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The History of Sanquhar
Chapter VI. —The Covenanters

THE chapter of history which, perhaps more than any other, has made the name of Sanquhar famous, and, in the eyes of many, has been regarded as her chief distinction and glory, is the stand made by the pious peasantry of the south-western district of Scotland against the tyrannical dictation in matters ecclesiastical of the later members of the Stuart dynasty. Let us explain that the name—the Covenanters—borne by these protesters against the tyranny of the Stuarts, was derived from the two Covenants—the National Covenant and the Solemn League and Covenant, the first signed in 1638, and the other in 1643. The National Covenant was drawn up by the Presbyterian clergy, and was subscribed by a large number of persons of ail classes, and bound all who signed to spare no effort in the defence of the Presbyterian religion of Scotland against the attempts of Charles I. to enforce Episcopacy, or Prelacy, as the Covenanters preferred to call the system, and the liturgy on Scotland. Those who subscribed the National Covenant promised “to continue in obedience of the doctrine and discipline of the Presbyterian Kirk of Scotland.” They also gave assent to various Acts of Parliament of the reign of James VI., which, besides repudiating the jurisdiction of the Pope and all the ritual of the Romish Church, ordain “all sayers, wilful hearers, and concealers of the mass, the maintainers and resettors of the priests, Jesuits, trafficking Papists, to be punished without any exception or restriction.”

The Solemn League and Covenant was different in character from, and wider in its scope than, the National Covenant. The latter was a compact, in which the King and the Scottish people alone were concerned (for Charles gave his adhesion to it), and was purely a religious or ecclesiastical movement, whilst the Solemn League and Covenant embraced the people of both the northern and southern kingdoms, and, as it was a compact between the Scottish people and tho English Parliament, it may be said to have had more of a political character than the other. Though Charles had adhered to the National Covenant, he had now broken with the English Parliament, set up his standard at Nottingham (August, 1642), and it was thought he might finally be in a position to reinstate Episcopacy in Scotland. The Scottish people never were deluded with the belief that Charles’s subscription of the National Covenant was a conscientious or willing act—was, in truth, anything more than a piece of political strategy, whereby, amid his troubles with his English subjects, he sought to procure peace in the northern part of his kingdom, but believed that he would seize the first favourable opportunity to repudiate the agreement, carried through though it had been in a deliberate and solemn maimer, and pursue the traditional policy of his house. Tlie distrust they had of their monarch was confirmed and deepened by the perfidy of his dealings with the English people. Therefore it was, that they so willingly received overtures from the commissioners appointed by the English Parliament, to endeavour to come to an understanding for the common defence of their religious liberties against the designs of a monarch who belonged to a dynasty, several of whose members had shewn themselves of a tyrannical and despotic nature, and one of which proved a narrow-minded and bigoted puppet of Rome, having no sympathy, but a supreme contempt, for the liberties in matters religious, which the Scottish people claimed as a natural right- Hopes were held out by these commissioners that, in the event of success against the King, the Presbyterian might be adopted as the form of Church government on both sides of the border, and in Ireland as well. The prospect thus held out of the triumph, not only in their own country of Scotland, but throughout the whole realm, of the ancient ecclesiastical forms, which alone they thought scriptural, and to which they were therefore devotedly attached, roused the Scottish people to a high pitch of enthusiasm, and so we find that the Solemn League and Covenant was largely signed by all ranks and classes in Scotland, and was ratified by the General Assembly at Edinburgh in August, 1643, and by the Scottish Parliament in July, 1644. One of the provisions of this agreement was that the Scotch should send an army into England in aid of the Parliamentary forces against the King, and this was done in January, 1644. While, therefore, the National Covenant was purely an ecclesiastical compact, and referred to the preservation of the Presbyterian polity in Scotland alone, the Solemn League and Covenant had a political as well as a religious aspect. It was much more comprehensive in its terms than the other. Those who subscribed it make a profession of “attachment to the Church of Scotland, and bind themselves to endeavour a uniformity in religion and church discipline in the three kingdoms and, further—“That we shall, in like manner, without respect of persons, endeavour the extirpation of popery, prelacy (that is, church government by archbishops, bishops, their chancellors, and commissaries, deans, deans and chapters, archdeacons, and all other ecclesiastical officers depending on that hierarchy), superstition, heresy, schism, profaneness, and whatsoever shall be found to be contrary to sound doctrine and the power of godliness, lest we partake in other men’s sins, and thereby be in. danger to receive of their plagues ; and that the Lord may be one, and his name one, in the three kingdoms.”

Such were the two famous Covenants, enforced at the time by civil penalties, from which their adherents in Scotland derived the name of the Covenanters, and in defence of which they contended and suffered during the period between the Restoration and the Revolution, a period during which the arrogant claims of the Romish Church were put forward in their most offensive form, and were sought to be enforced in the most brutal and arbitrary manner. Acting through a monarch, weak and bigoted, between whom and his people the relations were those of mutual distrust and suspicion, the Papists put forth the most strenuous efforts to trample down the religious freedom of a liberty-loving people. With a blind infatuation, this policy of insolent repression was pursued till the cup of iniquity was full. Meanwhile, William of Orange was keeping a watchful eye on the course of events, and choosing well his time he, when his foot touched English soil, was hailed with universal acclamation as a heaven-sent deliverer. In an incredibly short period the revolution was complete, the schemes of a cunning and insolent priesthood were for ever shattered, and the last of a race of tyrants was chased from the throne.

In this long struggle between the Crown, backed up and instigated by an alien power and influence, and a high-spirited people, the name of Sanquhar holds a prominent place. It stands, as has been said, in the centre of the district where the stoutest resistance was offered, and where the persecution was carried out in its most relentless form. The principles of the Covenanters were warmly embraced by the dwellers in this pastoral region, largely composed of the shepherd and cottar class, who have been for generations the very cream of the Scottish peasantry. Men they were who lived “quiet and peaceable lives, in all godliness and honesty,” but, on that very account, all the more devoted and determined in the maintenance of what they conceived to be not merely their ordinary rights as citizens of a free country, but the truth of God as contained in the Scriptures, and in the standards of their beloved Kirk. They were inspired, therefore, in their endurance of cruelty and persecution not only by that patriotic ardour which for- generations had shewn itself so strong an element in the Scottish character, but by a deep sense of religious obligation. On their faithful adherence to the principles of the Covenant depended, in their view, not simply their well-being in this life, but their very hopes of Heaven. Therefore it was that they cheerfully suffered the spoiling of their goods, and surrendered all their worldly prospects and the comforts and joys of domestic life. They answered with a readiness and force which, in many cases, put to silence their accusers, and they bore themselves in the presence of death with a Christian calmness and fortitude which baffled and enraged their persecutors, and gained favour with the people.

For generations their names have been revered and their memories cherished among the Scottish people as those of men of whom the world was not worthy, to whose faithfulness we in large measure owe the religious, and, in a certain degree, the political liberty we now so fully enjoy. Of late years, however, a disposition has manifested itself on the-part of certain writers to disparage the Covenanters as a set of religious fanatics, bigoted quite as much as the papists whom they so cordially hated, and to represent their attitude to the ruling powers as, from the political point of view, treason, which the authorities were quite justified in suppressing and punishing. No doubt there are certain acts and expressions of theirs which it is impossible to palliate or defend, and, to our mind, an error is committed when it is sought to justify their every word and deed. To do so raises the question of the relations between religion and politics— the use of the sword in defence of religious opinion and religious privilege. Simpson, the historian of the Covenanters, whose admiration of them was unbounded, in reference to the two famous Declarations at Sanquhar, takes no exception to their terms, but claims that they were the focus into which were gathered those scattered political doctrines which were formerly avowed in the Covenants, bijt which had been obscured by a long reign of despotism, and from which again they radiated in every direction, enlightening men’s minds, and producing a fuller conviction of their justness and expediency, till at length the nation, as a whole, proceeded to act upon them, and annihilated the wretched usurpation of a tyrant..

Within the walls of this little burgh was heard the first blast of that trumpet which eventually roused the attention of the realm, and summoned its energies to the overthrow of a despotism under which it had groaned for nearly thirty years. The earliest tramplings of the feet of the great host which ultimately effected the Revolution tuere heard in the streets of Sanquhar.” He further quotes from a writer that “the Standard of the Covenanters on the mountains of Scotland indicated to the vigilant eye of William that the nation was ripening for a change. They expressed what others thought, uttering the indignations and the groans of a spirited and oppressed people. They investigated and taught, under the guidance of feelings, the reciprocal duties of kings and subjects, the duty of self-defence and of resisting tyrants, the generous principle of assisting the oppressed, in their language helping the Lord against the mighty. While Lord Russell and Sydney, and other enlightened patriots of England, were plotting against Charles from a conviction that his right was forfeited, the Covenanters of Scotland, under the same conviction, had courage to declare war against him. Both the plotters and the warriors fell, but their blood watered the plant of renown, and succeeding ages have eaten the pleasant fruit.”

