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Domestic Annals of Scotland
Reign of George II: 1727 - 1748 Part A


THE accession of George II., while not disturbing in England that predominance of the great Whig nobles which had existed since the Revolution, and leaving the practical administration, as before, in the hands of Sir Robert Walpole, produced no change ill the system of improvement which the Union had inaugurated. Under the rule of the Argyles, the Dalrymples, and one or two other eminent Whig families, with the mild and virtuous Duncan Forbes as Lord Advocate, the country enjoyed peace, and was enabled to develop its long dormant energies, in the pursuits of agriculture, of manufactures, and of commerce. All but a few of the Highland clans had apparently given their final submission to the Guelph dynasty; and though the Stuart cause was known to be upheld by some, it was generally thought that there was very little chance of further civil war on that subject.

The general tranquillity was broken in 1737 by a riot in Edinburgh, arising out of the harsh measures required for the enforcement of the Excise laws, and ending in the violent death of a public officer who had rendered himself obnoxious to the populace. For an account of this affair, reference is made to the chronicle.

About the same period, there was considerable agitation in the church, in consequence of the insubordination of a small group of clergymen, of ultra-evangelical views, who were at length, in 1740, expelled, and became the founders of a separate church under the name of the Associate Synod.

In 1744, Great Britain was engaged in a war which involved most of the great powers of Europe. The French minister, Cardinal de Tencin, conceived that an invasion of England on behalf of the House of Stuart would be an excellent diversion in favour of the arms of his country. The time was in reality long past for any effective movement of this kind. New men and new things had extinguished all rational hopes in the Jacobite party. Still there were some chiefs in the Highlands who had never abandoned the Stuart cause. In the Lowlands, there were discontents which seemed capable of being turned to some account in effecting the desired revolution. Prince Charles Edward, the eldest son of the so-called Pretender, was an ardent-minded youth, eager to try a last chance for the restoration of his family. The Cardinal really made some preparatioiis for an expedition to be conducted by the Prince; but it was prevented by a storm and an opposing English armament, from leaving the French coast. Disappointed of the promised aid, Charles secretly voyaged with seven friends to the western coast of Inverness-shire, and, landing there towards the close of July 1745, was soon surrounded by a few hundreds of friendly Camerons and Macdonalds. lie raised his standard at Glenfinnan on the 19th of August, and expressed himself as determined with such as would follow him, to win back a crown, or perish in the attempt.

The best of the national troops being engaged in service abroad, the government could only oppose to this enterprise a few raw regiments under the commander-in-chief for Scotland, Sir John Cope. But Sir John, making an unlucky lateral move­ment to Inverness, permitted Prince Charles, with about eighteen hundred clansmen, to descend upon Perth unopposed, and even to take possession of Edinburgh. On the 21st of September, having returned by sea to the low country, Cope was encountered at Prestonpans by the Highlanders, and driven in a few minutes from the field. For several weeks, Prince Charles Edward held court at Holyrood, in undisputed possession of Scotland. March-big in November into England by the western border, he captured Carlisle, was well received at Manchester, and pushed on to Derby, where lie was only a hundred and twenty—seven miles from London. But here the courage of his little council of chiefs gave way before the terrors of the three armies by which they seemed surrounded. Accomplishing a hurried, yet well-managed retreat to Scotland, they mid Glasgow under contribution, and came to a halt at Stirling, where many fresh clans joined them, making up an army of nine thousand men.

A well—appointed English army under General Hawley met Prince Charles Edward at Falkirk (January 17, 1746), and was driven back to Edinburgh with the loss of camp, cannon, and baggage. The king’s second son, the Duke of Cumberland, soon after took command of the forces in Scotland, and on his advancing to Stirling, the Highland army made a hasty retreat to Inverness, where they spent the remainder of the winter. As soon as the return of spring permitted the English army to march, it was conducted against the rebels by its royal com­mander. In a regular engagement which took placo on Culloden Moor, near Inverness (April 16), the Highland army was broken and dispersed with great slaughter. Prince Charles fled to the west coast, and after several months of fugitive life, during which he endured incredible hardships, escaped back to France. The Duke advanced to Fort Augustus, and there superintended a system of burning, slaughtering, and despoliation, throughout the disaffected territory, by which he hoped to make further efforts for the House of Stuart impossible. These acts, and his having ordered a general slaughter of the wounded Highlanders on the field of battle, have fixed on him indelibly the appellation of ‘the Butcher.’

Further to strike terror into the Jacobite party, two leaders of the rebel army, the Earl of Kilmarnock and Lord Balmerino, with about seventy prisoners of inferior rank, were put to death as traitors. Lord Lovat, who, while preserving an appearance of loyalty, had sent out his clan under his son, was afterwards tried and executed for treason. Scotland generally suffered for some time under a military oppression, for the government, in their ignorance of the country, did not see by how small a part of the community the late insurrection had boon supported. It now effected, however, some measures which enlightened men had long felt to he wanting for the cause of civilisation. One of these was for a more effectual disarmament of the Highlanders; another for abolishing the use of their tartan habiliments, which it was supposed had a certain effect in keeping up their warlike spirit. There remained two acts of much more import­ance, passed in 1748. One took away the hereditary sheriffships and other jurisdictions of the nobility and gentry, so as to render the sovereign in Scotland, as heretofore in England, the fountain of all law and justice. In terms of this statute, the privileges taken away were compensated for by sums of money, amounting in all to £152,000. The other act abolished what was called the tenure of ward—holdings-—that is, the holding of lands on the condition of going out to war whenever the superior desired. Tenants and the common people wore thus for the first time in Scotland rendered independent of their landlords, or of the great men on whose property they lived. In fact, they now became for the first time a free people.

