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


1729, Feb
The Edinburgh Courant of February 24th gravely records that, ‘some days ago, died a young man in the parish of Glencorse, who since Hallarday last hath been grievously tormented by wicked spirits, who haunted his bed almost every night. There was no formed disease upon him; yet he had extraordinary paroxysms, which could not proceed from natural causes. He vomited vast quantities of blood, which was like roasted livers, and at last, with violent cries, his lungs.’

Alexander, ninth Earl of Eglintoun, having died on the 18th of February, was this day buried in the family tomb in the west country, with the parade proper to his rank, according to the ideas of the age. One feature of the ceremonial was considered as so peculiar, that the Caledonian Mercury makes a paragraph of it alone. ‘There were between nine hundred and a thousand beggars assembled, many of whom came over from Ireland, who had £50 of that nobleman’s charity distribute among them.’

July
William Ged, ‘of the family of Balfarg,’ a goldsmith in Edinburgh, and noted for the improvements he effected in his own business, chanced to be brought into connection with the art of typography by having to pay the workpeople of a printer to whom he was related. Possessing an ingenious and inventive mind, he conceived a plan for economising means in printing, by subjecting to the press, not ‘forms of types,’ as usual, but plates made by casting from those forms, thus at once saving the types from wear, and obtaining a means of printing successive editions of any amount without the necessity of setting up the types anew. He talked of this invention to a friend so early as 1725; but it was not till now that any active steps were taken towards realizing it. With one Fenner, a bookseller of London, who happened to visit Edinburgh, he entered at this date into a contract, by virtue of which the project was to be prosecuted by Ged in England, with pecuniary means furnished by Fenncr, the profits to be divided betwixt the parties. It was iii a manner necessary to go to England for this purpose, as peculiar types were required, and there was not now any letter-founder in Scotland.

Ged was a simple, pure-hearted man, perhaps a good deal carried away from prudential considerations by the interest he felt in his invention. Fenner, and others with whom Ged came ia contact in the south, were sharp and selfish people, not over-disposed to use their associate justly. The unfortunate pro­jector had also to encounter positive treacheries, arising from the fear that his plan would injure interests already invested in the trade of printing. He spent several years between London aad the university of Cambridge, and never got beyond some abortive experiments, which, however, might have been sufficient to convince any skilful printer of the entire practicability, as well as advantageousness of the scheme. With a deep sense of injury from Fenner and others, Gcd returned to Edinburgh in 1733, a poorer, if not a wiser man than he had been eight years before.

It was impossible, however, that so magnificent an addition to the invention of Scheffer and Guttenberg as stereotyping should be suppressed. A few kind neighbours entered into a subscrip­tion to enable Ged to make a new effort in Scotland. Having a son named James, about twelve years old, he put him apprentice to a printer, that the boy might supply that technical skill which was wanting in himself. Before this child had been a year at his business, being allowed by his master to return to the office by himself at night for his father’s work, he had begun to set up the types for an edition of Sallust in an 18mo size; and plates from the forms were finished by Ged in 1736. The impression from these constituted the first stereotyped book.

Several persons beyond the limits of the book-producing trades had a sense of Ged's merits. In 1740, when he sent a plate of nine pages of Sallust, and a copy of the book, to the Faculty of Advocates, as an explanation of his invention, they passed a resolu­tion to appoint him some suitable gratification when their stock should be in good condition.’’ Mr Robert Smith, chancellor of the university of Cambridge, and the bishop of St Asaph’s, were so favourably disposed to him, that in 1742 they made a move­ment for getting him established as printer to the university, that he might there introduce his plan; but it came to nothing. William Ged, the author of an invention which has unspeakably extended the utility of the prmting—press, died a poor man in  1749. The boy James, who had set the types of the Sallust, joined Prince Charles—for the family was of Jacobite inclinations—and, being apprehended in Carlisle in December 1745, he was condemned to death along with Colonel Townlcy. The only benefit ever derived by the Gcds from their father’s invention, was that the aforesaid Mr Robert Smith, by his interest with the Duke of Newcastle, saved the young stcrcotypist from the gallows.’

The subsequent history of James Ged was unfortunate. ‘After he had obtained his pardon, he followed his business for some time as a journeyman with Mr Bettenham: afterwards, he commenced master for himself in Denmark Court, in the Strand. Unsuccessful there, he privately shipped off himself and his materials for the other side of the Atlantic.’ ‘He went to Jamaica, where his younger brother was settled as a reputable printer, and died soon after his arrival in that island.’ 2

Aug 6
The ancient church was honourably distinguished by its charity towards the poor, and more especially towards the diseased poor; and it was a dreary interval of nearly two centuries which inter­vened between the extinction of its lazar-honses and leper-houses, aad the time when merely a civiliscd humanity dictated the estab­lishment of a regulated means of snccour for the sickness-stricken of the humbler classes. The date here affixed is an interesting one, as that when a hospital of the modern type was first opened in Scotland for the reception of poor patients.

The idea of establishing such an institution in Edinburgh was first agitated in a pamphlet in 1721, and there is reason to believe that the requirements of the rising medical school were largely concerned in dictating it. The matter fell asleep, but was revived in 1725, with a proposal to raise a fund of at least two thousand pounds sterling to carry it out. Chiefly by the activity of the  medical profession, this fund was realised; and now the first step of practical beneficence was taken by the opening of a house, and the taking in of a small number of patients, for whom six physi­cians and surgeons undertook to give attendance and medicine. The total number here received during the first year was the modest one of thirty-five, of whom nineteen were dismissed as cured.

Such was the origiu of the Edinburgh Infirmary, which, small as it was at first, was designed from its very origin as a benefit to the whole kingdom, no one then dreaming that a time would come when every considerable county town would have a similar hospital. In 1735, the contributors were incorporated, and three years later, they began to rear a building for their purpose, calcu­lated to accommodate seventeen hundred patients per annum, allowing six weeks’ residence for each at an average. It is remark­able how cordially the upper classes and the heads of the medical profession concurred in raising and managing this noble insti­tution, and how readily the indnstrious orders all over the country responded to the appeals made to their charity for its support. While many contributed money, ‘others gave stones, lime, wood, slate, and glass, which were carried by the neighbouring farmers gratis. Not only many master masons, wrights, slaters, and glaziers gave their attendance, but many journeymen and labourers frequently gave their labour gratis; and many joiners gave sashes for the windows.’ A Newcastle glass-making company generously glazed the whole house. By correspondence and personal inter­vention, money was drawn for the work, not only throughout England and Ireland, but in other parts of Europe, and even in America.’

It has always been admitted that the prime moving spirit in the whole undertaking was George Drummond, one of the Commissioners of Customs, and on three several occasions Lord Provost of Edinbnrgh; a man of princely aspect and character, further memorable as the projector of the New Town. His merits in regard to the Infirmary have, indeed, been substantially acknowledged by the setting np of a portrait of him in the council-room, and a bust by Nollekins in the hall, the latter having this inscription, dictated by Principal Robertson: ‘ George Drummond, to whom this country is indebted for all the benefit which it derives from the Royal Infirmary.’

It is not unworthy of being kept in mind that, in the business of levying means from a distance, Drummond was largely assisted by an eccentric sister, named May, who had adopted the tenets of Quakerism, and occasionally made tours through various parts of Great Britain for the purpose of preaching to the people, of whom vast multitudes used to flock to hear her. She was a gentle enthusiast, of interesting appearance, and so noted did her addresses become, that Queen Caroline at length condescended to listen to one. We get some idea of her movements in the summer of 1735, from a paragraph regarding her then inserted in a London newspaper: ‘We hear that the famous preaching maiden Quaker (Mrs Drummond, who preached before the qneen), lately arrived from Scotland, intends to challenge the champion of England, Orator Henley, to dispute with him at the Bull and Mouth, upon the doctrines and tenets of Quakerisin, at such time as he shall appoint.’

In the pages, moreover, of Sylvanus Urban, ‘a Lady’ soon after poured forth strains of the highest admiration regarding this‘— happy virgin of celestial race, Adorned with wisdom, and replete with grace;’ proclaiming that she outshone Theresa of Spain, and was sufficient in herself to extinguish the malignant ridicule with which men sometimes assail the capacities of women.’

Human nature, however, is a ravelled hasp of rather mixed yarn, and it will be heard with pity that this amiable missionary of piety and charity was one of those anomalous beings who, without necessity or temptation, are unable to restrain themselves from picking up and carrying away articles belonging to their neighbours. The propensity, though as veritable a disease as any ever treated within the walls of her brother’s infirmary, threw a shade, deepening that of poverty, over the latter years of May Drummond. Only the enlightened and generous few could rightly apprehend such a case. Amongst some memoranda on old-world local matters, kindly communicated to me many years ago by Sir Walter Scott, I find one touching gently on the memory of this unfortunate lady, and directing my attention to ‘a copy of tolerably good elegiac verses,’ written on a picture in which she was represented in the character of Winter. Of these he quoted from memory, with some slight inaccuracies, the first and third of the following three:

Full justly hath the artist planned
In Winter’s guise thy furrowed brow,
And rightly raised thy feeble hand
Above the elemental glow.

I gaze upon that well-known face
But ab, beneath December's frost,
Lies buried all its vernal grace,
And every trait of May is lost

Nor merely on thy trembling frame,
Thy wrinkled check, and deafened ear,
But on thy fortunes and thy fame,
Relentless Winter frowns severe.’

Sept
Sir Robert Monro of Foulis, in Ross-shire, ‘a very ancient gentleman,’ and chief of a considerable clan, died in the enjoyment of general esteem. Four counties turned out to sLew their respect at his funeral. There were above six hundred horsemen, tolerably mounted and apparelled. ‘The corpse was carried on a bier betwixt two horses, fully harnessed in deepest mourning. A gentleman rode in deep mourning before the corpse, uncovered, attended by two grooms and four running-footmen, all in deep mourning. The

The remaining verses of the poem are thus given in the Scots Magazine for June 1773;

Ah ! where is now th’ innumerous crowd,
that once with fond attention hung
On every truth divine that flowed,
Improved from thy persuasive tongue?

‘Tss gone —it seeks a different road;
Life’s social joys to thee are o’er
Untrod the path to that abode
where hapless Penury keeps the door.

Drummond! thine audience yet recall,
 the woos young, the gay, the vain;
And ere thy tottering fabric fall,
Sound forth the deeply moral strain

For never, sure, could bard or sage,
Howe'er inspired, more clearly shew,
That all upon this transient stage
Is folly vanity, or woe.