It is such blind and indiscriminating laudation of the Covenanters and all their works that has provoked the hostile criticism of several subsequent writers. Whether, however, it be admitted or whether it be denied that the Covenanters were justified in their utterances, and in the attitude which they, as a party, assumed towards the civil authority, there is a general agreement as to their private worth as individuals and the godly lives, according to their light, which they led; and the record of the manly struggle in which they engaged forms an interesting chapter in the history of civil and religious freedom.

The town of Sanquhar was situated in the very centre of the theatre of persecution during this dark and troubled time. In the eyes of the persecuted remnant it was a place of importance, and Chambers has happily named it the “Canterbury of the Covenanters.” Fugitives from the east or west naturally turned to it in their flight, for the passage of the Nith was always open by the bridge opposite the town, and was the only reliable means of escape from their pursuers. It was the only town of any size within a radius of many miles, and, being a royal burgh, it was a place of some political standing. Hence, as Chambers says, “whenever any remarkable political movement was going on in the country, these peculiar people were pretty sure to come to the cross of Sanquhar and utter a testimony on the subject.” It was at Sanquhar cross that Richard Cameron’s Declaration was published, which was commonly called “The Sanquhar Declaration,” and was a most daring and outspoken expression of the Covenanters’ view of the political situation and their attitude thereto. Not content with a declaration of the right of liberty of conscience in the matter of religion, the authors of it, as will be seen by a perusal of the document, foreswear their civil allegiance to the reigning monarch, and protest against the succession to the throne of the Duke of York. And, further, they do not hesitate to declare their readiness to appeal to the use of arms, if need be, in defence of their position. The inevitable result, of course, was that, coming immediately after the affair at Bothwell Bridge, the attention of the authorities was now more especially attracted to this part of the country, and regarding the manifesto, as it was natural for them to do, as a document of a highly treasonable character, they renewed the work of putting down the “hill-folk” with redoubled zeal and fury. “Do you own the Sanquhar Declaration?” was a test question, an affirmative answer to which settled the fate of the individual, whether he was caught by the military or arraigned before the council. The following is a copy of this famous document:—

The Declaration and Testimony of the true Presbyterian, Anti-Prelalic, Anti-Erastian, persecuted party in Scotland. Published at Sanquhar, June 22, 1680.

“It is not amongst the smallest of the Lord’s mercies to this poor land that there have been always some who have given their testimony against every cause of defection that many are guilty of, which is a token for good, that He doth not as yet intend to cast us off altogether, but that He will leave a remnant in whom He will be glorious, if they, through His grace, keep themselves clean still, and walk in His way and method, as it has been walked in, and owned by Him in our predecessors of truly worthy memory ; in their carrying on of our noble work of reformation, in the several steps thereof, from popery, prelacy, and likewise Erastian supremacy, so much usurped by him who, it is true, so far as we know, is descended from the race of our kings ; yet he hath so far debased from what he ought to have been, by his perjury and usurpation in Church matters, and tyranny in matters civil, as is known by the whole land, that we have just reason to account it one of the Lord's great controversies against us that we have not disowned him and the men of his practises, whether inferior magistrates or any other, as enemies to our Lord and His crown, and the true Protestant Presbyterian interest in this land, and our Lord’s espoused bride and Church. Therefore, though we be for government and governors, such as the Word of God and our Covenant allow; yet we, for ourselves, and all that will adhere to us as the representatives of the true Presbyterian Kirk and covenanted nation of Scotland, considering the great hazard of lying under such a sin any longer, do by these presents, disown Charles Stuart, that has been reigning, or rather tyrannising, as we may say, on the throne of Britain these years bygone, as having any right, title to, or interest in, the said crown of Scotland for government, as forfeited, several years since, by his perjury and breach of covenant both to God and His Kirk, and usurpation of his crown and royal prerogatives therein, and many other breaches in matters ecclesiastical, and by his tyranny and breach of the very reges regnandi in matters civil. For which reason we declare that several years since he should have been denuded of being king, ruler, or magistrate, or of having any power to act, or to be obeyed as such. As also we, being under the standard of the Lord Jesus Christ, Captain of Salvation, do declare a war with such a tyrant and usurper, and all the men of his practices, as enemies to our Lord Jesus Christ, and His cause and covenants, and against all such as have strengthened him, sided with, or anywise acknowledged any other in like usurpation and tyranny ; far more, against such as would betray or deliver up our free, reformed mother Kirk unto the bondage of anti-Christ, the Pope of Rome. And by this we homologate that testimony given at Rutherglen, the 29th of May, 1679, and all the faithful testimonies of those who have gone before, as also of those who have suffered of late ; and we do disclaim that Declaration published at Hamiltou, Juue 1679, chiefly because it takes in the King's interest, which we are, several years since, loosed from, because of the aforesaid reasons, and others which may, after this, if the Lord will, be published. As also we disown, and by this resent, the reception of the Duke of York, that professed Papist, as repugnant to our principles and vows to the Most High God, and as that which is the great, though not aloue, just reproach of our kirk and nation. We also by this protest against his succeeding to the crown, and whatever has been done, or any are essaying to do, in this land given to the Lord, in prejudice to our work of reformation. And, to conclude, we hope, after this, none will blame us for, or offend at, our rewarding those that are against us as they have done to us, as the Lord gives opportunity. This is not to exclude auy that have declined, if they be williug to give satisfaction according to the degree of their offence.”

On the death of Charles II., and the accession to the throne of his brother, the Duke of York, the Covenanters knew what they had to expect. James was a person who possessed all the vices of the Stuarts in even a worse degree than his immediate predecessor ; he was a narrow-minded and bigoted papist, and his declared intention was to thrust his own religion upon the nation. His is, by no means, the only instance recorded in history of a prince who, in his public acts, affected a great zeal in the interests of religion, whilst paying little regard in his private life to its holy precepts. Possessed of the persecuting spirit of his race, and exasperated doubtless by the reference to his name and character in the Declaration of 1680, he would be goaded into fury by the publication of a fresh Declaration by the same party on his accession to the throne. This was done by Renwick, at the instance of the united societies, who, Shiels says, “could not let go this opportunity of witnessing against the usurpation by a papist of the government of the nation, and his design of overthrowing the covenanted work of reformatiou and introducing popery.”

This second Declaration was published with greater pomp and circumstance than the first. Ren wick, as he marched up the street of the old town, was accompanied by about two hundred men. Simpson says that “they were armed with weapons of defence, and that their sudden appearance without warning in the heart of the town caused considerable alarm in the townsfolk, at the unceremonious intrusion of so large an armed force. Their purpose, however, was soon apparent. They were not come to pillage the inhabitants, nor to spill one drop of blood, but to testify publicly their adherence to the covenanted cause of the Reformation. Having read their Declaration aloud in the audience of the people, and then attached it to the cross as their avowed testimony against the evils of which they complained, they, in a peaceful and orderly manner, left the place with all convenient speed, lest the enemy, to whom information of their proceedings would instantly be transmitted, should pursue them.” This scene occurred on the 28th of May, 1685. The following is a copy of this Declaration :—

“A few wicked and unprincipled men having proclaimed James, Duke of York—though a professed Papist and excommunicated person—to be King of Scotland, etc., we, the contending and suffering remnant of the pure Presbyterians of the Church of Scotland, do hereby deliberately, jointly, and unanimously protest against the foresaid proclamation, in regard that it is choosing a murderer to be a governor, who hath shed the blood of the saints ; the height of confederacy with an idolater, which is forbidden in the law of God ; contrary to the Declaration of the Assembly of 1649, and to the many wholesome and laudable Acts of Parliament; and inconsistent with the safety, faith, conscience, and Christian liberty of a Christian people to choose a subject of anti-Christ to be their supreme magistrate. And further, seeing bloody Papists, the subjects of anti-Christ, arc become so hopeful, bold, and confident under the perfidy of the said James, Duke of York, and hoping itself like to be intruded again upon those-covenanted lands, and an open door being made thereto by its accursed and abjured harbinger, prelacy, which these three kingdoms are equally sworn against, we do in like manner protest against all kind of popery, in general and particular heads, etc.

“Finally, we being misrepresented to many as persons of murdering and assassinating principles, and which principles and practices we do hereby declare, before God, angels, and men, that we abhor, renounce, and detest; as also all manner of robbing of any, whether open enemies or others, which we are most falsely aspersed with, either in their gold, their silver, or their gear, or any household stuff. Their money perish with themselves; the Lord knows that our eyes are not after these things.

“And, in like manner, we do hereby disclaim all unwarrantable practices committed by any few persons reputed to be of us, whereby the Lord hath been offended, His cause wronged, and we all made to endure the scourge of tongues, for which things we have desired to make conscience of mourning before the Lord both in public and private. ”

In addition to these two important declarations four others of minor importance were published at Sanquhar after the Revolution—the first on 10th August, 1692; the second on November 6, 1695; the third on May 21, 1703; and the fourth in 1707.

The beautiful and well-known poem, “The Cameronian’s Dream,” which describes the affair of Airsmoss, in which Cameron, the Covenanting preacher and leader, fell, was written by James Hyslop, whose collected works, together with an interesting biographical sketch, were published in 1887. Hyslop was born at Damhead, near the mouth of the romantic Glen Aylmer, on the farm of Kirkland, in the neighbouring parish of Kirkconnel, on 23rd July, 3798. Young Hyslop, when at school at Kirkconnel, gave proof of superior intellectual powers. By and bye he went to reside with his paternal grandfather at Wee Carco, on the banks of Crawick, by whom he was sent to Sanquhar School during the winter season. Hyslop chose the calling of a shepherd, and situated as he was in the heart of the Covenanting country, and associating every day of his life with the direct descendants of some of the more famous families, whose members had given an unflinching adherence to the Covenanting cause, his mind was imbued with a warm sympathy for the persecuted remnant, and his poetic imagination was fired with the recital of the more stirring incidents of the struggle. That at Airsmoss, a situation of wild solitude in the not distant neighbourhood, had particularly impressed him, and supplied the theme of this poem of exquisite beauty, iu which the scene is described in language of singular felicity, while the story of the hattle is told with dramatic power, the whole being invested with a fine touch of imagination, and breathing the spirit of reverence with which the Covenanters were, and still are, regarded by the peasantry of the district. Hyslop was employed as a shepherd in “Wellwood’s dark valley,” and subsequently was engaged as a teacher in Greenock. His income from the latter source was very scanty, and his anxieties were increased by the enfeebled state of his health. His heart yearned for his native Nithsdale, to which he returned, and where he found a warm welcome. He afterwards sought to mend his fortunes abroad, and sailed for South America in July, 1821. He returned to his native country three years after, where he frequently resided with Dr Cringan at Ryehill. He subsequently obtained the appointment of tutor for His Majesty’s ship “Tweed,” in which he sailed for the Cape of Good Hope in 1827. Hyslop landed in the company of several of the ship’s officers on one of the Cape Verd Islands, where, after being drenched in a tropical rain, they lay all night in the open air. The result in Hyslop’s case was that he caught fever, and died on the 4th of November. His body was committed to the deep with naval honours. His death caused deep regret throughout a wide circle of friends.


In a dream of the night I was wafted away
To the moorlands of mist where the martyrs lay,
Where Cameron’s sword and his bible are seen
Engraved on the stone where the heather grows green.
'Twas a dream of those ages of darkness and blood,
When the minister’s home was the mountain and wood;
When in Wellwood’s dark valley the Standard of Zion,
All bloody and torn, ’mong the heather was lying.

’Twas morning, and summer’s young sun from the east
Lay in loving repose on the green mountain’s breast;
On Wardlaw and Cairntable the clear shining dew
Glistened sheen ’mong the heath-bells and mountain flowers blue.
And far up in heaven, near the white sunny cloud,
The song of the lark was melodious and loud,
And in Glenmuir’s wild solitude, lengthened and deep,
Were the whistling of plovers and bleating of sheep.

And Wellwood’s sweet valley breathed music and gladness,
The fresh meadow blooms hung in beauty and redness;
Its daughters were happy to hail the returning,
And drink the delights of July’s sweet morning.
But, ah! there were hearts chcrished far other feelings,
Illumed by the light of prophetic revealings,
Who drank frotn the scenery of beauty but sorrow,
For they knew that their blood would bedew it to-morrow.

’Twas the few faithful ones, who with Cameron were lying
Concealed ’mong the mist where the lieath-fowl were crying,
For the horsemen of Earlsliall around them were hovering,
And their bridle-reins rang through the thin misty covering.
Their faces were pale, and their swords were uusheathed,
But the vengeance that darkened their brow was unbreatlied;
With eyes turned to heaven, in calm resignation,
They sang their last song to the God of salvation.

The hills, with the deep, mournful music, were ringing,
The curlew and plover in concert were singing;
But the melody died ’mid derision and laughter,
As the host of ungodly rushed oil to the slaughter.
Tho’ in mist, and in darkness, and in fire they were shrouded,
Yet the souls of the righteous were calm and unclouded;
Their dark eyes flashed lightning, as, firm and unbending,
They stood like the rock that the thunder was rending.

The muskets were flashing, the blue swords were gleaming,
The helmets were cleft, and the red blood was streaming,
The heavens grew black, and the thunder was rolling,
When in Wellwood’s dark moorlands the mighty were falling.
When the righteous had fallen, and combat was ended,
A chariot of fire through the dark cloud descended;
Its drivers were angels on horses of whiteness,
And its burning wheels turned on axles of brightness.

A seraph unfolded its doors bright and shining,
All dazzling like gold of the seventh refining,
And the souls that came forth out of great tribulation,
Have mounted the chariots and steeds of salvation.
On the arch of the rainbow the chariot is gliding,
Through the path of the thunder the horsemen are riding—
Glide swiftly, bright spirits, the prize is before ye,
A crown never failing, a kingdom of glory.

It is not proposed to relate at any length the traditional stories of the sufferings and deliverances of the Covenanters, a work which has been fully accomplished by Dr Simpson, of Sanquhar, whose “Traditions of the Covenanters” is regarded as the greatest authority on the subject. At the same time, there may be culled from his writings a few of the more authentic of those tales, particularly such as refer to persons and families identified with the district, and bear the greatest air of probability.

“One of the most prominent of the Covenanters was Alexander Williamson, who lived at Cruffell, up the valley of the Euchan. On a certain Sabbath, Williamson carried his infant over the rugged heights of the Scar, to be baptized at a conventicle held on the water of Deuch, in the wilds of Carsphairn. Duriug his absence, his wife, Marion Haining, who remained at home, observed the troopers wending their way slowly along the banks of Euchan, in the direction of her dwelling. The cradle was standing empty on the floor, in which the infant had been sleeping. It occurred to Marion that questions might probably be asked respecting the infant’s absence, which might lead to a discovery, and she made up a bundle of clothes somewhat in the form of a baby, and placed it in the cradle. The device was successful, for the soldiers when they arrived did not happen to discover the circumstance, and hence no ensnaring questions were put to her. They remained a while about the house, and behaved as it best suited them ; and doubtless, according to their custom, regaled themselves with what provisions they could find, and left the place at their own convenience; and thus this pious household was on this occasion spared from further outrage.

“On the south of this the eye rests on the moorlands that lie beyond the braes of Elliock. In this waste there lived in those disastrous days a venerable matron, whose house was an occasional resort to the wanderers who traversed the desert. A soldier of the company that lay at Elliock, it is said, often visited this lonely hut by stealth, and conveyed secret information with regard to the movements of the troopers, so that the friends in hiding might look to themselves, and impart cautious notice to their brethren in other places. A domestic servant in the house of Elliock, it is said, who knew the design of his masters, overhearing in the parlour their communications, used to station himself under the awning of a wide-spreading tree, beside a mountain brook, and tell the tree the secret he wished to convey, while in a cavity beneath the fantastic roots lay one who listened to his words, and who instantly carried the tidings to his suffering brethren.

“Not far from this, on the farm of South Mains, opposite the town of Sanquhar, there wonned a worthy man of the name of Hair, who was in the habit of concealing the wanderers in his house. On one occasion he had a few of them in his barn, and some of the troopers of Elliock having arrived before the door, he dreaded that they had come to search the premises, and was greatly concerned for the safety of those he had in concealment. To his agreeable surprise, however, he found that they had come in quest of corn for their horses, which they wished to purchase from him. He led them into the barn to examine the heaps on the floor, and great was the consternation of those who were hidden among the straw when they perceived that the enemy was so near them, and when the incidental removal of a little of the straw or of the sheaves of corn might have revealed their retreat; bnt they were eased of the burden of their anxiety when the party peaceably left the place. This man, Hair, belonged to au extensive family of the same name, who were all Covenanters. One of them, together with a friend named Corson, was discovered in a hollow on the farm of Cairn engaged, it is supposed, in devotional exercises. The sound of their voices in prayer, or in the singing of psalms, probably attracted the notice of the soldiers, and drew them to the spot. The circumstances in which they were found were enough to ensure their death, and, therefore, according to the custom of the times, and the license of the troopers, they were without ceremony shot on the spot. They lie interred on the south side of the road leading from Sanquhar to New Cumnock, where a rude stone pillar points out their resting-place. Hair was one of five brothers who occupied the farm of Glenquhary, in the parish of Kirkconnel, of which they were the proprietors. They were ejected from their patrimony, however, on account of their nonconformity, and forced to wander in the desolate places of the country. One of the five brothers was at the battle of Pentland, which would doubtless render the whole family more obnoxious to the dominant party. It is probable that Hair of Burncrook’s, elsewhere mentioned, and who effected his escape from the dragoons at Glen Aylmer, was one of the same family ; and it is equally probable that Hair of Cleuchfoot and William Hair of South Mains were, if not of the household of Glenquhary, at least related. In the old churchyard of Kirkconnel, which is situated at the base of the mountains, and near the mouth of this romantic glen, there are to be seen, in its north-west corner, six thrugh-stones belonging to this family, indicating the successive generations that have been gathered to their fathers.

“At a distance of three miles from Sanquhar, on the east, is the farm of Auchengruith, once the residence of Andrew Clark, a man of some celebrity in this locality in the times of the Covenant. Andrew, it is said, had nine sons, all reared in his own principles, and who were stout defenders of the Nonconformist cause. It was on this farm that Peden had an occasional hiding place, at the mouth of the dark Glendyne; and it was on the grey hill of Auchengruith that the seasonable intervention of the snowy mist, descending from the height above, saved him from his pursuers.

“A scene of a tragic kind was enacted at this house at Auchengruith. Some time previously, Adam Clark of Glenim, on the opposite side of Mennock Glen, engaged to guide a party of troopers through the wilds on their way to surprise a conventicle. Arrived in the vicinity of the Stake Muss, Clark pressed forward, leaping the mossy ditches with a nimble bound ; and the horses plunging after, one after another stuck fast in the sinking peat ground. Clark made his escape over the dark heath, leaving the troopers to extricate themselves. It seems that young Andrew Clark of Auchengruith bore a striking resemblance to this Adam Clark of Glenim. One day the dragoons met Andrew in the moors, and believing him to be the person who had led them into the moss, apprehended him, and carried him to his father’s house. He protested that he was not the man who had played them this trick, but his protests were unavailing. The troopers affirmed that he was the very individual. In those days the execution of a man after his impeachment was but the work of a moment, and Andrew was immediately brought out to the field before the house to be instantly shot. He was allowed time to pray—a favour which in similar circumstances was not granted to every one. He knelt down on the bent in presence of his enemies, and of all his father’s household. Meanwhile a messenger had been instantly despatched to convey the information of what was going on at Auchengruith to an aged and worthy woman who lived at a place not far off, called Howat’s Burnfoot, and who had been Andrew’s nurse, and for whom she cherished a more than ordinary affection. She was a woman of great sagacity, magnanimity, and piety ; besides, she had seen much, both in her native country and foreign lands, for she had accompanied her husband for sixteen years in the continental wars, and had experienced a variety of fortune. The woman lost no time in presenting herself before Colonel Douglas and his company. When she arrived, Andrew had ended his prayer, and his execution was about to take place. “Halt, soldiers!” cried the matron; “halt, and listen to me.” She then bore testimony that this was not the man who had been concerned in the affair of the Stake Moss. “Sir,” she exclaimed, turning to Colonel Douglas, “if you be a true soldier, hearken to the wife of one who warred under the banner of your honoured uncle in countries far from this; and for your uncle’s sake, by whose side my husband fought and bled, and for whose sake he would have sacrificed his life, I beg the life of this man, for whom in his infancy I acted the part of a mother, and for whom, now in his prime of manhood, I cherish all the warmth of a mother’s true affection, I beg on my knees the life of this innocent man.” “My good woman,” the Colonel replied, “his life you shall have. Your appearance is the guarantee for the verity of your statements, and you have mentioned a name that has weight with me. Soldiers! let him go.” In this way was the tragical scene at Auchengruith terminated, and Andrew Clark restored to his friends. This same Andrew, it would appear, who became a smith at Leadhills, at last suffered in the Grassmarket of Edinburgh, along with Thomas Harkness and Samuel M'Ewan.

“Auchentaggart, on the opposite side of the Glendyne burn from Auchengruith, was another haunt of the worthies. It was while a party of the wanderers were in this house, partaking of refreshment, that a company of soldiers appeared before the door. The poor men saw that there was but little likelihood of escape, and, in combination, they rushed suddenly at one bolt from the door, scared the horses, stupefied the troopers, and fled in the direction of Glendyne, whose steep banks prevented a successful pursuit, and in this way escaped.

“It was in this vicinity, too, that it is said Peden, in flight before the horsemen, hid himself under a projecting hank, close by the side of a streamlet, when the horses came on, and passed the rivulet at the very spot where the saintly man lay crouching under his mossy coverlet, and the foot of one of the animals, crushing through the sod, grazed his head, and pressed his bonnet into the soft clay, while he escaped unhurt.

“To the north of this is the “Martyrs’ Knowe,” which mast have received this designation from the killing of some one of the worthies on the spot, though tradition has retained neither the name of the person nor the circumstances. It was here that Drumlanrig, while in pursuit of the wanderers, met with a signal defeat by a thunderstorm which broke out suddenly, it is said, among the mountains, and terrified the troopers so that every man fled for shelter, and let go their prisoners in the turmoil, some of whom were, however, afterwards caught and shot on the neighbouring heights.

“An anecdote is told of a pious man named Hair, a member of the family above referred to, who lived in a secluded spot called Burncrooks, near Kirkland, in the neighbouring parish of Kirkconnel. This inoffensive man was seized by his persecutors, and was doomed to die. The cruel and brutal conduct of the dragoons was peculiarly displayed in his treatment. They rallied him on the subject of his death, and told him that they intended to kill him in a way that would afford them some merriment: that, as his name was Hair, they wished to enjoy something of the same sport in putting an end to his life that they used to enjoy in killing the cowering and timid animal that bore a similar name. Instead, therefore, of shooting him before his own door, they placed him on horseback behind a dragoon, and carried him to the top of a neighbouring hill, that in the most conspicuous and insulting manner they might deprive him of his life. The spot where the cavalcade halted happened to be on the very brink of one of the most romantic glens in the west of Scotland. . Glen Aylmer forms an immense cleft between two high mountains, and opens obliquely towards the meridian sun. The descent on either side, for several hundred feet, is very steep, and in some places is almost perpendicular. The whole valley is clothed with rich verdure, and through its centre flows a gentle stream of many crooks and windings, which, from the summit of the glen, is seen like a silver thread stretching along the deep bottom of the glen. The party of dragoons, having reached the place where they intended to shoot their captive, had made a halt for the purpose of dismounting, and the soldier behind whom our worthy was seated proceeded to unbuckle the belt which, for greater security, we may suppose, bound the prisoner to his person, when Hair, finding himself disengaged, slid from the horse behind, and, alighting on the very edge of the steep declivity, glided with great swiftness down the grassy turf, and, frequently losing his footing, he rebounded from spot to spot, till at last he regained his feet, and ran'at his utmost speed till he reached the bottom. The soldiers looked with amazement, but durst not follow; they fired rapidly, but missed him, and were left to gnaw their tongues in disappointment.

