[Narratives from Criminal Trials Contents]
THE solitary crime of which we are now to give a brief account, forms no inapt supplement to the wild history of the Macgregors. It was the expiring flame of that clan animosity which had been fostered by the previous monarchs of Scotland, as the divide et impera by which they sought to govern.
After the suppression of the last Jacobite insurrection, Colin Campbell of Glenure had been appointed factor for the government on certain forfeited estates in the West Highlands, one of which had belonged to Stewart of Ardshiel. In the spring of 1751 he had removed Stewart from the farm of Glen-Duror, and he made arrangements for a sweeping clearance of several other tenants from the estate at the ensuing spring term. These proceedings were resisted in the courts of law; and the prisoner, James Stewart, had led the proceedings with great activity and zeal; but the legal resistance was in vain. All who are acquainted with the state of the Highlands at that time will know that these proceedings implied much more than the mere conclusion of the connexion between landlord and tenant. The farmer, or tacksman, stood half way between the chief and the humblest class of retainers. He was a gentleman, holding in the patriarchal and military hierarchy the rank of an officer. His rent did not depend on a question of value, but was a tribute paid to the head of the house. He was considered to have a sort of beneficial property in his holding; and his removal from it, in the old days, before the forfeitures, would have been considered an affair rather for the clan and kindred than the law to undertake.
But the estates were now under the control of the barons of exchequer, as managers for the crown. They had in view two objects – the enlargement of the rents, and the suppression of the Jacobite interest in the district. With both it was considered that the continuance of Stewart and the other tenants on Ardshiel was incompatible. It appeared that to Stewart personally the political question was the more serious of the two. It is stated in the speeches made by the counsel for the prosecution, that he discovered no resentment at his own ejection; but, procuring another farm in the neighbourhood, continued to exercise his old influence over the tenants of Ardshiel. It was when steps were taken for their removal, too, that his zeal and activity were exhibited. In the words of the accusing counsel, “So soon as the factor, in the further execution of his instructions, began to take the proper measures for removing, at Whit-Sunday, 1752, some of these tenants, he then took the alarm; that was to pluck up his interest by the root, and entirely put an end to his influence. He therefore made the cause of the tenants his own, and every method of opposition was tried to prevent their removal.”
Stewart at first coloured his charges so highly, and made out so strong a case of oppression against Campbell, that he prevailed on the court to grant a “sist,” as it was termed, for stopping the proceeding until they might be fully considered. Elated by his temporary triumph, Stewart had assembled the tenants, and inspired them with hopes that he would succeed in defeating the machinations of their enemy. Campbell, the factor, much annoyed by this interruption, went to Edinburgh, that he might personally bring the process of removal or ejectment to the desired conclusion. Stewart, at the same time, went thither to oppose him. A bitter legal contest took place, in which, as already stated, the factor was triumphant.
