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and the effect of which would have been, in his opinion, to have interfered with the legitimate prerogative of the sovereign; that intelligence had even been conveyed to him of Argyle's having mooted the dethroning of the king in Scotland, with the design, as was inferred, of ascending to his place; that, alarmed by these proceedings, he and several others of the more moderate Presbyterians, entered into a bond for the defence of the constitution, and to secure the great purposes for which they had united in signing and supporting the Covenant; that having despatched letters to the king containing advice as to the state of things in Scotland, and copies of these having been surreptitiously obtained, the Covenanting leaders seized Montrose and his friends, committed them to prison, and proceeded against them with the utmost rigor and injustice; and that, in consequence of all this, Montrose became entirely alienated from their party, and, after being released from his long imprisonment, went over, on the resumption of hostilities, to the side of the king, to which he remained attached till his death. The evidence in favor of this theory of Montrose’s conduct, is stated by Mr. Napier with great fulness, and with all the skill of an advocate. He clearly shows that, for a considerable while before the treaty of Berwick, Montrose and the Covenanters had begun to discover that they were not quite of the same mind on many points necessarily involved in the enterprise in which they were engaged; that if there was not a direct intention on the part of Argyle and his friends to dethrone the king, Montrose had good reason, from what was told him, to suppose there was; that whilst his communications with the king contained nothing but sound and wholesome advice, such as it was unquestionably Montrose's privilege to offer to his Majesty, and such as no king could be the worse for receiving, the anxiety of Argyle and his party to fix a criminal accusation upon Montrose, indicates deep personal hatred, or a strong desire to get rid of a troublesome adherent; that Montrose was supported in all that he did in this matter by his former guardian, Lord Napier, whose uprightness and prudence are above all question; and that, through the whole of the proceedings connected with the vexatious course pursued against him, he maintained that open, honest, and fearless demeanor which belonged to his character, and which is utterly incompatible with the meanness and duplicity of a traitor. The evidence adduced by Mr. Napier, in support of these assertions, is such as cannot, we think, be resisted. Nor is its importance confined to the favorable aspect which it gives to the conduct of Montrose on the occasion in question; it is also valuable for the light which it throws upon the mysterious event which is designated in all histories of the period by the somewhat ominous appellation of the Plot.' This plot, it turns out, was nothing more appalling than the agreement of a few noblemen to advise their sovereign to measures of a firm but conciliatory kind, as the only policy by which the peace of his kingdom could be preserved, and to support him against all opposition should he follow their advice. It also furnishes a solution of what has hitherto been a sort of historical problem, viz. what prompted Charles's visit to Scotland, in 1641? Those historians who are favorable to the king, assert with D’Israeli, that his sudden resolution to visit the northern part of his dominions, arose from a desire to relieve his mind from the burden under which, after the execution of Strafford, and in consequence of his personal distresses, and the confusion in his councils, it was oppressed; while those who are opposed to him incline to the theory of Brodie, who tells us that his journey was 'a dark project to strengthen an unprincipled violent faction
in Scotland.' The real cause, however, it now appears from the evidence adduced by Mr. Napier, was a letter from Lord Napier to the king, in which that nobleman urged the immediate presence of his Majesty in Scotland as the only remedy for that "mighty distemper' with which his 'antient and native kingdom
of Scotland' was at that time, in Napier's opinion, infected. This is confirmed by the circumstance that Argyle and his party joined with the Commons of England in putting every obstacle in the way of the king's intention; and, by the fact, that the policy pursued by Charles, during this visit, was exactly such as the letter of Napier recommends.
The king arrived at Edinburgh on Saturday, the 14th of August; where he found his advisers Napier, Montrose, and others of their party in prison under a charge of perjury and leasing-making; the latter a species of crime now happily unknown to the Statute books of any part of this kingdom. In the parliament which was summoned on the king's arrival, Argyle reigned supreme, and had address and power enough, not only to keep the plotters,' as Montrose and his friends were called, in prison, but also to make the setting aside of their petition for justice look as if it had the approbation of the king as well as of the legislature. As the session of parliament was drawing to a close, an event occurred which threw the whole into confusion, and prevented that settlement of the public affairs to which their deliberations appeared to be tending. This was that hitherto unexplained occurrence which has received, what Godwin justly calls, the enigmatical appellation of the incident.' Brodie attributes this appellation to its unexpected nature;' but we are rather inclined with Mr. Napier to say, that it was from its base"less nature that it obtained this denomination.' In consequence of a rash and very confused statement of Clarendon, the version of this story most commonly given is, that Montrose made an offer to Charles to assassinate Hamilton and Argyle, which the king rejected with indignation ; that Montrose, nevertheless, per
sisted in his design, and was frustrated only by these noblemen getting knowledge of it, and suddenly leaving the city for their own houses where they
stood on their defence. The absurdity of this story, as given by Clarendon, was pointed out by Hume, who remarks, that all the time the king was in Scotland, Montrose
was confined to prison,' and, consequently, was physically incapable of making any such proposal to the king, far more of executing it. Laing and Brodie have given modifications of the story, which avoid the absurdity attaching to the statement of Clarendon only by engrafting upon it certain supplements which are utterly without foundation in fact. Mr. Napier's reasonings appear to us quite conclusive as to the perfect impossibility, under the circumstances in which Montrose was at that time placed, of his having acted any such part as this story attributes to him. He has not, however, succeeded in removing the whole of that obscurity which attaches to the history of the incident. His researches have thrown deep suspicion upon the motives of Argyle, and will tend very much to deepen the shadows that already darken the character of that wily politician. There can be no doubt that, in the scramble for offices which took place at this time, Argyle's ambition was deeply mortified by his missing, through the king's firmness, the office of Chancellor, on which he had set his heart. It is equally true that, while the king urged an investigation into the matter of the incident, Hamilton and Argyle did all in their power to prevent any judicial inquiry taking place; which looks as if they were afraid of something sinister on their part being brought to light. All this renders it probable that the object of their flight, and of the reason which they assigned for it, viz. their dread of assassination from some person connected with the king, was the embroiling of the king in fresh difficulties, and the perpetuation of a state of things which they found to be of advantage to their own designs. But whilst this conclusion is at best only conjectural, it still leaves the transaction involved in considerable obscurity, especially as respects the motives which dictated the particular expedient to which these noblemen resorted in order to compass their designs.
