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Domestic Annals of Scotland
Reign of Queen Anne: 1702 - 1714 Part 3


1704, July 4
Sir Thomas Dalyell of Binns—grandson of the old bearded persecutor of the times of the Charleses—had for a long time past been ‘troubled with a sore disease which affects his reason, whereby he is continually exposed to great dangers to his own person, by mobs, and others that does trouble him.’ It was also found that by the force of his disease, he is liable to squander away and dilapidate his best and readiest effects, as is too notourly known.’ Such is the statement of Sir Thomas's nephew, Robert Earl of Carnwath; his sister, Magdalen Dalyell and her husband, James Monteith of Auldcathie, craving authority, ‘for the preservation of his person and estate, and also for the public peace,’ to take him into custody in his house of Binns, ‘till means be used for his recovery;’ likewise power to employ a factor ‘for uplifting so much of his rents as may be necessar for his subsistence, and the employing doctors and apothecaries, according to the exigence of his present condition.’

The Council not only granted the petition, but ordained that the ppractioners might order up a soldier or two at any time from Blackness, to assist in restraining the unfortunate gentleman.

This Sir Thomas Dalyell died unmarried, leaving his estates and baronetcy to a son of his sister Magdalen, grandfather of the present baronet. The case is cited as shewing the arrangements for a lunatic man of rank in the days of Queen Anne.

July
The central authorities were now little inclined to take up cases of sorcery; but it does not appear that on that account witches ceased to be either dreaded or punished. Country magistrates and clergy were always to be found who sympathised with the popular terrors on the subject, and were ready to exert themselves in bringing witches to justice.

At the village of Torryburn, in the western part of Fife, a woman called Jean Neilson experienced a tormenting and not very intelligible ailment, which she chose to attribute to the malpractices of a woman named Lillias Adie. Adie was accordingly taken up by a magistrate, and put in prison. On the 29th July, the minister and his elders met in session, called Lillias before them, and were gratified with an instant confession, to the effect that she had been a witch for several years, having met the devil at the side of a ‘stook’ on the harvest-field, and renounced her baptism to him, not without a tender embrace, on which occasion she found that his skin was cold, and observed his feet cloven like those of a stirk. She had also joined in midnight dances where he was present. Once, at the back of Patrick Sands’s house in Valleyfield, the festivity was lighted by a light that ‘came from darkness,’ not so bright as a candle, but sufficient to let them see each other’s faces, and shew the devil, who wore a cap covering his ears and neck. Several of tho women she saw on these occasions she now delated as witches. The session met again and again to hear such recitals, and to examine the newly accused persons. There was little reported but dance-meetings of the alleged witches, and conversations with the devil, the whole bearing very much the character of what we have come to recognise as hallucinations or spectral illusions. Yet the ease of Adie was considered sufficient to infer the pains of death, and she was burned within the sea-mark. There were several other selemn meetings of the session to inquire into the cases of the other women accused by Adie; but we do not learn with what result.

The extreme length to which this afihir was carried may be partly attributed to the zeal of the niinistcr, the Rev. Allan Logan, who is said to have been particularly knowing in the detection of witches. At the administration of the communion, he would east his eye along, and say: ‘You witch-wife, get up from the table of the Lord,’ when some poor creature, perhaps conscience-struck with a recollection of wicked thoughts, would rise and depart, thus exposing herself to the hazard of a regular acensation afterwards. He used to preach against witchcraft, and we learn that, in 1709, a woman called Helen Key was acensed before the Torryhnrn session of using some disrespectful language about him in consequence. She told a neighbour, it appears, that on hearing him break out against the witches, she thought him ‘daft’ [mad] and took up her stool and left the kirk. For this she was convicted of profanity, and ordained to sit before the congregation and be openly rebuked.

Rather earlier in the year, there was a remarkable outbreak of diablerie at the small seaport burgh of Pittenweem, in the eastern part of Fife. Here lived a woman named Beatrix or Beatie Laing, described as ‘spouse to William Brown, tailor, late treasurer of the burgh,' and who must therefore be inferred to have been not quite amongst the poorer class of people. In a petition from the magistrates (June 13, 1704) to the Privy Council, it was stated that Patrick Morton was a youth of sixteen, ‘free of any known vice,’ and that, being employed by his father to make some nails for a ship belonging to one of the merchants in Pittenweem, he was engaged at that work in his father’s smithy, when Beatrix Laing came and desired him to make some nails for her. He modestly refused, alleging that he was engaged in another job requiring haste, whereupon she went away ‘threatening to be revenged, which did somewhat frighten him, because he knew she was under a bad fame and reputed for a witch.’

Next day, as he passed Beatrix’s door, ‘he observed a timber vessel with some water and a fire-coal in it at the door, which made him apprehend that it was a charm laid for him, and the effects of her threatening; and immediately he was seized with such a weakness in his limbs, that he could hardly stand or walk.’ He continued for many weeks in a languishing condition, in spite of all that physicians could do for him, ‘still growing worse, having no appetite, and his body strangely emaciated. About the beginning of May, his case altered to the worse by his having such strange and unusual fits as did astonish all on-lookers. His belly at times was distended to a great height; at other times, the bones of his back and breast did rise to a prodigious height, and suddenly fell,’ while his breathing ‘was like to the blowing of a bellows.’ At other times, ‘his body became rigid and inflexible, insomuch that neither his arms nor legs could be bowed or moved by any strength, though frequently tried,’ His senses were ‘benuinbed, and yet his pulse [continued] in good order.' His head sometimes turned half about, and no force could turn it back again. He suffered grievous agonies. His tongue was occasionally drawn back in his throat, ‘especially when he was telling who were his tormentors.’ Sometimes the magistrates or minister brought these people to his house, and before he saw them, he would cry out they were coming, and name them. The bystanders would cover his face, bring in the women he had accused of tormenting him, besides others, and cause them to touch him in succession; when be expressed pain as the alleged tormentors laid their hands upon him, and in the other instances ‘no effect followed.’ It seemed to the magistrates that the young man was in much the same condition with ‘that of Bargarran’s daughter in the west.’

Beatrix, and the other accused persons, were thrown into the jail of the burgh by the minister and magistrates, with a guard of drunken fellows to watch over them. Beatrix steadily refused to confess being a witch, and was subjected to pricking, and kept awake for five days and nights, in order to bring her to a different frame of mind. Sorely wounded, and her life a burden to her, she at length was forced, in order to be rid of the torment, to admit what was imputed to her. It will thus be observed that the humane practice maintained during the whole of the late cavalier reigns, of only accepting voluntary confessions from persons taxed with witchcraft, was no longer in force, The poor woman afterwards avowing that what she had told them of her seeing the devil and so forth was false, ‘they put her in the stocks, and then carried her to the Thieves’ Hole, and from that transported her to a dark dungeon, where she was allowed no manner of light, or human converse, and in this condition she lay for five months.’ During this interval, the sapient magistrates, with their parish minister, were dealing with the Privy Council to get the alleged witches brought to trial. At first, the design was entertained of taking them to Edinburgh for that purpose; but nhiinatcly, through the humane interference of the Earl of Balcarres and Lord Anstruther, two members of council connected with the district, the poor svoinen were set at liberty on bail August 12. This, however, was so much in opposition to the will of the rabble, that Beatrix Laing was obliged to decamp from her native town, ‘She wandered about in strange places, in the extremity of hunger and cold, though she had a competency at home, but dared not come near her own house for fear of the fury and rage of the people.’

It was indeed well for this apparently respectable woman that she, for the meantime, remained at a distance from home, While she was wandering about, another woman, named Janet Corufoot, was put in confinement at Pittenweem, under a specific charge from Alexander Macgregor, a fisherman, to the effect that he had been beset by her and two others one night, along with the devil, while sleeping in his bed. By torture, Cornfoot was forced into acknowledging this fact, which she afterwards denied privately, nuder equal terror for the confession and the retractation. however, her case beginning to attract attention from some persons of rank and education in the neighbourhood, the minister seems to have become somewhat doubtful of it, and by his connivance she escaped. Almost immediately, an officious clergyman of the neighbourhood apprehended her again, and sent her back to Pittenweem in the custody of two men.

Falling there into the hands of the populace, the wretched woman was tied hard up in a rope, beaten unmercifully, and then dragged by the heels through the streets and along the shore. The appearance of a bailie for a brief space dispersed the crowd, but only to shew how easily the authorities might have protected the victim, if they had chosen. Resuming their horrible work, the rabble tied Janet to a rope stretching between a vessel in the harbour and the shore, swinging her to and fro, and amusing themselves by pelting her with stones. Tiring at length of this sport, they let her down with a sharp fall upon the beach, beat her again unmercifully, and finally, covering her with a door, pressed her to death (January 30, 1705). A daughter of the unhappy woman was in the town, aware of what was going on, but prevented by terror from interceding. This barbarity lasted altogether three hours, without any adequate interruption from either minister or magistrates. Nearly about the same time, Thomas Brown, one of those accused by the blacksmith, died in prison, ‘after a great deal of hunger and hardship;’ and the bodies of both of these victims .of superstition were denied Christian burial.

The matter attracted the attention of the Privy Council, who appointed a committee to inquire into it, but the ringleaders of the mob had fled; so nothing could be immediately done. After some time, they were allowed to return to the town free of molestation on account of the murder. Well, then, might Beatrix Laing dread returning to her husband’s comfortable house in this benighted burgh. After a few months, beginning to gather courage, she did return, yet not without being threatened by the rabble with the fate of Janet Cornfoot; wherefore it became necessary for her to apply to the Privy Council for a protection. By that court an order was accordingly issued to the Pittenweem magistrate; commanding them to defend her from any tumults, insults, or violence that might be offered to her.

At the close of this year, George and Lachlan Rattray were in durance at Invernes; ‘alleged guilty of the horrid crimes of mischievous charms, by witchcraft and malefice, sorcery or necromancy.’ It being inconvenient to bring them to Edinburgh for trial, the Lords of Privy Council issued a commission to Forbes of Culloden, Rose of Kilravock, Baillie, commissary of Inverness, and some other gentlemen, to try the offenders. tile judges, however, were enjoined to transmit their judgment for consideration, and not allow it to be put in execution without warrant from the Council.

On the 16th July 1706, a committee of Council took into consideration the verdict in the case of the two Rattrays, and finding it ‘agreeable to the probation,’ ordained the men to be executed, under the care of the magistrates of Invernes; on the last Wednesday of September next to come. This order is subscribed by Montrose, Bnchan, Korthesk, Forfar, Torphicheri, Elibank, James Stewart, Gilbert Elliot, and Alexander Douglas.

Aug 23
The functions of the five Lords Commissioners of Justiciary being of the utmost importance, ‘concerning both the lives and fortunes of her majesty’s lieges,’ the parliament settled on these officers a salary of twelve hundred pounds Scots each, being about one hundred pounds sterling.’ They had previously had the same income nominally, but being payable by precept of the commissioners of the treasury, or the cash-keeper, it was, like most such dues, difficult to realise, and, perhaps, could scarcely be said to exist.

At this time, the fifteen judges of the Court of Session had each two hundred pounds sterling per annum, the money being derived from a grant of £20,000 Scots out of the customs and interest on certain sums belonging to the court. Five of them, who were lords of the criminal court also, were, as we here see, endowed with a further salary, making three hundred in all. The situation of president—’ ane imployment of great weight, requiring ane assiduous and close application,’ says the second President Dalrymple’—had usually, in addition to the common salary, a pension, and a present of wines from the Treasury, making up his income to about a thousand a year. By the grace of Queen Anne, after the Union, the puisne judges of the Court of Session got £300 a year additional, making five hundred in all ;‘ and this was their income for many years thereafter, the president continuing to have one thousand per annum. In the salaries of the same officers at the present day—-£3000 to a puisne civil judge, with expenses when he goes on circuit; £4800 to the President; and to the Lord Justice-clerk, £4500—we see, as powerfully as in anything, the contrast between the Scotland of a hundred and fifty years ago, and the Scotland of our own time.

Aug 30
Patrick Smith professed to have found out a secret ‘whereby malt may be dried by all sorts of fuel, whether coals, wood, or turf; so as to receive no impression from the smoke thereof; and that in a more short and less expensive manner than hath been known in the kingdom.’ He averred that ‘the drink brewn of the said malt will be as clear as white wine, free of all bad tincture, more relishing and pleasant to the taste, and altogether more agreeable to human health than the ale hath been heretofore known in the kingdom.’ Seeing how ‘ale is the ordinary drink of the inhabitants thereof;’ the public utility of the discovery was obvious. Patrick announced himself to the Privy Council as willing to communicate his secret for the benefit of the country, if allowed during a certain term to use it in an exclusive manner, and sell the same right to others.

Their Lordships granted the desired privilege for nine years.

Aug 30
Ever since the year 1691, there had been a garrison of government soldiers in Invergarry House, in Inverness-shire, the residence of Macdonald of Glengarry. The proprietor esteemed himself a sufferer to the extent of a hundred and fifty pounds a year, by damages to his lands and woods, besides the want of the use of his house, which had been reduced to a ruinous condition; and he now petitioned the government for some redress, as well as for a removal of the garrison, the ‘apparent cause’ of planting which had long ago ceased, ‘all that country being still peaceable and quiet in due obedience to authority, without the least apprcliension of disturbance or commotion.’

The Council ordered Macdonald to be heard in his own cause before the Lords of the Treasury, in presence of Brigadier Maitland, governor of Fort-William, that a statement might be drawn up and laid before the queen. ‘his circumstances,’ however, ‘being such, that he cannot safely appear before their Lordships without ane personal protection,’ the Council had to grant a writ discharging all macers and messengers from putting any captions to execution against him up to the 20th of September.

