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Reign of Queen Anne (Continued) page 3


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Whilst these transactions were taking place abroad, the spirit of discontent was raging through the whole summer in Scotland. The people there were more than ever indignant on reflection at the carrying of the union. Besides the wound to the national pride - a feeling always high and sensitive in Scotland, and which led the people to reflect with deep mortification on the loss of their ancient constitution and their self-importance derived from their independence and management of their own affairs - the English government had rather been at pains to embitter these sentiments than to soothe them. In the debates on the union in the English parliament, many things had been said extremely contemptuous of Scotland. It was described as a poor and beggarly country, likely to draw great advantages from the union with England, and to bring none in return The payment of money to the Scots, and the grant of certain exemptions regarding the land-tax, and other matters, were loudly denounced. When the union came to be initiated by practice, there appeared a disposition on the part of the English authorities to vex and overbear the Scots, as if to retaliate for the fierce opposition they had made to the union. Three months elapsed before the equivalent money was paid, and when this took place it was distributed in a manner which appeared to the Scots extremely partial and corrupt in practice. The wines and spirits which had been imported into England in anticipation were seized with the utmost rigour, and all trade for two months was thrown into a stagnation.

The Scots exclaimed aloud that they had been betrayed by their parliament, which had been basely bribed by England, and now they were to be treated with every injustice and trodden under foot with the most haughty contempt. Religious differences arising out of the terms of the union added fuel to the general flame, and the Jacobites seized on this temper of the public mind to forward their own views. The very presbyterians, incensed at the treatment of Scotland, were ready to listen to the representations of the emissaries and adherents of the old Stuart dynasty, and to recur to the hope that in that line they might yet find the means of recovering their independence of the proud English.

There had been for some time in Scotland a very zealous emissary of the court of St. Germains, one colonel Hooke, a brother, as supposed, of Nathaniel Hooke, author of a well-known Roman History, and also the compiler or reviser of the duchess of Marlborough's account of her life, for which labour she is said to have paid him five thousand pounds. Colonel Hooke transmitted to Chamillart, the minister of Louis XIV., flaming accounts of this state of things in Scotland, and represented that never was there so auspicious an opportunity of introducing the king of England (the pretender) again to his ancient throne of Scotland - a circumstance than which nothing could be more advantageous to France. A civil war created in Great Britain must completely prevent the English from longer impeding the affairs of Louis on the continent. All the power of England would be needed at home; and on the king of England succeeding in establishing himself on the throne of the united kingdom, France would be for ever relieved from the harassing antagonism of England - the only real obstacle to the amplest completion of all France's plans for continental dominion.

These representations fully confirmed those of other agents who had been sent over to Scotland during the struggle for the union. A Mr. Scott had made a very close and extensive observation of the country, of its army, its resources, of the well and ill affected amongst its nobility and gentry in almost all parts of the country; and in his letters to lord Middleton had assured him that in all the northern shires, the nobility, gentry, and people were devoted heart and soul to the pretender, and that the hatred to the union was fast producing the same effect in almost every other quarter. A captain Stratton, in the autumn of 1706, also informed Middleton, that the Scots were longing for a French army under their own king; that they were making every effort to reject the union, and did not doubt to succeed, provided the Scottish parliament was not actually bought up by English money.

Hooke now informed Middleton that the carrying of the union, and the subsequent conduct of the English, had so exasperated the whole country, that the different parties seemed to have lost all care about their particular interests, and burned only to throw off the English yoke. Formerly the greater part of the Scottish pgople were favourable to the king of England (the pretender), but that now even the presbyterians, his ancient enemies, were won over, and wished for nothing so much as his arrival. That they looked to him as their only resource, and offered to arm thirteen thousand men, and to begin the war upon the first orders they should receive, requiring only a ship load of gunpowder, and the young king to put himself at their head. He afterwards asserted that the nobles were ready to march into England at the head of thirty thousand men, whom they would supply with provisions, clothes, carriages, and even in part with arms. He sent to the king of France, inclosed to Middleton, a memorial from some of the chiefs of the nation, and in the names of thirty others, who had appointed them their proxies, but who would not be named till they had full assurance of France effectually co-operating. All, he said, were unanimous except the duke of Hamilton and another lord, a friend of his. He considered that the whole nation was engaged, and that if the king of France would only prosecute the enterprise, he would engage that in a very little time England would be in no condition to furnish either troops or money to the enemy, but would be glad to make peace on the king's own terms.

In the spring of 1707 Hooke was over in Scotland a second time. He and his co-incendiaries, the brothers Moray, were landed at the castle of Slaines, in the north of Aberdeenshire, in February. He found that the union had passed the Scottish parliament, and that all the lords and other members of parliament had retired to their country residences except the high constable, at whose castle he was, the duke of Hamilton, and the earl marshal. That the nation was more than ever enraged, but that the countess of Errol, the mother of the high constable, handed him several letters from her son, giving him all encouragement, saying that all the well-affected were now convinced that they could obtain better terms, sword in hand, than those of the union. Both the countess and other correspondents warned him, however, not to put any trust in the duke of Hamilton, for that he had suddenly and greatly changed; that all his friends had abandoned him, suspecting him of holding secret correspondence with the court in London. If the duke had received the assurance, to which we have alluded, from the court of St. Germains, to cease his opposition to the union, and in consequence of which he appeared suddenly paralysed, it may account for this, and the after uncertain conduct of this nobleman. Having been suddenly checked in his zealous opposition to the union, it would at once confound him, and throw suspicion upon him amongst his friends and adherents. At all events, from some cause the duke had altered his conduct, and whilst he attributed his sudden change to secret advices from France, others attributed it to secret money or promises from London. From other nobles Hooke seems to have received great encouragement, particularly from the earl of Errol, the high constable, lord Drummond, son of the earl of Perth, commonly in Scotland called the duke of Perth, the dukes of Athol and Gordon, and lord Saltoun. The earl of Errol, on arriving at the castle of Slaines, confirmed all that the countess, his mother, had said of the duke of Hamilton; that for a long time he had been in correspondence with the duke of Queensberry and the earl of Stair, and after the union, had done all in his power to be nominated one of the peers to serve in the British parliament. That Hamilton had discouraged preparations for rising, and the earl of Strathmore, lord Stormont, and the lords of Powrie and Finglas, confirmed this from their own knowledge. Hooke then advised that they should leave Hamilton out of the question, who was neither considerable for his riches nor the number of his vassals; but then Errol showed him a letter written by father Innes, almoner to Maria D'Este, the pretender's mother, to this effect: - "The king of England desires that his friends will follow the directions of the duke of Hamilton, and not declare themselves till the duke has declared himself, when they may, without danger, follow his example."

At the same time the earl of Errol showed two letters from two Scottish gentlemen in France, who declared that Louis would do nothing for the Scots, and that Hooke's journey was only a feint. All this went to show that, however Hamilton might be suspected of being in correspondence with the English court, he was still in the confidence of the court of St. Germains, which probably thought the passing of the union as advantageous to them as it was to Anne, the question of the protestant succession being one which, at the proper time, might be set aside. Hooke's zeal might endanger the real designs of the French court, and therefore these letters were sent to put some caution on him and his co-agitators. When Hooke got into correspondence with Hamilton, some further light was thrown on these mysterious circumstances. Hamilton professed his interest in the cause of the pretender unabated, but contended that Louis would do nothing for the king of England's enterprise, and that it was useless attempting any such enterprise unless it was supported by French funds and ten thousand French soldiers. Hooke contended that foreign soldiers would ruin instead of assisting the cause; that foreigners were not used to live on so little as Scotchmen; that they did not understand their language, and were not of their religion; that it would have an air of conquest, especially amongst tlie English, which would hinder their friends in England from joining them, and induce them rather to join the other side. Hamilton persisted in his views, and advised Hooke, till money and troops were forthcoming, to go back to France.

From others, however, Hooke received more encouragement. He obtained a memorial to Louis XIV., signed by the lord high constable, the earl of Errol, by the lords Stormont, Panmure, Kinnaird, and Drummond, and by some men of smaller note. The leading men did not sign. They were not willing to endanger their necks without some nearer prospect of invasion. Hooke, indeed, pretended that the lords who did sign, signed as proxies for many others, such as the earls of Caithness, Eglintoun, Aberdeen, and Buchan, lord Saltoun, &c. With this memorial, such as it was, Hooke went back to St. Germains, and what the document wanted in weight he made up by verbal assurances of the impatience of all Scotland for the arrival of the king. But the truth appears to be that France expected a stronger demonstration on the part of Scotland, and Scotland on the part of France, and so the adventure hung. As nothing was heard from France by the more eager and expectant conspirators, they began to write impatient letters to Chamillart, the French minister, the duke of Gordon, in the beginning of August, declaring that the friends of the king were in consternation at not hearing anything. Secresy, he said, was necessary in great affairs, but that there might be too much secresy, and that they must know what France intended. He declared that the duke of Hamilton was now as anxious for a demonstration as the rest of them. The laird of Kersland, the head of the presbyterians of the west, wrote that all would be ruined if succour did not arrive very soon; that he had managed to keep the people hitherto in the right spirit, but that they could not be kept so long. They complained of having been so often deceived, and that he must be assured that succours were coming, or it would be too late; that the union was so much detested that it had changed the hearts of the king's worst enemies, but that if this disposition was not profited by, all would be lost, and the king's most devoted friends all ruined. On the 23rd of August, the duke of Gordon having received no satisfactory answer, the duchess wrote in a strain of high excitement - " For God's sake, what are you thinking of? Is it possible that, having ventured all to show our zeal, we have neither assistance nor answer? All is lost for want of knowing what measures ought to be taken. Several of the greatest partisans of the union acknowledge their error, and come over to us. If we are left in the uncertainty that we are in, the people will grow cold. The chieftains will fear for themselves when they find they are despised, and will make their peace not to have a halter about their necks. Give me but a positive promise, and all will go well. The chieftains will then find no difficulty in keeping everything ready against the arrival of the succours; but our hearts are sunk by this continual uncertainty. Come when you please, and to what part you please, you will be well received; but if you do not come soon, the party will be broken, and it will be too late."

The fact was that the young pretender, an ardent, ambitious youth of nineteen, and his mother, the widow of i James, were eager for the invasion of Scotland; but the means lay with Louis, and he was now old, failing in health, and much broken down and confounded by his late numerous reverses. The Scotch wanted both money and men, and he had neither. The victorious Marlborough in the Netherlands, his kingdom every summer now assaulted on the side of Provence, his fleets beaten and dispersed at sea by the English, and the demands of both men and money to support his feeble grandson on the throne of Spain, with an empty exchequer and a murmuring and beggared people, found him enough and more than enough to do. True, a bold and decided war in Scotland would make a grand diversion, and draw off the English from other quarters; but it required the resources and the spirit of his earlier years to organise such a campaign, with the hazard of his armament, after an expense that he could ill afford, being met at sea and demolished. These circumstances not only weighed on Louis but on his minister Chamillart, who was timid, vacillating, and oppressed with constant exertion to keep on foot the operations already indispensable.

Lord Middleton, on the part of the young pretender, did not fail to press on Chamillart the expediency of seizing on the state of things in Scotland at this moment, to serve both his master and Louis's own affairs. He informed him that colonel Hooke had been some time anxiously waiting to be able to send the Scotch word of the promised succours. He reminded him of the expectancy which they had excited in Scotland, and the imminent danger in which the great lords had placed themselves by their ready pledges to support the king of England. He begged him to remember of what advantage the insurrection in Hungary had been; what trouble even a few peasants in the Cevennes had been able to give against all the power of France, and that neither of these people could make so proud a stand as the Scotch, with their mountain fastnesses, could against an enemy. But all his arguments were at present in vain. It was not till the following year that sufficient spirit could be aroused to send out an armament, and not till upwards of twenty of the Jacobite lords and gentlemen, including the duke of Hamilton, with all his caution, had been arrested.

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