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clansmen. "I was busy this day," he wrote from his cell, "treating for them, and in some hopes; but this evening orders came that I must die upon Monday or Tuesday; and I am to be put to the torture if I answer not all questions upon oath. Yet I hope God shall support me.”
The torture was not inflicted. Perhaps the magnanimity of the victim had moved the conquerors to unwonted compassion. He himself remarked that at first they had been very harsh to him, but they soon began to treat him with respect and kindness. God, he said, had melted their hearts. It is certain that he did not, to save himself from the utmost cruelty of his enemies, betray any of his friends. On the last morning of his life he
wrote these words: "I have named none to their disadvantage. I thank God he hath supported me wonderfully."
He composed his own epitaph; a short poem, full of meaning and spirit, simple and forcible in style, and not contemptible in versification. In this little piece he complained that, though his enemies had repeatedly decreed his death, his friends had been still more cruel. ment on these expressions is to be found in a letter which he addressed to a lady residing in Holland. She had furnished him with a large sum of money for his expedition, and he thought her entitled to a full explanation of the causes which had led to his failure. He acquitted his coadjutors of treachery, but described their folly, their ignorance, and their factious perverseness, in terms which their own testimony has since proved to have been richly deserved. He afterward doubted whether he had not used language too severe to become a dying Christian, and, in a separate paper, begged his friend to suppress what he had said of these men. "Only this I must acknowledge," he mildly added; "they were not governable."
Most of his few remaining hours were passed in devotion, and in affectionate intercourse with some members of his family. He professed no repentance on account of his last enterprise, but bewailed, with great emotion, his former compliance in spiritual things with the pleasure of the government. He had, he said, been justly punished. One who had so long been guilty of cowardice and dissimulation, was not worthy to be the instrument of salva
tion to the State and Church; yet the cause, he frequent ly repeated, was the cause of God, and would assuredly triumph. "I do not," he said, "take on myself to be a prophet; but I have a strong impression on my spirit that deliverance will come very suddenly." It is not strange that some zealous Presbyterians should have laid up his saying in their hearts, and should, at a later period, have attributed it to divine inspiration.
So effectually had religious faith and hope, co-operating with natural courage and equanimity, composed his spirits, that, on the very day on which he was to die, he dined with appetite, conversed with gayety at table, and, after his last meal, lay down, as he was wont, to take a short slumber, in order that his body and mind might be in full vigour when he should mount the scaffold. At this time one of the lords of the council, who had probably been bred a Presbyterian, and had been seduced by interest to join in oppressing the Church of which he had once been a member, came to the castle with a message from his brethren, and demanded admittance to the earl. It was answered that the earl was asleep. The privy councillor thought that this was a subterfuge, and insisted on entering. The door of the cell was softly opened; and there lay Argyle on the bed, sleeping, in his irons, the placid sleep of infancy. The conscience of the renegade smote him. He turned away sick at heart, ran out of the castle, and took refuge in the dwelling of a lady of his family who lived hard by. There he flung himself on a couch, and gave himself up to an agony of remorse and shame. His kinswoman, alarmed by his looks and groans, thought that he had been taken sick with sudden illness, and begged him to drink a cup of sack. "No, no," he said, "that will do me no good." She prayed him to tell her what had disturbed him. "I have been," he said, "in Argyle's prison. I have seen him, within an hour of eternity, sleeping as sweetly as ever man did. But as for
And now the earl had risen from his bed, and had prepared himself for what was yet to be endured. He was first brought down the High Street to the Council House, where he was to remain during the short interval which
was still to elapse before the execution. During that interval he asked for pen and ink, and wrote to his wife. "Dear heart, God is unchangeable. He hath always been good and gracious to me; and no place alters it. Forgive me all my faults; and now comfort thyself in him, in whom only true comfort is to be found. The Lord be with thee,
bless and comfort thee, my dearest. Adieu."
