A Memoir of Lady Anna Mackenzie
[pp. 17 - 45]
[p. 17] The history of Scotland since the Reformation may be to turn upon one fundamental question, the relationship between the Kirk, or Church, and the Civil State. In England the ancient Catholic Church, monarchical in principle, was retained, after the corruptions attached to it in the course of ages had been washed away; and had the wiser views of Sir David Lindsay of the Mount, Scotland's proto-reformer (the "Davie Lindsay" of popular tradition) been carried out as sketched in his writings, the like advantage would have been secured to the Northern kingdom. But the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, as represented by its clergy and bishops, was hopelessly corrupt and irreformable, and the reaction was proportionately violent in the Protestant direction.
A new church, modelled on that of Calvin at Geneva, and democratic (or rather theocratic) in its system, was set up in its place under the influence of John Knox, and adopted as the church of the nation. It was discovered however ere many years had passed that the doctrines of the Kirk tended to the establishment of an absolute despotism over the Civil Government and the consequent evils rose to such an height that not only James VI. and his wisest lay advisers but the more moderate party in the Kirk itself came to the conclusion that the introduction of a limited Episcopal government, as a controlling and moderating influence, was necessary in order to enable Church and State to co-exist and work together, and to preserve the Church itself from being torn to pieces through the ungovernable violence of its leaders.
The devising and carrying through the measures [p. 18] which introduced this reform was the last public act (as I believe it had been the cherished purpose) of Secretary Lindsay's life. But it was not through his, or any mere state influence only, but by the concurring and deliberate action of the General Assembly itself, convened on an unusually comprehensive scale in 1597, and afterwards in 1600, that the introduction into Parliament of certain chosen Commissioners of the Kirk under the legal style and in the place of the ancient prelates was effected. Great opposition was of course offered and much discontent manifested against the innovation, but chiefly among the more violent clergy headed by the bigoted, irascible, but lion-hearted, learned, and witty Andrew Melville.
The result neverthetheless gradually approved itself beneficial; the laity felt relieved from a grievous burden; the balance of power between Church and State was restored; disorders were quelled, and piety, as a rule, supplanted controversy in the Church; and this better influence lasted during the remainder of the lives of the men then and thus promoted. Regular episcopal ordination was communicated to the bishops in 1610; and, had those at the helm known where to stop -- had this reformation or modification in a Catholic and Apostolic sense of the sterner Presbyterianism of 1560 been left to the legitimate action of time and experience -- I have little doubt but that the churches of Scotland and England would have voluntarily coalesced before the end of the century, to the fulfilment, in great measure, of "Davie Lindsay's" patriotic aspiration
" Habitare fratres in imum
But the impatience of a younger and more ardent generation, as represented by Sir David's namesake, the Bishop of Brechin and (afterwards) of Edinburgh, and the over of anxiety of James I. and Charles I. to effect this assimilation, [p. 19] defeated object they had in iew. The simplicity of worship was shocked and the national sense of independence wounded by the successive introduction, year after year, of innovations, chiefly ceremonial, innocent and in some cases praiseworthy in themselves, but which were looked upon as approximations to Popery, and the enforcement of which by the King's sole authority, exercised through the Court of High Commission, was distinctly in violation of the liberties of Scotland.
The coping-stone was laid on the ecclesiastical edifice by the imposition in 1637 of the famous "Service-Book," a liturgy nearly the same as that of England, but which was misconceived of as closely approximative to the Roman mass-book, acceptance of which was (as in previous cases) prescribed by the authority of the sovereign alone, apart consent of the Kirk or the nation. It was on these two points that the national aversion to it was mainly grounded; for, although the more zealous spirits among the clergy disdained the use of any but extemporary addresses to the Almighty, the use of formal and printed prayers, in a word, of a Service-book or Liturgy, the "Book of Common Order," promulgated at Geneva, was a matter of general prescription and observance in the times of Knox and Melville.
The truth was that the imposition of the of 1637 was the last drop in the full cup, the last straw on the camel's back. The national patience, or rather impatience, boiled over; and the entire ecclesiastical structure, slowly and painfully upreared during so many years, topled down in ruin and confusion. It was thus through an aggression, for such it was, upon their religious liberties that the Scots were induced to rise in arms against Charles I, while in England, as is well known, the primary causes of plaint were the unconstitutional acts of the Crown in civil matters.
In either country the question at issue was whether, the constitution of the Kirk being such as it was as finally settled by the General Assemblies of [p. 20] 1597 and 1600, and the civil constitution of England being what it was as fixed or implied by the old laws and customs of the realm, the sovereign had a right, of his own supreme authority, to supersede and overthrow them. Alexander Master of Balcarres and his wife, although born, baptized, I and bred under the Episcopal regime, and with all their hereditary prepossessions in favour of that form of ecclesiastical polity, thought he had not, and acted accordingly, and it is in order to prepare the reader for appreciating their conduct under these circumstances that I have submitted the preceding historical details.
