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Domestic Annals of Scotland
Reign of James VII.: 1685 -1688


JAMES DUKE OF YORK succeeded his brother in the three kingdoms (February 6, 1685), at a mature period of life, being fifty-three years of age. While reckoning as James II. in England and Ireland, he was the seventh of the name in Scotland.

The transition from the one sovereign to the other was very much like that from James VI. to Charles I. It was in each case from a man of lax principle to one who carried principle to obstinacy. It was also in each case a change from that easy good-nature which gets through difficulties, to a certain severity of temper which does not so much subdue difficulties as it makes them. If James could have kept his religion out of sight, there was enough of loyalty in the nation to have carried him to the end of a prosperous reign; he might have even completed his brother’s designs for rendering the English crown absolute. But he was too earnest a Catholic to give his subjects a pretext for forgetting the fact, or to allow of their winking at his assaults upon their liberties.

The Duke of Monmouth, who had set up some pretensions to the crown as a legitimate son of Charles II., now resided in exile at Brussels. He had ingratiated himself with the dissenters in England, and hoped by their assistance to dethrone the new monarch. He formed a design, in concert with the Earl of Argyle, for an invasion of the island. The latter nobleman set sail in May, and, after touching at the Orkneys, descended upon the west of Scotland, where he was joined by two thousand five hundred of his clan. A boat’s crew whom he sent on shore at Orkney being taken prisoners, gave information of his design, and the bishop of that diocese immediately carried the intelligence to Edinburgh. The militia of the kingdom was called out. The gentlemen of Argyle’s clan were seized and brought to the capital. The earl, finding all his prospects blighted, made a hesitating and timid advance towards Glasgow, where he hoped, but vainly, to be joined by the persecuted people of the west. The government forces advancing on every hand to meet him, his troops melted away; and after pursuing a solitary flight for a little way in disguise, he was taken prisoner at Inchinnan in Renfrewshire, and transported to Edinburgh, where he was immediately executed upon his former sentence (June 30, 1685).

The expedition which Monmouth conducted to the west of England was equally unfortunate, and that nobleman being seized under similar circumstances, was also executed. The exasperations, terrors, and anxieties which the sovereign had endured, first from the endeavours of the Whig party to exclude him from the throne, and latterly from these two rebellions, revenged themselves in seventies which have fixed an indelible stigma upon his name. Under the Chief-justice Jeffries, hundreds of Monmouth’s followers, and even some wholly innocent, were summarily condemned and executed. It became a ‘killing time’ with the poor Presbyterians of the west of Scotland, many of whom were seized and shot dead in the fields. Everywhere men were reduced to silence; but at the same time, much of their respect and affection was lost.

From the commencement of his reign, James took no pains to conceal his religion. Encouraged by the suppressed rebellions and the stillness which everywhere prevailed, he now thought he might safely commence a series of measures for restoring the Catholic faith in his dominions: As the law stood, no papist could hold any office in the state. They were excluded, in both kingdoms, by a test oath, abjuring the errors of popery. Early in 1686, James endeavoured to get an act passed in both parliaments for dispensing with this oath, so that he might be enabled to introduce men of his own religion into all places of trust, which he judged to be the best way of proselytising the people at large. But to his surprise, the same parliaments which had already declared his temporal power to be nearly absolute, refused to yield to him on the subject of religion. Neither entreaties nor threats could prevail upon them to pass the necessary acts. In Scotland, the Duke of Queensberry, Sir George Mackenzie, and other statesmen, who had hitherto been the readiest to yield him obedience in all his most unpopular measures, submitted rather to be displaced than to surrender up the religion along with the liberties of the nation.

When he found that the parliaments would not yield to him, he dissolved them, and, pretending that he had only asked their consent out of courtesy, assumed to himself the right of dispensing with the test. This was establishing a power in the crown to subvert any act of parliament, and consequently no law could henceforth stand against the royal pleasure. If it had been assumed upon a temporal point, it is not probable that any resistance would have been made; for the right of the king to do as he pleased, and the illegality of all opposition to his will on the part of the people, were principles now very generally conceded. But it concerned the existence of the Church of England, and the religious prepossessions of the great majority of the people. There was therefore an almost universal spirit of resistance.

In order to give his measures an appearance of fairness and put them on a sufficiently broad ground, he granted a toleration to all kinds of dissenters from the Established Church. Affecting to have long been convinced that ‘conscience ought not to be constrained nor people forced in matters in religion;’ that all attempts of the kind were detrimental to the social economy and the interests of government, leading only to ‘animosities, name-factions, and sometimes to sacrilege and treason;’ he, by proclamations in the first six months of 1687, discharged all existing laws against dissenters in both sections of Britain, with certain moderate reservations, making it practicable for Presbyterians in Scotland to set up chapels for their own worship. This was a most remarkable step for a British sovereign to take. First, it openly assumed a right of the monarch, by his ‘absolute power ‘—for such was the phrase he used—to overrule the acts of parliament. Next, it gave ‘a degree and amount of toleration, beyond what any class of religionists was quite prepared to sanction. Therefore it was at once unconstitutional and over-liberal. Obvious as the royal motives were, there was a general expression of satisfaction with the measure among the English dissenters, while a considerable meeting of Presbyterian clergy in Scotland sent an address of thanks, with a promise of ‘entire loyalty in doctrine and practice’ for the future. But everywhere, the established clergy and the great bulk of the respectable middle classes, adherents of episcopalian protestantism, were alarmed and alienated, judging the movement to be, as it undoubtedly was, designed as a step towards the return of popery.

In the height of his power, James had deprived the boroughs of both kingdoms of their charters, and granted new ones, in which he was left the power of nominating the magistracies. He took advantage of this liberty to put Catholics into every kind of burgal office. He also attempted to get men of the same religion introduced into the chief seats in the universities.

What rendered these events the more alarming to the nation was the revocation of the Edict of Nantes by the king of France, in consequence of which the Protestants of that kingdom were subjected to a cruel persecution at the hands of their Catholic brethren. The people of Great Britain received about fifty thousand of these innocent persons under their protection; and as they were scattered over the whole country, they everywhere served as living proofs of Romish intolerance and cruelty. The British saw that if the king were not resisted in his endeavours to introduce popery, they would soon be groaning in hopeless subjection to a small dominant party, if not driven, like the French Protestants, far from their homes and native seats of industry, to wander like beggars over the earth.

The king had commanded the clergy to read in their pulpits his edict of universal toleration. Several of the English bishops, alter ascertaining that the whole body almost to a man would support them, presented a petition to the king, in which they respectfully excused themselves from obeying his command. For this they were thrown into the Tower, and brought to trial, but, to the great joy of the nation, acquitted.

At this time (June 1688), the birth of a son to. the king threw the nation into a state of extreme anxiety for the ultimate interests of the Protestant religion. It is to be observed that, if this prince had not come into the world, the crown would have fallen, in the course of time, to the king’s daughter Mary, who, for some years, had been married to the Prince of Orange. This lady being a Protestant, and the king being now advanced in life, the people had hitherto cherished a prospect of seeing the Protestant faith eventually secured under her sway. But now the Protestant line was excluded, and with it all hope was at an end. To add to the general dissatisfaction, there was some cause to suspect that the child was a spurious one, brought forward for the purpose of keeping up a popish line of succession.

The concurrence of all these circumstances brought the nation to such a uniformity of sentiment as had not been witnessed for fifty years. While the old enemies of the dynasty remained as they had always been, its best Mends and supporters were now disaffected and thrown into alarm. Tories as well as Whip, church zealots as well as dissenters, were become impressed with the idea that some extraordinary measure was necessary to save the nation from popery, if not from slavery.

