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Domestic Annals of Scotland
Reign of George I: 1714 - 1727 Part 4

1718, Dec 15
This day was commenced a newspaper in Edinburgh, the first that succeeded in thoroughly planting itself in Scotland, so as to obtain more than an ephemeral existence. It was the adventure of James M’Ewen, bookseller in Edinburgh, and came out under the title of The Edinburgh Evening Courant. The paper appeared in virtue of a formal authority from the magistrates and town council, to whom M’Ewen was to be answerable for what he should print and publish; and, that this rule might be enforced, he was, ‘before publication, to give ane coppie of his print to (the) magistrates’ The Courant was announced as to contain ample accounts of foreign occurrences, and these derived, not through London prints, but directly from foreign journals. It was intended as a decidedly Whig print, in this respect differing from the Caledonian Mercury, which
was not long after started in the Jacobite interest.

The Courant was from the first successful. James M’Ewen, writing from Edinburgh, January 17, 1719, to the Rev. Mr Wodrow, says: ‘As to our newspaper, it thrives so far as to be very well liked by all, excepting the violent Jacobites, who hate it, for no other reason but because it is a true and impartial paper. Several gentlemen who were to have had the London papers sent them, have laid them aside, because this contains the substance not only of them, but of the foreign post also.’

In looking over, as it has been my fate to do, the early volumes of the Courant, one cannot but groan over the long, dry ‘advices’ from nearly all parts of Europe, and the wretched meagreness of the department of home intelligence, whole months often elapsing without so much as an obituary notice, or a ship’s arrival at Leith. The reason of this unfortunate peculiarity was no other than the civic censorship under which the paper, as we see, was from the beginning placed. Even intelligence in the interest of the govern­ment was not in every instance safe. In the course of February 1723, the magistrates seized all the copies of a particular number of the paper, in which there had been an apparently simple para­graph. It regarded Mr Patrick Halden, then under trials before the judges of the Court of Session as presentee of the crown for a seat on the bench—he being a mere creature of the ministry unfit for the position. Fired at the words: ‘We do not hear of any great discoveries yet made to his prejudice,’ the judges inflicted this punishment upon the publisher, M’Ewen, who then announced the suppression of his paper, ‘that our customers in the country may know why they cannot be served with that day’s Courant, as also why we have been so sparing all along of home news.’

It is at the same time evident that the meagreness of the home news was in part caused by mere difficulty of obtaining authentic accounts of such matters. A rumour as to the death of a person of importance at a distance would arrive. Owing to the sluggishness of posts, its verity could not readily be ascertained. inserting it on trust, the journalist too often found, in the course of a few days, that the announcement was unfounded. Such is a fair specimen of the way in which false intelligence occasionally got into circulation; and every such case, of course, operated as a motive to caution in future. The publishers, moreover, could not afford to keep sub—editors to go about and ascertain the verity of rumours. As an illustration of the difficulties hence arising— ths Caledonian Mercury of March 3, 1724, contained the following paragraph: We hear that my Lord Araiston, one of the ordinary Lords of Session, is dead ;‘ which was followed in the next number by  It was by mistake in our last that my Lord Arniston was dead, occasioned by the rendezvous of coaches, &c., hard by his lordship’s lodging, that were to attend the funeral of a son of the Right Honourable the Earl of Galloway ; wherefore his lordship’s pardon and family’s is humbly craved.’

It affords a pleasing idea of the possible continuousness of sublunary things, that the then Whig, but now Conservative Edinburgh Evening Courant, which began its career in 1718, and its then Tory, but since liberal rival, the Caledonian Mercury, which originated about two years later, are still published in Edinburgh.

The enjoyment during thirty years of ‘position’ as an estab­lishment, combined with the progressive ideas of the age, was now working some notable changes in the spirit of the Scottish Church.

There was still, of course, a general maintenance of the old doctrines and habits; all was to appearance as it had been— places of worship attended, Sunday observed, discipline kept up in particular outlying presbyteries, there would even be found a majority of men of the old leaven. When, however, any strenuous Dumfriesshire or Galloway pastor seemed animated by aught of the zeal of a past age, and thereby excited troubles which came under the attention of the General Assembly, he was sure to be snubbed, and, if contumacious, deposed. If a presby­tery of the ancient orthodoxy, labouring under fears of back­slidings and defections, ventured to reassert, in a public manner, doctrine that was beginning to be unfashionable, the General Assembly frowned on its forwardness. At the same time, Mr John Simson, professor of divinity at Glasgow, openly taught doctrines leaning to Arminianism, and even Arianism, and the same venerable court could not, for a number of years, he brought to do more than administer a gentle admonition.

