Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The History of England from the Accession of James II, Vol. 3 by Thomas Babington Macaulay

Part 6 out of 13

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.6 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

stationed there, and supported, if necessary, by ships of war,
would effectually overawe at once the Macdonalds, the Camerons,
and the Macleans.343

While Mackay was representing in his letters to the council at
Edinburgh the necessity of adopting this plan, Dundee was
contending with difficulties which all his energy and dexterity
could not completely overcome.

The Highlanders, while they continued to be a nation living under
a peculiar polity, were in one sense better and in another sense
worse fitted for military purposes than any other nation in
Europe. The individual Celt was morally and physically well
qualified for war, and especially for war in so wild and rugged a
country as his own. He was intrepid, strong, fleet, patient of
cold, of hunger, and of fatigue. Up steep crags, and over
treacherous morasses, he moved as easily as the French household
troops paced along the great road from Versailles to Marli. He
was accustomed to the use of weapons and to the sight of blood:
he was a fencer; he was a marksman; and, before he had ever stood
in the ranks, he was already more than half a soldier.

As the individual Celt was easily turned into a soldier, so a
tribe of Celts was easily turned into a battalion of soldiers.
All that was necessary was that the military organization should
be conformed to the patriarchal organization. The Chief must be
Colonel: his uncle or his brother must be Major: the tacksmen,
who formed what may be called the peerage of the little
community, must be the Captains: the company of each Captain must
consist of those peasants who lived on his land, and whose names,
faces, connections, and characters, were perfectly known to him:
the subaltern officers must be selected among the Duinhe Wassels,
proud of the eagle's feather: the henchman was an excellent
orderly: the hereditary piper and his sons formed the band: and
the clan became at once a regiment. In such a regiment was found
from the first moment that exact order and prompt obedience in
which the strength of regular armies consists. Every man, from
highest to lowest, was in his proper place, and knew that place
perfectly. It was not necessary to impress by threats or by
punishment on the newly enlisted troops the duty of regarding as
their head him whom they had regarded as their head ever since
they could remember any thing. Every private had, from infancy,
respected his corporal much and his Captain more, and had almost
adored his Colonel. There was therefore no danger of mutiny.
There was as little danger of desertion. Indeed the very feelings
which most powerfully impel other soldiers to desert kept the
Highlander to his standard. If he left it, whither was he to go?
All his kinsmen, all his friends, were arrayed round it. To separate himself
from it was to separate himself for ever from his family, and to
incur all the misery of that very homesickness which, in regular
armies, drives so many recruits to abscond at the risk of stripes
and of death. When these things are fairly considered, it will
not be thought strange that the Highland clans should have
occasionally achieved great martial exploits.

But those very institutions which made a tribe of highlanders,
all bearing the same name, and all subject to the same ruler, so
formidable in battle, disqualified the nation for war on a large
scale. Nothing was easier than to turn clans into efficient
regiments; but nothing was more difficult than to combine these
regiments in such a manner as to form an efficient army. From the
shepherds and herdsmen who fought in the ranks up to the chiefs,
all was harmony and order. Every man looked up to his immediate
superior, and all looked up to the common head. But with the
chief this chain of subordination ended. He knew only how to
govern, and had never learned to obey. Even to royal
proclamations, even to Acts of Parliament, he was accustomed to
yield obedience only when they were in perfect accordance with
his own inclinations. It was not to be expected that he would pay
to any delegated authority a respect which he was in the habit of
refusing to the supreme authority. He thought himself entitled to
judge of the propriety of every order which he received. Of his
brother chiefs, some were his enemies and some his rivals. It was
hardly possible to keep him from affronting them, or to convince
him that they were not affronting him. All his followers
sympathized with all his animosities, considered his honour as
their own, and were ready at his whistle to array themselves
round him in arms against the commander in chief. There was
therefore very little chance that by any contrivance any five
clans could be induced to cooperate heartily with one another
during a long campaign. The best chance, however, was when they
were led by a Saxon. It is remarkable that none of the great
actions performed by the Highlanders during our civil wars was
performed under the command of a Highlander. Some writers have
mentioned it as a proof of the extraordinary genius of Montrose
and Dundee that those captains, though not themselves of Gaelic
race or speech, should have been able to form and direct
confederacies of Gaelic tribes. But in truth it was precisely
because Montrose and Dundee were not Highlanders, that they were
able to lead armies composed of Highland clans. Had Montrose been
chief of the Camerons, the Macdonalds would never have submitted
to his authority. Had Dundee been chief of Clanronald, he would
never have been obeyed by Glengarry. Haughty and punctilious men,
who scarcely acknowledged the king to be their superior, would
not have endured the superiority of a neighbour, an equal, a
competitor. They could far more easily bear the preeminence of a
distinguished stranger, yet even to such a stranger they would
allow only a very limited and a very precarious authority. To
bring a chief before a court martial, to shoot him, to cashier
him, to degrade him, to reprimand him publicly, was impossible.
Macdonald of Keppoch or Maclean of Duart would have struck dead
any officer who had demanded his sword, and told him to consider
himself as under arrest; and hundreds of claymores would
instantly have been drawn to protect the murderer. All that was
left to the commander under whom these potentates condescended to
serve was to argue with them, to supplicate them, to flatter
them, to bribe them; and it was only during a short time that any
human skill could preserve harmony by these means. For every
chief thought himself entitled to peculiar observance; and it was
therefore impossible to pay marked court to any one without
disobliging the rest. The general found himself merely the
president of a congress of petty kings. He was perpetually called
upon to hear and to compose disputes about pedigrees, about
precedence, about the division of spoil. His decision, be it what
it might, must offend somebody. At any moment he might hear that
his right wing had fired on his centre in pursuance of some
quarrel two hundred years old, or that a whole battalion had
marched back to its native glen, because another battalion had
been put in the post of honour. A Highland bard might easily have
found in the history of the year 1689 subjects very similar to
those with which the war of Troy furnished the great poets of
antiquity. One day Achilles is sullen, keeps his tent, and
announces his intention to depart with all his men. The next day
Ajax is storming about the camp, and threatening to cut the
throat of Ulysses.

Hence it was that, though the Highlanders achieved some great
exploits in the civil wars of the seventeenth century, those
exploits left no trace which could be discerned after the lapse
of a few weeks. Victories of strange and almost portentous
splendour produced all the consequences of defeat. Veteran
soldiers and statesmen were bewildered by those sudden turns of
fortune. It was incredible that undisciplined men should have
performed such feats of arms. It was incredible that such feats
of arms, having been performed, should be immediately followed by
the triumph of the conquered and the submission of the
conquerors. Montrose, having passed rapidly from victory to
victory, was, in the full career of success, suddenly abandoned
by his followers. Local jealousies and local interests had
brought his army together. Local jealousies and local interests
dissolved it. The Gordons left him because they fancied that he
neglected them for the Macdonalds. The Macdonalds left him
because they wanted to plunder the Campbells. The force which had
once seemed sufficient to decide the fate of a kingdom melted
away in a few days; and the victories of Tippermuir and Kilsyth
were followed by the disaster of Philiphaugh. Dundee did not live
long enough to experience a similar reverse of fortune; but there
is every reason to believe that, had his life been prolonged one
fortnight, his history would have been the history of Montrose

Dundee made one attempt, soon after the gathering of the clans in
Lochaber, to induce them to submit to the discipline of a regular
army. He called a council of war to consider this question. His
opinion was supported by all the officers who had joined him from
the low country. Distinguished among them were James Seton, Earl
of Dunfermline, and James Galloway, Lord Dunkeld. The Celtic
chiefs took the other side. Lochiel, the ablest among them, was
their spokesman, and argued the point with much ingenuity and
natural eloquence. "Our system,"--such was the substance of his
reasoning, "may not be the best: but we were bred to it from
childhood: we understand it perfectly: it is suited to our
peculiar institutions, feelings, and manners. Making war after
our own fashion, we have the expertness and coolness of veterans.
Making war in any other way, we shall be raw and awkward
recruits. To turn us into soldiers like those of Cromwell and
Turenne would be the business of years: and we have not even
weeks to spare. We have time enough to unlearn our own
discipline, but not time enough to learn yours." Dundee, with
high compliments to Lochiel, declared himself convinced, and
perhaps was convinced: for the reasonings of the wise old chief
were by no means without weight.344

Yet some Celtic usages of war were such as Dundee could not
tolerate. Cruel as he was, his cruelty always had a method and a
purpose. He still hoped that he might be able to win some chiefs
who remained neutral; and he carefully avoided every act which
could goad them into open hostility. This was undoubtedly a
policy likely to promote the interest of James; but the interest
of James was nothing to the wild marauders who used his name and
rallied round his banner merely for the purpose of making
profitable forays and wreaking old grudges. Keppoch especially,
who hated the Mackintoshes much more than he loved the Stuarts,
not only plundered the territory of his enemies, but burned
whatever he could not carry away. Dundee was moved to great wrath
by the sight of the blazing dwellings. "I would rather," he said,
"carry a musket in a respectable regiment than be captain of such
a gang of thieves." Punishment was of course out of the question.
Indeed it may be considered as a remarkable proof of the
general's influence that Coll of the Cows deigned to apologize
for conduct for which in a well governed army he would have been

As the Grants were in arms for King William, their property was
considered as fair prize. Their territory was invaded by a party
of Camerons: a skirmish took place: some blood was shed; and many
cattle were carried off to Dundee's camp, where provisions were
greatly needed. This raid produced a quarrel, the history of
which illustrates in the most striking manner the character of a
Highland army. Among those who were slain in resisting the
Camerons was a Macdonald of the Glengarry branch, who had long
resided among the Grants, had become in feelings and opinions a
Grant, and had absented himself from the muster of his tribe.
Though he had been guilty of a high offence against the Gaelic
code of honour and morality, his kinsmen remembered the sacred
tie which he had forgotten. Good or bad, he was bone of their
bone: he was flesh of their flesh; and he should have been
reserved for their justice. The name which he bore, the blood of
the Lords of the Isles, should have been his protection.
Glengarry in a rage went to Dundee and demanded vengeance on
Lochiel and the whole race of Cameron. Dundee replied that the
unfortunate gentleman who had fallen was a traitor to the clan as
well as to the King. Was it ever heard of in war that the person
of an enemy, a combatant in arms, was to be held inviolable on
account of his name and descent? And, even if wrong had been
done, how was it to be redressed? Half the army must slaughter
the other half before a finger could be laid on Lochiel.
Glengarry went away raging like a madman. Since his complaints
were disregarded by those who ought to right him, he would right
himself: he would draw out his men, and fall sword in hand on the
murderers of his cousin. During some time he would listen to no
expostulation. When he was reminded that Lochiel's followers were
in number nearly double of the Glengarry men, "No matter," he
cried, "one Macdonald is worth two Camerons." Had Lochiel been
equally irritable and boastful, it is probable that the Highland
insurrection would have given little more trouble to the
government, and that the rebels would have perished obscurely in
the wilderness by one another's claymores. But nature had
bestowed on him in large measure the qualities of a statesman,
though fortune had hidden those qualities in an obscure corner of
the world. He saw that this was not a time for brawling: his own
character for courage had long been established; and his temper
was under strict government. The fury of Glengarry, not being
inflamed by any fresh provocation, rapidly abated. Indeed there
were some who suspected that he had never been quite so
pugnacious as he had affected to be, and that his bluster was
meant only to keep up his own dignity in the eyes of his
retainers. However this might be, the quarrel was composed; and
the two chiefs met, with the outward show of civility, at the
general's table.346

What Dundee saw of his Celtic allies must have made him desirous
to have in his army some troops on whose obedience he could
depend, and who would not, at a signal from their colonel, turn
their arms against their general and their king. He accordingly,
during the months of May and June, sent to Dublin a succession of
letters earnestly imploring assistance. If six thousand, four
thousand, three thousand, regular soldiers were now sent to
Lochaber, he trusted that his Majesty would soon hold a court in
Holyrood. That such a force might be spared hardly admitted of a
doubt. The authority of James was at that time acknowledged in
every part of Ireland, except on the shores of Lough Erne and
behind the ramparts of Londonderry. He had in that kingdom an
army of forty thousand men. An eighth part of such an army would
scarcely be missed there, and might, united with the clans which
were in insurrection, effect great things in Scotland.

