Old Mortality, Volume 2.
Sir Walter Scott
Part 2 out of 5
recommence a hard ride upon a high-trotting horse. However, when he knew
the matter in hand, he gave up, with a deep groan, the prospect of
spending a quiet evening in his own little parlour; for he entirely
agreed with Morton, that whatever interest Burley might have in rendering
the breach between the presbyterians and the government irreconcilable,
by putting the young nobleman to death, it was by no means that of the
moderate party to permit such an act of atrocity. And it is but doing
justice to Mr Poundtext to add, that, like most of his own persuasion, he
was decidedly adverse to any such acts of unnecessary violence; besides,
that his own present feelings induced him to listen with much complacence
to the probability held out by Morton, of Lord Evandale's becoming a
mediator for the establishment of peace upon fair and moderate terms.
With this similarity of views, they hastened their journey, and arrived
about eleven o'clock at night at a small hamlet adjacent to the Castle at
Tillietudlem, where Burley had established his head-quarters.
They were challenged by the sentinel, who made his melancholy walk at the
entrance of the hamlet, and admitted upon declaring their names and
authority in the army. Another soldier kept watch before a house, which
they conjectured to be the place of Lord Evandale's confinement, for a
gibbet of such great height as to be visible from the battlements of the
Castle, was erected before it, in melancholy confirmation of the truth of
Mrs Wilson's report. [Note: The Cameronians had suffered persecution, but
it was without learning mercy. We are informed by Captain Crichton, that
they had set up in their camp a huge gibbet, or gallows, having many
hooks upon it, with a coil of new ropes lying beside it, for the
execution of such royalists as they might make prisoners. Guild, in his
Bellum Bothuellianum, describes this machine particularly.] Morton
instantly demanded to speak with Burley, and was directed to his
quarters. They found him reading the Scriptures, with his arms lying
beside him, as if ready for any sudden alarm. He started upon the
entrance of his colleagues in office.
"What has brought ye hither?" said Burley, hastily. "Is there bad news
from the army?"
"No," replied Morton; "but we understand that there are measures adopted
here in which the safety of the army is deeply concerned--Lord Evandale
is your prisoner?"
"The Lord," replied Burley, "hath delivered him into our hands."
"And you will avail yourself of that advantage, granted you by Heaven, to
dishonour our cause in the eyes of all the world, by putting a prisoner
to an ignominious death?"
"If the house of Tillietudlem be not surrendered by daybreak," replied
Burley, "God do so to me and more also, if he shall not die that death to
which his leader and patron, John Grahame of Claverhouse, hath put so
many of God's saints."
"We are in arms," replied Morton, "to put down such cruelties, and not to
imitate them, far less to avenge upon the innocent the acts of the
guilty. By what law can you justify the atrocity you would commit?"
"If thou art ignorant of it," replied Burley, "thy companion is well
aware of the law which gave the men of Jericho to the sword of Joshua,
the son of Nun."
"But we," answered the divine, "live under a better dispensation, which
instructeth us to return good for evil, and to pray for those who
despitefully use us and persecute us."
"That is to say," said Burley, "that thou wilt join thy grey hairs to his
green youth to controvert me in this matter?"
"We are," rejoined Poundtext, "two of those to whom, jointly with
thyself, authority is delegated over this host, and we will not permit
thee to hurt a hair of the prisoner's head. It may please God to make him
a means of healing these unhappy breaches in our Israel."
"I judged it would come to this," answered Burley, "when such as thou
wert called into the council of the elders."
"Such as I?" answered Poundtext,--"And who am I, that you should name me
with such scorn?--Have I not kept the flock of this sheep-fold from the
wolves for thirty years? Ay, even while thou, John Balfour, wert fighting
in the ranks of uncircumcision, a Philistine of hardened brow and bloody
hand--Who am I, say'st thou?"
"I will tell thee what thou art, since thou wouldst so fain know," said
Burley. "Thou art one of those, who would reap where thou hast not sowed,
and divide the spoil while others fight the battle--thou art one of those
that follow the gospel for the loaves and for the fishes--that love their
own manse better than the Church of God, and that would rather draw their
stipends under prelatists or heathens, than be a partaker with those
noble spirits who have cast all behind them for the sake of the
"And I will tell thee, John Balfour," returned Poundtext, deservedly
incensed, "I will tell thee what thou art. Thou art one of those, for
whose bloody and merciless disposition a reproach is flung upon the whole
church of this suffering kingdom, and for whose violence and
blood-guiltiness, it is to be feared, this fair attempt to recover our
civil and religious rights will never be honoured by Providence with the
"Gentlemen," said Morton, "cease this irritating and unavailing
recrimination; and do you, Mr Balfour, inform us, whether it is your
purpose to oppose the liberation of Lord Evandale, which appears to us a
profitable measure in the present position of our affairs?"
"You are here," answered Burley, "as two voices against one; but you will
not refuse to tarry until the united council shall decide upon this
"This," said Morton, "we would not decline, if we could trust the hands
in whom we are to leave the prisoner.--But you know well," he added,
looking sternly at Burley, "that you have already deceived me in this
"Go to," said Burley, disdainfully,--"thou art an idle inconsiderate boy,
who, for the black eyebrows of a silly girl, would barter thy own faith
and honour, and the cause of God and of thy country."
"Mr Balfour," said Morton, laying his hand on his sword, "this language
"And thou shalt have it, stripling, when and where thou darest," said
Burley; "I plight thee my good word on it."
Poundtext, in his turn, interfered to remind them of the madness of
quarrelling, and effected with difficulty a sort of sullen
"Concerning the prisoner," said Burley, "deal with him as ye think fit. I
wash my hands free from all consequences. He is my prisoner, made by my
sword and spear, while you, Mr Morton, were playing the adjutant at
drills and parades, and you, Mr Poundtext, were warping the Scriptures
into Erastianism. Take him unto you, nevertheless, and dispose of him as
ye think meet.--Dingwall," he continued, calling a sort of aid-de-camp,
who slept in the next apartment, "let the guard posted on the malignant
Evandale give up their post to those whom Captain Morton shall appoint to
relieve them.--The prisoner," he said, again addressing Poundtext and
Morton, "is now at your disposal, gentlemen. But remember, that for all
these things there will one day come a term of heavy accounting."
So saying, he turned abruptly into an inner apartment, without bidding
them good evening. His two visitors, after a moment's consideration,
agreed it would be prudent to ensure the prisoner's personal safety, by
placing over him an additional guard, chosen from their own parishioners.
A band of them happened to be stationed in the hamlet, having been
attached, for the time, to Burley's command, in order that the men might
be gratified by remaining as long as possible near to their own homes.
They were, in general, smart, active young fellows, and were usually
called by their companions, the Marksmen of Milnwood. By Morton's desire,
four of these lads readily undertook the task of sentinels, and he left
with them Headrigg, on whose fidelity he could depend, with instructions
to call him, if any thing remarkable happened.
This arrangement being made, Morton and his colleague took possession,
for the night, of such quarters as the over-crowded and miserable hamlet
could afford them. They did not, however, separate for repose till they
had drawn up a memorial of the grievances of the moderate presbyterians,
which was summed up with a request of free toleration for their religion
in future, and that they should be permitted to attend gospel ordinances
as dispensed by their own clergymen, without oppression or molestation.
Their petition proceeded to require that a free parliament should be
called for settling the affairs of church and state, and for redressing
the injuries sustained by the subject; and that all those who either now
were, or had been, in arms, for obtaining these ends, should be
indemnified. Morton could not but strongly hope that these terms, which
comprehended all that was wanted, or wished for, by the moderate party
among the insurgents, might, when thus cleared of the violence of
fanaticism, find advocates even among the royalists, as claiming only the
ordinary rights of Scottish freemen.
He had the more confidence of a favourable reception, that the Duke of
Monmouth, to whom Charles had intrusted the charge of subduing this
rebellion, was a man of gentle, moderate, and accessible disposition,
well known to be favourable to the presbyterians, and invested by the
king with full powers to take measures for quieting the disturbances in
Scotland. It seemed to Morton, that all that was necessary for
influencing him in their favour was to find a fit and sufficiently
respectable channel of communication, and such seemed to be opened
through the medium of Lord Evandale. He resolved, therefore, to visit the
prisoner early in the morning, in order to sound his dispositions to
undertake the task of mediator; but an accident happened which led him to
anticipate his purpose.
Gie ower your house, lady, he said,--
Gie ower your house to me.
Edom of Gordon.
Morton had finished the revisal and the making out of a fair copy of the
paper on which he and Poundtext had agreed to rest as a full statement of
the grievances of their party, and the conditions on which the greater
part of the insurgents would be contented to lay down their arms; and he
was about to betake himself to repose, when there was a knocking at the
door of his apartment.
"Enter," said Morton; and the round bullethead of Cuddie Headrigg was
thrust into the room. "Come in," said Morton, "and tell me what you want.
Is there any alarm?"
"Na, stir; but I hae brought ane to speak wi' you."
"Who is that, Cuddie?" enquired Morton.
"Ane o' your auld acquaintance," said Cuddie; and, opening the door more
fully, he half led, half dragged in a woman, whose face was muffled in
her plaid.--"Come, come, ye needna be sae bashfu' before auld
acquaintance, Jenny," said Cuddie, pulling down the veil, and discovering
to his master the well-remembered countenance of Jenny Dennison. "Tell
his honour, now--there's a braw lass--tell him what ye were wanting to
say to Lord Evandale, mistress."
"What was I wanting to say," answered Jenny, "to his honour himsell the
other morning, when I visited him in captivity, ye muckle hash?--D'ye
think that folk dinna want to see their friends in adversity, ye dour
This reply was made with Jenny's usual volubility; but her voice
quivered, her cheek was thin and pale, the tears stood in her eyes, her
hand trembled, her manner was fluttered, and her whole presence bore
marks of recent suffering and privation, as well as nervous and
"What is the matter, Jenny?" said Morton, kindly. "You know how much I
owe you in many respects, and can hardly make a request that I will not
grant, if in my power."
"Many thanks, Milnwood," said the weeping damsel; "but ye were aye a kind
gentleman, though folk say ye hae become sair changed now."
"What do they say of me?" answered Morton.
"A' body says," replied Jenny, "that you and the whigs hae made a vow to
ding King Charles aff the throne, and that neither he, nor his posteriors
from generation to generation, shall sit upon it ony mair; and John
Gudyill threeps ye're to gie a' the church organs to the pipers, and burn
the Book o' Common-prayer by the hands of the common hangman, in revenge
of the Covenant that was burnt when the king cam hame."
"My friends at Tillietudlem judge too hastily and too ill of me,"
answered Morton. "I wish to have free exercise of my own religion,
without insulting any other; and as to your family, I only desire an
opportunity to show them I have the same friendship and kindness as
"Bless your kind heart for saying sae," said Jenny, bursting into a flood
of tears; "and they never needed kindness or friendship mair, for they
are famished for lack o' food."
"Good God!" replied Morton, "I have heard of scarcity, but not of famine!
It is possible?--Have the ladies and the Major"--
"They hae suffered like the lave o' us," replied Jenny; "for they shared
every bit and sup wi' the whole folk in the Castle--I'm sure my poor een
see fifty colours wi' faintness, and my head's sae dizzy wi' the
mirligoes that I canna stand my lane."