It chanced, one day, that a worthy pastor, Mr Thomas Boston, found in a house which he was visiting a tattered treatise of the bright days of the civil war, written by one Edward Fisher, and entitled The Marrow of Modern Divinity. Turning over its leaves, he found it asserting orthodox Puritan doctrines with a simplicity and pathos all its own, particularly one which had lately been condemned by the General Assembly—namely, that, Christ being all in all, a forsaking of sins was not necessary to reinstate us in covenant with God. Here seemed the proper remedy for the alarming rationalism of the church, and very soon there appeared a new edition of the Marrow, under the care of Mr Thomas Hogg, minister of Carnock. The book immediately got into wide circulation, and produced a very decided impression on the public mind, insomuch that the General Assembly felt called upon to issue a prohibition against its being recommended or read.

Thus arose a once famous conflict generally recognised as the Marrow Controversy. Dissatisfied with the pronouncement the church, twelve ministers, including Boston and Hogg, came forward with a Representation, in which they remonstrated in very free terms with the General Assembly, expressing themselves as grieved in an especial manner to find any disfavour shewn to that freedom from the covenant of works which true believers felt to be the chief branch of the precious liberty which Christ had given them, and in which the eterna1 salvation of souls is wrapped up.’ For sending this paper, the twelve brethren were taken in hand by the Assembly’s commission, condemned, and ordered to stand a rebuke (1723); but, while submitting, for the sake of peace, they took care to utter a protest, which left no room for doubt that they remained unshaken in their opinions. The entire proceedings arc far too voluminous for modern patience; but the importance of the affair is undoubted. The ‘Twelve Marrow Men’ may be said to have formed the nucleus of the dissent winch was a few years after matured under the name of the Secession.

1719, Jan 29
About eight o’clock this morning, at a spot a little west of Aberdeen, ‘there appeared ane army, computed to be the number of 7000 men. This computation was made by a very judicious man, who had long been a soldier in Flanders, and is now a farmer at this place, who
with about thirty other persons were spectators. This army was drawn up in a long line in battle-array, were seen to fall down to the ground, and start up all at once; their drums were seen to be carried on the drummers’ backs. After it remained more than two hours, a person on a white horse rode along the line, and then they all marched towards Aberdeen, where the hill called the Stocket took them out of sight. It was a clear sunshine all that morning.’

October 22d, a second vision of the same kind was seen on the same ground. ‘About two thousand men appeared with blue and white coats, clear arms glancing or shining, white ensigns were seen to slap down, as did the former, at which time a smoke appeared, as if they had fired, but no noise. A person on a white horse also rode along the line, and then they marched towards the bridge of Dee. This vision continued on the ground from three hours in the afternoon, till it was scarce light to see them. It was a clear fine afternoon, and being the same day of the great yearly fair held at Old Aberdeen, was seen by many hundreds of people going home, as well as by above thirty that were at their own houses, about half a mile distant. It‘s observ­able that the people coming from the fair came through them, but saw nothing till ‘they came up to the crowd that was standing gazing, who caused them to look back.’

Nov 2
On the night of the 2d of November, the river Don was dried up from a little below Kemnay down to near Old Aberdeen. It was so dry at Inverury and Kintore, that children of five or six years of age gathered up the fish, trouts, and eels, and many people going to a fair passed over dry-shod. The water slowly returned about the middle of the day. The same phenomenon was said to have happened in the Doveran at Banff two days later.

The Commissioners on the Forfeited Estates were left in 1716 in a position of discomfiture, in consequence of the impediments presented by Scottish law and Scottish national feeling. Acts of the legislature enabled them in subsequent years to overcome some of their difficulties, and accomplish a tolerable portion of their mission. Not indeed without further impediments from the Court of Session, which, when their former decrees of sequestration were rendered void, and could no longer protect the friends of the forfeited persons in possession, gave efficacy to a new device of these friends, in the form of exceptions which declared that the forfeited persons had never been the real owners of the estates! In their report of 1720, they pathetically advert to this new difficulty, and, as an illustration of its absurdity, state a few cases, in which there had been decrees in favour of more pretended owners than one—Seaforth’s estates, for instance, were by one decree found to belong in full and absolute right to Kenneth Mackenzie of Assint, by another to William Martin of Harwood, by another to Hugh Wallace of Inglistown. For Mar’s estates, there were four of these visionary owners, and for Kenmure’s five! The exceptions were generally founded on conveyances and dispositions of the lands which were alleged to have been formerly executed by the attainted persons in favour of children and others. Notwithstanding these obstructions, the commis­sioners were enabled, in October 1719, to sell Panmure’s estates at £60,400 sterling, Winton’s at £50,482, Kilsyth’s at £16,000, and that of Robert Craw of East Reston at £2364.

