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Reign of Charles I. page 21

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The resentment of the Irish was becoming so strong against Wentworth, that the king thought it safest for him to come to England for a time; but he soon returned thither, with the additional favour of the monarch, where he remained till summoned by Charles to assist him by his counsels against the Scotch. But the fatal year 1640 was at hand, to close the story of his tyrannies. We must now retrace our steps, and bring up the conflicts of Scotland with the same blind and determined despots to that period.

The storm against the despotism of Charles had broken out in that country. From the moment of his visit to Edinburgh with his great apostle Laud, he had never ceased pushing forward Ms scheme of conforming the presbyterian church to Anglican episcopacy. He had restored the bishops on that occasion, given them lands, erected deans and chapters, and Lard had consecrated the High Church as a cathedral. As he could not persuade the Scottish peers to submit to the liturgy as used in England, which his father had attempted in vain before him, he consented that a liturgy should be drawn up by four Scottish bishops, were also to frame a code of ecclesiastical canons. They were to introduce into the latter some of the acts of the Scottish assemblies, and some more ancient canons, to make the whole more palatable. These laws and the liturgy were afterwards revised by the archbishop of Canterbury, and the bishops of London and Norwich, and Charles ordered the amended copies to be published and observed.

None but a monarch so foolhardy as Charles, would have dared such an experiment on the Scotch, who had resisted so stoutly his father, and had driven his grandmother from the country for her adhesion to popery. The people received the publication of the canon with unequivocal indications of their temper; and when, therefore, the first introduction of the liturgy was fixed for the 23rd of July, 1637, at the High Church, they went thither in crowds, to give a characteristic reception. The archbishops and bishops, the lords of session, and the magistrates went in procession, and appeared there in all their official splendour. This display, however, so far from imposing on the people cl Edinburgh, only excited their wrath and contempt, as the trumpery finery of the woman of Babylon.

No sooner had the dean ascended the reading-desk and began to read the collect for the day, than there was a burst of rage and indignation which must have been startling. The women of all ranks were most conspicuous in their demonstrations of disgust, They assailed the dean with the most opprobrious epithets, crying, "The mass has entered! Baal is in the church!" The dean was styled "a thief, a devil's gett, and of a witche's breeding." The noise and confusion were indescribable.

Amongst the women seated about the pulpit, or even on its steps, as you still see in Scotch churches, was a stout masculine dame, the keeper of a vegetable stall at the Tron Kirk, named Janet, or Jenny Geddes. Hearing a man repeat "Arnen!" close behind her, she turned round, and cuffing his ears with both her hands, exclaimed - "Out, false thief, is there na ither pairt of the churche to sing mass in, but thou must sing it at my lugge,"

The noise and riot increasing, the bishop who was to preach that day hastened up into the pulpit, over the head of the dean in the reading-desk, and entreated the people to listen to the collect. "Die! colic the warne o' thee!" cried Jenny Geddes, or "the devil send the colic into thy stomach," mistaking the strange word "collect" for that painful disorder; and with that she flung her joint stool with all her might at the bishop's head. A man near her diverted the course of the missile by trying to seize her arm, or, it was the opinion of those who saw it, the bishop had been a dead man. It swung on, however, past his ear with an ominous sweep, and was followed by the most frightful yells, and a shower of other heavy stools and clasped Bibles, sticks and stones, that speedily caused the evacuation of the pulpit. The bishop was followed in his descent from it by the cries of "Fox, wolf, and belly-god," for he was a very fat man.

The archbishop of St. Andrews, who was also lord chancellor, and some of the nobles having tried in vain to restore order, the magistrates rushed forward to the rescue, and by the aid of constables and beadles, the most prominent rioters were thrust out of the church, and the doors locked The bishop then went on with the service, but it was amid the wildest cries both from without and within, of "A pape! a pape! Antichrist! stane him! pull him down!" The windows were smashed in by a hail of stones and dirt, and at the conclusion of the service there was a rush forth of the congregation, to get every one to his own home in safety. The chief object of the crowd's attention was the bishop, who was trying to escape to his lodgings in the High-street, but he was seized, thrown down, and dragged through the mud. "Neither," says Sir James Balfour, "could that lubberly monster, with his satine gown, defend himself by his swollen hands and greasy belly, bot he had half-a-dissenneck fishes to a reckoning,"

