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The History of England from the Accession of James II. - Volume 3 (of 5)
by Thomas Babington Macaulay
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The disappointment was severe. In truth James would have done better to withhold all assistance from the Highlanders than to mock them by sending them, instead of the well appointed army which they had asked and expected, a rabble contemptible in numbers and appearance. It was now evident that whatever was done for his cause in Scotland must be done by Scottish hands, [359]

While Mackay from one side, and Dundee from the other, were advancing towards Blair Castle, important events had taken place there. Murray's adherents soon began to waver in their fidelity to him. They had an old antipathy to Whigs; for they considered the name of Whig as synonymous with the name of Campbell. They saw arrayed against them a large number of their kinsmen, commanded by a gentleman who was supposed to possess the confidence of the Marquess. The besieging army therefore melted rapidly away. Many returned home on the plea that, as their neighbourhood was about to be the seat of war, they must place their families and cattle in security. Others more ingenuously declared that they would not fight in such a quarrel. One large body went to a brook, filled their bonnets with water, drank a health to King James, and then dispersed, [360] Their zeal for King James, however, did not induce them to join the standard of his general. They lurked among the rocks and thickets which overhang the Garry, in the hope that there would soon be a battle, and that, whatever might be the event, there would be fugitives and corpses to plunder.

Murray was in a strait. His force had dwindled to three or four hundred men: even in those men he could put little trust; and the Macdonalds and Camerons were advancing fast. He therefore raised the siege of Blair Castle, and retired with a few followers into the defile of Killiecrankie. There he was soon joined by a detachment of two hundred fusileers whom Mackay had sent forward to secure the pass. The main body of the Lowland army speedily followed, [361]

Early in the morning of Saturday the twenty-seventh of July, Dundee arrived at Blair Castle. There he learned that Mackay's troops were already in the ravine of Killiecrankie. It was necessary to come to a prompt decision. A council of war was held. The Saxon officers were generally against hazarding a battle. The Celtic chiefs were oL a different opinion. Glengarry and Lochiel were now both of a mind. "Fight, my Lord" said Lochiel with his usual energy; "fight immediately: fight, if you have only one to three. Our men are in heart. Their only fear is that the enemy should escape. Give them their way; and be assured that they will either perish or gain a complete victory. But if you restrain them, if you force them to remain on the defensive, I answer for nothing. If we do not fight, we had better break up and retire to our mountains." [362]

Dundee's countenance brightened. "You hear, gentlemen," he said to his Lowland officers; "you hear the opinion of one who understands Highland war better than any of us." No voice was raised on the other side. It was determined to fight; and the confederated clans in high spirits set forward to encounter the enemy.

The enemy meanwhile had made his way up the pass. The ascent had been long and toilsome: for even the foot had to climb by twos and threes; and the baggage horses, twelve hundred in number, could mount only one at a time. No wheeled carriage had ever been tugged up that arduous path. The head of the column had emerged and was on the table land, while the rearguard was still in the plain below. At length the passage was effected; and the troops found themselves in a valley of no great extent. Their right was flanked by a rising ground, their left by the Garry. Wearied with the morning's work, they threw themselves on the grass to take some rest and refreshment.

Early in the afternoon, they were roused by an alarm that the Highlanders were approaching. Regiment after regiment started up and got into order. In a little while the summit of an ascent which was about a musket shot before them was covered with bonnets and plaids. Dundee rode forward for the purpose of surveying the force with which he was to contend, and then drew up his own men with as much skill as their peculiar character permitted him to exert. It was desirable to keep the clans distinct. Each tribe, large or small, formed a column separated from the next column by a wide interval. One of these battalions might contain seven hundred men, while another consisted of only a hundred and twenty. Lochiel had represented that it was impossible to mix men of different tribes without destroying all that constituted the peculiar strength of a Highland army, [363]

On the right, close to the Garry, were the Macleans. Next to them were Cannon and his Irish foot. Then came the Macdonalds of Clanronald, commanded by the guardian of their young prince. On the left were other bands of Macdonalds. At the head of one large battalion towered the stately form of Glengarry, who bore in his hand the royal standard of King James the Seventh, [364] Still further to the left were the cavalry, a small squadron consisting of some Jacobite gentlemen who had fled from the Lowlands to the mountains and of about forty of Dundee's old troopers. The horses had been ill fed and ill tended among the Grampians, and looked miserably lean and feeble. Beyond them was Lochiel with his Camerons. On the extreme left, the men of Sky were marshalled by Macdonald of Sleat, [365]

In the Highlands, as in all countries where war has not become a science, men thought it the most important duty of a commander to set an example of personal courage and of bodily exertion. Lochiel was especially renowned for his physical prowess. His clansmen looked big with pride when they related how he had himself broken hostile ranks and hewn down tall warriors. He probably owed quite as much of his influence to these achievements as to the high qualities which, if fortune had placed him in the English Parliament or at the French court, would have made him one of the foremost men of his age. He had the sense however to perceive how erroneous was the notion which his countrymen had formed. He knew that to give and to take blows was not the business of a general. He knew with how much difficulty Dundee had been able to keep together, during a few days, an army composed of several clans; and he knew that what Dundee had effected with difficulty Cannon would not be able to effect at all. The life on which so much depended must not be sacrificed to a barbarous prejudice. Lochiel therefore adjured Dundee not to run into any unnecessary danger. "Your Lordship's business," he said, "is to overlook every thing, and to issue your commands. Our business is to execute those commands bravely and promptly." Dundee answered with calm magnanimity that there was much weight in what his friend Sir Ewan had urged, but that no general could effect any thing great without possessing the confidence of his men. "I must establish my character for courage. Your people expect to see their leaders in the thickest of the battle; and to day they shall see me there. I promise you, on my honour, that in future fights I will take more care of myself."

Meanwhile a fire of musketry was kept up on both sides, but more skilfully and more steadily by the regular soldiers than by the mountaineers. The space between the armies was one cloud of smoke. Not a few Highlanders dropped; and the clans grew impatient. The sun however was low in the west before Dundee gave the order to prepare for action. His men raised a great shout. The enemy, probably exhausted by the toil of the day, returned a feeble and wavering cheer. "We shall do it now," said Lochiel: "that is not the cry of men who are going to win." He had walked through all his ranks, had addressed a few words to every Cameron, and had taken from every Cameron a promise to conquer or die, [366]

It was past seven o'clock. Dundee gave the word. The Highlanders dropped their plaids. The few who were so luxurious as to wear rude socks of untanned hide spurned them away. It was long remembered in Lochaber that Lochiel took off what probably was the only pair of shoes in his clan, and charged barefoot at the head of his men. The whole line advanced firing. The enemy returned the fire and did much execution. When only a small space was left between the armies, the Highlanders suddenly flung away their firelocks, drew their broadswords, and rushed forward with a fearful yell. The Lowlanders prepared to receive the shock; but this was then a long and awkward process; and the soldiers were still fumbling with the muzzles of their guns and the handles of their bayonets when the whole flood of Macleans, Macdonalds, and Camerons came down. In two minutes the battle was lost and won. The ranks of Balfour's regiment broke. He was cloven down while struggling in the press. Ramsay's men turned their backs and dropped their arms. Mackay's own foot were swept away by the furious onset of the Camerons. His brother and nephew exerted themselves in vain to rally the men. The former was laid dead on the ground by a stroke from a claymore. The latter, with eight wounds on his body, made his way through the tumult and carnage to his uncle's side. Even in that extremity Mackay retained all his selfpossession. He had still one hope. A charge of horse might recover the day; for of horse the bravest Highlanders were supposed to stand in awe. But he called on the horse in vain.

Belhaven indeed behaved like a gallant gentleman: but his troopers, appalled by the rout of the infantry, galloped off in disorder: Annandale's men followed: all was over; and the mingled torrent of redcoats and tartans went raving down the valley to the gorge of Killiecrankie.

Mackay, accompanied by one trusty servant, spurred bravely through the thickest of the claymores and targets, and reached a point from which he had a view of the field. His whole army had disappeared, with the exception of some Borderers whom Leven had kept together, and of Hastings's regiment, which had poured a murderous fire into the Celtic ranks, and which still kept unbroken order. All the men that could be collected were only a few hundreds. The general made haste to lead them across the Carry, and, having put that river between them and the enemy, paused for a moment to meditate on his situation.

He could hardly understand how the conquerors could be so unwise as to allow him even that moment for deliberation. They might with ease have killed or taken all who were with him before the night closed in. But the energy of the Celtic warriors had spent itself in one furious rush and one short struggle. The pass was choked by the twelve hundred beasts of burden which carried the provisions and baggage of the vanquished army. Such a booty was irresistibly tempting to men who were impelled to war quite as much by the desire of rapine as by the desire of glory. It is probable that few even of the chiefs were disposed to leave so rich a price for the sake of King James. Dundee himself might at that moment have been unable to persuade his followers to quit the heaps of spoil, and to complete the great work of the day; and Dundee was no more.