By reversals of the decrees in the House of Lords, and the help of a new act, the Commissioners were enabled, in October 1720, to sell a further lot of estates—Southesk’s for £51,549, Marischal’s for £45,333, Linlithgow’s for £18,769, Stirling of Keir’s for £16,450, Threipland of Fingask’s for £9606, Paterson of Tiannockburn’s for £9671, besides two others of trifling value. The purchase was in nearly all these cases made by a speculative London company, entitled The Governor and Company of Under­takers for raising the Thames Water in York Buildings (commonly called the ‘York Buildings Company’).’ The exceptions in the cases of Keir and Bannockburn were purchases probably made by friends of the former owners. For any other persons connected with Scotland to have come forward to buy these properties on their own account, inferred such an amount of public indignation, if not violence, as made the act impossible, even if there had been any recreant Scot, Whig or Tory, capable in his heart of such conduct.

We shall have occasion, under subsequent dates, to notice certain difficulties of a different and more romantic kind which beset the Commissioners. But, meanwhile, it may be well to complete the history of their ordinary transactions.

Out of thirty estates left unsold in October 1720, they had succeeded within the ensuing three years in selling nineteen, of which the chief were Lord Burleigh’s at £12,610, Macdonald of Sleat’s at £21,000, and Mackenzie of Applecross’s at £3,550, the rest being of inconsiderable amount, though raising the entire sum to £66,236. The principal estate afterwards sold was that of John Earl of Mar at £30,000.

When the Commissioners closed their accounts in March 1725, it appeared that there was a total of £111,082 sterling paid and to be paid into the Exchequer, from which, however, was to be deducted no less than £303,905 of debts sanctioned by the Commissioners, and for which they had issued or were to issue debentures, and £26,120 allowed in the form of grants from the crown. ‘there thus remained, of money realised for public use and to pay the expenses of the Commission, the sum of £84,043, 17s. 5d., while properties to the yearly value of £2594 remained undisposed of, including an item so small as Feu—duty of some cellars at Leith, part of the Abbacy of Aberbrothick, belonging to the late Earl of Pamuure, 11s 3d.’

Some curiosity will naturally be felt to know the aggregate expenses of the Commission, and the balance of results which these left out of the eighty-four thousand pounds, There is a mixture of the ludicrous and sad in the problem, which may be expressed thus: money from the destruction (for public objects) of about fifty of the good old families of Scotland, £81,043; charges for the expense of the destruction, £82,936 = £1107. Walpole would find it hardly a decent purchase—money for a vote in the House of Commons.

By statute passed in 1718,’ arrangements had been made regarding the sum of £16,575, 14s., which had been left over of the Equivalent money at the Union, after paying sundry claims out of it, and for a further debt of £230,308, 9s. 10d., due by England to Scotland since in equalisation of duties, together with a small sum of interest—the whole amounting to £248,550— also for enabling the king to constitute the bond-holders of this debt into a corporation, which, after St John’s Day, 1719, should receive £10,000 annually as interest, until the debt should be redeemed.

Now, the Bank of Scotland had been going on very quietly for some years, with its ten thousand pounds of paid-up capital, realis­ing, as we can infer from some particulars, about a thousand a year of profit from its business. A prosperity so great could not then exist in Scotland without exciting some degree of envy, and also raising up thoughts of rivalry in a certain ardent class of minds. It began to be alleged that The Bank, as it was commonly called, was stinted in its means and frigid in its dealings; that it lacked enterprise; that it would be the better of an infusion of fresh blood, and so forth. It had many positive enemies, who tried to detract from its merits, and were constantly raising evil reports about it. Most deadly of all, there was now this Equivalent Company, with about a quarter of a million of debentures where­with to engage in further mercantile enterprise, so as to make their ten thousand a year a little better. The boy, with his first shilling burning a hole in his pocket, was but a type of it.

In December 1719, a proposal came from a proprietor of Equivalent stock, to the effect that that stock should be added to the £100,000 stock of the Bank, but with nine-tenths of it returned by the Bank in notes, so that only £25,000 of it should in reality remain active in the new concern. It was proposed that, of the £10,000 of annual interest upon the Equivalent, the proprietors of Batik stock should thenceforward draw two-sevenths, being the proportion of £100,000 to £250,000; and of the £600 a year allowed for management of the Equivalent, the Bank was also to be allowed a proportion. In such a way might the Bank and Equivalent be brought into a union presumed to be beneficial to both parties.

The directors of the Bank received the proposition as an insidious attempt by a number of outsiders to get into the enjoyment of a portion of their time-bought advantages. They pointed out, in their answer, that the Equivalent stock being only in the receipt of 4 per cent. interest, while the profits of the Bank stock might be reckoned at not lower than 10, the proposal was inequitable towards the Bank. Besides, they did not want this additional stock, finding their present working capital quite sufficient. The proposer was thus repelled for the meantime; but he very quickly returned to the attack.

