« PreviousContinue »
Highland host was called in to ravage the; In the case of Andrew Hislop, Lord Maounhappy Western Lowlands at the latter end aulay says that the Laird of Westerhall havof 1677.* ing discovered that one of the proscribed
•These were the outrages by which the Covenanters had found shelter in the house country was "goaded into madness." But of a respectable widow, and had died there, Claverhouse had not, nor could he have, any j" pulled down the house of the poor woman, part or share whatever in them. He was carried away her furniture, and, leaving her absent from the country during the whole j and her younger children to wander in the of the time during which they were com- fields, dragged her son Andrew, who teat stQl mittcd, and did not return to Scotland until', a lad, before Claverhouse, icho happened to the early part of thu year 1678.t The first be marching through that part of the counmention of him that occurs in Wodrow is in May, 1C79, immediately before the skirmish of Drum clog. Lord Macaulay had Wodrow before him—he refers to him as his sole Authority for this passage; yet it is upon Wod
For this Lord Macaulay cites Wodrow, but Wodrow's story is exactly the reverse. It was not Westerhall that brought Hislop a prisoner before Claverhouse, but Claverhouse
row's pages that the dates and facts are to that brought him before Westerhall, who, it be found which contradict his deliberate and is evident from the whole narrative, at that
Lord Macaulay selects five instances of the crimes "by which the peasantry of the
time possessed an authority superior to that of Claverhouse. Wodrow, after narrating the barbarous expulsion of the widow and
Western Lowlands were goaded into mad- her children, Andrew- inclusive, by Westerness." An ordinary reader would certainly hall, proceeds thus :—" When they were infer from his language that Claverhouse j thus forced to wander, Clavcrhouse falls upon was concerned in all these instances, and Andrew Hislop in the fields, May 10, and would be somewhat surprised, after perusing j seized him, without any design, as appeared, Lord Macaulay's narrative, to find, on turn- ; to murder him, bringing him prisoner icitk ing to his authority, that in three out of the j him to Eikdale unto Westerram that night."f five cases Clavcrhouse had no share what- i Wodrow adds: "Claverhouse in this in
evcr, and that in a fourth he acted the part of an intercessor for mercy, and exerted himself in vain to save the 'life of the victim. In the most cruel of all—that of Margaret Maclachlan and Margaret Wilson—we find, on referring to Wodrow, that a Colonel
>d °f Graham was concerned, but it was Colonel j man be upon you, Wetterrate; I am free of
stance was very backward, perhaps not wanting his own reflections upon John Brown's murder the first of this month, as we have heard, and pressed the delay of the execution. But Westerraw urged till the other yielded, saying, "The blood of this poor
Datid Graham, the sheriff of Wigtownshire, not Colonel John Grabame of Claverhouse.j Lord Macaulay might as well have con
This is the story as told by the bitterest enemy of Claverhouse. It is impossible for
founded David Hume with Joseph Hume, I any one who looks at it with the slightest .or, as he did upon another occasion, Patrick \ candor, or desire to discern the truth, not to
Graham of the Town Guard with the hero ; perceive that the influence of Claverhouse • of ICilliecrankie, or George Penne with the 1 was exercised on the side of humanity and .founder of Pennsylvania. Even in this case, !mercy. Why does Lord Macaulay, whose
cruel and atrocious as it was, Lord Macaulay i narrative^ so frequently, without any author.misquotes his authorities. He asserts that ity whatever, assumes the dramatic form, in
•these unhappv women "suffered death for
th-jir religion.'" Wodrow and Crookshank, .on th- contrary, distinctly state that they
were indicted and convicted for being in vopen rebellion at Bothwell Bridge and Aird's
Moss. Lord Macaulay also omits to men,tio:i what is stated by the historians he refers
this instance suppress the words of Claverhouse, graphically recorded both by Wodrow and Crookshank, " The blood of this poor man be upon you, Westerraw; I am free of
We now come to the only authority (except vulgar tradition) that Lord Macaulay
.to, namely, that upon the case being brought i has given for his character of Claverhouse. •to the 'notice of the Council, the prisoners I It is the often repeated story of "John .wutu respited, and a pardon recommended, Brown, the Christian Carrier." Immediately :but that the execution was hurried on by the upon the appearance of the first volume of "brutality of Major Windram and the Laird i Lord Macaulay's History, Professor Aytoun •of Lagg.§ challenged the correctness of his picture of
Claverhouse, and in a note to his noble and
* Wmirow.i. «p, fol. spirit-stirring "Burial-March of Dundee," exposed, by means of the most accurate rea- to have been too gross and palpable an imEoiiing and the most conclusive evidence, the probability for Lord Macaulay, who repreerrors into which the historian had fallen, sents them as merely moved by the natural It is much to be regretted that Lord Macau- 1 feeling of compassipn for the unhappy wife lav, who availed himself of the corrections - — more probable, certainly, but not the tale of" the Professor upon some minor points, told by Wodrow. Again, Lord Macaulay did not exercise the same discretion on this asserts that Claverhouse shot John Brown more important matter. The picture of dead in a fit of passion, excited by his loud Claverhouse, and the story of John Brown, I and fervent prayers. This is Lord Macauhave reappeared unaltered in each Bucccs- j lay, " pur et simple." Wodrow's statement sive edition that has issued from the press, is very different. He asserts that "not one We quote from the one published in 1808: — of the soldiers would shoot him, or obey
t Vipier. ilemmn iif Dunate, 185.
