11th of August

St Tiburtius, martyr, and St Chromatius, confessor, 286. St Susanna, virgin and martyr, about 295. St Gery or Gaugericus, confessor, 619. St Equitius, abbot, about 540.

Born. – Jean Victor Moreau, French republican general, 1763, Morlaix, in Brittany
Died. – General Sir Samuel Auchmuty, captor of Monte Video, 1822; James Wilson, eminent financial statesman, founder of the Economist newspaper, 1860, Calcutta.


As a rule, the aristocratic-democratic government of Britain does not favour the rise to high official position of men unendowed with fortune. Clever but poor men, who make their way into prominent political situations, are too much under necessities perilous to their honesty, or at least to their independence, to allow of their usually leading that straight course which alone gives success in public life. The men of the upper and wealthy circles, who possess the requisite ability and industry, have an advantage over them against which it seems almost impossible for them to make head. The instances, therefore, of high office attained by such men, and administered worthily, are very few. Among the exceptions of our own times, there has been none more remarkable than that presented by the career of the Right Hon. James Wilson, who was from 1853 to 1858 Financial Secretary of the Treasury, and died in 1860 in the position of Financial Member of the Council in India. Mr Wilson – one of the sons of a Quaker manufacturer at Hawick, Roxburghshire, and born there in 1805 – commenced life as a hat-manufacturer, first at his native town, and subsequently in London; was prosperous through close application and business talents; gave his mind at leisure time to political economy; in time set up a weekly business paper, The Economist; prospered in that too; and so went on, step by step, till in 1847 he obtained a seat in the House of Commons. Wilson was a serious, considerate, earnest man. Whatever he set his hand to, he did with all his might; every point he gained, he always turned to the best advantage for his further progress. It would be a great mistake, however, to suppose that he succeeded purely by industry and application. He was a man of penetrating and original mind. Coming forward in public life at the great crisis when protection and hostile tariffs were to yield to free trade, he was able to give his writings on these subjects a character which did not belong to those of any other person. He always held to the practical points: ‘What did business-men do in such and such circumstances?’ ‘Why did they do it?’ and ‘Why it was right that they should do it?’ His mind, at the same time, could grasp great principles; when Mr Cobden and others, for example, were representing the struggle with protection as a conflict of class with class, and thus making landlords hold their ground with the most desperate tenacity, Mr Wilson saw and avowed that it was a system disadvantageous for all classes, since all classes, in reality, have but one interest. He thus added immense force to the cause of free trade; and it is unnecessary to say, that the soundness of his views has been fully proved by the event. 

Mr Wilson might be considered, in 1859, as in the fair way for erelong taking an honoured place in the cabinet. It was a most extraordinary fact in our administrative system; but Mr Wilson’s success in his own affairs had overcome all those obstacles to which we have adverted. He would have been hailed among the immediate advisers of his sovereign, as one who had never sacrificed one point of probity or one jot of consistency on the shrine of ambition. At this juncture, a necessity arose for a finance minister for India, and as the difficulties were great, a man of Mr Wilson’s talents was thought necessary for the position. He was induced to undertake this duty, and for some time he pursued at Calcutta the same career of assiduous application which had given him distinction at home. His health, however gave way, and this remarkable man sank at the comparatively early age of fifty-six, when just about to complete his plans for the regeneration of the Indian revenue. 

There are men who will be heard with one breath complaining of the aristocratic character of our institutions, and with another sneering at the rise of a statesman like James Wilson. It is not for us to reconcile their inconsistencies. It may be remarked, however, that an insinuation often made by such persons, to the effect that he had creditors who remained unsatisfied at the time of his taking office, was untrue. On an embarrassment arising in his firm through losses in indigo speculations, he from his own personal means discharged one-half of the obligations, and the plant of the firm was accepted in full satisfaction for the remainder. On this turning out less favourably than was expected, Mr Wilson devoted a part of the means subsequently acquired to make up for the deficiency; so that, at the time in question, he was entirely free of the slightest imputation of indebtedness. His conduct on this occasion was, indeed, such as to do honour to the place he gained, rather than to detract from it.

On this Day in Other Sources.

In all this, the French King, and Queen, were right; and Elizabeth was quite wrong. The troops on both sides remained, in Scotland, till the treaty of Edinburgh, July 1560, under which both were bound to retire, except a few French troops, which, by the treaty, were allowed to remain, in Dunbar, and Inch-Keith. And Mary told the English ambassador, on the 11th of August 1561, “the French garrisons are remanded from Scotland; the fort of Aymouth is razed to the ground.” What, then, was said, by Burghley, on this head, was only a tissue of misrepresentation, and impertinence. 