Before the time for the conference arrived, the Duke of Argyle put in a representation making a claim upon Glengarry’s estate, so that it became necessary to call in the aid of the Lord Advocate to make up the statement for the royal consideration.

Sep 16
The family of the Gordons of Gicht have already attracted our attention by their troubles as Catholics under Protestant persecution, and their tendency to wild and lawless habits. After two generations of silence, the family comes up again in antagonism to the law, but in the person of the husband of an heiress. It appears that the Miss Gordon of Gicht who gave birth to George Lord Byron, was not the first heiress who married unfortunately.

The heretrix of this period had taken as her husband Alexander Davidson, younger of Newton, who, on the event, became with his father (a rich man) bound to relieve the mother of his bride—’ the old Lady Gicht’—of the debts of the family, in requital for certain advantages conferred upon him. The mother had married as a second husband Major-general Buchan, who commanded the Cavalier army after the death of Lord Dundee, till he was defeated by Sir Thomas Livingstone at Cromdale. By and by, Alexander Davidson, under fair pretences, through James Hamilton of Cowbairdie, borrowed from his mother-in-law her copy of the marriage-contract, which had not yet been registered; and when the family creditors applied for payment of their debts, he did not scruple to send them, or allow them to go to the old Lady Gicht and her husband for payment. They, beginning to feel distressed by the creditors, sought back the copy of the contract for their protection; but as no entreaty could induce Davidson to return it to Cowbairdie, they were obliged at last to prosecute the latter gentleman for its restitution.

Cowbairdie, being at length, at the instance of old Lady Gicht and her husband, taken upon a legal caption, was, with the messenger, John Duff at the Milton of Fyvie, at the date noted, on his way to prison, when Davidson came to him with many civil speeches, expressive of his regret for what had taken place. He entreated Duff to leave Cowbairdie there on his parole of honour, and go and intercede with General Buchan and his wife for a short respite to his prisoner, on the faith that the contract should be registered within a fortnight, which he pledged himself should be done. Duff executed this commission successfully; but when he came back, Davidson revoked his promise. It chanced that another gentleman had meanwhile arrived at the Milton, one Patrick Gordon, who had in his possession a caption against Davidson for a common debt of a hundred pounds due to himself. Seeing of what stuff Davidson was made, he resolved no longer to delay putting this in execution; so he took Duff aside, and put the caption into his hand, desiring him to take Gicht, as he was called, into custody, which was of course immediately done.

In the midst of these complicated proceedings; a message came from the young Lady Gicht, entreating them to come to the family mansion, a few miles off where she thought all difficulties might he accommodated. The whole party accordingly went there, and were entertained very hospitably till about two o’clock in the morning (Sunday), when the strangers rose to depart, and Davidson came out to see them to horse, as a host was bound to do in that age, but with apparently no design of going along with them. Duff was not so far blinded by the Gicht hospitality, as to forget that he would be under a very heavy responsibility if he should allow Davidson to slip through his fingers. Accordingly, he reminded the laird that he was a prisoner, and must come along with them; whereupon Davidson drew his sword, and called his servants to the rescue, but was speedily overpowered by the messenger and his assistant, and by the other gentlemen present. He and Cowbairdie were, in short, carried back as prisoners that night to the Milton of Fyvie.

This place being on the estate of Gicht, Duff bethought him next day that, as the tenants were going to church, they might gather about their captive laird, and make an unpleasant disturbance; so he took forward his prisoners to the next inn, where they rested till the Sabbath was over. Even then, at Davidson’s entreaty, he did not immediately conduct them to prison, but waited over Monday and Tuesday, while friends were endeavouring to bring about an accommodation. This was happily so far effected, the Earl of Aberdeen, and his son Lord Haddo, paying off Mr Gordon’s claim on Davidson, and certain relatives becoming bound for the registration of the marriage-contract.

From whatever motive—whether, as alleged, to cover a vitiation in the contract, or merely out of revenge—Davidson soon after raised a process before the Privy Council against Cowbairdie, Gordon, and Duff, for assault and private imprisonment, concluding for three thousand pounds of damages; but after a long series of proceedings, in the course of which many witnesses were examined on both sides, the case was ignominiously dismissed, and Davidson decerned to pay a thousand merks as expenses.

Dec
Cash being scarce in the country, a rumour arose—believed to be promoted by malicious persons—that the Privy Council intended by proclamation to raise the value of the several coins then current. The unavoidable consequence was a run upon the Bank of Scotland, which lasted twenty days, and with such severity, that at last the money in its coffers was exhausted, and payments at the bank were suspended; being the only stoppage or suspension, properly so called, which has ever taken place in this venerable institution since its starting in 1695, down to the present day, besides one of an unimportant character, to be afterwards adverted to. ‘That no person possessed of bank-notes should be a loser, by having their money lie dead and useless, the proprietors of the bank, in a general meeting, declared all banknotes then current to bear interest from the day that payments were stopped, until they should be called in by the directors in order to payment.’

