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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 neighbour 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.*
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
making him and the better-disposed troops a cover to his robberies."-Memoirs of Locheil, 243.
"When it was objected that he [i. e., Glengarry] would not be able to make it good, since his followers were not near equal to Locheil's in numbers, he answered that the courage of his men would make up that defect."-Memoirs of Locheil, 254.
"The Lords replied, 'Nay, we all well remember you particularly mentioned the flower-pots.""-SPRAT'S Narrative, 70.
"Lord President. Young, thou art the strangest creature that ever I did hear of. Dost thou think we could imagine that the Bishop of Rochester would combine,'" &c.-SPRAT'S Narrative, 71.
"I left him praying God to give him grace to repent; and only adding that else he was more in danger of his own damnation than I of his accusation in Parliament."-Ibid., second part, p. 3.
anything 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 Rathillet, 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,t who was obnoxious to the Covenanters, and whom they expected to find
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, and a slight change of phraseology converts a dignified remonstrance into a brutal insult, and a pious exhortation into something very like a vulgar oath, and that, too, put into the mouth of a bishop! Lord Macaulay's inverted commas are always to be regarded with extreme caution.
* CRIGHTON'S Memoirs.
+ WODROW, ii. 27.
hunting in the neighbourhood 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 Archbishop's coach was in a neighbouring village, and that he would soon pass near the spot where they then were. Disappointed of their intended victim, chance thus threw in their way one who was even more the object of their hatred. It was true that there was no recent or immediate cause for exasperation against Sharpe, but he was an apostate, he had abandoned Presbyterianism for Episcopacy seventeen years before, he was an archbishop, -he had already once narrowly escaped the pistol of an assassin, the shot which was intended for him having taken effect upon his friend, the Bishop of Orkney, he was known to have shown little mercy towards those who had shown none to him, he was old, unarmed, utterly defenceless, accompanied by no one but his daughter and some domestic servants, who were wholly unable to offer any effectual resistance to nine men well armed and mounted. The temptation was too strong to be resisted. Rathillet and his party had come out expressly to commit murder. Their appetite for crime was sharpened by disappointment, when the victim they had least hoped, but most desired to immolate, presented himself ready for slaughter. Their resolution was immediately taken; the pistols which had been loaded, and the swords which had been sharpened for the murder of Carmichael, were turned against the
Archbishop, and they spurred their horses to their utmost speed after the carriage. The coachman, alarmed at their pursuit, quickened his pace, and the Archbishop, looking out, and, seeing armed men approaching, turned to his daughter and exclaimed, "Lord have mercy upon me, my poor child, for I am gone!" He had scarcely spoken when three or four pistols were fired at the coach, and the best mounted of the pursuers, riding up to the postilion, struck him over the face with his sword, and shot and hamstrung his horse. The coach being thus stopped, the assailants again fired into it upon the Archbishop and his daughter, and this time with more effect, for the former was wounded. The Archbishop opened the door, came out of the coach, and begged the assailants to spare his life. "There is no mercy," they replied, "for a Judas, an enemy and traitor to the cause of Christ." He then begged for mercy for his child. The details of the butchery which followed are too revolting to be repeated. One of the murderers even exclaimed in horror to his comrades, to "spare those grey hairs." The daughter threw herself before her father, and received two wounds in a fruitless attempt to save him. When their bloody work was done, the murderers remounted their horses, and left her on the moor with the mutilated body of her father.t
Such was the murder of Archbishop Sharpe. It is recorded by Sheilds, who, we are told by Wodrow, was "a minister of extraordinary talents and usefulness, well seen in most branches of valuable learning; of a most quick and piercing wit, full of zeal and public spirit ; of shining and
* James Russell, one of the murderers, gives the following account of the final act of the tragedy: "Falling upon his knees, he said, 'For God's sake, save my life;' his daughter, falling upon her knees, begged his life also. John Balfour
stroke him on the face, and Andrew Henderson stroke him on the hand, and cut it, and John Balfour rode him down; whereupon, he lying upon his face as if he had been dead, and James Russell, hearing his daughter say to Wallace [the Archbishop's servant] that there was life in him yet, in the time James was disarming the rest of the Bishop's men, went presently to him, and cast off his hat, for it would not cut at first, and haked his head in pieces. Having done this, his daughter came to him and cursed him, and called him a bloody murderer; and James answered, they were not murderers, for they were sent to execute God's vengeance on him."-James Russell's Account of the Murder of Archbishop Sharpe; KIRKTON, 418.
