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the Covenant, gentry from all parts of the is perpetualıy over-reaching or betraying kingdom, the magistrates of Edinburgh, itself
, while unbending integrity of purall the ministers who had assembled in pose goes right onward to its aim, and, the capital, and an immense multitude, having nothing to conceal, is in no dread loosely calculated at about sixty thousand, of detection. We cannot afford space to went out to meet the commissioner, and follow the contending parties through the arranged themselves along the beach, shifts and changes of their varying negocovering the undulating outline with a tiations, but must confine ourselves to a more numerous assemblage of people brief statement of the most important points than had been seen in Scotland for centu- of the complicated proceedings of that ries. As Hamilton rode slowly along eventful time. the line of this vast mass of his collected In an early interview which they obcountrymen, hearing on every side not tained, the Covenanters informed the comthe fierce battle-cry of armed men, nor missioner that all negotiations would the giddy shouts of mere holiday rejoic- prove fruitless, unless he were empowers, but earnest and fervent prayers for ered to grant a free General Assembly, the preservation of the liberties and reli- in which their complaints respecting the gion of the country, he was deeply mov- innovations introduced by the prelates, ed, and could not suppress tears of sym- and the conduct generally of those men, pathy, declaring his strong desire that might be investigated, judged of, and, if King Charles himself had been present proved culpable, censured and conto witness a scene so affecting, and even demned according to their demerits,sublime. On a little eminence near the and a parliament, by which acts proved end of this extended multitude, stood up- to be unconstitutional might be rescinded, wards of five hundred ministers, wearing and redresses authoritatively and conclutheir cloaks and bands, and prepared to sively granted. Hamilton replied, that address the commissioner; but when he he would answer their statements and recame to the place where they stood, he quests by a proclamation. They promptdeclined receiving their addresses in pub- ly gave him to know, that they would be lic, bowed to them, and uttering a single in readiness to meet every proclamation complimentary sentence, continued his with a distinct protest, to whatsoever ex progress.
tent it should fall short of the necessities From what he had seen on that single of the case and the just demands of the day, the commissioner must have learned nation. The commissioner seemed disthat the state of Scotland had been griev- posed to try the resolution of the Coveously misrepresented to his majesty; that nanters. He commanded preparations there were not, in truth, two parties in to be made for issuing the proclamation; the country, but on the one side a Presby- and the Covenanters made similar arterian nation, and on the other a prelatic rangements to meet it with their protest, faction, contemptible in numbers, despica- the nobility and gentlemen mustering in ble in character, and detested on account considerable numbers around their offiof their long career of treachery and des- cial representatives, each man with his potism. But he knew that the king had sword loosened in its sheath, in readiness placed himself at the head of that base to repel any sudden attack by the miliand weak faction, and was prepared, for tary attendants of the commissioner. Seetheir sakes, and to gratify his own arbitrary ing the determined front displayed by the temper, to trample upon the dearest rights Covenanters, Hamilton changed his proand most sacred privileges of an entire cedure, abandoning the proclamation, kingdom; and he was constrained to sup- and resuming the path of crooked and press his generous sympathy, and to re-wily dissimulation. sume the course of heartless and tortuous It is always more difficult for a cunpolicy with which he was commissioned. ning man to understand honesty, than And now began the unequal contest for an honest man to detect craft
. Hambetween diplomatic craft and the straight- ilton could not comprehend the designs of forward honesty of honourable and reli- the Covenanters; but they could easily gious men,--unequal, inasmuch as the see through his thin evasions. He now wily dissimulation of designing craft
*Baillie, Burnet, and Stevenson.