The Court of Directors (December 19) petitioned the Privy Council to send a committee to inspect their books, and ‘therein see the sufficiency of the security to the nation for the bank-notes that are running, and to take such course as in their wisdom they might think fit, for the satisfaction of those who might have banknotes in their hands.’

Accordingly, a committee of Council, which included Lord Belhaven, the President of the Court of Session, the Lord Advocate, and the Treasurer-depute, met in the bank-office at two o’clock next day; and having examined the accounts both in charge and discharge, found that ‘the bank hath sufficient provisions to satisfy and pay all their outstanding bills and debts, and that with a considerable overplus, exceeding by a fourth part at least the whole foresaid bills and debts, conform to ane abstract of the said account left in the clerk of Council’s hands for the greater satisfaction of all concerned.’

This report being, by permission of the Privy Council, printed, ‘gave such universal satisfaction, that payments thereafter were as current as ever, and no stop in business, everybody taking banknotes, as if no stop had been for want of specie, knowing that they would at last get their money with interest.

‘At this time, the Company thought fit to call in a tenth of stock [£10,000] from the adventurers, which was punctually paid by each adventurer [being exactly a duplication of the acting capital, which was only £10,000 before]; and in less than five months thereafter, the Company being possessed of a good cash, the directors called in the notes that were charged with interest, and issued new notes, or made payments in money, in the option of the possessors of the old notes. And very soon the affairs and negotiations of the bank went on as formerly, and all things continued easy until the year 1708.’

Dec
Notwithstanding the extreme poverty now universally cornplained of, whenever a man of any figure or importance died, there was enormous expense incurred in burying him. On the death, at this time, of Lachian Mackintosh of Mackintosh—that is, the chief of the clan Mackintosh—there were funeral entertainments at his mansion in inverness-shire for a whole month. Cooks and confectioners were brought from Edinburgh, at great expense, to provide viands for the guests, and liquors were set aflowing in the greatest profusion. On the day of the interment, the friends and dependants of the deceased made a procession, reaching all the way from Dalcross Castle to the kirk of Petty, a distance of four miles! ‘It has been said that the expense incurred on this occasion proved the source of pecuniary embarrassments to the Mackintosh family to a recent period.

In the same month died Sir William Hamilton, who had for several years held the office of a judge under the designation of Lord Whitelaw, and who, for the last two months of his life, was Lord Justice-clerk, and consequently, in the arrangements of that period, an officer of state. It had pleased his lordship to assign the great bulk of his fortune, being £7000 sterling, to his widow, the remainder going to his heir, Hamilton of Bangour, of which family he was a younger son. Lord Whitelaw was buried in the most pompous state, chiefly under direction of the widow, but, to all appearance, with the concurrence of the heir, who took some concern in the arrangements, or at least was held as sanctioning the whole affair by his presence as chief monrner. The entire expenses were £5189 Scots, equal to £432, 8s 4d. sterling, being more than two years’ salary of a judge of the Court of Session at that time. The lady paid the tradesmen’s bills out of her ‘donative,’ which was thought a singularly large one; but, by and by, marrying again, she raised an action against Bangour, craving allowance for Lord Whitelaw’s funeral charges ‘out of her intromission with the excentry ‘—that is, out of the proceeds of the estate, apart from her jointure. The heir represented that the charges were inordinate, while his inheritance was small; but this view of the matter does not appear to have been conclusive, for the Lords, by a plurality, decided that the funeral expenses of a deceased person ‘must be allowed to the utmost of what his character and quality will admit, without regard to what small part of his fortune may come to his heir. They did, indeed, afterwards modify this decision, allowing only just and necessary expenses; but, what is to our present purpose, they do not appear to have been startled at the idea of spending as much as two years of a man’s income in laying him under the soil.