Bid them at once he warned and taught ­
Ah, no:- Suppress the ungrateful tale—
O’er every frailty, every fault,
Oblivion, draw thy friendly veil.

Tell rattler what transcendent joy
Awaits them on th’ immortal shore,
If well they Summer's strength employ,
And well distributre Autumn's   store.

Tell them if Virtue crown their bloom
Time shalt the happy period bring,
When the dark Winter of the tomb
shall yield to everlasting Spring.'

friends followed immediately behind the corpse, and the gentlemen (strangers) in the rear.t The scutcheons,’ says the reporter, ‘were the handsomest I ever saw; the entertainment magnificent and full.’

Sep
General Wade was now dating from ‘my hutt at Dalnacardoch,’ having been obliged for some time to station himself in the wilder­ness of Drumnachter, in order to get the road from Dunkeld to Inverness finished, and a shorter one planned as a branch to Crieff. The Lord Advocate Forbes wrote to him sympathisingly, acknow­ledging that ‘never was penitent banished into a more barren desert for his sins.’ Both gentlemen had their eyes open regarding a plotting among the Jacobites, of which the government had got some inkling, but of which nothing came.

In the latter part of the month, the general advanced to Ruthven, in Badenoch, and there the people for the first time beheld that modem luxury—a coach. Everybody turned out to see it, for it was next to a prodigy among that simple people. Here Forbes met General Wade, and some sort of court of judi­cature was held by them; after which they parted, the advocate to return to Inverness, and Wade to Dalnacardoch.

The good-natured general had arranged for a fête to be held by those whom he jocnlarly called his highwaymen; and it must have been a somewhat picturesque affair. On a spot near Dalnaspidal, and opposite to the opening of Loch Garry, the working-parties met under their officers, and formed a square surrounding a tent. Four oxen were roasted whole, ‘in great order and solemnity,’ and four ankers of brandy were broached. The men dined al fresco; the general and his friend Sir Robert Clifton, with Sir Duncan Campbell, Colonel Guest, Major Duroure, and a number of other gentlemen, were regaled in the tent. The beef, according to the general’s own acknowledgment, was ‘excellent,’ and after it was partaken of, a series of loyal toasts was drunk amidst demonstra­tions of general satisfaction, the names of the Lord Advocate and his brother, John Forbes of Culloden, being not forgotten. There is something interesting in these simple jocosities, considering the grand engine of civilisation they were connected with.

The road from Ruthven to Fort Augustus, involving tIie steep and difficult mountain of Corryarrick, and the most difficult part of the whole undertaking, was in the course of being completed in October 1731, when a gentleman signing himself ‘N. M’Leod,’ being probably no other than the Laird of Dunvegan, chanced to pass that way on his road to Skye, and gave in the newspapers an accouut of what he saw. 'Upon entering,’ he says, ‘into a little glen among the hills, lately called Laggan a Vannah, but now by the soldiers Snugburgh, I heard the noise of many people, and saw six great fires, about each of which a number of soldiers were very busy. During my wonder at the cause of this, an officer invited me to drink their majesties’ healths. I attended him to each fire, and found that these were the six working-parties of Tatton’s, Montague’s, Mark Ker’s, Harrison’s, and Handyside’ s regiments, and the party from the Highland Companies, making in all about five hundred men, who had this summer, with inde­fatigable pains, completed the great road for wheel-carriages between Fort Augustus and Ruthven. It being the 30th of October, his majesty’s birthday, General Wade had given to each detachment an ox-feast, and liquor; six oxen were roasted whole, one at the head of each party. The joy was great, both upon the occasion of the day, and the work’s being completed, which is really a wonderful undertaking.’

Before dismissing General Wade, it may be mentioned that a permanent record of his engineering skill and courage in building Tay Bridge, in the form of a Latin inscription, was put upon that structure itself, being the composition of Dr Friend, master of Westminster School. But this, if the most classic, was not destined to be the most memorable memorial of the worthy general’s labours. ‘To perpetuate the memory of the marshal’s chief exploit, in making the road from Inverness to Inverary, an obelisk is erected near Fort William, on which the traveller is reminded of his merits by the following naïf couplet:

“Had you seen these roads before they were made,
You would lift up your hands and bless General Wade.”’

‘Long before the improvements of the Highlands were seriously thought of, Lord Kames, being, in 1773, at Inverness on the circuit, gave, as a toast after dinner, “Roads and Bridges.” Captain Savage, of the 37th regiment, then at Fort George, sat near his lordship, and, being next asked for a toast, gave “Chaises and Horses,” to the annoyance of the entertainers, who thought it done in ridicule, though doubtless the captain only meant to follow out the spirit of Lord Kames’s sentiment.—Letter of the late H. R. Duff of Muirton to the author, 31st March 1827.

In Scotland, oil-painting had had a morning-star in the person of George Jameson. Two ages of darkness had followed. About the beginning of the eighteenth century, a fereign artist, John Medina, found for a few years a fair encouragement for his pencil in the painting of portraits; and the Duke of Queens berry, as royal commissioner, conferred upon him the honour of knighthood.’ Then arose two native portrait-painters of some merit—John Alexander, who, moreover, was able to decorate a staircase in Gordon Castle with a tolerable picture of the Rape of Proserpine; and John Scougal, who has handed down to us not a few of the lords and gentlemen of the reign of Qneen Anne. William Aikman, a disciple of Medina, followed, and was in vogue as a painter of portraits in Edinburgh about 1721. Such was the meagre history of oil-painting in Scotland till the end of the reign of the first George.

