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Domestic Annals of Scotland
Reign of George I: 1714 - 1727 Part 2


1715, July
Mr James Anderson, so honourably known as editor of the Diplomata Scotiae was rewarded for his public services by the appointment of Deputy Postmaster-general, in place of George Mein. A mass of his correspondence, preserved in the Advocates’ Library, makes us acquainted with the condition in which he found postal matters, and the improvements which be effected during two or three subsequent years.

We learn that the horse-posts which existed many years back on some of the principal roads, had, ere this time, been given up, and foot-runners substituted, excepting perhaps upon what might be called the aorta of the system, from Edinburgh to Berwick. In this manner direct bags were conveyed as far north as Thurso, and westwards to Inverary. There were three mails a week from Edinburgh to Glasgow, and three in return; the runners set out from Edinburgh each Tuesday and Thursday, at twelve o’clock at night, and on Sundays in the morning, and the mails arrived at Glasgow on the evening of Wednesday and Friday, and on the forenoon of Monday. For this service the Post-office paid £40 sterling per annum, but from the fraudulent dealing of the postmaster of Falkirk, who made the payments, the runners seldom received more than from £20 to £25.

‘After his appointment, Mr Anderson directed his attention to the establishment of horse-posts on the western road from Edinburgh. The first regular horse-post in Scotland appears to have been from Edinburgh to Stirling; it started for the first time on the 29th November 1715. It left Stirling at two o’clock afternoon, each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and reached Edinburgh in time for the night-mail to England. In March 1717, the first horse-post between Edinburgh and Glasgow was established, and we have the details of the arrangement in a memorial addressed to Lord Cornwallis and James Craggs, who jointly filled the office of Postmaster-general of Great Britain.

The memorial states that the “horse-post will set out for Edin­burgh each Tuesday and Thursday, at eight o’clock at night, and on Sunday about eight or nine in the morning, and be in Glasgow (a distance of thirty-six miles by the post-road of that time) by six in the morning on Wednesday and Friday in summer, and eight in winter, and both winter and summer will be on Sunday night.” There appears to have been a good deal of negotiation connected with the settlement of this post, in which the provost and bailies of Glasgow took part. After some delay, the matter appears to have been arranged to the satisfaction of all parties.

‘A proposition was made at this time to establish a horse-post between Edinburgh and Aberdeen, at a cost of £132, 12g. per annum, to supersede the foot-posts, which were maintained at a cost of £81, 12g. The scheme, however, appears not to have been entertained at that time by the Post-office authorities.

‘In the year 1715, Edinburgh had direct communication with sixty post-towns in Scotland, and in the month of August the total sum received for letters passing to and from these offices and Edinburgh, was £44, 3s 1d. The postage on letters to and from London in the same month amounted to £157, 3s. 2d., and the postage for letters per the London road, amounted to £9, 19s., making the total sum for letters to and from Edinburgh, during that month, amount to £211, 5s. 3d.—equal to £2535, 3s. per annum.

‘In 1716, the Duke of Argyle, who had then supreme control in Scotland, gave orders to Mr Anderson to place relays of horses from Edinburgh to Inverness, for the purpose of forwarding dispatches to, and receiving intelligence from, the army in the Highlands under General Cadogan. These posts worked upon two lines of roads—the one went through Fife, and round by the east coast, passing through Aberdeen; the other took the central road via Perth, Dunkeld, and Blair Athole. These horse-posts were, however, discontinued immediately after the army retired.’

In October 1723, the authorities of the Edinburgh Post-office announced a thrice-a-week correspondence with Lanark, by means of the horse-post to Glasgow, and a runner thence to Lanark. The official annonce candidly owns: ‘This at first sight appears far about’ (it was transforming a direct distance of thirty-one miles into sixty-six). But ‘the Glasgow horse-post running all night makes the dispatch so quick, that the letters come this way to Lanark in twenty, or at most twenty-two hours, and from Lanark to Edinburgh in twenty-four hours at most.’

July 18
Two Rcnfrewshire gentlemen, of whose previous dealings with each other in friendship or business we get but an obscure account, came to a hostile collision in Edinburgh. Mr James Houston, son of the deceased Sir Patrick Houston of that Ilk, was walking on a piece of pavement called the Plainstones, near the Cross, when Sir John Shaw of Greenock came up with a friend, and the two gentlemen, designedly or not, slightly jostled each other. Mr Houston put his hand to his sword, but had not time to draw it before Sir John fell a-beating him about the head and shoulders with his cane, which, however, flying out of his hand, he instantly took to his sword, and before the bystanders could interfere, passed it twice through Mr Houston’s body.

It was at first thought the man was slain outright; but he was surviving in a sickly state in the ensuing January, when he raised a criminal prosecution against the knight of Greenock, and suc­ceeded in obtaining from him a solatium to the amount of five hundred pounds.

Sep
On the breaking out of the Rebellion this month, there was a run upon the Bank of Scotland rather encouraged by the directors than otherwise, from a desire to escape the responsibility and danger of keeping money during such a critical time. When the whole coin was drawn out, the Bank rendered up about thirty thousand pounds of public money which lay in its hands, that it might be lodged in the Castle, and then very calmly stopped payment, or rather discontinued business, intimating that their notes should bear interest till better times should return. In May 1716, the troubles being over, the Bank began to take in their notes and resume business as usual.

Sep 29
At this crisis, when a formidable insurrection was breaking out, the officers intrusted with the support of the government were not in the enjoyment of that concord which is said to give strength. The Justice-clerk (Cockburn of Ormiston) was on bad terms with both the Earl of Ilay and the Lord Advocate, Sir David Dalrymple. The animosity between two of these men came to a consummation which might be said to prefigure the celebrated wig-pulling of Sir Robert Walpole and Lord Townshend. The Earl of Ilay writes at this date from Edinburgh: ‘There has happened an accident which will suspend the Justice-clerk’s fury against me; for he and the King’s Advocate have had a corporal dispute; I mean literally, for I parted them.’’

Oct 18
In a letter of this date, written at Musselburgh by the Rev. J. Williamson, minister of that place, some recent domestic events are alluded to—as ‘the lamentable murder of Doctor Rule last week by Craigmilar’s second son, and the melancholy provi­dence of a jeweller’s servant, who was under some dejection for some time, and did, on Monday last, immediately after sermon, at Leith, run into the sea deliberately, and drown himself.’ There had been a new election of Scots peers at Holyrood for the first parliament of the new reign, and they were all of one sound loyal type— ‘a plain evidence of our further slavery to the English court.’ In reference to this, a fruit-woman went about the Palace-yard, crying: ‘Who would buy good pears, old pears, new pears, fresh pears—rotten pears, sixteen of them for a plack
!‘

Dec 28
Died, William Carstares, Principal of the University of Edin­burgh, noted as having been the intimate friend of King William, and his adviser about all Scottish affairs; for which reason, and his influence over the fortunes of the church, he was popularly known by the name of Cardinal Carstares. It must ever be considered a great honour to the Church of Scotland to have had the affectionate support of such a man. A sufferer under the seventies of the pre-Revolution government, he inclined, when his day of power came, to use it with moderation. His temperate counsels and practice are believed to have had a great effect in smoothing the difficulties which at first surrounded the Presbyterian establishment. His probity and disinterestedness have been above all question. King William said ‘he had known him long and well, and he knew him to be an Honest Man.’ In the midst of the contentious proceedings of this period, to light upon the gentle prudence, the unostentatious worth, and the genial unselfishness of Carstares, has the effect of a fine, soothing  melody amidst discord. There are a few anecdotes of this eminent man, which no one can read without feeling his heart improved.

A newly widowed sister coming from the country to see him, when he was engaged in consultations of importance with some of the officers of state, he instantly left these personages and came to her; insisted, against her remonstrances, on staying a short while with her, and giving her a prayer of consolation; then, having appointed a more leisurely interview, he returned with the tears scarcely effaced from his countenance, to his noble company.

His charities, which were truly diffusive, were often directed to the unfortunate Episcopal clergy. One, named Caddell, having called upon him, he observed that the poor man’s clothes were worn out, and discreditable to his sacred calling. Instantly ordering a suit to be prepared for a man of Caddell’s size, he took care to have them first tried upon his own person when his friend next waited upon him. ‘See,’ said he, ‘how this shy fellow has misfitted me! They are quite useless to me. They will be lost if they don’t fit some of my friends. And, by the by, I daresay they might answer you. Please try them on, for it is a pity they should be thrown away.’ Caddell, after some hesi­tation, complied, and found that the clothes fitted him exactly. With his hard-wrung permission, they were sent home to him, and he found a ten-pound note in one of the pockets.