Dundee received such answers to his applications as encouraged
him to hope that a large and well appointed force would soon be
sent from Ulster to join him. He did not wish to try the chance
of battle before these succours arrived.347 Mackay, on the other
hand, was weary of marching to and fro in a desert. His men were
exhausted and out of heart. He thought it desirable that they
should withdraw from the hill country; and William was of the
same opinion.

In June therefore the civil war was, as if by concert between the
generals, completely suspended. Dundee remained in Lochaber,
impatiently awaiting the arrival of troops and supplies from
Ireland. It was impossible for him to keep his Highlanders
together in a state of inactivity. A vast extent of moor and
mountain was required to furnish food for so many mouths. The
clans therefore went back to their own glens, having promised to
reassemble on the first summons.

Meanwhile Mackay's soldiers, exhausted by severe exertions and
privations, were taking their ease in quarters scattered over the
low country from Aberdeen to Stirling. Mackay himself was at
Edinburgh, and was urging the ministers there to furnish him with
the means of constructing a chain of fortifications among the
Grampians. The ministers had, it should seem, miscalculated their
military resources. It had been expected that the Campbells would
take the field in such force as would balance the whole strength
of the clans which marched under Dundee. It had also been
expected that the Covenanters of the West would hasten to swell
the ranks of the army of King William. Both expectations were
disappointed. Argyle had found his principality devastated, and
his tribe disarmed and disorganized. A considerable time must
elapse before his standard would be surrounded by an array such
as his forefathers had led to battle. The Covenanters of the West
were in general unwilling to enlist. They were assuredly not
wanting in courage; and they hated Dundee with deadly hatred. In
their part of the country the memory of his cruelty was still
fresh. Every village had its own tale of blood. The greyheaded
father was missed in one dwelling, the hopeful stripling in
another. It was remembered but too well how the dragoons had
stalked into the peasant's cottage, cursing and damning him,
themselves, and each other at every second word, pushing from the
ingle nook his grandmother of eighty, and thrusting their hands
into the bosom of his daughter of sixteen; how the abjuration had
been tendered to him; how he had folded his arms and said "God's
will be done"; how the Colonel had called for a file with loaded
muskets; and how in three minutes the goodman of the house had
been wallowing in a pool of blood at his own door. The seat of
the martyr was still vacant at the fireside; and every child
could point out his grave still green amidst the heath. When the
people of this region called their oppressor a servant of the
devil, they were not speaking figuratively. They believed that
between the bad man and the bad angel there was a close alliance
on definite terms; that Dundee had bound himself to do the work
of hell on earth, and that, for high purposes, hell was permitted
to protect its slave till the measure of his guilt should be
full. But, intensely as these men abhorred Dundee, most of them
had a scruple about drawing the sword for William. A great
meeting was held in the parish church of Douglas; and the
question was propounded, whether, at a time when war was in the
land, and when an Irish invasion was expected, it were not a duty
to take arms. The debate was sharp and tumultuous. The orators on
one side adjured their brethren not to incur the curse denounced
against the inhabitants of Meroz, who came not to the help of the
Lord against the mighty. The orators on the other side thundered
against sinful associations. There were malignants in William's
Army: Mackay's own orthodoxy was problematical: to take military
service with such comrades, and under such a general, would be a
sinful association. At length, after much wrangling, and amidst
great confusion, a vote was taken; and the majority pronounced
that to take military service would be a sinful association.
There was however a large minority; and, from among the members
of this minority, the Earl of Angus was able to raise a body of
infantry, which is still, after the lapse of more than a hundred
and sixty years, known by the name of the Cameronian Regiment.
The first Lieutenant Colonel was Cleland, that implacable avenger
of blood who had driven Dundee from the Convention. There was no
small difficulty in filling the ranks: for many West country
Whigs, who did not think it absolutely sinful to enlist, stood
out for terms subversive of all military discipline. Some would
not serve under any colonel, major, captain, serjeant, or
corporal, who was not ready to sign the Covenant. Others insisted
that, if it should be found absolutely necessary to appoint any
officer who had taken the tests imposed in the late reign, he
should at least qualify himself for command by publicly
confessing his sin at the head of the regiment. Most of the
enthusiasts who had proposed these conditions were induced by
dexterous management to abate much of their demands. Yet the new
regiment had a very peculiar character. The soldiers were all
rigid Puritans. One of their first acts was to petition the
Parliament that all drunkenness, licentiousness, and profaneness
might be severely punished. Their own conduct must have been
exemplary: for the worst crime which the most extravagant bigotry
could impute to them was that of huzzaing on the King's birthday.
It was originally intended that with the military organization of
the corps should he interwoven the organization of a Presbyterian
congregation. Each company was to furnish an elder; and the
elders were, with the chaplain, to form an ecclesiastical court
for the suppression of immorality and heresy. Elders, however,
were not appointed: but a noted hill preacher, Alexander Shields,
was called to the office of chaplain. It is not easy to conceive
that fanaticism can be heated to a higher temperature than that
which is indicated by the writings of Shields. According to him,
it should seem to be the first duty of a Christian ruler to
persecute to the death every heterodox subject, and the first
duty of every Christian subject to poniard a heterodox ruler. Yet
there was then in Scotland an enthusiasm compared with which the
enthusiasm even of this man was lukewarm. The extreme
Covenanters protested against his defection as vehemently as he
had protested against the Black Indulgence and the oath of
supremacy, and pronounced every man who entered Angus's regiment
guilty of a wicked confederacy with malignants.348

Meanwhile Edinburgh Castle had fallen, after holding out more
than two months. Both the defence and the attack had been
languidly conducted. The Duke of Gordon, unwilling to incur the
mortal hatred of those at whose mercy his lands and life might
soon be, did not choose to batter the city. The assailants, on
the other hand, carried on their operations with so little energy
and so little vigilance that a constant communication was kept up
between the Jacobites within the citadel and the Jacobites
without. Strange stories were told of the polite and facetious
messages which passed between the besieged and the besiegers. On
one occasion Gordon sent to inform the magistrates that he was
going to fire a salute on account of some news which he had
received from Ireland, but that the good town need not be
alarmed, for that his guns would not be loaded with ball. On
another occasion, his drums beat a parley: the white flag was
hung out: a conference took place; and he gravely informed the
enemy that all his cards had been thumbed to pieces, and begged
them to let him have a few more packs. His friends established a
telegraph by means of which they conversed with him across the
lines of sentinels. From a window in the top story of one of the
loftiest of those gigantic houses, a few of which still darken
the High Street, a white cloth was hung out when all was well,
and a black cloth when things went ill. If it was necessary to
give more detailed information, a board was held up inscribed
with capital letters so large that they could, by the help of a
telescope, be read on the ramparts of the castle. Agents laden
with letters and fresh provisions managed, in various disguises
and by various shifts, to cross the sheet of water which then lay
on the north of the fortress and to clamber up the precipitous
ascent. The peal of a musket from a particular half moon was the
signal which announced to the friends of the House of Stuart that
another of their emissaries had got safe up the rock. But at
length the supplies were exhausted; and it was necessary to
capitulate. Favourable terms were readily granted: the garrison
marched out; and the keys were delivered up amidst the
acclamations of a great multitude of burghers.349

But the government had far more acrimonious and more pertinacious
enemies in the Parliament House than in the Castle. When the
Estates reassembled after their adjournment, the crown and
sceptre of Scotland were displayed with the wonted pomp in the
hall as types of the absent sovereign. Hamilton rode in state
from Holyrood up the High Street as Lord High Commissioner; and
Crawford took his seat as President. Two Acts, one turning the
Convention into a Parliament, the other recognising William and
Mary as King and Queen, were rapidly passed and touched with the
sceptre; and then the conflict of factions began.350

It speedily appeared that the opposition which Montgomery had
organized was irresistibly strong. Though made up of many
conflicting elements, Republicans, Whigs, Tories, zealous
Presbyterians, bigoted Prelatists, it acted for a time as one
man, and drew to itself a multitude of those mean and timid
politicians who naturally gravitate towards the stronger party.
The friends of the government were few and disunited. Hamilton
brought but half a heart to the discharge of his duties. He had
always been unstable; and he was now discontented. He held indeed
the highest place to which a subject could aspire. But he
imagined that he had only the show of power while others enjoyed
the substance, and was not
sorry to see those of whom he was jealous thwarted and annoyed.
He did not absolutely betray the prince whom he represented: but
he sometimes tampered with the chiefs of the Club, and sometimes
did sly in turns to those who were joined with him in the
service of the Crown.

His instructions directed him to give the royal assent to laws
for the mitigating or removing of numerous grievances, and
particularly to a law restricting the power and reforming the
constitution of the Committee of Articles, and to a law
establishing the Presbyterian Church Government.351 But it
mattered not what his instructions were. The chiefs of the Club
were bent on finding a cause of quarrel. The propositions of the
Government touching the Lords of the Articles were contemptuously
rejected. Hamilton wrote to London for fresh directions; and soon
a second plan, which left little more than the name of the once
despotic Committee, was sent back. But the second plan, though
such as would have contented judicious and temperate reformers,
shared the fate of the first. Meanwhile the chiefs of the Club
laid on the table a law which interdicted the King from ever
employing in any public office any person who had ever borne any
part in any proceeding inconsistent with the Claim of Right, or
who had ever obstructed or retarded any good design of the
Estates. This law, uniting, within a very short compass, almost
all the faults which a law can have, was well known to be aimed
at the new Lord President of the Court of Session, and at his son
the new Lord Advocate. Their prosperity and power made them
objects of envy to every disappointed candidate for office. That
they were new men, the first of their race who had risen to
distinction, and that nevertheless they had, by the mere force of
ability, become as important in the state as the Duke of Hamilton
or the Earl of Argyle, was a thought which galled the hearts of
many needy and haughty patricians. To the Whigs of Scotland the
Dalrymples were what Halifax and Caermarthen were to the Whigs of
England. Neither the exile of Sir James, nor the zeal with which
Sir John had promoted the Revolution, was received as an
atonement for old delinquency. They had both served the bloody
and idolatrous House. They had both oppressed the people of God.
Their late repentance might perhaps give them a fair claim to
pardon, but surely gave them no right to honours and rewards.