The same morning similar scenes had taken place in the other churches, and the bishop of Argyle had been driven from the pulpit of Grey Friars' Church. In. the afternoon the service was read, but to empty churches, for the baillies of Edinburgh had been summoned before the privy council, and called upon to see order maintained. The service was therefore read with the doors locked, but the riot in the streets when it was over was worse than ever. The mob pursued the carriages of the nobles who took home the bishops with yells and stones; the women were like viragoes, urging on the men and showing the way; and the earl of Roxburgh, lord privy seal, who was driving home the bishop from St. Giles's, was so pelted with stones, the mob crying, "Drag out the priest of Baal," that he ordered his attendants to draw their swords and defend them; but the women cared nothing for their weapons, but pursued the carriage with stones till they escaped into Holyrood, covered with mud and bruises. The same spirit manifested itself everywhere. Jenny Geddes became a national heroine, which she yet remains, Robert Burns calling his mare after her that he rode into the Highlands. In Glasgow about the same time one William Allan, in a sermon, having spoken in praise of "the buke," that is, of the common prayer, no sooner was he out in the street than hundreds of enraged women surrounded him and the other clergymen with him, assailed him with sticks, fists, and peats, and belaboured him sorely. They tore off his cloak, ruff, and hat, and went near to killing him.

At Edinburgh the following day the council issued an order denouncing any further riots, but suspended the further reading of the service on account of the danger to the clergy, till they received further instructions from his majesty. But all warnings were wasted on such a man as Charles. He appeared to go on his way sealed, bound, and blinded to his doom. The more a broad and calculating intellect would have recognised the danger, the more his bull-dog antagonism was aroused. Laud, at his command, wrote a sharp letter, snubbing the council for suspending the reading of the service, and expressing his astonishment that the Scotch should refuse their own work. This was because four Scotch bishops had been pliant enough to frame the liturgy in part; but the Scotch people disclaimed the act of the royally imposed bishops, as much as they disclaimed Laud and his doings themselves. The king commanded lord Traquair, the lord treasurer of Scotland, to enforce the service, and not to give way to the insolence of the baser multitude.

But it was not merely the base multitude, the nobility were as violent against the new liturgy as the people, and came to high words with the bishops and their favourers amongst the clergy. Four ministers, Alexander Henderson, of Leuchars, John Hamilton, of Newburn, James Bruce, of Kingsbarns, and another, petitioned the council on the 23rd of August, to give them time to show the antichristian and idolatrous nature of this ritual, and how near it came to the popish mass, reminding them that the people of Scotland had established the independence of their own church at the reformation, which had been confirmed by parliament and general assemblies, and that the people, instructed in their religion from the pulpit, were not likely to adopt that which their fathers had rejected as contrary to the simplicity of the gospel. But the bishop of Ross, Laud's right-hand man, replied for the council that the liturgy was neither superstitious nor idolatrous, but according to the formula of the ancient churches, and they must submit to that or to "horning," that is, banishment. Still the council delayed, and the people were pretty quiet during the harvest time, but that over, the news having arrived of a peremptory message from the king, commanding the enforcement of the liturgy, and the removal of the council from Edinburgh to Linlithgow, thence in the following term to Stirling, and for the next to Dundee, the people flocked into Edinburgh; and incensed at the idea of their ancient capital being deprived of its honours as the seat of government, they became extremely irritated, attacked the bishops when they could see them, and nearly tore the clothes from the back of the bishop of Galway. He escaped into the council-house, and the members of the council in their turn sent to demand protection from the magistrates, who could not even protect themselves.

