Chapter XXV: Conquered Scotland
During the nine years of the English military occupation of Scotland everything was merely provisional; nothing decisive could occur. In the first place (October 1651), eight English Commissioners, including three soldiers, Monk, Lambert, and Deane, undertook the administration of the conquered country. They announced tolerance in religion (except for Catholicism and Anglicanism, of course), and during their occupation the English never wavered on a point so odious to the Kirk. The English rulers also, as much as they could, protected the women and men whom the lairds and preachers smelled out and tortured and burned for witchcraft. By way of compensation for the expenses of war all the estates of men who had sided with Charles were confiscated. Taxation also was heavy. On four several occasions attempts were made to establish the Union of the two countries; Scotland, finally, was to return thirty members to sit in the English Parliament. But as that Parliament, under Cromwell, was subject to strange and sudden changes, and as the Scottish representatives were usually men sold to the English side, the experiment was not promising. In its first stage it collapsed with Cromwell's dismissal of the Long Parliament on April 20, 1653. Argyll meanwhile had submitted, retaining his estates (August 1652); but of five garrisons in his country three were recaptured, not without his goodwill, by the Highlanders; and in these events began Monk's aversion, finally fatal, to the Marquis as a man whom none could trust, and in whom finally nobody trusted.
An English Commission of Justice, established in May 1652, was confessedly more fair and impartial than any Scotland had known, which was explained by the fact that the English judges "were kinless loons." Northern cavaliers were relieved by Monk's forbidding civil magistrates to outlaw and plunder persons lying under Presbyterian excommunication, and sanitary measures did something to remove from Edinburgh the ancient reproach of filth, for the time. While the Protesters and Resolutioners kept up their quarrel, the Protesters claiming to be the only genuine representatives of Kirk and Covenant, the General Assembly of the Resolutioners was broken up (July 21, 1653) by Lilburne, with a few soldiers, and henceforth the Kirk, having no General Assembly, was less capable of promoting civil broils. Lilburne suspected that the Assembly was in touch with new stirrings towards a rising in the Highlands, to lead which Charles had, in 1652, promised to send Middleton, who had escaped from an English prison, as general. It was always hard to find any one under whom the great chiefs would serve, and Glencairn, with Kenmure, was unable to check their jealousies.
Charles heard that Argyll would appear in arms for the Crown, when he deemed the occasion good; meanwhile his heir, Lord Lorne, would join the rising. He did so in July 1653, under the curse of Argyll, who, by letters to Lilburne and Monk, and by giving useful information to the English, fatally committed himself as treasonable to the Royal cause. Examples of his conduct were known to Glencairn, who communicated them to Charles.
At the end of February 1654 Middleton arrived in Sutherland to head the insurrection: but Monk chased the small and disunited force from county to county, and in July Morgan defeated and scattered its remnants at Loch Garry, just south of Dalnaspidal. The Armstrongs and other Border clans, who had been moss-trooping in their ancient way, were also reduced, and new fortresses and garrisons bridled the fighting clans of the west. With Cromwell as protector in 1654, Free Trade with England was offered to the Scots with reduced taxation: an attempt to legislate for the Union failed. In 1655-1656 a Council of State and a Commission of Justice included two or three Scottish members, and burghs were allowed to elect magistrates who would swear loyalty to Cromwell. Cromwell died on the day of his fortunate star (September 3, 1658), and twenty-one members for Scotland sat in Richard Cromwell's Parliament. When that was dissolved, and when the Rump was reinstated, a new Bill of Union was introduced, and, by reason of the provisions for religious toleration (a thing absolutely impious in Presbyterian eyes), was delayed till (October 1659) the Rump was sent to its account. Conventions of Burghs and Shires were now held by Monk, who, leading his army of occupation south in January 1660, left the Resolutioners and Protesters standing at gaze, as hostile as ever, awaiting what thing should befall. Both parties still cherished the Covenants, and so long as these documents were held to be for ever binding on all generations, so long as the king's authority was to be resisted in defence of these treaties with Omnipotence, it was plain that in Scotland there could neither be content nor peace. For twenty-eight years, during a generation of profligacy and turmoil, cruelty and corruption, the Kirk and country were to reap what they had sown in 1638.
There was "dancing and derray" in Scotland among the laity when the king came to his own again. The darkest page in the national history seemed to have been turned; the conquering English were gone with their abominable tolerance, their craze for soap and water, their aversion to witch-burnings. The nobles and gentry would recover their lands and compensation for their losses; there would be offices to win, and "the spoils of office."
It seems that in Scotland none of the lessons of misfortune had been learned. Since January the chiefs of the milder party of preachers, the Resolutioners, - they who had been reconciled with the Engagers, - were employing the Rev. James Sharp, who had been a prisoner in England, as their agent with Monk, with Lauderdale, in April, with Charles in Holland, and, again, in London. Sharp was no fanatic. From the first he assured his brethren, Douglas of Edinburgh, Baillie, and the rest, that there was no chance for "rigid Presbyterianism." They could conceive of no Presbyterianism which was not rigid, in the manner of Andrew Melville, to whom his king was "Christ's silly vassal." Sharp warned them early that in face of the irreconcilable Protesters, "moderate Episcopacy" would be preferred; and Douglas himself assured Sharp that the new generation in Scotland "bore a heart-hatred to the Covenant," and are "wearied of the yoke of presbyterial government."