1722, June
From the eagerness of the proprietors of the Equivalent Stock to be engaged in some profitable business, as detailed under December 1719, it might have been expected that they would sooner or later fall upon some mode of effecting their wishes. All attempts to come into connection with the Bank of Scotland having failed, they at length formed the bold design of setting up a new hank—bold, in as far as it was entirely a novelty, there being no thought of a second bank even in England, where business was conducted upon so much greater a scale than in Scotland. It seems to have been by engaging the good-will or interest of the Earl of Islay, that the object was attained. The Bank of Scotland in vain published a statement shewing how it was quite competent, with its thirty thousand pounds of paid-up capital, to conduct the business of the country, and really was conducting it satisfactorily. In vain did Scottish jealousy try to raise a cry about the large proportion of English shareholders in the new concern. It received a royal charter, which was the last document of the kind prepared before the king set out on his fatal visit to Hanover, and required a warrant from the new sovereign before the seal could he appended to it. The Earl of Islay was made governor, and the Lord President Dundas became deputy-governor. In December they opened their office, with a capital of £111,000; and in the first week of the new year, they began to issue notes ‘having his present majesty King George II’s picture in front.’ 1 At first, these notes were expressed in Scots money; but the time had now come when the people of Scotland began pretty generally to adopt the English denominations, both in their accounts and in common parlance; so this fashion was not kept up by the Royal Bank above two years. It is unnecessary to remark that the new bank prospered, and now ranks second to none in respectability. But this only makes the more remarkable the dreary anticipations which were formed at the time by those whom it rivalled.

‘Whatever was said while the Equivalent Society’s charter with banking powers was a-seeking, or what has been said since the passing thereof; that there was no design of prejudicing the Old Bank—nobody that knows the nature of banking does believe that two banks can be carried on in the same country; for it is impos­sible to manage and keep them up, without interfering and rubbing upon one another, unless rules and regulations could be made to prevent it; and it is impossible to digest regulations for executing such a design, but what must make the interests of the two companies reciprocal, and the product of their trade mutually to be communicated; and so two different offices, under distinct manage­ment and direction, would be a needless charge and trouble. Therefore the gentlemen of the (Old) Bank did from the begin­ning lay their account with an attack from an enemy, and a foreign one too, with home alliances.’

Following up this terrible view of the case, the Bank of Scot­land, for some time before the new establishment was opened, discontinued lending money, as a matter of precaution, thus creating considerable distress among the mercantile classes, and of course justifying, so far, the establishment of a new source of accommodation. When the Royal Bank was fairly afloat, the Bank of Scotland proceeded to the yet greater extremity of calling up former loans, thus deepening the distress. ‘The country,’ says Mr Wodrow in a kind of despair, ‘is not able to bear both banks. The new bank would fain have the old coalescing with them; but they bear off. It‘s a wonder to me how there‘s any money at all in the country.’

A pamphlet having been published in the interest of the Bank of Scotland on this occasion—being the Historical Account already more than once quoted—another soon after appeared in justifica­tion of the Royal Bank, though professedly by a person uncon­nected with it. ‘It can be no secret,’ says this writer, ‘that a great number of people of all ranks were creditors to the public in Scotland by reason of offices civil and military, and that the Equivalent stipulated by the act of Union fell short of their pay­ment; that in 1714 they obtained an act of parliament constituting the debts due to them, but that no parliament provision was made for a fund for their payment till the year 1719, when a second act was made, appropriating to that purpose a yearly fund of £10,000 sterling, payable out of the revenues of customs, Excise, &c., preferable to all payments except the civil list. Between the first and the second act, many of the proprietors, being doubtful that any provision would be made for them by parliament., and others being pressed by necessity, chose to dispose of their debentures (these were the legal vouchers ascertaining the debts due to the persons named in them) as they best could, and to the best bidder. Many of them were carried to London, but a very considerable part of them still remains in the hands of Scots proprietors, partly out of choice, partly by reason of some legal bars that lay in the way of issuing debentures, and partly by purchasing them back from England.’

In consequence of powers in the act of 1719, ‘his late majesty did, by letters-patent in 1724, incorporate all persons who then were, or thereafter should be, proprietors of the debentures whereby that public debt was constituted, to the end that they might receive and distribute their annuity.' His majesty having at the same time promised powers and privileges to the corpora­tion as they might request, it petitioned him for those of a bank in Scotland, which he and his successor complied with, limiting the power to ‘such of the company as should, on or before Michaelmas 1727, subject their stock, or any share of it, to the trade of banking.’

There is, further, a great deal of angry controversial remark on the Old Bank; but the most material point is the allegation, that that institution ‘divided 35, 40, 50 per cent.’ by the use of ‘other people’s money.’ The author adverts with bitterness to the harsh measures adopted by the Old Bank in prospect of rivalry. ‘It is a hard thing,’ says he, ‘to defend the conduct of the Old Bank upon the prospect of a rivalship. Lending is superseded; a tenth is called from the proprietors, and all their debtors threatened with diligence for a certain part or for the whole of their debts, which diligence has since been executed       Why did they carry their revenge (as it is universally known they did) to every one who had the least relation, alliance, friendship, or connection with the proprietors of that bank (the Royal)?       Why were the first examples of their wrath made out of the most known friends of the present establishment, and why were the disaffected remarkably and visibly spared?’

Considering that the Bank of Scotland had never yet had more than thirty thousand pounds sterling of capital paid up, the fact of the larger stock of the Royal, and their having £30,000 of specie to trade with distinct from their stock, become features of importance, as shewing the increasing business of the country.

From a folio broadside containing the ‘Rules to be observed by such Persons as keep a Cash-accompt with the Royal Bank of Scotland,’ it appears that ‘no sum paid into the bank or drawn out of it, be less than 10l. sterling, nor have in it any fraction or part of a pound; and in case of fractions arising by the addition of interest at settling an accompt, such fractions are to be taken off by the first draught or payment thereafter made.’ Sums of five pounds and upwards are now taken in and given out at all the Scottish banks (1860).

June
Witchcraft, now generally slighted by persons in authority in the south, was still a subject of judicial investigation in the far north. Wodrow, in his Renfrewshire manse, continued to receive accounts of any transactions in that way which might be going on in any quarter, and, under 1726, he is careful to note ‘some pretty odd accounts of witches’ which he had received from a couple of Ross-shire brethren. One of them, ‘ at death,’ he says, and it is to be feared that her death was at the stake, ‘confessed that they had by sorcery taken away the sight of one of the eyes of an Episcopal minister, who lost the sight of his eye upon a sudden, and could give no reason of it.”

Early in the ensuing year—if we may depend upon the autho­rity quoted below—two poor Highland women, mother and daughter, natives of the parish of Loth, in Sutherlandshire, were accused of witchcraft before the sheriff-depute, Captain David Ross of Littledean, and condemned to death. The mother was charged with having ridden on the daughter, who had been transformed on the occasion into a pony, and shod by the devil. The girl made her escape, and was noted ever after, in confirmation of the charge, to be lame in both hands and feet. The mother suffered at Dornoch in June, being burned in a pitch-barrel. It has been handed down by tradition, that, ‘after being brought out to execution, the weather proving very severe, she sat com­posedly warming herself by the fire prepared to consume her, while the other instruments of death were making ready.’ ‘It does not appear,’ says Sir Walter Scott in 1830, ‘that any punish­ment was inflicted for this cruel abuse of the law on the person of a creature so helpless; but the son of the lame daughter— himself distinguished by the same misfortune—was living so lately as to receive the charity of the present Marchioness of Stafford, Countess of Sutherland in her own right.’

For a generation, the linen manufacture had been passing through what might be called a prosperous infancy. A public paper in 1720 states that there was annually imported from Scotland into England the value of £100,000 in white linen, and as much in brown, the flax being of ‘ a spunsie quality,’ which gave it a preference over the similar products of both Ireland and Germany.’ (The same document estimated the English woollen cloths exported to Scotland at £400,000 per annum.)

By an act of parliament passed this year, a Board of Trustees was established in Scotland for the administration of an annual sum set aside for the encouragement of manufaetories and fisheries. The sum at first given was four thousand pounds, which might be considered as calculated to go a great way in so poor a country. The activity and serviceableness of the Board was, in its earlier years, chiefly shewn in the promotion of the linen manufacture, which, under the stimulus afforded by premiums, rose from the export sale of 2,183,978 yards in 1727, to 4,666,011 in 1738, 7,358,098 in 1748, and 12,823,048 in 1764. It is curious, regarding an institution which has since occupied, as it still does, so conspicuous a place in the public eye, to trace the difficulties it had to contend with at starling, in consequence of the monetary vacuum produced by the conflict of the two banks. The Lord Advocate, Duncan Forbes, wrote on the 26th June 1728 to the Duke of Newcastle: ‘The trustees appointed by his majesty for taking care of the manufactures, proceed with great zeal and industry; but at present credit is run so low, by a struggle between the bank lately erected by his majesty and the old bank, that money can scarcely be found to go to market with.’

Oct
Wodrow, who never failed to hear of and note any misfortune that happened to Glasgow—hopeful, always, that it would be ‘laid to heart’—makes ns aware of an obscure sorrow which was now beginning to beset the thriving burghers. ‘The vermin called bugs,’ he says, ‘are at present extremely troublesome at Glasgow. They say they are come over with timber and other goods from Holland. They are in many houses there, and so extremely prolific, there is no getting rid of them, though many ways have been tried. It’s not twenty year since they were known, and such as had them kept them secret. These six or seven years, they are more openly complained of; and now the half of the town are plagued with them. This is chiefly attributed to the frequent alterations of servants, who bring them from house to house.’