The people of all orders tuned their eyes to William Prince of Orange, who had long taken a lead in opposing the arrogant continental policy of the French monarch, and whose court had for some years been a resort of British malcontents. The prince himself was strongly inclined, for reasons of general policy as well as of personal ambition, to attempt a revolution in England. Being invited by a great number of influential persons, of both sides in politics, including some of the clergy, he no longer hesitated to make preparations for an invasion. In October he set sail with an army of about sixteen thousand men, and on the 5th of November cast anchor in Torbay, in Devonshire, while the king’s fleet lay wind-bound at Harwich. James had surrounded himself with a standing army; but, as generally happens in such crises, it partook of the almost universal feeling of the people, and was not to be depended on. Even with the assistance of a less scrupulous force from Scotland, be could hardly venture to risk an engagement with the prince, to whose standard a great number of the nobility had already resorted. He therefore retired before the advancing army to London, and was immediately deserted by all his principal counsellors, and even by his younger daughter, the Princess Anne. Feeling no support around him, he first despatched the queen and her infant to France, and then prepared to follow. In the disguise of a servant, he escaped down the river to Feversham, but being there seized by the populace as a popish refugee, he was brought back to London. It was found, however, that the government could not be settled on a proper footing while he remained in the country; and he was therefore permitted once more to depart (December 23, 1688). He left the kingdom in the belief that the people could not do without him, and would call him back in triumph; but, in reality, nothing could have been more agreeable to them than his departure.

In Scotland, the Privy Council and Established Church were left by the departure of the king an isolated power in the midst of a people generally indisposed to give them support. There was an irrepressible popular eagerness to break out against such popish establishments as the king had set up—to attack and extrude the more obnoxious of the clergy, and to take some vengeance upon the more noted instruments of the late arbitrary power, as the Chancellor Perth and Graham of Claverhouse, whom James had lately created Viscount Dundee. The populace did lose no time in rising against the popishly furnished chapel-royal at Holyrood and a Catholic printing-office which had been placed in its neighbourhood; and after a struggle with the armed guards, both places were pillaged and ruined. The Chancellor Perth, who had incurred peculiar odium from turning papist, was seized in the act of flight and thrown into a vile prison. In the west country, the populace rabbled out two hundred of the parochial clergy, not treating them over-gently, yet after all, using less roughness than might perhaps have been expected. In the other parts of Scotland, where prelacy had won some favour or been quietly endured, no particular movement took place.

In January 1689, about a hundred Scottish noblemen and gentlemen assembled at Whitehall, and, having previously ascertained the disposition of their countrymen, resolved to follow the example of England, by offering the supreme management of their affairs to the Prince of Orange. A Convention was consequently appointed by the prince to meet at Edinburgh on the 14th of March. This assembly, which was elected by the people at large, excluding only the Catholics, experienced at first some embarrassment from the adherents of King James. The Duke of Gordon still held the castle in that interest, and was able, if he pleased, to bombard the Parliament House with his cannon. The Viscount Dundee was also in Edinburgh with a number of his dragoons, and every day attended the assembly. On the other hand, an immense number of the westland Wings, or Cameronians—as they were called from one of their ministers— had flocked to the city, where they were concealed in garrets and cellars. Dundee, when he saw that there was a majority of the Convention hostile to his old master, concerted with the Earl of Mar and Marquis of Athole a plan for holding a counter... Convention at Stirling, after the manner of the royalist parliament held at Oxford by Charles I. In the expectation that his friends would have been ready to accompany him, he brought out his troop of dragoons to the street; but finding their minds somewhat changed, he was obliged to take his departure by himself, as the parading of armed men so near the Parliament House would have subjected him to a charge of treason. He therefore rode out of the city with only a small squadron, and clambering up the Castle-rock, held a conference with the Duke of Gordon at a postern, where it was resolved upon between them that he should go to raise the Highland clans for King James, while his Grace should continue to hold out the Castle.

The liberal members of the Convention took advantage of this movement to summon the people to arms for their protection, and they were instantly surrounded by hundreds of armed Cameronians, who completely overawed the adherents of the late government. The Convention then declared King James to have forfeited the crown, by his attempts to overcome the religion and liberties of his subjects. The sovereignty of Scotland was settled, like that of England, upon the next Protestant heirs, the Prince and Princess of Orange, who were accordingly proclaimed at Edinburgh on the 11th of April.

It is not necessary here to detail the efforts made by King James to recover possession of Ireland—ending in his overthrow at the Boyne—or the gallant stand made for him in the spring of 1689 by the Duke of Gordon in Edinburgh Castle, and by Lord Dundee in the Highlands of Perthshire. By the death of the latter at the battle of Killiecrankie (July 27), all formidable opposition to the new settlement came to an end. It is understood that, if circumstances would have permitted, King William would have rather continued to maintain the Episcopal Church in Scotland than establish any other. Finding, however, that the bishops remained faithful to King James, he was compelled to take the Presbyterians under his protection. The Convention, changed by the royal mandate into a Parliament, proceeded in July to abolish prelacy in the Church, and to establish the moderate Presbyterianism which still exists. All the clergy formerly in possession of churches were permitted to retain them, if they felt disposed to accede to the new system, and take the oaths to government. The Solemn League and Covenant, though still supported by a party, was overlooked. The clergy were deprived of the power of inflicting a civil punishment by means of excommunication. General Assemblies and other Church courts were restored, with independent powers in ecclesiastical matters, and, the act of supremacy being abolished, Christ was understood to reign as formerly over the church. The clergy, however, tacitly admitted the king to be their patron and nursing father; and while the moderator of the assemblies convened and dissolved them in the name of Christ, the king’s commissioner, or representative, was also allowed to do the same in the name of the sovereign. Thus at length, by one of those compromises which sometimes follow the exhaustion of passion, a sort of middle way was found, in which the religious prepossessions of the great bulk of the people could rest in peace, while still the reasonable powers of the state were not dangerously interfered with. So did the great troubles of the seventeenth century come to an end, and allow the genius of the nation at length to give a due share of its energies to that material prosperity which had so long been repressed. The course of Scotland since, under its moderate church and zealous dissenting communions, its useful parish schools, and mild government; the advance of the country in population, in the culture of its soil, in every branch of honourable industry, and in the paths of science and literature; these might well form the subjects of another work equal in extent to the present.

1685, Feb 26
The curious book, entitled 'Satan’s Invisible World Discovered, by Mr George Sinclair, late professor of philosophy at the college of Glasgow,’ was endowed by the Lords of the Privy Council with a copyright of eleven years; all persons whatsoever being prohibited ‘from printing, reprinting, or importing into this kingdom, any copies of the said book,’ during that space of time. This little volume, which was often reprinted during the eighteenth century, and so lately as 1814, contains, in the language of its own title-page, a ‘Choice Collection of Modern Relations, proving evidently against the Atheists of this present age, that there are Devils, Spirits, Witches, and Apparitions, from authentic records and attestations of witnesses of undoubted veracity.’

To maintain the efficacy of witchcraft and the reality of spirits and apparitions was at that time a part of the external Christianity of the country, and it was a recognised part of ‘atheism,’ as all freedom of judgment was then called, to entertain a doubt about either. The work of Mr George Sinclair was an example of a series in which the popular beliefs on these subjects were defended as essential to orthodoxy. One of the most remarkable of these treatises was the Antidote against Atheism, published by Dr Henry More in 1655; in which we find, first, a most ingenious, and, for the age, well-informed exposition of the arguments for a God from the remarkable adaptations and provisions seen, throughout animated nature—next, and in close connection, a deduction of theism and providence from examples of bewitched persons, ghosts, vampires, guardian genii, &c. The heading of one of his chapters is: ‘That the evasions of Atheists against Apparitions are so weak and silly, that it is an evident argument that they are convinced in their own judgment of the truth of these kinds of phenomena, which forces them to answer as well as they can, though they be so ill provided.’ Not less remarkable was the Saducismus Triumphatus of Joseph Glanvil, printed in 1681; in which are presented many narratives regarding both witches and spirits, including the celebrated one of the Drummer of Tedworth, all evidently deemed as necessary by the author for the overthrow and refutation of one of the prevalent forms of infidelity. It is equally worthy of notice, that when John Webster, ‘practitioner in physic,’ ventured before the world in 1677 with his book, The Displaying of Supposed Witchcraft, in which he threw ridicule on the whole popular code of ideas regarding the doings of witches, his greatest solicitude was to guard himself against the imputation of being one who treated lightly anything of the nature of scriptural evidence.

