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CHAP. are supported by arbitrary punishments; and all the privileges of the nation, transmitted through so many ages, secured by so many laws, and purchased by the blood of so many heroes and patriots, now lie prostrate at the feet of the monarch. What though public peace and national industry increased the commerce and opulence of the kingdom? This advantage was temporary, and due alone, not to any encouragement given by the crown, but to the spirit of the English, the remains of their ancient freedom. What though the personal character of the king, amidst all his misguided counsels, might merit indulgence, or even praise? He was but one man; and the privileges of the people, the inheritance of millions, were too valuable to be sacrificed to his prejudices and mistakes. Such, or more severe, were the sentiments promoted by a great party in the nation: no excuse on the king's part, or alleviation, how reasonable soever, could be hearkened to or admitted: and to redress these grievances, a Parliament was impatiently longed for; or any other incident, however calamitous, that might secure the people against those oppressions which they felt, or the greater ills which they apprehended, from the combined encroachments of church and state.
DISCONTENTS IN SCOTLAND.-INTRODUCTION OF THE CANONS AND LITURGY.-A
THE grievances under which the English laboured when CHAP. considered in themselves, without regard to the constitution, scarcely deserve the name; nor were they either 1637. burdensome on the people's properties or any way shocking to the natural humanity of mankind. Even the imposition of ship-money, independent of the consequences, was a great and evident advantage to the public, by the judicious use which the king made of the money levied by that expedient. And though it was justly apprehended, that such precedents, if patiently submitted to, would end in a total disuse of Parliaments, and in the establishment of arbitrary authority; Charles dreaded no opposition from the people, who are not commonly much affected with consequences, and require some striking motive to engage them in a resistance of established government. All ecclesiastical affairs were settled by law and uninterrupted precedent; and the church was become a considerable barrier to the power, both legal and illegal, of the crown. Peace too, industry, commerce, opulence; nay, even justice and lenity of administration, notwithstanding some very few exceptions: all these were enjoyed by the people; and every other blessing of government, except liberty, or rather the present exercise of liberty and its proper security a. It seemed probable, therefore, that affairs might long have continued on the same footing in England had it not been for the neighbourhood of Scotland; a country more turbulent, and less disposed to submission and obedience. It was thence the commotions first arose; and it is there
a Clarendon, p. 74, 75. May, p. 18. Warwick, p. 62.
fore time for us to return thither, and to give an account of the state of affairs in that kingdom.
Though the pacific and not unskilful government of James, and the great authority which he had acquired, Scotland. had much allayed the feuds among the great families, and had established law and order throughout the kingdom; the Scottish nobility were still possessed of the chief power and influence over the people. Their property was extensive; their hereditary jurisdictions and the feudal tenures increased their authority: and the attachment of the gentry to the heads of families established a kind of voluntary servitude under the chieftains. Besides that long absence had much loosened the king's connexions with the nobility, who resided chiefly at their country seats; they were in general at this time, though from slight causes, much disgusted with the court. Charles, from the natural piety or superstition of his temper, was extremely attached to the ecclesiastics: and as it is natural for men to persuade themselves that their interest coincides with their inclination; he had established it as a fixed maxim of policy, to increase the power and authority of that order. The prelates, he thought, established regularity and discipline among the clergy; the clergy inculcated obedience and loyalty among the people: and as that rank of men had no separate authority, and no dependence but on the crown; the royal power, it would seem, might, with the greater safety, be entrusted in their hands. Many of the prelates, therefore, were raised to the chief dignities of the state Spotswood, Archbishop of St. Andrew's, was created chancellor: nine of the bishops were privy-counsellors the Bishop of Ross aspired to the office of treasurer: some of the prelates possessed places in the exchequer and it was even endeavoured to revive the first institution of the college of justice, and to share equally between the clergy and laity the whole judicial authority. These advantages possessed by the church, and which the bishops did not always enjoy with suitable modesty, disgusted the haughty nobility, who, deeming themselves much superior in rank and quality to this new order of men,
were displeased to find themselves inferior in power and influence. Interest joined itself to ambition, and begat a jealousy, lest the episcopal sees, which, at the reformation, had been pillaged by the nobles, should again be enriched at the expense of that order. By a most useful and beneficial law, the impropriations had already been ravished from the great men: competent salaries had been assigned to the impoverished clergy from the tithes of each parish: and what remained, the proprietor of the land was empowered to purchase at a low valuation. The king likewise, warranted by ancient law and practice, had declared for a general resumption of all crown lands, alienated by his predecessors; and though he took no step towards the execution of this project, the very pretension to such power had excited jealousy and discontent".
Notwithstanding the tender regard which Charles bore to the whole church, he had been able, in Scotland, to acquire only the affection of the superior rank among the clergy. The ministers in general equalled, if not exceeded, the nobility in their prejudices against the court, against the prelates, and against episcopal authority. Though the establishment of the hierarchy might seem advantageous to the inferior clergy, both as it erected dignities to which all of them might aspire, and as it bestowed a lustre on the whole body, and allured men of family into it; these views had no influence on the Scottish ecclesiastics. In the present disposition of men's minds, there was another circumstance which drew consideration, and counterbalanced power and riches, the usual foundations of distinction among men; and that was, the fervour of piety, and the rhetoric, however barbarous, of religious lectures and discourses. Checked by the prelates in the licence of preaching, the clergy regarded episcopal jurisdiction both as a tyranny and an usurpation, and maintained a parity among ecclesiastics to be a divine privilege, which no human law could alter or infringe. While such ideas prevailed, the most moderate exercise of authority would have given disgust;
d King's Declaration, p. 7. e King's Declaration, p. 6. VOL. IV.
Franklyn, p. 611.
f Burnet's Mem. p. 29, 30.
CHAP. much more that extensive power, which the king's indulgence encouraged the prelates to assume. The jurisdiction of presbyteries, synods, and other democratical courts, was, in a manner, abolished by the bishops; and the general assembly itself had not been summoned for several years. A new oath was arbitrarily imposed on intrants, by which they swore to observe the articles of Perth, and submit to the liturgy and canons. And, in a word, the whole system of church government, during a course of thirty years, had been changed by means of the innovations introduced by James and Charles.
The people, under the influence of the nobility and clergy, could not fail to partake of the discontents which prevailed among these two orders; and where real grounds of complaint were wanting, they greedily laid hold of imaginary ones. The same horror against popery, with which the English puritans were possessed, was observable among the populace in Scotland; and among these, as being more uncultivated and uncivilized, seemed rather to be inflamed into a higher degree of ferocity. The genius of religion which prevailed in the court and among the prelates, was of an opposite nature; and having some affinity to the Romish worship, led them to mollify, as much as possible, these severe prejudices, and to speak of the Catholics in more charitable language, and with more reconciling expressions. From this foundation, a panic fear of popery was easily raised; and every new ceremony or ornament, introduced into divine service, was part of that great mystery of iniquity, which, from the encouragement of the king and the bishops, was to overspread the nation". The few innovations, which James had made, were considered as preparatives to this grand design; and the farther alterations attempted by Charles were represented as a plain declaration of his intentions. Through the whole course of this reign, nothing had more fatal influence, in both kingdoms, than this groundless apprehension, which with so much industry was propagated, and with so much credulity was embraced, by all ranks of men.
Amidst these dangerous complaints and terrors of reh Burnet's Mem. p. 29, 30, 31.
8 May, p. 29.