hopeful in my dear wife's constancey, if they do not put her to death. Now I ad no more, but leaves myself to your discretion; and reste, Sir, your faithful friend and servant,
Lady Lovat lived to hear her husband deny that he had ever sought her in marriage, and to see him married to two different wives; and he scrupled not to represent the unfortunate Lady Lovat as the last possible object of his regard—as a "widow, old enough to be his mother, dwarfish in her person, and deformed in her shape." This, as far as related to disparity of years, was untrue; the Dowager was only four years older than the Master of Lovat.
Meantime justice had not slumbered; and one morning, a charge "against Captain Simon Fraser, of Beaufort, and many others, persons mostly of the clan Fraser, for high treason, in forming unlawful associations, collecting an armed force, occupying and fortifying houses and garrisons, &c.," was left by the herald, pursuant to an old Scottish custom, in a cloven stick which was deposited at the river side, opposite to the Isle of Aigas. Of this no notice was taken by Simon, except to renew his addresses to his clan, and to hasten, as far as he could from his secluded retreat, a systematic resistance to the Marquis of Athole, and even to the royal troops, whose approach was expected. But his fears were aroused. Again he sought to avert the coming danger by concession; and he determined, in the first instance, on restoring Lady Lovat to her friends.
It is stated by Mr. Arbuthnot, but still on the authority of the Master of Lovat, that Lady Lovat had now become reluctant to return to her relations. Nor is it improbable that this statement is true, without referring that reluctance to any affection for the wretch with whom her fate was linked. She complied, nevertheless, with the proposal of the Master; and leaving the Island of Aigas, she proceeded first to Castle Downie, and afterwards to Dunkeld, where, according to Arbuthnot, she was obliged by her brother, the Marquis, to join in a prosecution against her husband, for a crime which she had forgiven. According to a letter from the Duke of Argyle, addressed to the Rev. Mr. Carstares, chaplain to King William, she fully exculpated the Master from the charges made against him on her account. This exculpation was doubtless given when the unhappy woman was under the influence of that subtle and powerful mind, which lent its aid to its guilty schemes. Simon Fraser himself, as we have seen, in writing to Duncan Forbes, declared—"I am very hopeful in my dear wife's constancy, if they do not put her to death." This might be only a part of his usual acting,—a trait of that dissimulation which was the moral taint of his character; or it may have been true that the humiliated being whom he called his wife had really learned to cherish one who seemed born to be distrusted, hated, and shunned.
The return of Lady Lovat to her family was of no avail in mitigating the indignation of the Marquis of Athole. By his influence with the Privy Council, who were, it is said, completely under his control, he procured an order from King William for the march of troops against the clan of Fraser, with instructions, according to Simon Fraser, to overrun the country, to burn, kill, and to destroy the whole clan, without exception; and, without issuing a citation to Thomas Fraser of Beaufort, or to his son, to appear—without examining a single witness—a printed sentence was published against all the Frasers, men and women and children, and their adherents. Even the sanctuary of churches was not to be respected: "in a word," says Lord Lovat's Manifesto, "history, sacred or profane, cannot produce an order so pregnant with such unexampled cruelty as this sentence, which is carefully preserved in the house of Lovat, to the eternal confusion and infamy of those who signed it." The Government which sanctioned the massacre of Glencoe was perfectly capable of issuing a proclamation which confounded the innocent with the guilty, and punished before trial.
The Master of Lovat assembled his clan. That simple and faithful people, trusting in the worth and honour of their leader, swore that they would never desert him, that they would leave their wives, their children, and all that they most valued, to live and die with him. An organized resistance was planned; and the Master of Lovat intreated his father, as he himself expressed it, with tears, "to retire into the country of his kinsmen, the Macleods of Rye." The proposal was accepted, and Thomas of Beaufort, for he never assumed the disputed title of Lord Lovat, took refuge among that powerful and friendly clan.
The prosecution against the Master of Lovat was, in the mean time, commenced in the Court of Justiciary; "the only case," so it has been called, "since the Revolution, in which a person was tried in absence, before the Court of Justiciary, a proof led, a jury inclosed, a verdict returned, and sentence pronounced; forfeiting life, estate, honours, fame, and posterity." None of the parties who were summoned, appeared. The jury returned a verdict finding the indictment proved, and the Court adjudged Captain Fraser and the other persons accused, to be executed as traitors; "their name, fame, memory, and honours, to be extinct, and their arms to be riven forth and deleted out of the books of arms; so that their posterity may never have place, nor be able hereafter to bruite or enjoy any honours, offices, titles, or dignities; and to have forfeited all their lands, heritages, and possessions whatsoever."
After this sentence, a severer one than that usually passed in such cases, the Master of Lovat, for the period of four years, led a life of skirmishes, escapes, and hardships of every description. He retired into the remote Highlands, then almost impenetrable; and, followed by a small band of his clansmen, he wandered from mountain to mountain, resolved never to submit, nor yield himself up to justice. Since his father's estates were forfeited, and he could draw no means of subsistence from them, he was often obliged to the charity of the hospitable Highlanders for some of their coarse fare; and when that resource failed, or when he had lived too long on the bounty of a neighbourhood, he and his companions made nightly incursions into the Lowlands, and, carrying off cattle and provisions, retreated again to their caverns, there to satisfy hunger with the fruits of their incursions.
During the four years of misery and peril in which the Master of Lovat continued to evade justice, his father died, among his relations in the island of Skye. His decease was caused, according to the representation of his son, by a hasty march made to escape the King's troops, who, he heard, were coming to the islands to pursue him. Among the few humane traits in the character of Simon Fraser, the habitual respect and affection borne by the Highlanders to parents appears to have been perceptible. He speaks of Thomas of Beaufort in his Life with regret and regard; but seals those expressions of tenderness with an oath that he "would revenge himself on his own and his father's enemies with their blood, or perish in the attempt." Such were his notions of filial piety.
The Master of Lovat had now attained the rank for which he had made such sacrifices of safety and of fame; and had the hollow satisfaction of a disputed title, with an attainted estate, and a life over which the sword of destiny was suspended.
A sentence of outlawry followed that of condemnation, and letters of fire and sword were issued against him. He was forbidden all correspondence or intercourse with his fellow subjects: he was cast off and rejected by his friends, and in constant danger either of being captured by the officers of justice, or assassinated by his enemies. The commission for destroying the clan of Fraser was not, indeed, put into execution; but that wild and beautiful district which owned him for its lord, was ravaged by the King's troops stationed at Inverness, or intimidated by the Highland army, commanded by Lord Lovat's early companions, but now deadly foes,—Lord James and Lord Mungo Murray. At length, after gaining a complete victory, according to his own account, at Stratheric, over the tributaries of Lord Athole, and extracting from the prisoners an oath by which they "renounced the claims on our Saviour and their hopes in Heaven if ever they returned to the territories of his enemy, the guilty and unfortunate man grew weary of his life of wandering, penury, and disgrace."
He was always fertile in expedients, and audacious in proffering his petitions for mercy. During his father's life, a petition in the form of a letter, written by Thomas of Beaufort, and signed by seven Frasers, had been addressed to the Duke of Argyle, appealing to his aid at Court, upon the plea of that "entire friendship which the family of Lovat had with, and dependence upon, that of Argyle, grounded upon an ancient propinquity of blood, and zealously maintained by both through a tract and series of many ages." The Duke of Argyle had, it was well understood, made some applications on behalf of the Frasers; and Lord Lovat now resolved to push his interest in the same friendly quarter, and to endeavour to obtain a remission of the sentence out against his head.