“A family somewhat famous in the annals of the Covenanters was that of the Laings of Blagannoch, a place situated in a solitary spot beside the burn of that name, which, taking its rise behind the Bale Hill, is joined at Blagannoch by another burn, and the united waters bear the name of Spango, which falls into Crawick four miles further down. The Laings were resident in Blagannoch for well nigh 400 years, and the members sympathised with the covenanting cause. A most prominent member of the family was Patrick, born in 1541. He enlisted in the Scots Greys in his eighteenth year, and proved himself a gallant and intrepid soldier. He was dexterous in the use of the sword, and his officers regarded him as one of the best and bravest soldiers in their troops. Patrick was in the King’s service, for he had enlisted in the army prior to the Restoration. His was therefore a most embarrassing situation, and he feared lest he should be called, in the performance of his duty, to take part in any measures against that cause which was dear to his heart. The day he so much dreaded arrived. A party of the Covenanters, to escape the incessant harassing of the enemy, had fled over the Border, and sought refuge in the northern parts of England, and Patrick Laing, whose regiment, it appears, happened at the time to be stationed in the neighbourhood, was sent with a company to apprehend them. To disobey the orders of his superior was as much as his life was worth, and to lend himself as an instrument in persecuting the people of God was what his conscience would not permit. Accordingly he marched with his little troop in search of the reputed rebels, but contrived so to conduct matters as to allow the party apprehended to escape, and the soldiers returned without accomplishing their errand. Laing was suspected. He was accordingly committed to prison, and, being tried, was sentenced to banishment. Through the interposition of his friends, the day of his transportation was put off from time to time. Through confinement and disease he was reduced to a skeleton, and was at last released from his prison in an apparently dying condition. He was permitted to return to his native country, and moving slowly northward, he arrived at last among his native mountains. He gradually recovered, and having brought with him a sum of about thirty pounds, reckoned in those days a considerable fortune, he resolved to settle as the occupant of a little farm iu some moorland glen. He found a retreat among the wild Glenkens of Galloway, but Patrick Laing could not long remain in obscurity. The eye of the notorious Grierson of Lag was upon him, and it was not long before he began to meet with annoyance from the adverse party. In order to facilitate his flight from his pursuers, he kept a fleet pony in constant readiness, which, being accustomed to scour hills and mosses, often carried him with great speed out of the way of the heavy troopers. He was on one occasion returning home, leading the pony, which carried a load of meal thrown across its back, when he observed a party of dragoons approaching. He tumbled the load on the ground, mounted the nimble animal, and sped for safety along the heath. Patrick, seeing the horsemen following him, hastened with all speed to reach the bottom of a precipice called the Lorg Craig. The dragoons, perceiving his intention, divided into different parties, pursuing separate routes, with a view, if possible, to circumvent him, and intercept his progress to the Craig. He reached the rock, however, before the soldiers came up, and having scrambled to the middle of the precipice, he was standing still for a moment to take breath when the troopers approached the base. He was aware that they would leave their horses and climb after him. There was now no way of escape left for him but to mount, if possible, to the top of the rock ; and the danger with which this was attended was to be preferred to the danger of being exposed to the fire of the musketry. He made the attempt, and succeeded; and when he reached the highest point, where he stood in security, he gave three loud cheers in mockery of his pursuers, who, he knew, durst not follow in his track. Forced to flee from his home, he took refuge in the darkly-wooded retreats of the Euehan, and found hospitable entertainment among the pious people who inhabited its banks. The farm-house of Barr is particularly mentioned as receiving him kindly; in Cleuchfoot, a mile to the west of Sanquhar, he also found a resting-place. This latter place was situated near to the highway between Ayrshire and Nithsdale, along which troops of soldiers frequently passed, but near the house was a dense thicket, into the heart of which he could plunge at any time, and two ravines where he could secrete himself in perfect safety. In this way, he wandered about secretly from place to place till the Revolution, which, though it brought a welcome relief to others, made but little alteration in his circumstances, at least for a while. Grierson of Lag, who bore him no good-will, well knowing that he belonged to the despised sect, had received a commission to enlist, or otherwise impress into the service, what men he could find in Galloway and Nithsdale. He reported Laing as a deserter, and received authority to apprehend him. One of the last attempts made by Lag to get hold of him was one day when he was quietly angling in the Euehan. He saw three men slowly advancing up the stream. To test their designs he left the stream, and ascended the brow of the hill. They immediately followed, separating themselves in order to cut oft his retreat. His strength was fast failing when he reached a hollow space of spretty ground, in which he resolved to hide himself, and abide the will of Providence. When he reached the place he sank to the waist. As he was struggling to extricate himself, he observed a place scooped out by the little brook beneath the bank, into which he crept, and his pursuers, though they passed near to the spot, failed to discover his hiding place. He then moved to the north of Scotland, where lived one of his old officers, a pious man. Shortly after his return he was present at a meeting of the Society people at Cairntable. The procedure of that convention did not please him, aud he withdrew from their connection. He died at the house of Cleuchfoot, at the age of 85 years. His dust lies in the Churchyard of Kirkconnel, without a stone to mark his resting-place.

“In the summer of 1685, six men fled from their persecutors in Douglasdale—namely, David Dun, Simon Paterson, John Richard, William Brown, Robert Morris, and James Welsh. They took refuge among the more inaccessible heights of Upper Nithsdale, at a place called Glenshilloch, a little to the west of Wanlockhead, and not far from the old house of Cogshead. They were probably drawn to this particular locality by the fact that Brown was related to the family at Cogshead, by whom they were amply supplied with provisions. A strict search was made for the refugees, and at length it was reported to Drumlanrig that they were believed to be in hiding somewhere in the wilds between the Mennock and the Crawick. On this information, Drumlanrig collected his troops, whom he divided into three divisions, one of which traversed the glen of Mennock, another that of Crawick, while the third pursued the middle route by way of Glendyne. This last division was commanded by Drumlanrig himself, who, having led them over the height on the north side of Glendyne, descended on the water of Cog, and stationed himself on the “Martyrs’ Knowe.” Meanwhile some of the dragoons, who had been scouring the neighbouring hills, seized a boy who was returning from Glenshilloch to Cogshead carrying an empty wooden vessel, called by the peasantry a kit, in which were several horn-spoons—a proof that he had been conveying provisions to some individuals among the hills, whom they naturally suspected to be the men of whom they were in quest. They carried the boy to their commander, who strictly interrogated him, but without eliciting anything from him. The boy’s firmness so enraged Drumlanrig that he threatened to run him through the body with his sword, but on second thoughts it occurred to him that, by using other means, he might succeed in obtaining all the information he desired. He sent the troopers out in the direction from which the boy had been seen returning over the hills. It was not long before they, in descending the north side of the mountain, found the men in their hiding-place. They pounced on them as a falcon on his quarry. Dun, Paterson, and Richard were captured, while Brown, Morris, and Welsh made their escape. A sudden and terrific thunderstorm, no uncommon occurrence in this region, overtook the whole party, from which Drumlanrig fled, regardless of his men or his prisoners. In the darkness and panic that ensued, the prisoners slipped out of the hands of their captors and fled. As they passed the “Martyrs’ Knowe,” they found the boy lying bound on the ground, not dead, but stunned with terror. Having liberated him, they informed him of what had occurred, and directed him to keep in concealment till the troopers had cleared out of the district. They themselves made their way to the wilds in the upper parts of Galloway. The three men who escaped at Glenshilloch—namely, Brown, Morris, and Welsh—fled northward, but were intercepted by the party who had gone up the vale of the Crawick. Brown and Morris were shot at the back of Craignorth, where they lie interred in the places •respectively where they fell, at Brown Cleuch and Morris Cleuch, while Welsh managed to effect his escape.

“The dwelling-house at Glenglass, near the source of the Euehan, is said to have been partly constructed with the view to affording a hiding-place to the destitute Covenanters. At the one end it had a double gable, the one wall at a distance of a few feet from the other, leaving a considerable space between, extending the whole breadth of the building. This narrow apartment was without windows, unless it may have been a small sky-light on the roof. The entrance to this asylum was not by a door, but by a small square aperture in the inner wall, called by the country people a bole. This opening was generally filled with the “ big Ha’ Bible/’ and other books commonly perused by the household. When instant danger was dreaded, or when it was known that the dragoons were out, this chamber was immediately resorted to by those who had reason to be apprehensive of their safety. The books in the bole were removed till the individual crept into the interior, and then they were carefully replaced, in such a way as to lead to no suspicion. Like the prophet’s chamber in the wall, this place could admit “a bed, a table, a stool, and a candlestick,” and in the cold of winter it had a sufficiency of heat imparted to it by means of the fire that blazed continually close by the inner wall.

These reminiscences may be brought to a fitting close with the story of


This glen is peculiar in being closed in, to all appearance, as much at the lower as the upper end—you feel utterly shut in and shut out. Half way down is a wild cascade, called Kelte’s Linn—from Captain Kelte, one of Claver-house’s dragoons, who was killed there.