+See State Trials, x. 791; WODROW; Russell's Narrative, KIRKTON; Sir Wm. Sharp's Letter, KIRKTON, App.
solid piety; a successful, serious, and solid preacher, and useful minister in the Church, moved with love to souls, and somewhat of the old apostolic spirit," in the following words :"That truculent traitor,James Sharpe, the Arch-prelate, &c., received the just demerit of his perfidy, apostacy, sorceries, villanies, and murders sharp arrows of the mighty and coals of juniper. For, upon the 3d of May 1679, several worthy gentlemen, with some other men of courage and zeal for the cause of God and the good of the country, executed righteous judgment upon him in Magus Muir, near St Andrews." At the same time, Hackston of Rathillet is commemorated as a "worthy gentleman who suffered at Edinburgh on the 30th of July 1680," one of a "cloud of witnesses for the royal prerogatives of Jesus Christ!" Such is the language in which the fact that this infamous murderer was hanged is recorded by the historians of the Covenant! Something of the same spirit seems still to survive. A recent historian of the Church of Scotland says, after giving an account of the Archbishop's murder, "It was such a deed as Greece celebrated with loudest praises in the case of Harmodius and Aristogiton, and Rome extolled when done by Cassius and Brutus." I
The skirmish at Drumclog, immortalised in Old Mortality, took place on the 1st of June 1679, within a month after the Archbishop's murder. The insurgents were commanded by Robert Hamilton, a near connection and pupil of Bishop Burnett. Following the example of the Covenanters at Tippermuir, whose watch word was Jesus and no quarter," he gave, as he himself informs us, strict orders that "no quarter should be given." These orders were, however, disobeyed during his ab sence, and five prisoners were spared. Hamilton, returning from the pursuit of Claverhouse, found his followers debating whether mercy should be shown to a sixth, when he put an
WODROW, iv. 233.
end to the argument by slaughtering the unhappy prisoner in cold blood with his own hand. Seven years afterwards we find him exulting in the act. "None could blame me," he says, "to decide the controversy, and I bless the Lord for it to this day!" This was the man whom Lord Macaulay has truly designated as "the oracle of the Extreme Covenanters," and justly denounced as a "bloodthirsty ruffian." That his conduct met with the sympathy and approval of his followers, is shown by the fact that we find him still in command of the insurgent forces under the title of General Hamilton, at the battle of Bothwell Brig, in conjunction with Hackston of Rathillet, the murderer of the Archbishop. The banner which floated over their heads is still in existence, || and, after the desecrated motto, "For Christ and His Truths," bears, in blood-red letters, the words, "No Quarter for the Active Enemies of the Covenant." Reckoning upon certain victory, these champions of the Prince of Peace had erected upon the battle-field a high gallows, and prepared a cartload of new ropes, in order that there might be no more such "steppings aside" as had occurred when the five prisoners were spared at Drumclog. It is somewhat inconsistent with the supposed ferocity of the commanders of the royalist troops that these preparations were not turned against the insurgents upon their defeat. ¶
Such were the leaders of the Covenanters-men of rank, station, and education. As may well be supposed, their example was not thrown away upon their more humble and ignorant followers. Of the numberless outrages committed by them, we will select one only, and narrate the facts as they came from the mouths of the perpetrators of the crime.
Peter Peirson, the curate of Carsphairn, was a bold and determined man, and had the courage to reside alone, without even a servant, in the solitary manse belonging to that parish. His offence consisted in be
Hind Let Loose.
HETHERINGTON's History of the Church of Scotland, 94, as to Sharpe's murder. SHAMILTON'S Letter to the Sectaries-Dec. 7, 1685. NAP., Memoirs of Dundee, 228.
ing suspected of favouring "Popery, Papists, and purgatory," and in having been heard to declare that "he feared none of the Whigs, nor anything else, but rats and mice." On this provocation, James M'Michael and three others, one night in the middle of November 1684, went to the manse, knocked at the door, and upon its being opened by Mr Peirson, immediately shot him dead on his own threshold.*
Instances of the most cold-blooded murder might be multiplied by thousands. But we must now consider the second question, and inquire, what were the circumstances, and what the conduct, of Claverhouse in the particular case of John Brown. Lord Macaulay's assertion that he was sentenced to death because he was "convicted of nonconformity" is pure invention. Neither Wodrow nor Walker assign any cause; the former, indeed, expressly says, "Whether he [Claverhouse] had got any information of John's piety and nonconformity, I cannot tell; and we shall presently see that Lord Macaulay might just as truly have said that John Thurtel was hanged for reading Bell's Life in London.
John Brown was a "fugitated rebel." His name appears a year before in a list appended to a proclamation of those who had been cited as rebels in arms, or rather of rebels who had not appeared. Sir Walter Scott says, with perfect truth, "While we read this dismal story, we must remember Brown's situation was that of an avowed and determined rebel, liable as such to military execution." What then does Lord Macaulay mean by asserting that "he was blameless in life, and so peaceable that the tyrants could find no offence in him, except that he absented himself from the public worship of the Episcopalians"? That he was blameless and peaceable in the eyes of those who regarded Hackston of Rathillet as one of Sion's precious mourners and faithful witnesses of Christ, a valiant and much - honoured gentleman," who shouted "Jesus and no quarter!"
WODROW, vol. ii., p. 467. +WODROW, App., vol. ii. P. 110. Brown of Priestfield, for Reset."
at Tippermuir-who felt that they had forfeited the favour of God because they had abstained from "dashing the brains of the brats of Babel against the stones" at Drumclogwho fought under the "bluidy banner," and prepared the gibbet and the new ropes at Bothwell Brig,—we can readily understand. But that any historian should be found, in the middle of the nineteenth century, deliberately to adopt such a statement, we confess, fills us with surprise.
Yet such, unhappily, is the fact. Year after year, and edition after edition, Lord Macaulay has given the trash of Wodrow to the public, backed by his own high authority. It was in vain that Professor Aytoun laid before him the evidence which proved, in the most conclusive manner, that Wodrow was contradicted by contemporary authorities,—that even by his own party his History was denounced as a collection of "lies and groundless stories." It was in vain that his attention was directed to the fact that Sir Walter Scott, though himself adopting a view by no means favourable of the character of Claverhouse, rejected the story told by Wodrow, and adopted that told by Walker, and had distinctly pointed out the fact that John Brown was an avowed rebel, amenable to the law, such as it then was-that the assertion that he was "convicted of nonconformity," and had committed no offence except that he absented himself from the public worship of the Episcopalians," was not only unsupported by any evidence whatever, but betrayed a want of knowledge of the state of Scotland at the time. Still the story of the Christian carrier appeared over and over again without even a note or a hint from which the reader could surmise that its authenticity had ever been even questioned. It appeared as the sole evidence on which Lord Macaulay relied for painting Claverhouse with the features of a fiend, and bestowing upon him the nickname of "The Chief of Tophet!”
The entry is as follows: "Muirkirk, John
So the matter stood at the time of the appearance of the last edition of Lord Macaulay's History. Within the last year, however, a valuable addition has been made to the mate
rials previously before the world for the history of that period of Scottish annals. The Queensberry Papers, preserved among the archives of the Buccleuch family, have been examined, and amongst the extracts from those valuable documents which have been recently published by Mr Mark Napier, in his Memoirs of Dundee, is the original despatch which Claverhouse sent to the Duke of Queensberry, then the High Treasurer of Scotland and head of the Government, on the 3d of May 1685, giving an account of the execution of John Brown only two days after the event. One might almost fancy that the spirit of the hero had been awakened from its slumbers by the sound of the only voice whose slanders he deigned to answer:
"May it please your Grace, "On Friday last, amongst the hills betwixt Douglas and the Ploughlands, we pursued two fellows a great way through the mosses, and in the end seized them. They had no arms about them, and denied they had any. But being asked if they would take the abjuration, the eldest of the two, called John Brown, refused it; nor would he swear not to rise in arms against the King, but said he knew no king. Upon which, and there being found bullets and match in his house, and treasonable papers, I caused shoot him dead; which he suffered unconcernedly. very The other, a young fellow and his nephew, called John Brownen, offered to take the oath;
but would not swear that he had not
been at Newmills in arms, at rescuing the prisoners. So I did not know what to do with him; I was convinced that he was guilty, but saw not how to proceed against him. Wherefore, after he had said his prayers, and carabines presented to shoot him, I offered to him, that if he would make an ingenuous confession, and make a discovery that might be of any importance for the King's service, I should delay putting him to death, and plead for him. Upon which he confessed that he was at that attack of Newmills, and that he had come straight to this house of his uncle's
*NAPIER'S Memoirs of Dundee.
on Sunday morning. In the time he was making this confession the soldiers found out a house in the hill, under ground, that could hold a dozen of men, and there were swords and pistols in it; longed to his uncle, and that he had and this fellow declared that they belurked in that place ever since Bothwell, where he was in arms. He confessed that he had a halbert, and told who gave it him about a month ago, and we have the fellow prisoner. quitted myself when I have told your He has been but a Grace the case.
I have ac
month or two with his halbert; and if your Grace thinks he deserves no mercy, justice will pass on him: for I, having no commission of justiciary myself, have delivered him up to the LieutenantGeneral, to be disposed of as he pleases. "I am, my Lord, your Grace's most humble servant,
convicted of nonconformity," it may be well to examine what the Oath of Abjuration was, and to inquire into its history.
On the 28th of October 1684, a declaration was published by the Covenanters, and affixed very generally upon the church-doors and other public places, "disowning the authority of Chas. Stuart, and all authority depending upon him;† declaring war against him and his accomplices, such as lay out themselves to promote his wicked and hellish designs" denouncing all bloody counsellors, justiciaries, generals, captains, all in civil or military power, bloody militiamen, malicious troopers, soldiers, and dragoons, viperous and malicious bishops and curates, and all witnesses who should appear in any courts, as enemies to God, to be punished as such. This was met by the Government by a proclamation denouncing the penalty of death against all who should not renounce the declaration, and
+ WODROW, ii. App. 137.