His efforts were the more successful, because King William had by this time begun to suspect the fidelity of Lord Tullibardine, and to place a strong reliance upon the integrity and abilities of the Duke of Argyle. The Duke represented to his Majesty not only the ancient friendship subsisting between the house of Campbell and that of Fraser, but also that the King might spend "a hundred times the value of the Fraser estate before he could reduce it, on account of its inaccessible situation and its connection with the neighbouring clans." The Duke's account of his success is given with characteristic good sense in the following letter:—
THE EARL OF ARGYLE TO THE LAIRD OF CULLODEN.
"Edinburgh, Sept. 5, 1700.
"In complyance with your desyre and a great many other gentlemen, with my own inclination to endeavour a piece of justice, I have made it my chief concern to obtain Beaufort's (now I think I may say Lord Lovatt's) pardon, and the other gentlemen concerned with him in the convocation and seizing of prisoners, which are crymes more immediately against his Majesty, which I have at last obtained and have it in my custody. I designe to-morrow for Argyllshire; and, there not being a quorum of Exchequer in town, am oblidged to delay passing the remission till next moneth. We have all had lyes enuf of his Majestie before: his goodness in this will, I hope, return my friend Culloden to his old consistency, and make E. Argyll appear to him as good a Presbiterian and a weel wisher to his country in no lesse a degree then Tullibardine, who plundered my land some tyme agoe, and Culloden's lately. Pray recover the same spiritt you had at the Revolution; let us lay assyde all resentments ill founded, all projects which may shake our foundation; let us follow no more phantasms (I may say rather divells), who, with a specious pretext leading us into the dark, may drownd us. I fynd some honest men's eyes are opened, and I shall be sorie if Culloden's continue dimm. You have been led by Jacobitt generales to fight for Presbiterie and the liberty of the country. Is that consistent? If not speedily remedied, remember I tell you the posteritie of such will curse them. Let me have a plain satisfactorie answer from you, that I may be in perfect charitie with Culloden. Adieu."
Accordingly, the Duke having obtained his pardon, Lord Lovat was enjoined to lay down his arms, and to go privately to London. That sentence, which had followed the prosecution on the part of Lady Lovat, was not, at that time, remitted, for fear of disobliging the Athole family. Upon arriving in London, Lord Lovat found that Lord Seafield, the colleague of the Earl of Tullibardine, was disinclined to risk incurring the displeasure of the Athole family. He put off the signing of the pardon from time to time. He was even so much in awe of the Earl of Tullibardine, that he endeavoured to get the King to sign the pardon when he was at Loo; that Mr. Pringle, the other Secretary of State, might bear the odium of presenting it for signature. During this delay, Lord Lovat, not being able with safety to return to Scotland, resolved to occupy the interval of suspense by a journey into France.
Whilst Lord Lovat's affairs were in this condition, the Marquis of Athole, resolved for ever to put it out of Lord Lovat's power to gain any ascendancy over the young heiress of Lovat, Amelia Fraser, was employed in arranging a marriage for that lady to the son of Alexander Mackenzie, Lord Prestonhall. It was agreed, by a marriage settlement, that Mr. Mackenzie should take the name and title of Fraserdale, and that the children of that marriage should bear the name of Fraser. The estate of Lovat was settled upon Fraserdale in his life, with remainder to his children by his wife. It indeed appears, that the estate of Lovat was never surrendered to Lord Lovat; that he bore in Scotland, according to some statements, no higher title than that of Lord of Beaufort; and that a regular receiver of the rents was appointed by the guardians of Amelia Fraser: so completely were the dark designs of Simon Fraser defeated in their object! He was, however, graciously received at St. Germains, whither he went whilst yet, James the Second, in all the glory of a sanctified superstition, lived with his Queen, the faithful partner of his misfortunes. Lord Lovat ascribes this visit to St. Germains to his intention of dissipating the calumnious stories circulated against him by the Marquis of Athole. The flourishing statement which he gives in his memoirs of King James's reception, may, however, be treated as wholly apocryphal. James the Second, with all his errors, was too shrewd a man, too practised in kingcraft, to speak of the "perfidious family of Athole," or to mention the head of that noble house by the title of that "old traitor." Lord Lovat's incapacity to write the truth, and his perpetual endeavour to magnify himself in his narrative, cause us equally to distrust the existence of that document, with the royal seal affixed to it, which he says the King signed with his own hand, declaring that he would protect Lord Lovat from "the perfidious and faithless family of Athole."
The fact is, and it redounds to the credit of James the Second, that monarch, eager as he ever remained to attach partisans to his interests, never received Lord Lovat into his presence. The infamy of the exploits of the former Master of Lovat had preceded his visit to France: the whole account of his own reception at St. Germains, written with astonishing audacity, and most circumstantially worded, was a fabrication.
Lord Lovat's usual readiness in difficulties did not fail him; he was a ruined man, and it was puerile to shrink from expedients. He applied to the Pope's nuncio, and expressed his readiness to become a Roman Catholic. The suit was, of course, encouraged, and the arch hypocrite, making a recantation of all his former errors, professed himself a member of the holy Catholic Church, and acknowledged the Pope as its head. This avowal cost him little, for he was by no means prejudiced in favour of any specific faith; and it gained him for the time, some little popularity in the gay metropolis in which he had taken refuge.
King James, indeed, to his honour, was still resolute in declining his personal homage; but Louis the Fourteenth was less scrupulous, and the Marquis de Torcy, the favourite and Minister of the French King, presented the abjured of England and Scotland at the Palais of Versailles. It is difficult to picture to oneself the savage and merciless Fraser, the pillager, the destroyer, the outlaw, conversing, as he is said to have done, with the saintly and sagacious Madame Maintenon. It is scarcely possible to conceive elegant and refined women of any nation receiving this depraved, impenitent man, with the rumour of his recent crimes still fresh in their memory, into their polished circles. Yet they made no scruple in that dissolute city, to associate with the abandoned wretch who dared not return to Scotland, and who only looked for a pardon for his crimes through the potent workings of a faction.
Lord Lovat well knew the value of female influence. He dressed in the height of fashion—he adapted his language and sentiments to the tone of those around the Court. He was a man of considerable conversational talents; "his deportment," says his biographer, "was graceful and manly." When he was first presented to Louis the Fourteenth, who was desirous of asking some questions concerning the invasion of Scotland, he is said to have prepared an elaborate address, which he forgot in the confusion produced by the splendour around him, but to have delivered an able extempore speech, with infinite ease and good taste, upon the spur of the moment, to the great amusement of Louis, who learned from De Torcy the circumstance.
His advancement at the Court of Versailles was interrupted by the necessity of his return to England, in order to obtain at last a final pardon from the King for his offences. It is singular that the instrument by whom he sought to procure this remission was William Carstairs, that extraordinary man, who had suffered in the reign of James the Second the thumb-screw, and had been threatened with the iron boot, for refusing to disclose the correspondence between the friends of the Revolution. Mr. Carstairs was now secretary to King William, and he little knew, when he counselled that monarch to pardon Lovat, what a partisan of the Jacobite cause he was thus restoring to society.
His mediation was effectual, perhaps owing to a dislike which had arisen in the mind of William against the Athole family; and a pardon was procured for Lord Lovat. The affair was concluded at Loo, whither Lovat followed the King from England. "He is a bold man," the Monarch is said to have observed to Carstairs, "to come so far under sentence of death." The pardon was unlimited, and that it might comprise the offence against Lady Athole, it was now "a complete and ample pardon for every imaginable crime." The royal seal was appended to it, and there remained only to get that of Scotland also affixed.