The immediate effect of the introduction of the Service-Book was the promulgation of a "Solemn League and Covenant" in defence of the civil and religious liberties of Scotland, and the deposition of the Bishops and abolition of prelacy by an act of the General Assembly in December 1638. This was followed by various military movements and private negotiations, the result of which was that King Charles yielded the substance of the demands of the Covenanters and withdrew the Service-Book. David Lord Balcarres, his son the Master of Balcarres, Rothes, Lindsay of the Byres, Lauderdale, the Earl (afterwards the great Marquis) of Montrose, and others innumerable, joined this national league; and it was only after the short-lived reconciliation with the King came to an end that parties finally developed themselves in the manner so familiar to us in history.
From that time forward till the year 1648 two such parties divided Scotland, -- on the one hand the Covenanters, warmly attached to royalty, but equally so to the Kirk, asserting national and personal rights in limitation of arbitrary authority, and vindicating, in an inchoate or tentative way, the principles now understood as those of Constitutional Government; on the other, the Cavaliers, who. dreading the tendency of the times towards democracy and licence in Church and State, maintained the duty of unconditional obedience to the Crown, and stood up for [p. 21] Episcopacy and the Royal Supremacy against Presbyterianism. The Covenanters, in a word, vindicated the principle of liberty, the Cavaliers that of order -- fundamental principles, co-equally important to the social and political life of nations, and on the reconciliation and harmony of which through mutual concession, and the preservation of the balance afterwards, the stability and progress of states depends. Each of these great parties from time to time ran into extravagance and, as a necessary consequence, committed cruel injustice; but both, judged by their nobler members, were equally sincere and patriotic.
It must not, of course, be supposed, that while parties were thus clearly defined throughout this period, the personages who composed them were not constantly undergoing modifying influences from the march of the times and the lessons of experience. Many who ultimately became Cavaliers, such as Montrose himself, were originally supporters of the Covenant, and only abandoned that cause when they perceived that their friends were going too far, and that monarchy and constitutional government were tending to ruin through the growing preponderance of the democratic element. Some took the step earlier, some later, as the enthusiasm of youth, the experience of maturity, or the intuitive foresight of genius prompted; but all in fact, except the extreme zealots and fanatics of the Covenanting party, ranged themselves at last on that side and principle of Order which, in the course of time and in the progress of rents, became ultimately the cause of the Constitution.
The struggle between Charles I. and the English Parliament was marked by the successive surrender by the former of every questionable encroachment on the public liberty, the retractation of every step in excess of the prerogative which had given just offence to the constitution, till by the spring of 1642 the tables had become turned, and, in the words of the great constitutional and Whig historian Hallam, "law, justice, and moderation, once ranged against" [p. 22] the King, "had," subsequently to the early months of the Long Parliament, "gone over to his banner," and so absolutely so that, "it may be said," he adds, "with not greater severity than truth, that scarcely two or three public acts of justice, humanity, or generosity, and very few of political wisdom or courage, are recorded of them from their quarrel with the King to their expulsion by Cromwell." The war that broke out in England in 1642 was thus one essentially of defence on the part of Charles against those who from vindicators had become the subverters of the constitution.
In Scotland, on the other hand, the grounds of just complaint remained unsatisfied for a prolonged period. In 1641 we find Montrose and Napier, still ranking among the Covenanters, addressing the King in a letter in which they attribute "the cause of these troubles" to "a fear and apprehension, not without some reason," on the part of the Scottish nation, "of changes in religion, and that superstitious worship shall be brought in upon it, and therewith all their laws infringed and their liberties invaded. Free them, Sir," they say, " from this fear, as you are free from any such thoughts, and undoubtedly ye shall thereby settle that state in a firm obedience to your Majesty in all time coming. They have no other end but to preserve their religion in purity and their liberties entire." But these remonstrances were of no avail, and it was not till 1647 that Charles finally consented to forego Episcopacy and recognise the Kirk under her ancient limits.
During these six years the name of Lady Anna's husband, Lord Balcarres, figures constantly in the chronicles of the time as fighting gallantly on the Covenanting side at Marston-moor, at Alford, and elsewhere, at the head of his regiment of horse, "the strongest regiment" (as it is described) "in the kingdom," while the defeat of the Covenanters at Kilsyth, where he commanded the cavalry, in 1645, is equally ascribed to neglect of his warning voice in support of the better military judgment of [p. 23] General Baillie, overruled, as the latter was, by that curse of commanders, a Committee.
The Cavalier or purely royalist cause was extinguished in Scotland after the defeat at Philiphaugh, on the i3th September 1645, and the final break-up of the royalist army under its three chiefs, Montrose, Ludovic the Loyal Earl" of Crawford, and Sir John Uny, on the 3ist July 1646. Crawford repaired to Ireland and organised a most promising scheme, of invasion from that quarter, of which Montrose was to take the leadership, but the Queen's advisers at Paris threw cold water upon it, and it came to nothing. But the King's loss was not the Covenanters' gain. A star, hostile to both influences, was gaining the ascendant. Order and Liberty, having failed to understand each other, were to be superseded by civil and religious anarchy in its necessary incarnation, Military Despotism.
The position of matters in the autumn of 1646 stood thus: -- The Parliaments in both kingdoms, the representatives of the Presbyterian interest and, in Scotland at least, of the national aspiration for limited monarchy and constitutional government, were losing ground, -- their chief support was the Scottish Covenanting army, then quartered in the North of England. The English army, on the other hand, headed by Cromwell, Ireton, and other zealots, Independents or Puritans in religion and wild for democracy, was increasing daily in power and audacity; and the object of the leaders of the English Parliament was to disband it as soon as possible, before its arms could be directed against themselves.
The King, cooped up in Oxford, his army ruined, his partisans reduced to despair, had but a choice of evils, and determined to throw himself into the arms of the Presbyterians as less dangerous than the Independents through their attachment to monarchy. He fled from Oxford in disguise, and delivered himself up to the Scottish army, then pressing the siege of Newark. The Scots saw their advantage and determined to make the most of it, with [p. 24] the view of securing the great objects of their quarrel and crushing the Independents.
On the first rumour of the King's intention, and before his actual arrival was ascertained, they despatched Lord Balcarres to the army at Newark with offers to the King of defence and assistance on the condition that he should recognise and secure their liberties, civil and religious, in terms of the Covenant. This, however, he refused. The Duke of Hamilton and his brother-in-law Lord Lindsay of the Byres (now known as Earl of Crawford-Lindsay after the forfeiture of Earl Ludovic, and who had been for some years Lord High Treasurer and President of the Parliament), were sent specially to urge his compliance, but their mission was equally unavailing; and the negotiation having thus failed, Charles was surrendered by the Scottish army, under orders from Edinburgh, to the English Parliament, notwithstanding Crawford-Lindsay's and Balcarres' strong opposition in the Parliament at Edinburgh, where, however, the bigoted Presbyterians, the ex treme party headed by the Earl (afterwards Marquis) of Argyll, were then predominant. Cromwell immediately marched to London, expelled the Presbyterian members of the English Parliament, substituted Independents in their place, committed the King to prison, and assumed the government.
Charles's situation thus became desperate, and in a secret interview with the Scottish commissioners he consented to confirm the Covenant, recognise Presbyterianism on a probation (at least) of three years, and unite cordially with the Scots for the extirpation of the "sectaries" or Independents,-- thus acquiescing, alas! too late, in that principle of constitutional government which had been at issue between himself and his Scottish subjects since the year 1638. Doubts might have been entertained as to his sincerity, but it was not a moment for hesitation; their king, a Stuart and a Scotsman, stood before their eyes, penitent and in peril; and, as is the wont of the Scottish people, always "perfervid" and impassioned whether for [p. 25] good or evil, they forgot all secondary considerations in the determination to rescue him. Their plans were rapidly combined, and among other arrangements Lord Balcarres was appointed provisionally, by a grant under the sign-manual of Charles I., "at our Court at Woburn, 2oth July 1647," to that important trust, the government of the Castle of Edinburgh.
It remained however to be seen whether the spirit of 1638 remained unchanged, and whether, after nine years of unchecked power, the Kirk and her ministers would be satisfied with anything short of pure theocracy. The result proved that the Kirk had become radical to the core, and the news of the treaty with the King no sooner reached Scotland than the Covenanters split into two parties, the one including the great mass of the nation, moderate men, headed by the Treasurer Crawford-Lindsay, the Duke of Hamilton, and Balcarres, professing constitutional royalism, and ultimately called resolutioners; the other composed of the more fanatic Presbyterians, led by Argyll, a small but compact body, who assumed an immediate attitude of distinct and formidable opposition, and were subsequently distmguished by the name of remonstrators or protesters.
The formation of an "Engagement," or League, for the King's rescue followed, and the nation, with the exception of Argyll and the Protesters, rose as one man in his defence. The Duke of Hamilton, at the head of an army of fourten thousand men, marched for England; but he was incompetent for such a command; he was defeated at Preston on the 20th August 1648; his army fell to pieces; he himself was taken prisoner and beheaded some months afterwards. The result was the complete depression for the time of the constitutional,party in Scotland, and the succession of Argyll and the Protesters to the dominant rule. Crawford-Lindsay was deprived of his offices of High Treasurer, President of the Estates, and others, and excluded from Parliament.
Balcarres retired to Fife, and awaited [p. 26] the opportunity of usefulness. A young man -- a gallant soldier rather than a politician -- he had been till recently a firm adherent to Argyll and the Kirk, an implicit believer in the purity of their patriotism; but events had opened his eyes, and the Rubicon of what he conceived to be lawful resistance once crossed, he broke with them for ever. Hitherto, in fact, he had felt and acted in the spirit and after the example of the friends of his youth -- of his father, of Rothes, and of the good Lord Lauderdale -- all of them now passed away from the scene; he took this new step as the act of his deliberate manhood and mature judgment, being then on the point of entering his thirtieth year.
In England the King was brought to trial before his own subjects by Cromwell and the Independents, condemned as a traitor, and executed at Whitehall on the 30th January 1649, meeting death with the constancy of a hero and the charity of a saint; and his memory was long and deservedly honoured in the Church of England and by Englishmen generally as that of "King Charles the Martyr." A "martyr" he assuredly was, but in a cause the reverse of that which is usually associated with his memory -- a "martyr" for Liberty. This is no paradox, but a simple historical fact. His political offences against the English constitution had long ago -- as far back as 1642, according to the dispassionate Hallam -- been salved and absolved through the abandonment of the overweening pretensions of an ill-defined prerogative. From that time forward the struggle in England was, in a broad sense, between Democracy and Absolutism on the one hand, as represented by Cromwell and the Independents, and Constitutional Government and Freedom on the other, as represented by Charles. After a gallant struggle in the field, and a period of captivity borne with exemplary patience, Charles died at his post in defence of principles and liberties which are now the common heritage and boast of every Briton.
