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III.: THE SCOTS. - Augustin Thierry, History of the Conquest of England by the Normans; Its Causes, and its Consequences, in England, Scotland, Ireland, & on the Continent, vol. 2 
History of the Conquest of England by the Normans; Its Causes, and its Consequences, in England, Scotland, Ireland, & on the Continent, translated from the seventh Paris edition, by William Hazlitt (London: H.G. Bohn, 1856). In 2 volumes. Vol. 2.
Part of: History of the Conquest of England by the Normans; Its Causes, and its Consequences, in England, Scotland, Ireland, & on the Continent, 2 vols.
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Prophecy of Merlin—Nine pretenders to the throne of Scotland—Invasion of Edward I.—William Wallace—Robert Bruce—Enfranchisement of Scotland—Character of the people of the border—Social condition of the Scots—Establishment of the Reformation—English puritans—Scottish covenanters—Alliance between the two nations—Civil war in England—Misunderstanding between the two nations—Charles II. proclaimed king in Scotland—Oliver Cromwell enters Scotland—Measures taken against the Scots—Restoration of Charles II.—Persecution of the Presbyterians—Their insurrection—Battle of Bothwell-bridge—Expulsion of the Stuarts—Sympathy of the Scots for the martyrs—National character and spirit of the Scots—Present condition of the Gaelic population.
In the year 1174, William, king of Scotland, invaded the north of England; but he was conquered and taken prisoner by the Anglo-Norman barons, and his defeat was regarded as a miraculous effect of the pilgrimage that king Henry II. had made to the tomb of Thomas Beket.3 Those who took him prisoner, shut him up in the castle of Richmont, now Richmond, in Yorkshire, built, in the time of the conquest, by the Breton, Alain Fergan. This circumstance, again, was regarded as a fulfilment of a prophecy of Merlin, conceived in these terms: “He shall be bridled with a bit, forged on the shores of the Armorican gulf.”1 And what is still stranger, is that the same prophecy had, a few months before, been applied to Henry II. when closely pressed by the Breton auxiliaries of his sons.2 The king of Scotland, removed from Richmond to Falaise, only quitted his prison on renewing the oath of homage which his predecessors had sworn to the Norman kings, and then broken.3 This act of enforced submission gave the king of England very little influence over the affairs of Scotland, so long as there were no intestine divisions, that is to say, during the hundred and twenty years which elapsed, up to the death of Alexander the Third.
Royalty among the Scots had never been purely elective, for their whole social order was founded on the principle of family; but, on the other hand, hereditary royalty had never any fixed rules: and the brother was often preferred to the grandson, and even to the son of the late king. Alexander III. left neither son nor brother, but cousins in great number, most of them of Norman or French origin, by the father’s side, and bearing French names, such as Jean Bailleul, Robert de Brus, Jean Comine, Jean d’Eaucy, Nicolas de Solles, &c.4 There were nine pretenders to the crown on various titles. Unable to agree among themselves, and feeling the necessity of terminating the dispute peaceably, they submitted it to Edward I., king of England, as to their suzerain lord.5 King Edward declared for him who had the best title, according to hereditary right by primogeniture: this was John Bailleul or Baliol, as the Scotch spelt it. He was crowned, but the king of England, taking advantage of the deference which the Scots had just exhibited to him, resolved to render practical that suzerainty over them which hitherto had been purely honorary.
