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The Life and Diary of Lieut. Col. J. Blackader
Chapter III


THE REVOLUTION.

General remarks—Revolution in England—In Scotland—Cameronians guard the Convention of Estates—Conduct of Viscount Dundee.

The encroachments of arbitrary power had so far exceeded all the reasonable bounds of prerogative, as to make revolt the indispensible duty of every subject. In the propriety of imposing some restraint upon its enormous aggressions, all ranks acquiesced with one general consent. A revolution they felt to be not merely a desirable, but a necessary measure,—a remedy which nature, reason and religion equally suggested, and which all nations have had recourse to, when that power which had been delegated for their happiness and security, has been wrested from its original purposes, and turned to the extinction of their liberties or their lives.

It is a fundamental law of policy, as well as a kind and wise provision in nature, that no authority can be permanent that is built on violence and terror. If not founded in the rules of justice, and the hearts of the people, it stands on hollow and volcanic ground. 'The growth of faction may be checked for a time, or suppressed by force, but the latent seeds of resistance still remain, too deeply rooted ever to be eradicated. In this state of combustible and jealous discontent, the national feeling is always ready, on sufficient provocation, to burst out into open insurrection. There can be no lasting dominion, and no real security where such suspicions exist,—where there is not a mutual and mistrustless confidence between the governed and their governors; which alone can prevent those scruples and apprehensions, that mankind are naturally inclined to, in reference to those placed in authority over them. But where this mutual assurance and good faith subsist, they will be a sufficient guarantee for the stability of power, and dispel those doubts and misgivings that haunt the public tranquillity with the perpetual terrors of infringement.

Possessing the love, and supported by the universal opinion of his subjects, a prince is better fortified than he could ever be, though environed with all the acts of the most despotic legislature. He reigns independent of changes and revolutions. He dreads no rebellion, as he is not conscious of doing any thing to provoke or deserve it. He has all the real authority a magistrate can ever be invested with; and, by a natural consequence, is more absolute than the most unlimited measures of power could make him. Though law were abolished, his reign would continue in force, for his wisdom would act, voluntarily, without direction or constraint, in the same manner as if guided by the statute. Then, and then only, a king can he truly and safely great. He is united to his subjects by a more sacred and durable interest, than the Cold and formal ties of political relationship. His throne is exalted above the fears of popular commotion; for the people have no temptation, and no cause to raise their thoughts beyond the sphere of their obedience. Their wishes and their benedictions will ascend towards him like perpetual incense, and the error they are most likely to commit, were they to follow the bent of their inclinations, would be the sin of idolatry, rather than that of treason or rebellion.

As there can be no real empire, but in the affections of the people; so there can be no allegiance, but on the same principle. Abstract this quality, and allegiance is reduced to a heartless ceremony, if not a burdensome and ungracious task. Laws may be imposed, but they will be imperfectly obeyed. The people will consider themselves as the vassals, and not the subjects of the crown. The prince, instead of receiving the willing sacrifice of duty, will be served with the reluctant homage of slaves and tributaries ; and, though he should bend his refractory subjects by force, into the most abject servility, he will never be able to overcome his own fears. These are enemies which he cannot subdue, and which will make his own kingdom as dangerous and insecure, as if he lived in a hostile country. If men stand in awe of his authority, it is only because he can punish. His power which ought to be terrible to none but offenders, will carry to all indiscriminately, a frightful and repulsive aspect. And though men do pay it an external respect, their submission will be like the worship which some of the ancients paid to noxious animals, more out of terror than reverence. When he has thrown aside the roles of mercy and justice, he has lost all the attributes that can make him venerable in the eyes of the people.

These remarks are not inapplicable to the state and feelings of the British nation, at the Revolution of 1683. The arbitrary principles, and Popish bigotry of James, had generated in the minds of his subjects, a degree of mistrust and aversion which was beyond the power of law to remedy. For it was impossible they could ever dismiss their jealousies and apprehensions, so long as a king kept possession of the throne, who believed his power to be indisputable, and superior to the control of laws or parliaments. Nothing could restore the public confidence and tranquillity, but the radical extirpation of despotism. For this change, the nation were fully ripened and prepared in their sentiments, long ere a foreign invader had reached their shores. James, in effect, though he had not abdicated the throne, had ceased to reign; and William was virtually king of England, before lie had quitted his own territory.

