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John Erskine


John Erskine ERSKINE, JOHN, eighteenth lord Erskine, and eleventh earl of Marr, was the son of Charles, tenth earl of Marr, and lady Mary Maule, daughter of the earl of Panmure. He was born at Alloa, in the month of February, 1675. Having lost his father ere he had reached his fourteenth year, and his estates being greatly embarrassed, he devoted himself to civil affairs; and, as soon as he came of age, entered upon public life under the patronage of the duke of Queensberry, whose interest and whose measures he seems to have uniformly supported till his grace’s death, which happened in 1711. In 1702, queen Anne, then just raised to the throne, appointed the earl of Marr one of her privy councillors for Scotland, and gave him the command of a regiment of foot, and a riband of the most noble order of St Andrews.

Marr had been carefully educated in revolution principles, and from his first entrance upon public life, had been understood to be zealously affected to the new order of things; but in 1704, his patron Queensberry being dismissed from office, he headed the friends of that nobleman in opposition to the marquis of Tweeddale and the Squadron, who had succeeded to the administration of Scottish affairs, and this opposition he managed with so much dexterity as to gain over to his views almost all the tories, "who now," in the significant language of Lockhart, "believed, him to be an honest man, and well inclined to the royal family." The Squadron, however, unable to carry on the affairs of the nation in the face of so much opposition, were compelled to resign; Queensberry again came into place, and Marr, according to. Lockhart, "returned like the dog to his vomit, and promoted all the court of England’s measures with the greatest zeal imaginable." In the business of the union he was certainly very active. He brought forward the draught of an act for appointing commissioners to carry it into effect, and was not only on all occasions at his post, publicly to support it, but was supposed to have secretly managed some of the bitterest of its enemies, particularly the duke of Hamilton, so as to render their opposition wavering, feeble, and in the end ineffective. For his signal services during this session of parliament, he was advanced to be secretary of state in room of the marquis of Annandale, who was dismissed on suspicion of carrying on a secret correspondence with the Squadron.

When the commissioners for treating of the union came to be named, which, principally through the influence of Marr and Argyle upon the duke of Hamilton, was left wholly to the queen, he was named third upon the list; and in all the public conferences with the English commissioners upon the articles to which they had separately agreed on the part of the Scots, Seafield, the chancellor, and Marr, the secretary, were alone employed. In the struggle that ensued in carrying the treaty through the Scottish parliament, Marr exerted all his oratory and all his influence in its behalf, which was the more honourable, that he had not a farthing of the money that was issued from the English treasury and decided among the Scottish nobility and gentry on that memorable occasion. From the whole history of Marr’s life, however, it would be altogether ridiculous to ascribe his conduct to any thing like enlightened views of policy or even such patriotism as was common in those turbulent times. His motive was unquestionably of the most selfish character, most probably the preserving the good opinion of the queen, through whose favour he hoped to have his ambition gratified with the sole administration of the affairs of Scotland. With this view he attached himself in the outset of his career to the duke of Queensberry, to whom he adhered so long as he enjoyed the confidence of the queen which was as long as he lived; and, with this view, when her majesty had thrown herself into the arms of the tories, he had taken his measures so accurately that he was by them considered of first rate importance, employed upon the most important affairs and intrusted with the secret of their most dangerous and unmanageable speculations. In consequence of this address on part, though he had been from the first active on the side of the whigs, he found himself in a situation to demand the secretaryship of Scotland from the tories on the death of Queensberry; and though Argyle, whom they were exceedingly willing to oblige and to confirm in his lately taken up attachment to their cause, applying for it for his brother Ilay at the same time, prevented an immediate compliance with his wishes, they durst not openly refuse him, but for fear of offending Argyle, declined to make for a time any appointment on the subject. It is not a little amusing to contrast the character and conduct of these rivals for power, Marr and Argyle, at this period. Both were ambitious and both were in a high degree selfish; but the selfishness of the latter was softened by something like a principle of honour and consistency; that of the former was unmitigated and unbroken by any higher conflicting principle. Accordingly, knowing it was gratifying to the queen, Marr stood up openly for Sacheverel, defended his absurdities, and along with the notorious Jacobites, the duke of Hamilton, the earl of Wemyss, and Northeske, voted for his acquittal. Argyle condemned his absurdities, but made an atonement by voting for a lenient punishment. Argyle, to recommend himself to the queen and her peace-pursuing ministry, depreciated the services and undervalued the talent of the duke of Marlborough, hoping that some of the honours and a few of the places which that great man enjoyed, might be in the issue conferred upon himself. Marr, knowing how much her majesty was set upon obtaining peace and that nothing was more pleasing to her ears than the assertion of her lineal descent from an ancient race of kings, and the praise of prerogative, procured from the Jacobite clans a loyal address, embracing these topics, and enlarging upon them in a higher strain than the boldest time-server at court had hitherto presumed to adopt.. The peace was not yet made, but the "patriots, the faithful advisers of this great transaction," were largely applauded. The insolence of the press, which her majesty had recommended to the notice of the late parliament, was duly reprobated, and a hope expressed, that the ensuing one would work out a thorough reformation, that they might be no more scandalized, nor the blessed Son of God blasphemed, nor the sacred race of the Stuarts inhumanly traduced with equal malice and impiety. And they concluded with a hope, that "to complete their happiness and put an end to intestine division after the queen’s late demise, the hereditary right and parliamentary sanction would meet in a lineal successor." The commissioners sent up to Marr with this address, were introduced to the queen, who commended the warmth of their loyalty, and most graciously rewarded them with pensions. After this, no one will wonder that the influence of Marr became among the Tories evidently paramount. Argyle, though he joined with him in an attempt to have the treaty of union dissolved, shrunk from the contest for superiority; and, apparently in disgust, dropped back into the ranks of the whigs. Marr, having now no competitor for power among his countrymen, succeeded, most unfortunately for himself, in his darling wish. The secretaryship for Scotland, which had lain in abeyance for two years, he now received; so that he and his brother, lord Grange, who was lord justice clerk, became the most influential men in Scotland. He was also, along with Bolingbroke and Harley, regarded by the Jacobites, especially those of Scotland, as holding the destiny of the exiled family entirely in his own power, which no one among them doubted to be fully equal to the warmest wishes of his own heart. Nor for a considerable time does it appear that any of these gentlemen doubted of their own power. All the steps towards the unfortunate peace, which they were in so much haste to conclude, seems to have been taken with the fullest confidence, that it would infallibly lead to the restoration of James, and they seem to have been perfectly confounded to find, that after it was made, and the honour and the interests of the nation thrown away, they were just as near their object as when they began, few of the external difficulties being removed, while those of an internal or domestic kind were multiplied at least seven fold. It was the increase and the insurmountable nature of these difficulties, not at all foreseen when the attempt was first thought on, that produced so much ill will and disunion among the parties, disgusted Oxford, terrified the queen herself, and while they distracted the last miserable and melancholy years of her reign, brought her in the end prematurely to the grave. Their difficulties, indeed, from the beginning were prodigiously augmented. Scarcely had the arrangements for bringing in the friends of James been begun, than two of the firmest and most powerful of them, the earl of Anglesey and the earl of Jersey, were removed by death. The earl of Rochester died soon after, who was the Ahithophel of the party. The duke of Hamilton followed, and the sudden death of the queen herself completed the ruin of the project. The regency upon whom the supreme authority devolved in the interim between the death of the queen and the arrival of the new king, both those that had been appointed by act of parliament, and those who in virtue of that act had been named by himself, were whigs, and in common with all of their party, zealous for the protestant succession; of course the late ministers had neither countenance nor protection from them, and it was among the first of his majesty’s regal acts to dismiss them to a man from all their offices, places, and powers. The resolution of parliament on its being convened to prosecute the leading men among them, completed their misery. Oxford was sent to the Tower, where he was confined for years. Bolingbroke and Ormond fled to the continent, and, to confirm all that had been previously surmised against them, joined themselves to the few malcontents, who, with James, formed the miserable court of St Germains.

Oxford had, at an early stage of the business, discovered that it could scarcely be effected, and during the latter part of his administration, seems to have laboured to shake himself free of it, as well for his own honour and interest as to calm the terrors of his royal mistress. But he was beset on all hands. The wretched peace which he had concluded, and the enmity of the whigs, begirt him in perpetual alarm, against which the friendly aid of the tories was his only resource. In the end, however, the impatience of the tories, and their reckless contempt of consequences, became equally troublesome and dangerous, and his great aim seems to have been by breaking their measures to recommend himself to the elector of Hanover, through whose patronage he probably hoped to be able either to conciliate the whigs or to brave their resentment. The subject of this memoir was not by any means so sharp-sighted as Oxford, but he was equally selfish, and far more regardless of the interests of others; and he no sooner saw the scheme of the Jacobites broken by the death of the queen, than he took measures to ingratiate himself with the new dynasty. For this purpose he wrote a letter to his majesty George I., when he was on his way through Holland, to take possession of his new dominions; soliciting his particular notice, and promising the most dutiful obedience and faithful service in whatever his majesty might be pleased to employ him. In this letter, it is not unworthy of remark, that he appeals to the part he acted in bringing about the union, when the succession was settled, as a proof of his sincerity and faithfulness to his majesty, as if his majesty had been ignorant of the attempts that had been made to dissolve that treaty, and of the hearty repentance that Marr himself had professed for the hand he had in bringing it about. Of his willingness to serve the king in the same capacity in which he served the queen, and with the same faithfulness, provided it did not interfere with services that he could turn to a more special account, we see no reason to doubt, and perhaps it had been not the worst policy of the king to have taken him at his word, and continued him in his place. Kings, however, are but men, and we do think he must have been something more or something less than man, who, situated as the king then was, could have looked on Marr, as he then presented himself, without a goodly mixture of suspicion and contempt. Which of the two predominated in the king’s mind, history does not say, but the letter was certainly passed over without notice; and in consequence Marr durst not present a flaming address which he had procured from the disaffected clans, some one about the court having moreover told him that the king had been apprised of this address, and was highly offended, believing it to have been drawn up at St Germains for the purpose of affronting him. Though his proffers of service were not accepted, and though he was not on terms of much familiarity, he still continued to hang about the court, carrying on, at the same time, a close correspondence with the disaffected, both in Scotland and England, particularly in Scotland, till the beginning of August 1715, when the habeas corpus act being suspended, as also the act against wrongous imprisonment in Scotland, and warrants made out at the secretary of state’s office for the immediate apprehension of all suspected persons, he thought it no longer safe to appear among his fellows, and with general Hamilton, a major Hay, and two servants, after being at court to pay his compliments to the king, took ship in the river, all of them being in disguise, and on the third day after landed at Newcastle, where they hired a vessel which set them ashore at Ely in Fife. Here they were joined by the lord lyon king at arms, Alexander Erskine, and other friends, along with whom they proceeded to Kinnoul, and on the 20th arrived at his lordship’s castle of Braemar, where all the Jacobites in that county were summoned to meet him.

Under the feudal system, we may notice here that hunting possessed much of a military character, and was often made the pretext for the superior calling out his vassals, when hunting was but a small part of the object in view; and we find the kings of Scotland frequently calling out lords, barons, landward men, and freeholders, with each a month’s provisions and all their best dogs, when the purpose was to daunt the thieves of the particular district where they were summoned to hunt. Often, during the previous years, had this expedient, joined with that of horse-racing, been resorted to for collecting together the friends of the exiled family; and it was, on this occasion, again employed by Marr. It was but a few days that he had been at Braemar, when, under this pretence, he was waited on by a vast number of gentlemen of the first quality and interest, among whom were the marquises of Huntly and Tullibardine; the earls of Nithsdale, Marischal, Traquair, Errol, Southeske, Carnwath, Seaforth, Linhithgow, &c. &c.; the viscounts of Kilsyth, Kenmure, Kingston, and Stormont; the lords Rollo, Duffus, Drummond, Strathallan, Ogilvy, and Nairn; a number of chieftains from the Highlands, Glendaruel, Auldbair, Auchterhouse, Glengarry; with the two generals, Hamilton and Gordon, and many others of inferior name. To these gentlemen, previously prepared for the purposes of faction, Marr opened at large his whole scheme. He declaimed, with well affected sorrow, particularly upon his own misconduct, and the guilty hand he had in effecting the "cursed union," which he was now resolved to spend his best blood to free them from—on the miseries attendant on a foreign succession; which, grievous as they already felt them to be, might be expected to increase till their liberties, civil and religious, were totally annihilated; but from which they had now the means of being delivered, by simply restoring James VIII. who had already promised them his presence for that end, with abundance of arms, ammunition, officers, and engineers, so soon as they should have resolved upon the proper plane to land them. Money, the grand desideratum in all such undertakings, he assured them he had received, and would regularly receive in abundance, so that no gentleman would find any difficulty in subsisting his men, nor should the country be at all burdened on their account. Finally, he informed them that he had received a commission from the said king James, to act as his lieutenant-general, in consequence of which he intended immediately to set up the royal standard, and summon to attend it the whole fencible men in the kingdom. Though these statements were false, and foolish in the extreme, from the rank of the speaker, the confidence with which they were uttered, and especially from the previously formed habits and feelings of the hearers, they made a powerful impression; each hasted to bring forward his followers, and, on the 6th day of September, 1715, Marr set up the standard of James and proclaimed him king of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, &c., at his castle of Braemar. The same proclamation was repeated three days after at the village of Kirk-Michael, and the people summoned generally to attend him,—for, as yet, they were a very small handful. From Kirk-Michael he proceeded to Moulin, in Perthshire, and thence, by Logie Rait to Dunkeld, where he found his army swelled to upwards of two thousand men. At the two former of these places, James was proclaimed with proper solemnity; at the latter, he had been proclaimed by the marquis of Tullibardine, previous to Marr’s arrival. At Perth, he was proclaimed by colonel Balfour and colonel John Hay, who, with two hundred and fifty horse, assisted by two hundred men, introduced into the town, by the duke of Athol, under the pretence of defending it, secured it for the earl of Marr, though the earl of Rothes, with five hundred well-appointed troops, was in the immediate vicinity, intending to take possession of it for the government. James was at the same time proclaimed at Aberdeen, by the earl Marischal; at Castle Gordon, by the earl of Huntly; at Brechin, by the earl of Panmure; at Montrose, by the earl of Southeske; at Dundee, by Graham of Duntroon, then, by the pretender, created viscount Dundee; and at Inverness, by Mackintosh of Borlum, who, with five hundred men, had taken possession of that important place for James; and, after giving it in charge to Mackenzie of Coul, proceeded to join the army under Marr.

While the whole north of Scotland, with the exception of Sutherland and Caitnness, was thus, without anything like opposition, cordially declaring for the Pretender, a scheme was laid for surprising and taking possession of the castle of Edinburgh, which would at once have given the rebels the command of Scotland almost without stroke of sword. The prime agent in this affair was the lord Drummond, who, had he succeeded, was to have the governorship of the castle, and his companions, ninety gentlemen of his own selection, were to be rewarded with one hundred guineas each, and a commission in the rebel army. To accomplish their purpose, they corrupted a sergeant in the castle, of the name of Ainsley, with the promise of a lieutenancy; a corporal, with the promise of an ensigncy, and two soldiers, the one with eight, and the other with four guineas. They then provided a scaling ladder, made of ropes, and so constructed that two or three persons could ascend it abreast. This the traitor within drew up with pulleys, fastening it at the top, and a number of the rebel party were in the act of ascending when an officer, who had been apprised of the plot, walking his rounds, observed the ladder, cut the ropes by which it was fastened above, and all that were upon it were precipitated to the bottom. The sentinel fired at the same time, and the party fled with the utmost precipitation, leaving their ladder, a number of firelocks, a Mr M’Lean, who had been an officer at Killiecranky, Mr Lesley and Mr Ramsay, writers in Edinburgh, and a Mr Boswell, who had been a page to the duchess of Gordon, severely bruised by their fall from the ladder, at the foot of the rock. Ainsley, who had engaged to betray the fortress, was hanged, his accomplices severely punished, and the governor lieutenant, David Stewart, displaced for negligence.

The failure of this undertaking was no doubt a serious disappointment to the rebels, but in all other respects their affairs were prosperous beyond any thing that could have been anticipated. Their numbers were rapidly augmenting, and their hopes were strongly excited by the arrival from St Germains, whither he had gone early in the spring, of Mr James Murray, second son to the viscount Stormont, who brought along with him patents from James, creating himself secretary of state for Scotland, and the earl of Marr a duke, by the title of duke of Marr, marquis of Stirling, and earl of Alloa. He brought also assurances of the presence of James himself; with a powerful army and abundant supplies, furnished him by the court of France. Large supplies had certainly been promised on the occasion, and they were, to a considerable extent, provided; but the death of Louis, on the 1st of September, was followed by a total change of measures, under the duke of Orleans, who acted as regent for Louis XV., then only five years of age; and though a considerable expedition had, by the zeal of individuals, been prepared at St Maloes, through the vigilance of admiral Byng at sea, and the influence of the earl of Stair at Versailles, except one or two, which sailed clandestinely, not a ship put to sea, and not one of them ever reached the Scottish shore. The news of the death of Louis was so discouraging to their hopes that a number of the chiefs insisted upon going home and waiting for a more favourable opportunity. They were, however, overruled, but a messenger was despatched to James, to solicit his presence to the enterprize with all possible expedition.

