« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
But the system, as has been said, is more favourable to independence of thought; and this being so, the greater the intolerance the more certain the schism. This inherent tendency of Presbyterianism was increased by the peculiar character of the settlement carried through by William's ministers. That settlement was essentially a compromise, embracing on the one hand many who cherished Episcopacy in their hearts, and on the other, zealots prepared to enforce the Covenant upon all, and who joined the communion with that very purpose. On the Scotch temperament, hardened as it was by years of strife and suffering, such a compromise could have no permanent hold. Mr. Burton, than whom there is no higher authority on such a point, seems to think that the repeated dissents which have marked the history of the Scottish Church had their origin rather in doctrinal differences, vainly thought by the comprehensiveness of the Revolution Settlement to have been laid at rest, than in the Patronage Act of Anne. And the practical effect of those disruptions has been that, at the present day, dissenters in Scotland are comparatively more numerous, wield more political power, and stand higher in social regard, than their English brethren.
But even more than ecclesiastical difficulties the state of the Highlands was a cause of anxiety to the Secretary. His correspondence is full of the subject; the importance and difficulty of which he alone, among the statesmen of the time, would seem to have fully apprehended. His earlier views were worthy of his far-sighted sagacity, and pointed to nothing less than the abortive crime which was the actual issue. The theme of Glencoe is something worn; but Mr. Graham's publication invites a brief consideration of the part taken in the business by the Master of Stair.
Mr. Graham maintains that the Master was ' unconscious of “the unjustifiable severity and atrocity of the act he autho
rised;' and that he would not have sanctioned the manner of the massacre. He quotes as evidence of this two letters from the Secretary to Colonel Hill, which will hardly serve his purpose. One of these refers only, and refers not very honestly, to the charge that the Macdonalds had been murdered after they had taken the oath of allegiance: the other is a letter intended to set at rest Hill's feelings of remorse, fully approving all that had been done, and ending with the remarkable words, • When you do right, you need fear nobody. These very letters plainly show the Secretary to have been an accessory after the fact. But we must take with them the tenor of his whole
correspondence ; his directions for securing the passes; his cautions against allowing the least alarm to be excited; his expressions of satisfaction in the thought that the inclemency of the weather would complete what of the bloody work might be left undone. It does not indeed, appear that the plan of murder determined on was communicated to the Secretary; personally he would have shrunk from the base treachery of which his subordinates were not ashamed ; but it is impossible to dispute that his instructions entitled those subordinates to adopt any means, however base and treacherous, which they thought best adapted to secure the suddenness and secrecy' so carefully enjoined.
Patriotic Scotch writers have endeavoured to shift the blame from the Secretary to the King. Thus, Mr. Mackay will have it that the terms of William's order justified all that took place. He rejects, in one confident sentence, Lord Macaulay's argument, that the order might have been signed by William in a perfectly legitimate meaning, and with a perfectly legitimate purpose. We wish he had given his reasons; for we find it hard to understand how an order to extirpate a * gang of thieves' is in itself a wrong order; or how it can, fairly construed, be held to authorise that even thieves are to be deluded by feigned friendship, by acceptance of hospitality, by lying protestations and false conviviality, and then assassinated in their beds. That William was prepared to visit with severity such marauding clans as should not have taken the oath within the required time is probable enough; but the order which he signed at its worst meant no more than the original proclamation. It meant far less than the letters of fire and sword which had for centuries been, in the times of Scotland's beloved native princes, a species of legal process, repeatedly used against Highland Septs-especially against the clan MacGregor, in 1563, in 1589, and in 1603. The Commission of 1695 reported, as is well known, that there ' was nothing in the King's instructions to warrant the committing of the foresaid slaughter, even as to the thing itself, and far less as to the manner of it.' But this does not at all embarrass Mr. Mackay, who gets over it by the easy assertion, that the efforts of the Commission were directed to whitewash the King and incriminate the Master of Stair.' Such an assertion is whoily unwarranted. Few public documents have been subjected to a severer scrutiny than the report in question; and it has stood that scrutiny well. The tone of the document is calm and passionless. The evidence is ably digested, and stated, as is allowed by the most
violent partisans, with perfect fairness. Mr. Mackay himself admits, that the Commissioners have given, fully and fairly, the grounds of the opinion which they formed; and he is not entitled, because that opinion does not commend itself to his views, to accuse the authors of a state paper, conceived in such a spirit, of unjust efforts to arrive at a foregone conclusion.
The Secretary is best defended, not by imputing to others blame which truly rests with him, but by considering his motives, and the circumstances with which he was called upon to deal. There are many who, on Celtic matters, will give no heed to Lord Macaulay or Mr. Burton, but few will dispute the authority of Bailie Nichol Jarvie, who thus describes the state of the Highlands in 1715:-
"" In the name of God," said I, “ what do they do, Mr. Jarvie? It makes me shudder to think of the situation.".
"“Sir," replied the Bailie, “ye wad maybe shudder mair if ye were living near hand them. For admitting that the tae half of thém may make some little thing for themsells honestly in the Lowlands by shearing in harst, droving, hay-making and the like; ye hae still mony hundreds and thousands o' lang-legged Hieland gillies that will neither work nor want, and maun gang thigging and sorning about on their acquaintance, or live by doing the laird's bidding, be't right or bet wrang. And mair especially, mony hundreds o' them come down to the borders of the low country, where there's gear to grip, and live by stealing, reiving, lifting cows, and the like depredations-a thing deplorable in ony Christian country—the mair especially that they take a pride in it, and reckon driving a spreagh (whilk" is, in plain Scotch, stealing a herd of nowte) a gallant, manly action, and mair befitting of pretty men (as sic reivers will ca' themsells) than to win a day's wage by ony honest thrift. And the lairds are as bad as the loons; for if they dinna bid them gae reive and harry, the deil a bit they forbid them; and they shelter them, or let them shelter themsells, in their woods, and mountains, and strongholds, whenever the thing's dune. And every ane o' them will maintain as mony o' his ane name, or his clan, as we say, as he can rap and rend means for; or, whilk is the same thing, as mony as can, in any fashion, fair or foul, maintain themsells; and there they are wi' gun and pistol, dirk and dourlach, ready to disturb the peace o' the country whenever the laird likes; and that's the grievance of the Hielands, whilk are, and hae been for this thousand years by-past, a bike o' the maist lawless unchristian limmers that ever disturbed a douce, quiet, God-fearing neighbourhood like this o' ours in the West here."'.
Things were certainly no better in 1692. Alone of the statesmen of his time the Secretary appreciated the enormity of this evil. He saw that such a population would never be at peace; that its existence was in truth“ a thing deplorable 'in any Christian country. He opposed, from the first, Tarbat's scheme of pacifying the Highlands by grants of money. He rightly judged that such a remedy could have a temporary effect only. So long as money was forthcoming the country would enjoy quiet; so soon as the payments should cease Highland Jacobitism would become an active passion. He saw that the only adequate remedy was to enforce, with a high hand, order and obedience to law; and to draft off a large portion of a population more than double what could be maintained in the country by the arts of industry and peace, and kept up by rival chiefs from pride and for purposes of rapine. In other words, there should have been done then what was long afterwards accomplished by the severities of Cumberland and the happy conception of Chatham. That the Master of Stair, had the means been at his disposal, would have pacified the Highlands with all the vigour of Cumberland is certain, and that he would not have shrunk from any of the severities of Cumberland is more than probable. And if in 1692 the Highlands had been occupied by troops and subjected to military law; if forts had then been built and roads made; had the leading freebooters been shipped off to America, after the fashion in which Henry Cromwell dealt with Irishmen certainly not more guilty of offences against law and order; had the active youth been sent to serve in the Low Countries; and the whole clan system broken up; how rapid would have been the advance of the country in prosperity and happiness, how many miseries would have been spared, how much of noble and innocent blood had never flowed. To have adopted such a course, without bribing the rebel chiefs into a simulated submission, and receiving from them an oath of allegiance which everybody knew to be worthless, would have been wise and salutary, if severe, statesmanship. And a consideration of the whole evidence would seem to show that some such scheme had been originally present to the mind of the Secretary. That in his letters he often uses language evincing a preference for harsh modes of coercion is true; but there can, we think, be little doubt that, had a comprehensive scheme of this character been adopted, its very completeness would have gone far to induce a man of large views and kindly disposition to forego unnecessary cruelty. Unquestionably to carry out this policy would not have been work for a squeamish statesman. One essential part of it, the diminution of more than a half of the existing Highland population, could hardly have been accomplished by gentle means. Yet, on the whole, the human suffering would have been little compared with the miseries of two rebellions; and these would never have occurred
had the Master of Stair - pacified' the Highlands according to his own views in 1692.
Foiled in his statesmanlike purpose, the Secretary turned savagely on the victims who had been brought into his grasp by foolish pride on their own part and wicked chicanery on his. His hatred of the Highland race was now inflamed by disappointment at losing such an opportunity of rendering a permanent service to his country. These feelings, of mixed good and evil, led him not only to forget humanity, but, as we think, to commit an error in statecraft. Failing a comprehensive policy applicable to the whole Highlands, the proceedings taken against the Macdonalds were, in the lowest point of view, not worth while. Had every man of them been shot down, no lasting good would have been effected, no real advance made towards the pacification of the Highlands; and the idea of striking terror by the example was, as the result showed, an utter delusion.
The comparative impunity of the actors in this great crime has been made ground of heavy reproach against William. The Estates of Scotland, in their address to the Crown, urged, absurdly enough, that the officers in command should be prosecuted criminally, but left Stair to be dealt with as the King might think fit. Making every allowance for the subserviency of a Scottish Parliament to rank and place, and for their indifference to the lives of a few Highlanders, the fact that a man, hated by so many enemies, and who had given such occasion to that hatred, should have escaped so lightly, affords striking evidence of the high estimation in which the capacity and services of the Secretary must have been held. To have prosecuted soldiers who merely obeyed orders would have been inconsistent with all public policy; but how to deal with the Master was matter of difficulty. William was content to dismiss him from office-a lenity condemned by Lord Macaulay as “a fault amounting to a crime.' And, three years later, when, on the death of his father, he had become Viscount Stair, special letters of remission passed the Great Seal in his favour. The letters ran :
His Majesty, considering that John Viscount of Stair hath been employed on his service for many years, and in several capacitiesfirst, as his Majesty's Advocate, and thereafter as Secretary of State in which eminent employments persons are in danger, either by exceeding or coming short of their duty, to fall under the severity of law, and become obnoxious to prosecutions or troubles therefor; and his Majesty being well satisfied that the said John Viscount Stair hath rendered him many painful services, and being well assured of his