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Reign of William and Mary page 3


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These domestic matters being thus settled, war was declared against France on the 13th of May. The inhuman desolation of the palatinate in the preceding winter, where Louis's general, Duras, had laid waste the whole country, burned down the towns, leaving the whole of that fertile and populous district one black and terrible desert, had roused all the powers of Europe against him. The wretched population had been compelled to flee from their homes in frost and snow - thousands of them to perish by the hands of the brutal soldiery, thousands to die of cold and hunger. Heidelberg had been once more destroyed, its beautiful castle blown up partly with gunpowder, and partly left a naked ruin; Manheim and Speir equally ravaged; the noble cathedral of the latter place ransacked, the tombs of the emperors destroyed, and their skulls used as bowls by the soldiery in mockery of play. Germany, Spain, Holland, and England all prepared for vengeance, and the people and parliament of England were equally loud in denunciation of the worthless desolator.

Whilst these affairs had been progressing in England, Scotland had been equally active. The Scotch had even more profound cause of hatred to James, and more hope of effectual relief from William than the English. In England the church had managed to maintain its ascendancy, and the fierceness of persecution had been somewhat restrained. There the iron boot and thumbscrews, and the fury of tory troopers, had not perpetrated the horrors that they had done north of the Tweed. The Scotch had had the hateful yoke of episcopacy forced on them, their church completely put down, and their liberties in a variety of ways crushed by the authorised licence of James's delegated ministers.

No sooner, therefore, had James fled than the suppressed feeling of the people burst forth. At Edinburgh crowds assembled, took down the heads of the slaughtered whigs from the gates, and committed them in solemn ceremony to the earth. The episcopal clergy were set upon in many parts of Scotland, especially in the west, where the covenanters prevailed, and where they had suffered so much from the emissaries of the church. The covenanters now chased them away from their manses, ransacked them, turned their wives and children out, broke all the furniture, or set fire to it. They tore the gown from the back of the clergyman if they could catch him, destroyed all the prayer- books they could find, locked up the church, and warned ministers not to be found there again. Two hundred clergymen were thus forcibly ejected. Christmas day was selected for the commencement of this summary process, to mark their abhorrence of such superstitious festivals. As amid this violence many began to plunder, the presbyterian ministers and elders assembled, and resolved that in future every incumbent of a parish should have due notice served on him to quit his parsonage peaceably, to avoid the necessity of being driven out by force.

The bishops and dignitaries made an instant appeal to William for protection, and a proclamation was issued - for William had no military force in Scotland - ordering the people to desist from further violence towards the clergy till the parliament should determine the form of the establishment. But so little regard was paid to it, that on the same day that it was published at Glasgow, the mob rushed to the cathedral, and drove out the congregation with sticks and stones.

On the 14th of March the Scottish convention of estates met. By the able management of Sir James Dalrymple of Stair - afterwards lord Stair - and his son, Sir John Dalrymple, who was an able debater, it was so managed that chiefly whigs were returned. Sir James was a man of great legal learning and consummate talent, though of doubtful character, who had been deprived of his position as a privy councillor and chief lord of the court of session, and had gone over to Holland, and was William's main adviser as to Scottish affairs. His son, Sir John, longer continued to side with the Stuarts, and was made lord advocate, but at the revolution he appeared in the other party, and was supposed to have been for some time in effect pledged to William's cause in secret through his father. He had at once declared for William on his landing, and exerted himself zealously for his interests in Scotland.

With the Dalrymples was associated George lord Melville, who had also been for some time with William in Holland. On the other hand the celebrated Graham of Claverhouse, viscount Dundee, and Colin Lindsay, earl of Balcarras, were the chief agents of James in Scotland. These two chiefs had pretended to go over to William, or at least to acquiesce in the change of dynasty; had waited on him on his arrival at Whitehall, and were well received by him. William was strongly urged to arrest these noblemen, as too deeply implicated in the tyrannies of James and the murder of the covenanters ever to be allowed to mingle with the new order of things; but William would not listen to it, determining to give every one a fair trial of at least living peaceably. So far did they promise this, that William granted them an. escort of cavalry on their return to Scotland, without which they would not have been allowed by the covenanters to reach Edinburgh alive. The name of Claverhouse was especially a horror in every Scottish home in the lowlands, where it was abhorred for his terrible cruelties towards the presbyterian population.

No sooner did they reach Edinburgh than they set to work with all possible activity to assist the interests of James in the convention and the country. The duke of Gordon, who still held the castle for James, was on the point of surrendering it when they arrived; but they exhorted him to hold out, and called upon all the royalists who were elected at the convention to take their places and defend the absent king's interests. When the estates met, the earl of Argyll, who had been proscribed by James, took his seat amid the murmurs of the Jacobites, who declared that as a person under legal attainder, he was incapable of performing any office in the state. This was, however, overruled by the majority. Melville, who had been living abroad too, and had reappeared with William, presented himself, but without any opposition. The duke of Hamilton was put in nomination by the whigs for the presidency of the convention, and the duke of Athol by the Jacobites. Neither of them were men whose conduct in the late reign was entitled to respect. Hamilton had adhered to James to the last, and had acquiesced in many invasions of the laws and liberties of Scotland; Athol had not only- been a violent partisan of James, but had fawned on William immediately on his arrival, and, being coldly received, had wheeled round again. Hamilton was chosen president; and the moment that was discovered twenty of the Jacobites instantly went over to the stronger side. It was a striking fact that in Scotland, whilst the great body of the people had stood to the death for their principles, the nobility had become so corrupt through compliance with the corrupt court, and in eagerness for office, that public principle was at the lowest ebb amongst them.

The convention having thus organised itself, sent a deputation to the duke of Gordon, demanding the surrender of the castle, as its cannon might at any moment knock in the roof of the parliament house, and drive thence the convention. Gordon requested twenty-four hours to consider the proposition; but Dundee and Balcarras again succeeded in inducing him to hold out. The convention determined to try the force of arms. They summoned the castle to surrender in due form, and pronounced the penalties of high treason on all who dared to occupy it in defiance of the estates. They called out a guard to stop all communication with the castle, and made preparations for a regular siege of the fortress. The next day a messenger arrived from king James with a letter, which, on being read, was found to be a furious denunciation of the convention, and of every one who had shown a willingness to receive William. At the same time it offered pardon to all traitors who should return to their duty in a fortnight, with the alternative, if they refused, of the utmost vengeance of the crown. There was no regret for any past acts which might have tended to alienate his subjects, no promises of future redress. The very friends of the king, whom nothing could alter or improve, were astonished and dispirited, and they stole away out of the convention, pursued through the streets by the groans and curses of the crowd. At the same time a letter was read from William, modest and liberal, trusting to the result of the free deliberations of the estates. James, as was always the case with him, had done incalculable service to the cause of his rival His most bigoted adherents couid not avoid seeing that, were he restored to the throne, he would only continue to pursue the blind and foolish course which had already driven him from it. What added to the disgust of all parties was, that the letter was countersigned by Melfort, James's secretary of state - a furious papist and apostate from protestantism, and nearly equally abhorred by both protestants and catholics.

The royalists, thus hopeless of effecting anything in the convention, and yet unwilling to yield up the cause, adopted the advice of Dundee and Balcarras, who had the authority of James to open a rival convention at Stirling. Athol consented to go with them; but on Monday, the 18th, he showed a fear of so far committing himself, and requested the party to wait for him another day. But the case of Dundee did not admit even a day's delay. The covenanters of the west, whom Hamilton and the Dalrymples had summoned to Edinburgh, and who for some time had come dropping in small parties, till all the cellars and wynds of the city were thronged with them, vowed to kill the hated persecutor; and he made haste to flee, accompanied by his dare-devil followers, all as well-known to and as detested by the covenanters as himself for their atrocities in the west. Whilst the convention was in deliberation, sentinels from the castle hurried in to say that Claverhouse had galloped up to the foot of the fortress on the road to Stirling, accompanied by a detachment of his horsemen, and that he had climbed up the precipice high enough to hold a conversation with Gordon.

At this news the convention was thrown into a tumult of indignation. Hamilton ordered the doors to be locked, and the keys laid on the table, so that no one should go out but such persons as should be sent by the assembly to call the citizens to arms. By this means all such royalists as were in became prisoners till such time as the citizens were in arms. Lord Leven, the second son of lord Melville, who inherited the title of old general Leslie in right of his mother, was sent to call the covenanters to arms; and presently the streets were thronged with the men of the west in rude military array, sufficient to insure the safety of the estates. As the drums beat to arms, Dundee descended from the rock, mounted, and, waving his cap, with the cry that he went to where the spirit of Montrose called him, galloped away towards Stirling.

The convention now proceeded with their business. They sent a letter of thanks to William, which the bishops to a man refused to sign; the bishop of Edinburgh having, as chaplain, before prayed for the return of James. William has been said to have privately wished that episcopacy might be established in Scotland; but such specimens of the prelatic spirit there must, if so, have gone far to extinguish that desire. Other symptoms of opposition were not wanting, even yet The duke of Queensberry arrived from London, and revived the spirits of the Jacobites. Again they urged the duke of Gordon to fire on the city, but he refused; and the chance of resistance was now taken away by the timely arrival of general Mackay with the three regiments of Scotch who had served under William in Holland. The convention immediately appointed Mackay general of their forces; and, thus placed at their ease, they proceeded to settle the government. They appointed a committee, after the manner of the lords of the articles, to draw up the plan which should be adopted. As a last means of postponing this business, a proposal was made by the Jacobites to join with the whigs to concert a scheme of union of the kingdom with England. This was a scheme which was now growingly popular. During the commonwealth the trade of England had been opened to Scotland. All custom-houses, and levying of duties on goods imported or exported between the countries, had been removed. The Scotch had been admitted to perfect freedom of foreign trade with England, and the benefit had become too apparent to be lightly relinquished. But, on the restoration, all this had been altered. The old and invidious restrictions had been renewed, and the great loss of wealth thus induced had wonderfully modified the spirit of national pride which opposed the abandonment of the ancient independence of the nation. The Dalrymples and lord Tarbet were favourable to this proposition, but the convention at large was too wise to endanger the defeat of the acknowledgment of the new sovereign by an indefinitely-prolonged debate on so vital a question. They proceeded to declare that James, by his misconduct, had "forfaulted" his right to the crown; that is, that he had forfeited it - a much more manly and correct plea than that James had "abdicated," which he continued to protest that he never had done, and as he was at this moment in arms in Ireland asserting his unrelinquished claim to it. As the term "forfaulted," according to Scottish law, would have excluded all his posterity, an exception was made in favour of Mary and Anne, and their issue. This resolution was warmly defended by Sir John Dalrymple, and as warmly by Sir James Montgomery, the member for Ayrshire, who had been a determined champion of the covenanters; and was resisted by the bishops, especially by the archbishop of Glasgow. It was carried with only five dissentient voices, and was then read at the Market Cross, in the High Street, by Hamilton, attended by the lord provost and the heralds, and the earl of Argyll, the son of James's decapitated victim. Sir John Dalrymple and Sir James Montgomery were deputed to carry it, with the second resolution that the crown should be offered to William and Mary, to London. To define on what principles this offered transfer of the crown was made, a "claim of right," in imitation of the English bill of rights, was drawn up and accompanied it. In this claim episcopacy was declared to be abolished, and that torture should be no longer exercised, except where there was evidence, or in ordinary cases! This was, in fact, admitting the legality of torture still - a most remarkable proof of the hardness of Scotch legislation, even at this period; for torture had never been admitted to be legal in England, but only to have been used in defiance and overbearance of the law by arbitrary power. That there might be no mistake on this head, the convention ordered a man who, in revenge of a decree made against him, had murdered the lord president Lockhart, to be tortured by the boot, under the eyes of a committee of the estates appointed for the purpose.

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Pictures for Reign of William and Mary page 3

Death of Dundee
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