This was true: the ruling classes had seen too much of presbyterial government, and would prefer bishops as long as they were not pampered and all-powerful. On the other hand the lesser gentry, still more their godly wives, the farmers and burgesses, and the preachers, regarded the very shadow of Episcopacy as a breach of the Covenant and an insult to the Almighty. The Covenanters had forced the Covenant on the consciences of thousands, from the king downwards, who in soul and conscience loathed it. They were to drink of the same cup - Episcopacy was to be forced on them by fines and imprisonments. Scotland, her people and rulers were moving in a vicious circle. The Resolutioners admitted that to allow the Protesters to have any hand in affairs was "to breed continual distemper and disorders," and Baillie was for banishing the leaders of the Protesters, irreconcilables like the Rev. James Guthrie, to the Orkney islands. But the Resolutioners, on the other hand, were no less eager to stop the use of the liturgy in Charles's own household, and to persecute every sort of Catholic, Dissenter, Sectary, and Quaker in Scotland. Meanwhile Argyll, in debt, despised on all sides, and yet dreaded, was holding a great open-air Communion meeting of Protesters at Paisley, in the heart of the wildest Covenanting region (May 27, 1660). He was still dangerous; he was trying to make himself trusted by the Protesters, who were opposed to Charles. It may be doubted if any great potentate in Scotland except the Marquis wished to revive the constitutional triumphs of Argyll's party in the last Parliament of Charles I. Charles now named his Privy Council and Ministers without waiting for parliamentary assent - though his first Parliament would have assented to anything. He chose only his late supporters: Glencairn who raised his standard in 1653; Rothes, a humorous and not a cruel voluptuary; and, as Secretary for Scotland in London, Lauderdale, who had urged him to take the Covenant, and who for twenty years was to be his buffoon, his favourite, and his wavering and unscrupulous adviser. Among these greedy and treacherous profligates there would, had he survived, have been no place for Montrose.
In defiance of warnings from omens, second-sighted men, and sensible men, Argyll left the safe sanctuary of his mountains and sea-straits, and betook himself to London, "a fey man." Most of his past was covered by an Act of Indemnity, but not his doings in 1653. He was arrested before he saw the king's face (July 8, 1660), and lay in the Tower till, in December, he was taken to be tried for treason in Scotland.
Sharp's friends were anxious to interfere in favour of establishing Presbyterianism in England; he told them that the hope was vain; he repeatedly asked for leave to return home, and, while an English preacher assured Charles that the rout of Worcester had been God's vengeance for his taking of the Covenant, Sharp (June 25) told his Resolutioners that "the Protesters' doom is dight."
Administration in Scotland was intrusted to the Committee of Estates whom Monk (1650) had captured at Alyth, and with them Glencairn, as Chancellor, entered Edinburgh on August 22. Next day, while the Committee was busy, James Guthrie and some Protester preachers met, and, in the old way, drew up a "supplication." They denounced religious toleration, and asked for the establishment of Presbytery in England, and the filling of all offices with Covenanters. They were all arrested and accused of attempting to "rekindle civil war," which would assuredly have followed had their prayer been accepted. Next year Guthrie was hanged. But ten days after his arrest Sharp had brought down a letter of Charles to the Edinburgh Presbytery, promising to "protect and preserve the government of the Church of Scotland as it is established by law." Had the words run "as it may be established by law" (in Parliament) it would not have been a dishonourable quibble - as it was.
Parliament opened on New Year's Day 1661, with Middleton as Commissioner. In the words of Sir George Mackenzie, then a very young advocate and man of letters, "never was Parliament so obsequious." The king was declared "supreme Governor over all persons and in all causes" (a blow at Kirk judicature), and all Acts between 1633 and 1661 were rescinded, just as thirty years of ecclesiastical legislation had been rescinded by the Covenanters. A sum of £40,000 yearly was settled on the king. Argyll was tried, was defended by young George Mackenzie, and, when he seemed safe, his doom was fixed by the arrival of a Campbell from London bearing some of his letters to Lilburne and Monk (1653-1655) which the Indemnity of 1651 did not cover. He died, by the axe (not the rope, like Montrose), with dignity and courage.
The question of Church government in Scotland was left to Charles and his advisers. The problem presented to the Government of the Restoration by the Kirk was much more difficult and complicated than historians usually suppose. The pretensions which the preachers had inherited from Knox and Andrew Melville were practically incompatible, as had been proved, with the existence of the State. In the southern and western shires, - such as those of Dumfries, Galloway, Ayr, Renfrew, and Lanark, - the forces which attacked the Engagers had been mustered; these shires had backed Strachan and Ker and Guthrie in the agitation against the king, the Estates, and the less violent clergy, after Dunbar. But without Argyll, and with no probable noble leaders, they could do little harm; they had done none under the English occupation, which abolished the General Assembly. To have restored the Assembly, or rather two Assemblies - that of the Protesters and that of the Resolutionists, - would certainly have been perilous. Probably the wisest plan would have been to grant a General Assembly, to meet after the session of Parliament; not, as had been the custom, to meet before it and influence or coerce the Estates. Had that measure proved perilous to peace it need not have been repeated, - the Kirk might have been left in the state to which the English had reduced it.
