Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

born just after the trial of the dead Ruthvens (19th of November 1600), and his mother was, as ususal, opposed to the king's recent proceedings.

In 1602 Cecil was engaged in dark plots against James; the rising of Essex (of which James probably was expectant) had James becomes king of England. failed; but by the end of the year Cecil had entered into a secret understanding with James to favour his claims to the English succession. Elizabeth's last letter to the king was of the 5th of January 1603; she died in the earliest hour of the 1st of April, and James, late on the 3rd of April, had the news from Carey. He entered London on the 6th of May, whence he henceforth, as he said, governed Scotland “by the pen.” Entirely safe from the usual turbulent movements of Scottish opposition, and but ill acquainted with Scottish opinion, he could dictate measures which were oppressive to the preachers and unwelcome to the majority of the laity. He kept the kirk for two or three years without a General Assembly, to which they had a legal right, and (with at least a shadow of legal right) he proclaimed unlawful the assembly of Aberdeen (1605). Though the recalcitrants who held it were punished, James's own officials saw that he had gone too far. His bishops were already becoming odious to his nobles; his prorogation of General Assemblies continued, and the brothers Melville, called to England, were treated with unconstitutional harshness. Andrew, who behaved with injudicious violence, was banished to France, James to Newcastle; other preachers were confined to their parishes; and by a mixture of chicanery (as at the pseudo assembly of Linlithgow) and of violence, the king established his tottering episcopacy, and sowed the dragon's teeth of civil war. Catholics were equally or more severely persecuted; and though the Borderers were brought into tranquillity, it was by measures of indiscriminate severity.

A scheme for complete union of England and Scotland, promoted by James and by Francis Bacon, was unwelcome to and rejected by the two jealous countries (1604-1606). But Postnati, subjects born in Scotland after James's accession to the English throne, were allowed to purchase and hold real property, and “to bring real actions for the same,” in England (1608).

In 1610 James had three Scottish bishops consecrated by three English bishops, ensuring for the northern country apostolic succession; and justices of the peace were created in Scotland. The “plantation” of Ulster by Scottish colonists was begun and flourished. Catholics were more and more persecuted, and in 1615 Father Ogilvie was executed, after abominably cruel treatment in which Spotiswoode, archbishop of Glasgow, took an unworthy share. In the same year the king's “Courts of High Commission” were consolidated, and an organ was actually placed in the royal chapel at Holyrood.

In 1617 James visited his native land: ecclesiastical brawls at once broke out, and James vigorously pushed, in face of the disfavour even of his bishops, the acceptance of his famous Five Articles. They were accepted at Perth, in 1618, but were evaded wherever evasion was possible. Communicants were to kneel, not to sit, a thing that had, of all others, been odious to John Knox; Easter was to be observed, also Christmas, contrary to earnest consciences; confirmation was introduced; the Communion might be administered to the dying in their houses; and baptism must be on the first Sunday after the child's birth. These articles, harmless as they may seem to us, were the last straw that Scottish loyalty could bear. In 1621, they were carried in parliament by a fair majority; to the horror and bitter indignation of all men and women of the old leaven. Worse, the English liturgy was used in a college chapel of St Andrews on the 15th of January 1623. James tried to suppress the general irritation by a proclamation against conventicles, and a threat to take away the courts of law from Edinburgh, if people did not go to church on Christmas day. He postponed the threat till Easter 1625, but, says Calderwood, “The Lord removed him out of the way fourteen days before the Easter Communion.” He died on the 27th of March. Encouraged by safety and adulation in England; grasping at the Tudor ideal of kingship, determined to reduce to order the kirk from which he had suffered so many injuries and insults, he sowed the wind and his son reaped the whirlwind.

Only the chief moments in the struggle between Charles I. and the Scots can be touched on in this summary. James VI. Charles I. had succeeded in his struggle with the preachers partly by satisfying the nobles with gifts out of old church lands. Charles I. reunited the kirk and the nobles by threatening, or seeming to threaten, to resume or impair these gifts, and also by his favour towards the universally detested bishops (1625-1629). Mr S. R. Gardiner speaks of the final shape of Charles's measure as “a wise and beneficent reform”; and he did aim at recovering the “teinds” or tithes, and securing something like a satisfactory sustenance for ministers. But he had caused alarm, and he refused all demands for the withdrawal of the loathed articles of Perth. The younger bishops too were not “sound” in Calvinism; many were looked on as Arminians. Protests were uttered in 1633, when Charles entered Edinburgh and held a parliament. Above all, and most legitimately, the revival of General Assemblies, now long discussed, was demanded vainly.

By 1636, Charles and Laud had decided to introduce a liturgy, a slightly, but in Scottish apprehensions “idolatrously,” modified version of the Anglican prayer-book. Anglicanism was a limb of Antichrist; extempore prayers were regarded as inspired: a liturgy was “a Mass-book.” The procedure was purely despotic, and at the first attempt to use the liturgy in St Giles's there broke out the famous “Jenny Geddes” riot in the church (23rd of July 1637). The nobles of the country, the ministers and lairds, met in Edinburgh and sent a petition against the liturgy to Charles. In November were formed “The Tables,” a standing revolutionary committee of all Estates.

Constant meetings hurled protestations against the bishops; no man was more active than the young Montrose. In February The Covenanters. 1638 the Covenant, practically a “band” of the whole country, enforced on reluctant signers, was launched. It made Scotland, like Israel, “a covenanted people” for the defence and propagation of the old Presbyterianism of Andrew Melville, and many devotees held that it was for ever binding on the nation. Legists differ as to whether the band was legal or not, but revolutions make their own laws, and the Covenant could not be more illegal than the imposure of the liturgy. Charles drove on the bishops, who better understood the situation, and he sent the half-hearted Hamilton to negotiate and threaten in Edinburgh, where the Covenanters were blockading the castle. But Charles did grant a General Assembly in Glasgow (21st of November), where, among unseemly uproar, the ecclesiastical legislation of James I. was rescinded, the law and custom of forty years were abolished, conformist clerics were expelled, and the earl of Argyll appeared as leader of the extreme party, while Montrose was the general of the armed Covenanters. In 1639 he was as active in arms in the north as Hamilton, on the king's side, was dilatory and helpless in the south. By May the chief clerical leader, Henderson of Leuchars, was denouncing Royalists as “Amalekites,” and by biblical precedent Amalekites receive no quarter. Prelacy was “Baal worship,” and the kirk thus turned the strife in the direction of religious ferocity.

While Charles hung irresolute on the eastern border, the Covenanters, under Alexander Leslie, took heart, occupied Duns Law, and terrified Charles into negotiations (11th-18th June). A hollow pacification was made: the assembly of August 1639 imposed the signing of the Covenant on all Scotsmen. A parliament (31st of August) demanded the loss of votes (fourteen) by bishops, and freedom of debate on bills formed by the Lords of the Articles, who had practically held all power; while Argyll carried a bill demanding for each estate the right to select its own representatives among these lords. Traquhair, as royal commissioner, prorogued parliament; negotiations with the king in London had no result; and in 1640 the prorogation was contemned, and though opposed by Montrose, the parliament constituted itself, with no royal warrant. War was at hand, but Montrose formed a party by “the band of Cumbernauld,”