Vindicatum (1669), demanded the restoration of the covenants, which meant civil war, the hanging of the bishops, and even applauded assassination by men who had “a call,” like Phinehas. In a parliament with Lauderdale as commissioner (1669-1673) “clanking acts” were passed against nonconformity, but the laws were too severe to be executed, save spasmodically, and were followed by a second indulgence (1672). Lauderdale having married the rapacious countess of Dysart, corruption was rife; his brother, Haltoun, was an example of reckless greed; opposition arose to a scheme of union, presently dropped, and by 1673 the duke of Hamilton and Sir George Mackenzie led an organized political opposition. Lauderdale's Militia Act gave Charles a force of 22,000 men, who would “go anywhere” (that is, would invade England), at the king's command, and in 1673-1675 Lauderdale was attacked in the English House of Commons. Charles stood by him, but his best allies, Kincardine and Sir Robert Murray, deserted him, while Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh came over to his party, became king's advocate (1677), and till 1686 was the Achitophel and public prosecutor of the government. After an alleged attempt to negotiate through Argyll (1678) with the preachers, in view of the threatening increase of armed conventicles, Lauderdale resolved on suppression. Without money, and without anything like an adequate regular force, he called out the clansmen of Atholl, Perth and other nobles, and quartered “the Highland host” on the disturbed districts. He would either put them down, or, what he preferred, bring rebellion to a head. The gentry, who had proclaimed their inability to suppress conventicles, were ordered to sign a bond making them responsible for their tenants, and were bound over to keep the king's peace by “law burrows,” a method common in private life but unheard of between monarch and people. After six weeks the plundering clansmen were withdrawn, and in the spring of 1678, also of 1679, Hamilton with his allies carried their complaints to Charles. Mackenzie, in a controversy at Windsor (1679), proved to Charles that in Scotland he was as absolute as the kings of France and Spain, over church, state and all his subjects, and indeed, by various acts of James VI. and of his own reign, Charles really was a despot (British Museum, Additional MSS. 23,244, pp. 20-28).
Meanwhile, armed conventicles abounded, and the extreme faction openly denounced and separated themselves from the rapidly growing mass of the Indulged. Early in May 1679 Sharp was hacked to death on Magus Moor near St Andrews. The murderers rode to the west, joined the company of Robert Hamilton, defeated Graham of Claverhouse with a small force of horse at Drumclog, occupied Glasgow, and proved the total inability of the regular forces to cope with a rising. Charles might have been unable, in the frenzy of the popish plot of Titus Oates, to send forces from England, but as he chose the popular Protestant, the duke of Monmouth, to command them, he was allowed to despatch some regiments. The rebels, who were in two hostile parties, Indulged and Separatists, failed to hold Bothwell Bridge, and were easily routed. The duke of York was sent, in honourable banishment, to Scotland, and in the parliament of 1681 was royal commissioner.
IV. Here begins the fourth period (1680-1688), the domination of the duke, Queensberry, Perth, and his brother, Drummond of Lundin (earl of Melfort). Lauderdale was out of favour, and died. Now “by concession” (a third indulgence) “and repression, the once mighty force of Scottish Presbyterianism had at length been broken” (Hume Brown). By “Presbyterianism” we are here to understand, not the Presbyterian form of church government—the kirk whose motto is Nec tamen consumebatur—but the pretensions of preachers to dominate the state by the mythical “power of the keys,” by excommunication with civil penalties and by the fiercest religious intolerance. Presbyterianism can exist and flourish without these survivals of the proudest pretensions of Romanism. To quote Dr Hume Brown again, “When the absolutism of the Stuarts was succeeded by a more rational government (1689), 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.” Save for the fact that the ministers were as intolerant as ever of Nonconformists, Catholics and heretics, this is a just view, but Charles II. had to deal with a kirk in which the Remonstrants, the more fanatical ministers, were potent, whether the majority or not, while, after 1689, government found “the once mighty force of Presbyterianism broken.” It was broken by the two last Stuart kings, who employed methods the most brutal and repulsive for the crushing of consciences trained in the theocratic ideas of Knox and Melville. The memory of the courage and devotion with which men, women and even children faced torture, death and ruin for an ideal impossible and undesirable is dear to the Scottish people.
On the side of the extremists, Cameron was happy enough to die in fair fight at Airs Moss (22nd of July 1680), after publicly disowning the king for his breach of the Covenant. Cargill next excommunicated the king, Dalziel and Mackenzie, and his followers separated themselves from “the ordinances dispensed by any Presbyterian minister.” The followers of these two men, and of their successor, Renwick, who later was hanged, became the armed and organized “Societies,” a large force of yeomen and farmers in south-western Scotland, usually styled Cameronians. After the Revolution, the government left them alone, and could afford to do so.
In 1681, parliament, under the duke of York as commissioner, passed a test act so drafted that no human being could honestly and logically take the test. The earl of Argyll, son of the marquis, added a qualifying clause; he would take the test, “as far as it was consistent with itself.” By the influence of his countless creditors, who desired to be paid out of his estates, and in revenge for his seizure, on claims for debts, of the whole estates of clan Maclean (1674-1680), he was tried and was actually found guilty of treason. He escaped, but was condemned on the old charge after his later invasion of Scotland (1685).
In 1684, while Perth, and his brother, Melfort, who went over to Rome, were in power, Renwick emitted an “Apologetical Declaration,” in which the active enemies of his sect were threatened with secret trials and with assassination (October), and a “curate,” with some soldiers, was murdered. This, coming on the head of the Rye House murder plot (of which the Rev. Mr Carstairs, the agent of Argyll, and probably Argyll himself, then in Holland, were not ignorant), caused the government to demand, at the hands of the military, from all and sundry, an “Abjuration” of Renwick's anarchist utterances. Recusants were shot. The test was carefully framed so as to include no disavowal of religious principles, and was “universally unscrupled, even by the generality of great professors and ministers too,” says Sheilds, an advanced extremist. However, the peasantry found, in the abjuration, matter contrary to their consciences, and while some recusants were shot out of hand, a girl named Margaret Wilson, with an old Woman, Margaret MacLauchlan, were tied to stakes and drowned by the incoming tide, near Wigtown (13th of May 1685). How the penalty came to be inflicted, as the pair had what Wodrow calls “a material pardon,” while there is no record of the withdrawal of the reprieve, remains a mystery. The guilt appears to attach to the local authorities at Wigtown.
In this cruel affair, Claverhouse, who caused to be shot the celebrated John Brown, “the Christian carrier,” had no hand. To quote Dr Hume Brown, Claverhouse “kept strictly within the limits of his commission, and he carried out his orders with the distinct aim of saving blood in the end. To those who he thought had been led astray, it was his policy not to be unmerciful; for, in his own words, ‘it renders three desperate where it gains one.’ On the other hand, in the case of the obdurate, he showed a relentless precision, which gained for him his evil name, ‘The Bloody Clavers,’ the commissioned servant of the powers of darkness.” As constable of Dundee he secured the commutation of the death penalty on minor offenders under his jurisdiction, and his expressed maxim was