[Scottish National Memorials Contents]
Two of Renwick’s AUTOGRAPH LETTERS. Both are framed and under glass, and the right-hand margin of each is somewhat frayed. The first, written from ‘Rotterdam, June 1683,’ is printed in the Collection of Letters, edited by McMillan in 1764, pp. 22-24. There, how ever, it is dated by mistake January 18, and his friend ‘George’ appears as ‘G. H.’ From McMillan’s heading it seems to have been addressed to Robert Hamilton, and in the Postscript, which is not printed, the writer desires to be remembered to all dear friends, ‘particularlie to these worthie ladys, Van Heermaen,’ reference is made to our friend Mr. Muntendam, and sympathy is sent to his correspondent’s sister, whom he hopes to see shortly. The other letter was written from Dublin on his way to Scotland; and the date, which is partly gone, may be supplied from McMillan’s Collection as the 24th of August 1683. The printed copy (Letter xxii.), so far as it goes, is almost the same as this original, there being only a very few verbal variations; but there is a considerable portion of the body of the letter, as well as the Postscript, omitted; and the signature is given as ‘James Renwick’ instead of ‘James Bruce.’ In the omitted portion he relates how the vessel was driven into Rye, and mentions his narrow escape from apprehension there; and in the Postscript, which is partly tom off, he refers to his neighbour George, who had gone home, having ‘got an occasion of some who would not at all take me.’ Curiously enough, the substance of the portion omitted, and also of the Postscript, is contained in Letter xxiii. of McMillan’s Collection, where ‘George’ is turned into ‘G. Hill.’ McMillan represents Letters xxii. and xxiii. as having both been written to Robert Hamilton, and it is therefore possible that the original now under consideration was sent to some other person. It does seem improbable, how ever, that Renwick should have written two letters so much alike to two correspondents; and yet it seems as improbable that he would have given an account of his experiences at Rye in two letters to the same individual, unless perhaps he was afraid that one of them might miscarry.
(419) Lent by REV. W. H. CARSLAW.
‘THE TESTIMONY of some persecuted Presbyterian Ministers of the Gospel, unto the Covenanted Reformation of the Church of Scotland, and to the present expediencie of continuing to preach the Gospel in the fields, and against the present Anti-Christian toleration in its nature and design, etc. Given in to the ministers at Edinburgh by Mr. James Renwick upon the 17 Janwarii 1688. [Texts.] Printed in the year 1688.’ The character of this quarto pamphlet of 36 pages may be inferred from its comprehensive title. The first ‘indulgence’ or ‘royal toleration’ of James the Seventh was issued on the 12th of February 1687. It was offensive to Presbyterians, inasmuch as they were only allowed to meet in private houses to hear indulged ministers, and that under certain restrictions, and its author declared that it was granted by ‘our sovereign authority, prerogative royal, and absolute power, which all our subjects are to obey without reserve.’ Its terms were modified on the 31st of March by his letter known as ‘the second toleration’; and still further by his proclamation of the 28th of June, known as ‘the third toleration.’ Although the last not only sternly forbade field-preaching, but proceeded from the King’s ‘sovereign authority, prerogative royal, and absolute power,’ a number of Presbyterian ministers sent their ‘most humble and hearty thanks’ to his ‘sacred majesty’ for the favour bestowed on them. Renwick was no time-server. He condemned this ‘toleration,’ and in the beginning of 1688 was much troubled because no testimony against it and for the Covenanted Reformation had been drawn up which might stand on record. ‘Whereupon,’ says Shields, ‘with the concurrence of some others that joined in it, having resolved upon it, and composed it in the form now to be seen, he rested not until it was delivered in to the ministers at Edinburgh, and made more publick.’ This copy is interesting not only as being the first edition, but because it has apparently belonged to two famous Covenanting families – the Gordons of Earlston, and their relatives the Gordons of Culvennan.
(447) Lent by WM. MACMATH.
Renwick was born in the parish of Glencairn on the 15th of February 1662, took his Arts course at Edinburgh University, and threw in his lot with the ‘persecuted remnant,’ by whom he was sent to Holland, where he was ordained. For fully four years he maintained the standard of the Covenant, endured incredible hardships and privations, made many marvellous escapes, and at length suffered martyrdom in the Grassmarket of Edinburgh on the 17th of February 1688. On the morning of his execution he wrote to a friend – ‘Death to me is as a bed to the weary.’ Sixty-one of his letters are embraced in McMillan’s Collection; his dying testimony is in the Cloud of Witnesses; and a Choice Collection of Prefaces, Lectures, and Sermons, preached by him ‘upon the mountains and muirs of Scotland, in the hottest time of the late persecution,’ and printed from the notes of his hearers, has gone through several editions. His Life and Death by Shields, which was published in 1724, was reprinted in the second volume of the Biographia Presbyteriana; and Dr. Simpson published another Life, in 1843, enriched with many traditions.
CALOTYPE VIEW of a portion of Greyfriars’ Churchyard, Edinburgh, including the Martyrs’ Monument. The inscription bears that, from the 27th of May 1661, when the Marquis of Argyll was beheaded, until the 17th of February 1688, when Renwick was hanged, about a hundred noblemen, gentlemen, ministers, and others, ‘noble martyrs for Jesus Christ,’ were executed at Edinburgh, and that ‘most of them lie here.’ The first tombstone to their memory was erected in 1706, and was replaced by the present one about 1771. See Thomson’s Martyr Graves, First Series, pp. 111-117.
(452) Lent by WM. MACMATH.
‘AN ELEGY, in memory of that valiant champion. Sir Robert Grierson of Lag. Or the Prince of Darkness, his Lamentation for, and Commendation of, his trusty and well beloved friend, the Laird of Lag, who died Dec. 23d, 1733. Wherein the Prince of Darkness sets forth the commendation of many of his best friends, who were chief promoters of his interest, and upholders of his Kingdom in the time of Persecution… The Tenth Edition. Glasgow: Printed by John Bryce, and sold at his shop, Saltmarket, 1773.’ 12mo, pp. 24. That this metrical effusion was popular is evinced by the number of editions through which it passed. John Howie, in God’s justice exemplified in his Judgments upon Persecutors, which by the way is omitted in all the recent editions of The Scots Worthies, describes Lag as a ‘prime hero for the promoting of Satan’s kingdom.’ Thomas Carlyle took an interest in this production, on account of a tradition which had come down from his grandfather that John Orr, schoolmaster at Hoddam, was the author, which seems, however, to be doubtful. See an account of this ‘Pungent Pasquil’ in Fergusson’s Laird of Lag, 1886, pp. 153-173. Sir Robert Grierson died, not on the 23d, but, on the 31st of December 1733.
(450) Lent by WM. MACMATH.
Plate XVI. – Portrait of John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee.
PROCLAMATION, issued by James the Seventh, dated at Whitehall, 10th June 1688, announcing the birth of the Prince afterwards known as the Pretender. His Majesty had that day in Council thought fit to appoint ‘a time of publick thanksgiving to Almighty God through-out this kingdom for so great a blessing.’ Sunday the 17th of June is accordingly appointed for London and Westminster and ten miles round; and the 1st of July for all other places in England, Wales, and Berwick-on-Tweed. This Proclamation was printed at London, by Charles Bill, Henry Hills, and Thomas Newcomb, in 1688. On the 14th of June the Scottish Privy Council met, and, by his Majesty’s special warrant, appointed days of thanksgiving for Scotland.
(329) Lent by the PETERBOROUGH NATURAL HISTORY,
SCIENTIFIC, AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY.