John Murray Graham.

Annals and correspondence of the viscount and the first and second earls of Stair; (Volume 1) online

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tho' there were no more success to be hoped for
from the treaty, yet that same was well worth all the
struggle we had to obtain it, and it carries an use of
reproof to two sorts of people, either those who would
not enter into a treaty because they pretended no good
would be got by it, and others who were so fond as

* See Letters of the Earl of Leven, and of Mr Harley to Mr
Carstairs Carstairs State Papers, 717.

t This probably refers to an English Act previously passed as to


to have rendered without any terms, to which it was
impossible to have brought our nation or parliament.
I shall be sorry if the English insist too peremptorily
upon an entire union at present. Your Lordship
knows my sentiments in that matter, that I do firmly
believe an incorporating union is the best for both
nations, but that may require more time than the
present circumstances do allow ; for if we should be
so unhappy as to be deprived of her Majesty before
the succession is settled, great mischiefs may follow.
Therefore, I wish that upon the settling of a free trade
betwixt the nations and all freedom to their planta-'
tions, the succession were presently declared in our
next session of parliament, and that the treaty of a
general or entire union did likewise proceed so as a
scheme thereof might be offered to both parliaments ;
and if more time were found to be necessary for that,
yet it needed not stop the other from being presently
concluded and declared.

" For the nomination [of commissioners], I think
your Lordships have done your part in stating the dif-
ficulty, and giving the general opinion. I conclude the
court will hardly adventure to make another mixture
without either ours or the opinion of our friends there ;
and if they be of another mind, I think it is your part
to submit. If that alley brings the matter to a good
conclusion, it is not to be considered by what hands ;
and if the affair miscarries, you are exonerecl. But I
am afraid another step of this kind will render Duke
Oueensberry so jealous that he will not meddle, and
your Lordship may consider how the business can
succeed without him. It's a great happiness for the
public, and security for yourselves, that the two [Scot-

212 THE STAIR ANNALS. [1706.

tish] secretaries and the great men in the government
are of the same sentiments. So long as you continue
so, it is impossible for business to miscarry ; it may-
stick at one time, but it will do at another. All the
opposition can only retard ; but without this settle-
ment there is nothing considerable, either ill or good,
can be done with us. But though you should not
come to open breaches, if there arise diffidence or
shyness amongst you, then you ruin yourselves, your
friends, and country ; therefore the common interest
is more to be minded than the particular part that
every man is to act. Nor is it always the greatest
actor that represents the greatest person, but the
several parts are to be given so as the whole plot
may be best executed. It is only in this point that
I fear heart-burnings may arise. The court and our
friends there should digest and prepare this matter,
and I hope the persons shall acquiesce in what parts
friends do assign them ; and whoever be the princi-
pal actors, they should be contented to act with con-
cert, and to allow others the share of the influence
and disposal of things according to their interest and
weight in the party.

" I do not believe the two Dukes will differ in rela-
tion to the Marquis Annandale ; he must either re-
concile and quit his humour before the nomination,
or there's an end of him. And there will be the more
need of caution to retain our friends here, and care to
take of some that were in opposition. In order to
retaining friends, it is absolutely necessary to finish
what was designed for the northern squadron. I
know it is not your Lordship's fault that Grant is not
provided as yet ; but except Kilraick be sheriff of


Ross, they will never be hearty, for he manages the
rest ; and George Brodie is earnest that Captain
Brodie be the under-chamberlain of Ross, which hath
some difficulty ; but it must either be done or that
kept fair in expectation, which will have great influ-
ence in the north. For, though that corner, which
has many representatives, is the most disaffected
to the present establishment or the succession, yet
the matter of trade is more in their heads than any
others in the nation, which may make them care
in the parliament to ratify those good terms that may
be obtained in the treaty. Forgetting of some of the
opposers, I wrote formerly to Earl Loudoun how
little I believed of advances had been made by the
leaders. Lord Arniston is very current for the
treaty, and that we should take the best terms we
can get for breaking up is ruin ; and he says he
would not stick at getting an act of grace, and more,
which is a far advance. He is the baron in parlia-
ment, and you will find few of his state to be put upon
the treaty. There is indeed a charm in being engaged
into a party, for common cants take men off from
their own reason ; but yet, if he were named on the
treaty, I think I could answer for him ; and he is cer-
tainly for the constitution. . . . For military matters,
I pretend not to understand them. All these gentle-
men are so touchy that they are ready to mistake or
quarrel even what is done for their service to accom-
modate matters. I must say the officers of our army,
having not frequent occasions of fighting for us, are
to be otherwise useful ; and there is such a connexion
and dependence betwixt the State and our army that
the nomination of officers never was out of the hands