The friends of the government in vain attempted to divert the
attention of the Parliament from the business of persecuting the
Dalrymple family to the important and pressing question of Church
Government. They said that the old system had been abolished;
that no other system had been substituted; that it was impossible
to say what was the established religion of the kingdom; and that
the first duty of the legislature was to put an end to an anarchy
which was daily producing disasters and crimes. The leaders of
the Club were not to be so drawn away from their object. It was
moved and resolved that the consideration of ecclesiastical
affairs should be postponed till secular affairs had been
settled. The unjust and absurd Act of Incapacitation was carried
by seventy-four voices to twenty-four. Another vote still more
obviously aimed at the House of Stair speedily followed. The
Parliament laid claim to a Veto on the nomination of the judges,
and assumed the power of stopping the signet, in other words, of
suspending the whole administration of justice, till this claim
should be allowed. It was plain from what passed in debate that,
though the chiefs of the Club had begun with the Court of
Session, they did not mean to end there. The arguments used by
Sir Patrick Hume and others led directly to the conclusion that
the King ought not to have the appointment of any great public
functionary. Sir Patrick indeed avowed, both in speech and in
writing, his opinion that the whole patronage of the realm
ought to be transferred from the Crown to the Estates. When the
place of Treasurer, of Chancellor, of Secretary, was vacant, the
Parliament ought to submit two or three names to his Majesty; and
one of those names his Majesty ought to be bound to select.352

All this time the Estates obstinately refused to grant any supply
till their Acts should have been touched with the sceptre. The
Lord High Commissioner was at length so much provoked by their
perverseness that, after long temporising, he refused to touch
even Acts which were in themselves unobjectionable, and to which
his instructions empowered him to consent. This state of things
would have ended in some great convulsion, if the King of
Scotland had not been also King of a much greater and more
opulent kingdom. Charles the First had never found any parliament
at Westminster more unmanageable than William, during this
session, found the parliament at Edinburgh. But it was not in the
power of the parliament at Edinburgh to put on William such a
pressure as the parliament at Westminster had put on Charles. A
refusal of supplies at Westminster was a serious thing, and left
the Sovereign no choice except to yield, or to raise money by
unconstitutional means, But a refusal of supplies at Edinburgh
reduced him to no such dilemma. The largest sum that he could
hope to receive from Scotland in a year was less than what he
received from England every fortnight. He had therefore only to
entrench himself within the limits of his undoubted prerogative,
and there to remain on the defensive, till some favourable
conjuncture should arrive.353

While these things were passing in the Parliament House, the
civil war in the Highlands, having been during a few weeks
suspended, broke forth again more violently than before. Since
the splendour of the House of Argyle had been eclipsed, no Gaelic
chief could vie in power with the Marquess of Athol. The district
from which he took his title, and of which he might almost be
called the sovereign, was in extent larger than an ordinary
county, and was more fertile, more diligently cultivated, and
more thickly peopled than the greater part of the Highlands. The
men who followed his banner were supposed to be not less numerous
than all the Macdonalds and Macleans united, and were, in
strength and courage, inferior to no tribe in the mountains. But
the clan had been made insignificant by the insignificance of the
chief. The Marquess was the falsest, the most fickle, the most
pusillanimous, of mankind. Already, in the short space of six
months, be had been several times a Jacobite, and several times a
Williamite. Both Jacobites and Williamites regarded him with
contempt and distrust, which respect for his immense power
prevented them from fully expressing. After repeatedly vowing
fidelity to both parties, and repeatedly betraying both, he began
to think that he should best provide for his safety by abdicating
the functions both of a peer and of a chieftain, by absenting
himself both from the Parliament House at Edinburgh and from his
castle in the mountains, and by quitting the country to which he
was bound by every tie of duty and honour at the very crisis of
her fate. While all Scotland was waiting with impatience and
anxiety to see in which army his numerous retainers would be
arrayed, he stole away to England, settled himself at Bath, and
pretended to drink the waters.354 His principality, left without
a head, was divided against itself. The general leaning of the
Athol men was towards King James. For they had been employed by
him, only four years before, as the ministers of his vengeance
against the House of Argyle. They had garrisoned Inverary: they
had ravaged Lorn: they had demolished houses, cut down fruit
trees, burned fishing boats, broken millstones, hanged Campbells,
and were therefore not likely to be pleased by the prospect of
Mac Callum Mores restoration. One word from the Marquess would
have sent two thousand claymores to the Jacobite side. But that
word he would not speak; and the consequence was, that the
conduct of his followers was as irresolute and inconsistent as
his own.

While they were waiting for some indication of his wishes, they
were called to arms at once by two leaders, either of whom might,
with some show of reason, claim to be considered as the
representative of the absent chief. Lord Murray, the Marquess's
eldest son, who was married to a daughter of the Duke of
Hamilton, declared for King William. Stewart of Ballenach, the
Marquess's confidential agent, declared for King James. The
people knew not which summons to obey. He whose authority would
have been held in profound reverence, had plighted faith to both
sides, and had then run away for fear of being under the
necessity of joining either; nor was it very easy to say
whether the place which he had left vacant belonged to his
steward or to his heir apparent.

The most important military post in Athol was Blair Castle. The
house which now bears that name is not distinguished by any
striking peculiarity from other country seats of the aristocracy.
The old building was a lofty tower of rude architecture which
commanded a vale watered by the Garry. The walls would have
offered very little resistance to a battering train, but were
quite strong enough to keep the herdsmen of the Grampians in awe.
About five miles south of this stronghold, the valley of the
Garry contracts itself into the celebrated glen of Killiecrankie.
At present a highway as smooth as any road in Middlesex ascends
gently from the low country to the summit of the defile. White
villas peep from the birch forest; and, on a fine summer day,
there is scarcely a turn of the pass at which may not be seen
some angler casting his fly on the foam of the river, some artist
sketching a pinnacle of rock, or some party of pleasure
banqueting on the turf in the fretwork of shade and sunshine.
But, in the days of William the Third, Killiecrankie was
mentioned with horror by the peaceful and industrious inhabitants
of the Perthshire lowlands. It was deemed the most perilous of
all those dark ravines through which the marauders of the hills
were wont to sally forth. The sound, so musical to modern ears,
of the river brawling round the mossy rocks and among the smooth
pebbles, the dark masses of crag and verdure worthy of the pencil
of Wilson, the fantastic peaks bathed, at sunrise and sunset,
with light rich as that which glows on the canvass of Claude,
suggested to our ancestors thoughts of murderous ambuscades and
of bodies stripped, gashed, and abandoned to the birds of prey.
The only path was narrow and rugged: a horse could with
difficulty be led up: two men could hardly walk abreast; and, in
some places, the way ran so close by the precipice that the
traveller had great need of a steady eye and foot. Many years
later, the first Duke of Athol constructed a road up which it was
just possible to drag his coach. But even that road was so steep
and so strait that a handful of resolute men might have defended
it against an army;355 nor did any Saxon consider a visit to
Killiecrankie as a pleasure, till experience had taught the
English Government that the weapons by which the Highlanders
could be most effectually subdued were the pickaxe and the spade.

The country which lay just above this pass was now the theatre of
a war such as the Highlands had not often witnessed. Men wearing
the same tartan, and attached to the same lord, were arrayed
against each other. The name of the absent chief was used, with
some show of reason, on both sides. Ballenach, at the head of a
body of vassals who considered him as the representative of the
Marquess, occupied Blair Castle. Murray, with twelve hundred
followers, appeared before the walls and demanded to be admitted
into the mansion of his family, the mansion which would one day
be his own. The garrison refused to open the gates. Messages were
sent off by the besiegers to Edinburgh, and by the besieged to
Lochaber.356 In both places the tidings produced great agitation.
Mackay and Dundee agreed in thinking that the crisis required
prompt and strenuous exertion. On the fate of Blair Castle
probably depended the fate of all Athol. On the fate of Athol
might depend the fate of Scotland. Mackay hastened northward, and
ordered his troops to assemble in the low country of Perthshire.
Some of them were quartered at such a distance that they did not
arrive in time. He soon, however, had with him the three Scotch
regiments which had served in Holland, and which bore the names
of their Colonels, Mackay himself, Balfour, and Ramsay. There was
also a gallant regiment of infantry from England, then called
Hastings's, but now known as the thirteenth of the line. With
these old troops were joined two regiments newly levied in the
Lowlands. One of them was commanded by Lord Kenmore; the other,
which had been raised on the Border, and which is still styled
the King's own Borderers, by Lord Leven. Two troops of horse,
Lord Annandale's and Lord Belhaven's, probably made up the army
to the number of above three thousand men. Belhaven rode at the
head of his troop: but Annandale, the most factious of all
Montgomery's followers, preferred the Club and the Parliament
House to the field.357

Dundee, meanwhile, had summoned all the clans which acknowledged
his commission to assemble for an expedition into Athol. His
exertions were strenuously seconded by Lochiel. The fiery crosses
were sent again in all haste through Appin and Ardnamurchan, up
Glenmore, and along Loch Leven. But the call was so unexpected,
and the time allowed was so short, that the muster was not a very
full one. The whole number of broadswords seems to have been
under three thousand. With this force, such as it was, Dundee set
forth. On his march he was joined by succours which had just
arrived from Ulster. They consisted of little more than three
hundred Irish foot, ill armed, ill clothed, and ill disciplined.
Their commander was an officer named Cannon, who had seen service
in the Netherlands, and who might perhaps have acquitted himself
well in a subordinate post and in a regular army, but who was
altogether unequal to the part now assigned to him.358 He had
already loitered among the Hebrides so long that some ships which
had been sent with him, and which were laden with stores, had
been taken by English cruisers. He and his soldiers had with
difficulty escaped the same fate. Incompetent as he was, he bore
a commission which gave him military rank in Scotland next to

The disappointment was severe. In truth James would have done
better to withhold all assistance from the Highlanders than to
mock them by sending them, instead of the well appointed army
which they had asked and expected, a rabble contemptible in
numbers and appearance. It was now evident that whatever was done
for his cause in Scotland must be done by Scottish hands.359

While Mackay from one side, and Dundee from the other, were
advancing towards Blair Castle, important events had taken place
there. Murray's adherents soon began to waver in their fidelity
to him. They had an old antipathy to Whigs; for they considered
the name of Whig as synonymous with the name of Campbell. They
saw arrayed against them a large number of their kinsmen,
commanded by a gentleman who was supposed to possess the
confidence of the Marquess. The besieging army therefore melted
rapidly away. Many returned home on the plea that, as their
neighbourhood was about to be the seat of war, they must place
their families and cattle in security. Others more ingenuously
declared that they would not fight in such a quarrel. One large
body went to a brook, filled their bonnets with water, drank a
health to King James, and then dispersed.360 Their zeal for King
James, however, did not induce them to join the standard of his
general. They lurked among the rocks and thickets which overhang
the Garry, in the hope that there would soon be a battle, and
that, whatever might be the event, there would be fugitives and
corpses to plunder.

Murray was in a strait. His force had dwindled to three or four
hundred men: even in those men he could put little trust; and the
Macdonalds and Camerons were advancing fast. He therefore raised
the siege of Blair Castle, and retired with a few followers into
the defile of Killiecrankie. There he was soon joined by a
detachment of two hundred fusileers whom Mackay had sent forward
to secure the pass. The main body of the Lowland army speedily

Early in the morning of Saturday the twenty-seventh of July,
Dundee arrived at Blair Castle. There he learned that Mackay's
troops were already in the ravine of Killiecrankie. It was
necessary to come to a prompt decision. A council of war was
held. The Saxon officers were generally against hazarding a
battle. The Celtic chiefs were oŁ a different opinion. Glengarry
and Lochiel were now both of a mind. "Fight, my Lord" said
Lochiel with his usual energy; "fight immediately: fight, if you
have only one to three. Our men are in heart. Their only fear is
that the enemy should escape. Give them their way; and be assured
that they will either perish or gain a complete victory. But if
you restrain them, if you force them to remain on the defensive,
I answer for nothing. If we do not fight, we had better break up
and retire to our mountains."362

Dundee's countenance brightened. "You hear, gentlemen," he said
to his Lowland officers; "you hear the opinion of one who
understands Highland war better than any of us." No voice was
raised on the other side. It was determined to fight; and the
confederated clans in high spirits set forward to encounter the

The enemy meanwhile had made his way up the pass. The ascent had
been long and toilsome: for even the foot had to climb by twos
and threes; and the baggage horses, twelve hundred in number,
could mount only one at a time. No wheeled carriage had ever been
tugged up that arduous path. The head of the column had emerged
and was on the table land, while the rearguard was still in the
plain below. At length the passage was effected; and the troops
found themselves in a valley of no great extent. Their right was
flanked by a rising ground, their left by the Garry. Wearied with
the morning's work, they threw themselves on the grass to take
some rest and refreshment.