At that time, when wealth was following industry, and religious gloom beginning to give way to a taste for elegant amusements, the decorative arts were becoming comparatively prominent. Roderick Chalmers and James Norie, while osten­sibly house-painters, aspired to a graceful use of the pencil, seldom failing, when they painted a set of panelled rooms, to leave a tolerable landscape from their own hands over the fire­places; and in some of the houses in the Old Town of Edinburgh, these pieces are still seen to be far from contemptible. William Adam, father of the celebrated brothers, William and Robert, was the principal architect of the day. There was even a respectable line-engraver in Richard Cooper, the person from whom Strange, some years after, derived his first lessons. While these men had a professional interest in art, there were others who viewed it with favour on general grounds, and, from motives of public spirit, were willing to see it encouraged in the Scottish capital.

There was, accordingly, a design formed at this date for the erection of a sort of academy in Edinburgh, under the name of the School of St Luke, ‘for the encouragement of painting, sculpture, architecture, &c.’ A scheme of it, drawn up on parchment, described the principal practical object to be, to have a properly lighted and furnished room, where the members could meet periodically to practise drawing, &c., from the figure, or from draughts; lots to be drawn for the choice of seats. Private gentlemen who chose to contribute were invited to join in the design, though they might not be disposed to use the pencil. We find a surprisingly liberal list of subscribers to this document, including Lord Linton, Lord Garlies, and Gilbert Elliot; James M’Ewen, James Balfour, and Allan Ramsay, booksellers; the artists above mentioned, and about fifteen other persons. Amongst the rest was the name of Allan Ramsay, junior, now a mere stripling, but who came to be portrait-painter to George III.’

The above is all that we know about this proposed School of St Luke. Very pleasant it is to know so much, to be assured that, in 1729, there was even a handful of men in the Scottish capital so far advanced in taste for one of the elegant arts, as to make a movement for its cultivation. As to the preparedness of the general mind of the country for the appreciation of high art, the following little narrative will enable the modern reader to form some judgment.

In December 1734, there was shewn in Edinburgh, ‘at Mr Yaxley Davidson’s, without the Cowgate Port,’ a collection of curiosities, amongst which was included a said-to-be-valuable picture of Raphael, probably representing the Saviour on the Cross; also a view of the interior of St Peter’s at Rome, as illuminated for the jubilee of 1700, ‘the like never seen in Great Britain.’ The exhibition lingered for a few weeks in the city with tolerable success, and was then removed to the tavern of one Murray at the Bridge-end, opposite to Perth.

Here, in consequence of 'a pathetic sermon’ preached by one of the ministers, and certain printed letters industriously circu­lated on the subject of these works of art, a crowd of the meaner sort of people rose tumultuously on the 10th of July, and, crossing the Tay by the ferry-boat, proceeded to Murray’s house, crying out: ‘Idolatry! molten and graven images! popery!’ and so forth. Then, surrounding the door, they attempted to enter for the purpose of dragging forth the pictures, and were only with difficulty withstood by the landlord, who, backed by his hostler, planted himself with a drawn cutlass in the doorway. Time was thus given for some gentlemen of Perth to come to the rescue, and also to allow of the Earl of Kinnoull’s bailie of regality to come forward in behalf of the peace; ‘whereupon the men concerned in the mob withdrew, the women still standing at the doors of the house, crying out: “Idolatry, idolatry, and popery!” and threatening still to burn the house, or have the pictures and graven images destroyed, till some dozens of the female ring­leaders were carried over the river to Perth, the rest dispersing gradually of their own accord. Immediately after, the poor stranger was glad to make the best of his way, and went straight in a boat to Dundee, which the mobbers no sooner perceived, but they sent an express by land to that place to prompt some of the zealous there to mob him at landing.’

Apparently this message had taken effect, for we learn, a few days after, that the collection of curiosities, ‘having made a fine retreat from the late attack at the Bridge-end of Perth,’ are again on view in Edinburgh.’

Amongst the ‘signs and causes of the Lord’s departure,’ adduced by the Seceders in a testimony published by them soon after this time, is the fact that ‘an idolatrous picture of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was well received in some remarkable places of the land.’

Nov
Mr Wodrow was regaled at this time with a few additional chastisements for the city of Glasgow. Mrs Glen, who dealt largely in silks and Hollands, had broken down under a bill for three hundred pounds, with debt to tradesmen in the city for weaving cloth to the amount of five hundred! In the ensuing June, the town sustained ‘a very great loss’ by the breaking of a Scottish factor in Holland; no less than two thousand pounds sterling: only—and here was the great pity in the case—it was diffused over too many parties to be very sensibly felt.

About fifteen months after this date, the worthy pastor of East-wood adverted to the ‘great losses, hardships, and impositions’ which the trade of Glasgow had recently undergone, and to the ‘several hundreds of working poor’ which hung as a burden upon the city. Notwithstanding all that—and we can imagine his perplexity in recording the fact—the citizens were getting up a house of refuge for distressed people. ‘In a week or two, twelve hundred pounds was signed for, besides two hundred Mr Orr gives,’ and certain sums to be contributed by public bodies. What would he have thought if he could have been assured that, in little more than a century, Glasgow would, in a few weeks, and without difficulty, raise forty-five thousand pounds as its quota towards a national fund for the succour of the sufferers in the British army by a single campaign!

Dec 24
Lord Balmerino, son of the lord who had been the subject of a notable prosecution under the tyrannical government of Charles I., was now residing in advanced age at his house in Coatfield Lane, in Leith. One of his younger sons, named Alexander (the imme­diate younger brother of Arthur, who made so gallant a death on Tower Hill in 1746), was leading a life of idleness and pleasure at the same place. As this young gentleman was now to be involved in a bloody affair which took place in Leith Links, it may be worth while to recall that, five years back, he was engaged on the same ground in an affair of gaiety and sport, which yet had some ominous associations about it. It was what a newspaper of the day calls ‘a solemn match at golf’ played by him for twenty guineas with Captain Porteous of the Edinburgh Town-guard; an affair so remarkable on account of the stake, that it was attended by the Duke of Hamilton, the Earl of Morton, and a vast mob of the great and little besides, Alexander Elphinstone ending as the winner.3 No one could well have imagined, as that cheerful game was going on, that both the players were, not many years after, to have blood upon their hands, one of them to take on the murderer’s mark upon this very field.

On the 23d of December 1729, the Honourable Alexander Elphinstone met a Lieutenant Swift of Cadogan’s regiment at the house of Mr Michael Watson, merchant in Leith. Some hot words having risen between them, Elphinstone rose to depart, but before he went, he touched Swift on the shoulder with his sword, and dropped a hint that he would expect to receive satisfaction next morning on the Links. Next day, accordingly, the two gentlemen met at eleven in the forenoon in that comparatively public place (as it now appears), and fought a single combat with swords, which ended in Swift receiving a mortal wound in the breast.

Elphinstone was indicted for this act before the High Court of Justiciary; but the case was never brought forward, and the young man died without molestation at Leith three years after.

1730
The merit of the invention of that noble instrument, the Reflecting Telescope, is allowed to rest with David Gregory, a native of Scotland, although that of first completing one (in 1671) is due to the illustrious Newton. It was thought very desirable by Sir Isaac to substitute glass for metallic reflectors; but fifty years elapsed without the idea being realised, when at length, about this date, a very young Edinburgh artist, named James Short, ‘executed no fewer than six reflecting telescopes with glass specula, three of which were fifteen inches, and three nine inches in focal length,’ to which Professor Maclaurin gave his approbation, though ultimately their light was found fainter than was deemed necessary.

Two years afterwards, when Short had only attained the age of twenty-two, he began to enter into competition with the English makers of reflecting telescopes, but without attempting to make specula of glass. ‘To such perfection did he carry the art of grinding and polishing metallic specula, and of giving them the true parabolic figure, that, with a telescope of fifteen inches in focal length, he and Mr Bayne, Professor of Law in the University of Edinburgh, read the Philosophical Transactions at the distance of five hundred feet, and several times, particularly on the 24th of November and the 7th of December 1734, they saw the five satellites of Saturn together, an achievement beyond the reach of Hadley’s six-feet telescope.’

This ingenious man, attaining some celebrity for the making of reflecting telescopes, was induced, in 1742, to settle in London, where for a number of years he continued to use his remarkable talents in this way, occasionally furnishing instruments at high prices to royal personages throughout Europe.

Oct 26
One William Muir, brother of two men who had recently been hanged at Ayr for theft, was this day tried before a jury, for housebreaking, by the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, acting as ‘High Sheriff within burgh.’ The man was condemned to death, and the sentence was duly executed on the ensuing 2d of December, he dying penitent.

It seems strange to us, but about this time the condemnation of criminals to capital punishment by sheriffs of counties, and by the chief-magistrate of Edinburgh, was by no means infrequent, being entirely in accordance with the statutory arrangements of the country. Nay more, great territorial lords, especially in the Highlands, still acted upon their ancient privileges of pit and gallows. It is related that the Duke of Athole one day received at Blair an application from his baron-bailie for pardon to a man whom he had condemned to be hanged for theft, but who was a person of such merits otherwise that it seemed a pity to put justice in force against him. The Lord President Forbes, who had stopped to dine with his Grace in the course of a journey to Edinburgh, expressed his surprise that the power of pardoning a condemned criminal should be attributed to any person but the king. ‘Since I have the power of punishing,’ said the duke, ‘it is but right that I should have the power of pardoning.’ Then, calling a servant, he quietly added: ‘Send an express to Logie­rait, and order Donald Stewart, presently under sentence, to be set at liberty.’

We are now arrived at a time which seems to mark very decidedly a transition in Scotland from poverty to growing wealth, from the puritanic manners of the seventeenth century to the semi-licence and ease of the eighteenth, from narrow to liberal education, and consequently from restricted to expanded views. It may, therefore, be proper here to introduce a few general observations.

Although, only a few years back, we find Wodrow speaking of the general poverty, it is remarkable that, after this time, com­plaints on that point are not heard in almost any quarter. The influx of commercial prosperity at Glasgow, had now fairly set in, and the linen manufacture and other branches of industry begin to be a good deal spoken of. Agricultural improvements and the decoration of the country by wood had now been commenced. There was great chafing under the taxation introduced after the Union, and smuggling was popular, and the revenue-officers were detested; yet the people had become able to endure the deductions made from their income. Thus did matters go on during the time between 1725 and 1745, making a slow but sensible advance—nothing like what took place after the question of the dynasty had been settled at Culloden, but yet such as to very considerably affect the condition of the people. Much of this was owing to the pacific policy of Sir Robert Walpole, to whom, with all his faults, the British people certainly owe more than to any minister before Sir Robert Peel.

If we wish to realise the manners before this period, we must think of the Scotch as a people living in a part of Britain remote from the centre—peninsulated and off at a side—enjoying little intercourse with strangers; but, above all, as a people on whom the theology of the Puritans, with all their peculiar views regarding the forms of religion and the arrangements of a church, had taken a powerful hold. Down to 1730, all respectable persons in Scotland, with but the slightest exceptions, maintained a strictly evangelical creed, went regularly to church, and kept up daily family-worship. Nay, it had become a custom that every house should contain a small closet built on purpose, to which the head of the family could retire at stated times for his personal or private devotions, which were usually of a protracted kind, and often accompanied by great motions and groanings, expressive of an intense sense of human worthlessness without the divine favour. On Sunday, the whole family, having first gathered for prayers in the parlour, proceeded at ten to church. At half-past twelve, they came home for a light dinner of cold viands (none being cooked on this sacred day), to return at two for an afternoon service of about two hours. The remainder of the day was devoted to private devotions, catechising of children, and the reading of pious books, excepting a space of time set aside for supper, which in many families was a comfortable meal, and an occasion, the only one during the day, when a little cheerful conversation was indulged in. Invariably, the day was closed with a repetition of family prayers.

It was customary for serious people to draw up a written paper, in which they formally devoted themselves to the service of God—a sort of personal covenant with their Maker—and to renew this each year at the time of the celebration of the communion by a fresh signature with the date. The subscriber expressed his entire satisfaction with the scheme of Christian salvation, avowed his willingness to take the Lord to be his all-sufficient portion, and to be resigned to his will and providence in all things. He also expressed his resolution to be mortified to the world, and to engage heartily and steadfastly persevere in the performance of all religious duties. An earnest prayer for the divine help usually closed this document.

As all were trained to look up to the Deity with awe and terror, so, ‘with the same feelings, were children accustomed to look up to their parents, and servants to their masters. Amongst the upper classes, the head of the family was for the most part an awful personage, who sat in a special chair by the fireside, and at the head of the table, with his hat on, often served at meals with special dishes, which no one else, not even guests, partook of. In all the arrangements of the house, his convenience and tastes were primarily studied. His children approached him with fear, and never spoke with any freedom before him. At meals, the lady of the house helped every one as she herself might choose. The dishes were at once ill-cooked and ill-served. It was thought unmeet for man that he should be nice about food. Nicety and love of rich feeding were understood to be hateful peculiarities of the English, and unworthy of the people who had been so much more favoured by God in a knowledge of matters of higher concern.

There was, nevertheless, a great amount of hospitality. And here it is to be observed, that the poverty of those old times had less effect on the entertainments of the higher classes than might have been expected. What helped the gentlefolks in this respect, was the custom of receiving considerable payments from their tenants in kind. This enabled them to indulge in a rude abundance at home, while their means of living in a town-house, or in an inn while travelling, was probably very limited. We must further remember the abundance of game in Scotland, how every moor teemed with grouse and black-cock, and every lake and river with fish. These furnished large supplies for the table of the laird, both in Lowlands and Highlands; and I feel con­vinced that the miserable picture drawn by a modern historian of the way of living among the northern chiefs is untrue to a large extent, mainly by his failure to take such resources into account.

A lady, born in 1714, who has left a valuable set of reminis­cences of her early days, lays great stress on the home-staying life of the Scottish gentry. She says that this result of their narrow circumstances kept their minds in a contracted state, and caused them to regard all manners and habits different from their own with prejudice. The adult had few intelligent books to read; neither did journals then exist to give them a knowledge of public affairs. The children, kept at a distance by their parents, lived much amongst themselves or with underlings, and grew up with little of either knowledge or refinement. Restrained within a narrow social circle, they often contracted improper marriages. It was not thought necessary in those days that young ladies should acquire a sound knowledge of even their own language, much less of French, German, or Italian; nor were many of them taught music or any other refined accomplishment. ‘The chief thing required was to hear them psalms and long catechisms, in which they were employed an hour or more every day, and almost the whole day on Sunday. They were allowed to run about and amuse themselves in the way they choosed, even to the age of woman, at which time they were generally sent to Edinburgh for a winter or two, to learn to dress themselves, and to dance, and see a little of the world. The world was only to be seen at church, at marriages, burials, and baptisms       When in the country, their employment was in coloured work, beds, tapestry, and other pieces of furniture; imitations of fruits and flowers, with very little taste. If they read any, it was either books of devotion or long romances, and sometimes both.’

Previous to this time, the universal dress of the middle classes was of plain country cloth, much of it what was called hodden gray—that is, cloth spun at home from the undyed wool. Gentle­men of figure wore English or foreign cloth, and their clothes were costly in comparison with other articles. We find, for instance, a gentleman at his marriage, in 1711, paying £340 Scots for two suits, a night-gown, and a suit to his servant. Linen being everywhere made at home—the spinning executed by the servants during the long winter evenings, and the weaving by the village webster—there was a general abundance of napery and of under-clothing. Holland, being about six shillings an ell, was worn only by men of refinement. ‘I remember,’ says the lady aforesaid, ‘in the ‘30 or ‘31, of a ball where it was agreed that the company should be dressed in nothing but what was manufactured in the country. My sisters were as well dressed as any, and their gowns were striped linen at 2s. 6d. per yard. Their heads and ruffles were of Paisley muslins, at 4s. 6d., with fourpenny edging from Hamilton; all of them the finest that could be had        At the time I mention, hoops were constantly worn four and a half yards wide, which required much silk to cover them; and gold and silver were much used for trimming, never less than three rows round the petticoat; so that, though the silk was slight, the price was increased by the trimming. Then the heads were all dressed in laces from Flanders; no blondes or course-edging used: the price of these was high, but two suits would serve for life; they were not renewed but at marriage, or some great event. Who could not afford these wore fringes of thread. In those days, the ladies went to church, and appeared on other public occasions, in full dress. A row of them so rigged out, taking a place in the procession at the opening of the General Assembly, used to be spoken of by old people as a fine show. When a lady appeared in undress on the streets of Edinburgh, she generally wore a mask, which, however, seems to have been regarded as simply an equivalent for the veil of modern times.

One marked peculiarity of old times, was the union of fine parade and elegant dressing with vulgarity of thought, speech, and act. The seemliness and delicacy observed now-a-days regarding both marriages and births were unknown long ago. We have seen how a bridal in high life was conducted in the reign of Queen Anne. Let us now observe the ceremonials connected with a birth at the same period. ‘On the fourth week after the lady’s delivery, she is set on her bed on a low footstool; the bed covered with some neat piece of sewed work or white sattin, with three pillows at her back covered with the same; she in full dress with a lappet head-dress and a fan in her hand. Having informed her acquaintance what day she is to see com­pany, they all come and pay their respects to her, standing, or walking a little through the room (for there’s no chairs). They drink a glass of wine and eat a bit of cake, and then give place to others. Towards the end of the week, all the friends are asked to what was called the Cummers’ Feast. This was a supper where every gentleman brought a pint of wine to be drunk by him and his wife. The supper was a ham at the head, and a pyramid of fowl at the bottom. This dish consisted of four or five ducks at bottom, hens above, and partridges at top. There was an eating posset in the middle of the table, with dried fruits and sweetmeats at the sides. When they had finished their supper, the meat was removed, and in a moment everybody flies to the sweetmeats to pocket them. Upon which a scramble ensued; chairs overturned, and everything on the table; wrestling and pulling at one another with the utmost noise. When all was quiet, they went to the stoups (for there were no bottles), of which the women had a good share; for though it was a disgrace to be seen drunk, yet it was none to be a little intoxicat in good company.’

Any one who has observed the conduct of stiff people, when on special occasions they break out from their reserve, will have no difficulty in reconciling such childish frolics with the general sombreness of old Scottish life.

It is to be observed that, while puritanic rigour was charac­teristic of the great bulk of society, there had been from the Restoration a minority of a more indulgent complexion. These were generally persons of rank, and adherents of Episcopacy and the House of Stuart. Such tendency as there was in the country to music, to theatricals, to elegant literature, resided with this party almost exclusively. After the long dark interval which ensued upon the death of Drummond, Sir George Mackenzie, the ‘persecutor,’ was the first to attempt the cultivation of the belles­lettres in Scotland. Dr Pitcairn was the centre of a small circle of wits who, a little later, devoted themselves to the Muses, but who composed exclusively in Latin. When Addison, Steele, Pope, and Swift were conferring Augustine glories on the reign of Anne in England, there was scarcely a single writer of polite English in Scotland; but under George I., we find Ramsay tuning his rustic reed, and making himself known even in the south, notwithstand­ing the peculiarity of his language. These men were all of them unsympathetic with the old church Calvinism of their native country—as, indeed, have been nearly all the eminent cultivators of letters in Scotland down to the present time. We learn that copies of the Tatler and Spectator found their way into Scotland; and we hear not only of gentlemen, but of clergymen reading them. Allan Ramsay lent out the plays of Congreve and Farquhar at his shop in Edinburgh. Periodical amateur concerts were commenced, as we have seen, as early as 1717. The Easy Club—to which Ramsay belonged—and other social fraternities of the same kind, were at the same time enjoying their occasional convivialities in Edinburgh. A small miscellany of verse, published in Edin­burgh in 1720, makes us aware that there were then residing there several young aspirants to the laurel, including two who have since obtained places in the roll of the British poets—namely, Thomson and Mallet—and also Mr Henry Home of Kames, and Mr Joseph Mitchell: moreover, we gather from this little volume, that there was in Edinburgh a ‘Fair Intellectual Club,’ an association, we must presume, of young ladies who were disposed to cultivate a taste for the belles-lettres. About this time, the tea-table began to be a point of reunion for the upper classes. At four in the afternoon, the gentlemen and ladies would assemble round a multitude of small china cups, each recognisable by the number of the little silver spoon connected with it, and from these the lady of the house would dispense an almost endless series of libations, while lively chat and gossip went briskly on, but it is to be feared, in most circles, little conversation of what would now be called an intellectual cast. On these occasions, the singing of a Scottish song to an accompaniment on the spinet was considered a graceful accomplishment; and certainly no superior treat was to be had.

