The church and the highlands

Download 1.31 Mb.
Size1.31 Mb.
1   ...   47   48   49   50   51   52   53   54   ...   61

1 The kind known as Dalmatians.

should have seized on the persons of its ringleaders and organisers, which they did.

Atterbury was arrested on the 24th of August, 1722, and immediately assumed that air of engag­ing candour and injured innocence which he carried with him all through the subsequent legal proceed­ings in which he became involved. He declined " with some dignity " to be tried by the House of Commons, preferring to be judged by his peers, before whom he was accordingly brought on a Bill of Pains and Penalties, after he had endured some months' imprisonment in the Tower.

At his trial Atterbury maintained his innocence of the charge laid at his door with eloquence, if at the expense of his veracity. He stoutly denied the charge, and boldly dared the managers of his prose­cution to prove it. Legal ethics permit that man to urge his innocence who, at the same time, in his own heart, may be and is perfectly aware of the contrary. The Bishop, who was undoubtedly guilty, defied his prosecutors to do their worst; but he was condemned and banished, not so much on the evidence produced at his trial, which was of an exceedingly nebulous character, but because the Government was determined that, evidence or-no evidence, he should be returned guilty.

Now, the evidence on which the Government, supported its claim and founded its hopes con­sisted, in the first place, of a little spotted dog;; and in the second, of sundry letters which, after their manner, they had intercepted. The little dog, it appears, was intended as a gift from the Earl of Mar, then in exile at Paris, to the Bishop of Rochester. Like the letters, it appears to have been intercepted in the post; and from the cir~ cnmstance that such a gift was intended to be made, the Government prosecutors drew their own conclusions.With regard to the letters, three in number, all were dictated by Atterbury (though at his trial he protested in the most solemn manner imaginable that he had never had anything to do with them) were in the handwriting of one George Kelly, the Bishop's amanuensis, and were directed, under cover of cant or fictitious names, to James VIII, Lord Mar, and Colonel Dillon, an Irish officer in the French service, and an active and able Jacobite.

It is to be observed with regard to these letters, that though they were sent from England before the dog was despatched from France, which was the principal circumstance the prosecutors relied on in their endeavour to incriminate Atterbury, yet they contained such positive proofs of the Bishop's complicity as were almost sufficient of themselves to secure his banishment by a Government deter­mined on his conviction.

Let us now return to the dog. The first mention of such a creature's having been sent out of France into England occurs in a letter of Mar to "Hat­field," who is the same with George Kelly. " The little dog," says Mar, "was sent ten days ago, and ordered to be delivered to you." This letter is dated 5th May, 1722, so that the dog was sent from France on the 25th day of the preceding month-five days, that is to say, after the posting of Atter-bury's letters to the King and others. Mar's own letter to the Bishop or to Kelly, in which he in­formed his correspondent of his desire to make 8 present of the dog to Atterbury, is not to be found.


1 It appears that the managers of the Government prosecution actually believed that the little spotted dog was a cant designa­tion for the dreaded " Pretender " !

The probability is, therefore, assuming such a letter was sent, that this letter reached its destination without having been opened and copied at the post-office, since, if it had been intercepted, it would certainly have been printed along with the others in the report of the trial. The production of such a letter would, in the circumstances, greatly have facilitated the Bishop's conviction. Its non-produc­tion, therefore, must be regarded as highly favour­able to the assumption that it escaped the vigilant eyes of the spies in the post-office.

On the 30th of April Kelly writes to Colonel Dillon's secretary acknowledging receipt of the dog. "Mrs. Jones (that is the Bishop's lady) died last week," says he. " Pray present my compli­ments to Mr. Musgrave (Mar), and let him know the present sent by the young lady (this reference will be explained presently) arrived safely, but that he had a leg broken in the journey : however, I will take all the care imaginable of him, and in­form Mr. Jones of it, to whom I know anything from that quarter will be acceptable." In the meantime the dog had been sent to Kelly's land­lady, one Mrs. Barnes, to be cured of its hurt. Mrs. Barnes stated in her evidence that "a little dog, whose leg was broken, was left with her to be cured, by Mr. Kelly; that the said little dog was not designed for her, but for the Bishop of Rochester; that the dog was called Harlequin (a mistake on Mrs. Barnes's part, as will presently be shown), a very fine spotted dog ; that Kelly promised (Mrs. Barnes) to get the dog for her from the Bishop of Rochester, in case it did not recover of its lameness ".

Whether the dog was or was not ever actually in possession of the Bishop there is no evidence to show. Probably it was not, since, on his own confession, Atterbury did not love dogs; and that being so, it may well be that he took advantage of the animal's lameness to make a present of it to Mrs. Barnes, who certainly did. That the Bishop, however, was kept informed from time to time as to the state of the dog's health is proved by a letter written by Kelly and addressed to Mar'at Paris, in which the former writes, under date 7th May, 1722: " Mr. Illington (the Bishop) is in great tribulation for poor Harlequin, who is in a bad way, having slipped his leg again before it was thoroughly well. However, his obligations to the young lady are as great as if he had come safe, which he desires you to let her know."

8o much, for the present, for the little spotted dog. Let us now proceed to examine the conduct of Kelly and the Bishop when they were questioned upon it at the trial. Kelly at first denied all know­ledge of the dog ; but presently, changing his tune, admitted that he was not without some knowledge of it. "As for the dog," said he, " which has been brought as a circumstance to prove this matter (le., his own and Atterbury's ' treasonable' correspon­dence), I do in the most solemn manner declare he was given me by a surgeon in Paris, whose affidavit has been offered to beproduced,andthat he never was designed for anybody but the person I gave him to (Mrs. Barnes). I do farther affirm that the Bishop of Rochester never saw him, never received any letter or message by me, nor, do I believe, by any other person about him. Neither did I ever know or hear that his Lordship had any intercourse or correspondence with the late Lord Mar or any other disaffected person abroad."

The Bishop's denial was even more categorical and circumstantial. He declared, " upon the faith of a Christian," that "the true account of that matter (the arrest of the little dog) is, that in a letter to Hatfield, 5th May, from one who signs 918, interpreted Mar, are these words, ' The little dog was sent ten days ago, and ordered to be delivered to you'. But there is no intimation in this, or in any other letter from abroad, that the present was intended further. In his other letters from hence, by whom does not yet appear, some­body is mentioned under the different names of Jones and Illington, in such a manner as if the present had been designed for that person, but with such absurd circumstances as are neither applicable to my wife nor to me. Particularly, 7th May in a letter from Hatfield, it is said, ' Mrs. Illington is in great tribulation for poor Harlequin,' which, being five days after the burial of my wife, cannot mean her; but being five days after it can as little mean me, considering the melancholy circumstances I was then under. . . . The French surgeon and Mr. Kelly, who alone know anything of this matter, clear me. . . . For myself, I can with all truth and seriousness say, that I never asked, received, or saw this present; nor have I to this day had any letter or message whatever from any one concerning it."

The result of the trial was that Atterbury was banished;1 and the Bishop withdrew to France, vow­ing vengeance against Mar, who, according to the former, by contriving with Government the affair of the little spotted dog, had basely betrayed him into the hands of his enemies. For a long time the Bishop's violent asseverations of innocence, coupled
1 Atterbury's first impression was that he had been "ex­changed " by Government for Bolingbroke.

with the fact that the whole proceedings at his trial were wrapped in a good deal of mystery, suf­ficed to procure him credit for his story. In conse­quence of his protestations, Mar became a marked man among the Jacobites on the Continent. His sovereign withdrew his countenance from him, and, by an arrangement perhaps not altogether unfore­seen, the Bishop supplanted Mar in the King's favour.

The publication, in 1844, however, of the first volume of the Stuart Papers must be regarded as an event exceedingly damaging to the Bishop's reputation, and as considerably modifying, if not altogether disproving, his story. These papers conclusively prove that at a time when Atterbury was violently protesting his innocence, he was actively engaged in a " treasonable " correspondence with the Jacobites abroad. They prove, moreover, what, "on the faith of a Christian," the Bishop solemnly denied at his trial, namely, that Kelly was no stranger to him, and, what is more, that he was employed by him to write his (the Bishop's) letters. Moreover, and this last circumstance is, perhaps, the most damaging of all, they prove that the little spotted dog was actually sent out of France into England as a gift to the Bishop.

In conclusion, I beg to offer one or two obser­vations upon this highly mysterious affair, which will serve, I hope, to throw some light on it. The Bishop asserted that the object of Mar in writing to him was to betray him to the Government in order to ingratiate himself therewith ; but inasmuch as Mar's pension was at this time stopped, and never afterwards renewed, the charge may be dismissed as baseless. It is proved, moreover (which Atter­bury indignantly denied), that up to the time of his arrest, Mar was on the friendliest possible terms with the Bishop. It is incredible that a man in Mar's position, and of his well-known kindness of heart, could have been so base as to take advantage of a friend's misfortunes in order to betray him to his enemies for a price ; which, according to Atter­bury, was Mar's base and treacherous object in writing to condole with him on the loss of his wife. May we not rather conclude that the episode of the little spotted dog, instead of masking a plot to betray the Bishop, was a perfectly natural cir­cumstance, which had its origin in one of those interchanges of courtesy and kindness which are apt to pass between persons who are on the most intimate terms with one another, and who cherish a mutual regard? The Bishop had christened Lord Mar's daughter; what more natural, there­fore, than that the child should wish to testify her affection for her reverend friend by presenting him with something belonging to her ? That this is not an unreasonable view to take is, I think, abund­antly proved by the following letter which, written on the 17th of August, 1818, by John Francis Earl of Mar to his grandson John Francis (afterwards Earl of Mar and Kellie), I am now by the kindness of the present Lord Mar and Kellie permitted to make public for the first time.

" I find," writes the Earl (who was a very old man at the time this letter was written), " that my pen by inclining to keep pace with my thoughts runs into confusion. I must, therefore, take time to attend to my handwriting, or my letter will become almost illegible. And there is no trusting to the skill of decipherers: witness Dean Wallis, who was one of them when the Bishop of Rochester was banished for corresponding with my grand­father. The reverend gentleman found that when my grandfather mentioned his having sent the Bishop one of Harlequin's puppies, one of Prince James's sons was intended ; whereas the fact was that my poor mother, then about seven years of age, was standing at her father's knee while he was writing. He asked her, 'Fanny, have you any­thing to send the Bishop who christened you?' She answered, ' Oh, yes, papa, I'll send him one of Harlequin's puppies !' This was a little favourite dog who then happened to have puppies. I can vouch for the truth of this anecdote, as I had it from my dear mother herself."

Great things often have their springs in small beginnings. It is curious that so trifling a circum­stance as the present of a little spotted dog on the part of a child should have agitated a Government, brought about an Anglican bishop's banishment, and set half Europe by the ears.

A. B. L.


We know that once upon a time Ireland was called Scotland and that the Scots were the Irish. Why Alba should now be called Scotland, and old Scotland Ireland, does not plainly appear,1 and

1 John Elder, Henry VIII.'a spy, informs his royal patron that Scotland was anciently known as little (beag) Scotland in contradistinction to Scotland proper in Ireland. Skene dis­misses this information as " rubbish " ; but it is curious that the learned OTlaerty in his Ogygia states that " other authors since the eleventh century have made a distinction between the two Scotias, to the former of which they have given the name of Scotia major ... to the latter the name of minor," eto.

those who have been accustomed to account for this singular change on the ground of foreign usage must nowadays look further afield if they wish their conclusions to obtain a respectful hearing. The revulsion of feeling in favour of the native annalists, as opposed to Latin or Greek historians who ob­tained their information from partial sources, and who wrote with a political object in view on in­formation supplied through a number of channels, is too strong to admit of their continued neglect; and he who should set about to construct a narrative of the early history of this country without first consulting the native historians would properly be laughed at for his pains. This may be styled the rational or common-sense view of the matter, in contradistinction to the fanciful or pseudo-classical, which has too long held sway in the historical field, in consequence of a ridiculous prejudice in favour of Greek and Latin authors who were just as lying, credulous and prejudiced, when it suited their pur­pose to be so, as those of any other nation under the sun.

It is the fashion nowadays to decry the " insig­nificant tribe of Lorn " (the so-called original Scots of Alba); but if their subjugation of the Picts be a myth, as some assert, why should Alba now be called Scotland? If the Picts, as some pretend, were neither conquered by the Scots, nor were of that branch of the Celtic race, surely the latter would not have imposed their name on the country now called Scotland? There cannot be smoke unless there be fire.

The Irish annals have nothing to say touching the alleged conquest of the Picts by the Scots— surely a highly significant omission ! On the other hand, if the Picts were not Gaels, sustained no conquest, and were the more numerous and war­like of the two peoples, what explanation is there to offer of the fact that the name of Alba (save in Gaelic) has totally disappeared—what was formerly Alba now being styled Scotland ?

It will not do to reply, as some have done, that the Gael of Scotland still calls himself, in his own language, Albanach, i.e., a native of Alba, because he does not do anything of the kind. Ask a Gael of Scotland of what nationality he is, and he will reply "Is mise 'nam Gàidheal"—I am a Gael. He will not tell you that he is a Scotsman or de­scendant of the Picts, i.e., Albanaich, though if he be inclined to be communicative about details he may possibly say in answer to your question " Is mise 'nam Gàidheal na h-Alba" I am a Gael of Scot­land. It seems to me these points have been somewhat overlooked by those to whom the in­terminable question of Pict and Scot is meat and drink from an historical and antiquarian point of view.

When Scotland became Scotland—Giraldus Cambrensis (circa 1190), "Albany is now abusively called Scotia "—when, that is to say, Pict and Scot became one (they must originally have been very nearly related to have coalesced so noiselessly and effectually), and the whole country benorth the Forth —with the exception of the Scandinavian territories —bore a common appellation, the language of Alba was everywhere known (save in Scotland) as the Scottish language. The Gael still called his lan­guage Gàidhlig, though to foreigners it was known as Scotch ; but when, doubtless for our sins, English became the predominant speech, Gaelic ceased to be styled (by foreigners) Scotch—that distinction being transferred to or usurped by English, or rather " quaint Inglis," as it was then called, other­wise broad Scotch—the " Scotch " of Jamieson of " Scotch " dictionary fame, and the " Kailyaird ".

And so, curiously enough, it remains to this very day. Ask a Scotchman if he speaks Scotch, and his thoughts, leisurely girding up their loins, as it were, will contemplate a saunter into the nearest kailyard, wherein if you be a patient seeker after knowledge, and have a mind, undeterred by visions of " Iain Maclaren," Crockett, et hoc genus omne, with their formidable "glossaries," to follow him he will presently discover his traditional caution (and accent) in the purely professional utterance, " Weel, I'm no verra sure ; but, eh, mon, it's keepin' up a fine day this ".

Walter Scott was really the modern " maker" of Scotland, and his ramshackle unscientific cult remains to this day. Scott completely " popular­ised" Scottish history by means of his novels— that is to say, he gave us the average tourist view of Scotland and Scots events, and what he stereo­typed continues to be called blessed. To Scott the tradition of a "Scotch language," apart from the Gaelic, was all in all. In this, of course, he was by no means original; but his genius undoubtedly served to fix a notion which had already obtained ground. Blind Harry, Douglas, and Lindsay, to say nothing of Drummond of Hawthornden, had gone before him—a species of disciple, propagating the gospel of a Scottish language which knew not Gaelic. To Scott we owe, too, the Highlander of the novel, and perhaps the Celt of the stage boards ; for Dugald creature is even nowadays acceptable in the wynds and vennels of provincial unconven­tionally, wherein he is laboriously acclaimed as the pink of the true (untamed) Caledonian type.

Nowadays, one looks back and wonders. Was Scott—the much-trumpeted " Wizard of the North 9 —the veritable genius that our forefathers noisily proclaimed him to be ? Genius he undoubtedly was—else surely his first editions would not nowadays command their stacks of guineas in the booksellers' catalogues—yet his want of science— for even a novelist may be scientific—is a trifle irritating. Why did not some good charitable soul arise in his day to put his Gaelic in fair going order? He had but to stretch a little finger of time, and he would have touched the later Augustan age of Gaelic letters—the period of far-famed Ossian, when giants arose to do their might and battle for the Gaelic race, and to open in­credulous eyes touching a civilisation they knew not of, or, dimly knowing, would not acknowledge. But to Scott all things were (Lowland) Scotch. The bad foreign blood within him bred a pestilence or running sore of prejudice. His Celts were mere exotics—caught red-handed on the moor, as it were, and dragged, armed with dirk and dag and gibbering their barbarous unknown tongue, to gentle Abbotsford—to make a silly British holiday. Of a truth, we owe nothing to Scott, and it is full time we turned and rent him. The burden of his cult is still upon us, weighing us down immeasur­ably, misunderstanding, and worst of all, victimis­ing us to the devil in a thirty-shilling suit—the tripper! Away with his descriptions of scenery in ten presumptuous volumes! with his white-livered, balancing heroes, with his female prigs, with his preposterous duinewassails and the whole false cian and gamut of so-called "Highland" speech and figure! Away with his absurd punctilios touching religion, with his manifold conceits and fancies respecting politics, with his Macaulay-like style and bottle-neck utterance—but let us spare, for the sake of historical argument, if it please you, his "Scottish" tongue.

Yet, what is this uncouth vehicle when we come to view it nearly—nothing but quaint Inglis —the speech of old Yorkshire and the Lothians, with here and there a dash of foreign—Gaelic or French—to distinguish it from double Dutch and other Teutonic forms of speech and to give it singularity. Though bastard born, its sire is plainly English, and being dead—long since de­funct—it was but cruel kindness to conspire its resurrection in the Kailyard novel. Even Protes­tant Scotland cannot endure its only Bible in the so-called "national tongue," which falls idly and indifferently upon the unsympathetic ears of re­viewers and public alike. Has not Lancashire its dialect, and Buchan also ? And what are these but mere local variations of the one great speech, whose name is English? Who speaks "Scotch," who is or is not Scotch, nowadays ? If this quaint English be indeed a language, where are its professors, its "chairs," and grammars? What literary standard has it; for, notoriously, the peasant-English of Buchan differs considerably from that of Galloway or of Lothian?

But Scott is dead, and so is " Scotch ". Only Gaelic and English survive to mark the living way, not of dialects, but of languages. Old Chaucer, too, has gone the way of innumerable flesh besides Queen Anne; and the world continues, just as English lives. Even Shakespeare is not spoken nowadays, save in suburban villas and, on rare occasions, in Marconi's "wires". These, just as " Scotch," all have had their day—some gloriously.

and perhaps a trifle fruitlessly, others with less applause, though far more pain. It is not for us to shed the bitter tear of parting and regret—at all events at home. The day of Jamieson is done; and even yon full Kailyard moon is plainly on the wane. Soon the western wave will hide it from our view, and the sun of Gaelic—the real national language of Scotland—will rise again in all his former glory and splendour to cast anevv his warm and kindly beams upon the broadening numbers of our race.

Download 1.31 Mb.

Share with your friends:
1   ...   47   48   49   50   51   52   53   54   ...   61

The database is protected by copyright © 2020
send message

    Main page