This measure would not have so much infuriated the devout as did the introduction of "black prelacy," and the ejection of some 300 adored ministers, chiefly in the south-west, and "the making of a desert first, and then peopling it with owls and satyrs" (the curates), as Archbishop Leighton described the action of 1663. There ensued the finings of all who would not attend the ministrations of "owls and satyrs," - a grievance which produced two rebellions (1666 and 1679) and a doctrine of anarchism, and was only worn down by eternal and cruel persecutions.
By violence the Restoration achieved its aim: the Revolution of 1688 entered into the results; it was a bitter moment in the evolution of Scotland - a moment that need never have existed. Episcopacy was restored, four bishops were consecrated, and Sharp accepted (as might have long been foreseen) the See of St Andrews. He was henceforth reckoned a Judas, and assuredly he had ruined his character for honour: he became a puppet of Government, despised by his masters, loathed by the rest of Scotland.
In May-September 1662, Parliament ratified the change to Episcopacy. It seems to have been thought that few preachers except the Protesters would be recalcitrant, refuse collation from bishops, and leave their manses. In point of fact, though they were allowed to consult their consciences till February 1663, nearly 300 ministers preferred their consciences to their livings. They remained centres of the devotion of their flocks, and the "curates," hastily gathered, who took their places, were stigmatised as ignorant and profligate, while, as they were resisted, rabbled, and daily insulted, the country was full of disorder.
The Government thus mortally offended the devout classes, though no attempt was made to introduce a liturgy. In the churches the services were exactly, or almost exactly, what they had been; but excommunications could now only be done by sanction of the bishops. Witch-burnings, in spite of the opposition of George Mackenzie and the Council, were soon as common as under the Covenant. Oaths declaring it unlawful to enter into Covenants or take up arms against the king were imposed on all persons in office.
Middleton, of his own authority, now proposed the ostracism, by parliamentary ballot, of twelve persons reckoned dangerous. Lauderdale was mainly aimed at (it is a pity that the bullet did not find its billet), with Crawford, Cassilis, Tweeddale, Lothian, and other peers who did not approve of the recent measures. But Lauderdale, in London, seeing Charles daily, won his favour; Middleton was recalled (March 1663), and Lauderdale entered freely on his wavering, unscrupulous, corrupt, and disastrous period of power.
The Parliament of June 1663, meeting under Rothes, was packed by the least constitutional method of choosing the Lords of the Articles. Waristoun was brought from France, tried, and hanged, "expressing more fear than I ever saw," wrote Lauderdale, whose Act "against Separation and Disobedience to Ecclesiastical Authority" fined abstainers from services in their parish churches. In 1664, Sharp, who was despised by Lauderdale and Glencairn, obtained the erection of that old grievance - a Court of High Commission, including bishops, to punish nonconformists. Sir James Turner was intrusted with the task of dragooning them, by fining and the quartering of soldiers on those who would not attend the curates and would keep conventicles. Turner was naturally clement and good-natured, but wine often deprived him of his wits, and his soldiery behaved brutally. Their excesses increased discontent, and war with Holland (1664) gave them hopes of a Dutch ally. Conventicles became common; they had an organisation of scouts and sentinels. The malcontents intrigued with Holland in 1666, and schemed to capture the three Keys of the Kingdom - the castles of Stirling, Dumbarton, and Edinburgh. The States-General promised, when this was done, to send ammunition and 150,000 gulden (July 1666).
When rebellion did break out it had no foreign aid, and a casual origin. In the south-west Turner commanded but seventy soldiers, scattered all about the country. On November 14 some of them mishandled an old man in the clachan of Dalry, on the Ken. A soldier was shot in revenge (Mackenzie speaks as if a conventicle was going on in the neighbourhood); people gathered in arms, with the Laird of Corsack, young Maxwell of Monreith, and M'Lennan; caught Turner, undressed, in Dumfries, and carried him with them as they "went conventicling about," as Mackenzie writes, holding prayer-meetings, led by Wallace, an old soldier of the Covenant. At Lanark they renewed the Covenant. Dalziel of Binns, who had learned war in Russia, led a pursuing force. The rebels were disappointed in hopes of Dutch or native help at Edinburgh; they turned, when within three miles of the town, into the passes of the Pentland Hills, and at Bullion Green, on November 28, displayed fine soldierly qualities and courage, but fled, broken, at nightfall. The soldiers and countryfolk, who were unsympathetic, took a number of prisoners, preachers and laymen, on whom the Council, under the presidency of Sharp, exercised a cruelty bred of terror. The prisoners were defended by George Mackenzie: it has been strangely stated that he was Lord Advocate, and persecuted them! Fifteen rebels were hanged: the use of torture to extract information was a return, under Fletcher, the King's Advocate, to a practice of Scottish law which had been almost in abeyance since 1638 - except, of course, in the case of witches. Turner vainly tried to save from the Boot the Laird of Corsack, who had protected his life from the fanatics. "The executioner favoured Mr Mackail," says the Rev. Mr Kirkton, himself a sufferer later. This Mr Mackail, when a lad of twenty-one (1662), had already denounced the rulers, in a sermon, as on the moral level of Haman and Judas.