– Life of Mary, pp.328-332.

When the Queen of Scots had set forward, towards the sea coast, in order to embark, for her own kingdom, she sent to Throkmorton, the English ambassador, desiring him to meet her, at Abbeville. Here, they met, on the 11th of August 1561, where she again talked to him, concerning the methods, whereby she might satisfy his mistress, as to the ratification of the treaty of Edinburgh. Throkmorton wrote an account of this conference, on the same day, in a letter remaining in the Cotton library. He says, that the Queen of Scots having asked him, by what methods she might satisfy his mistress? By confirming the treaty, answered hem as I have more than once told your majesty. To which she replied, I desire you to hear me, and then judge, whether my reasons be not very cogent, which your Queen takes, for vain excuses, and delays. The 1st Art. in that treaty, for confirming the truce, at Cambray, does not in the least concern me: The 2d, which relates to the signing the treaty there made, between the English and Scots, was ratified by my husband and myself; and require not any additional ratification: The 3d, 4th, and 5th Art. are already answered and fulfilled; for there are no further warlike preparations; the French garrisons are remanded, from Scotland; the fort, at Aymouth, is razed to the ground; I have, since my husband’s death, quitted the arms, and title of England; to raze, and strike them out of all the moveables, buildings, and charters of France are things no ways in my power; and it is more than I can do, to send back the Bishop of Valance, and Randan, who are no subjects of mine, into England, to confer about the 6th article. As for the last article, I hope my rebel subjects will not complain of any great severity towards them: But, your mistress, I perceive, designs to prevent any proofs, I might show towards them, by resolving to hinder my return. What is there now behind, in this treaty, that can any way prejudice the affairs of your mistress? Nevertheless, to give her the fullest satisfaction, I design to write her about these matters, with my own hand, though she would not vouchsafe me an answer, but by her secretary. But, I would advise you, who are an ambassador, to act suitable to that character; I mean rather to qualify, and compose matters, than to aggravate, and make them worse. Abbeville, 11th August 1561. The Queen of Scots, from delicacy, declined to say, bluntly, that the 6th article, in respect to title, was in itself void, for want of authority, in the French envoys, who avowed their want of power; 2dly, it was void; because the English negotiators, worded the clause, so as to make the Queen of Scots, to renounce, for ever, any claim to the English, crown; when it ought to have been, during the life of the Queen of England, and her lawful issue. Elizabeth, by catching eagerly at this clause, though void in itself, and persevering so long, in soliciting a ratification of this treaty, which was already executed, showed, sufficiently, how much she wished to profit, from the knavery of her ministers. And, because the Scotish Queen, at the age of eighteen, had acuteness to discover that fraudulence, and resolution, to avoid the cheat, Elizabeth hated her, through life; as she had wronged her. 

– Life of Mary, pp.338-339.

Mary was so occupied with her negotiation, about her meeting with Elizabeth, that she could not think of the terrible journey to Inverness, till the 11th of August [1562]. The falsehood imposed, by Mar, and Maitland, on Randolph, that the Queen, rather than her council, had adopted this enterprize, which was so distressing to horse, and man, evinces an imposture, by the minister, and secretary. 

When the Queen, by various artifices, was persuaded of the treasons of Huntley, and of his purpose to, compel her to marry one of his sons, she set out, from Edinburgh, on the 11th of August, on horseback, on the ill-fated journey to Inverness. With a part of her train, she dined at Calder, and after dinner rode to Lithgow, where she was joined by the rest of her train, and slept. On the morrow, the Queen, with part of her train, dined at Callendar, and slept, at Stirling, where she was joined, by the rest of her train. 

– Life of Mary, pp.62-77.

As soon as the chief insurgents heard of Murray’s arrival, in London, they sent Sir James Melvill to meet him; and to acquaint him with the progress of their affairs. Secretary Maitland met him, at Whittingham, where the death of Darnley had been concerted, and where the whole plan of Murray’s inauguration, as Regent, was now settled. Murray set forward, on the morrow, to Edinburgh; and was met, by great numbers on the road; and was joyfully received into Edinburgh, on the 11th of August 1567. Some time before him, had arrived, at Edinburgh, Mons. Lygnerol, a French envoy, whose feebleness was, merely, a representative of the ignorance, and inconsistency of his court. Even Throckmorton, however, instructed, could make but little impression on the guilty ruffians, who now governed Scotland, and had objects of their own, to effect, which had been long determined. 

– Life of Mary, pp.184-206.

On the 11th day of August [1567], [James Stewart] the Earl of Moray, the Regent, arrived safe at Leith from France, and in his company a French ambassador. 

– Historical Works, pp.340-416.

Moray was in France when he was appointed, and it was for some time doubtful whether he would accept the regency. He arrived at Edinburgh on the 11th of August, [1567,] and on the 15th, in company with Morton and Athole, visited the queen at Lochleven. He had several private interviews with his sister, in which he advised her not to disturb the quiet of the realm, nor the reign of her son. He also counselled her to refrain from attempting to escape, stirring up the people in her favour and seeking aid from England and France, and nourishing her affection for Bothwell. Having accepted the regency, he was, on the 22d August, installed in office, within the Tolbooth of Edinburgh. 

– A History of Scotland, Chapter XV.

In the first, Crichton is bitterly accused of deceit and ingratitude, and many insinuations are made about “the letters, mutilated perhaps intentionally,” which the Scot had written to his benefactor, and which were not clear enough to prove his debts, Cornaro, not to wound the excessive pride of his friend,1 having arranged his affairs with great secrecy; the other is worth translating, being a direct reply to the Duke’s inquiry:- 

Most Serene Highness,  
          With all affection I thank your Highness for having deigned in your benignity to reply to my letter, and I render you infinite thanks for the order you have given concerning the summary despatch of my cause, trusting that, when the quality of my proofs is seen, you will allow me to swear to the truth of my statement, as I have begged before and repeat now. Signor Zibramonti writes to me saying that it will please your Highness to know what moved me to write that one could not expect Crichton to turn out well. I said so because, after his death, I discovered, by divers things, that he was ingrate and disloyal. That he was an ingrate can be proved by several who had benefitted him, and by me above all. Disloyal he has manifested himself to be by not observing what he promised and what it was his duty to perform; and showing himself void of sincerity towards me, he has deceived and injured me, which he ought not to have done, I, alas! having paid dearly for my former acquaintance with him. With a thousand oaths he had promised not to touch the supplies which your Highness granted him, pretending that he meant to reintegrate me with those. In spite of that, he has taken them, and, what is worse, he has boasted of being my creditor for large sums. He was not true, and, since his death, I have found that he had opened and retained letters which had been given him to forward to me, doing so, likewise, with some of mine which he ought to have sent to others. Finally, I have discovered an infinity of things which he said and affirmed with great oaths, to be false and simply lies. For these reasons, therefore, and for many others, which, for brevity’s sake, I cannot mention, I was moved to write that he could not turn out well, and many wise people who knew him are of the same opinion. And if he behaved in such a way towards me, Serenissimo Signore, to whom, as God and many mortals know, he was so much beholden, and who had treated him as I had done, what could one hope from him in his relations to anyone else? Never was more said in praise of anyone than what he used to say of me, nor more appearance of affection demonstrated than what he feigned to bear to me; and I have found the whole to be pretence assumed for his own convenience, he hiding his faults with marvellous astuteness. He really esteemed nobody intrinsically, and, in short, he has manifested himself to be of such a wicked nature that I can with truth assert, it is well that he is dead. He might have deceived your Highness too, as I could assure you more completely vivâ voce. Expecting that occasion, I now end, praying to God to give you all happiness.  
Your most Serene Highness’
   Devoted Servant,
     Padua, 11th Aug., 1582.                                                                                               JAMES AL’ CORNARO. 

Is this our Admirable Crichton, and was Nemesis waiting for him too, among the dusty papers in the archives? Can we find no word of praise, nothing to testify to his virtues after those terrible accusations, true or untrue?

The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interrèd with their bones…

– Scots Lore, pp.238-252.

1  … la sua superbia non voleva che alcun sapesse come andassero I fatti suoi…

The 11th day of August [1599], being Monday, the King came to Leith, where he was met by multitudes of people in arms, who attended him to Edinburgh, with great acclamations of joy, and set him down at the cross, which was richly covered with cloth of gold, and [heard] a sermon, preached by Mr Patrick Galloway; his text was out of the 124 Psalm, wherein he at length declared the [whole] circumstances of Gowrie’s treason, from point to point; which relation of his, the King’s majesty testified by his own mouth and words, to all the people to be most true. Only 5 ministers, viz: 

Mr Robert Bruce, 
Mr James Balfour, 
Mr William Watson, 
Mr Walter [Balconquhal]
Mr John Hall, 

who would not believe and affirm the King’s declaration of Gowrie’s conspiracy, although they had [heard] from his majesty’s own mouth; they were, under the pain of death, discharged to preach, or come near Edinburgh, or within 10 miles to his majesty’s court, and that by open proclamation at the cross of Edinburgh. 