It was now time to leave the Council House. The divines who attended the prisoner were not of his own persuasion; but he listened to them with civility, and exhorted them to caution their flocks against those doctrines which all Protestant churches unite in condemning. He mounted the scaffold, where the rude old guillotine of Scotland, called the Maiden, awaited him, and addressed the people in a speech, tinctured with the peculiar phraseology of his sect, but breathing the spirit of serene piety. His enemies, he said, he forgave as he hoped to be forgiven. Only a single acrimonious expression escaped him. One of the Episcopal clergymen who attended him went to the edge of the scaffold, and called out in a loud voice, "My lord dies a Protestant." "Yes," said the earl, stepping forward, "and not only a Protestant, but with a heart-hatred of popery, of prelacy, and of all superstition." He then embraced his friends, put into their hands somė tokens of remembrance for his wife and children, kneeled down, laid his head on the block, prayed for a little space, and gave the signal to the executioner. His head was fixed on the top of the Tolbooth, where the head of Montrose had formerly decayed.*
*The authors from whom I have taken the history of Argyle's expedition are Sir Patrick Hume, who was an eye-witness of what he related, and Wodrow, o had access to materials of the greatest value, among which were the earl's own papers Wherever there is a question of veracity between Argyle and Hume, I have no doubt that Argyle's narrative ought to be followed.
See, also, Burnet, i. 631, and the Life of Bresson, published by Dr. Mac Crie.
The account of the Scotch rebellion in Clarke's Life of James tho Second is a ridiculous romance, composed by a Jacobite who did not even take the trouble to look at a map of the seat of war.
RICHARD TALBOT, EARL OF TYRCONNEL.
SOON after the prorogation, this reckless faction was strengthened by an important reinforcement. Richard Talbot, Earl of Tyrconnel, the fiercest and most uncompromising of all those who hated the liberties and religion of England, arrived at court from Dublin.
Talbot was descended from an old Norman family which had been long settled in Leinster, which had there sunk into degeneracy, which had adopted the manners of the Celts, which had, like the Celts, adhered to the old religion, and which had taken part with the Celts in the rebellion of 1641. In his youth he had been one of the most noted sharpers and bullies of London. He had been introduced to Charles and James when they were exiles in Flanders, as a man' fit and ready for the infamous service of assassinating the Protector. Soon after the Restoration, Talbot attempted to obtain the favour of the royal family by a service more infamous still. A plea was wanted which might justify the Duke of York in breaking that promise of marriage by which he had obtained from Anne Hyde the last proof of female affection. Such a plea Talbot, in concert with some of his dissolute companions, undertook to furnish. He affirmed that he had triumphed over the young lady's virtue, made up a long romance about the interviews with which she had indulged him, and related how, in one of his secret visits to her, he had unluckily overturned the chancellor's inkstand upon a pile of papers, and how cleverly she had averted a discovery by laying the blame of the accident on her monkey. These stories, which, if they had been true, would never have passed the lips of any but the basest of mankind, were pure inventions. Talbot was soon forced to own that they were so; and he owned it without a blush. The injured lady became Duchess of York. Had her husband been a man really upright and honourable, he would have driven from his presence with indignation and contempt the wretches who had slandered her. But one of the peculiarities of James's character was, that no act, however wicked and shameful, which had
been prompted by a desire to gain his favour, ever seemed to him deserving of disapprobation. Talbot continued to frequent the court, appeared daily with brazen front before the princess whose ruin he had plotted, and was installed into the lucrative post of chief pander to her husband. In no long time Whitehall was thrown into confusion by the news that Dick Talbot, as he was commonly called, had laid a plan to murder the Duke of Ormond. The bravo was sent to the Tower; but in a few days he was again swaggering about the galleries, and carrying billets backward and forward between his patron and the ugliest maids of honour. It was in vain that old and discreet councillors implored the royal brothers not to countenance this bad man, who had nothing to recommend him except his fine person and his taste in dress. Talbot was not only welcome at the palace when the bottle or the dice-box was going round, but was heard with attention on matters of business. He affected the character of an Irish patriot, and pleaded with great audacity, and sometimes with success, the cause of his countrymen whose estates had been confiscated. He took care, however, to be well paid for his services, and succeeded in acquiring, partly by the sale of his influence, partly by gambling, and partly by pimping, an estate of three thousand pounds a year; for, under an outward show of levity, profusion, improvidence, and eccentric impudence, he was, in truth, one of the most mercenary and crafty of mankind. He was now no longer young; but advancing age had made no essential change in his character and manners. He still, whenever he opened his mouth, ranted, cursed, and swore with such frantic violence that superficial observers set him down for the wildest of libertines. The multitude was unable to conceive that a man who, even when sober, was more furious and boastful than others when they were drunk, and who seemed utterly incapable of disguising any emotion or keeping any secret, could really be a cold-hearted, farsighted, scheming sycophant: yet such a man was Talbot. In truth, his hypocrisy was of a far higher and rarer sort than the hypocrisy which had flourished in Barebones's Parliament; for the consummate hypocrite is not he who conceals vice behind the semblance of virtue, but he who