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HISTORY OF SCOTLAND, FROM THE REVOLUTION TO THE
EXTINCTION OF THE LAST JACOBITE INSURRECTION.* MANY years have probably still mechanical contrivances for the preW to elapse before an exhaustive servation of the records of what history can be written of England took place, we are overwhelmed by and Scotland for the century a multitude of details and minuwhich lies between the expulsion of tiæ of circumstance and opinion, in the Stuarts and the outbreak of the which all men, and especially statesfirst French revolution. The out. men, are most found to indulge in the ward political characteristics of the inverse ratio of the importance of the period are sufficiently intelligible; subject matter. but the forces at work underneath It is, therefore, no small proof of the surface, the swift and silent historical talent in the writer of the course of change in the temper and two volumes now before us that he dispositions of the people, have as has been able to distil such a mass yet furnished too imperfect indica. of material into a palatable liquid, tions of their ultimate tendency to and has made a practicable and enable us either to estimate the pleasant road for us through what value of them, or even vaguely to was before a rather dreary wil. conceive their meaning. The derness. We do not know that word progress,' which is on the Mr. Burton has added any absolips of all of us, expresses indeed lutely new fact to those already our consciousness of the change known; but, what is of far greater that is going forward, and the san- importance, he has organized and guine feelings with which we regard made intelligible the confused heap it; but we have still to ask, progress he found before him; and while towards what? and to receive very it is not easy for us to speak too little satisfaction in the answers highly of the manner in which he which are given us. Is it pro has executed his work, the same gress in nobleness ! progress in the modest gracefulness of mind that conquest of what is small and un gives such a charm to all he has worthy in the human soul? or pro- written will probably make himself gress merely in material comforts the last person who will estimate it in the conquest over nature, and at its full value. The matter, as making her the handmaid of human he has treated it, has itself beconvenience ?
come interesting, and his style, if In default of such proper insight less brilliant than Macaulay's, has into the real nature of what was a pregnant elegance of its own, going forward, such history of the leaving behind it a calm and satis. eighteenth century as hitherto has factory impression, which pleases offered itself has naturally been de- us as we receive it, and is reficient in the power of arresting tained without an effort. There our interest. The disappearance is an appearance of indolence from the surface of all questions of which is sometimes unconsciously principle, religious or political, and acknowledged, and betrays itself, byas a consequence the absence from the-bye, seriously in a negligent the arena of public life of all really correcting of the press; but in gene. remarkable men, is seriously felt as ral it is the indolence of power, we descend from the great eras of which holds its subject under easy the Reformation and the Revolu- command, and wields it without tion; while, owing to the improved exertion. He makes no preten.
History of Scotland, from the Revolution to the Extinction of the Last Jacobite Insurrection. By John Hill Burton. Two Vols. Octavo. London: Longman aad Co. 1853.
VOL. XLVIII. NO. CCLXXXIV.
sion to a large philosophy; con.
Great art is shown in the arrangetented to let facts tell their own ment and composition. The story story, he does not encumber them evolves itself systematically as the with comments, and he has shown writer sawit, eventrisingoutof event, his discretion as much in what he and cause slowly working upon cause has avoided as in what he has till the climax of the rebellion. The touched. But in his detail of action, descriptions are graphic and full, and in his estimate of character, especially those of battles and battlethere is an eleration of feeling and fields, which have been composed a calm subdued fairness far beyond evidently after personal examination the school of utilitarians, to which, of the localities. Those of personal from an occasional condescension to character, though occasionally rather their hack expressions, he seems too brief and allusive, are definite in to belong. Mr. Burton, too, speaks their outline. Mr. Burton's symof the progress of the enlighten: pathies are not controlled by party ment of humanizing influences, of feeling, and high qualities are al. large minded toleration, &c. &c., ways appreciated on whaterer side as if the improvement of man's they are to be found. Bitter nature was an unquestioned and un against no one, the smallest trait of questionable fact; as if there were good feeling betrayed by the reriest no excellences in the earlier world rascal receives its due kind mention which we do not now possess in from him ; but he never makes the larger measure; as if there were no rascal into a misrepresented saint inimitable Athenian sculptures, Nor because he happens to be on the man architectures, Italian paint anti-Jacobite side. Judging by ings, and Elizabethan dramas. We these volumes only we should conshould be glad to force him to a sider him a man without enthufuller definition of his meaning; but siasm, one who regarded enthusiasm happily the philosophy of progress with a sad feeling, as at best a in the general modern sense has species of generous weakness. But had very little influence in forming the period he is dealing with con. Mr. Burton's mind, however he may tains nothing about which it is possuppose himself to believe in it. sible for a wise man to be enthusi.
