SCOTLAND FROM THE ACCESSION OF CHARLES I TO THE RESTORATION.
By P. HUME BROWN, LL.D., Professor of Ancient (Scottish) History and Palaeography, Edinburgh.
Policy of James VI . 486
Tendencies of the government of Charles I . 488
The Act of Revocation . 489
Policy of the Council towards the Roman Catholics . 490
Disorder in the Highlands and Borders . 491
Charles I in Scotland . 492
Trial of Lord Balmerino . 493
The Book of Canons . 494
"Laud's Liturgy." The tumult in St Giles . 495
National protest against the Liturgy . 496
The National Covenant . 497
Mission of the Duke of Hamilton . 498
The King's Covenant . 499
General Assembly at Glasgow .500
The Glasgow Assembly abolishes Episcopacy . 501
The First Bishops' War. Pacification of Berwick . 502
Meeting of General Assembly and of the Estates . 503
The Second Bishops' War . 504
Charles in Scotland . 505
The Solemn League and Covenant . 506
The Scottish army in England. The "Engagement" .507
Cromwell in Edinburgh. The Act of Classes . 508
Charles II proclaimed King of Scots . 509
Remonstrants and Resolutioners. Dunbar and Worcester .510
Scotland under the Commonwealth and Protectorate . 511
The issues between the Crown and the nation . 512
SCOTLAND FROM THE ACCESSION OF CHARLES I TO THE RESTORATION.
BEFORE the accession of Charles I Scotland had already had experience of an absentee King; in the twenty-two years during which James ruled the two kingdoms he had but once visited his native country, and his visit had extended to less than eleven weeks. But in the case of James there always remained the closest relation between himself and his northern subjects. Of none of their Kings had the Scots a more vivid impression than of the son of Mary Stewart-an impression partly due to his personal idiosyncrasies, and partly to the peculiar circumstances of his reign. As the result of the Reformation, a national consciousness had been awakened which had quickened the popular interest in all the actions of the Government to a degree unknown at any previous period. Nor had any former King of Scots shown such a direct and persistent interest in every question that bore however remotely on the relations of the Crown to the subject. Thus it was that James and his Scottish people had come to a mutual understanding of each other's character and affinities which his long absence could not wholly efface. It was James1 boast that he "knew the stomach" of his Scottish subjects, and his subjects had an equal knowledge of his own. In the case of his son it was wholly different. As we follow the events of Charles' reign, we have a difficulty in deciding whether King or people most completely misunderstood each other. Of the peculiarities of the Scottish intellect and temper, of the general conditions of the country which were the net result of its previous history, Charles to the last showed hardly a glimmering of knowledge, or even of appreciation. On the other hand, the Scots showed an equal inability to understand the character and motives and ends of a King whose ideals and methods of government seemed to them expressly directed against their national traditions and aspirations. In time they came to form a definite conception of him as their prince ; but the man Charles remained to them a mystery to the end.
The Scottish Constitution, as Charles had inherited it from his father, made him virtually an absolute monarch. By a simple and effective process James had converted Parliament into a " baron court.1' As the business of the Scottish Parliament was arranged, it was directed and controlled by the "Lords of the Articles,1" and since their origin the election of these officials had been a ground of contention between the Crown and the Estates. The persistency and astuteness of James secured their election by the Crown, with the result that Parliament in all matters of high policy became the simple instrument of his will. From the date of his migration to England, indeed, it was not through Parliament but through his Privy Council that he governed Scotland, and of the one he was as uncontrolled master as he was of the other. In previous reigns the members of the Council had been chosen partly by the Estates and partly by the King ; but, favoured by peculiar circumstances, James had succeeded in acquiring the sole privilege of nominating every member of the body. It was no vain boast, therefore, when James addressed his English Parliament in these words :-" This I must say for Scotland, and may truly vaunt it : here I sit and govern it with my pen ; I write and it is done ; and by a Clerk of the Council I govern Scotland now-which others could not do by the sword."
In the Church James had made himself as supreme as in the State. It was mainly by the exercise of the royal authority that he had imposed Episcopacy on the country ; for no collective expression of the national will had demanded it ; and, as the new ecclesiastical system was constituted, it completed his conception of an ideal State. He nominated the Bishops on the same grounds as he nominated the Privy Councillors and the Lords of the Articles-the agreement of their views with his own on all questions that concerned the royal prerogative. But before the close of his reign James had been significantly reminded that there was a limit to his interference with the national conscience. He had successfully substituted the Episcopal for the Presbyterian form of Church government ; but when, by the Five Articles of Perth, he sought to introduce novel rites and ceremonies (kneeling at Communion, Private Communion in cases of necessity, Private Baptism in like cases, the observance of the great annual festivals of the Christian Church, and Confirmation by the Bishops), he was warned alike by his ecclesiastical advisers and by the feeling of the nation that he was venturing on a dangerous way. Emboldened by his triumph over previous opposition, however, James through dexterous management procured the sanction of the Articles by both General Assembly and Parliament. But the double sanction commended them none the more to the nation. "And for our Church matters," wrote Archbishop Spottiswoode, who had from the first been James1 most trusted adviser in Church aflairs, " they are gone unless another course be taken.11 It was the heritage of these Five Articles that committed Charles to the policy which in his eyes was a Divine mission, but
The period from the accession of Charles in 1625 till his coronation in the Chapel of Holyrood in 1633 was exempt from those civil commotions that were to give the remainder of his reign its disastrous distinction in the national history. Yet in Scotland as in England these years saw unmistakable symptoms of the future revolt that was to cleave both kingdoms in twain. During these eight years the train was effectually laid for that breach between Charles and his Scottish subjects which involved the National Covenant, the Solemn League and Covenant, and the collapse of the royal authority for a space of more than twenty years. It was through the joint action of the people and the nobility that these results were accomplished, and it was by Charles1 policy during the opening years of his reign that the alliance between these two classes of his subjects was prepared. By an unhappy coincidence Charles at one and the same time alienated both his Scottish commons and nobility.