Early in the afternoon, they were roused by an alarm that the
Highlanders were approaching. Regiment after regiment started up
and got into order. In a little while the summit of an ascent
which was about a musket shot before them was covered with
bonnets and plaids. Dundee rode forward for the purpose of
surveying the force with which he was to contend, and then drew
up his own men with as much skill as their peculiar character
permitted him to exert. It was desirable to keep the clans
distinct. Each tribe, large or small, formed a column separated
from the next column by a wide interval. One of these battalions
might contain seven hundred men, while another consisted of only
a hundred and twenty. Lochiel had represented that it was
impossible to mix men of different tribes without destroying all
that constituted the peculiar strength of a Highland army.363

On the right, close to the Garry, were the Macleans. Next to them
were Cannon and his Irish foot. Then came the Macdonalds of
Clanronald, commanded by the guardian of their young prince. On
the left were other bands of Macdonalds. At the head of one large
battalion towered the stately form of Glengarry, who bore in his
hand the royal standard of King James the Seventh.364 Still
further to the left were the cavalry, a small squadron consisting
of some Jacobite gentlemen who had fled from the Lowlands to the
mountains and of about forty of Dundee's old troopers. The horses
had been ill fed and ill tended among the Grampians, and looked
miserably lean and feeble. Beyond them was Lochiel with his
Camerons. On the extreme left, the men of Sky were marshalled by
Macdonald of Sleat.365

In the Highlands, as in all countries where war has not become a
science, men thought it the most important duty of a commander to
set an example of personal courage and of bodily exertion.
Lochiel was especially renowned for his physical prowess. His
clansmen looked big with pride when they related how he had
himself broken hostile ranks and hewn down tall warriors. He
probably owed quite as much of his influence to these
achievements as to the high qualities which, if fortune had
placed him in the English Parliament or at the French court,
would have made him one of the foremost men of his age. He had
the sense however to perceive how erroneous was the notion which
his countrymen had formed. He knew that to give and to take blows
was not the business of a general. He knew with how much
difficulty Dundee had been able to keep together, during a few
days, an army composed of several clans; and he knew that what
Dundee had effected with difficulty Cannon would not be able to
effect at all. The life on which so much depended must not be
sacrificed to a barbarous prejudice. Lochiel therefore adjured
Dundee not to run into any unnecessary danger. "Your Lordship's
business," he said, "is to overlook every thing, and to issue
your commands. Our business is to execute those commands bravely
and promptly." Dundee answered with calm magnanimity that there
was much weight in what his friend Sir Ewan had urged, but that
no general could effect any thing great without possessing the
confidence of his men. "I must establish my character for
courage. Your people expect to see their leaders in the thickest
of the battle; and to day they shall see me there. I promise you,
on my honour, that in future fights I will take more care of

Meanwhile a fire of musketry was kept up on both sides, but more
skilfully and more steadily by the regular soldiers than by the
mountaineers. The space between the armies was one cloud of
smoke. Not a few Highlanders dropped; and the clans grew
impatient. The sun however was low in the west before Dundee gave
the order to prepare for action. His men raised a great shout.
The enemy, probably exhausted by the toil of the day, returned a
feeble and wavering cheer. "We shall do it now," said Lochiel:
"that is not the cry of men who are going to win." He had walked
through all his ranks, had addressed a few words to every
Cameron, and had taken from every Cameron a promise to conquer or

It was past seven o'clock. Dundee gave the word. The Highlanders
dropped their plaids. The few who were so luxurious as to wear
rude socks of untanned hide spurned them away. It was long
remembered in Lochaber that Lochiel took off what probably was
the only pair of shoes in his clan, and charged barefoot at the
head of his men. The whole line advanced firing. The enemy
returned the fire and did much execution. When only a small space
was left between the armies, the Highlanders suddenly flung away
their firelocks, drew their broadswords, and rushed forward with
a fearful yell. The Lowlanders prepared to receive the shock; but
this was then a long and awkward process; and the soldiers were
still fumbling with the muzzles of their guns and the handles of
their bayonets when the whole flood of Macleans, Macdonalds, and
Camerons came down. In two minutes the battle was lost and won.
The ranks of Balfour's regiment broke. He was cloven down while
struggling in the press. Ramsay's men turned their backs and
dropped their arms. Mackay's own foot were swept away by the
furious onset of the Camerons. His brother and nephew exerted
themselves in vain to rally the men. The former was laid dead on
the ground by a stroke from a claymore. The latter, with eight
wounds on his body, made his way through the tumult and carnage
to his uncle's side. Even in that extremity Mackay retained all
his selfpossession. He had still one hope. A charge of horse
might recover the day; for of horse the bravest Highlanders were
supposed to stand in awe. But he called on the horse in vain.

Belhaven indeed behaved like a gallant gentleman: but his
troopers, appalled by the rout of the infantry, galloped off in
disorder: Annandale's men followed: all was over; and the mingled
torrent of redcoats and tartans went raving down the valley to
the gorge of Killiecrankie.

Mackay, accompanied by one trusty servant, spurred bravely
through the thickest of the claymores and targets, and reached a
point from which he had a view of the field. His whole army had
disappeared, with the exception of some Borderers whom Leven had
kept together, and of Hastings's regiment, which had poured a
murderous fire into the Celtic ranks, and which still kept
unbroken order. All the men that could be collected were only a
few hundreds. The general made haste to lead them across the
Carry, and, having put that river between them and the enemy,
paused for a moment to meditate on his situation.

He could hardly understand how the conquerors could be so unwise
as to allow him even that moment for deliberation. They might
with ease have killed or taken all who were with him before the
night closed in. But the energy of the Celtic warriors had spent
itself in one furious rush and one short struggle. The pass was
choked by the twelve hundred beasts of burden which carried the
provisions and baggage of the vanquished army. Such a booty was
irresistibly tempting to men who were impelled to war quite as
much by the desire of rapine as by the desire of glory. It is
probable that few even of the chiefs were disposed to leave so
rich a price for the sake of King James. Dundee himself might at
that moment have been unable to persuade his followers to quit
the heaps of spoil, and to complete the great work of the day;
and Dundee was no more.

At the beginning of the action he had taken his place in front of
his little band of cavalry. He bade them follow him, and rode
forward. But it seemed to be decreed that, on that day, the
Lowland Scotch should in both armies appear to disadvantage. The
horse hesitated. Dundee turned round, and stood up in his
stirrups, and, waving his hat, invited them to come on. As he
lifted his arm, his cuirass rose, and exposed the lower part of
his left side. A musket ball struck him; his horse sprang forward
and plunged into a cloud of smoke and dust, which hid from both
armies the fall of the victorious general. A person named
Johnstone was near him and caught him as he sank down from the
saddle. "How goes the day?" said Dundee. "Well for King James;"
answered Johnstone: "but I am sorry for Your Lordship." "If it is
well for him," answered the dying man, "it matters the less for
me." He never spoke again; but when, half an hour later, Lord
Dunfermline and some other friends came to the spot, they thought
that they could still discern some faint remains of life. The
body, wrapped in two plaids, was carried to the Castle of

Mackay, who was ignorant of Dundee's fate, and well acquainted
with Dundee's skill and activity, expected to be instantly and
hotly pursued, and had very little expectation of being able to
save even the scanty remains of the vanquished army. He could not
retreat by the pass: for the Highlanders were already there. He
therefore resolved to push across the mountains towards the
valley of the Tay. He soon overtook two or three hundred of his
runaways who had taken the same road. Most of them belonged to
Ramsay's regiment, and must have seen service. But they were
unarmed: they were utterly bewildered by the recent disaster; and
the general could find among them no remains either of martial
discipline or of martial spirit. His situation was one which must
have severely tried the firmest nerves. Night had set in: he was
in a desert: he had no guide: a victorious enemy was, in all
human probability, on his track; and he had to provide for the
safety of a crowd of men who had lost both head and heart. He had
just suffered a defeat of all defeats the most painful and
humiliating. His domestic feelings had been not less severely
wounded than his professional feelings. One dear kinsman had just
been struck dead before his eyes. Another, bleeding from many
wounds, moved feebly at his side. But the unfortunate general's
courage was sustained by a firm faith in God, and a high sense of
duty to the state. In the midst of misery and disgrace, he still
held his head nobly erect, and found fortitude, not only for
himself; but for all around him. His first care was to be sure of
his road. A solitary light which twinkled through the darkness
guided him to a small hovel. The inmates spoke no tongue but the
Gaelic, and were at first scared by the appearance of uniforms
and arms. But Mackay's gentle manner removed their apprehension:
their language had been familiar to him in childhood; and he
retained enough of it to communicate with them. By their
directions, and by the help of a pocket map, in which the routes
through that wild country were roughly laid down, he was able to
find his way. He marched all night. When day broke his task was
more difficult than ever. Light increased the terror of his
companions. Hastings's men and Leven's men indeed still behaved
themselves like soldiers. But the fugitives from Ramsay's were a
mere rabble. They had flung away their muskets. The broadswords
from which they had fled were ever in their eyes. Every fresh
object caused a fresh panic. A company of herdsmen in plaids
driving cattle was magnified by imagination into a host of Celtic
warriors. Some of the runaways left the main body and fled to the
hills, where their cowardice met with a proper punishment. They
were killed for their coats and shoes; and their naked carcasses
were left for a prey to the eagles of Ben Lawers. The desertion
would have been much greater, had not Mackay and his officers,
pistol in hand, threatened to blow out the brains of any man whom
they caught attempting to steal off.

At length the weary fugitives came in sight of Weems Castle. The
proprietor of the mansion was a friend to the new government, and
extended to them such hospitality as was in his power. His stores
of oatmeal were brought out, kine were slaughtered; and a rude and
hasty meal was set before the numerous guests. Thus refreshed,
they again set forth, and marched all day over bog, moor, and
mountain. Thinly inhabited as the country was, they could plainly
see that the report of their disaster had already spread far, and
that the population was every where in a state of great
excitement. Late at night they reached Castle Drummond, which was
held for King William by a small garrison; and, on the following
day, they proceeded with less difficulty to Stirling.368

The tidings of their defeat had outrun them. All Scotland was in
a ferment. The disaster had indeed been great: but it was
exaggerated by the wild hopes of one party and by the wild fears
of the other. It was at first believed that the whole army of
King William had perished; that Mackay himself had fallen; that
Dundee, at the head of a great host of barbarians, flushed with
victory and impatient for spoil, had already descended from the
hills; that he was master of the whole country beyond the Forth;
that Fife was up to join him; that in three days he would be at
Stirling; that in a week he would be at Holyrood. Messengers were
sent to urge a regiment which lay in Northumberland to hasten
across the border. Others carried to London earnest entreaties
that His Majesty would instantly send every soldier that could be
spared, nay, that he would come himself to save his northern
kingdom. The factions of the Parliament House, awestruck by the
common danger, forgot to wrangle. Courtiers and malecontents with
one voice implored the Lord High Commissioner to close the
session, and to dismiss them from a place where their
deliberations might soon be interrupted by the mountaineers. It
was seriously considered whether it might not be expedient to
abandon Edinburgh, to send the numerous state prisoners who were
in the Castle and the Tolbooth on board of a man of war which lay
off Leith, and to transfer the seat of government to Glasgow.

The news of Dundee's victory was every where speedily followed by
the news of his death; and it is a strong proof of the extent and
vigour of his faculties, that his death seems every where to have
been regarded as a complete set off against his victory.
Hamilton, before he adjourned the Estates, informed them that
he had good tidings for them; that Dundee was certainly dead; and
that therefore the rebels had on the whole sustained a defeat. In
several letters written at that conjuncture by able and
experienced politicians a similar opinion is expressed. The
messenger who rode with the news of the battle to the English
Court was fast followed by another who carried a despatch for the
King, and, not finding His Majesty at Saint James's, galloped to
Hampton Court. Nobody in the capital ventured to break the seal;
but fortunately, after the letter had been closed, some friendly
hand had hastily written on the outside a few words of comfort:
"Dundee is killed. Mackay has got to Stirling:" and these words
quieted the minds of the Londoners.369

From the pass of Killiecrankie the Highlanders had retired, proud
of their victory, and laden with spoil, to the Castle of Blair.
They boasted that the field of battle was covered with heaps of
the Saxon soldiers, and that the appearance of the corpses bore
ample testimony to the power of a good Gaelic broadsword in a
good Gaelic right hand. Heads were found cloven down to the
throat, and sculls struck clean off just above the ears. The
conquerors however had bought their victory dear. While they were
advancing, they had been much galled by the musketry of the
enemy; and, even after the decisive charge, Hastings's Englishmen
and some of Leven's borderers had continued to keep up a steady
fire. A hundred and twenty Camerons had been slain: the loss of
the Macdonalds had been still greater; and several gentlemen of
birth and note had fallen.370

Dundee was buried in the church of Blair Athol: but no monument
was erected over his grave; and the church itself has long
disappeared. A rude stone on the field of battle marks, if local
tradition can be trusted, the place where he fell.371 During the
last three months of his life he had approved himself a great
warrior and politician; and his name is therefore mentioned with
respect by that large class of persons who think that there is no
excess of wickedness for which courage and ability do not atone.

