« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
part from his just prerogatives, nor invade the established government in church or state, was represented as the word of a prince never yet broken, and magnified as a security above all law. Addresses from every corporate body promised a secure and permanent authority, if from servile corporations, who had surrendered their privileges or suffered them to be violated, it were possible to collect the latent spirit or the sentiments of the people.
His accession was equally secure in Scotland. In Scot Among the nobility and gentry, his residence there had procured many personal friends, and the royalists were attached to his person by the impunity with which they were indulged in the abuse of power; the highlanders, by his attention to their chieftains, and his care to compose the dissensions of their clans. The presbyterians appeared the objects rather of his commiseration than fear. An indemnity was proclaimed on his accession; but an act of ostentatious clemency was disappointed, as usual, by the exception of all above the rank of mechanics or peasants, and the unhappy fugitives were required to surrender within three weeks, and to submit to the oath of allegiance or to perpetual exile. While the oath of allegiance was thus exacted, it is observable that the coronation oath for Scotland was declined by James, as repugnant to the religion which he proposed to introduce; but the omission was em
BOOK ployed, in a few years, to justify the declaration that he had forfeited the throne 1.
The indemnity afforded no intermission to the continued. murders in the fields; on the contrary, military violence continued to increase. The wretched fugitives were daily shot; or, if tried by a jury of soldiers, were executed, often in clusters, on the highways; and the officers, who should have restrained the troops, were accustomed, with a savage fury, to pistol the prisoners with their own hands. Even the humanity of government was barbarous, and disgraceful to a civilized state. Numbers were transported to Jamaica, Barbadoes, and the North American settlements; but the women were not unfrequently burnt in the check, and the ears of the men were lopt off to prevent or to detect their return. The most inhuman injunc tions which the council had issued, were implicitly executed. Three women at Wigton, who refused the oath of abjuration, were condemned to be drowned. The youngest, a child of thirteen, was suffered to escape. But her sister, a girl of eighteen, and the other, a woman upwards of sixty, were fastened to stakes beneath the sea mark, that as the tide flowed around them, they might suffer the lingering horrors of a protracted death. The eldest was first suffocated by the rising tide. The youngest was suffered to recover, and after respiring awhile, was persuaded by her relations, to Wodrow, ii. 471-3. Fount. Mem. MS.
to acknowledge or bless the king; but when they BOOK demanded her release, Winram, the officer who attended the execution, on her refusing to sign the abjuration, ordered her to be plunged again into the stream till drowned 2.
A parliament, summoned in the preceding A parlia reign, was opened by Queensberry the commis- April 28. sioner, who had engaged to render the government more despotical than ever, on assurance that the protestant religion should be preserved. The king's intentions were signified in the most arbitrary strain, that the estates were assembled, not only to express their duty, but to exhibit an exemplary compliance to others (the English parliament); that his demands were necessary rather for their own security than for the aggrandizement of his prerogative, which he was determined to maintain in its brightest lustre; and as nothing had been left unattempted, by a fanatical band of assassins and traitors, he trusted that no measure would be omitted to suppress their murderous designs. The commissioner and the chancellor, who enlarged successively on the letter, indulged in the most virulent invectives against the fanatics, whom they humanely proposed to extirpate, not as rebels merely to the king, but as inveterate enemies to the human race. They recommended the most unreserved submission, and never perhaps was a parliament assembled more obsequious 2 Wodrow, ii. 481-5, 6. Appen. 153.
BOOK to the crown. All opposition was removed with the presbyterians, who were excluded by the test. 1695. Apparently all sense of freedom was extinguished. The parliament, in a declaration or tender of duty, acknowledged the solid and absolute power with which the first and most fundamental laws of their monarchy, had invested the sovereign; professed their abhorrence of every principle derogatory to his sacred and supreme authority, in which alone their security or their rights consisted; promised a passive or entire obedience without reserve; and as the first fruits of their submissive loyalty, the whole nation, fit for arms, was devoted to his service; the excise was annexed to the crown for ever, and the land-tax was conferred upon the king for life 3.
New treasons and
In the severe laws against fanatics, the parliaattainders. ment was equally obsequious to his demands. As persecution renders the duty of a witness odious as the task of an informer, the people were generally averse from judicial oaths. The refusal to give evidence against traitors was converted into treason; against other delinquents, into the same crimes of which they were accused; and in the hands of the privy council, the rigors of the inquisition were justly apprehended from this outrageous act. To administer or receive the covenant, to acknowledge its authority, or even to
3 Wodrow, ii. 453. App. 147. Ralph, 857. Parl. 1685.
write in its defence were converted into treasons. BOOK A ratification was bestowed on every illegal judgment and act; and what shews the iniquitous administration of government and justice, the privy council, the judges and officers, both of the state and army, were indemnified for their acceptable services to the king. Field preachers were already subjected to confiscation and death. The same punishment was extended to preachers in houseconventicles, and to the whole audience in field meetings; a law of which the inhuman rigor may be estimated from the legal definition of these crimes. Domestic worship, attended by five persons in addition to the family, was punishable as a house-conventicle; but if frequented without, at the doors or windows, the latter was reputed a field-conventicle, for which the whole congregation were to suffer death. The test was extended almost to all ranks, under such pecuniary penalties as the council should impose; but the attainder of the late conspirators was an immediate source of revenue to the crown. Sixteen were attainted in their absence; among whom were the earl of Loudon, lord Melvile, Fletcher of Salton, sir Patrick Hume, Dalrymple, Cochran, and other exiles; six were tried at the bar, and among these Campbell of Cesnock submitted, with his son, to the king's pleasure, and, to gratify the rapacious Melfort, was convicted of treason4.
+ Parl. 1685. Burnet, iii. 28.