The prime concern of the people at large was the maintenance of that form of Protestantism which was their inheritance from the Reformation, and since Scottish Protestantism had come to birth it had been haunted by one constant dread-dread of Roman Catholicism, with which Scotland had yet more completely broken than any other country. But by the first acts of his reign Charles raised suspicions of the soundness of his Protestantism among his Scottish subjects, which were never allayed and rendered a mutual understanding impossible. His marriage with the Catholic Henrietta Maria, unpopular in England, was incomprehensible to Scottish Protestants, to whom any compromise with Rome was at once a menace to their faith and the abandonment of a fundamental principle. Charles1 attitude towards the Five Articles of Perth (always regarded as a papistical backsliding) gave further ground for alarm regarding his future ecclesiastical policy. While he waived them in favour of such ministers as had taken Orders before their enactment, he made it distinctly understood that the Articles were henceforward to be the indisputable law of the Church. As yet the wide-spread discontent with these actions of the King could not express itself in open revolt; but by frequent meetings (prohibited by law), ministers and congregations mutually encouraged their fears and fostered the spirit which was to produce the Covenants.
Along other lines of his policy Charles equally alienated his nobles, by whose support, it is to be noted, his father had been enabled to give effect to his innovations in Church and State. Even under James the nobility had shown signs of restiveness at the status and authority that had been conferred on the Bishops. It was speedily seen, however, that Charles meant to go beyond his father in the bestowal of place and power on ecclesiastics. In reconstituting the Privy Council in 1626 he
But it was another action of Charles, that, apart from purely religious motives, determined the Scottish nobles in joining the people in their uprising against his general policy. In this action, also, they saw only a deliberate purpose to weaken their order and to deprive them of their ancient standing in the country. In the first year of his reign Charles announced his intention of revoking all grants of Church and Crown lands since the beginning of the reign of Mary. Such an Act of Revocation was no new thing in Scotland ; but previous revocations had been restricted to grants that had been made during each King's minority. There was hardly a family of consequence that would not in more or less degree be injuriously affected alike in its possessions and standing by the operation of Charles' measure. The nobles would be the main sufferers by the transactions, but the burghs, the Bishops, and even the lower clergy, all of whom had profited at one time or other by grants of Church lands, regarded the sweeping revocation with grave alarm.
In revoking the Church lands Charles might be accused of a highhanded action, taken mainly in the interest of the Crown ; but conjoined with this measure there was another proposal which was undoubtedly in the public interest, and which Charles held out as the great inducement to the acceptance of his scheme. Besides the Church lands which had been so lavishly bestowed by the Crown, there had been equally lavish grants of the teinds or tithes, which had formed a substantial proportion of the revenue of the pre-Reformation Church. As these teinds had been promiscuously granted to persons other than the owners of the lands on which they were levied, the consequence had been equally disastrous to landowners and clergy. It was the intolerable grievance of the former that they could not remove their crops, exposed to all the changes of weather, till the " titular of the tithes," as he was called, had laid his hands on the proportion that accrued to him, while the clergy complained that they received only a fraction of the teinds, which by right should have been their exclusive property. Charles' proposal for remedying these evils was simple and effective : every landholder or heritor was to have the privilege, if he chose to use it, of purchasing his own teinds from the titulars. Alluring as this inducement must have been to many of his subjects, it was in defiance of opposition at every step that
Charles gave effect to his revolutionary measure. At length, in a Convention of the Estates which met in 1629, Charles definitely announced the arrangements he had adopted in the case of the Church lands and the teinds alike. For the revoked lands the Crown was to indemnify their owners at the rate of ten years' purchase-nine years' purchase being fixed as the heritable value of the teinds. As the future was to show, the Act of Revocation was at once an economical and a political fact of the first importance. In the end it placed the stipends of the clergy on a secure basis-a happy arrangement which had been unknown since the Reformation. From the political consequences of the Act Charles was himself to be the chief sufferer. By the nobility in general it was regarded as a deliberate assault on their order ; and their resentment was in proportion to the sense of their diminished wealth and authority. According to the contemporary chronicler, Sir James Balfour, Lyon King-of-Arms, the Act of Revocation was " the ground-stone of all the mischief that followed after, both to this King's government and family." The statement is doubtless an exaggeration ; but by slighting his nobles in favour of ecclesiastics, and by reducing their estates and overriding their privileges, Charles had supplied their order with potent motives to hold a reckoning with the royal authority when the opportunity should come.