Soon after, having occasion to deplore the death of Provost Peady, a person of great firmness and piety, he speaks of the many ‘strokes’ which the industrious city had met with of late. Their losses during 1727 had been reckoned at not less than twenty-eight thousand pounds sterling! ‘It’s a wonder to me how they stand throo.’ The worthy pastor of Eastwood would evidently have not been greatly distressed had his Glasgow neigh­bours been subjected to a repetition of a few of the plagues of Egypt, so needful were they of something to cheek their growing fatness and pride. He might have been expected to hail the frogs with a fraternal feeling; and we can imagine him marking with hopefulness, not unmingled with sympathy, the spread of the murrairi among the burghers’ kine at the Cowcaddens. The present entomological corrective was evidently regarded by him with a satisfaction too deep to admit of many words.

1728, Feb
Mr John Boyd gives his friend Wodrow an account of a duelling affair which had befallen in Edinburgh. ‘Ane officer in the Dutch Guards, son to Mr Walter Stewart, late Solicitor, was ill wounded by ane officer in the Canongate (Lieutenant Pilkington, of Grove’s Regiment). The officer, when in custody of the constables, was rescued by the guard there, who carried him off; but at Musselburgh, the people there apprehended him, and made him and twenty-two guards prisoners, who were all brought to prison here.’ There were hopes of the wounded man’s recovery.’

Mar 1
At four o’clock in the morning, a smart shock of an earth­quake was experienced in Edinburgh and throughout the south of Scotland, if not in other quarters. At Selkirk, every house was shaken, and some people were tumbled out of bed, but no damage was done.’

Mar
Mr Wodrow was at this time informed ‘by very good hands,’ that there had been for some years in Edinburgh a little gambling fraternity, who made it their business to trace out and decoy young men of rank and fortune, and make plunder of them. ‘One of them will lose fifty pounds in a night till the young spark be engaged; and then another comes and soon gains the whole; and, it may be, a third comes, and stands at the back of the person they design to rifle, and by signs and words unknown to others, discovers his game to the other; so by one method or other they are sure to win all at last.’ It was alleged that the society would divide 25,000 merks (about £1400) a year by these vile practices—much calculated ‘to fill our cup of judgments.’

As a trait of the time—On the news reaching Glasgow that an attempt to unseat Campbell of Shawfield had failed, his friends went down to Govan, to celebrate the affair, and write a letter of congratulation to him. Mr William Wishart, a clergyman, deserted the synod then sitting, to go with them, and help in drawing up the letter. By and by, the minister left them; but they sat still till they became so befuddled, that it became neces­sary to bundle them into a boat, and so carry them back to the city. That evening, some other gentlemen of the same way of thinking, went through the streets of Glasgow, with a fiddler playing before them, and singing: ‘Up with the Campbells, and down with the Grahams!’ and it was a wonder that a riot was avoided.

About the same date, Mr Wodrow adverts to the fact, that Anthony Aston’s playhouse in Edinburgh was ‘much frequented;’ and amongst ‘persons of substance and leisure,’ there was conse­quently a great tendency to laxity of morals. There was even a talk of building a playhouse in Edinburgh. The manager, how­ever, was not without his troubles. One Ross, master of the Bean’s Coffee-house—a son of Bishop Ross, and a great encourager of the playhouse—had sold a quantity of tickets, on which he was to be allowed a penny each; but he ultimately refused to take this commission, though amounting to about ten pounds— a vast sum, says Wodrow, ‘for tickets at a penny apiece in one coffee-house.’ Aston having reserved this money to himself, instead of accounting for it to his company, according to agreement, a terrible squabble arose among them, and a process was threatened before the magistrates, or some other court. How the matter ended, we do not hear.

To complete his general picture of the profaneness of the age, Mr Wodrow tells us that Allan Ramsay, the poet, got down books of plays from London, and lent them out at an easy rate—the beginning of Circulating Libraries in Scotland. Boys, servant-women, and gentlemen, all alike took advantage of this arrange­ment, whereby ‘vice and obscenity were dreadfully propagated.’ Lord Grange complained of the practice to the magistrates, and induced them to make inspection of Ramsay’s hook containing the names of the borrowers of the plays. ‘They were alarmed at it, and sent some of their number to his shop to look through some of his books; but he had notice an hour before, and had withdrawn some of the worst, aud nothing was done to purpose.’

Mar 27
The conflict between the Bank of Scotland and its yonng and pretentions Whig rival, the Royal Bank, led to a temporary stoppage of payments at the former establishment, the last that ever took place. The Royal Bank ‘having all the public money given in to them, has at present worsted (the Bank of Scotland), and run them out of cash.’ In their own advertisement on the occasion, they attribute the calamity to ‘the great embarrassment that has been upon credit and circulation of money in payments for some months bygone, arising from causes and by means well known both in city and country.’ In this very crisis, tire Bank announced its dividend of four per cent. on its capital stock, but appropriating it as part of ten per cent. now called up from the shareholders, ‘the other sixty pounds Scots on each share to be paid in before the 15th of June.’ The directors at the same time ordered their notes to bear interest during the time that payment should be suspended.