Mar 3
Robert Mean, of the Letter-office, had written a report to London, to the effect that the westland people were again in arms, and the king’s forces marching against them. Lord Livingstone consequently posted down from London, to take command of the forces. When his lordship arrived and found the report false, he made a complaint against Robert, who was consequently imprisoned for his indiscretion, being not the first or second time he had been in trouble for similar offences. Colonel Worden, a friend of the new king, felt that it was hard to make Mean suffer where his intention was so good; so he procured a royal letter in favour of the postmaster. On a penitent petition, Robert was liberated, and allowed to resume his office, but with a warning ‘that if he shall be found in any fault of his office hereafter, he shall be severely punished therefor.’—Foun. P. C. R.

Apr 8
The Duke of Queensberry, the Earl of Perth, and the Archbishop of St Andrews, arrived in Edinburgh from London, ‘having been only eight days by the way.’ —Foun.

This must have appeared as rapid travelling in those days, for, twelve years later, the stage-coach from York to London spent the whole lawful days of a week upon its journey. This fact we learn from a passage in the diary of George Home of Kimmerghame, in Berwickshire, where the following statement is made: ‘Thursday, October 21 [1697], Sir John Home of Blackadder set out post for London, at two o’clock. It afterwards appears that he tired of posting [as slow], and [for expedition, doubtless] got into the stage-coach at York on Monday the 25th, and was expected to reach London in it on Saturday the 30th.’

Apr 16
The equestrian statue of Charles II., which had cost £1000, though only formed of lead, was set up in the Parliament Close, Edinburgh. ‘The vulgar people, who had never seen the like before, were much amazed at it. Some compared it to Nebuchadnezzar’s image, which all fell down and worshipped, and others foolishly to the pale horse in the Revelations, and he that sat thereon was death.’—Foun.

Apr
Sir Alexander Forbes of Tolquhoun, in Aberdeenshire, having entertained in his house Alexander Ogilvie of Forglen, Sir John Falconer, and Lord Pitmedden, missed immediately after two mazer cups on which he set great value. He wrote to Ogilvie, mentioning the fact of the cups being missed, and asking if he could tell anything about them. Ogilvie, though feeling that this was scarcely civil, returned a friendly answer, assuring Sir Alexander that he had never even seen the cups, and knew absolutely nothing directly or indirectly about them. Hereupon Sir Alexander replied apologetically, and for some years he conducted himself in the most friendly way towards Ogilvie, as if to make up for his former incivility.

Afterwards, on Ogilvie refusing to take part with him in some quarrels with a third party, Sir Alexander appeared to conceive a malicious feeling towards him. To wreak this out, he raised an action against him in the Court of Session, on the allegation that he had fraudulently abstracted the fore-mentioned cups. ‘And when the case was called, Tolquhoun had the confidence to appear personally at the bar and own and countenance the same, and crave [Ogilvie’s] oath of calumny anent that defamatory libel.’ After Ogilvie had thus acquitted himself, Tolquhoun craved permission to enter on a proof of the libel by witnesses; which the lords assented to. While the matter was pending, Tolquhoun frequently upbraided Ogilvie with the terms cup-stealer and cup-cheater: nor did he hesitate to resort to legal quirks for keeping the charge as long as possible over the head of the accused. At length, the case came on, and, being found wholly without sound evidence, was pronounced to be altogether founded in malice.

Apr 30
A subsequent process by Forglen against Tolquhoun for oppression and defamation was undefended by the latter, and ended in his being amerced in twenty thousand merks Scots, whereof one-half was adjudged to the aggrieved party.—P. C. R..

June
A dog being stolen out of the house of the Earl of Morton in Peebles, it chanced that the Earl’s son, the Hon. George Douglas, soon after observed the animal following the Laird of Chatto on the High Street of Edinburgh. On Douglas claiming it, the Laird of Chatto very civilly gave it up. Some days after, as Douglas was walking the street, followed by the dog, John Corsehill, a footman of Chatto, came up and attempted to take the animal into his possession, doubtless believing that it was his master’s property. Douglas bade him forbear, as the dog was his; but John Corsehill, not being satisfied, gave him some foul language, and when Douglas soon after returned along the street, Corsehill renewed his attempt; whereupon Douglas called him a rascal, to which the lackey responded in the same terms. ‘Which being such an indignity to any gentleman, [Douglas] did step back, and make to his sword; but before he got it drawn, the footman did hit him twice with a cudgel over the head, and did continue violently to assault him, [Douglas] still retiring, and with his sword warding the blows; but the footman was so furious, that he run himself upon the point of the sword, and so was killed.’

The excuse of Douglas for this unhappy chance was, that Corsehill had been the first aggressor, and that ‘no gentleman could endure publicly to be called a rascal without resentment.’ He protested that he had only acted in self-defence.—P. C. R.

Another, though less fatal quarrel took place soon after, in consequence of a similar circumstance. Captain Scott, of the King’s Guard, having lost his dog in the college of Edinburgh, adopted the belief that it had been appropriated by Mr Gregory, the professor of mathematics. On this notion he acted so far as to fall upon the learned gownsman and give him a hearty beating. The other professors took up the case, and on their complaint to the Chancellor, Scott was compelled to crave pardon.—Foun. Dec.

July 7
Sir John Cochrane of Ochiltree, an associate in Argyle’s expedition, and a forfaulted traitor, was taken in a relative’s house in Renfrewshire at the end of June, and was on the 3d July, with his son and another traitor, brought into Edinburgh, ‘bound and bareheaded, by the hangman.’ On the day noted in the margin, the English packet coming to Edinburgh was known to have been twice stopped and robbed near Alnwick. It was conjectured at the time that this might be done by some of Sir John Cochrane’s friends, ‘lest there should have been any warrant from the king by these packets to have execute him; that so the Earl of Arran might have leisure to inform the king what Sir John could discover, and so obtain a countermand.’—Foun. There were other conjectures on the subject; but no one could have surmised that the robber of the packet was Sir John’s daughter Grizzel, disguised in men’s clothes, as was long after ascertained to be the case. Sir John obtained a pardon from the king, and lived to be Earl of Dundonald. The heroine Grizzel was married to John Kerr of Morriston, in Berwickshire.

Aug
‘Sir George Drummond, provost of Edinburgh, breaks and runs to the Abbey for debt, the first provost that, during his office, has broke in Edinburgh.’—Foun. A week or two after, in consequence of some objectionable matters being thrown over the windows of Patrick Graham, captain of the Town-guard, whereby some gentlemen’s clothes were spoiled, a trivial riot took place at the guard-house. The Lord Chancellor, Earl of Perth, who of course was bound to do what he could for a Drummond, took advantage of this petty affair to get a protection to the bankrupt provost, to enable him to appear and defend the town. Thus be was ‘brought to the street again.’

Sep
George Scott of Pitlochie had some claims upon the public in compensation for certain manuscripts originally belonging to his father, Sir John Scott of Scotstarvet, which he had surrendered to the Court of Session. Sir John had written a curious book, entitled an Account of the Staggering State of Scots Statesmen, in which, with irrepressible marks of gusto, he detailed the misfortunes which had befallen the persons and families of most of those who had taken a lead in public affairs or borne office during the preceding century. Now the usual destiny had overtaken his own son, who was fallen into poverty, and somewhat at a shift for a living. For some time, he besieged the Privy Council for help or patronage, and was at length gratified with a very peculiar gift. About two hundred westland peasants had been taken up for various acts of recusancy, and, for safety on the approach of Argyle, they were gathered out of the prisons, driven off like a flock of sheep to the east side of the Wand, and huddled into a vault of Dunnottar Castle, where they lived for a few weeks in circumstances of privation, as to food, air, water, and general accommodation, truly piteous. Hearing of their sad state, and relenting somewhat, the Council caused these poor people to be brought to Leith. It was hoped, perhaps, that they would now make such submissions as might warrant their liberation; and some did thus work themselves free. But the greater number positively refused to take the oath of allegiance, ‘as embodied with the supremacy,’ as they would thus be rejecting Christ from ‘the rule in his own house,’ as well as over their own consciences.

Pitlochie, who was himself a vexed Presbyterian, being now in contemplation of a settlement in the colony of East Jersey, and in want of labourers or bondsmen for the culture of his lands, petitioned the Council for a consignment of these tender conscienced men, and nearly a hundred, who had been condemned to banishment, were at once ‘gifted’ to him. He freighted a Newcastle ship to carry them, and the vessel sailed front Leith roads, carrying with her a number of ‘dyvours and broken men’ besides the Covenanters. It was a most disastrous voyage.

Partly perhaps because of the reduced and sickly state of many of the prisoners at starting, but more through deficiency of healthful food, and the want of air and comfort, a violent fever broke out in the ship before she had cleared the Land’s End. It soon assumed a malignant type, and scarcely any individual on board escaped. The whole crew excepting the captain and boatswain died; Pitlochie himself and his lady also sunk under the disease. Three or four dead were thrown overboard every day. ‘Notwithstanding of this raging sickness, much severity was used towards the prisoners at sea by the master of the ship and others: those under deck were not allowed to go about worship by themselves, and when they essayed it, the captain would throw down great planks of timber upon them to disturb them, and sometimes to the danger of their lives.’

Fifteen long weeks were spent by this pest-ship before she arrived at her destination; and in that time seventy had perished! The remainder were so reduced in strength as to be scarcely able to go ashore. The people at the place where they landed, ‘not: having the gospel among them,’ were indifferent to the fate of the Scottish Presbyterians. But at a place a few miles inland, where there was a minister and a congregation, they were received with great kindness. They then became the subject of a singular litigation, a Mr Johnston, the son-in-law and heir of Pitlochie, suing them for their value as bond-servants. A jury found that there was no indenture between Pitlochie and them, but that they were shipped against their will; therefore Mr Johnston had no control over them. A good many of them are said to have died within a short space of time in the plantations; the rest returned to their native country at the Revolution. Such was the sad story of Pitlochie’s voyage—P. C. R. Foun.

Oct
Robert Pringle of Clifton, a considerable gentleman of Roxburghshire, was lately dead, leaving one child, Jonet Pringle, now about twenty years of age, as heir to the bulk of his property, while his brother Andrew succeeded as heir of provision. It was obviously desirable for the general interest of the family, that the two branches should be re-united, and when any interest of this sort existed, objections of a natural and moral kind seldom stood long in the way. Andrew Pringle’s eldest son was only thirteen; therefore, if suitable at all as a match for his fair cousin, he was certainly not suitable yet. But then there was a tribe of Murrays of Livingstone, the relations of Jonet’s mother, who anxiously desired to have the disposal of her. Already Lieutenant George Murray, of the King’s Guard, was alive to his prospective interests in the matter. How to countermine him? The young lady vanished from society; much reason to suppose it was by the prompting and assistance of her uncle Andrew. Lieutenant Murray obtained from the Privy Council an order against Andrew Pringle to produce his niece; but he cleared himself by oath of the charge of having been concerned in putting her away. Murray urged that she should be exhibited—as her relation he had an interest in seeing this done—and Andrew Pringle, who had not acted very well towards his deceased brother, was ill fitted to take a charge of the niece. Mr Pringle was ordered, on pain of a fine of ten thousand merks, to bring forward his niece before the 5th of November, and, to make sure of him, he was put into prison. It was, however, soon ascertained that the young lady had gone over the Border with her boy-cousin, and been married to him by a regular English clergyman!

In these circumstances, it became needless for the lieutenant to go forward with his case against Mr Pringle. A contract was made between him and Pringle, whereby for seven thousand merks he agreed to withdraw all opposition. All offence to the laws of the country by so improper a marriage was soon after effaced by a fine of five hundred merks imposed on the young couple.—Foun.

Oct 20
At a meeting of the synod of Edinburgh, there was a report from the presbytery of Haddington on the case of a poor man, the gardener of Sir John Seton of Garmilton, who, having turned Catholic, had become in their opinion liable to a sentence of excommunication. But such processes had now become a matter of some delicacy, as the king might thereby be offended. The bishop, in some terror, signed the warrant for going on with the process against the gardener, and, lest the act should appear a strong one, he tried to soften it by professing to his clergy to have little fear of popery, as the king had promised to protect the Protestant religion. A few weeks after, a letter came down from the king, forbidding the church authorities to go on with the excommunication of the gardener. With what grim smiles would the westland Whigs hear of this transaction!—Foun.

Dec 17
In the course of our perquisitions into domestic matters in Scotland, the first trace that is found of any effort at a systematic education of young ladies in elegant accomplishments, occurs in a petition of Isobel Cumming to the Privy Council at this date. She was a widow and a stranger, who had been invited some years before to come to Edinburgh, ‘where she conceived the centre of virtue to be in this kingdom,’ in order to instruct young gentlewomen ‘in all sorts of needlework, playing, singing, and in several other excellent pieces of work, becoming ladies of honour.’ In this useful course of life, she had received much encouragement, and she was going on continually ‘improving herself for the advantage of young ladies of quality.’ Now, however, she was beset by a serious obstruction, in an order to quarter a certain number of soldiers in her house. She petitioned for an immunity from this branch of citizenly duty, and the lordswho, as oftener than once remarked, seem never to have been deficient in Christian-like feeling in matters apart from Christianity—immediately granted her request.—P. C. R.

1686, Jan 31
After what we have seen of the hardness of general feeling towards the Catholic religion during the last hundred years, it may be well understood that the fitting up of a popish chapel, college, and printing-office in Holyrood Palace would be regarded with no resigned feelings by the multitude, whatever might be the views of state-councillors, under a sense of delicacy or deference towards the king. At the ‘skailing’ of the chapel one day, some of the populace threw dirt and called names to the worshippers, and one of the offenders, ‘a baxter lad,’ was consequently whipped through the Canongate. On the youth being rescued by the mob, the guards were called in, and a woman and two men were shot. ‘Then all were commanded off the streets, and all ordained to hang out bowets [lanterns]; and some being apprehended, the next day a woman and two men were scourged. . . guarded all the way betwixt two files of musketeers and pikemen, for fear of being deforced again.’ Afterwards, a drummer who said he could find it in his heart to run his sword through all papists, was shot; and one Keith, a fencing-master, who spoke some sentences in a jovial company approving of the tumult, saying, ‘if the trades lads would fall upon the Town-guard, he would secure Captain Patrick Graham,’ was tried, condemned, and hanged, ‘dying piously in much composure.’—Foun.

Such were the symptoms of popular feeling which heralded the Revolution.

Feb 16
The Archbishop of St Andrews and Bishop of Edinburgh departed for London, ‘in the retour coach which had, the week before, brought down the Marquis of Athole and Sir William Bruce from thence.’ —Foun.

Apr
‘Two charlatans came to Edinburgh, with recommendations from his majesty, called Doctor Reid and Salvator Moscow, from Sicily.’ They ‘erected stages, and in their printed papers did brag of admirable cures, as sixty-four blind persons restored to sight, who had never seen from their birth, with many other extravagant undertakings.’—Foun.

June 14
The parliament passed an act to encourage Mr John Adair, to proceed with a design he had formed and in part executed, for producing serviceable maps of the counties of Scotland, and a hydrographical description of its sea-coasts for the use of mariners. It was arranged to remunerate Adair by a small tax on tonnage. He accordingly proceeded with his work, obtained mathematical instruments to the value of £100 from abroad, brought one Maxon an engraver from Holland at a cost of £70, and ‘did truly survey, navigate, and delineate the coast from Sunderland Point in England to Buchan-ness, in eight large maps, including the rivers and firths of Forth and Tay, likewise the Firth of Clyde on the west sea in one large map; upon which he bestowed (having ordinarily paid 20s. sterling per diem for boats) £200 sterling.’

