William Thomson.

A tour in England and Scotland, in 1785 online

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with amoft " plentiful lack" of worldly wif-
dom, they refufed to clofe with his propofaL
Prefbytery, of courfe, was eftablifhed, and
all of the Epifcopal perfuafion degraded to
the rank of fectaries, in which they have
fmce remained.

For fixty years after this period, they
formed a ftrong and refpedtable party in the
north 3 frequent attempts to reflore the ex-
iled Stuarts, fupporting their fpirits, and in-
fpiring them with hopes of once more gaining
the mattery. The romantic and moft ruin-
ous adventure of Charles Edward, in 1745,
gave the finishing blow to their political im-
portance. Even as a religious fociety, they
1 have been terribly lopped and thinned, by
the introduction of certain religious adven-
turers, called Qualified Epifcopal Clergymen,
though very unjuftly, as belonging to no


( 334 )

Yet even thus extenuated, and verging
fwiftly towards annihilation, they preferve*
with no fmall felf-importance and fanciful
dignity^ the form of a national church.
Though they " do not now thunder in the
capitol, they hold their little fenate at Utica,
and rail at Ccrfar" Their bifhops are chofen
and confecrated, if not with all the pride,
pomp, and circumftance of glorious prelacy^
at leaft with the imitation thereof ; and the
eleclion of a Pope is not attended with more
intrigue and cabal. Thofe venerable fathers
lately ftept forth a little to the public view,
by imparting a portion of their apoftolic au-
thority to Do6lor Seabury, an American cler-
gyman. One of thenii on that occafion,
publifhed a fermon, which, in the prefent
period of liberality and extended fcience,
mull appear as a curious remain of that fec-
tarian fpirit which prevailed in the laft cen-
tury. They find great confolation in liken-
ing their ftate to that of the primitive church,
unconnected with political fociety, and inde-

( 335 )

pendent of the powers of this world ; and
though the refembling features between thefe
be indeed very few and faint, yet uninformed
and credulous minds readily difcover a fimili-
tude, and the preachers, who by that craft have
their living, fail not to illuftrate and enforce
the do6lrine. Whether fuch a metaphyfical
fource of comfort will long preferve the party
in exiftence, can only be matter of conjec-
ture. To determine the progrefs and pe-
riods of religious opinion, philofophy exerts
her powers in vain.

It may not, perhaps, bethought verycha-
racteriftical of Edinburgh to obferve, that
there is a variety of clubs among the men
in which hard drinking is ftili kept up,
though not to fuch excefs as formerly ; and
that the women, efpecially the younger ones,
are not fo attentive to domeftic matters, as
their grand-mothers, and much given to
{trolling in the ftreets.

The people of Edinburgh, as well as the
Scotch nation in general, are commonly faid


( 336 )

to poflefs great prefence of mind, as well as
great refolutionin fituations of difficulty and
danger. Even tumultuous aflemblies, or
mobs, it is remarked, have often conduced
their defigns with great deliberation, as well
as perfeverance. A finking example of this
occurred in 1736, in the murder of Captain
Porteous, commandant of the city-guard.
The popular difcontents with the Union
were not allayed, when the impofition of new
taxes, particularly the malt-tax, excited
throughout Scotland a general difTatisfaftion,
and almoft a fpirit of oppontion to Govern-
ment. The new taxes were to be enforced,
and the authority of the legiflature main-
tained, by the execution of a daring fmuggler
who had fignalized his boldnefs in fetting
the laws at defiance. Orders were given to
Captain Porteous to employ, if necefTary, the
force committed to his care, in quelling a
threatened infurreclion in favour of the con-
demned prifoner. A fhower of ftones, bro-
ken glaiTes, and other mnTile weapons dif-


( 337 )

charged againft the officers of juftice, at the
common place of execution, in the Grafs-
Ma>ket } announced the premeditated and pre-
dicled onfet. The foldiers having repeatedly
fired their pieces, charged only with powder,
to no purpofe, the Captain of the guard or-
dered them at laft to charge with bullet.
Six men of the mob were killed, and about
double of that number wounded. The Cap-
tain, profecuted by the City of Edinburgh,
and condemned by a jury of enraged citizens
to death, being naturally confidered as a fuf-
ferer in the caufe of Government, obtained
a reprieve from Queen Caroline, who was at
the head of the Regency, during the abfence
of George II. her royal confort, in his pa-
ternal dominions in Germany.