On the 18th of August the king left Edinburgh on his return to England, but not before he had secured the liberation of Montrose and his friends. A short period of retirement in the bosom of his family, succeeded the stormy scenes through which that nobleman had passed, and gave him opportunity for devising schemes for the guidance of his conduct in the still more stormy period on which he was about to enter. From this time his career is identified with that of Charles, though it was not till the spring of 1644, when he was appointed under Prince Maurice, Lieutenant General of his Majesty's Forces in Scotland, that he commenced
active measures on the king's behalf. Through the brilliant though fiery course which after this he pursued, Mr. Napier follows him with a fond and admiring minuteness; but the only part of his details to which we can at present advert, is that which relates to the cruelties which Montrose is said to have practised on his enemies, and especially on the defenceless inhabitants of those districts which he overran. On this subject Mr. Napier corrects one very important misconception of previous historians, by showing that the passage in Spalding's narrative, on which the latter part of the charge almost exclusively rests, does not refer to Montrose at all, but to the Earl Marischall, with whom he was contending. The passage referred to occurs in Spalding's account of the Siege of Dunnotter Castle, the seat of Marischall, and the burning of the adjoining towns of Stonehaven and Cowie by Montrose, and is as follows: It is said that the * people of Stonehaven and Cowie came out, man and woman,
children at thair foot, and children in thair armes crying, houlling “and weeping, praying the Erll for God's cause to saif them from
this fyre, liowsone it was kendlit. Bot the poor people got no "answer, nor knew they qwbair to go with thair children. Brodie adduces this as “a proof of inexcusable cruelty in Montrose,
scarcely credible of one in civilized life;' and Godwin and Laing have fallen into the same mistake. It is somewhat strange that these authors should have forgotten that, at the time referred to, Montrose was not an Earl, but a Marquis, under which title Spalding speaks of him in the immediate context of the passage quoted. The obvious meaning of the anecdote,' as Mr. Napier remarks, is that the poor people looked to the Earl Marischall to
save them from the fire, either by acceding to Montrose's sum‘mons, or by admitting them within his extensive fortifications. So much for the only precise fact that has been hitherto adduced in proof of Montrose's 'inexorable cruelty' to the defenceless peasantry of the districts through which he passed! As respects his conduct on the field of battle, and against his armed opponents, Mr. Napier does not deny that it was marked by unsparing severity; but as the object of fighting is to destroy one's enemies, we do not very well see how, on the supposition that war is lawful, the extent to which a general carries this is to be urged against him as a crime, so long as nothing is perpetrated inconsistent with the rules of civilized warfare. Where victory is to be obtained only by the shedding human blood, it is absurd to commend a general for his victories, and then blame him for killing so many men in order to obtain them.
We are no great enthusiasts, either for Montrose or for the cause for which he struggled; but we confess it has been with a feeling of more than pleasure that we have entered into Mr. Napier's explanation of those parts of his public conduct which have hitherto cast so deep a shadow
memory. It is
refreshing to find, after a long lapse of years, that men are not always
• Hath dwelling in heroic hearts.'
Montrose maintained his gallant defence of his master's cause long after that master had himself fallen; nor did he relinquish his daring enterprise until his last hope was extinguished, and his last army cut to pieces. He then surrendered himself to Macleod, of Assint, a hungry highlander, who sold him to the Covenanters for four hundred bolls of meal. A brief trial, and a speedy execution followed. He was hanged upon a gibbet of the prodigious height of thirty feet; and his head was afterwards fixed “the Tolbooth, with an iron cross over it, lest by any of his • friends it should have been taken down. His spirit and his confidence in the rectitude of his cause remained unbroken to the last. His final words were, · May God have mercy on this af• Alicted kingdom.'
Little more than ten years after the execution of Montrose, his great rival, the Marquis of Argyle, was beheaded on nearly the same spot, and his head was placed upon the same spike from which that of Montrose had been recently removed. He died