The thinness of the poor girl's cheek, and the sharpness of her features,
bore witness to the truth of what she said. Morton was greatly shocked.
"Sit down," he said, "for God's sake!" forcing her into the only chair
the apartment afforded, while he himself strode up and down the room in
horror and impatience. "I knew not of this," he exclaimed in broken
ejaculations,--"I could not know of it.--Cold-blooded, iron-hearted
fanatic--deceitful villain!--Cuddie, fetch refreshments--food--wine, if
possible--whatever you can find."
"Whisky is gude eneugh for her," muttered Cuddie; "ane wadna hae thought
that gude meal was sae scant amang them, when the quean threw sae muckle
gude kail-brose scalding het about my lugs."
Faint and miserable as Jenny seemed to be, she could not hear the
allusion to her exploit during the storm of the Castle, without bursting
into a laugh which weakness soon converted into a hysterical giggle.
Confounded at her state, and reflecting with horror on the distress which
must have been in the Castle, Morton repeated his commands to Headrigg in
a peremptory manner; and when he had departed, endeavoured to soothe his
"You come, I suppose, by the orders of your mistress, to visit Lord
Evandale?--Tell me what she desires; her orders shall be my law."
Jenny appeared to reflect a moment, and then said, "Your honour is sae
auld a friend, I must needs trust to you, and tell the truth."
"Be assured, Jenny," said Morton, observing that she hesitated, "that you
will best serve your mistress by dealing sincerely with me."
"Weel, then, ye maun ken we're starving, as I said before, and have been
mair days than ane; and the Major has sworn that he expects relief daily,
and that he will not gie ower the house to the enemy till we have eaten
up his auld boots,--and they are unco thick in the soles, as ye may weel
mind, forby being teugh in the upper-leather. The dragoons, again, they
think they will be forced to gie up at last, and they canna bide hunger
weel, after the life they led at free quarters for this while bypast; and
since Lord Evandale's taen, there's nae guiding them; and Inglis says
he'll gie up the garrison to the whigs, and the Major and the leddies
into the bargain, if they will but let the troopers gang free themsells."
"Scoundrels!" said Morton; "why do they not make terms for all in the
"They are fear'd for denial o' quarter to themsells, having dune sae
muckle mischief through the country; and Burley has hanged ane or twa o'
them already--sae they want to draw their ain necks out o' the collar at
hazard o' honest folk's."
"And you were sent," continued Morton, "to carry to Lord Evandale the
unpleasant news of the men's mutiny?"
"Just e'en sae," said Jenny; "Tam Halliday took the rue, and tauld me a'
about it, and gat me out o' the Castle to tell Lord Evandale, if possibly
I could win at him."
"But how can he help you?" said Morton; "he is a prisoner."
"Well-a-day, ay," answered the afflicted damsel; "but maybe he could mak
fair terms for us--or, maybe, he could gie us some good advice--or,
maybe, he might send his orders to the dragoons to be civil--or"--
"Or, maybe," said Morton, "you were to try if it were possible to set him
"If it were sae," answered Jenny with spirit, "it wadna be the first time
I hae done my best to serve a friend in captivity."
"True, Jenny," replied Morton, "I were most ungrateful to forget it. But
here comes Cuddie with refreshments--I will go and do your errand to Lord
Evandale, while you take some food and wine."
"It willna be amiss ye should ken," said Cuddie to his master, "that this
Jenny--this Mrs Dennison, was trying to cuittle favour wi' Tam Rand, the
miller's man, to win into Lord Evandale's room without ony body kennin'.
She wasna thinking, the gipsy, that I was at her elbow."
"And an unco fright ye gae me when ye cam ahint and took a grip o' me,"
said Jenny, giving him a sly twitch with her finger and her thumb--"if ye
hadna been an auld acquaintance, ye daft gomeril"--
Cuddie, somewhat relenting, grinned a smile on his artful mistress, while
Morton wrapped himself up in his cloak, took his sword under his arm, and
went straight to the place of the young nobleman's confinement. He asked
the sentinels if any thing extraordinary had occurred.
"Nothing worth notice," they said, "excepting the lass that Cuddie took
up, and two couriers that Captain Balfour had dispatched, one to the
Reverend Ephraim Macbriar, another to Kettledrummle," both of whom were
beating the drum ecclesiastic in different towns between the position of
Burley and the head-quarters of the main army near Hamilton.
"The purpose, I presume," said Morton, with an affectation of
indifference, "was to call them hither."
"So I understand," answered the sentinel, who had spoke with the
He is summoning a triumphant majority of the council, thought Morton to
himself, for the purpose of sanctioning whatever action of atrocity he
may determine upon, and thwarting opposition by authority. I must be
speedy, or I shall lose my opportunity.
When he entered the place of Lord Evandale's confinement, he found him
ironed, and reclining on a flock bed in the wretched garret of a
miserable cottage. He was either in a slumber, or in deep meditation,
when Morton entered, and turned on him, when aroused, a countenance so
much reduced by loss of blood, want of sleep, and scarcity of food, that
no one could have recognised in it the gallant soldier who had behaved
with so much spirit at the skirmish of Loudon-hill. He displayed some
surprise at the sudden entrance of Morton.
"I am sorry to see you thus, my lord," said that youthful leader.
"I have heard you are an admirer of poetry," answered the prisoner; "in
that case, Mr Morton, you may remember these lines,--
'Stone walls do not a prison make,
Or iron bars a cage;
A free and quiet mind can take
These for a hermitage.'
But, were my imprisonment less endurable, I am given to expect to-morrow
a total enfranchisement."
"By death?" said Morton.
"Surely," answered Lord Evandale; "I have no other prospect. Your
comrade, Burley, has already dipped his hand in the blood of men whose
meanness of rank and obscurity of extraction might have saved them. I
cannot boast such a shield from his vengeance, and I expect to meet its
"But Major Bellenden," said Morton, "may surrender, in order to preserve
"Never, while there is one man to defend the battlement, and that man has
one crust to eat. I know his gallant resolution, and grieved should I be
if he changed it for my sake."
Morton hastened to acquaint him with the mutiny among the dragoons, and
their resolution to surrender the Castle, and put the ladies of the
family, as well as the Major, into the hands of the enemy. Lord Evandale
seemed at first surprised, and something incredulous, but immediately
afterwards deeply affected.
"What is to be done?" he said--"How is this misfortune to be averted?"
"Hear me, my lord," said Morton. "I believe you may not be unwilling to
bear the olive branch between our master the King, and that part of his
subjects which is now in arms, not from choice, but necessity."
"You construe me but justly," said Lord Evandale; "but to what does this
"Permit me, my lord"--continued Morton. "I will set you at liberty upon
parole; nay, you may return to the Castle, and shall have a safe conduct
for the ladies, the Major, and all who leave it, on condition of its
instant surrender. In contributing to bring this about you will only
submit to circumstances; for, with a mutiny in the garrison, and without
provisions, it will be found impossible to defend the place twenty-four
hours longer. Those, therefore, who refuse to accompany your lordship,
must take their fate. You and your followers shall have a free pass to
Edinburgh, or where-ever the Duke of Monmouth may be. In return for your
liberty, we hope that you will recommend to the notice of his Grace, as
Lieutenant-General of Scotland, this humble petition and remonstrance,
containing the grievances which have occasioned this insurrection, a
redress of which being granted, I will answer with my head, that the
great body of the insurgents will lay down their arms."
Lord Evandale read over the paper with attention.
"Mr Morton," he said, "in my simple judgment, I see little objection that
can be made to the measure here recommended; nay, farther, I believe, in
many respects, they may meet the private sentiments of the Duke of
Monmouth: and yet, to deal frankly with you, I have no hopes of their
being granted, unless, in the first place, you were to lay down your
"The doing so," answered Morton, "would be virtually conceding that we
had no right to take them up; and that, for one, I will never agree to."
"Perhaps it is hardly to be expected you should," said Lord Evandale;
"and yet on that point I am certain the negotiations will be wrecked. I
am willing, however, having frankly told you my opinion, to do all in my
power to bring about a reconciliation."
"It is all we can wish or expect," replied Morton; "the issue is in God's
hands, who disposes the hearts of princes.--You accept, then, the safe
"Certainly," answered Lord Evandale; "and if I do not enlarge upon the
obligation incurred by your having saved my life a second time, believe
that I do not feel it the less."
"And the garrison of Tillietudlem?" said Morton.
"Shall be withdrawn as you propose," answered the young nobleman. "I am
sensible the Major will be unable to bring the mutineers to reason; and I
tremble to think of the consequences, should the ladies and the brave old
man be delivered up to this bloodthirsty ruffian, Burley."
"You are in that case free," said Morton. "Prepare to mount on horseback;
a few men whom I can trust shall attend you till you are in safety from
Leaving Lord Evandale in great surprise and joy at this unexpected
deliverance, Morton hastened to get a few chosen men under arms and on
horseback, each rider holding the rein of a spare horse. Jenny, who,
while she partook of her refreshment, had contrived to make up her breach
with Cuddie, rode on the left hand of that valiant cavalier. The tramp of
their horses was soon heard under the window of Lord Evandale's prison.
Two men, whom he did not know, entered the apartment, disencumbered him
of his fetters, and, conducting him down stairs, mounted him in the
centre of the detachment. They set out at a round trot towards
The moonlight was giving way to the dawn when they approached that
ancient fortress, and its dark massive tower had just received the first
pale colouring of the morning. The party halted at the Tower barrier, not
venturing to approach nearer for fear of the fire of the place. Lord
Evandale alone rode up to the gate, followed at a distance by Jenny
Dennison. As they approached the gate, there was heard to arise in the
court-yard a tumult, which accorded ill with the quiet serenity of a
summer dawn. Cries and oaths were heard, a pistol-shot or two were
discharged, and every thing announced that the mutiny had broken out. At
this crisis Lord Evandale arrived at the gate where Halliday was
sentinel. On hearing Lord Evandale's voice, he instantly and gladly
admitted him, and that nobleman arrived among the mutinous troopers like
a man dropped from the clouds. They were in the act of putting their
design into execution, of seizing the place into their own hands, and
were about to disarm and overpower Major Bellenden and Harrison, and
others of the Castle, who were offering the best resistance in their
The appearance of Lord Evandale changed the scene. He seized Inglis by
the collar, and, upbraiding him with his villainy, ordered two of his
comrades to seize and bind him, assuring the others, that their only
chance of impunity consisted in instant submission. He then ordered the
men into their ranks. They obeyed. He commanded them to ground their
arms. They hesitated; but the instinct of discipline, joined to their
persuasion that the authority of their officer, so boldly exerted, must
be supported by some forces without the gate, induced them to submit.
"Take away those arms," said Lord Evandale to the people of the Castle;
"they shall not be restored until these men know better the use for which
they are intrusted with them.--And now," he continued, addressing the
mutineers, "begone!--Make the best use of your time, and of a truce of
three hours, which the enemy are contented to allow you. Take the road to
Edinburgh, and meet me at the House-of-Muir. I need not bid you beware of
committing violence by the way; you will not, in your present condition,
provoke resentment for your own sakes. Let your punctuality show that you
mean to atone for this morning's business."
The disarmed soldiers shrunk in silence from the presence of their
officer, and, leaving the Castle, took the road to the place of
rendezvous, making such haste as was inspired by the fear of meeting with
some detached party of the insurgents, whom their present defenceless
condition, and their former violence, might inspire with thoughts of
revenge. Inglis, whom Evandale destined for punishment, remained in
custody. Halliday was praised for his conduct, and assured of succeeding
to the rank of the culprit. These arrangements being hastily made, Lord
Evandale accosted the Major, before whose eyes the scene had seemed to
pass like the change of a dream.
"My dear Major, we must give up the place."
"Is it even so?" said Major Bellenden. "I was in hopes you had brought
reinforcements and supplies."
"Not a man--not a pound of meal," answered Lord Evandale.
"Yet I am blithe to see you," returned the honest Major; "we were
informed yesterday that these psalm-singing rascals had a plot on your
life, and I had mustered the scoundrelly dragoons ten minutes ago in
order to beat up Burley's quarters and get you out of limbo, when the dog
Inglis, instead of obeying me, broke out into open mutiny.--But what is
to be done now?"
"I have, myself, no choice," said Lord Evandale; "I am a prisoner,
released on parole, and bound for Edinburgh. You and the ladies must take
the same route. I have, by the favour of a friend, a safe conduct and
horses for you and your retinue--for God's sake make haste--you cannot
propose to hold out with seven or eight men, and without provisions--
Enough has been done for honour, and enough to render the defence of the
highest consequence to government. More were needless, as well as
desperate. The English troops are arrived at Edinburgh, and will speedily
move upon Hamilton. The possession of Tillietudlem by the rebels will be
"If you think so, my lord," said the veteran, with a reluctant sigh,--"I
know you only advise what is honourable--if, then, you really think the
case inevitable, I must submit; for the mutiny of these scoundrels would
render it impossible to man the walls.--Gudyill, let the women call up
their mistresses, and all be ready to march--But if I could believe that
my remaining in these old walls, till I was starved to a mummy, could do
the King's cause the least service, old Miles Bellenden would not leave
them while there was a spark of life in his body!"
The ladies, already alarmed by the mutiny, now heard the determination of
the Major, in which they readily acquiesced, though not without some
groans and sighs on the part of Lady Margaret, which referred, as usual,
to the /dejeune/; of his Most Sacred Majesty in the halls which were now
to be abandoned to rebels. Hasty preparations were made for evacuating
the Castle; and long ere the dawn was distinct enough for discovering
objects with precision, the ladies, with Major Bellenden, Harrison,
Gudyill, and the other domestics, were mounted on the led horses, and
others which had been provided in the neighbourhood, and proceeded
towards the north, still escorted by four of the insurgent horsemen. The
rest of the party who had accompanied Lord Evandale from the hamlet, took
possession of the deserted Castle, carefully forbearing all outrage or
acts of plunder. And when the sun arose, the scarlet and blue colours of
the Scottish Covenant floated from the Keep of Tillietudlem.
And, to my breast, a bodkin in her hand
Were worth a thousand daggers.
The cavalcade which left the Castle of Tillietudlem, halted for a few
minutes at the small town of Bothwell, after passing the outposts of the
insurgents, to take some slight refreshments which their attendants had
provided, and which were really necessary to persons who had suffered
considerably by want of proper nourishment. They then pressed forward
upon the road towards Edinburgh, amid the lights of dawn which were now
rising on the horizon. It might have been expected, during the course of
the journey, that Lord Evandale would have been frequently by the side of
Miss Edith Bellenden. Yet, after his first salutations had been
exchanged, and every precaution solicitously adopted which could serve
for her accommodation, he rode in the van of the party with Major
Bellenden, and seemed to abandon the charge of immediate attendance upon
his lovely niece to one of the insurgent cavaliers, whose dark military
cloak, with the large flapped hat and feather, which drooped over his
face, concealed at once his figure and his features. They rode side by
side in silence for more than two miles, when the stranger addressed Miss
Bellenden in a tremulous and suppressed voice.
"Miss Bellenden," he said, "must have friends wherever she is known; even
among those whose conduct she now disapproves. Is there any thing that
such can do to show their respect for her, and their regret for her
"Let them learn for their own sakes," replied Edith, "to venerate the
laws, and to spare innocent blood. Let them return to their allegiance,
and I can forgive them all that I have suffered, were it ten times more."
"You think it impossible, then," rejoined the cavalier, "for any one to
serve in our ranks, having the weal of his country sincerely at heart,
and conceiving himself in the discharge of a patriotic duty?"
"It might be imprudent, while so absolutely in your power," replied Miss
Bellenden, "to answer that question."
"Not in the present instance, I plight you the word of a soldier,"
replied the horseman.
"I have been taught candour from my birth," said Edith; "and, if I am to
speak at all, I must utter my real sentiments. God only can judge the
heart--men must estimate intentions by actions. Treason, murder by the
sword and by gibbet, the oppression of a private family such as ours, who
were only in arms for the defence of the established government, and of
our own property, are actions which must needs sully all that have
accession to them, by whatever specious terms they may be gilded over."
"The guilt of civil war," rejoined the horseman--"the miseries which it
brings in its train, lie at the door of those who provoked it by illegal
oppression, rather than of such as are driven to arms in order to assert
their natural rights as freemen."
"That is assuming the question," replied Edith, "which ought to be
proved. Each party contends that they are right in point of principle,
and therefore the guilt must lie with them who first drew the sword; as,
in an affray, law holds those to be the criminals who are the first to
have recourse to violence."
"Alas!" said the horseman, "were our vindication to rest there, how easy
would it be to show that we have suffered with a patience which almost
seemed beyond the power of humanity, ere we were driven by oppression
into open resistance!--But I perceive," he continued, sighing deeply,
"that it is vain to plead before Miss Bellenden a cause which she has
already prejudged, perhaps as much from her dislike of the persons as of
the principles of those engaged in it."
"Pardon me," answered Edith; "I have stated with freedom my opinion of
the principles of the insurgents; of their persons I know nothing--
excepting in one solitary instance."
"And that instance," said the horseman, "has influenced your opinion of
the whole body?"
"Far from it," said Edith; "he is--at least I once thought him--one in
whose scale few were fit to be weighed--he is--or he seemed--one of early
talent, high faith, pure morality, and warm affections. Can I approve of
a rebellion which has made such a man, formed to ornament, to enlighten,
and to defend his country, the companion of gloomy and ignorant fanatics,
or canting hypocrites,--the leader of brutal clowns,--the brother-in-arms
to banditti and highway murderers?--Should you meet such an one in your
camp, tell him that Edith Bellenden has wept more over his fallen
character, blighted prospects, and dishonoured name, than over the
distresses of her own house,--and that she has better endured that famine
which has wasted her cheek and dimmed her eye, than the pang of heart
which attended the reflection by and through whom these calamities were
As she thus spoke, she turned upon her companion a countenance, whose
faded cheek attested the reality of her sufferings, even while it glowed
with the temporary animation which accompanied her language. The horseman
was not insensible to the appeal; he raised his hand to his brow with the
sudden motion of one who feels a pang shoot along his brain, passed it
hastily over his face, and then pulled the shadowing hat still deeper on
his forehead. The movement, and the feelings which it excited, did not
escape Edith, nor did she remark them without emotion.
"And yet," she said, "should the person of whom I speak seem to you too
deeply affected by the hard opinion of--of--an early friend, say to him,
that sincere repentance is next to innocence;--that, though fallen from a
height not easily recovered, and the author of much mischief, because
gilded by his example, he may still atone in some measure for the evil he
"And in what manner?" asked the cavalier, in the same suppressed, and
almost choked voice.
"By lending his efforts to restore the blessings of peace to his
distracted countrymen, and to induce the deluded rebels to lay down their
arms. By saving their blood, he may atone for that which has been already
spilt;--and he that shall be most active in accomplishing this great end,
will best deserve the thanks of this age, and an honoured remembrance in
"And in such a peace," said her companion, with a firm voice, "Miss
Bellenden would not wish, I think, that the interests of the people were
sacrificed unreservedly to those of the crown?"
"I am but a girl," was the young lady's reply; "and I scarce can speak on
the subject without presumption. But, since I have gone so far, I will
fairly add, I would wish to see a peace which should give rest to all
parties, and secure the subjects from military rapine, which I detest as
much as I do the means now adopted to resist it."
"Miss Bellenden," answered Henry Morton, raising his face, and speaking
in his natural tone, "the person who has lost such a highly-valued place
in your esteem, has yet too much spirit to plead his cause as a criminal;
and, conscious that he can no longer claim a friend's interest in your
bosom, he would be silent under your hard censure, were it not that he
can refer to the honoured testimony of Lord Evandale, that his earnest
wishes and most active exertions are, even now, directed to the
accomplishment of such a peace as the most loyal cannot censure."
He bowed with dignity to Miss Bellenden, who, though her language
intimated that she well knew to whom she had been speaking, probably had
not expected that he would justify himself with so much animation. She
returned his salute, confused and in silence. Morton then rode forward to
the head of the party.
"Henry Morton!" exclaimed Major Bellenden, surprised at the sudden
"The same," answered Morton; "who is sorry that he labours under the
harsh construction of Major Bellenden and his family. He commits to my
Lord Evandale," he continued, turning towards the young nobleman, and
bowing to him, "the charge of undeceiving his friends, both regarding the
particulars of his conduct and the purity of his motives. Farewell, Major
Bellenden--All happiness attend you and yours--May we meet again in
happier and better times!"
"Believe me," said Lord Evandale, "your confidence, Mr Morton, is not
misplaced; I will endeavour to repay the great services I have received
from you by doing my best to place your character on its proper footing
with Major Bellenden, and all whose esteem you value."
"I expected no less from your generosity, my lord," said Morton.
He then called his followers, and rode off along the heath in the
direction of Hamilton, their feathers waving and their steel caps
glancing in the beams of the rising sun. Cuddie Headrigg alone remained
an instant behind his companions to take an affectionate farewell of
Jenny Dennison, who had contrived, during this short morning's ride, to
re-establish her influence over his susceptible bosom. A straggling tree
or two obscured, rather than concealed, their /tete-a-tete/, as they
halted their horses to bid adieu.
"Fare ye weel, Jenny," said Cuddie, with a loud exertion of his lungs,
intended perhaps to be a sigh, but rather resembling the intonation of a
groan,--"Ye'll think o' puir Cuddie sometimes--an honest lad that lo'es
ye, Jenny; ye'll think o' him now and then?"
"Whiles--at brose-time," answered the malicious damsel, unable either to
suppress the repartee, or the arch smile which attended it.
Cuddie took his revenge as rustic lovers are wont, and as Jenny probably
expected,--caught his mistress round the neck, kissed her cheeks and lips
heartily, and then turned his horse and trotted after his master.
"Deil's in the fallow," said Jenny, wiping her lips and adjusting her
head-dress, "he has twice the spunk o' Tam Halliday, after a'.--Coming,
my leddy, coming--Lord have a care o' us, I trust the auld leddy didna
"Jenny," said Lady Margaret, as the damsel came up, "was not that young
man who commanded the party the same that was captain of the popinjay,
and who was afterwards prisoner at Tillietudlem on the morning
Claverhouse came there?"
Jenny, happy that the query had no reference to her own little matters,
looked at her young mistress, to discover, if possible, whether it was
her cue to speak truth or not. Not being able to catch any hint to guide
her, she followed her instinct as a lady's maid, and lied.
"I dinna believe it was him, my leddy," said Jenny, as confidently as if
she had been saying her catechism; "he was a little black man, that."
"You must have been blind, Jenny," said the Major: "Henry Morton is tall
and fair, and that youth is the very man."
"I had ither thing ado than be looking at him," said Jenny, tossing her
head; "he may be as fair as a farthing candle, for me."
"Is it not," said Lady Margaret, "a blessed escape which we have made,
out of the hands of so desperate and bloodthirsty a fanatic?"
"You are deceived, madam," said Lord Evandale; "Mr Morton merits such a
title from no one, but least from us. That I am now alive, and that you
are now on your safe retreat to your friends, instead of being prisoners
to a real fanatical homicide, is solely and entirely owing to the prompt,
active, and energetic humanity of this young gentleman."
He then went into a particular narrative of the events with which the
reader is acquainted, dwelling upon the merits of Morton, and expatiating
on the risk at which he had rendered them these important services, as if
he had been a brother instead of a rival.
"I were worse than ungrateful," he said, "were I silent on the merits of
the man who has twice saved my life."
"I would willingly think well of Henry Morton, my lord," replied Major
Bellenden; "and I own he has behaved handsomely to your lordship and to
us; but I cannot have the same allowances which it pleases your lordship
to entertain for his present courses."
"You are to consider," replied Lord Evandale, "that he has been partly
forced upon them by necessity; and I must add, that his principles,
though differing in some degree from my own, are such as ought to command
respect. Claverhouse, whose knowledge of men is not to be disputed, spoke
justly of him as to his extraordinary qualities, but with prejudice, and
harshly, concerning his principles and motives."
"You have not been long in learning all his extraordinary qualities, my
lord," answered Major Bellenden. "I, who have known him from boyhood,
could, before this affair, have said much of his good principles and
good-nature; but as to his high talents"--
"They were probably hidden, Major," replied the generous Lord Evandale,
"even from himself, until circumstances called them forth; and, if I have
detected them, it was only because our intercourse and conversation
turned on momentous and important subjects. He is now labouring to bring
this rebellion to an end, and the terms he has proposed are so moderate,
that they shall not want my hearty recommendation."
"And have you hopes," said Lady Margaret, "to accomplish a scheme so
"I should have, madam, were every whig as moderate as Morton, and every
loyalist as disinterested as Major Bellenden. But such is the fanaticism
and violent irritation of both parties, that I fear nothing will end this
civil war save the edge of the sword."
It may be readily supposed, that Edith listened with the deepest interest
to this conversation. While she regretted that she had expressed herself
harshly and hastily to her lover, she felt a conscious and proud
satisfaction that his character was, even in the judgment of his
noble-minded rival, such as her own affection had once spoke it.
"Civil feuds and domestic prejudices," she said, "may render it necessary
for me to tear his remembrance from my heart; but it is not small relief
to know assuredly, that it is worthy of the place it has so long retained
While Edith was thus retracting her unjust resentment, her lover arrived
at the camp of the insurgents, near Hamilton, which he found in
considerable confusion. Certain advices had arrived that the royal army,
having been recruited from England by a large detachment of the King's
Guards, were about to take the field. Fame magnified their numbers and
their high state of equipment and discipline, and spread abroad other
circumstances, which dismayed the courage of the insurgents. What favour
they might have expected from Monmouth, was likely to be intercepted by
the influence of those associated with him in command. His
lieutenant-general was the celebrated General Thomas Dalzell, who, having
practised the art of war in the then barbarous country of Russia, was as
much feared for his cruelty and indifference to human life and human
sufferings, as respected for his steady loyalty and undaunted valour.
This man was second in command to Monmouth, and the horse were commanded
by Claverhouse, burning with desire to revenge the death of his nephew,
and his defeat at Drumclog. To these accounts was added the most
formidable and terrific description of the train of artillery and the
cavalry force with which the royal army took the field.
[Note: Royal Army at Bothwell Bridge. A Cameronian muse was
awakened from slumber on this doleful occasion, and gave the
following account of the muster of the royal forces, in poetry
nearly as melancholy as the subject:--
They marched east through Lithgow-town
For to enlarge their forces;
And sent for all the north-country
To come, both foot and horses.
Montrose did come and Athole both,
And with them many more;
And all the Highland Amorites
That had been there before.
The Lowdien Mallisha--Lothian Militia they
Came with their coats of blew;
Five hundred men from London came,
Claid in a reddish hue.
When they were assembled one and all,
A full brigade were they;
Like to a pack of hellish hounds,
Roreing after their prey.
When they were all provided well,
In armour and amonition,
Then thither wester did they come,
Most cruel of intention.
The royalists celebrated their victory in stanzas of equal merit.
Specimens of both may be found in the curious collection of Fugitive
Scottish Poetry, principally of the Seventeenth Century, printed for
the Messrs Laing, Edinburgh.]
Large bodies, composed of the Highland clans, having in language,
religion, and manners, no connexion with the insurgents, had been
summoned to join the royal army under their various chieftains; and these
Amorites, or Philistines, as the insurgents termed them, came like eagles
to the slaughter. In fact, every person who could ride or run at the
King's command, was summoned to arms, apparently with the purpose of
forfeiting and fining such men of property whom their principles might
deter from joining the royal standard, though prudence prevented them
from joining that of the insurgent Presbyterians. In short, everyrumour
tended to increase the apprehension among the insurgents, that the King's
vengeance had only been delayed in order that it might fall more certain
and more heavy.
Morton endeavoured to fortify the minds of the common people by pointing
out the probable exaggeration of these reports, and by reminding them of
the strength of their own situation, with an unfordable river in front,
only passable by a long and narrow bridge. He called to their remembrance
their victory over Claverhouse when their numbers were few, and then much
worse disciplined and appointed for battle than now; showed them that the
ground on which they lay afforded, by its undulation, and the thickets
which intersected it, considerable protection against artillery, and even
against cavalry, if stoutly defended; and that their safety, in fact,
depended on their own spirit and resolution.
But while Morton thus endeavoured to keep up the courage of the army at
large, he availed himself of those discouraging rumours to endeavour to
impress on the minds of the leaders the necessity of proposing to the
government moderate terms of accommodation, while they were still
formidable as commanding an unbroken and numerous army. He pointed out to
them, that, in the present humour of their followers, it could hardly be
expected that they would engage, with advantage, the well-appointed and
regular force of the Duke of Monmouth; and that if they chanced, as was
most likely, to be defeated and dispersed, the insurrection in which they
had engaged, so far from being useful to the country, would be rendered
the apology for oppressing it more severely.
Pressed by these arguments, and feeling it equally dangerous to remain
together, or to dismiss their forces, most of the leaders readily agreed,
that if such terms could be obtained as had been transmitted to the Duke
of Monmouth by the hands of Lord Evandale, the purpose for which they had
taken up arms would be, in a great measure, accomplished. They then
entered into similar resolutions, and agreed to guarantee the petition
and remonstrance which had been drawn up by Morton. On the contrary,
there were still several leaders, and those men whose influence with the
people exceeded that of persons of more apparent consequence, who
regarded every proposal of treaty which did not proceed on the basis of
the Solemn League and Covenant of 1640, as utterly null and void,
impious, and unchristian. These men diffused their feelings among the
multitude, who had little foresight, and nothing to lose, and persuaded
many that the timid counsellors who recommended peace upon terms short of
the dethronement of the royal family, and the declared independence of
the church with respect to the state, were cowardly labourers, who were
about to withdraw their hands from the plough, and despicable trimmers,
who sought only a specious pretext for deserting their brethren in arms.
These contradictory opinions were fiercely argued in each tent of the
insurgent army, or rather in the huts or cabins which served in the place
of tents. Violence in language often led to open quarrels and blows, and
the divisions into which the army of sufferers was rent served as too
plain a presage of their future fate.
The curse of growing factions and divisions
Still vex your councils!
The prudence of Morton found sufficient occupation in stemming the
furious current of these contending parties, when, two days after his
return to Hamilton, he was visited by his friend and colleague, the
Reverend Mr Poundtext, flying, as he presently found, from the face of
John Balfour of Burley, whom he left not a little incensed at the share
he had taken in the liberation of Lord Evandale. When the worthy divine
had somewhat recruited his spirits, after the hurry and fatigue of his
journey, he proceeded to give Morton an account of what had passed in the
vicinity of Tillietudlem after the memorable morning of his departure.
The night march of Morton had been accomplished with such dexterity,
and the men were so faithful to their trust, that Burley received no
intelligence of what had happened until the morning was far advanced.
His first enquiry was, whether Macbriar and Kettledrummle had arrived,
agreeably to the summons which he had dispatched at midnight. Macbriar
had come, and Kettledrummle, though a heavy traveller, might, he was
informed, be instantly expected. Burley then dispatched a messenger to
Morton's quarters to summon him to an immediate council. The messenger
returned with news that he had left the place. Poundtext was next
summoned; but he thinking, as he said himself, that it was ill dealing
with fractious folk, had withdrawn to his own quiet manse, preferring a
dark ride, though he had been on horseback the whole preceding day, to a
renewal in the morning of a controversy with Burley, whose ferocity
overawed him when unsupported by the firmness of Morton. Burley's next
enquiries were directed after Lord Evandale; and great was his rage when
he learned that he had been conveyed away over night by a party of the
marksmen of Milnwood, under the immediate command of Henry Morton
"The villain!" exclaimed Burley, addressing himself to Macbriar; "the
base, mean-spirited traitor, to curry favour for himself with the
government, hath set at liberty the prisoner taken by my own right hand,
through means of whom, I have little doubt, the possession of the place
of strength which hath wrought us such trouble, might now have been in
"But is it not in our hands?" said Macbriar, looking up towards the Keep
of the Castle; "and are not these the colours of the Covenant that float
over its walls?"
"A stratagem--a mere trick," said Burley, "an insult over our
disappointment, intended to aggravate and embitter our spirits."
He was interrupted by the arrival of one of Morton's followers, sent to
report to him the evacuation of the place, and its occupation by the
insurgent forces. Burley was rather driven to fury than reconciled by the
news of this success.
"I have watched," he said--"I have fought--I have plotted--I have striven
for the reduction of this place--I have forborne to seek to head
enterprises of higher command and of higher honour--I have narrowed their
outgoings, and cut off the springs, and broken the staff of bread within
their walls; and when the men were about to yield themselves to my hand,
that their sons might be bondsmen, and their daughters a laughing-stock
to our whole camp, cometh this youth, without a beard on his chin, and
takes it on him to thrust his sickle into the harvest, and to rend the
prey from the spoiler! Surely the labourer is worthy of his hire, and the
city, with its captives, should be given to him that wins it?"
"Nay," said Macbriar, who was surprised at the degree of agitation which
Balfour displayed, "chafe not thyself because of the ungodly. Heaven will
use its own instruments; and who knows but this youth"--
"Hush! hush!" said Burley; "do not discredit thine own better judgment.
It was thou that first badest me beware of this painted sepulchre--this
lacquered piece of copper, that passed current with me for gold. It fares
ill, even with the elect, when they neglect the guidance of such pious
pastors as thou. But our carnal affections will mislead us--this
ungrateful boy's father was mine ancient friend. They must be as earnest
in their struggles as thou, Ephraim Macbriar, that would shake themselves
clear of the clogs and chains of humanity."
This compliment touched the preacher in the most sensible part; and
Burley deemed, therefore, he should find little difficulty in moulding
his opinions to the support of his own views, more especially as they
agreed exactly in their high-strained opinions of church government.
"Let us instantly," he said, "go up to the Tower; there is that among the
records in yonder fortress, which, well used as I can use it, shall be
worth to us a valiant leader and an hundred horsemen."
"But will such be the fitting aids of the children of the Covenant?" said
the preacher. "We have already among us too many who hunger after lands,
and silver and gold, rather than after the Word; it is not by such that
our deliverance shall be wrought out."
"Thou errest," said Burley; "we must work by means, and these worldly men
shall be our instruments. At all events, the Moabitish woman shall be
despoiled of her inheritance, and neither the malignant Evandale, nor the
erastian Morton, shall possess yonder castle and lands, though they may
seek in marriage the daughter thereof."
So saying, he led the way to Tillietudlem, where he seized upon the plate
and other valuables for the use of the army, ransacked the charter-room,
and other receptacles for family papers, and treated with contempt the
remonstrances of those who reminded him, that the terms granted to the
garrison had guaranteed respect to private property.
Burley and Macbriar, having established themselves in their new
acquisition, were joined by Kettledrummle in the course of the day, and
also by the Laird of Langcale, whom that active divine had contrived to
seduce, as Poundtext termed it, from the pure light in which he had been
brought up. Thus united, they sent to the said Poundtext an invitation,
or rather a summons, to attend a council at Tillietudlem. He remembered,
however, that the door had an iron grate, and the Keep a dungeon, and
resolved not to trust himself with his incensed colleagues. He therefore
retreated, or rather fled, to Hamilton, with the tidings, that Burley,
Macbriar, and Kettledrummle, were coming to Hamilton as soon as they
could collect a body of Cameronians sufficient to overawe the rest of the
"And ye see," concluded Poundtext, with a deep sigh, "that they will then
possess a majority in the council; for Langcale, though he has always
passed for one of the honest and rational party, cannot be suitably or
preceesely termed either fish, or flesh, or gude red-herring--whoever has
the stronger party has Langcale."
Thus concluded the heavy narrative of honest Poundtext, who sighed
deeply, as he considered the danger in which he was placed betwixt
unreasonable adversaries amongst themselves and the common enemy from
without. Morton exhorted him to patience, temper, and composure; informed
him of the good hope he had of negotiating for peace and indemnity
through means of Lord Evandale, and made out to him a very fair prospect
that he should again return to his own parchment-bound Calvin, his
evening pipe of tobacco, and his noggin of inspiring ale, providing
always he would afford his effectual support and concurrence to the
measures which he, Morton, had taken for a general pacification.
[Note: Moderate Presbyterians. The author does not, by any means,
desire that Poundtext should be regarded as a just representation of
the moderate presbyterians, among whom were many ministers whose
courage was equal to their good sense and sound views of religion.
Were he to write the tale anew, he would probably endeavour to give
the character a higher turn. It is certain, however, that the
Cameronians imputed to their opponents in opinion concerning the
Indulgence, or others of their strained and fanatical notions, a
disposition not only to seek their own safety, but to enjoy
themselves. Hamilton speaks of three clergymen of this description
"They pretended great zeal against the Indulgence; but alas! that
was all their practice, otherwise being but very gross, which I
shall but hint at in short. When great Cameron and those with him
were taking many a cold blast and storm in the fields and among the
cot-houses in Scotland, these three had for the most part their
residence in Glasgow, where they found good quarter and a full
table, which I doubt not but some bestowed upon them from real
affection to the Lord's cause; and when these three were together,
their greatest work was who should make the finest and sharpest
roundel, and breathe the quickest jests upon one another, and to
tell what valiant acts they were to do, and who could laugh loudest
and most heartily among them; and when at any time they came out to
the country, whatever other things they had, they were careful each
of them to have a great flask of brandy with them, which was very
heavy to some, particularly to Mr Cameron, Mr Cargill, and Henry
Hall--I shall name no more."--Faithful Contendings, p. 198.]
Thus backed and comforted, Poundtext resolved magnanimously to await the
coming of the Cameronians to the general rendezvous.
Burley and his confederates had drawn together a considerable body of
these sectaries, amounting to a hundred horse and about fifteen hundred
foot, clouded and severe in aspect, morose and jealous in communication,
haughty of heart, and confident, as men who believed that the pale of
salvation was open for them exclusively; while all other Christians,
however slight were the shades of difference of doctrine from their own,
were in fact little better than outcasts or reprobates. These men entered
the presbyterian camp, rather as dubious and suspicious allies, or
possibly antagonists, than as men who were heartily embarked in the same
cause, and exposed to the same dangers, with their more moderate brethren
in arms. Burley made no private visits to his colleagues, and held no
communication with them on the subject of the public affairs, otherwise
than by sending a dry invitation to them to attend a meeting of the
general council for that evening.
On the arrival of Morton and Poundtext at the place of assembly, they
found their brethren already seated. Slight greeting passed between them,
and it was easy to see that no amicable conference was intended by those
who convoked the council. The first question was put by Macbriar, the
sharp eagerness of whose zeal urged him to the van on all occasions. He
desired to know by whose authority the malignant, called Lord Evandale,
had been freed from the doom of death, justly denounced against him.
"By my authority and Mr Morton's," replied Poundtext; who, besides being
anxious to give his companion a good opinion of his courage, confided
heartily in his support, and, moreover, had much less fear of
encountering one of his own profession, and who confined himself to the
weapons of theological controversy, in which Poundtext feared no man,
than of entering into debate with the stern homicide Balfour.
"And who, brother," said Kettledrummle, "who gave you authority to
interpose in such a high matter?"
"The tenor of our commission," answered Poundtext, "gives us authority to
bind and to loose. If Lord Evandale was justly doomed to die by the voice
of one of our number, he was of a surety lawfully redeemed from death by
the warrant of two of us."
"Go to, go to," said Burley; "we know your motives; it was to send that
silkworm--that gilded trinket--that embroidered trifle of a lord, to bear
terms of peace to the tyrant."
"It was so," replied Morton, who saw his companion begin to flinch before
the fierce eye of Balfour--"it was so; and what then?--Are we to plunge
the nation in endless war, in order to pursue schemes which are equally
wild, wicked, and unattainable?"
"Hear him!" said Balfour; "he blasphemeth."
"It is false," said Morton; "they blaspheme who pretend to expect
miracles, and neglect the use of the human means with which Providence
has blessed them. I repeat it--Our avowed object is the re-establishment
of peace on fair and honourable terms of security to our religion and our
liberty. We disclaim any desire to tyrannize over those of others."
The debate would now have run higher than ever, but they were interrupted
by intelligence that the Duke of Monmouth had commenced his march towards
the west, and was already advanced half way from Edinburgh. This news
silenced their divisions for the moment, and it was agreed that the next
day should be held as a fast of general humiliation for the sins of the
land; that the Reverend Mr Poundtext should preach to the army in the
morning, and Kettledrummle in the afternoon; that neither should touch
upon any topics of schism or of division, but animate the soldiers to
resist to the blood, like brethren in a good cause. This healing overture
having been agreed to, the moderate party ventured upon another proposal,
confiding that it would have the support of Langcale, who looked
extremely blank at the news which they had just received, and might be
supposed reconverted to moderate measures. It was to be presumed, they
said, that since the King had not intrusted the command of his forces
upon the present occasion to any of their active oppressors, but, on the
contrary, had employed a nobleman distinguished by gentleness of temper,
and a disposition favourable to their cause, there must be some better
intention entertained towards them than they had yet experienced. They
contended, that it was not only prudent but necessary to ascertain, from
a communication with the Duke of Monmouth, whether he was not charged
with some secret instructions in their favour. This could only be learned
by dispatching an envoy to his army.
"And who will undertake the task?" said Burley, evading a proposal too
reasonable to be openly resisted--"Who will go up to their camp, knowing
that John Grahame of Claverhouse hath sworn to hang up whomsoever we
shall dispatch towards them, in revenge of the death of the young man his
"Let that be no obstacle," said Morton; "I will with pleasure encounter
any risk attached to the bearer of your errand."
"Let him go," said Balfour, apart to Macbriar; "our councils will be well
rid of his presence."
The motion, therefore, received no contradiction even from those who were
expected to have been most active in opposing it; and it was agreed that
Henry Morton should go to the camp of the Duke of Monmouth, in order to
discover upon what terms the insurgents would be admitted to treat with
him. As soon as his errand was made known, several of the more moderate
party joined in requesting him to make terms upon the footing of the
petition intrusted to Lord Evandale's hands; for the approach of the
King's army spread a general trepidation, by no means allayed by the high
tone assumed by the Cameronians, which had so little to support it,
excepting their own headlong zeal. With these instructions, and with
Cuddie as his attendant, Morton set forth towards the royal camp, at all
the risks which attend those who assume the office of mediator during the
heat of civil discord.
Morton had not proceeded six or seven miles, before he perceived that he
was on the point of falling in with the van of the royal forces; and, as
he ascended a height, saw all the roads in the neighbourhood occupied by
armed men marching in great order towards Bothwell-muir, an open common,
on which they proposed to encamp for that evening, at the distance of
scarcely two miles from the Clyde, on the farther side of which river the
army of the insurgents was encamped. He gave himself up to the first
advanced-guard of cavalry which he met, as bearer of a flag of truce, and
communicated his desire to obtain access to the Duke of Monmouth. The
non-commissioned officer who commanded the party made his report to his
superior, and he again to another in still higher command, and both
immediately rode to the spot where Morton was detained.
"You are but losing your time, my friend, and risking your life," said
one of them, addressing Morton; "the Duke of Monmouth will receive no
terms from traitors with arms in their hands, and your cruelties have
been such as to authorize retaliation of every kind. Better trot your nag
back and save his mettle to-day, that he may save your life to-morrow."
"I cannot think," said Morton, "that even if the Duke of Monmouth should
consider us as criminals, he would condemn so large a body of his
fellow-subjects without even hearing what they have to plead for
themselves. On my part I fear nothing. I am conscious of having consented
to, or authorized, no cruelty, and the fear of suffering innocently for
the crimes of others shall not deter me from executing my commission."
The two officers looked at each other.
"I have an idea," said the younger, "that this is the young man of whom
Lord Evandale spoke."
"Is my Lord Evandale in the army?" said Morton.
"He is not," replied the officer; "we left him at Edinburgh, too much
indisposed to take the field.--Your name, sir, I presume, is Henry
"It is, sir," answered Morton.
"We will not oppose your seeing the Duke, sir," said the officer, with
more civility of manner; "but you may assure yourself it will be to no
purpose; for, were his Grace disposed to favour your people, others are
joined in commission with him who will hardly consent to his doing so."
"I shall be sorry to find it thus," said Morton; "but my duty requires
that I should persevere in my desire to have an interview with him."
"Lumley," said the superior officer, "let the Duke know of Mr Morton's
arrival, and remind his Grace that this is the person of whom Lord
Evandale spoke so highly."
The officer returned with a message that the General could not see Mr
Morton that evening, but would receive him by times in the ensuing
morning. He was detained in a neighbouring cottage all night, but treated
with civility, and every thing provided for his accommodation. Early on
the next morning the officer he had first seen came to conduct him to his
The army was drawn out, and in the act of forming column for march, or
attack. The Duke was in the centre, nearly a mile from the place where
Morton had passed the night. In riding towards the General, he had an
opportunity of estimating the force which had been assembled for the
suppression of the hasty and ill-concerted insurrection. There were three
or four regiments of English, the flower of Charles's army--there were
the Scottish Life-Guards, burning with desire to revenge their late
defeat--other Scottish regiments of regulars were also assembled, and a
large body of cavalry, consisting partly of gentlemen-volunteers, partly
of the tenants of the crown who did military duty for their fiefs. Morton
also observed several strong parties of Highlanders drawn from the points
nearest to the Lowland frontiers, a people, as already mentioned,
particularly obnoxious to the western whigs, and who hated and despised
them in the same proportion. These were assembled under their chiefs, and
made part of this formidable array. A complete train of field-artillery
accompanied these troops; and the whole had an air so imposing, that it
seemed nothing short of an actual miracle could prevent the ill-equipped,
ill-modelled, and tumultuary army of the insurgents from being utterly
destroyed. The officer who accompanied Morton endeavoured to gather from
his looks the feelings with which this splendid and awful parade of
military force had impressed him. But, true to the cause he had espoused,
he laboured successfully to prevent the anxiety which he felt from
appearing in his countenance, and looked around him on the warlike
display as on a sight which he expected, and to which he was indifferent.
"You see the entertainment prepared for you," said the officers.
"If I had no appetite for it," replied Morton, "I should not have been
accompanying you at this moment. But I shall be better pleased with a
more peaceful regale, for the sake of all parties."
As they spoke thus, they approached the commander-in-chief, who,
surrounded by several officers, was seated upon a knoll commanding an
extensive prospect of the distant country, and from which could be easily
discovered the windings of the majestic Clyde, and the distant camp of
the insurgents on the opposite bank. The officers of the royal army
appeared to be surveying the ground, with the purpose of directing an
immediate attack. When Captain Lumley, the officer who accompanied
Morton, had whispered in Monmouth's ear his name and errand, the Duke
made a signal for all around him to retire, excepting only two general
officers of distinction. While they spoke together in whispers for a few
minutes before Morton was permitted to advance, he had time to study the
appearance of the persons with whom he was to treat.
It was impossible for any one to look upon the Duke of Monmouth without
being captivated by his personal graces and accomplishments, of which the
great High-Priest of all the Nine afterwards recorded--
"Whate'er he did was done with so much ease, In him alone 'twas natural
to please; His motions all accompanied with grace, And Paradise was
open'd in his face." Yet to a strict observer, the manly beauty of
Monmouth's face was occasionally rendered less striking by an air of
vacillation and uncertainty, which seemed to imply hesitation and doubt
at moments when decisive resolution was most necessary.
Beside him stood Claverhouse, whom we have already fully described, and
another general officer whose appearance was singularly striking. His
dress was of the antique fashion of Charles the First's time, and
composed of shamoy leather, curiously slashed, and covered with antique
lace and garniture. His boots and spurs might be referred to the same
distant period. He wore a breastplate, over which descended a grey beard
of venerable length, which he cherished as a mark of mourning for Charles
the First, having never shaved since that monarch was brought to the
scaffold. His head was uncovered, and almost perfectly bald. His high and
wrinkled forehead, piercing grey eyes, and marked features, evinced age
unbroken by infirmity, and stern resolution unsoftened by humanity. Such
is the outline, however feebly expressed, of the celebrated General
[Note: Usually called Tom Dalzell. In Crichton's Memoirs, edited by
Swift, where a particular account of this remarkable person's dress
and habits is given, he is said never to have worn boots. The
following account of his rencounter with John Paton of Meadowhead,
showed, that in action at least he wore pretty stout ones, unless
the reader be inclined to believe in the truth of his having a
charm, which made him proof against lead.
"Dalzell," says Paton's biographer, "advanced the whole left wing of
his army on Colonel Wallace's right. Here Captain Paton behaved with
great courage and gallantry. Dalzell, knowing him in the former
wars, advanced upon him himself, thinking to take him prisoner. Upon
his approach, each presented his pistol. On their first discharge,
Captain Paton, perceiving his pistol ball to hop upon Dalzell's
boots, and knowing what was the cause, (he having proof,) put his
hand in his pocket for some small pieces of silver he had there for
the purpose, and put one of them into his other pistol. But Dalzell,
having his eye upon him in the meanwhile, retired behind his own
man, who by that means was slain."]
a man more feared and hated by the whigs than even Claverhouse himself,
and who executed the same violences against them out of a detestation of
their persons, or perhaps an innate severity of temper, which Grahame
only resorted to on political accounts, as the best means of intimidating
the followers of presbytery, and of destroying that sect entirely.
The presence of these two generals, one of whom he knew by person, and
the other by description, seemed to Morton decisive of the fate of his
embassy. But, notwithstanding his youth and inexperience, and the
unfavourable reception which his proposals seemed likely to meet with, he
advanced boldly towards them upon receiving a signal to that purpose,
determined that the cause of his country, and of those with whom he had
taken up arms, should suffer nothing from being intrusted to him.
Monmouth received him with the graceful courtesy which attended even his
slightest actions; Dalzell regarded him with a stern, gloomy, and
impatient frown; and Claverhouse, with a sarcastic smile and inclination
of his head, seemed to claim him as an old acquaintance.
"You come, sir, from these unfortunate people, now assembled in arms,"
said the Duke of Monmouth, "and your name, I believe, is Morton; will you
favour us with the pupport of your errand?"
"It is contained, my lord," answered Morton, "in a paper, termed a
Remonstrance and Supplication, which my Lord Evandale has placed, I
presume, in your Grace's hands?"
"He has done so, sir," answered the Duke; "and I understand, from Lord
Evandale, that Mr Morton has behaved in these unhappy matters with much
temperance and generosity, for which I have to request his acceptance of
Here Morton observed Dalzell shake his head indignantly, and whisper
something into Claverhouse's ear, who smiled in return, and elevated his
eyebrows, but in a degree so slight as scarce to be perceptible. The
Duke, taking the petition from his pocket, proceeded, obviously
struggling between the native gentleness of his own disposition, and
perhaps his conviction that the petitioners demanded no more than their
rights, and the desire, on the other hand, of enforcing the king's
authority, and complying with the sterner opinions of the colleagues in
office, who had been assigned for the purpose of controlling as well as
"There are, Mr Morton, in this paper, proposals, as to the abstract
propriety of which I must now waive delivering any opinion. Some of them
appear to me reasonable and just; and, although I have no express
instructions from the King upon the subject, yet I assure you, Mr Morton,
and I pledge my honour, that I will interpose in your behalf, and use my
utmost influence to procure you satisfaction from his Majesty. But you
must distinctly understand, that I can only treat with supplicants, not
with rebels; and, as a preliminary to every act of favour on my side, I
must insist upon your followers laying down their arms and dispersing
"To do so, my Lord Duke," replied Morton, undauntedly, "were to
acknowledge ourselves the rebels that our enemies term us. Our swords are
drawn for recovery of a birthright wrested from us; your Grace's
moderation and good sense has admitted the general justice of our
demand,--a demand which would never have been listened to had it not been
accompanied with the sound of the trumpet. We cannot, therefore, and dare
not, lay down our arms, even on your Grace's assurance of indemnity,
unless it were accompanied with some reasonable prospect of the redress
of the wrongs which we complain of."
"Mr Morton," replied the Duke, "you are young, but you must have seen
enough of the world to perceive, that requests, by no means dangerous or
unreasonable in themselves, may become so by the way in which they are
pressed and supported."
"We may reply, my lord," answered Morton, "that this disagreeable mode
has not been resorted to until all others have failed."
"Mr Morton," said the Duke, "I must break this conference short. We are
in readiness to commence the attack; yet I will suspend it for an hour,
until you can communicate my answer to the insurgents. If they please to
disperse their followers, lay down their arms, and send a peaceful
deputation to me, I will consider myself bound in honour to do all I can
to procure redress of their grievances; if not, let them stand on their
guard and expect the consequences.--I think, gentlemen," he added,
turning to his two colleagues, "this is the utmost length to which I can
stretch my instructions in favour of these misguided persons?"
"By my faith," answered Dalzell, suddenly, "and it is a length to which
my poor judgment durst not have stretched them, considering I had both
the King and my conscience to answer to! But, doubtless, your Grace knows
more of the King's private mind than we, who have only the letter of our
instructions to look to."
Monmouth blushed deeply. "You hear," he said, addressing Morton, "General
Dalzell blames me for the length which I am disposed to go in your
"General Dalzell's sentiments, my lord," replied Morton, "are such as we
expected from him; your Grace's such as we were prepared to hope you
might please to entertain. Indeed I cannot help adding, that, in the case
of the absolute submission upon which you are pleased to insist, it might
still remain something less than doubtful how far, with such counsellors
around the King, even your Grace's intercession might procure us
effectual relief. But I will communicate to our leaders your Grace's
answer to our supplication; and, since we cannot obtain peace, we must
bid war welcome as well as we may."
"Good morning, sir," said the Duke; "I suspend the movements of attack
for one hour, and for one hour only. If you have an answer to return
within that space of time, I will receive it here, and earnestly entreat
it may be such as to save the effusion of blood."
At this moment another smile of deep meaning passed between Dalzell and
Claverhouse. The Duke observed it, and repeated his words with great
"Yes, gentlemen, I said I trusted the answer might be such as would save
the effusion of blood. I hope the sentiment neither needs your scorn, nor
incurs your displeasure."
Dalzell returned the Duke's frown with a stern glance, but made no
answer. Claverhouse, his lip just curled with an ironical smile, bowed,
and said, "It was not for him to judge the propriety of his Grace's
The Duke made a signal to Morton to withdraw. He obeyed; and, accompanied
by his former escort, rode slowly through the army to return to the camp
of the non-conformists. As he passed the fine corps of Life-Guards, he
found Claverhouse was already at their head. That officer no sooner saw
Morton, than he advanced and addressed him with perfect politeness of
"I think this is not the first time I have seen Mr Morton of Milnwood?"
"It is not Colonel Grahame's fault," said Morton, smiling sternly, "that
he or any one else should be now incommoded by my presence."
"Allow me at least to say," replied Claverhouse, "that Mr Morton's
present situation authorizes the opinion I have entertained of him, and
that my proceedings at our last meeting only squared to my duty."
"To reconcile your actions to your duty, and your duty to your
conscience, is your business, Colonel Grahame, not mine," said Morton,
justly offended at being thus, in a manner, required to approve of the
sentence under which he had so nearly suffered.
"Nay, but stay an instant," said Claverhouse; "Evandale insists that I
have some wrongs to acquit myself of in your instance. I trust I shall
always make some difference between a high-minded gentleman, who, though
misguided, acts upon generous principles, and the crazy fanatical clowns
yonder, with the bloodthirsty assassins who head them. Therefore, if they
do not disperse upon your return, let me pray you instantly come over to
our army and surrender yourself, for, be assured, they cannot stand our
assault for half an hour. If you will be ruled and do this, be sure to
enquire for me. Monmouth, strange as it may seem, cannot protect you--
Dalzell will not--I both can and will; and I have promised to Evandale to
do so if you will give me an opportunity."
"I should owe Lord Evandale my thanks," answered Morton, coldly, "did not
his scheme imply an opinion that I might be prevailed on to desert those
with whom I am engaged. For you, Colonel Grahame, if you will honour me
with a different species of satisfaction, it is probable, that, in an
hour's time, you will find me at the west end of Bothwell Bridge with my
sword in my hand."
"I shall be happy to meet you there," said Claverhouse, "but still more
so should you think better on my first proposal."
They then saluted and parted.
"That is a pretty lad, Lumley," said Claverhouse, addressing himself to
the other officer; "but he is a lost man--his blood be upon his head."
So saying, he addressed himself to the task of preparation for instant
But, hark! the tent has changed its voice,
There's peace and rest nae langer.
The Lowdien Mallisha they
Came with their coats of blew;
Five hundred men from London came,
Claid in a reddish hue.
When Morton had left the well-ordered outposts of the regular army, and
arrived at those which were maintained by his own party, he could not but
be peculiarly sensible of the difference of discipline, and entertain a
proportional degree of fear for the consequences. The same discords which
agitated the counsels of the insurgents, raged even among their meanest
followers; and their picquets and patrols were more interested and
occupied in disputing the true occasion and causes of wrath, and defining
the limits of Erastian heresy, than in looking out for and observing the
motions of their enemies, though within hearing of the royal drums and
There was a guard, however, of the insurgent army, posted at the long and
narrow bridge of Bothwell, over which the enemy must necessarily advance
to the attack; but, like the others, they were divided and disheartened;
and, entertaining the idea that they were posted on a desperate service,
they even meditated withdrawing themselves to the main body. This would
have been utter ruin; for, on the defence or loss of this pass the
fortune of the day was most likely to depend. All beyond the bridge was a
plain open field, excepting a few thickets of no great depth, and,
consequently, was ground on which the undisciplined forces of the
insurgents, deficient as they were in cavalry, and totally unprovided
with artillery, were altogether unlikely to withstand the shock of
Morton, therefore, viewed the pass carefully, and formed the hope, that
by occupying two or three houses on the left bank of the river, with the
copse and thickets of alders and hazels that lined its side, and by
blockading the passage itself, and shutting the gates of a portal, which,
according to the old fashion, was built on the central arch of the bridge
of Bothwell, it might be easily defended against a very superior force.
He issued directions accordingly, and commanded the parapets of the
bridge, on the farther side of the portal, to be thrown down, that they
might afford no protection to the enemy when they should attempt the
passage. Morton then conjured the party at this important post to be
watchful and upon their guard, and promised them a speedy and strong
reinforcement. He caused them to advance videttes beyond the river to
watch the progress of the enemy, which outposts he directed should be
withdrawn to the left bank as soon as they approached; finally, he
charged them to send regular information to the main body of all that
they should observe. Men under arms, and in a situation of danger, are
usually sufficiently alert in appreciating the merit of their officers.
Morton's intelligence and activity gained the confidence of these men,
and with better hope and heart than before, they began to fortify their
position in the manner he recommended, and saw him depart with three loud
Morton now galloped hastily towards the main body of the insurgents, but
was surprised and shocked at the scene of confusion and clamour which it
exhibited, at the moment when good order and concord were of such
essential consequence. Instead of being drawn up in line of battle, and
listening to the commands of their officers, they were crowding together
in a confused mass, that rolled and agitated itself like the waves of the
sea, while a thousand tongues spoke, or rather vociferated, and not a
single ear was found to listen. Scandalized at a scene so extraordinary,
Morton endeavoured to make his way through the press to learn, and, if
possible, to remove, the cause of this so untimely disorder. While he is
thus engaged, we shall make the reader acquainted with that which he was
some time in discovering.
The insurgents had proceeded to hold their day of humiliation, which,
agreeably to the practice of the puritans during the earlier civil war,
they considered as the most effectual mode of solving all difficulties,
and waiving all discussions. It was usual to name an ordinary week-day
for this purpose, but on this occasion the Sabbath itself was adopted,
owing to the pressure of the time and the vicinity of the enemy. A
temporary pulpit, or tent, was erected in the middle of the encampment;
which, according to the fixed arrangement, was first to be occupied by
the Reverend Peter Poundtext, to whom the post of honour was assigned, as
the eldest clergyman present. But as the worthy divine, with slow and
stately steps, was advancing towards the rostrum which had been prepared
for him, he was prevented by the unexpected apparition of Habakkuk
Mucklewrath, the insane preacher, whose appearance had so much startled
Morton at the first council of the insurgents after their victory at
Loudon-hill. It is not known whether he was acting under the influence
and instigation of the Cameronians, or whether he was merely compelled by
his own agitated imagination, and the temptation of a vacant pulpit
before him, to seize the opportunity of exhorting so respectable a
congregation. It is only certain that he took occasion by the forelock,
sprung into the pulpit, cast his eyes wildly round him, and, undismayed
by the murmurs of many of the audience, opened the Bible, read forth as
his text from the thirteenth chapter of Deuteronomy, "Certain men, the
children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the
inhabitants of their city, saying, let us go and serve other gods, which
you have not known;" and then rushed at once into the midst of his
The harangue of Mucklewrath was as wild and extravagant as his intrusion
was unauthorized and untimely; but it was provokingly coherent, in so far
as it turned entirely upon the very subjects of discord, of which it had
been agreed to adjourn the consideration until some more suitable
opportunity. Not a single topic did he omit which had offence in it; and,
after charging the moderate party with heresy, with crouching to tyranny,
with seeking to be at peace with God's enemies, he applied to Morton, by
name, the charge that he had been one of those men of Belial, who, in the
words of his text, had gone out from amongst them, to withdraw the
inhabitants of his city, and to go astray after false gods. To him, and
all who followed him, or approved of his conduct, Mucklewrath denounced
fury and vengeance, and exhorted those who would hold themselves pure and
undefiled to come up from the midst of them.
"Fear not," he said, "because of the neighing of horses, or the
glittering of breastplates. Seek not aid of the Egyptians, because of the
enemy, though they may be numerous as locusts, and fierce as dragons.
Their trust is not as our trust, nor their rock as our rock; how else
shall a thousand fly before one, and two put ten thousand to the flight!
I dreamed it in the visions of the night, and the voice said, 'Habakkuk,
take thy fan and purge the wheat from the chaff, that they be not both
consumed with the fire of indignation and the lightning of fury.'
Wherefore, I say, take this Henry Morton--this wretched Achan, who hath
brought the accursed thing among ye, and made himself brethren in the
camp of the enemy--take him and stone him with stones, and thereafter
burn him with fire, that the wrath may depart from the children of the
Covenant. He hath not taken a Babylonish garment, but he hath sold the
garment of righteousness to the woman of Babylon--he hath not taken two
hundred shekels of fine silver, but he hath bartered the truth, which is
more precious than shekels of silver or wedges of gold."
At this furious charge, brought so unexpectedly against one of their most
active commanders, the audience broke out into open tumult, some
demanding that there should instantly be a new election of officers, into
which office none should hereafter be admitted who had, in their phrase,
touched of that which was accursed, or temporized more or less with the
heresies and corruptions of the times. While such was the demand of the
Cameronians, they vociferated loudly, that those who were not with them
were against them,--that it was no time to relinquish the substantial
part of the covenanted testimony of the Church, if they expected a
blessing on their arms and their cause; and that, in their eyes, a
lukewarm Presbyterian was little better than a Prelatist, an
Anti-Covenanter, and a Nullifidian.
The parties accused repelled the charge of criminal compliance and
defection from the truth with scorn and indignation, and charged their
accusers with breach of faith, as well as with wrong-headed and
extravagant zeal in introducing such divisions into an army, the joint
strength of which could not, by the most sanguine, be judged more than
sufficient to face their enemies. Poundtext, and one or two others, made
some faint efforts to stem the increasing fury of the factious,
exclaiming to those of the other party, in the words of the Patriarch,--
"Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between
thy herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we be brethren." No pacific overture
could possibly obtain audience. It was in vain that even Burley himself,
when he saw the dissension proceed to such ruinous lengths, exerted his
stern and deep voice, commanding silence and obedience to discipline. The
spirit of insubordination had gone forth, and it seemed as if the
exhortation of Habakkuk Mucklewrath had communicated a part of his frenzy
to all who heard him. The wiser, or more timid part of the assembly, were
already withdrawing themselves from the field, and giving up their cause
as lost. Others were moderating a harmonious call, as they somewhat
improperly termed it, to new officers, and dismissing those formerly
chosen, and that with a tumult and clamour worthy of the deficiency of
good sense and good order implied in the whole transaction. It was at
this moment when Morton arrived in the field and joined the army, in
total confusion, and on the point of dissolving itself. His arrival
occasioned loud exclamations of applause on the one side, and of
imprecation on the other.
"What means this ruinous disorder at such a moment?" he exclaimed to
Burley, who, exhausted with his vain exertions to restore order, was now
leaning on his sword, and regarding the confusion with an eye of resolute
"It means," he replied, "that God has delivered us into the hands of our
"Not so," answered Morton, with a voice and gesture which compelled many
to listen; "it is not God who deserts us, it is we who desert him, and
dishonour ourselves by disgracing and betraying the cause of freedom and
religion.--Hear me," he exclaimed, springing to the pulpit which
Mucklewrath had been compelled to evacuate by actual exhaustion--"I bring
from the enemy an offer to treat, if you incline to lay down your arms. I
can assure you the means of making an honourable defence, if you are of
more manly tempers. The time flies fast on. Let us resolve either for
peace or war; and let it not be said of us in future days, that six
thousand Scottish men in arms had neither courage to stand their ground
and fight it out, nor prudence to treat for peace, nor even the coward's
wisdom to retreat in good time and with safety. What signifies
quarrelling on minute points of church-discipline, when the whole edifice
is threatened with total destruction? O, remember, my brethren, that the
last and worst evil which God brought upon the people whom he had once
chosen--the last and worst punishment of their blindness and hardness of
heart, was the bloody dissensions which rent asunder their city, even
when the enemy were thundering at its gates!"
Some of the audience testified their feeling of this exhortation, by loud
exclamations of applause; others by hooting, and exclaiming--"To your
tents, O Israel!"
Morton, who beheld the columns of the enemy already beginning to appear
on the right bank, and directing their march upon the bridge, raised his
voice to its utmost pitch, and, pointing at the same time with his hand,
exclaimed,--"Silence your senseless clamours, yonder is the enemy! On
maintaining the bridge against him depend our lives, as well as our hope
to reclaim our laws and liberties.--There shall at least one Scottishman
die in their defence.--Let any one who loves his country follow me!"
The multitude had turned their heads in the direction to which he
pointed. The sight of the glittering files of the English Foot-Guards,
supported by several squadrons of horse, of the cannon which the
artillerymen were busily engaged in planting against the bridge, of the
plaided clans who seemed to search for a ford, and of the long succession
of troops which were destined to support the attack, silenced at once
their clamorous uproar, and struck them with as much consternation as if
it were an unexpected apparition, and not the very thing which they ought
to have been looking out for. They gazed on each other, and on their
leaders, with looks resembling those that indicate the weakness of a
patient when exhausted by a fit of frenzy. Yet when Morton, springing
from the rostrum, directed his steps towards the bridge, he was followed
by about an hundred of the young men who were particularly attached to
Burley turned to Macbriar--"Ephraim," he said, "it is Providence points
us the way, through the worldly wisdom of this latitudinarian youth.--He
that loves the light, let him follow Burley!"
"Tarry," replied Macbriar; "it is not by Henry Morton, or such as he,
that our goings-out and our comings-in are to be meted; therefore tarry
with us. I fear treachery to the host from this nullifidian Achan--Thou
shalt not go with him. Thou art our chariots and our horsemen."
"Hinder me not," replied Burley; "he hath well said that all is lost, if
the enemy win the bridge--therefore let me not. Shall the children of
this generation be called wiser or braver than the children of the
sanctuary?--Array yourselves under your leaders--let us not lack supplies
of men and ammunition; and accursed be he who turneth back from the work
on this great day!"
Having thus spoken, he hastily marched towards the bridge, and was
followed by about two hundred of the most gallant and zealous of his
party. There was a deep and disheartened pause when Morton and Burley
departed. The commanders availed themselves of it to display their lines
in some sort of order, and exhorted those who were most exposed to throw
themselves upon their faces to avoid the cannonade which they might
presently expect. The insurgents ceased to resist or to remonstrate; but
the awe which had silenced their discords had dismayed their courage.
They suffered themselves to be formed into ranks with the docility of a
flock of sheep, but without possessing, for the time, more resolution or
energy; for they experienced a sinking of the heart, imposed by the
sudden and imminent approach of the danger which they had neglected to
provide against while it was yet distant. They were, however, drawn out
with some regularity; and as they still possessed the appearance of an
army, their leaders had only to hope that some favourable circumstance
would restore their spirits and courage.
Kettledrummle, Poundtext, Macbriar, and other preachers, busied
themselves in their ranks, and prevailed on them to raise a psalm. But
the superstitious among them observed, as an ill omen, that their song of
praise and triumph sunk into "a quaver of consternation," and resembled
rather a penitentiary stave sung on the scaffold of a condemned criminal,
than the bold strain which had resounded along the wild heath of
Loudon-hill, in anticipation of that day's victory. The melancholy melody
soon received a rough accompaniment; the royal soldiers shouted, the
Highlanders yelled, the cannon began to fire on one side, and the
musketry on both, and the bridge of Bothwell, with the banks adjacent,
were involved in wreaths of smoke.
As e'er ye saw the rain doun fa',
Or yet the arrow from the bow,
Sae our Scots lads fell even down,
And they lay slain on every knowe.
Ere Morton or Burley had reached the post to be defended, the enemy had
commenced an attack upon it with great spirit. The two regiments of
Foot-Guards, formed into a close column, rushed forward to the river; one
corps, deploying along the right bank, commenced a galling fire on the
defenders of the pass, while the other pressed on to occupy the bridge.
The insurgents sustained the attack with great constancy and courage; and
while part of their number returned the fire across the river, the rest
maintained a discharge of musketry upon the further end of the bridge
itself, and every avenue by which the soliders endeavoured to approach
it. The latter suffered severely, but still gained ground, and the head
of their column was already upon the bridge, when the arrival of Morton
changed the scene; and his marksmen, commencing upon the pass a fire as
well aimed as it was sustained and regular, compelled the assailants to
retire with much loss. They were a second time brought up to the charge,
and a second time repulsed with still greater loss, as Burley had now
brought his party into action. The fire was continued with the utmost
vehemence on both sides, and the issue of the action seemed very dubious.
Monmouth, mounted on a superb white charger, might be discovered on the
top of the right bank of the river, urging, entreating, and animating the
exertions of his soldiers. By his orders, the cannon, which had hitherto
been employed in annoying the distant main body of the presbyterians,
were now turned upon the defenders of the bridge. But these tremendous
engines, being wrought much more slowly than in modern times, did not
produce the effect of annoying or terrifying the enemy to the extent
proposed. The insurgents, sheltered by copsewood along the bank of the
river, or stationed in the houses already mentioned, fought under cover,
while the royalists, owing to the precautions of Morton, were entirely
exposed. The defence was so protracted and obstinate, that the royal
generals began to fear it might be ultimately successful. While Monmouth
threw himself from his horse, and, rallying the Foot-Guards, brought them
on to another close and desperate attack, he was warmly seconded by
Dalzell, who, putting himself at the head of a body of Lennox-
Highlanders, rushed forward with their tremendous war-cry of Loch-sloy.
[Note: This was the slogan or war-cry of the MacFarlanes, taken from
a lake near the head of Loch Lomond, in the centre of their ancient
possessions on the western banks of that beautiful inland sea.] The
ammunition of the defenders of the bridge began to fail at this
important crisis; messages, commanding and imploring succours and
supplies, were in vain dispatched, one after the other, to the main
body of the presbyterian army, which remained inactively drawn up on
the open fields in the rear. Fear, consternation, and misrule, had
gone abroad among them, and while the post on which their safety
depended required to be instantly and powerfully reinforced, there
remained none either to command or to obey.]
As the fire of the defenders of the bridge began to slacken, that of the
assailants increased, and in its turn became more fatal. Animated by the
example and exhortations of their generals, they obtained a footing upon
the bridge itself, and began to remove the obstacles by which it was
blockaded. The portal-gate was broke open, the beams, trunks of trees,
and other materials of the barricade, pulled down and thrown into the
river. This was not accomplished without opposition. Morton and Burley
fought in the very front of their followers, and encouraged them with
their pikes, halberds, and partisans, to encounter the bayonets of the
Guards, and the broadswords of the Highlanders. But those behind the
leaders began to shrink from the unequal combat, and fly singly, or in
parties of two or three, towards the main body, until the remainder were,
by the mere weight of the hostile column as much as by their weapons,
fairly forced from the bridge. The passage being now open, the enemy
began to pour over. But the bridge was long and narrow, which rendered
the manoeuvre slow as well as dangerous; and those who first passed had
still to force the houses, from the windows of which the Covenanters
continued to fire. Burley and Morton were near each other at this
"There is yet time," said the former, "to bring down horse to attack
them, ere they can get into order; and, with the aid of God, we may thus
regain the bridge--hasten thou to bring them down, while I make the
defence good with this old and wearied body."
Morton saw the importance of the advice, and, throwing himself on the
horse which cuddie held in readiness for him behind the thicket, galloped
towards a body of cavalry which chanced to be composed entirely of
Cameronians. Ere he could speak his errand, or utter his orders, he was
saluted by the execrations of the whole body.
"He flies!" they exclaimed--"the cowardly traitor flies like a hart from
the hunters, and hath left valiant Burley in the midst of the slaughter!"
"I do not fly," said Morton. "I come to lead you to the attack. Advance
boldly, and we shall yet do well."
"Follow him not!--Follow him not!"--such were the tumultuous exclamations
which resounded from the ranks;--"he hath sold you to the sword of the
And while Morton argued, entreated, and commanded in vain, the moment was
lost in which the advance might have been useful; and the outlet from the
bridge, with all its defences, being in complete possession of the enemy,
Burley and his remaining followers were driven back upon the main body,
to whom the spectacle of their hurried and harassed retreat was far from
restoring the confidence which they so much wanted.
In the meanwhile, the forces of the King crossed the bridge at their
leisure, and, securing the pass, formed in line of battle; while
Claverhouse, who, like a hawk perched on a rock, and eyeing the time to
pounce on its prey, had watched the event of the action from the opposite
bank, now passed the bridge at the head of his cavalry, at full trot,
and, leading them in squadrons through the intervals and round the flanks
of the royal infantry, formed them in line on the moor, and led them to
the charge, advancing in front with one large body, while other two
divisions threatened the flanks of the Covenanters. Their devoted army
was now in that situation when the slightest demonstration towards an
attack was certain to inspire panic. Their broken spirits and
disheartened courage were unable to endure the charge of the cavalry,
attended with all its terrible accompaniments of sight and sound;--the
rush of the horses at full speed, the shaking of the earth under their
feet, the glancing of the swords, the waving of the plumes, and the
fierce shouts of the cavaliers. The front ranks hardly attempted one
ill-directed and disorderly fire, and their rear were broken and flying
in confusion ere the charge had been completed; and in less than five
minutes the horsemen were mixed with them, cutting and hewing without
mercy. The voice of Claverhouse was heard, even above the din of
conflict, exclaiming to his soldiers--"Kill, kill--no quarter--think on
Richard Grahame!" The dragoons, many of whom had shared the disgrace of
Loudon-hill, required no exhortations to vengeance as easy as it was
complete. Their swords drank deep of slaughter among the unresisting
fugitives. Screams for quarter were only answered by the shouts with
which the pursuers accompanied their blows, and the whole field presented
one general scene of confused slaughter, flight, and pursuit.
About twelve hundred of the insurgents who remained in a body a little
apart from the rest, and out of the line of the charge of cavalry, threw
down their arms and surrendered at discretion, upon the approach of the
Duke of Monmouth at the head of the infantry. That mild-tempered nobleman
instantly allowed them the quarter which they prayed for; and, galloping
about through the field, exerted himself as much to stop the slaughter as
he had done to obtain the victory. While busied in this humane task he
met with General Dalzell, who was encouraging the fierce Highlanders and
royal volunteers to show their zeal for King and country, by quenching
the flame of the rebellion with the blood of the rebels.
"Sheathe your sword, I command you, General!" exclaimed the Duke, "and
sound the retreat. Enough of blood has been shed; give quarter to the
King's misguided subjects."
"I obey your Grace," said the old man, wiping his bloody sword and
returning it to the scabbard; "but I warn you, at the same time, that
enough has not been done to intimidate these desperate rebels. Has not
your Grace heard that Basil Olifant has collected several gentlemen and
men of substance in the west, and is in the act of marching to join
"Basil Olifant?" said the Duke; "who, or what is he?"
"The next male heir to the last Earl of Torwood. He is disaffected to
government from his claim to the estate being set aside in favour of Lady
Margaret Bellenden; and I suppose the hope of getting the inheritance has
set him in motion."
"Be his motives what they will," replied Monmouth, "he must soon disperse
his followers, for this army is too much broken to rally again.
Therefore, once more, I command that the pursuit be stopped."
"It is your Grace's province to command, and to be responsible for your
commands," answered Dalzell, as he gave reluctant orders for checking the
But the fiery and vindictive Grahame was already far out of hearing of
the signal of retreat, and continued with his cavalry an unwearied and
bloody pursuit, breaking, dispersing, and cutting to pieces all the
insurgents whom they could come up with.
Burley and Morton were both hurried off the field by the confused tide of
fugitives. They made some attempt to defend the streets of the town of
Hamilton; but, while labouring to induce the fliers to face about and
stand to their weapons. Burley received a bullet which broke his
"May the hand be withered that shot the shot!" he exclaimed, as the sword
which he was waving over his head fell powerless to his side. "I can
fight no longer." [Note: This incident, and Burley's exclamation, are
taken from the records.]
Back to Full Books