Under the guidance of this person, there was now formed what was called ‘The Edinburgh Society for insuring of Houses against Loss by Fire ‘—an arrangement of social life heretofore unknown in Scotland. But, as often happens, no sooner was this design broached than another set of people projected one of the same kind, with only this slight difference, that, instead of being a company trading for profits, it was a mutual insurance society reserving all profits for the insured. Such was the origin, in 1720, of what afterwards, under the name of ‘the Friendly Society,’ became a noted institution of the Scottish capital, and is still in a certain sense existing amongst us. The Edinburgh Society consequently got no insurance business.

It nevertheless kept together, under the care of a committee of secrecy, who gave out that they contemplated a still better project. For some time, they talked loudly of great, though unripe plans, by which they expected to ‘make Scotland flourish beyond what it ever did before.’ Then there arose a repetition of the old clamours about the Bank—it was too narrow, both in its capital and in its ideas; the directors were too nice about securities; the public required enlarged accommodation. At last, the Society plainly avowed that they were determined either to run down the Bank, or force a coalition with it. It was precisely one of the last century heiress-abductions, adapted to the new circumstances of the country and the advanced ideas of the age.

The opportunity seemed to be afforded by the share which Scotland took in the South-Sea scheme, large sums of specie being sent southward to purchase stock in that notable bubble. In such circumstances, it was assumed that the stock of coin in the Bank must have sunk to rather a low ebb. Having then gradually and unperceivedly gathered up the monstrous sum of £8400 in notes of the Bank, our Edinburgh Society came in upon it one morning demanding immediate payment. To their surprise, the money was at once paid, for in reality the kind of coin sent by speculators to London was different from that usually kept by the Bank, so that there had been hardly any abatement of its usual resources in coin. The Society tried to induce the cashiers of all the public establishments to follow their example, and draw out their money, but without success in any instance but that of the trustees of the Equivalent, who came very ostentatiously, and taking out their money, stored it up in the Castle. The public preserved a morti­fying tranquillity under all these excitements, and the Bank remained unaffected.

The Edinburgh Society soon after sent the Bank a proposal of union, ‘for the prevention of mutual injuries, and the laying of a solid foundation for their being subservient and assisting to one another.’ It mainly consisted in an offer to purchase six hundred shares of the Bank, not as a new stock, but by surrender of shares held by the present proprietors, at £16, 13s. 4d. per share, or £10,000 in all, being apparently a premium of £6, 13s. 4d. on each £10 of the Bank’s paid-in capital. The Bank, however, as might have been expected, declined the proposal.

The passing of the famous Bubble Act soon after rendered it necessary for the Edinburgh Society to dissolve; but the Bank, nevertheless, like a rich heiress, continued to be persecuted by undesired offers of alliance. One, strange to say, came from the London Exchange Assurance Company. By this time (1722), it appears that the Bank had twenty thousand pounds of its capital paid up. It was proposed on the part of the London Assurance, that they should add £20,000, and have a half of the Bank’s profits, minus only an annual sum of £2500 to the old pro­prietors; which the Bank considered as equivalent to a borrowing of a sum of money at a dear rate from foreigners, when, if neces­sary, they could advance it themselves. Suppose, said the directors, that, after the London company had paid in their £20,000, the Bank’s profits were to rise to £7000 a year—and the authors of the proposal certainly contemplated nothing so low—this sum would fall to be divided thus: first, £2500 to the old Bank proprietors; second, the remaining £4500 to be divided between the Bank and the Exchange Assurance Company—that is, £2250 to the latter, being interest at the rate of 11 per cent. upon the money it had advanced—which money would be lying the same as dead in the Bank, there being no need for it. The Bank of Scotland declined the proposal of the London Royal Exchange Assurance Company, which doubtless would not be without its denunciations of Scotch caution on the occasion.

Robert Ker, who seems to have been an inhabitant of Lasswade, was a censor of morals much after the type of the Tinklarian Doctor. He at this time published A Short and True Description of the Great incumbrances and Damages that City and Country is like to sustain by Women’s Girded Tails, if it be not speedily prevented, together with a Dedication to those that wear them. By girded tails he meant skirts framed upon hoops of steel, like those now in vogue. According to Robert Ker, men were ‘put to a difficulty how to walk the streets’ from ‘the hazard of breaking their shin-bones’ against this metal cooperage, not to speak of the certainty of being called ill-bred besides. ‘If a man,’ says he, ‘were upon the greatest express that can be, if ye shall meet them in any strait stair or entry, you cannot pass them by without being stopped, and called impertinat to boot.’ Many are ‘the other confusions and cumbrances, both in churches and in coaches.’ He calls for alterations in staircases, and new lights to be broken out in dark entries, to save men from unchancy collisions with the fairer part of creation. Churches, too, would need to be enlarged, as in the old Catholic times, and seats and desks made wider, to hold these monstrous protuberances.