At the beginning of the action he had taken his place in front of his little band of cavalry. He bade them follow him, and rode forward. But it seemed to be decreed that, on that day, the Lowland Scotch should in both armies appear to disadvantage. The horse hesitated. Dundee turned round, and stood up in his stirrups, and, waving his hat, invited them to come on. As he lifted his arm, his cuirass rose, and exposed the lower part of his left side. A musket ball struck him; his horse sprang forward and plunged into a cloud of smoke and dust, which hid from both armies the fall of the victorious general. A person named Johnstone was near him and caught him as he sank down from the saddle. "How goes the day?" said Dundee. "Well for King James;" answered Johnstone: "but I am sorry for Your Lordship." "If it is well for him," answered the dying man, "it matters the less for me." He never spoke again; but when, half an hour later, Lord Dunfermline and some other friends came to the spot, they thought that they could still discern some faint remains of life. The body, wrapped in two plaids, was carried to the Castle of Blair, [367]

Mackay, who was ignorant of Dundee's fate, and well acquainted with Dundee's skill and activity, expected to be instantly and hotly pursued, and had very little expectation of being able to save even the scanty remains of the vanquished army. He could not retreat by the pass: for the Highlanders were already there. He therefore resolved to push across the mountains towards the valley of the Tay. He soon overtook two or three hundred of his runaways who had taken the same road. Most of them belonged to Ramsay's regiment, and must have seen service. But they were unarmed: they were utterly bewildered by the recent disaster; and the general could find among them no remains either of martial discipline or of martial spirit. His situation was one which must have severely tried the firmest nerves. Night had set in: he was in a desert: he had no guide: a victorious enemy was, in all human probability, on his track; and he had to provide for the safety of a crowd of men who had lost both head and heart. He had just suffered a defeat of all defeats the most painful and humiliating. His domestic feelings had been not less severely wounded than his professional feelings. One dear kinsman had just been struck dead before his eyes. Another, bleeding from many wounds, moved feebly at his side. But the unfortunate general's courage was sustained by a firm faith in God, and a high sense of duty to the state. In the midst of misery and disgrace, he still held his head nobly erect, and found fortitude, not only for himself; but for all around him. His first care was to be sure of his road. A solitary light which twinkled through the darkness guided him to a small hovel. The inmates spoke no tongue but the Gaelic, and were at first scared by the appearance of uniforms and arms. But Mackay's gentle manner removed their apprehension: their language had been familiar to him in childhood; and he retained enough of it to communicate with them. By their directions, and by the help of a pocket map, in which the routes through that wild country were roughly laid down, he was able to find his way. He marched all night. When day broke his task was more difficult than ever. Light increased the terror of his companions. Hastings's men and Leven's men indeed still behaved themselves like soldiers. But the fugitives from Ramsay's were a mere rabble. They had flung away their muskets. The broadswords from which they had fled were ever in their eyes. Every fresh object caused a fresh panic. A company of herdsmen in plaids driving cattle was magnified by imagination into a host of Celtic warriors. Some of the runaways left the main body and fled to the hills, where their cowardice met with a proper punishment. They were killed for their coats and shoes; and their naked carcasses were left for a prey to the eagles of Ben Lawers. The desertion would have been much greater, had not Mackay and his officers, pistol in hand, threatened to blow out the brains of any man whom they caught attempting to steal off.

At length the weary fugitives came in sight of Weems Castle. The proprietor of the mansion was a friend to the new government, and extended to them such hospitality as was in his power. His stores of oatmeal were brought out, kine were slaughtered; and a rude and hasty meal was set before the numerous guests. Thus refreshed, they again set forth, and marched all day over bog, moor, and mountain. Thinly inhabited as the country was, they could plainly see that the report of their disaster had already spread far, and that the population was every where in a state of great excitement. Late at night they reached Castle Drummond, which was held for King William by a small garrison; and, on the following day, they proceeded with less difficulty to Stirling, [368]

The tidings of their defeat had outrun them. All Scotland was in a ferment. The disaster had indeed been great: but it was exaggerated by the wild hopes of one party and by the wild fears of the other. It was at first believed that the whole army of King William had perished; that Mackay himself had fallen; that Dundee, at the head of a great host of barbarians, flushed with victory and impatient for spoil, had already descended from the hills; that he was master of the whole country beyond the Forth; that Fife was up to join him; that in three days he would be at Stirling; that in a week he would be at Holyrood. Messengers were sent to urge a regiment which lay in Northumberland to hasten across the border. Others carried to London earnest entreaties that His Majesty would instantly send every soldier that could be spared, nay, that he would come himself to save his northern kingdom. The factions of the Parliament House, awestruck by the common danger, forgot to wrangle. Courtiers and malecontents with one voice implored the Lord High Commissioner to close the session, and to dismiss them from a place where their deliberations might soon be interrupted by the mountaineers. It was seriously considered whether it might not be expedient to abandon Edinburgh, to send the numerous state prisoners who were in the Castle and the Tolbooth on board of a man of war which lay off Leith, and to transfer the seat of government to Glasgow.

The news of Dundee's victory was every where speedily followed by the news of his death; and it is a strong proof of the extent and vigour of his faculties, that his death seems every where to have been regarded as a complete set off against his victory. Hamilton, before he adjourned the Estates, informed them that he had good tidings for them; that Dundee was certainly dead; and that therefore the rebels had on the whole sustained a defeat. In several letters written at that conjuncture by able and experienced politicians a similar opinion is expressed. The messenger who rode with the news of the battle to the English Court was fast followed by another who carried a despatch for the King, and, not finding His Majesty at Saint James's, galloped to Hampton Court. Nobody in the capital ventured to break the seal; but fortunately, after the letter had been closed, some friendly hand had hastily written on the outside a few words of comfort: "Dundee is killed. Mackay has got to Stirling:" and these words quieted the minds of the Londoners, [369]

From the pass of Killiecrankie the Highlanders had retired, proud of their victory, and laden with spoil, to the Castle of Blair. They boasted that the field of battle was covered with heaps of the Saxon soldiers, and that the appearance of the corpses bore ample testimony to the power of a good Gaelic broadsword in a good Gaelic right hand. Heads were found cloven down to the throat, and sculls struck clean off just above the ears. The conquerors however had bought their victory dear. While they were advancing, they had been much galled by the musketry of the enemy; and, even after the decisive charge, Hastings's Englishmen and some of Leven's borderers had continued to keep up a steady fire. A hundred and twenty Camerons had been slain: the loss of the Macdonalds had been still greater; and several gentlemen of birth and note had fallen, [370]

Dundee was buried in the church of Blair Athol: but no monument was erected over his grave; and the church itself has long disappeared. A rude stone on the field of battle marks, if local tradition can be trusted, the place where he fell, [371] During the last three months of his life he had approved himself a great warrior and politician; and his name is therefore mentioned with respect by that large class of persons who think that there is no excess of wickedness for which courage and ability do not atone.

It is curious that the two most remarkable battles that perhaps were ever gained by irregular over regular troops should have been fought in the same week; the battle of Killiecrankie, and the battle of Newton Butler. In both battles the success of the irregular troops was singularly rapid and complete. In both battles the panic of the regular troops, in spite of the conspicuous example of courage set by their generals, was singularly disgraceful. It ought also to be noted that, of these extraordinary victories, one was gained by Celts over Saxons, and the other by Saxons over Celts. The victory of Killiecrankie indeed, though neither more splendid nor more important than the victory of Newton Butler, is far more widely renowned; and the reason is evident. The Anglosaxon and the Celt have been reconciled in Scotland, and have never been reconciled in Ireland. In Scotland all the great actions of both races are thrown into a common stock, and are considered as making up the glory which belongs to the whole country. So completely has the old antipathy been extinguished that nothing is more usual than to hear a Lowlander talk with complacency and even with pride of the most humiliating defeat that his ancestors ever underwent. It would be difficult to name any eminent man in whom national feeling and clannish feeling were stronger than in Sir Walter Scott. Yet when Sir Walter Scott mentioned Killiecrankie he seemed utterly to forget that he was a Saxon, that he was of the same blood and of the same speech with Ramsay's foot and Annandale's horse. His heart swelled with triumph when he related how his own kindred had fled like hares before a smaller number of warriors of a different breed and of a different tongue.

In Ireland the feud remains unhealed. The name of Newton Butler, insultingly repeated by a minority, is hateful to the great majority of the population. If a monument were set up on the field of battle, it would probably be defaced: if a festival were held in Cork or Waterford on the anniversary of the battle, it would probably be interrupted by violence. The most illustrious Irish poet of our time would have thought it treason to his country to sing the praises of the conquerors. One of the most learned and diligent Irish archeologists of our time has laboured, not indeed very successfully, to prove that the event of the day was decided by a mere accident from which the Englishry could derive no glory. We cannot wonder that the victory of the Highlanders should be more celebrated than the victory of the Enniskilleners, when we consider that the victory of the Highlanders is matter of boast to all Scotland, and that the victory of the Enniskilleners is matter of shame to three fourths of Ireland.

As far as the great interests of the State were concerned, it mattered not at all whether the battle of Killiecrankie were lost or won. It is very improbable that even Dundee, if he had survived the most glorious day of his life, could have surmounted those difficulties which sprang from the peculiar nature of his army, and which would have increased tenfold as soon as the war was transferred to the Lowlands. It is certain that his successor was altogether unequal to the task. During a day or two, indeed, the new general might flatter himself that all would go well. His army was rapidly swollen to near double the number of claymores that Dundee had commanded. The Stewarts of Appin, who, though full of zeal, had not been able to come up in time for the battle, were among the first who arrived. Several clans, which had hitherto waited to see which side was the stronger, were now eager to descend on the Lowlands under the standard of King James the Seventh. The Grants indeed continued to bear true allegiance to William and Mary; and the Mackintoshes were kept neutral by unconquerable aversion to Keppoch. But Macphersons, Farquharsons, and Frasers came in crowds to the camp at Blair. The hesitation of the Athol men was at an end. Many of them had lurked, during the fight, among the crags and birch trees of Killiecrankie, and, as soon as the event of the day was decided, had emerged from those hiding places to strip and butcher the fugitives who tried to escape by the pass. The Robertsons, a Gaelic race, though bearing a Saxon name, gave in at this conjuncture their adhesion to the cause of the exiled king. Their chief Alexander, who took his appellation from his lordship of Struan, was a very young man and a student at the University of Saint Andrew's. He had there acquired a smattering of letters, and had been initiated much more deeply into Tory politics. He now joined the Highland army, and continued, through a long life to be constant to the Jacobite cause. His part, however, in public affairs was so insignificant that his name would not now be remembered, if he had not left a volume of poems, always very stupid and often very profligate. Had this book been manufactured in Grub Street, it would scarcely have been honoured with a quarter of a line in the Dunciad. But it attracted some notice on account of the situation of the writer. For, a hundred and twenty years ago, an eclogue or a lampoon written by a Highland chief was a literary portent, [372]

But, though the numerical strength of Cannon's forces was increasing, their efficiency was diminishing. Every new tribe which joined the camp brought with it some new cause of dissension. In the hour of peril, the most arrogant and mutinous spirits will often submit to the guidance of superior genius. Yet, even in the hour of peril, and even to the genius of Dundee, the Celtic chiefs had gelded but a precarious and imperfect obedience. To restrain them, when intoxicated with success and confident of their strength, would probably have been too hard a task even for him, as it had been, in the preceding generation, too hard a task for Montrose. The new general did nothing but hesitate and blunder. One of his first acts was to send a large body of men, chiefly Robertsons, down into the low country for the purpose of collecting provisions. He seems to have supposed that this detachment would without difficulty occupy Perth. But Mackay had already restored order among the remains of his army: he had assembled round him some troops which had not shared in the disgrace of the late defeat; and he was again ready for action. Cruel as his sufferings had been, he had wisely and magnanimously resolved not to punish what was past. To distinguish between degrees of guilt was not easy. To decimate the guilty would have been to commit a frightful massacre. His habitual piety too led him to consider the unexampled panic which had seized his soldiers as a proof rather of the divine displeasure than of their cowardice. He acknowledged with heroic humility that the singular firmness which he had himself displayed in the midst of the confusion and havoc was not his own, and that he might well, but for the support of a higher power, have behaved as pusillanimously as any of the wretched runaways who had thrown away their weapons and implored quarter in vain from the barbarous marauders of Athol. His dependence on heaven did not, however, prevent him from applying himself vigorously to the work of providing, as far as human prudence could provide, against the recurrence of such a calamity as that which he had just experienced. The immediate cause of his defeat was the difficulty of fixing bayonets. The firelock of the Highlander was quite distinct from the weapon which he used in close fight. He discharged his shot, threw away his gun, and fell on with his sword. This was the work of a moment. It took the regular musketeer two or three minutes to alter his missile weapon into a weapon with which he could encounter an enemy hand to hand; and during these two or three minutes the event of the battle of Killiecrankie had been decided. Mackay therefore ordered all his bayonets to be so formed that they might be screwed upon the barrel without stopping it up, and that his men might be able to receive a charge the very instant after firing, [373]

As soon as he learned that a detachment of the Gaelic army was advancing towards Perth, he hastened to meet them at the head of a body of dragoons who had not been in the battle, and whose spirit was therefore unbroken. On Wednesday the thirty-first of July, only four days after his defeat, he fell in with the Robertsons near Saint Johnston's, attacked them, routed them, killed a hundred and twenty of them, and took thirty prisoners, with the loss of only a single soldier, [374] This skirmish produced an effect quite out of proportion to the number of the combatants or of the slain. The reputation of the Celtic arms went down almost as fast as it had risen. During two or three days it had been every where imagined that those arms were invincible. There was now a reaction. It was perceived that what had happened at Killiecrankie was an exception to ordinary rules, and that the Highlanders were not, except in very peculiar circumstances, a match for good regular soldiers.

Meanwhile the disorders of Cannon's camp went on increasing. He called a council of war to consider what course it would be advisable to take. But as soon as the council had met, a preliminary question was raised. Who were entitled to be consulted? The army was almost exclusively a Highland army. The recent victory had been won exclusively by Highland warriors. Great chiefs, who had brought six or seven hundred fighting men into the field, did not think it fair that they should be outvoted by gentlemen from Ireland and from the low country, who bore indeed King James's commission, and were called Colonels and Captains, but who were Colonels without regiments and Captains without companies. Lochiel spoke strongly in behalf of the class to which he belonged: but Cannon decided that the votes of the Saxon officers should be reckoned, [375]

It was next considered what was to be the plan of the campaign. Lochiel was for advancing, for marching towards Mackay wherever Mackay might be, and for giving battle again. It can hardly be supposed that success had so turned the head of the wise chief of the Camerons as to make him insensible of the danger of the course which he recommended. But he probably conceived that nothing but a choice between dangers was left to him. His notion was that vigorous action was necessary to the very being of a Highland army, and that the coalition of clans would last only while they were impatiently pushing forward from battlefield to battlefield. He was again overruled. All his hopes of success were now at an end. His pride was severely wounded. He had submitted to the ascendancy of a great captain: but he cared as little as any Whig for a royal commission. He had been willing to be the right hand of Dundee: but he would not be ordered about by Cannon. He quitted the camp, and retired to Lochaber. He indeed directed his clan to remain. But the clan, deprived of the leader whom it adored, and aware that he had withdrawn himself in ill humour, was no longer the same terrible column which had a few days before kept so well the vow to perish or to conquer. Macdonald of Sleat, whose forces exceeded in number those of any other of the confederate chiefs, followed Lochiel's example and returned to Sky, [376]

Mackay's arrangements were by this time complete; and he had little doubt that, if the rebels came down to attack him, the regular army would retrieve the honour which had been lost at Killiecrankie. His chief difficulties arose from the unwise interference of the ministers of the Crown at Edinburgh with matters which ought to have been left to his direction. The truth seems to be that they, after the ordinary fashion of men who, having no military experience, sit in judgment on military operations, considered success as the only test of the ability of a commander. Whoever wins a battle is, in the estimation of such persons, a great general: whoever is beaten is a lead general; and no general had ever been more completely beaten than Mackay. William, on the other hand, continued to place entire confidence in his unfortunate lieutenant. To the disparaging remarks of critics who had never seen a skirmish, Portland replied, by his master's orders, that Mackay was perfectly trustworthy, that he was brave, that he understood war better than any other officer in Scotland, and that it was much to be regretted that any prejudice should exist against so good a man and so good a soldier, [377]

The unjust contempt with which the Scotch Privy Councillors regarded Mackay led them into a great error which might well have caused a great disaster. The Cameronian regiment was sent to garrison Dunkeld. Of this arrangement Mackay altogether disapproved. He knew that at Dunkeld these troops would be near the enemy; that they would be far from all assistance; that they would be in an open town; that they would be surrounded by a hostile population; that they were very imperfectly disciplined, though doubtless brave and zealous; that they were regarded by the whole Jacobite party throughout Scotland with peculiar malevolence; and that in all probability some great effort would be made to disgrace and destroy them, [378]

The General's opinion was disregarded; and the Cameronians occupied the post assigned to them. It soon appeared that his forebodings were just. The inhabitants of the country round Dunkeld furnished Cannon with intelligence, and urged him to make a bold push. The peasantry of Athol, impatient for spoil, came in great numbers to swell his army. The regiment hourly expected to be attacked, and became discontented and turbulent. The men, intrepid, indeed, both from constitution and from enthusiasm, but not yet broken to habits of military submission, expostulated with Cleland, who commanded them. They had, they imagined, been recklessly, if not perfidiously, sent to certain destruction. They were protected by no ramparts: they had a very scanty stock of ammunition: they were hemmed in by enemies. An officer might mount and gallop beyond reach of danger in an hour; but the private soldier must stay and be butchered. "Neither I," said Cleland, "nor any of my officers will, in any extremity, abandon you. Bring out my horse, all our horses; they shall be shot dead." These words produced a complete change of feeling. The men answered that the horses should not be shot, that they wanted no pledge from their brave Colonel except his word, and that they would run the last hazard with him. They kept their promise well. The Puritan blood was now thoroughly up; and what that blood was when it was up had been proved on many fields of battle.

That night the regiment passed under arms. On the morning of the following day, the twenty-first of August, all the hills round Dunkeld were alive with bonnets and plaids. Cannon's army was much larger than that which Dundee had commanded. More than a thousand horses laden with baggage accompanied his march. Both the horses and baggage were probably part of the booty of Killiecrankie. The whole number of Highlanders was estimated by those who saw them at from four to five thousand men. They came furiously on. The outposts of the Cameronians were speedily driven in. The assailants came pouring on every side into the streets. The church, however, held out obstinately. But the greater part of the regiment made its stand behind a wall which surrounded a house belonging to the Marquess of Athol. This wall, which had two or three days before been hastily repaired with timber and loose stones, the soldiers defended desperately with musket, pike, and halbert. Their bullets were soon spent; but some of the men were employed in cutting lead from the roof of the Marquess's house and shaping it into slugs. Meanwhile all the neighbouring houses were crowded from top to bottom with Highlanders, who kept up a galling fire from the windows. Cleland, while encouraging his men, was shot dead. The command devolved on Major Henderson.

