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Reign of Charles I. page 24

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Charles arrived at York on the 19th of April, and proceeded to administer to the lords who there awaited him with their followers, an oath of allegiance, binding them to oppose all conspiracies and seditions even if they were veiled under the pretence of religion. The lords Say and Brooke declined to take the oath, saying they were willing to accompany their sovereign from loyalty and affection, but that as they were ignorant of the laws and customs of Scotland, they could not undertake to say that the Scots were rebels, or the war was just. Charles with indignation ordered them to be arrested, but the attorney and solicitor generals on being consulted, declaring that there was no ground for their prosecution, they were dismissed with the royal displeasure, and desired to return home. Nor had the king much more satisfaction with the lords who had taken the oath, for they qualified it by signing a paper, stating in what sense they took it. To perform an act calculated to please the people whom he was leaving behind, at York he issued a proclamation, revoking no less than thirty-one monopolies and patents, pretending that he had not discovered before how grievous they were to his subjects; but the real fact was, that most of them had been granted to Scotchmen who had now forfeited his favour.

On leaving York he complimented the recorder, who had paid him the most fulsome flattery, and the municipal authorities, by telling them that he had there experienced more love than he ever had in London, on which he had showered so many benefits. At Durham by the bishop and clergy, and at Newcastle by the corporation, he was magnificently entertained, and at every halting-place fresh quotas of horse and foot came in. "But," remarks Clarendon, "if there had been none in the march but soldiers, it is most probable that a noble peace would have quickly ensued, even without fighting; but the progress was more illustrious than the march, and the soldiers were the least part of the army, and the least consulted with. For," he adds, "the king more intended the pomp of his preparations than the strength of them." The certain proof, he might have added, of a very foolish king, as Charles was. But the its which Clarendon summons up on this occasion to explain the want of success are amusing. "If the war had been vigorously pursued, it had been as soon ended as begun." "If he had been duly informed of what was going on in Scotland," of course he would have known. "If the whole nation of Scotchmen had been entirely united in the rebellion, and all who stayed in the court had marched in their army, the king or kingdom could have sustained no damage by them; but the monument of their presumption and their shame would have been razed together, and no other memory preserved of their rebellion but in their memorable and infamous defeat." That is, there would have been no Scotch traitors about him to keep him misinformed. This is just as true as the treasury being well furnished, for we know that Hamilton and Traquair kept the king admirably and punctually informed of everything the whole time. "If," however, Charles had more wisely chosen his generals, - but Arundel, his general, was a man, says this veracious historian, "who had nothing martial about him but his presence and his looks, and therefore was thought to be made choice of for his negative qualities. He did not love the Scots; he did not love the puritans 5 which good qualities were allayed by another negative - he did love nobody else." The lieutenant-general, the earl of Essex, was too proud and uncompromising, and the earl of Holland, general of the horse, was just no general at all, "a man fitter for a show than a field." Yet, says Clarendon, "If the king himself had stayed at London, or, which had been the next best, kept his court arid resided at York, and sent the army on its proper errand, and left the matter of the war solely to them, in all human reason his enemies had been speedily subdued." With such generals as Arundel and Holland, - for Essex was a brave commander, though, as afterwards shown, no great tactician, - it is not so easy to see that. But Clarendon might have safely reduced all his ifs into one - if Charles had been a wise king he would not have got into a quarrel with his subjects at all.

With such generals, and an army of raw levies, hastily dragged reluctantly from the plough and the mattock, to fight in a cause with which they had 110 sympathy, and encumbered by heaps of useless nobles and gentry, Charles marched on to Berwick, and encamped his forces on an open field called the Birks, He had besides the garrison of Berwick, three thousand two hundred and sixty horse, and nineteen thousand six hundred and fourteen foot. But on the other hand Leslie, says Clarendon, had drawn up his forces on the side of a hill at Dunse, so as to make a great show, "The front only could be seen, but it was reported that Leslie and the whole army were there; and it was very true, they were all there indeed - but it was as true that all did not exceed the number of nine thousand men, very ill armed, and mostly country fellows, who were on the sudden got together to make that show." Leslie, he informs us, had so dispersed his knot of ragamuffins, with great herds of cattle on the hills around, that it was naturally supposed that there was a great army, the bulk of it concealed behind the hill; and he assures us that had the royal army pushed forward the whole illusion would have vanished.