It must have been a draught of very bitter gall to the Old Bank, when their young rival came ostentatiously forward with an announcement that, for the ‘relief of such people as wanted to go to market,’ they would give specie for the twenty—shilling notes of the Bank of Scotland till further notice.

The Bank of Scotland resumed paying its twenty-shilling notes on the 27th of June.

Mar 9
The convivialities indulged in at funerals were productive to-day of a tragedy long remembered in Scotland. Mr Carnegie of Lour, residing in the burgh of Forfar, had a daughter to be buried, and before the funeral, he entertained the Earl of Strathmore, his own brother James Carnegie of Finhaven, Mr Lyon of Bridgeton, and some others of the company, at dinner in his house. After the ceremony, these gentlemen adjourned to a tavern, and drank a good deal. Carnegie of Finhaven got extremely drunk. Lyon of Bridgeton was not so much intoxicated; but the drink made him rude and unmannerly towards Finhaven. Afterwards, the Earl of Strathmore went to call at the house of Mr Carnegie’s sister, Lady Auchterhouse, and the other gentlemen followed. Here it may be remarked that the whole of this group of persons were, like a large proportion of the Forfarshire gentry, of Jacobite prepossessions. The earl’s late brother and predecessor in the title had fallen at Sheriffmuir, on the Chevalier’s side; so had Patrick Lyon of Auchterhouse, husband of the lady now intro­duced to notice, and brother of Bridgeton. The presence of a lady, and that lady a widowed sister—in—law, failed to make Bridgeton conduct himself discreetly. He continued his boisterous rudeness towards Finhaven rallied him coarsely about his not being willing to marry one of his daughters to Lord Rosehill, about his having no sons, about his debts; took him offensively by the breast; and even used some rudeness towards the lady herself. In the dusk of the evening, the party sallied out to the street, and here Bridgeton went so far in his violence towards Finhaven as to push him into a deep and dirty kennel, which nearly covered him from head to foot with mire. Finhaven, now fully incensed, rose, and drawing his sword, ran up to Bridgeton, with deadly design; but the earl, seeing him advance, pushed Bridgeton aside, and unhappily received the lunge full in the middle of his own body. He died forty-nine hours after the incident.

Carnegie of Finhaven was tried on the ensuing 2d of August for premeditated murder; an absurd charge absurdly supported by long arguments and quotations of authority, in the style of that day. In his C information,’ the accused man called God to witness that he had borne uo malice to the earl; on the contrary, he had the greatest kindness and respect for him. ‘If it shall appear,’ said he, ‘that I was the unlucky person who wounded the earl, I protest before God I would much rather that a sword had been sheathed in my own bowels.’ All that lie admitted was: ‘I had the misfortune that day to be mortally drunk, for which I beg God’s pardon.’ He declared that, being in this state at the time, he did not so much as remember that he bad seen the earl when he came out of the kennel. The defence proposed for him by his counsel was, that, the circumstances of the case considered, he was not guilty of murder, but of manslaughter. Strange to say, the court, sacrificing rationality to form and statute, overruled the defence: they found the fact that the prisoner having really given the wound whereof the Earl of Strathmore died, to be relevant to infer the pains of law against him. The killing being indisputable, Carnegie would have been condemned if the jury should merely give a verdict on the point of fact. In these circumstances, his counsel, Robert Dundas of Arniston, stood forth to tell the jury that they were entitled to judge on the point of law as well as the point of fact. He asserted that the only object for their deliberation, was whether they could conscientiously say that Carnegie had committed murder, or whether his guilt was not diminished or annihilated by the circumstances of the ease. The jury, almost beyond expectation, gave a verdict of ‘Not Guilty,’ thus establishing a great constitutional principle.

1728, Aug 15
The noted fierte of the Scottish nobility and gentry was beginning at this time to give way somewhat, under the general desire to promote the arts of industry, arid partly because of the hopelessness of public employments for young scions of aristocracy in all but favoured Whig circles. We must not, therefore, be surprised when a tragical tale of this date brings before us the fact that Patrick Lindsay, described as heir-male of the grand old House of Lindsay of the Byres, and who, a few years afterwards, married a daughter of the sixteenth Earl of Crawford, was now an upholsterer in the Parliament Close of Edinburgh, and dean of guild for the city. Neither ought it to appear as incredible that one of his apprentices was a youth named Cairns, younger son of a gentleman of good estate residing at Cupar-Fife.

The tale was simply this—that, on the evening noted, between eight and nine o’clock, Cairns was found in the shop expiring from the effects of a violent blow on the head, apparently inflicted by a hammer, while the box containing the guildry treasure was missing. It was believed that some vile people who then haunted the city, knowing of the box being kept in Lindsay’s shop, had formed a design to possess themselves of it, and had effected their end at the expense of murder, at the moment when the place was about to be closed for the night. A number of vagrants were taken up on suspicion, and the box was soon after found, empty.’