In another minute Henderson fell pierced with three mortal wounds. His place was supplied by Captain Munro, and the contest went on with undiminished fury. A party of the Cameronians sallied forth, set fire to the houses from which the fatal shots had come, and turned the keys in the doors. In one single dwelling sixteen of the enemy were burnt alive. Those who were in the fight described it as a terrible initiation for recruits. Half the town was blazing; and with the incessant roar of the guns were mingled the piercing shrieks of wretches perishing in the flames. The struggle lasted four hours. By that time the Cameronians were reduced nearly to their last flask of powder; but their spirit never flagged. "The enemy will soon carry the wall. Be it so. We will retreat into the house: we will defend it to the last; and, if they force their way into it, we will burn it over their heads and our own." But, while they were revolving these desperate projects, they observed that the fury of the assault slackened. Soon the highlanders began to fall back: disorder visibly spread among them; and whole bands began to march off to the hills. It was in vain that their general ordered them to return to the attack. Perseverance was not one of their military virtues. The Cameronians meanwhile, with shouts of defiance, invited Amalek and Moab to come back and to try another chance with the chosen people. But these exhortations had as little effect as those of Cannon. In a short time the whole Gaelic army was in full retreat towards Blair. Then the drums struck up: the victorious Puritans threw their caps into the air, raised, with one voice, a psalm of triumph and thanksgiving, and waved their colours, colours which were on that day unfurled for the first time in the face of an enemy, but which have since been proudly borne in every quarter of the world, and which are now embellished with the Sphinx and the Dragon, emblems of brave actions achieved in Egypt and in China, [379]

The Cameronians had good reason to be joyful and thankful; for they had finished the rear. In the rebel camp all was discord and dejection. The Highlanders blamed Cannon: Cannon blamed the Highlanders; and the host which had been the terror of Scotland melted fast away. The confederate chiefs signed an association by which they declared themselves faithful subjects of King James, and bound themselves to meet again at a future time. Having gone through this form,—for it was no more,—they departed, each to his home. Cannon and his Irishmen retired to the Isle of Mull. The Lowlanders who had followed Dundee to the mountains shifted for themselves as they best could. On the twenty-fourth of August, exactly four weeks after the Gaelic army had won the battle of Killiecrankie, that army ceased to exist. It ceased to exist, as the army of Montrose had, more than forty years earlier, ceased to exist, not in consequence of any great blow from without, but by a natural dissolution, the effect of internal malformation. All the fruits of victory were gathered by the vanquished. The Castle of Blair, which had been the immediate object of the contest, opened its gates to Mackay; and a chain of military posts, extending northward as far as Inverness, protected the cultivators of the plains against the predatory inroads of the mountaineers.

During the autumn the government was much more annoyed by the Whigs of the low country, than by the Jacobites of the hills. The Club, which had, in the late session of Parliament, attempted to turn the kingdom into an oligarchical republic, and which had induced the Estates to refuse supplies and to stop the administration of justice, continued to sit during the recess, and harassed the ministers of the Crown by systematic agitation. The organization of this body, contemptible as it may appear to the generation which has seen the Roman Catholic Association and the League against the Corn Laws, was then thought marvellous and formidable. The leaders of the confederacy boasted that they would force the King to do them right. They got up petitions and addresses, tried to inflame the populace by means of the press and the pulpit, employed emissaries among the soldiers, and talked of bringing up a large body of Covenanters from the west to overawe the Privy Council. In spite of every artifice, however, the ferment of the public mind gradually subsided. The Government, after some hesitation, ventured to open the Courts of justice which the Estates had closed. The Lords of Session appointed by the King took their seats; and Sir James Dalrymple presided. The Club attempted to induce the advocates to absent themselves from the bar, and entertained some hope that the mob would pull the judges from the bench. But it speedily became clear that there was much more likely to be a scarcity of fees than of lawyers to take them: the common people of Edinburgh were well pleased to see again a tribunal associated in their imagination with the dignity and prosperity of their city; and by many signs it appeared that the false and greedy faction which had commanded a majority of the legislature did not command a majority of the nation, [380]



CHAPTER XIV

Disputes in the English Parliament—The Attainder of Russell reversed—Other Attainders reversed; Case of Samuel Johnson—Case of Devonshire—Case of Oates—Bill of Rights—Disputes about a Bill of Indemnity—Last Days of Jeffreys—The Whigs dissatisfied with the King—Intemperance of Howe—Attack on Caermarthen—Attack on Halifax—Preparations for a Campaign in Ireland—Schomberg—Recess of the Parliament—State of Ireland; Advice of Avaux—Dismission of Melfort; Schomberg lands in Ulster—Carrickfergus taken—Schomberg advances into Leinster; the English and Irish Armies encamp near each other—Schomberg declines a Battle—Frauds of the English Commissariat—Conspiracy among the French Troops in the English Service—Pestilence in the English Army—The English and Irish Armies go into Winter Quarters—Various Opinions about Schomberg's Conduct—Maritime Affairs—Maladministration of Torrington—Continental Affairs—Skirmish at Walcourt—Imputations thrown on Marlborough—Pope Innocent XI. succeeded by Alexander VIII.—The High Church Clergy divided on the Subject of the Oaths—Arguments for taking the Oaths—Arguments against taking the Oaths—A great Majority of the Clergy take the Oaths—The Nonjurors; Ken—Leslie—Sherlock—Hickes—Collier—Dodwell—Kettlewell; Fitzwilliam—General Character of the Nonjuring Clergy—The Plan of Comprehension; Tillotson—An Ecclesiastical Commission issued.—Proceedings of the Commission—The Convocation of the Province of Canterbury summoned; Temper of the Clergy—The Clergy ill affected towards the King—The Clergy exasperated against the Dissenters by the Proceedings of the Scotch Presbyterians—Constitution of the Convocation—Election of Members of Convocation; Ecclesiastical Preferments bestowed,—Compton discontented—The Convocation meets—The High Churchmen a Majority of the Lower House of Convocation—Difference between the two Houses of Convocation—The Lower House of Convocation proves unmanageable.—The Convocation prorogued

TWENTY-four hours before the war in Scotland was brought to a close by the discomfiture of the Celtic army at Dunkeld, the Parliament broke up at Westminster. The Houses had sate ever since January without a recess. The Commons, who were cooped up in a narrow space, had suffered severely from heat and discomfort; and the health of many members had given way. The fruit however had not been proportioned to the toil. The last three months of the session had been almost entirely wasted in disputes, which have left no trace in the Statute Book. The progress of salutary laws had been impeded, sometimes by bickerings between the Whigs and the Tories, and sometimes by bickerings between the Lords and the Commons.

The Revolution had scarcely been accomplished when it appeared that the supporters of the Exclusion Bill had not forgotten what they had suffered during the ascendancy of their enemies, and were bent on obtaining both reparation and revenge. Even before the throne was filled, the Lords appointed a committee to examine into the truth of the frightful stories which had been circulated concerning the death of Essex. The committee, which consisted of zealous Whigs, continued its inquiries till all reasonable men were convinced that he had fallen by his own hand, and till his wife, his brother, and his most intimate friends were desirous that the investigation should be carried no further, [381] Atonement was made, without any opposition on the part of the Tories, to the memory and the families of some other victims, who were themselves beyond the reach of human power. Soon after the Convention had been turned into a Parliament, a bill for reversing the attainder of Lord Russell was presented to the peers, was speedily passed by them, was sent down to the Lower House, and was welcomed there with no common signs of emotion. Many of the members had sate in that very chamber with Russell. He had long exercised there an influence resembling the influence which, within the memory of this generation, belonged to the upright and benevolent Althorpe; an influence derived, not from superior skill in debate or in declamation, but from spotless integrity, from plain good sense, and from that frankness, that simplicity, that good nature, which are singularly graceful and winning in a man raised by birth and fortune high above his fellows. By the Whigs Russell had been honoured as a chief; and his political adversaries had admitted that, when he was not misled by associates less respectable and more artful than himself, he was as honest and kindhearted a gentleman as any in England. The manly firmness and Christian meekness with which he had met death, the desolation of his noble house, the misery of the bereaved father, the blighted prospects of the orphan children, [382] above all, the union of womanly tenderness and angelic patience in her who had been dearest to the brave sufferer, who had sate, with the pen in her hand, by his side at the bar, who had cheered the gloom of his cell, and who, on his last day, had shared with him the memorials of the great sacrifice, had softened the hearts of many who were little in the habit of pitying an opponent. That Russell had many good qualities, that he had meant well, that he had been hardly used, was now admitted even by courtly lawyers who had assisted in shedding his blood, and by courtly divines who had done their worst to blacken his reputation. When, therefore, the parchment which annulled his sentence was laid on the table of that assembly in which, eight years before, his face and his voice had been so well known, the excitement was great. One old Whig member tried to speak, but was overcome by his feelings. "I cannot," he said, "name my Lord Russell without disorder. It is enough to name him. I am not able to say more." Many eyes were directed towards that part of the house where Finch sate. The highly honourable manner in which he had quitted a lucrative office, as soon as he had found that he could not keep it without supporting the dispensing power, and the conspicuous part which he had borne in the defence of the Bishops, had done much to atone for his faults. Yet, on this day, it could not be forgotten that he had strenuously exerted himself, as counsel for the Crown, to obtain that judgment which was now to be solemnly revoked. He rose, and attempted to defend his conduct: but neither his legal acuteness, nor that fluent and sonorous elocution which was in his family a hereditary gift, and of which none of his family had a larger share than himself, availed him on this occasion. The House was in no humour to hear him, and repeatedly interrupted him by cries of "Order." He had been treated, he was told, with great indulgence. No accusation had been brought against him. Why then should he, under pretence of vindicating himself, attempt to throw dishonourable imputations on an illustrious name, and to apologise for a judicial murder? He was forced to sit dorm, after declaring that he meant only to clear himself from the charge of having exceeded the limits of his professional duty; that he disclaimed all intention of attacking the memory of Lord Russell; and that he should sincerely rejoice at the reversing of the attainder. Before the House rose the bill was read a second time, and would have been instantly read a third time and passed, had not some additions and omissions been proposed, which would, it was thought, make the reparation more complete. The amendments were prepared with great expedition: the Lords agreed to them; and the King gladly gave his assent, [383]