The account of expenses at the funeral of a northern laird—Sir Hugh Campbell of Calder, who died in March 1716—gives us, as it were, the anatomy of one of these ruinous ceremonials. There was a charge of £55, 18s. ‘to buy ane cow, ane ox, five kids, two wedders, eggs, geese, turkeys, pigs, and moorfowl,’ the substantials of the entertainment. Besides £40 for brandy to John Finlay in Forres, £25, 4s. for claret to John Roy in Forres, £82, 6s to Bailie Cattenach at Aberdeen for claret, and £35 to John Fraser in Clunas for ‘waters ‘—that is, whisky—there was a charge by James Cuthbert, merchant, of £407, 6s. 4d. for ‘22 pints brandy at 48s. per pint, 18 wine-glasses, 6 dozen pipes, and 3 lb. cut tobacco, 2 pecks of apples, 2 gross corks, one large pewter flagon at £6, and one small at £3, currants, raisins, cinnamon, nutmegs, mace, ginger, confeeted carvy, orange and citron peel, two pair black shanibo gloves for women,’ and two or three other small articles. There was also £40 for flout’, £39, 12s. to the cooks and baxters, and ‘to malt brewn from the said Sir Hugh’s death to the interment, sixteen boils and ane half;’ £88. Sir Hugh’s body lay from the 11th to the 29th March, and during these eighteen days there had been ale for all corners. The outlay for ‘oils, cerecloth, and frankincense,’ used for the body, was £60; for ‘two coffins, tables, and other work,’ £110, 13s. 4d.; for the hearse and adornments connected with it (inclusive of ‘two mort-heads at 40s. the piece’), £358. With the expenses for the medical attendant, a suit of clothes to the minister, and some few other matters, the whole amounted to £1647, 16s. 4d., Scots money.’ This sum, it will be observed, indicates a comparatively moderate funeral for a man of such eminence; and we must multiply everything by three, in order to attain a probable notion of the eating, the drinking, and the pomp and grandeur which attended Lord Whitelaw’s obsequies.

The quantity of liquor consumed at the Laird of Calder’s funeral suggests that the house of the deceased must have been, on such occasions, the scene of no small amount of conviviality. It was indeed expected that the guests should plentifully regale themselves with both meat and drink, and in the Highlands especially the chief mourner would have been considered a shabby person if he did not press them to do so. At the funeral of Mrs Forbes of Culloden, or, to use the phrase of the day, Lady Culloden, her son Duncan, who afterwards became Lord President of the Court of Session, conducted the festivities. The company sat long and drank largely, but at length the word being given for what was called the lifting, they rose to proceed to the burial-ground. The gentlemen mounted their horses, the commonalty walked, and all duly arrived at the churchyard, when, behold, no one could give any account of the corpse. They quickly became aware that they had left the house without thinking of that important part of the ceremonial; and Lady Culloden still reposed in the chamber of death. A small party was sent back to the house to ‘bring on’ the corpse, which was then deposited in the grave with all the decorum which could be mustered in such anti-funereal circumstances.

Strange as this tale may read, there is reason to believe that the occurrence was not unique. It is alleged to have been repeated at the funeral of Mrs Home of Billie, in Berwickshire, in the middle of the eighteenth century.

In our own age, we continually hear of the vice of living for appearances, as if it were something quite unknown heretofore; but the truth is, that one of the strongest points of contrast between the past and the present times, is the comparative slavery of our ancestors to irrational practices which were deemed necessary to please the eye of society, while hurtful to the individual. This slavery was shewn very strikingly in the customs attending funerals, and not merely among people of rank, but in the humblest grades of the community. It was also to be seen very remarkably in the custom of pressing hospitality on all occasions beyond the convenience of guests, in drinking beyond one’s own convenience to encourage them, and in the customs of the table generally; not less so in the dresses and decorations of the human figure, in all of which infinitely more personal inconvenience was submitted to, nuder a sense of what was required by fashion, than there is at the present day.

1705, Jan
Roderick Mackenzie, secretary to the African Company, advertised what was called An Adventure for the Curious—namely, a raffle for the possession of ‘a pair of extraordinary fine Indian screens,’ by a hundred tickets at a guinea each. The screens were described as being on sight at his office in Mylne’s Square, but only by ticket (price 3d.),
in order to prevent that pressure of the mob which might otherwise be apprehended. In these articles, the public was assured, ‘the excellence of art vied with the wonderfulness of nature,’ for they represented a ‘variety of several kinds of living creatures, intermixed with curious trees, plants, and flowers, all done in raiscd, embossed, loose, and coloured work, so admirably to the life, that, at any reasonable distance, the most discerning eye can scarcely distinguish those images from the real things they represent.’ Nothing of the kind, it was avcrrcd, bad ever been seen in Scotland before, ‘excepting one screen of six leaves only, that is now in the palace at Hamilton.’

Jan 5
A general arming being now contemplated under the Act of Security, it became important that arms should be obtained cheaply within the country, instead of being brought, as was customary, from abroad. James Donaldson, describing himself as ‘merchant in Edinburgh,’ but identical with the Captain Donaldson who had established the Edinburgh Gazette in 1699, came forward as an enterpriser who could help the country in this crisis. He professed to have, ‘after great pains, found out ane effectual way to make machines, whereby several parts of the art and calling of smith-craft, particularly with relation to the making of arms, may be performed without the strength and labour of men, such as blowing with bellows, boring with run spindles, beating with hammers, [and] striking of files.' He craved permission of the Privy Council to set up a work for the making of arms in this economical way, with exclusive privileges for a definite period, as a remuneration.

