5th of December

St Crispina, martyr, 304. St Sabas, abbot, 532. St Nicetus, bishop of Triers, confessor, about 566.

 

Died. – Francis II. of France, husband of [Mary,] Queen of Scots, 1560; Johann Wolfgang Theophilus Mozart, celebrated composer, 1792, Vienna; Carlo Giovanni Maria Denina, historical writer, 1813, Paris; Leopold Frederick, Count Stolberg, poet and miscellaneous writer, 1819, Sondermühlen, near Osnabrück.

 

On this Day in Other Sources.

 

The 5th day of December, this year, [1558,] Mary, Queen of England, that idolatrous and bloody Princess, to the great joy of all good christians, departs this life, and to her succeeds her sister, famous and religious Elizabeth. 

– Historical Works, pp.275-340.

 

The solicitations of Elizabeth, for the ratification of the treaty of Edinburgh, were not more successful, though received with more attention. The Scotish Queen saw her interest, more clearly, than the French ambassadors had done, when they gave up her reversionary title to the crown of England, while they admitted, that they had no commission to treat upon the point. As she had been thus badly served, she resisted every request, for the ratification of such a treaty. Elizabeth supposing that she had the advantage, determined to persevere, in her instances. The Scottish Queen resolved, with equal firmness, never to relinquish her pretensions to the crown of England, after the demise of Elizabeth. In this temper, the two Queens continued till an event happened which gave a new turn to the affairs of the Queen of Scots. After lingering some time, Francis II died on the 5th of December, 1560, of an imposthume, in the ear. The Queen of Scots soon perceived, from the altered manner of the Queen mother, that she had little to hope from the French government, however her relations stood: And the Scotish Queen retired to Rheims, and spent the winter, with her aunt, the abbess, and her other relatives. 

– Life of Mary, pp.15-41.

 

Becoming a widow [on] December [5th] 1560 by the death of her husband, Francis II., Mary no longer had any tie binding her to France, and consequently she resolved on returning to her own dominions. She arrived in Edinburgh in August 1561. The people regarded her beautiful face with affection, but her conduct towards the Protestant cause appeared as that of one who submits to what cannot be resisted.* One obvious motive for keeping on fair terms with Protestantism for the present, lay in her hopes of succeeding to the English crown, in the event of the death of Elizabeth, whose next heir she was. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.13-29.

* George Chalmers in his ‘Life of Mary, Queen of Scots’ puts forward the case to support her accepting Protestantism as a religion practised by her subjects in Scotland:
“One act, on the subject of religion, during a religious age, is memorable. The same Queen, who is charged, by Robertson, with attempting to suppress the reformed discipline, with the aid of the bishops, passed a law; renouncing all foreign jurisdiction, in ecclesiastical affairs; giving toleration to all her subjects to worship God, in their own way; and engaging to give some additional privileges: By the first clause, the papal jurisdiction was renounced, by the second, a toleration was established; and by the third, some other points were promised, which might have led to a liturgy, which was the only thing wanting, to form a complete reformation, in a parliamentary mode. Yet, are there writers, so besotted with prejudice, as to say, that nothing was done, in the Parliament of April 1567, concerning religion.” – From Darnley’s Murder to the Queen’s Dethronement.

 

When John Spotswood, superintendent of Lothian, and other Reformed clergymen, came to congratulate Mary in the name of the General Assembly, he begged that the young Duke of Rothesay might be baptised in Protestant form. The queen only replied by placing the child in his arms. Then the aged minister knelt down, and prayed long and fervently for his happiness and prosperity, an event which so touched the tender Mary that she burst into tears; however, the prince was baptised according to the Roman ritual at Stirling on the 5th of December [1566]

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.32-47.