214 THE STAIR ANNALS. [1706.

of the ministry. No doubt great regard will be had
to the recommendation of the Commander-in-chief as
to the recommending of staff officers, and to colonels
for their subalterns, where no other reason of State
interferes. As for a new parliament, I wish this
were better; but till it fail us, I would not try another,
lest that be worse. I must say the parliament never
failed where the ministry was not divided ; and in the
new elections, the party in opposition will have the
advantage of us in diligence ; and a person inclined
to the court is easy put by from being chosen in his
country. It would raise a new ferment, whereas our
humours rather cool ; and it is too true that men who
design easy fair things are seldom so active as those
who have worse intentions.* . . ."

The managers for the Government, assisted by
Lord Stair, had a hard fight in the Scottish parlia-
ment on the point whether the Scottish commis-
sioners for negotiating the treaty should be chosen
by the queen or the parliament. Their nomination
by the Crown was only carried by the help of the
Squadrone volatile, much to the discomfiture of Lord
Belhaven, Fletcher of Saltoun, and their friends, who
now called themselves the National Party. When
the Commissioners came to be finally appointed in
the spring of 1706, thirty-one for each nation, those
for England consisted mostly of peers and official
persons, while the nomination for Scotland was of a
more general and representative character, including
commoners of local influence in the country, as well
as peers, and several, both peers and commoners,

* From the original in the Mar charter-chest.


who had been opposed to the Revolution settlement,
and whose sentiments were reputed to be unfavour-
able to an incorporating union. Lord Stair and his
brothers, President Sir Hew Dalrymple, and Sir
David Dalrymple, then solicitor-general for Scot-
land, were all in the Scottish nomination.

It was generally believed to have been a piece of
policy suggested by Stair, with the view of the treaty,
when negotiated, being more readily agreed to by the
Scottish Parliament, to include amongst the commis-
sioners persons of influence in Scotland, indisposed
perhaps a priori to union, but who might, notwith-
standing, be engaged to show a certain degree of
favour for a treaty in which they themselves had a
hand."" But if any credit be due to the adviser of
this subtle policy, Lord Marchmont \vas quite as
much entitled to a share of the credit as Lord
Stair, t

The two bodies of commissioners assembled in
London at Whitehall on the i6th April 1706. The
proceedings during the negotiation of the treaty were
secret ; so that, although the main points in issue and
the decisions of the joint Commission were shortly
noted in their minutes, no record exists of the speeches
or part taken by the individual members. From what
is known of Stair, it may be taken for granted that
he was conspicuous among the Scottish commis-
sioners in expediting the negotiation of the treaty
to a conclusion in the face of great difficulties. On
the 23d of July, the articles of the treaty were pre-

* Burnet's History of his own Time, v. 317 ; Tindal's Continuation
of Rapin's England, anno 1706.

t Earl of Marchmont to the Duke of Argyle, Dec. 29, 1705 March-
mont Papers, iii. 293.

2l6 THE STAIR ANNALS. [1707.

scntcd to her Majesty, and in October they were laid
before the Scottish Parliament.

The treaty met with a stormy reception in Scot-
land, both in and out of Parliament. Within that
assembly all Lord Stair's powers of reasoning and
argument, all his eloquence and skill in debate, were
called forth to meet the elaborate declamation and
strong appeals of Belhaven and the other champions
of Scottish nationality. His energies were exerted,
indeed, to a degree of tension that may well account
for the fatal issue to himself of the discussion of
the Union question in the last Scottish parliament
On the 7th of January 1707, the 22d article of the
treaty (the last of any importance), in which the pro-
portion of representation to be allotted to Scotland
in the united parliament was regulated, was at last
carried after a long and harassing debate. In the
course of the ensuing night, Lord Stair died suddenly
in bed, " his spirits," according to Bishop Burnet,
" being quite exhausted by the length and vehemence
of the debate."*

* Burnet's History of his own Time, v. 324. The Scottish Act ratify-
ing and approving the Treaty of Union of the t\fo kingdoms was passed
eight days after Stair's death.

So .eager were the opponents of the Union to catch at anything
affecting injuriously so determined a supporter of the measure, that
they circulated a report, without any foundation, of Lord Stair having
committed suicide. In the Memoirs of John, second Earl of Stair, by
an Impartial Hand, which are ingeniously calumnious of the Stair
family, the fable is adopted of the first Earl having hanged himself.
The second Earl himself, in a letter applying for a British peerage in
February 1707, alleges more truly that his father's zeal for the Union
cost him his life, "having allowed him no time to take care of his
health, though he perceived it ruined by his continual attendance and
application-." Marchmont Papers, iii. 447. Earl Stanhope's reference
to Stair's decease, in his Reign of Queen Anne, is in the following
terms: "Thus he had the honour, which a better man might envy,


Upon the 2ist January following, after the Act
approving the treaty of Union had passed, Lord
Stair's eldest son took the oaths and his seat in
parliament as Earl of Stair. Daniel Defoe, who was
then in Edinburgh, makes the following observation,
in his ' History of the Union/ on the Minute of par-
liament in which this is recorded :* " The reason of
the Earl of Stair taking the oaths now and his place
in parliament, was very unhappy at this time ; his
father, the Earl of Stair, justly reputed the greatest
man of counsel in the kingdom of Scotland, died sud-
denly the eighth of this month ; he had been an emi-
nent instrument in carrying on the Union, and had,
the very day of his death, spoken very earnestly in
the House upon some particular cases relating to the
Union ; he went out of the House not very well, yet
went home and wrote several letters that very night
to England, and in the morning died in his bed with-
out being able to speak so much as to his lady, who
was with him, to the general grief of the whole island,
being universally lamented.!

to die in the service of his country striving to the last by voice and
vote to carry through a measure essential at that period, as he knew,
to its peace and welfare." (P. 272.) The entry in Hume of Cross-
rigg's Diary (Bannatyne Club) is as follows : " Wednesday, Jan. 8.
This morning the Earl of Stair, who was yesterday in parliament,
died of an apoplexy. This clay spent in jangling, and nothing done."
-(P. 194-)

* P. 491, Edition 1786.

f About the end of the I7th and beginning of the i8th century, upon
the death of a person of note, an Elegy or short funereal poem, com-
posed usually, but not always, in praise of the deceased, was not un-
commonly printed on a broadsheet, and circulated. These sheets of
poetry were adorned with broad black lines, death's heads, and other
emblems of mortality. In a volume of pamphlets of the time in the
Advocates' Library, Edinburgh, is preserved an Elegy " upon the much-
lamented death of the Right Hon. John Earl of Stair," containing up-

2l8 THE STAIR ANNALS. [1707.

Defoe may be regarded as retailing the current
talk of the day among Stair's friends and the Gov-
ernment party ; and his laudatory notice tends to
show that the strong feeling manifested against Lord
Stair after the affair of Glenco had in a great measure
subsided, while the exertion of his powerful talents
in support of the Union had placed him high among
Scottish statesmen.

His character has been given at length in the Me-
moirs of a political and personal adversary, George
Lockhart of Carnwath. Lockhart's sketch concludes
thus : " Stair had indeed a piercing judgment, a lively
imagination, a quick apprehension, a faithful memory,

wards of an hundred very indifferent lines, of which the following
are sufficient as an example :

" Nature did courage to these parts subjoin,
Which made him feared by all, he fearing none ;
Therefore, as right, he claims a double crown,
One for the sword, the other for the gown. . . .
The Union shall perpetuate his name
As long as there's an ear or mouth in fame. . . .
Which has been hatching long through ages past.
And brought to birth by help of Stair at last."