It is true, with the exception of the outlawed Presbyterians, there were but feeble and partial efforts at resistance or open revolt. Many were restrained from mere dislike of innovation, or the ties of settled and established customs; others from a dread of hazarding the uncertainties of a doubtful and perilous en-terprize. But the event proved, that this smothered discontent only wanted opportunity to discharge itself ; that the people were ready to embrace freedom under any leader, to rally round any adventure that held out a likely prospect of success. And when they saw the projector of their deliverance once fairly embarked in his heroic undertaking, there was a simultaneous movement, a systematic co-operation in his favour, that overpowered all opposition. The infection spread from one end of the island to the other. All classes fervently prayed for his success, or eagerly flocked to his standard. The defection of the nation, from their former masters, was not only universal, but almost instantaneous. The Revolution was accomplished with all the celerity and surprise of a dramatic representation.

Nothing could more strikingly evince the unstable and unnatural foundation on which James had built his overgrown tyranny; and how little hold he had, in reality, over the sympathies and attachments of his subjects. Few, in adversity, adhered to his fallen interests, of all whom he had loaded with his favours, or honoured with his personal friendship. The fleet mutinied, and refused to counteract the invader. The military which he had carefully trained to be the Praetorian guard of his authority, almost to a man deserted him. His generals, one by one, turned rebels. The calls of honour and fealty, esteemed by the soldier as the most sacred of all engagements, were found but slender obligations, when put in competition with the safety of their country and their religion. .

The spirit of disaffection which terror had formerly silenced and kept down, now burst out on all sides without disguise, and without fear. The unfortunate monarch saw himself on the brink of a precipice, which the delusions of flattery and superstition had concealed from his eyes. As the tide of invasion approached his capital, the bulwarks of royalty fell to pieces of their own accord. He was dislodged, without striking a single blow, from the strongholds of despotism, where he had vainly imagined himself fenced securely with oaths and tests, beyond the fear or the possibility of assault. Struck with astonishment and consternation, he abandoned a throne which he had neither policy to fill, nor courage to defend; leaving to his successor a victory without blood, and a crown without a competitor. With a few adherents, he escaped to France, which had already been the asylum of his own, and his brother’s misfortunes. There he out-lived his former grandeur, and had the unspeakable felicity, after an exile of twelve years, to expire in the arms of that religion which had cost him three kingdoms.

The prevailing genius of the two nations is well exemplified by their conduct at the Revolution. In England, where there was a more ceremonious awe for royalty in the abstract, and a greater veneration for the names and forms of official dignities, the public mind was held to the current order of events, by an influence which it was difficult to shake off. Political reasons seemed incapable of stirring it into action, without the addition of ecclesiastical motives; and it is probable, had not the English Episcopacy been threatened with extinction, matters might have lingered on without redress, and the crown ultimately succeeded in its arbitrary projects. But here the bigotted zeal, and eager temerity of James luckily frustrated the completion of his purposes.

The most unpopular and alarming feature of his reign was, lhs undisguised attempt to abolish Prelacy, and substitute Catholicism, which was universally abhorred as the religion of slavery, and proscribed by repeated acts of the legislature. He had imbibed, with his mother’s milk, a fatal predilection for the Romish Communion, which neither policy nor experience could teach him to conceal. It was not an age for experimenting on religion. Church controversies were agitated with the greatest keenness; and there was not one inviting symptom, throughout the empire, for putting the faith of the nation to this critical trial.

To change the religion of a state, is an enterprize always hazardous, and seldom practicable. It requires a conjunction of favourable circumstances, and the most consummate political skill, neither of which James possessed. Nevertheless, his intemperate zeal hurried him, by a singular infatuation, blindly on to destruction, without even awakening him to a sense of his own danger. The partiality he shewed to Catholics, at once disgusted and alarmed his Protestant subjects. The Pope’s Nuncio was publicly entertained at his court. Swarms of Priests and Jesuits were imported, and employed in making proselytes. Fransiscans, Benedictines, Dominicans, Capuchins, and Carmelites overran the whole country. They engrossed the royal favour, and were rapidly advancing to monopolize all places of official trust. Psalters and manuals, beads, rosaries, and other Popish trinkets became staple articles of traffic, and were exposed for sale in every place of public resort. Popery bad begun to erect her seminaries, to set altar against altar, and bring her odious mysteries fearlessly into open light. This bold effrontery startled all parties in England; and in opposing it, whig and tory, churchman and dissenter unanimously coalesced.

In Scotland, there was not the same unanimity. The tics of interest bound many to the throne, who, if they had not been self-concerned, would not have adhered to it so tenaciously, from an exclusive veneration for majesty. The Episcopalian party, whose very existence was linked to the crown, and who seemed ready to adopt any creed the court chose to impose, and several of the nobility, stood out for James. The Revolution was accomplished by the Presbyterians alone, in the face of their adversaries, and in spite of all their efforts to interrupt and embarrass their proceedings. From their secret correspondence with William, they were aware of his projected invasion, and prepared to expect his arrival. Their situation at home was equally known to the Prince, who had correct intelligence from special agents, as well as from the religious emigrants of both kingdoms who had fled to his dominions, and found a secure asylum under his protection.

So soon as he had got possession of the capital, a body of their countrymen, in London, made a formal proffer of their allegiance, requesting him to assume the government of Scotland, and summon a Convention of the Estates. The news of his sudden and peaceable accession, was the signal for a general commotion in his favour. Edinburgh became the centre of resort from all places in the kingdom. Private deliberations were held in every corner of the city. Taverns and coffee-houses were crowded with politicians. Their numbers were daily augmented, and their confidence emboldened by the growing timidity of their antagonists. Meetings, which had been proscribed as treasonable, were now held, unmolested, within the very precincts of that authority which had lately spread terror and flight over the whole country. The anathemas of Prelacy were totally disregarded. The formidable jurisdiction of the Council and the Bench, had dwindled into contempt. Their confusion was increased by contradictory reports, rumours of invasions, and false alarms of Popish massacres. To add to their trepidation, they lost the support of the regular forces, which were partly disbanded through the intrigues of a few Presbyterian leaders, and partly summoned to England to defend their master, but in reality, to swell the train of the conqueror.

In this destitute and abandoned condition, their power became languid, and seemed to expire of its own accord. The symbols of office dropt insensibly from their hands. Their fears even constrained them to consult their own safety, by obliterating, as far as they could, the remaining vestiges of despotism, and abolishing the public monuments, of their cruelty. They hastened to set at liberty prisoners illegally detained, whose wrongs they dreaded as evidence and witnesses against themselves. They took down the heads and hands of the martyrs, some of which had stood for eight-and-twenty years on the gates and market-crosses of the city, lest the horrid spectacle might revive the memory of their guilt, and occasion the question to he agitated, for what, and by whom they had been set up?

Relieved from the terror of the military, the Revolutionists seemed to dismiss all other apprehensions. The panic of their enemies, they wisely improved to their own advantage, and hastened to secure the easy conquest it had given them. To intercept communication with the English Jacobites, they shut up the channels of intelligence, dispersing emissaries throughout the kingdom, who opened all packets and expresses, and suffered no letters of importance to pass. To supply the place of the disbanded troops, they ordered militias to he raised and accoutred, and given in command to such officers as could he relied on. Every precaution was adopted, - that policy could suggest. The reins of legislature were now seized by other hands; while Liberty and Justice, returning from exile, prepared to mount those seats which persecution and arbitrary power had left vacant.

The Convention of Estates had been summoned to meet at Edinburgh, and met accordingly on the 14th of March, 1689. Lord Angus’ Regiment was not yet embodied, hut many of them served in the Cameronian Guard, that volunteered for the temporary protection of the Estates. In the honourable struggle for independence, this sect had not remained idle or unconcerned spectators. 4 Their activity was pre-eminent, and their general conduct marked with a forbearance surpassing expectation. When the rumour spread that the Irish Catholics had commenced a general massacre, and burnt the town of Kirkcudbright, they ran to their arms; but finding no enemy to oppose, they turned their weapons against the images and idolatries of Popery. They afterwards distributed themselves in small parties along the borders, to cut off the enemy’s sources of information, by preventing all strangers, without passes, to enter or leave the kingdom.

Some days before the sitting of the Convention, several companies of them had come to Edinburgh, with the Duke of Hamilton, the Laird of Binny, and other gentlemen, and were quartered about the Parliament House. There were great numbers, besides which, they kept hid in cellars, and houses below the ground, which never appeared till some days after the Convention was begun, though they were generally believed to be thrice as many as they were.” A considerable body of them were stationed as a regular guard on the Castle-hill, to intercept intelligence and provision for the garrison, and others were employed in digging trenches preparatory to the siege.

These precautionary defences tended greatly to maintain the tranquillity, and expedite the deliberations of tbe Conventional Assembly. The majority, which had been secured at the election by a manoeuvre of Sir John Dalrymple, left the Episcopal members but a feeble chance of opposition. The principal source of their danger and disturbance, was from enemies without. The Duke of Gordon, a Roman Catholic, held the Castle: but it is probable he would speedily have come to terms of capitulation, had he not been instigated by a bolder spirit than his own, for his garrison was disaffected, and his supply of stores entirely dependent on the town.

The prime abettor of rebellion, and the adversary most to be dreaded, was the Viscount Dundee, already notoriously odious to the Presbyterians, under the name of Claverhouse. He and the Earl of Balcar-ras had been commissioned to act, the one as the civil, the other as the military agent of the Jacobites. Dundee arrived in Edinburgh with about fifty horsemen, who had deserted from his old regiment, then in England. He endeavoured to excite tumult and division in the Convention, and failing in that attempt, he urged the Duke of Gordon to fire upon the city, and disperse them. But the irresolution of the governor balked him in this expectation.

Disappointed In all his schemes, and enraged equally at friends and foes, he determined to repair to Stirling, and summoned a counter-convention, which his instructions authorised him to do. In this project, he was also frustrated by the infidelity of Mar, who had command of the castle, and deserted him to join the Revolutionists. To prevent the alarm his departure from Edinburgh would occasion, he gave out that his life was in danger, that the western fanatics had threatened to assassinate him, in requital of his former cruelties. He applied to the Convention for justice and protection; but they were too much occupied with weightier matters, to investigate the evidence of an imaginary conspiracy. 6 Chagrined by neglect and disappointment, he quitted the house and the city, breathing threats and revenge. As he rode past the castle, on the west side, the Duke of Gordon observed him, and made a signal for an interview. He dismounted, climbed up the steep rock, to the foot of the walls, and at a small postern, 'remained in conference with the Duke for some time.

The novelty of the spectacle attracted a crowd below. The number increasing, spread the alarm of some hostile design-, as they were mistaken for Dundee’s adherents. Messages were repeatedly sent to the Convention, that an army was at the gates, and the governor of the castle preparing to fire upon the town. The president, Duke of Hamilton, though he had better intelligence, resolved to improve this sudden panic, into an occasion to encourage his friends, and intimidate their opponents. In a tone of counterfeited rage, he told the Convention that it was high time to look to their own safety, since Papists and enemies to the government were so hold, as to assemble at their very gates; that doubtless, there were some among themselves privy to the design, and that the traitors within must he held in confinement until the danger was over : But that the friends of liberty had nothing to fear, since thousands were ready to start up in their defence at the stamp of his foot. He ordered the doors immediately to he bolted, and the keys laid on the table before him. He caused drums and trumpets to sound to arms, and despatched the Earl of Leven to collect and embody the Cameronians, who only waited the signal to emerge from their concealments. “In an instant, vast swarms of those who had been brought to town from the western counties, and who had been hitherto hid in garrets and cellars, appeared in the streets, not indeed in proper habiliments of war, but with arms, and with looks fierce and sullen, as if they felt disdain at their former confinement. All was noise, hurry, and confusion in the town, especially about the Parliament-Square. The Jacobite members hearing the clamour without, and ignorant of the cause; and finding them' selves locked up in the hands of-their enemies, looked upon their hopes as blasted, and lost all resolution in the midst of tumult and conjecture. When the doors were thrown open, the Presbyterian members were hailed, as they passed, with acclamations, while those of the opposite party were received with the hisses and execrations of the populace. Terrified by the apprehensions of unknown dangers, many changed sides, and joined the Convention; others left town, and returned to their homes in despair.

When the Revolutionists, by their superior policy, had thus freed themselves from turbulent opposition, they acted with the greatest promptitude and. unanimity. Their proceedings savoured nothing of that tardy and scrupulous ambiguity, which marked the debates of the English Convention. There, it was disputed, whether a king could, by misgovernment, or on any other account, forfeit his sacred title to the crown. The doctrine of dethronement, and of altering, by election, the ancient hereditary line, seemed like introducing an unnatural chasm into the constitution. Hence the delicate and equivocal terms in which their vote of deposition is couched: That James, having endeavoured to subvert the constitution, and withdrawn himself out of the kingdom, had abdicated the government. The Scottish Convention, who were not shackled by the same dread of innovation, or the same attachments to a settled "unbroken succession, declared their sentiments at once, without fear, and without ceremony. Entering into no verbal criticisms or refined distinctions, they came boldly to the resolution, “ That James, being a professed Papist, had assumed the royal power, and acted as king, without having taken the oaths required by law; and had, by the advice of wicked and evil counsellors, invaded the fundamental constitution of the kingdom— altered it from a limited and legal monarchy, into an arbitrary and despotic power, and had exerted the same, to the subversion of the Protestant religion, and the violation of the laws and liberties of the kingdom ; whereby he had forfeited his right to the crown, and the throne had become vacant.”

The crown was then offered to William and Mary, who were proclaimed at the market-cross of Edinburgh, king and queen, with the greatest demonstrations of joy that had ever been seen in Scotland. The Meeting of Estates was converted into a parliament, and every thing promised an amicable conclusion. It is probable the Revolution in Great Britain would have been achieved without a single drop of blood, but for the haughty and rebellious temper of one man.

The Viscount Dundee was certainly the life and spirit of the Jacobite party; but he has evidently got far more credit for his disinterested loyalty and devoted attachment to his master, than he is entitled to. Historians have romanced upon his exploits, and lavished their panegyrics on the gallantry and generosity of his character. His bravery was undoubted; but the honesty of his intentions, and the integrity of his principles, admit not of unqualified praise. If he was loyal, it was more to serve his own interest, than from any inherent or steady affection to the existing dynasty. Pride, ambition, and revenge were his master passions; and he would have fought under any banner, and for any cause that had honours and emoluments to bestow. He had been originally a soldier of fortune, and bis conduct veered with the caprices of that fickle divinity. At his first outset, when a volunteer in the French service, he carried arms in opposition to William. He afterwards joined his standard, was made a coronet in the Royal Guards; and at the battle of Seneffe, in 1674, he had the honour to save the Prince’s life. This brave action, his Highness instantly requited with a captain’s commission; a generosity which left no room for the reflection he afterwards made, that William was ungrateful. One of the Scottish Regiments, in Holland, becoming vacant, his ambition aspired to the command ; but the Prince was pre-engaged. This refusal he construed into an affront, and quitted the Dutch service. He returned to his native country in 1677, again to become the enemy of William, by persecuting his interest in Scotland.

At the Revolution, his conduct at first was ambiguous. If he did not actually offer his services to the Prince, as some have thought, he seemed inclined, at least, to remain neuter, f His panegyrists, I know, deny this;| but others affirm it without hesitation. “It is most certain,” says the candid writer of a life of King William, “that my Lord Dundee did not originally design to break with the Prince. He had served under him in Flanders, was a Protestant, and as is generally believed, had no great inclination for James ; but he was in a manner forced upon what he did, by the carriage of a fine gentleman, and a very good officer, (Colonel Cleland,) who afterwards lost his life in the quarrel.”  The nature of this provocation it is to he regretted, cannot now he ascertained; but it was probably some accidental recounter about the streets of Edinburgh, and might give rise to the report of his assassination, as he and Cleland were acquainted of old, having commenced an intimacy at Drumclog, which Dundee was not likely to forget. Thus, wounded pride, and the desire of revenge, it would appear, contributed as much as loyalty, to kindle and prolong the flames of civil war.


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