The king of Scotland, in order to secure support against the intrigues of his competitors, lent himself at first to the views of the king of England; he gave to Englishmen most of the offices and dignities of the kingdom, and repaired to the court of his suzerain, to do him homage and receive his orders. Encouraged by this condescension of the king his protégé, Edward went the length of demanding from him, as pledges of his fealty and allegiance, the fortresses of Berwick, Edinburgh, and Roxburgh, the strongest in all Scotland.1 But so decided a national opposition arose against this demand, that John Baliol was fain to reject it, and to refuse the English troops admission to his fortresses. Hereupon Edward summoned him to Westminster, to answer for the refusal; but, instead of obeying the summons, Baliol solemnly renounced his homage and faith as vassal. On hearing this, the king of England exclaimed, in his Norman-French: “Ah! le fol felon telle folie fait! s’il ne veint à nous, nous veindrons à ly!”2
Edward I. set out for Scotland with all his chivalry of England and Aquitaine; with English archers so skilful that they seldom threw away one of their twelve arrows, and were wont to say, jestingly, that they had twelve Scots in their pouch; and, lastly, with a body of light-armed Welsh, who more often fought with the English than with the enemy, pillaged them whenever any opportunity occurred, and most frequently remained neuter in action. Notwithstanding the courage and patriotic energy of the Scots, the progress of the war was unfavourable to them. Their king did not support them heartily, and was ever desirous of making the amend to Edward for the resistance he had undertaken, as he said, through ill and false counsel.3 Moreover, there were at this time, in Scotland, neither well-fortified towns, nor fortresses, such as those the Normans had built in England. The seigneural habitations were not donjons, surrounded by a triple wall, but small square towers, with a simple ditch, when not situated on the edge of some natural ravine. King Edward accordingly penetrated without difficulty into the lowlands of Scotland, took possession of all the towns, placed garrisons in them, and removed to London the famous stone on which the kings of the country were crowned.1 Such of the Scots as would not submit to foreign sway, took refuge in the northern and western mountains, and in the forests which adjoined them.
From one of these retreats issued the famous patriot, William Walleys or Wallace, who for seven years made war upon the English, at first as a guerilla-chief, and then at the head of an army. The conquerors called him a highway robber, a murderer, an incendiary;2 and when they took him, hanged him at London, and stuck his head on a pike on the loftiest pinnacle of the Tower. The inhabitants of the conquered portion of Scotland suffered to the utmost extent the evils that follow upon a conquest; they had foreign governors, bailiffs, and sheriffs. “These English,” says a contemporary poet, “were all avaricious and debauched; haughty and contemptuous; they insulted our wives and daughters; good, worthy, and honoured knights were put to death by the cord. Ah! freedom is a noble thing!”3
This feeling, deeply impressed in the heart of the Scots, soon rallied them round another chief—Robert de Brus, or Bruce, one of the former competitors of John Baliol. Bruce was crowned king in the abbey of Scone, at a time when there was scarce a town, from the Tweed to the Orcades, that was not in the power of the English. Without an army and without treasure, he, like Wallace, took up his quarters in the forests and mountains, whither he was pursued by his enemies, with horse and foot, and dogs trained to hunt man, like game, by the scent.4 No one in the kingdom, says Froissart, dared lodge him, in castle or in fortress. Hunted like a wild beast, he went from mountain to mountain, from lake to lake, living on the produce of the chase and of fishing, until he reached the Mull of Cantyre, whence he gained the small island of Rachin or Rath Erin, lying near the coast of Ireland.
There he planted his royal standard as proudly as though he had been at Edinburgh, sent messengers into Ireland, and obtained some succours from the native Irish, on the ground of the ancient fraternity of the two nations, and of the common hatred they bore of the Anglo-Normans. He then sent messengers to the Hebrides, and along the whole western coast, soliciting the support of the Gaelic chiefs of those districts, who, in their wild independence, were very indifferent as to what became of the population of the lowlands of Scotland, which they called Saxon alike with that of England, and for which they had scarce more affection. All the clans, however, with one exception, promised him their faith and assistance. The chiefs and barons of the lowlands, of English, Norman, or Scottish race, formed among themselves compacts of alliance and fraternity-in-arms, in life and death, for king Robert and Scotland, against any man, French, English, or Scot.1 Probably, by the first of these names, they meant the king and all the lords of England, who at that time spoke among themselves no other language than French;2 for the French, the continental French, were warm friends of the patriots of Scotland.
Robert Bruce appointed as the rendezvous of his partisans a spot near the place where the western chain of mountains rises; and here was fought the decisive battle of Bannockburn. The Scotch were victorious; and their enemies, weakened by this great defeat, found themselves successively driven from all the fortified towns, and compelled to repass the Tweed in disorder, pursued in their turn by all the people of the southern lowlands, and especially by the men of the border, a population very formidable for an army in retreat.
The limits of England and Scotland were never well determined towards the west, where the country is mountainous and intersected in every direction by infinite valleys and small streams. The inhabitants of a large extent of this district were, properly speaking, neither Scots nor English, and the only national name by which they were known was that of Borderers, that is to say, people of the border or frontier. They were an aggregation of all the races of men that had come into Britain: of Britons, expelled by Anglo-Saxons; of Saxons, expelled by Normans; of Anglo-Normans or Scots banished for felonies or other crimes. This population was divided into great families, like the Celtic clans, but the names of these clans or families were, for the most part, English or French. The language of all the inhabitants was the Anglo-Danish dialect of the south of Scotland and the north of England. The chiefs and vassals lived familiarly together, the former in his embattled house, surrounded by rude palisades, and having the bed of some torrent for a moat; the latter in huts built around it. All followed the trade of marauders, their food being oxen and sheep, stolen from the inhabitants of the neighbouring plains. They made their expeditions on horseback, armed with a long lance, and having for defensive armour a quilted doublet, on which were sewn, as regularly as might be, plates of iron or brass.1
2 Though divided, administratively, into two distinct nations, and, according to the territory they occupied, subjects or Scotland or of England, they nevertheless regarded the kings of these two countries as foreigners, and were by turns Scots, when they purposed forage in England, and English, when a descent was to be made upon Scotland. They seldom fought among themselves, but in personal quarrels. As to their robberies, they exercised them without mercy, but at the same time without cruelty, as a profession having its rules and its points of honour. The richer of them assumed armorial bearings, a fashion which the Normans had introduced into England and Scotland. Their arms, which are still worn by several families of the country, are nearly all allusive to the manner of life of the ancient borderers. Generally, the field of the escutcheon is the sky with moon and stars, to signify, that the best time for the borderers was the night; the mottoes, in English or Latin, are equally significant; for example:—Watch weel—Sleep not for I watch—Ye shall want ere I want, and so on.
Scotland, restored to freedom, gave the name of saviour to Robert Bruce, a man of Norman origin, and whose ancestors, in the time of the conquest of England, had usurped, upon the Scottish territory, the town and valley of Annan. The ancient kings of Scotland had confirmed to them, by charters, possession of this domain, where the ruins of their castle are still visible. Of all the countries of Europe, Scotland is that wherein the mixture of the races has been most easily effected, and where it has left the fewest traces in the respective situation of the different classes of inhabitants. There were never villeins or peasant serfs in this country, as in England and in France, and the antiquarians have observed that the ancient acts of Scotland offer no example of the sale of the man with the land; that in none are found this form, so usual elsewhere: “With the buildings, and all the chattels, labourers, beasts, ploughs, &c.”1 From time immemorial, the burghers of the principal towns have sat in the great council of the kings of Scotland, beside the warriors of high rank, who styled themselves, in the Norman manner, knights, barons, earls, and marquises, or retained the ancient Anglo-Danish titles of thanes and lairds. When it became necessary to defend the country, the various trades’ companies marched under their own banners, led by their burgmaster. They had their honour to maintain on the field of battle, and their share of glory to win. Old popular ballads, still sung, not long since, in the southern districts of Scotland, celebrate the bravery of the shoemakers of Selkirk at the famous battle of Flodden, fought and lost, in 1513, by James IV. of Scotland.2
National opposition, or the natural reaction of the spirit of liberty against power, followed, in Scotland, the course it must ever follow in countries where the nation is not divided into two races of men, separated one from the other by a state of hereditary hostility; it was constantly and almost solely directed against the kings. In civil wars there were but two parties, that of the government and that of the body of the governed, and not, as elsewhere, three parties—royalty, the nobles, and the people. The military and opulent class never joined the kings against the people, and the people had seldom occasion to favour the royal power out of hatred to that of the nobles. In times of trouble, the struggle was between the king and his courtiers on one side, and on the other, all the orders of the nation leagued together. It is true that the active and turbulent barons and nobles of Scotland always prominently figured in political commotions, and that, to adopt the expression of one of them, they “belled the cat;”1 but their frequent acts of violence against the king’s favourites and against the kings themselves, were rarely unpopular.
Towards the middle of the sixteenth century, a new bond strengthened this kind of political alliance between the nobles and bourgeoisie of Scotland; they embraced, together, and as it were with one impulse, the most extreme opinions of religious reformation, those of Calvin. The whole population of the south and east, speaking the same language and having the same views and the same civilization, co-operated in this revolution. It was only the mountain clans and a few lords of the northern lowlands that adhered to the catholic religion, the former from a spirit of innate hostility to the lowlanders, the latter from individual conviction rather than from any esprit de corps. Even the bishops did not oppose any very vigorous resistance to the partisans of the Reformation; the only formidable opposition they met with was from the court, early impressed with the fear that religious might lead to political changes; but the innovators were triumphant in the struggle; they got possession of king James VI., still a child, and brought him up in the new doctrines.
His mother, the unfortunate Mary Stuart, ruined herself by her ignorance of the national character of the Scots; it was after a battle fought against the presbyterian reformers that she passed into England, where she perished on a scaffold. After her death, and while her son still lived in Scotland, professing, in the new spirit of his nation, the presbyterian creed in all its rigour, the line of the Tudor kings of England became extinct in the person of Elizabeth, grand-daughter of Henry VII. James, a descendant of Henry VII. on the female side, was thus the next heir to the Tudors. He came to London, where he was readily acknowledged, and assumed the title of king of Great Britain, uniting under their ancient name his two kingdoms of England and Scotland. It is from him dates the royal arms of Britain, the three lions passant of Normandy, the lion rampant of Scotland, and the harp of Ireland; and the British standard, whereon the white cross of Saint Andrew combines with the red cross of Saint George.
King James, the first of that name in England, found opinion, in reference to the religious reformation, very different in his new kingdom from what it was in Scotland. There was not among the English any generally established opinion as to religious belief. They differed on this point according as they belonged to the higher or to the lower classes of the nation, with whom the ancient hostility of the two races seemed to re-appear under new forms. Though time and the intermingling of blood had greatly abated this primitive hatred, there still lurked in men’s hearts a confused sentiment of mutual dislike and distrust. The aristocracy were strongly in favour of the modified reformation, instituted fifty years before by Henry VIII., a reformation which, simply substituting the king for the pope, as head of the Anglican church, retained for episcopacy its ancient importance. The bourgeoisie, on the contrary, inclined to the complete reformation established by the Scots, whose worship, free from bishops, was independent of all civil authority. The partisans of this opinion formed a sect, persecuted by the government, but in whom persecution did but increase their enthusiasm; they were excessively strict, even upon the smallest points, which procured for them the name of precisians or puritans. The nickname, Round-heads, by which they were ludicrously designated, was derived from their wearing their hair short and without any curl, a custom quite contrary to the fashion then followed by the gentlemen and courtiers.
The presbyterians of England had flattered themselves with the hope that they were about to see their belief reign in the person of a presbyterian king; but the triumph of this religious creed being bound up with that of the popular interest over the aristocratic interest, the king, whoever he might be, could not sanction it. The episcopal church, accordingly, was sustained under James I., as under Elizabeth, by rigorous measures against the adversaries of that church; nay more, from the habit of dwelling upon the political dangers of puritanism in England, the king formed the project of destroying it even in Scotland, where it had become the state religion, and he entered, for this purpose, into an open struggle, not only with the middle and lower classes, but with the entire nation. It was a difficult enterprise, and he made little progress in it, bequeathing it, with the crown, to his son Charles I.
Charles, extending and systematizing his father’s views, resolved to approximate the Anglican worship to the forms of catholicism, and to impose this worship, so reformed, upon the two kingdoms of England and Scotland. He thus displeased the episcopalians and the aristocratic classes of England, whilst he raised against him the whole Scottish nation. Nobles, priests, and burgesses, entering into open rebellion, assembled spontaneously at Edinburgh, and signed there, under the name of Covenant, an act of national union, for the defence of the presbyterian religion. The king levied an army, and made preparations for a war with Scotland; and on their side the Scots raised national regiments, whose hats bore this device: “For Christ’s crown and covenant.”1 Men of every rank hastened to enrol themselves in this militia, and the ministers of religion pronounced from the pulpits malediction upon every man, horse, and lance that should side with the king against the defenders of the national faith.2 The resistance of the Scots was entirely approved in England, where discontent against king Charles became general on account of his religious innovations and his attempts to govern in an absolute manner, without the concurrence of the assembly which, under the name of parliament, had never ceased to exist since the conquest.