But the Edinburghers, fired with natio-
nal jealoufy and refentment, confidered the
royal exercife of mercy as an infult to
the dignity of the Scottifh metropolis, and
an injury to the manes of the ilain. An
armed rabble, on the night before the day
fixed for the execution of Porteous, fur-
Y prized

( 338 )

prized and difarmed the town-guard, feized
the gates of the city for preventing the ad-
miffion of the troops quartered in the fub-
urbs, fet fire to the prifon doors, and fetting
loofe the other prifoners, dragged Captain
Porteous to the Grafs -Market, hung him up
on a dyer's pon\ and difperfed themfelves, in
perfect tranquillity, to their refpeclive places
of refidence.

The principal authors of this enormous
outrage were concealed from the vengeful en-
quiries of Government, by the favour of
their fellow-citizens j and even they who
were mofl operative in carrying the threats
of the populace into execution, found, for a
while, that countenance from thofe who were
aflociated with them in purpofe, though not
in actions, which all partakers in guilt are
wont to fhew to one another, while the fury
that urged them to the commiffion of crimes
remains unabated. But the tide of popular
rage fublided, with the hoftile fearches of
Government, and Captain Porteous began


( 339 )

to appear in the light of an unfortunate of-
ficer, who, confidering himfelf under an oblir
gation to fupport the officers of juftice, and
to fave his men from the increafmg and alar-
ming fury of the multitude, yielded with re-
luclance to the neceffity of preventing the
eftecls of confirmed revolt and rebellion, by
a timely example of that danger which at-
tended an open refinance of eftablifred go-
vernment. The rafh men who did the deed,
excluded from the fympathy and approba-
tion of their former abettors, proved how
natural it is for mankind to judge of them-
felves, according to the opinions entertained
of them by others, and by what powerful
bands the Father of mankind has retrained
them from the (bedding of blood. They now
felt a degree of frame and remorfe, and fought
to efcape the eyes of their acquaintance, by
travelling into foreign parts, or in the ob-
fcurity of the Englifr metropolis. Some of
thefe unhappy men, with their own hands,
put an end to their exigence, and others took
Y 2 (belter,

fhelter, where they ought, in repentance
and religious devotion. But he, who per-
formed the laft office of the executioner,
endeavoured, with various fuccefs, to brave
the rebukes of the judge within, by afToci-
ating with buffoons and vagabonds, who, by
a (mattering of learning, and common-place
fophifms and jokes, endeavoured to confound
all diftincYions between vice and virtue. He
was fubmiflive even to abject humiliation to
his fr.periors j but gave vent to the! natural
turbulence of his mind in infolence towards
the poor and helplefs. Having daringly
violated the laws of fociety, he attached him-
felf chiefly to a man who, at one period of his
life, it is faid, had exercifed the vocation of a
robber -, and he was obferved to delight, on
all occafions, in fomenting difcord, aggravat-
ing what was gloomy, and predicting what was
dreadful. In his gait he was fometimes quick,
fouietimes flow. Now he would give vent to
the inward frorm that raged in hisbreaft, by
bellowing with great vociferation againft any


( 34' )

perfon he deemed either not capable, or not
inclined to retort hisabufe : and now he would
be funk in profound melancholy and filence-
His manner, in fhort, was unequal and vio-
lent, and there was fomething in his coun-
tenance, during the whole courfe of his life,
which, had one been fearching for an execu-
tioner amongft a thoufand bye-ftanders,
wpuld have faid, at once, there is the man !