Lovat entrusted the management of that delicate and difficult matter to a cousin, a Simon Fraser also, by whose treachery it was suppressed; and Lord Seafield caused another pardon to pass the great seal, in which the treason against King William was alone specified; and other offences were left unpardoned. Upon this, Lord Lovat cited the Marquis of Athole before the Lords Justiciary in Edinburgh to answer before them for a false accusation: but on the very day of supporting his charge, as the biographer of his family relates, his patron the Duke of Argyle was informed that the judges had been corrupted, and that "certain death would be the result if he appeared." This statement is taken from Lord Lovat's own complication of falsehoods, his incomparably audacious "Manifesto." Notwithstanding that Lovat had appeared with a retinue of a hundred armed gentlemen, "as honorable as himself," with the intention of intimidating the judges;—in spite of the Duke of Argyle's powerful influence, the friends of the outlawed nobleman counselled him again to retreat to England, and to suffer judgment to go by default. The Duke of Argyle, he says, would not lose sight of him till he had seen him on horseback, and had ordered his own best horse to be brought round to the door. There was no remedy for what was called by Lord Lovat's friends, the "rascality" of the judges:—and again this unworthy Highlander was driven from his own country to seek safety in the land wherein his offences had received their pardon. The inflexibility of the justiciary lords, or their known integrity, form a fine incident in history; for the Scottish nation was at this period, ridden by Court faction, and broken down by recent oppression and massacre.
Lord Lovat, meeting the Duke of Argyle on the frontiers, accompanied his Grace to London; and here, notwithstanding his boast, "that after his arrival in London he was at the Duke's house every day," he appears, about this time, to have been reduced to a state of miserable poverty, and merited desertion.
In the following letter to Mr. Carstairs, he complains that nothing is done for him—he applies to Mr. Carstairs for a little money to carry him home, "having no other door open."
LORD LOVAT TO MR. CARSTAIRS,
"London, June 20th, 1701.
"I reckon myself very unhappy that my friends here do so much neglect me; and I believe my last journey to England has done me a vast prejudice; for if I had been at home, I would have got something done in my Lord Evelin's business, and would have got money before now, that might serve me to go a volunteer with the King, or maintain me anywhere; but my friend at home must have worse thoughts now of my affairs than ever, having staid so long here, and got nothing done. However, I now resolve to go to Scotland, not being able to subsist longer here. I have sent the inclosed note, that, according to your kind promise, I may have the little money which will carry me home, and it shall be precisely paid before two months; and I must say, it is one of the greatest favours ever was done me, not having any other door open, if you were not so generous as to assist me, which I shall alwise gratefully remember, and continue with all sincerity, Dear Sir, Your faithful and obliged servant,
The death of William the Third revived the hopes of the Jacobite party; and to that centre of attraction the ruined and the restless, the aspiring and the profligate, alike turned their regards. Never was so great a variety of character, and so great a diversity of motives displayed in any cause, as in the various attempts which were made to secure the restoration of the Stuarts. On some natures those opinions, those schemes, which were generally known under the name of Jacobitism, acted as an incentive to self-sacrifice—and to a constancy worthy of better fortune. In other minds the poison of faction worked irremediable mischief: many who began with great and generous resolves, sank into intrigue, and ended in infidelity to the cause which that had espoused. But Lord Lovat came under neither of these classes; he knew not the existence of a generous emotion; he was consistent in the undeviating selfishness and baseness of his career.
If he had a sincere predilection, he was disposed to the interest of King James. Hereditary tendencies scarcely ever lose their hold upon the mind entirely: notions on politics are formed at a much earlier age than is generally supposed. The family of Fraser had been, as we have seen, from ages immemorial employed in defence of the Stuart Kings; and early prepossessions were imbibed by the unworthy descendant of a brave race, before his passions had interfered to warp the generous sentiment of loyalty. As he grew up, Lord Lovat learned to accommodate himself to any party; and it was justly observed by Lord Middleton, one of the favourite courtiers at St. Germains, that though he boasted so much of his adherence to his Sovereign, he had never served any sovereign but King William, in whose army he had commanded a regiment.
The period was now, however, approaching, when he whose moral atmosphere was, like his native climate, the tempest and the whirlwind, might hope to glean some benefit from the impending storm which threatened the peace of the British empire.
On the sixth of September, 1701, James the Second of England expired at St. Germains. This event was favourable to those of the Jacobite party who wished to bring forward the interests of the young Prince of Wales. James had long been infirm, and had laid aside all schemes of worldly elevation. He had passed his time between the diversion of hunting and the duties of religion. His widowed Queen retained, on the contrary, an ardent desire to see her son restored to the throne of England. She implanted that wish in his own breast; she nourished it by the society of those whom she placed around him; and she passed her time in constantly forming new schemes for the promotion of that restoration to which her sanguine anticipations were continually directed.
The death of James was succeeded by two events: one, the avowed determination of Louis the Fourteenth to take the exiled family of Stuart under his protection, and the consequent proclamation of the young Prince of Wales as King of England; the other, the bill for the attainder of the pretended Prince of Wales, in the English Parliament, with an additional clause of attainder against the Queen, Mary of Modena, together with an oath of abjuration of the "Pretender." The debates which impeded the progress of this measure, plainly prove how deeply engrafted in the hearts of many of the higher classes were those rights which they were thus enforced to abjure.
This was one of the last acts of William. His death, in 1702, revived the spirits of the Jacobites, for the partiality of Anne to her brother, the young Prince, was generally understood; and it appears, from the letters which have been published in later days to have been of a far more real and sisterly character than has generally been supposed. The death of the young Duke of Gloucester appeared, naturally, to make way for the restoration of the Stuart family; and there is no doubt but that Anne earnestly desired it; and that on one occasion, when her brother's life was in danger from illness, her anxiety was considerable on his account.
It is, therefore, no matter of reproach to the Jacobites, as an infatuation, although it has frequently been so represented, that they cherished those schemes which were ultimately so unfortunate, but which, had it not been that "popery appeared more dreadful in England than even the prospect of slavery and temporal oppression," would doubtless have been successful without the disastrous scenes which marked the struggle to bring them to bear.
Lord Lovat was at this time no insignificant instrument in the hands of the Jacobite party. When he found that the sentence of outlawry was not reversed; when he perceived that he must no longer hope for the peaceable enjoyment of the Lovat inheritance, his whole soul turned to the restoration of King James; and, after his death, to that of the young Prince of Wales. Yet he seems, in the course of the extraordinary affairs in which the Queen, Mary of Modena, was rash enough to employ him, to have one eye fixed upon St. James's, another upon St. Germains, and to have been perfectly uncertain as to which power he should eventually dedicate his boasted influence and talents.
Lord Lovat may be regarded as the first promoter of the Insurrection of 1715 in Scotland. Whether his exertions proceeded from a real endeavour to promote the cause of the Jacobites, or whether they were, as it has been supposed, the result of a political scheme of the Duke of Queensbury's, it is difficult to determine, and immaterial to decide; because his perfidy in disclosing the whole to that nobleman has been clearly discovered. It seems, however, more than probable, that he could not go on in the straightforward path; and that he was in the employ of the Duke of Queensbury from the first, has been confidently stated.
Early in 1702, Lord Lovat went to France, and pretending to have authority from some of the Highland clans and Scottish nobility, offered the services of his countrymen to the Court of St. Germains. This offer was made shortly before the death of James the Second, and a proposal was made in the name of the Scottish Jacobites to raise an army of twelve thousand men, if the King of France would consent to land five thousand men at Dundee, and five hundred at Fort William. His proposals were listened to, but his integrity was suspected.
According to his own account, Lord Lovat, being in full possession of his family honours, upon the death of King William, immediately proclaimed the Prince of Wales in his own province, and acting, as he declares, in accordance with the advice of his friend, the Duke of Argyle, repaired to France, "in order to do the best that he could in that country."
He immediately, to pursue his own statement, engaged the Earl Lord Marischal, the Earl of Errol, Lord Constable of Scotland, in the cause; and then, passing through England and Holland, in order to go to France through Flanders, he arrived in Paris with this commission about the month of September.
Sir John Maclean, cousin-german of Lord Lovat, had resided ten years at the Court of St. Germains, and to his guidance Lovat confided himself. By Maclean, Lovat was introduced to the Duke of Perth, as he was called, who had been Chancellor of Scotland when James the Second abdicated, and whose influence was now divided at the Court of St. Germains, by the Earl of Middleton. For never was faction more virulent than in the Court of the exiled Monarch, and during the minority of his son. The Duke of Perth represented Lord Middleton as a "faithless traitor, a pensionary of the English Parliament, to give intelligence of all that passes at the Court of St. Germains." It was therefore agreed that this scheme of the invasion should be carried on unknown to that nobleman, and to this secrecy the Queen, it is said, gave her consent. She hailed the prospect of an insurrection in Scotland with joy, and declared twenty times to Lord Lovat that she had sent her jewels to Paris to be sold, in order to send the twenty thousand crowns, which Lord Lovat represented would be necessary to equip the Highland forces. Hitherto the Court of St. Germains had been contented merely to keep up a correspondence with their friends, retaining them in their principles, though without any expectation of immediate assistance. The offer of Lord Lovat was the first step towards more active exertions in the cause of the Stuarts. It is in this sense that he may almost be considered as the father of the Rebellion of 1715. He first excited those ardent spirits to unanimity and to action; and the project of restoration, which only languished whilst Anne lived, was never afterwards abandoned until after the year 1746.
Either through the indiscretion of Queen Mary of Modena, or through some other channel, the plot of the invasion became known to Lord Middleton. Jealous of the family of Perth, his avowed enemies, Lord Middleton, according to Lord Lovat, was enraged at the project, and determined to ruin the projectors. It is very true that the antipathies between the prevailing factions may have excited Lord Middleton's anger; but it is evident, from his lordship's letters and memoranda, that his dislike had a far deeper source—the profligacy of the agent Lovat; a profligacy which had deterred, as it was afterwards found, many of the Highland chiefs from lending their aid to the cause. Party fury, however, ran high, and before the affair of the insurrection could be settled, Lord Middleton, declaring that the last words of King James had made a powerful impression on his mind, retired into the convent of Benedictines at Paris, to be satisfied of some doubts, and to be instructed in the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church. But this temporary retirement rather revived than decreased the favour of the Queen towards him. She trusted to his advice; and, as the statement which Lord Lovat gave of the affairs of Scotland appeared too favourable to the excluded family to be believed, Louis the Fourteenth counselled the Court of St. Germains to send with Lord Lovat, or, as he is invariably called in all contemporary documents, Simon Fraser, a person who could be trusted to bring back a genuine account. Accordingly, James Murray of Stanhope, the brother of Sir David Murray, was employed to this effect. "He was," says Lord Lovat, "a spy of Lord Middleton's, his sworn creature, and a man who had no other means of subsistence." From other accounts, however, Mr. Murray is shown to have been a man of probity, although in great pecuniary difficulties, as many of the younger members of old families were at that time. Mr. James Murray was sent forward into Scotland six weeks before Lord Lovat set out from France; and the Court had the wisdom to send with the latter another emissary in the person of Mr. John Murray, of Abercairney.
After these arrangements were completed, Lord Lovat received his commission. He set out upon his expedition by way of Brussels, to Calais. Not being furnished with passports, and having no other pass than the orders of the Marquis De Torcy to the commandants of the different forts upon the coast, he was obliged also, to wait for an entire month, the arrival of an English packet for the exchange of prisoners,—the captain of the vessel having been bribed to take him and his companions on board as English prisoners of war, and to put them on shore during the night, in his boat, near Dover.
Through the interest of Louis the Fourteenth, Lovat had received the commission from King James of major-general, with power to raise and command forces in his behalf: and thus provided, he proceeded to Scotland, where he was met by the Duke of Argyle, his friend, and conducted by that nobleman to Edinburgh. Such was the simple statement of Lovat's first steps on this occasion. According to his memorial, which he afterwards presented to Queen Mary, he received assurances of support from the Catholic gentry of Durham, who, "when he showed them the King's picture, fell down on their knees and kissed it." This flattering statement appeared, however, to resemble the rest of the memorial of his proceedings, and met with little or no credence even in the quarter where it was most likely to be well received.
From the Duke of Queensbury, Lord Lovat received a pass to go into the Highlands, which was procured under feigned names, both for him and his two companions, from Lord Nottingham, then Secretary of State. After this necessary preliminary, Lord Lovat made a tour among some of the principal nobility in the Lowlands. He found them, even according to his own statement, averse to take up arms without an express commission from the King. But he remarks, writing always as he does in the third person, "My Lord Lovat pursued his journey to the Highlands, where they were overjoyed to see him, because they believed him dead, having been fourteen months in France, without writing any word to his country. They came from all quarters to see him. He showed them the King's instructions, and the King of France's great promises. They were ravished to see them, and prayed to God to have their King there, and they should soon put him on the throne. My Lord Lovat told them that they must first fight for him, and beat his enemies in the kingdom. They answered him, that, if they got the assistance he promised them, they would march in three days' advertisement, and beat all the King's enemies in the kingdom." This statement, though possibly not wholly untrue, must be taken with more than the usual degree of allowance for the exaggeration of a partisan. Many of the Highland noblemen and chieftains were, indeed, well disposed to the cause of which Lord Lovat was the unfortunate and unworthy representative; but all regretted that their young King, as they styled him, should repose trust in so bad a character, and in many instances refused to treat with Lovat. And, indeed, the partial success which he attained might be ascribed to the credit of his companion Captain John Murray, a gentleman of good family, whose brother, Murray of Abercairney, was greatly respected in his county.
The embryo of the two Rebellions may be distinctly traced in the plain and modest memorial which Captain Murray also presented, on his return from Scotland, at the Court of St. Germains. "The Earl and Countess of Errol," he relates, "with their son Lord Hay, were the first to whom I spoke of the affairs of the King of England." "Speaking at Edinburgh with the King's friends, about his Majesty's affairs, in a more serious way than I had done before, I found that these affairs had not been mentioned among them a long time before, and that it was to them an agreeable surprise to see some hopes that they were to be revived by my negotiation."
The greatest families in Scotland were, indeed, ready to come forward upon condition of a certain assistance from France; and a scheme seems even to have been suggested for the invasion of England, and to have formed the main feature in one of those various plots which were as often concerted, and as often defeated, in favour of the excluded family.
In France, these continual schemes, and the various changes in the English Government, were regarded with the utmost contempt. "The people," writes the Duke of Perth, Chancellor of Scotland, "are kept from amusement, frameing conceits of government and religion, such as our giddy people frame to themselves, and make themselves the scorn and reproach of mankind, for all are now foes under the name of English, and we are said to be so changeable and foolish, that nothing from our parts seems strange. Beheading, dethroning, and banishing of kings, being but children's play with us."
