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The Whigs of Scotland or, the Last of the Stuarts
An historical romance of the Scottish Persecution in two volumes by William Craig Brownlee (1833)


History can lay before us only a general detail. Events, their causes and consequences, are the legitimate, and almost only attainable objects of the historian. More than this it would be impossible for him to accomplish. Materials for minute details, are not usually preserved. And it would be utterly impolitic to attempt more. The tedious delineations would render his voluminous history inaccessible to the great majority of his readers.

How much is thereby lost to posterity, both of profit and enjoyment! The family picture, the fire-side scenes, to which we long to be introduced,—the smiling innocence, the unalloyed enjoyments which virtue and love bestow; the throbs of the patriot and martyr’s bosom; the heart-rending sorrows spread over a whole circle of helpless and innocent beings, by the cruelty of tyrants, and the bigotry of fanatics; the sufferers’ firmness, and patience, and meek-spirited forgiveness,—are all lost to us, with the instructive lessons of their minute detail.

Every one has felt how delightful history becomes when, occasionally, it condescends to enter into minute r and personal narrative. And it is this very thing which ~ renders works of imagination, the party tales, and particularly the historical romance, so delightful to the young, to the gay, and to the studious; and acceptable even to the philosopher and the divine. They supply, in a natural manner, the thing we long after. The minute detail, the family scenes, the mental labours, the gradual formation of character, the shadings, the frailties of those whose deeds and actings on the grand arena of human life, we contemplate on the sober and chastened pages of history. History exhibits them in the dimness and obscurity of distance. In the minute and personal narrative, we are brought near to the actors; we are introduced to them, and hold communion with their souls and feelings.

And he who has studied the human heart; and the various forms of character brought out on the arena of life, may give a delineation of the character of the patriot-martyr, his sorrows, and enjoyments, and motives, in a manner, we doubt not, quite as faithfully according to the truth, as are most of the historian’s details of the events, and personages, of what he is pleased to call the history of real life.

There is a period in the Scottish History to which my mind turns always with an irrepressible and holy enthusiasm ;—a period when more of the Scottish character was brought out and set in bold relief, than in any other -period before it or since.

The bright days of happiness and peace, the singular prosperity of the nation, and unparalleled progress of the sciences, have changed the face of Scotland, since her union with England. Every body now, is content with the sacrifice of the nation’s Independence. The sacrifice, merely of feeling or national pride, which made, the high-minded Scottish patriot sigh for a season, has been amply rewarded by its Union with England. But those bright days were immediately preceded by a wintry storm,—which has not its equal in the records of Scotland, or perhaps any other nation’s story. During that winter of her year, the boldest, and the best, and the worst of her characters were exhibited in their full-length portraits.—The enthusiasm of the Whig came into fierce collision with the enthusiasm of the Tory.

In the present enlightened and liberal-minded age, when charity throws, playfully, around each rival, a chivalrous generosity; the more liberal Tory renders justice to the fierce rival of his forefathers. And even the Whig lets down the stern features of olden times, and is softened down into a smile of forbearance and even gratulation. And, side by side, they look back over the Killing Times with a rare combination of pity, goodwill, and forgiveness! But no patriot, no politician, will permit the remembrance of these times to pass away from his heart.—Nor can they: that dignity in the hour of sufferings; that purity of sentiment, and of Christian doctrine; that enthusiastic love of liberty, and of truth ; that spirit of fearless investigation, and manly resistance, which raised its voice and its hand, in the palaces of the great, and the thatched cottages of the peasantry of Scotland, against the gigantic efforts of a civil and religious fanaticism, which aimed at no less than the dragooning of a nation into the belief of the divine right of kings, and the divine right of prelates, to rule in absolute supremacy over men’s souls and estates;—that effectual and glorious overthrow of this tyranny and priest-craft; and that ushering in of the happiest and brightest days of Scotland,—can never be forgotten. And, moreover, It can never he forgotten that these were the fruits of the toils and sufferings of the Whigs of Scotland ! Thence does the Christian patriot derive a holy and impressive lesson which he ceases not to imprint on the memories of his children, that civil and religious liberty will ultimately triumph over every conspiracy to put it down;— were it plotted by a Leo of Medici, by a Laud of England, and by a Sharp of Scotland; and were it executed by the sword of a Stuart, the bayonet of a Bourbon, and the scimetar of a Mahomet!

Volume 1  |  Volume 2

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