It is curious that the two most remarkable battles that perhaps
were ever gained by irregular over regular troops should have
been fought in the same week; the battle of Killiecrankie, and
the battle of Newton Butler. In both battles the success of the
irregular troops was singularly rapid and complete. In both
battles the panic of the regular troops, in spite of the
conspicuous example of courage set by their generals, was
singularly disgraceful. It ought also to be noted that, of these
extraordinary victories, one was gained by Celts over Saxons, and
the other by Saxons over Celts. The victory of Killiecrankie
indeed, though neither more splendid nor more important than the
victory of Newton Butler, is far more widely renowned; and the
reason is evident. The Anglosaxon and the Celt have been
reconciled in Scotland, and have never been reconciled in
Ireland. In Scotland all the great actions of both races are
thrown into a common stock, and are considered as making up the
glory which belongs to the whole country. So completely has the
old antipathy been extinguished that nothing is more usual than
to hear a Lowlander talk with complacency and even with pride of
the most humiliating defeat that his ancestors ever underwent. It
would be difficult to name any eminent man in whom national
feeling and clannish feeling were stronger than in Sir Walter
Scott. Yet when Sir Walter Scott mentioned Killiecrankie he
seemed utterly to forget that he was a Saxon, that he was of the
same blood and of the same speech with Ramsay's foot and
Annandale's horse. His heart swelled with triumph when he related
how his own kindred had fled like hares before a smaller number
of warriors of a different breed and of a different tongue.

In Ireland the feud remains unhealed. The name of Newton Butler,
insultingly repeated by a minority, is hateful to the great
majority of the population. If a monument were set up on the
field of battle, it would probably be defaced: if a festival were
held in Cork or Waterford on the anniversary of the battle, it
would probably be interrupted by violence. The most illustrious
Irish poet of our time would have thought it treason to his
country to sing the praises of the conquerors. One of the most
learned and diligent Irish archeologists of our time has
laboured, not indeed very successfully, to prove that the event
of the day was decided by a mere accident from which the
Englishry could derive no glory. We cannot wonder that the
victory of the Highlanders should be more celebrated than the
victory of the Enniskilleners, when we consider that the victory
of the Highlanders is matter of boast to all Scotland, and that
the victory of the Enniskilleners is matter of shame to three
fourths of Ireland.

As far as the great interests of the State were concerned, it
mattered not at all whether the battle of Killiecrankie were lost
or won. It is very improbable that even Dundee, if he had
survived the most glorious day of his life, could have surmounted
those difficulties which sprang from the peculiar nature of his
army, and which would have increased tenfold as soon as the war
was transferred to the Lowlands. It is certain that his successor
was altogether unequal to the task. During a day or two, indeed,
the new general might flatter himself that all would go well. His
army was rapidly swollen to near double the number of claymores
that Dundee had commanded. The Stewarts of Appin, who, though
full of zeal, had not been able to come up in time for the
battle, were among the first who arrived. Several clans, which
had hitherto waited to see which side was the stronger, were now
eager to descend on the Lowlands under the standard of King James
the Seventh. The Grants indeed continued to bear true allegiance
to William and Mary; and the Mackintoshes were kept neutral by
unconquerable aversion to Keppoch. But Macphersons, Farquharsons,
and Frasers came in crowds to the camp at Blair. The hesitation
of the Athol men was at an end. Many of them had lurked, during
the fight, among the crags and birch trees of Killiecrankie, and,
as soon as the event of the day was decided, had emerged from
those hiding places to strip and butcher the fugitives who tried
to escape by the pass. The Robertsons, a Gaelic race, though
bearing a Saxon name, gave in at this conjuncture their adhesion
to the cause of the exiled king. Their chief Alexander, who took
his appellation from his lordship of Struan, was a very young man
and a student at the University of Saint Andrew's. He had there
acquired a smattering of letters, and had been initiated much
more deeply into Tory politics. He now joined the Highland army,
and continued, through a long life to be constant to the Jacobite
cause. His part, however, in public affairs was so insignificant
that his name would not now be remembered, if he had not left a
volume of poems, always very stupid and often very profligate.
Had this book been manufactured in Grub Street, it would scarcely
have been honoured with a quarter of a line in the Dunciad. But
it attracted some notice on account of the situation of the
writer. For, a hundred and twenty years ago, an eclogue or a
lampoon written by a Highland chief was a literary portent.372

But, though the numerical strength of Cannon's forces was
increasing, their efficiency was diminishing. Every new tribe
which joined the camp brought with it some new cause of
dissension. In the hour of peril, the most arrogant and mutinous
spirits will often submit to the guidance of superior genius.
Yet, even in the hour of peril, and even to the genius of Dundee,
the Celtic chiefs had gelded but a precarious and imperfect
obedience. To restrain them, when intoxicated with success and
confident of their strength, would probably have been too hard a
task even for him, as it had been, in the preceding generation,
too hard a task for Montrose. The new general did nothing but
hesitate and blunder. One of his first acts was to send a large
body of men, chiefly Robertsons, down into the low country for
the purpose of collecting provisions. He seems to have supposed
that this detachment would without difficulty occupy Perth. But
Mackay had already restored order among the remains of his army:
he had assembled round him some troops which had not shared in
the disgrace of the late defeat; and he was again ready for
action. Cruel as his sufferings had been, he had wisely and
magnanimously resolved not to punish what was past. To
distinguish between degrees of guilt was not easy. To decimate
the guilty would have been to commit a frightful massacre. His
habitual piety too led him to consider the unexampled panic which
had seized his soldiers as a proof rather of the divine
displeasure than of their cowardice. He acknowledged with heroic
humility that the singular firmness which he had himself
displayed in the midst of the confusion and havoc was not his
own, and that he might well, but for the support of a higher
power, have behaved as pusillanimously as any of the wretched
runaways who had thrown away their weapons and implored quarter
in vain from the barbarous marauders of Athol. His dependence on
heaven did not, however, prevent him from applying himself
vigorously to the work of providing, as far as human prudence
could provide, against the recurrence of such a calamity as that
which he had just experienced. The immediate cause of his defeat
was the difficulty of fixing bayonets. The firelock of the
Highlander was quite distinct from the weapon which he used in
close fight. He discharged his shot, threw away his gun, and fell
on with his sword. This was the work of a moment. It took the
regular musketeer two or three minutes to alter his missile
weapon into a weapon with which he could encounter an enemy hand
to hand; and during these two or three minutes the event of the
battle of Killiecrankie had been decided. Mackay therefore
ordered all his bayonets to be so formed that they might be
screwed upon the barrel without stopping it up, and that his men
might be able to receive a charge the very instant after

As soon as he learned that a detachment of the Gaelic army was
advancing towards Perth, he hastened to meet them at the head of
a body of dragoons who had not been in the battle, and whose
spirit was therefore unbroken. On Wednesday the thirty-first of
July, only four days after his defeat, he fell in with the
Robertsons near Saint Johnston's, attacked them, routed them,
killed a hundred and twenty of them, and took thirty prisoners,
with the loss of only a single soldier.374 This skirmish produced
an effect quite out of proportion to the number of the combatants
or of the slain. The reputation of the Celtic arms went down
almost as fast as it had risen. During two or three days it had
been every where imagined that those arms were invincible. There
was now a reaction. It was perceived that what had happened at
Killiecrankie was an exception to ordinary rules, and that the
Highlanders were not, except in very peculiar circumstances, a
match for good regular soldiers.

Meanwhile the disorders of Cannon's camp went on increasing. He
called a council of war to consider what course it would be
advisable to take. But as soon as the council had met, a
preliminary question was raised. Who were entitled to be
consulted? The army was almost exclusively a Highland army. The
recent victory had been won exclusively by Highland warriors.
Great chiefs, who had brought six or seven hundred fighting men
into the field, did not think it fair that they should be
outvoted by gentlemen from Ireland and from the low country, who
bore indeed King James's commission, and were called Colonels and
Captains, but who were Colonels without regiments and Captains
without companies. Lochiel spoke strongly in behalf of the class
to which he belonged: but Cannon decided that the votes of the
Saxon officers should be reckoned.375

It was next considered what was to be the plan of the campaign.
Lochiel was for advancing, for marching towards Mackay wherever
Mackay might be, and for giving battle again. It can hardly be
supposed that success had so turned the head of the wise chief of
the Camerons as to make him insensible of the danger of the
course which he recommended. But he probably conceived that
nothing but a choice between dangers was left to him. His notion
was that vigorous action was necessary to the very being of a
Highland army, and that the coalition of clans would last only
while they were impatiently pushing forward from battlefield to
battlefield. He was again overruled. All his hopes of success
were now at an end. His pride was severely wounded. He had
submitted to the ascendancy of a great captain: but he cared as
little as any Whig for a royal commission. He had been willing to
be the right hand of Dundee: but he would not be ordered about by
Cannon. He quitted the camp, and retired to Lochaber. He indeed
directed his clan to remain. But the clan, deprived of the leader
whom it adored, and aware that he had withdrawn himself in ill
humour, was no longer the same terrible column which had a few
days before kept so well the vow to perish or to conquer.
Macdonald of Sleat, whose forces exceeded in number those of any
other of the confederate chiefs, followed Lochiel's example and
returned to Sky.376

Mackay's arrangements were by this time complete; and he had
little doubt that, if the rebels came down to attack him, the
regular army would retrieve the honour which had been lost at
Killiecrankie. His chief difficulties arose from the unwise
interference of the ministers of the Crown at Edinburgh with
matters which ought to have been left to his direction. The truth
seems to be that they, after the ordinary fashion of men who,
having no military experience, sit in judgment on military
operations, considered success as the only test of the ability of
a commander. Whoever wins a battle is, in the estimation of such
persons, a great general: whoever is beaten is a lead general;
and no general had ever been more completely beaten than Mackay.
William, on the other hand, continued to place entire confidence
in his unfortunate lieutenant. To the disparaging remarks of
critics who had never seen a skirmish, Portland replied, by his
master's orders, that Mackay was perfectly trustworthy, that he
was brave, that he understood war better than any other officer
in Scotland, and that it was much to be regretted that any
prejudice should exist against so good a man and so good a

The unjust contempt with which the Scotch Privy Councillors
regarded Mackay led them into a great error which might well have
caused a great disaster. The Cameronian regiment was sent to
garrison Dunkeld. Of this arrangement Mackay altogether
disapproved. He knew that at Dunkeld these troops would be near
the enemy; that they would be far from all assistance; that they
would be in an open town; that they would be surrounded by a
hostile population; that they were very imperfectly disciplined,
though doubtless brave and zealous; that they were regarded by
the whole Jacobite party throughout Scotland with peculiar
malevolence; and that in all probability some great effort would
be made to disgrace and destroy them.378

The General's opinion was disregarded; and the Cameronians
occupied the post assigned to them. It soon appeared that his
forebodings were just. The inhabitants of the country round
Dunkeld furnished Cannon with intelligence, and
urged him to make a bold push. The peasantry of Athol, impatient
for spoil, came in great numbers to swell his army. The regiment
hourly expected to be attacked, and became discontented and
turbulent. The men, intrepid, indeed, both from constitution and
from enthusiasm, but not yet broken to habits of military
submission, expostulated with Cleland, who commanded them. They
had, they imagined, been recklessly, if not perfidiously, sent to
certain destruction. They were protected by no ramparts: they had
a very scanty stock of ammunition: they were hemmed in by
enemies. An officer might mount and gallop beyond reach of danger
in an hour; but the private soldier must stay and be butchered.
"Neither I," said Cleland, "nor any of my officers will, in any
extremity, abandon you. Bring out my horse, all our horses; they
shall be shot dead." These words produced a complete change of
feeling. The men answered that the horses should not be shot,
that they wanted no pledge from their brave Colonel except his
word, and that they would run the last hazard with him. They kept
their promise well. The Puritan blood was now thoroughly up; and
what that blood was when it was up had been proved on many fields
of battle.