‘I wonder,’ says Ker, that those who pretend to be faithful ministers do not make the pulpits and tents ring about thir sins, amongst many others. Had we the like of John Knox in our pulpits, he would not spare to tell them their faults to their very faces. But what need I admonish about thir things, when some ministers have their wives and daughters going with these fashions themselves?

The ladies found a defender on this occasion in Allan Ramsay. He says:

‘If Nelly’s hoop be twice as wide
As her two pretty limbs can stride,
What then? will any man of sense
Take umbrage, or the least offence     
Do not the handsome of our city,
The pious, chaste, the kind, the witty,
Who can afford it, great and small,
Regard well-shapen fardingale  ?     
Leave ‘t to them, and mothers wise,
Who watch their conduct, mien, and guise,
To shape their weeds as fits their case,
And place their patches as they please.”

We learn with grief that our pathetic censor of the fair sex lived on bad terms with his own wife, and was imprisoned both in Dalkeith and in Edinburgh for alleged miscarriages towards her. One of his most furious outpourings was against a minister who had baptised a child born to him during his Dalkeith imprisonment, the rite being performed without his order or sanction.

1720, Jan 5
‘All persons (in Edinburgh) desirous to learn the French tongue’ were apprised by an advertisement in the Edinburgh Courant, that ‘there is a Frenchman lately come to this city who will teach at a reasonable price.’ This would imply that there was no native French teacher in Edinburgh previously. In 1858, there were eleven, besides three belonging to our own country.

Public attention was at this time attracted by a report of devilish doings at Calder in Mid-Lothian, and of there being one sufferer of no less distinction than a lord’s son. It was stated that the Hon. Patrick Sandilands, a boy, the third son of Lord Tor­phichen, was for certain bewitched. He fell down in trances, from which no horse-whipping could rouse him. The renal secretion was as black as ink. Sometimes he was thrown unaccountably about the room, as if some unseen agent were buffeting him. Candles went out in his presence. When sitting in a room with his sisters, he would tell them of things that were going on at a distance. He had the appearance occasionally of being greatly tormented. As he lay in bed one night, his tutor, who sat up watching him, became sleepy, and in this state saw a flash of fire at the window. Roused by this, he set himself to be more careful watching, and in a little time he saw another flash at the window. The boy then told him that between these two flashes, he had been to Torryburn (a place twenty miles distant). He was understood to have been thus taken away several times; he could tell them when it was to happen; and it was then necessary to watch him, to prevent his being carried off ‘One day that he was to be waited on, when he was to be taken away, they kept     the door and window close; but a certain person going to the door, he made shift and got there, and was lifted in the air, but was catched by the heels and coat-tails, and brought back.’ Many other singular and dreadful things happened, which unfortunately were left unreported at the time, as being so universally known.

Lord Torphichen became at length convinced that his son was suffering under the diabolic incantations of a witch residing in his village of Calder, and he had the woman apprehended and put in prison. She is described as a brutishly ignorant creature, ‘knowing scarce anything but her witcheraft.’ She readily con­fessed her wicked practices; told that she had once given the devil the body of a dead child of her own to make a roast of; and inculpated two other women and one man, as associates in her guilt. The baron, the minister, and the people generally accepted it as a true case of witchcraft; and great excitement prevailed. The minister of Inveresk, writing to his friend Wodrow (February 19), says: ‘It’s certain my lord’s son has been dreadfully tormented. Mr Brisbane got one of the women to acknowledge ane image of the child, which, on search, was found in another woman’s house; but they did not know what kind of matter it was made of.’ The time, however, was past for any deadly proceedings in such a case in the southern parts of Scotland; and it does not appear that anything worse than a parish fast was launched at the devil on the occasion. This solemnity took place on the 14th of January.