But all the promise of this plan was defeated, as it is generally and confidently asserted, by the character of Lord Lovat. A general distrust prevailed, of his motives and of his authority, even in that very country where he had once led on his clansmen to crimes for which they had paid dearly in the humiliation and devastation of their clan. He was indeed, prevented from lingering near the home of his youth, from the decrees which had been issued against him, and the risk of discovery. Disappointed in his efforts, unable to raise even fifty men of his own clan, and resolved upon gaining influence and favour in some quarter or another, he determined upon betraying the whole scheme, which has since obtained in history the name of the Scottish Plot, to the Duke of Queensbury.
It was on pretext of obtaining a passport for France, that Lord Lovat now sought an interview with the Duke in London. He there discovered to that able and influential minister, then Secretary of State for Scotland, the entire details of the meditated insurrection, together with the names of the principal Scottish nobility concerned in the conspiracy. The Duke, it appears, perfectly appreciated the character of his informant. He seems to have reflected, that from such materials as those which composed the desperate and hardened character of Lovat, the best instruments of party may be selected. He consented, it is generally believed,—although historians differ greatly according to their particular bias, as to the fact,—to furnish Lovat with a passport, and to employ him as a spy in the French Court, in order to prosecute his discoveries still farther.
When Lovat was afterwards charged with this act of treachery, he declared, that he had told the Duke of Queensbury little more than what had escaped through the folly or malice of the Jacobites; but acknowledged that a mutual compact had passed between him and the Duke of Queensbury.
Somerville, in his history of the reign of Queen Anne, remarks, that it is doubtful whether Fraser of Lovat had ever any intention of performing effectual service to the Chevalier. "No sooner had he set foot in England," adds the same historian, "than he formed the nefarious project of counter-plotting his associate, and betraying the trust which he had procured through the facility and precipitate confidence of the Queen."
The Duke of Queensbury immediately communicated the plot, disclosed by Lovat, to Queen Anne. In the main points the conduct of that able and influential Minister appears to have been tolerably free from blame during the inquiry into the Scottish plot which was afterwards instituted; but it is a proof of the horror and suspicion in which Lord Lovat was held, that the Duke of Queensbury's negotiations with so abandoned a tool for some time diminished the political sway which he had heretofore possessed in Scotland.
Lord Lovat returned to Paris, where he had the effrontery to hand in a boasting memorial of his services, written with that particularity which gives an air of extreme accuracy to any statement. In this art he was generally accomplished, yet he seems on this occasion to have failed. For some time he flourished; alternately, one day at Versailles—one day at St. Germains; and, whilst an under-current of dislike and suspicion marked his course, all, apparently, went on successfully with this great dissembler. The Earl of Middleton, indeed, was undeceived.
"I doubt not," he writes to the Marquis De Torcy, "you will be as much surprised at Lord Lovat's memorial as we have been; for although I never had a good opinion of him, yet, I did not believe him fool enough to accuse himself. He has not, in some places, been as careful as authors of romance to preserve probability."
"If the King thinks proper to apprehend him," concludes Lord Middleton, "it should be done without noise. His name should not be mentioned any more, and at the same time his papers should be seized." Such were the preparations for the secret incarceration which it was then the practice of the French Court to sanction.
Lord Lovat was not long in ignorance of the intrigues, as he calls them, which were carried on to blast his reputation at the Court of St. Germains. In other words, he perceived that the double game which he had been playing was discovered, and discovered in time to prevent any new or important trust being committed to his command. He fell ill, or perhaps feigned illness, probably in order to account for his absence from Court; and, although backed by the influence of the Earl of Melfort, brother of the Duke of Perth, and by the Marquis De Torcy, he found that he could never recover the confidence of the Queen Mother.
He took the usual plan adopted by servants who perceive that they are on the eve of being discarded—he announced his determination to retire. "My Lord," he wrote to Lord Middleton, "I am daily informed, that the Queen has but a scurvy opinion of me, and that I did her Majesty bad rather than good service by my journey. My Lord, I find that my enemies have greater power with the Queen than I can have; and to please them, and ease her Majesty, I am resolved to meddle no more with any affairs till the King is of age."
There seemed to have been little need of this voluntary surrender of his employments; for, after undergoing an examination, in writing from the Pope's Nuncio, and after several letters had passed between Lord Middleton and himself, the altercation was peremptorily closed by a lettre de cachet, and Lord Lovat was committed, according to some statements, to the Bastille,—as others relate, to the Castle of Angouleme. Upon this occasion the hardihood of Lord Lovat's character, which shone out so conspicuously at his death, was thus exemplified.
"As they went along the Captain (by this name he was generally called among his friends) discoursed the officer with the same freedom as if he had been carrying him to some merry-meeting; and, on observing on his men's coats a badge all full of points, with this device—monstrorum terror,—'the terror of monsters,' he said wittily, pointing to the men, 'Behold there the terror, and here the monster!' meaning himself. 'And if either of the Kings had a hundred thousand of such, they would be fitter to fright their enemies than to hurt any one of them.' He took occasion, also, to let his attendants know of what a great and noble family he was, and how much blood had been spent in the cause of the Monarchs by his ancestors."
According to Lord Lovat's manifesto, he was at dinner at Bourges, whither he had been sent on some pretext by the French Government, when "a grand fat prevot, accompanied by his lieutenant and twenty-four archers, stole into the drawing-room, and seized Lord Lovat as if he had been an assassin, demanding from him his sword in the King's name. The villain of a prevot," adds his Lordship, "was so obliging as to attend Lord Lovat, with his archers, all the way to Angouleme. He had the luck to procure a cursed little chaise, where Lord Lovat was in a manner buried alive under the unwieldy bulk of this enormous porpoise." This relation, so different from that given by Mr. Arbuthnot, weakens the veracity of both accounts, and leads one to infer that the long narrative by the reverend gentleman of Lord Lovat's adventures in the Bastille were written upon hearsay.
In the Castle of Angouleme Lord Lovat continued for three years; at first, being treated with great severity: "thirty-five days in perfect darkness, where every moment he expected death, and prepared to meet it with becoming fortitude. He listened with eagerness and anxiety to every noise, and, when his door screached upon its hinges, he believed that it was the executioner come to put an end to his unfortunate days."
In this predicament, finding that the last punishment was delayed, he "thought proper to address himself to a grim jailoress, who came every day to throw him something to eat, in the same silent and cautious manner in which you would feed a mad dog." By the "clink of a louis d'or," the prisoner managed to subdue the fidelity of this fair jailoress; she supplied him with pens and paper, and he immediately began a correspondence with his absent friends at the French Court.
After a time, the severity of Lord Lovat's imprisonment was mitigated. The Castle of Angouleme was, in a manner, an open prison, having an extensive park within its walls, with walks open to the inhabitants; and here, through the influence of Monsieur De Torcy, Lord Lovat was permitted to take exercise. His insinuating manners won upon the inhabitants, and the prison of Angouleme became so agreeable to him, that he was often heard to say, that "if there was a beautiful and enchanting prison in the world, it was the Castle of Angouleme."
Meantime, the scheme of invasion was by no means relinquished on the part of the Jacobites, although it had received a considerable check from the treachery of its agents.