Aug 18
Aaron Hill, a well-born English gentleman, who had been manager of Drury Lane Theatre, and wrote many well-received plays and poems—who, moreover, had travelled over Europe and some parts of Asia and Africa—is at this date found writing to his wife from what he calls ‘the Golden Groves of Abernethy,’ meaning the great natural forest of that name on Speyside, in the county of Elgin. It is a strange association of persons and things for a period when even of civilised Scotsmen scarcely ever one made his way north of the Grampians. It had come about, however, in a very natural way.

The York-Buildings Company, which had already formed connections with Scotland by the purchase of several of the forfeited estates, was induced to take a lease from Sir James Grant of Grant, of the magnificent but hitherto useless pine-forest of Abernethvy thinking they should be able to apply the timber for the use of the navy. Had the wood been only removable by land­carriage, it would have been useless, as before; but they had been led to understand that there was no difficulty in floating it down the Spey to the sea, where it might be shipped off for the south. Aaron Hill, who was a very speculative genius, having before this time headed a scheme for making olive-oil out of beech-nuts, and concocted a plan for settling a part of Carolina, made a journey to the Spey in 1726, and easily convinced himself of the prac­ticability of the project. The Company, accordingly, commenced operations in 1728, with Mr Hill as their clerk. They sent a hundred and twenty-five work-horses, with a competent number of wagons, and apparatus of all the kinds required; they erected substantial wooden—houses, saw-mills, and an iron-foundry, all of them novelties regarded with wonder by the simple natives. They had also a salaried commissary to furnish provisions and forage. Tracks being formed through the forest, and men trained to the work, trees were felled to the number of forty or fifty in a day, and brought down to the bank of the river. There, under the direction of Mr Hill, they were bound in rafts of sixty or eighty, with deals laid upon the surface to form a platform; and for each such raft two men were held as sufficient to navigate it to the sea, one sitting with a guiding-oar at one end, and another at the other. Before this time, the natives had been accustomed to float down rafts of three or four trees tied together with a rope, the attendant sitting in a curragh or boat of hide, from which he was ready to plunge into the stream when any impediment called for his interference. What a Drury Lane manager would think on witnessing a mode of navigation coeval with the first state of savagery, we cannot tell; but he had no little difficulty in inducing the people to adopt a more civilised mode of conducting his grand timber-rafts. Till he first went in one himself, to shew that there was no danger, not one of the Abernethy foresters would venture in so prodigious a craft. There was, in reality, something problematical in the undertaking, for the river was in some places partially blocked by sunken rocks; but the genius of Hill was equal to all emergencies. Taking advantage of a dry season, when these shoals were exposed, be kindled immense wood-fires upon them, and when the rock was thus heated, he caused water to be thrown upon it, thus making it splinter, and so enable his men to break it up and clear the passage.

It was in high spirits that our poet wrote to his wife from the Golden Groves of Abernethy, for they were really productive of gold, no less than £7000 worth of timber being realised by his Company. ‘The shore of the Spey,’ says he, ‘is all covered with masts from 50 to 70 feet long, which they are daily bringing out of the wood, with ten carriages, and above a hundred horses     In the middle of the river lies a little fleet of our rafts, which are just putting off for Findhorn harbour; and it is one of the plea­santest sights possible to observe the little armies of men, women, and children who pour down from the Highlands to stare at what we have been doing.’ What seems chiefly to have impressed the natives, was the liberality with which the business of wood-cutting was conducted. It seemed to them a wasteful extravagance, and if it be true that barrels of tar would be burned in bonfires, and barrels of brandy broached on joyful occasions among the people, five of whom died in one night in consequence, the imputation was not unjust. Nevertheless, the work was highly successful, and might have been carried on longer than it was, if the Company had not called away their people to work at their lead-mines!

During the time which Mr Hill spent in Scotland, he was received with great civilities by the Duke of Gordon and other eminent persons, and was complimented with the freedom of Aberdeen, Inverness, and other burghs. In his collected poems are found a number of short epigrammatic pieces which he wrote during his residence in Scotland; among the rest, his oft-printed epigram, beginning: ‘Tender-handed stroke a nettle.’ But Burt adds another, which he found scribbled on a window ‘ at the first stage on this side Berwick :‘

Scotland, thy weather’s like a modish wife,
Thy winds and rains for ever are at strife
So Termagant awhile her bluster tries,
And when she can no longer scold—she cries

The engineer could not but wonder at Hill taking leave of the country in this strain, ‘after he had been so exceedingly complaisant to it, when here, as to compare its subterranean riches with those of Mexico and Peru.’

Aug
We must again return to Mr Wodrow for an account of the continued progress of gaiety in Scotland. It appears that part of Anthony Aston’s company of comedians migrated from Edin­burgh to Glasgow, and were there favoured by Bailie Murdoch, ‘who is too easy,’ with permission to perform the Beggars’ Opera in the Weigh-house. They had a good audience the first night, but on the few other nights of performance ‘got not so much as to pay their music.’ On the magistrates being blamed for the permission they had given, they recriminated on the ministers, who should have interfered in time. Mr Wodrow considered the ministers as here in fault; yet he could not exonerate the magistrates. ‘Considering the noise made at Edinburgh by these strollers, and the brisk opposition made by the magistrates of Edinburgh, they (the magistrates of Glasgow) should have considered better before they allowed them.’