i Woilrow, ii. 505: Crookshauk, ii. 386. * Mncaulny. II. T6, «1.1858.
i Ibid. t Wodrow, u. WT.
Claverhouse's commands, so that he teas
Christian carrie. Many vears laterwhen Scotland enjoyed rest, prosperity, and religious freedom, old men, who remembered the evil days, described him as one versed in divine things,
shot ^m TM& *»8 own hand."* Wodrow asserts positively the refusal of the soldiers, and attributes the act of Claverhouse to thut refusal. Lord Macaulay confines his
blameless in life, and so peaceable that the ty- statement to a natural reluctance on the part rants couM find no^offence in him, except that | of the soldiers, and attributes the act of
"" brutal and observe,
even among the soldiers, it was not easy to find titled to garble, alter, and pervert the au
an executioner. For the wife of the poor man i thorities he quotes; and it is strange that was present; she led one little child by the i he should have adopted, upon the sole auliand: it was easy to see that she was about to ! thority of Wodrow, a story which he yet apgive birth to another; and even those wild and pears to have felt to be so grossly improbaliard-hcarted men, who nicknamed one another ble, that he could not produce it until he had Beelzebub and Appllyon, shrank from the great pruned down some of its most extravagant wickedness of butchering her husband before her ! futures
face. The prisoner, meanwhile, raised above WnHi-'ow's mmtivr first nrmpnrprl in 1721 himself bv the near prospect of etcmitv, proved .V ..* 8 narrat'ye TM[st appeared in 17 £1 load and 'fervently, is one inspired, till Chver- -thirty-six years after the event .s supposed house, in a fur,,, dot him dead. It was reported ; to have taken place, and thirty-three after by credible wi'tnesses that the widow cried out in | the Revolution. Professor Aytoun justly
"These dates are of the utmost importance in considering a matter of this kind. The Episcopalian party which adhered to the cause of King James was driven from power at the Revolution, and the Episcopal Church proscribed. No merry was shown to opponents in the literary war which followed. Every species of invective and vitnpcration was lavished upon the supporters of the fallen dynasty. Ytt for thirty-three years after the Revolution, the details of this atrocious murder were never revealed to the intblic." t
Wodrow gives no authority whatever for his narrative. But there is another historian, Patrick Walker the packman, w'ho, two years after the appearance of Wodrow's Hittory, _namely, in 1724, gave a verp different, and in many respects a contradictor)', account of the same transaction.
Professor Aytoun, with rather an excess of candor, says that "Mr. Macaulay may not have known that such testimony ever existed, for even the most painstaking historian is sure to pass over some material in so wide a field." True, but Lord Macaulay
* Wodrow, B. iii., ch. ix.
t Lai/i of the Scottish Camlien, App. p. 334.
her agony, 'Well, sir, well, the day of reckoning will come ;' and that the murderer replied, 'To man I can answer for what I have done, and as for God, I will take him into mine own hand.' Yet it was rumored that even on his scared conscience and adamantine heart the dying ejaculations of his victim made an impression which was never effaced."*
This story of John Brown affords a curious example of the mode in which calumnies are propagated and grow; and at the risk of some repetition of what has already been so well done by Professor Aytoun, we shall proceed to trace the falsehood to its source.
Lord Macaulay cites as his authority "AVodrow, iii. ix. 6." But though following him in the main, Lord Macaulay seems to have been conscious that Wodrow's narrative would not bear the test of critical examination.