During the interval of eight years between Charles' accession and his first visit to Scotland in 1633 it was through his Privy Council that he had directed the affairs of the country alike in Church and State. As it was at once a legislative, an executive, and a judicial body, every interest of the subject came more or less directly under its cognisance ; but it is in two directions of its activity during the period prior to Charles' visit that we find an immediate and significant bearing on the momentous events that were to follow. Throughout the whole period there was one matter which beyond all others preoccupied the Council-the extirpation of Roman Catholicism throughout the length and breadth of the kingdom. Not a year passed without the proclamation of penal laws against the Catholics as a body, and without an active prosecution of prominent individuals. In 1629 the action of the Council culminated in a measure meant once for all to cleanse the country of the dreaded pest. Commissioners were appointed for every part of the kingdom with express powers to seize " all and sundry Jesuits, seminary and mass priests, and excommunicated rebellious papists," as well as all persons "going in pilgrimage to chapels and wells." The motive for this furious proceeding was not merely religious zeal but the general conviction that the numbers and influence of Catholics in the country were a serious menace to the stability of the kingdom. In the subsequent national revolt against the ecclesiastical policy of Charles it was this dread of a Catholic reaction that influenced the mind of all classes beyond every other motive. The National Covenant was a national bond of defence and
Next to the extirpation of Popery the business which most continuously occupied the Council was the maintenance of law and order in the Highlands, Islands, and Borders. By its own admission the Council signally failed in this object. During the last years of James' reign these districts had been reduced to a state of tranquillity and order such as had been unknown at any previous period ; but his son, engrossed in the affairs of his southern kingdom, had neither leisure nor inclination to pay the same attention to these " peccant parts " of the country. From the beginning of his reign, therefore, there had been a gradual slackening of discipline equally on the Borders and in the Highlands. Due allowance must always be made for the exaggerated language of statutes, but, after every legitimate reserve, the following sentence from a proclamation denouncing the Marquis of Huntly and a long list of other persons, reveals a state of things little short of anarchy. " Disorders are grown to that height that almost nowhere in the North Country can any of his Majesty's subjects promise safety to their persons or means, the breach of his Majesty's peace in these parts being so universal and fearful as the very burghs and towns themselves are in continual danger and fear of some sudden surprise by fire or otherwise from these broken men." The impotence of the Council in the discharge of its most important function had at once a general and a particular result in the impending contest between the Crown and the people. An impression grew that Charles' government was directed by a hand less firm than his father's, and the anarchy of the Highlands prepared a field for the future exploits of Montrose.
Almost every year from his succession Charles had given a promise that he would visit Scotland to receive his crown ; but at length, after eight years, he crossed the Border and entered his northern capital on June 15, 1633. The central and public event of his visit was to be his coronation in the Chapel of Holyrood ; but, as Parliament had been specially summoned to meet during his sojourn, it was well understood that business would be transacted of the first importance for the country. As the affairs of the Church had been the engrossing matter of public interest both in his own and his father's reign, the momentous question of the hour was how he would declare himself with regard to the Five Articles of Perth which had been tormenting the consciences of so large a proportion of his people. By the time his visit was completed, every doubt was removed regarding Charles' future ecclesiastical policy. By his own overt actions and by the measures he imposed on his Parliament, he definitely declared his intention to carry his father's policy to its legitimate conclusion. In the ceremony of the coronation the rites of the Church of England were ostentatiously followed. To the horror of such Presbyterians as the historian John Row, the officiating
Bishops appeared in full Anglican costume ; there were candles, the semblance of an altar, and a crucifix before which the Bishops bowed as they passed. In the church of St Giles on the following Sunday two English chaplains, we are told by the same historian, " acted their English service "-the service being immediately followed by a noisy banquet in a neighbouring mansion.
Long before Charles' coming, steps had been taken to man the Parliament with persons who would record their votes as desired. James VI, if he had not invented the method by which this process was accomplished, had at least greatly improved it. The process was a simple and effective one ; in the case of the commissioners for the burghs the Privy Council brought convincing pressure to bear on the electing magistrates, who were dismissible at its pleasure ; and the sheriffs of the counties, appointed by the Crown, did a similar service in the election of the representatives of the lesser barons. But, as the business of the House was conducted, such precautions were hardly necessary. As has already been said, the direction and control of such measures as were proposed was entirely in the hands of the Lords of the Articles. The method of passing bills into law had likewise been perfected in the previous reign : the Lords of the Articles drafted the bills, and, without any special debate on each, the vote was taken on them in the mass. The success of this ingenious arrangement depended solely on the Lords of the Articles, and James had made sure of the satisfactory action of these officials. The Lords of the Articles were twenty-four in number, eight being chosen to represent each of the three Estates, the greater barons, the Bishops, and the lesser barons and burgesses. In reigns previous to that of James, when the powers of the Crown and the Parliament were more equally balanced, it had been the rule that each Estate should choose its own Lords of the Articles, but in his persistent extension of the prerogative James had set this rule aside along with so many others. As the arrangement for their election was settled by James and followed by Charles, the nobles chose eight Lords from the Bishops (all, be it noted, the King's nominees), the eight Bishops chose eight from the nobles, and the sixteen together chose eight from the lesser barons and burgesses. Thus the Bishops virtually elected the whole body of the Lords of the Articles, and Parliament was thereby reduced to the footing of a " baron court."