Every exertion was in the mean time made by the party to increase the number of their followers, and judging from what was done by the earl of Marr, these exertions were of no very gentle character. Writing on the 9th of September, to his bailie of Kildrummy, who had sent up to him the night before, one hundred men, when his lordship "expected four times the number,"—"I have sent," he says," enclosed, an order for the lordship of Kildrummy, which you are immediately to intimate to all my vassals. If they give ready obedience it will make some amends, and if not, ye may tell them from me, that it will not be in my power to save them, were I willing, from being treated as enemies, by those who are ready soon to join me; and they may depend upon it, that I will be the first to propose and order their being so. Particularly let my own tenants of Kildrummy know this; if they come not forth with their best arms, that I will send a party immediately to burn what they shall miss taking from them, and they may believe this not only a threat; but, by all that’s sacred, I’ll put it into execution, let my loss be what it will, that it may be an example to others." This was logic, that, with the poor tenants of Kildrummy, was no doubt perfectly convincing; but it was necessary to use more soothing arguments, with others not so completely in his power; and for this purpose he had a manifesto prepared by some of his clerical followers, and printed at Edinburgh by his majesty’s printer, Robert Freebairn, setting forth the absolutely indefeasible rights of the Stuarts; the total annihilation of the ancient Scottish constitution; the incalculable mischiefs that had attended, and the inevitable ruin that must necessarily follow the "unhappy union, brought about by the mistaken notions of some, and the ruinous and selfish designs of others;" all of which was to be remedied by one single act of justice, the restoring of the Stuarts, through whom religion was to be revived, and plenty, tranquillity, and peace, interminably established. That James was a papist, this precious document did not deny; but, then there was no "reason to be distrustful of the goodness of God, the truth and purity of our holy religion, or the known excellency of his majesty’s judgment," in consequence of which "in due time, good example and conversation with our learned divines, could not fail to remove those prejudices which, this clear-headed junto knew, that, even being educated in a popish country had not riveted in his royal discerning mind; and with a parliament of his own selection, they had no doubt but he would enact such laws in behalf of the protestant religion, as should "give an absolute security to all future ages against the efforts of arbitrary power, popery, and all its other enemies." Such was the force of prejudice and pride, and deeply wounded national feeling, and so little were the benefits accruing from the revolution, either understood or appreciated, that this paper made a very great impression; and, Marr after resting a few days at Dunkeld, removed his head quarters to Perth, when he found himself at the head of an army of twelve thousand men.

So far this insurrection had been completely successful; and, but for Marr’s entire ignorance of military affairs, it might have been still more so. Having possessed himself of Perth, not to speak of the Highlands, where his principal strength lay, he was master of all the Lowlands, on the east coast of Scotland, north of the Tay, containing the fruitful provinces of Angus, the Carse of Gowrie, Mearns, Moray, Aberdeen, Banff, as well as of the shire of Fife, which, from its maritime situation, afforded him peculiar advantages. By the complete possession of so much territory, he had cut off all communications between his majesty’s friends in the south and those in the north, who could now neither act for his service, nor save themselves by flight. In all those places, too, he seized upon the public revenues, for which he granted receipts in the name of James VIII.; and arms and ammunition he laid hold of, wherever they could be found. Fourteen pieces of cannon he brought up to Perth, from the castle of Dunotter, and he surprised a king’s ship laden with arms, that had for a night anchored in the road of Bruntisland, boarded her and carried off her whole cargo, which brought him considerable eclat, and a numerous accession of followers.

Nothing was now wanting on the part of Marr, but promptitude, and a little military knowledge. The castles of Edinburgh, Dumbarton, and Stirling, were in the hands of the government, and Argyle occupied the last mentioned place with a force which did not yet amount to two thousand men. But this was the whole force that could be opposed to him in Scotland at the time, and with one-half his troops, he might have shut up or forced these strengths, while with the other half, he subdued the whole open country. Instead of this, he lingered at Perth, where the number of his troops soon occasioned a want of provisions; to supply which, he had recourse to the impolitic measure of imposing assessments upon the country, to the amount of twenty shillings on the hundred pounds Scots, of property, upon those that had espoused his cause, but double the sum upon all who yet were faithful to the existing government, to be paid against a certain day, to collectors whom he had appointed, under the pain of military execution. Argyle in the meantime issued a proclamation, denouncing all who should submit to pay any such assessment as guilty of high treason, so that between the two, there was no alternative for plain country people, but either submit to be robbed, or run the risk of being hanged. For more than a month did this war of words or manifestoes continue, neither party undertaking any enterprise of consequence, except that Marr, not daring to attempt the dislodging of Argyle from Stirling, conceived the foolish design of sending part of his troops across the Forth and by strengthening a few malcontents whom he expected they would find in arms in the south, create a diversion which might enable him to elude an army, not a fourth part of the number of his own. For this mad project, he selected upwards of two thousand of his best troops, and committed them to the charge of Mackintosh of Borlum, an old officer of unquestioned bravery, who executed apparently the most difficult part of his task with spirit and despatch. When he arrived on the coast of Fife, he was in sight of his majesty’s fleet in the frith, which was stationed there for the very purpose of preventing all intercourse between the opposite shores, and which was perfectly well acquainted with his intentions; but, by a skilful marching and counter-marching, he in one day completely bewildered his enemy, and embracing the chance of a calm and an ebb tide, crossed over in their sight with the loss only of one boat with forty men. A few of his flotilla were cut off from the rest, but they escaped into the isle of May, and thence back to Fife. Borlum, after nearly surprising the city of Edinburgh, proceeded without any interruption to Kelso, when he was joined on the 22d of October, by the rebels from Northumberland, under Forster and Derwentwater, and from Dumfries-shire, Nithsdale, &c., under the viscount Kenmure, when their united forces, horse and foot, amounted to about two thousand men.