That night the regiment passed under arms. On the morning of the
following day, the twenty-first of August, all the hills round
Dunkeld were alive with bonnets and plaids. Cannon's army was
much larger than that which Dundee had commanded. More than a
thousand horses laden with baggage accompanied his march. Both
the horses and baggage were probably part of the booty of
Killiecrankie. The whole number of Highlanders was estimated by
those who saw them at from four to five thousand men. They came
furiously on. The outposts of the Cameronians were speedily
driven in. The assailants came pouring on every side into the
streets. The church, however, held out obstinately. But the
greater part of the regiment made its stand behind a wall which
surrounded a house belonging to the Marquess of Athol. This wall,
which had two or three days before been hastily repaired with
timber and loose stones, the soldiers defended desperately with
musket, pike, and halbert. Their bullets were soon spent; but
some of the men were employed in cutting lead from the roof of
the Marquess's house and shaping it into slugs. Meanwhile all the
neighbouring houses were crowded from top to bottom with
Highlanders, who kept up a galling fire from the windows.
Cleland, while encouraging his men, was shot dead. The command
devolved on Major Henderson.

In another minute Henderson fell pierced with three mortal
wounds. His place was supplied by Captain Munro, and the contest
went on with undiminished fury. A party of the Cameronians
sallied forth, set fire to the houses from which the fatal shots
had come, and turned the keys in the doors. In one single
dwelling sixteen of the enemy were burnt alive. Those who were in
the fight described it as a terrible initiation for recruits.
Half the town was blazing; and with the incessant roar of the
guns were mingled the piercing shrieks of wretches perishing in
the flames. The struggle lasted four hours. By that time the
Cameronians were reduced nearly to their last flask of powder;
but their spirit never flagged. "The enemy will soon carry the
wall. Be it so. We will retreat into the house: we will defend it
to the last; and, if they force their way into it, we will burn
it over their heads and our own." But, while they were revolving
these desperate projects, they observed that the fury of the
assault slackened. Soon the highlanders began to fall back:
disorder visibly spread among them; and whole bands began to
march off to the hills. It was in vain that their general ordered
them to return to the attack. Perseverance was not one of their
military virtues. The Cameronians meanwhile, with shouts of
defiance, invited Amalek and Moab to come back and to try another
chance with the chosen people. But these exhortations had as
little effect as those of Cannon. In a short time the whole
Gaelic army was in full retreat towards Blair. Then the drums
struck up: the victorious Puritans threw their caps into the air,
raised, with one voice, a psalm of triumph and thanksgiving, and
waved their colours, colours which were on that day unfurled for
the first time in the face of an enemy, but which have since been
proudly borne in every quarter of the world, and which are now
embellished with the Sphinx and the Dragon, emblems of brave
actions achieved in Egypt and in China.379

The Cameronians had good reason to be joyful and thankful; for
they had finished the rear. In the rebel camp all was discord and
dejection. The Highlanders blamed Cannon: Cannon blamed the
Highlanders; and the host which had been the terror of Scotland
melted fast away. The confederate chiefs signed an association by
which they declared themselves faithful subjects of King James,
and bound themselves to meet again at a future time. Having gone
through this form,--for it was no more,--they departed, each to
his home. Cannon and his Irishmen retired to the Isle of Mull.
The Lowlanders who had followed Dundee to the mountains shifted
for themselves as they best could. On the twenty-fourth of
August, exactly four weeks after the Gaelic army had won the
battle of Killiecrankie, that army ceased to exist. It ceased to
exist, as the army of Montrose had, more than forty years
earlier, ceased to exist, not in consequence of any great blow
from without, but by a natural dissolution, the effect of
internal malformation. All the fruits of victory were gathered by
the vanquished. The Castle of Blair, which had been the immediate
object of the contest, opened its gates to Mackay; and a chain of
military posts, extending northward as far as Inverness,
protected the cultivators of the plains against the predatory
inroads of the mountaineers.

During the autumn the government was much more annoyed by the
Whigs of the low country, than by the Jacobites of the hills. The
Club, which had, in the late session of Parliament, attempted to
turn the kingdom into an oligarchical republic, and which had
induced the Estates to refuse supplies and to stop the
administration of justice, continued to sit during the recess,
and harassed the ministers of the Crown by systematic agitation.
The organization of this body, contemptible as it may appear to
the generation which has seen the Roman Catholic Association and
the League against the Corn Laws, was then thought marvellous and
formidable. The leaders of the confederacy boasted that they
would force the King to do them right. They got up petitions and
addresses, tried to inflame the populace by means of the press
and the pulpit, employed emissaries among the soldiers, and
talked of bringing up a large body of Covenanters from the west
to overawe the Privy Council. In spite of every artifice,
however, the ferment of the public mind gradually subsided. The
Government, after some hesitation, ventured to open the Courts of
justice which the Estates had closed. The Lords of Session
appointed by the King took their seats; and Sir James Dalrymple
presided. The Club attempted to induce the advocates to absent
themselves from the bar, and entertained some hope that the mob
would pull the judges from the bench. But it speedily became
clear that there was much more likely to be a scarcity of fees
than of lawyers to take them: the common people of Edinburgh were
well pleased to see again a tribunal associated in their
imagination with the dignity and prosperity of their city; and by
many signs it appeared that the false and greedy faction which
had commanded a majority of the legislature did not command a
majority of the nation.380


Disputes in the English Parliament--The Attainder of Russell
reversed--Other Attainders reversed; Case of Samuel Johnson--Case
of Devonshire--Case of Oates--Bill of Rights--Disputes about a
Bill of Indemnity--Last Days of Jeffreys--The Whigs dissatisfied
with the King--Intemperance of Howe--Attack on Caermarthen--
Attack on Halifax--Preparations for a Campaign in Ireland--
Schomberg--Recess of the Parliament--State of Ireland; Advice of
Avaux--Dismission of Melfort; Schomberg lands in Ulster--
Carrickfergus taken--Schomberg advances into Leinster; the
English and Irish Armies encamp near each other--Schomberg
declines a Battle--Frauds of the English Commissariat--Conspiracy
among the French Troops in the English Service--Pestilence in the
English Army--The English and Irish Armies go into Winter
Quarters--Various Opinions about Schomberg's Conduct--Maritime
Affairs--Maladministration of Torrington--Continental Affairs--
Skirmish at Walcourt--Imputations thrown on Marlborough--Pope
Innocent XI. succeeded by Alexander VIII.--The High Church Clergy
divided on the Subject of the Oaths--Arguments for taking the
Oaths--Arguments against taking the Oaths--A great Majority of
the Clergy take the Oaths--The Nonjurors; Ken--Leslie--Sherlock--
Hickes--Collier--Dodwell--Kettlewell; Fitzwilliam--General
Character of the Nonjuring Clergy--The Plan of Comprehension;
Tillotson--An Ecclesiastical Commission issued.--Proceedings of
the Commission--The Convocation of the Province of Canterbury
summoned; Temper of the Clergy--The Clergy ill affected towards
the King--The Clergy exasperated against the Dissenters by the
Proceedings of the Scotch Presbyterians--Constitution of the
Convocation--Election of Members of Convocation; Ecclesiastical
Preferments bestowed,--Compton discontented--The Convocation
meets--The High Churchmen a Majority of the Lower House of
Convocation--Difference between the two Houses of Convocation--
The Lower House of Convocation proves unmanageable.--The
Convocation prorogued

TWENTY-four hours before the war in Scotland was brought to a
close by the discomfiture of the Celtic army at Dunkeld, the
Parliament broke up at Westminster. The Houses had sate ever
since January without a recess. The Commons, who were cooped up
in a narrow space, had suffered severely from heat and
discomfort; and the health of many members had given way. The
fruit however had not been proportioned to the toil. The last
three months of the session had been almost entirely wasted in
disputes, which have left no trace in the Statute Book. The
progress of salutary laws had been impeded, sometimes by
bickerings between the Whigs and the Tories, and sometimes by
bickerings between the Lords and the Commons.

The Revolution had scarcely been accomplished when it appeared
that the supporters of the Exclusion Bill had not forgotten what
they had suffered during the ascendancy of their enemies, and
were bent on obtaining both reparation and revenge. Even before
the throne was filled, the Lords appointed a committee to examine
into the truth of the frightful stories which had been circulated
concerning the death of Essex. The committee, which consisted of
zealous Whigs, continued its inquiries till all reasonable men
were convinced that he had fallen by his own hand, and till his
wife, his brother, and his most intimate friends were desirous
that the investigation should be carried no further.381 Atonement
was made, without any opposition on the part of the Tories, to
the memory and the families of some other victims, who were
themselves beyond the reach of human power. Soon after the
Convention had been turned into a Parliament, a bill for
reversing the attainder of Lord Russell was presented to the
peers, was speedily passed by them, was sent down to the Lower
House, and was welcomed there with no common signs of emotion.
Many of the members had sate in that very chamber with Russell.
He had long exercised there an influence resembling the influence
which, within the memory of this generation, belonged to the
upright and benevolent Althorpe; an influence derived, not from
superior skill in debate or in declamation, but from spotless
integrity, from plain good sense, and from that frankness, that
simplicity, that good nature, which are singularly graceful and
winning in a man raised by birth and fortune high above his
fellows. By the Whigs Russell had been honoured as a chief; and
his political adversaries had admitted that, when he was not
misled by associates less respectable and more artful than
himself, he was as honest and kindhearted a gentleman as any in
England. The manly firmness and Christian meekness with which he
had met death, the desolation of his noble house, the misery of
the bereaved father, the blighted prospects of the orphan
children382, above all, the union of womanly tenderness and
angelic patience in her who had been dearest to the brave
sufferer, who had sate, with the pen in her hand, by his side at
the bar, who had cheered the gloom of his cell, and who, on his
last day, had shared with him the memorials of the great
sacrifice, had softened the hearts of many who were little in the
habit of pitying an opponent. That Russell had many good
qualities, that he had meant well, that he had been hardly used,
was now admitted even by courtly lawyers who had assisted in
shedding his blood, and by courtly divines who had done their
worst to blacken his reputation. When, therefore, the parchment
which annulled his sentence was laid on the table of that
assembly in which, eight years before, his face and his voice had
been so well known, the excitement was great. One old Whig member
tried to speak, but was overcome by his feelings. "I cannot," he
said, "name my Lord Russell without disorder. It is enough to
name him. I am not able to say more." Many eyes were directed
towards that part of the house where Finch sate. The highly
honourable manner in which he had quitted a lucrative office, as
soon as he had found that he could not keep it without supporting
the dispensing power, and the conspicuous part which he had borne
in the defence of the Bishops, had done much to atone for his
faults. Yet, on this day, it could not be forgotten that he had
strenuously exerted himself, as counsel for the Crown, to obtain
that judgment which was now to be solemnly revoked. He rose, and
attempted to defend his conduct: but neither his legal acuteness,
nor that fluent and sonorous elocution which was in his family a
hereditary gift, and of which none of his family had a larger
share than himself, availed him on this occasion. The House was
in no humour to hear him, and repeatedly interrupted him by cries
of "Order." He had been treated, he was told, with great
indulgence. No accusation had been brought against him. Why then
should he, under pretence of vindicating himself, attempt to
throw dishonourable imputations on an illustrious name, and to
apologise for a judicial murder? He was forced to sit dorm, after
declaring that he meant only to clear himself from the charge of
having exceeded the limits of his professional duty; that he
disclaimed all intention of attacking the memory of Lord Russell;
and that he should sincerely rejoice at the reversing of the
attainder. Before the House rose the bill was read a second time,
and would have been instantly read a third time and passed, had
not some additions and omissions been proposed, which would, it
was thought, make the reparation more complete. The amendments
were prepared with great expedition: the Lords agreed to them;
and the King gladly gave his assent.383