Among the Acts passed by the Parliament in the manner described, two only were of pre-eminent importance for the future development of the reign. By the one all the Acts of James VI touching religion- that enforcing the Five Articles of Perth among them-were approved and sanctioned ; by the other it was ordained that during Divine service and sermon Bishops were to array themselves in " whites," and the inferior clergy in surplices. In spite of all the precautions taken to secure a unanimous vote the House gave emphatic proof that it was
It was speedily made plain that the opposition to his policy had made no impression on the mind of Charles. The place and power assigned to the Bishops was, as he must have known, equally distasteful to the nobility and to his subjects in general ; yet, in the September following his departure, he added to their number by creating a diocese of Edinburgh, a diocese unknown to the pre-Reformation Church. In October he sent down prescriptions regarding the apparel of the clergy, and in the same month gave orders that the English liturgy should be used in the Chapel Royal in Holyrood and in the University of St Andrews, the abode of the metropolitan, Spottiswoode. In October, 1634, he revived the Court of High Commission, which had been created by his father for the punishment of ecclesiastical offences, enlarging its powers to an extent that made it a veritable Inquisition. The appointment (January, 1635) of Spottiswoode to the Lord Chancellorship, an office which had not been held by an ecclesiastic since the Reformation, was a further plain hint to the nobles that they were to give place to the Bishops in State as well as in Church. The proceedings in the famous trial of Lord Balmerino afforded a striking example of the extent to which Charles was prepared to strain the prerogative. The nobles, defeated in their protest during the late meeting of the Estates, had subsequently drawn up a remonstrance which Charles refused to receive. A copy of the document, with mitigating alterations in Balmerino's hand, came into the possession of Spottiswoode, who, contrary to his usual moderate policy, sent it to Charles and urged that Balmerino should be called to account. For more than a year (1634-5) the trial was allowed to drag on, and on grounds so specious and flimsy that loyalists so dissimilar as Laud and Drummond of Hawthornden denounced its folly and injustice. By a majority of one the judges found him guilty; but by the advice of Laud Charles eventually granted him a conditional pardon. Yet, as affairs now stood in the country, the pardon was of as evil effect as the trial itself. The injustice of the proceedings had roused the indignation of all classes, and especially of the nobles who had seen their own order menaced in the
The actual breach between Charles and his subjects came in the year 1636 ; and the Act by which it was effected was, in the opinion of Charles' own best friends, one of the most fatuous in the history of his reign. Throughout all the ecclesiastical changes under James VI, Knox' Book of Common Order and the Second Book of Discipline had held their place as containing the authoritative declaration of the polity and ritual of the Church. In point of fact, however, neither of these formularies was applicable to the Church as it now existed under the sanction of the State, and a new formulary was needed to define its actual character and position. In the portentous Book of Canons, which had passed the Great Seal in May, 1635, Charles now announced to his Scottish subjects what was henceforth to be accepted as the polity and ritual of their national Church. The contents of the book, its origin, and the method by which it was imposed, equally offended all classes in the country. James VI in all his ecclesiastical innovations had studiously gone through the form of procuring the sanction of the General Assembly and the Estates, but solely by his own fiat Charles now imposed his Book of Canons on the country. Moreover, the implications of the book itself considerably transcended the limits of the authority which his father had ever claimed in civil and ecclesiastical affairs. James had never declared in so uncompromising a fashion his headship of the Church and his sovereignty in the State. In its prescription of rites and ceremonies it went so far beyond what had been known in Scotland since the Reformation, that it was universally held to be a papistical much more than a Protestant document. By a wanton defiance of public opinion, moreover, the book even commanded the acceptance of a Liturgy which had not yet appeared, and the contents of which were unknown except to certain of the Scottish Bishops who were in Charles' confidence. In Clarendon's words, the Canons " appeared to be so many new laws imposed upon the whole kingdom by the King's sole authority, and contrived by a few private men of whom they had no good opinion, and who were strangers to the nation ; so that it was thought no other than a subjection to England by receiving laws from thence, of which they were most jealous, and which they most passionately abhorred." Charles had, in fact, created a situation similar to that which Mary of Lorraine had created on the eve of the Reformation : he had effected a bond between patriotism and religious scruples ; and the result in each case was a revolution.
On December 20, 1636, the Privy Council, which as a body had no responsibility for the action, formally announced that the promised Liturgy would shortly appear, and that on its appearance it would be enforced as the only legal form of worship in the Scottish Church. Every minister was to procure two copies-an injunction which the Council
By the imposition of " Laud's Liturgy," as the book came to be popularly called, the issue was fairly joined between Charles and the Scottish people. As the future was to show, the gulf that divided them was one that could not be bridged. With a show of justice Charles could say that in all his actions he had but followed the precedent of his father ; for James had claimed and had all but made good his claim to be "supreme governor of this kingdom over all persons and in all causes,1' and, such being the extent of his prerogative, it seemed to his son but a cumbersome form to consult Parliament and General Assemblies. Yet the very disregard of consequences which characterised his action is the proof of the sincerity of his convictions. He had seen evidence not to be mistaken that the nobility as an order were now arrayed against him, while even among the Bishops it was only a minority of his own creation that cordially supported the Book of Canons and the new Liturgy. To every eye that could discern the signs of the times it was evident that only by an armed force could Charles maintain the ground he had taken ; but now as ever it seemed to him that the rage of a people against their prince was but a temporary madness with which they were stricken for their sins.
On July 23 the new Liturgy was introduced in the Church of St Giles, Edinburgh, in the presence of the Archbishop of St Andrews, the Lords of the Privy Council, and the Lords of Session. The historic tumult that ensued was the first open defiance of the royal authority, and proved to be the beginning of revolution. So defiant continued the opposition of the Edinburgh populace to the book that, in spite of the threats of Charles and his Council, it could not find a hearing in any church in the city ; and in every part of the country it encountered the same determined resistance. It was a crisis similar to that which had
Charles1 unbending attitude towards the demands of his discontented subjects only strengthened their worst suspicions regarding his ultimate intentions. In the minds of such of them as were influenced by religious motives no doubt was left that they stood face to face with the same enemy with whom their fathers had so often done battle in the past ; and it was naturally conceived that he should now be fought with the same weapons. In their struggles against the ancient religion, both in the reigns of Mary and James VI, the Protestants had entered into a bond or covenant, binding themselves to common action against all enemies of their faith, and such a covenant it was now proposed to renew as the most effectual means of consolidating the ranks of the petitioners and of giving unity to their action. The special form which the covenant assumed showed that their counsels were directed by men whose zeal did not outrun their prudence. The basis of the document was the Negative Confession, or King's Confession which had been drawn up in 1581 with the sanction of James VI, and the burden of which was denunciation of the religion of Rome. There was a double reason why this Confession should have been chosen in preference to that which had been submitted to the Estates by Knox and his fellow Reformers. Charles could not object to a document which his father had approved and subscribed; and, moreover, the petitioners themselves could not have agreed on a confession which precisely defined all the points of Protestant doctrine. The Negative Confession, however, did not stand alone ; the additions that formed an integral part of the National Covenant, as it came to be called, made it a revolutionary document. Following the Confession came a list of the Acts of Parliament which had confirmed it ; next an indictment of the recent innovations ; and finally, an oath for the defence of the Crown and the true religion. The enthusiasm with which the Covenant was received proved how completely it expressed the feeling of the hour. By every shire, by all the burghs except Aberdeen, St Andrews, and Crail, and by every Protestant noble with the exception of five, it was subscribed amid an exaltation of feeling to which there is no parallel in the national history. " Now," Archbishop Spottiswoode is said to have exclaimed on this unmistakable expression of the national will, " now all that we have been doing these thirty years past is thrown down at once " ; and the flight to England of himself and all the Bishops except four, who made " solemn recantations," proved that for the time the reign of Episcopacy was at an end.