It is said that many of the ‘outed’ clergy were in the custom of receiving supplies, the source of which they never knew till Mr Carstares’s death. At his funeral, two men were observed to turn aside together, quite overcome by their grief. Upon inquiry, it was found they were two non-jurant ministers, whose families, for a considerable time, had been supported by the benefactions of him they were laying in the grave.

If the partisans of particular doctrines and formu1ae were to try occasionally upon each other the effect of kindly good offices such as these, might they not sometimes make a little way with their opponents, instead of merely exasperating and hardening them, as, under existing circumstances, they almost invariably do?

1716, Apr 21
John Kellie, corporal in the Earl of Stair’s regiment, was put into the Edinburgh Tolbooth for killing John Norton, sergeant of the same regiment, in a duel near Stirling. He was liberated at the bar, on the 23d July ensuing.

The fighting of duels by private soldiers, now never heard of; seems then to have been not uncommon. The Edinburgh Courant of February 16, 1725, states: ‘This morning, two soldiers of the regiment that lies in the Canongate were whipped for fighting a duel.’

May 21
The Whig government of George I., having now got the lay Jacobites effectually put down, bethought itself of the clergy of the defeated party, the Episcopalians, who had made several active demonstrations during the late insurrection, and constantly stood in a sort of negative rebellion, in as far as they never prayed for the king de facto. Under a prompting from a high quarter, the Commissioners of Justiciary now ordered the advocate-depute, Duncan Forbes, to proceed against such of the Episcopal clergy in Scotland as had not prayed for King George, or otherwise obeyed the late Toleration Act by registering orders from a Protestant bishop. The consequent proceedings reveal to us a curious view of the condition of Episcopacy at that time in Edinburgh—at once comprehending a large number of clergy, and existing in the greatest obscurity.

There were Mr William Abercrombie and Mr David Freebairn, Mr Robert Marshall and Mr William Wylie, each described as ‘preacher in the Episcopal meeting-house in Bailie Fyfe’s Close;’ Mr George Johnston, Mr Robert Keith, and Mr Andrew Lums­dam, severally described as ‘preacher in the Episcopal meeting-house in Barrenger’s Close;’ Mr Jasper Kellie, ‘preacher in the Episcopal meeting-house below the Fountain-well;’ Mr Thomas Rhind, ‘preacher in the Episcopal meeting-house in Sandilands’ Close;’ Mr George Grahame, ‘preacher and user of the English Liturgy in his own house, to which many do resort as an Epis­copal meeting-house, in Canongate-head;’ Mr Andrew Cant, Mr David Lambie, Mr David Rankine, and Mr Patrick Middleton, ‘preachers in the Episcopal meeting-house in Skinner’s Close;’ Mr Henry Walker and Mr Patrick Home, each described as ‘preacher in the Episcopal meeting-house in Todrig’s Wynd;’ Mr Robert Calder, ‘preacher, sometimes in Edinburgh, sometimes in. Tranent’; Mr William Milne and Mr Willian Cockburn ‘preachers in the Episcopal meeting-house in Blackfriars’ Wynd’ (the latter probably he who had lately been chased by the mob out of Glasgow); Mr James Walker, ‘preacher in the Episcopal meeting-house in Dickson’s Close;’ Mr Alexander Sutherland, senior, and Mr Robert Chein, ‘preachers in the Episcopal meeting-house at the back of Bell’s Wynd.’ Thus, we see there were ten places of worship in Edinburgh—all in retired situations, and, strange to say, all within two hundred yards or so of each other; having in all twenty-two ministers; being considerably more than the number of the Established clergy then in Edin­burgh; but in what poverty they lived may he partly inferred from the fact, that Thomas Ruddiman, the grammarian, when attending an Episcopal meeting-house in Edinburgh in 1703, paid only ‘forty shillings’ (3s. 4d.) for his seat for two years.

Besides the twenty-two Edinburgh clergy, there were Mr Arthur Miller, ‘preacher in the Episcopal meeting-house in Leith,’ and Mr Robert Coult and Mr James Hunter, ‘Episcopal preachers in Mussleburgh,’ all involved in the same prosecution.