thought it expedient to offer them both an acteristically evasive. It promised that Assembly and a Parliament, provided the Liturgy should not be pressed but in they would abandon the Covenant
. They a fair and legal way; that the High answered, that they would as soon re- Commission should be rectified by the nounce their baptism. And at the request aid of the privy council, so that it should of the Tables, Henderson wrote an able not impugn the laws, nor be a just griev. paper, containing a clear and strong ance to loyal subjects; and that whatsostatement of the reasons why they could ever concerned the peace and welfare of neither rescind nor alter in the slightest the Church should be taken into considdegree their sacred Covenant. Still more eration in a free Assembly and Parliacompletely to convince the commissioner ment, which should be called with his of the futility of any such expectation, majesty's first convenience. The Covethey prepared a supplication, in which nanters had experienced his majesty's duthe request of a free General Assembly plicity too often to be deluded by so flimsy and a Parliament was publicly and avow- a pretext. They met it therefore by a edly stated as that without which they protestation, which had been previously could not be satisfied; and at the same prepared for any sudden emergency, and time they caused another paper to be ex- which this weak stratagem gave them a tensively circulated, containing sugges- fair opportunity to publish. Hamilton tions of the measures which it might be seems, nevertheless, to have imagined he necessary to adopt, should the commis- had gained his point, and pressed the sioner resort to force, or protract the ne- privy council to ratify this declaration. gotiations to an intolerable length. In Many consented; but the Covenanters these suggestions a significant hint was having given to each member of council given, that both a General Assembly and a paper containing reasons against its à Parliament might possibly be called, ratification, they were induced by its pewithout the royal authority, if that were rusal to rescind the act of ratification. much longer withheld; and also, that if Rothes, Montrose, and Loudon obtained violence were used for enforcing obedi- an interview with the commissioner himence, a committee might be chosen, to self, presented to him these reasons, and consider what was fit and lawful to be urged upon him the necessity of a more done for the defence of their religion, frank and conciliatory course. Hamilton, laws, and liberties.
irritated by his failure, replied to them These bold and energetic measures in a haughty and dictatorial tone. This startled the commissioner, and convinced drew from Loudon the bold declaration, him that any longer continuation of his that they knew no other bands between a temporizing policy would be in vain, king and his subjects but those of religion and that his majesty must either yield to and laws: if these were violated, men's every one of the main points demanded lives were not dear to them. Overborne by the Covenanters, or must prepare to by threatenings they would not be, for subdue them by open force. And as his such fears were past with them. * After instructions did not enable him to proceed this abortive attempt, the Marquis of Hamto either o. these alternatives, he deter-ilton left Scotland on the 8th of July, and mined to return to London, give the king went to London for fresh instructions. a full account of Scottish affairs, ascertain During the course of these fruitless nethe state of the royal preparations for the gotiations the king maintained a constant commencement of hostilities, and return intercourse by letters with the commisfully empowered to act as necessities sioner; and it is painful to peruse these might require. This was indeed the glaring proofs of the infatuated monarch's only course which he could now pursue; disgraceful and perfidious dissimulation. but even this was to be marred by double A few instances must be given, in proof dealing. On one day he left town, and of this assertion, and in vindication of the proceeded a few miles on his journey: on Covenanters. “I give you leave to flatthe next, supposing the Covenanters now ter them with what hopes you please; off their guard, he hastily returned, and your chief end being now to win time, proceeded to publish a declaration of his until I be ready to suppress them." _" majesty's intentions, plausible, but char
* Bailie, vol. i. p. 92.
have written this to no other end than to sages, had yet stood out against the Covshow you that I will rather die than yield enant, Henderson, Dickson, and some to those impertinent and damnable de- others, were sent to try whether the mands.”—“I do not expect that you dreary darkness which brooded over that should declare the adherers to the Cove-town and neighbourhood, might not be nant traitors, until you have heard from partially dispelled. The deputation was me that my fleet hath set sail for Scotland. at first but coldly welcomed; permission In a word, gain time by all the honest to preach in the city churches was remeans you can, without forsaking your fused ; and the doctors strove to engage grounds."— There be two things in them in a fruitless scholastic disputation. your letter that require answer, to wit, But the deputation was composed of men the answer to their petition, and concern- of energy and decision. They returned ing the explanation of their damnable brief answers to the sophistic subtleties Covenant.” In another letter, after stating of their learned opponents; and since how far his military preparations were in the churches were refused, they preached readiness, and what was their amount, in the open air, explained the Covenant, his majesty adds, -—" Thus you may see and produced arguments for its subscripthat I intend not to yield to the demands tion. At the close of their addresses the of those traitors the Covenanters.'* All Covenant was produced for signature ; these and many similar instructions to the and that evening about five hundred recommissioner to prevaricate, to deceive, spectable citizens adhibited their names. and to gain time, while the king was busy They then traversed the adjacent counlevying forces, collecting military stores, try; and within little more than a week, preparing a fleet, and hiring foreign forty-four ministers, many gentlemen, troops to suppress his faithful subjects by and a large proportion of the people, this combination of treachery and power, signed the Covenant. Returning to Aberwere sent to the Marquis of Hamilton deen, they again preached where they privately, while that nobleman was en- had done before, and obtained a considgaged in pacific negotiations with the erable number of additional adherents to Covenanters. History can scarcely fur- the sacred cause. Having thus, by the nish an equal instance of a monarch's powerful demonstration of the Divine faithlessness, dissimulation, and fore- Spirit accompanying their exertions, sucthought despotism. Bolder tyranny the ceeded in pouring a stream of light and world has often seen, but rarely any so life into those regions of previous gloomy deliberately dishonourable. And as stagnation, they returned to Edinburgh, these private instructions to the commis- leaving in the town and vicinity of Abersioner were all to a considerable extent deen a power sufficient to prevent the known to the Covenanters, it cannot ap- possibility of any great hostile combinapear strange tnai they received every pro- tion there. posai with suspicion, and expressed dis- The Marquis of Hamilton returned to trus of every declaration, how strong Holyrood-house on the 10th of August, soever might be its asseveration, and to furnished, indeed, with ampler powers to whatsoever extent it might wear the as- treat than before, but still enjoined to use pect of sincerity.