Wodrow asserts that the soldiers were melted and moved by the " scriptural expressions and grace of prayer" of John Brown, and mutinied, refusing to execute
can hardly be supposed to have been unaware of the existence of a story which Sir Walter Scott has twice repeated at full length; first in the notes to the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border; * and, secondly, in the Tales of a Grandfather,*! in both cases citing Warner's Life of Pcden as his authority. But besides this there is other evidence of the falsehood of Wodrow, which it is difficult to account for Lord Macaulay having overlooked.
In 1749 the Rev. William Crookshank published his History of the State and Sufferings of the Church of Scotland. In the preface he says—
"When I first engaged in this undertaking, I i only intended to abridge Mr. Wodrow's History; but by tlio advice of friends I was induced to use other helps for making the history of this persecuting period more clear and full. Accordingly, when 1 mention any thing not to be found lu Wodrow, I generally tell my author, or quote him in the margin; so that though there is nothing I thouylU material in that author which 1 have omitted, yet the reader will find many tilings of consequence in the following work which the other takes no notice of." J
When Crookshank arrives at that part of his History which relates to John Brown, he abandons Wodrow altogether, and adopts Walker's narrative, citing him in the margin as his authority. Here, then, we find Wodrow contradicted by the contemporary authority of Walker; Crookshank, the disciple and follower of Wodrow, confirming that contradiction, and feeling himself obliged to discard his master's story; Sir Walter Scott casting the weight of his authority into the same scale; and yet Lord Macaulay, with all this evidence before him, added to the gross improbability of the tale itself, reproduces AVodrow's story in edition after edition, with certain alterations purely his own, and calls it history.
Walker hated Claverhouse with a hatred fully as bitter as that of Wodrow; he cannot, therefore, be suspected of having suppressed or softened down any circumstance that could tell against him, or enhance the tragic nature of the scene. He states that he derived part, at least, of his account from the widow of the murdered man; the testimony he relies upon is therefore that most hostile to Claverhouse. Walker was a contemporary of Wodrow, though many years older, and had borne a part in the troubled times to which the History of the latter relates. In 1682 he shot a dragoon who attempted to capture him. According to Walker's own account, he and two of his
* Note to the " Battle of Bothwell Brig."
comrades, returning from a nightly meeting armed with firearms, were pursued by one Francis Garden, a trooper in Lord Airley's regiment, alone, and armed only with his sword. How he intended to capture his prisoners, unless after the Irish fashion of "surrounding" them, does not very clearly appear. The result, however, was, that Walker shot him through the head. Writing more than thirty years after the event, and when, according to Lord Macaulay, "Scotland enjoyed rest, prosperity, and religious freedom," he says—" When I saw his blood run, I wished that all the blood of the Lord's stated and avowed enemies in Scotland had been in his veins: having such a clear call and opportunity, / would have rejoiced to have teen it all gone out with a gush." •
We may therefore feel well assured that nothing which could be told against such a " stated and avowed enemy of the Lord" as Claverhouse, would be omitted by Walker; and it should at least throw a doubt on the veracity of Wodrow, when we find so zealous a Covenanter denouncing his Hittory as a collection of " lies and groundless stories."
Walker's Life of Pedan first appeared in 1724, three years after the publication of Wodrow's History. It is still widely circulated and extremely popular amongst the peasants of Scotland, and has been frequently reprinted up to the present time in the form of a chap-book. That even this account, though more trustworthy than that of Wodrow, is not to be received with implicit confidence, will, we think, be admitted, when it is observed that the story is first revealed in a miraculous manner to the inspired Mr. Peden, or as he commonly calls himself, "Old Sandy." On the morning of John Brown's death, Peden was at a house about ten or eleven miles distant.
"Betwixt seven and eight be desired to call in the family that he might pray among them. He said 'Lord when wilt thou arengo Brown's blood? Oh, let Brown's blood be precious in thy fight, and hasten the day when thou'It avenge it with Cameron's, Cargill's, and many other'of our martyr's names. And oh for that day when the Lord would avenge all their bloods!' When ended, John Muirhcad inquired what he meant by Brown's blood? He said twice over, ' What do 1 mean? Claverhouse has been at the Preshill this morning, and has cruelly murdered John Brown. His corpse is lying at the rnd of his house, and his poor wife sitting weeping by his corpse, and not a soul to speak comfortably to her. This morning, after the sun-rising, I saw a strange apparition in the firmament, the appearance of a very bright, clear, shining star fall from heaven to earth; and, indeed, there i»
# Life of feden.
a clear, shining light fallen this day, the greatest Christian that ever I conversed with.'"