It is only from the state of our western neighbours, among whom like disputes have produced similar tragic results, that we can understand the mingled elements of hatred – political, pecuniary, and social – connected with such proceedings. That they could not do otherwise than engender thoughts of the darkest malice, was shown to be a common understanding by a little incident in the trial. The prisoner himself objected to the competency of a witness against him, as one who must be imbued with malice, because, in former days, when the management of the estates were in his own hands, he had ejected this witness. To the ordinary tenants, in fact, it was a deprivation of their moderate competency. A few incidents in the evidence show the severity of the change it would create in their position. Some of them were to remain in the farms, under the new tenants, in the capacity of “bowmen,” an expression which recals other elements common to the Highland peasantry of that and the Irish of later days. The bowman, like the holder of a con-acre of land, worked a small holding or croft, and paid his rent to the tenant or middleman in a portion of the produce.1
On the 14th of May, the day before the term of removal, Campbell, with the necessary officers for executing the writs, proceeded by the old road from Fortwilliam towards the too-memorable valley of Glencoe.2 They passed the ferry of Ballahulish. Campbell then alighted from his horse, and had a conversation with a neighbouring proprietor whom he met there. While thus privately occupied with his friend, he desired his servant, John Mackenzie, to walk on before along with Mungo Campbell, an Edinburgh writer. At an abrupt and rocky part of the road this Mackenzie dropped a great-coat belonging to Kennedy, a sheriff’s officer, who was following on foot. When Campbell and his friend came to the place where the great-coat lay, a halloo was raised to the others to come back for it. Then Campbell parted with his friend and went on. Kennedy, coming back for the coat, crossed Campbell, who still went on. The Edinburgh writer was a short distance in advance of Campbell, for the road did not admit of two riding abreast. They had to traverse thus a more than usually rough and broken portion of the path, where they required to look to their horses, and where they were overshadowed on either side by a thicket called the Wood of Letter-More. When Campbell reached this spot his companions heard the discharge of a shot. On coming up they found him lying in his blood, breathing, but unable to utter more than a few incoherent words, and close to death. Two bullets had entered, one on either side of the backbone. The spot, it was afterwards noticed, was one from which a person standing on the bank might survey the road and all that took place on it for some distance. Nothing was seen of the person who fired the fatal shot but the distant shadowy outline of a retreating figure, who seemed to be dressed in a dark Highland coat. About the actual perpetrator of the assassination there could, however, be no doubt. There was a certain Allan Brec Stewart, called in the indictment by the Celtic alias of Vic Ian Vic Allister. He had been a soldier in a government regiment of foot; but after the battle of Preston he deserted, served with the insurgents, and, making his escape, entered the French service. He went about openly in the neighbourhood of Ballahulish and Glencoe, and when his friends spoke of his temerity, he said “he had made up his peace with General Churchill, and had got his pass, which he had in his pocketbook;” but he always made some frivolous excuse for declining to let the pass be seen. The most peculiar part of his conduct, considering his dangerous position, was the very noticeable costume in which he swaggered about; it was called his French dress, and was said to consist of a long blue coat, a red waistcoat, and a feathered hat. He had been heard, as he went idly about dissipating in change-houses or small taverns, potent in his abuse of the new factor and the whole race of Campbell, especially after he had been drinking whisky.
His expressions of enmity were all the better noticed, that a change-house which he frequented, probably because it lay nearest to his haunts, was kept by a Campbell. To this man he had bluntly said one day, in his cups, that he hated all of the name of Campbell. Then going away and drinking elsewhere, he returned and told the publican, that if he “had any respect for his friends, he would tell them, if they offered to turn out the possessors of Ardshiel’s estate, he would make black cocks of them before they entered into possession;” an expression the significance of which will be sufficiently apparent to sportsmen. “He said, twenty times over, he would be fit-sides with Glenure wherever he met him, and wanted nothing more than to meet him at a convenient place.” In another change-house, where he had been drinking all night, he showed a profusion of tipsy generosity to a poor bowman, and wound up his attentions by saying, “If he would fetch him the red fox’s skin, he would give him what was much better; to which the said John Maccoll answered, that he was no sportsman, and that he was much better skilled in ploughing or delving.”3
Allan Brec frequented the house of James Stewart. It was shown that, on the night of the murder, he had left his French clothes there. He put on a short black Highland coat, as it is described, with metal buttons, belonging to James Stewart, his alleged accomplice: this dress corresponded with the slight view which the Edinburgh writer obtained of the retreating figure in the wood of Letter-More. After the murder, his French clothes, as they were called, were removed by his friends, and concealed in a place where he was instructed how to find them. Allan Brec took to flight. There would have been nothing conclusive in this act taken alone, as he was a deserter and a rebel, whence a criminal investigation in his immediate neighbourhood must have greatly disturbed his nerves.