Such are the obfervations that have been
made on the character and the fate of the
men who were moft actively concerned in the
murder of Captain JPorteous j whofe ftory,
though not fo interefting as that of thofe
who have aflaffinated princes and kings, is
yet, in a moral view, equally inftructive :
fince it fhews that there is no change of fitUr
ation or place, that not the chium ardor pra-
va jubtntium, nor all the opiates of either
fceptical or convivial fociety, can fecure the
man who has unfortunately been guilty of
blood, from the flings of confcience, that
impartial reviewer, and inexorable judge of
human thoughts, words, and actions. Hay?
Y 3 ing

( 342 )

ing fpent a week at Edinburgh, where we
were entertained with great elegance, as well
as hofpitality, we leave it on

Friday, the jth of Auguft, and go to
Kelfo. Pafs through Dalkeith, where the
Duke of Buccleugh has an elegant feat, and
where there is a great deal of fine old tim-
ber. This being a very bad day, we had very
little opportunity of feeing the country
round us. As far as I could difcern, the
land, for eight miles from Edinburgh, feems
to be well cultivated. Beyond this difiance,
for a courfe of twenty-five miles, till you
get near Kelfo, the country around is moun-
tainous, barren, and thinly inhabited.

Kelfo is, without exception, the moil beau-
tiful fpot I have feen in Scotland. It is a
well-built little town, fituated on the banks
of the Tweed, over which is an elegant bridge,
juft below the conflux of the Teviot and
the Tweed. From this bridge there is a
moil beautiful view of the town, the Duke
of Roxburgh's elegant houfe, called Fleurs,
thofe of Sir James Duglafs, Sir James Prin-

( 343 )

gle, Mr. Davifon, and feveral other modern
manfions. The country is well wooded, and
highly improved. This fcene is confiderably
enriched by the ruins of the old abbey, built
by David I. The diftant hills, particularly
the Elder- Hills, are taken into the view, and,
on the whole, as compleat a profpect is f ur-
niflied as I ever faw.

But, this is a miniature picture. For, a
fpace of two miles either way from this fpot,
brings you into an open country again 3 not
indeed without its beauties, but too naked
for the imagination : however, much pains
have been taken lately to cultivate this part
of the country, which produces a great quan-
tity of corn i many inclofures are alfo made
of thorn, but thofe hedges are not yet grown
high enough to afford fhelter. Here alfo
are numerous plantations, though only in an
infant ftate. In time, I fee nothing to pre-
vent the banks of the Tweed from becoming
as beautiful as the banks of the Thames.

Thurfday, the i ith of Anguft. Leave

Kelfo, and ride by the fide of the Tweed to

Y 4 Cold-

( 344 )

Coldftream ; crofs an elegant bridge of five
arches, and enter England : and here it is
well worthy of remark, .that all the bridges
in Scotland are built with much more taile


and elegance, than any in England. The
flone of which they are generally constructed
is of a brown colour, and appears to be very
durable : indeed the latter quality feems to
be abfolutely necefTary, for all the rivers in
Scotland, as in all mountainous, countries,
are fubjecl to great floods, and run with vi-
olent rapidity, infomuch that fome of the
bridges have circular openings between each
arch, to difcharge the water when the. arches
are full.

Pafs Flouden Field. As I have given an ac-
count from Mr. Hume, of a celebrated engage-
ment, in which the Englifh were defeated, with
great ilaughter, by the Scots j fo I (hall here,
to fhew my impartiality, take occafion to in-
troduce, from the fame author, an action not
lefs famous, in which the Scots were routed,
with ftill heavier lofs, by the Englifii.

" The

( 345 )

<c The King of Scotland, (James IV.) had
<c aflembled the whole force of his kingdom;
<c and having parTed the Tweed with a brave,
<l though a tumultuary army of about
cc 50,000 men, he ravaged thofe parts of
" Northumberland which lay neareft that
" river, and he employed himfelf in taking
" the caftles of Norham, Etal, Werke, Ford,
<c and other places of little importance. Lady
" Ford, being taken prifoner in her caftle,
" was prcfentcd to James, and fo gained ori
" the affeclions of that prince, that he wafted
" in pleafure the critical time, which, during
<{ the abfence of his enemy, he fhould have
" employed in pufhing his conquefts. His
<c troops, lying in a barren country, where
" they foon confumed all the provilions, be-
" gan to be pinched with hunger : and as
" the authority of the prince was feeble, and
" military difcipline, during that age, ex-
" tremely relaxed, many of them had ftolen
" from the camp, and retired homewards.
." Meanwhile, the Earl of Surrey, having

" collected

( 346 )

tc collected a force of 26,000 men, of which
<f 5,000 had been fent over from the king's
tc army in France, marched to the defence of
" the country, and approached the Scots,
<c who lay on fome high ground near the
" Hills of Cheviot. The River Till ran be-
" tween the armies, and prevented an en-
* gagement : Surrey therefore fent a herald
" to the Scotch camp, challenging the enemy
" todefcendinto the plain of Millfield, which
" lay towards the fouth ; and there, ap-
<c pointing a day for the combat, to try their
" valour on equal ground. As he received
** no fatisfaclory anfwer, he made a feint
ct of marching towards Berwic ; as if he
" intended to enter into Scotland, to lay
<c wafte the borders, and cut off the provi-
< fions of the enemy. The Scotch army, in
" order to prevent his purpofe, put them-
^ felves in motion ; and having fet fire to the
" huts in which they had quartered, they
" defcended from the hills. Surrey, taking
* c advantage of the fmoke, which was blown

" towards

( 347 )

" towards him, and which concealed his
" movements, paffed the Till with his artil-
" lery and vanguard at the bridge of Twifel,
"and lent the reft of his army to feek a ford
" higher up the river.

" An engagement was now become inevi-
" table, and both fides prepared for it with
" tranquillity and order. The Englifli di-
" vided their army into two lines : Lord
" Howard led the main body of the firft line,
" Sir Edmond Howard the right wing, Sir
<c Marmaduke Conftable the left. The Earl
" of Surrey himfelf commanded the main
" body of the fecond line, Lord Dacres the
" right wing, Sir Edward Stanley the left.
" The front of the Scots prefented three di-
" vifions to the enemy : the middle was led
" by the King himfelf: the right by the Earl
" of Huntley, aflifted by Lord Hume : the
" left by the Earls of Lenox and Argyle. A
" fourth divifion under the Earl cf Bothwel
" made a body of referve. Huntley began
*' the battle 3 and after a iliarp conflict, put


( 34? )

" to flight the left wing of the Englifh, and
<* chaced them off the field : but on return-
" ing from the purfuit, he found the whole
" Scottifh army in great .diforder. The di-
ef vilion under Lenox and Argyle, elated with
" the fuccefs of the other wing, had broken
<c their ranks, and notwithstanding the re-
" monftrances and entreaties of La Motte,
" the French ambaffador, had rufhed head-
" long upon the enemy. Not only Sir Ed-
" mond Howard, at the head of his divifion,
" received them with great valour $ but
" Dacres, who commanded in the fecond line,
" wheeling about during the action, fell upon
" their rear, and put them to tb f e fword with-
" out refiftance. The divifion under James
" and that under Bothwel, animated by the
< valour of their leaders, flill made head
" againfl the Englifli, and throwing them-
" felves into a circle, protracted the action,
" till night feparated the combatants. The
" victory feemed yet uncertain, and the num-
" bers, that fell on each fide, were nearly

tc equal,

( 349 )