Walker's narrative of the death of Brown is as follows. Between five and six in the morning, he says—
"The said John Brown having performed the worship of God in his family, was going, with a spade in his hand, to make ready some peat ground. The mist being very dark, he knew not until cruel and bloody Claverhouso compnssed him with three troops of horse, brought him to his house, and there examined him; who, though he was a man of a stammering speech, I yet answered him distinctly and solidly, which i made Claverhouse to examine those whom he had taken to be his guides through tbo muirs, if ever they heard him preach? They answered, 'Ko, no; he was never a preacher.' He said, 'if he has never preached, mcikle he has prayed in his time.' He said to John, 'Go to your prnyers, for you shall immediately die.' When be was praying, Clavcrliouse interrupted him three times; one time that he stopt him, he was pleading that the Lord would spare a remnant, and not make a full end in the day of his anger. Claverhouse said, 'I gave you time to pray, and ye are begun to preach.' He turned upon his knees anil said, ' Sir, you know neither the nature of preaching or praying, that calls this preaching." Then continued without confusion. When ended, Claverhouso said, 'Take goodnight of your wife and children.' His wife, standing by with her child in her arms that she bad brought forth to him, and another child of his first wife's, ho came to her and said, 'Now, Marian, the day is come that I told you would come, when I spake first to you of marrying me.' She said, 'Indeed, John, I can willingly part with you.' 'Then/ he said, 'this is all I desire: I have no more to do but die.' He kissed his wife and bairns, and wished purchased and promised blessings to be multiplied upon them, and his blessing. Claverhouse ordered six soldiers to shoot him. The most part of the bullets came upon his head, which scattered his brains upon the ground. Claverhouse said to his wife, 'What thinkcst thon of thy husband now, woman 3' She said, ' I thought ever much of him, and now as much as ever.' He said, 'It were but justice to lay thce beside him.' She suid,' If you were permitted I doubt not but your crueltie would go that length; but how will ye make answer for this morning's work?' He said, 'To man I can be answerable, and for God, I will take him in my own hand.' Claverhouso mounted his horse, and marched, and left her with the corpse of her dead husband lying there; she set the bairn on the ground, and gathered his brains, and tied up his head, and straightcd his body, and covered him in her plaid, and sat down and wept over him. It being a very desert place, where never victual greiv, and far from neighbors, it was some time before any friends came to her. The first that cnme was a very fit hand, that old singular Christian woman in the Cummcrhcad, named Elizabeth Henzics, three miles distant, who had
been tried with the violent death of her husband at Fentland, afterwards of two worthy sons— Thomas Weir who was killed at Drttmclog, and David Steel who was suddenly shot afterwards when taken. The said Mnrinn Weir, sitting upon her husband's grave, told me, that before that she could sec no blood but she was in danger to faint, and yet she was helped to be u witness to all this without either fainting or confusion; except when the shots were let off, her eyes dazzled."
That this wild, picturesque, and touching siitry should have taken strong hold on the poetical imagination and kind heart of Sir Walter Scott, can be no matter of surprise to any one. That it did so, is shown, not only by his frequent reference to it, but by the mode in «iii<-h his genius has interwoven some of the most affecting incidents into the beautiful episode of Bessie Maclure.* But the historian h'ad a far different task from that of the novelist. His duty was to compare the two narrations, and to examine how much of either should be admitted as trustworthy evidence. That Walker's testimony is sufficient to convict Wodrow of falsehood in asserting that the soldiers mutinied, and that Claverhouse was himself the executioner of John Brown, is abundantly clear. Walker's informant was the widow of John Brown, an eyewitness of the transaction, and most hostile to Claverhouse. She told the story " sitting on her husband's grave." To suppose that she could have omitted such a circumstance as that her husband's eloquence had moved the hearts of the soldiers to mutiny, and compelled their commander to take upon himself the revolting office of an executioner, would be absurd. Nor is this all. We find the circumstances of his death narrated with the utmost particularity, no doubt by the widow herself, and there is not from beginning to end a hint that the soldiers shrank from executing the commands of their officer. But when we come to the adjuncts of the story, to the conversation, to the particular expressions supposed to have been used by Claverhouse, to his imputed " obduracy and profanity," his " seared conscience and adamantine heart," the question assumes a very different aspect.