It is stated by some historians that scarcely had Lord Lovat quitted England, than Sir John Maclean, his cousin-german, and Campbell, of Glendarnel, disclosed the plot to Lord Athole and Lord Tarbat. These noblemen instantly went to Queen Anne, and accused the Duke of Queensbury of high treason, in carrying on a villanous plot with the Court of St. Germains. Queensbury defended himself before the House of Lords, and the accusation, which rested chiefly on the assertions of Ferguson, the famous hatcher of plots, was declared false and scandalous, and Ferguson was committed to Newgate. The reluctance of the Duke of Queensbury to give up the correspondence, excited, however, suspicions of his integrity; which, as Harley, Lord Oxford, expressed it, could only be cleared up by Fraser, Lord Lovat; but Lord Lovat was not then to be found.
In all this singular and complicated affair, it is impossible to help wondering at the folly and audacity which Lord Lovat had shown in returning to France, conscious of having placed himself at the mercy of ruthless politicians, and aware that in that country he could expect no redress nor protection from law. But the original crime for which he had been sent forth, an outlaw from his country, was the source of all his subsequent mistakes and misfortunes. France was open to him; Scotland was closed; and England was a scene of peril to one who trod on fragile ice, beneath which a deep gulf yawned.
Lord Lovat had been two years in prison before any of his former friends, for even he was not wholly devoid of partisans, interfered with success in his behalf; and it was the good, old-fashioned feeling of kindred that finally moved the Marquis De Frezeliere, or Frezel, or Frezeau de la Frezeliere, to interest himself in the fate of his despised, and perhaps forgotten, relative.
"The house of Frezeliere, which ascends," says Lord Lovat, "in an uninterrupted line, and without any unequal alliance, to the year 1030, with its sixty-four quarterings in its armorial bearings, and all noble, its titles of seven hundred years standing in the Abbey of Notre Dame de Noyers in Touraine, and its many other circumstances of inherent dignity," was, as we have seen, derived from the same blood with the family of Frezel, or Fraser. In former, and more prosperous days, a common and authentic Act of Recognition of this relationship had been drawn up at Paris by the Marquis and his many illustrious kinsmen, the three sons of the Marshal Luxembourg de Montmorenci; and executed, on the other hand, by Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat, and by his brother, and several of their nearest kin.
The Marquis De Frezeliere appears to have been a fine specimen of that proud and valiant aristocracy, not even then wholly broken down in France by the effeminacy of the times. He was haughty and determined, "an eagle in the concerns of war," and of a spirit not to be subdued. By his powerful intercession, checked only by the disgust which Mary of Modena felt towards Lovat, he procured from the King of France permission for his relative to repair to the waters of Bourbon for the restoration of his health. This order was signed by Louis the Fourteenth, and countersigned by the Marquis De Torcy, as "Colbert." Four days afterwards, a second order was received by the authorities at Angouleme, by which his Majesty commanded that Lord Lovat, after the restoration of his health, should repair to his town of Saumur, until further orders. "At the same time," says Lord Lovat, "he was permitted to take with him the Chevalier De Frezel, his brother." These orders were dated August the second and August the fourteenth, 1707.
The brother, whom Lord Lovat always designates as the Chevalier de Fraser, had been placed with a Doctor of the Civil Law at Bourges, in order to learn French, and the profession of a civilian. He had been arrested at the same time with Lord Lovat; and was now, after a temporary separation, permitted to share the pleasures of a removal to Bourbon. According to Lord Lovat, a pension from the French Government was settled upon this young man as long as he resided in France; and Lord Lovat received also the ample income of four thousand francs, (one hundred and sixty-six pounds, thirteen shillings and fourpence,) from the same quarter: nor was it in the power of his enemies at St. Germains to induce Louis the Fourteenth to withdraw this allowance.
The Marquis de Frezeliere continued firm in his regard towards Lord Lovat. On his road to Saumur, Lord Lovat was received and entertained at the chateau of the Marquis with hospitality and kindness, and no opportunity was omitted by which the Marquis could testify the sincerity of his interest in the fate of his relative. Meantime daily reports were circulated that the projected insurrection, far from being abandoned, had been revived, and that the Chevalier was going to undertake the conduct of the invasion in person. But that young Prince was still inexorable to any petition in favour of Lovat, and was wisely resolved not to let him participate in the operations. "Were he not already in prison," he is stated by Lovat himself to have said, "I would make it my first request to the King of France to throw him into one." This fixed aversion was owing to the determined dislike of the Queen to abdicate, as it was her resolution, if there were no other person to be employed, never to make Lord Lovat an instrument of her affairs.
Lovat, therefore, now clearly perceived that, during the life of the Queen and of Lord Middleton, he must look for nothing favourable from the Court of St. Germains. That of Versailles, although, by his account, decidedly friendly to his release, refused to support those whom the Chevalier had renounced. He resolved, therefore, to make every exertion to return to his own country, and to place himself once more at the head of his clan, who, in spite of his crimes, in spite of his long absence and imprisonment, had still refused to acknowledge any other chief. The attempt was indeed desperate, but Lovat resolved to risk it, and to escape, at all events, from France.
To the vengeance of the Athole family, Lord Lovat always imputed much of the severity shown him by the Court at St. Germains: and it is probable that the representations of that powerful house may have contributed to the odium in which the character of Lord Lovat was universally held. His own deeds were, however, sufficient to ensure him universal hatred. The great source of surprise is, that this unscrupulous intriguer, this unprincipled member of society, seems, at times, during the course of his eventful life, to have met with friends, firm in their faith to him, and to have enjoyed, in that respect, the privilege of virtue.
The young heiress of Lovat, Amelia Fraser, was now married to Alexander Mackenzie, son of Lord Prestonhall; Mr. Mackenzie had adopted the title of Fraserdale; and a son had been born of this marriage, who had been named after his grandfather, Hugh. Fraserdale and his lady had taken possession both of the title and estates of Lord Lovat, during his absence; but, since the dignity and estates had always been enjoyed by an heir-male, from the origin of the house of Fraser, these claimants to the estate of the outlawed Lovat spread a report that the honours and lands had, in old times, belonged to the Bissets, whose daughter and only child had married a Fraser, from whom the estates had descended to the heir of that line. A suit was instituted against Lord Lovat and, on the ninth of March, 1703, Lord Prestonhall, the father of Fraserdale, himself adjudged the Lordship and Barony of Lovat to Amelia Fraser. An entail of the estates and honours upon the heirs of the marriage between Amelia Fraser and Mackenzie of Fraserdale, was then executed, and the former assumed the title of Lady Lovat, whilst her son was designated the Master of Lovat.
Lord Prestonhall seems to have acted with the same unscrupulous spirit which characterizes most of the business transactions of those who intermeddled with the forfeited or disputed estates. It was his aim, as the Memorial for the Lovat case, subsequently tried, sets forth, to extirpate the clan of the Frasers, and to raise that of the Mackenzies upon its ruins. "Accordingly," says Mr. Anderson, in his curious and elaborate account of the house of Fraser, "he framed a deed, with the sly contrivance of sinking the Frasers into the Mackenzies, by encouraging the former to change their names, and providing, as a condition of the estate, that should they return to, and reassume their ancient name of Fraser, they should forfeit their right."
The arms of Mackenzie, Macleod of Lewis, and Bisset, were to be quartered with those of Fraser, in this deed, which bore the signature of Robert Mackenzie, and was dated the twenty-third of February, 1706.
