« PreviousContinue »
to totter, the spirit of its adversaries broke forth into fury. A hot-headed zealot of the priestly order, whose abilities were beneath contempt, raised the populace in insurrection on behalf of their own slavery; and when he was impeached before the Lords, he boldly maintained, by himself and his counsel, principles which impugned the Queen's title to the throne. The temper manifested on this occasion by many of the peers of the realm, and by the court, afforded every possible encouragement to the Tories, and the friends of the exiled family. The accession of Harley's Tory ministry to power raised the expectations of the latter to the highest pitch. On the irresolution of Harley, indeed, they could not depend; but the able and profligate Bolingbroke had tampered with treason, and they relied upon his decision of character for the annulling of the act of settlement, and the translation of the court of the Pretender from Lorrain to St. James's. Their plans were, however, happily frustrated by the sudden death of Queen Anne, and George I. took undisturbed possession of the throne.
Upon the arrival of that monarch in England, he was received with the demonstrations of respect and joy which are usually exhibited on the accession of a new sovereign. But many of the professions of loyalty which he received on this occasion were hollow and deceitful. Of the hundred and upwards of lords and gentlemen, who, on the death of Anne, signed the proclamation, announcing him as the rightful heir to the throne, several, in less than a year, entered into treasonable plots against him. To this they were encouraged by their view of the state of parties. The leading men in Scotland were discontented by the loss of their power and influence, consequent upon the merging of the great council of their nation in the English Parliament, by the Act of Union. The Tory party, who had ruled with predominant sway during the last years of the late Queen's reign, were alarmed by the proceedings which were adopted against their chiefs, and were also naturally disgusted by the prospect which they had before them of a long and rigid exclusion from power. In the tolerant principles of the new sovereign, the High-Church Clergy either saw, or affected to see, great danger to the established religion. The country gentlemen, who are so admirably typified by Fielding in the character of Squire Western, entertained a genuine English antipathy to foreigners. The magistracy were so tainted with Jacobitism, that when six men were found guilty of having been concerned in a seditious riot, which took place at Bristol on the day of the King's coronation, and the watch-word for which was "Sacheverel and Ormond for ever, and damn all foreign governments," though their crime was aggravated by the destroying and plundering the house
of a reputed friend to the House of Hanover, they were only condemned to a fine of twenty nobles, and three months' imprisonment. That venerable seat of orthodoxy, the University of Oxford, had manifested such a spirit of hostility to the Act of Settlement, that, on the occasion of its members waiting on his Majesty with an address, they were peremptorily apprised, that " his Majesty expected that their constituents should satisfy him better of their loyalty by their future behaviour, before they attempted it by words."
To counterbalance these elements of mischief, the King confidently looked for support to the powerful party of the Whigs, to the army, to the low-churchmen and the Protestant dissenters, and to the mercantile and trading interests. And, on one important point, he was in a great degree free from uneasiness. The kingdom enjoyed the blessings of peace; and no foreign power was prepared to second any attempts which might be made against his crown and dignity by his discontented subjects.
Notwithstanding the full exertion of the influence of government on the election of members to serve in the first Parliament of this reign, about a third part of those returned to the House of Commons were Tories. These, headed by Sir William Wyndham, maintained, in the great council of the nation, a kind of guerilla war against the government; and though they could not carry any point in debate, they divided with respectable minorities, embarrassed the proceedings of the administration, and thus kept up the spirits, and cherished the hopes, of the discontented.
In the summer of 1715, the effects of the machinations of the Jacobites were manifest in England by serious riots and tumults, in which several Dissenting meeting-houses were pulled down. The government were not insensible to these signs of the times. They were aware of the impending danger, and, on the circulation of a manifesto from the Pretender, in pursuance of an address from the House of Commons to the throne, they immediately proceeded to raise an army of seven thousand men, in addition to the ordinary guards and garrisons. On this occasion they wisely availed themselves of the popularity of the Duke of Marlborough with the military, in delegating to him and the Duke of Argyle, and the Generals Stanhope and Cadogan, the nomination of the officers who were to command these forces.
These preparations seem to have accelerated the movements of the rebels; for, at the latter end of August, 1715, the Earl of Mar, who, to cloak his treasonable designs, had, on the accession of the king, taken the oath of allegiance, and had even offered him his services, began to assemble his forces in
the shire of Perth; and, on the 9th of September, he proclaimed the Pretender, and erected his standard at the small markettown of Kirk Michael. The same ceremony was performed five days after at Moulin, where the insurgents stayed fourteen days, and then proceeded to Logarett, and thence to Dunkeld, where they established their head-quarters. On his arrival at Dunkeld, Mar was at the head of only 1000 men; but at this place his army was increased by 2000 Highlanders, commanded by the Marquis of Tullibardine and the Earl of Bredalbain. Soon after the accession of these forces, receiving intelligence that the Earl of Rothes was assembling troops for the purpose of occupying the town of Perth on behalf of King George, he resolved to anticipate him, and detached for that purpose Mr. Hay, brother to the Earl of Kinnoul, who, at the head of a strong party, took possession of that town, which gave him the command of the passage over the Tay, and opened to him the fruitful province of Fife.
Mar now removed his head quarters to Perth, where he was joined by the Marquis of Huntley, the Earl of Seaforth, the Mackintoshes, and the Earl Mareschal. These chieftains were accompanied by the fighting men of their respective clans, who swelled the number of the rebel army to about 12,000 The Earl of Rothes, being unable to make head against so large a body, was obliged to retire to Stirling; and the insurgents took Burnt Island, and all the towns on the coast of Fife; thus extending their conquests to the mouth of the Firth of Forth.