The subject of his book is simply astic; neither greatness in the matindicated in its title ; more particu ters at issue, nor greatness in the larly it is the union of the two king persons concerned with them. The doms, the causes which made it vehement theologians and the vehenecessary, the imprudences, care ment politicians were alike fanatics lessnesses, and jealousies in the or dreamers, and a dispassionate working it out, which produced so regret for so much wasted heroism many dangerous and almost disas.
was the only sentiment with which trous consequences. We are thus it was possible to regard them. carried through a series of events If unenthusiastic, Mr. Burton is the names of the most prominent of never contemptuous ; when a good which will show at once to the ge word is possible he never fails to neral reader what he is to look for say it; and the book throughout is - the accession of William, the written in a spirit of great kindly settlement of the Church, the later good sense. career of Claverhouse, the Glencoe In so brief a review as we can massacre, the singular history of the here permit ourselves we shall best Darien company, the Act of Secu- please our readers, and better do rity, and finally the passing of the justice to Mr. Burton, by not atAct of Union, compose the first vo tempting any general analysis, but lume; the second opens with the by selecting detailed specimens of inauspicious working of the new his manner and of his conclusions ; settlement, the thoughtlessness with and we will take first, as a matter in which the sensitive pride of the which English readers in the preweaker nation was fretted and irri. sent state of their knowledge are tated into alienation; and leads us likely to feel greatest interest-the on through the Jacobite insurrec too painfully celebrated massacre tions, which were rendered possible of Glencoe. It bas probably re. only by the opportunity which had ceived an undue prominence as an
129 gical features of the story, with the the Government had in a straightwildness of the scene in which it forward and open manner selected took place, have combined to fasten them for a peremptory vengeance it upon the imagination, and the we could only have regarded it as shame and the stain have clung to one of those strong stern acts of the memory of William indyes which justice on which great men will venhave hitherto only deepened as time ture in a spirit of wise humanity, has grown older. As Mr. Burton knowing that in dealing with habits himself wisely says—
radically vicious severity is the If Dalrymple and Breadalbane had truest clemency. The Secretary of dreamed of the influence of striking State for Scotland, however, Sir scenery in perpetuating the memory of John Dalrymple, was not a great political crimes, they would have sought man, and such a course of conduct any other place than this grand moun he had neither the understanding to tain solitude for the execution of their
perceive to be right, nor the energy cruelty.
to carry it out if he had. He atBut there are few persons who
tempted to entangle the chiefs in will not be glad to find the darker
a position in which they should have shadows partially relieved; and a
outlawed themselves by acts of their literal and dispassionate statement
own, and as soon as they had forof the facts of the catastrophe does
feited their privileges as subjects he certainly go far to distribute the
determined to extirpate them as a guilt over a wider surface than we
horde of savages, or beasts of prey. had hitherto supposed. William
Promises of money by William's himself is cleared of any further orders were beld out to such of the responsibility than what is involved
chiefs as would offer a ready sub. in his having permitted a severity
mission, and this was done bona fide, which the Scotch Ministers on whom
and with no covert purpose. At the he was forced to rely had repre
same timesented to him as necessary. The
A proclamation was issued requiring sufferers are shown to have been
all the chiefs to swear the oath of alleguilty of worse offences than Jaco
giance in the presence of a civil judge, bitism, and the severity with which before the first of January, 1692, threatthe massacre was executed must be ening those who failed to do so with allowed that degree of palliation the penalties of treason and of military (slight and miserable as it is) to execution upon their lands. The ferowhich very bad actions are entitled cious name of the writ by which it was when they are in harmony with the
to he executed, called letters of fire and practice of the time, and are tole
sword, had nothing in it to startle the rated by general opinion. The out.
ear, although it was known to infer
military execution in its most appalling line of the circumstances is fami.
form. Any one who by reason of his liar to every one. The Highlanders
estates being ravaged, or for any other had been out with Claverhouse in cause, had a deadly feud with a Highwhat the government were entitled land clan, readily obtained this license to consider a dangerous rebellion. of extermination against them, on payment It was certain that they would ex. of the usual fees. plode again on the first opportunity; The threat, like the promise, apand even in peace their habits were pears to be open and plain, and so such that unless they could be over in form it was. But Mr. Burton awed or coerced, their very exist. has shown by extracts from Dal. ence was fatal to the industry of the rymple's letters that he hoped that neighbouring Lowland population. obedience would be generally reThe provocation which they had al. fused, and that by skilfully availing ready given had laid them fairly himself of the animosities of clan open to a severe retribution, and we against clan he might let them loose need entertain no wonder that alike upon one another for mutual extirby William and his advisers it pation. Let the sentence which we Was felt absolutely necessary to have italicized, however, be carefully make some example of the worst of observed, for while the massacre in the clans. Among those against its actual features wears the frightful whom as freebooters there was the appearance of licensed murder, the heaviest reason to complain were licence was one which was recognised the MacDonalds of Glencoe, and if by the legislation of the time, and
of which on the present occasion the necessity. It is a necessity, however, statesmen only availed themselves which will not even palliate the rather than created it for the im manner in which the punishment mediate purpose.
That the Mac was inflicted. In ages of barbarism, Donalds really were a nest of thieves when governments are without the rests not only on the evidence of the power to punish, offenders are left time, but Mr. Burton has gathered to the 'wild justice' of private rea further curious proof of it on venge, and during the slow advances grounds not liable to the errors into of society 'the avenger of blood' is which the prejudices of contempo- recognised by the law as a legitiraries may betray their formal mate executioner of the natural statements, and which may serve as penalties against crime. But the a correction to the romantic sympa
close of the seventeenth century was thies that are excited by the Glencoe not a period when recourse might scenery :
be had to so rude an expedient; and The tourist in Glencoe (he says) finds
that such a practice should have
survived to so late a time is but a himself in a singularly solitary road, with conical mountains rising on either slight excuse for the statesman who side, nearly as abruptly as the Aiguil- employed it, and a disgrace to the lettes of the Alps burst out of the coat
nation who had consented so long to ing of snow. There is a narrow strip of endure it. grazing ground between these Alpine Disappointed in his hope that walls. There are a few, still narrower, any considerable number of the scattered here and there in the upper clans would refuse obedience to level, whence start the scaurs and mural
the proclamtion, Dalrymple disprecipices. He remarks the absence of
covered that at least one, and that population, as he passes, after a series of miles, a solitary farm-house, and one or
among the worst, of the offenders
had fallen within his power. The let two shepherd huts. This solitude he naturally associates with the tragedy of
of January was the last day fixed which he has heard. But to the histo. on which the oath could be received rical observer it may call forth the ques.
(of course, in such a matter, some tion, since the means of subsistence in last day must have been fixed), and this wild spot are so scanty, how, when MacDonald, who had held out to there was a considerable population the latest moment, with a clear pur. there, did they subsist? In equally arid pose of remaining disloyal if he districts of the Jura, we find a population dared, and if the refusal were gesubsisting by the making of watches ; neral, finding that he was being left but we know well that neither this nor
alone, and knowing the vengeance any other productive occupation fed the Mac Donalds of Glencoe. In short, they
which would fall upon him, hastened, lived by plunder, and were, with the
at the extreme limit of the time, to exception of the MacGregors, who had
follow the universal example. Cir. been nearly exterminated, the most ac
cumstances, over which he had no complished and indomitable freebooters control, interfered with his purpose, within the circuit of the Grampians. If and he had not formally made his they had not lived on the reft produce submission till five days beyond the of other people's industry, their arid time named in the proclamation, glen could not have supported the popu. He was, therefore, technically and lation which made the massacre a con
legally in the power of the Governsiderable feature in the history of the seventeenth century.
ment; and as MacDonald, by the
fact of his delaying to the last, Persons who in the midst of or.
showed sufficiently the animus with derly and industrious neighbours which he was actuated, they saw no choose to live like beasts of prey, reason why they should not make have no right to be surprised if they
use of it. find themselves treated as such. No matter what courage, fidelity, The letters of Breadalbane, Dalrymple,
The final tragedy was now resolved on. self-devotion, or other high feature of character there may have been
and one or two others in the secret, have
a very fiendish appearance. They speak among them, the propensity to
about mauling them on the cold long thieve is utterly intolerable, and nights when they cannot live on the the alternative of correction or de mountains; about not troubling the struction becomes matter of simple government with prisoners; seeing that
Massacre of Glencoe.
the old fox and his cubs do not escape; bad luck to be the last statesman about striking the blow silently and who made use of a method which secretly, otherwise the victims may
ay had been employed before a thousand flee to the mountains; and the like.
times without challenge, and even To carry out the plan, the old wellestablished resource of clan animosity
with applause. Happy in his comwas appealed to. For ages even before
parative insignificance, however, the horrible exhibition on the North
Dalrymple's name is seldom menInch of Perth, it had been the policy of tioned in connexion with the busithe Government to set these unruly ness; and the odium has been septs against each other. It was in every popularly, but without justice, respect the most easy, simple, and transferred to the English King. economical method of destruction; and The latter had signified his approva the deadly hatred which neighbouring of the proposal to punish the clans had to each other was sometimes Highlanders-he had even specified piously viewed as a wise dispensation of Providence, like that which provides for
the MacDonalds as desirable to be the destruction of one noxious animal
selected for an example; but the by the enmity it inspires in another.
manner in which the punishment was The conduct of the affair in hand re
to be inflicted, and the extent to quired so much treachery and duplicity,
which it was to be carried, wero that nothing but clan-hatred could sup left to the local authorities, who ply the necessary amount of these vices. alone are responsible for them ; The Campbells were the natural enemies while the deep, malignant treachery of the MacDonalds, and they had been in the actual execution—the revoltembodied in an independent regiment, ing features of which are sometimes which gave them the means, as they pos
spoken of as if they had been pre. sessed the hearty will, to execute what
scribed in detail by William-are was desired. Towards the branch of the MacDonalds who lived in Glencoe, the
due to the fiendish nature of the Campbells had a special ground of
men into whose hands the work was hatred. Their inaccessible mountain given. fastnesses protruded, as it were, into the It will have been perceived, that for Campbell country, and were in that the act itself Mr. Burton offers no sort shire of Argyle which they loved to con- of apology. It was a horrible crime, sider entirely their own. Glencoe was which he sees with the eyes of a thus invested with all the hatred of a wise and humane man, who is yet hostile frontier fortress; and these moun- too humane to let his judgment be tains, raising their conical peaks above
betrayed by his feeling, and distri. their neighbours, were contemplated by
butes the guilt with an equitable the followers of MacCallum Mohr as
hand. The parallel, indeed, which Gibraltar is by the Spaniard. The Campbell territory, more productive than
he endeavours to establish between that of the MacDonalds, was often mer.
this massacre and Cromwell's milicilessly ravaged by the banditti of this tary executions at Drogheda will not stronghold, and at the conference which bear examining. The garrison of Breadalbane held with the chiefs as am Drogheda was summoned to surrenbassador, he had high words with der, and after its refusal the town Glencoe about stolen cattle,--the main was taken by storm. Cromwell was source, besides clan-rivalries, of highland
not a man to take advantage of a bloodshed.
technical flaw in the acceptance of There is no occasion to follow the his terms-in an accidental delay of story of the massacre. Frightful as hours or days; and justice with him it was, it fell far short of what had was a thing too sacred and too solemn been intended; for the entire clan for the infliction of its penalties was marked for destruction, and the to be committed to the passion of actual victims were under forty private enemies, or extended to helpBut the circumstances under which less women and innocent children. it was perpetrated were such as to The Drogheda victims were grown call out universal sympathy and men taken in arms, the offscourhorror; and a powerful party ing of the population of the three opposed to the Government made kingdoms, scarcely one among whom the most of the opportunity of hold had not richly earned his own fate ing them up to execration. The age by his own individual crimes. But was outgrowing such ferocious forms it is remarkable in this Glencoe of justice; and Dalrymple had the business, that it may be questioned