This bill was soon followed by three other bills which annulled three wicked and infamous judgments, the judgment against Sidney, the judgment against Cornish, and the judgment against Alice Lisle, [384]

Some living Whigs obtained without difficulty redress for injuries which they had suffered in the late reign. The sentence of Samuel Johnson was taken into consideration by the House of Commons. It was resolved that the scourging which he had undergone was cruel, and that his degradation was of no legal effect. The latter proposition admitted of no dispute: for he had been degraded by the prelates who had been appointed to govern the diocese of London during Compton's suspension. Compton had been suspended by a decree of the High Commission, and the decrees of the High Commission were universally acknowledged to be nullities. Johnson had therefore been stripped of his robe by persons who had no jurisdiction over him. The Commons requested the king to compensate the sufferer by some ecclesiastical preferment, [385] William, however, found that he could not, without great inconvenience, grant this request. For Johnson, though brave, honest and religious, had always been rash, mutinous and quarrelsome; and, since he had endured for his opinions a martyrdom more terrible than death, the infirmities of his temper and understanding had increased to such a degree that he was as disagreeable to Low Churchmen as to High Churchmen. Like too many other men, who are not to be turned from the path of right by pleasure, by lucre or by danger, he mistook the impulses of his pride and resentment for the monitions of conscience, and deceived himself into a belief that, in treating friends and foes with indiscriminate insolence and asperity, he was merely showing his Christian faithfulness and courage. Burnet, by exhorting him to patience and forgiveness of injuries, made him a mortal enemy. "Tell His Lordship," said the inflexible priest, "to mind his own business, and to let me look after mine." [386] It soon began to be whispered that Johnson was mad. He accused Burnet of being the author of the report, and avenged himself by writing libels so violent that they strongly confirmed the imputation which they were meant to refute. The King, therefore, thought it better to give out of his own revenue a liberal compensation for the wrongs which the Commons had brought to his notice than to place an eccentric and irritable man in a situation of dignity and public trust. Johnson was gratified with a present of a thousand pounds, and a pension of three hundred a year for two lives. His son was also provided for in the public service, [387]

While the Commons were considering the case of Johnson, the Lords were scrutinising with severity the proceedings which had, in the late reign, been instituted against one of their own order, the Earl of Devonshire. The judges who had passed sentence on him were strictly interrogated; and a resolution was passed declaring that in his case the privileges of the peerage had been infringed, and that the Court of King's Bench, in punishing a hasty blow by a fine of thirty thousand pounds, had violated common justice and the Great Charter, [388]

In the cases which have been mentioned, all parties seem to have agreed in thinking that some public reparation was due. But the fiercest passions both of Whigs and Tories were soon roused by the noisy claims of a wretch whose sufferings, great as they might seem, had been trifling when compared with his crimes. Gates had come back, like a ghost from the place of punishment, to haunt the spots which had been polluted by his guilt. The three years and a half which followed his scourging he had passed in one of the cells of Newgate, except when on certain days, the anniversaries of his perjuries, he had been brought forth and set on the pillory. He was still, however, regarded by many fanatics as a martyr; and it was said that they were able so far to corrupt his keepers that, in spite of positive orders from the government, his sufferings were mitigated by many indulgences. While offenders, who, compared with him, were innocent, grew lean on the prison allowance, his cheer was mended by turkeys and chines, capons and sucking pigs, venison pasties and hampers of claret, the offerings of zealous Protestants, [389] When James had fled from Whitehall, and when London was in confusion, it was moved, in the council of Lords which had provisionally assumed the direction of affairs, that Gates should be set at liberty. The motion was rejected: [390] but the gaolers, not knowing whom to obey in that time of anarchy, and desiring to conciliate a man who had once been, and might perhaps again be, a terrible enemy, allowed their prisoner to go freely about the town, [391] His uneven legs and his hideous face, made more hideous by the shearing which his ears had undergone, were now again seen every day in Westminster Hall and the Court of Requests, [392] He fastened himself on his old patrons, and, in that drawl which he affected as a mark of gentility, gave them the history of his wrongs and of his hopes. It was impossible, he said, that now, when the good cause was triumphant, the discoverer of the plot could be overlooked. "Charles gave me nine hundred pounds a year. Sure William will give me more." [393]

In a few weeks he brought his sentence before the House of Lords by a writ of error. This is a species of appeal which raises no question of fact. The Lords, while sitting judicially on the writ of error, were not competent to examine whether the verdict which pronounced Gates guilty was or was not according to the evidence. All that they had to consider was whether, the verdict being supposed to be according to the evidence, the judgment was legal. But it would have been difficult even for a tribunal composed of veteran magistrates, and was almost impossible for an assembly of noblemen who were all strongly biassed on one side or on the other, and among whom there was at that time not a single person whose mind had been disciplined by the study of jurisprudence, to look steadily at the mere point of law, abstracted from the special circumstances of the case. In the view of one party, a party which even among the Whig peers was probably a minority, the appellant was a man who had rendered inestimable services to the cause of liberty and religion, and who had been requited by long confinement, by degrading exposure, and by torture not to be thought of without a shudder. The majority of the House more justly regarded him as the falsest, the most malignant and the most impudent being that had ever disgraced the human form. The sight of that brazen forehead, the accents of that lying tongue, deprived them of all mastery over themselves. Many of them doubtless remembered with shame and remorse that they had been his dupes, and that, on the very last occasion on which he had stood before them, he had by perjury induced them to shed the blood of one of their own illustrious order. It was not to be expected that a crowd of gentlemen under the influence of feelings like these would act with the cold impartiality of a court of justice. Before they came to any decision on the legal question which Titus had brought before them, they picked a succession of quarrels with him. He had published a paper magnifying his merits and his sufferings. The Lords found out some pretence for calling this publication a breach of privilege, and sent him to the Marshalsea. He petitioned to be released; but an objection was raised to his petition. He had described himself as a Doctor of Divinity; and their lordships refused to acknowledge him as such. He was brought to their bar, and asked where he had graduated. He answered, "At the university of Salamanca." This was no new instance of his mendacity and effrontery. His Salamanca degree had been, during many years, a favourite theme of all the Tory satirists from Dryden downwards; and even on the Continent the Salamanca Doctor was a nickname in ordinary use, [394] The Lords, in their hatred of Oates, so far forgot their own dignity as to treat this ridiculous matter seriously. They ordered him to efface from his petition the words, "Doctor of Divinity." He replied that he could not in conscience do it; and he was accordingly sent back to gaol, [395]

These preliminary proceedings indicated not obscurely what the fate of the writ of error would be. The counsel for Oates had been heard. No counsel appeared against him. The judges were required to give their opinions. Nine of them were in attendance; and among the nine were the Chiefs of the three Courts of Common Law. The unanimous answer of these grave, learned and upright magistrates was that the Court of King's Bench was not competent to degrade a priest from his sacred office, or to pass a sentence of perpetual imprisonment; and that therefore the judgment against Oates was contrary to law, and ought to be reversed. The Lords should undoubtedly have considered themselves as bound by this opinion. That they knew Oates to be the worst of men was nothing to the purpose. To them, sitting as a court of justice, he ought to have been merely a John of Styles or a John of Nokes. But their indignation was violently excited. Their habits were not those which fit men for the discharge of judicial duties. The debate turned almost entirely on matters to which no allusion ought to have been made. Not a single peer ventured to affirm that the judgment was legal: but much was said about the odious character of the appellant, about the impudent accusation which he had brought against Catherine of Braganza, and about the evil consequences which might follow if so bad a man were capable of being a witness. "There is only one way," said the Lord President, "in which I can consent to reverse the fellow's sentence. He has been whipped from Aldgate to Tyburn. He ought to be whipped from Tyburn back to Aldgate." The question was put. Twenty-three peers voted for reversing the judgment; thirty-five for affirming it, [396]

This decision produced a great sensation, and not without reason. A question was now raised which might justly excite the anxiety of every man in the kingdom. That question was whether the highest tribunal, the tribunal on which, in the last resort, depended the most precious interests of every English subject, was at liberty to decide judicial questions on other than judicial grounds, and to withhold from a suitor what was admitted to be his legal right, on account of the depravity of his moral character. That the supreme Court of Appeal ought not to be suffered to exercise arbitrary power, under the forms of ordinary justice, was strongly felt by the ablest men in the House of Commons, and by none more strongly than by Somers. With him, and with those who reasoned like him, were, on this occasion, allied many weak and hot-headed zealots who still regarded Oates as a public benefactor, and who imagined that to question the existence of the Popish plot was to question the truth of the Protestant religion. On the very morning after the decision of the Peers had been pronounced, keen reflections were thrown, in the House of Commons, on the justice of their lordships. Three days later, the subject was brought forward by a Whig Privy Councillor, Sir Robert Howard, member for Castle Rising. He was one of the Berkshire branch of his noble family, a branch which enjoyed, in that age, the unenviable distinction of being wonderfully fertile of bad rhymers. The poetry of the Berkshire Howards was the jest of three generations of satirists. The mirth began with the first representation of the Rehearsal, and continued down to the last edition of the Dunciad, [397] But Sir Robert, in spite of his bad verses, and of some foibles and vanities which had caused him to be brought on the stage under the name of Sir Positive Atall, had in parliament the weight which a stanch party man, of ample fortune, of illustrious name, of ready utterance, and of resolute spirit, can scarcely fail to possess, [398] When he rose to call the attention of the Commons to the case of Oates, some Tories, animated by the same passions which had prevailed in the other House, received him with loud hisses. In spite of this most unparliamentary insult, he persevered; and it soon appeared that the majority was with him. Some orators extolled the patriotism and courage of Oates: others dwelt much on a prevailing rumour, that the solicitors who were employed against him on behalf of the Crown had distributed large sums of money among the jurymen. These were topics on which there was much difference of opinion. But that the sentence was illegal was a proposition which admitted of no dispute. The most eminent lawyers in the House of Commons declared that, on this point, they entirely concurred in the opinion given by the judges in the House of Lords. Those who had hissed when the subject was introduced, were so effectually cowed that they did not venture to demand a division; and a bill annulling the sentence was brought in, without any opposition, [399]

The Lords were in an embarrassing situation. To retract was not pleasant. To engage in a contest with the Lower House, on a question on which that House was clearly in the right, and was backed at once by the opinions of the sages of the law, and by the passions of the populace, might be dangerous. It was thought expedient to take a middle course. An address was presented to the King, requesting him to pardon Oates, [400] But this concession only made bad worse. Titus had, like every other human being, a right to justice: but he was not a proper object of mercy. If the judgment against him was illegal, it ought to have been reversed. If it was legal, there was no ground for remitting any part of it. The Commons, very properly, persisted, passed their bill, and sent it up to the Peers. Of this bill the only objectionable part was the preamble, which asserted, not only that the judgment was illegal, a proposition which appeared on the face of the record to be true, but also that the verdict was corrupt, a proposition which, whether true or false, was not proved by any evidence at all.

The Lords were in a great strait. They knew that they were in the wrong. Yet they were determined not to proclaim, in their legislative capacity, that they had, in their judicial capacity, been guilty of injustice. They again tried a middle course. The preamble was softened down: a clause was added which provided that Oates should still remain incapable of being a witness; and the bill thus altered was returned to the Commons.

The Commons were not satisfied. They rejected the amendments, and demanded a free conference. Two eminent Tories, Rochester and Nottingham, took their seats in the Painted Chamber as managers for the Lords. With them was joined Burnet, whose well known hatred of Popery was likely to give weight to what he might say on such an occasion. Somers was the chief orator on the other side; and to his pen we owe a singularly lucid and interesting abstract of the debate.

The Lords frankly owned that the judgment of the Court of King's Bench could not be defended. They knew it to be illegal, and had known it to be so even when they affirmed it. But they had acted for the best. They accused Oates of bringing an impudently false accusation against Queen Catherine: they mentioned other instances of his villany; and they asked whether such a man ought still to be capable of giving testimony in a court of justice. The only excuse which, in their opinion, could be made for him was, that he was insane; and in truth, the incredible insolence and absurdity of his behaviour when he was last before them seemed to warrant the belief that his brain had been turned, and that he was not to be trusted with the lives of other men. The Lords could not therefore degrade themselves by expressly rescinding what they had done; nor could they consent to pronounce the verdict corrupt on no better evidence than common report.

The reply was complete and triumphant. "Oates is now the smallest part of the question. He has, Your Lordships say, falsely accused the Queen Dowager and other innocent persons. Be it so. This bill gives him no indemnity. We are quite willing that, if he is guilty, he shall be punished. But for him, and for all Englishmen, we demand that punishment shall be regulated by law, and not by the arbitrary discretion of any tribunal. We demand that, when a writ of error is before Your Lordships, you shall give judgment on it according to the known customs and statutes of the realm. We deny that you have any right, on such occasions, to take into consideration the moral character of a plaintiff or the political effect of a decision. It is acknowledged by yourselves that you have, merely because you thought ill of this man, affirmed a judgment which you knew to be illegal. Against this assumption of arbitrary power the Commons protest; and they hope that you will now redeem what you must feel to be an error. Your Lordships intimate a suspicion that Oates is mad. That a man is mad may be a very good reason for not punishing him at all. But how it can be a reason for inflicting on him a punishment which would be illegal even if he were sane, the Commons do not comprehend. Your Lordships think that you should not be justified in calling a verdict corrupt which has not been legally proved to be so. Suffer us to remind you that you have two distinct functions to perform. You are judges; and you are legislators. When you judge, your duty is strictly to follow the law. When you legislate, you may properly take facts from common fame. You invert this rule. You are lax in the wrong place, and scrupulous in the wrong place. As judges, you break through the law for the sake of a supposed convenience. As legislators, you will not admit any fact without such technical proof as it is rarely possible for legislators to obtain." [401]

This reasoning was not and could not be answered. The Commons were evidently flushed with their victory in the argument, and proud of the appearance which Somers had made in the Painted Chamber. They particularly charged him to see that the report which he had made of the conference was accurately entered in the journals. The Lords very wisely abstained from inserting in their records an account of a debate in which they had been so signally discomfited. But, though conscious of their fault and ashamed of it, they could not be brought to do public penance by owning, in the preamble of the Act, that they had been guilty of injustice. The minority was, however, strong. The resolution to adhere was carried by only twelve votes, of which ten were proxies, [402]

Twenty-one Peers protested. The bill dropped. Two Masters in Chancery were sent to announce to the Commons the final resolution of the Peers. The Commons thought this proceeding unjustifiable in substance and uncourteous in form. They determined to remonstrate; and Somers drew up an excellent manifesto, in which the vile name of Oates was scarcely mentioned, and in which the Upper House was with great earnestness and gravity exhorted to treat judicial questions judicially, and not, under pretence of administering law, to make law, [403] The wretched man, who had now a second time thrown the political world into confusion, received a pardon, and was set at liberty. His friends in the Lower House moved an address to the Throne, requesting that a pension sufficient for his support might be granted to him, [404] He was consequently allowed about three hundred a year, a sum which he thought unworthy of his acceptance, and which he took with the savage snarl of disappointed greediness.

From the dispute about Oates sprang another dispute, which might have produced very serious consequences. The instrument which had declared William and Mary King and Queen was a revolutionary instrument. It had been drawn up by an assembly unknown to the ordinary law, and had never received the royal sanction. It was evidently desirable that this great contract between the governors and the governed, this titledeed by which the King held his throne and the people their liberties, should be put into a strictly regular form. The Declaration of Rights was therefore turned into a Bill of Rights; and the Bill of Rights speedily passed the Commons; but in the Lords difficulties arose.

The Declaration had settled the crown, first on William and Mary jointly, then on the survivor of the two, then on Mary's posterity, then on Anne and her posterity, and, lastly, on the posterity of William by any other wife than Mary. The Bill had been drawn in exact conformity with the Declaration. Who was to succeed if Mary, Anne, and William should all die without posterity, was left in uncertainty. Yet the event for which no provision was made was far from improbable. Indeed it really came to pass. William had never had a child. Anne had repeatedly been a mother, but had no child living. It would not be very strange if, in a few months, disease, war, or treason should remove all those who stood in the entail. In what state would the country then be left? To whom would allegiance be due? The bill indeed contained a clause which excluded Papists from the throne. But would such a clause supply the place of a clause designating the successor by name? What if the next heir should be a prince of the House of Savoy not three months old? It would be absurd to call such an infant a Papist. Was he then to be proclaimed King? Or was the crown to be in abeyance till he came to an age at which he might be capable of choosing a religion? Might not the most honest and the most intelligent men be in doubt whether they ought to regard him as their Sovereign? And to whom could they look for a solution of this doubt? Parliament there would be none: for the Parliament would expire with the prince who had convoked it. There would be mere anarchy, anarchy which might end in the destruction of the monarchy, or in the destruction of public liberty. For these weighty reasons, Barnet, at William's suggestion, proposed it the House of Lords that the crown should, failing heirs of His Majesty's body, be entailed on an undoubted Protestant, Sophia, Duchess of Brunswick Lunenburg, granddaughter of James the First, and daughter of Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia.