It is entirely untrue that Sharp concealed a letter from the king commanding that no blood should be shed (Charles detested hanging people). If any one concealed his letter, it was Burnet, Archbishop of Glasgow. Dalziel now sent Ballantyne to supersede Turner and to exceed him in ferocity; and Bellenden and Tweeddale wrote to Lauderdale deprecating the cruelties and rapacity of the reaction, and avowing contempt of Sharp. He was "snibbed," confined to his diocese, and "cast down, yea, lower than the dust," wrote Rothes to Lauderdale. He was held to have exaggerated in his reports the forces of the spirit of revolt; but Tweeddale, Sir Robert Murray, and Kincardine found when in power that matters were really much more serious than they had supposed. In the disturbed districts - mainly the old Strathclyde and Pictish Galloway - the conformist ministers were perpetually threatened, insulted, and robbed.
According to a sympathetic historian, "on the day when Charles should abolish bishops and permit free General Assemblies, the western Whigs would become his law-abiding subjects; but till that day they would be irreconcilable." But a Government is not always well advised in yielding to violence. Moreover, when Government had deserted its clergy, and had granted free General Assemblies, the two Covenants would re-arise, and the pretensions of the clergy to dominate the State would be revived. Lauderdale drifted into a policy of alternate "Indulgences" or tolerations, and of repression, which had the desired effect, at the maximum of cost to justice and decency. Before England drove James II from the throne, but a small remnant of fanatics were in active resistance, and the Covenants had ceased to be dangerous.
A scheme of partial toleration was mooted in 1667, and Rothes was removed from his practical dictatorship, while Turner was made the scapegoat of Rothes, Sharp, and Dalziel. The result of the scheme of toleration was an increase in disorder. Bishop Leighton had a plan for abolishing all but a shadow of Episcopacy; but the temper of the recalcitrants displayed itself in a book, "Naphtali," advocating the right of the godly to murder their oppressors. This work contained provocations to anarchism, and, in Knox's spirit, encouraged any Phinehas conscious of a "call" from Heaven to do justice on such persons as he found guilty of troubling the godly.
Fired by such Christian doctrines, on July 11, 1668, one Mitchell - "a preacher of the Gospel, and a youth of much zeal and piety," says Wodrow the historian - shot at Sharp, wounded the Bishop of Orkney in the street of Edinburgh, and escaped. This event delayed the project of conciliation, but in July 1669 the first Indulgence was promulgated. On making certain concessions, outed ministers were to be restored. Two-and-forty came in, including the Resolutioner Douglas, in 1660 the correspondent of Sharp. The Indulgence allowed the indulged to reject Episcopal collation; but while brethren exiled in Holland denounced the scheme (these brethren, led by Mr MacWard, opposed all attempts at reconciliation), it also offended the Archbishops, who issued a Remonstrance. Sharp was silenced; Burnet of Glasgow was superseded, and the see was given to the saintly but unpractical Leighton. By 1670 conventiclers met in arms, and "a clanking Act," as Lauderdale called it, menaced them with death: Charles II resented but did not rescind it. In fact, the disorders and attacks on conformist ministers were of a violence much overlooked by our historians. In 1672 a second Indulgence split the Kirk into factions - the exiles in Holland maintaining that preachers who accepted it should be held men unholy, false brethren. But the Indulged increased in numbers, and finally in influence.
To such a man as Leighton the whole quarrel seemed "a scuffle of drunken men in the dark." An Englishman entering a Scottish church at this time found no sort of liturgy; prayers and sermons were what the minister chose to make them - in fact, there was no persecution for religion, says Sir George Mackenzie. But if men thought even a shadow of Episcopacy an offence to Omnipotence, and the king's authority in ecclesiastical cases a usurping of "the Crown Honours of Christ"; if they consequently broke the law by attending armed conventicles and assailing conformist preachers, and then were fined or imprisoned, - from their point of view they were being persecuted for their religion. Meanwhile they bullied and "rabbled" the "curates" for their religion: such was Leighton's "drunken scuffle in the dark."
In 1672 Lauderdale married the rapacious and tyrannical daughter of Will Murray - of old the whipping-boy of Charles I, later a disreputable intriguer. Lauderdale's own ferocity of temper and his greed had created so much dislike that in the Parliament of 1673 he was met by a constitutional opposition headed by the Duke of Hamilton, and with Sir George Mackenzie as its orator. Lauderdale consented to withdraw monopolies on salt, tobacco, and brandy; to other grievances he would not listen (the distresses of the Kirk were not brought forward), and he dissolved the Parliament. The opposition tried to get at him through the English Commons, who brought against him charges like those which were fatal to Strafford. They failed; and Lauderdale, holding seven offices himself, while his brother Haltoun was Master of the Mint, ruled through a kind of clique of kinsmen and creatures.
Leighton, in despair, resigned his see: the irreconcilables of the Kirk had crowned him with insults. The Kirk, he said, "abounded in furious zeal and endless debates about the empty name and shadow of a difference in government, in the meanwhile not having of solemn and orderly public worship as much as a shadow."
Wodrow, the historian of the sufferings of the Kirk, declares that through the riotous proceedings of the religious malcontents "the country resembled war as much as peace." But an Act of Council of 1677 bidding landowners sign a bond for the peaceable behaviour of all on their lands was refused obedience by many western lairds. They could not enforce order, they said: hence it seemed to follow that there was much disorder. Those who refused were, by a stretch of the law of "law-burrows," bound over to keep the peace of the Government. Lauderdale, having nothing that we would call a police, little money, and a small insufficient force of regulars, called in "the Highland Host," the retainers of Atholl, Glenorchy, Mar, Moray, and Airlie, and other northern lords, and quartered them on the disturbed districts for a month. They were then sent home bearing their spoils (February 1678). Atholl and Perth (later to be the Catholic minister of James II) now went over to "the Party," the opposition, Hamilton's party; Hamilton and others rode to London to complain against Lauderdale, but he, aided by the silver tongue of Mackenzie, who had changed sides, won over Charles, and Lauderdale's assailants were helpless.
Great unpopularity and disgrace were achieved by the treatment of the pious Mitchell, who, we have seen, missed Sharp and shot the Bishop of Orkney in 1668. In 1674 he was taken, and confessed before the Council, after receiving from Rothes, then Chancellor, assurance of his life: this with Lauderdale's consent. But when brought before the judges, he retracted his confession. He was kept a prisoner on the Bass Rock; in 1676 was tortured; in January 1678 was again tried. Haltoun (who in a letter of 1674 had mentioned the assurance of life), Rothes, Sharp, and Lauderdale, all swore that, to their memory, no assurance had been given in 1674. Mitchell's counsel asked to be allowed to examine the Register of the Council, but, for some invisible technical reasons, the Lords of the Justiciary refused; the request, they said, came too late. Mackenzie prosecuted; he had been Mitchell's counsel in 1674, and it is impossible to follow the reasoning by which he justifies the condemnation and hanging of Mitchell in January 1678. Sharp was supposed to have urged Mitchell's trial, and to have perjured himself, which is far from certain. Though Mitchell was guilty, the manner of his taking off was flagrantly unjust and most discreditable to all concerned.
Huge armed conventicles, and others led by Welsh, a preacher, marched about through the country in December 1678 to May 1679. In April 1679 two soldiers were murdered while in bed; next day John Graham of Claverhouse, who had served under the Prince of Orange with credit, and now comes upon the scene, reported that Welsh was organising an armed rebellion, and that the peasants were seizing the weapons of the militia. Balfour of Kinloch (Burley) and Robert Hamilton, a laird in Fife, were the leaders of that extreme sect which was feared as much by the indulged preachers as by the curates, and, on May 2, 1679, Balfour, with Hackstoun of Rathillet (who merely looked on), and other pious desperadoes, passed half an hour in clumsily hacking Sharp to death, in the presence of his daughter, at Magus Moor near St Andrews.
The slayers, says one of them, thanked the Lord "for leading them by His Holy Spirit in every step they stepped in that matter," and it is obvious that mere argument was unavailing with gentlemen who cherished such opinions. In the portraits of Sharp we see a face of refined goodness which makes the physiognomist distrust his art. From very early times Cromwell had styled Sharp "Sharp of that ilk." He was subtle, he had no fanaticism, he warned his brethren in 1660 of the impossibility of restoring their old authority and discipline. But when he accepted an archbishopric he sold his honour; his servility to Charles and Lauderdale was disgusting; fear made him cruel; his conduct at Mitchell's last trial is, at best, ambiguous; and the hatred in which he was held is proved by the falsehoods which his enemies told about his private life and his sorceries.
The murderers crossed the country, joined the armed fanatics of the west, under Robert Hamilton, and on Restoration Day (May 29) burned Acts of the Government at Rutherglen. Claverhouse rode out of Glasgow with a small force, to inquire into this proceeding; met the armed insurgents in a strong position defended by marshes and small lochs; sent to Lord Ross at Glasgow for reinforcements which did not arrive; and has himself told how he was defeated, pursued, and driven back into Glasgow. "This may be accounted the beginning of the rebellion in my opinion."
Hamilton shot with his own hand one of the prisoners, and reckoned the sparing of the others "one of our first steppings aside." Men so conscientious as Hamilton were rare in his party, which was ruined presently by its own distracted counsels.
The forces of the victors of Drumclog were swollen by their success, but they were repulsed with loss in an attack on Glasgow. The commands of Ross and Claverhouse were then withdrawn to Stirling, and when Livingstone joined them at Larbert, the whole army mustered but 1800 men - so weak were the regulars. The militia was raised, and the king sent down his illegitimate son, Monmouth, husband of the heiress of Buccleuch, at the head of several regiments of redcoats. Argyll was not of service; he was engaged in private war with the Macleans, who refused an appeal for help from the rebels. They, in Glasgow and at Hamilton, were quarrelling over the Indulgence: the extremists called Mr Welsh's party "rotten-hearted" - Welsh would not reject the king's authority - the Welshites were the more numerous. On June 22 the Clyde, at Bothwell Bridge, separated the rebels - whose preachers were inveighing against each other - from Monmouth's army. Monmouth refused to negotiate till the others laid down their arms, and after a brief artillery duel, the Royal infantry carried the bridge, and the rest of the affair was pursuit by the cavalry. The rival Covenanting leaders, Russel, one of Sharp's murderers, and Ure, give varying accounts of the affair, and each party blames the other. The rebel force is reckoned at from five to seven thousand, the Royal army was of 2300 according to Russel. "Some hundreds" of the Covenanters fell, and "many hundreds," the Privy Council reported, were taken.