From this moment the conviction was forced on both the opposing parties that the sword alone could decide the quarrel. As neither
Charles nor his subjects, however, were yet prepared for this final issue, for still another year fruitless attempts were made towards a mutual understanding. The demand of the Covenanters, to call them by the name they received from the supporters of the King, was now for a free Parliament and for a free General Assembly, which latter had not met for twenty years. In this demand the Covenanters were influenced by politic as well as religious considerations. As they well knew, they had in their late proceedings directly usurped the powers of the State, and had thus incurred the very charge they had brought against the King. It was accordingly their manifest policy to obtain the sanction of Parliament and the Assembly for all their past action ; and in the existing state of public opinion they could securely reckon on the support of both of these bodies. Since Charles was equally aware that both Parliament and Assembly would declare against his policy, his one endeavour was to postpone their meeting till he should again be in a position to control their action. The means he employed to effect his purpose had a temporary success, but in the end only aggravated the situation. Hitherto it had been through the Privy Council that he had held communications with his rebellious subjects ; but the Council was a divided body in which only the Bishops had cordially given him their support. Its one lay member, the Lord High Treasurer, the Earl of Traquair, who had sought to further the King's interests, and had been his principal agent, had failed to satisfy either Charles or the insurgents, and was equally suspected by both parties. As the most promising instrument to carry out the policy of delay, Charles made choice of James, Marquis of Hamilton, whom he despatched to Scotland (June, 1638) in the capacity of Royal Commissioner. Hamilton, who was to play such an ambiguous part in the long controversy, was in many respects admirably fitted to give effect to his master's temporary ends. As the premier peer of Scotland, and a near kinsman of the King, his rank made him a fitting representative of the Crown, while he was commended to the Covenanters by the fact that his mother was a devotee of their cause, and his sisters were married to Covenanting nobles. Though endowed with neither commanding ability nor force of character, he yet possessed the suppleness and tact which were precisely the qualities needed for the part he was charged to play. From the beginning both Hamilton and the Covenanters were fully aware of each other's real ends ; and they alike understood that any arrangement could only defer the final arbitrament. " I give you leave to flatter them [the Covenanters] with what hopes you please," wrote Charles to Hamilton shortly after his arrival in Scotland, " so you engage not me against my grounds, and in particular, that you consent neither to the calling of Parliament nor General Assembly till the Covenant be given up ; your chief end being now to save time, that they may not commit public follies until I be ready to suppress them." Hamilton played the game of marking time with sufficient skill, but
It was equally understood by Charles and by his insurgent subjects that the impending Assembly would not settle their quarrel. Already there had been indications on both sides that the final appeal must be to armed force. By the King's orders ammunition was brought to Leith for the garrison in the Castle of Edinburgh, but the ammunition was seized and the castle subjected to a virtual blockade. But, though the arbitrament of force might lie in the near future, it was a prime concern for either party that it should obtain the ascendancy in the impending Assembly. Under James VI the Assemblies had been sedulously packed with supporters of his own policy-a result which he was able to effect by his control over the Privy Council and the various public officials in town and country. Such powers, however, were no longer at the disposal of the Crown, and it was with inadequate success that Charles did his utmost to secure a majority in favour of his interests. On the other hand, in the machinery of the Tables, and especially of their central Table, the Covenanters possessed effectual means of securing fitting representatives which they did not hesitate to apply. Under the direction of the Tables the various Presbyteries throughout the country brought such pressure to bear on the elections that their result was a triumphant majority for the Covenant. In connexion with the membership of the Assembly there were two further questions on which the
The General Assembly which met in Glasgow on November 21,1638, has been compared in its character and issues to the French National Assembly of 1789; and, due allowance being made for difference of times, the comparison cannot be regarded as inapt. The Glasgow Assembly met in virtual defiance of the Crown ; though it was nominally a religious body, ninety-eight out of its two hundred and thirty-eight members were laymen, representing all classes in the community ; the Acts to which it gave its sanction affected the royal prerogative in its civil not less than in its ecclesiastical jurisdiction ; and, finally, its deliberations issued in a revolution which convulsed two kingdoms and effaced the powers of the Crown for a period of twenty-two years. And a further analogy might be found in the fate of certain of the personages who had now assembled in Glasgow at this crisis of the national destinies. Hamilton, who as Royal Commissioner presided over the Assembly ; the Earl of Argyll, subsequently " the Great Marquis," who now decisively took his side in the cause of which he was to be the astutest champion, but which all his sagacity could not save from eventual ruin ; Johnston of Warriston, the Clerk of the Assembly, who was the Covenant incarnate and whose legal knowledge made him an indispensable agent in every transaction in which the Covenant was concerned; Montrose, who reminds us of
Lafayette by his picturesque personality and by his subsequent desertion of the party of which he was now one of the extreme champions; Sir Robert Spottiswoode, President of the Court of Session, like his father the Archbishop a faithful supporter of his royal master-all were sooner or later to perish by the hands of the common executioner.