He made his first appearance after the murder at the house of Macdonald of Glencoe, the very place where a romance writer would, by the force of destiny, send a murderer steeped in recent blood. Nor was the time unsuitable for such a visit – it was between three and four o’clock in the morning. He knocked at the window, but it appears that he could not rouse the slumberers without calling out to them, for the master of the house and his step-mother were awakened by a child exclaiming that he heard Allan Brec’s voice without. Both Macdonald and his stepmother held a conference with Allan, with whom they had a family connexion. Their evidence was of the most brief and, naturally, most unsatisfactory kind. Allan, they both said, gave them the first information of the murder committed the evening before, but he entered into no particulars – merely told the simple fact, and they made no kind of remark or inquiry. He declined to enter the house. He told his friends that he made his untimely visit to bid them farewell; that he was to leave the country, and that he was then on his way to Rannoch.
We next find him seeking refuge in a place called Koilasonachan, spoken of by the witnesses accustomed to the neighbouring solitudes of Glencoe and Rannoch as so wild and remote, that to find a man lurking there at once suggested that he must have been after evil deeds. A bowman, John Brec Maccoll, as he was passing through this wilderness, heard a whistle from a height, and, looking up, saw Allan Brec there. After their salutations, the bowman told him (by his own account) that it could be no good action that took him to such a place. He said he had heard the rumour of the murder, and charged Allan with it. Allan asked eagerly what he had learned about the murder. He said: “He had seen no person from the strath of Appin, but that two poor women, who had come up Glencoe, were telling that Glenure was murdered on Thursday evening in the wood of Letter-More; and that two people were seen going from the place where he was murdered; and that he, Allan Brec, was said to be one of them; that Allan Brec answered he had no concern in it; and that, if his information was right, there was but one person about the murder; and that as he (himself) was idle about the country, he was sure he would be suspected of it, but that that would give him little concern if he had not been a deserter, which would go harder upon him, in case he was apprehended, than anything that could be proved against him about the murder.”
Allan, in want of necessary food, besought the bowman to go to Callart or Glencoe to procure some oatmeal for him. He intended immediately to flee to France, but lacked the pecuniary means. To facilitate his object, he desired the bowman to take a letter to Fortwilliam. His method of providing writing materials in the wilderness showed considerable resources of ingenuity. “Allan Brec,” said the witness, “looked about among the trees, and finding a wood-pigeon’s quill, made a pen of it; and having made ink of some powder he took out of a powder-horn that was in his pocket, he wrote a letter.” The messenger was told, that if he were caught with that letter he must swallow it rather than let it be found. A girl from the nearest cottage, going after stray cattle, had caught a glimpse of Allan, and, returning home in fright, said she had seen the figure of a man in the wilds of Koilasonachan. She was told that there were bogles or ghosts there, and that she had better hold her peace as to what she had seen. Through circuitous messengers, who could not be got to confess the full amount of their charitable exertions, the money he required was conveyed to Allan, along with his French clothes; and the short Highland coat and bonnet were afterwards found left on the heath.
Allan Brec ultimately escaped to the Continent. Great efforts were made by the government to get him apprehended in France, where he sought an asylum; and it is probable that they were the more zealous in the cause, because his apprehension might have rendered unnecessary some proceedings to be afterwards described, which exposed them to unpleasant reflections. An instrument worthy of such an object – James Drummond, the son of Rob Roy – had, as we have already seen, been employed to kidnap him. He was not so successful, however, with the daring mountaineer as he had been with the youthful widow of Edinbellie; and Allan Brec, discovering his object, threatened to slay him, and made him feel that his life was not very safe in the neighbourhood of his intended victim.4
Allan Brec was thus never brought to trial. The evidence against James Stewart, as his accomplice, imperfect and unsatisfactory as it is, leaves no doubt that it was Allan who drew the trigger. Perhaps a fastidious modern jury might, before convicting, require some things which remain vague to be explained; but for all the purposes of the historical critic, who cannot hang, the evidence is sufficient for finding a verdict. This, however, is by far the least interesting part of the tragedy. The proceedings against James Stewart of Aucharn, Allan’s kinsman, are far more worthy of notice than the events connected with the murder itself.