The result of their trial was a sentence, applicable to all except Mr William Cockburn, forbidding them to exercise their minis­terial functions till they should have fulfilled the requirements of the law, and amerciating them in twenty pounds each for not praying for King George. The only visible difference between the old persecutions and this was, that there was a populace to howl in the one case, and not in the other. However, the authorities were humane. The magistrates of Edinburgh were content to see that letters of ordination were registered. When the Prince of Wales, acting as regent, some time after sent them a secretary of state’s letter, complaining that the sentence was not fully carried out—the object being to compel a praying for his father—the magistrates applied for instructions to the commissioners of Justiciary, and were told that, having once passed sentence, the court could do nothing more in the case. So the Episcopal meeting-houses in Bailie Fyfe’s, Barrenger’s, Sandilands’, and other closes went on as before.

Aug
William Mure of Caldwell travelling with a party of friends from Edinburgh to Ross-shire, came the first stage—namely, to the Queensferry—in a coach, and afterwards proceeded on horse­back. Writing an account of his journey to his wife, from Chanonry, August 30, he says: ‘We came in coach to the Ferry on Friday; and though we were once overturned, yet none of us had any misfortune.’ Probably Mr Mure considered himself as getting off very well with but one overturn in a coach-journey of eleven English miles. He goes on: ‘We came that night to Perth, where the Master of Ross and Lady Betty met us. On Saturday, we came to Dunkeld, and were all night with the Duke of Athole. On Sunday, after sermon, we left the ladies there, and came to the Blair.’ The ladies probably had scruples about Sunday travelling; but Mr Mure, although a man of notedly religious character, appears to have had none. ‘On Monday,’ he adds, ‘we made a long journey, and went to Glenmore, where my Lord Huntly’s fir-woods are. On Tuesday, we came to Kilravock’s house (Kilravock), and yesternight came here, which is the first town in the shire of Ross.’’ Thus a journey of about 170 miles occupied in all six days.

In April 1722, the king being about to visit Hanover, certain Scottish lords, amongst others, were appointed to attend him. It is intimated in a London paper of April 28 that they set out from Edinburgh for this purpose on the previous Monday, the 23d; and ‘the roads being laid with post-horses, they are expected here as to-morrow.’ That is, the journey would occupy in the way of posting from Monday to Sunday, or seven days. It was one day more than the time occupied in a journey from London to Edinburgh by the Duke of Argyle in September 1715, when he posted down in the utmost haste, with some friends, to take command of the troops for the resistance to the insurgent Earl of Mar.

It appears that about this time there were occasional packet-ships, by which people could travel between Edinburgh and London. In 1720, the Bon Accord, Captain Buchanan, was advertised as to sail for London on the 30th June, having good accommodation for passengers, and ‘will keep the day, goods or no goods.’ Two years later, the ‘Unity packet-boat of Leith’ was in like manner announced as to proceed to London on the 1st September, ‘goods or no goods; wind and weather serving, having good accommodation for passenger; and good entertain­ment.’ The master to be spoke with in the Laigh Coffee-house. But this mode of transit was occasionally attended with vicissitudes not much less vexatious than those of the pious voyager of the Sneid. For example, we learn from a paragraph in an Edinburgh newspaper, on the 15th November 1743, that the Edinburgh and Glasgow packet from London, ‘after having great stress of weather for twenty days, has lately arrived safe at Holy Island, and is soon expected in Leith harbour.’

During the decade 1720—30, return chaises for London, gene­rally with six horses, are occasionally advertised. The small amount of travelling which then prevailed is marked by the fact, that we find such a conveyance announced on the 11th of May to set out homeward on the 15th or 16th, and on the 18th re-adver­tised as to go on the 2d or 3d of June, no one having come forward in the interval to take advantage of the opportunity. We find, however, in 1732, that a periodical conveyance had at length been attempted. The advertisement states, ‘that the Stage Coach continues to go from the Canongate for London, or any place on the road, every Wednesday fortnight. And if any gentleman want a by-coach, they may call at Alexander Forsyth’s, opposite to the Duke of Queensberry’s Lodging, where the coach stands.’

In May 1734, a comparatively spirited effort in the way of travelling was announced by John Dale and three other persons—namely, a coach to set out towards the end of this week [pleasant indefiniteness!] for London, or any place on the road, to be performed in nine days, or three days sooner than any other coach that travels the road.’

The short space between the two populous towns of Edinburgh and Leith must have been felt as a particularly favourable field for this kind of enterprise; and, accordingly, a ‘Leith stage’ was tried both in 1610 and 1660, but on both occasions failed to receive sufficient encouragement. In July 1722, we are informed that, on the 9th instant, ‘two stage-coaches are to begin to serve betwixt Edinburgh and Leith, and are to go with or without com­pany every hour of the day. They are designed to contain six persons, each paying threepence during the summer, and fourpence during the winter for their fare.’

Sep 1
This day met at Edinburgh a set of commissioners appointed under a late act ‘to inquire of the estates of certain traitors, and of popish recusants, and of estates given to superstitions uses, in order to raise money out of them for the use of the public.’ The first and most prominent object was to appropriate the lands of the Scottish nobles and gentlemen who had taken part in the late insurrection for the House of Stuart. Four out of the six com­missioners were Englishmen, members of the House of Commons, and among these was the celebrated Sir Richard Steele, fresh from the literary glories he had achieved in the Tatler, Spectator, and Guardian, from his sufferings in the Whig cause under Anne, and the consolatory honours he attained under the new monarch.

It was a matter of course that strangers of such distinction should be honoured in a city which received few such guests; and doubtless the government officials in particular paid them many flattering attentions. But the commissioners very soon found that their business was not an easy or agreeable one. There was in Scotland plenty of hatred to the Jacobite cause; but battling off its adherents at Sheriffmuir, and putting down its seminaries, the Episcopal chapels, was a different thing from seeing an order come from England which was to extinguish the names and fortunes of many old and honourable families, and turn a multitude of women and children out of house and home, and throw them upon the charity of their friends or the public. Most of the unfortunates, too, had connections among the Whigs themselves, with claims upon them for commiseration, if not assistance; and we all know the force of the old Scottish maxim—eternal blessings rest on the nameless man who first spoke it that bluid is thicker than water.

It was with no little surprise and no little irritation that these English Whig gentlemen discovered how hard it was to turn the forfeited estates into money, or indeed to make any decent pro­gress at all in the business they came about. The first and most vexatious discovery they made was, that there was a code of law and frame of legal procedure north of the Tweed different from what obtained to the south of it. The act was framed with a regard to the practices of English law, which were wholly unknown and could not be recognised in Scotland. Then as to special impedi­ments—first came the Scotch Court of Exchequer, with a claim under an act of the preceding year, imposing a penalty of five hundred pounds and loss of liferents and whole movables on every suspected man who did not deliver himself up before a certain day: all of the men engaged in the late insurrection had incurred this penalty; the affair came under the Exchequer department; and it was necessary to discriminate between what was forfeited by the one act and what was forfeited by the other.

There was something more obstructive, however, than even the Scottish Exchequer. The corn missioners discovered this in the form of a body called the Court of Session, or, in common language, ‘the Fifteen,’ who sat periodically in Edinburgh, exer­cising a mysterious influence over property throughout the country, and indulging in certain phrases of marvelous potency, though utterly undreamed of in Southern Britain. Here is how it was. The act had, of course, admitted the preferable claims of the creditors of the traitors, and of those who had claims for marriage and other provisions on their estates. On petitions from these persons—in whose reality the commissioners had evidently a very imperfect faith—this Court of Session had passed what, in their barbarous jargon, they called sequestrations of the said estates, at the same time appointing factors to uplift the rents, for the benefit of the aforesaid persons in the first place, and only the commissioners in the second. What further seemed to the commissioners very strange was, that these factors were all of them men notedly disaffected to the Revolution interest, most of them confidential friends, some even the relatives, of the forfeited persons, and therefore all disposed to make the first department of the account as large, and the second as small, as possible. Nor was even this all, for, as had been pointed out to them by some of the Established clergy of Forfarshire, these factors were persons dangerous to the government. For example, Sir John Carnegie of Pitarrow, factor on the Earl of Southesk’s estate, was the man who, on the synod of Angus uttering a declaration in 1712 for the House of Hanover, had caused it to be burned at the head burgh of the shire. John Lumsdain, who was nominated to the charge of the estates of the Earl of Panmure, had greatly obstructed the establishment of the church in the district, and proved altogether ‘very uneasy to presbyteries and synods.’ Suppose the unruly king of Sweden should land on the east of Scotland, there were all the tenants of those large estates in the obedience of men who would hail his arrival and forward his objects!

The general result was, that the commissioners found them­selves stranded in Edinburgh, as powerless as so many porpoises on Cramond sands, only treated with a little more outward respect. One proposal, indeed, they did receive (January 1717), that seemed at first to be a Scottish movement in their favour —namely, an affer from the Lord Advocate (Sir David Dalrymple), with their concurrence, to commence actions in the Court of Session for determining the claims of creditors; but, seeing in this only an endless vista of vexatious lawsuits, they declined it, preferring to leave the whole matter to be disposed of by further acts of the legislature.’

By virtue of the treason-law for Scotland, passed immediately after the Union, the government this day suddenly removed eighty-nine rebel prisoners from Edinburgh to Carlisle, to be there tried by English juries, it being presumed that there was no chance of impartiality in Scotland. The departing troop was followed by a wail of indignant lament from the national heart. Jacobites pointing to it with mingled howls and jeers as a proof of the enslavement of Scotland—Whigs carried off by irresistible sympathy, and unable to say a word in its defence—attested how much the government did by such acts to retard the desirable amalgamation of the two nations. Under the warm feeling of the moment, a subscription was opened to provide legal defences for the unfortunate Scotsmen, and contributions came literally from all sorts and conditions of men. Even the Goodman of the Tolbooth gave his pound. The very government officials in some instances were unable to resist an appeal so thrilling.

The list includes the names of nineteen of the nobility—namely, Errol, Haddington, Rosebery, Morton, Hopetoun, Dundonald, Moray, Rutherglen, Cassillis, Traquair, March, Galloway, Kin­noull, Eglintoune, Elibank, Colville, Blantyre, Coupar, and Deskford, all for considerable sums. Amongst other entries are the following: Lady Grizel Cochrane, £6, 9s.; the Commissioners of Excise, £7, l0s. 8d.; Mr George Drummond, Goodman of the Tolbooth Edinburgh, £1; John M’Farlane, Writer to the Signet, 10s. 0d.; the Merchant Company, £5; the Incorporation of Goldsmiths, £5; the Incorporation of Tailors, £5; the Incor­poration of Chirurgeons, £5; the four Incorporations of Leith (aggregate, £53, 10s. 7d.; the Episcopal Clergy of Edinburgh, £8, 8s.; Magistrates of Haddington (and collected by them), £28; Society of Periwigmakers in Edinburgh, £24, 4s. 3d.; Inhabitants of Musselburgh, Inveresk, and Fisherrow, £20; collected by Lady Grizel Cochrane, at Dumbarton, £.30; Colonel Charteris’s lady, £5, 7s. 6d.; collected by Lady Grizel Cochrane, from sundry persons specified, £180.

To do the government justice, the rebel prisoners were treated mildly, not one of them being done to death, though several were transported. An attempt was made, two years later, by a com­mission of Oyer and Terminer sent into Scotland, to bring a number of other Jacobite delinquents to punishment. It sat at Perth, Dundee, and Kelso, without being able to obtain true bills: only at Cupar was it so far effective as to get bills against Lord George Murray, of the Athole family; Sir James Sharpe, representative of the too famous archbishop; Sir David Threipland of Fingask; and a son of Moir of Stonywood; but it was to no purpose, for the trials of these gentlemen were never proceeded with.

Oct 2
Captain John Cayley (son of Cornelius Cayley of the city of York), one of the commissioners of his majesty’s customs, was a conspicuous member of that little corps of English officials whom the new arrangements following on the Union had sent down to Scotland. He was a vain gay young man, pursuing the bent of his irregular passions with little prudence or discretion. Amongst his acquaintance in Edinburgh was a pretty young married woman—the daughter of Colonel Charles Straiton, well known as a highly trusted agent of the Jacobite party—the wife of John M’Farlane, Writer to the Signet, who appears to have at one time been man of business to Lord Lovat. Cayley had made himself notedly intimate with Mr and Mrs M’Farlane, often entertained them at his country-house, and was said to have made some valuable presents to the lady. To what extent there was truth in the scandals which connected the names of Commissioner Cayley and Mrs M’Farlane, we do not know; but it is understood that Cayley, on one occasion, spoke of the lady in terms which, whether founded in truth or otherwise, infinitely more condemned himself. Perhaps drink made him rash; perhaps vanity made him assume a triumph which was altogether imaginary; perhaps he desired to realise some wild plan of his inflamed brain, and brought on his punishment in self-defence. There were all sorts of theories on the subject, and little positively known to give any of them much superiority over another in point of plausibility. A gentleman, writing from Edinburgh the second day after, says: ‘I can hardly offer you anything but matter of fact, which was—

that upon Tuesday last he came to her lodging after three o’clock, where he had often been at tea and cards: she did not appear till she had changed all her clothes to her very smock. Then she came into a sort of drawing-room, and from that conveyed him into her own bed-chamber. After some conversation there, she left him in it; went out to a closet which lay at some distance from the chamber; (thence) she brought in a pair of charged pistols belonging to Mr Cayley himself; which Mr M’Farland, her husband, had borrowed from him some days before, when he was about to ride to the country. What further expressions there were on either side I know not; but she fired one pistol, which only made a slight wound on the shackle-bone of his left hand, and slanted down through the floor—which I saw. The other she fired in a slant on his right breast, so as the bullet pierced his heart, and stuck about his left shoulder-blade behind. She went into the closet, (and) laid by the pistols, he having presently fallen dead on the floor. She locked the door of her room upon the dead body, (and) sent a servant for her husband, who was in a change-house with company, being about four afternoon. He came, and gave her what money he had in the house, and con­ducted her away; and after he had absented himself for about a day, he appeared, and afterwards declared before the Lords of Justiciary he knew nothing about it till she sent for him. I saw his corps after he was cereelothed, and saw his blood where he lay on the floor for twenty-four hours after he died, just as he fell, so as it was a difficulty to straight him.’

Miss Margaret Swinton, a grand-aunt of Sir Walter Scott, used to relate to him and other listeners to her fireside-tales, that, when she was a little girl, being left at home at Swinton house by herself one Sunday, indisposed, while all the rest of the family were at church, she was drawn by curiosity into the dining-room, and there saw a beautiful female, whom she took for ‘an enchanted queen,’ pouring out tea at a table. The lady seemed equally surprised as herself, but presently recovering self-possession, addressed the little intruder kindly, in particular desiring her to speak first to her mother by herself of what she had seen. Margaret looked for a moment out of the window, and, when she turned about, the enchanted queen was gone! On the return of the family, she spoke to her mother of the vision, was praised for her discretion, and desired to keep the matter from all other persons—an injunction she strictly followed. The stranger was Mrs M’Farlane, who, being a relative of the family, had here received a temporary shelter after the slaughter of Captain Cayley. She had vanished from Margaret Swinton’s sight through a panel-door into a closet which had been arranged for her con­cealment. The family always admired the sagacity shewn in asking Margaret to speak to her mother of what she had seen, but to speak to her alone in the first instance, as thus the child’s feelings found a safe vent. It will be remembered that Scott has introduced the incident as part of his fiction of Peveril of the Peak.

In the ensuing February, criminal letters were raised against Mrs M’Farlane by the Lord Advocate, Sir David Dalrymple, and the father and brother of the deceased, reciting that ‘John Cayley having, on the 2d of October last, come to the house of John M’Farlane in order to make a civil visit, she did then and there shoot a pistol at John Cayley, and thereby mortally wounded him.’ Not appearing to stand her trial, she was declared outlaw. Sir Walter Scott states it as certain, that she was afterwards enabled to return to Edinburgh, where she lived and died but I must own that some good evidence would be required to substantiate such a statement.

The romantic nature of the incident, and the fact of the sufferer being an Englishman, caused the story of Mrs M’Farlane to be famed beyond the bounds of Scotland. Pope, writing about the time to Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, breaks out thus: ‘Let them say I am romantic; so is every one said to be that either admires a fine thing or does one. On my conscience, as the world goes, ‘tis hardly worth anybody’s while to do one for the honour of it. Glory, the only pay of generous actions, is now as ill-paid as other just debts; and neither Mrs Macfarland for immolating her lover, nor you for returning to your lord, must ever hope to be compared to Lucretia or Portia.’


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