Page images
PDF
EPUB

in a petition to the lords of the articles they offered 1662. their explanation. Upon that a debate arose, whe-ther an act explanatory of the oath should be offered to the parliament, or not. This was the first time that Leightoun appeared in parliament. He pressed it might be done, with much zeal. He said, the land mourned by reason of the many oaths that had been taken: the words of this oath were certainly capable of a bad sense: in compassion to papists a limited sense had been put on them in England: and he thought there should be a like tenderness shewed to protestants, especially when the scruple was just, and there was an oath in the case, in which the matter ought certainly to be made clear: to act otherwise looked like the laying snares for people, and the making men offenders for a word. Sharp took this ill from him, and replied upon him with great bitterness: and said, it was below the dignity of government to make acts to satisfy the weak scruples of peevish men: it ill became them, who had imposed their covenant on all people without any explanation, and had forced all to take it, now to expect such extraordinary favours. Leightoun insisted, that it ought to be done for that very reason, that all people might see a difference between the mild proceedings of the government now, and their severity: and that it ill became the very same persons, who had complained of that rigour, now to practise it themselves; for thus it may be said, the world goes mad by turns. This was ill 146 taken by the earl of Midletoun and all his party: for they designed to keep the matter so, that the presbyterians should be possessed with many scruples on this head; and that, when any of the party

1662. should be brought before them, whom they believed in fault, but had not full proof against, the oath should be tendered as the trial of their allegiance, and that on their refusing it they should censure them as they thought fit. So the ministers' petition was rejected, and they were required to take the oath as it stood in the law, without putting any sense upon it. They refused to do it, and were upon that condemned to perpetual banishment, as men that denied allegiance to the king. And by this an engine was found out to banish as many as they pleased: for the resolution was taken up by the whole party to refuse it, unless with an explanation. So soon did men forget all their former complaints of the severity of imposing oaths, and began to set on foot the same practices now, when they had it in their power to do it. But how unbecoming soever this rigour might be in laymen, it was certainly much more indecent when managed by clergymen. And the supremacy which was now turned against the presbyterians was, not long after this, laid much heavier on the bishops themselves: and then they desired an explanation, as much as the presbyterians did now, but could not obtain it.

The parliament was not satisfied with this oath: for they apprehended, that many would infer, that, since it came from England, it ought to be understood in the public and established sense of the words that was passed there, both in an article of doctrine and in an act of parliament. Therefore another oath was likewise taken from the English pattern, of abjuring the covenant; both the league and the national covenant. It is true, this was only imposed on men in the magistracy, or in public employments. By it all the presbyterians were turned 1662. out: for this oath was decried by the ministers as little less than open apostasy from God, and a throwing off their baptismal covenant. The main business of this session of parliament, Debates now that episcopacy was settled, and these oaths act of*", were enacted, was the passing of the act of indem-demnitT" nity. The earl of Midletoun had obtained of the king an instruction to consent to the fining of the chief offenders, or to other punishments not extending to life. This was intended to enrich him and his party, since all the rich and great offenders would be struck with the terror of this, and choose rather to make him a good present, than to be fined on record, as guilty persons. This matter was debated at the council in Whitehall. The earls of 147 Lauderdale and Crawford argued against it. They said, the king had granted a full indemnity in England, out of which none were excepted but the regicides: it seemed therefore an unkind and an unequal way of proceeding towards Scotland, that had merited eminently at the king's hands ever since the year 1648, and suffered much for it, that the one kingdom should not have the same measure of grace and pardon that was granted in the other. The earl of Midletoun answered, that all he desired was in favour of the loyal party in Scotland, who were undone by their adhering to the king: the revenue of the crown was too small, and too much charged, to repair their losses: so the king had no other way to be just to them, but to make their enemies pay for their rebellion. Some plausible limitations were offered to the fines to which any should be condemned; as, that they should be only

1662. for offences committed since the year 1650, and that no man should be fined in above a year's rent of his estate. These were agreed to. So he had an instruction to pass an act of indemnity, with a power of fining restrained to these rules. There was one sir George Mackenzie, since made lord Tarbot and earl of Cromarty, a young man of great vivacity of parts, but full of ambition, [and very crafty,] and had the art to recommend himself to all sides and parties by turns, and [is yet alive, having] made' a great figure in that country now above fifty years. He had great notions of virtue and religion: but they were only notions, at least they have not had great effect on himself at all times. He became now the earl of Midletoun's chief favourite. Primerose was grown rich and cautious: and his maxim having always been, that, when he apprehended a change, he ought to lay in for it by courting the side that was depressed, that so in the next turn he might secure friends to himself, he began to think that the earl of Midletoun went too fast to hold out long. He had often advised him to manage the business of restoring episcopacy in a slow progress. He had formed a scheme, by which it would have been the work of seven years [in a slow progress.] But the earl of Midletoun's heat and Sharp's vehemence spoiled all his project. The earl of Midletoun, after his own disgrace, said often to him, that his advices had been always wise and faithful: but he thought princes were more sensible of services, and more apt to reflect on them, and to reward them, than he found they were.

'The printed book substituted and has made.

When the settlement of episcopacy was over, the 1662. next care was to prepare the act of indemnity. it was aeSome proposed, that, besides the power of fining, ^mtght they should move the king, that he would consent ^tne^pB" to an instruction, empowering them likewise to put some under an incapacity to hold any public trust. This had never been proposed in public. But the 148 earl of Midletoun pretended, that many of the best affected of the parliament had proposed it in private to himself. So he sent the lord Tarbot up to the king with two draughts of an act of indemnity, the one containing an exception of some persons to be fined, and the other containing likewise a clause for the incapacitating of some, not exceeding twelve, from all public trust. He was ordered to lay both before the king: the one was penned according to the earl of Midletoun's instructions: the other was drawn at the desire of the parliament, for which he prayed an instruction, if the king thought fit to approve of it. The earl of Lauderdale had no apprehension of any design against himself in the motion. So he made no objection to it. And an instruction was drawn, empowering the earl of Midletoun to pass an act with that clause. Tarbot was then much considered at court, as one of the most extraordinary men that Scotland had produced, and was the better liked, because he was looked on as the person that the earl of Midletoun intended to set up in the earl of Lauderdale's room, who was then so much hated, that nothing could have preserved him but the course that was taken to ruin him. So lord Tarbot went back to Scotland. And the duke of Richmond and the earl of Newburgh went down with him, by whose wild and ungoverned extrava

« PreviousContinue »