A Jacobite song upon the Union in Hogg's 'Jacobite Relics ' (parody-
ing the old song of " Fy, let us a' to the Wedding") commences
thus :

" Now fy let us a' to the Treaty,

For there will be wonders there,
For Scotland's to be a bride, sir,
And wed to the Earl of Stair ! "

The poetry elicited by Lord Stair's death was not all in a laudatory
strain. An Epitaph upon him may be read by the curious in the Scot-
tish Pasquils of Mr Maidment, commencing as follows:

" Stay, Passenger, but shed no tear,
A Pontius Pilate lyeth here,
Whose lineage, life, and final state,
If you'll have patience, I'll relate.
Got by Beelzebub on a witch," &c., &c.


a solid reflection, and a particular talent of dissimula-
tion and cunninq- in their greatest extents ; so that

C5 O

he was seldom or never to be taken at unawares.
He was extremely facetious and diverting company
in common conversation, and, setting aside his politics
(to which all did yield), good-natured. To these
qualifications was likewise added that of eloquence,
being so great a master of it that he expressed him-
self on all occasions and subjects with so much life
and rhetoric, and that likewise so pointedly and copi-
ously, that there was none in the parliament capable
to take up the cudgels with him."

Several of these features of character were remark-
ably brought out in the Convention parliament, and
in the last Scottish parliament, when, in the face of
strong prejudices, both personal and political, he
yet carried, with very moderate assistance in debate,
the most important resolutions and measures. That
in the ten years preceding the Revolution he
showed himself a supple politician, too dexterous to
be much relied upon, may be true ; but some allow-
ance should be made for him in consideration of the
times he lived in, political honesty in high places
being then rather the exception than the rule. He
was regarded by the zealous Presbyterians as latitu-
dinarian in his views of religion, for which opinion of
him there may have been good reason when holding
office under James. After the Revolution it is more
difficult to take exception to his strenuous endeavours
to have Presbyterianism settled upon a safe founda-
tion, and so. as to be consistent with monarchical
government, and to extend (in the lines marked out by
William himself) toleration and protection to such of

220 THE STAIR ANNALS. [1707.

the Episcopal communion as were willing to accept
of these boons. If, in an age when intolerance was
the rule, freedom from intolerance be a virtue, to the
credit of that virtue he is undoubtedly entitled.

In the public life and conduct of the first Earl of
Stair, intellectual power and great talents were more
conspicuous than high moral qualities. But of him
it may be said in the words of Shakespeare :

" The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones."

His name is now very generally associated with the
barbarous affair of-Glenco, the blame of which his
royal master must share with him in at least an equal
proportion ; while his unswerving fidelity in an in-
triguing age to King William, his exertions to allay
religious heats and animosities, and, above all, the
powerful aid he gave in bringing the Treaty of Union
through a host of difficulties to a favourable issue, are
merits of a high order, .though in comparison but
slightly regarded.

r <0) m M ID) DC, IT* ^-: F )d is



HORN, 1673; DIED, 1747.



Early life and training of John Dalrymple, second Earl of Stair His
destination for the army Accompanies his father to Flanders, and
commences his military career under King William Serves in the
army of Marlborough, and receives the colonelcy of the Scots Greys
Letters to the Earl of Mar, Secretary of State for Scotland, from
the seat of war Becomes Earl of Stair on the death of his father
A representative peer of Scotland in the first British Parliament.

JOHN DALRYMPLE, eldest surviving son of the first
Earl of Stair, was born at Edinburgh in July 1673.
In his boyish pastimes he is said to have shown a
decided predilection for martial pursuits, to which,
in selecting for their child a career in life, his parents,
with some hesitation, gave way, bestowing upon him,
at the same time, a careful education. For home-
training he was chiefly indebted to his mother, the
heiress of the estate of Newliston, whose letters to
him, of a later period, show her to have been thor-
oughly well versed in the management of domestic
affairs, and to have been imbued with religious senti-
ments of a considerably more pronounced character
than those of her son.