The interest which James Stewart took in the protection of the tenants who were to be ejected has been already noticed. He had been heard to say that, if baffled in the court of session, he would bring the injuries inflicted on the tenants under the notice of parliament; and, if beaten there, – he added, after a pause, “that he behoved to take the only other remedy that remained.” The conversation one day turning on an officer of the army who had been branded for cowardice, Stewart passionately exclaimed, that Campbell, the new factor, deserved the brand as well, for he had challenged the man, and he would not fight himself. He desired Campbell to be told that he proclaimed his dishonour. Like his kinsman, Allan Brec, he spoke vigorously in his cups; and was, like him, apt to take them in the premises of hostile publicans of the name of Campbell, whose houses nothing but the dire calls of what is in Scotland so expressively called “drouth” would have induced him to enter. To one of the persons who thus had motives for noticing his conduct with uncharitable constructions, he refused, after partaking of his liquor, to offer the customary courtesies of the district, observing that he would rather see all of his name hanged; and there were some Campbells whose feet he would readily draw down while they were suspended – alluding to an old hangman’s duty which the patent slip has superseded. In these dissipated fits, he would scatter suspicious hints among the tenantry or commoners. Thus, drawing a picture of the new factor’s cunning and rapacity, he continued to observe, that if he “went on in the same way, it was likely he would in five years be Laird of Appin. And upon the witness5 and the said John More and John Beg Maccoll saying that that was likely to happen, the said James Stewart answered, that that was the fault of the commoners, or followers; for, however he, or people in circumstances like him, would shift for themselves, they, the commoners, would be very badly off; and added, that he knew commoners once in Appin who would not allow Glenure to go on at such a rate.” One is here reminded of “There was a Brutus once, that would have brooked,” &c. Of such a kind were the threats and bravadoes of the discarded factor against his successor; and on one occasion he had even said he would waste a shot on him though he went on his knees.
What was of far more consequence, Allan Brec was James Stewart’s kinsman, and lived in his house. It appeared pretty clear that the murderer had his kinsman’s clothes on when he committed the deed; but he had worn them on other occasions. Of some guns which Stewart possessed, one was stated to be amissing on the day of the murder, and it was afterwards found discharged. The guns, along with some broadswords, and other weapons, were sedulously concealed by Stewart’s family immediately after the murder. This, however, was in itself a natural, and almost necessary arrangement, for the disarming act was in operation; and the inquiry following on a murder would certainly render Stewart liable to the penalties for disobedience of the act. On hearing the first rumour of the death of Campbell, he had exclaimed – “God bless me, is he shot?” as if anticipating the method of the death; and he refused to join those who were assembling round the body.
Stewart was found making desperate efforts to obtain some ready money. He sent a pressing message to a person in Fortwilliam with whom he had made a bargain about cows, to send him the money, in anticipation of his own fulfilment of the bargain. The man was at first angry and impatient, as at an unreasonable request; but he afterwards complied, probably on receiving a hint of the purpose for which the money was to be used. This money was conveyed to Allan Brec, to enable him to leave the country. There could be no doubt that Stewart, with all his family and partisans, assisted Allan Brec in making his escape; and did what in them lay, by concealing his clothes and otherwise, to shield him from justice. The only other incident of any importance bearing against Stewart was, that the bowman who talked with Allan Brec in Koilasonachan, reported him to have remarked that probably Stewart’s family would be suspected of the murder; that probably both father and son might be apprehended for it; and the son’s tongue was not so good as the father’s.
No law, like that which in England affected accessories after the fact, had taken root in Scotland, and Stewart was brought to trial as a planner and adviser of the murder. There is no use, at the present day, of denying that the proceedings against him were unjust, according to modern notions of the administration of the law; and that the evidence was insufficient to justify a verdict of wilful murder against him. We know, however, and it was well known by the government in that day, that Stewart, along with many others, had tacitly adopted a position which baffled the laws in their fair administration. Granting that he had deliberately concocted the murder, the arrangement never could have been proved by the evidence of his own kinsmen and supporters; and, of course, a secret compact could not be easily proved by members of the hostile clans.
But it is unnecessary to suppose that such a compact had been made. It was sufficient to paralyse the government, that, when a man like Allan Brec committed a deed in accordance with the feelings and devout wishes, though not the instigations of his kindred and supporters, they should all remain dumb and motionless, or should bestir themselves only to hide him, and help him to escape. The government was resolved, without any scruple, to break through such a system, by making an example; and we shall now see how it set about this business.
The lord justice-general is the head or president of the high court of justiciary, or supreme criminal tribunal, of Scotland. Down to so late a time as the reign of William IV., it was an office merely honorary conferred on some influential peer. During the irregularities immediately preceding the revolution, the justice-general of course employed his office for every purpose of oppression and rapacity; but it had subsequently settled down into practice that the criminal justice of the country was to be administered by professional and responsible judges trained in the practice of the law. Thus the lord justice-general no more thought of acting in the justiciary than the lord mayor in the recorder’s court. But the Duke of Argyle, the head of the house of Campbell and of the Hanover interest, was resolved to preside at the trial of a Stewart and a Jacobite for the murder of a Campbell and a Hanoverian.
It was considered that even if the nominal head of the justiciary court should sit in judgment, he ought to do so only in the high court, as it was termed, in Edinburgh, and that it was not consistent with his office of president of the chief tribunal to act as a judge on circuit. But there were irresistible temptations for his breaking on this occasion through every established custom. If the proceedings were referred to the circuit court, Stewart would be tried at Inverary, among the Campbells, who hated him, and in Argyle’s own capital, where he was as absolute as it was possible for a subject to be. Further still, – it had not been customary for the lord advocate in person to conduct prosecutions on circuit; but on the present occasion that high officer – whether in deference to the rank of the presiding judge, or on account of the urgent importance of the occasion – repaired to Inverary to conduct the prosecution. Of the fifteen jurymen empannelled to give a true and impartial verdict, eleven bore the name of Campbell. Many of the witnesses could not speak English, and a Campbell acted as interpreter. The transmission of the evidence through such a medium gives it a stiff, inanimate character, and there is little doubt that it bore a Campbell tinge. And yet, what was to be expected? The prosecutors would scarcely choose a hostile witness; and were they to find an impartial man who knew Gaelic! The witnesses would do their best on the one hand to baffle and conceal. Evidently they knew much which they did not tell; and, on the other hand, there is little doubt that the interpreter would give a strong tinge to what they did tell. This little portion in itself is only too characteristic a type of the whole history.
After such powerful preparations for extracting a verdict of guilty, it would be superfluous to inquire into the truth of all that was charged against the government by the exasperated friends of Stewart. They complained that the bar had been intimidated. It was not to be much wondered at, that some learned counsel found it at that time inconvenient to go to Inverary. Yet Stewart was ably and gallantly defended; and, indeed, one of his advocates, Walter Stewart, made an allusion to the peculiarities of the occasion, which was somewhat of a home-thrust. “The time was,” he said, “indeed, when the feeble law was unable to protect the innocent – when the rules of justice were broke to pieces by the ruffian hands of power; then our unhappy country groaned under the yoke of arbitrary power – then was scarce the form of a trial; the best, the greatest of our country – even an Argyle – fell a sacrifice to the call of tyranny. But now, my lords, the days which our fathers wished to see, and did not see, we have the happiness to enjoy. A fair trial, which the noblest could not obtain, the meanest are now entitled to, under the protection of laws guarded by a government ever watchful for the good of its subjects, under which the keenness of private prosecutors will meet with no countenance or encouragement.”
It was admitted that both Stewart and his family had been subject to hardships unusual and unconstitutional, in being separately confined in dungeons, without receiving access to their friends or professional advisers. But this was remedied ere it became too late, and a natural enough cause was assigned for it. They had been placed under military guard in the prison of Fortwilliam, and the commanding-officer knowing nothing of legal rights, or the privileges of the untried, acted on professional notions of duty, and excluded all access to his captives.
