On March 17th, 1815, we hear from another correspondent of the renewed firing of the Castle guns at Edinburgh, this time to announce the arrival from America of the ratification of Peace with the United States. “We only regret this had not been settled before the disastrous affair at New Orleans where we have lost so many brave men and able generals, but such are the horrors of war.” Just as this peace came in America renewed war broke out in Europe. “That monster Bonaparte a fortnight since landed and raised the standard of rebellion in the south of France. The accounts from there are very contradictory.” On March 22nd the news seems better. “Troops are assembling in defence of France and the traitor does not seem to have any adherents, so we would fain hope all may go well.” The writer, a Miss Beck, sends, for the amusement of Murray Bay, the book “Guy Mannering,” which is “in very high repute ... the author unknown, but very generally thought to be Walter Scott, the Poet.”
The hope that all would go well in regard to Bonaparte was soon dissipated. Ker wrote on April 10th, 1815, a bitter letter:
We were flattering ourselves with being at Peace with the whole world when like a thunderbolt, the tremendous news of the monster Buonaparte’s Escape from Elba, his landing and rapid progress through France, and the second Expulsion of the unhappy Bourbons burst upon us!... We have the immediate prospect of being involved in a bloody and interminable war, the consequences of which no man can foretell. The French army, Marshalls, and Generals have covered themselves with indelible Disgrace and shewn themselves, what I always thought them, the most perfidious and perjured traitors and miscreants that the world ever produced, and the rest of the French Nation are a set of the most unprincipled Knaves and Cowards that ever were recorded in history. I trust however that their punishment is at hand and that the Almighty will speedily hurl vengeance on their guilty heads. Among other evils, a new tax on Property, with additions, is said to be in immediate contemplation and God knows how we shall bear all the accumulating Burdens to which this Country must be subjected.
Just at this time came old Malcolm Fraser’s end. At the age of 82 he died on June 17th, 1815, the day before the battle of Waterloo. He had entered the army in 1757 and apparently was still serving in the Canadian militia at the time of his death so that his military career covered well nigh sixty years. One instruction given in his will is characteristic; it is that his body might “be committed to the earth or water, as it may happen, and with as little ceremony and expense as may be consistent with decency.” His removal was a heavy blow to the family at the Manor House. It was Christine who kept most in touch with the outside world and to her the letters of the period are nearly all addressed. They contained the gossip of Quebec,—how in December,