The Council remitted the matter to the deacon of the smiths, for his judgment, which was very much putting the lamb’s case to the wolf’s decision. The worshipful deacon by and by reported that James Donaldson was well known to possess no mechanic skill, particularly in smith-work, so that his proposal could only be ]ooked upon as ane engine to inhaunce a little money to supply his necessity.’ The ordinary smiths were far more fit to supply the required arms, and had indeed a right to do so, a right which Donaldson evidently meant to infringe upon. In short, Donaldson was an insufferable interloper in a business he had nothing to do with. The Council gave force to this report by refusing Donaldson’s petition.

Not satisfied with this decision, Donaldson, a few days later, presented a new petition, in which he more clearly explained the kinds of smith-work which he meant to facilitate namely, forging, boring, and beating of gun barrels, cutting of files, [and] grinding and polishing of firearms.’ He - exhibited - ‘the model of the engine for boring and polishing of gun-barrels, and demonstrated the same, so that their lordships commended the same as ingenious and very practicable.’ He further disclaimed all idea of interfering with the privileges of the hammermen of Edinburgh, his ‘motive being nothing else than the public good and honour of his country,’ and his intention being to set up his work in a different place from the capital. What he claimed was no more than what had been granted to other ‘inventors of engines and mechanical improvements, as the manufactures for wool and tow cards, that for gilded leather, the gunpowder manufacture, &c,’

The Lords, learning that much of the opposition of the hammer-men was withdrawn, granted the privileges claimed, on the condition that the work should not be set up in any royal burgh, and should not interfere with the rights of the Edinburgh corporation.

Feb 2
Under strong external professions of religious conviction, rigorous Sabbath observance, and a general severity of manners, there prevailed great debauchery, which wonld now and then come to the surface. On this evening there had assembled a party in Edinburgh, who carried drink and excitement to such a pitch, that nothing less than a dance in the streets would satisfy them. There was Ensign Fleming of a Scots regiment in the Dutch service (son of Sir James Fleming, late provost of Edinburgh); there were Thomas Burnet, one of the guards; and John, son of the late George Gaibraith, merchant. The ten o’clock bell had rung, to warn all good citizens home. The three bacchanals were enjoying their frolic in the decent Lawnmarket, where there was no light but what might come from the windows of the neighbouring houses; when suddenly there approaches a sedan-chair, attended by one or two footmen, one of them carrying a lantern. It was the Earl of Leven, governor of the Castle, and a member of the Privy Council, passing home to his aorial lodging. Most perilous was it to meddle with such a person; but the merry youths were too far gone in their madness to inquire who it was or think of consequences; so, when Galbraith came against ome of the footmen, and was warned or be answered with an imprecation, and, turning to Fleming and Burnet, told them what had passed. Fleming said it would be brave sport for them. to go after the chair and overturn it in the mud; whereupon the three assailed Lord Leven’s servants, and broke the lantern. His lordship spoke indignantly from his chair, and Fleming, drawing his sword, wounded one of the servants, but was quickly overpowered along with his companions.

The young delinquents speedily became aware of the quality of the man they had insulted, and were of course in great alarm, Fleming in particular being apprehensive of losing his commission. After a month’s imprisonment, they were glad to come and make public profession of penitence on their knees before the Council, in order to obtain their liberty.’

On a Sunday, early in the same month, four free-living gentlemen, inclnding Lord Blantyre—then a hot youth of two-and-twenty—drove in a hackney-coach to Leith, and sat in the tavern of a Mrs Innes all the time of the afternoon-service. Thereafter they went out to take a ramble on the sands, but by and by returned to drinking at the tavern of a Captain Kendal, where they carried on the debauch till eight o’clock in the evening. Let an Edinburgh correspondent of Mr Wodrow tell the remainder of the story. Being all drunk—’ when they were coming hack to Edinbnrgh, in the very street of Leith, they called furiously to the coachman and post-boy to drive. The fellows, I think, were drunk, too, and ran in on the side of the causey, dung down [knocked over] a woman, and both the fore and hind wheel went over her. The poor woman cried; however, the coach went on; the woman died in half an hour. Word came to the Advocate to-morrow morning, who caused seize the two fellows, and hath been taking a precognition of the witnesses . . . . it will be a great pity that the gentlemen that were in the coach be not soundly fined for breach of Sabbath. One of them had once too great a profession to [make it proper that he should] be guilty now of such a crime.’

The desire to see these scapegraces punished for what was called breach of Sabbath without any regard to that dangerous rashness of conduct which had led to the loss of an innocent life, is very characteristic of Mr Wodrow’s style of correspondents.

Feb 19
Donaldson’s paper,
The Edinburgh Gazette, which had been established in 1699, continued in existence; and in the intermediate time there had also been many flying broadsides printed and sold on the streets, containing accounts of extraordinary occurrences of a remarkable nature, often scandalous. The growing inclination of the public for intelligence of contemporary events was now shewn by the commencement of a second paper in Edinburgh, under the title of The Edinburgh Courant. The enterpriser, Adam Boig, announced that it would appear on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, ‘containing most of the remarkable foreign news from their prints, and also the home news from the ports within this kingdom, when ships comes and goes, and from whence, which it is hoped will prove a great advantage to merchants and others within this nation it being now altogether neglected.’ Having obtained the sanction of the Privy Council, he, at the date noted, issued the first number, consisting of a small folio in double columns, bearing to be ‘printed by James Watson in Craig’s Close,’ and containing about as much literary matter as a single column of a modern newspaper of moderate size. There are two small paragraphs regarding criminal cases then pending, and the following sole piece of mercantile intelligence: ‘Lxini, Feb. 16.—This day came in to our Port the Mary Galley, David Preshu, commander, laden with wine and brandy.’ There are also three small advertisements, one intimating the setting up of post-offices at Wigton and New Galloway, another the sale of lozenges for the kinkhost [chincough] at 8s the box.

The superior enterprise shewn in the conducting of the Courant, aided, perhaps, by some dexterous commercial management, seems to have quickly told upon the circulation of thc Gazette; and we must regret, for the sake of an old soldier, that the proprietor of the latter was unwise enough to complain of this result to the Privy Council, instead of trying to keep his ground by an improvement of his paper. He insinuated that Boig, having first undersold him by ‘giving his paper to the ballad-singers four shillings sterling] a quire below the common price, as he did likewise to the postmaster,’ did still ‘so practise the paper-criers,’ as to induce them to neglect the selling of the Gazette, and set forth the Courant as ‘preferable both in respect of foreign and domestic news.’ By these methods, ‘the Gourant gained credit with some,’ though all its foreign news was ‘taken verbatim out of some of the London papers, and most part out of Dyer’s Letter and the London Courant, which are not of the best reputation.’ He, on the other hand, ‘did never omit any domestic news that he judged pertinent, though he never meddled with matters that he had cause to believe would not be acceptable, nor every story and trifling matter lie heard.

A triumphant answer to snch a complaint was but too easy. ‘The petitioner,’ says Boig, ‘complains that I undersold him; that my Courant bore nothing but what was collected from foreign newspapers; and that it gained greater reputation than his Gazette. As to the first, it was his fault if he kept the Gazette too dear; and I must say that his profit cannot but be considerable when he sells at my price, for all my news comes by the common post, and I pay the postage; whereas John Bisset, his conjunct [that is partner], gets his news all by the secretary’s packet free of postage, which is at least eight shillings sterling a week free gain to them. As to the second, I own that the foreign news was collected from other newspapers, and I suppose Mr Donaldson has not his news from first hands more than I did. But the truth is, the Courant bore more, for it always bore the home news, especially anent our shipping, which I humbly suppose was one of the reasons for its having a good report; and Mr Donaldson, though he had a yearly allowance from the royal burghs, never touched anything of that nature, nor settled a correspondent at any port in the kingdom, no, not so much as at Leith. As to the third, it’s left to your Grace and Lordahips to judge if it be a crime in me that the Gourant had a greater reputation than the Gazette.’

Connected, however, with this controversy, was an unlucky misadventure into which Boig had fallen, in printing in his paper a petition to the Privy Council from Evandor M’Iver, tacksman of the Scots Manufactory Paper-mills, and James Watson, printer, for permission to complete the reprinting of an English book, entitled War betwixt the British Kingdoms Considered. While these petitioners thought only of their right to reprint English books ‘for the encouragement of the paper-rnanufactory and the art of printing at home, and for the keeping of money as much as may be in the kingdom,’ the Council saw political inconvenience and danger in the book, and every reference to it, and at once stopped both the Courant, in which the advertisement appeared, and the Gazette, which piteously as well as justly pleaded that it had in no such sort offended. It was in the course of this affair that Donaldson complained of Boig’s successful rivalry, and likewise of an invasion by another person of his monopoly of burial-letters.

After an interruption of three months, Adam Boig was allowed to resume his publication, upon giving strong assurance of more cautious conduct in future. His paper continued to flourish for several years. (See under March 6, 1706.)


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