For the crazed white-ironsmith of the West Bow, the case of the Bewitched Boy of Calder had great attractions. He resolved—unfavourable as was the season for travelling— to go and examine the matter for himself. So, on the day of the fast, January 14, he went on foot in ill weather, without food, to Lord Torphichen’s house at Calder, a walk of about twelve miles. ‘I took,’ says he, ‘the sword of the spirit at my breast, and a small wand in my hand, as David did when he went out to fight against Goliah.’ He found the servants eating and drinking, as if there had been no fast proclaimed; they offered him entertainment, which he scrupulously refused. ‘Then I went to my lord and said, I was sent by God to cast the devil out of his son, by faith in Christ. He seemed to be like that lord who had the charge of the gate in Samaria. Then I said to him: “My lord, do you not believe me?” Then he bade me go and speak to many ministers that was near by him; but I said I was not sent to them. Then he went to them himself; and spoke to them what I said; but they would not hear of it; so I went to three witches and a warlock, to examine them, in sundry places. Two of them denied, and two of them confessed. I have no time to relate here all that I said to them, and what they said; but I asked them, “‘When they took on in that service?” The wife said: “Many years;” and the man said: “It was ten years to him.” Then I asked the wife: “What was her reason for taking on with the devil ?“ And she said: “He promised her riches, and she believed him.” Then she called him many a cheat and liar in my hearing. Then I went to the man, because he was a great professor, and could talk of religion with any of the parish, as they that was his neighbours said, and he was at Bothwell Bridge fighting against the king; and because of that, I desired to ask questions at him; but my lord’s officer said: “His lord would not allow me.” I said I would not be hindered neither by my lord nor by the devil, before many there present. Then I asked: “What iniquity he found in God, that he left his service?” He got up and said: “Oh, sir, are ye a minister?” So ye see the devil knows me to be a minister better than the magistrates. He said: “He found no fault in God; but his wife beguiled him;” and he said: “Wo be to the woman his wife !” and blamed her only, as Adam did his wife, and the woman blamed the devil; so ye see it is from the begin­ning. This is a caution to us all never to hearken to our wives except they have Scripture on their side. Then I asked at him: “Did he expect heaven?” “Yes,” said he. Then I asked at him if he could command the devil to come and speak to me? He said: “No.” Then I said again: “Call for him, that I may speak with him.” He said again: “It was not in his power.” Then my lord sent more servants, that hindered me to ask any more questions, otherwise I might have seen the devil, and I would have spoken about his son.’

On this fast-day, a sermon was preached in Calder kirk by the Rev. Mr John Wilkie, minister of Uphall, the alleged sorcerers being all present. Lord Torphichen subsequently caused the discourse to be printed. His boy in time recovered, and going to sea, rose by merit to the command of an East Indiaman, but perished in a storm. It brings us strangely near to this wild-looking affair, that the present tenth Lord Torphichen (1860) is only nephew to the witch-boy of Calder.

Feb 5
The exportation of some corn from Dundee being connected unfavourably in the minds of the populace with a rise of the markets, a tumult took place, with a view to keeping the grain within the country. The mob not only took possession of two vessels loaded with bear lying in the harbour, the property of Mr George Dempster, merchant, but attacked and gutted the house, shops, cellars, and lofts of that gentleman, carrying off everything of value they contained, including twelve silver spoons, a silver salver, and two silver boxes, one of them containing a gold chain and twelve gold rings, some hair ones, and others set with diamonds. Dempster advertised that whoever shall discover to him ‘the havers of his goods,’ should have ‘a sufficient reward and the owner’s kindness, and no questions asked.’

A similar affair took place at Dundee nine years later. The country-people in and about the town then ‘carried their resent­ment so high against the merchants for transporting of victual, that they furiously mobbed them, carried it out of lofts, and cut the sacks of those that were bringing it to the barks.’

Mar 20
Died, Alexander Rose, who had been appointed Bishop of Edinburgh just before the Revolution. He was the last survivor of the unfortunate episcopate of Scotland, and also outlived all the English bishops who forfeited their sees at the Revolution. Though strenuous during all these thirty-one years as a nonjuror—for which in 1716 he was deprived of a pension assigned him by Queen Anne—he is testified to by his presbyter Robert Keith as ‘a sweet-natured man.’ His aspect, latterly, was venerable, and the gentleness of his life secured him the respect of laymen of all parties. Descended of the old House of Kilravock, he had married a daughter of Sir Patrick Threipland of Fingask, a family which maintained fidelity to the House of Stuart with a persistency beyond all parallel, never once swerving in affection from the days of the Commonwealth down to recent times. ‘Mr John Rose, son of the Bishop of Edinburgh,’ is in the list of rebels who pled guilty at Carlisle in December 1716. The good bishop, having come to his sister’s house in the Canongate, to see a brother who was there lying sick, had a sudden fainting-fit, and calmly breathed his last. He was buried in the romantic churchyard of Restalrig, which has ever since been a favourite resting-place of the members of the Scottish Episcopal communion.

Apr 28
There was a jubilation in Edinburgh on what appears to us an extraordinary occasion. The standing dryness between the king and Prince of Wales had come to a temporary end. The latter had gone formally to the palace, and been received by his father ‘with great marks of tenderness’ (the king was sixty, and the prince thirty-seven). At a court held on the occasion, ‘the officers and servants on both sides, from the highest to the lowest, caressed one another with mutual civilities,’ and there were great acclamations from the crowd outside. The agreeable news having been received in the northern metropolis, the magistrates set the bells a-ringing, and held an entertainment for all persons of note then in town, at which loyal toasts were drunk, with feux de joie from the City Guard. Demonstrations of a like nature took place at Glasgow—the music-bells rung—the stairs of the town­house covered with carpets—toast-drinking—and discharges of firearms from the Earl of Stair’s regiment. Nor was there a similar expression of joy wanting even in the Cavalier city of Aberdeen—where, however, such expressions were certainly more desirable.

