Old Mortality, Illustrated, Volume 1.
Sir Walter Scott
Part 5 out of 5
arranged the regiment for the purpose of retreating in two alternate
bodies, a considerable number of the enemy had crossed the marsh.
Claverhouse, who had retained immediately around his person a few of his
most active and tried men, charged those who had crossed in person, while
they were yet disordered by the broken ground. Some they killed, others
they repulsed into the morass, and checked the whole so as to enable the
main body, now greatly diminished, as well as disheartened by the loss
they had sustained, to commence their retreat up the hill.
But the enemy's van being soon reinforced and supported, compelled
Claverhouse to follow his troops. Never did man, however, better maintain
the character of a soldier than he did that day. Conspicuous by his black
horse and white feather, he was first in the repeated charges which he
made at every favourable opportunity, to arrest the progress of the
pursuers, and to cover the retreat of his regiment. The object of aim to
every one, he seemed as if he were impassive to their shot. The
superstitious fanatics, who looked upon him as a man gifted by the Evil
Spirit with supernatural means of defence, averred that they saw the
bullets recoil from his jack-boots and buff-coat like hailstones from a
rock of granite, as he galloped to and fro amid the storm of the battle.
Many a whig that day loaded his musket with a dollar cut into slugs, in
order that a silver bullet (such was their belief) might bring down the
persecutor of the holy kirk, on whom lead had no power.
"Try him with the cold steel," was the cry at every renewed
charge--"powder is wasted on him. Ye might as weel shoot at the Auld
[Note: Proof against Shot given by Satan. The belief of the
Covenanters that their principal enemies, and Claverhouse in
particular, had obtained from the Devil a charm which rendered them
proof against leaden bullets, led them to pervert even the
circumstances of his death. Howie of Lochgoin, after giving some
account of the battle of Killicrankie, adds:
"The battle was very bloody, and by Mackay's third fire, Claverhouse
fell, of whom historians give little account; but it has been said
for certain, that his own waiting-servant, taking a resolution to
rid the world of this truculent bloody monster, and knowing he had
proof of lead, shot him with a silver button he had before taken off
his own coat for that purpose. However, he fell, and with him
Popery, and King James's interest in Scotland."--God's Judgment on
Persecutors, p. xxxix.
Original note.--"Perhaps some may think this anent proof of a shot a
paradox, and be ready to object here, as formerly, concerning Bishop
Sharpe and Dalziel--'How can the Devil have or give a power to save
life?' Without entering upon the thing in its reality, I shall only
observe, 1st, That it is neither in his power, or of his nature, to
be a saviour of men's lives; he is called Apollyon the destroyer.
2d, That even in this case he is said only to give enchantment
against one kind of metal, and this does not save life: for the lead
would not take Sharpe or Claverhouse's lives, yet steel and silver
would do it; and for Dalziel, though he died not on the field, he
did not escape the arrows of the Almighty."--Ibidem.]
But though this was loudly shouted, yet the awe on the insurgents' minds
was such, that they gave way before Claverhouse as before a supernatural
being, and few men ventured to cross swords with him. Still, however, he
was fighting in retreat, and with all the disadvantages attending that
movement. The soldiers behind him, as they beheld the increasing number
of enemies who poured over the morass, became unsteady; and, at every
successive movement, Major Allan and Lord Evandale found it more and more
difficult to bring them to halt and form line regularly, while, on the
other hand, their motions in the act of retreating became, by degrees,
much more rapid than was consistent with good order. As the retiring
soldiers approached nearer to the top of the ridge, from which in so
luckless an hour they had descended, the panic began to increase. Every
one became impatient to place the brow of the hill between him and the
continued fire of the pursuers; nor could any individual think it
reasonable that he should be the last in the retreat, and thus sacrifice
his own safety for that of others. In this mood, several troopers set
spurs to their horses and fled outright, and the others became so
unsteady in their movements and formations, that their officers every
moment feared they would follow the same example.
Amid this scene of blood and confusion, the trampling of the horses, the
groans of the wounded, the continued fire of the enemy, which fell in a
succession of unintermitted musketry, while loud shouts accompanied each
bullet which the fall of a trooper showed to have been successfully
aimed--amid all the terrors and disorders of such a scene, and when it
was dubious how soon they might be totally deserted by their dispirited
soldiery, Evandale could not forbear remarking the composure of his
commanding officer. Not at Lady Margaret's breakfast-table that morning
did his eye appear more lively, or his demeanour more composed. He had
closed up to Evandale for the purpose of giving some orders, and picking
out a few men to reinforce his rear-guard.
"If this bout lasts five minutes longer," he said, in a whisper, "our
rogues will leave you, my lord, old Allan, and myself, the honour of
fighting this battle with our own hands. I must do something to disperse
the musketeers who annoy them so hard, or we shall be all shamed. Don't
attempt to succour me if you see me go down, but keep at the head of your
men; get off as you can, in God's name, and tell the king and the council
I died in my duty!"
So saying, and commanding about twenty stout men to follow him, he gave,
with this small body, a charge so desperate and unexpected, that he drove
the foremost of the pursuers back to some distance. In the confusion of
the assault he singled out Burley, and, desirous to strike terror into
his followers, he dealt him so severe a blow on the head, as cut through
his steel head-piece, and threw him from his horse, stunned for the
moment, though unwounded. A wonderful thing it was afterwards thought,
that one so powerful as Balfour should have sunk under the blow of a man,
to appearance so slightly made as Claverhouse; and the vulgar, of course,
set down to supernatural aid the effect of that energy, which a
determined spirit can give to a feebler arm. Claverhouse had, in this
last charge, however, involved himself too deeply among the insurgents,
and was fairly surrounded.
Lord Evandale saw the danger of his commander, his body of dragoons being
then halted, while that commanded by Allan was in the act of retreating.
Regardless of Claverhouse's disinterested command to the contrary, he
ordered the party which he headed to charge down hill and extricate their
Colonel. Some advanced with him--most halted and stood uncertain--many
ran away. With those who followed Evandale, he disengaged Claverhouse.
His assistance just came in time, for a rustic had wounded his horse in a
most ghastly manner by the blow of a scythe, and was about to repeat the
stroke when Lord Evandale cut him down. As they got out of the press,
they looked round them. Allan's division had ridden clear over the hill,
that officer's authority having proved altogether unequal to halt them.
Evandale's troop was scattered and in total confusion.
"What is to be done, Colonel?" said Lord Evandale.
"We are the last men in the field, I think," said Claverhouse; "and when
men fight as long as they can, there is no shame in flying. Hector
himself would say, 'Devil take the hindmost,' when there are but twenty
against a thousand.--Save yourselves, my lads, and rally as soon as you
can.--Come, my lord, we must e'en ride for it."
So saying, he put spurs to his wounded horse; and the generous animal, as
if conscious that the life of his rider depended on his exertions,
pressed forward with speed, unabated either by pain or loss of blood.
[Note: Claverhouse's Charger. It appears, from the letter of
Claverhouse afterwards quoted, that the horse on which he rode at
Drumclog was not black, but sorrel. The author has been misled as to
the colour by the many extraordinary traditions current in Scotland
concerning Claverhouse's famous black charger, which was generally
believed to have been a gift to its rider from the Author of Evil,
who is said to have performed the Caesarean operation upon its dam.
This horse was so fleet, and its rider so expert, that they are said
to have outstripped and coted, or turned, a hare upon the Bran-Law,
near the head of Moffat Water, where the descent is so precipitous,
that no merely earthly horse could keep its feet, or merely mortal
rider could keep the saddle.
There is a curious passage in the testimony of John Dick, one of the
suffering Presbyterians, in which the author, by describing each of
the persecutors by their predominant qualities or passions, shows
how little their best-loved attributes would avail them in the great
day of judgment. When he introduces Claverhouse, it is to reproach
him with his passion for horses in general, and for that steed in
particular, which was killed at Drumclog, in the manner described in
"As for that bloodthirsty wretch, Claverhouse, how thinks he to
shelter himself that day? Is it possible the pitiful thing can be so
mad as to think to secure himself by the fleetness of his horse, (a
creature he has so much respect for, that he regarded more the loss
of his horse at Drumclog, than all the men that fell there, and sure
there fell prettier men on either side than himself?) No,
sure--could he fall upon a chemist that could extract the spirit
out of all the horses in the world, and infuse them into his one,
though he were on that horse never so well mounted, he need not
dream of escaping."--The Testimony to the Doctrine, Worship,
Discipline, and Government of the Church of Scotland, as it was
left in write by that truly pious and eminently faithful, and now
glorified Martyr, Mr John Dick. To which is added, his last Speech
and Behaviour on the Scaffold, on 5th March, 1684, which day he
sealed this testimony. 57 pp. 4to. No year or place of publication.
The reader may perhaps receive some farther information on the
subject of Cornet Grahame's death and the flight of Claverhouse,
from the following Latin lines, a part of a poem entitled, Bellum
Bothuellianum, by Andrew Guild, which exists in manuscript in the
A few officers and soldiers followed him, but in a very irregular and
tumultuary manner. The flight of Claverhouse was the signal for all the
stragglers, who yet offered desultory resistance, to fly as fast as they
could, and yield up the field of battle to the victorious insurgents.
But see! through the fast-flashing lightnings of war,
What steed to the desert flies frantic and far?
During the severe skirmish of which we have given the details, Morton,
together with Cuddie and his mother, and the Reverend Gabriel
Kettledrummle, remained on the brow of the hill, near to the small cairn,
or barrow, beside which Claverhouse had held his preliminary council of
war, so that they had a commanding view of the action which took place in
the bottom. They were guarded by Corporal Inglis and four soldiers, who,
as may readily be supposed, were much more intent on watching the
fluctuating fortunes of the battle, than in attending to what passed
among their prisoners.
"If you lads stand to their tackle," said Cuddie, "we'll hae some chance
o' getting our necks out o' the brecham again; but I misdoubt them--they
hae little skeel o' arms."
"Much is not necessary, Cuddie," answered Morton; "they have a strong
position, and weapons in their hands, and are more than three times the
number of their assailants. If they cannot fight for their freedom now,
they and theirs deserve to lose it for ever."
"O, sirs," exclaimed Mause, "here's a goodly spectacle indeed! My spirit
is like that of the blessed Elihu, it burns within me--my bowels are as
wine which lacketh vent--they are ready to burst like new bottles. O,
that He may look after His ain people in this day of judgment and
deliverance!--And now, what ailest thou, precious Mr Gabriel
Kettledrummle? I say, what ailest thou, that wert a Nazarite purer than
snow, whiter than milk, more ruddy than sulphur," (meaning, perhaps,
sapphires,)--"I say, what ails thee now, that thou art blacker than a
coal, that thy beauty is departed, and thy loveliness withered like a dry
potsherd? Surely it is time to be up and be doing, to cry loudly and to
spare not, and to wrestle for the puir lads that are yonder testifying
with their ain blude and that of their enemies."
This expostulation implied a reproach on Mr Kettledrummle, who, though an
absolute Boanerges, or son of thunder, in the pulpit, when the enemy were
afar, and indeed sufficiently contumacious, as we have seen, when in
their power, had been struck dumb by the firing, shouts, and shrieks,
which now arose from the valley, and--as many an honest man might have
been, in a situation where he could neither fight nor fly--was too much
dismayed to take so favourable an opportunity to preach the terrors of
presbytery, as the courageous Mause had expected at his hand, or even to
pray for the successful event of the battle. His presence of mind was
not, however, entirely lost, any more than his jealous respect for his
reputation as a pure and powerful preacher of the word.
"Hold your peace, woman!" he said, "and do not perturb my inward
meditations and the wrestlings wherewith I wrestle.--But of a verity the
shooting of the foemen doth begin to increase! peradventure, some pellet
may attain unto us even here. Lo! I will ensconce me behind the cairn, as
behind a strong wall of defence."
"He's but a coward body after a'," said Cuddie, who was himself by no
means deficient in that sort of courage which consists in insensibility
to danger; "he's but a daidling coward body. He'll never fill
Rumbleberry's bonnet.--Odd! Rumbleberry fought and flyted like a fleeing
dragon. It was a great pity, puir man, he couldna cheat the woodie. But
they say he gaed singing and rejoicing till't, just as I wad gang to a
bicker o' brose, supposing me hungry, as I stand a gude chance to be.--
Eh, sirs! yon's an awfu' sight, and yet ane canna keep their een aff frae
Accordingly, strong curiosity on the part of Morton and Cuddie, together
with the heated enthusiasm of old Mause, detained them on the spot from
which they could best hear and see the issue of the action, leaving to
Kettledrummle to occupy alone his place of security. The vicissitudes of
combat, which we have already described, were witnessed by our spectators
from the top of the eminence, but without their being able positively to
determine to what they tended. That the presbyterians defended themselves
stoutly was evident from the heavy smoke, which, illumined by frequent
flashes of fire, now eddied along the valley, and hid the contending
parties in its sulphureous shade. On the other hand, the continued firing
from the nearer side of the morass indicated that the enemy persevered in
their attack, that the affair was fiercely disputed, and that every thing
was to be apprehended from a continued contest in which undisciplined
rustics had to repel the assaults of regular troops, so completely
officered and armed.
At length horses, whose caparisons showed that they belonged to the
Life-Guards, began to fly masterless out of the confusion. Dismounted
soldiers next appeared, forsaking the conflict, and straggling over the
side of the hill, in order to escape from the scene of action. As the
numbers of these fugitives increased, the fate of the day seemed no
longer doubtful. A large body was then seen emerging from the smoke,
forming irregularly on the hill-side, and with difficulty kept stationary
by their officers, until Evandale's corps also appeared in full retreat.
The result of the conflict was then apparent, and the joy of the
prisoners was corresponding to their approaching deliverance.
"They hae dune the job for anes," said Cuddie, "an they ne'er do't
"They flee!--they flee!" exclaimed Mause, in ecstasy. "O, the truculent
tyrants! they are riding now as they never rode before. O, the false
Egyptians--the proud Assyrians--the Philistines--the Moabites--the
Edomites--the Ishmaelites!--The Lord has brought sharp swords upon them,
to make them food for the fowls of heaven and the beasts of the field.
See how the clouds roll, and the fire flashes ahint them, and goes forth
before the chosen of the Covenant, e'en like the pillar o' cloud and the
pillar o' flame that led the people of Israel out o' the land of Egypt!
This is indeed a day of deliverance to the righteous, a day of pouring
out of wrath to the persecutors and the ungodly!"
"Lord save us, mither," said Cuddie, "haud the clavering tongue o' ye,
and lie down ahint the cairn, like Kettledrummle, honest man! The
whigamore bullets ken unco little discretion, and will just as sune knock
out the harns o' a psalm-singing auld wife as a swearing dragoon."
"Fear naething for me, Cuddie," said the old dame, transported to ecstasy
by the success of her party; "fear naething for me! I will stand, like
Deborah, on the tap o' the cairn, and tak up my sang o' reproach against
these men of Harosheth of the Gentiles, whose horse-hoofs are broken by
The enthusiastic old woman would, in fact, have accomplished her purpose,
of mounting on the cairn, and becoming, as she said, a sign and a banner
to the people, had not Cuddie, with more filial tenderness than respect,
detained her by such force as his shackled arms would permit him to
"Eh, sirs!" he said, having accomplished this task, "look out yonder,
Milnwood; saw ye ever mortal fight like the deevil Claver'se?--Yonder
he's been thrice doun amang them, and thrice cam free aff.--But I think
we'll soon be free oursells, Milnwood. Inglis and his troopers look ower
their shouthers very aften, as if they liked the road ahint them better
than the road afore."
Cuddie was not mistaken; for, when the main tide of fugitives passed at a
little distance from the spot where they were stationed, the corporal and
his party fired their carabines at random upon the advancing insurgents,
and, abandoning all charge of their prisoners, joined the retreat of
their comrades. Morton and the old woman, whose hands were at liberty,
lost no time in undoing the bonds of Cuddie and of the clergyman, both of
whom had been secured by a cord tied round their arms above the elbows.
By the time this was accomplished, the rear-guard of the dragoons, which
still preserved some order, passed beneath the hillock or rising ground
which was surmounted by the cairn already repeatedly mentioned. They
exhibited all the hurry and confusion incident to a forced retreat, but
still continued in a body. Claverhouse led the van, his naked sword
deeply dyed with blood, as were his face and clothes. His horse was all
covered with gore, and now reeled with weakness. Lord Evandale, in not
much better plight, brought up the rear, still exhorting the soldiers to
keep together and fear nothing. Several of the men were wounded, and one
or two dropped from their horses as they surmounted the hill.
Mause's zeal broke forth once more at this spectacle, while she stood on
the heath with her head uncovered, and her grey hairs streaming in the
wind, no bad representation of a superannuated bacchante, or Thessalian
witch in the agonies of incantation. She soon discovered Claverhouse at
the head of the fugitive party, and exclaimed with bitter irony, "Tarry,
tarry, ye wha were aye sae blithe to be at the meetings of the saints,
and wad ride every muir in Scotland to find a conventicle! Wilt thou not
tarry, now thou hast found ane? Wilt thou not stay for one word mair?
Wilt thou na bide the afternoon preaching?--Wae betide ye!" she said,
suddenly changing her tone, "and cut the houghs of the creature whase
fleetness ye trust in!--Sheugh--sheugh!--awa wi'ye, that hae spilled sae
muckle blude, and now wad save your ain--awa wi'ye for a railing
Rabshakeh, a cursing Shimei, a bloodthirsty Doeg!--The swords drawn now
that winna be lang o' o'ertaking ye, ride as fast as ye will."
Claverhouse, it may be easily supposed, was too busy to attend to her
reproaches, but hastened over the hill, anxious to get the remnant of his
men out of gun-shot, in hopes of again collecting the fugitives round his
standard. But as the rear of his followers rode over the ridge, a shot
struck Lord Evandale's horse, which instantly sunk down dead beneath him.
Two of the whig horsemen, who were the foremost in the pursuit, hastened
up with the purpose of killing him, for hitherto there had been no
quarter given. Morton, on the other hand, rushed forward to save his
life, if possible, in order at once to indulge his natural generosity,
and to requite the obligation which Lord Evandale had conferred on him
that morning, and under which circumstances had made him wince so
acutely. Just as he had assisted Evandale, who was much wounded, to
extricate himself from his dying horse, and to gain his feet, the two
horsemen came up, and one of them exclaiming, "Have at the red-coated
tyrant!" made a blow at the young nobleman, which Morton parried with
difficulty, exclaiming to the rider, who was no other than Burley
himself, "Give quarter to this gentleman, for my sake--for the sake," he
added, observing that Burley did not immediately recognise him, "of Henry
Morton, who so lately sheltered you."
"Henry Morton?" replied Burley, wiping his bloody brow with his bloodier
hand; "did I not say that the son of Silas Morton would come forth out of
the land of bondage, nor be long an indweller in the tents of Ham? Thou
art a brand snatched out of the burning--But for this booted apostle of
prelacy, he shall die the death!--We must smite them hip and thigh, even
from the rising to the going down of the sun. It is our commission to
slay them like Amalek, and utterly destroy all they have, and spare
neither man nor woman, infant nor suckling; therefore, hinder me not," he
continued, endeavouring again to cut down Lord Evandale, "for this work
must not be wrought negligently."
"You must not, and you shall not, slay him, more especially while
incapable of defence," said Morton, planting himself before Lord Evandale
so as to intercept any blow that should be aimed at him; "I owed my life
to him this morning--my life, which was endangered solely by my having
sheltered you; and to shed his blood when he can offer no effectual
resistance, were not only a cruelty abhorrent to God and man, but
detestable ingratitude both to him and to me."
Burley paused.--"Thou art yet," he said, "in the court of the Gentiles,
and I compassionate thy human blindness and frailty. Strong meat is not
fit for babes, nor the mighty and grinding dispensation under which I
draw my sword, for those whose hearts are yet dwelling in huts of clay,
whose footsteps are tangled in the mesh of mortal sympathies, and who
clothe themselves in the righteousness that is as filthy rags. But to
gain a soul to the truth is better than to send one to Tophet; therefore
I give quarter to this youth, providing the grant is confirmed by the
general council of God's army, whom he hath this day blessed with so
signal a deliverance.--Thou art unarmed--Abide my return here. I must yet
pursue these sinners, the Amalekites, and destroy them till they be
utterly consumed from the face of the land, even from Havilah unto Shur."
So saying, he set spurs to his horse, and continued to pursue the chase.
"Cuddie," said Morton, "for God's sake catch a horse as quickly as you
can. I will not trust Lord Evandale's life with these obdurate men.--You
are wounded, my lord.--Are you able to continue your retreat?" he
continued, addressing himself to his prisoner, who, half-stunned by the
fall, was but beginning to recover himself.
"I think so," replied Lord Evandale. "But is it possible?--Do I owe my
life to Mr Morton?"
"My interference would have been the same from common humanity," replied
Morton; "to your lordship it was a sacred debt of gratitude."
Cuddie at this instant returned with a horse.
"God-sake, munt--munt, and ride like a fleeing hawk, my lord," said the
good-natured fellow, "for ne'er be in me, if they arena killing every ane
o' the wounded and prisoners!"
Lord Evandale mounted the horse, while Cuddie officiously held the
"Stand off, good fellow, thy courtesy may cost thy life.--Mr Morton," he
continued, addressing Henry, "this makes us more than even--rely on it, I
will never forget your generosity--Farewell."
He turned his horse, and rode swiftly away in the direction which seemed
least exposed to pursuit.
Lord Evandale had just rode off, when several of the insurgents, who were
in the front of the pursuit, came up, denouncing vengeance on Henry
Morton and Cuddie for having aided the escape of a Philistine, as they
called the young nobleman.
"What wad ye hae had us to do?" cried Cuddie. "Had we aught to stop a man
wi' that had twa pistols and a sword? Sudna ye hae come faster up
yoursells, instead of flyting at huz?"
This excuse would hardly have passed current; but Kettledrummle, who now
awoke from his trance of terror, and was known to, and reverenced by,
most of the wanderers, together with Mause, who possessed their
appropriate language as well as the preacher himself, proved active and
"Touch them not, harm them not," exclaimed Kettledrummle, in his very
best double-bass tones; "this is the son of the famous Silas Morton, by
whom the Lord wrought great things in this land at the breaking forth of
the reformation from prelacy, when there was a plentiful pouring forth of
the Word and a renewing of the Covenant; a hero and champion of those
blessed days, when there was power and efficacy, and convincing and
converting of sinners, and heart-exercises, and fellowships of saints,
and a plentiful flowing forth of the spices of the garden of Eden."
"And this is my son Cuddie," exclaimed Mause, in her turn, "the son of
his father, Judden Headrigg, wha was a douce honest man, and of me, Mause
Middlemas, an unworthy professor and follower of the pure gospel, and ane
o' your ain folk. Is it not written, 'Cut ye not off the tribe of the
families of the Kohathites from among the Levites?' Numbers, fourth and
aughteenth--O! sirs! dinna be standing here prattling wi' honest folk,
when ye suld be following forth your victory with which Providence has
This party having passed on, they were immediately beset by another, to
whom it was necessary to give the same explanation. Kettledrummle, whose
fear was much dissipated since the firing had ceased, again took upon him
to be intercessor, and grown bold, as he felt his good word necessary for
the protection of his late fellow-captives, he laid claim to no small
share of the merit of the victory, appealing to Morton and Cuddie,
whether the tide of battle had not turned while he prayed on the Mount of
Jehovah-Nissi, like Moses, that Israel might prevail over Amalek; but
granting them, at the same time, the credit of holding up his hands when
they waxed heavy, as those of the prophet were supported by Aaron and
Hur. It seems probable that Kettledrummle allotted this part in the
success to his companions in adversity, lest they should be tempted to
disclose his carnal self-seeking and falling away, in regarding too
closely his own personal safety. These strong testimonies in favour of
the liberated captives quickly flew abroad, with many exaggerations,
among the victorious army. The reports on the subject were various; but
it was universally agreed, that young Morton of Milnwood, the son of the
stout soldier of the Covenant, Silas Morton, together with the precious
Gabriel Kettledrummle, and a singular devout Christian woman, whom many
thought as good as himself at extracting a doctrine or an use, whether of
terror or consolation, had arrived to support the good old cause, with a
reinforcement of a hundred well-armed men from the Middle Ward.
[Note: Skirmish at Drumclog. This affair, the only one in which
Claverhouse was defeated, or the insurgent Cameronians successful,
was fought pretty much in the manner mentioned in the text. The
Royalists lost about thirty or forty men. The commander of the
Presbyterian, or rather Convenanting party, was Mr Robert Hamilton,
of the honourable House of Preston, brother of Sir William Hamilton,
to whose title and estate he afterwards succeeded; but, according to
his biographer, Howie of Lochgoin, he never took possession of
either, as he could not do so without acknowledging the right of
King William (an uncovenanted monarch) to the crown. Hamilton had
been bred by Bishop Burnet, while the latter lived at Glasgow; his
brother, Sir Thomas, having married a sister of that historian. "He
was then," says the Bishop, "a lively, hopeful young man; but
getting into that company, and into their notions, he became a
Several well-meaning persons have been much scandalized at the
manner in which the victors are said to have conducted themselves
towards the prisoners at Drumclog. But the principle of these poor
fanatics, (I mean the high-flying, or Cameronian party,) was to
obtain not merely toleration for their church, but the same
supremacy which Presbytery had acquired in Scotland after the treaty
of Rippon, betwixt Charles I. and his Scottish subjects, in 1640.
The fact is, that they conceived themselves a chosen people, sent
forth to extirpate the heathen, like the Jews of old, and under a
similar charge to show no quarter.
The historian of the Insurrection of Bothwell makes the following
explicit avowal of the principles on which their General acted:--
"Mr Hamilton discovered a great deal of bravery and valour, both in
the conflict with, and pursuit of, the enemy; but when he and some
other were pursuing the enemy, others flew too greedily upon the
spoil, small as it was, instead of pursuing the victory; and some,
without Mr Hamilton's knowledge, and directly contrary to his
express command, gave five of those bloody enemies quarter, and then
let them go; this greatly grieved Mr Hamilton when he saw some of
Babel's brats spared, after that the Lord had delivered them into
their hands, that they might dash them against the stones. Psalm
cxxxvii., 9. In his own account of this, he reckons the sparing of
these enemies, and letting them go, to be among their first
steppings aside, for which he feared that the Lord would not honour
them to do much more for him; and says, that he was neither for
taking favours from, nor giving favours to, the Lord's enemies." See
A true and impartial Account of the persecuted Presbyterians in
Scotland, their being in arms, and defeat at Bothwell Brigg, in
1679, by William Wilson, late Schoolmaster in the parish of Douglas.
The reader who would authenticate the quotation, must not consult
any other edition than that of 1697; for somehow or other the
publisher of the last edition has omitted this remarkable part of
Sir Robert Hamilton himself felt neither remorse nor shame for
having put to death one of the prisoners after the battle with his
own hand, which appears to have been a charge against him, by some
whose fanaticism was less exalted than his own.
"As for that accusation they bring against me of killing that poor
man (as they call him) at Drumclog, I may easily guess that my
accusers can be no other but some of the house of Saul or Shimei, or
some such risen again to espouse that poor gentleman (Saul) his
quarrel against honest Samuel, for his offering to kill that poor
man Agag, after the king's giving him quarter. But I, being to
command that day, gave out the word that no quarter should be given;
and returning from pursuing Claverhouse, one or two of these fellows
were standing in the midst of a company of our friends, and some
were debating for quarter, others against it. None could blame me to
decide the controversy, and I bless the Lord for it to this day.
There were five more that without my knowledge got quarter, who were
brought to me after we were a mile from the place as having got
quarter, which I reckoned among the first steppings aside; and
seeing that spirit amongst us at that time, I then told it to some
that were with me, (to my best remembrance, it was honest old John
Nisbet,) that I feared the Lord would not honour us to do much more
for him. I shall only say this,--I desire to bless his holy name,
that since ever he helped me to set my face to his work, I never
had, nor would take, a favour from enemies, either on right or left
hand, and desired to give as few."
The preceding passage is extracted from a long vindication of his
own conduct, sent by Sir Robert Hamilton, 7th December, 1685,
addressed to the anti-Popish, anti-Prelatic, anti-Erastian,
anti-sectarian true Presbyterian remnant of the Church of Scotland;
and the substance is to be found in the work or collection, called,
"Faithful Contendings Displayed, collected and transcribed by John
As the skirmish of Drumclog has been of late the subject of some
enquiry, the reader may be curious to see Claverhouse's own account
of the affair, in a letter to the Earl of Linlithgow, written
immediately after the action. This gazette, as it may be called,
occurs in the volume called Dundee's Letters, printed by Mr Smythe
of Methven, as a contribution to the Bannatyne Club. The original is
in the library of the Duke of Buckingham. Claverhouse, it may be
observed, spells like a chambermaid.
"FOR THE EARLE OF LINLITHGOW. [COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF KING CHARLES
II.'s FORCES IN SCOTLAND.]
"Glaskow, Jun. the 1, 1679.
"My Lord,--Upon Saturday's night, when my Lord Rosse came into this
place, I marched out, and because of the insolency that had been
done tue nights before at Ruglen, I went thither and inquyred for
the names. So soon as I got them, I sent our partys to sease on
them, and found not only three of those rogues, but also ane
intercomend minister called King. We had them at Strevan about six
in the morning yesterday, and resolving to convey them to this, I
thought that we might make a little tour to see if we could fall
upon a conventicle; which we did, little to our advantage; for when
we came in sight of them, we found them drawn up in batell, upon a
most adventageous ground, to which there was no coming but through
mosses and lakes. They wer not preaching, and had got away all there
women and shildring. They consisted of four battaillons of foot, and
all well armed with fusils and pitchforks, and three squadrons of
horse. We sent both partys to skirmish, they of foot and we of
dragoons; they run for it, and sent down a battaillon of foot
against them; we sent threescore of dragoons, who made them run
again shamfully; but in end they percaiving that we had the better
of them in skirmish, they resolved a generall engadgment, and
imediately advanced with there foot, the horse folowing; they came
throght the lotche; the greatest body of all made up against my
troupe; we keeped our fyre till they wer within ten pace of us: they
recaived our fyr, and advanced to shok; the first they gave us
broght down the Coronet Mr Crafford and Captain Bleith, besides that
with a pitchfork they made such an openeing in my rone horse's
belly, that his guts hung out half an elle, and yet he caryed me af
an myl; which so discoraged our men, that they sustained not the
shok, but fell into disorder. There horse took the occasion of this,
and purseued us so hotly that we had no tym to rayly. I saved the
standarts, but lost on the place about aight or ten men, besides
wounded; but he dragoons lost many mor. They ar not com esily af on
the other side, for I sawe severall of them fall befor we cam to the
shok. I mad the best retraite the confusion of our people would
suffer, and I am now laying with my Lord Rosse. The toun of Streven
drew up as we was making our retrait, and thoght of a pass to cut us
off, but we took courage and fell to them, made them run, leaving a
dousain on the place. What these rogues will dou yet I know not, but
the contry was flocking to them from all hands. This may be counted
the begining of the rebellion, in my opinion.
"I am, my lord,
"Your lordship's most humble servant,
"My lord, I am so wearied, and so sleapy, that I have wryton this
When pulpit, drum ecclesiastic,
Was beat with fist instead of a stick.
In the meantime, the insurgent cavalry returned from the pursuit, jaded
and worn out with their unwonted efforts, and the infantry assembled on
the ground which they had won, fatigued with toil and hunger. Their
success, however, was a cordial to every bosom, and seemed even to serve
in the stead of food and refreshment. It was, indeed, much more brilliant
than they durst have ventured to anticipate; for, with no great loss on
their part, they had totally routed a regiment of picked men, commanded
by the first officer in Scotland, and one whose very name had long been a
terror to them. Their success seemed even to have upon their spirits the
effect of a sudden and violent surprise, so much had their taking up arms
been a measure of desperation rather than of hope. Their meeting was also
casual, and they had hastily arranged themselves under such commanders as
were remarkable for zeal and courage, without much respect to any other
qualities. It followed, from this state of disorganization, that the
whole army appeared at once to resolve itself into a general committee
for considering what steps were to be taken in consequence of their
success, and no opinion could be started so wild that it had not some
favourers and advocates. Some proposed they should march to Glasgow, some
to Hamilton, some to Edinburgh, some to London. Some were for sending a
deputation of their number to London to convert Charles II. to a sense of
the error of his ways; and others, less charitable, proposed either to
call a new successor to the crown, or to declare Scotland a free
republic. A free parliament of the nation, and a free assembly of the
Kirk, were the objects of the more sensible and moderate of the party. In
the meanwhile, a clamour arose among the soldiers for bread and other
necessaries, and while all complained of hardship and hunger, none took
the necessary measures to procure supplies. In short, the camp of the
Covenanters, even in the very moment of success, seemed about to dissolve
like a rope of sand, from want of the original principles of combination
Burley, who had now returned from the pursuit, found his followers in
this distracted state. With the ready talent of one accustomed to
encounter exigences, he proposed, that one hundred of the freshest men
should be drawn out for duty--that a small number of those who had
hitherto acted as leaders, should constitute a committee of direction
until officers should be regularly chosen--and that, to crown the
victory, Gabriel Kettledrummle should be called upon to improve the
providential success which they had obtained, by a word in season
addressed to the army. He reckoned very much, and not without reason, on
this last expedient, as a means of engaging the attention of the bulk of
the insurgents, while he himself, and two or three of their leaders, held
a private council of war, undisturbed by the discordant opinions, or
senseless clamour, of the general body.
Kettledrummle more than answered the expectations of Burley. Two mortal
hours did he preach at a breathing; and certainly no lungs, or doctrine,
excepting his own, could have kept up, for so long a time, the attention
of men in such precarious circumstances. But he possessed in perfection a
sort of rude and familiar eloquence peculiar to the preachers of that
period, which, though it would have been fastidiously rejected by an
audience which possessed any portion of taste, was a cake of the right
leaven for the palates of those whom he now addressed. His text was from
the forty-ninth chapter of Isaiah, "Even the captives of the mighty shall
be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I
will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy
"And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they
shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh
shall know that I the Lord am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the Mighty
One of Jacob."
The discourse which he pronounced upon this subject was divided into
fifteen heads, each of which was garnished with seven uses of
application, two of consolation, two of terror, two declaring the causes
of backsliding and of wrath, and one announcing the promised and expected
deliverance. The first part of his text he applied to his own deliverance
and that of his companions; and took occasion to speak a few words in
praise of young Milnwood, of whom, as of a champion of the Covenant, he
augured great things. The second part he applied to the punishments which
were about to fall upon the persecuting government. At times he
was familiar and colloquial; now he was loud, energetic, and
boisterous;--some parts of his discourse might be called sublime, and
others sunk below burlesque. Occasionally he vindicated with great
animation the right of every freeman to worship God according to his own
conscience; and presently he charged the guilt and misery of the people
on the awful negligence of their rulers, who had not only failed to
establish presbytery as the national religion, but had tolerated
sectaries of various descriptions, Papists, Prelatists, Erastians,
assuming the name of Presbyterians, Independents, Socinians, and
Quakers: all of whom Kettledrummle proposed, by one sweeping act, to
expel from the land, and thus re-edify in its integrity the beauty of
the sanctuary. He next handled very pithily the doctrine of defensive
arms and of resistance to Charles II., observing, that, instead of a
nursing father to the Kirk, that monarch had been a nursing father to
none but his own bastards. He went at some length through the life and
conversation of that joyous prince, few parts of which, it must be
owned, were qualified to stand the rough handling of so uncourtly an
orator, who conferred on him the hard names of Jeroboam, Omri, Ahab,
Shallum, Pekah, and every other evil monarch recorded in the Chronicles,
and concluded with a round application of the Scripture, "Tophet is
ordained of old; yea, for the King it is provided: he hath made it deep
and large; the pile thereof is fire and much wood: the breath of the
Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it."
Kettledrummle had no sooner ended his sermon, and descended from the huge
rock which had served him for a pulpit, than his post was occupied by a
pastor of a very different description. The reverend Gabriel was advanced
in years, somewhat corpulent, with a loud voice, a square face, and a set
of stupid and unanimated features, in which the body seemed more to
predominate over the spirit than was seemly in a sound divine. The youth
who succeeded him in exhorting this extraordinary convocation, Ephraim
Macbriar by name, was hardly twenty years old; yet his thin features
already indicated, that a constitution, naturally hectic, was worn out by
vigils, by fasts, by the rigour of imprisonment, and the fatigues
incident to a fugitive life. Young as he was, he had been twice
imprisoned for several months, and suffered many severities, which gave
him great influence with those of his own sect. He threw his faded eyes
over the multitude and over the scene of battle; and a light of triumph
arose in his glance, his pale yet striking features were coloured with a
transient and hectic blush of joy. He folded his hands, raised his face
to heaven, and seemed lost in mental prayer and thanksgiving ere he
addressed the people. When he spoke, his faint and broken voice seemed at
first inadequate to express his conceptions. But the deep silence of the
assembly, the eagerness with which the ear gathered every word, as the
famished Israelites collected the heavenly manna, had a corresponding
effect upon the preacher himself. His words became more distinct, his
manner more earnest and energetic; it seemed as if religious zeal was
triumphing over bodily weakness and infirmity. His natural eloquence was
not altogether untainted with the coarseness of his sect; and yet, by the
influence of a good natural taste, it was freed from the grosser and more
ludicrous errors of his contemporaries; and the language of Scripture,
which, in their mouths, was sometimes degraded by misapplication, gave,
in Macbriar's exhortation, a rich and solemn effect, like that which is
produced by the beams of the sun streaming through the storied
representation of saints and martyrs on the Gothic window of some ancient
He painted the desolation of the church, during the late period of her
distresses, in the most affecting colours. He described her, like Hagar
watching the waning life of her infant amid the fountainless desert; like
Judah, under her palm-tree, mourning for the devastation of her temple;
like Rachel, weeping for her children and refusing comfort. But he
chiefly rose into rough sublimity when addressing the men yet reeking
from battle. He called on them to remember the great things which God had
done for them, and to persevere in the career which their victory had
"Your garments are dyed--but not with the juice of the wine-press; your
swords are filled with blood," he exclaimed, "but not with the blood of
goats or lambs; the dust of the desert on which ye stand is made fat with
gore, but not with the blood of bullocks, for the Lord hath a sacrifice
in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea. These were not
the firstlings of the flock, the small cattle of burnt-offerings, whose
bodies lie like dung on the ploughed field of the husbandman; this is not
the savour of myrrh, of frankincense, or of sweet herbs, that is steaming
in your nostrils; but these bloody trunks are the carcasses of those who
held the bow and the lance, who were cruel and would show no mercy, whose
voice roared like the sea, who rode upon horses, every man in array as if
to battle--they are the carcasses even of the mighty men of war that came
against Jacob in the day of his deliverance, and the smoke is that of the
devouring fires that have consumed them. And those wild hills that
surround you are not a sanctuary planked with cedar and plated with
silver; nor are ye ministering priests at the altar, with censers and
with torches; but ye hold in your hands the sword, and the bow, and the
weapons of death. And yet verily, I say unto you, that not when the
ancient Temple was in its first glory was there offered sacrifice more
acceptable than that which you have this day presented, giving to the
slaughter the tyrant and the oppressor, with the rocks for your altars,
and the sky for your vaulted sanctuary, and your own good swords for the
instruments of sacrifice. Leave not, therefore, the plough in the
furrow--turn not back from the path in which you have entered like the
famous worthies of old, whom God raised up for the glorifying of his
name and the deliverance of his afflicted people--halt not in the race
you are running, lest the latter end should be worse than the beginning.
Wherefore, set up a standard in the land; blow a trumpet upon the
mountains; let not the shepherd tarry by his sheepfold, or the seedsman
continue in the ploughed field; but make the watch strong, sharpen the
arrows, burnish the shields, name ye the captains of thousands, and
captains of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens; call the footmen like the
rushing of winds, and cause the horsemen to come up like the sound of
many waters; for the passages of the destroyers are stopped, their rods
are burned, and the face of their men of battle hath been turned to
flight. Heaven has been with you, and has broken the bow of the mighty;
then let every man's heart be as the heart of the valiant Maccabeus,
every man's hand as the hand of the mighty Sampson, every man's sword as
that of Gideon, which turned not back from the slaughter; for the banner
of Reformation is spread abroad on the mountains in its first
loveliness, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
"Well is he this day that shall barter his house for a helmet, and sell
his garment for a sword, and cast in his lot with the children of the
Covenant, even to the fulfilling of the promise; and woe, woe unto him
who, for carnal ends and self-seeking, shall withhold himself from the
great work, for the curse shall abide with him, even the bitter curse of
Meroz, because he came not to the help of the Lord against the mighty.
Up, then, and be doing; the blood of martyrs, reeking upon scaffolds, is
crying for vengeance; the bones of saints, which lie whitening in the
highways, are pleading for retribution; the groans of innocent captives
from desolate isles of the sea, and from the dungeons of the tyrants'
high places, cry for deliverance; the prayers of persecuted Christians,
sheltering themselves in dens and deserts from the sword of their
persecutors, famished with hunger, starving with cold, lacking fire,
food, shelter, and clothing, because they serve God rather than man--all
are with you, pleading, watching, knocking, storming the gates of heaven
in your behalf. Heaven itself shall fight for you, as the stars in their
courses fought against Sisera. Then whoso will deserve immortal fame in
this world, and eternal happiness in that which is to come, let them
enter into God's service, and take arles at the hand of his servant,--a
blessing, namely, upon him and his household, and his children, to the
ninth generation, even the blessing of the promise, for ever and ever!
The eloquence of the preacher was rewarded by the deep hum of stern
approbation which resounded through the armed assemblage at the
conclusion of an exhortation, so well suited to that which they had done,
and that which remained for them to do. The wounded forgot their pain,
the faint and hungry their fatigues and privations, as they listened to
doctrines which elevated them alike above the wants and calamities of the
world, and identified their cause with that of the Deity. Many crowded
around the preacher, as he descended from the eminence on which he stood,
and, clasping him with hands on which the gore was not yet hardened,
pledged their sacred vow that they would play the part of Heaven's true
soldiers. Exhausted by his own enthusiasm, and by the animated fervour
which he had exerted in his discourse, the preacher could only reply, in
broken accents,--"God bless you, my brethren--it is his cause.--Stand
strongly up and play the men--the worst that can befall us is but a brief
and bloody passage to heaven."
Balfour, and the other leaders, had not lost the time which was employed
in these spiritual exercises. Watch-fires were lighted, sentinels were
posted, and arrangements were made to refresh the army with such
provisions as had been hastily collected from the nearest farm-houses and
villages. The present necessity thus provided for, they turned their
thoughts to the future. They had dispatched parties to spread the news of
their victory, and to obtain, either by force or favour, supplies of what
they stood most in need of. In this they had succeeded beyond their
hopes, having at one village seized a small magazine of provisions,
forage, and ammunition, which had been provided for the royal forces.
This success not only gave them relief at the time, but such hopes for
the future, that whereas formerly some of their number had begun to
slacken in their zeal, they now unanimously resolved to abide together in
arms, and commit themselves and their cause to the event of war.
And whatever may be thought of the extravagance or narrow-minded bigotry
of many of their tenets, it is impossible to deny the praise of devoted
courage to a few hundred peasants, who, without leaders, without money,
without magazines, without any fixed plan of action, and almost without
arms, borne out only by their innate zeal, and a detestation of the
oppression of their rulers, ventured to declare open war against an
established government, supported by a regular army and the whole force
of three kingdoms.
Why, then, say an old man can do somewhat.
Henry IV. Part II.
We must now return to the tower of Tillietudlem, which the march of the
Life-Guards, on the morning of this eventful day, had left to silence and
anxiety. The assurances of Lord Evandale had not succeeded in quelling
the apprehensions of Edith. She knew him generous, and faithful to his
word; but it seemed too plain that he suspected the object of her
intercession to be a successful rival; and was it not expecting from him
an effort above human nature, to suppose that he was to watch over
Morton's safety, and rescue him from all the dangers to which his state
of imprisonment, and the suspicions which he had incurred, must
repeatedly expose him? She therefore resigned herself to the most
heart-rending apprehensions, without admitting, and indeed almost without
listening to, the multifarious grounds of consolation which Jenny
Dennison brought forward, one after another, like a skilful general who
charges with the several divisions of his troops in regular succession.
First, Jenny was morally positive that young Milnwood would come to no
harm--then, if he did, there was consolation in the reflection, that Lord
Evandale was the better and more appropriate match of the two--then,
there was every chance of a battle, in which the said Lord Evandale might
be killed, and there wad be nae mair fash about that job--then, if the
whigs gat the better, Milnwood and Cuddie might come to the Castle, and
carry off the beloved of their hearts by the strong hand.
"For I forgot to tell ye, madam," continued the damsel, putting her
handkerchief to her eyes, "that puir Cuddie's in the hands of the
Philistines as weel as young Milnwood, and he was brought here a prisoner
this morning, and I was fain to speak Tam Halliday fair, and fleech him
to let me near the puir creature; but Cuddie wasna sae thankfu' as he
needed till hae been neither," she added, and at the same time changed
her tone, and briskly withdrew the handkerchief from her face; "so I will
ne'er waste my een wi' greeting about the matter. There wad be aye enow
o' young men left, if they were to hang the tae half o' them."
The other inhabitants of the Castle were also in a state of
dissatisfaction and anxiety. Lady Margaret thought that Colonel Grahame,
in commanding an execution at the door of her house, and refusing to
grant a reprieve at her request, had fallen short of the deference due to
her rank, and had even encroached on her seignorial rights.
"The Colonel," she said, "ought to have remembered, brother, that the
barony of Tillietudlem has the baronial privilege of pit and gallows; and
therefore, if the lad was to be executed on my estate, (which I consider
as an unhandsome thing, seeing it is in the possession of females, to
whom such tragedies cannot be acceptable,) he ought, at common law, to
have been delivered up to my bailie, and justified at his sight."
"Martial law, sister," answered Major Bellenden, "supersedes every other.
But I must own I think Colonel Grahame rather deficient in attention to
you; and I am not over and above pre-eminently flattered by his granting
to young Evandale (I suppose because he is a lord, and has interest with
the privy-council) a request which he refused to so old a servant of the
king as I am. But so long as the poor young fellow's life is saved, I can
comfort myself with the fag-end of a ditty as old as myself." And
therewithal, he hummed a stanza:
'And what though winter will pinch severe Through locks of grey and a
cloak that's old? Yet keep up thy heart, bold cavalier, For a cup of sack
shall fence the cold.'
"I must be your guest here to-day, sister. I wish to hear the issue of
this gathering on Loudon-hill, though I cannot conceive their standing a
body of horse appointed like our guests this morning.--Woe's me, the time
has been that I would have liked ill to have sate in biggit wa's waiting
for the news of a skirmish to be fought within ten miles of me! But, as
the old song goes,
'For time will rust the brightest blade,
And years will break the strongest bow;
Was ever wight so starkly made,
But time and years would overthrow?'"
"We are well pleased you will stay, brother," said Lady Margaret; "I will
take my old privilege to look after my household, whom this collation has
thrown into some disorder, although it is uncivil to leave you alone."
"O, I hate ceremony as I hate a stumbling horse," replied the Major.
"Besides, your person would be with me, and your mind with the cold meat
and reversionary pasties.--Where is Edith?"
"Gone to her room a little evil-disposed, I am informed, and laid down in
her bed for a gliff," said her grandmother; "as soon as she wakes, she
shall take some drops."
"Pooh! pooh! she's only sick of the soldiers," answered Major Bellenden.
"She's not accustomed to see one acquaintance led out to be shot, and
another marching off to actual service, with some chance of not finding
his way back again. She would soon be used to it, if the civil war were
to break out again."
"God forbid, brother!" said Lady Margaret.
"Ay, Heaven forbid, as you say--and, in the meantime, I'll take a hit at
trick-track with Harrison."
"He has ridden out, sir," said Gudyill, "to try if he can hear any
tidings of the battle."
"D--n the battle," said the Major; "it puts this family as much out of
order as if there had never been such a thing in the country before--and
yet there was such a place as Kilsythe, John."
"Ay, and as Tippermuir, your honour," replied Gudyill, "where I was his
honour my late master's rear-rank man."
"And Alford, John," pursued the Major, "where I commanded the horse; and
Innerlochy, where I was the Great Marquis's aid-de-camp; and Auld Earn,
and Brig o' Dee."
"And Philiphaugh, your honour," said John.
"Umph!" replied the Major; "the less, John, we say about that matter, the
However, being once fairly embarked on the subject of Montrose's
campaigns, the Major and John Gudyill carried on the war so stoutly, as
for a considerable time to keep at bay the formidable enemy called Time,
with whom retired veterans, during the quiet close of a bustling life,
usually wage an unceasing hostility.
It has been frequently remarked, that the tidings of important events fly
with a celerity almost beyond the power of credibility, and that reports,
correct in the general point, though inaccurate in details, precede the
certain intelligence, as if carried by the birds of the air. Such rumours
anticipate the reality, not unlike to the "shadows of coming events,"
which occupy the imagination of the Highland Seer. Harrison, in his ride,
encountered some such report concerning the event of the battle, and
turned his horse back to Tillietudlem in great dismay. He made it his
first business to seek out the Major, and interrupted him in the midst of
a prolix account of the siege and storm of Dundee, with the ejaculation,
"Heaven send, Major, that we do not see a siege of Tillietudlem before we
are many days older!"
"How is that, Harrison?--what the devil do you mean?" exclaimed the
"Troth, sir, there is strong and increasing belief that Claver'se is
clean broken, some say killed; that the soldiers are all dispersed, and
that the rebels are hastening this way, threatening death and devastation
to a' that will not take the Covenant."
"I will never believe that," said the Major, starting on his feet--"I
will never believe that the Life-Guards would retreat before rebels;--and
yet why need I say that," he continued, checking himself, "when I have
seen such sights myself?--Send out Pike, and one or two of the servants,
for intelligence, and let all the men in the Castle and in the village
that can be trusted take up arms. This old tower may hold them play a
bit, if it were but victualled and garrisoned, and it commands the pass
between the high and low countries.--It's lucky I chanced to be
here.--Go, muster men, Harrison.--You, Gudyill, look what provisions you
have, or can get brought in, and be ready, if the news be confirmed, to
knock down as many bullocks as you have salt for.--The well never goes
dry.--There are some old-fashioned guns on the battlements; if we had
but ammunition, we should do well enough."
"The soldiers left some casks of ammunition at the Grange this morning,
to bide their return," said Harrison.
"Hasten, then," said the Major, "and bring it into the Castle, with every
pike, sword, pistol, or gun, that is within our reach; don't leave so
much as a bodkin--Lucky that I was here!--I will speak to my sister
Lady Margaret Bellenden was astounded at intelligence so unexpected and
so alarming. It had seemed to her that the imposing force which had that
morning left her walls, was sufficient to have routed all the disaffected
in Scotland, if collected in a body; and now her first reflection was
upon the inadequacy of their own means of resistance, to an army strong
enough to have defeated Claverhouse and such select troops. "Woe's me!
woe's me!" said she; "what will all that we can do avail us, brother?--
What will resistance do but bring sure destruction on the house, and on
the bairn Edith! for, God knows, I thinkna on my ain auld life."
"Come, sister," said the Major, "you must not be cast down; the place is
strong, the rebels ignorant and ill-provided: my brother's house shall
not be made a den of thieves and rebels while old Miles Bellenden is in
it. My hand is weaker than it was, but I thank my old grey hairs that I
have some knowledge of war yet. Here comes Pike with intelligence.--What
news, Pike? Another Philiphaugh job, eh?"
"Ay, ay," said Pike, composedly; "a total scattering.--I thought this
morning little gude would come of their newfangled gate of slinging their
"Whom did you see?--Who gave you the news?" asked the Major.
"O, mair than half-a-dozen dragoon fellows that are a' on the spur whilk
to get first to Hamilton. They'll win the race, I warrant them, win the
battle wha like."
"Continue your preparations, Harrison," said the alert veteran; "get your
ammunition in, and the cattle killed. Send down to the borough-town for
what meal you can gather. We must not lose an instant.--Had not Edith and
you, sister, better return to Charnwood, while we have the means of
sending you there?"
"No, brother," said Lady Margaret, looking very pale, but speaking with
the greatest composure; "since the auld house is to be held out, I will
take my chance in it. I have fled twice from it in my days, and I have
aye found it desolate of its bravest and its bonniest when I returned;
sae that I will e'en abide now, and end my pilgrimage in it."
"It may, on the whole, be the safest course both for Edith and you," said
the Major; "for the whigs will rise all the way between this and Glasgow,
and make your travelling there, or your dwelling at Charnwood, very
"So be it then," said Lady Margaret; "and, dear brother, as the nearest
blood-relation of my deceased husband, I deliver to you, by this
symbol,"--(here she gave into his hand the venerable goldheaded staff of
the deceased Earl of Torwood,)--"the keeping and government and
seneschalship of my Tower of Tillietudlem, and the appurtenances thereof,
with full power to kill, slay, and damage those who shall assail the
same, as freely as I might do myself. And I trust you will so defend it,
as becomes a house in which his most sacred majesty has not disdained"--
"Pshaw! sister," interrupted the Major, "we have no time to speak about
the king and his breakfast just now."
And, hastily leaving the room, he hurried, with all the alertness of a
young man of twenty-five, to examine the state of his garrison, and
superintend the measures which were necessary for defending the place.
The Tower of Tillietudlem, having very thick walls, and very narrow
windows, having also a very strong court-yard wall, with flanking turrets
on the only accessible side, and rising on the other from the very verge
of a precipice, was fully capable of defence against any thing but a
train of heavy artillery.
Famine or escalade was what the garrison had chiefly to fear. For
artillery, the top of the Tower was mounted with some antiquated
wall-pieces, and small cannons, which bore the old-fashioned names of
culverins, sakers, demi-sakers, falcons, and falconets. These, the Major,
with the assistance of John Gudyill, caused to be scaled and loaded, and
pointed them so as to command the road over the brow of the opposite hill
by which the rebels must advance, causing, at the same time, two or three
trees to be cut down, which would have impeded the effect of the
artillery when it should be necessary to use it. With the trunks of these
trees, and other materials, he directed barricades to be constructed upon
the winding avenue which rose to the Tower along the high-road, taking
care that each should command the other. The large gate of the court-yard
he barricadoed yet more strongly, leaving only a wicket open for the
convenience of passage. What he had most to apprehend, was the
slenderness of his garrison; for all the efforts of the steward were
unable to get more than nine men under arms, himself and Gudyill
included, so much more popular was the cause of the insurgents than that
of the government Major Bellenden, and his trusty servant Pike, made the
garrison eleven in number, of whom one-half were old men. The round dozen
might indeed have been made up, would Lady Margaret have consented that
Goose Gibbie should again take up arms. But she recoiled from the
proposal, when moved by Gudyill, with such abhorrent recollection of the
former achievements of that luckless cavalier, that she declared she
would rather the Castle were lost than that he were to be enrolled in the
defence of it. With eleven men, however, himself included, Major
Bellenden determined to hold out the place to the uttermost.
The arrangements for defence were not made without the degree of fracas
incidental to such occasions. Women shrieked, cattle bellowed, dogs
howled, men ran to and fro, cursing and swearing without intermission,
the lumbering of the old guns backwards and forwards shook the
battlements, the court resounded with the hasty gallop of messengers who
went and returned upon errands of importance, and the din of warlike
preparation was mingled with the sound of female laments.
Such a Babel of discord might have awakened the slumbers of the very
dead, and, therefore, was not long ere it dispelled the abstracted
reveries of Edith Bellenden. She sent out Jenny to bring her the cause of
the tumult which shook the castle to its very basis; but Jenny, once
engaged in the bustling tide, found so much to ask and to hear, that she
forgot the state of anxious uncertainty in which she had left her young
mistress. Having no pigeon to dismiss in pursuit of information when her
raven messenger had failed to return with it, Edith was compelled to
venture in quest of it out of the ark of her own chamber into the deluge
of confusion which overflowed the rest of the Castle. Six voices speaking
at once, informed her, in reply to her first enquiry, that Claver'se and
all his men were killed, and that ten thousand whigs were marching to
besiege the castle, headed by John Balfour of Burley, young Milnwood, and
Cuddie Headrigg. This strange association of persons seemed to infer the
falsehood of the whole story, and yet the general bustle in the Castle
intimated that danger was certainly apprehended.
"Where is Lady Margaret?" was Edith's second question.
"In her oratory," was the reply: a cell adjoining to the chapel, in which
the good old lady was wont to spend the greater part of the days destined
by the rules of the Episcopal Church to devotional observances, as also
the anniversaries of those on which she had lost her husband and her
children, and, finally, those hours, in which a deeper and more solemn
address to Heaven was called for, by national or domestic calamity.
"Where, then," said Edith, much alarmed, "is Major Bellenden?"
"On the battlements of the Tower, madam, pointing the cannon," was the
To the battlements, therefore, she made her way, impeded by a thousand
obstacles, and found the old gentleman in the midst of his natural
military element, commanding, rebuking, encouraging, instructing, and
exercising all the numerous duties of a good governor.
"In the name of God, what is the matter, uncle?" exclaimed Edith.
"The matter, my love?" answered the Major coolly, as, with spectacles on
his nose, he examined the position of a gun--"The matter? Why,--raise her
breech a thought more, John Gudyill--the matter? Why, Claver'se is
routed, my dear, and the whigs are coming down upon us in force, that's
all the matter."
"Gracious powers!" said Edith, whose eye at that instant caught a glance
of the road which ran up the river, "and yonder they come!"
"Yonder? where?" said the veteran; and, his eyes taking the same
direction, he beheld a large body of horsemen coming down the path.
"Stand to your guns, my lads!" was the first exclamation; "we'll make
them pay toll as they pass the heugh.--But stay, stay, these are
certainly the Life-Guards."
"O no, uncle, no," replied Edith; "see how disorderly they ride, and how
ill they keep their ranks; these cannot be the fine soldiers who left us
"Ah, my dear girl!" answered the Major, "you do not know the difference
between men before a battle and after a defeat; but the Life-Guards it
is, for I see the red and blue and the King's colours. I am glad they
have brought them off, however."
His opinion was confirmed as the troopers approached nearer, and finally
halted on the road beneath the Tower; while their commanding officer,
leaving them to breathe and refresh their horses, hastily rode up the
"It is Claverhouse, sure enough," said the Major; "I am glad he has
escaped, but he has lost his famous black horse. Let Lady Margaret know,
John Gudyill; order some refreshments; get oats for the soldiers' horses;
and let us to the hall, Edith, to meet him. I surmise we shall hear but
With careless gesture, mind unmoved,
On rade he north the plain,
His seem in thrang of fiercest strife,
When winner aye the same.
Colonel Grahame of Claverhouse met the family, assembled in the hall of
the Tower, with the same serenity and the same courtesy which had graced
his manners in the morning. He had even had the composure to rectify in
part the derangement of his dress, to wash the signs of battle from his
face and hands, and did not appear more disordered in his exterior than
if returned from a morning ride.
"I am grieved, Colonel Grahame," said the reverend old lady, the tears
trickling down her face, "deeply grieved."
"And I am grieved, my dear Lady Margaret," replied Claverhouse, "that
this misfortune may render your remaining at Tillietudlem dangerous for
you, especially considering your recent hospitality to the King's troops,
and your well-known loyalty. And I came here chiefly to request Miss
Bellenden and you to accept my escort (if you will not scorn that of a
poor runaway) to Glasgow, from whence I will see you safely sent either
to Edinburgh or to Dunbarton Castle, as you shall think best."
"I am much obliged to you, Colonel Grahame," replied Lady Margaret; "but
my brother, Major Bellenden, has taken on him the responsibility of
holding out this house against the rebels; and, please God, they shall
never drive Margaret Bellenden from her ain hearth-stane while there's a
brave man that says he can defend it."
"And will Major Bellenden undertake this?" said Claverhouse hastily, a
joyful light glancing from his dark eye as he turned it on the
veteran,--"Yet why should I question it? it is of a piece with the rest
of his life.--But have you the means, Major?"
"All, but men and provisions, with which we are ill supplied," answered
"As for men," said Claverhouse, "I will leave you a dozen or twenty
fellows who will make good a breach against the devil. It will be of the
utmost service, if you can defend the place but a week, and by that time
you must surely be relieved."
"I will make it good for that space, Colonel," replied the Major, "with
twenty-five good men and store of ammunition, if we should gnaw the soles
of our shoes for hunger; but I trust we shall get in provisions from the
"And, Colonel Grahame, if I might presume a request," said Lady Margaret,
"I would entreat that Sergeant Francis Stewart might command the
auxiliaries whom you are so good as to add to the garrison of our people;
it may serve to legitimate his promotion, and I have a prejudice in
favour of his noble birth."
"The sergeant's wars are ended, madam," said Grahame, in an unaltered
tone, "and he now needs no promotion that an earthly master can give."
"Pardon me," said Major Bellenden, taking Claverhouse by the arm, and
turning him away from the ladies, "but I am anxious for my friends; I
fear you have other and more important loss. I observe another officer
carries your nephew's standard."
"You are right, Major Bellenden," answered Claverhouse firmly; "my nephew
is no more. He has died in his duty, as became him."
"Great God!" exclaimed the Major, "how unhappy!--the handsome, gallant,
"He was indeed all you say," answered Claverhouse; "poor Richard was to
me as an eldest son, the apple of my eye, and my destined heir; but he
died in his duty, and I--I--Major Bellenden"--(he wrung the Major's hand
hard as he spoke)--"I live to avenge him."
"Colonel Grahame," said the affectionate veteran, his eyes filling with
tears, "I am glad to see you bear this misfortune with such fortitude."
"I am not a selfish man," replied Claverhouse, "though the world will
tell you otherwise; I am not selfish either in my hopes or fears, my joys
or sorrows. I have not been severe for myself, or grasping for myself, or
ambitious for myself. The service of my master and the good of the
country are what I have tried to aim at. I may, perhaps, have driven
severity into cruelty, but I acted for the best; and now I will not yield
to my own feelings a deeper sympathy than I have given to those of
"I am astonished at your fortitude under all the unpleasant circumstances
of this affair," pursued the Major.
"Yes," replied Claverhouse, "my enemies in the council will lay this
misfortune to my charge--I despise their accusations. They will
calumniate me to my sovereign--I can repel their charge. The public enemy
will exult in my flight--I shall find a time to show them that they exult
too early. This youth that has fallen stood betwixt a grasping kinsman
and my inheritance, for you know that my marriage-bed is barren; yet,
peace be with him! the country can better spare him than your friend Lord
Evandale, who, after behaving very gallantly, has, I fear, also fallen."
"What a fatal day!" ejaculated the Major. "I heard a report of this, but
it was again contradicted; it was added, that the poor young nobleman's
impetuosity had occasioned the loss of this unhappy field."
"Not so, Major," said Grahame; "let the living officers bear the blame,
if there be any; and let the laurels flourish untarnished on the grave of
the fallen. I do not, however, speak of Lord Evandale's death as certain;
but killed, or prisoner, I fear he must be. Yet he was extricated from
the tumult the last time we spoke together. We were then on the point of
leaving the field with a rear-guard of scarce twenty men; the rest of the
regiment were almost dispersed."
"They have rallied again soon," said the Major, looking from the window
on the dragoons, who were feeding their horses and refreshing themselves
beside the brook.
"Yes," answered Claverhouse, "my blackguards had little temptation either
to desert, or to straggle farther than they were driven by their first
panic. There is small friendship and scant courtesy between them and the
boors of this country; every village they pass is likely to rise on them,
and so the scoundrels are driven back to their colours by a wholesome
terror of spits, pike-staves, hay-forks, and broomsticks.--But now let us
talk about your plans and wants, and the means of corresponding with you.
To tell you the truth, I doubt being able to make a long stand at
Glasgow, even when I have joined my Lord Ross; for this transient and
accidental success of the fanatics will raise the devil through all the
They then discussed Major Bellenden's means of defence, and settled a
plan of correspondence, in case a general insurrection took place, as was
to be expected. Claverhouse renewed his offer to escort the ladies to a
place of safety; but, all things considered, Major Bellenden thought they
would be in equal safety at Tillietudlem.
The Colonel then took a polite leave of Lady Margaret and Miss Bellenden,
assuring them, that, though he was reluctantly obliged to leave them for
the present in dangerous circumstances, yet his earliest means should be
turned to the redemption of his character as a good knight and true, and
that they might speedily rely on hearing from or seeing him.
Full of doubt and apprehension, Lady Margaret was little able to reply to
a speech so much in unison with her usual expressions and feelings, but
contented herself with bidding Claverhouse farewell, and thanking him for
the succours which he had promised to leave them. Edith longed to enquire
the fate of Henry Morton, but could find no pretext for doing so, and
could only hope that it had made a subject of some part of the long
private communication which her uncle had held with Claverhouse. On this
subject, however, she was disappointed; for the old cavalier was so
deeply immersed in the duties of his own office, that he had scarce said
a single word to Claverhouse, excepting upon military matters, and most
probably would have been equally forgetful, had the fate of his own son,
instead of his friend's, lain in the balance.
Claverhouse now descended the bank on which the castle is founded, in
order to put his troops again in motion, and Major Bellenden accompanied
him to receive the detachment who were to be left in the tower.
"I shall leave Inglis with you," said Claverhouse, "for, as I am
situated, I cannot spare an officer of rank; it is all we can do, by our
joint efforts, to keep the men together. But should any of our missing
officers make their appearance, I authorize you to detain them; for my
fellows can with difficulty be subjected to any other authority."
His troops being now drawn up, he picked out sixteen men by name, and
committed them to the command of Corporal Inglis, whom he promoted to the
rank of sergeant on the spot.
"And hark ye, gentlemen," was his concluding harangue, "I leave you to
defend the house of a lady, and under the command of her brother, Major
Bellenden, a faithful servant to the king. You are to behave bravely,
soberly, regularly, and obediently, and each of you shall be handsomely
rewarded on my return to relieve the garrison. In case of mutiny,
cowardice, neglect of duty, or the slightest excess in the family, the
provost-marshal and cord--you know I keep my word for good and evil."
He touched his hat as he bade them farewell, and shook hands cordially
with Major Bellenden.
"Adieu," he said, "my stout-hearted old friend! Good luck be with you,
and better times to us both."
The horsemen whom he commanded had been once more reduced to tolerable
order by the exertions of Major Allan; and, though shorn of their
splendour, and with their gilding all besmirched, made a much more
regular and military appearance on leaving, for the second time, the
tower of Tillietudlem, than when they returned to it after their rout.
Major Bellenden, now left to his own resources sent out several videttes,
both to obtain supplies of provisions, and especially of meal, and to get
knowledge of the motions of the enemy. All the news he could collect on
the second subject tended to prove that the insurgents meant to remain on
the field of battle for that night. But they, also, had abroad their
detachments and advanced guards to collect supplies, and great was the
doubt and distress of those who received contrary orders, in the name of
the King and in that of the Kirk; the one commanding them to send
provisions to victual the Castle of Tillietudlem, and the other enjoining
them to forward supplies to the camp of the godly professors of true
religion, now in arms for the cause of covenanted reformation, presently
pitched at Drumclog, nigh to Loudon-hill. Each summons closed with a
denunciation of fire and sword if it was neglected; for neither party
could confide so far in the loyalty or zeal of those whom they addressed,
as to hope they would part with their property upon other terms. So that
the poor people knew not what hand to turn themselves to; and, to say
truth, there were some who turned themselves to more than one.
"Thir kittle times will drive the wisest o' us daft," said Niel Blane,
the prudent host of the Howff; "but I'se aye keep a calm sough.--Jenny,
what meal is in the girnel?"
"Four bows o' aitmeal, twa bows o' bear, and twa bows o' pease," was
"Aweel, hinny," continued Niel Blane, sighing deeply, "let Bauldy drive
the pease and bear meal to the camp at Drumclog--he's a whig, and was the
auld gudewife's pleughman--the mashlum bannocks will suit their muirland
stamachs weel. He maun say it's the last unce o' meal in the house, or,
if he scruples to tell a lie, (as it's no likely he will when it's for
the gude o' the house,) he may wait till Duncan Glen, the auld drucken
trooper, drives up the aitmeal to Tillietudlem, wi' my dutifu' service to
my Leddy and the Major, and I haena as muckle left as will mak my
parritch; and if Duncan manage right, I'll gie him a tass o' whisky shall
mak the blue low come out at his mouth."
"And what are we to eat oursells then, father," asked Jenny, "when we hae
sent awa the haill meal in the ark and the girnel?"
"We maun gar wheat-flour serve us for a blink," said Niel, in a tone of
resignation; "it's no that ill food, though far frae being sae hearty or
kindly to a Scotchman's stamach as the curney aitmeal is; the Englishers
live amaist upon't; but, to be sure, the pock-puddings ken nae better."
While the prudent and peaceful endeavoured, like Niel Blane, to make fair
weather with both parties, those who had more public (or party) spirit
began to take arms on all sides. The royalists in the country were not
numerous, but were respectable from their fortune and influence, being
chiefly landed proprietors of ancient descent, who, with their brothers,
cousins, and dependents to the ninth generation, as well as their
domestic servants, formed a sort of militia, capable of defending their
own peel-houses against detached bodies of the insurgents, of resisting
their demand of supplies, and intercepting those which were sent to the
presbyterian camp by others. The news that the Tower of Tillietudlem was
to be defended against the insurgents, afforded great courage and support
to these feudal volunteers, who considered it as a stronghold to which
they might retreat, in case it should become impossible for them to
maintain the desultory war they were now about to wage.
On the other hand, the towns, the villages, the farm-houses, the
properties of small heritors, sent forth numerous recruits to the
presbyterian interest. These men had been the principal sufferers during
the oppression of the time. Their minds were fretted, soured, and driven
to desperation, by the various exactions and cruelties to which they had
been subjected; and, although by no means united among themselves, either
concerning the purpose of this formidable insurrection, or the means by
which that purpose was to be obtained, most of them considered it as a
door opened by Providence to obtain the liberty of conscience of which
they had been long deprived, and to shake themselves free of a tyranny,
directed both against body and soul. Numbers of these men, therefore,
took up arms; and, in the phrase of their time and party, prepared to
cast in their lot with the victors of Loudon-hill.
Ananias. I do not like the man: He is a heathen,
And speaks the language of Canaan truly.
Tribulation. You must await his calling, and the coming
Of the good spirit. You did ill to upbraid him.
We return to Henry Morton, whom we left on the field of battle. He was
eating, by one of the watch-fires, his portion of the provisions which
had been distributed to the army, and musing deeply on the path which he
was next to pursue, when Burley suddenly came up to him, accompanied by
the young minister, whose exhortation after the victory had produced such
a powerful effect.
"Henry Morton," said Balfour abruptly, "the council of the army of the
Covenant, confiding that the son of Silas Morton can never prove a
lukewarm Laodicean, or an indifferent Gallio, in this great day, have
nominated you to be a captain of their host, with the right of a vote in
their council, and all authority fitting for an officer who is to command
"Mr Balfour," replied Morton, without hesitation, "I feel this mark of
confidence, and it is not surprising that a natural sense of the injuries
of my country, not to mention those I have sustained in my own person,
should make me sufficiently willing to draw my sword for liberty and
freedom of conscience. But I will own to you, that I must be better
satisfied concerning the principles on which you bottom your cause ere I
can agree to take a command amongst you."
"And can you doubt of our principles," answered Burley, "since we have
stated them to be the reformation both of church and state, the
rebuilding of the decayed sanctuary, the gathering of the dispersed
saints, and the destruction of the man of sin?"
"I will own frankly, Mr Balfour," replied Morton, "much of this sort of
language, which, I observe, is so powerful with others, is entirely lost
on me. It is proper you should be aware of this before we commune further
together." (The young clergyman here groaned deeply.) "I distress you,
sir," said Morton; "but, perhaps, it is because you will not hear me out.
I revere the Scriptures as deeply as you or any Christian can do. I look
into them with humble hope of extracting a rule of conduct and a law of
salvation. But I expect to find this by an examination of their general
tenor, and of the spirit which they uniformly breathe, and not by
wresting particular passages from their context, or by the application of
Scriptural phrases to circumstances and events with which they have often
very slender relation."
The young divine seemed shocked and thunderstruck with this declaration,
and was about to remonstrate.
"Hush, Ephraim!" said Burley, "remember he is but as a babe in swaddling
clothes.--Listen to me, Morton. I will speak to thee in the worldly
language of that carnal reason, which is, for the present, thy blind and
imperfect guide. What is the object for which thou art content to draw
thy sword? Is it not that the church and state should be reformed by the
free voice of a free parliament, with such laws as shall hereafter
prevent the executive government from spilling the blood, torturing and
imprisoning the persons, exhausting the estates, and trampling upon the
consciences of men, at their own wicked pleasure?"
"Most certainly," said Morton; "such I esteem legitimate causes of
warfare, and for such I will fight while I can wield a sword."
"Nay, but," said Macbriar, "ye handle this matter too tenderly; nor will
my conscience permit me to fard or daub over the causes of divine wrath."
"Peace, Ephraim Macbriar!" again interrupted Burley.
"I will not peace," said the young man. "Is it not the cause of my Master
who hath sent me? Is it not a profane and Erastian destroying of his
authority, usurpation of his power, denial of his name, to place either
King or Parliament in his place as the master and governor of his
household, the adulterous husband of his spouse?"
"You speak well," said Burley, dragging him aside, "but not wisely; your
own ears have heard this night in council how this scattered remnant are
broken and divided, and would ye now make a veil of separation between
them? Would ye build a wall with unslaked mortar?--if a fox go up, it
will breach it."
"I know," said the young clergyman, in reply, "that thou art faithful,
honest, and zealous, even unto slaying; but, believe me, this worldly
craft, this temporizing with sin and with infirmity, is in itself a
falling away; and I fear me Heaven will not honour us to do much more for
His glory, when we seek to carnal cunning and to a fleshly arm. The
sanctified end must be wrought by sanctified means."
"I tell thee," answered Balfour, "thy zeal is too rigid in this matter;
we cannot yet do without the help of the Laodiceans and the Erastians; we
must endure for a space the indulged in the midst of the council--the
sons of Zeruiah are yet too strong for us."
"I tell thee I like it not," said Macbriar; "God can work deliverance by
a few as well as by a multitude. The host of the faithful that was broken
upon Pentland-hills, paid but the fitting penalty of acknowledging the
carnal interest of that tyrant and oppressor, Charles Stewart."
"Well, then," said Balfour, "thou knowest the healing resolution that the
council have adopted,--to make a comprehending declaration, that may suit
the tender consciences of all who groan under the yoke of our present
oppressors. Return to the council if thou wilt, and get them to recall
it, and send forth one upon narrower grounds. But abide not here to
hinder my gaining over this youth, whom my soul travails for; his name
alone will call forth hundreds to our banners."
"Do as thou wilt, then," said Macbriar; "but I will not assist to mislead
the youth, nor bring him into jeopardy of life, unless upon such grounds
as will ensure his eternal reward."
The more artful Balfour then dismissed the impatient preacher, and
returned to his proselyte.
That we may be enabled to dispense with detailing at length the arguments
by which he urged Morton to join the insurgents, we shall take this
opportunity to give a brief sketch of the person by whom they were used,
and the motives which he had for interesting himself so deeply in the
conversion of young Morton to his cause.
John Balfour of Kinloch, or Burley, for he is designated both ways in the
histories and proclamations of that melancholy period, was a gentleman of
some fortune, and of good family, in the county of Fife, and had been a
soldier from his youth upwards. In the younger part of his life he had
been wild and licentious, but had early laid aside open profligacy, and
embraced the strictest tenets of Calvinism. Unfortunately, habits of
excess and intemperance were more easily rooted out of his dark,
saturnine, and enterprising spirit, than the vices of revenge and
ambition, which continued, notwithstanding his religious professions, to
exercise no small sway over his mind. Daring in design, precipitate and
violent in execution, and going to the very extremity of the most rigid
recusancy, it was his ambition to place himself at the head of the
To attain this eminence among the whigs, he had been active in attending
their conventicles, and more than once had commanded them when they
appeared in arms, and beaten off the forces sent to disperse them. At
length, the gratification of his own fierce enthusiasm, joined, as some
say, with motives of private revenge, placed him at the head of that
party who assassinated the Primate of Scotland, as the author of the
sufferings of the presbyterians. The violent measures adopted by
government to revenge this deed, not on the perpetrators only, but on the
whole professors of the religion to which they belonged, together with
long previous sufferings, without any prospect of deliverance, except by
force of arms, occasioned the insurrection, which, as we have already
seen, commenced by the defeat of Claverhouse in the bloody skirmish of
But Burley, notwithstanding the share he had in the victory, was far from
finding himself at the summit which his ambition aimed at. This was
partly owing to the various opinions entertained among the insurgents
concerning the murder of Archbishop Sharpe. The more violent among them
did, indeed, approve of this act as a deed of justice, executed upon a
persecutor of God's church through the immediate inspiration of the
Deity; but the greater part of the presbyterians disowned the deed as a
crime highly culpable, although they admitted, that the Archbishop's
punishment had by no means exceeded his deserts. The insurgents differed
in another main point, which has been already touched upon. The more warm
and extravagant fanatics condemned, as guilty of a pusillanimous
abandonment of the rights of the church, those preachers and
congregations who were contented, in any manner, to exercise their
religion through the permission of the ruling government. This, they
said, was absolute Erastianism, or subjection of the church of God to the
regulations of an earthly government, and therefore but one degree better
than prelacy or popery.--Again, the more moderate party were content to
allow the king's title to the throne, and in secular affairs to
acknowledge his authority, so long as it was exercised with due regard to
the liberties of the subject, and in conformity to the laws of the realm.
But the tenets of the wilder sect, called, from their leader Richard
Cameron, by the name of Cameronians, went the length of disowning the
reigning monarch, and every one of his successors, who should not
acknowledge the Solemn League and Covenant. The seeds of disunion were,
therefore, thickly sown in this ill-fated party; and Balfour, however
enthusiastic, and however much attached to the most violent of those
tenets which we have noticed, saw nothing but ruin to the general cause,
if they were insisted on during this crisis, when unity was of so much
consequence. Hence he disapproved, as we have seen, of the honest,
downright, and ardent zeal of Macbriar, and was extremely desirous to
receive the assistance of the moderate party of presbyterians in the
immediate overthrow of the government, with the hope of being hereafter
able to dictate to them what should be substituted in its place.
He was, on this account, particularly anxious to secure the accession of
Henry Morton to the cause of the insurgents. The memory of his father was
generally esteemed among the presbyterians; and as few persons of any
decent quality had joined the insurgents, this young man's family and
prospects were such as almost ensured his being chosen a leader. Through
Morton's means, as being the son of his ancient comrade, Burley conceived
he might exercise some influence over the more liberal part of the army,
and ultimately, perhaps, ingratiate himself so far with them, as to be
chosen commander-in-chief, which was the mark at which his ambition
aimed. He had, therefore, without waiting till any other person took up
the subject, exalted to the council the talents and disposition of
Morton, and easily obtained his elevation to the painful rank of a leader
in this disunited and undisciplined army.
The arguments by which Balfour pressed Morton to accept of this dangerous
promotion, as soon as he had gotten rid of his less wary and
uncompromising companion, Macbriar, were sufficiently artful and urgent.
He did not affect either to deny or to disguise that the sentiments which
he himself entertained concerning church government, went as far as those
of the preacher who had just left them; but he argued, that when the
affairs of the nation were at such a desperate crisis, minute difference
of opinion should not prevent those who, in general, wished well to their
oppressed country, from drawing their swords in its behalf. Many of the
subjects of division, as, for example, that concerning the Indulgence
itself, arose, he observed, out of circumstances which would cease to
exist, provided their attempt to free the country should be successful,
seeing that the presbytery, being in that case triumphant, would need to
make no such compromise with the government, and, consequently, with the
abolition of the Indulgence all discussion of its legality would be at
once ended. He insisted much and strongly upon the necessity of taking
advantage of this favourable crisis, upon the certainty of their being
joined by the force of the whole western shires, and upon the gross guilt
which those would incur, who, seeing the distress of the country, and the
increasing tyranny with which it was governed, should, from fear or
indifference, withhold their active aid from the good cause.
Morton wanted not these arguments to induce him to join in any
insurrection, which might appear to have a feasible prospect of freedom
to the country. He doubted, indeed, greatly, whether the present attempt
was likely to be supported by the strength sufficient to ensure success,
or by the wisdom and liberality of spirit necessary to make a good use of
the advantages that might be gained. Upon the whole, however, considering
the wrongs he had personally endured, and those which he had seen daily
inflicted on his fellow-subjects; meditating also upon the precarious and
dangerous situation in which he already stood with relation to the
government, he conceived himself, in every point of view, called upon to
join the body of presbyterians already in arms.
But while he expressed to Burley his acquiescence in the vote which had
named him a leader among the insurgents, and a member of their council of
war, it was not without a qualification.
"I am willing," he said, "to contribute every thing within my limited
power to effect the emancipation of my country. But do not mistake me. I
disapprove, in the utmost degree, of the action in which this rising
seems to have originated; and no arguments should induce me to join it,
if it is to be carried on by such measures as that with which it has
Burley's blood rushed to his face, giving a ruddy and dark glow to his
"You mean," he said, in a voice which he designed should not betray any
emotion--"You mean the death of James Sharpe?"
"Frankly," answered Morton, "such is my meaning."
"You imagine, then," said Burley, "that the Almighty, in times of
difficulty, does not raise up instruments to deliver his church from her
oppressors? You are of opinion that the justice of an execution consists,
not in the extent of the sufferer's crime, or in his having merited
punishment, or in the wholesome and salutary effect which that example is
likely to produce upon other evil-doers, but hold that it rests solely in
the robe of the judge, the height of the bench, and the voice of the
doomster? Is not just punishment justly inflicted, whether on the
scaffold or the moor? And where constituted judges, from cowardice, or
from having cast in their lot with transgressors, suffer them not only to
pass at liberty through the land, but to sit in the high places, and dye
their garments in the blood of the saints, is it not well done in any
brave spirits who shall draw their private swords in the public cause?"
"I have no wish to judge this individual action," replied Morton,
"further than is necessary to make you fully aware of my principles. I
therefore repeat, that the case you have supposed does not satisfy my
judgment. That the Almighty, in his mysterious providence, may bring a
bloody man to an end deservedly bloody, does not vindicate those who,
without authority of any kind, take upon themselves to be the instruments
of execution, and presume to call them the executors of divine
"And were we not so?" said Burley, in a tone of fierce enthusiasm. "Were
not we--was not every one who owned the interest of the Covenanted Church
of Scotland, bound by that covenant to cut off the Judas who had sold the
cause of God for fifty thousand merks a-year? Had we met him by the way
as he came down from London, and there smitten him with the edge of the
sword, we had done but the duty of men faithful to our cause, and to our
oaths recorded in heaven. Was not the execution itself a proof of our
warrant? Did not the Lord deliver him into our hands, when we looked out
but for one of his inferior tools of persecution? Did we not pray to be
resolved how we should act, and was it not borne in on our hearts as if
it had been written on them with the point of a diamond, 'Ye shall surely
take him and slay him?'--Was not the tragedy full half an hour in acting
ere the sacrifice was completed, and that in an open heath, and within
the patrols of their garrisons--and yet who interrupted the great work?--
What dog so much as bayed us during the pursuit, the taking, the slaying,
and the dispersing? Then, who will say--who dare say, that a mightier arm
than ours was not herein revealed?"
"You deceive yourself, Mr Balfour," said Morton; "such circumstances of
facility of execution and escape have often attended the commission of
the most enormous crimes.--But it is not mine to judge you. I have not
forgotten that the way was opened to the former liberation of Scotland by
an act of violence which no man can justify,--the slaughter of Cumming by
the hand of Robert Bruce; and, therefore, condemning this action, as I do
and must, I am not unwilling to suppose that you may have motives
vindicating it in your own eyes, though not in mine, or in those of sober
reason. I only now mention it, because I desire you to understand, that I
join a cause supported by men engaged in open war, which it is proposed
to carry on according to the rules of civilized nations, without, in any
respect, approving of the act of violence which gave immediate rise to
Balfour bit his lip, and with difficulty suppressed a violent answer. He
perceived, with disappointment, that, upon points of principle, his young
brother-in-arms possessed a clearness of judgment, and a firmness of
mind, which afforded but little hope of his being able to exert that
degree of influence over him which he had expected to possess. After a
moment's pause, however, he said, with coolness, "My conduct is open to
men and angels. The deed was not done in a corner; I am here in arms to
avow it, and care not where, or by whom, I am called on to do so; whether
in the council, the field of battle, the place of execution, or the day
of the last great trial. I will not now discuss it further with one who
is yet on the other side of the veil. But if you will cast in your lot
with us as a brother, come with me to the council, who are still sitting,
to arrange the future march of the army, and the means of improving our
Morton arose and followed him in silence; not greatly delighted with his
associate, and better satisfied with the general justice of the cause
which he had espoused, than either with the measures or the motives of
many of those who were embarked in it.
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