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CHURCH HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.
It was high time that the Privy Council should meet; and it did meet. On the very day that the Covenant was paraded about the streets of Edinburgh for signatures, the Council was sitting at Stirling, deliberating as to what should be done. It was the 3d of March before they came to a decision ; but they then despatched Sir John Hamilton, the Justice-Clerk, to London, to declare to the king that the whole country was in a state of combustion ; that the Book of Canons, the Liturgy, and the High Commission were the cause ; and that his Majesty ought, as an act of his singular justice,” to take trial of his subjects' grievances. Two days afterwards, the Earls of Traquair and Roxburgh wrote to their “most sacred sovereign," declaring that the dread of religious innovation was so strong in every corner of the kingdom, that nothing was to be seen but a general conflagration-men strengthening themselves by subscribing bonds, and no power to repress their fury; and suggesting that, as religion was the pretext, it would be well for his Majesty to consider if it would not be wise to free his subjects from their fears, by which the sincere would be satisfied; and his Majesty would then be able to punish the insolence of those who continued to kick against authority.
The Lord Justice-Clerk returned in April, with instructions to the Lord Treasurer, the Lord Privy Seal, and Lord Lorn to repair to court. Several of the bishops were already there ; many of the Scotch nobility were always there ; so that the king had now an opportunity of hearing all parties, and learning accurately the state of matters. Balfour affirms that the
1 Burnet's Memoirs of the Duke of Hamilton, pp. 36, 37.
bishops, especially Maxwell of Ross, were blowing the bellows, and crying fire and sword; but more peaceful counsels prevailed; and Charles determined to send down the Marquis of Hamilton to Scotland as His High Commissioner, with power to settle the disorders. The nobleman chosen for this important mission was in many ways the fittest man that could have been fixed upon. He stood at the head of the Scotch nobility, and had kept himself aloof from Scotch faction. His abilities were good, his politics moderate, and his manners bland and conciliatory. He has had the misfortune, however, to be abused by both high Episcopalians and high Covenanters : the one declared that he betrayed the king, the other that he betrayed the country; but this is the frequent fate of men who attempt to mediate between angry factions.
While these things were doing in London, the Covenanters in Scotland had made up their mind that the mere discontinuance of the Book of Canons, and Liturgy, and the abolition of the High Commission, would not satisfy them ; that they must have a General Assembly and a parliament to give the stamp of legal authority to their worship and discipline. They were determined to place no dependence upon the absolute will of a monarch who had shown that all his predilections were against them. Their appeal was from the king to the law. Some of them went farther, and already began to reduce to practice their own favourite notions of ecclesiastical government. Some presbyteries relieved their perpetual moderators of their duties; some removed uncovenanted clergymen from their parishes ; some ordained ministers by the laying on of the hands of the presbytery apart from the bishop. The lower orders of the people went farther, and in several cases mobbed and maltreated unhappy divines who still clung to Episcopacy and refused to take the Covenant. In all these rabbles, singular enough, the women were conspicuous; in some cases even ladies of rank were unable to restrain their zeal, which furnishes Clarendon with the taunt, “that the Jews, as of old, stirred up the devout and honourable women.” 3
From the instructions given by the king to his Commis
Annals, vol. ii. p. 263. ? Demands of the Covenanters given to Traquair on repairing to court. Balfour, vol. ii, p. 252. Peterkin, p. 62.
History of the Rebellion, vol. i. p. 89. Baillie's Letters and Journals, vol. i. p. 21, Ban. Ed.
THE ROYAL COMMISSIONER.
sioner, it is evident he was not disposed to grant all that the Covenanters were determined to demand. He was to offer a pardon to all who should renounce the Covenant within a certain time; he was to continue the Court of High Commission, albeit it was based on no act of parliament, but to promise that it should be regulated and ratified by the first parliament that should meet; he was to refuse all petitions against the Five Articles of Perth, but he was not to urge their observance; he was to suspend the acts of Council enjoining the use of the Service-Book; if any made protestation against the royal proclamations, he was to treat them as rebels; and if, by these means, the refractory were not reduced to obedience, he was to resort to hostile measures. From this it is evident that there was still a great gulph between the king and his subjects, which must be got over before peace could be made. The king was prepared merely to yield to the clamours of the people, and put a temporary arrest upon measures which were universally obnoxious. The people were resolved not to be dependent upon the sovereign's will at all, but to have everything they asked secured to them by law-by acts of parliament and acts of Assembly. They were more indignant at the way in which the Liturgy had been forced upon them than at the Liturgy itself, and for this there was only one remedy-a meeting of the Estates. They wished to see the evil destroyed -not delayed.