The Lords unanimously assented to this amendment: but the Commons unanimously rejected it. The cause of the rejection no contemporary writer has satisfactorily explained. One Whig historian talks of the machinations of the republicans, another of the machinations of the Jacobites. But it is quite certain that four fifths of the representatives of the people were neither Jacobites nor republicans. Yet not a single voice was raised in the Lower House in favour of the clause which in the Upper House had been carried by acclamation, [405] The most probable explanation seems to be that the gross injustice which had been committed in the case of Oates had irritated the Commons to such a degree that they were glad of an opportunity to quarrel with the Peers. A conference was held. Neither assembly would give way. While the dispute was hottest, an event took place which, it might have been thought, would have restored harmony. Anne gave birth to a son. The child was baptized at Hampton Court with great pomp, and with many signs of public joy. William was one of the sponsors. The other was the accomplished Dorset, whose roof had given shelter to the Princess in her distress. The King bestowed his own name on his godson, and announced to the splendid circle assembled around the font that the little William was henceforth to be called Duke of Gloucester, [406] The birth of this child had greatly diminished the risk against which the Lords had thought it necessary to guard. They might therefore have retracted with a good grace. But their pride had been wounded by the severity with which their decision on Oates's writ of error had been censured in the Painted Chamber. They had been plainly told across the table that they were unjust judges; and the imputation was not the less irritating because they were conscious that it was deserved. They refused to make any concession; and the Bill of Rights was suffered to drop, [407]

But the most exciting question of this long and stormy session was, what punishment should be inflicted on those men who had, during the interval between the dissolution of the Oxford Parliament and the Revolution, been the advisers or the tools of Charles and James. It was happy for England that, at this crisis, a prince who belonged to neither of her factions, who loved neither, who hated neither, and who, for the accomplishment of a great design, wished to make use of both, was the moderator between them.

The two parties were now in a position closely resembling that in which they had been twenty-eight years before. The party indeed which had then been undermost was now uppermost: but the analogy between the situations is one of the most perfect that can be found in history. Both the Restoration and the Revolution was accomplished by coalitions. At the Restoration, those politicians who were peculiarly zealous for liberty assisted to reestablish monarchy: at the Revolution those politicians who were peculiarly zealous for monarchy assisted to vindicate liberty. The Cavalier would, at the former conjuncture, have been able to effect nothing without the help of Puritans who had fought for the Covenant; nor would the Whig, at the latter conjuncture, have offered a successful resistance to arbitrary power, had he not been backed by men who had a very short time before condemned resistance to arbitrary power as a deadly sin. Conspicuous among those by whom, in 1660, the royal family was brought back, were Hopis, who had in the days of the tyranny of Charles the First held down the Speaker in the chair by main force, while Black Rod knocked for admission in vain; Ingoldsby, whose name was subscribed to the memorable death warrant; and Prynne, whose ears Laud had cut off, and who, in return, had borne the chief part in cutting off Laud's head. Among the seven who, in 1688, signed the invitation to William, were Compton, who had long enforced the duty of obeying Nero; Danby, who had been impeached for endeavouring to establish military despotism; and Lumley, whose bloodhounds had tracked Monmouth to that sad last hiding place among the fern. Both in 1660 and in 1688, while the fate of the nation still hung in the balance, forgiveness was exchanged between the hostile factions. On both occasions the reconciliation, which had seemed to be cordial in the hour of danger, proved false and hollow in the hour of triumph. As soon as Charles the Second was at Whitehall, the Cavalier forgot the good service recently done by the Presbyterians, and remembered only their old offences. As soon as William was King, too many of the Whigs began to demand vengeance for all that they had, in the days of the Rye House Plot, suffered at the hands of the Tories. On both occasions the Sovereign found it difficult to save the vanquished party from the fury of his triumphant supporters; and on both occasions those whom he had disappointed of their revenge murmured bitterly against the government which had been so weak and ungrateful as to protect its foes against its friends.

So early as the twenty-fifth of March, William called the attention of the Commons to the expediency of quieting the public mind by an amnesty. He expressed his hope that a bill of general pardon and oblivion would be as speedily as possible presented for his sanction, and that no exceptions would be made, except such as were absolutely necessary for the vindication of public justice and for the safety of the state. The Commons unanimously agreed to thank him for this instance of his paternal kindness: but they suffered many weeks to pass without taking any step towards the accomplishment of his wish. When at length the subject was resumed, it was resumed in such a manner as plainly showed that the majority had no real intention of putting an end to the suspense which embittered the lives of all those Tories who were conscious that, in their zeal for prerogative, they had some times overstepped the exact line traced by law. Twelve categories were framed, some of which were so extensive as to include tens of thousands of delinquents; and the House resolved that, under every one of these categories, some exceptions should be made. Then came the examination into the cases of individuals. Numerous culprits and witnesses were summoned to the bar. The debates were long and sharp; and it soon became evident that the work was interminable. The summer glided away: the autumn was approaching: the session could not last much longer; and of the twelve distinct inquisitions, which the Commons had resolved to institute, only three had been brought to a close. It was necessary to let the bill drop for that year, [408]

Among the many offenders whose names were mentioned in the course of these inquiries, was one who stood alone and unapproached in guilt and infamy, and whom Whigs and Tories were equally willing to leave to the extreme rigour of the law. On that terrible day which was succeeded by the Irish Night, the roar of a great city disappointed of its revenge had followed Jeffreys to the drawbridge of the Tower. His imprisonment was not strictly legal: but he at first accepted with thanks and blessings the protection which those dark walls, made famous by so many crimes and sorrows, afforded him against the fury of the multitude, [409] Soon, however, he became sensible that his life was still in imminent peril. For a time he flattered himself with the hope that a writ of Habeas Corpus would liberate him from his confinement, and that he should be able to steal away to some foreign country, and to hide himself with part of his ill gotten wealth from the detestation of mankind: but, till the government was settled, there was no Court competent to grant a writ of Habeas Corpus; and, as soon as the government had been settled, the Habeas Corpus Act was suspended, [410] Whether the legal guilt of murder could be brought home to Jeffreys may be doubted. But he was morally guilty of so many murders that, if there had been no other way of reaching his life, a retrospective Act of Attainder would have been clamorously demanded by the whole nation. A disposition to triumph over the fallen has never been one of the besetting sins of Englishmen: but the hatred of which Jeffreys was the object was without a parallel in our history, and partook but too largely of the savageness of his own nature. The people, where he was concerned, were as cruel as himself, and exulted in his misery as he had been accustomed to exult in the misery of convicts listening to the sentence of death, and of families clad in mourning. The rabble congregated before his deserted mansion in Duke Street, and read on the door, with shouts of laughter, the bills which announced the sale of his property. Even delicate women, who had tears for highwaymen and housebreakers, breathed nothing but vengeance against him. The lampoons on him which were hawked about the town were distinguished by an atrocity rare even in those days. Hanging would be too mild a death for him: a grave under the gibbet too respectable a resting place: he ought to be whipped to death at the cart's tail: he ought to be tortured like an Indian: he ought to be devoured alive. The street poets portioned out all his joints with cannibal ferocity, and computed how many pounds of steaks might be cut from his well fattened carcass. Nay, the rage of his enemies was such that, in language seldom heard in England, they proclaimed their wish that he might go to the place of wailing and gnashing of teeth, to the worm that never dies, to the fire that is never quenched. They exhorted him to hang himself in his garters, and to cut his throat with his razor. They put up horrible prayers that he might not be able to repent, that he might die the same hardhearted, wicked Jeffreys that he had lived, [411] His spirit, as mean in adversity as insolent and inhuman in prosperity, sank down under the load of public abhorrence. His constitution, originally bad, and much impaired by intemperance, was completely broken by distress and anxiety. He was tormented by a cruel internal disease, which the most skilful surgeons of that age were seldom able to relieve. One solace was left to him, brandy. Even when he had causes to try and councils to attend, he had seldom gone to bed sober. Now, when he had nothing to occupy his mind save terrible recollections and terrible forebodings, he abandoned himself without reserve to his favourite vice. Many believed him to be bent on shortening his life by excess. He thought it better, they said, to go off in a drunken fit than to be hacked by Ketch, or torn limb from limb by the populace.

Once he was roused from a state of abject despondency by an agreeable sensation, speedily followed by a mortifying disappointment. A parcel had been left for him at the Tower. It appeared to be a barrel of Colchester oysters, his favourite dainties. He was greatly moved: for there are moments when those who least deserve affection are pleased to think that they inspire it. "Thank God," he exclaimed, "I have still some friends left." He opened the barrel; and from among a heap of shells out tumbled a stout halter, [412]

It does not appear that one of the flatterers or buffoons whom he had enriched out of the plunder of his victims came to comfort him in the day of trouble. But he was not left in utter solitude. John Tutchin, whom he had sentenced to be flogged every fortnight for seven years, made his way into the Tower, and presented himself before the fallen oppressor. Poor Jeffreys, humbled to the dust, behaved with abject civility, and called for wine. "I am glad, sir," he said, "to see you." "And I am glad," answered the resentful Whig, "to see Your Lordship in this place." "I served my master," said Jeffreys: "I was bound in conscience to do so." "Where was your conscience," said Tutchin, "when you passed that sentence on me at Dorchester?" "It was set down in my instructions," answered Jeffreys, fawningly, "that I was to show no mercy to men like you, men of parts and courage. When I went back to court I was reprimanded for my lenity." [413] Even Tutchin, acrimonious as was his nature, and great as were his wrongs, seems to have been a little mollified by the pitiable spectacle which he had at first contemplated with vindictive pleasure. He always denied the truth of the report that he was the person who sent the Colchester barrel to the Tower.

A more benevolent man, John Sharp, the excellent Dean of Norwich, forced himself to visit the prisoner. It was a painful task: but Sharp had been treated by Jeffreys, in old times, as kindly as it was in the nature of Jeffreys to treat any body, and had once or twice been able, by patiently waiting till the storm of curses and invectives had spent itself, and by dexterously seizing the moment of good humour, to obtain for unhappy families some mitigation of their sufferings. The prisoner was surprised and pleased. "What," he said, "dare you own me now?" It was in vain, however, that the amiable divine tried to give salutary pain to that seared conscience. Jeffreys, instead of acknowledging his guilt, exclaimed vehemently against the injustice of mankind. "People call me a murderer for doing what at the time was applauded by some who are now high in public favour. They call me a drunkard because I take punch to relieve me in my agony." He would not admit that, as President of the High Commission, he had done any thing that deserved reproach. His colleagues, he said, were the real criminals; and now they threw all the blame on him. He spoke with peculiar asperity of Sprat, who had undoubtedly been the most humane and moderate member of the board.