‘Sabbath after, the ministers preached against going to these interludes and plays..... Mr Rob, of Kilsyth, went through all that was a-going about meeting-houses, plays, errors, and profaneness; and spared none, as I hear.’

This classing of the Episcopal meeting-houses with the ungodly theatre, reminds us of the ranging of popery and adultery together by the reformers. It would appear that in the summer of 1728 there was another histrionic company in Scotland, under a Mr Phipps, who announced that on the 29th October he would, ‘at the desire of severals of the nobility and gentry of East Lothian,’ act the Beggars’ Opera at Haddington.

In March 1729, the Edinburgh Courant informs us that ‘the Scots Company of Comedians, as they call themselves, have all of a sudden eloped, without counting with their creditors.’

Wodrow reports with much bitterness, in 1731, the rumours going about as to the success of the English comedians in Edinburgh. He says: ‘It is incredible what numbers of chairs, with men, are carried to these places;’ ‘men’ not choosing to walk to such amusements. ‘For some weeks, they made fifty pound sterling every night, and that for six nights a week.’ ‘It ‘5 a dreadful corruption of our youth, and an eyelet to prodigality and vanity.’

1728, Oct 1
A valuable Dutch East Indiaman having been lost in March, near the island of Lewis, an effort, involving some ingenuity, was made to recover the treasure on board, which was understood to amount to about £16,000 sterling. The Edinburgh newspapers remark to-day, the arrival of a Dutchman with ‘a Curious machine’ designed for this purpose. Mr Mackenzie, younger of Delvin, a principal clerk of Session, and depute-admiral of those shores, was joined with Mr Alexander Tait, a merchant, in furnishing the expenses of this undertaking, in the hope of profit for them­selves. The business was proceeded with during October, and with success. On the 19th, the populace of Edinburgh were regaled with the sight of several cart-loads of the recovered money, passing through their streets. The Dutch East India Company presently gave in a petition to the Court of Admiralty for an account of the treasure; which was accordingly furnished by Mr Mackenzie, and shewed that he had fished up £14,620, at an expense of £9000.

Mr Mackenzie was allowed to retain twenty thousand crowns and some doubloons, and ordered to deposit the rest in a box, subject to the future orders of the court.

‘The divers fishing for the spoils of the Dutch ship, found in and about her the dead bodies of two hundred and forty men, which they brought to land and buried.’

A few years ago, a coronation gold medal of Augustus II. of Poland was exhumed in the garden of the minister of Barra. At first, there was a difficulty of comprehending how such an object could have come there; at length the shipwreck of the Dutch vessel was called to recollection, as an explanation of the mystery.

About the close of 1728, the Edinburgh newspapers speak of a gentleman named Captain Row, who had come to Scotland invested with a privilege for raising treasure and other articles out of shipwrecked vessels, to last for ten years. For the next twelve-month, we hear of him as exercising his ingenuity upon the remains of one of the Spanish Armada, which was sunk off Barra. Two brass cannon are first spoken of as recovered, and afterwards we hear of ‘several things of value.’

Nov
That extraordinary person, Simon Lord Lovat, who had resisted x the troops of King William, and been outlawed by the Edinburgh Justiciary Lords, was now in the enjoyment of his title and • estate, an active friend and partisan of the Whig-Hanoverian government, and captain of one of the six companies of its highland militia. In the early part of this month, he led sixty of these local soldiers on an expedition against the thieves of the north-west districts, and captured no fewer than twenty-six in the course of a week. He searched for arms at the same time, but reported that these had been now pretty well gathered in; so he found none.

Although few Scotsmen have been the subjects of so much biography as Lord Lovat, there is one aspect in which he remains to be now for the first time viewed; and that is, as a newspaper paragraphist. During the dozen prosperous years which followed this date, the Gourant and Mercury are every now and then presenting extracts of private letters from Inverness regarding the grand doings of ‘Simon Lord Lovat, chief of the clan Fraser,’ all of them in such a pnffing style as would leave little doubt of their having been his own composition, even if we were not possessed of facts which betray it but too clearly.

On one occasion (May 1728) lie is described as riding out from Inverness, with eighty well-mounted gentlemen of his clan, to meet and escort the Lords of the Circuit Court of Justiciary, as they were approaching the town. At another (September 1729), we find him parading his company of ‘a hundred men, besides officers, sergeants, and drums,’ before General Wade, when ‘they made a very fine appearance, both as to the body of men and their new clothings, and they performed their exercises and firings so well, that the general seemed very well satisfied. And he told my Lord Lovat that he was much pleased at the performance and good appearance of his company.’ We of course hear nothing of what the general’s engineer, Mr Burt, has been so ill-natured as record, that Lovat had stripped private clansmen of any good plaids they had, in order to enable his company to make the better show.