Many occurrences took place which would now be counted indecencies; – but it must be remembered that the juncture was not half way from the days of Jeffries to our own. One of the counsel for the prosecution, whose words must be taken in connexion with the avowed Jacobitism of the accused, said: “I must say that his family and connexions – his character and conduct in public life, are so many circumstances forming a presumption almost equal to a proof in support of the charge brought against him.” In the face of such declarations, the prisoner’s counsel was well justified in complaining of “an impression which has been industriously raised and artfully propagated, as if it were somehow necessary that the pannel should be found guilty, and as if his being acquitted would bring a reflection on this part of the kingdom.”
The jury found the accused guilty. It is in the final admonition given by the presiding judge, on sentencing the unfortunate man to death, that we now, with astonishment, find the hereditary enmity of race and party bursting forth through all control of judicial decorum. One would have expected the statesman of Walpole’s day, and the polished courtier of the age of Chesterfield, incapable, even were the occasion a far less solemn one, of saying what follows. And so at St. Stephen’s or St. James’s he doubtless would have been; but in his own capital, with his retainers around him, looking his enemy in the face, the old blood of MacCallum More was up. In his charge to the jury, he said:
“In the year 1715 there broke out a most unnatural and unprovoked rebellion, soon after the accession of his late majesty to the throne; in which the part your clan acted is well known, so many being here present that were witnesses of their composing part of the rebel army which besieged this town. This I myself have reason to know. A royal indemnity soon followed after those treasons then committed. But, in the year 1719, your clan, unmindful of their lives and fortunes having been granted them only two years before, did again rise in rebellion, and assisted a foreign enemy in an invasion; in this you are said to have acted a part, though at that time very young.
“In the year 1745 the restless spirits of the disaffected Highlanders again prompted them to raise a third rebellion, in which you and your clan formed a regiment in that impious service, and in which you persevered to the last. The Divine Providence at first permitted you to obtain some advantages, which has possibly been to give you time to repent of your crimes. But who can dive into the secrets of the Almighty! At last Heaven raised up a great prince, the son of our gracious king, who, with courage equal to that of his ancestors, and with conduct superior to his years, did, at one blow, put an end to all your wicked attempts.
“If you had been successful in that rebellion, you had been now triumphant with your confederates, trampling upon the laws of your country, the liberties of your fellow-subjects, and on the Protestant religion. You might have been giving the law where you now have received the judgment of it; and we who are this day your judges might have been tried before one of your mock courts of judicature, and then you might have been satiated with the blood of any name or clan to which you have an aversion.”
It must have seemed a solemn mockery to say to the prisoner in this denunciatory speech, “James Stewart, you have had a very long and most impartial trial. You have been prosecuted with all the moderation consistent with the crime you stood accused of, and your counsel have defended you with great ability and with decency.”
Immediately on the sentence of death being passed, the prisoner said:
“My lords, I tamely submit to my hard sentence. I forgive the jury, and the witnesses, who have sworn several things falsely against me; and I declare, before the great God and this auditory, that I had no previous knowledge of the murder of Colin Campell of Glenure, and am as innocent of it as a child unborn. I am not afraid to die; but what grieves me is my character – that after ages should think me capable of such a horrid and barbarous murder.”
He died with dignity. To the end he maintained his innocence, not like one who hoped by reiterations or prayers to stay his doom, but calmly and temperately, like one fulfilling a duty to his name and cause, and seeking only to secure the good opinion of the candid. He doubtless felt the importance of his position. It was that of no common criminal, but of a political martyr to the expiring cause of the exiled house. To gratify the sad pride of his kinsmen, it was essential that he should act the hero, and he was not wanting to the occasion. He was enrolled in the catalogue of Jacobite martyrs.