– Historical Works, pp.340-416.

That the prisoners were “called known habite & repute to be Egyptians” was proved by unanimous testimony; the aim of the prosecution, however, being rather to fasten this charge upon the five whom they regarded as guilty upon other grounds. It is only of these five that “John Murray in Blyth,” for example, speaks when he depones that he has known them “Coming about the toun of Blyth, and that they used to lodge there in an old ruinous waste house, and that they used to be well cloathed, and [he] never knew them work, nor exercise any Occupation, & Depons that the people in the Toun of Blyth and those in the Country about that mett them on the road, alwayes called the said pannels Gypsies.” Of like tenor is the evidence of “William Wardlaw, Servant to the former Deponent,” who “Depons… that he has seen the said Baillie and Watson wear Swords, But never saw them follow any Imployment, nor any handy Craft.” 

The result of the trial was as follows. On 11th August [1714], “The Lords Justice Clerk and Commissioners of Justiciary… having considered the verdict of assyse returned… Against the forenamed Adam Yorstoun, Barbara Martine, Elspeth Yorstoun and Jannet Johnstoun… Assoilzie the said pannels, & dismiss them from the Barr.” But they “Decern & Adjudge the said William Baillie, James Watson and Agnes Brown, To be taken to the Gallowlee, betwixt Leith and Edinburgh, upon Wednesday the Twenty fifth day of August Instant, and there betwixt two and four a Clock in the afternoon, To be hanged by the neck upon a Gibbet until they be dead. And Thereafter Ordain the bodies of the said William Baillie and James Watson to hang in Chains upon the said Gibbet.” 

The Verdict had found the two other women, Jean Baillie and Agnes McDonald, equally guilty with these three. But it being pled for them, “for delaying the pronouncing of Sentence against them, That they are at present with Child,” the Court appointed a jury of matrons to establish the truth or falsity of the plea. These having certified, on the following day, that the plea was in both cases just, the Lords of Justiciary postponed consideration of the verdict, as affecting them, until “the second Monday of November next to come”; the two women being carried back to prison. 

– Scots Lore, pp.30-35.

   “On their arrival here, they voluntarily made and signed the following statement:-

   ‘We the undersigned passengers per Admiral from Stornoway, in the Highlands of Scotland, do solemnly depose to the following facts, – That Colonel Gordon is the proprietor of the estates of South Uist and Barra; that among many hundreds of tenants and cotters whom he has sent this season from his estates to Canada, he gave directions to his factor, Mr. Fleming of Cluny Castle, Aberdeenshire, to ship on board of the above named vessel a number of nearly 450 of said tenants and cottars from the estate in Barra – that accordingly, a great majority of these people, among whom were the undersigned, proceeded voluntarily to embark on board the Admiral, at Loch Boisdale, on or about the 11th August, 1851; but that several of the people who were intended to be shipped for this port, Quebec, refused to proceed on board, and in fact, absconded from their homes to avoid the embarkation. Whereupon Mr. Fleming gave orders to a policeman, who was accompanied by the ground officer of the estate of Barra, and some constables, to pursue the people who had ran away among the mountains; which they did, and succeeded in capturing about twenty from the mountains and islands in the neighbourhood; but only came with the officers on an attempt being made to handcuff them; and that some who ran away were not brought back, in consequence of which four families at least, have been divided, some having come in the ships to Quebec, while other members of the same families were left in the Highlands. 

   ‘The undersigned further declare, that those who voluntarily embarked did so under promise to the effect, that Colonel Gordon would defray their passage to Quebec; that the Government Emigration Agent there would sent the whole party free to Upper Canada, where, on arrival the Government Agents would give them work, and furthermore, grant them land on certain conditions. 

   ‘The undersigned finally declare, that they are now landed in Quebec so destitute, that if immediate relief be not afforded them and continued until they are settled in employment, the whole will be liable to perish with want.’ 


and 70 others.”

– Gloomy Memories, pp.134-148.

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