c< equal, amounting to above 5,000 men : but
" the morning difcovered where the advan-
" tage lay. The Englifh had loft only per-
" fons of fmall note ; but the flower of the
" Scottifh nobility had fallen in battle, and
" their king himfelf, after the moft diligent
" enquiry, could no where be found. In
" fearching the field, the Englifti met with
" a dead body, which refembled him, and
" was arrayed in a fimilar habit ; and they
" put it in a leaden coffin, and fent it to
cc London. During fome time it was kept
" unburied ; becaufe James died under fen-
" tence of excommunication, on account of
" his confederacy with France, and his op-
" pofition to the holy fee. But upon Hen-
" ry's application, who pretended that that
tc prince had, in the inftant before his death,
44 difcovered figns of repentance, abfolutiori
" was given him, and his body was interred.
" The Scots, however, ftill afferted, that it
<f was not James's body, which was found
" on the field of battle, but that of one El-

<c phinfton,

( 35 )

*' phinfton, who had been arrayed in arms
" refembling their king's, in order to divide
" the attention of the Eiiglifh, and fhare the
" danger with his mafter. It was believed
" that James had been feen croffing the
" Tweed at Kelfo ; and fome imagined that
" he had been killed by the vaflals of Lord
" Hume, whom that nobleman had infti-
<c gated to commit fo enormous a crime.
<f But the populace entertained the opinion
ct that he was flill alive, and having fecretly
" gone in pilgrimage to the holy land, would
" foon return, and take poffeflion of the
" throne. This fond conceit was long en-
4c tertained among the Scots."

The mufical genius of Scotland expreffed
the moans of the nation in the deeply plain-
tive notes of The Flowers of the Foreft. On
the battle of Flouden, another ballad was
alfo compofed, of another ftrain, in praife of
thtfoitters (fhoe-makers) of Selkirk, and in
ridicule of the Earl of Hume. When the
Scottifh army advanced fouthward towards


( 35 )

the borders of England, a band of eighty
fouters joined the royal army, under the con-
duel of the town-clerk of Selkirk. They
fought with great bravery, and were moftly
cut off. A few who eicaped, found, on their
return, in the forefl of Lr^dy- Wood-Edge,
the wife of one of their brethren, lying dead,
and her child fucking her breaft. The
Town of Selkirk, from this circumflance,
obtained for their arms, a woman fitting up-
on a farcophagus, holding a child in her
arms ; in the back ground, a wood ; and, ori
the farcophagus, the arms of Scotland.

Millfield Plain, where the battle of Flouden
was fought, extends about five miles each
way, and is entirely furrounded by barren
mountains, the Cheviot Hills forming the
fouthern boundary. Pafs on to Woller-
haugh-head, a fmall poor town : from Wol-
ler to Alnwick, the road goes round the
Cheviot Hills, through a wild and unculti-
vated country.


C 35* )

At Alnwick is the Duke of Northumber-
land's Caflle, a very large pile of building,
in the fliape of an octagon, the inner court
forming a circle. In this part of the caflle
are the rooms for flate and bed-chambers*
The library is a large and elegant apart-
ment, and the chapel adjoining to it is fitted
up entirely in the Gothic flile, an humble
imitation of that order of architecture.
The chapel is lighted by a large window,
painted with great tafle : all the rooms
in the caftle, three of which are very fpa-
cious and elegant, are, like the chapel, fit-
ted in the Gothic flile. The fervants apart-
ments, and all the offices, are diflincl: from
the caftle, but all in the fame flile of archi-
tecture. On the battlements are a great
number of flatues of warriors, in various at-
titudes of defence, apparently as large as life,
which makes it appear as if an enemy was
florming it. On the right of the kmer gate-
way, is ilill to be feen a dungeon, with an


( 353 )

iron grate, the Gothic emblem of lawlefs will
and arbitrary power.

The grounds round Alnwick are very ex-
tenfive, reaching all the way to the fea, but
moft of the improvements are modern. Great
part of the caftle has been built, or rebuilt
by the prefent Duke. All the plantations
are very young : none of the trees feem to
bear the appearance of more than forty

The town of Alnwick is not very exten-
five, but neat, and well built : fome of the
houfes are very antient, others modern and
elegant. The eaft and weft gates are very an-
tient, and towards the north, the Duke has
lately built an elegant gate -way, with a
handibme tower upon it, in the Gothic ftile.
This tower was intended to have bells placed
in it, but the ftructure was found to be too
flight. The church is a fpacious and ele-
gant building.

Were the Dukes of Northumberland, in

thefe peaceable times, like their neighbour

Z the

( 354 )

the Duke of Bridgewater, to exercife the fame
ardour in the promotion of arts and com-
merce, which their anceftors, in turbulent
times, displayed in arms, Alnwick and the
adjacent country might be rendered as fa-
mous for manufactures as it was formerly
renowned for bloody battles. There is not
in any part of Britain, better wool than that
which is produced in the hilly tracts in the
fouth of Scotland, and the north of England,
This circumftance, with abundance of fuel,
and vicinity to the fea, is fufficient to prove
this pofition.

In the times bf the Heptarchy, before
the different kingdoms of which England
originally confifted, were united in one,*
that of Northumberland extended from the
Tweed to the Humber, and comprehended,
befides the county of that name, Cumber-
land, Weilmoreland, the whole of Yorkfhire,


* It is remarkable, that, at this moment, the Ifland of
Madagafcar is divided into feven diftinft kingdoms, each go-
verned by its own king, who enjoys his authority and title
by inheritance.

( 355 )

Lancafhire, and the Bifhoprick of Durhanf.
The capital of this kingdom was York, a town
equally famous during the Roman, the Sax-
on, and the Norman aera. It is from this
laft period that we are enabled to account
for fome cuftoms that prevail among the in-
habitants, and for that particular dialect,
which d i ft ingui flies a Yorkfhireman and
Northumbrian, including under that name
the inhabitants of Weilmoreiand and Cum-
berland, from all others in this kingdom.

It is v/ell known, that the antient kingdom
of Northumberland was, for ages, the grand
fubjet of contention between the Saxons and
the Danes, and when thefe were at length ex-
pelled from England, between the Saxons and
the Norwegians. The firft Daniih expedition
of which we have any certain account, was
made by King Reynar Lodh'-ok, a prince
equally imprudent and unfortunate. He
was flain by Ella king of Northumberland ;
who in his turn was iiain by the fons of
Reynar, and was fuccccded by Ivar the Dane,

Z 2 who

( 356 )

who fixed his refidence at York. On the
death of Ivar, the kingdom of Northumber-
land rqturned to the obedience of her former
lords, the kings of the Saxons. At length
King Athelftan gave it to Eric, who had been
expelled from his kingdom of Norway, fon
of Harold the fair-haired, appointing him
guardian of the northern coafts, againft the
incurfions of the Norwegians.

It was in the time of Eric that the famous
battle of Brunanburgh was fought by King
Athelllan, againft Conftantine king of Scot-
land, and Oiave, one of the kings of Ireland.
Athelftan received from his Norwegian allies
the moft powerful fupport on all occafions
of danger. The Norwegians, in the intereft
and fervice of King Athelftan were joined by
Egitt and Thorolf, two chiefs from Iceland.
Thorolf was killed, but Egitt, loaded with
the moft ample tokens of the royal favour of
Athelftan, returned to his native country.
Nor were thefe the onlv Icelandic adventu-


rers who vifited England, and paid their ho-

( 357 )

mage to her kings. It was a cuftom among
the Icelanders to travel as foldiers of for-
tune into foreign countries j to enquire into
the conftitution and manners of the nations
among whom they fojourned ; and to re-

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Online LibraryWilliam ThomsonA tour in England and Scotland, in 1785 → online text (page 15 of 16)