This judicial tragedy, of which an attempt has been made to afford an impartial account, may seem to throw a weighty scandal on the institutions of the country where it occurred, and on the conduct of the party who bent them to such a purpose. But if the scandal be admitted, we may pause a moment before holding that it either shows the falsity and emptiness of the institutions or the depravity of the party. It is of some consequence to look to this at a time when in another part of the empire we have but just escaped a tampering with our popular forensic institutions, which circumstances of emergency appeared to justify. If such institutions may be outraged and scandalised, the very shape and consequences of such outrage and scandal only show the value of preserving the institution untouched, that it may be more purely administered; and if we compare the trial of James Stewart with other events both in our own and foreign histories, we may find that it is because jury trial was the instrument, and because the Hanoverian government were the perpetrators, that the case ever became remarkable. Under secret judicial procedure, and an irresponsible government, it would have scarcely been known or noticed beyond the province and the generation in which it occurred.
An unconstitutional government powerful as the representative government which ruled Britain after the last Jacobite insurrection, would have certainly found means of punishing an enemy like James Stewart. If such a government found its agents shot in the execution of their duty – saw clearly that the perpetrators were shielded from justice, and helped out of the country, by a numerous band of abettors and partisans – and were able to lay hands on one man whom they had every reason to believe a supporter and shielder of such a murderer, if not his employer and instigator, – would they not have found means of striking a blow at the system, though it were through his life? The only difference in the case, had it occurred under an irresponsible government – such a government as the Stewarts tried to establish – would have been that the proceedings would have been secret. Their exact nature, and the precise violations of justice committed in them, would have been unknown; the scandal would have been avoided.
But here everything was open as day. The arraignment in the midst of enemies – the chief enemy of all on the bench; the angry denunciations of the law-officers and the judge; the jury of Campbells; all these things were published to the world, and were eagerly and fiercely commented on. The institutions were scandalised, but not undermined. True, the party accomplished their object – the man was hanged. But many a warm friend of the government looked with regret on that conspicuous scene of unbridled animosity. The proceedings were energetically censured, not only by the Jacobites, but by their antipodes, the friends of freedom and onward progress. No one dared to defend them. In legal commentaries, the trial is always referred to as a perversion of justice. For a century it has stood forth as a beacon of warning to all who shall pervert the great free institutions of the country to party purposes. It shows emphatically how these institutions have in their publicity an alarm bell, that rings loudly, and tells all the world when they are bent to unworthy purposes.
1 The name is supposed to be derived from the steelbow with which the produce was weighed.
2 The road is one of the wildest and most broken of the ancient northern Highland paths. It rises high through rocky ground, and often subjects the traveller to a severe contest with the Highland storms. A melancholy instance of its dangerous character occurred so lately as 1847. On the last day of August in that year, two English tourists, having undertaken the journey between Glencoe and Fortwilliam on foot, sat down, overcome by fatigue. They were next day found dead where they had taken rest, coldness and exhaustion seducing them into sleep from which they never wakened.
3 Trial of James Stewart, 8vo, Edinburgh, 1753, appendix, p. 25. The references to the trial in the present notice are all taken from the documents and evidence so published. They fill a considerable volume.
4 Sir Walter Scott has preserved the following notice of Allan Brec: – “About 1789, a friend of mine, who was then residing in Paris, was invited to see some procession which was supposed likely to interest him, from the windows of an apartment occupied by a Scottish Benedictine priest. He found sitting by the fire a tall, thin, raw-boned grim looking old man, with the petit croix of St. Louis. His visage was strongly marked by the irregular projections of the cheek-bones and chin. His eyes were grey. His grizzled hair exhibited marks of having been red, and his complexion was weatherbeaten, and remarkably freckled. Some civilities in French passed between the old man and my friend, in the course of which they talked of the streets and squares of Paris, till at length the old soldier, for such he seemed, and such he was, said, with a sigh, in the old Highland accent, ‘Deil ane o’ them a’ is worth the Hie Street of Edinburgh.’ On inquiry, this admirer of Auld Reekie, which he was never to see again, proved to be Allan Brec Stewart.” – Introduction to Rob Roy, p. 31.
5 In this and the subsequent extracts from evidence, the word witness is substituted for the Scottish technical term “deponent.”