 

The Queen removed, from Craigmillar, on the 5th of December 1566, to Edinburgh: And, here, she remained, till the 11th of the same month, when she went to Stirling, to prepare for her son’s baptism. Murray’s journal states, with its accustomed fallacy, that the Queen went to Stirling, on the 5th of that month. And, it adds, with its usual malignity, “that she took the King, from his lodging, in William Bell’s house, to the castle, and placed him very obscurely there.” This propensity, to pervert the best intentions of the Queen, is an additional proof of the progress of Murray’s faction, in their project of murdering the King, and of dethroning the Queen, after defiling her, by her marriage, to a murderer. The fact of removing Darnley, from a private house to the castle, the residence of Kings, was the unfitness of being in a private lodging, while the envoys of various powers were daily expected to the baptism of their son. But, Darnley was not present, either at the ceremony, or the entertainment. 

– Life of Mary, pp.136-151.

 

This year, [1603, Henry Brooke] the Lord Cobham, the Lord [Thomas] Grey, Sir Walter Raleigh, [Griffin] Markham, with the 2 priests, [William] Watson and [William] Clark, their treason was discovered , and they [were] apprehended, indicted and arraigned at diverse places. The heads whereon the were accused was chiefly, 

  1. Conspiring to kill the King;
  2. To raise rebellion;
  3. To alter religion;
  4. To subvert the estate;
  5. To procure invasion by strangers.

All of them having received sentence of death, and being in the place of execution, ready to lay down their heads, received pardon and mercy from the King, except the two priests, Watson and Clerk, ringleaders of that conspiracy, who were executed..; and George Brook, the Lord Cobham’s brother, was beheaded [on] the 5th day of December, at Winchester. 

– Historical Works, pp.340-416.

 

2565. Solemn League and Covenant, 1643, “Sworne and subcryed by the members and supposts of the Universitie of Glasgow at the Colledge therof, First upon the fyft day of December.” 1643.

With the original signatures. Amongst them are – John Strang, Principal; David Dickson, Professor of Theologie (see No. 2036); Zacharias Boyd, Vice-chancellor (No. 17); E. Wright, Dean of Faculties; Ro. Maine, Professor of Medicine; Robt. Ramsay; Robt. Baillie (see No. 2339); James Dalrymple (then a Regent in the University, afterwards Lord President of the College of Justice, and Viscount of Stair). 

– Memorial Catalogue, Gallery 1.

 

“A collection of TREASONABLE PAPERS published in 1745.

   [As a great many of the essays, extracts, &c. inserted in our Magazine during the time of the rebellion, were intended to prevent any bad impressions that might be made by the publick papers emitted by the pretender and his son; and as these papers shew the pretexts used nu his Majesty’s enemies for overturning the government, we presume that a collection of them will be acceptable.]

   I. The pretender’s declaration for Scotland, JAMES R.

   JAMES VIII. by the grace of God, King of Scotland, England, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c. To all our loving subjects, of what degree or quality soever, greeting.  

   Having always borne the most constant affection to our ancient kingdom of Scotland, from whence we derive our Royal origin, and where our progenitors have swayed the sceptre with glory through a longer succession of Kings, than any monarchy upon earth can at this day boast of; we cannot but behold with the deepest concern the miseries they suffer under a foreign usurpation, and the intolerable burdens daily added to their yoke; which become yet more sensible to us, when we consider the constant zeal and affection the generality of our subjects of that our ancient kingdom have expressed for us on all occasions, and particularly when we had the satisfaction of being ourselves amongst them.  

   We see a nation always famous for valour, and highly esteemed by the greatest of foreign potentates, reduced to the condition of a province, under the specious pretence of an union with a more powerful neighbour. In consequence of this pretended union, grievous and unprecedented taxes have been laid on, and levied with severity, in spite of all the representations that could be made to the contrary; and these have not failed to produce that poverty, and decay of trade, which were easily foreseen to be the necessary consequences of such oppressive measures.  

   To prevent the just resentment which could not but arise from such usage, our faithful highlanders, a people always trained up and inured to arms, have been deprived of them: forts and citadels have been built and garrisoned, where no foreign invasion could be apprehended; and a military government has been effectually introduced, as into a conquered country. It is easy to foresee, what must be the consequences of such violent and unprecedented proceedings, if a timely remedy be not put to them: neither is it less manifest, that such a remedy can never be obtained, but by our restoration to the throne of our ancestors, into whose Royal hearts such destructive maxims could never find admittance…”  

– Scots Magazine, 5th December, 1747.

Treaty of Union Articles, 1700-1750.

 

Making Game of Justice.

It afflicts us to confess that we are at length induced to doubt the wisdom of the Game Laws, and the justice of the Justices who are commissioned to dispense them. The case which has compelled us to forswear our old allegiance, and retire from the championship of both Game Laws and preservers, was brought the other day before the Court of Queen’s Bench, and is thus epitomised by the Daily News paper:- 

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“The defendant MR. BALLENY, a person of considerable property, and a Justice of the Peace for the County of Durham, had two men brought before him by a couple of policemen, charged with the destruction of a rabbit on his own property. Instead of at once declining, as an interested person, to act in the matter, MR. BALLENY convicted the delinquents in a severe penalty, ordered them in default of immediate payment to be handcuffed and sent to prison, and finally compromised the matter by liberating them on payment of a sovereign a-piece, which instead of handing over to the County fund, he put into his own pocket.” 

For this trifling offence a criminal information was filed against the Magistrate, and a jury having found him guilty of corruption and extortion under colour of his office, he was sentenced by the Court to a year’s imprisonment and the payment of a fine of two hundred pounds. In delivering this sentence the Court, through the lips of MR. JUSTICE COLERIDGE, observed that –  

“It was the boast of this country that the greater part of the administration of justice was carried on by the unpaid gentry,a s a part of the duty which belonged to them in respect of their property; and he (MR. JUSTICE COLERIDGE) fully concurred in what had been said by the SOLICITOR-GENERAL, that that duty was in general discharged with strict impartiality to high and low. On the one side there was power, and wealth, and learning, and on the other poverty, and ignorance, and distress; and considering those relative positions, when once a case of extortion was brought before the Court, it was impossible to regard it otherwise than as a crime of great magnitude, and to be visited with very severe punishment. In such a case it was the duty of the Court to deal out its sentences with equal severity, as it would do in the case of the lowest person in the country. Indeed, when the Court considered the advantage which was given to the educated over the uneducated, the offence of the former ought to be visited with greater severity than that of the latter.” 

There was another little matter too that came out in the evidence, which the Court might have commented on with equal indignation: namely, that the Magistrate might not improbably have pocketed his two sovereigns, and escaped his punishment, had he not been so indiscreet as to attempt to tamper with the honour of policemen. MR. BALLENY, it appears, when receiving from the poachers the £2 for his rabbit (that being of course the market-price of the commodity in Durham) presented the two officers, who captured the delinquents, with the insufficient hushmoney of five shillings a-piece. Had there been nut one of them, the bribe might have succeeded; as it was, their honesty appeared the wiser policy, and their dual better nature prompted them to peach. 

Another feature in the case which also should be noted was the fact, that the two sovereigns which MR. BALLENY extorted were actually subscribed by the friends of the two culprits, whom he, the greater culprit, sat in legal judgment over and threatened to lock up. The men pleaded poverty, and requested time to pay; but neither plea nor request would Justice, as personified by worthy MR. BALLENY, stoop in its unbending uprightness to listen to. Having the bandage of self-interest on its eyes, Justice could not see extenuation or excuse. So the men were kept in custody until the hat had been sent round for them, and their neighbours, from the pence they had been weeks perhaps in saving, had raised the pounds for payment of the Great Unpaid. 

It was remarked by the Court, in its reviewal of the evidence, that –  

“One of the men had said, and there was nothing to show that it was not true, that his whole offence consisted in his desire to shoot a valueless rabbit, which he wished to give as food to his sick wife.” 