The Marquis of Hamilton had written from Berwick to his friends and retainers to meet him on the way to give splendour to his progress through the country ; but the Tables at Edinburgh had determined that their adherents should not keep company with those who were not joined in Covenant with them, and so none came to swell the train of the Commissioner. The Covenant was now found to be stronger than feudal ties. Religion, in leaguing the country together, had aimed a deadly blow at vassalage. Even friendship was weaker than fanaticism. Hamilton is said to have been so annoyed that he had thoughts of turning his horse's head to the south, and the explanations of Rothes, Loudon, and Lindsay did not altogether remove his wrath. Digesting the affront as he best could, he took up his residence at Dalkeith in the beginning of June, and immediately held a meeting of the Privy Council, in which his commission was produced and read; but it was Burnet's Memoirs of Hamilton, pp. 46-50. * The King's Large Declaration, pp. 81, 82. Baillie, vol. i. p. 79.
already abundantly plain to him that, unless his instructions were enlarged, no adjustment of differences was possible. He was told by Lord Lindsay that the people would never relinquish the Covenant ; that they wished the whole Episcopate greatly modified, if not destroyed ; and that if a parliament and General Assembly were not called by the royal authority, the people would take it in hand themselves. These threatening speeches were accompanied with equally threatening deeds. A ship, with a small quantity of ammunition destined for Edinburgh Castle, had arrived in Leith roads. The Covenanters took alarm, and were preparing to seize it when the Earl of Traquair anticipated them, and had the cargo conveyed to Dalkeith.1 But this was enough to make the citizens of Edinburgh surround the castle with a guard lest it should be supplied with ammunition, of which it was known to be in want. While rebellion was thus lifting up its head in the country, there was a want of unanimity in the councils of the king. The leanings of Argyll were already becoming plain ; the Lord Advocate Hope, a thorough Covenanter at heart, was throwing every legal obstacle which he could in the way of the Commissioner, and few or none were entirely to be depended on. June 4.
On the day after his arrival at Dalkeith,
Hamilton wrote to his master that he must prepare for force if he would save the country. The king replied, on the 11th of June, that he had not been idle; that his preparations were advancing ; that the Covenanters had better not be proclaimed traitors till the fleet had set sail for Scotland; that the Castles of Edinburgh and Stirling should be secured; and the people flattered with hopes, so as to win time till he was ready to suppress them, for that he was determined 10 die rather than yield to their impertinent and damnable demands. On the 20th of the same month his Majesty again wrote that his train of artillery, consisting of forty pieces, was in good forwardness, and would be ready in six weeks; that he had taken steps to secure Carlisle and Berwick; that he had sent to Holland for arms for 14,000 foot and 2000 horse ; that his ships were ready; that he had consulted with his Chancellor of the Exchequer about the means of defraying the expedition, which was estimated at £200,000 ; and that he wished the Commissioner's advice as
Burnet's Memoirs of Hamilton, p. 52. Large Declaration. Baillie, vol, i.
RECEPTION AT EDINBURGH.
to whether he should send 6000 soldiers with the fleet to the Frith, now that it appeared the Castle of Edinburgh could not be secured.1 But these secret missives were in the meantime unknown.
The Covenanters petitioned the Commissioner to remove to Holyrood House; but this he refused to do so long as the gates and Castle of Edinburgh were guarded by patrols of armed men. Upon a pledge being given that no ammunition would be conveyed into
the castle, the guards were removed, and Hamilton prepared to make his entrance into the capital, and the Covenanters to give him a reception, which would demonstrate their strength, while it did honour to his rank. On the 8th of June he made his progress toward Holyrood, along the sands of Musselburgh and Leith. “In his entry at Leith," says Baillie, in his quaint, graphic way," as much honour was done to him as ever to a king in our country. Huge multitudes as ever was gathered on that field set themselves in his way; nobles, gentry of all shires, women a world, the town of Edinburgh all at the Watergate ; but we (the ministers) were most conspicuous in our black cloaks, about five hundred on a braeside in the Links, alone for his sight. We had appointed Mr William Livingstone, the strongest in voice, and austerest in countenance of us all, to make him a short welcome.”2 The Commissioner declined the stentorian display of the austere Mr Livingstone, but he is said to have been greatly affected by the spectacle which he had witnessed.
Montrose, Rothes, and Loudon, with some ministers, were appointed to treat with the Commissioner, and in a conference with them, the Commissioner declared that the king was ready to redress their grievances, and summon an Assembly and parliament, but that, as a preliminary to this, they must renounce the Covenant as an illegal confederacy. They replied they would rather renounce their baptism than their Covenant.3 When Saturday came, they showed what manner of spirit they were of, by making it known that they were resolved not to suffer the performance of the Anglican service even in the royal chapel at Holyrood House ; which caused his Grace to go to Dalkeith to be out of the way. The agitation, instead of subsiding, gradually increased. The citizens of Edinburgh renewed their guards; and every pulpit
1 These letters are preserved by Burnet, pp. 55-59, and copied by Peterkin, pp. 68, 69.
2 Baillie, vol. i. p. 83. 3 Large Declaration, p. 87.
Ibid., p. 88.