The news of this tragical event was received with horror [p. 27] and indignation in Scotland, and Argyll and the Protesters found it necessary to identify themselves with the public sentiment, and proclaim Prince Charles, then a youth of nineteen, King of Scotland. They sent over messengers inviting him to Scotland, but he had hardly arrived when Cromwell demanded that the republican government already established in England should be extended over Scotland likewise. This was peremptorily refused; Argyll was defeated by Cromwell at Dunbar; and the Resolutioners, or constitutionalists, Crawford-Lindsay, Balcarres, and their friends, again came into power, in association or coalition with Argyll, but for a time having the upper hand. They crowned Prince Charles at Scone on the 1st January 1651, Argyll investing him with the crown and Crawford with the sceptre, according to ancient privilege, but symbolically, it might have been suggested, of this transient reconciliation.
Balcarres was on this occasion created an Earl, Secretary of State, and hereditary governor of Edinburgh Castle, and was appointed High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Kirk which met at St. Andrews in July, where he managed matters so well "that that Assembly" (we are told) "passed more acts in favour, and rose better satisfied with the King and Crown than any that had preceded in many years before," -- a success very distasteful to the Protesters, who described its proceedings, in the energetic phraseology of the times, as a "ripping up of the bowels of their mother Church." During all these years the subject of this memoir, the Countess Anna, resided, I believe, constantly at Balcarres; and the only incident relating to her that I need notice is a visit that King Charles paid her there on the 22d February 1651, when "Lord Balcarres," as a Fife-shire chronicler reports, "gave his Majesty a banquet at his house, where he stayed some two hours, and visited his lady, that then lay in." The child then born was her eldest son, who received the name of Charles, the king standing his godfather. He survived his father Earl Alexander, [p. 28] but died a boy of twelve years old, as I shall hereafter mention.
Meanwhile, the advance of Cromwell's army having rendered the situation of the royalists one of imminent danger, the King took the bold resolution of changing the scene of warfare by a direct march into England, where he hoped to raise his Cavalier friends, and gain strength before the rebels could overtake him. He started accordingly, leaving Crawford-Lindsay and Balcarres, together with the Lords Marischal and Glencairn, as a Committee of Estates, in charge of his affairs in Scotland. Crawford-Lindsay and Marischal were almost immediately afterwards surprised by Monk and sent prisoners to England, where Crawford-Lindsay was confined in the Tower of London and at Windsor Castle for nine years; but Balcarres reached the Highlands, where he possessed great power through his alliance with the house of Seaforth and his friendship with Huntly and the clans, and where he assumed the command of the royalists under the King's commission.
Money was however wanting. Scotland, never since the thirteenth century a rich country, was in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries decidedly poor; and, although many of her noble families were comparatively well off, their revenues paid in kind amply sufficing for the maintenance of a large following and a generous hospitality, the public exchequer was but scantily filled with available specie.
Lord Balcarres had already, in 1643, incurred expenses to the amount of nearly twenty thousand marks in raising and equipping the regiment of horse, for all, or the greater part of which, although allowed by the Committee of Estates, I believe, he received no payment; and he had further, in 1644, made himself responsible for a further sum of five hundred pounds sterling in the public service, which, as voluntarily, the Committee, it appears, ignored, although Balcarres submitted the claim to their consideration on the modest ground that his estate was "not well able [p. 29] to bear" such burdens. Troops, not of his own regiment, had from time to time been quartered on his lands and tenants, to their great impoverishment; and for this too there was little prospect of reimbursement. Early in the present year, he had sold his plate, which was unusually valuable for a Scottish baron of that day, for two thousand pounds sterling, in order to defray the expenses of the General Assembly, but this had all been expended; and he now mortgaged his estates to the extent of six thousand pounds more, which he applied to advancing the King's interests in the north during the autumn campaign of 1651 and the subsequent one of 1653-4 -- sums of no small moment in those days in Scotland, and which remained a debt till extinguished by the Countess Anna and by Earl Colin his son, partly out of Colin's first wife's fortune, subsequently to the Restoration.
All these items, together with the payment of the dowries of his sisters and the provision for his two brothers, weighed heavily on Earl Alexander and his wife, and the result was (for the exigencies of biography demand notice of what passes behind the scenes as well as before the public eye) that the estate of Balcarres, which in 1639 and at the time of David Lord Balcarres' death, had been entirely free, was by 1651-2 much embarrassed. Meanwhile the dowry of Lady Balcarres and other arrears due to her since 1637, amounting to twenty thousand and some hundred pounds Scots, had never up to that time been paid, either principal or interest. Nor was it till long after Earl Alexander's death that the arrears were made up and the long account finally settled.
A touching illustration of the straits to which they were reduced presents itself in a testamentary paper or codicil written a year or two afterwards on the point (apparently) of their departure for France, in which Lord Balcarres recites that "considering that Lady Anna Mackenzie, my dearest spouse, hath out of her affection to me and fo" satisfying of my urgent debts, quit and sold her jewels and womanly furniture, belonging to herself allanerly [p. 30] (only) by the law of this kingdom," he therefore gives and bequeathes to her his library of books, which he had previously entailed on his heirs-male, amounting in value to six thousand marks, and all his household furniture, subject to redemption by his heirs hereafter at the above value, but otherwise to be her own in replacement of what she had so generously parted with for his relief. Many of these jewels must have had a peculiar value to her as bequeathed to her by her mother, who had left when dying her jewels and personal "bravery" in Lord Seaforth's charge, to be divided between her and her sister Jean, when grown up. Others doubtless had been purchases of her own, in the early days when her disbursements had been the subject of her guardian Rothes' remonstrance.
Never, I would add, throughout all the documents concerning these private affairs, is a word to be found of complaint at sacrifices and circumstances which the generous spirits of the time submitted to as a matter of course, entailed upon them by loyalty and patriotism; they bled as freely in purse as in person for their King's and country's service; and too often in those days the family as well as its representative sank for ever under the exhaustion. I do not think it would be too much to say that, for every thirty families that flourished in comparative affluence at the beginning of the troubles, scarcely five survived the century. These details are not irrelevant to the subject of this narrative, for many years of the Countess Anna's subsequent life were spent in redeeming the ruin in which the Balcarres family were for the time involved through the great Civil War of the seventeenth century.
King Charles, in the meanwhile, advanced without opposition to, Worcester where Cromwell, retracing his steps from Scotland, overtook and defeated him on the 3d September 1651. He escaped to the Continent after a series of romantic adventures, and resided for several years at Paris and Cologne, few expecting that he would ever regain "his fathers' chair." The " King of Scots " was the [p. 31] usual title given him on the Continent during his years of expatriation.
All hope having vanished, Balcarres capitulated with the English, under favourable conditions, at Forres, on the 3d December 1651, and disbanded his followers. He retired to Balcarres, and on the 8th November 1652 settled with his family at St. Andrews, from whence he kept up a correspondence with his exiled sovereign. They lived in the house of a Mr. John Lepar, formerly provost of the burgh. The Countess Anna's second son Colin, afterwards third Earl of Balcarres, was born, I believe, during this residence under the shadow of the old cathedral towers, or what then remained of them, once the architectural glory of Scotland.
When Monk, the English general, was recalled from Scotland, in 1653, Lord Balcarres, although suffering at the time from severe illness, again took arms in the Highlands, and, in concert with Athol, Seaforth, Lorn (the eldest son of the Marquis of Argyll), and the principal Highland chiefs, under the Earl of Glencairn as commander-in-chief, made a last unavailing attempt to uphold the royal cause against Cromwell. They were joined by Lord Balcarres' dear friend and brother-in-law (his sister Sophia's husband) Sir Robert Moray, already mentioned, and whom Bishop Burnet describes as "the most universally beloved and esteemed by men of all sides and sorts of any man I have ever known in my whole life." All was at first enthusiasm; but the incompetence of Glencairn ruined the enterprise. His wish was to invade the low country and emulate the career of Montrose. Balcarres, with wiser foresight, urged their remaining in their fastnesses until they should see what assistance the King could "procure them from beyond sea of men, money, and arms; whereas, if they went out of those fast-grounds, they could not hope to stand before such a veteran and well-disciplined army as Monk had, and, if they met with the least check, their tumultuary army would soon melt away."
[p. 32] At this critical moment the King, in France, perplexed with contradictory reports and desiring Lord Balcarres' advice how to act, wrote to him, desiring him to repair to him for that purpose with all possible speed; which letter," says a contemporary memoir, "though he received in the deep of winter and in the most remote part of all that kingdom, and having no other possible way to get to" his Majesty "but through a tract of the enemies' country of above four or five hundred miles, he consulted as little the difficulties and dangers as he had done before, but rendered immediate obedience, and put himself and his dear lady (whose virtue and kindness would never abandon him in his greatest extremity) both in disguise, and, with the often perils of their lives, at last by God's providence arrived safely in France, where having with great integrity on his own and as great satisfaction on the King's part given his Majesty a perfect account," and enforced on him the necessity of sending over some military man to whom the confederated chiefs would submit more willingly than to one of their own order, Middleton was despatched to Scotland.
Sir Robert Moray accompanied his brother and sister-in-law -- his "Gossip " and "Cummer," as they are called in his familiar letters -- on their journey from the Highlands to Paris; and Lord Balcarres delivered to the King at the Palais Royal, in May 1654, a letter signed by the Earl of Seaforth, Lord Lorn, the famous Evan Dhu, or Black Sir Evan Cameron of Lochiel; Roderick Macleod, surnamed "the Witty," chief of the Macleods of Skye; Sir Roderick of Scallascarr, or Talisker, Macleod's uncle, and the leader of the clan during his nephew's minority; Macleod of Rasay; "Daniel" (or Donald) Maclean, the uncle of Sir Hector of Duart, the young hero who had fallen recently at Inverkeithing; the Macleans of Coll and Ardgour; and the chiefs of Mackinnon and Macnachton, -- testifying to his own and Sir Robert's merits, and requesting the King to give implicit credit to whatever they might report [p. 33] and represent in relation to the royal cause and public service.