Rabbits valued by their owner at two sovereigns a-pice cannot well, we fancy, be looked upon as “valueless;” but the Court clearly held that there was some extenuation in the fact of a poor man seeking food for his sick wife, albeit in the Game preserves of his rich neighbours. Necessity, no doubt, is a rather loose logician; and the reasons for abstaining to procure his wife a dinner, will not be closely argued by a man who is in search of one. However much he be disposed to reverence the Game Laws, there are times when his hunger gets the better of his judgment, and when in the cravings of his nature he forgets the existence of an Act of Parliament. Even the best educated would find it hard to reason closely on an empty stomach; and where distress is backed by ignorance and sluggish mental faculties, the causes for abstaining from infringement of the law are still less likely, we opine, to prove sufficiently deterrent. 

But however much we may approve the sternness of the sentence which was passed on MR. BALLENY, we cannot help regarding him in some sort as a martyr. It is an especially marked attribute of the Game Law that it touches nothing which it does not dishonour. MR. BALLENY’s injustice was no doubt mainly the result of the injustice of the law which he was called on to administer, and, in pocketing himself the fines which he imposed, he merely put in practice and reduced to personal application the principle – or what of it – on which the law is founded. The Game Law is entirely a one-sided institution. Of all protective ordinances it is the most selfish. Being instituted solely for the game-preservers’ benefit, the spirit of the act is to a surety carried out by their having the dispensing of it. Self-preservation is the first and strongest law of the preserver’s nature; and in dealing with a poacher over whom he sits in judgment, the only thing he thinks of is his own protection. From viewing the law solely as a personal convenience, by no great stretch of mental eyesight he gets to view the fines he has the power to impose, in the light of being personal indemnities for loss, and conceives, like MR. BALLENY, that he is authorised to pocket them. 

But we must repeat, that we regard this sufferer in some sort as deserving of our sympathy. There must be made allowance for the strength of the temptation to which he was exposed, and for the demoralising influence of the law he was administering. The Judge who sentenced him commented sternly on the fact that he had sat in judgment as an interested person. “The policemen did wrong” said MR. JUSTICE COLERIDGE –  

“In bringing before a Magistrate two persons charged with an offence on his own property; and the obvious course for the Magistrate was to have dismissed the officers with a rebuke, and have ordered them to take the poachers before some other and disinterested [unbiased] person.” 

Yes, obviously this would have been the juster course: but in dealing with a poacher, pray where is a disinterested Justice to be found? As well expect a cabman to give you an unbiassed estimate of distance, as expect a country Magistrate to administer unbiassed justice in a game case. No matter whether the offence be committed on their own or another person’s property, preservers have a natural antipathy to poachers, and are leagued in common cause to compass their extermination. Wherever a bird falls or a rabbit is “picked up,” the legal preserver considers himself injured by the illegal destroyer, and having the law in his own hands, will not hold them from dispensing it. So long as England “boasts,” of its unpaid gentry Justices, so long will biassed sentences continue to be passed, and the temptation to wrong-doing such as MR. BALLENY’s exist. As the law is now administered, full preserves inevitably make full prisons. Peasants become goal-birds through the keeping up of pheasants: and what is sport to country gentlemen is moral death to numbers of their poorer neighbours. The Game Law being an ancient institution and of course regarded as a Bulwark of the State, it will be found, (as all these ancient ones die hard,) that there will be no easy work to make it a dead letter. But as anything that tends to bring it into disrepute also tends to bring us nearer to its annihilation, we think the country is indebted to the zeal of MR. BALLENY, whose overstepping of the law we regard as a right step in the direction to remove it. – December 5, 1857., pp.228-229.

[Bold text highlighted by myself. Donald McLeod has a few things to say on the Game Law that kept the people of the Highlands hungry unnecessarily during the Clearances, Here, Here, Here, and Here.] 

Punch.

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