Speech of Lord Balmerino, August 18, 1746
On August 18, 1746, Arthur, sixth Lord Balmerino, was executed at the orders of the Elector Georg II of Hanover. Before his execution he gave the following speech.
A printed version of the text can be found on pages 54 to 56 of volume 1 of The Lyon in Mourning, edited by Henry Paton (Edinburgh: Scottish Historical Society, 1895).
I was brought up in true loyal Anti-revolution principles, and I hope the world is convinced that they stick to me.
I must acknowledge I did a very inconsiderate thing, for which I am heartily sorry, in accepting of a company of foot from the Princess Anne, who I knew had no more right to the crown than her predecessor the Prince of Orange, whom I always look upon as a vile, unnatural usurper.
To make amends for what I had done I joined the King when he was in Scotland, and when all was over I made my escape and lived abroad till the year 1734.
In the beginning of that year I got a letter from my father which very much surprised me. It was to let me know that he had got the promise of a remission for me. I did not know what to do. I was then, I think, in the Canton of Bern and had nobody to advise with. But next morning I wrote a letter to the King, who was then at Rome, to acquaint His Majesty that this was done without my asking or knowledge, and that I would not accept of without His Majesty's consent. I had in answer to mine a letter written with the King's own hand allowing me to go home, and he told me his banker would give me money for my travelling charges when I came to Paris, which accordingly I got.
When His Royal Highness came to Edinburgh, as it was my bounden and indispensible duty, I joined him, though I might easily have excused myself from taking arms on account of my age. But I never could have had peace of conscience if I had stayed at home when that brave Prince was exposing himself to all manner of dangers and fatigue both night and day.
I am at a loss when I come to speak of the Prince; I am not a fit hand to draw his character. I shall leave that to others. But I must beg leave to tell you the incomparable sweetness of his nature, his affability, his compassion, his justice, his temperance, his patience, and his courage are virtues seldom all to be found in one person. In short, he wants no qualifications requisite to make a great man.
Pardon me, if I say, wherever I had the command I never suffered any disorders to be committed, as will appear by the Duke of Buccleuch's servants at East Park, by the Earl of Findlater's minister, Mr Lato, and my Lord's servants at Cullen, by Mr Rose, minister at Nairn, who was pleased to favour me with a visit when I was a prisoner in Inverness, by Mr Stewart, principal servant to the Lord President at the house of Culloden, and by several other people. All this gives me great pleasure now that I am looking on the block on which I am ready to lay down my head. And though it had not been my own natural inclination to protect every body as far as lay in my power it would have been my interest so to do. For His Royal Highness abhorred all those who were capable of doing injustice to any of the King, his father's subjects, whatever opinion they were of.
I have heard since I came to this place that there has been a most wicked report spread and mentioned in several of the newspapers, that His Royal Highness, the Prince, before the Battle of Culloden, had given out in orders that no quarters should be given to the enemy. This is such an unchristian thing and so unlike that gallant Prince that nobody that knows him will believe it. It is very strange if there had been any such orders that neither the Earl of Kilmarnock, who was Colonel of the Regiment of Foot-guards, nor I, who was Colonel of the 2nd Troop of Life-guards, should never have heard anything of it, especially since we were both at the head-quarters the morning before the battle. I am convinced that it is a malicious report industriously spread to excuse themselves for the murders they were guilty of in calm blood after the battle.
Ever since my confinement in the Tower, when Major White and Mr Fowler did me the honour of a vist, their behaviour was always so kind and obliging to me that I cannot find words to express it. But I am sorry I cannot say the same thing of General Williamson. He has treated me barbarously, but not quite so ill as he did the Bishop of Rochester. I forgive him and all my enemies. Had it not been for Mr Gordon's advice I should have prayed for him as David does, Psalm 109.
I hope you will have the charity to believe I die in peace with all men, for yesterday I received the Holy Eucharist from the hands of a clergyman of the Church of England, in whose Communion I die as in union with the Episcopal Church of Scotland.
I shall conclude with a short prayer.
O Almighty God! I humbly beseech Thee to bless the King, the Prince, and Duke of York, and all the dutiful branches of the Royal Family! Endue them with thy Holy Spirit, enrich them with thy heavenly grace, prosper them with all happiness and bring them to thine everlasting kingdom! Finally I recommend to thy fatherly goodness all my benefactors and all the faithful adherents to the cause for which I am now about to suffer. God reward them! Make them happy here and in the world to come! This I beg for Christ's sake, in whose words, etc. Our Father, etc.
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