May 2
One is startled at finding in the Edinburgh Evening Courant of this date the following advertisement: ‘Taken up a stolen negro: whoever owns him, and gives sufficient marks of his being theirs, before the end of two weeks from the date hereof, may have him again upon payment of expenses laid out upon him; otherwise the present possessor must dispose of him at his pleasnre.’

Yet true it is that colonial negro slaves who had accompanied their masters to the British shores, were, till fifty-five years after this period, regarded as chattels. One named Joseph Knight came with his master, John Wedderburn, Esq., to Glasgow in 1771, and remained with him as his bound slave for two years. A love-affair then set the man upon the idea of attempting to recover his liberty, which a recent decision by Lord Mansfield in England seemed to make by no means hopeless. With the help of friends, he carried his claim through a succession of courts, till a decision of the Court of Session in 1775 finally established that, however he might be a slave while in the West Indies, he, being now in Scotland, was a free man.

Horse-racing had for many years been considerably in vogue in Scotland. There were advertised in the course of this year—a race at Cupar in Fife; one at Galarig, near Selkirk, for a piece of plate given by the burgh, of £12 value; a race at Hamilton Moor for £10; a race on Lanark Moor for a plate of £12, given by the burgh; a race on the sands of Leith for a gold cup of about a hundred guineas value, and another, for a plate of £50 value, given by the city of Edinburgh; finally, another race at Leith for a silver punch-bowl and ladle, of £25 value, given by the captains of the Trained Bands of Edinburgh—the bowl bearing an inscription which smacks wonderfully like the produce of the brain of Allan Ramsay:

‘Charge me with Nantz and limpid spring,
Let sour and sweet be mixt
Bend round a health syne to the king,
To Edinburgh captains next,
Wha formed me in sae blithe a shape,
And gave me lasting honours;
Take up my ladle, fill and lap,
And say: “Fair fa’ the donors.”

Oct 17
The genius of Scott has lent an extraordinary interest to a murder perpetrated at this date. Nicol Mushet appears to have been a young man of some fortune, being described as ‘of Boghall,’ and he had studied for the profession of a surgeon; but for some time he had led an irregular and dissipated life in Edin­burgh, where he had for one of his chief friends a noted profligate named Campbell of Burnbank, ordnance store-keeper in the Castle. The unhappy young man was drawn into a marriage with a woman named Hall, for whom he soon discovered that he had neither affec­tion nor respect; and he then became so eager to be free from the connection, as to listen to a project by Burnbank for obtaining a divorce by dishonourable means. An obligation passed between the parties in November 1719, whereby a claim of Burnbank for an old debt of nine hundred merks (about £50) was to be dis­charged by Mushet, as soon as Burnbank should be able to furnish evidence calculated to criminate the woman. Burnbank then deliberately hired a wretch like himself, one Macgregor, a teacher of languages, to enter into a plot for placing Mrs Mushet in criminative circumstances; and some progress was made in this plan, which, however, ultimately misgave. It was then suggested by Burnbank that they should go a step further, and remove the woman by poison. One James Mushet and his wife—a couple in poor circumstances—readily undertook to administer
it. Several doses were actually given, but the stomach of the victim always rejected them. Then the project for debauching her was revived, and Mushet undertook to effect it; but it was not carried out. Dosing with poison was resumed, without effect; other plans of murder were considered. James Musket undertook to knock his sister-in-law on the bead for twenty guineas, and got one or two in hand by anticipation, part of which he employed in burying a child of his own. These diabolically wicked projects occupied Mushet, his brother, his brother’s wife, and Burnbank, in the Christian city of Edinburgh, during a course of many months, without any one, to appearance, ever feeling the slightest com­punction towards the poor woman, though it is admitted she loved her husband, and no real fault on her side has ever been insinuated.

At length, the infatuated Nicol himself borrowed a knife one day, hardly knowing what he wanted it for, and, taking his wife with him that night, as on a walk to Duddingston, he embraced the opportunity of killing her at a solitary place in the King’s Park. He went immediately after to his brother’s, to tell him what he had done, but in a state of mind which made all after­wards seem a blank to him. Next morning, the poor victim was found lying on the ground, with her throat cut to the bone, and many other wounds, which she had probably received in struggling with her brutal murderer.