This bill was soon followed by three other bills which annulled
three wicked and infamous judgments, the judgment against Sidney,
the judgment against Cornish, and the judgment against Alice

Some living Whigs obtained without difficulty redress for
injuries which they had suffered in the late reign. The sentence
of Samuel Johnson was taken into consideration by the House of
Commons. It was resolved that the scourging which he had
undergone was cruel, and that his degradation was of no legal
effect. The latter proposition admitted of no dispute: for he had
been degraded by the prelates who had been appointed to govern
the diocese of London during Compton's suspension. Compton had
been suspended by a decree of the High Commission, and the
decrees of the High Commission were universally acknowledged to
be nullities. Johnson had therefore been stripped of his robe by
persons who had no jurisdiction over him. The Commons requested
the king to compensate the sufferer by some ecclesiastical
preferment.385 William, however, found that he could not, without
great inconvenience, grant this request. For Johnson, though
brave, honest and religious, had always been rash, mutinous and
quarrelsome; and, since he had endured for his opinions a
martyrdom more terrible than death, the infirmities of his temper
and understanding had increased to such a degree that he was as
disagreeable to Low Churchmen as to High Churchmen. Like too many
other men, who are not to be turned from the path of right by
pleasure, by lucre or by danger, he mistook the impulses of his
pride and resentment for the monitions of conscience, and
deceived himself into a belief that, in treating friends and foes
with indiscriminate insolence and asperity, he was merely showing
his Christian faithfulness and courage. Burnet, by exhorting him
to patience and forgiveness of injuries, made him a mortal enemy.
"Tell His Lordship," said the inflexible priest, "to mind his own
business, and to let me look after mine."386 It soon began to be
whispered that Johnson was mad. He accused Burnet of being the
author of the report, and avenged himself by writing libels so
violent that they strongly confirmed the imputation which they
were meant to refute. The King, therefore, thought it better to
give out of his own revenue a liberal compensation for the wrongs
which the Commons had brought to his notice than to place an
eccentric and irritable man in a situation of dignity and public
trust. Johnson was gratified with a present of a thousand pounds,
and a pension of three hundred a year for two lives. His son was
also provided for in the public service.387

While the Commons were considering the case of Johnson, the Lords
were scrutinising with severity the proceedings which had, in the
late reign, been instituted against one of their own order, the
Earl of Devonshire. The judges who had passed sentence on him
were strictly interrogated; and a resolution was passed declaring
that in his case the privileges of the peerage had been
infringed, and that the Court of King's Bench, in punishing a
hasty blow by a fine of thirty thousand pounds, had violated
common justice and the Great Charter.388

In the cases which have been mentioned, all parties seem to have
agreed in thinking that some public reparation was due. But the
fiercest passions both of Whigs and Tories were soon roused by
the noisy claims of a wretch whose sufferings, great as they
might seem, had been trifling when compared with his crimes.
Gates had come back, like a ghost from the place of punishment,
to haunt the spots which had been polluted by his guilt. The
three years and a half which followed his scourging he had passed
in one of the cells of Newgate, except when on certain days, the
anniversaries of his perjuries, he had been brought forth and set
on the pillory. He was still, however, regarded by many fanatics
as a martyr; and it was said that they were able so far to
corrupt his keepers that, in spite of positive orders from the
government, his sufferings were mitigated by many indulgences.
While offenders, who, compared with him, were innocent, grew lean
on the prison allowance, his cheer was mended by turkeys and
chines, capons and sucking pigs, venison pasties and hampers of
claret, the offerings of zealous Protestants.389 When James had
fled from Whitehall, and when London was in confusion, it was
moved, in the council of Lords which had provisionally assumed
the direction of affairs, that Gates should be set at liberty.
The motion was rejected390: but the gaolers, not knowing whom to
obey in that time of anarchy, and desiring to conciliate a man
who had once been, and might perhaps again be, a terrible enemy,
allowed their prisoner to go freely about the town.391 His uneven
legs and his hideous face, made more hideous by the shearing
which his ears had undergone, were now again seen every day in
Westminster Hall and the Court of Requests.392 He fastened
himself on his old patrons, and, in that drawl which he affected
as a mark of gentility, gave them the history of his wrongs and
of his hopes. It was impossible, he said, that now, when the good
cause was triumphant, the discoverer of the plot could be
overlooked. "Charles gave me nine hundred pounds a year. Sure
William will give me more."393

In a few weeks he brought his sentence before the House of Lords
by a writ of error. This is a species of appeal which raises no
question of fact. The Lords, while sitting judicially on the writ
of error, were not competent to examine whether the verdict which
pronounced Gates guilty was or was not according to the evidence.
All that they had to consider was whether, the verdict being
supposed to be according to the evidence, the judgment was legal.
But it would have been difficult even for a tribunal composed of
veteran magistrates, and was almost impossible for an assembly of
noblemen who were all strongly biassed on one side or on the
other, and among whom there was at that time not a single person
whose mind had been disciplined by the study of jurisprudence, to
look steadily at the mere point of law, abstracted from the
special circumstances of the case. In the view of one party, a
party which even among the Whig peers was probably a minority,
the appellant was a man who had rendered inestimable services to
the cause of liberty and religion, and who had been requited by
long confinement, by degrading exposure, and by torture not to be
thought of without a shudder. The majority of the House more
justly regarded him as the falsest, the most malignant and the
most impudent being that had ever disgraced the human form. The
sight of that brazen forehead, the accents of that lying tongue,
deprived them of all mastery over themselves. Many of them
doubtless remembered with shame and remorse that they had been
his dupes, and that, on the very last occasion on which he had
stood before them, he had by perjury induced them to shed the
blood of one of their own illustrious order. It was not to be
expected that a crowd of gentlemen under the influence of
feelings like these would act with the cold impartiality of a
court of justice. Before they came to any decision on the legal
question which Titus had brought before them, they picked a
succession of quarrels with him. He had published a paper
magnifying his merits and his sufferings. The Lords found out
some pretence for calling this publication a breach of privilege,
and sent him to the Marshalsea. He petitioned to be released; but
an objection was raised to his petition. He had described himself
as a Doctor of Divinity; and their lordships refused to
acknowledge him as such. He was brought to their bar, and asked
where he had graduated. He answered, "At the university of
Salamanca." This was no new instance of his mendacity and
effrontery. His Salamanca degree had been, during many years, a
favourite theme of all the Tory satirists from Dryden downwards;
and even on the Continent the Salamanca Doctor was a nickname in
ordinary use.394 The Lords, in their hatred of Oates, so far
forgot their own dignity as to treat this ridiculous matter
seriously. They ordered him to efface from his petition the
words, "Doctor of Divinity." He replied that he could not in
conscience do it; and he was accordingly sent back to gaol.395

These preliminary proceedings indicated not obscurely what the
fate of the writ of error would be. The counsel for Oates had
been heard. No counsel appeared against him. The judges were
required to give their opinions. Nine of them were in attendance;
and among the nine were the Chiefs of the three Courts of Common
Law. The unanimous answer of these grave, learned and upright
magistrates was that the Court of King's Bench was not competent
to degrade a priest from his sacred office, or to pass a sentence
of perpetual imprisonment; and that therefore the judgment
against Oates was contrary to law, and ought to be reversed. The
Lords should undoubtedly have considered themselves as bound by
this opinion. That they knew Oates to be the worst of men was
nothing to the purpose. To them, sitting as a court of justice,
he ought to have been merely a John of Styles or a John of Nokes.
But their indignation was violently excited. Their habits were
not those which fit men for the discharge of judicial duties. The
debate turned almost entirely on matters to which no allusion
ought to have been made. Not a single peer ventured to affirm
that the judgment was legal: but much was said about the odious
character of the appellant, about the impudent accusation which
he had brought against Catherine of Braganza, and about the evil
consequences which might follow if so bad a man were capable of
being a witness. "There is only one way," said the Lord
President, "in which I can consent to reverse the fellow's
sentence. He has been whipped from Aldgate to Tyburn. He ought to
be whipped from Tyburn back to Aldgate." The question was put.
Twenty-three peers voted for reversing the judgment; thirty-five
for affirming it.396

This decision produced a great sensation, and not without reason.
A question was now raised which might justly excite the anxiety
of every man in the kingdom. That question was whether the
highest tribunal, the tribunal on which, in the last resort,
depended the most precious interests of every English subject,
was at liberty to decide judicial questions on other than
judicial grounds, and to withhold from a suitor what was admitted
to be his legal right, on account of the depravity of his moral
character. That the supreme Court of Appeal ought not to be
suffered to exercise arbitrary power, under the forms of ordinary
justice, was strongly felt by the ablest men in the House of
Commons, and by none more strongly than by Somers. With him, and
with those who reasoned like him, were, on this occasion, allied
many weak and hot-headed zealots who still regarded Oates as a
public benefactor, and who imagined that to question the
existence of the Popish plot was to question the truth of the
Protestant religion. On the very morning after the decision of
the Peers had been pronounced, keen reflections were thrown, in
the House of Commons, on the justice of their lordships. Three
days later, the subject was brought forward by a Whig Privy
Councillor, Sir Robert Howard, member for Castle Rising. He was
one of the Berkshire branch of his noble family, a branch which
enjoyed, in that age, the unenviable distinction of being
wonderfully fertile of bad rhymers. The poetry of the Berkshire
Howards was the jest of three generations of satirists. The mirth
began with the first representation of the Rehearsal, and
continued down to the last edition of the Dunciad.397 But Sir
Robert, in spite of his bad verses, and of some foibles and
vanities which had caused him to be brought on the stage under
the name of Sir Positive Atall, had in parliament the weight
which a stanch party man, of ample fortune, of illustrious name,
of ready utterance, and of resolute spirit, can scarcely fail to
possess.398 When he rose to call the attention of the Commons to
the case of Oates, some Tories, animated by the same passions
which had prevailed in the other House, received him with loud
hisses. In spite of this most unparliamentary insult, he
persevered; and it soon appeared that the majority was with him.
Some orators extolled the patriotism and courage of Oates: others
dwelt much on a prevailing rumour, that the solicitors who were
employed against him on behalf of the Crown had distributed large
sums of money among the jurymen. These were topics on which there
was much difference of opinion. But that the sentence was illegal
was a proposition which admitted of no dispute. The most eminent
lawyers in the House of Commons declared that, on this point,
they entirely concurred in the opinion given by the judges in the
House of Lords. Those who had hissed when the subject was
introduced, were so effectually cowed that they did not venture
to demand a division; and a bill annulling the sentence was
brought in, without any opposition.399

The Lords were in an embarrassing situation. To retract was not
pleasant. To engage in a contest with the Lower House, on a
question on which that House was clearly in the right, and was
backed at once by the opinions of the sages of the law, and by
the passions of the populace, might be dangerous. It was thought
expedient to take a middle course. An address was presented to
the King, requesting him to pardon Oates.400 But this concession
only made bad worse. Titus had, like every other human being, a
right to justice: but he was not a proper object of mercy. If the
judgment against him was illegal, it ought to have been reversed.
If it was legal, there was no ground for remitting any part of
it. The Commons, very properly, persisted, passed their bill, and
sent it up to the Peers. Of this bill the only objectionable part
was the preamble, which asserted, not only that the judgment was
illegal, a proposition which appeared on the face of the record
to be true, but also that the verdict was corrupt, a proposition
which, whether true or false, was not proved by any evidence at

The Lords were in a great strait. They knew that they were in the
wrong. Yet they were determined not to proclaim, in their
legislative capacity, that they had, in their judicial capacity,
been guilty of injustice. They again tried a middle course. The
preamble was softened down: a clause was added which provided
that Oates should still remain incapable of being a witness; and
the bill thus altered was returned to the Commons.

