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affections and good intentions, and being graciously pleased to pardon, cover, and secure him, now, after the demission of his office and that he is divested of public employment, from all questions, prosecutions, and trouble whatsoever; and particularly his Majesty, considering that the manner of execution of the men of Glenco was contrary to the laws of humanity and hospitality-being done by those soldiers who, for some days before, had been quartered amongst them, and entertained by them, which was a fault in the actors or those who gave the immediate orders on the place—but that the said Viscount of Stair being at London, many hundred miles distant, he could have no knowledge of nor accession to the method of that execution ; and his Majesty being willing to pardon, forgive, and remit any excess of zeal, as going beyond his instructions, by the said John Viscount Stair, and that he had no hand in the barbarous manner of execution : his Majesty therefore ordains a letter of remission to be made and passed the Great Seal of his Majesty's ancient kingdom, &c.'
The paper is a curious one, and it would be interesting to know by whom it was drawn up; the more so, as the tenor of the argument suggests the idea that it may have been intended, under cover of exculpating the Secretary, to state reasons why no complicity in the guilt of the massacre should attach to the King. But whatever we think of William's position in the matter, the attempted defence of the Secretary is a hopeless failure. The reasons given for the royal clemency are inconsistent even with lenient censure of the Estates ; are in defiance of the just condemnation of the Commission; and, as William must have known, if he read the documents transmitted to him from Edinburgh, are altogether at variance with the truth.
At the same time, we cannot concur with Lord Macaulay's view that the Secretary should have been brought to trial, as a common murderer, before the criminal court; and should, if found guilty, have died the death of a felon.' Such a course may, perhaps, have been demanded by the strictness of criminal justice. But men in high places, caring for great interests, tried by the severest of all temptations to comprehensive intellects—the temptation to seize any means towards the attainment of important and beneficial ends, have a claim to be judged on broader principles. The great historian, on this occasion, allows no place to the doctrine of "set-off,' the application of which, in political causes, no one has enforced more strongly than himself. Services rendered to the State may be justly pleaded in such causes; and, what is even a more important principle, the motive which dictated the act for which a politician is called in question is entitled to the greatest weight in determining the true measure of his guilt. The Master of The
d of tbility have not a shilik
Stair rendered many and great services to the State; and the motive which prompted his Highland policy was no vulgar one. It was not cupidity. It was not love of power. The crime which has blackened his name added not a shilling to his fortune; it could by no possibility have advanced him in the path of ambition. And of this he seems to have been thoroughly aware. There is no room for the insinuation, made by a reviewer in the Times of September last, that he acted his part with a view to his own advancement; that he was merely playing a card in the political game. His sagacity was never so deluded. He knew he had many and vindictive enemies, and he knew the handle he was giving them. It is not too much to say that the tone of his letters to Colonel Hill is that of a man conscious of his own rectitude, yet fully aware that he had much to fear from the prejudices or weakness of mankind. He was animated, so far as we can now judge, simply by misdirected public spirit. He was fully persuaded, nor was his persuasion wrong, that peace and prosperity would never be known to his country until the supremacy of law was established among those freebooting mountaineers. In his comprehension of the magnitude of the existing evil he was superior to any statesman of his time. Unhappily, this feeling had obtained such power over his mind that he became utterly reckless as to means if only a cure could be effected. Nay, it may be said, we fear, with truth, that long brooding over the lawlessness of the Highlands had brought him to such a state that he would have shrunk from no extreme of severity. Still, though his heart was hardened, his conscience silenced, even his acute judgment warped, it is no exaggeration to say that he was throughout it all animated by a sincere desire for the permanent good of his country. To have sent this man to a felon's death because he might with legal truth have been held guilty of the crime of murder, would have been to violate the principles by which such cases should be determined, not less than if Warren Hastings had been hanged because of the horrors inflicted on Rohilcund.
That William, on this occasion, extended an undue indulgence to crimes committed in his service, may have left a stain upon his fame, but was certainly fortunate for Scotland. Stair's subsequent public life was short but eventful. He did not take his seat in Parliament till the year 1700. He was sworn a Privy Councillor on the accession of Anne in 1702. He rendered important services in the last session of the old Parliament of William, facilitating the passing of Acts recognising the title of Anne, confirming the Presbyterian form of Church
government, and empowering the Crown to appoint Commissioners to treat for a union of the kingdoms. By his exertions in support of that measure the Earl of Stair, for to that rank he was elevated by the Godolphin Ministry, earned an enduring title to the gratitude of his countrymen. He was, says De Foe, 'an eminent instrument in carrying on the Union. To that end he devoted all his astuteness in counsel, all his unrivalled powers of debate. His was the device which baffled the Opposition by appointing a majority of the Commissioners from their ranks; his were the arguments which secured the rejection of the limitations which a party of pestilent oligarchs, led by Fletcher, sought to impose on the prerogatives of the Crown. So far as we can now judge, to him more than to any other man Scotland owes the blessings which have flowed from that great measure. On the 7th of January, 1707, after a stormy and exhausting debate, the last important article of the Treaty was carried. In that debate Stair took a leading part, and then, worn out by the long struggle now at last brought to a successful issue, he went home to die. He died at the post of duty not less surely than the soldier struck down on the field; and the man who thus spent himself for the good of the commonwealth, whatever may have been his errors or his crimes, deserves the lenient judgment of history.
The characters of these men present features of dissimilarity and likeness curiously interwoven. That of the father is the more difficult to estimate aright. Every reader is familiar with Lord Macaulay's brilliant sketch. That sketch by no means satisfies Mr. Mackay, who, we regret to see, has taken up a line, popular with clever young men at present, that of pecking at the reputation of Lord Macaulay. In one place he accuses the historian of selecting from every quarter the 'blackest colours to paint the character of Stair, the father of 'the man destined to be the scapegoat for the massacre of
Glencoe.' (P. 81.) A graver charge could hardly be made ; and the only justification for it is that Macaulay, in alluding to the ' heart-rending tales' which the calamities of the house of Stair had furnished to novelists and poets, has adopted Sir Walter Scott's version of the tragedy of The Bride of Lam
mermoor’! Nor is Mr. Mackay at all correct in his assertion that the traditions of this tragic event have come down to us chiefly from the fierce antagonists of the Dalrymples. The general truth of the story as told by Scott is acknowledged in the Introduction to · The Bride of Lammermoor,' by the greatgreat-grandson of Stair; and the version of the final catastrophe adopted by the novelist is the most probable, and by no means gave no found. has insinustainst Stair, andse satirists
the most malicious, of the many traditions which have been current.
In another place Mr. Mackay has permitted himself to write thus : • Macaulay has drawn chiefly from these satirists all the charges his enemies made against Stair, and without examin
ing their truth has insinuated others for which even satire • gave no foundation.' And then he quotes the powerful sketch we have referred to from the third volume of the history. Now such an accusation should have been carefully substantiated. There is hardly an attempt to do so on any point deserving of the smallest consideration. There are a few critical notes which we must take leave to characterise as exceedingly silly. For example. Lord Macaulay ascribes to Stair ó a wonderful power of giving to any proposition which • it suited him to maintain a plausible aspect of legality and • even of justice; and this power he frequently abused.' Instead of attempting to controvert this, Mr. Mackay demolishes the historian by the profound query— How could such a
power—if he really possessed it-be only frequently abused ?' No single charge contained in the whole passage is shown to be without foundation. Two efforts are made in this direction, from the frivolous character of which the critic's inability to bring forward any serious instances may be fairly inferred. The historian writes : · He protested, and perhaps with truth, • that his hands were pure from the blood of the persecuted • Covenanters. The note here is : No ground for this 6 « perhaps” has been discovered. Surely it is no very harsh measure thus to qualify such an asseveration on the part of a man who was a member of the Privy Council during the administration of Lauderdale. Indeed there is a sense, and that not of a highly strained morality, in which any man who then held such office may be deemed altogether guilty of the innocent blood which was shed. In his next point Mr. Mackay is yet more unfortunate. He challenges Lord Macaulay's statement that Stair's fellow-exiles regarded him with suspicion. Now it is quite certain that by a large section of the Presbyterian party Stair was never trusted. Not to multiply authorities, this is distinctly stated by Balcarras, and indicated, not obscurely, by Forbes of Culloden, the one a Jacobite, the other a Presbyterian; and, though we fear Mr. Mackay will despise such an authority, Sir Walter Scott, in the · Tales of a Grand• father,' describes Stair and his son as men of high talent but • of doubtful integrity; and odious to the Presbyterians for • compliances with the late Government. We make these remarks in no unfriendly spirit. But if Mr. Mackay is ever to
fulfil, as there is reason to hope he may, the promise which this book, with all its faults, affords, he must study the prineiples of historical evidence; he must keep present to his mind the difference between facts and opinions; he must be less hasty in his conclusions, and more sparing in imputations ; and, we are constrained to add, he must be careful to observe modesty and moderation of tone when he chances to differ from writers of established fame.*
It will be found, we suspect, that in this, as in most of his judgments on character, Lord Macaulay, making due allowance for habitual force of expression, is not far from the truth. We quite concur with Mr. Mackay in thinking that our estimate of Stair should be little affected by the malignant attacks of which he was so long the object. And we would record our dissent from a condemnation of both father and son which has received publicity and authority from the Times.'†
'Even in an age when ideas of political morality were singularly loose, and when the most shameless time-serving was the habit of the most eminent statesmen, the versatile Dalrymples had to support an exceptional weight of obloquy. If their enemies attacked them with unusual bitterness, gloating with exultant malignity over a painful succession of domestic misfortunes, we may take it that there was some exceptional reason for it. ... They had most exceptional opportunities of being false alike to their friends and their principles; and the result was that in the end they were neither loved nor even trusted, except by those who, for the moment, had common interests with them.
That both Dalrymples were false to their principles so far as to hold office under administrations of which they disapproved is true enough. But was there anything exceptional' in this? What was such a measure of falsity, for example, compared with the falsity of Lauderdale, or the apostasy of Perth? That they were false to their friends, in any prac
* Mr. Mackay is not more fortunate in lighter matters. Readers of Old Mortality' will remember the retort of Lady Elphinstoun, a matron of one hundred years of age, to Claverhouse, on his remarkirg that during her long life she must have seen many changes : 'Hout na, * Sir; the world is just to end wi' me as it began. When I was entering life, there was ane Knox deaving us a' wi' his clavers (idle talk], and now I am ganging out, there is ane Claver'se deaving us a' 'wi' bis knocks. Mr. Mackay, seemingly quite unconscious of Scott's authority, ascribes this mot to Lady Stair, and in so doing spoils it. In matters of Scottish history and tradition a greater familiarity with, and an increased respect for, even Sir Walter's novels, would do Mr. Mackay no harm.
† Times,' September 3, 1875.