The battle of Bothwell Bridge severed the extremists, Robert Hamilton, Richard Cameron and Cargill, the famous preachers, and the rest, from the majority of the Covenanters. They dwindled to the "Remnant," growing the fiercer as their numbers decreased. Only two ministers were hanged; hundreds of prisoners were banished, like Cromwell's prisoners after Dunbar, to the American colonies. Of these some two hundred were drowned in the wreck of their vessel off the Orkneys. The main body were penned up in Greyfriars Churchyard; many escaped; more signed a promise to remain peaceful, and shun conventicles. There was more of cruel carelessness than of the deliberate cruelty displayed in the massacres and hangings of women after Philiphaugh and Dunaverty. But the avaricious and corrupt rulers, after 1679, headed by James, Duke of York (Lauderdale being removed), made the rising of Bothwell Bridge the pretext for fining and ruining hundreds of persons, especially lairds, who were accused of helping or harbouring rebels. The officials were rapacious for their own profit. The records of scores of trials prosecuted for the sake of spoil, and disgraced by torture and injustice, make miserable reading. Between the trials of the accused and the struggle with the small minority of extremists led by Richard Cameron and the aged Mr Cargill, the history of the country is monotonously wretched. It was in prosecuting lairds and peasants and preachers that Sir George Mackenzie, by nature a lenient man and a lover of literature, gained the name of "the bluidy advocate."
Cameron and his followers rode about after issuing the wildest manifestoes, as at Sanquhar in the shire of Dumfries (June 22, 1680). Bruce of Earlshall was sent with a party of horse to pursue, and, in the wild marshes of Airs Moss, in Ayrshire, Cameron "fell praying and fighting"; while Hackstoun of Rathillet, less fortunate, was taken, and the murder of Sharp was avenged on him with unspeakable cruelties. The Remnant now formed itself into organised and armed societies; their conduct made them feared and detested by the majority of the preachers, who longed for a quiet life, not for the establishment of a Mosaic commonwealth, and "the execution of righteous judgments" on "malignants." Cargill was now the leader of the Remnant, and Cargill, in a conventicle at Torwood, of his own authority excommunicated the king, the Duke of York, Lauderdale, Rothes, Dalziel, and Mackenzie, whom he accused of leniency to witches, among other sins. The Government apparently thought that excommunication, to the mind of Cargill and his adherents, meant outlawry, and that outlawry might mean the assassination of the excommunicated. Cargill was hunted, and (July 12, 1681) was captured by "wild Bonshaw." It was believed by his party that the decision to execute Cargill was carried by the vote of Argyll, in the Privy Council, and that Cargill told Rothes (who had signed the Covenant with him in their youth) that Rothes would be the first to die. Rothes died on July 26, Cargill was hanged on July 27.
On the following day James, Duke of York, as Royal Commissioner, opened the first Parliament since 1673-74. James secured an Act making the right of succession to the Crown independent of differences of religion; he, of course, was a Catholic. The Test Act was also passed, a thing so self-contradictory in its terms that any man might take it whose sense of humour overcame his sense of honour. Many refused, including a number of the conformist ministers. Argyll took the Test "as far as it is consistent with itself and with the Protestant religion."
Argyll, the son of the executed Marquis, had recovered his lands, and acquired the title of Earl mainly through the help of Lauderdale. During the religious troubles from 1660 onwards he had taken no great part, but had sided with the Government, and approved of the torture of preachers. But what ruined him now (though the facts have been little noticed) was his disregard of the claims of his creditors, and his obtaining the lands of the Macleans in Mull and Morven, in discharge of an enormous debt of the Maclean chief to the Marquis, executed in 1661. The Macleans had vainly attempted to prove that the debt was vastly inflated by familiar processes, and had resisted in arms the invasion of the Campbells. They had friends in Seaforth, the Mackenzies, and in the Earl of Errol and other nobles.
These men, especially Mackenzie of Tarbet, an astute intriguer, seized their chance when Argyll took the Test "with a qualification," and though, at first, he satisfied and was reconciled to the Duke of York, they won over the Duke, accused Argyll to the king, brought him before a jury, and had him condemned of treason and incarcerated. The object may have been to intimidate him, and destroy his almost royal power in the west and the islands. In any case, after a trial for treason, in which one vote settled his doom, he escaped in disguise as a footman (perhaps by collusion, as was suspected), fled to England, conspired there with Scottish exiles and a Covenanting refugee, Mr Veitch, and, as Charles would not allow him to be searched for, he easily escaped to Holland. (For details, see my book, "Sir George Mackenzie.")
It was, in fact, clan hatred that dragged down Argyll. His condemnation was an infamous perversion of justice, but as Charles would not allow him to be captured in London, it is most improbable that he would have permitted the unjust capital sentence to be carried out. The escape was probably collusive, and the sole result of these intricate iniquities was to create for the Government an enemy who would have been dangerous if he had been trusted by the extreme Presbyterians. In England no less than in Scotland the supreme and odious injustice of Argyll's trial excited general indignation. The Earl of Aberdeen (Gordon of Haddo) was now Chancellor, and Queensberry was Treasurer for a while; both were intrigued against at Court by the Earl of Perth and his brother, later Lord Melfort, and probably by far the worst of all the knaves of the Restoration.
Increasing outrages by the Remnant, now headed by the Rev. Mr James Renwick, a very young man, led to more furious repression, especially as in 1683 Government detected a double plot - the wilder English aim being to raise the rabble and to take or slay Charles and his brother at the Rye House; while the more respectable conspirators, English and Scots, were believed to be acquainted with, though not engaged in, this design. The Rev. Mr Carstares was going and coming between Argyll and the exiles in Holland and the intriguers at home. They intended as usual first to surprise Edinburgh Castle. In England Algernon Sidney, Lord Russell, and others were arrested, while Baillie of Jerviswoode and Carstares were apprehended - Carstares in England. He was sent to Scotland, where he could be tortured. The trial of Jerviswoode was if possible more unjust than even the common run of these affairs, and he was executed (December 24, 1684).
The conspiracy was, in fact, a very serious affair: Carstares was confessedly aware of its criminal aspect, and was in the closest confidence of the ministers of William of Orange. What his dealings were with them in later years he would never divulge. But it is clear that if the plotters slew Charles and James, the hour had struck for the Dutch deliverer's appearance. If we describe the Rye House Plot as aiming merely at "the exclusion of the Duke of York from the throne," we shut our eyes to evidence and make ourselves incapable of understanding the events. There were plotters of every degree and rank, and they were intriguing with Argyll, and, through Carstares who knew, though he refused a part in the murder plot, were in touch at once with Argyll and the intimates of William of Orange..
Meanwhile "the hill men," the adherents of Renwick, in October 1684, declared a war of assassination against their opponents, and announced that they would try malignants in courts of their own. Their manifesto ("The Apologetical Declaration") caused an extraordinary measure of repression. A test - the abjuration of the criminal parts of Renwick's declaration - was to be offered by military authority to all and sundry. Refusal to abjure entailed military execution. The test was only obnoxious to sincere fanatics; but among them must have been hundreds of persons who had no criminal designs, and merely deemed it a point of honour not to "homologate" any act of a Government which was corrupt, prelatic, and unholy.
Later victims of this view of duty were Margaret Lauchleson and Margaret Wilson - an old woman and a young girl - cruelly drowned by the local authorities at Wigtown (May 1685). A myth represents Claverhouse as having been present. The shooting of John Brown, "the Christian Carrier," by Claverhouse in the previous week was an affair of another character. Claverhouse did not exceed his orders, and ammunition and treasonable papers were in Brown's possession; he was also sheltering a red-handed rebel. Brown was not shot merely "because he was a Nonconformist," nor was he shot by the hand of Claverhouse.
These incidents of "the killing time" were in the reign of James II; Charles II had died, to the sincere grief of most of his subjects, on February 2, 1685. "Lecherous and treacherous" as he was, he was humorous and good-humoured. The expected invasion of Scotland by Argyll, of England by Monmouth, did not encourage the Government to use respective lenity in the Covenanting region, from Lanarkshire to Galloway.
Argyll, who sailed from Holland on May 2, had a council of Lowlanders who thwarted him. His interests were in his own principality, but he found it occupied by Atholl and his clansmen, and the cadets of his own House as a rule would not rally to him. The Lowlanders with him, Sir Patrick Hume, Sir John Cochrane, and the rest, wished to move south and join hands with the Remnant in the west and in Galloway; but the Remnant distrusted the sudden religious zeal of Argyll, and were cowed by Claverhouse. The coasts were watched by Government vessels of war, and when, after vain movements round about his own castle, Inveraray, Argyll was obliged by his Lowlanders to move on Glasgow, he was checked at every turn; the leaders, weary and lost in the marshes, scattered from Kilpatrick on Clyde; Argyll crossed the river, and was captured by servants of Sir John Shaw of Greenock. He was not put to trial nor to torture; he was executed on the verdict of 1681. About 200 suspected persons were lodged by Government in Dunottar Castle at the time and treated with abominable cruelty.
The Covenanters were now effectually put down, though Renwick was not taken and hanged till 1688. The preachers were anxious for peace and quiet, and were bitterly hostile to Renwick. The Covenant was a dead letter as far as power to do mischief was concerned. It was not persecution of the Kirk, but demand for toleration of Catholics and a manifest desire to restore the Church, that in two years lost James his kingdoms.
On April 29, 1686, James's message to the Scots Parliament asked toleration for "our innocent subjects" the Catholics. He had substituted Perth's brother, now entitled Earl of Melfort, for Queensberry; Perth was now Chancellor; both men had adopted their king's religion, and the infamous Melfort can hardly be supposed to have done so honestly. Their families lost all in the event except their faith. With the request for toleration James sent promises of free trade with England, and he asked for no supplies. Perth had introduced Catholic vestments and furnishings in Holyrood chapel, which provoked a No Popery riot. Parliament would not permit toleration; James removed many of the Council and filled their places with Catholics. Sir George Mackenzie's conscience "dirled"; he refused to vote for toleration and he lost the Lord Advocateship, being superseded by Sir James Dalrymple, an old Covenanting opponent of Claverhouse in Galloway.
In August James, by prerogative, did what the Estates would not do, and he deprived the Archbishop of Glasgow and the Bishop of Dunkeld of their Sees: though a Catholic, he was the king-pope of a Protestant church! In a decree of July 1687 he extended toleration to the Kirk, and a meeting of preachers at Edinburgh expressed "a deep sense of your Majesty's gracious and surprising favour." The Kirk was indeed broken, and, when the Revolution came, was at last ready for a compromise from which the Covenants were omitted. On February 17, 1688, Mr Renwick was hanged at Edinburgh: he had been prosecuted by Dalrymple. On the same day Mackenzie superseded Dalrymple as Lord Advocate.