This decision, and the deed which followed it, appeared to complete the misfortunes of the disgraced and banished Lord Lovat. But, in fact, the act of injustice and rapacity, so repugnant to the spirit of the Highlanders,—this attempt to force upon the heirs of Fraser a foreign name, and thus to lower the dignity of the clan, was the most auspicious event that could happen to the wretched outlaw. What was his exact condition, or what were his circumstances, during the seven years of his imprisonment, three of which were passed under strict, though not harsh control, in the Castle of Angouleme, and four, apparently on his parole, in the Fortress of Saumur, it is not easy to describe. The cause of the obscurity of his fate at this time, is not that too little, but that too much, has been stated relative to his movements.
It is always an inconvenience when one cannot take a man's own story in evidence. According to Lord Lovat's own account, these weary years were spent in visits to different members of the nobility. The charming Countess de la Roche succeeded the Marquis de la Frezeliere as his friend and patroness, after the death of the Marquis in 1711, an event which, according to Lord Lovat's statement, brought him nearly to the grave from grief. The Countess was a woman of a masculine understanding, and of admirable talents, bold, insinuating, and ambitious. Her education in the household of the great Conde, and her long attendance upon the Princess de Conti, the hero's daughter, had qualified her for those arduous and delicate intrigues, without which no woman of intellect at that period in France might think herself sufficiently distinguished.
The appointment of the Duke of Hamilton as ambassador at the Court of Louis, rendered such a friend as Madame de la Roche, who was also distantly related to him, very essential for the prosecution of Lord Lovat's present schemes, which were, to obtain his release, and to procure employment in any enterprise concerted by the Jacobites against England.
Fate, however, relieved Lord Lovat from one apprehension. The Duke of Hamilton was killed in a duel by Lord Mohun, in Hyde Park; and this fresh source of danger was thus annihilated. The kindness which the famous Colbert, Marquis de Torcy, had shown to Lord Lovat, and the promise which he had given to that nobleman, not to break his parole, and to return to England, seems to have been the only check to a long-cherished project on the part of Lord Lovat to escape to London, and to risk all that law might there inflict. It is uncertain in what manner, during the tedious interval between intrigues and intrigues, he solaced his leisure. It has been stated by one of his biographers that he actually joined a society of Jesuits,—by another, that he took priest's orders, and acted as parochial priest at St. Omers. Of course, in compiling a defence of his life, the wary man of the world omitted such particulars as would, at any rate, betray inconsistency, and beget suspicion. His object in becoming a Jesuit, is said to have been to hear confessions and to discover intrigues. With respect to the report of his having entered the order of Jesuits, it is justly alleged in answer, that no Jesuit is permitted to hear confessions until he has been fifteen years a member of the society, or, at least, in priest's orders.
The rumour of his having become an ecclesiastic, in any way, no doubt originated in Lord Lovat's joke on a subsequent occasion, when "he declared that had he wished it, and had remained in priest's orders, which he did not deny having assumed for some purpose, he might have become Pope in time."
Whilst Lord Lovat, contrary to the advice of Madame la Roche, was deliberating whether he should not leave France, he was surprised, in the summer of 1714, by a visit from one of the principal gentlemen of his clan, Fraser of Castle Lader, son of Malcolm Fraser, of Culdelthel, a very considerable branch of the family of Lovat. This gentleman brought Lord Lovat a strong remonstrance from all his clan at his absence—an entreaty to him to return—a recommendation that he would join himself in an alliance with the Duke of Argyle, who was disposed to aid him; he added affectionate greetings from some of the principal gentry of his neighbourhood, and, among others, from John Forbes, of Culloden. This important ally was the father of the justly celebrated Duncan Forbes, afterwards Lord President. These messages decided Lord Lovat. After some indecision he left Saumur, and being allowed by his parole to travel to any place in France, he went on the twelfth of August, 1714, to Rouen, under pretence of paying a visit there. From Rouen he proceeded to Dieppe, but finding no vessel there, he travelled along the coast of Normandy, and from thence to Boulogne. From that port he sailed in a small smack, in a rough sea, during the night, and landed at Dover, November the eleventh, 1714.
He met his kinsman, Alexander Fraser, on the quay at Dover, and with him proceeded to London. His former friend, the Duke of Argyle, was now dead; but alliances, as well as antipathies, are hereditary in Scotland, and John, Duke of Argyle, was well disposed to assist one whose family had been anciently connected with his own. Besides, the state of public affairs was now totally changed since Lord Lovat had left England, and it was incumbent upon the Government to avail themselves of any tool which they might require for certain ends and undertakings.
Queen Anne was now dead,—the last of the Stuart dynasty in this kingdom. Whatever were her failings and her weaknesses as a woman, she has left behind her the character of having loved her people; and she was endeared to them by her purely English birth, her homely virtue of economy, and her domestic unpretending qualities. Her reign had been one of mercy; no subject had suffered for treason during her rule: she had few relations with foreign powers; and when, in her opening speech to the Parliament, she expressed that her heart was "wholly English," she spoke her real sentiments, and described, in that simple touch the true character of her mind.
She was succeeded by a German Prince, who immediately showered marks of his royal favour upon the Whigs; whilst the Tories, who formed so large a party in the kingdom, were alienated from the Government by the manifest aversion to them which George the First rather aimed to evince than laboured to conceal.
The Jacobites differed in some measure from the Tories, inasmuch as the latter were generally well affected to the accession of the Hanoverian family, until disgusted by the choice of the new administration. Dissensions quickly rose to their height; and when the Government was attacked in the House of Commons by Sir William Wyndham, the unusual sounds, "the Tower! the Tower!" were heard once more amid the inflamed assembly.
The spirit of disaffection quickly spread throughout England; the very life-guards were compelled by an angry populace, when celebrating the anniversary of the Restoration of the Stuarts, to join in the cry of "High Church and Ormond!" Lord Bolingbroke had withdrawn to France—treasonable papers were discovered and intercepted on their way from Jacobite emissaries to Dr. Swift, tumults were raised in the city of London and in Westminster, and were punished with a severity to which the metropolis had been unaccustomed since the reign of James the Second. All these manifestations had their origin in one common source,—the deeply concerted schemes which were now nearly brought into maturity at the Court of St. Germains.
The following extract of a letter dated from Luneville, and taken from the Macpherson Papers, shows what was meditated abroad; it is in Schrader's hand.
"Luneville, June 5th, 1714.
"It is likely the Chevalier St. George is preparing for some great design, which is kept very private. It was believed he would drink the waters of Plombiere for three weeks, as is customary, and that he would come afterwards to pass fifteen days at Luneville; but he changed his measures; he did not continue to drink the waters, which he drank only for ten days, and came back to Luneville on Saturday last. He sets out to-morrow very early for Bar. Lord Galmoy went before him, and set out this morning. Lord Talmo, who came lately from France, is with him, and some say that the Duke of Berwick is incognito in this neighbourhood.
"The Chevalier appears pensive,—that, indeed, is his ordinary humour. Mr. Floyd, who has been these five days at the Court of his Royal Highness, told a mistress he has there, that when he leaves her now, he will take his leave of her perhaps for the last time:—in short, it is certain that everything here seems sufficiently to announce preparations for a journey. It is said, likewise, in private, that the Chevalier has had letters that the Queen is very ill. I have done everything I could to discover something of his designs. I supped last night with several of his attendants, thinking to learn something; but they avoid to explain themselves. They only say that the Chevalier did not find himself the better for drinking the waters; that he would now go to repose himself for some time at Bar, until he goes, the beginning of next month, to the Prince De Vandemont's, at Commercie, where their Royal Highnesses will come likewise. They say they do not know yet if they will remain in this country or not; that they will follow the destiny of the Chevalier, and that it is not known yet what it shall be."