Two things at this period told powerfully in introducing new ideas and politer manners: first, the constant going and coming of sixty-one men of importance between their own country and London in attendance on parliament; and second, the introduc­tion of a number of English people as residents or visitors into the country, in connection with the army, the excise and customs, and the management of the forfeited estates. This intercourse irresistibly led to greater cleanliness, to a demand for better house accommodation, and to at once greater ease and greater propriety of manners. The minority of the tasteful and the gay being so far reinforced, assemblies for dancing, and even in a modest way theatricals, were no longer to be repressed. The change thus effected was by and by confirmed, in consequence of young men of family getting into the custom of travelling for a year or two on the continent before settling at their professions or in the management of their affairs at home. This led, too, to a some­what incongruous ingrafting of French politeness on the homely manners and speech of the general flock of ladies and gentlemen. Reverting to the matter of house accommodation, it may be remarked that a floor of three or four rooms and a kitchen was then considered a mansion for a gentleman or superior merchant in Edinburgh. We ought not to be too much startled at the idea of a lady receiving gentlemen along with ladies in her bedroom, when we reflect that there were then few rooms which had not beds in them, either openly or behind a screen. It is a significant fact that, in 1745, there was in Inverness only one house which contained a room without a bed—namely, that in which Prince Charles took up his lodgings.

As a consequence of the narrowness of house accommodation in those days, taverns were much more used than they are now. A physician or advocate in high practice was to be consulted at his tavern, and the habits of each important practitioner in this regard were studied, and became widely known. Gentlemen met in tavern clubs each evening for conversation, without much expense, a shilling’s reckoning being thought high—more gener­rally, it was the half of that sum. ‘In some of these clubs they played at backgammon or catch-honours for a penny the game.’ At the consultations of lawyers, the liquor was sherry, brought in mutchkin stoups, and paid for by the employer. ‘It was incredible the quantity that was drunk sometimes on those occasions.’ Poli­ticians met in taverns to discuss the affairs of state. One situated in the High Street, kept by Patrick Steil, was the resort of a number of the patriots who urged on the Act of Security and resisted the Union; and the phrase, Pate Steil’s Parliament, occasionally appears in the correspondence of the time. It was in the same place, as we have seen, that the weekly concert was commenced. In the freer days which ensued upon this time, it was not thought derogatory to ladies of good rank that they should occasionally join oyster-parties in these places of resort.

Miss Mure, in her invaluable memoir, remarks on the change which took place in her youth in the religious sentiments of the people. A dread of the Deity, and a fear of hell and of the power of the devil, she cites as the predominant feelings of religious people in the age succeeding the Revolution. It was thought a mark of atheistic tendencies to doubt witchcraft, or the reality of apparitions, or the occasional vaticinative character of dreams. When the generation of the Revolution was beginning to pass away, the deep convictions as well as the polemical spirit of the seventeenth century gave place to an easier and a gentler faith. There was no such thing as scepticism, except in the greatest obscurity; but a number of favourite preachers began to place Christianity in an amiable light before their congregations. ‘We were bid,’ says Miss Mure, ‘to draw our knowledge of God from his works, the chief of which is the soul of a good man; then judge if we have cause to fear. . . . Whoever would please God must resemble him in goodness and benevolence. . . . The Christian religion was taught as the purest rule of morals; the belief of a particular providence and of a future state as a support in every situation. The distresses of individuals were necessary for exercising the good affections of others, and the state of suffering the post of honour.’ At the same time, dread of parents also melted away. ‘The fathers would use their sons with such freedom, that they should be their first friend; and the mothers would allow of no intimacies but with themselves. For their girls the utmost care was taken that fear of no kind should enslave the mind; nurses were turned off who would tell the young of ghosts and witches. The old ministers were ridiculed who preached up hell and damnation; the mind was to be influenced by gentle and generous motives alone.’

A country gentleman, writing in 1729, remarks the increase in the expense of housekeeping which he had seen going on during the past twenty years. While deeming it indisputable that Edinburgh was now less populous than before the Union, ‘yet I am informed,’ says he, ‘there is a greater consumption since, than before the Union, of all provisions, especially fleshes and wheat-bread. The butcher owns he now kills three of every species of cattle for every one he killed before the Union.’ Where formerly he had been accustomed to see ‘two or three substantial dishes of beef, mutton, and fowl, garnished with their own wholesome gravy,’ he now saw ‘several services of little expensive ashets, with English pickles, yea Indian mangoes, and catch-up or anchovy sauces.’ Where there used to be the quart stoup of ale from the barrel, there was now bottled ale for a first service, and claret to help out the second, or else ‘a snaker of rack or brandy punch.’ Tea in the morning and tea in the evening had now become established. There were more livery-servants, and better dressed, and more horses, than formerly. French and Italian silks for the ladies, and English broadcloth for the gentlemen, were more and more supplanting the plain home-stuffs of former days. This writer was full of fears as to the warranitableness of this superior style of living, but his report of the fact is not the less valuable.


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