Page images



far as it was consistent with itself and with the BOOK protestant religion, implied, maliciously, that it was consistent with neither: That he was not thereby precluded from such alterations as he thought advantageous to the church or state, released him from every obligation contained in the test: And that he understood this to be a part of his oath, transferred the legislative power of the estates to himself. By means of such miserable comments, leasing-making, perjury, and treason, were deduced from a perversion of the most innocent words. The pleadings are extant, and the arguments of Lockhart reflect dishonour on the public accuser and infamy on the court. Ile demonstrated to the secret conviction of the judges themselves, that the explanation, far from amounting to treason, was not even criminal; and that the particular expressions were of the most innocent import, necessary to disburden the conscience from perjury, and strictly legal. But the quesțion had been already prejudged in council. The court was adjourned; but the judges continued sitting till midnight, to determine on the relevancy of the libel, whether in point of law the explanation of the test was sufficient to constitute those crimes which the indictment contained. Collington, an old cavalier, and Harcarse, a just and learned judge, prolonged the deliberations on the indictment, and opposed its relevancy, which was supported by Newton and Forret, the former instru,



BOOK ments of Lauderdale's corruption. Queensberry,

who presided as justice general, had himself received the test with an explanation; and in this delicate situation, when the judges were equally divided on the question, his private conviction was sufficiently attested by his refusal to give a decisive vote, or forfeit the preferment and favour of court by the acquittal of Argyle. To relieve him from this disgraceful dilemma, Nairn, a superannuated judge, whose attendance had been long dispensed with, was roused from his bed at midnight; and the proceedings were read over, as he had not heard the debate; but he dropped asleep till awakened for his vote. The interlocutor was pronounced next day, in the strict forms of unsubstantial justice; “ Sustaining the charges as rele

vant, repelling the legal defences against treason “ and leasing-making, and remitting the indict.

ment, with the defence against perjury, to the « knowledge of an assize." Unconscious of this midnight divan, Argyle and his counsel were overwhelmed with surprise and despair. They declined any challenge of the jurors, or examination of the witnesses; or disdained to renew an unavailing defence. The jury asserted their full share of infamy, in this iniquitous transaction. Montrose, the chancellor or foreman, dishonoured the reputation derived from his grandfather, in order to avenge his death; and of eleven peers and four commoners, seven were privy.counsellors, per



sonal enemies, deeply engaged in the prosecution BOOK of Argyle. From a gross affectation of impartiality, they acquitted him of perjury in receiving the oath in a false acceptation, but found by an Convicted: unanimous verdict, that he was guilty of treason and leasing-making to their full extent 40. It is in vain for apologetical historians to pretend, Motives of

the trial. and in vain for James to assert in his memoirs, that nothing more was intended than to wrest some dangerous jurisdictions out of the hands of Argyle. A man, who has perverted the course of justice, in order to acquire an undue power over another's life, has no claim to credit for the mo. tives which it may be convenient to assert when his victim has escaped. Argyle had already offered to surrender those jurisdictions, unconditionally, tó the king. The design was to ruin the head of the presbyterian party, and to divide the estates among the duke's friends. Whatever were their original designs against his life, his execution, if sentence were once pronounced, was a single additional step which their safety might require, and which the duke's authority was sufficient to sus. tain. When convicted formerly of the same fictitious crimes, he was preserved by Lauderdale, whose influence had now declined, and he disco. vered that no favour was to be expected at court. On the return of his messenger, he was informed of the king's instructions, that the sentence should

4* Burnet. Argyle's Case, ii. 5. S. SS.


[ocr errors]


BOOK be pronounced and the execution suspended ; but

every circumstance seemed to announce that his death was resolved. The military were ordered to town, and his guards were doubled: apartments were provided for his reception in the public gaol, to which peers were usually removed from the castle before execution; and the dark and ambiguous expressions of the duke and his creatures, implied that his execution was necessary, and that it would be easier to satisfy the king when the

deed was done, than to procure his previous conArgvle's sent. Whether these insinuations were employed

to intimidate Argyle, he escaped that evening in the train of his daughter-in-law, the lady Sophia Lindsay, disguised as her page. Sentence of attainder was immediately pronounced. His honours, estate, and life, were forfeited in his absence; his arms were reversed and torn; his posterity was incapacitated; and a large reward offered for his head. Notwithstanding a general alarm, and a vigilant pursuit, he was conducted to London, by Veitch a clergyman, through unfrequented roads; and Charles, who possessed not the common justice to pardon and restore him, had the genero

sity not to enquire after the place of his retreat+. Effects of Never was a sentence productive of more exehis sentence

cration and horror; never, perhaps, was a senpublic.

tence more flagitiously obtained, than the attain

41 Argyle's Case, 121. Burnet. Wodrow, i. 213. Founta Dec, i, 167.

on the

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

der of Argyle. Even the episcopal party, whom James had attached to his person and interest, were indignant at the shameless prostitution of justice, and the depravity of the prine nobility, who had descended to the basest offices, in order to accomplish the ruin of an ancient house. But the

pres. byterians were struck with consternation und despair. The most obnoxious of such as had opposed the test, and among these the carl of Loudon, Dalrymple the late president, Stewart an advocate, Fletcher of Salton, retired to the continent. The duke of Hamilton, and the proprietors of twenty sheriffships, or extensive regalities, rather than receive a test so pernicious to Argyle, suffered their hereditary jurisdictions to lapse and revert to the crown 42. From the horror and antipathy which the sentence inspired, the presbyterians became ever afterwards irreconcilable to James. He allowed them, they said, to continue protestants, but if they once ventured to assert their faith, not the most uniforın nor meritorious services could atone for a single act of opposition or of zeal +3. Their fears were communicated to those who had urged his exclusion with such violence in England, and whom the dissolution of the last parliament of Charles had left unprotected; and Argyle's case, which was printed in London, produced a deep impression on the public mind. From the coincidence of the two events,

42 Wodrow, ii, 225. 43 Fount. Mem. MS.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »