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Reign of Charles I. (Continued) page 8

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This, it must be confessed, was plain and honest, and therefore loyal and patriotic speaking. The general assembly of the kirk had already come to this conclusion; but all was lost on the king. In former years it was attributed to the evil counsels of his courtiers that he went so wrong, but now it was seen that he was himself the true son of his father, and that nothing could drive him from his absolute notions of church and state but death. Many have judged, from his slippery conduct, and his many unprincipled subterfuges throughout his life, that his conduct was the result, not of conscience, but of mere obstinacy of temper; but in that they appear to be wrong to a certain extent. His temper was thoroughly obstinate and despotic, but he was strengthened in this obstinacy by his conscience on church matters. But what conscience, ask they, could a man have who was ready to perjure himself and deceive to gain his ends? That was the spirit of kingcraft imbibed by his education, and thoroughly engrafted on his obstinate nature; and he was as conscientious in his lies and political villainies as in anything else, because ho believed them employed for a sacred end. His queen, his friends, any one interested in him now saw that it was no longer a question of this or that church, but of his life and fortunes; that he must yield or perish. Mazarin had threatened to send over an army and assist his cause with force, if reason should not prevail with parliament. He now sent over Bellievre, as an ambassador extraordinary, to insist on parliament making terms with the king; but Bellievre no sooner arrived in the country, than he saw that it was useless to ask for more than parliament was disposed to give.

Montreuil deposed all that had been offered to the king by the Scots, but he could not assert that the king had accepted those conditions. He was recalled, and M. de Bellievre went on to Newcastle, and joined in the entreaty to the king, backed by the private letters of the queen, to give up the church rather than sacrifice everything. His entreaties were all wasted upon Charles. The ambassador, therefore, wrote to the cardinal that the king was too backward in giving the parliament satisfaction, and begging that some one might be sent who might have more influence with the king.

On this the queen sent over Sir William Davenant, the poet, a witty and worthy man, who was freely admitted to converse with Charles, and as Charles knew him, they got on very well till they came to the same subject - the church. Davenant assured him that it was the advice of all his friends that he should give up that point. "What friends?" demanded the king. He named Jermyn. "Jermyn," replied Charles, "does not know anything of the church." "The lord Colepepper." "Colepepper," said Charles, "has no religion. What said the chancellor?" That was Hyde. Davenant could not say, as Clarendon was not at Paris, but had greatly offended the queen by deserting the prince. Charles retorted that "the chancellor was an honest man, who would not desert the prince nor the church, and that the queen was mistaken." On this, Davenant having no further authorities to quote, ventured to offer his own opinion that the church was not of importance enough to occasion the ruin of king and kingdom. At this Charles lost all patience, and in a paroxysm of passion drove the unlucky adviser from his presence. Poor Davenant retired to France exceedingly dejected and afflicted, for, says Clarendon, "he had in truth very good affections."

Parliament now having proved that all negotiation was useless, their commissioners returned, and reported that they could obtain no answer from the king, except that he was ready to come up to London and treat in person. A presbyterian member, on hearing this report, exclaimed - "What will become of us, now the king has rejected our propositions?" "Nay," replied an independent member, "what would have become of us, had he accepted them?" And really it is difficult to see what could have been the condition of the kingdom had a man of Charles's incorrigible character been again admitted to power. The parliament returned thanks to the Scottish commissioners for their zealous co-operation in the endeavour to arrange matters with the king - a severe blow to Charles, who had till now clung to the hope of seizing some advantage from the jealousies which for many months had prevailed betwixt the parliament and the Scottish army.

On the 12th of August the Scottish commissioners presented a paper to the house of lords, stating that the kingdom of Scotland had, on the invitation of both houses, cheerfully undertaken and faithfully managed their assistance in the kingdom towards obtaining the ends expressed in the covenant; and as the forces of the common enemy were now broken and destroyed, through the blessing of God, they were willing to surrender up the fortresses in their hands, and retire into their own country, on a reasonable compensation being made for their sufferings and expenses. They stated truly that many base calumnies and execrable aspersions had been cast upon them by printed pamphlets and otherwise, which they had not suffered to turn them from that brotherly affection which was requisite for the great end in view, and which they trusted would yet be effected, notwithstanding the lamentable refusal of their propositions by the king. They claimed, moreover, still to I be consulted on the measure for accomplishing the common object of peace for the kingdom. The commons appointed a committee to settle the accounts betwixt them. The Scots demanded six hundred thousand pounds as the balance due, but agreed to receive four hundred thousand pounds, one half of which was to be paid before quitting the kingdom.

Scarcely had this amicable arrangement been made, when the two English houses of parliament passed a resolution that the disposal of the king's person belonged to them. This alarmed the Scots, who instantly remonstrated, saying that as Charles was king of Scotland as well as of England, both nations had an equal right to be consulted regarding the disposal of his person. This is a sufficient answer to the calumny so zealously propagated by the royalists that the Scots had sold the king to the parliament. On the contrary, they had claimed a sum of money as a just payment of their expenses and services, and the person or liberty of the king had not entered at all into the bargain. This bargain, in fact, was made five months - that is, on the 5th of November - before they delivered up the king, that is, on the 30th of January, 1647, and during that five months they were zealously engaged in contending for the personal security of the monarch to the very verge of a civil war. All this time striving equally to induce Charles to accept the terms, which would have removed all difficulties. From September 21st, when the English parliament voted this resolution, to October 13th, a fierce contest was carried on on this subject, and various conferences were held. The Scotch published their speeches on these occasions; the English seized them, and imprisoned the printers; there was imminent danger of civil war, and on the 13th of October, the commons voted payment for the army for the next six months, giving an unmistakable proof of their resolve on the question.