In the minds of all parties the proceedings of the Assembly were a foregone conclusion, and both the Commissioner and his opponents had arranged their general plan of action. On November 28, a week after the Assembly had met, the anticipated crisis came. The great stroke which the Covenanters had ever contemplated was the indictment of the Bishops, and the consequent extinction of their order. Aware of this intention, Charles had prepared a counter-stroke which was the only alternative at his disposal. In accordance with his instructions the Bishops refused to recognise the legality of the Assembly and to appear before the tribunal. The Assembly replied that it was a legally constituted body duly summoned by his Majesty, and had an inherent right to sit in judgment on the Bishops. This was the issue for which the Commissioner had been duly prepared, and in the name of the King he formally dissolved the Assembly and forbade its continuing in session under pain of treason. To have obeyed this command would have been to stultify all the proceedings of the last year and a half; and, three or four members only dissenting, the Assembly resolved to carry to its logical issues the work which it had taken in hand. Before it rose on December 20 it had effectually completed its task. In a series of sweeping measures it abolished Episcopacy and the Court of High Commission, abrogated the Book of Canons, the new Liturgy, and the Five Articles of Perth, and, in fine, demolished the entire ecclesiastical edifice which had been reared by Charles and his father. With equal enthusiasm it completed the work of reconstruction, and restored by one comprehensive Act the whole machinery of Presbyterianism with its Kirk Sessions, Presbyteries, Synods, and General Assemblies, further enacting that schools should be erected in every landward parish and maintained at the expense of its inhabitants. " We have now cast down the walls of Jericho," said the Moderator, Alexander Henderson, in his closing words to the Assembly. " Let him that rebuildeth them beware of the curse of Kiel, the Bethelite." The future was to supply but an ambiguous commentary on Henderson's application of the sacred text.
There were now two rival powers in the kingdom, and only the sword, as it seemed, could decide between them. It was with a mutual understanding, therefore, that Charles and the Covenanters made their respective preparations for the inevitable trial of strength. Charles1 hope was to overawe his revolted subjects with a force that might render bloodshed unnecessary. By his extensive plan of invasion two contingents from Ireland were to effect a landing on the west coast ; another force was to cooperate with Huntly in the north ; a fleet was to
During the negotiations at Berwick Charles had announced his intention of making a progress through the kingdom and of being present in the General Assembly that had been arranged to meet in Edinburgh on August 12. Further thought convinced him, however, that nothing would be gained by his appearance in the coming Assembly ; and he found a convenient pretext for withdrawing his promise. Traquair, the Lord Treasurer, was mobbed by the Edinburgh
The first Bishops1 War and the Pacification of Berwick had left the contending parties precisely where they were, and once more they were face to face with the alternative of civil conflict. Till the Acts against Episcopacy had received the royal sanction the Covenanters could only regard all their labours as lost, and Charles was more convinced than ever that only the display of superior force could break the will of his refractory people. Again on both sides preparations began for the apparently inevitable struggle. In the course of the first Bishops' War Charles had endeavoured, though unsuccessfully, to secure the services of a Spanish contingent, and, with the approval of Montrose, among others of their leaders, the Covenanters, with equal want of success, now appealed to France for assistance against their sovereign. But, as they fully realised, it was on their own resources that they must depend if they were to maintain the position which they refused to abandon. Without the royal sanction a meeting of Parliament was convened-the chief proceeding of which was to appoint a Committee of Estates for the conduct of the impending war. The appeal to the country for the
It was a significant commentary on the altered affairs of Charles, that in the second Bishops' War the Scots were the invading party. Throughout in close communication with the English Parliamentary leaders, the Covenanters were fully aware that their appearance south of the Tweed would be welcomed as a happy intervention in the interests of the English Commons. Crossing the Tweed on August 20, Leslie dispersed a force that opposed him at Newburn-on-Tyne, and, ten days after entering England, took up his quarters at Newcastle. Again, as at Dunse Law, the Scots submitted their demands to Charles, demands which involved the sanction of all the Acts of the Glasgow Assembly. With the force at his disposal, Charles had no alternative but to submit to negotiations ; and he agreed that Commissioners for this purpose should meet at Ripon on October 2-the Scots to receive £850 a day so long as the negotiations continued. But it was not at Ripon that the treaty was to be concluded. On November 3 the Long Parliament met, and the hopes and fears of Charles and all England were centred in its momentous proceedings-the abolition of the Star Chamber, of the Court of High Commission, and of the Council of the North, the death of Strafford, and the fall of Laud. Engrossed by these events of national importance, neither Charles nor his Parliament had leisure for the affairs of the Scots ; but the final arrangement made with them on August 10, 1641, was an adequate reward for the long delay. When they recrossed the border, it was with every demand conceded and with the sum of £200,000 as a compensation for all their losses and expenditure.