At Kelso they halted till the 27th; when, being informed that general Carpenter had advanced to Wooler, and intended to attack them next day, a council of war was called, in order to determine on a plan of operations. In the council there was much heat, and little unanimity. The gentlemen from England were anxious to return to that country, where they promised themselves (on what grounds does not appear) a vast accession of numbers. To this the Scots, particularly Borlum and the earl of Winton, were peculiarly averse, as they wished to return and join the clans, taking Dumfries and Glasgow in their way back. A third proposal was made to cross the Tweed, and, taking general Carpenter by surprise, cut him off with his army, before he should be able to obtain reinforcements. This was the only soldier-like proposal that had been made, and their neglecting to put it in practice can be accounted for on no rational principle; Carpenter had not more than nine hundred men under his command, the greater part of them raw troops, and the whole of them at the time excessively fatigued. The Highlanders under Borlum could not be much below fourteen hundred men, and there were besides, five troops of Scottish horse, and of English noblemen and gentlemen at least an equal number. Overlooking, or not aware of their superiority, it was determined to decamp, for it does not appear whether they understood themselves to be retreating, or advancing to Jedburgh, where they learned, that they were three days in advance of general Carpenter, and, upon the still continued importunity of the English gentlemen, resolved to march into that country. The reluctance of the Highlanders, however, was not abated, and though a captain Hunter and has troop of horse had been sent on to Tyndale to provide quarters for the whole army, it moved on for Hawick; on the road to which, the Highlanders, having been told by the earl of Winton that if they entered England they would be overpowered by numbers, and either cut to pieces, or taken and sold for slaves, refused to march, and when surrounded by the horse, cocked their muskets, faced about, and told them, that if they were to be made a sacrifice of, they would choose to have it done in their own country. They agreed, however, at last to abide by the army as long as it remained in Scotland, and the march was continued. Next day they marchod to Midholm, whence at midnight they pushed forward four hundred men to Ecclefechan for the purpose of blocking up Dumfries, till the main body could come up to attack it. On this day’s march, five hundred refractory Highlanders departed for the heads of the Forth. Next morning, learning that the town of Dumfries was prepared to give them a warm reception, and that Carpenter was come to Jedburgh in pursuit of them, the detachment was recalled from Ecclefechan, and, the whole marched for Longtown. Having rested a night at Longtown, they proceeded, November the 1st, to Brampton, where Forster opened his commission from the earl of Marr, as commander-in-chief. On the second they marched for Penrith, the posse comitatus of Cumberland, to the number of fourteen thousand, being drawn out to stop their progress. Of the whole number, however, only lord Lonsdale and about twenty domestics waited to see them, the rest having thrown down their arms, and fled as soon as they heard the rebels were approaching, who gathered up the arms that had been thrown away in great quantities, and collected a number of horses. On the 3rd they proceeded to Appleby; and, on the 5th, to Kendal, carrying along with them several persons whom they had apprehended as spies. On the 6th, they arrived at Kirby Lonsdale, the last market town of Westmoreland, and, though they had now traversed two populous counties, they had been joined by only two individuals. Now, however, the papists from Lancashire began to join them in great numbers. On the 7th, they occupied Lancaster, where they found in the custom house a quantity of arms, some claret and brandy, which, to encourage and keep up their spirits, was all bestowed upon the Highlandmen, who, with sixpence each a day and the good cheer they were enjoying, had now become in some degree reconciled to the service. Here they had a large accession to their number, but they were all catholics: and here, if they had been guided by any thing like judgment, they would have, for a time at least, fixed their head quarters. With the view of securing Warrington bridge and Manchester, they set forward for Preston on the 9th, where they arrived on the 11th; and, as they had done at all the towns they passed, proclaimed the pretender, seized all the public money, and as many horses as they could lay their hands on. At this place, however, their progress ended. With fatal temerity they had pushed forward, taking no pains to ascertain the movements of his majesty’s forces, and they had commenced their march on Saturday the 12th, for the bridge of Warrington, when their advance guard under Farquharson of Invercauld, was astonished to meet, at the bridge of Ribble, general Wills at the head of one full regiment of foot, and six regiments of horse. Since they were to be surprised, however, no place could be more favourable for them to be so; Farquharson being fully able to defend the passage of the Ribble, till they had withdrawn their troops from the town into the open field, when they could have fought or retreated according to circumstances; but with that sheer infatuation which marked all their measures, they withdrew their advanced columns, leaving Wills a free passage over the Ribble, and suffered themselves to be cooped up in a town, which afforded few facilities for defence, and where, at all events, they could easily be reduced by famine. Wills, perfectly aware of the advantage he had gained, lost not a moment in following it up; and though the rebels made a brave and desperate resistance, general Carpenter, who was following upon their rear, coming up next morning, Sabbath, the 13th, reduced them to despair, and they made an unconditional surrender to the number of one thousand seven hundred and thirty-eight men.

In the meantime Marr continued to bustle, but to lose his time at Perth, till at last, unable to keep his army together in such a state of inaction, he resolved on attacking Stirling, for which purpose he broke up from Perth on the 10th, was met at Dumblane on the same fatal 13th of November by Argyle, and, through the utter imbecility of his character, though his army was fourfold that of his adversary, and in part successful, was driven back to his former head-quarters, under circumstances as fatal as though he had met a total defeat. Argyle, however, was in no case to follow him, and he began to fortify the city, and to supply the wants of his numerous followers in the best manner he could. The fatal affair at Preston, which was soon known among them, and the loss of Inverness, which nearly at the same time was retaken for the government by the earl of Sutherland, threw a damp over his men, which all his address could not overcome. By the help of Mr Freebairn, his majesty’s printer, who had now taken up his residence in Perth, he issued news of the most cheering description; he collected meal throughout all the adjacent country with the utmost industry; and as the frost was excessive, he levied upon the country people, for the use of his men, large contributions of blankets, and he compelled the gentlemen and farmers around him to supply them with coal, which, as the river was frozen, was done at an immense expense; yet, in spite of all he could do, and in spite of partial reinforcements, his army was daily diminishing, and it was resolved among the chiefs to furl for a time the standard of rebellion, and abandoning Perth, to reserve themselves, in the best manner they could, for a more favourable opportunity, when on the 22d of December, 1715, their spirits were for a few days revived, by the arrival of James himself. Instead, however, of those abundant supplies which he had promised to bring along with him, he escaped from France with difficulty in disguise, and was landed at Peterhead with only six attendants. Here he and his companions slept the first night, disguised as sea officers. The second night he lay at Newburgh, a seat of the earl Marischal’s. Next day he passed through Aberdeen, still incognito, with two baggage horses, and the third night met at Fetteresso with Marr, the earl Marischal, and about thirty gentlemen from Perth. Here James assumed the forms of royalty, gave the gentlemen his hand to kiss, received loyal addresses from the clergy and citizens of Aberdeen, formed a court, appointing all the officers of state and household, created peers, made knights, appointed bishops, &c. A slight indisposition confined him to Fetteresso for some days, but having recovered, he advanced, January the 2nd, 1716, to Brechin, where he remained till the 4th; and proceeding by Kinnaird and Glammis, he made his public entry into Dundee on Friday the 6th, accompanied by about three hundred horsemen. On Saturday he dined at Castle Lyon, and slept in the house of Sir David Threipland; and on Sabbath the 8th, took possession of the royal palace of Scoon. Here he formed a council, and began to exercise the functions of government. He had been already proclaimed at Fetteresso, and had issued another declaration, dated at Cromercy in Lorrain; now all at once he issued six proclamations,—one ordering a thanksgiving for his safe arrival—a second, ordering public prayers to be put up for him in all the churches—a third, giving currency to foreign coins—a fourth, summoning a convention of estates—a fifth, ordering all fencible men to repair to his standard—and a sixth, fixing his coronation for the 23d of the current month. At the same time he obstinately refused to attend any protestant place of worship, and he would allow no protestant to say grace at his table. His own confessor, father Innes, constantly repeated the Pater Noster and Ave Maria for him, and he had an invincible repugnancy to the usual form of the coronation oath, obliging the sovereign to maintain the established religion This avowed bigotry occasioned wide divisions among his few councillors, and greatly cooled the affection of his female friends, many of whom had incited their husbands to take arms on his behalf, under an idea that he had turned protestant. It would also have created some difficulty on the approaching coronation, had not circumstances before the day arrived rendered his funeral a more likely occurrence.

On the 16th, he assembled a grand council of all the insurgent chiefs, where he delivered a most melancholy speech, every sentiment of which seems to have been the offspring of weakness and fear, and every word of it to have been steeped in tears; yet it was put into the hands of Freebairn, and industriously circulated among the rebels, though it could have no effect but to damp their spirits. It was indeed pretty evident, that this grand council had no other purpose, but to cover for a little the determination that had been formed, to abandon the enterprise as speedily as was consistent with the safety of those who had been the prime agents in the whole affair. They well knew that they were in no condition to stand an attack from the royal army, now provided with a powerful artillery and strengthened by numerous reinforcements; but it was proper to conceal this knowledge from the troops, lest they might have been so dispirited, as to have been incapable of taking the necessary steps for securing a retreat, or perhaps provoked, as was like to have been the case at Preston, to take summary vengeance on their leaders, who had by so many misrepresentations and so many blunders, brought them into a situation of so much danger. There was nothing of course to be seen among them but bustling activity, and nothing heard but the dreadful note of preparation. Every where there was planting of guns, throwing up breast works, and digging trenches, and in short, every thing to induce the belief that they intended to make the most desperate resistance to the king’s troops. To confirm this view of the matter still further, an order was issued on the 17th, the day after the council, for burning the whole country between Perth and the king’s troops, and otherwise destroying every thing that could be of any use to an enemy. This order was the last that James issued in Scotland, and it was in a few days executed to the very letter.

Hearing that Argyle and Cadogan were on the march to attack him, the Chevalier once more called a council to deliberate whether they should await his coming or save themselves by a timely retreat? Nothing appears to have been more terrible to the Chevalier than a battle in his present circumstances; but the principal part of the officers, especially the highlanders, who thought they had had far too little fighting, were unanimous for instant warfare and would not be restrained. Marr, seeing no prospect of an agreement, adjourned the council till next morning, and shortly after selected a few of the most influential among them, upon whom he urged the necessity of a retreat, and procured their consent, giving out at the same time that they only waited a more favourable opportunity to engage and cut off Argyle, which they stated they should have at Aberdeen, where they would be strengthened by auxiliaries from abroad. Matters being thus accommodated, James, by a strong feeling of danger awakened from his dream of empire, hastened from his palace of Scoon to Perth, where he supped with provost Hay, and after attempting to sleep for a few hours, early next morning, with his army, abandoned Perth, marching over the Tay upon the ice. He left Perth in company with Marr and his principal adherents, dissolved in tears, and saying, "that instead of bringing him to a crown they had brought him to his grave."

Having abandoned their artillery, which they threw into the Tay, with all their waggons and heavy baggage, the insurgents marched with great celerity, and were soon two days a head of the royal army, taking the road by Dundee, Aberbrothock, and Montrose, for Aberdeen. At Montrose they had a vessel prepared to carry off the Chevalier and the principal part of the chieftains. This intention, however, was carefully concealed from the army; and, at eight o’clock at night, the Chevalier, having ordered his horse to the door of the house in which he lodged, with all his guards mounted in the usual manner, went from his lodgings by a back door to those of the earl of Marr, and thence, in company with the earl and one domestic, by a private footpath to the waterside, where a boat was in waiting, which carried them aboard the Maria Teresa of St Maloes, a ship of about ninety tons burden. The same boat returned, and about two o’clock in the morning carried on board the same ship the earl of Melford, the lord Drummond, generals Bulkley and Sheldon, with others of the first rank in the household or in the army, to the number of seventeen persons in all. The ship immediately set sail for the coast of Norway, and having a fresh gale, made land the next evening; and coasting along the German and Dutch shores, in seven days landed her passengers safely at Waldam, near Gravelines, between Dunkirk and Calais. The rebel army, in the meantime, went on to Aberdeen, general Gordon leading the front, and the earl Marischal, with the horse, bringing up the rear. Arrived at Aberdeen, general Gordon showed them a letter from the Chevalier, in which he acquainted his friends that the disappointments he had met with, especially from abroad, had obliged him to leave the country, that he thanked them for their services, and desired them to advise with general Gordon and consult their own security, either by keeping in a body or separating; and encouraging them to expect to hear from him in a short time. The general acquainted them at the same time that they were to expect no more pay; and though he, as well as the other leaders were in the secret before leaving Perth, yet now he pretended to be in a transport of rage and despair because the pretender and Marr had deserted them. Many of the people, too, threw down their arms, crying out that they were basely betrayed, they were all undone, they were left without king or general. They were, however, conducted west through Strathspey and Strathdon to the hills of Badenoch, where they separated, the foot dispersing into the mountains on this side the Lochy, and the horse going into Lochaber, all of them promising to reassemble as they should have warning from the Chevalier to that effect.

Marr continued to direct the management of the Chevalier’s affairs, and to enjoy his sole confidence for a number of years, during which he seems to have been indefatigable in his mistaken attempts to destroy the peace of his country, though he only destroyed his own and that of his imbecile and unfortunate master. Scarcely was he safe on the continent, and the blood of his less fortunate companions was yet reeking on the sword of justice, than he attempted to induce the king of Sweden, the frantic Charles XII., by the present of five or six thousand bolls of oatmeal from the Scottish Jacobites, to invade Great Britain in behalf of the chevalier. The persons to whom the proposal was made, captain Straiton, the bishop of Edinburgh, lord Balmerino, and Lockhart of Carnwath, seem to have given it a serious entertainment, and to have been sincerely grieved when they found it beyond their power to execute. Failing in this, his next object was to raise among them a sum of money, for the same purpose; and the earl of Eglinton was so enthusiastic in the cause, as to offer three thousand guineas to such a fund. Many others were willing to contribute "round sums," but they wanted the "plan first to be well concerted, and the blow ready to be struck." He then set about corrupting Argyle, but, fearing in him a rival for emolument and power, he shortly after repented of the attempt, and was at some pains to prevent it taking effect. In the Spanish affair, which was planned by cardinal Alberoni, and closed at Glenshiel in the month of June, 1719, he does not seem to have been so particularly concerned, which may have set him on those other methods of advancing his own interest, to which he shortly afterwards resorted. By this time, indeed, his influence with the Chevalier, who was almost compelled by his situation, to manifest a disposition to favouritism, had excited the envy of every Jacobite, for every Jacobite reckoned his own merit so great as to deserve the special and particular attention of his divinely consecrated master; yet every one wondered at the unreasonableness of another for aiming at the same things as himself; hence Lockhart of Carnwath, one of the most zealous of them at that day, speaking of the troubles and crosses the Chevalier met with, describes them as "the natural consequences of having to deal with a set of men whom no rules of honour or ties of society can bind." Lockhart had planned a new scheme of managing the Chevalier’s affairs in Scotland, by a number of persons, whom he called trustees, and of which he himself was named one. This gave offence to not a few of the Chevalier’s friends, and to none more than the earl of Marr, whose ambition from the beginning of his career was to be sole director of the affairs of Scotland. He began also about this time to be supplanted in the affections of his master by James Murray, afterwards created by the Chevalier earl of Dunbar and made tutor to the young prince Charles; in consequence of which he left the Chevalier at Rome, and took up his residence at Paris, where he appears to have been as restless and as mischievously employed as ever; sometimes appearing to be diligent for the one side and sometimes for the other. He obtained money from the earl of Stair, under the pretence of friendship, and liberty from the British government to reside for his health in France, provided he kept himself free of any plots against the government of Britain; likewise, on a renewal of the same promise, an offer of the family estate to be restored to his son, and in the interim, till an act of parliament could be procured to that effect, he himself was to receive a yearly pension of two thousand pounds sterling, over and above one thousand five hundred pounds sterling of jointure paid to his wife and daughter. The Chevalier now began to withdraw his confidence from him, and a general suspicion of his fidelity seems to have been entertained among one party of his Jacobite associates, who charged him with betraying, not only the interests of individuals, but the cause in general, by a system of deep laid and deliberate villany. By Atterbury he was abhorred and charged as the person who discovered his correspondence with the Chevalier to the British government, which procured his banishment. A laboured scheme for the restoration of James, presented by Marr without his authority, to the regent of France, the duke of Orleans, a little before his death, was also by the same personage charged as a deep laid design to render him odious to the English people, and so to cut off all hopes of his ever being restored. He was also said to have embezzled two thousand pounds sterling, which he had collected for general Dillon, for the purpose of purchasing arms at the time of Atterbury’s conspiracy. He was by the same party charged with being the author of that schism in the king’s family, which exposed him to the pity or to the contempt of all Europe, by stirring up the queen against colonel Hay and his lady, a daughter of the earl of Stormont, and sister to James Murray, created about this time earl of Dunbar. This colonel Hay was brother to the earl of Kinnoul, and on Marr’s loss of favour was by James promoted to his place in the cabinet, and created earl of Inverness, which was supposed sufficient to excite his utmost malice. Possessing the ear of Mrs Sheldon, mistress to general Dillon, who was wholly at his devotion, and who had acquired an entire ascendancy over the queen, James’s wife, he so operated upon her feelings, that when she found her authority insufficient to enforce the dismissal of Inverness and his lady, and to retain Mrs Sheldon, whom James would no longer endure, she drove off in one of the king’s coaches, and took refuge in the convent of St Cecilia on the 15th of November, 1725. Inverness in his account of this affair says, "it is a matter the king is very easy about, since he sees plainly that the queen has been drawn into this step, and made subservient to a project of Marr’s which has been laid these several years." Whatever opinion the king might have of the causes which had brought about this strange resolution of the queen, it evidently, and indeed it could not be otherwise, gave him no little trouble. "The queen is still in the convent," he writes to one of his correspondents, "and her advisers continue still under a false pretence of religion, to procure my uneasiness from the pope to such a degree, that I wish myself out of his country, and I won’t fail to do my endeavours to leave it, which I am persuaded will tend to the advantage of my affairs." This, however, is evidently the ebullition of a weak mind, attempting to hide from itself its own weakness, and there can be no doubt, as one of his best friends remarked at the time, that this extraordinary proceeding gave a terrible shock to his affairs, lowered his character in the judgment both of friends and foes, and highly displeased the continental princes, many of whom were nearly related to the queen. At the same time, whether Marr, as was given out by one side of the Jacobite interest, was really the author of all this mischief, is a question that we think admits of being very fairly disputed. That Inverness and his lady had attained to the absolute sway of James’s affections, does not appear to admit of a doubt. How they attained to this envied superiority is not so easily to be accounted for. "His lordship," according to Lockhart of Carnwath, "was a cunning, false, avaricious creature, of very ordinary parts, cultivated by no sort of literature, altogether void of experience in business, and his insolence prevailing often over his little stock of prudence, he did and said many unadvised ridiculous things, that with any other master would soon have stript him of that credit which, without any merit, at the expense of the king’s character and the peace of his family, he maintained, in opposition to the remonstrances of several potentates, and his majesty’s best friends at home and abroad. His lady was a mere coquette, tolerably handsome, but withal prodigiously vain and arrogant"—and he adds, what appears to be the true solution of the mystery, though he affects at the same time to make light of it.—"It was commonly reported and believed, that she was the king’s mistress, and that the queen’s jealousy was the cause of the rupture." That it was so we have the testimony of the queen herself:—"Mr Hay and his lady are the cause," she says, writing to her sister, "that I am retired into a convent. I received your letter in their behalf, and returned you an answer only to do you a pleasure, and to oblige the king, but it all has been to no purpose, for instead of making them my friends, all the civilities I have shown them have only served to render them more insolent. Their unworthy treatment of me has in short reduced me to such an extremity, and I am in such a cruel situation, that I had rather suffer death than live in the king’s palace with persons that have no religion, honour, nor conscience, and who, not content with having been the authors of such a fatal separation betwixt the king and me, are continually teasing him every day to part with all his best friends and most faithful subjects. This at length determined me to retire into a convent, there to spend the rest of my days in lamenting my misfortunes, after having been fretted for six years together by the most mortifying indignities and insults that can be imagined." That Marr, beholding such conduct on the part of these worthless favourites, and the uneasiness of the queen under it, should have laboured for the preventing of such a fatal catastrophe, to have them removed, is rather a bright spot upon a character which, it must be owned, had few redeeming qualities.

With regard to the money he received from Stair, and the pensions in lieu of his estate, we cannot think there will be two opinions. The British ministry were the most consummate fools if they bestowed such a boon upon such a man without something profitable in return; and James was just such another fool, if he ever after put any confidence in him. The money transaction with Stair has never been, and perhaps from the nature of the service, could not be cleared up. The discovery of the plot in 1722, and the consequent banishment of Atterbury, was, we apprehend, the return for his pensions; and it was not unworthy of them, especially as, by bringing together three such spirits as himself, Inverness, and Atterbury, he put it out of the power of the chevalier to bring any one scheme to bear during their lives.

His character in consequence seems to have utterly sunk, and in the latter days of his life he appears to have been little regarded by any party. In 1729 he went for his health to reside at Aix-la-Chapelle, where he died in the month of May, 1732.

His lordship was twice married; first, to lady Margaret Hay, daughter to the earl of Kinnoul, by whom he had two sons; John, who died in infancy, and Thomas, lord Erskine. He married secondly, lady Frances Pierrepont, daughter of Evelyn, duke of Kingston, by whom he had one daughter, lady Frances Erskine, who married her cousin James Erskine, son of lord Grange, through whom the line of the family is kept up, and to whose posterity the honours of the house of Marr have been of late years restored.


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