The fatal accident by which he unintentionally

224 THE STAIR ANNALS. [1685.

shot his elder brother with a pistol, in his grand-
father's house at Carsecrcugh, has been already
noticed in the life of the first Earl. It is said that
the grief of his parents upon this occasion induced
them to send young John Dalrymple for some time
from home. It was probably during this period that
he resided in the house of the rector of the burgh
school of Linlithgow, Kirkwood by name, a good
classical scholar, and author of a Latin grammar
which was generally used in Scotland till superseded
by that of Ruddiman.*

When about twelve years of age he was sent to
Leyden, where his grandfather was then living.
Here he attended the university classes, studying
languages, fortification, and other branches of edu-
cation, t As an inmate of Sir James Dalrymple's
house, he would have an opportunity of becoming
acquainted with several distinguished exiles from
his own country, and would be thrown into the oc-
casional society of military men, both British and
Dutch, as well as of his grandfather's associates.
He returned to Scotland before the Revolution, and
completed his education at the University of Edin-
burgh. I

* Statistical Account of Linlithgowshire.

t Douglas's Peerage, by Wood.

J It is only when their narratives are confirmed from other sources
that I can refer with any satisfaction either to the Memoirs of the
second Earl of Stair, by an Impartial Hand London, 1747; or
to the Life of Lord Stair, published by Henderson, London, also in
1747. They are both inaccurate. The first of these duodecimos (to
which Sir Walter Scott refers in the Introduction to the 'Bride of
Lammermoor') is said to have been bought up, and the remaining
copies destroyed, by Lord Stair's successor. The other is so full of
vague writing and absurd panegyric as entirely to affect its credi-*


In 1692, John Dalrymple accompanied his father,
then Master of Stair and Secretary of State for Scot-
land, to Flanders, in the cortege of King William,
joining the allied army as a volunteer in the Camer-
onian regiment, afterwards the 26th of the line.'"
This regiment, known in contemporary history as
Angus's (the regiment of Sterne's Lefevre), was
severely handled at the battle of Steinkirk in that
year, the young volunteer being amongst the few
belonging to it who escaped with their lives. He
appears to have passed the winter of 1692 in Hol-
land ; but whether, in 1693, he rejoined the army
and was at the battle of Landen, or in 1695 was
at the siege of Namur, there is no certain infor-

Becoming Master of Stair upon his father's succes-
sion to the peerage in 1695, ne passed the five fol-
lowing years between the seat of war on the Con-
tinent and Scotland. In 1700 he accompanied Lord
Lexington in an embassy to Vienna ; after which he
made a tour in the south of Europe, visiting the
states of Italy in the course of his travels, and return-
ing to England in 1701.

Having gone through the lower military grades,
he was appointed, shortly before the death of William
in that year, to a command in the Scottish Foot
Guards, his commission being one of the first signed
by Queen Anne.t

He now pursued his military career with ardour
under the leadership of Lord Marlborough, and in
the first year of the operations of the allied army

* Cannon's Historical Account of the Scots Greys. London, 1836.
t Ibid.



in Flanders, did duty as his aide-de-camp. He was
with the storming party, under the "fighting Lord
Cutts," at the taking of the fort of Venlo,* and
he assisted at the storming of the citadel of Liege,
where he is said to have saved the life of the Prince
of Hesse -Cassel, afterwards King of Sweden, by
shooting with his pistol a French officer who was on
the point of cutting down the prince with his sabre.
I have no account of his taking part in the battle of
Blenheim, though it is possible he did so.

In the campaign of 1705 very little was accom-
plished, owing to the indecision and procrastination of
the Dutch deputies. In furtherance, probably, of Marl-
borough's desire to strengthen his interest with his
Dutch allies, Lord Dalrymple (his father being now
Earl of Stair) had a commission given to him as
colonel of a regiment in the service of the States.
The pay must have been scanty, as, in a letter to
the Earl of Mar in November of this year, he com-
plains that his regiment is far from giving him bread ;
and upon the ground of his father's services to the
Queen, he applies, through Mar, then Secretary for
Scotland, for a colonelcy in the Guards.t Lord Mar
advised his friend " Dal " to come himself to Lon-
don ; and his application appears to have been so
far successful that in January 1706 he was allowed
to exchange his Dutch commission for the colonelcy
of his former regiment, the Cameronians. He was
present at the battle of Ramilies, in May, with the

* Lord Cutts (to whom Steele, in 1701, dedicated his "Christian
Hero") was colonel of the Coldstream Guards, and was sent, after the
war, to Ireland, where he died, according to an historian of the period,
"of a broken heart from inaction."

t Letters in the Mar charter-chest.

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