Balcarres, whose counsels always varied with the occasion -- prudent and cautious when supporting Baillie and controlling Glencairn, bold and daring when an emergency like the present demanded it -- strongly urged on the King the expediency of sailing for the Highlands and taking command of the clans in person, on the principle afterwards adopted by Prince Charles Edward, the "Young Chevalier," in 1745. He spoke with authority -- with the voice of the thousands whose hearts and lives were in the hand of the potent chiefs above enumerated; while he was supported at the same time by letters addressed to the King through private channels from the Earl of Lauderdale, Crawford-Lindsay, and the other Scottish prisoners in England, all unanimously offering the same advice. But the opportunity thus presented by Lord Balcarres in 1654 shared the fate of the similar scheme organised by Ludovic Earl of Crawford, in conjunction with the Highland and Irish-chiefs, in 1646, -- the coolness or timidity of Queen Henrietta Maria and Lord Jermyn defeated the earlier, and the irresolution and love of ease of Charles the latter project, -- Charles hesitated till it was too late; and the utter defeat of Middleton, the ruin of the royal cause in Scotland, and the triumph of democracy throughout Great Britain, account for our hearing no more of it.
Balcarres's share in this last struggle against Cromwell was punished by the sequestration of his estates in Scotland on the 4th of January 1654. But what doubtless was the bitterest element in his wife's and his own cup of suffering at this time -- and none but a mother can tell what its bitterness must have been to a mother's heart -- was the parting from their children, or, I should rather say, from their two sons, Charles and Colin, mere infants, whom they were obliged to leave behind them on undertaking their adventurous and perilous journey through the Lowlands of Scotland [p. 34] and England to France. I do not know what had become of them during the campaign in the Highlands, but they must either have been left at Balcarres at its commencement (the more probable contingency), or been sent thither when their parents and Sir Robert Moray started for the Continent. They resided at Balcarres henceforward, ten pounds a year being allowed for their maintenance out of the sequestrated estate of their father; and even this pittance was not regularly paid, -- four years' arrears of it (for 1654, 1655, 1656, and 1657), amounting to forty pounds sterling, were paid in May 1658; and I find no record of the remainder subsequently due having been accounted for.
They were however carefully looked after, among an attached vassalage, and with a most kind and judicious friend and supervisor in Mr. David Forret, minister of Kilconquhar, (the recipient for their use of the forty pounds just mentioned,) who had been Lord Balcarres's "pedagogue," or private tutor, at home, at the grammar school at Haddington, and at the University of St. Andrews, and whom Lord Balcarres had afterwards presented (in 1646) to the living of the parish in which Balcarres is situated. There then, in the careless happiness of childhood, like wild flowers on the Craig of Balcarres, the little ones lived and throve in the "caller air" of the north, equally heedless of the thunders of political revolution which hurtled in the air around during the first years of their solitude, and of the dead calm of military despotism which settled down on the land after the storm had passed by and the pulse of liberty had ceased to be perceptible in Scotland. Lord Balcarres, their father, never saw them again, and their mother not till the Restoration.
Lord Balcarres continued for some years with the King. His noble wife, "who through dearness of affection," says her friend Richard Baxter, "had marched with him and lain out-of-doors with him on the mountains," shared (as elsewhere) his wanderings on the Continent, "where they long [p. 35] followed the Court." Balcarres was "taken for head of the Presbyterians," or Scottish constitutionalists; he held the office of Secretary of State for Scotland, and was employed in various political negotiations at Paris and elsewhere in the King's service. "No one," says his grandson, "had more of his Majesty's favour, being cheerful as well as good and wise, yet Lord Clarendon, head of the High Church party, once got the better of him, and he was dismissed the court at Cologne, but soon recalled. The King thus expresses himself in a letter to Lord Arlington, 'Our little court are all at variance, but Lord Balcarres will soon return and heal us with his wisdom.'"
I suspect that it is to a subsequent estrangement, but of a similar nature and arising from the same cause, on the part of Charles that Principal Baillie alludes as a subject of resentment in Scotland in a letter of the 11th November 1658, in which he expresses himself curtly enough: -- "What is become of the King and his family we do not know; some talks that he should be in the Hague; many takes his unkindness to Balcarres very ill, especially that he should oppose his lady's provision to the oversight" (governance) "of the little Prince of Orange; his obstinate observance of Hyde" (Clarendon) "offends all;" and he subsequently writes in 1659, "I am not yet satisfied with Chancellor Hyde's very unjust breaking of his neck, -- God will see to it." It is not wonderful perhaps that the High Church Clarendon and the Covenanter Balcarres should have failed to agree on political matters; but such misunderstandings cannot but take place even between good men when their views of public interest differ. Clarendon was kind to the Countess Anna after her husband's death.
I may mention, as a curious coincidence, in reference to the temporary banishment from Cologne, that during a second exile of the Balcarres family after the Revolution of 1688, Earl Alexander's son, Earl Colin, an Episcopalian, having been forbidden the court at St. Germain's through the influence of the [p. 36] Roman Catholics about the person of James II., wrote an expostulatory letter to the King, the result of which was a letter from James himself, "writ with great goodness, owning that he had been imposed upon, and inviting him back. When he came home, he found" (writes his son) "a letter from his father to King Charles II. upon a like occasion, and almost every word the same, and the sentiments likewise." I do not know whether Earl Alexander left a faithful friend behind him at Cologne to vindicate his honesty -- Sir Robert Moray probably performed that office, -- in the case of Earl Colin, one of the Fifeshire Malcolms, who had owed his fortunes to him, and had followed him into exile, would not quit the court at St. Germain's to join his patron till the truth was vindicated and justice done him.
We have heard comparatively little of the proper subject of this memoir during these years of war and tumult; but a wife's life is bound up with her husband's, and hers was emphatically so, not only through her constant love for him but the sympathy with which she entered into, and the active co-operation which she afforded, so far as lay in her power, to all his objects. The poet Cowley appreciates this in one of the strophes of his quaint yet beautiful Elegy on her husband's death :
To save his country and restore his king;
And whilst the manly half of him (which those
Who know not love to be the whole suppose)
Perform'd all parts of virtue's vigorous life,
The beauteous half, his lovely wife,
Did ail his labours and his cares divide,
Nor was a lame nor paralytic side;
In all the turns of human state,
And all the unjust attacks of fate,
She bore her share and portion still,
And would not suffer any to be ill.
Unfortunate for ever let me be
If I believe that such was he
Whom, in the storms of bad success,
And all that error calls unhappiness,
His virtue, and his virtuous wife, did still accompany!"
[p. 37] The poet dwells much on the constancy with which the banished chief endured "his own and country's ruin," watching the while
" . . . . . . . . . . . the hurricanes around,
But every heroic medal has its homely reverse, and the biographer must take note impartially of both of "pounds, shillings, and pence" as well as of the palm of victory, the crown of martyrdom. Difficulties of finance, incidental to the necessities of everyday subsistence, little thought of in the retrospect in comparison with weightier trials, yet not the less vexatious and wearing at the time, were the usual concomitants of loyalty in exile; and Balcarres and his wife fared like others in the like position, -- I have, already mentioned the accumulation of private debt consequent on public necessities incurred by them during the preceding years,their revenues from Scotland (such as remained after payment of the "annual rents" or interest on borrowed money) had been cut off, as we have seen, by Cromwell; and, as a general rule, the Royal family could do but little to assist those who had thrown in their lot with them in the cause of their country.
But then and at all times the Stuart princes had warm hearts; they belonged to the old school (so to speak) of royalty; they were essentially, in character, great feudal nobles, and held themselves superior to the small formalities of etiquette, the expression, in fact, of a more modern and conventional state of things, -- in prosperity they made warm friends, or it might be fierce enemies, of the barons and gentlemen among whom they ruled as "primi inter pares;" but in either case the friendship or the enmity was hearty and decided on both sides, -- in adversity, on the other hand, their crust was always freely halved with their adherents; they had always moreover defended the rights of the humbler classes against the unjust exercise of feudal power, and were kindly and gracious in bearing towards all men; and thus it was that, [p. 38] with all their faults, they rooted themselves, as a race and a dynasty, in the heart of Scotland, which still attaches a sentiment of kindliness to their memory-- a mingled sentiment of love for the past and value for the present, which expressed itself in an old popular rhyme, half tender, half critical,
" . . . . . . . .Ilka thing hath its time,
The Lindsays, at least, in all their branches, had no cause to complain of the indifference or forgetfulness of the Stuarts during or subsequently to the successive periods of civil war and exile which disturbed Scotland in the seventeenth century. The Queen-mother, Henrjetta Maria, daughter of Henri IV. of France and widow of Charles I., was extremely kind to the Countess Anna and her husband at the period I am now dwelling upon, -- so too was her daughter Mary Princess of Orange, who, though unable to assist them with ready money, stood security for a loan raised in Holland for their assistance; Charles II. showed his good will subsequently; and the Duke of York, afterwards James II., writing to Lord Balcarres in January 1659, and thanking him for "the continuance of the affection you have to our family," apologises by "the condition I am in" for his inability to do more at that time than acknowledge his obligation to him, -- "but I hope one day, I shall be better able to let you see it."
The appointment of Lady Balcarres as gouvernante to the little Prince of Orange, which the King and Clarendon appear to have opposed, probably because of her Presbyterian sympathies, was, I have little doubt, bestowed on her by the Princess Royal in view of the remuneration attached to the office no less than in consideration of the merits and qualities which rendered her peculiarly fitted for such a charge. The little Prince was afterwards, it should be stated, William III. of Great Britain.
I cannot chronicle with exactness the wanderings of [p. 39] exiles, but in 1657 and in 1658, at least, Balcarres and his wife were settled at the Hague, and in constant intimacy with the family of Cornelius van Sommerdyck, Lord (as we used to say in Scotland) "of that Ilk," whose daughter Veronica was married the following year to another of the expatriated band of friends, Alexander Bruce, afterwards Earl of Kincardine, and predecessor of the late Earl of Elgin and Kincardine, Governor-General of India. Sir Robert Moray writes to Bruce after Lord Balcarres's death, "say to your father-in-law that he hath me in my dear Gossip's"(Balcarres's) 'place as far as I can fill it; and if I were not his upon" that "account, his kindness to my dear Cummer" (Lady Balcarres) "is enough to make me so; and he may be sure he has me his since he hath this double title to me, and yet the more that I was very much so before."
These two years, meanwhile, were years of acute suffering to Lady Anna's husband. His health had long been breaking. I mentioned the state of illness he was under when he undertook the campaign of 1653; and this is dwelt upon by King Charles in a letter to him in October that year, in which he writes (in reference to his having sent the commission as Commander-in-chief to Glencairn and not to himself), As well your own letters as the relation of Sir William Bellenden gave me great apprehension of your want of health, nor have there wanted reports of your death, so that I had no hopes that you would have been able to have ventured into the Highlands." The hardships, in fact, of that campaign probably, in their consequences, cost him his life. He was extremely ill in 1657, and although he recovered somewhat in 1658, it was only for a brief interval.
And moral causes were active likewise. The ruin of his country, the present distress of his family, anxiety for the future of his wife, soon to be his widow, and for his children, the "seeming displeasure of his prince" (alluding to the misunderstanding with Charles), and the failure of [p. 40] the rising for the King under Sir George Booth in August 1659, (to which failure indeed his death was proximately attributed at the time in Scotland,) "added," says Baxter, "to the distempers he had contracted by his warfare on the cold and hungry mountains" -- all contributed to break up his constitution. This season of sorrow, during the last twelvemonth of his life, "he spent," says the author of an obituary memoir of him, "with such advantage to his own soul and the edification of others," that "there are many yet living that will, with all gratitude, acknowledge their conversation with him, his heavenly discourses and holy example, put them much into the way of following him thither."
The event came at last, and when it did come, the end was rapid. He died on Tuesday, the 7th September, or according to the new style, the 30th August 1659, at Breda, whither he had removed from the Hague, on the occasion, I presume, of the king's "displeasure" above-mentioned. An interesting account of the last few days of his life is given in the memoir just quoted, but most of the facts are detailed with the pathos of a widow's heart in a letter from the Countess Anna to a relation and dear friend of her husband's and her own, Sir James, or Colonel Henderson, one of that remarkable and accomplished family of the Hendersons of Fordell, who supplied so many gallant soldiers to the wars of France, Holland, Denmark, and Sweden during the seventeenth century, and who had himself attained his military honours in the French service. It is addressed to Maestricht, where Colonel Henderson probably then was on a visit either to his sister who was married there, or to his cousin-german (through the Halkets of Pitfirran) Sir Robert Moray, who had been for some time resident in that ancient city: --
"Hague, the 31 of October.
Thus, then, died, at the early age of forty-one, Alexander Lindsay Earl of Balcarres, a man who seems to have conciliated affection and admiration in almost equal proportion during his brief career, "without doubt," according to Baillie, "one of the most brave and able gentlemen of our nation, if not the most able;" while Baxter speaks of him as "a lord of excellent learning, judgment, and honesty, none being praised equally with him for learning and understanding [p. 44] in all Scotland." And Cowley, in the elegy already cited, after speaking with no less appreciation of the "love and respect" which his character, political and personal, commanded from all men, and of
"His wisdom, justice, and his piety,
compares the course of Providence in removing him to a better world rather than permit his hand,
"That once with so much industry and art
to the dealings of sovereigns with their most trusted envoys:
Sometimes but to themselves alone,
One of their ablest ministers elect,
And send abroad to treaties which they intend
Shall never take-effect;
But though the treaty wants a happy end,
The happy agent wants not the reward
For which he labour'd faithfully and hard;
His just and gracious master calls him home,
And gives him, near himself, some honourable room."
As respects the private or personal character of Lord Balcarres I can add but little to that incidentally conveyed of him in his widow's letter to Colonel Henderson. The memoir I have more than once quoted describes him as "tender to his wife, affectionate to his friends, compassionately forgetting his enemies, kind to all his relations." It speaks further of his personal habits of devotion and study; but I will only cite one little saying of his on his death-bed, probably on the occasion of the conversation with Mr. Forbes -- Patrick Forbes,I believe,afterwards Bishop of Caithness -- mentioned by Lady Balcarres. "My lord," asked Mr. Forbes, "do you forgive all your enemies, that have so maliciously persecute you ?" "Aye, aye, Mr. Forbes," he replied; "long ago, I bless God that is not to do."
[p. 45] Lord Balcarres' remains were sent home to Scotland for burial. They were landed at Elie on the 2d of December, and conveyed to Balcarres; but the interment was delayed in anticipation of the Restoration, then in every one's expectation, and of the presence of Lady Balcarres. It was not therefore till the 12th of June 1660, while Scotland and England were yet ringing with the acclamations that proclaimed King Charles once more a monarch in his fathers' land, that the remains of his tried and faithful follower were consigned by his widow and her two little sons to their last resting-place in the family chapel at Balcarres.
1 This name seems to be written 'Stencolvis' by Lord Kellie in 1661. He writes as follows to Lauderdale, from Gouderoy, 28/18 April,-
"My Lady Stencolvis, Colonel Henderson's sister, who is now at this place, presents her service to your Lordship and to my Lady. Your Lordship was once in her house at Maastricht. She is really a very able lady, and my good friend."