Defoe’s account of the affair and of its wild scene, in his Memoirs of the Church of Scotland, is so homely and to the quick that we give it in full. It is not unworthy of Robinson Crusoe, and is unexaggerated in local description :—

“This Entrekein is a very steep and dangerous mountain; nor could such another place have been easily found in the whole country for their purpose ; and, had not the dragoons been infatuated from Heaven, they would never have entered such a Pass without well discovering the hill above them. The road for above a mile goes winding, with a moderate ascent on the side of a very high and very steep hill, till on the latter part, still ascending, and the height on the left above them being still vastly great, the depth on their right below’ them makes a prodigious precipice, descending steep and ghastly into a narrow deep bottom, only broad enough for the current of water to run that descends upon hasty rain; from this bottom the mountain rises instantly again steep as a precipice on the other side of a stupendous height. The passage on the side of the first hill, by which, as I said, the way creeps gradually up is narrow, so that two horsemen can but ill pass in front ; and if any disorder should happen to them, so as that they step but a little awry, they are in danger in falling down the said precipice on their right, where there would be no stopping till they came to the bottom. And the writer of this has seen, by the accident only of a sudden frost, which had made the way slippery, three or four horses at a time of travellers or carriers lying in that dismal bottom, which slipping In their way, have not been able to recover themselves, but have fallen down the precipice, and rolled to the bottom, perhaps tumbling twenty times over, by which it is impossible but they must be broken to pieces ere they come to stop. In this way the dragoons were blindly marching two and two with the minister and five countrymen, whom they had taken prisoners, and were hauling them along to Edinburgh, the front of them being near the top of the hill, and the rest reaching all along the steep part, when on a sudden they heard a man’s voice calling to them from the side of the hill on their left a great height above them.

“It was misty, as indeed it is seldom otherwise on the height of that mountain, so that no body was seen at first; but the Commanding Officer, hearing somebody call, halted, and called aloud—‘ What d’ye want, and who are ye V He had uo sooner spoke, but twelve men came in sight upon the side of the hill above them, and the officer called again—

"What are ye\? and bad stand. One of the twelve answer’d by giving the word of command to his men—‘Make ready,’ and then calling to the officer, said—‘Sir, will ye deliver our Minister|? The officer answer’d with an oath—‘No, sir, an ye ivere to be damn’d.’ At which the leader of the countrymen fir’d immediately, and aim’d so true at him, tho the distance was pretty great, that he shot him thro’ the head, and immediately he fell from his horse ; his horse, fluttering a little with the fall of his rider, fell over the precipice, rolling to the bottom, and was dash’d to pieces.

“The rest of the twelve men were stooping to give fire upon the body, when the next commanding officer call’d to them to hold their hands, and desir’d a Trace. It was apparent that the whole body was in a dreadful consternation; not a man of them durst stir a foot, or offer to fire a shot. And had the twelve men given fire upon them, the first volley, in all probability, would have driven twenty of them down the side of the mountain into that dredd gulph at the bottom.

“To add to their consternation, their two scouts who rode before gave them notice that there appear’d another body of arm’d countrymen at the top of the hill in their front; which, however, was nothing but some travellers who, seeing troops of horse coming up, stood there to let them pass, the way being too narrow to go by them. It’s true, there were about twenty-five more of the countrymen in arms, tho’ they had not appeared, and they had been sufficient, if they had thought fit, to have cut this whole body of horse into pieces.

“But the officer having asked a parley, and demanded— ‘What it was they would have? they again replied, ‘Deliver our minister.’ ‘ Well, sir,’ says the officer, ‘ye’s get your minister an ye will promise to forbear firing.’ ‘Indeed we’ll forbear' says the good man. ‘We desire to hurt none of ye. But, sir’ says he, ‘belike ye have more prisoners’ 1Indeed have we’ says the officer. ‘ And ye mon deliver them all,’ says the honest man. ‘Well’ says the officer ‘ye shall have them then.’ Immediately the officer calls to ; Bring forward the minister.’ But the way was so narrow and crooked he could not be brought up by a horseman without danger of putting them into disorder, so that the officer bad them ‘ Loose him, and let him go,’ which was done. So the minister stept up the hill a step or two, and stood still. Then the officer said to him—‘Sir, an I let you go, I expect you promise to oblige your people to offer no hindrance to our march.’ The minister promised them 'He would do so.’ ‘Then go, sir,’ said he. ‘You owe your life to this damn’d mountain.’ ‘Rather, sir,’ said the minister, ‘to that God that made this mountain.’ When their minister was come to them, their leader call’d again to the officer. ‘Sir, we want yet the other prisoners’ The officer gave orders to the rear, where they were, and they were also deliver’d. Upon which the leader began to march away, when the officer call’d again—‘ But hold, sir,’ says he. ‘Ye promised to be satisfied if ye had your prisoners. I expect you’ll be as good as your word.’ ‘Indeed shall says the leader. ‘I am just marching away.’ It seems he did not rightly understand the officer. ‘Well, sir, but,’ says the officer, ‘I expect you will call off those fellows you have posted at the head of the way.’ ‘They belong not to us,’ says the honest man. ‘They are unarmed people, waiting till you pass by.’ ‘Say you so,’ said the officer. ‘Had I known that, you had not gotten your men so cheap, or have come off so free.’ Says the countryman—‘An ye are for battle, sir, we are ready for you still; if you think you are able for us, ye may try your hand. We’ll quit the truce if you like.’ ‘No,’ says the officer; I think ye be brave fellows; e’en gang your gate’ This was in the year 1686.”

Besides these recorded instances of the persecution to which the nonconforming party were subjected, there are doubtless many others connected with this district that have dropped into oblivion. We find graves in the moors, or what at all events look very like graves, and are supposed to be the resting-place of Covenanters, who had either suffered death at the hands of a brutal soldiery who were continually scouring the country, or who had died of diseases caused by exposure to cold, hunger, and fatigue. The two little mounds on Conrick Meadow have always been regarded as the graves of two such sufferers. At the same time it is noticeable that the number who were victims during the “ killing time ” in the parish of Sanquhar was in comparison few, considering that it was in the very centre of the district where the fire of persecution burned most fiercely, and the pursuit of suspected persons was carried on with the greatest activity. We do not believe that this was due to the number of the nonconformists being few, for the parish, being largely pastoral, contained many of that very class by whom the principles of the Covenants were most widely embraced. It is known to all who have studied this chapter of history, that the degree of annoyance and persecution to which the people in any district were subjected, depended on the character and temper of the resident curate. Some of these curates kept a close eye on all those who absented themselves from their ministrations, and, being of a vindictive disposition, gave information to the authorities, thus making themselves the willing tools of an intolerant party. Others of a different stamp had none of this intolerance, respected the conscientious scruples of those who differed from them, and, in their hearts, sympathised with them in the sufferings and trials they had to endure. Of this latter class was the curate of Sanquhar, James Kirkwood by name, a good-natured, easy-going sort of man, who contrived to give his parishioners little trouble, and at the same time to keep on good terms with the governing party. Tradition says that, instead of seeking occasion against those who refused to attend his ministry, he publicly announced that, if on a given day they would assemble within the churchyard, though they did not enter the church, he would give a favourable report of the whole parish, and screen the nonconformists from the vengeance of their persecutors. The generosity of this good-hearted curate is further illustrated by an incident related by Simpson. “It was current among the people of the neighbourhood/’ he says, “that two of the Covenanting brethren from the wilds of Carsphairn, in full flight before the dragoons, dashed into the river Nith, and reached the opposite bank a few yards below the manse. It happened that a number of individuals, among whom was the curate, were playing at quoits on the green. ‘Where shall we run?' cried the men. ‘Doff your coats,’ said the curate, ‘and play a game with me.’ They did so. The dragoons immediately followed; they passed the curate aud rode on in pursuit, and the men, through his generous interference, escaped.” Another good story is told by the same author of Kirkwood, which shows that he was not only on good terms with the powers, but that, though tainted with one of the vices of the age: he was also a man of independence and courage.