This account is as thoroughly opposed to all the credible historians of the time, Rushworth, Nalson, Burnet, Baillie, and the letters of distinguished persons engaged, as the whole array of ifs. We are assured that Leslie had pitched his camp at Dunglas, and twelve thousand volunteers had crowded to his standard. The preachers everywhere called on their hearers to advance the cause of God and the kirk. Those in the camp wrote and disseminated letters to the same effect. One demanded that every true Scot should go forward to extort a reasonable peace from the king, or to do battle with his and their common enemies, the prelates and papists of England. Another denounced the curse of Meroz on all who did not come to the help of the Lord, and of his champions. Another ironically bade those who would not fight for God and their country, to bring spades and bury the saints whom they had abandoned to the swords of the Amalekites. They had chosen for the motto on their banners the words, "For Christ's Crown and the Covenant," and over every captain's tent waved the arms of Scotland and these words. Soldiers therefore flocked in on all sides to the sacred standard, and by the time that Leslie marched for Dunse Hill, his army numbered nearly twenty thousand men, many of them new to arms, but all enthusiastic patriots. Twice a day they were summoned by sound of drum to drill and to sermon; and when they were not listening to the exciting harangues of the ministers, they were solacing themselves with singing psalms and reading the Scriptures, or with extempore prayer. "Had you lent your ear," says one of them, "and heard in the tents the sounds of some singing psalms, some praying, some reading Scripture, you would have been refreshed. For myself, I never found my mind in better temper than it was. I was as a man who had take a leave from the world, and was resolved to die in that service without return. I found the favour of God shining upon me, and a sweet, meek, humble, yet strong and vehement spirit leading me all along."

Leslie was joined by the earl of Montrose, who had been posted at Kelso, and the first of their proceedings was to issue proclamations, declaring that they had no intention to invade England if their reasonable demands were granted; and their only object was to obtain from the king the confirmation of his promises for the free enjoyment of their religion. Whatever was done in the Scottish camp was freely circulated in the royal camp, for they had plenty of friends there, and the strength, the spirits, and resolution of their army was abundantly set forth daily.

It was the fortune of the earl of Holland to lead the way first against them. He passed the Tweed near Twisell, where the English army had crossed to the battle of Flodden, and advanced towards the detachment of the army near

Kelso. He had with him the bulk of the horse and about three thousand infantry. As if no enemy had been in the country, he trotted on with his horse, till he found himself on the hill of Maxwellhaugh, above Kelso, and not only saw the tents of the enemy, but his way barred by an advanced' post of one hundred and fifty horse, and five or six thousand foot. He then discovered that his foot and artillery were three or four miles behind. On this he sent a trumpet to the enemy, commanding them not to cross the border, to which they replied by asking whose trumpet that was, and being told the earl of Holland's, they said the earl had better take himself off; which it appears he lost no time in doing, and rode back to the general camp without striking a stroke. The Scotch, when they saw him retreating, sent after him a number of squibs and letters of ridicule, which were speedily circulated through the English army. The generals wrote letters to Essex, Holland, and Arundel, entreating them to intercede with the king that matters might be accommodated without bloodshed. Essex is said to have sent on their letters to the king without a word of reply to their messengers, Arundel and Holland were more gracious.