At a time when, even in England, Flamstead’s salary of a hundred a year was often in arrears, it was not to be expected that any government patronage to science in Scotland should be effectively carried out. It appears that the tonnage-rate assigned to Adair proved, from one cause and another, unproductive, and he was left with the work on his hands, seriously embarrassed by his expenses, and unable to publish what he had executed. About 1691, an effort was made to get the maps engraved and published by a subscription at one pound per copy; but of seven hundred subscribers required, no more than a hundred could be procured—so few were then the individuals possessing the union of taste, public spirit, and means necessary to make them encourage such a project. At length, in 1694, on Adair’s petition, the Privy Council made some arrangements for supplying him with funds, and he was commissioned to go on with his labours. It was at the same time made an instruction to him that, while conducting his surveys, he should obtain information regarding the natural curiosities of the country, and also its antiquities. Among the former were mentioned, clays and marls dug from the ground, and crystals, flints, and ‘figured stones, having the shapes of plants, shells, animals, &c.’—such being the conception of that age regarding those fossils in which the geologist now sees the actual remains of the organisms of the earlier epochs of creation! The funds, derived from a tonnage-rate, seem to have come in very slowly and in inadequate amount. Adair nevertheless, had a hired vessel for a succession of summers along the western coast, and in 1703 he was able to bring out a volume in folio, containing maps of the east coast, with letter-press descriptions. He described himself next year as having received £1800 sterling to account, while about £500 remained due. He adds that, even if that balance were paid, he would have no profit for his own trouble, or anything to reimburse him for what he had spent in the support of his numerous family while absent on his surveys.

Owing to the difficulty of obtaining the needful funds, the remainder of Adair’s work, though in a state of forwardness, was never presented to the world. It appears that he died in London towards the close of 1722, probably in reduced circumstances. His wife was next year honoured with a pension of £40.

A man of kindred talents was endeavouring at the same time with Adair to produce a work which was calculated to reflect some honour on the country. We refer to John Slezer, a German or Dutchman, who had come to our northern land in 1669, and been patronised by several of the nobility, who by and by procured for him a commission as engineer in an artillery corps. He was afterwards encouraged by Charles II., the Duke of York, and other great personages, to undertake a work descriptive of Scotland; and the first result appeared in 1693, in a folio entitled Theatrum Scotits, containing fifty-seven views of palaces and noblemen’s seats. The country was vain enough to desire to see such a work executed, but too poor to give it a remunerative sale. Yet Slezer struggled on to complete it by other volumes. The Scottish parliament, on his petition, made some arrangements to assist him with money, but they were attended with little good effect. Two volumes of additional drawings, therefore, remained for years unengraved, or at least unready for publication; and the poor author had to betake himself to the sanctuary of Holyroodhouse, where he and his talents lay useless for thirteen years, while his family lived miserably in the city. Here he died in November 1717, leaving debts to the amount of £2249, and claims on the government to a nearly equal amount.’

June and July
‘In the year 1686,’ says Patrick Walker, ‘especially in the months of June and July, about Crossford, two miles below Lanark, especially at the Mains on the water of Clyde, many people gathered together for several afternoons, where there were showers of bonnets, hats, guns, and swords, which covered the trees and ground; companies of men in arms marching along the water-side; companies meeting companies all through other, and then all falling to the ground, and disappearing, and other companies appearing the same way. I went there three afternoons together, and, as I could observe, there were two of the people that were together saw, and a third that saw not; and though I could see nothing, yet there was such a fright and trembling upon those that did see, that was discernible to all from those that saw not. There was a gentleman standing next to me who spoke as too many gentlemen and others speak. He said: "A pack of damned witches and warlocks that have the second-sight! De’il haet do I see!" And immediately there was a discernible change in his countenance, with as much fear and trembling as any woman I saw there; who cried out: "Oh, all ye that do not see, say nothing; for I persuade you it is matter of fact, and discernible to all that is not stone-blind!" Those that did see, told what works the guns had, and there length and wideness; and what handles the swords had, whether small, or three-barred, or Highland guards; and the closing knots of the bonnets, black and blue; and these who did see them there, wherever they went abroad, saw a bonnet and a sword drop by the way.’

The explanation of this kind of marvel has already been given under 1668. In the present instance, the subjective character of the phenomenon is borne out by what Walker tells of some, including himself, not being able to see anything, and of a gentleman suddenly becoming sensible of the vision.

Honest Patrick acknowledges having been afterwards much twitted and laughed at by ‘learned critics,’ and even ‘young ministers and expectants,’ about his report of the Crossford visions, on the score of. his having been himself present, without witnessing the alleged prodigy. He admits that he was there three days, and saw nothing, but goes on: ‘Will these wild-ass colts tell me what stopped the eyes of the long clear-sighted Balaam, that saw a star arise out of Jacob, . . . . yet saw not the angel standing with a drawn sword in his hand, and his dull ass saw him, and stopped three times? And what stopped the eyes of the men that were with Daniel, at the river Hiddekel, when he saw the vision, but they saw not, but greatly quaked? And what stopped the ears of Paul’s companions in wickedness, going the devil’s errand to Damascus, that saw the light and made them fall to the ground, but heard not the words of the voice that spake to him? And what stopped the ears and eyes of the captain of the Castle of Edinburgh, who was alarmed three times at night, while the sentinels were with him; but when they were sent off, he both saw and heard the different beating of drums, both English and Scots, in that strange apparition in the year 1650, before the English came to it?’

‘This winter, there happened three fires at Edinburgh, and all on the Sabbath-day, to signify God’s displeasure at the profanation of his day.’ And yet ‘there is no certain conclusion can be drawn from these providential accidents, for a few would draw just the contrary conclusion—that God was dissatisfied with our worshipping him on that day: so these providences may be variously interpreted.’—Foun.

1687, Jan 13
One Reid, a mountebank, was at this time practising in Edinburgh. He was popishly inclined, and actually, four days after this date, was received into the Catholic church with one of his blackamoors; which, Fountainhall tells us, was ‘a great trophy’ to the popish party, now in the ascendency. On the date here noted, Reid had Scott of Harden and his lady in court ‘for stealing away from him a little girl called the Tumbling Lassie, who danced upon his stage; she danced in all shapes, and, to make her supple, he daily oiled all her joints; and he claimed damages, and produced a contract, where he had bought her from her mother for £30 Scots. But,’ adds Fountainhall, ‘we have no slaves in Scotland, and mothers cannot sell their bairns; and physicians attested the employment of tumbling would bruise all her bowels and kill her; and her joints were now grown stiff, and she declined to return.’ The mountebank, though favoured by the chancellor on account of his popery, lost his cause.—Eoun. Dec.

May 1
Being Sunday, a young woman of noted piety, Janet Fraser by name, the daughter of a weaver in the parish of Closeburn, Dnmfriesshire, had gone out to the fields with a young female companion, and sat down to read the Bible not far from her father’s house. Feeling thirsty, she went to the river-side (the Nith) to get a drink, leaving her Bible open at the place where she had been reading, which presented the verses of the 34th chapter of Isaiah, beginning—’ My sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment,’ &c. On returning, she found a patch of something like blood covering this very text. In great surprise, she carried the book home, where a young man tasted the substance with his tongue, and found it of a saltless or insipid flavour. On the two succeeding Sundays, while the same girl was reading her Bible in the open air, similar blotches of matter, like blood, fell upon the leaves. She did not perceive it in the act of falling till it was about an inch from the book. ‘It is not blood, for it is as tough as glue, and will not be scraped off by a knife, as blood will; but it is so like blood, as none can discern any difference by the colour.’

Showers of blood are amongst the familiar prodigies by which mankind were alarmed in days of ignorance and superstition. A writer of our time remarks that it is most probable ‘that these bloody waters were never seen falling, but that people, seeing the standing waters blood-coloured, were assured, from their not knowing how else it should happen, that it had rained blood into them. ‘Swammerdam,’ he goes on to say, ‘relates that, one morning in 1670, great excitement was created in the Hague, by a report that the lakes and ditches about the city were found to be full of blood. A certain physician went down to one of the canals, and taking home a quantity of this blood-coloured water, examined it with the microscope, and found that the water was water still, and had not at all changed its colour, but that it was full of prodigious swarms of small red animals, all alive, and very nimble in their motions, the colour and prodigious numbers of which gave a reddish tinge to the whole body of the water in which they lived. The animals which thus colour the water of lakes and ponds are the pulices arborescentes of Swammerdam, or the water-fleas with branched horns. These creatures are of a reddish-yellow or flame-colour. They live about the sides of ditches, under weeds, and amongst the mud; and are therefore the less visible, except at a certain time, which is the beginning or end of June. It is at this time that these little animals leave their recesses to float about the water, and meet for the propagation of their species; and by this means they become visible in the colour which they give the water. The colour in question is visible, more or less, in one part or other of almost all standing waters at this season; and it is always at the same season that the bloody waters have alarmed the ignorant.’—Encyc. Brit., 7th ed., xix. 59. If we can suppose some quantity of the water so discoloured to be carried up by a whirlwind, transported along, and afterwards allowed to fall, such a fact as the depositing of blood-like stains on Janet Fraser’s Bible might be accounted for.

Medieval history is full of stories of blood being found on or in the host, and of dismal misinterpretations of the phenomenon being accepted. Several massacres of Jews have arisen from this cause alone. Modern science sees the matter in its true light. In 1848, Dr Eckhard, of Berlin, when attending a case of cholera, found potatoes and bread within the house spotted with a red colouring matter, which, being forwarded to Ehrenberg, was found by him to be due to the presence of an animalcule, to which he gave the name of the Monas Prodigiosa. It was found that other pieces of bread could be inoculated with this matter. It is curious to reflect that, if Ehrenberg had been present to examine a certain spotted host in Frankfort in 1296, and supposing his rational explanations to be received, the lives of ten thousand unhappy descendants of Abraham might have been saved.

July 6
In compliance with ‘a general outcry and complaint’ from the public, the magistrates of Edinburgh called up the butchers and vintners, and fined them for extortion. It was in vain that these men set forth that there was no rule or law broken, and that when they bought dear they must sell dear. It was held as a sufficient answer to the butchers, that they did exact large profits, besides using sundry arts to pass off their meat as better than it was, and they reqrated the market by taking all the parks and enclosures about Edinburgh, so as to prevent any from ‘furnishing’ but themselves. It was alleged of the vintners, that they exacted for a prepared fowl triple what it cost in the market; they sold bread purposely made small; they charged twenty-four pence for the pound of sugar, while the cost to themselves was eightpence, ‘and even so in the measure of tobacco.’—Foun.

Though the butchers formed one of the fourteen incorporated trades of Edinburgh, their business was of a limited description, and indeed continued so till a comparatively recent time, owing to the generally prevalent use of meat salted at Martinmas, a practice rendered unavoidable by the scarcity of winter fodder for cattle before the days of turnip husbandry. Of the animals used, cattle formed but a small proportion. John Strachan, a ‘fleshcady’ or market-porter, who died in 1791 in the 105th year of his age, remembered the time—not long after that now under our attention—’ when no flesher would venture to kill any beast [that is, bullock] till all the different parts were bespoken.' It may also be remarked that Pennant, in his Tour in Scotland, 1772, tells us that ‘the gentleman is now living who first introduced stall-fed beef into Perth.’ He adds, with strict truth: ‘Before that time the greater part of Scotland lived on salt meat throughout the winter, as the natives of the Hebrides do at present, and as the English did in the feudal times.’

A truer remedy for the alleged extortions of the butchers was soon after hit upon by the Privy Council, in allowing meat to be brought into town by ‘landward men’ not of the corporation. ‘Some,’ adds Fountainhall timidly, ‘think that all [should be] permitted to bring in bread every day,’ being the same case with that of the maltmen, who were forbidden to form a deacoury.

Nov 24
The usual rule of the government in the two last reigns against unlicensed printing, was now very rigorously enforced, in order to prevent the issue of controversial pamphlets against the Catholic religion. James Glen, bookseller in Edinburgh, was imprisoned by an order from the Chancellor, for publishing a brochure called The Root of Romish Ceremonies, designed ‘to prove popery to be only paganism revived.’ It was a remarkable step for the government to take, while an uncontrolled popish printer was at constant work in the palace. Perhaps Lord Perth, who had become a Catholic (some say to please his wife, some to please the king, no one to please himself), felt sore at a lion mot of Glen, which Fountainhall has thought worthy of being preserved. The Council having (January 1686) issued an edict against the selling of books reflecting on popery, and their macer having brought this to Glen amongst others, he quietly remarked that ‘there was a book in his shop which condemned popery very directly—namely, the Bible—might he sell that?

1688, Jan
At this time, so unpropitious to literature, an attempt was made to establish a periodical work of a kind which we only expect to see arising when the affairs of the learned republic are at a comparatively advanced stage. Mr John Cockburn, minister at Ormiston, in Haddingtonshire, printed the first number of a work containing ‘the monthly transactions and an account of books out of the Universal Bibliotheque and others! The Chancellor, finding in it some passages reflecting on the Roman Catholic Church, at once suppressed the publication.— Foun. Dec.

Jan 19
Copious periwigs, with curls flowing down to the shoulders, were now in vogue, both at home and abroad. There being an active exportation of hair for the foreign peruke-makers, the article was found to have become dear, and the native artists began to complain. On their petition, the Privy Council forbade the exporting of hair.—Foun.

It may give some idea of circumstances attending this fashion, that at a date not long subsequent to the period under our attention, a female living in a town in the south of Scotland was accustomed to dispose of her crop of yellow hair to a travelling merchant at fixed intervals, and always got a guinea for it.

Feb
Sir James Stanfield was one of the English manufacturers who had been induced to settle and practise their art at Newmills, in Haddingtonshire, in order that Scotch money should not need to be sent away for English-made goods. This respectable man was afflicted with a profligate eldest son, whom he at length saw fit to disinherit. He had become melancholy, probably in consequence of domestic troubles, and on a certain day in November, he was found drowned in a pool of water near his own house. It was debated whether he had been murdered or had drowned himself; and it was noted that the widow and son contended for the latter view of the case, and accordingly, without further ado, took measures for having the body immediately buried. A suspicion, however, arose that Sir James had met with foul play, and two surgeons were sent by the authorities in Edinburgh, to examine the body and report.

The corpse was raised from the grave, after it had lain there two days; and the surgeons, having made an incision near the neck, became convinced that death had been induced by strangulation; so that the supposition of suicide was set aside. This inspection took place in the church. After the cut had been sewed up, and the body washed, and put into clean linen, James Row, a merchant of Edinburgh, and Philip Stanfield, eldest son of the deceased, took it up, one on each side, to deposit it in the coffin, when, behold, an effusion of blood was observed to take place on the side sustained by the son, so as to defile his hands. He instantly let the body fall, with the exclamation, ‘Lord, have mercy on me!’ and rushed, horror-struck, into the precentor’s desk, where he lay for some time groaning and in great agitation, utterly refusing to touch the corpse again. This incident was at once accepted in the light of a revelation of the young man’s guilt as his father’s murderer; and he was therefore taken into custody and brought to Edinburgh for trial.

The trial took place on the 7th of February, but brought out little evidence worthy of attention. Nevertheless, on the strength of the bleeding, and of his being known to have cursed his father, the unfortunate young man was found guilty, and sentenced to death, with sundry aggravations of punishment.

By pretending an inclination to turn papist, he got a brief respite, but, on the 24th of the month, was hanged, protesting his innocence to the last, and finally dying Protestant. By reason of a slip of the rope, he came down till his knees rested on the scaffold, and it was necessary to use more direct means of strangulation. Then his tongue was cut out, as a retribution for the cursing of his father, and his hand hacked off and sent to be put up on the east port of Haddington, as a memorial of the murder. The body was hung up in chains, but after a few days was stolen away, and found lying in a ditch among water. It was hung up again, but a second time taken down. Both in the strangulation on the scaffold and the being found in a ditch among water, the superstitious remarked something like a providential notice of the facts of the murder of which he was assumedly guilty.