“During Lord Airlie’s stay at the Castle of Sanquhar sumptuojus entertainments were given, and it happened that on a Saturday afternoon the curate, whose humorous and quaint manners had often amused the circle in the ancient peel, was sent for to entertain Airlie in the midst of their festivities. He was introduced in his appropriate character to A.irlie, who found him in every respect to his liking. Having dined, the company continued at wine and wassail till supper, at which late hour Kirkwood probably found that it would have been more to his purpose had he been at home and in his study, but he was induced to remain, the party finding that he was indispensable to their entertainment. Airlie, it seems, used a great many freedoms with Kirkwood, who was in all his glory in the midst of the merriment and carousals, and forgot that the Sabbath was stealing on apace, and that he had to officiate on the hallowed day. When he found that it was past midnight, he made sundry efforts to withdraw; but Airlie as uniformly prevented him, by exclaiming, ‘Come, Mr Kirkwood, another glass, and then,’ till daylight began to dawn, when he succeeded in releasing himself from the besotted party, and retreated homeward by the south side of the town, through the fields next the river, and reached his house undiscovered. Being now safely lodged in his own domicile, he began to bethink himself what was to be done against the approaching hour of Divine worship; not that he, perhaps, cared much for public opinion, but he felt himself unfitted for everything but sleep. Kirkwood, it would appear, was a man of ability, and a ready speaker, who found no difficulty in addressing his congregation at any time. It was probably because he was a man of this cast that Queensberry had located him in his present situation. On this occasion the curate thought it probable that the party from the Castle might attend the church that day, the more especially as there might exist among them a certain curiosity on their part to see how he would acquit himself after the night’s debauch; and so after a brief repose, he addressed himself to his studies, if so be he might be able to command something appropriate to the occasion. It fell out exactly as he opined, for Airlie manifested an unwonted curiosity to see how his facetious friend would acquit himself as a preacher, and, accordingly, he repaired to the church to witness the exhibition. When the hour arrived, the curate, being now refreshed, and having fixed on what he deemed a suitable subject, proceeded to the church with as much coolness as if nothing had happened. He had no sooner entered the pulpit than, according to his anticipations, the company from the castle took their seats in what was called the loft, straight before the preacher, and Airlie, with some of his troopers behind him, placed himself conspicuously in the front. All this might have daunted another man, but on Kirkwood it made no impression, other than to rouse him to greater effort, and to nerve him with greater firmness.

“In those days the kirks were each furnished with a sandglass, instead of a clock, to measure the time, that the minister might know how to calculate the length of his discourse, and this instrument was placed near the precentor’s hand, whose duty it was to turn it when the sand had run down. These glasses were of various sizes, from an hour to half-an-hour. The curate had chosen for his text—‘ The Lord shall destroy the wicked, and that right early.’ This, it seems, he did for the purpose of accommodating the word early, in its sound at least, to one of his principal auditors, who on the previous night had teased him most, and entangled him in its bewitching festivities. As he proceeded with his discourse, and waxed warm on the subject, he made frequent use of the words—‘The Lord shall destroy the wicked, and that right early/ laying emphasis on the word early, and pointing -with his finger to the Earl, as if the subject had its whole bearing on him personally. ‘The Lord will destroy the wicked, and that early, too,” again he vociferated, ‘and that early,' till he drew the entire attention of the audience to Airlie, who sat boldly confronting him, a few yards from the pulpit. The people were both astonished and amused at the freedom which their preacher dared to use in the presence of his superiors aud these redoubted men, who were a terror to the couutry. If the people were astonished, Airlie was no less so, when the curate, borrowing his lordship’s expression which he had used at the board of revelry—‘One glass more, and then, Mr Kirkwood,’ when he wished to detain him a little longer. ‘Jasper,’ said he to the precentor, ‘the sand has run down; turn it, for we want one glass more, and then.’ This done, he proceeded, in his dashing and impetuous way, and with great vehemence of action, to declaim against the wickedness of the world, and to denounce the Divine judgments on those who persisted in their sins; and, casting a glance over the congregation, he cried out—‘The Lord shall ‘destroy the wicked’ and then, directing his eyes to where Airlie sat, he added, ‘and that early, and that right early.’ In this fashion he continued till the upper storey of the sand-glass was again emptied, when he called on the precentor, ‘another glass, and then? and on he went as before, pouring forth a torrent of declamation as continuous as the sand poured its stream through the smooth throat of the glass, with this difference that, while the sand ceased to flow when it had exhausted itself, he never seemed to fail, nor to empty himself of his subject. How long he proceeded is not said, but certes, the party from the castle had their patience taxed quite as much as their detention of the preacher on the preceding night had taxed his; and they were taught that he could ply his glass as freely as they could ply theirs.”

There was a proverb long current in this district which took its rise from the following occurrence:—The worthy curate had occasion to traverse a rugged moor in the depth of winter. It was an intense frost, and the face of the moorland was as hard as a board. He directed his mare into a track in which she had on a former occasion sunk, but all his efforts could not induce her to advance. On finding that his endeavours were fruitless, he turned her head away, with the remark, “You brute, you have a better memory than a judgment,” which passed into the proverb, “You have a better memory than a judgment, like Kirkwood’s mare.”

We cannot but cherish a reverential regard for the memory of this worthy curate. It is but little that we have recorded of him, but that little is highly suggestive. He stands boldly out in the history of the time, a figure notable in more respects than one. Evidently a man of high intellectual endowments, he was likewise possessed of those qualities of wit and humour which made his society much prized and sought after, and led him into situations similar to those which have proved the undoing of many a one, and which in his own case did not conduce to that decent sobriety of demeanour which so well becomes those who hold his sacred office. On this side lay the principal danger to his character and usefulness, and he may not have been sufficiently on his guard against the temptations of social intercourse and friendly hospitality; but, though he may have occasionally stepped aside from the path of dignified self-respect, those occasional errors could not corrupt the true greatness of the man. His repentance, we doubt not, was deep and sincere. We do not regard the famous scene in the church as a piece of bravado—the taking of liis revenge upon those who had lowered him in his own eyes—but as the outpouring of his righteous indignation at the thought how he had been entrapped into degrading both himself and his holy calling ; and that, whilst he hurled his denunciations and warnings at the head of the wicked and licentious noble, the thunder of his rebuke shook his own soul. His was a Knox-like spirit —free, courageous, and bold—and we can well conceive how such a man in a different age, and in other surroundings, would have proved a very tower of strength to the cause of righteousness and truth. He was no miserable time-server or crawling sycophant, who would condone or excuse the prevailing wickedness of his time, or speak with bated breath of the private vices of his patrons, or of those with whom it was his interest, in a worldly sense, to stand well. Lord Airlie, judging by his first and only experience of him, had in all probability formed a false conception of his character, but he was not allowed to remain long deceived. He left the church with a very different opinion of the curate from that with which he entered it. Such words had probably never before been addressed to him, but to-day he was in the presence of a man. This worthy curate likewise possessed that combination of strength and gentleness—of force of conviction and tolerance of spirit, which is so rarely found in the same person. In spite of the bitterness which the nonconforming party felt and expressed towards all of his class, he yet, with singular large-heartedness, returned them only good for evil. With a garrison at his very door, eager and ready for the work, he had but to raise his little finger, and the lives and liberties of his nonconforming parishioners would have been in instant jeopardy; but, no ! the. generosity of his soul would not permit him to touch a hair of their heads. In the hour of danger he threw the mantle of protection over a harassed and persecuted people. Foolish they must have appeared iu his eyes, but the charity which covereth a multitude of sins gently swayed his heart. We may conclude that, though from their point of view the Covenanters regarded him as an intruder into God’s heritage, and in league with wicked and sinful men, they could not fail to be impressed with his true goodness as a man, and the practical exhibition of Christian virtue which he daily set before them. Verily he shall not lose his reward. “Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it unto me.”