The Commons were not satisfied. They rejected the amendments, and
demanded a free conference. Two eminent Tories, Rochester and
Nottingham, took their seats in the Painted Chamber as managers
for the Lords. With them was joined Burnet, whose well known
hatred of Popery was likely to give weight to what he might say
on such an occasion. Somers was the chief orator on the other
side; and to his pen we owe a singularly lucid and interesting
abstract of the debate.

The Lords frankly owned that the judgment of the Court of King's
Bench could not be defended. They knew it to be illegal, and had
known it to be so even when they affirmed it. But they had acted
for the best. They accused Oates of bringing an impudently false
accusation against Queen Catherine: they mentioned other
instances of his villany; and they asked whether such a man ought
still to be capable of giving testimony in a court of justice.
The only excuse which, in their opinion, could be made for him
was, that he was insane; and in truth, the incredible insolence
and absurdity of his behaviour when he was last before them
seemed to warrant the belief that his brain had been turned, and
that he was not to be trusted with the lives of other men. The
Lords could not therefore degrade themselves by expressly
rescinding what they had done; nor could they consent to
pronounce the verdict corrupt on no better evidence than common

The reply was complete and triumphant. "Oates is now the smallest
part of the question. He has, Your Lordships say, falsely accused
the Queen Dowager and other innocent persons. Be it so. This bill
gives him no indemnity. We are quite willing that, if he is
guilty, he shall be punished. But for him, and for all
Englishmen, we demand that punishment shall be regulated by law,
and not by the arbitrary discretion of any tribunal. We demand
that, when a writ of error is before Your Lordships, you shall
give judgment on it according to the known customs and statutes
of the realm. We deny that you have any right, on such occasions,
to take into consideration the moral character of a plaintiff or
the political effect of a decision. It is acknowledged by
yourselves that you have, merely because you thought ill of this
man, affirmed a judgment which you knew to be illegal. Against
this assumption of arbitrary power the Commons protest; and they
hope that you will now redeem what you must feel to be an error.
Your Lordships intimate a suspicion that Oates is mad. That a man
is mad may be a very good reason for not punishing him at all.
But how it can be a reason for inflicting on him a punishment
which would be illegal even if he were sane, the Commons do not
comprehend. Your Lordships think that you should not be justified
in calling a verdict corrupt which has not been legally proved to
be so. Suffer us to remind you that you have two distinct
functions to perform. You are judges; and you are legislators.
When you judge, your duty is strictly to follow the law. When you
legislate, you may properly take facts from common fame. You
invert this rule. You are lax in the wrong place, and scrupulous
in the wrong place. As judges, you break through the law for the
sake of a supposed convenience. As legislators, you will not
admit any fact without such technical proof as it is rarely
possible for legislators to obtain."401

This reasoning was not and could not be answered. The Commons
were evidently flushed with their victory in the argument, and
proud of the appearance which Somers had made in the Painted
Chamber. They particularly charged him to see that the report
which he had made of the conference was accurately entered in the
journals. The Lords very wisely abstained from inserting in their
records an account of a debate in which they had been so signally
discomfited. But, though conscious of their fault and ashamed of
it, they could not be brought to do public penance by owning, in
the preamble of the Act, that they had been guilty of injustice.
The minority was, however, strong. The resolution to adhere was
carried by only twelve votes, of which ten were proxies.402

Twenty-one Peers protested. The bill dropped. Two Masters in
Chancery were sent to announce to the Commons the final
resolution of the Peers. The Commons thought this proceeding
unjustifiable in substance and uncourteous in form. They
determined to remonstrate; and Somers drew up an excellent
manifesto, in which the vile name of Oates was scarcely
mentioned, and in which the Upper House was with great
earnestness and gravity exhorted to treat judicial questions
judicially, and not, under pretence of administering law, to make
law.403 The wretched man, who had now a second time thrown the
political world into confusion, received a pardon, and was set at
liberty. His friends in the Lower House moved an address to the
Throne, requesting that a pension sufficient for his support
might be granted to him.404 He was consequently allowed about
three hundred a year, a sum which he thought unworthy of his
acceptance, and which he took with the savage snarl of
disappointed greediness.

From the dispute about Oates sprang another dispute, which might
have produced very serious consequences. The instrument which had
declared William and Mary King and Queen was a revolutionary
instrument. It had been drawn up by an assembly unknown to the
ordinary law, and had never received the royal sanction. It was
evidently desirable that this great contract between the
governors and the governed, this titledeed by which the King held
his throne and the people their liberties, should be put into a
strictly regular form. The Declaration of Rights was therefore
turned into a Bill of Rights; and the Bill of Rights speedily
passed the Commons; but in the Lords difficulties arose.

The Declaration had settled the crown, first on William and Mary
jointly, then on the survivor of the two, then on Mary's
posterity, then on Anne and her posterity, and, lastly, on the
posterity of William by any other wife than Mary. The Bill had
been drawn in exact conformity with the Declaration. Who was to
succeed if Mary, Anne, and William should all die without
posterity, was left in uncertainty. Yet the event for which no
provision was made was far from improbable. Indeed it really came
to pass. William had never had a child. Anne had repeatedly been
a mother, but had no child living. It would not be very strange
if, in a few months, disease, war, or treason should remove all
those who stood in the entail. In what state would the country
then be left? To whom would allegiance be due? The bill indeed
contained a clause which excluded Papists from the throne. But
would such a clause supply the place of a clause designating the
successor by name? What if the next heir should be a prince of
the House of Savoy not three months old? It would be absurd to
call such an infant a Papist. Was he then to be proclaimed King?
Or was the crown to be in abeyance till he came to an age at
which he might be capable of choosing a religion? Might not the
most honest and the most intelligent men be in doubt whether they
ought to regard him as their Sovereign? And to whom could they
look for a solution of this doubt? Parliament there would be
none: for the Parliament would expire with the prince who had
convoked it. There would be mere anarchy, anarchy which might end
in the destruction of the monarchy, or in the destruction of
public liberty. For these weighty reasons, Barnet, at William's
suggestion, proposed it the House of Lords that the crown
should, failing heirs of His Majesty's body, be entailed on an
undoubted Protestant, Sophia, Duchess of Brunswick Lunenburg,
granddaughter of James the First, and daughter of Elizabeth,
Queen of Bohemia.

The Lords unanimously assented to this amendment: but the Commons
unanimously rejected it. The cause of the rejection no
contemporary writer has satisfactorily explained. One Whig
historian talks of the machinations of the republicans, another
of the machinations of the Jacobites. But it is quite certain
that four fifths of the representatives of the people were
neither Jacobites nor republicans. Yet not a single voice was
raised in the Lower House in favour of the clause which in the
Upper House had been carried by acclamation.405 The most probable
explanation seems to be that the gross injustice which had been
committed in the case of Oates had irritated the Commons to such
a degree that they were glad of an opportunity to quarrel with
the Peers. A conference was held. Neither assembly would give
way. While the dispute was hottest, an event took place which, it
might have been thought, would have restored harmony. Anne gave
birth to a son. The child was baptized at Hampton Court with
great pomp, and with many signs of public joy. William was one of
the sponsors. The other was the accomplished Dorset, whose roof
had given shelter to the Princess in her distress. The King
bestowed his own name on his godson, and announced to the
splendid circle assembled around the font that the little William
was henceforth to be called Duke of Gloucester.406 The birth of
this child had greatly diminished the risk against which the
Lords had thought it necessary to guard. They might therefore
have retracted with a good grace. But their pride had been
wounded by the severity with which their decision on Oates's writ
of error had been censured in the Painted Chamber. They had been
plainly told across the table that they were unjust judges; and
the imputation was not the less irritating because they were
conscious that it was deserved. They refused to make any
concession; and the Bill of Rights was suffered to drop.407

But the most exciting question of this long and stormy session
was, what punishment should be inflicted on those men who had,
during the interval between the dissolution of the Oxford
Parliament and the Revolution, been the advisers or the tools of
Charles and James. It was happy for England that, at this crisis,
a prince who belonged to neither of her factions, who loved
neither, who hated neither, and who, for the accomplishment of a
great design, wished to make use of both, was the moderator
between them.

The two parties were now in a position closely resembling that in
which they had been twenty-eight years before. The party indeed
which had then been undermost was now uppermost: but the analogy
between the situations is one of the most perfect that can be
found in history. Both the Restoration and the Revolution was
accomplished by coalitions. At the Restoration, those politicians
who were peculiarly zealous for liberty assisted to reestablish
monarchy: at the Revolution those politicians who were peculiarly
zealous for monarchy assisted to vindicate liberty. The Cavalier
would, at the former conjuncture, have been able to effect
nothing without the help of Puritans who had fought for the
Covenant; nor would the Whig, at the latter conjuncture, have
offered a successful resistance to arbitrary power, had he not
been backed by men who had a very short time before condemned
resistance to arbitrary power as a deadly sin. Conspicuous among
those by whom, in 1660, the royal family was brought back, were
Hopis, who had in the days of the tyranny of Charles the First
held down the Speaker in the chair by main force, while Black Rod
knocked for admission in vain; Ingoldsby, whose name was
subscribed to the memorable death warrant; and Prynne, whose ears
Laud had cut off, and who, in return, had borne the chief part in
cutting off Laud's head. Among the seven who, in 1688, signed the
invitation to William, were Compton, who had long enforced the
duty of obeying Nero; Danby, who had been impeached for
endeavouring to establish military despotism; and Lumley, whose
bloodhounds had tracked Monmouth to that sad last hiding place
among the fern. Both in 1660 and in 1688, while the fate of the
nation still hung in the balance, forgiveness was exchanged
between the hostile factions. On both occasions the
reconciliation, which had seemed to be cordial in the hour of
danger, proved false and hollow in the hour of triumph. As soon
as Charles the Second was at Whitehall, the Cavalier forgot the
good service recently done by the Presbyterians, and remembered
only their old offences. As soon as William was King, too many of
the Whigs began to demand vengeance for all that they had, in the
days of the Rye House Plot, suffered at the hands of the Tories.
On both occasions the Sovereign found it difficult to save the
vanquished party from the fury of his triumphant supporters; and
on both occasions those whom he had disappointed of their revenge
murmured bitterly against the government which had been so weak
and ungrateful as to protect its foes against its friends.

So early as the twenty-fifth of March, William called the
attention of the Commons to the expediency of quieting the public
mind by an amnesty. He expressed his hope that a bill of general
pardon and oblivion would be as speedily as possible presented
for his sanction, and that no exceptions would be made, except
such as were absolutely necessary for the vindication of public
justice and for the safety of the state. The Commons unanimously
agreed to thank him for this instance of his paternal kindness:
but they suffered many weeks to pass without taking any step
towards the accomplishment of his wish. When at length the
subject was resumed, it was resumed in such a manner as plainly
showed that the majority had no real intention of putting an end
to the suspense which embittered the lives of all those Tories
who were conscious that, in their zeal for prerogative, they had
some times overstepped the exact line traced by law. Twelve
categories were framed, some of which were so extensive as to
include tens of thousands of delinquents; and the House resolved
that, under every one of these categories, some exceptions should
be made. Then came the examination into the cases of individuals.
Numerous culprits and witnesses were summoned to the bar. The
debates were long and sharp; and it soon became evident that the
work was interminable. The summer glided away: the autumn was
approaching: the session could not last much longer; and of the
twelve distinct inquisitions, which the Commons had resolved to
institute, only three had been brought to a close. It was
necessary to let the bill drop for that year.408

Among the many offenders whose names were mentioned in the course
of these inquiries, was one who stood alone and unapproached in

Book of the day: