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Reign of Charles I. page 24


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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.

If we are to believe Clarendon, however, "The king was very melancholic, and quickly discovered that he had lost reputation at home and abroad, and those counsellors who had been most faulty, either through want of courage or wisdom, for at that time few of them wanted fidelity, never afterwards recovered spirit enough to do their duty, but gave themselves up to those who so much had outwitted them, every man shifting the fault from himself." On the contrary, he says, "The Scots got so much benefit and advantage by it, that they brought all their other mischievous devices to pass with ease, and a prosperous gale in all they went about." They declared that "they did not intend, by anything contained in the treaty, to vacate any of the proceedings which had been in the late general assembly at Glasgow, by which all the bishops were excommunicated, and renewed all their menaces against them by proclamation, and imposed grievous penalties on all who should presume to harbour any of them, so that by the time the king-came to London, it appeared plainly that the army was disbanded without a peace being made, and the Scots in more reputation, and equal inclination to affront his majesty than ever."

The fact was, that whilst Charles was pretending to concede, meaning to revoke when he had the power, the Scots were conscious of their advantage, and did not mean to allow him to do so. They were earnest and outspoken in their resolves, and therefore Charles seized a paper in which they published what had really been promised in the treaty, and had it burned by the common hangman.

The assembly was opened on the 12th of August in Edinburgh, and in spite of what Charles had assured the bishops, they were given up in the instructions to Traquair, for he meant to resist the abolition of the bishops, and to restore them when he had the power, but endeavoured to make political capital out of this concession. Traquair was to obtain, if possible, the admission of fourteen ministers into parliament instead of the bishops, or, if that were not possible, as many lay members whom the king was to appoint, and who were to choose the lords of the articles. By these perpetual finesses, Charles continually sought to filch back, as it were, the concessions that he made, as though those whom he sought to over-reach were not as wide awake as himself. He thought, if he could select the lords of the articles, and fourteen others devoted to him, he could revoke in the parliament what he gave up in the assembly - the characteristic of short-sighted cunning.

The bishops presented their protest to the commissioner, which, without being read, was to serve as a proof of their not having yielded up their claims; and the commissioner, finding the covenanters firm to all their demands - for every member of the assembly before entering it had sworn to support all the acts of the assembly of Glasgow - gave the royal assent to all the proceedings, and the news of the overthrow of episcopacy was received with shouts of acclamation by the people.

The parliament of Scotland met on the day appointed, the 20th of August. There the covenanters displayed their determination not to stickle for small matters, but to destroy the scheme by which that body had been made dependent on the royal will. They would no longer admit the bishops nor the lords of the articles whom the bishops had chosen, and who selected the topics under the direction of the crown, which should or should not come before the house. They proposed that the lesser barons, the commissioners of the shires, should take the place of the bishops, and that the lords of the articles should be selected from men of each estate, by those estates themselves. In order not to appear obstinate, they permitted the commissioner to name the lords of the articles for this once, but not as an act of right, but of grace, from themselves. They then decreed that all acts in favour of episcopacy should be rescinded; that patents of peerage should for the future be granted to none but such as possessed a rental of ten thousand marks from land in Scotland; that proxies should never again be admitted; and that the fortresses of Edinburgh, Stirling, and Dumbarton, should be entrusted to none but Scotchmen.

These measures would have completely enfranchised Scotland from the shackles of the crown, and Traquair, unable to avoid the necessity of ratifying them, prorogued the parliament to the 14th of November, so that he could receive the instructions of the king. Charles, to get rid of the demands of the covenanters altogether, prorogued it for six months. The members, who saw the intention, protested against the prorogation under circumstances so vital to the country, but obeyed after naming a deputation to go to the king on the subject. This deputation, headed by the lords London and Dunfermline, on arriving at Whitehall, were refused audience, because they had not come with the sanction of the royal commissioner; and Traquair was immediately summoned to court to answer for having conceded so much to the Scots. He had, indeed, conceded nothing but what Charles himself had instructed him to do; but the king was angry because he had not been able to recover in parliament, as he had vainly hoped, what was lost in convocation.

Traquair, who was aware that having implicitly followed these instructions would avail him little with the king in his mortification, thought of an expedient to divert Charles's anger into another channel. He had discovered a letter addressed by the covenanters to the king of France, complaining of the miserable condition of Scotland through the attempts of the king to root out the religion of the people; of his having violated the late treaty at Berwick, and dissolved parliament contrary to the will of the states, and to all national precedent, and entreating him to mediate in their favour. This letter was signed by seven lords, and addressed An Roi. The letter had been publicly declined by Louis, but privately answered, but in very cautious terms.

The production of this letter had all the effect that Traquair hoped for. The wrath of the king was immediately turned on the covenanters, and Traquair deepened the impression by assuring the king that nothing but war would pacify the covenanters, and declaring this discovery to be a perfect justification.

The Scots demanded an opportunity of vindicating themselves, and requested leave to send up deputies for that purpose. It was granted, and Dunfermline and Loudon were sent up. No sooner did they arrive than Loudon, whose name was to the intercepted letter, was instantly seized, and brought before the council. The letter being addressed simply Au Roi, which was the manner from subjects to their own sovereign, and not as from foreigners, it was deemed treasonable on that ground, if no other. Loudon asserted that the letter had been written before the pacification at Berwick, and. not being approved, had never been sent; but the contents contradicted that statement; and, moreover, one William Colvill, who had carried it to the French court, was in London, and was taken. London, thereupon, insisted on his safe conduct, and demanded liberty to return, contending that, if he had done anything wrong, it was in Scotland, and not there, that he ought to be interrogated. But the king sent both him and Colvill to the Tower.

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Pictures for Reign of Charles I. page 24

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