It soon became clear that the wicked judge was fast sinking under the weight of bodily and mental suffering. Doctor John Scott, prebendary of Saint Paul's, a clergyman of great sanctity, and author of the Christian Life, a treatise once widely renowned, was summoned, probably on the recommendation of his intimate friend Sharp, to the bedside of the dying man. It was in vain, however, that Scott spoke, as Sharp had already spoken, of the hideous butcheries of Dorchester and Taunton. To the last Jeffreys continued to repeat that those who thought him cruel did not know what his orders were, that he deserved praise instead of blame, and that his clemency had drawn on him the extreme displeasure of his master, [414]

Disease, assisted by strong drink and by misery, did its work fast. The patient's stomach rejected all nourishment. He dwindled in a few weeks from a portly and even corpulent man to a skeleton. On the eighteenth of April he died, in the forty-first year of his age. He had been Chief Justice of the King's Bench at thirty-five, and Lord Chancellor at thirty-seven. In the whole history of the English bar there is no other instance of so rapid an elevation, or of so terrible a fall. The emaciated corpse was laid, with all privacy, next to the corpse of Monmouth in the chapel of the Tower, [415]

The fall of this man, once so great and so much dreaded, the horror with which he was regarded by all the respectable members of his own party, the manner in which the least respectable members of that party renounced fellowship with him in his distress, and threw on him the whole blame of crimes which they had encouraged him to commit, ought to have been a lesson to those intemperate friends of liberty who were clamouring for a new proscription. But it was a lesson which too many of them disregarded. The King had, at the very commencement of his reign, displeased them by appointing a few Tories and Trimmers to high offices; and the discontent excited by these appointments had been inflamed by his attempt to obtain a general amnesty for the vanquished. He was in truth not a man to be popular with the vindictive zealots of any faction. For among his peculiarities was a certain ungracious humanity which rarely conciliated his foes, which often provoked his adherents, but in which he doggedly persisted, without troubling himself either about the thanklessness of those whom he had saved from destruction, or about the rage of those whom he had disappointed of their revenge. Some of the Whigs now spoke of him as bitterly as they had ever spoken of either of his uncles. He was a Stuart after all, and was not a Stuart for nothing. Like the rest of the race, he loved arbitrary power. In Holland, he had succeeded in making himself, under the forms of a republican polity, scarcely less absolute than the old hereditary Counts had been. In consequence of a strange combination of circumstances, his interest had, during a short time, coincided with the interest of the English people: but though he had been a deliverer by accident, he was a despot by nature. He had no sympathy with the just resentments of the Whigs. He had objects in view which the Whigs would not willingly suffer any Sovereign to attain. He knew that the Tories were the only tools for his purpose. He had therefore, from the moment at which he took his seat on the throne, favoured them unduly. He was now trying to procure an indemnity for those very delinquents whom he had, a few months before, described in his Declaration as deserving of exemplary punishment. In November he had told the world that the crimes in which these men had borne a part had made it the duty of subjects to violate their oath of allegiance, of soldiers to desert their standards, of children to make war on their parents. With what consistency then could he recommend that such crimes should be covered by a general oblivion? And was there not too much reason to fear that he wished to save the agents of tyranny from the fate which they merited, in the hope that, at some future time, they might serve him as unscrupulously as they had served his father in law? [416]

Of the members of the House of Commons who were animated by these feelings, the fiercest and most audacious was Howe. He went so far on one occasion as to move that an inquiry should be instituted into the proceedings of the Parliament of 1685, and that some note of infamy should be put on all who, in that Parliament, had voted with the Court. This absurd and mischievous motion was discountenanced by all the most respectable Whigs, and strongly opposed by Birch and Maynard, [417] Howe was forced to give way: but he was a man whom no check could abash; and he was encouraged by the applause of many hotheaded members of his party, who were far from foreseeing that he would, after having been the most rancorous and unprincipled of Whigs, become, at no distant time, the most rancorous and unprincipled of Tories.

This quickwitted, restless and malignant politician, though himself occupying a lucrative place in the royal household, declaimed, day after day, against the manner in which the great offices of state were filled; and his declamations were echoed, in tones somewhat less sharp and vehement, by other orators. No man, they said, who had been a minister of Charles or of James ought to be a minister of William. The first attack was directed against the Lord President Caermarthen. Howe moved that an address should be presented to the King, requesting that all persons who had ever been impeached by the Commons might be dismissed from His Majesty's counsels and presence. The debate on this motion was repeatedly adjourned. While the event was doubtful, William sent Dykvelt to expostulate with Howe. Howe was obdurate. He was what is vulgarly called a disinterested man; that is to say, he valued money less than the pleasure of venting his spleen and of making a sensation. "I am doing the King a service," he said: "I am rescuing him from false friends: and, as to my place, that shall never be a gag to prevent me from speaking my mind." The motion was made, but completely failed. In truth the proposition, that mere accusation, never prosecuted to conviction, ought to be considered as a decisive proof of guilt, was shocking to natural justice. The faults of Caermarthen had doubtless been great; but they had been exaggerated by party spirit, had been expiated by severe suffering, and had been redeemed by recent and eminent services. At the time when he raised the great county of York in arms against Popery and tyranny, he had been assured by some of the most eminent Whigs that all old quarrels were forgotten. Howe indeed maintained that the civilities which had passed in the moment of peril signified nothing. "When a viper is on my hand," he said, "I am very tender of him; but, as soon as I have him on the ground, I set my foot on him and crush him." The Lord President, however, was so strongly supported that, after a discussion which lasted three days, his enemies did not venture to take the sense of the House on the motion against him. In the course of the debate a grave constitutional question was incidentally raised. This question was whether a pardon could be pleaded in bar of a parliamentary impeachment. The Commons resolved, without a division, that a pardon could not be so pleaded, [418]

The next attack was made on Halifax. He was in a much more invidious position than Caermarthen, who had, under pretence of ill health, withdrawn himself almost entirely from business. Halifax was generally regarded as the chief adviser of the Crown, and was in an especial manner held responsible for all the faults which had been committed with respect to Ireland. The evils which had brought that kingdom to ruin might, it was said, have been averted by timely precaution, or remedied by vigorous exertion. But the government had foreseen nothing: it had done little; and that little had been done neither at the right time nor in the right way. Negotiation had been employed instead of troops, when a few troops might have sufficed. A few troops had been sent when many were needed. The troops that had been sent had been ill equipped and ill commanded. Such, the vehement Whigs exclaimed, were the natural fruits of that great error which King William had committed on the first day of his reign. He had placed in Tories and Trimmers a confidence which they did not deserve. He had, in a peculiar manner, entrusted the direction of Irish affairs to the Trimmer of Trimmers, to a man whose ability nobody disputed, but who was not firmly attached to the new government, who, indeed, was incapable of being firmly attached to any government, who had always halted between two opinions, and who, till the moment of the flight of James, had not given up the hope that the discontents of the nation might be quieted without a change of dynasty. Howe, on twenty occasions, designated Halifax as the cause of all the calamities of the country. Monmouth held similar language in the House of Lords. Though First Lord of the Treasury, he paid no attention to financial business, for which he was altogether unfit, and of which he had very soon become weary. His whole heart was in the work of persecuting the Tories. He plainly told the King that nobody who was not a Whig ought to be employed in the public service. William's answer was cool and determined. "I have done as much for your friends as I can do without danger to the state; and I will do no more," [419] The only effect of this reprimand was to make Monmouth more factious than ever. Against Halifax especially he intrigued and harangued with indefatigable animosity. The other Whig Lords of the Treasury, Delamere and Capel, were scarcely less eager to drive the Lord Privy Seal from office; and personal jealousy and antipathy impelled the Lord President to conspire with his own accusers against his rival.

What foundation there may have been for the imputations thrown at this time on Halifax cannot now be fully ascertained. His enemies, though they interrogated numerous witnesses, and though they obtained William's reluctant permission to inspect the minutes of the Privy Council, could find no evidence which would support a definite charge, [420] But it was undeniable that the Lord Privy Seal had acted as minister for Ireland, and that Ireland was all but lost. It is unnecessary, and indeed absurd, to suppose, as many Whigs supposed, that his administration was unsuccessful because he did not wish it to be successful. The truth seems to be that the difficulties of the situation were great, and that he, with all his ingenuity and eloquence, was ill qualified to cope with those difficulties. The whole machinery of government was out of joint; and he was not the man to set it right. What was wanted was not what he had in large measure, wit, taste, amplitude of comprehension, subtlety in drawing distinctions; but what he had not, prompt decision, indefatigable energy, and stubborn resolution. His mind was at best of too soft a temper for such work as he had now to do, and had been recently made softer by severe affliction. He had lost two sons in less than twelve months. A letter is still extant, in which he at this time complained to his honoured friend Lady Russell of the desolation of his hearth and of the cruel ingratitude of the Whigs. We possess, also, the answer, in which she gently exhorted him to seek for consolation where she had found it under trials not less severe than his, [421]

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