During this marching and countermarching it was that Leslie had posted his army on Dunse Hill, opposite Charles's camp, and the king, who had hitherto despised the Scottish force, now felt alarmed at their close proximity, and the hasty retreat of Holland. He blamed lord Arundel for giving him no notice of the approach of the rebels, Arundel blamed the scout-master, and the scout-master blamed the scouts. There were earthworks suddenly thrown up to protect his camp, and intimation given that overtures would be listened to. Accordingly, on the 6th of June, 1639, the earl of Dunfermline, attended by a trumpet, arrived in the royal camp, bearing a humble petition to his majesty, entreating him to appoint a few suitable persons to confer with a deputation from the Scots, so that all misunderstandings might be removed, and the peace of the kingdom preserved. The petition was received, for besides the ill-success of Holland, the ill-success of Hamilton and his fleet was notorious; and it was, moreover, rumoured that the mother of Hamilton, a most zealous covenanter, had paid him a visit on board his vessel, and that he was much disinclined by her persuasions to press the Scotch closely. There were daily rumours of a descent from Ireland on the other hand, and of a rising of the royalists in the Highlands under lord Aboyne, son of the earl of Huntly, which rendered the covenanters more desirous of an accommodation. On the part of the crown the earls of Essex, Holland, Salisbury, and Berkshire, Sir Henry Vane, and Mr. Secretary Coke, were appointed commissioners; on that of the covenanters the earls of Rothes and Dunfermline, the lord Loudon, and Sir William Douglas, sheriff of Teviotdale. To these afterwards, much to the displeasure of the king, were added Alexander Henderson, late moderator of the assembly, and Johnstone, the clerk-register. They met in Arundel's tent; but before they could enter on their business, the king himself suddenly entered, and telling the Scotch commissioners that as he understood they complained that they could not be heard, he had determined to hear them himself, and he demanded what it was they wanted. The earl of Rothes replied simply, to be secured in their religion and liberty. Loudon made some apology for the boldness of the proceedings of the Scotch, but Charles cut him short, telling him that he could admit of no apologies for what was past, but that if they came to implore pardon, they must put down what they had to say in writing, and in writing he would answer them.

This was Charles's peculiar style, by which the negotiation appeared likely to come to a speedy end; but the Scotch were firm, and adhered to their old natural principle, declaring that they had sought nothing but their own native rights, and the advancement of his majesty's service, and desired to have those severely punished who had misrepresented them to the king, Some historians assert that Hamilton at this juncture came into the camp from the Forth, and strongly advised the king to close with the Scots; though Clarendon affirms that he did not arrive till after the agreement was signed, and found much fault with it. However that be, after much debate, and several attempts to overreach the Scotch, which their caution defeated, it was concluded that the king should ratify all that had been done by his commissioner, which was next to nothing, though he would not recognise the acts of what he called the pretended general assembly. But the main and only important concession was that all disputes should be settled by another assembly, to be held on the 6th of August, and by a parliament which should ratify its proceedings, to be held on the 20th of August, when an act of oblivion should be passed. Both parties were to disband their armies; the king's forts were to be restored, with all the ammunition; the fleet was to be withdrawn; all Scotch merchant vessels and goods returned; and all the honours and privileges of the subjects should be replaced. The king resisted, however, any mention of episcopacy in the agreement; for he was as resolved as ever to reinstate the bishops. And indeed, that same hollow duplicity guided him in this as in all other actions of his life, being determined to break the whole agreement on the first possible opportunity. The covenanters strongly suspected as much; and when Charles, before returning, invited fourteen of the leaders to meet him in Berwick, they had the fear of the Tower before their eyes, and declined the honour, and sent as their commissioners the earls of Loudon, Lothian, and Montrose. Charles represented that it had been his intention to proceed to Edinburgh himself, and hold the parliament in person, but that fresh instances of "the valyiance of the godly females" deterred him; his chief officers of state; not being able to show themselves for them in the streets of Berwick without insult.

What Charles had failed to do in the convention at large, he managed to effect to a certain degree with the nobles. Loudon and Lothian were said to be greatly softened by the king's conversation, but Montrose was won over altogether.

The two armies were disbanded on the 24th of June, and the earl of Traquair was appointed the king's commissioner in Scotland, Hamilton firmly declining to return thither. Charles reached London on the 1st of August, and one of the first things which he did, was to write to the Scotch bishops, telling them that he would never abandon the idea pf reinstating them, and would in the meantime provide for their support. He forbade them to present themselves at the approaching assembly or parliament, as that would ruin everything; but he advised them to send in a protest against the infringement of their rights, and get it presented by some mean person, so as to create not too much notice. Such was Charles's perfidious conduct, at the very moment that he was promising the covenanters the contrary. Accordingly the bishops fixed themselves in the vicinity of the borders, some at Morpeth, some in Holy Island, some in Berwick itself, keeping up a correspondence with their adherents in the Scottish capital, and ready to rush in again on the first favourable chance.

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