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Reign of George I page 9

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He left behind him two letters, one to the duke of Argyll inclosing a small sum of money, probably all he had, but most inadequate to its object - that of relieving the poor people who had been burnt out of their villages betwixt Perth and Stirling; the other was to general Gordon, explaining the inexorable necessity, from his disappointment in the amount of force provided in this country, and still more from the failure 6f assistance, from abroad, for his abandoning the present enterprise. He appointed Gordon commander of the army, and gave him full powers to treat with the enemy or to seek their safety in the hills, as they should deem the most advisable. The latter was their only alternative, and most of the leaders set the example of every man helping himself, by making off for Peterhead, where the pretender had landed, in order to embark there. Amongst these were the earl of Teignmouth, the duke of Berwick's son, whom the pretender had left behind, the earl marshal, lord Southesk, and many other noblemen and gentlemen. But Argyll, with all the slowness charged against him, was too quick for them. He entered Aberdeen on the 8th, and the fugitives continued their flight to Frazerburgh, and thence towards Banff. At Frazerburgh the pretender's physician, whom, in his haste, he had left behind, was taken. Some other prisoners were taken on the road to Banff, but none of the leaders, who all escaped. Colonel Gordon turned off at Aberdeen into the Highlands with about a thousand men; and, as Argyll and Cadogan had agreed not to follow them into the mountains, the men gradually dispersed to their homes; and thus melted this insurrection before the snows of their own hills. A hundred and twenty gentlemen, however, who did not feel themselves safe anywhere in the kingdom, made for the Orkneys in open boats; forty-seven of these fugitives perished, and the rest embarked in a ship belonging to the pretender, and followed him to France. The pretender himself had first struck across to the Norwegian coast, and sailed for Holland, and finally reached Gravelines on the seventh day after leaving Montrose. He went thence to St. Germains. The next morning he received a visit from Bolingbroke, who must now have seen enough to convince any man of the least reflection of the hopelessness of the recovery of the English crown by the Stuart. Yet Bolingbroke is said to have endeavoured to cheer him up, and promise him better times. He advised him, however, to return to Bar-le-duc as quickly as possible, lest the duke of Lorraine should anticipate his arrival by a request for him to seek another retreat. In that case, he remarked, he would be obliged to seek shelter at Avignon, which would remove him farther from England. James appeared to acquiesce in this advice, but lingered several days in the hope of obtaining an interview with the regent, but in vain; and then bade Bolingbroke adieu, embracing him with much apparent affection at parting, and asking him to follow as soon as possible."

But whilst Bolingbroke imagined that he was on his journey to Lorraine, he had only removed to an obscure house in the Bois de Boulogne, amongst a set of intriguing women, where he received private visits from the ambassadors of Sweden and Spain. Three days after his farewell to Bolingbroke, Ormonde appeared with two orders from the chevalier; one dismissing him from his office of secretary of state, and the other ordering him to deliver to the duke all the papers in his office. These letters, Bolingbroke says, might all have been contained in a letter-case of moderate size, which he handed to Ormonde with the seals, except certain letters from the pretender, in which he had spoken most disparagingly of Ormonde himself. These, he says, he sent by a safe hand, when he might have let Ormonde see what an opinion the chevalier had of his capacity.

The folly of sending the man whom he had abused in them - as may yet be seen in the Stuart papers - for these letters was only equalled by that of quarrelling with Bolingbroke, the shrewdest head that he had, and the man who, more than any other, kept alive an influence for him in England. "One must have lost one's reason," says the duke of Berwick, "if one did not see the enormous blunder made by king James in dismissing the only Englishman he had able to manage his affairs." It is said that this was effected by the women alluded to, who reported some expressions made by Bolingbroke respecting the pretender when he was drunk; but Bolingbroke had no friends amongst the miserable people who surrounded the pretender. Ormonde himself was by no means his friend; neither was Mar, who now sought to be at the head of the chevalier's affairs. Bolingbroke professed to feel no resentment at his treatment, but this was merely an assumption of philosophy. When the queen-mother sent to say that the dismissal had taken place without her knowledge, and that she was anxious to adjust matters, he replied that he was now a free man, and that he wished his arm might rot off if ever he again drew his sword or his pen in her son's cause.

The pretender found Bolingbroke's apprehensions only too fully verified. The duke of Lorraine met him at Chalons, in Champagne, by a letter, requesting him to remove his residence to Deux-Ponts, or some place equally distant, as he could no longer brave the remonstrances of the English government. The unhappy fugitive was, therefore, compelled to proceed to Avignon, where he was soon afterwards joined by Ormonde, Mar, and others of the English and Scottish refugees.

Gloomy as was his fortune, it was, nevertheless, infinitely better than that of thousands who had ventured their lives and fortunes in his cause. There were not many prisoners in Scotland, but the clans which had sided with the English government were hounded on to hunt down those who had been out with the pretender amongst their hills, and they were hunted about by the English troops under the guidance of these hostile clans; and where they themselves were not to be found, their estates suffered by troops being quartered in their houses and on their estates. In England the prisons of Chester, Liverpool, and other northern towns were crowded by the inferior class of prisoners from the surrender of Preston. Some half-pay officers were singled out as deserters, and shot by order of a court-martial; whilst five hundred of the ordinary soldiers were left to perish of cold and starvation in their dungeons. The leaders were conducted to London, where they arrived on the 9th of December. On arriving at Highgate Hill they were made to dismount. Their arms were tied like ordinary malefactors behind their backs; their horses were led by foot soldiers; and, amid the noise of drums and all the signs of military triumph, they were led into the city, amid the scoffs and jeers of the populace. The noblemen were conducted to the Tower; the rest were divided into the four common gaols.

On the 9th of January, a month after their arrival, lord Derwentwater was impeached of high treason by Mr. Lech- mere in a bitter speech in the commons. Other members, with equal acrimony, followed in impeachments against the lords Widdrington, Nithsdale, Wintoun, Carnwath, Kenmure, and Nairn. No opposition was offered, not a single voice was raised to save the lives of these misguided men, though the insurrection had so strongly shown the little danger from it to the new dynasty, that mercy would have been far more noble, and probably more effectual than blood. But the tender-hearted Anne was no longer on the throne, and the house of Hanover showed itself possessed of little magnanimity. The impeachments were carried up to the house on the same day, and on the 19th the unfortunate noblemen were brought before the peers, where they knelt at the bar until they were desired to rise by the lord chancellor, when, with the single exception of lord Wintoun, they confessed their guilt, and threw themselves on the mercy of the king. Sentence of death was immediately pronounced on those who had pleaded guilty, and orders were given for the trial of lord Wintoun.

Though there was a considerable number of Jacobites in both houses, no one dared to interpose a word for pardon or mitigation of punishment; but secretary Stanhope, who had been a schoolfellow of lord Nairn's at Eton, though they had not met since then, did entreat for his pardon, and, being opposed by the rest of the council, tendered his resignation, and, as his services could not be well spared, the life of Nairn was granted. Though noblemen and gentlemen were cowardly enough to remain silent, the ladies exerted themselves to save the others. The duchesses of Bolton and Cleveland, and other ladies of the first rank, accompanied the young countess of Derwentwater to an audience of the king to implore his clemency; but the dull German remained unmoved. The ladies Nithsdale and Nairn had before made an assault on the phlegmatic nerves of George, who had neither feeling enough to be touched with pity, nor imagination enough to conceive the glory of a generous forgiveness, by secreting themselves behind a curtain in an ante-room, and throwing themselves at his feet as he passed. As it was seen that no motives of compassion could avail, those of interest were tried, and the first lord of the treasury declared in the commons that sixty thousand pounds had been offered him to procure the pardon of Derwentwater. Some of the members of that house now took courage, and pleaded the nobler cause of mercy and forgiveness, and amongst these, to his honour, was Richard Steele; but Walpole cut them short by declaring that he was moved with indignation to see members of that house so unworthy as, without blushing, to open their mouths in favour of rebels and parricides. To prevent further efforts of this kind, he moved the adjournment of the house till the 1st of March, so that the condemned nobles should be executed in the interval; and he carried his motion by a majority of seven. In the lords also a strong effort was made now it was too late; and the earl of Nottingham, though in the ministry, suddenly arose and pleaded strongly in their favour, and carried an address to the king, praying that he would reprieve such of the condemned lords as should deserve his mercy. This demonstration in the behalf of leniency astonishing the cabinet, they advised his majesty to comply with the prayer; and though an answer was returned to the address, merely stating that the king, on this and all occasions, would do what he thought j consistent with the dignity of the crown and the safety of his people, yet it was concluded to reprieve the lords Carnwath and Widdrington in addition to Nairn. To prevent, however, any further appeals, an order was dispatched for the execution of the other three peers the next morning. To express a full sense of the conduct of the earl of Nottingham, he was dismissed from his office, as well as his son, lord Finch, and his brother, lord Aylesford. Yet one more victim was destined to be snatched from the clutches of this sanguinary whig ministry - for we must rather impute the severity to the ministry than to the king, who, being new to the country, was undoubtedly led principally by their decision. That night the countess of Nithsdale, being about to take her leave of her husband, contrived, by introducing some friends, to secure his escape in female attire. There remained, therefore, only two to suffer, the lords Derwentwater and Kenmure.

Derwentwater, a young man, who had just built himself a noble house at Dilston, on the Tyne, where he principally resided, and who might now have been enjoying his unambitious life but for the instigations of his wife, suffered first He was observed to turn very pale as he ascended the scaffold, but he retained a firm voice and demeanour. He stood some time in prayer, and then read a paper drawn up by himself, declaring that he died a Roman catholic, and that he deeply repented his plea of guilty, and his expressions of contrition at the trial; that he acknowledged no king but James III. as his rightful sovereign, at the same time that he intended wrong to nobody; that he sought only to do his duty to his country, without any interested motives, that he died in charity with all the world, even those who had brought him to his death. On examining the block, and finding a rough place in it, he bade the executioner chip it off, lest it should hurt his neck - a singular care in the moment of death. His head was severed at a single blow. Lord Derwentwater was greatly beloved by all who knew him, and a pardon extended to him would have done far more for the house of Hanover than his death. His splendid estates in Cumberland and Northumberland were all confiscated and conferred on Greenwich Hospital, in possession of which institution they still remain, except a rent charge of two thousand five hundred pounds per annum, which was granted to the Newburgh family, the descendants of the earl's brother, in 1788, and a certain portion sold to Mr. Marshall, of Leeds, in 1832. The execution of lord Kenmure immediately followed that of lord Derwentwater.

Lord Wintoun, who had refused to plead guilty, was not brought to trial till the 15th of March. He was considered of unsound mind, and at times little better than idiotic; yet he certainly showed more address than any of his noble accomplices. He demanded time for collecting his evidence, and thus contrived to delay his trial. There was so clear a case against him that this, probably, made the government more tolerant of these delays. When called upon to plead, he still urged the absence of witnesses, and that it was very bad weather for travelling. The high steward, lord Cowper, at length would admit of no further demurs; on which Wintoun said, "I hope your lordships will do me justice, and not make use of Cowper-law, as we used to say in our country - hang a man first, and then judge him after." He entreated to be heard by counsel; and this being refused, he said, "Since your lordships will not allow me counsel, I don't know nothing!" He was found guilty; but he had gained more time than his accomplices, and finally managed to escape from the Tower.

In April the inferior prisoners were tried in the Common Pleas. Forster, brigadier Macintosh, and twenty of their accomplices were condemned; but both Forster and Macintosh, and some of the others, managed, like Wintoun, to escape; so that, of all the crowds of prisoners, only twenty- two in Lancashire and four in London were hanged. Bills of attainder were passed against the lords Tullibardine, Mar, and many others who were at large. Above a thousand submitted to the king's mercy, and petitioned to be transported to America. As the estate of Derwentwater devolved to a great charity, so did that of Forster. It was purchased of the crown by lord Crewe, bishop of Durham, who had married Forster's aunt, and who bequeathed the castle and manor of Bamborough to unrestricted charitable purposes - one of these being properly considered by the trustees the rescue and assistance of sufferers by wreck on that iron- bound and stormy coast.

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