The poetical power of Walker's mind was of no mean order. As Sir Walter Scott observes, his "simple but affecting narrative," and his " imitation of scriptural style, produces in some passages an effect not unlike what we feel in reading the beautiful Book of Ruth." f The narrative constantly runs into the form of dialogue. Every one knows, and none better than those who have read Lord Macaulay's History with care, how
* Old Mortality, chnp. vi.
dangerous the dramatic talent is to a historian. In the majority of instances, even in Lord Macaulay's own History, when we have had occasion to test the accuracy of passages which he has inclosed between inverted commas, as being the very words of the speaker, we have found them incorrectly quoted. * It seems in the highest degree improbable that an illiterate woman, such as Marion Brown, should be able, after many years, accurately to repeat the particular words which passed during such a scene of horror as, under any circumstances, the death of John Brown must have been. There are, besides, inconsistencies and mistakes in the narrative which are easily detected: Thus, the neighbor who visits the widow in her affliction is, in one copy of the Life, Elizabeth Menzies, and in another, Jean Brown, whilst she is still represented as the mother of Thomas Weir and David Steel, the latter of whom is said to have been "suddenly shot when taken." We know, however, that so far from this being the fact, David Steele was neither taken nor shot, but fell beneath the broadswords of the dragoons in a fray, during which they attempted to capture him.f
We may, therefore, fairly take Walker's account as trustworthy, for the fact that John Brown fell by the carbines of the soldiers, acting under the orders of Claverhouse; but
for any thing beyond that fact, his testimony must be received with caution. Military executions are, under any circumstances, sufficiently horrible: they are peculiarly so when they take place during a civil war. But, before we come to any conclusion upon the conduct of Claverhouse in this instance, we must inquire, first, what was the temper of the times, and what manner of men he had to deal with; and, secondly, what were the particular circumstances of the individual case. With regard to the first, we will content ourselves with three instances, and they shall all be of the most notorious kind, and proved by the most unexceptionable evidence. .
On the 3d of May, 1679, David Hackston of Eathillet, John Balfour of Kinloch, and seven others, some of whom were gentlemen of good family, set forth, mounted and armed, for the purpose of waylaying and murdering one Carmichael, sheriff-depute of the county of Fife,J who was obnoxious to the Covenanters, and whom they expected to find hunting in the neighborhood of Scotstarbet. Carmichael was, however, warned of his danger by a shepherd, and escaped. After spending the greater part of the morning in a fruitless search, Rathillet and his party were about to disperse, when a boy came up and informed them that the Arch
* The following aro a few instances, taken almost at random:—
(ii:n.i\ \i,. Lord Macaulay.
"' I would rather,' he said,' carry a musket in a respectable regiment, than be captain of sncA agang of thierei.' "—Macaulay, iii. 340.
"He [i.e., Claverhouse] told Keppoeh in the presence of nil the officers of his small army, that he would much rather choose to serve ns a common soldier amongst disciplined troops, than command such men as he, who seemed to make it his business to draw the odium of the country upon him. . . . He begged that he would immediately begone with his men, that he might not hereafter have an opportunity of affronting the genera', at his pleasure, or of making him and the better-disposed troops a cover to his robberies."—Memoirs ofLuchtil, 243.
"Wlien it was objected that he [i.e., Glengarry] "When ho was reminded that Lochcil's followwould not be able to make it good, since his fol- ers were in number nearly double of the Glengarry lowers were not near equal to Loclieil's in numbers, men—'No matter,' he cried, 'one M'Donald fs he answered that the courage of his men would worth two Camerons.' "—Mncnulay, iii. 341. mnke up that delect."—Memoirs of Locheil, 254.
"The Lords replied,' Nay, we all well remem- "7hen the whole board broke forlh,' How Jure her you particularly mentioned the flower-pots.'" you say so? We all remember it.'"—Macaulay,
art the strang- "'.1/nn,' tried Carmarthen,' wouldst tlion have of. Dost thou us believe that the bishop combined,' " etc. think we could imagine that the Bishop of Rochester would combine.' " etc.—Sprat's Narrative, 71.
'•I left him praying God to give him grace to re- "' God give you repentance," ansictre d the bishop: pent; and only adding thnt else he was more in 'for, depend npon it,you nre in much more danger danger of his own damnation than I of his accusn- of being damned, thaii I of being impeached.' "— tion in Parliament."—Ibid., second part, p. 3. Macaulay, 'v- 253.
The actual meaning may not be much altered in these examples, but it is not Claverhouse, Glengarry, Carmarthen, or sprat that speaks, but Lord Macaulay, nnd a slight change of phraseology converts a dignified remonstrance into n brutal insult, and a pious exhortation into something very'like a vulgar oath, nnd that, too, put into the mouth of a bishop! Lord Macaulay's inverted commas aro al
ways to be regarded with extreme caution. t Crightou's Jlemoirs.