The confederated chiefs, having received intelligence that their friends were ready to rise in the south of Scotland and the north of England, determined to send a strong detachment across the Firth of Forth to co-operate with them. This movement was a perilous one, as three men of war were stationed at the mouth of the estuary. But, taking advantage of the state of the tide, on the nights of the 11th and 12th of October they embarked 2500 men, under the command of Brigadier Mackintosh, in boats collected for that purpose. Of these, 1000 were driven back to the Fifeshire coast; but 1500 of them landed at North Berwick, and other places in Lothian, and took up their quarters at Haddington and Travent. Hence they marched to Edinburgh; but, being disappointed in their expectations of being joined by the populace of that city, and receiving intelligence that the Duke of Argyle was hastening from Stirling to oppose them, they turned off to the right, and marching to Leith, they took that town without opposition. Having fortified the place with such works as could be hastily thrown up, they continued to occupy it during the 13th and 14th of October. On the latter day, the Duke of Argyle, at
the head of 1120 men, appeared before their fortifications; but, finding the rebels too strongly posted, he returned to Edinburgh to collect more forces, intending to attack them with artillery the next day. But Mackintosh, having received intelligence of his design, drew off his small party by a night march to Seaton house. On Sunday, the 16th of October, and on the following day, their position was reconnoitered by a division of the king's troops, who, however, did not venture to attack them, as the Duke of Argyle, with the main body of his forces, had been obliged to return to Stirling, which was threatened by a movement made by Mar upon Dumblain, for the purpose of making a diversion in favour of such of his troops as had crossed the Firth. On Monday, the 17th, Brigadier Mackintosh received orders from the rebel commanders to quit Seaton, and march for England, for the purpose of joining the friends of the Pretender, who had risen in Northumberland; and, having on the next day received despatches from that county, urging him to hasten his march to the southward, he quitted Seaton house on the 19th; and, though he was pursued by a part of the garrison of Edinburgh, he passed in safety through Dunse; and on the 22d arrived at Kelso, where, on the evening of the above-mentioned day, he was joined by the Northumberland and Nithsdale rebels.
The English insurgents were headed by the Earl of Derwentwater and Mr. Forster. These zealous partizans of the exiled family had for some time been engaged in preparing their associates for a revolt, by means of emissaries, who traversed the kingdom in the guise of gentlemen travelling for their amusement. But, understanding that the government had received intelligence of their machinations, they concealed themselves in various places of refuge, till, despairing of any other means of safety than open resistance to authority, they privately summoned their immediate friends to meet them in arms on the 6th of October at a place called Greenrig. Mr. Forster appeared first at the rendezvous, and was soon joined by the Earl. Though their united forces amounted only to sixty men, they resolved to stand the hazard of the die, and proceeded in warlike array to Warkworth, where they arrived on Friday, the 7th of October.
"Here," says Mr. Patten," they continued till Monday, during which time nothing material happened, except that, on Sunday morning, Mr. Forster, who now styled himself general, sent Mr. Buxton, their chaplain, to Mr. Ion, the parson of the parish, with orders for him to pray for the Pretender, as king; and, in the Litany, for Mary, queen-mother, and all the dutiful branches of the royal family; and to omit the usual names of King George, the Prince, and Princess; which Mr. Ion wisely declining, Mr. Buxton took possession of the
church, read prayers, and preached. Meanwhile the parson went to Newcastle, to consult his own safety, and acquaint the government with what had happened."
From Warkworth, Forster marched to Morpeth. On his way to that town he received such additions of recruits, that he entered it at the head of 300 horse. His numbers, indeed, would have been much more considerable, had he been provided with arms to distribute to those of the lower class who voluntered their services. In his present circumstances, he could only accept the aid of those who could furnish their own accoutrements. Relying, however, on his partisans in the town of Newcastle, he was in hopes of making himself master of that important place, the occupation of which would have put him in possession of abundance of arms and military stores. With a view of taking it by surprise, he advanced to a heath adjoining to Dilston, the seat of Lord Derwentwater. But, on receiving the unwelcome tidings that the magistrates had put the town in a posture of defence, and that they were seconded in their preparations by the inhabitants, and especially by the keel-men, who, as Mr. Patten observes, "were mostly dissenters," he retired with his little army to Hexham, where he had taken up his quarters the preceding night. Here he staid three days, which time he employed in making levies of arms and horses upon the friends of the House of Hanover who resided in the town and neighbourhood; and, on the eve of his departure, he solemnly proclaimed the Pretender at the market-cross.
At Hexham Mr. Forster received intelligence that the flame of insurrection had broken out in Nithsdale, and that Viscount Kenmure and the Earls of Nithsdale and Carnwath had entered England, and were advanced to Rothbury, with a view of forming a junction with his forces. Of these noblemen, Lord Kenmure had been the earliest in taking the field, having led the way in proclaiming the Pretender at Moffatt. The standard which was borne at the head of his party was very handsome, one side being blue, with the Scotch arms wrought in gold :-the other bore a thistle, with the usual motto, "Nemo me impune lacessit," to which was added the vulgar watch-word of "No Union." To the standard were attached pendants of white ribbon, one of which bore the inscription, "For our wronged King and oppressed Country:"-the other, "For our Lives and Liberties." On the 13th of October, the earls above-mentioned having joined him, Kenmure attempted to surprise the town of Dumfries; but being baffled in this enterprise by the vigilance and spirit of the Marquis of Annandale, he retired to Loughmaben, and on the 14th marched to Ecclefechan, whence he proceeded to Langholme; and then