For greater security the council removed to Dalkeith, and the marquis of Hamilton recommended to Charles to make some concessions; but far from giving way, a more positive order for the enforcement of the obnoxious liturgy arrived from the king. But it was found impossible to enforce it: the earl of Traquair was summoned up to London, and sharply questioned as to the causes of the delay, and was sent back with more arbitrary commands. On the 18th of October these were made known, and fresh riots took place, Traquair and two of the bishops nearly losing their lives. The king then consented to the petitioners above-mentioned being represented by a deputation personally resident in Edinburgh. The object was to induce the crowds of strangers to withdraw to their homes, when it was thought the people of Edinburgh alone might be better dealt with; but the advocates of the people seized on the plan, and converted it into one of the most powerful engines of opposition imaginable.

At the head of these able politicians, and the contrivers of this profoundly sagacious scheme, were the lords Rothes, Balmerino, Lindsay, Lothian, London, Tester, and Cranstoun, Balmerino had been severely treated by Charles, and had thus become hardened into the most positive opponent of the episcopal movement. In his possession in 1634 was a copy of a petition to the Scottish parliament, too strong in its language even for the Scotch dissentients to present. He Lad under pledge of strictest secrecy lent this to a friend. For this he was committed to prison, and at the instigation of Spottiswoode, archbishop of St. Andrews, it was resolved to prosecute him for high treason, and a verdict was procured against him. But the people were so enraged that they assembled in vast crowds, vowing to murder both the jurors who had given the verdict, and the judges who had accepted it. Government was alarmed, and the king was reluctantly induced to grant Balmerino a pardon. From that moment he became the champion of the people.

He and his colleagues the nobles, the gentry, the presbyterian clergy, and the inhabitants of the burghs, formed themselves into four "tables," or committees, each of four persons, and each table sent a representative to a fifth table, a committee of superintendence and government. Thus in the capital there were sitting five tables, or committees, to receive all complaints and information from the people, and decide on all these matters. Throughout the country were speedily established similar tables, with whom they corresponded. Thus, instead of that mere representation of the petitioners which the king contemplated as an expedient for getting rid of the immediate pressure of the people, one of the most perfect and most powerful systems of popular agitation was organised that the world had ever seen. There was the most instant attention to the suggestions of the people by the provincial tables, and the most prompt and respectful consideration of their reports by the tables in the capital, A permanent government of the people was, in fact, erected, to which the public looked with the utmost confidence, and by which step its whole Weight was brought to bear on the unpopular government of the king,

The formidable nature of this novel engine of the popular will was quickly perceived by the court; and Traquair was ordered to issue a proclamation, declaring the Tables to be unlawful, commanding all people to withdraw to their own homes, and menacing the penalties of treason against ail who disobeyed. This proclamation was made by Traquair at Stirling, on the 19th of February, 1638; but it was disregarded. The Tables had procured early information of the forthcoming proclamation, and had summoned the provincial Tables from all parts to assemble in Edinburgh and Stirling. These cities were thus crowded with the very life and soul of the whole agitation. They had already risen in their demands as they perceived their strength, and had ceased to petition for time, and some trifling alterations in "the buke." They demanded the formal revocation of the liturgy, the canons, and the Court of High Commission; Now, no sooner had the herald read the royal proclamation, than the lords Hume and Lindsay read a counter proclamation, saw it affixed to the market-cross, and copies sent to Edinburgh and Linlithgow, to be read and publicly placarded there

Traquair, who had clearly foreseen these consequences, and in vain warned the king to avoid them by timely concession, wrote to Hamilton, informing him of what had taken place, and that there was no power in the kingdom capable of forcing the liturgy down the people's throats; that they would receive the mass as soon. His words received a speedy confirmation, The Tables determined to publish a solemn covenant betwixt the people and the Almighty to stand by their religion to the death. Their fathers, at the time of the reformation, had adopted such an instrument. The great nobles of the time had sworn to maintain the principles of Wishart and Knox, and to defend the preachers of those doctrines against the powers of antichrist and the monarchy. James and Charles himself had sworn to adhere to this confession of faith, with all their households and all classes of people, in the years 1580, 1581, and 1590, The name of covenant was thus become a watchword to the whole nation, which roused them like a trumpet. This document had been composed by Alexander Henderson, one of the four ministers who had petitioned, and Archibald Johnstone, an advocate, the great legal adviser of the party, and revised by Balmerino, Loudon, and Rothes.

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