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EXECUTION OF MITCHELL.
199 The lord advocate accordingly indicted the prisoner ; but whether it was that he distrusted the force of his proofs, or that he yielded to the desire of Sharp, who refused to prosecute unto death, he deserted the diet, and Mitchell remained three years a prisoner in the Bass. In 1677 he was again summoned before the council, interrogated as to his participation in the rising on the Pentland hills, and subjected to the torture of one leg in the boot *. He persisted in his refusal to answer, and was again remanded. But the archbishop had to 1677. fear for his life from the fanaticism of others as well as Jan.
24. of Mitchell. There were many, who believed that they had a clear call from God to execute the justice of the Lord on the traitor, who for so many years had wrung his hands in the blood of the saints ; “ the Judas who “ sold the kirk of Christ for an annual rent of 50,000 Nov. “marks f.” It was probably to intimidate such religionists that the council ordered the advocate-general to prosecute Mitchell for his original offence of attempt
1678. ing the life of the archbishop. By the court of justi
Jan. ciary two questions were previously decided, that a 9. confession before the council could not be withdrawn, because it was not extrajudicial, and that if any promise were made to induce the accused to confess, that promise must be fulfilled, because the benefit of the contract was not to be taken without payment of the consideration. The jury found, on his confession, that he was 10. guilty of the offence, and on the testimony of Lauderdale, the archbishop, the lord chancellor, and Hatton, that no assurance of life had been given. Mitchell received judgment, and died, justifying the attempt for 18.
“same. Therefore the lords commissioners .... do declare that they are “ free, and that the said Mr. James ought not to have the benefit of any “ such promise or assurance." Act of Council in State Trials, vi. 1259.
• The torture of the boot is thus described in two original letters in my possession. Sunt ocreæ hæ equulei genus crudelissimum, quo tibiæ homi. nis qui torquetur, arctissime restringuuntur, quoadusque ad sanguinis et medullæ effusionem. 30 Jul. 1611-Crucifragiorum tortura, qua, ossibus coufractis, medullam a planta pedis exprimunt. 13 Jan. 1615.
Russoll, at the end of Kirktou, 415.
which he suffered, from the command of Moses to put to death the false prophet, who should turn the people from the worship of the Lord God *.
This execution, instead of diffusing a salutary terror, acted as a stimulus to revenge. It taught the people to look on the four lords, who gave evidence on the trial, not only as persecutors, but as false witnesses, who had not hesitated to perjure themselves, that they might shed the blood of their victim. It is, indeed, impossible to doubt that a promise of life had been given. It was asserted by the sufferer with his last breath; it was recorded by lord Hatton in his private and confidential correspondence; it stood enregistered among the acts of the council; and yet the four lords positively swore that they knew nothing of any promise, or of any warrant for such promise. Did they by subtle and unmeaning evasions seek to silence their own consciences and impose on the good faith of the assize ? Even on this hypothesis their conduct will deserve the execration of every honest man f.
The boldness assumed by the covenanters in the west, and the success with which they had resisted every
attempt to suppress their meetings, provoked the council 1678. to adopt the most powerful means of reducing them to Jan. obedience. A committee of eleven persons was ap18. pointed to proceed to the refractory districts, accompanied
by two thousand men, partly regulars and partly militia: there they were joined by six thousand highlanders under their respective chieftains; and, to be ready in case of rebellion, an English force was drawn towards the borders, and an Irish force was stationed opposite the western coast of Scotland. The commissioners called
before them and punished delinquents, apprehended sus28
pected persons, disarmed all the inhabitants but noble
* State Trials, vi. 1207. 1262. Fountainhall, note to Kirkton, 384. 387. Wodrow, 375. 512. 514. 519. App. 195. 204. Ellis, Orig. Letters, series ai. vol. iv. 49. 55. Burnet, ii. 125. 132.
+ See State Trials, 1258. 1263. Burnet, ii. 299 note.
CONSPIRACY OF FANATICS.
201 men, gentlemen of quality, and officers in the service of the crown, and summoned the heritors and feuars to subscribe bonds of conformity for themselves and their families. Multitudes, however, refused to obey : their contumacy was punished by an act of council requiring 14. the recusants to give law-burrows, or legal security for keeping the peace; and, with a view to enforce submission, the troops were permitted to live at free-quarters, fines were imposed, property was distrained, and judgments of outlawry were published. The fierce and predatory habits of the highlanders had always been subjects of terror to the more civilised natives of the lowlands : 1679. but these formidable auxiliaries were soon dismissed ; Feb. and in their place a permanent force of militia was dis- 18. tributed in numerous small garrisons through the disaffected counties. For its support a convention of estates July granted an aid of 30,0001. sterling for three years, to be levied by monthly assessments, after the plan originally introduced under the commonwealth; and Lauderdale, having obtained the approbation of the king, exhorted the council to persevere in their exertions, and to subdue by force those whom they could not allure by conciliation *.
The men of Fife on the eastern coast did not yield to their western brethren in attachment to the covenant: neither did they suffer less for their contumacy from the severity of the council. Among them was James Rus. sell of Kettle, whose fanaticism had been inflamed by persecution, till he mistook the cravings of revenge for the “ outlettings of the spirit.” During a fortnight he spent much of his time in prayer; he felt that he was destined to render some extraordinary service to God; and he renewed his former engagements against papists and prelatists, and all other enemies of Christ. Under
• Kirkton, 385–393. Wodrow, 460. 463. 466, 467. 528. App. 174. 208. Burnet, ii. 134. It is remarked by the editor of Kirkton, that, notwithstanding all the complaints made of the conduct of the highlanders, not one Whig lost his life by them. Kirkton, 391. The only blood spilt was spilt by the co anters.
1679. the influence of these feelings he sought the company of April similar enthusiasts ; consultations were held to prevent
the extinction of the gospel; and it was declared a duty 22. to put to death their chief adversaries, the archbishop of 29. St. Andrews, and Carmichel, commissioner from the May council, and commander of the forces. With this view 2.
nine of the brethren, having Hackstone of Rathillet for their leader, undertook to surprise the latter while he
was enjoying his favourite amusement of hunting : but 3.
a friendly voice admonished him of his danger, and by a timely flight he escaped from the field to his garrison in Cupar*. The saints were employed in lamenting the disappointment, when a boy, pointing to a carriage with six horses at a distance, cried out, there
goes * the bishop!" Truly," they exclaimed, “ this is of God: “ the Lord has delivered the wretch into our hands; we “must not go backwards, but execute the justice of God.” “ Gentlemen,” said Rathillet, “ I am ready to venture “all that I have for the interest of Christ : but I will “not lead you to this action; for I am the personal
enemy of the bishop, and shall be accused of seeking
revenge: but I will not prevent you from obeying the “ call of God, neither will I leave your company." " Then, “sirs, follow me," exclaimed John Balfour, a most desperate and barbarous enthusiast; and instantly mounting their horses, they crossed Magus-muir, in pursuit of their victim t.
Their approach was soon announced to the prelate, who, turning to his daughter Isabel, his only companion, said, “ the Lord have mercy on me, my dear child, for I “am gone." The coachman lashed his horses to their utmost speed: but the ruffians overtook them, discharged their pistols into the carriage, wounded the postillion,
• It is deponed also that at parting, when one of them kissed “Rob. “ Black's wife” (the meeting was in their house), “ she prayed that God "might bless and prosper them, and added these words, it Long Leslie (the “ minister at Ceres) be with him, lay him on the green also: to which the "ruffian answered, holding up his hand, There is the haud that shall do * it." Russ. 413. note.
+ See Russell's owu account at the end of Kirkton, 403-416,
A.D. 1679.] MURDER OF ARCHBISHOP SHARP. 203 and cut the traces. Sharp had received but a slight injury from the shot; and Russell at the door cried to him, “ Judas, come forth.” A short parley ensued. The prelate declared that he had wronged no man; he offered them money, and promised them a pardon: they replied, that they bore him no private malice, but God had imposed on them a duty which they dared not transgress; his time was come; he must make himself ready for death, judgment, and eternity. His daughter alighted with him ; both fell on their knees, and the archbishop most piteously begged for mercy, if not for himself, at least for his poor child. Guillon, one of the number, but the meanest among them, was moved with pity: he cried, " spare those gray hairs,” and solicited, but in vain, the interposition of Rathillet, who stood near, muffled in his cloak. Isabel was in no danger except from her efforts to save her father : the prelate offered his hand to one of the ruffians, who with a blow of his sword nearly severed it from the arm; and Balfour aimed a stroke at his head, which, though partly broken by the hat, inflicted a severe wound along the cheek. He fell on his face, and lay apparently dead: but, his daughter incautiously remarking that life was in him still, the words caught the ears of Russell, who was employed in ritling the carriage. The assassin immediately returned to the body, hacked the scull into fragments, and ordered the servants to take away their priest, and convey him to his home *. It might have been expected that the perpetrators of the bloody deed would flee from the vengeance of the law: but they only withdrew to a neighbouring cottage, where they devoted several hours to prayer, first in common, and afterwards separately, and in private. They felt no fear, no compunction; their minds were
See the several accounts of this murder by authority, by the actors, by Russell, and by the archbishop's brother, in Wodrow, ii. 28, 29, 30, 31. A pp. 8. Russell, 416, aud 419-422, note, 483. Ralph, 458, note. " of these hellish rascals cut my sister in the thumb, when she had him " by the bridal, begging her father's life." Letter from William Sharp, May 10.