every diplomatic stratagem. One new While the king and the marquis were artifice by which it was hoped the Coveusing every
« honest means” to gain nanters might be divided, was the re-protime, the covenanters took care to lose mulgation of the Confession or Covenant
Aware that the king intended to of 1581. If this could be got numersend some forces to the north, to co-oper- ously signed, it might either neutralize ate with those which Huntly was ex- the Covenant recently produced, or so dipected to raise, they resolved to paralyze vide the nation as to enable his majesty effectually that right arm of prelatic and to balance one part of the kingdom regal tyranny, during the breathing against another, and so to reduce both unspace allowed by the absence of the com- der his power. But that which was first missioner. And as Aberdeen, by the in- put in operation was a set of demands fluence of Huntly and of its cloistered which Hamilton gave to the Tables, re
quiring written answers to them before
* Burnet's Memoirs of the Hamiltons, pp. 46.68.
he would consent to call an Assembly. the apostles. The reasons on which this These demands were at first eleven in decisive resolution was bases were pubnumber, but subsequently were reduced lished in their own defence, and for the to two; first, that no layman should have instruction of all their adherents, and are voice in choosing the ministers to be sent still deserving of a thoughtful perusal by from the presbyteries to the General As- every true Presbyterian.* sembly, nor any but the ministers of the Hamilton now felt that temporizing same presbytery; the second, that the policy would no longer be endured, and Assembly should not go about to deter- also that his anticipations of creating a mine things established by act of parlia- disunion among the Covenanters were at ment, otherwise than by remonstrance or an end. But their demand went beyond petition to parliament. If Hamilton could his powers to grant, and was perilous to have obtained the assent of the Covenant- refuse, lest a refusal should impel them ers to these propositions, his victory over to put their purpose into immediate exethem would have been secure. By the cution. He requested, therefore, a delay first, the ministers would have been di- of twenty days, that he might return to vided from the laity, and left powerless the king, and obtain a final answer, promin the hands of their enemies; by the ising to be again in Scotland with his second, all the innovations of James's majesty's ultimate decision before the reign would have been confirmed, as 20th of September. The Covenanters they had all been ratified by parliament consented to this delay, and employed But although the leading Covenanters the intermediate time in sending instruceasily perceived the fatal character of tions to every presbytery how to proceed these propositions, it was not so easy to in the election of members for the apunite the whole body in returning proper proaching Assembly. This was neces.
The first had nearly accom-sary, in consequence of the lengthened plished the commissioner's insidious de- period which had elapsed since an Assign. Many of the ministers looked with sembly had been held at all, there havsome degree of jealousy upon the power ing been none since 1618, and as al. of the laymen, and would not have been the Assemblies since 1597 had been more displeased to see that power diminished. or less corrupted by regal interference. For that reason they were disposed to as the proper course of procedure, in the sent to the first proposition; while the calling of a free Assembly according to other three Tables would by no means pure Presbyterian principles, had almost comply with any such measure. At sunk into oblivion. These instructions length, chiefly by the skilful manage- were of the utmost importance, both in ment of Henderson and Dickson, this guiding the proceedings of the Covedangerous discussion terminated in the nanters throughout the kingdom, and in rejection of the commissioner's demands, furnishing them with information on toand in the restoration of that unanimity pics certain to come under discussion in of sentiment and purpose among the Cov- the ensuing Assembly, with which many enanters which constituted their strength. were at that time very little acquainted.
