Page images

CHA P. embraced by the court, promised the hearty concurLAIN:rence of parliament in every measure which could 1668. be proposed for opposition to the grandeur of

France. And thus all Europe seemed to repose herself with security under the wings of that powerful confederacy, which had been so happily formed for her protection. It is now time to give some account of the state of affairs in Scotland and in

Ireland. Affairs of

The Scottish nation, though they had never been Scotland. subject to the arbitrary power of their prince, had

but very imperfect notions of law and liberty; and scarcely in any age had they ever enjoyed an administration, which had confined itself within the proper boundaries. By their final union alone with England, their once hated adversary, they have happily attained the experience of a government perfectly regular, and exempt from all violence and injustice. Charles, from his aversion to business, had intrusted the affairs of that country to his ministers, particularly Middleton; and these could not forbear making very extraordinary stretches of authority.

THERE had been intercepted a letter, written by lord Lorne to lord Duffus, in which, a little too plainly, but very truly, he complained, that his enemies had endeavoured by falsehood to prepossess the king against him. But he said, that he had now discovered them, had defeated them, and had gained the person, meaning the earl of Clarendon, upon whom the chief of them depended. This letter was produced before the parliament; and Lorne was tried upon an old tyrannical, absurd law against Leasing-making; by which it was rendered criminal to belie the subjects to the king, or create in him an ill opinion of them. He was condemned to die: But Charles was much displeased with the sentence, and granted him a pardon.'

• Burnet, p. 149.

but which cine inflicting or abert Murr

It was carried in parliament, that twelve persons, C HA P. without crime, witness,, trial, or accuser, should be declared incapable of all trust or office; and to ren. 1668 der this injustice more egregious, it was agreed, that these persons should be named by ballot: A method of voting which several republics had adopted at elections, in order to prevent faction and intrigue ; but which could serve only as a cover to malice and iniquity in the inflicting of punishments. Lauder. dale, Crawford, and sir Robert Murray, among others, were incapacitated : But the king, who disapproved of this injustice, refused his assent."

An act was passed against all persons, who should move the king for restoring the children of those who were attainted by parliament; an unheard of restraint on applications for grace and mercy. No penalty was affixed; but the act was but the more violent and tyrannical on that account. The courtlawyers had established it as a maxim, that the as. signing of a punishment was a limitation of the crown: Whereas a law, forbidding any thing, though without a penalty, made the offenders cri. minal. And in that case, they determined, that the punishment was arbitrary; only that it could not extend to life. Middleton as commissioner passed this act; though he had no instructions for that purpose.

An Act of indemnity passed; but at the same time it was voted, that all those who had offended during the late disorders, should be subjected to fines; and a committee of parliament was appointed for imposing them. These proceeded without any regard to some equitable rules, which the king had prescribed to them. The most obnoxious compounded secretly. No consideration was had, either of men's riches, or of the degrees of their guilt; No proofs were produced: Inquiries were

not * Burnet, p. 152.

* Id. p. 147.

CHA P. not so much as made : But as fast as information LXIV,

was given in against any man, he was marked down 1668, for a particular fine: And all was transacted in a

secret committee. When the list was read in parliament, exceptions were made to several: Some had been under age during the civil wars; some had been abroad. But it was still replied, that a proper time would come, when every man should be heard in his own defence. The only intention, it was said, of setting the fines was, that such persons should have no benefit by the act of indemnity, unless they paid the sum demanded: Every one that chose to stand upon his innocence, and renounce the benefit of the indemnity; might do it at his peril. It was well known, that no one would dare so far to set at defiance so arbitrary an administration. The king wrote to the council, ordering them to supersede the levying of those fines: But Middleton found means, during some time, to elude these orders." And at last, the king obliged his ministers to compound for half the sums which had been imposed. In all these transactions, and in most others, which passed during the present reign, we still find the moderating hand of the king, interposed to protect the Scots from the oppressions which their own countrymen, employed in the ministry, were desirous of exercising over them. .

But the chief circumstance, whence were derived all the subsequent tyranny and disorders in Scotland, was the execution of the laws for the establishment of episcopacy; a mode of government, to which a great part of the nation had entertained an insurmountable aversion. The rights of patrons had for some years been abolished; and the power of electing ministers had been vested in the kirk-session, and Jay-elders. It was now enacted, that all incumbents, who had been admitted upon this title, should


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

receive a presentation from the patron, and should C HA P. be instituted anew by the bishop, under the penalty s

of deprivation. The more rigid presbyterians con- 1668. - certed measures among themselves, and refused

obedience: They imagined that their number would protect them. Three hundred and fifty parishes, above a third of the kingdom, were at once declared vacant. The western counties chiefly were obsti, nate in this particular, New ministers were sought for all over the kingdom; and no one was so ignorant or vicious as to be rejected. The people, who loved extremely and respected their former teachers; men remarkable for the severity of their manners, and their fervour in preaching; were inflamed against these intruders, who had obtained their livings under such invidious circumstances, and who took ng care, by the regularity of their manners, to soften the prejudices entertained against them. Even most of those who retained their livings b compliance, fell under the imputation of hypocrisy, either by their shewing a disgust to the new model of ecclesiastical government, which they had acknowledged; or, on the other hand, by declaring that their former abhorrence to presbytery and the covenant had been the result of violence and necessity, And as Middleton and the new ministry indulged themselves in great riot and disorder, to which the nation had been little accustomed, an opinion universally prevailed, that any form of religion, offered by such hạnds, must be profane and impious.

The people, notwithstanding their discontents, were resolved to give no handle against them, by the least symptom of mutiny or sedition : But this submissive disposition, instead of proçuring a mitigation of the rigours, was made use of as an argument for continuing the same measures, which, by their vigour, it was pretended, had produced so prompt an obedience. The king, however, was


monly resideained in a pland against, that vio

CHA P. disgusted with the violence of Middleton ;' and he LXIV.

made Rothes commissioner in his place. This 1668. nobleman was already president of the council; and

soon after was made lord-keeper and treasurer. Lauderdale still continued secretary of state, and commonly resided at London.

AFFAIRS remained in a peaceable state, till the severe law was made in England against conventicles. The Scottish parliament imitated that violence, by passing a like act. A kind of high commission court was appointed by the privy-council, for executing this rigorous law, and for the direction of ecclesiastical affairs. But even this court, illegal as it might be deemed, was much preferable to the method next adopted. Military force was let loose by the council. Wherever the people had generally forsaken their churches, the guards were quartered throughout the country. Sir James Turner commanded them, a man whose natural ferocity of temper was often inflamed by the use of strong liquors. He went about, and received from the clergy lists of those who absented themselves from church, or were supposed to frequent conventicles. Without any proof or legal conviction, he demanded a fine from them, and quartered soldiers on the supposed delinquents, till he received payment. As an insurrection was dreaded during the Dutch war, new forces were levied, and intrusted to the command of Dalziel and Drummond; two officers, who had served the king during the civil wars, and had afterwards engaged in the service of Russia, where they had increased the native cruelty of their disposition. A full career was given to their tyranny by the Scottish ministry. Representations were made to the king against these enormities. He seemed touched with the state of the country; and besides giving orders, that the ecclesiastical commission should be discontinued, he sig

nified Burnet, p. 202.


« PreviousContinue »