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1689; and, secondly, the Honourable William Livingston, who succeeded his brother as third Viscount of Kilsyth in 1706. Lord Kilsyth married secondly, Barbara, daughter of Macdougall of Makerston, but dying under attainder at Rome in 1733, without surviving issue, the whole family became extinct."
Such is the epitaph, and every line of it is suggestive. What a story it contains of plottings and conspiracies, of banishments and providential visitations, of bereavements and broken affections, of political revolution and tumult, of love and war, of estrangement and strife, and of the extinction of a noble and lordly line. How suggestive are its brief clauses to the mind of the Scottish patriot. It is a witness, a reminder, of “those ages of darkness and blood, when the minister's home was the mountain and wood."
Although over two hundred years have elapsed since the death of Dundee, and although every event in his career has been fully expiscated, his life must still be regarded as an unsolved biographical exercise and problem. And it is so, not because there is anything specially intricate or peculiarly difficult of apprehension in the life itself, but it has invariably been approached and estimated in the interests of a bitter, envenomed, and uncompromising partisanship. Dundee's biographers have either been his sworn friends or his open foes. And so far as the literary portrait is concerned, the results are what might have been expected. The one class have loaded his memory with execration, the other have spoken of him in the language of the loftiest panegyric. The one have represented him as almost a fiend in human forma man from whose body the leaden bullets of the Covenanters rebounded harmless; the other have placed him
on the pedestal of the idol, and poured out before his shrine those oblations only rendered to the demi-gods. The interest excited by his name is still extraordinary. To one class of men to this hour he is the “Bloody Claver'se,” to another he is still “ Bonnie Dundee.”
This extraordinary partisanship is not without its excuse, for surely there never was human character that presented a finer field for the operations of the special pleader than that of Claverhouse. If it is wanted to brand his memory, there is lying ready to hand the cases of Andrew Hislop and John Brown, “The Christian Carrier.” If it is wanted to prove him an incompetent general, there is the defeat at Drumclog. And if evidence is wanting of his tyranny, there is his whole grinding policy towards the men of the West. On the other hand, if it is wanted to champion his character there is his life of singular moral purity, and his incorruptible integrity of purpose. If it is desired to vindicate his humanity and clemency, there are the pardons he granted to all those poor wretches lying in Dundee prison under sentence of death for petty offences. Again, if it is desired to prove his statesmanship and generalship, there are the rallying of the clans, and the battle of Killiecrankie.
This debating-society method of looking at the character of Dundee is not the right one. This is a case where a conjunct view is imperatively called for, and where such a view has been delayed to the detriment of the truth. Character is never found in its purely elemental forms. There is invariably a mingling of purer and baser ingredients, and if we look on Claverhouse without prejudice, he is very far indeed from being any exception to this rule. He is neither so black as his enemies have painted him, nor so great as such panegyrists as Scott, Aytoun, and Napier would lead us to suppose. A close glance at his career inakes at once apparent the singular brevity of his active life. A casual student of Claverhouse might well be tempted to infer that he had held office in Scotland for a long period, and that while in this land he had performed repeated efforts of the most exalted heroism. These things are not so. Such power as he had in Scotland was limited to a space of eleven years. He only fought two battles - Drumclog and Killiecrankie. His defeat at Drumclog led on to a rebellion. His victory at Killiecrankie was barren of result. So far as furthering the cause of James II. was concerned, that battle might as weil never have been fought. A great general is the child of great occasions, but to Dundee there only came the single opportunity. That he used it well is undoubted, that he would have followed it up involves “a might have been," of which the historian cannot take account. It was indicative of the possession of power, but all it really does is to elevate Dundee to the position of the Marcellus of Scottish military story.
There is a prominent feature in Dundee's character that has been wholly left out of account. I refer to his avariciousness, and the rapidity with which he rose to position and fortune. A general who can be relied upon deserves to be substantially rewarded; but surely the Drumclog defeat is a wholly inadequate explanation of the lucrative posts which Dundee eagerly sought after, and which almost without a murmur were bestowed on him. Beginning life as a cornet, a soldier of fortune, he became Commander of His Majesty's Forces in Scotland. A poor Scottish laird, he became a viscount. He held various sheriffships and commissionerships. The charge of the Dundee constabulary was not a distinguished place, but it was a fairly well-paid post, and he got it. In these short years he climbed to the top of the social tree, for he became a privy councillor, as well as a peer of the realm. He clutched at every confiscated estate. In 1680 he got the estate of Freugh, but he was not contented. Three years afterwards he captured the fine estate of Dudhope, near Dundee, of which Maitland, the proprietor, had been bereft. His own anxiety to get hold of Dudhope is a painful exhibition of covetousness. If Dundee had survived the battle of Killiecrankie, I can understand how a grateful King might have taken pride in rewarding proved merit, but what are we to think of all these emoluments and lands and honours, bestowed upon a man who had as yet given no more indication of military power than might have been well given by a sergeant of constabulary? There is one, and only one, answer. For the carrying out of his relentless purposes against the grey Presbyterian Fathers of the Scottish Church, the King believed Claverhouse would be of real service to him, and that he had found in him an excellent and pliant tool in his hands.
John Graham was born in the year 1643—the year of the Solemn League and Covenant. He was come of a very old Scottish family, and was a descendant of the Grahams of Fintry. At the University of St. Andrews he showed an aptitude for mathematics, and developed an enthusiasm for Highland poetry. Determining to give himself to a military career, he enlisted as a volunteer in the service of France. Thereafter, in 1672, he went to Holland, and became a cornet in one of the cavalry regiments of William, Prince of Orange. At the battle of Seneff he rescued his leader from a marsh into which his horse had floundered, and, mounting him on his own steed, brought him off in safety when he was on the point of being taken. For this bit of spirited work
William made him captain. A vacancy taking place in one of the Scotch regiments in Holland, Graham applied for the post, but, not receiving the nomination, he looked on the matter as a slight, threw up his commission, and in 1677 was back in England.
Receiving a lieutenancy in a troop of horse under his kinsman, the Marquis of Montrose, he began rapidly to ascend the ladder. His presence was strongly in his favour. He was about middle height, but exceedingly handsome. He had a fine face and a martial bearing. He captivated all who came near him by the graces of his manner. To the open-heartedness and charm of his conversation he owed the high esteem in which he was held by Charles II. and James II. He impressed his superiors as being a thoroughly reliable and uncompromising officer. In the end of 1678 he was despatched with a troop of horse to Galloway to put down conventicles and field preachings, and generally to hold the Covenanters in check. The Act of 1670, imposing on our fathers the punishment of death and the confiscation of their goods, being still in operation, Graham's work was of a most uncongenial character. He cannot have liked it, but he had a high idea of military discipline, and during the years he overran the western counties he committed those actions of rapine and cruelty which have loaded his name with reproach. Through his restless activity he struck terror into the hearts of the peasantry, and his troopers were so ubiquitous that they were known as “the ruling elders of the Kirk." .
After that Covenanter's blunder, the murder of Archbishop Sharp on Magus Muir on the 5th May, 1679, Graham was called upon to exercise increased vigilance. And there was need, for the Covenanters were growing more and more determined in their cause. On Sunday,