The danger thus encountered, and the Having taken these preliminary steps, the re-union thus produced, both tended to Covenanters waited calmly the return of point out to the Covenanters the path at the commissioner, and the ultimate anonce of duty and of safety. They now swer of the king. resolved to bring matters to a crisis, and When the commissioner returned from to compel the commissioner to abandon London, a deputation from the tables his deceitful policy, by avowing their de- waited on him at Dalkeith, and were told termination, that if the royal mandate in general terms that his majesty had were further delayed, they would call a granted all their requests, but that the General Assembly, on the sole authority particulars could not with propriety be which
every Christian Church must be divulged till they 1. ad been communicated held intrinsically to possess, for the pur- to the privy council. The council met pose of regulating all matters of worship the same day, when his majesty's letter and discipline, according to the institutions of the gospel, and the example of | pp
These reasons are to be seen in Stevenson, edit. 1840.
was produced, requiring them to sub-meet at Edinburgh on the 15th day of scribe the Covenant or Confession of May 1639, for settling and confirming 1581, which, as it contained chiefly an peace in Church and State. The king's abjuration of Popery, was often termed declaration was then publicly proclaimed, the Negative Confession. The utmost in which his majesty prohibited the enefforts of Hamilton could not prevail upon forcement of the Book of Canons, the more than about thirty of the council to Liturgy, and the Five Articles of Perth ; subscribe, and that not till a clause was | abolished the Court of High Commisadded, declaring that the subscribers un-sion ; declared all persons subject to the derstood it according to its original mean-trial and censure of the competent judicaing, when, as the reader will recollect, tory; allowing free entrance into the even tulchan Episcopacy had been con- ministry without the taking of any
other demned and abolished, presbyteries Cath than that contained in the act of erected, and the Second Book of Disci- parliament; granted a general pardon of pline entered on the records of the As all offences which had arisen out of the sembly. Even thus explained, the com- recent contentions; appointed a fast to missioner entertained some hope that it avert the Divine displeasure, and promight either cause division among the cure a peaceable end to the distractions Covenanters, or at least produce a similar of the Church and kingdom; and recompact union of the royal and prelatic commended the subscription of the Conparty; and with this view he published fession and Covenant of 1581. an act of council, calling upon all loyal Had these terms been granted at the subjects to subscribe the king's Covenant, beginning of the negotiations between the with a general bond, resembling that of king and the Covenanters, they would 1589. Commissioners were appointed have given universal satisfaction, and to convey this rival Covenant through- been received with equal joy and gratiout the kingdom, and every artifice was tude. But after the many repeated inemployed to procure the utmost possible stances of tergiversation and insincerity number of signatures. But the Presby- which had been detected, the Covenanterian Covenanters, perceiving clearly ters were compelled to regard every dethe intention of the commissioner, met claration of the king's with suspicion, and the proclamation of the king's Covenant to look narrowly into every one of his by a protestation and a warning against promises, lest it should contain some the ensnaring tendency of this new de-evasive expression, by which it might be vice ;* and sent a deputation to every nullified, or even reversed. And unpresbytery, with a copy of the protesta- happily even this plausible declaration of tion, and instructions how to act. So his majesty's sentiments did contain such successful were these precautionary mea- neutralizing and evasive elements. It sures, that the king's Covenant obtained was understood to subject the prelates to no more than about twenty-eight thou- the trial and censure of the Assembly; sand signatures, of which number twelve but it cited them to appear as constituent thousand were procured in Aberdeen and members of that very court by which they its vicinity by the strenuous exertions of were to be tried; and the urgency with Huntly. This new stratagem had con- which the king pressed the subscription sequently no other effect than that of of the Covenant of 1581, showed clearly proving, even by an arithmetical demon- that he expected, by its instrumentality, stration, the weakness of the prelatic to divide and conquer the Presbyterian faction.
Covenanters; besides that the bond conThe next step of the privy council was tained an insidious clause for the maintethe publication of two important acts,
nance of religion “as at present prothe one calling a General Assembly to fessed,"—a clause manifestly susceptible be held at Glasgow on the 21st of No- of such a construction as would convert vember, and warning the bishops and it into one for the defence of Prelacy. other commissioners of kirks to attend ; The Presbyterians, therefore, resolved he other summoning a parliament to that they would no longer submit to such • This a' le documert is prese ved by Stevenson, pp. I would take care to have the Assembly
paltering in a double sense; that they