In June 1733, we are informed through the Mercury, that a commission appointing Lord Lovat to be sheriff of the county, having come to Inverness, it was read in court, where Alexander Fraser of Fairfield sat to administer justice as his lordship’s deputy. ‘The gentlemen of the name of Fraser, who are very numerous in this town, together with the several relations and friends of the family of Lovat, expressed an uncommon satis­faction on seeing this commission renewed in his lordship’s person whose ancestors, above three hundred years ago, were sheriffs-principal of the shires of Inverness and Moray. And we learn that the rejoicings made all over the country, by the Frasers and their friends, were in nothing short of those we had in town.’ So says a letter from Inverness, marked in the office-copy of the paper as ‘paid (2s. 6d.).’

Ten days afterwards appeared another paragraph: ‘Last week, the Right Honourable Simon Fraser of Lovat was married at Roseneath, in Dumbartonshire, to the Honourable Miss Primrose Campbell, daughter to the late John Campbell of Mamore, Esq.; sister to John Campbell, Esq., one of the Grooms of the Bedchamber to his Majesty, and first-cousin to his Grace the Duke of Argyle and Greenwich. A young lady of great beauty and merit.’ This was also ‘paid (2s. 6d.).’

The reader will perhaps relish another specimen: ‘INVERNESS, July 18, 1735.—Last post brought us the agreeable news of the Hon. John Campbell of Mamore his being appointed Lieutenant-colonel of the Inniskillen Regiment of Foot, a part whereof is now quartered here. This news gave great joy to all the Frasers, and well-wishers of the family of Lovat in this town, the Lord Lovat being married to a sister of the said Colonel Campbell; and there being for many ages a great friendship between the Campbells and the Frasers, last night all the gentlemen of the Frasers in this place, and the Grants, Monroes, and Cuthberts, relations and allies of the family of Lovat, met, and invited all the officers of the corps, garrison, and custom-house, with many other gentlemen of the first rank, to the Lord Lovat’s lodgings, where Baillie William Fraser, his lordship’s landlord and merchant, had pre­pared an elegant entertainment. There was great plenty of wine, when the healths of his Majesty, the Queen, Prince, Duke, and all the royal family were drunk, with those of the ministry, his Majesty’s forces by sea and land, Duke of Argyle, Earl of Ilay, General Wade, Colonel John Campbell, Lord Lovat, Colonel Hamilton and the corps ; the healths of the Frasers, Grants, Monroes, &c., and all the fast friends of the family of Argyle, with many other loyal toasts. There were large bonfires, not only at my Lord Lovat’s lodgings, bnt on every hill in his lordship’s extensive country round this town. During the solemnity, the music-bells played, drums beat, and the private men of the company here were handsomely entertained, agreeable to their own taste, with barrels of beer, which they drank to the health of their new commander. After the gentlemen had stayed several hours at his lordship’s lodgings, they, with the music playing • before them, proceeded to the market-cross, where was a table covered, with the foresaid toasts repeated, with huzzas and acclamations of joy.’ Marginally marked in the office-copy, ‘Paid 4s’

Nov
The influenza, in a very virulent form, after passing over the continent, came to England, and a fortnight after had made its way into Scotland. A cold and cough, with fever, laid hold of nearly every person, sometimes in a moment as they stood on their feet, and in some instances attended with raving. Wodrow of course entertained hopes that Glasgow would receive a good share of the calamity; but it proved less severe there than in some other places. He adverts, however, to the fact, that, owing to the ailment, ‘there was no hearing sermon for some time.’

Nov 28
The death of Alexander, second duke of Gordon, proved, through connected circumstances, a domestic event of great importance. We have seen the adherence of this powerful family to the Catholic faith a source of frequent trouble ever since the Reformation. Latterly, under the protection of the second duke, the ancient religion had been receiving fresh encouragement iu the north. For this family to be at variance in so important a respect with the country at large, was unfortunate both for themselves and the country. It was an evil now at length to be brought to an end.

The Duchess—Henrietta Mordaunt, daughter of the Earl of Peterborough ‘—finding herself left with the charge of a large family in tender years—the young duke only eight years old— took it upon her to have them educated in her own Protestant principles, and with a respect for the reigning family. It was such an opportunity as might not have occurred again for a century. We can see from her history as an introducer of improvements in agriculture, that she must have been a woman of consider­able intellectual vigour; and hence it is the less surprising that she fully accomplished her object. She of course got great credit in all loyal quarters for what she did with her children. The General Assembly, in 1730, sent her a cordial letter of thanks. The government, in 1735, settled upon her a pension of £1000 a year. She survived her husband upwards of thirty years, living for the most part at Prestonhall, in the county of Edinburgh— a forfeited estate which she had bought at a moderate price.

After all, there were some drawbacks to her Grace’s soundness in Protestant loyalty. While one of her sons, Lord Lewis—the ‘Lewie Gordon’ of Jacobite minstrelsy—’ went out’ for the house of Stuart in 1745, she herself shewed a certain tendency that way, by laying out a breakfast for the Young Chevalier on the roadside at her park-gate, as he marched past, target on shoulder, on his way to England, for which single act of misapplied hospitality her Grace was deprived of her pension.


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