All this was beheld with delight by Charles; and he wrote to Hamilton, who was now liberated from his prison in Mount St. Michael, and to his wife, that he believed yet that they, would have to restore him with honour. He believed one party or the other would, to settle the question, concede all to him, and with his sanction put the other down. For some time the public spirit in Scotland favoured his hopes. The question was discussed there with as much vehemence as in England. His friends exerted themselves, the national feeling was raised in his favour, and the Scottish parliament passed a vote on the 10th of December, under the management of the Hamiltons, that they would exert all their power and influence to maintain the monarchical system of goverment, and the king's title to the English crown, which it was now notorious that the independents sought to subvert. This gave wonderful spirit to the royal party; but the commission of the kirk instantly reminded parliament that Charles had steadily refused to take the covenant, and that even if he were deposed in England, he could not be allowed to come into Scotland; or if he did enter it, his royal functions must be suspended till he had embraced the covenant, and given freedom to their religion. This brought the parliament to reflection, and the next day it rescinded the resolution.

This dashed the last hopes of the king, and, now that it was too late, he began seriously to contemplate escape to the continent. Montreuil wrote to the French court on the 21st of January, 1647 - the very day that the money was paid to the Scots, and a receipt given previous to their departure - that Charles still continued to dream of escaping, though to himself it appeared impossible, unless the Scots had rather see him do so than fall into the hands of the independents. The king had arranged with Sir Robert and William Murray his scheme of escape in disguise, but it was found impossible. Once more, therefore, he wrote to the parliament of England for permission to go to London and open a free debate with both houses for the settlement of all differences. The message received no notice whatever; but the two houses went on debating as to the disposal of the king's person. The lords voted that he should be allowed to come to Newmarket; the commons that he should go to Holmby, in Northampton, one of his houses, to which he was considerably attached. After further debate this was agreed to by the lords.

The Scots, seeing that they must yield up the person of the king to the English parliament or prepare to fight for it, asked themselves what they were to gain by a civil war for a king who would not move one jot towards complying with their wishes? They made one more effort to persuade him to take the covenant, but in vain. In reply to their solicitation, he made this ominous reply: - "It is a received opinion by many, that engagements, acts, or promises of a restrained person, are neither valid nor obligating; how true or false this is I will not now dispute, but I am sure if I be not free, I am not lit to answer your or any propositions." And he demanded if he went to Scotland whether he should be free, with honour and safety. It was clear what was in his mind - that if he did take the covenant he would be at liberty to break it when he had the power; and as the Scots had determined that they would not receive him into Scotland at the certain cost of a civil war, when they could with such a person have no possible guarantee of his keeping his engagements even were he brought to make them, they replied that he must at once accept their propositions, or they must leave him to the resolution of parliament. Two days after, the 16th of January, 1647, the parliament of Scotland acceded to the demand of the English parliament that the king should be given up, a promise being obtained that respect should be had to the safety of his person in the defence of the true religion, and the liberties of the two kingdoms, according to the solemn league and covenant. More was demanded by the Scots, namely, that no obstacle should be opposed to the legitimate succession of his children, and no alteration made in the existing government of the kingdom. To this the lords fully assented, but the commons took no notice of it.

On the 5th of January, the two hundred thousand pounds, engaged to be paid to the Scots before leaving England, arrived at Newcastle, in thirty-six carts, under a strong escort, and having been duly counted, a receipt was signed on the 21st at Northallerton, and on the 30th Charles was committed to the care of the English commissioners, consisting of three lords and six commoners, the earl of Pembroke being at their head. He professed to be pleased with the change, as it would bring him nearer to his parliament. The Scots, having finished their business in England, evacuated Newcastle, and marched away into their own country.

In all these transactions we have endeavoured in vain to discover any ground for the common calumny against the Scots, that they bought and sold the king. On the contrary, we have shown that all contract regarding their reimbursements and remuneration was completed five months before the delivery of the king. That they did all in their power to induce him to accept their covenant, and with that their pledge to defend him to the last drop of their blood. Montreuil says, that even at the very last moment the earls of Lauderdale and Traquair again pressed the king to consent to accept the covenant and establish presbyterianism, and they would convey him to Berwick and compel the English to be satisfied with what he had thus offered them. That the Scots offered him (Montreuil) twenty thousand Jacobuses, to persuade the king to comply, but that he could not prevail. It must be remembered, too, that when they did surrender him, it was only on promise of safety to his person, and not to the independents, who made no secret of their designs against the monarchy, but to their fellow believers, the parliament, which entertained no such intentions, and had already offered Charles the same terms on the same conditions.

Before the close of this year, that is in September, the earl of Essex died, Ire ton married Bridget Cromwell, second daughter of Oliver Cromwell, and a great number of officers in the army were again in parliament; the Self-denying Ordinance, having served its turn, being no more heard of.

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