It will be acknowledged that, in the circumstances related, there is not a particle of valid evidence against the young man. The surgeon’s opinion as to the fact of strangulation is not entitled to much regard; but, granting its solidity, it does not prove the guilt of the accused. The horror of the young man on seeing his father’s blood, might be referred to painful recollections of that profligate conduct which he knew had distressed his parent and brought his gray hairs with sorrow to the grave—especially when we reflect that Stanfield would himself be impressed with the superstitious feelings of the age, and might accept the haemorrhage as an accusation by heaven on account of the concern his conduct had had in shortening the life of his father. The whole case seems to be a lively illustration of the effect of superstitious feelings in blinding justice.

Mar 6
The Privy Council considered a legal case about a very small matter. The beautiful lake of Duddingston, under the southeast front of Arthur’s Seat, and adjoining to the royal park of Holyrood, had been graced by the late Duke of Lauderdale with a few swans. His too clever duchess—who had for years been carrying on terrible legal wars with his heirs—deemed herself entitled to take out five of these birds at her own pleasure. Sir James Dick, the proprietor of the lake, determined to recover the swans; so he caught three of them, and broke a lockfast place in order to get the remaining two; and then placed them all once more upon the loch. Hereupon the duchess raised a process, which was now decided in her favour, on the ground that the birds had been brought to the loch by the late duke, and that Sir James’s tolerance of them there did not make them his. The baronet, indignant at being thus balked, turned all the rest of the swans off his lake; but here he was met by the Duke of Hamilton, heritable keeper of the palace, alleging that, as the lake bounded the royal park, the wild animals upon it belonged to him. So he caused the swans to be once again restored to their haunt.—Foun. Dec.

Mar
One Niven, a musician in Inverness, caused a girl of twelve years, his pupil, to marry him under basely deceptious pretences. To induce a minister to perform the ceremony, he suborned a youth to personate the girl’s brother, and convey the consent of the father, who was himself a clergyman. For this ‘abominable imposture and treachery,’ he was condemned to stand with his ear nailed to the pillory, and then banished.—Foun. Dec.

July
For some time, we have heard little of witches; but now one appears. An old woman at Dunbar having threatened some people who refused to give her money, and ‘some evil accidents befalling them shortly after,’ she was seized and tried before a commission. She at first confessed, but afterwards retracted; nevertheless, the commission condemned her. Before proceeding to any greater extremity, they thought it well to bring her before the Council itself; who were at first inclined to ‘assoilzie’ her; but afterwards, ‘she was remitted back to Dunbar, to be burnt there, if her judges pleased.’ —Foun.

The girdle—a round iron plate used for baking oaten cakes over a fire—a household article once universal among the middle and humbler classes in Scotland—was invented and first made at the little burgh of Culross, in Fife. In 1599, King James gave the Culrossians an exclusive privilege to make girdles, and this had been confirmed by a gift from Charles II. in 1666. Nevertheless, a neighbouring gentleman, Preston of Valleyfield, had kept girdle-makers (craticularum fabros) on his barony, for which he was now challenged at law by the burghers of Culross. He defended himself on various grounds; and the lords, before decision, ‘recommended to Drumcairn to take trial if the girdle-makers of CuIross have any other trade or craft than that of making girdles, and at what prices they sell the same; and likewise to try if the men at Valleyfield do make sufficient girdles, and at what prices they make the same, and if they have any other trade than making of girdles, &c.’ How the matter ended we do not learn.—Foun. Dec.

About this time, an Englishman, apparently a military officer, described Scotland from personal observation, and so has preserved for us some general traits of the people.

‘Their drink,’ he says, ‘is beer, sometimes so new that it is scarce cold when brought to table. But their gentry are better provided, and give it age, yet think not so well of it as to let it go alone, and therefore add brandy, cherry brandy, or brandy and sugar, and [this] is the nectar of their country, at their feasts and entertainments, and carries with it a mark of great esteem and affection. Sometimes they have wine-—a thin-bodied claret, at tenpence the mutchkin, which answers our quart.’

It is evident from this that whisky as yet formed no conspicuous indulgence among the Scottish people. They had come, however, to be much given to another stimulant, which has ever since had a great fascination for them. ‘They are fond of tobacco, but more from the sneesh-box [snuff-box] than the pipe. And they have made it so necessary, that I have heard some of them say, that, should their bread come in competition with it, they would rather fast than their sneesh should be taken away. Yet mostly it consists of the coarsest tobacco, dried by the fire, and powdered in a little engine after the form of a tap, which they carry in their pockets, and is both a mill to grind, and a box to keep it.'

1689
The infatuated king had fled to France, the ministers of his will had dispersed in terror, and a convention was about to meet
and settle the crown upon William and Mary, when a singular instance of private revenge, recalling the rougher days of a century earlier, took place in Edinburgh.

Sir George Lockhart, long the most eminent counsel at the ‘Scottish bar—’ the most learned lawyer and the best pleader,’ says Burnet, ‘I have ever known of any nation ‘—and now President of the Court of Session, had had occasion, in the routine of judicial business, to give an award in favour of the unhappy wife and children of Chiesley of DaIry, near Edinburgh— a profligate man of violent passions, the descendant of a noted fanatic of the time of the Civil War. The sum assigned them from the husband and father’s estate was only ninety-three pounds a year. Chiesley openly avowed a resolution to be avenged on the judge; nay, he wrote to him, saying: ‘You have taken the government of my family from me—I desire a remedy at your hands; otherwise, I will not scruple to attack you at kirk or market;’ or using words to that effect.

On Sunday, the 31st of March—while the town was under the excitement of the siege of the Castle by the troops of the new government—Sir George Lockhart attended worship, as usual, in the New Church, a portion of St Giles’s cathedral. Chiesley came armed, and endeavoured, by money offered to the bedral, to get into Lord Castlehill’s seat, which was just behind that of the President, being resolved there to wreak out his vengeance, although certain to lose his own life in consequence. Not succeeding in getting into this seat, he flitted restlessly about the church till the conclusion of the service, when he walked out, and preceded the Lord President to the head of the close near by, in which the latter had his residence. The President came along, attended by Lord Castlehill and Mr Daniel Lockhart, and as he entered the close saluted Chiesley, who gloomily returned his greeting. To pursue the narrative of a contemporary: ‘My Lord Castlehill and Daniel Lockhart convoyed him a piece down the close, and talked a while with him, after which they both departed. The President called back the last, and whilst Daniel was returning, DaIry approached, to whom Daniel said: "I thought you had been at London," without any other answer than that he was there [that is, here] now. Daniel offered to take him by the hand; but the other shuffled by him, and coming close to the President’s back, discharged his pistol before that any suspected his design. The bullet going in beneath the right shoulder and out at the left pap, was battered on the wall. The President immediately turned about, looked the murderer grievously in the face, and then finding himself beginning to fail, he leant to the wall, and said to Daniel: "Hold me, Daniel, hold me." These were his last words. He was carried immediately to his own house, and was almost dead before be could reach it. Daniel and the President’s chaplain apprehended in the meanwhile DaIry, who owned the fact, and never offered to flee. He was carried to the guard, kept in the Weigh-house, and afterwards taken to prison. The President’s lady, hearing the shot and a cry in the close, got in her smock out of bed, and took the dead body in her arms; at which sight, swooning, she was taken to her chamber. The corpse were laid in the same room where he used to consult.’—Father Hay.

The murderer was tortured, but confessed nothing, and in three days he was hanging in chains at Drumsheuch; whence, however, his body was stolen away by his friends. Within the present century, on enlarging a cellar in Dairy house, a skeleton with some rusty irons about it was found in the earth, and concluded to be the remains of Chiesley.


Here—for the present, at least—ends our record of domestic occurrences and things in Scotland. It brings the life of the nation from the rudeness of the middle of the sixteenth. century down to the comparative civilisation of the close of the seventeenth, when the existing political system was nearly settled. A strange phantasmagoria, beginning with the half mail-clad baron and his band of followers in swords and pistols, and ending in the silken and embroidered gallant in full periwig and a rapier for show. We have seen in the earlier years of the period little regard for law amongst the people, and no power in the government to enforce it. But gentlemen have latterly rather fallen out of the custom of stabbing an enemy as he walked the High Street. They no longer go in force and in ‘effeir of weir’ to assail a neighbour in his house, or throw lighted brands into it, or drive off his horses and cattle, by way of making out a point of legal satisfaction from him. The maintenance of any form of peace in Aberdeenshire or Banffshire does not now wholly depend on the good-will of the head of the Gordon family, himself a constant offender against law in as far as he clung to the Romish religion. As regards the protection of life and property, a great improvement has evidently been effected.

