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kinlss, sheriff of Argyleshire, requesting him to receive the "lost sheep," and administer the oath to him, that he might have the advantage of the indemnity, though so late in claiming it .
Maclan hastened from Fort William to Inverary, without erra turning aside to his own house, though he passed within a mile of it . But the roads, always very bad, were now rendered almost impassable by a storm of snow; so that, with all the haste which the unfortunate chieftain could exert, the fatal 1st of January was past before he reached Inverary. The sheriff, however, seeing that Macian had complied with the spirit of the statute, in tendering his submission within the given period, under the sincere, though mistaken belief, that he was applying to the person ordered to receive it; and considering also, that, but for the tempestuous weather, it would after all have been offered in presence of the proper law-officer, did not hesitate to administer the oath of allegiance, and sent off an express to the Privy Council, containing an attestation of Maclan's having taken the oaths, and a full explanation of the circumstances which had delayed his doing so until the lapse of the appointed period. The sheriff also wrote to Colonel Hill what he had done, and requested that he would take care that Glencoe should not be annoyed by any military parties until the pleasure of the Council should be known, which he could not doubt would be favourable. Maclan, therefore, returned to his own house, and resided there, as he supposed, in safety, under the protection of the government to which he had sworn allegiance. That he might merit this protection, he convoked his clan, acquainted them with his submission, and commanded them to live peaceably, and give no cause of offence, under pain of his displeasure.
In the meantime, the vindictive Secretary of State had procured orders from his Sovereign respecting the measures to be followed with such of the chiefs as should not have taken the oaths within the term prescribed. The first of these orders, dated llth January, contained peremptory directions for military execution, by fire and sword, against all who should not have made their submission within the time appointed. It was, however, provided, in order to avoid driving them to desperation, that there was still to remain a power of granting mercy to those clans who, even after the time was past, should still come in and submit themselves. Such were the terms of the first royal warrant, in which Glencoe was not named.
It seems afterwards to have occurred to Stair, that Glencoe would be sheltered under this mitigation of the intended severities, since he had already come in and tendered his allegiance, without waiting for the menace of military force. A second set of instructions were therefore made out on the 16th January. These held out the same indulgence to other clans who should submit themselves at the very last hour, but they closed the gate of mercy against the devoted MacIan who had already done all that was required of others. The words are remarkable:—"As for Maclan of Glencoe, and that tribe, if they can be well distinguished from the rest of the Highlanders, it will be proper, for the vindication of public justice, to extirpate that set of thieves." You will remark the hypocritical clemency and real cruelty of these instructions, which profess a readiness to extend mercy to those who needed it not, (for all the other Highlanders had submitted within the limited time,) and deny it to Glencoe, the only man who had not been able literally to comply with the proclamation, though in all fair construction he had done what it required.
Under what pretence or colouring King William's authority was obtained for such cruel instructions, it would be in vain to inquire. The sheriff of Argjle's letter had never been produced before the Council; and the certificate of Maclan's having taken the oath, was blotted out, and, in the Scottish phrase, deleted. It seems probable that the fact of that chief's submission was altogether concealed from the King, and that he was held out in the light of a desperate and incorrigible leader of banditti, who was the main obstacle to the peace of the Highlands; but if we admit that William acted under such misrepresentations, deep blame will still attach to him for so rashly issuing orders of an import so dreadful. It is remarkable that these fatal instructions are both superscribed and subscribed by the King himself, whereas, in most state papers, the sovereign only superscribes, and they are countersigned by the Secretary of State, who is answerable for their tenor; a responsibility which Stair, on that occasion, was not probably ambitious of claiming.
The Secretary's letters to the military officers, directing the mode of executing the King's orders, betray the deep and savage interest which he personally took in their tenor,and his desire that the bloody execution should be as general as possible. He dwelt in these letters upon the proper time and season for cutting off the devoted tribe. "The winter,"he said, " is the only season in which the Highlanders cannot elude us, or carry their wives, children, and cattle to the mountains. They cannot escape you; for what human const!tutkm can then endure to be long out of house? This is the proper season to maul them, in the long dark nights." He could not suppress his joy that Glencoe had not come in within the term prescribed; and expresses his hearty wishes that others had followed the same course. He assured the soldiers that their powers should be ample; and he exacted from them proportional exertions. He entreated that the thieving tribe of Glencoe be rooted out in earnest; and he was at pains to explain a phrase which is in itself terribly significant. He gave directions for securing every pass by which the victims could escape, and warned the soldiers that it were better to leave the thing unattempted, than fail to do it to purpose. "To plunder their lands, or drive off their cattle, would," say his letters, "be only to render them desperate; they must be all slaughtered, and the manner of execution must be sure, secret, and effectual."
These instructions, such as have been rarely penned in a christian country, were sent to Colonel Hill, the Governor of Fort William, who, greatly surprised and grieved at their tenor, endeavoured for some time to evade the execution of them. At length, obliged by his situation to render obedience to the King's commands, he transmitted the orders to Lieutenant Colonel Hamilton, directing him to take four hundred men of a Highland regiment belonging to the Earl of Argyle, and fulfil the royal mandate. Thus, to make what was intended yet worse, if possible, than it was in its whole tenor, the execution of this cruelty was committed to soldiers, who were not only the countrymen of the proscribed, but the near neighbours, and some of them the close connexions, of the MacDonalds of Glencoe. This is the more necessary to be remembered, because the massacre has unjustly been said to have been committed by English troops. The course of the execution was as follows.
Before the end of January, a party of the Earl of Argyle's regiment, commanded by Captain Campbell of Glenlyon, approached Glencoe. Maclan's sons went out to meet them with a body of men, to demand whether they came as friends or foes. The officer replied, that they came as friends, being sent to take up their quarters for a short time in Glencoe, in order to relieve the garrison of Fort William, which was crowded with soldiers. On this they were welcomed with all the hospitality which the chief and his followers had the means of extending to them, and they resided for fifteen days amongst the unsuspecting Macdonalds, in the exchange of every species of kindness and civility. That the laws of domestic affection might be violated at the same time with those of humanity and hospitality, you are to understand that Alister Macdonald, one of the sons of MacIan, was married to a niece of Glenlyon, who commanded the party of soldiers. It appears also, that the intended cruelty was to be exercised upon defenceless men; for the Macdonalds, though afraid of no other ill treatment from their military guests, had supposed it possible the soldiers might have a commission to disarm them, and therefore had sent their weapons to a distance, where they might be out of reach of seizure.
Glenlyon's party had remained in Glencoe for fourteen or fifteen days, when he received orders from his commanding officer, Major Duncanson, expressed in a manner which shows him to have been the worthy agent of the cruel secretary. They were sent in conformity with orders of the same date, transmitted to Duncanson by Hamilton, directing that all the Macdonalds, under seventy years of age, were to be cut oil', and that the government was not to be troubled with prisoners. Duncanson's orders to Glenlyon were as follows:
"You are hereby ordered to fall upon the rebels, and put all to the sword under seventy. You are to have especial care that the old fox and his cubs do on no account escape your hands; you are to secure all the avenues, that no man escape. This you are to put in execution at four in the morning precisely, and by that time, or very shortly after, I will strive to be at you with a stronger party. But if I do not come to you at four, you are not to tarry for me, but fall on. This is by the King's special command, for the good and safety of the country, that these miscreants be cut off root and branch. See that this be put into execution without either fear or favour, else you may expect to be treated as not true to the King or government, nor a man fit to carry a commission in the King's service. Expecting that you will not fail in the fulfilling hereof, as you love yoursulf, I subscribe these with my hand.
This order was dated 12th February, and addressed, "For their Majesties' service, to Captain Robert Campbell of Glenlyon."
This letter reached Glenlyon soon after it was written; and he lost no time in carrying the dreadful mandate into execution. In the interval, he did not abstain from any of those acts of familiarity which had lulled asleep the suspicions of his victims. He took his morning draught, as on every former day since he came to the Glen, at the house of Alister Macdonald, Maclan's second son, who was married to his (Glenlyon's) niece. He, and two of his officers named Lindsay, accepted an invitation to dinner from Maclan himself, for the following day, on which they had determined he should never seethe sun rise. To complete the sum of treachery, Glenlyon played at cards in his own quarters, with the sons of Maclan, John and Alister, both of whom were also destined for slaughter.
About four o'clock, in the morning of 13th February, the scene of blood began. A party, commanded by one of the Lindsays, came to Maclan's house and knocked for admittance, which was at once given. Lindsay, one of the expected guests at the family meal of the day, commanded this party, who instantly shot Maclan dead by his own bedside, as he was in the act of dressing himself, and giving orders for refreshments to be provided for his fatal visitors. His aged wife was stripped by the savage soldiery, who, at the same time, drew off the gold rings from her fingers with their teeth. She died the next day, distracted with grief, and the brutal treatment she bad received. Several domestics and clansmen were killed at the same
The two sons of the aged chieftain had not been altogether so confident as their father of the peaceful and friendly purpose of their guests. They observed, on the evening preceding the massacre, that the sentinels were doubled, and the mainguard strengthened. John, the elder brother, had even heard the soldiers muttering amongst themselves, that they cared not about fighting the men of the Glen fairly, but did not like the nature of the service they were engaged in; while others consoled themselves with the military logic, that their officers must be answerable for the orders given, they having no choice save to obey them. Alarmed with what had been thus observed and heard, the young men hastened to Glenlyon's quarters, where they found that officer and his men preparing their arms. On questioning him about the suspicious appearances, Glenlyon accounted for them by a story, that he was bound on an expedition against some of Glengarry's men; and alluding to the circumstance of their alliance, which made his own cruelty more detestable, he added," If any thing evil had been intended, would I not have told Alister and my niece?'' Reassured by this communication, the young men retired to rest, but were speedily awakened by an old domestic, who called on the two brothers to rise and fly for their lives. "Is it time for you," he said, " to be sleeping, when your father is murdered on his own hearth?" Thus roused, they hurried out in great terror, and heard throughout the glen, wherever there was a place of human habitation, the shouts of the murderers, the report of the muskets, the screams of the wounded, and the groans of the dying. By their perfect knowledge of the scarce accessible clifls amongst which they dwelt, they were enabled to escape observation, and fled to the southern access of the glen.
Meantime, the work of death proceeded with as little remorse as Stair himself could have desired. Even the slight mitigation of their orders respecting those above seventy years, was disregarded by the soldieryin their indiscriminate thirst for blood,and several very aged and bedridden persons were slain amongst others. At the hamlet where Glenlyon had his own quarters, nine men, including his landlord, were bound and shot like felons; and one of them, Mao donald of Auchentriaten, had General Hill's passport in his pocket at the time. A fine lad of twenty had, by some glimpse of compassion on the part of the soldiers, been spared, when one Captain Drum- mond came up, and demanding why the orders were transgressed in that particular, caused him instantly to be put to death. A boy, of five or six years old, clung to Glenlyon's knees entreating for mercy,