« AnteriorContinuar »
replacing them by secular canons, but actually proposed that all the cathedral establishments served by monks should be broken up and put upon a new foundation of a like secular character.' (Vol. ii. p. 436.)
Not improbably Hugh would have approved of the granting to the parochial clergy the freedom of which they had only of late years been deprived by the legislation of Lanfranc. But the decrees even of the Synod of Westminster failed to win a complete victory for the Hildebrandines. Speaking of this council, and of those which immediately preceded it, Mr. Freeman says that in vain legate, archbishop, and bishops put forth their decrees; the old custom ' of England was too strong for them, and the king no longer 'gave his countenance to the innovation. By his leave, ' when the bishops were gone home, the priests kept their ' wives as they did aforetime.'* But if the large majority of the clergy maintained their old freedom to the days of Stephen, if not later, they can have done so only because they had the approval of a majority of the laity. It can only be, therefore, in a very modified sense that we can accept Miss Norgate's assertion, that in English national senti'ment monachism was inseparably bound up with Christi'anity itself.' That it must not be taken as an affirmation that the existence of the former was indispensable to the existence of the latter, the mere agreement of the majority of English clergy and laity on the subject of clerical marriage is very sufficient proof. That monachism had wrought great good in England was not disputed then, and cannot be disputed now. We may, therefore, safely follow Miss Norgate when she goes on to say, that to the monastic system England owed her conversion, her ecclesiastical organisation, her earliest training as a nation, and a church. Even if the guides to which she had so long trusted were failing her at last, the conservatism and the gratitude of Englishmen, 'both alike, still shrank from casting aside a tradition hallowed by the best and happiest associations of six hundred 'years.' (Vol. ii. p. 438.) All this may be granted so long as we remember that monachism had its own proper field, and that the mischief came only when the system was carried beyond its legitimate borders. That the English were converted by monks is certain. That they would not have been converted if the missionaries had not been monks, we cannot say. We have passed in review a few only of the vast multitude
Norman Conquest, vol. v. p. 236.
of subjects with which in the course of her task Miss Norgate has been called upon to deal. We have made no attempt to exhaust any one of them; but what we have said may be enough to show the thoroughness of her work, as well as the force, unpretending grace, and clearness of her style. The latter will attract all readers; the former will win for her the gratitude of every historical student who comes to her pages for instruction.*
ART. VIII. The Arniston Memoirs: Three Centuries of a Scottish House, 1571-1838. Edited from the Family Papers. By GEORGE W. T. OMOND, Advocate, Author of The Lord Advocates of Scotland.' Edinburgh: 1887. T is always a pleasure to welcome another addition to the number of our family histories-those 'stepping-stones 'to higher things' for the historian of the future. The particular history before us must be especially welcomed by many, because the Dundas family played a very great part in the political, juridical, and social history of Scotland throughout the eighteenth century. There is no other family of the period with which we can compare them, either in regard to their extraordinary influence in public affairs, or the equally remarkable array of high intellectual talent and personal worth which they brought to the administration of those affairs. We do not seek to defend the colossal system of nepotism which their energies and abilities enabled them, with more or less of public consent, to build up; we have frequently, indeed, had occasion in more distant times to comment upon and condemn it. But not even their severest censors will shrink from admitting that, however objectionable the system, as such, may be held to be, that system was for the most part under the control of men who gave of their best and that best was of a high standard-for the service of their country. In the volume before us, Mr. Omond has told the story of this remarkable family, illustrating the story at every step by the interesting and valuable family papers to which he has had access. Many will regret that he has not been able
*There is yet much work to be done in the scrutiny of the vast mass of documents bearing on the relations of Aquitaine or Gascony with England, of which we have had to speak in our notice of the Brocas Book (Edinburgh Review, July 1887, pp. 237–242).
to embrace the life of the greatest of the Arniston family, Henry Dundas, first Lord Melville, in this volume; but the reason he urges for postponing it to a second volume must be accepted as sufficient, namely, that the enormous amount of documentary material relating to the period when that politician guided the fortunes of the family, would, if done justice to, have necessitated the introduction of subjects inconsistent with the scope of the present publication. The manner in which Mr. Omond executed the literary portion of his former volumes on the Lord Advocates of Scotland is a sufficient guarantee of the genuineness and carefulness of his work; and, with the exception of wishing that he had given us a genealogical chart of the family, to guide us through the labyrinth of successive and collateral Dundases all bearing the same Christian name, there is little of the purely critical to be advanced regarding The Arniston 'Memoirs.'
The family of Dundas traces its ancestry to an ancient source. When Gospatric, Earl of Northumberland, unable either to keep terms with the Conqueror or to resist the Norman aggression, was obliged to seek safety in flight, he found a refuge, as many other noble English exiles had done, at the court of the Scottish king, Malcolm Canmore. And not only did he find a refuge, but he received from Malcolm a grant of Dunbar and other valuable possessions in Lothian. In after years the banished earl's son, or grandson, Waldeve, who had evidently managed to extend his patrimonial possessions, had also a property on the Firth of Forth, in what is now called West Lothian. This estate, named Dundas, Waldeve, between the years 1166 and 1182, granted, by a charter which still exists, 'to Helias, son of Huctred, for half a knight's service;' and from this Helias, son of Huctred, the Dundas family trace their descent. For the next four hundred years, the family representatives of Dundas of Dundas do not take any conspicuous place in history. Their names appear, of course, in the Ragman Roll; in the fourteenth century they had a quarrel with the Abbot of Dunfermline, in which the churchman was-as churchmen in those days generally were-victorious; in the end of the next century, when James III. and his son took up arms against each other, the Dundas of that period espoused the cause of the king instead of that of the prince, with the consequence that before he could make his peace with the latter he had to yield up a valuable portion of his estate, in exchange for
which he received a gift of a barren little rock standing in the Firth of Forth, midway between the Queensferries, North and South. Within the present century, the fine estate of Dundas itself has passed out of the family possession; and, with the exception of their burial-place in the ruined aisles of the Carmelite monastery in South Queensferry, all that they now possess there is this little rocky island of Inchgarvie, 'now,' says Mr. Omond, desecrated by the 'piers of an enormous structure.' Why desecrated'? The enormous structure' is the marvellous Forth Bridge; and it takes a place on Inchgarvie which was for long nothing better than a vile resort of smugglers and other bandits of the sea. The Dundases did indeed build a little fortress on the rock, but it never was a place of any moment, Dundas Castle having been all along the principal residence of the old family.
It is not, however, with the Dundases of Dundas that we have now to do, but with the much more illustrious branch of the name known as the Dundases of Arniston. To trace the connexion of this branch with the parent stem we must go back to the middle of the sixteenth century, when George, the sixteenth laird of Dundas, was served heir to his father, March 11, 1554. This George was twice married, and it was to provide for the eldest son of his second wife that, in 1571, he bought the lands of Arniston in the neighbouring county of Midlothian. The son who thus became the progenitor of a distinguished race was James Dundas, his mother being Katherine, daughter of the third Lord Oliphant. Tradition at Dundas Castle,' says Mr. Omond, charges her with having damaged the family 'estate to obtain an inheritance for her son; while at 'Arniston her name has been handed down as that of a 'prudent dame, who had provided for her son from the savings of her pin-money' (p. 2). This thrifty lady's individuality must have impressed itself strongly upon the traditions of the family, for at Arniston House there is still a Venice glass, said to have been Katie Oliphant's wineglass, of which the legend is narrated that its breakage would be followed by dire misfortune in the family. She and her husband soon added other lands to those that originally formed the Arniston property; and their son James, after his succession to Arniston, continued the purchases of land commenced by his father and mother. In this way, Arniston become shortly a very considerable landed possession.
James Dundas, the first of Arniston, was born in 1570,
and educated at the University of St. Andrews. He was afterwards appointed Governor of Berwick, and he received from James VI. the further honour of knighthood.
'Sir James Dundas was a zealous agriculturist, at a time when the poverty of the country and its backward condition raised obstacles to improvement greater than can now be conceived. Runrig and tenancy in common, vexatious servitudes, the absence of roads and facilities for carriage, the miserable condition of live stock, arising from the want of winter food, and the wretchedness of the accommodation for both man and beast, were but a few of the difficulties with which an improver in the sixteenth century had to contend.' (P. 8.)
The above, and some details of his estate management, are almost all that Mr. Omond tells us of the first Sir James Dundas of Arniston. But as the politics-which in the sixteenth century inevitably included the religion-of our leading Scottish families is always of interest to the historical student of that period, we should have liked if some light had been thrown upon Sir James's politics in his earlier years. This question is here raised in allusion to a trial, to which Mr. Omond makes no reference, and in which Sir James figured as the party prosecuted. The trial, which is given by Pitcairn (vol. ii. p. 67), is curious partly for the light which it throws upon the relations of the lesser nobility to the higher barons, and partly for the connexion which it has with the Earl of Angus, one of the three great popish lords' of the period. The offence for which Sir James was placed at the bar was in itself a trifling one. In 1593, an Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament 'anent the wearing of hackbutts and pistoletts,' in which it was stated that former ordinances on the subject had been disregarded, 'wherethrough vile murders and frequent slaughters' had been committed. The readiness, indeed, with which this comparatively new weapon could be used, and was used, in Scotland at that time had given much trouble to those responsible for the public peace. Besides, as that sneering cripple, Sir Mungo Malagrowther, puts it, King James himself had a special ill will at all arms whatsoever, and more especially pistols.' Hence it was now ordained that all persons were liable to be searched by the officers of his majesty's guard, and if found to be carrying such weapons without sufficient authority were to be apprehended. Sir James Dundas of Arniston was one of the persons so apprehended; and in December 1598 he was placed at the bar of the High Court charged with the unlawful bearing and wearing of pistoletts.' He admitted having had these arms