When Lord Lovat thus precipitately threw himself once more on the mercy of his country, he could not have been ignorant that the cabals which had long been carried on against the Hanoverian succession, were now shortly to break out in open rebellion; and it was, without doubt, in the hope of profiting in some measure during the confusion of the coming troubles, that he had hastened, at the risk of his life, to England.
He entrusted the secret of his arrival immediately to the Duke of Argyle, whom he met in London. That nobleman, one of the few disinterested men whose virtues might almost obtain the name of patriotism in those days, saw the danger which Lord Lovat would incur if he returned to Scotland. Sentence of death had been passed upon him; it might be acted upon by an adverse judge at any moment. He besought Lovat to remain in England until a remission of that sentence could be obtained; and for this purpose addresses to the Court for mercy were circulated for signature throughout the northern counties of Scotland. To further the success of this scheme, Lord Lovat had recourse to his neighbour and early friend, John Forbes, laird of Culloden, whose after-services in the royal cause, and whose strict alliance of friendship with the Duke of Argyle, secured to him a considerable influence in that part of Scotland in which he resided.
"Much honoured and dear Sir,"—thus wrote Lord Lovat to the Laird,—"The real friendship that I know you have for my person and family makes me take the freedom to assure you of my kind service, and to entreat you to join with my other friends between Sky and Nesse, to sign the addresse which the Court requires, in order to give me my remission. Your cousin James, who has generously exposed himself to bring me out of chains, will inform you of all steps and circumstances of my affairs since he saw me. I wish, dear Sir, from my heart, you were here; I am confident you would speak to the Duke of Argyle and to the Earl of Isla, to let them know their own interest, and their reiterated promises to do for me. Perhaps they may have, sooner than they expect, a most serious occasion for my service. But it is needless to preach now that doctrine to them; they think themselves in ane infallible security; I wish they may not be mistaken. However, I think it's the interest of all who love this Government, betwixt Sky and Nesse, to see me at the head of my clan, ready to join them; so that I believe none of them will refuse to sign ane adresse to make me a Scotsman. I am perswaded, dear Sir, that you will be of good example to them on that head. But secrecy, above all, must be keept; without which all may go wrong. I hope you will be stirring for the Parliament, for I will not be reconciled to you if you let Prestonall outvote you. Brigadier Grant, to whom I am infinitely obliged, has written to Foyers to give you his vote, and he is ane ungrat villian if he refuses him. [If] I was at home, the little pitiful barons of the Aird durst not refuse you. But I am hopefull that the news of my going to Brittain will hinder Prestonall to go north; for I may come to meet him when he lest thinks of me. I am very impatient to see you, and to assure you most sincerely how much I am, with love and respect, Right Honourable, your most obedient and most humble servant,
"The 24th of Nov. 1714."
The nature of the address to which this letter refers was not only an appeal to the King in behalf of Lord Lovat, but also an engagement, on the part of his friends, to answer for the loyalty of Lord Lovat, in any sum required. It is remarkable that when James Fraser, the kinsman of Lovat, arrived in the county of Inverness, and declared the purpose of his journey, the lairds who were well-affected to the nobility, joined in giving their subscriptions; and the Earl of Sutherland, the Lord Strathallan, and the nobility of the counties of Ross and Sutherland, signed them also. The Duke of Montrose, however, boldly opposed them, and described Lord Lovat as a man unworthy of the King's confidence.
A year, however, had elapsed, whilst Lovat was hanging about the Court, before the address was brought to London by Lord Isla, brother of the Duke of Argyle, and afterwards Archibald, Duke of Argyle. The address was presented on Sunday, the twenty-fourth of July, 1715. "The Earl of Orkney," says Lord Lovat, "who was the lord in waiting, held out his hand to receive them from the King, according to custom. The King, however, drew them back, folded them up, and, as if he had been pre-advised of their contents, put them into his pocket." And with this sentence, denoting that the crisis of his affairs was at hand, end the memoirs which Lord Lovat either wrote or dictated to others, of the early portion of his life.
Meantime, the Earl of Stair, the English ambassador at Paris, had discovered the embryo scheme of invasion, and had communicated it to the British Court, although, unhappily for both parties, not in sufficient time to damp the hopes of the unfortunate Jacobites. On the sixth of September, 1715, the Earl of Mar set up his standard at Braemar. Consistent with the usual fatality attending every attempt of the Stuarts, this event was preceded only five days by the death of Louis the Fourteenth—the only real friend of the excluded family; but the Jacobites had now proceeded too far to recede.
Lord Lovat resolved, however, to profit in the general disasters. His influence among his clansmen was obvious: whether for good or, in some instances, for evil, there is much to admire in the resolute adherence of those faithful mountaineers, who had resisted the assumption of a stranger, and invited back to their hills the long-absent and ruined chief, whom they regarded as their own.
Lord Lovat now found means to represent to the English Government, that if he could have a passport to go into the Highlands, he might be instrumental in quelling the rebellion. The Ministry, in their perplexities, availed themselves of his aid, and a pass was granted to him, under the name of Captain Brown.
He once more set out for his own country, and reached Edinburgh in safety, attended only by his kinsman, Major Fraser. From Edinburgh he resolved to proceed in a ship—when he could procure one, for the country was all in commotion. Meantime he took up his abode, still maintaining his disguise, in the Grass Market.
His real name was soon discovered, and information was given to the Lord Justice Clerk, who granted a warrant for his apprehension, as a person "outlawed and intercommuned;" and to prevent any difficulty in apprehending the prisoner, a party of the town guard was ordered to escort the peace officers to the lodgings of Lord Lovat.
The officer who had the command of the town guard happened, however, to be acquainted with Lovat, and he interposed his aid on this occasion. He listened to the account which Lovat gave of the business which had brought him to Edinburgh. The Provost was next gained over to the opinion, that it would be wrong to oppose any obstruction to one who had his Majesty's passport: he ordered Lord Lovat to be set at liberty; and in order to give some colour of justice to this act, he declared that the information must have been wrong, it being laid against Captain Fraser,—whereas, the person taken appeared to be Captain Brown.
Lovat was once more in safety: he changed his lodgings, however; and, as soon as possible, set sail for Inverness. Again danger, in another form, retarded his arrival among his clan. A storm arose, the ship was obliged to put into the nearest harbour, and Lord Lovat was driven into Fraserburgh, which happened to be within a few miles of the abode of his old enemy and rival Lord Saltoun.
Mr. Forbes, one of the Culloden family, was now fortunately for Lord Lovat, with him on his Majesty's service. After some consultation together, he and Lovat decided to make themselves known to Mr. Baillie, town-clerk of Fraserburgh: they did so, were kindly received, and provided with horses to convey them to Culloden House, the seat of the future Lord President of Scotland, Duncan Forbes. Here they arrived in November, after incurring great risks from the Jacobite troops, who were patroling in parties over the country.
Culloden House, famed in history, was inhabited by a race whose views, conduct, and personal character present a singular contrast, with those of Lord Lovat, or with those of other adventurers in political life. The head of the family was, at the period of the first insurrection, John Forbes, a worthy representative of an honourable, consistent, and spirited family. The younger brother of John Forbes was the celebrated Duncan Forbes, a man whose toleration of Lord Lovat, not to say countenance of that compound of violence and duplicity, seems to be the only incomprehensible portion of his lofty and beautiful character.