It is evident from many circumstances that, during the whole time, there was a pressing tendency to improvement—partly to be accounted for, doubtless, by the near neighbourhood of England. But it was impeded by the almost incessant civil strife that was kept up in consequence of the contention between  two principles of ecclesiastical polity—an assertion of infallibility and independence in the church on the one hand, and an effort to bend this to supposed state necessities on the other: men, in trying to make each other Episcopalians and Presbyterians, almost ceasing to be Christians. Throughout this broil, some fine traits of earnestness and self-devotion were evoked; but so absorbing a concentration of the general mind on certain theological or quasi-theological doctrines could not be healthful, could not be favourable even to a sound spirit of religion, could not but check any enlightened desire for material improvements. Hence, the population was yet small and generally poor, and little had yet been done to advance the arts of life. There had never yet been beyond the most feeble attempts in any kind of manufactures: even such articles as paper and woollen cloth had to be imported. No movement had yet been even thought of for advancing any branch of rural economy. Scotland had sent forth no voice in either literature or science; her universities could not train either the lawyer or the physician. She had not a bank, and there was not perhaps above half a million of coin in circulation. No news-sheet had yet taken root in the country. A post system had only existed on a small scale during the last twenty-five years. No stage-coaches were yet permanently established between our towns, or between Edinburgh and London. The most delicate lady, under noble rank, had to perform journeys on horseback, and if she had not strength or health to ride, she could not travel. No system of police existed in any city of the realm.

In certain intellectual and moral respects, the country was in no better state. The judge was understood to be accessible to private persuasions; and even direct bribes were suspected. The people believed as firmly in witchcraft as in the first principles of their religion, and we are not yet come within thirty years of the last example of a poor wretch burnt for mishaps that chanced to follow her evil wishes. Gentlemen of ancient family and good account were not above using the basest tricks or the grossest violence, in order to secure, by marriage, the fortune of some hapless young heiress of eleven years of age. Fallacies about markets and marketings were rife; monopolies and patents over-rode the people and kept them in poverty, no man being yet quite able to believe that there was room in the world for anybody but himself. Having concluded about any matter of opinion, men could bear with no dissent from that. It seemed to them the highest of earthly duties, that the thing each felt as a religious error should be rooted out, even though that could only be done by the extirpation of the persons entertaining it. This was to be doing God service and saving men from destruction; no one perceiving that the object aimed at was never attained, or that, if attainable, it was an immorality to attempt its attainment. Even the Claim of Rights, in which the sufferings of Presbytery since 1660 were enumerated, and its claims asserted, set forth among its demands that no popish book should henceforth be allowed to be printed.

Such was the Scotland of 1689—an improvement upon the Scotland of 1560, though to no great extent. Perhaps, after all, if we consider how surprisingly late are all the great discoveries, inventions, and social arrangements for convenience; how gaslight, steam-machinery, railways, and the electric-telegraph are of our own day; how lately it is that mankind learned that air and water are gaseous compounds, that gravitation arranges the worlds, that our own little earth passed through a long and wonderful history before man came upon it; how it is but as yesterday that the British people led the way in universal liberation of industry, and unhappily have yet many obvious social evils to be cured; we shall not greatly wonder that this land of mountain and flood, seated far northward and off at a side, was no better than it was at the close of the reign of the last James. We may at least view congratulatingly one thing which has been made out—that the bulk of the people shall be allowed to have, under sanction of law, the style of external Christianity which they prefer; so that, anyhow, it shall not be the majority which is persecuted. That attained— and only smaller denominations treated with harshness—behold, the country begins to make a real, though at first slow advance. In five years from the settlement of its religious troubles, it has its first bank; in a few years more, it has native newspapers. Other troubles or chances of trouble being removed by a union with England, and the suppression of all hopes in favour of a discrowned dynasty, commerce becomes active; an improved agriculture commences; and nearly every kind of manufacture for which England is distinguished, takes hearty root with us. Scotsmen, frugally reared, and endowed with the elements of learning at their parish-schools, go forth into every realm to take leading positions. Literature and science are cultivated at home with the most brilliant success. And the short period of a century sees nearly every disadvantageous contrast between our country and her neighbours obliterated.


ARTICLE OMITTED.

1688, Dec
The break-down of King James’s power in this month let loose a popular feeling which had been long under the restraint of terror. The proceedings of an Edinburgh mob on the 10th of December, when the Catholic chapel and college at Holyrood were rifled and destroyed, and the books, trinkets, and images burned in the court-yard, are detailed in Wodrow. At that time, according to the honest confession of Patrick Walker, the extreme Presbyterians, regarding the Revolution as a surprising, unexpected, mereiful dispensation, ‘thought it someway belonged to us to go to all the popish houses and destroy their monuments of idolatry, with their priests’ robes, and put in prison [the priests] themselves.'

Such houses were not many, for the religion of Rome has never been able to get any footing worth speaking of in Scotland, and even the patronage of this unfortunate king had done little for it. The mansion of the Maxwells near Dumfries and Traquair House near Peebles, were the only ones in the south which challenged particular attention. In the latter case, the marriage of the second Earl of Traquair to a daughter of the Earl of Winton, had been the means of introducing a form of faith which the family has never since changed. We have seen something of the difficulties which his countess had in rearing her son, the present Earl, in her own religion; but she had succeeded in her object, notwithstanding all that presbyteries and privy councils could do. We learn that he was a quiet inoffensive man, who had never accepted any office under King James; but that did not avail to save his house from the zealous on this occasion.

Behold a resolute band leaving Edinburgh in December, and making their way ‘through frost and snow’ to that remote stately mansion on the Tweed, where the hated idolatry has for thirty years offended all well-disposed minds. The leader is Donald Ker of Kersland, a name suggestive of sufferings for presbytery in the past reign. They found at Traquair a great quantity of ‘Romish wares,’ but not all they came in search of, for a quantity had been carried off and secreted. Here, however, were an altar, a large crucifix of brass; several other crucifixes; ‘a large brodd opening with two leaves [triptich], covered within with cloth of gold of Arras work, having a veil covering the middle part, wherein were sewed several superstitious pictures;’ a eucharist cup of silver; an Agnus Dei of amber with a picture above; a box of relics, ‘wherein were lying, amongst silk-cotton, several pieces of bone, tied with a red thread, having written upon them the saint they belonged to—namely, St Crescentius, St Marianus, St Angelus, &c.;’ another ‘box of relics of bones, tied with a string—namely, St Victoria, St Theodora, St Donatus, St Benedictus, St Laureata, St Venturiana;’ ‘a harden bag, near full of beads;’ ‘a timber box, with many wafers in it;’ ‘a pot full of holy oil;’ ‘the holy-water sponge;’ ‘Mary and the Babe in a case most curiously wrought in a kind of pearl;’ several other examples of Mary and the Babe; about twelve dozen of wax candles; many papers containing pictures; about one hundred and thirty books, some of them with silver clasps; and a considerable number of other articles of less importance. All of these they seized without any resistance, for the earl and the priests had fled from the house on their approach.

According to the recital of Walker—Ker sent James Harkness and some other persons to the house of a neighbouring clergyman, ‘who had the name of a Presbyterian minister,’ one Mr Thomas Louis, with orders to search it narrowly for the missing articles, but to ‘behave themselves discreetly.’ ‘Mr Louis and his wife mocked them, without offering them either meat or drink, though they had much need of it! At last, they found two trunks locked, which they desired to have opened. Mr Louis then left them. They broke up the coffers, wherein they found a golden cradle, with Mary and the Babe in her bosom; in the other trunk, the priests’ robes.’

The whole of these articles, being brought together, were carried to Peebles (distance seven miles), and ‘all solemnly burned at the cross.’ The spoils of the Maxwells about the same time furnished the materials of a like solemnity at the cross of Dumfries.


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