The recent proceedings of the Long Parliament had convinced Charles that he had more to hope from his Scottish than from his English subjects ; and, to the dismay both of the Covenanters and the English Parliamentary leaders, he now announced his intention of visiting his northern kingdom. The natural fear of the latter was that Charles by temporary concessions might persuade the Scots to make common cause with him against themselves ; and it was because of this apprehension that they commissioned two members of the House of Lords and four (Hampden among them) of the House of Commons, to attend upon him while he
When on August 14, 1641, Charles entered Edinburgh, he could thus reckon on a considerable body prepared to give him its material support if the opportunity should occur. But, as his actions proved, he had come with the intention, not of gaining over a mere party, but of winning the nation to his side. In the Parliament which was sitting on his arrival he sanctioned with even undue readiness the terms of the late treaty which abolished the ecclesiastical system established by his father and himself. " After a tough dispute " he likewise gave way on an all-important point, consenting that officers of State, Privy Councillors, and Lords of Session should be chosen "with the advice and approbation" of the Estates. These concessions doubtless gained new supporters for Charles, as with a show of reason it could be maintained that he had granted every demand which had been made on him. Between the King and the main body of the Covenanters, however, there was a fatal bar which no concessions could remove. That main body, headed by Argyll, was convinced that only the pressure of circumstances had constrained Charles to concede their demands, and that he was only biding his time to restore the régime which in his heart he desired as a man and as a King. One advantage, however, he had gained by his presence in Scotland : he had deepened the cleavage in the ranks of the Covenanting party, and the results were to be seen in the immediate future. The mysterious affair, known as the " Incident," a conspiracy on the part of the Plotters to remove Argyll and Hamilton, who had for the time identified himself with the Covenanters, issued in no definite result ; but it placed Argyll and Montrose with their respective followers in irreconcilable antagonism. When, on November 18, Charles returned to London, where the news of the Irish Rebellion demanded his presence, he left the main object of his visit unaccomplished, as before many months was to be fatefully brought home to him.
In the Civil War which broke out (1642) between Charles and his Parliament, the Covenanters knew that their own existence was at stake, and the two contending parties equally recognised that the Scots might have it in their power to decide the issue of their quarrel. It was with like eagerness, therefore, that both Charles and the English Parliament
On January 19, 1644, the Scottish army, raised for the support of the English Parliament, entered England, where for three years it was to remain. It appeared at a doubtful moment, and its first year's action in large degree determined the issue of the war. On July 2 it decisively contributed to the victory of Marston Moor ; and by the close of autumn, all England from the Humber to the Tweed was, largely through its services, secured to the Parliament. But from this moment, both in England and at home, may be dated the decline of the Covenant. Within the period between the autumn of 1644 and the autumn of 1645 Montrose's succession of victories in the cause of Charles ended in his disastrous defeat by David Leslie, at Philiphaugh. But it was the course of events in England that was eventually to work the ruin of the Covenanting party. The defeat of Charles at Naseby (June 14, 1645) rendered their further assistance unnecessary to the Parliament, and thenceforward they were regarded as an encumbrance to be got rid of with all convenient speed. Their dream of a Presbyterian England was now proving a fond delusion which had lured them into an impossible position. The ascendancy of Cromwell and the Independents had created a new situation which every month rendered more embarrassing. Between Charles and Cromwell they were in a dilemma from which, as
In the beginning of January, 1647, the Scottish army recrossed the border. A profound change had manifestly passed over the spirit of the nation : in every class which had supported the Covenants-nobles, barons, and burgesses-defection had set in on a scale which proved that the Covenants were no longer the prime concern of a united people. On one point, however, both dissentients and Covenanters were equally agreed -that it was with Charles and not with Cromwell that an understanding must be sought. But the hopeless fact of the situation was that such concessions as Charles was prepared to make could not satisfy both parties in the divided nation. By the secret treaty known as the "Engagement," concluded at Carisbrooke Castle in the Isle of Wight (December 27, 1647) Charles agreed to establish Presbyterianism for three years, with the stipulation that the Covenant should not be made compulsory, while the Scots were to aid him with arms against his English Parliament. The publication of the treaty revealed the irreconcilable opposition between the Scottish parties. "Engagers" and " Anti-engagers " now divided the nation between them, but it was conclusively shown that the upper classes of the laity were generally for the treaty. In a meeting of the Estates, presided over by Hamilton, a commanding majority voted for the invasion of England in the interests of the King. Inflexibly opposed by the majority of the clergy, especially in the west, Hamilton succeeded in raising an army, but it was an army neither in numbers nor discipline equal to the enterprise in hand. On July 8, 1648, Hamilton led his force across the border, and in three days' fighting (August 17-19) suffered hopeless defeat at Preston, Wigan, and Warrington, himself falling into the enemy's hands.
As the result of Hamilton's defeat the Anti-engagers once more resumed their ascendancy. At the head of 6000 men drawn from the west the Chancellor Loudon and the Earl of Eglinton marched upon Edinburgh, whose populace, faithful to their past traditions, received them with open arms. Over the main body of the Covenanters Argyll was now supreme ; but he had to reckon with a power with which their broken ranks were no longer in a position to contend. In the first week of October, 1648, Cromwell appeared in Edinburgh and dictated terms which were entirely acceptable to Argyll and his following. All the supporters of the King-" Malignants," as he called them-were thenceforth to be excluded from all public offices: a measure to which sweeping effect was given by the Act of Classes, passed by the Estates in January of the following year (1649). In this measure Cromwell and the Covenanters could find common ground, as the Malignants were equally the enemies of both, but it was speedily to be seen that Presbyterianism and Independency were in as hopeless antagonism as the Covenants and the royal prerogative. On January 30, Charles was executed at Whitehall, and by the vast majority of the Scottish people his death was regarded as a ground for war against the party in England who were responsible for the deed.
In the great controversy between Charles and his Scottish subjects there had been the same constitutional difficulty as in the case of the rebellion in England. In Scotland as in England the insurgent nation had appealed to earlier, and the King to later, precedent in justification of their respective actions. In the fifteenth century the English lawyer, Sir John Fortescue, wrote that the King of Scots " may not rule his people by other laws than such as they assent unto,1' and in the sixteenth an English resident at the Court of Mary was amazed by the " beastly liberty" of the Scottish nobility. However it might be in theory, in point of fact throughout the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the Kings of Scots had never been able to exercise the powers which had been acquired by the Kings of England, France, and Spain. James III had been dethroned for misgovernment ; James V had been thwarted and finally defeated in his policy of seeking alliance with France in preference to England, and it was in defiance of the royal authority that the Reformation had been accomplished : and during the first half of his reign James VI had had convincing experience of the " beastly liberty," not only of the nobles, but of all his Protestant subjects. To these precedents it was that the Covenanters appealed in defence of all their action, for even in making the Covenants compulsory they had the example of James himself in the case of the Negative Confession. On the other hand, Charles could maintain that the latter half of his father's reign had seen a constitution established which made the King supreme equally in Church and State, and that in this constitution the nation had at least formally acquiesced by its Parliaments and General
Assemblies. What his own reign and the immediate future proved was that he and his revolted subjects were alike contending for a theory which was incompatible with the essential principle of Protestantism itself. In his own case the Divine right of Kings to impose a special form of religion on their subjects had ended in disaster, and it was now to be seen that the same fate awaited the similar attempt of a section of the people to impose its beliefs on a nation.
Never was a party in a more hopeless dilemma than the Covenanters at the death of Charles I. With a few insignificant exceptions, they regarded monarchy as a divinely prescribed form of government, sanctioned by Scripture and by immemorial use in the case of their own land. But where were they to find a King who should combine in his own person both a legal right and the necessary consecration that should fit him to be the ruler of a covenanted people? Yet in the existing circumstances there was but one choice possible. In previous crises of the national history, as in the period that followed the dethronement of Mary, a Regent had been appointed to carry on the government ; but the rightful heir of the Crown was now of full age, and the appointment of a Regent would have been tantamount to rescinding his right. On February 5, 1649, six days after the execution of Charles I, the Scottish Estates proclaimed his son King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, and by an Act passed two days later laid down the conditions on which alone he would be allowed to ascend his father's throne : he must subscribe the National Covenant, the Solemn League and Covenant, and swear to maintain the existing religious settlement. The negotiations that followed with the youthful Prince at Breda reveal the full irony of the mutual relations of the contracting parties. Charles agreed to accept a compact which his whole soul loathed, and which he had the full intention of casting to the winds at the first opportunity ; and the Covenanters received his pledge in the full knowledge that their deepest convictions were but the idle jest of their chosen King. Even before the negotiations had closed conclusive proof had been given that it was only as an unavoidable alternative that Charles had signed the agreement at Breda (May 1, 1650). With the design of subduing Scotland in the interest of his master, Montrose had landed in Caithness at the head of some 1200 men, but on April 27 his force had been annihilated at Carbisdale by the Kyle of Sutherland, and he was himself taken prisoner a few days later. His enterprise had deliberately aimed at making Charles King independently of the Covenanters, and his execution was at once an act of policy for the future and of revenge for the past.
In accepting Charles as their King the Scots fully understood that they threw down the gauntlet to the Commonwealth of England. So soon as
With its King in exile, its armies annihilated, and its political and religious parties devoid of a common policy, Scotland might seem to have been rendered powerless for years to come. What many English Kings had attempted and failed to accomplish, however, the Commonwealth now effectually took in hand-the political union of the two kingdoms. To achieve this end the military conquest of Scotland must first be completed, and, in the existing state of parties, the task was a sufficiently easy one. By the action of General Monck the entire kingdom, even including the Orkney Islands, was reduced by the close of February, 1652, the Marquis of Argyll himself being constrained to acknowledge the authority of the Commonwealth. So thoroughly had
The Scots could not close their eyes to the fact that under the Commonwealth and Protectorate they enjoyed tranquillity, order, and justice in a degree never known to them under any of their native rulers ; but in their eyes these blessings were vitiated in their source. To every class in the country the English domination was from first to last more or less distasteful. The nobles could only regard with horror an authority which had proscribed the great majority of their order ; to the clergy, though, of course, in less degree to the Protesters among them, the religious settlement was .an incubus which they were prepared to cast off at the first opportunity ; and to the people in general the presence of English officials was a perpetual reminder of the loss of national independence. When, on January 1, 1660, Monck took his departure for England, with the intention, as he assured the representatives of the Scottish burghs and shires, of restoring the liberties of the three kingdoms, he bore with him the good wishes of all ranks of the Scottish people; and the enthusiasm which hailed the restoration of Charles II was the spontaneous expression of a loyalty which had never
In the long controversy which had sundered the throne and the people much had been said and done by both parties which finds its only justification in the spirit of the time and in the nature of a struggle which involved the deepest issues in the national destinies. Yet, regarded in its true meaning and scope, the controversy was one which assuredly did no discredit either to King or people. In the case of both the one and the other, convictions were at stake for which they were willing to sacrifice what they regarded as their dearest possessions. In refusing to take the Covenant, Charles I had shown that he was prepared to forfeit his kingdom rather than retain it on conditions which marred his idea of the kingly office. But in giving effect to his prerogative, as he conceived it, he had, in Archbishop Spottiswoode's words, made himself both King and Pope, and had evoked an opposition founded on convictions not less absolute, and, in the case of the nobler among his adversaries, more disinterested than were his own. What the long contention had shown was that neither Charles' belief in his Divine right to impose his will on his subjects, nor the Covenanters' belief in the exclusive Divine sanction of their creed and polity, was compatible with the rational government of a people. Both conceptions had had their trial, and each alike had failed to find acceptance with the nation. But the lessons of experience are slowly learned, and the reigns of two more Stewart Kings, each faithfully following the precedents of his predecessors, were needed to convince responsible men of all parties that only by a prudent compromise, alike in politics and in religion, could subject and prince meet on the common ground of mutual rights and responsibilities.