Though the memory of the Covenanters was warmly cherished, as has been said, by their descendants and successors in Upper Nithsdale, no public demonstration had ever been made, nor any memorial raised, prior to the year 1859, in commemoration of this eventful period of our history. Then, however, a proposal in this direction was made, and was taken up with enthusiasm by the inhabitants. Dr Simpson, the historian of the Covenanters, was of course the leading spirit of the movement. The Demonstration took place at Sanquhar on the 22nd July, 18(i0, one hundred and eighty years from the time when Cameron made his famous Declaration. We take the following from an account of the proceedings published at the time :—

“A great concourse of people from all quarters convened in the ancient burgh to carry out the demonstration determined on. The day fortunately was favourable, being warm and bright, though latterly the sky became overcast with clouds, which, later in the evening, fell in heavy rain. A large number of strangers had arrived by early trains from considerable distances; and, as the hour of noon approached, all sorts of conveyances brought in a multitude of people from the surrounding districts, attired in holiday garb, and lending to the usually quiet main street of the burgh an appearance of great bustle and pleasing excitement. From the Town Hall an ancient banner waved, and at the site of the Old Cross in the centre of the town was to be seen a flag, tattered and stained, yet still in good repair, which had been at Drumclog and Bothwell Bridge, and bearing the white cross of St. Andrew, on a blue ground, in one part, with the motto in another of ‘Pro Religio et Liberatio’ (sic.) This flag is now in the possession of Mr M'Geachan, of Cumnock, a lineal descendant of one of the martyrs. At the Old Cross had been erected a triple triumphal arch, composed of evergreens and the beautiful wild flowers of Scotland, and a printed notice indicated that that was the identical spot where Cameron had made his famous Declaration on the 22nd June, 1680. The provost, magistrates, and town council, the clergy of various denominations, and the local corps of volunteers, mustering to the number of between fifty and sixty, all efficiently and cordially assisted in the demonstration ; and three brass bands, two belonging to Sanquhar and one to Wanlockhead, supplied appropriate music for the procession. At twelve o’clock a concourse of people, numbering probably between two and three thousand, assembled in Queensberry Square. Provost Whigham ascended a platform and took the chair. He was accompanied by Professor Blackie, Edinburgh; Rev. Dr Simpson, Sanquhar; Rev. Robert Noble, Muirkirk; Rev. Thomas Easton, Stranraer; Lieut.-Col. Shaw, of Ayr; Rev. Messrs Logan and Crawford, Sanquhar, &c., &c. The Provost narrated the proceedings that had led up to the demonstration of that day, and called upon Dr Simpson, who delivered a characteristic and telling speech, in which he recounted briefly the struggle between the government of Charles II. and James VII. and the Scottish people in regard to their religious rights, the devotion of the peasantry of the south-west to the cause of the Covenant, and the brutal persecution to which they were subjected. He vindicated the attitude of the Covenanters, both in the resistance they offered to the attempts to thrust episcopacy upon them and the renunciation of their civil allegiance to the Crown. He said the commemoration was intended to keep alive the spirit of their ancestry in opposition to oppression and popeiy, and enjoined upon the young people to imbibe their Christian and heroic spirit.

“The people then formed in order of procession, five or six deep, and moved off. Arrived at the first arch, a copy of Cameron’s Declaration was read by Rev. Mr Crawford near the spot where it was first given to the world. The cross stood opposite where he then was ; there was no dwelling-house near, but a green slope came down towards the street, and there it was that Richard Cameron, having read his Declaration, affixed it to the cross. He ended by proposing three cheers to the memory of the Covenanters, which were cordially given.

“The march was resumed till the ruins of Sanquhar Castle were reached, where the assemblage was addressed by Professor Blackie. The learned Professor had a congenial theme, and having referred to the beauties of Scottish scenery, and in particular of the district in which they were assembled, he proceeded to an eloquent eulogy of the courage and independence of the Covenanters, pointing out the bearing which the stand they made had in helping on the greater struggle which was then being waged in both England and Scotland against the tyranny of the later Stuarts. He sharply criticised the manner in which Sir Walter Scott had caricatured the Covenanters—a proceeding unworthy of his great genius. Unfortunately this had been accepted in many quarters as a just representation of these worthy men. As a set off he quoted the testimony borne to their personal worth and the value of their self-denying sufferings by Burns, Carlyle, and Froude, and others well competent to form a correct estimate of the men and their work. He concluded with a vigorous denunciation of the character and government of Charles II. and James II., and held that the Covenanters were amply justified in the attitude they took up, though he doubted the expediency in the Declaration of declaring the King a traitor; but the best of men were imprudent, and to be imprudent on a great occasion is to be capable of groat and sublime virtue. The Covenanters were the prophets of all that we now enjoy; the pioneers of constitutional government, the men who were the first to move in planting that tree of liberty of which we now possess the fruits ; they laid down their lives in that struggle, while we have little else to do than make speeches about them, cry ‘God save the Queen,’ and pay our taxes now and then.

“The assemblage then moved in procession back to the square, where they were again addressed in a similar strain by Colonel Shaw, of Ayr ; the Rev. Mr Easton, Stranraer; and the Rev. Mr Anderson, Loanhead.

“A soiree was held in the evening in the Crichton School grounds, at which the Rev. Dr Simpson presided. The Chairman recited the ‘Cameronian’s Dream' and addresses followed. A demand was then made by the audience for Professor Blackie, who said he had got all kinds of usage in his day, but he had never till then been asked to do anything so unreasonable as to make two speeches on the same subject on the same day to the same audience. He was prepared to meet this dodge of the Sanquharians by another dodge. Instead of addressing them, he would read two pieces from a book of his, which had been greatly cut up by some London snobs, but which nevertheless he considered contained very good poetry. The Professor then read a poem on the martyrdom of the two Wigtown maidens, and, in dramatic style, a song entitled ‘Jenny Geddes and the three-legged stool/ Both pieces were received with rapturous applause.

“The Chairman here read the following beautiful sonnet, composed by the Professor about two years before in the inn at Sanquhar, after a journey of about twenty miles over the hill from Carsphairn :—

‘O Scotland, thou art full of holy ground!
From every glen, I hear a prophet preach;
Thy sods are voiceful. No grey boob can teach
Like the green grass that swathes a martyr’s mound,
And here, where Nith’s clear mountain waters flow,
With murmurous sweep rouud Sanquhar’s hoary tower,
The place constrains me, and with sacred power,
What Scotland is to Scottish men I know.
Here first the youthful hero-preacher raised
The public banner of a nation's creed:
Far o’er the laud the spoken virtue blazed,
But he who dared to voice the truth must bleed.
Men called it rash—perhaps it was a crime—
His deed flashed out God’s will an hour before the time.’

“The Chairman, at a later stage, gave the following particulars regarding the conflict at Airsmoss. It took place on a Thursday, at four o’clock in the afternoon, and that at the time the moorlands, it is said, were visited with a thunderstorm, which circumstance is alluded to in ‘The Cameronian’s Dream ’—

‘The heavens grew black, and the thunder was rolling,
When in Well wood’s dark valley the mighty were falling.’

With Cameron there were in all sixty-three, of whom twenty-three were horsemen, and the remainder on foot. With Earlshall the number was more than double. The contest was severe; the Covenanters fought most valiantly, and while only nine of their number were killed, more than three times that number of the enemy fell. Sir John Cochrane of Ochiltree was the person who revealed the hiding-place of the worthies in the moss to Earlshall, who came upon them in the afternoon, as the sky was lowering into a storm. It is said that Earlshall got £500, and Ochiltree 10,000 merks for their conduct in this affair. A short time after this the house of Ochiltree was burned to the ground, and while the fierce flames were consuming the edifice, Ochiltree’s son exclaimed—‘This is the vengeance of Cameron’s blood,’

That house was never rebuilt. A throughstone was placed over the nine martyrs, who wore laid together in one grave in the moor, with the following inscription :—

‘Hair, curious passenger: come here and read.
Our souls triumph with Christ, our glorious head.
In self-defence we murdered here do lie,
To witness ’gainst the nation’s perjury.’

“Professor Blackie, at this stage of the proceedings, proposed that steps should forthwith be taken to secure the erection of a monument, or other suitable memorial, at Sanquhar, for the commemoration of the Sanquhar Declaration.

“The proposal of Professor Blackie was not lost sight of, and on the 11th May, 1864, the monument was erected. At the site of the ancient cross, where it was put up, the roadway has been cut through a knoll of ground five feet high on the north side of the street. The foundation of the monument consists of square blocks of granite to the level of the brae-face, and on that rises the monument itself, consisting of a square pannelled pedestal, ornamented with mouldings, and polished on the four sides, above which a tapering column rises to the height of 22 feet. On the side facing the street it bears the following inscription:—

In Commemoration of
Sanquhar Declarations,
ON this spot, where stood the
Ancient Cross of thk Burgh :
The Rev. Richard Cameron, on the 22d June, 1680;
The Rev. James Renwick, ox the 29th May, 1685.
‘The Killing Time.’
‘If you would know the nature of their crime,
Then read the story of that killing time.’

“In a cavity near the base of the column was deposited a bottle containing:—A copy of the Dumfries Courier; another of the Glasgow Morning Journal; pamphlet containing an account of the Demonstration of 22nd June, 1860; a handbill of the same; a copy of Simpson’s History of Sanquhar; the Register of the Scottish Temperance League of 1863; a list of the paupers of the parish of Sanquhar; a list of the voters in the burgh; and an abstract of the burgh accounts for 1863; a copy of the Illustrated Sanquhar Magazine of 1857; together with a collection of coins.”

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