The brother of this unfortunate man was the chief of the family of their name in the Highlands, and had obtained the highest degree of reputation by his zealous and effectual endeavours to civilize the manners of his countrymen.
Dr. Cameron, being intended by his father for the profession of the law, was sent to Glasgow; where he continued his studies some years; but, having an attachment to the practice of physic, he entered in the university of Edinburgh; whence he went to Paris, and then completed his studies at Leyden in Holland.
Though well qualified to have cut a respectable figure in any capital city, yet he chose to reside for life near his native place; and, having returned to the Highlands, he married, and settled in the small town * of Lochaber; where, though his practice was small, his generous conduct rendered him the delight and the blessing of the neighbourhood. His wife bore him seven children, and was pregnant of the eighth at the unfortunate period of his death.
While Dr. Cameron was living happy in the domestic way, the rebellion broke out, and laid the foundation of the ruin of himself and his family. The Pretender having landed, went to the house of Mr M'Donald, and sent for the doctor's brother, who went to him, and did all in his power to dissuade him from an undertaking from which nothing but ruin could ensue.
The elder Mr Cameron having previously promised to bring all his clan in aid of the Pretender, the latter upbraided him with an intention of breaking his promise; which so affected the generous spirit of the Highlander, that he immediately went and took leave of his wife, and gave orders for his vassals, to the number of near twelve hundred, to have recourse to arms.
This being done, he sent for his brother, to attend him as a physician; but the doctor urged every argument against so rash an undertaking; from which he even besought him on his knees to desist. The brother would not be denied; and the doctor at length agreed to attend him as a physician, though he absolutely refused to accept any commission in the rebel army.
This unhappy gentleman was distinguished by his humanity; and gave the readiest assistance, by night or day, to any wounded men of the royal army, who were made prisoners by the rebels. His brother being wounded in the leg at the battle of Falkirk, he attended him with the kindest assiduity, till himself was likewise slightly wounded.
Dr. Cameron exhibited repeated instances of his humanity; but when the battle of Culloden gave a decisive stroke to the hopes of the rebels, he and his brother escaped to the western islands, whence they sailed to France, in a vessel belonging to that kingdom.
The doctor was appointed physician to a French regiment, of which his brother obtained the command; but the latter dying at the end of two years, the doctor became physician to Ogilvie's regiment, then in Flanders.
A subscription being set on foot, in England and Scotland, in the year 1750, for the relief of those persons who had been attainted, and escaped into foreign countries; the doctor came into England to receive the money for his unfortunate fellow sufferers. At the end of two years another subscription was opened; when the doctor, whose pay was inadequate to the support of his numerous family, came once more to this country, and having written a number of urgent letters to his friends, it was rumoured that he was returned.
Hereupon, a detachment from Lord George Beauclerk's regiment was sent in search of him, and he was taken in the following manner: -- Captain Graves, with thirty soldiers, going towards the place where it was presumed he was concealed, saw a little girl at the extremity of a village, who, on their approach, fled towards another village. She was pursued by a servant and two soldiers, who could only come near enough to observe her whispering to a boy, who seemed to have been placed for the purpose of conveying intelligence.
Unable to overtake the boy, they presented their guns at him; on which he fell on his knees, and begged his life; which they promised, on the condition that he would shew them the place where Dr. Cameron was concealed.
Hereupon the boy pointed to the house where he was, which the soldiers surrounded, and took him prisoner. Being sent to Edinburgh, he was thence conducted to London, and committed to the Tower.
While in this confinement, he was denied the use of pen, ink, and paper, and was not suffered to speak to his friends but when the warder was present. On his examination before the lords of the privy-council, he denied that he was the same Dr. Cameron whose name had been mentioned in the act of attainder; which made it necessary to procure living evidence to prove his identity.
Being brought to the bar of the court of king's-bench on the 17th of May, he was arraigned on the act of attainder, when, declining to give the court any farther trouble, he acknowledged that he was the person who had been attainted: on which the lord chief justice Lee pronounced sentence in the following terms: "You, Archibald Cameron, of Lochiel, in that part of Great Britain called Scotland, must be removed from hence to his majesty's prison of the Tower of London, from whence you came, and on Thursday, the 7th of June next, your body to be drawn on a sledge to the place of execution; there to be hanged, but not till you are dead; your bowels, to be taken out, your body quartered, your head cut off, and affixed at the king's disposal; and the Lord have mercy on your soul!"
After his commitment to the Tower, he begged to see his wife, who was then at Lisle in Flanders; and, on her arrival, the meeting between them was inexpressibly affecting. The unhappy lady wept incessantly, on reflecting on the fate of her husband, herself, and numerous family.
Coming to take her final leave of him on the morning of execution she was so agitated by her contending passions, that she was attacked by repeated fits; and, a few days after the death of her unfortunate husband, she became totally deprived of her senses.
On the 7th of June, the sheriffs went to the Tower, and demanded the body of Dr. Archibald Cameron, who was accordingly brought to them by William Ranford, Esq. the deputy-lieutenant.
As soon as he was seated on the sledge, whereon he was to be drawn to the place of execution, he requested to speak to his wife, but being informed that she had left the Tower, after taking leave of him, at eight o'clock, he replied, he was sorry for it; upon which the sledge moved towards Tyburn, among a great number of spectators, who all pitied his situation.
The doctor was dressed in a light-coloured coat, red waistcoat and breeches, and a new bag-wig. He looked much at the spectators in the houses and balconies, as well as at those in the streets, and bowed to several persons with whom he had been acquainted.
At a quarter past twelve the solemn procession reached the place of execution, where he looked on the officers and spectators, with an undaunted and composed countenance; and as soon as unloosed from the sledge, he started up, and with a heroic deportment, stept up into the cart, whence looking round with unconcern on all the apparatus of death, he smiled. Seeing the clergyman, that had before attended him, coming up the steps, he came forward to meet him, and endeavoured, with his fettered hands, to help him up, saying, "So, you are come: -- this is a glorious day to me! -- 'tis my new birthday! -- there are more witnesses at this birth than at my first"
The clergyman being now at the side of the cart, asked "how he felt himself;" he answered, "thank God, I am very well, but a little fatigued with my journey: but, blessed be God, I am now come to the end of it."
The sheriff asked the clergyman, whether he would be long about his office, Dr. Cameron immediately took the words, and said, he required but very little time; for it was disagreeable to be there, and he was as impatient to be gone as they were.
This truly unfortunate man then told the sheriff, he would no longer presume upon his patience; but the sheriff, with looks that shewed a great deal of concern, begged he would take as much time as he pleased, for he would wait until he was ready. The doctor thanked him. He turned to the clergy man, and said, "I have now done with this world, and am ready to leave it."
He now joined him in some short prayers, and repeated some ejaculations out of the Psalms; then embraced the clergyman and took his farewell.
As the divine was going down from the cart, he had nearly missed the steps, which the doctor observing, called to him in a cheerful tone of voice, saying, "Take care how you go; I think you don't know this way as well as I do;" and now, giving the signal, the cart drew from under him.
The body, after hanging twenty minutes, was cut down: it was not quartered; but the heart was taken out and burnt. On the following Sunday, the remains of Dr. Cameron were interred in a large vault in the Savoy chapel.