Mushet was seized and examined, when he readily related the whole circumstances of the murder and those which had led to it. He was adjudged to be hanged in the Grassmarket on the ensuing 6th of January. His associate Burnbank was declared infamous, and sentenced to banishment. The common people, thrilled with horror by the details of the murder, marked their feelings in the old national mode by raising a cairn on the spot where it took place; and Mushet’s Cairn has ever since been a recognised locality.

There was published this year in Edinburgh a small treatise at the price of a shilling, under the title of Rules of Good Deportment and Good Breeding. The author was Adam Petrie, who is under­stood as having commenced life as domestic tutor in the family of Sinclair of Stevenston, and to have ended it in the situation of a parish schoolmaster in East Lothian. He dedicated his treatise to the magistrates of Edinburgh, acknowledging them to be ‘so thoroughly acquainted with all the steps of civility and good breeding, that it is impossible for the least misrepresentation of them to escape your notice.’

Adam sets out with the thesis, that ‘a courteous way gilds a denial, sweetens the sharpness of truth . . . . sets off the defects of reason, varnishes slights, paints deformities . . . . in a word, disguises everything that is unsavoury.’ Everything, however, required to have some reference to religion in that age, and Adam takes care to remind us that civility has a divine basis, in the injunctions, ‘Be courteous to all men,’ and ‘Give honour to whom honour is due.’

As to ordinary demeanour, Mr Petrie was of opinion that ‘a gentleman ought not to run or walk too fast in the streets, lest he be suspected to be going a message.’ ‘When you walk with a superior, give him the right hand; but if it be near a wall, let him be next to it.’ The latter rule, he tells us, was not yet followed in Scotland, though established in England and Ireland. ‘When you give or receive anything from a superior, be sure to pull off your glove, and make a show of kissing your hand, with a low bow after you have done.’ In this and some other instances, it strikes us that a too ceremonious manner is counselled; but such was the tendency of the time. There was, however, no want of rude persons. ‘I have,’ says Adam, ‘seen some noblemen treat gentlemen that have not been their dependents, and men of ancienter families than they could pretend to, like their dependents, and carry to the ambassadors of Jesus Christ as if they had been their footmen.’

Mr Petrie deemed it proper not to come amongst women abruptly, ‘without giving them time to appear to advantage: they do not love to be surprised.’ He also thought it was well ‘to carry somewhat reserved from the fair sex.’ One should not enter the house or chamber of a great person with a great-coat and boots, or without gloves—though ‘it is usual in many courts that they deliver up their gloves with their sword before they enter the court, because some have carried in poison on their gloves, and have conveyed the same to the sovereign that way.’ Women, on their part, are equally advised against approaching superiors of their own sex with their gown tucked up. ‘Nor,’ says he, ‘is it civil to wear a mask anywhere in company of superiors, unless they be travelling together on a journey.’ In that case, ‘when a superior makes his honours to her, she is to pull off her mask, and return him his salute, if it be not tied on.’

There is a good deal about the management of the handkerchief, with one general recommendation to ‘beware of offering it to any, except they desire it.’ We also are presented with a rule which one could wish to see more universally observed than it is, against making any kind of gesticulations or noises in company.

There were customs of salutation then, which it is now difficult to imagine as having ever been practised. ‘In France,’ says Adam, ‘they salute ladies on the cheek; but in Britain and Ireland they salute them on the lips.’ Our Scottish Chesterfield seems to have felt that the custom should be abated somewhat; or perhaps it was going out. ‘If,’ says he, ‘a lady of quality advance to you, and tender her cheek, you are only to pretend to salute her by putting your head to her hoods: when she advances, give her a low bow, and when you retreat, give her another.’ He adds: ‘It is undecent to salute ladies but in civility.’

Formula of address and for the superscription of letters are fully explained; but Adam could not allow ‘the Right Reverend Father in God the Lord Bishop of London’ to pass as an example of Episcopal style, without remarking that many have not ‘clearness’ to use such titles. Adam is everywhere inclined to an infusion of piety. He denounces ‘an irreligions tippling’ of coffee, tea, and chocolate, which he observed to be continually going on in coffee-houses, ‘because not one in a hundred asks a blessing to it.’ He is very much disposed, too, to launch out into commonplace morals. Rather unexpectedly in a lover of the politenesses, he sets his face wholly against cards and dice, stage-plays, and promiscuous dancing, adducing a great number of learned references in support of his views.

The editor of a very scarce reprint of this curious volume, re­marks that, from the manifest sincerity of the author’s delineations of good breeding, and the graphic character of many of his scenes, it may fairly be presumed that they were painted from nature. We are told by the same writer, that ‘Helen Countess of Haddington, who died in 1768, at the advanced age of ninety-one, and to whom Petrie was well known, used to describe his own deportment and breeding as in strict accordance with his rules.’

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