Page images
PDF
EPUB

Ilk body's a limb o' the law, man;
Tacks, bonds, precognitions,
Bills, wiils, and petitions,
And ought but a trigger some draw, man.”

The manuscripts given up by the printer Borthwick, and the editor Alexander, were afterwards sworn to as in the handwriting of Auchinleck. A hostile meeting thereafter took place on 26th March, 1822, on the farm of Auchtertool, Fiseshire, when John Douglas, brother to the Marquis of Queensberry, acted as second to the Baronet, and the Earl of Rosslyn for Mr. Stuart. The principals stood at twelve paces distant. The Earl of Rosslyn gave the word, and the parties fired, when Sir Alexander received Mr. Stuart's ball in the right shoulder, which broke the clavicle of the bone and injured the spine. Sir Alexander immediately fell, and was carried to Balmuto House, the seat of his relative Lord Balmuto, where every professional assistance possible was rendered, but without avail, and the unfortunate Baronet, then only forty-seven years of age, gradually sank, and expired on the afternoon of the following day. Sir Alexander, in his last moments, expressed regret for not making his intention to fire in the air more distinct; but admitted that Mr. Stuart took the only course open to him in insisting on a "meeting." It had been intended to arrange matters in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh, but the Sheriff of that county bound the parties over to keep the peace, and Fife was only thought of at the last moment, as preferable to the Continent, which had been partly arranged for. Mr. Stuart left the ground, after an ineffectual attempt to express his sympathy with the wounded Baronet. He surrendered for trial before the High Court of Justiciary on 10th June, same year (1822), where he was defended with unrivalled ability by his friends Jeffrey and Cockburn. The jury, after the address of counsel and a summing up by Lord-Justice Clerk Boyle, returned a verdict unanimously finding Mr Stuart not guilty. In relief of mental distress, he afterwards travelled in America, and returning to London edited the Liberal "Courier" for some years, when he was appointed Inspector of Factories, which position he held at his death in 1849, aged 74 years. Certain circumstances

connected with the above hostile meeting were reproduced by Scott in the duel scene of “St. Ronan's Well.” Sir Alexander Boswell left one daughter, married to Sir W. F. Elliot of Stobs and Wells, and a son, James, who succeeded him; born 1806, and married, 1830, Jessie Jane, daughter of Sir J. Montgomery Cunningham, Bart., with issue, two daughters. Young Sir James died in 1857, a few years after he had succeeded in reducing what was intended to be a very strict entail of the family estate, as designed by Lord Auchinleck and his son, James, on the ground that certain letters written on or over an erasure were not referred to in the testing clause of the deed. Lady Boswell died March, 1884. The valued rental of lands composing Auchinleck parish is entered at £24,797, about twothirds being held by the Boswell family, and the rest divided among the Marquis of Bute with ten other proprietors.

THE MURES OF CALDWELL.

MURE, Moore, More, for the same name has in process of time assumed all these and at least as many other forms, carry the mind back to public transactions in Scotland earlier than to what well-authenticated history can testify, and earlier also than the time when any uniformity in spelling was observed. A. settled nomenclature has justly been described as one of the niceties of modern orthography. Of the Mures it may be said with literal exactness, “Kings have come of us, not us of kings.” Smitten by the charms of his cousin, the “Beauty of Rowallan," while living in retirement at Dundonald, the young Stewart, Earl of Strathaven, afterwards Robert II., by marrying Elizabeth Mure, under a dispensation from Holy Mother Church, made her the maternal head of the whole Royal race of Stewart. Without making any pretensions to be the parent stem of this ancient family the house of Caldwell has ever ranked high for the public spirit and energy

of its representatives—in later days for judicial wisdom and intellectual culture. Early in the fourteenth century, Easter Caldwell passed from the family of that name to the Mures through the marriage of Gilchrist Mure with the last heiress of her race, whose ancient ruined tower may still be seen within the grounds of Caldwell.

One of the earliest existing family documents (1496) is an instrument of sasine of Sir Adam Mure's—Noblis viri Adæ Mur de Cauldvel-peaceably and legally conveying a small hamlet called Kempisland, otherwise “Breadsorrow," so named because of the “grate sorrow it bred in debating and contesting for the hereditable right thereof." The term “kemping” has been explained as an old Scottish word for striving and fighting-a commentary, it is further explained, of a disputatious age, when Border chiefs, great coveters of Naboth's vineyard, converted many an adjoining field into a campus belli, of which the strongest man reaped the harvest with his claymore. This Adam is described by contemporary annalists as "a gallant, stout man, having many feuds with his neighbours, which were managed with great fierceness and much blood-shed.” Hector, a son, is mentioned as killed in 1499 by the Maxwells of Pollok, whose laird narrowly escaped the wild justice of Hector's brother John in retaliation. The feud remained long an heirloom in the families, but that it ultimately came to be “staunched” may be noticed from a pleasant adventure mentioned below. John Mure was not only indicted for laying an ambuscade to capture Maxwell and “his man” with “wikid malice, wrongwislie and violentlie;" but in 1515 we find him paying so little respect to the Church as to engage with Lennox for sacking the palace of Archbishop Beaton at Glasgow, and breaking down the same with artillery. An inventory, curious enough in its way, but too long for quotation here, will be found in the “Caldwell Papers ” (vol. 1, p. 54) of the “guids and geir," the scarlet gowns lined with fur, the gold rings and precious stones, the plate, ordnance, and “ vivers" seized on the occasion. The dying voice of another of the family recorded in 1640 expresses with a quaint solemnity not to be misunderstood the fast-approaching troubles of the Cromwellian period :-“ For so mickle as at this

tyme thair is great appeirance of trubles and warres in this land, whilk God of His infinit mercie prevent, and grant ane happie and guide reformationie to the glorie of His name. Howbeit, I, Robert Mure of Cauldwell, am now baith weill and haill in bodie, spirit, and mynd; yet, considering there is nothing more certaine nor death, and nothing more uncertaine nor the tyme and manor yrof. thairfore I heirby mak my latter will and testament.”

Good and thoughtful Robert of Caldwell might well think of “trubles and warres” when the Commons in London were not only refusing subsidies to the King, but impeaching Strafford and Laud. Robert, the testator, would seem to have been soon “called away,” for when the storm burst the owners were minors, and it may be said to have passed with comparative gentleness over the house of Caldwell. Putting aside at this time any account of the part taken by the Caldwell Mures in the great national commotions which followed the Reformation, the oppression to which they were subjected for supporting the Covenant party, and their Hanoverian loyalty during the Jacobite “risings," the date of 1753 is easily reached, when Wester Caldwell was again joined to the old estate by William Mure, Baron of Exchequer. It is mainly with this William Mure, and partly with his grandson, the accomplished historian of Greek literature, the present article is concerned.

According to Professor Jardine-who, however, it should be remembered, had been the youth's tutor in Paris--William Mure came nearer up to his idea of a wise man than any he had ever known. Born in 1718, his father, also William, died suddenly a few days after his election for Renfrewshire; so that the infant heir was left under the sole guardianship of his mother, a woman of sense and piety, who, in course of time, wisely introduced into the house as teacher, William Leechman, promoted in after life, partly by the interest of his pupil, to be Principal in the University of Glasgow. A Continental tour was undertaken in due course, but schemes being already devising to send him to the House of Commons as member for his native county, his time there was more limited than might otherwise have been the case. Onę incident in it affords a happy illustration, that

long before that time the feud of ancient standing between the Mures and Maxwells had been buried in oblivion as a cause of strife. Thirty years afterwards the Baron's son, Colonel William, recorded in his journal that he remembered going to see the Chateau de Sceaux, belonging to the Count d’Eu, a descendant of Louis XIV., almost a rival to Versailles at the time, but plundered and destroyed at the Revolution. In the fine park was a large piece of water which led the guide of the party to mention that many years ago two impudent Englishmen, who had been permitted to see the place on a very hot day, took advantage of not being observed, as they supposed, to bathe in the lake. The Countess, however, got word of what was going on, much to the consternation of the bathers, who had just time before she came up to regain their clothes and effect a retreat into the wood. The guide added that the strangers were both above six feet high, and that as they hurriedly dressed themselves and slunk away, the Countess remarked, “What fine fellows they are.” On repeating this story to my father at home, he asked if our cicerone had told us the names of the two tall Englishmen, and on my answering that he had not, he said: “Then I will tell you; the one was the late Sir John Maxwell of Pollok; the other, myself.”

From a very early period in life, at least long before his elevation to the Exchequer Bench, William Mure displayed, in addition to other excellent qualities, an agreeable faculty for forming and maintaining the friendship of distinguished men—" Principibus placuisse viris non ultima laus est." Among these, foremost in the front rank, were John, Marquis of Bute, Prime Minister, and David Hume, historian and philosopher. From the year of his election for Renfrewshire, on the death of Alexander Cunningham, of Craigends (1742), till his promotion to the Bench in 1761, William Mure spoke but rarely in the House ; but his solid sense and cautious ways made him so much of an informal chamber-counsel on Scotch politics, commerce, and manufactures that Lord Bute not only handed him over the management of much of his own dilapidated property, but placed at his disposal a very considerable amount of Government patronage in Scotland—an

« PreviousContinue »