After the birth of the White Rose Prince of Wales (June 10, 1688), Scotland, like England, apprehended that a Catholic king would be followed by a Catholic son. The various contradictory lies about the child's birth flourished, all the more because James ventured to select the magistrates of the royal burghs. It became certain that the Prince of Orange would invade, and Melfort madly withdrew the regular troops, with Claverhouse (now Viscount Dundee) to aid in resisting William in England, though Balcarres proposed a safer way of holding down the English northern counties by volunteers, the Highland clans, and new levies. Thus the Privy Council in Scotland were left at the mercy of the populace.
Of the Scottish army in England all were disbanded when James fled to France, except a handful of cavalry, whom Dundee kept with him. Perth fled from Edinburgh, but was taken and held a prisoner for four years; the town train-band, with the mob and some Cameronians, took Holyrood, slaying such of the guard as they did not imprison; "many died of their wounds and hunger." The chapel and Catholic houses were sacked, and gangs of the armed Cameronian societies went about in the south-west, rabbling, robbing, and driving away ministers of the Episcopalian sort. Atholl was in power in Edinburgh; in London, where James's Scots friends met, the Duke of Hamilton was made President of Council, and power was left till the assembling of a Convention at Edinburgh (March 1689) in the hands of William.
In Edinburgh Castle the wavering Duke of Gordon was induced to remain by Dundee and Balcarres; while Dundee proposed to call a Jacobite convention in Stirling. Melfort induced James to send a letter contrary to the desires of his party; Atholl, who had promised to join them, broke away; the life of Dundee was threatened by the fanatics, and on March 18, seeing his party headless and heartless, Dundee rode north, going "wherever might lead him the shade of Montrose."
Mackay now brought to Edinburgh regiments from Holland, which overawed the Jacobites, and he secured for William the key of the north, the castle of Stirling. With Hamilton as President, the Convention, with only four adverse votes, declared against James and his son; and Hamilton (April 3) proclaimed at the cross the reign of William and Mary. The claim of rights was passed and declared Episcopacy intolerable. Balcarres was thrown into prison: on May 11 William took the Coronation oath for Scotland, merely protesting that he would not "root out heretics," as the oath enjoined.
This was "the end o' an auld sang," the end of the Stuart dynasty, and of the equally "divine rights" of kings and of preachers.
In a sketch it is impossible to convey any idea of the sufferings of Scotland, at least of Covenanting Scotland, under the Restoration. There was contest, unrest, and dragoonings, and the quartering of a brutal and licentious soldiery on suspected persons. Law, especially since 1679, had been twisted for the conviction of persons whom the administration desired to rob. The greed and corruption of the rulers, from Lauderdale, his wife, and his brother Haltoun, to Perth and his brother, the Earl of Melfort, whose very title was the name of an unjustly confiscated estate, is almost inconceivable. Few of the foremost men in power, except Sir George Mackenzie and Claverhouse, were free from personal profligacy of every sort. Claverhouse has left on record his aversion to severities against the peasantry; he was for prosecuting such gentry as the Dalrymples. As constable of Dundee he refused to inflict capital punishment on petty offenders, and Mackenzie went as far as he dared in opposing the ferocities of the inquisition of witches. But in cases of alleged treason Mackenzie knew no mercy.
Torture, legal in Scotland, was used with barbarism unprecedented there after each plot or rising, to extract secrets which, save in one or two cases like that of Carstares, the victims did not possess. They were peasants, preachers, and a few country gentlemen: the nobles had no inclination to suffer for the cause of the Covenants. The Covenants continued to be the idols of the societies of Cameronians, and of many preachers who were no longer inclined to die for these documents, - the expression of such strange doctrines, the causes of so many sorrows and of so many martyrdoms. However little we may sympathise with the doctrines, none the less the sufferers were idealists, and, no less than Montrose, preferred honour to life.
With all its sins, the Restoration so far pulverised the pretensions which, since 1560, the preachers had made, that William of Orange was not obliged to renew the conflict with the spiritual sons of Knox and Andrew Melville.
This fact is not so generally recognised as it might be. It is therefore proper to quote the corroborative opinion of the learned Historiographer-Royal of Scotland, Professor Hume Brown. "By concession and repression the once mighty force of Scottish Presbyterianism had been broken. Most deadly of the weapons in the accomplishment of this result had been the three Acts of Indulgence which had successively cut so deep into the ranks of uniformity. In succumbing to the threats and promises of the Government, the Indulged ministers had undoubtedly compromised the fundamental principles of Presbyterianism. . . . The compliance of these ministers was, in truth, the first and necessary step towards that religious and political compromise which the force of circumstances was gradually imposing on the Scottish people," and "the example of the Indulged ministers, who composed the great mass of the Presbyterian clergy, was of the most potent effect in substituting the idea of toleration for that of the religious absolutism of Knox and Melville."
It may be added that the pretensions of Knox and Melville and all their followers were no essential part of Presbyterial Church government, but were merely the continuation or survival of the clerical claims of apostolic authority, as enforced by such popes as Hildebrand and such martyrs as St Thomas of Canterbury.
|To Next Section|