The burgesses of England, who had at first only appeared in this assembly as men summoned before the king and barons to receive their demands for money and to comply with them, had become, by a gradual revolution, an integral part of the parliament. In connexion with a certain number of petty feudatories, called knights of the shire,1 they formed, under the name of house of commons, a section of the great national council; in the other house, that of the lords, sat the titled men, the earls, marquises, barons, and Anglican bishops. This chamber, like the other, opposed the projects of Charles I.; but there was this difference between the two houses, that the lords aimed only at maintaining the established religion and the ancient privileges of parliament, while of the commons, the majority aspired to the establishment of presbyterianism and a diminution of the royal authority.
This desire for reform, moderate enough as regarded political order, was supported out of doors by something more vehement than itself, the old instinct of popular hatred to the noble families, proprietors of nearly the entire soil of the country. The inferior classes felt the vague want of some great change; their present position was intolerable to them, but not clearly perceiving what would improve it, they attached themselves to the most extreme political opinions, as in religion to the most rigid and gloomy puritanism. It was thus that the habitual language of the sect, which sought all in the Bible, became that also of the ultras in politics. This party, placing themselves ideally in the position of the Jews amidst their enemies, gave to their opponents the names of Philistines and of sons of Belial. They borrowed from the Psalms and the prophets the threats they sent forth against the lords and bishops, threatening, in the words of the Scripture, to take up “the two-edged sword, and to bind their nobles with fetters of iron.”2
Charles I. had great difficulty in collecting men and money for the war against the Scots. The city of London refused him a loan of 300,000l., and the soldiers openly declared that they would not risk their lives merely to support the pride of the bishops. During the delays occasioned by these difficulties, the Scots, commencing the attack, invaded England and advanced to the Tyne, preceded by a manifesto in which they declared themselves brothers and friends of the English people, and called down upon themselves maledictions from on high, if they in the slightest degree injured the country or individuals. No resistance was offered them but by the royal army, which they completely defeated near Newcastle. After this victory, the generals of the Scottish army excused themselves, in proclamations addressed to the English nation, for the violence of the measures they had been obliged to adopt in the defence of their rights, and expressed the hope that their success might aid that nation in vindicating its own menaced liberties. The commons replied by voting thanks and a money-aid to the Scots; and several envoys left London to conclude a treaty of alliance and friendship between the two nations at Edinburgh.
This compact was signed in 1642, and, the same year, the English parliament, and especially the house of commons, entered into an open struggle with royal power. By degrees, the opposition became centered in the latter chamber; for the great majority of the lords, seeing whither the dispute tended, had joined the king. The lower house voted itself the sole national representation, and invested with all the rights of parliament; and while the borough members and the petty landed proprietors, thus seized upon the legislative power, the people out of doors armed spontaneously, and took possession of all the royal arsenals. On the other hand, the king, preparing for war, planted his standard with the three lions of Normandy, on the keep of Nottingham castle. All the old castles, built by the Normans or their posterity, were closed, provisioned, furnished with artillery, and war to the death began between the sons of the seigneurs and the sons of the villains of the middle ages.
In this struggle, the Scots powerfully aided the parliament of England, which, as a first step, abolished episcopacy and established the presbyterian religion. This community of worship was the basis of a new treaty or covenant between the two peoples; they became security, one for the other, for the defence of Christianity without bishops; but though this alliance was concluded in good faith, it had neither the same meaning nor the same object with the two nations. The civil war was for the Scots a religious quarrel with Charles Stuart, their countryman and national king; it would, accordingly, end for them the moment the king should acknowledge the legal existence of the presbyterian worship in England as in Scotland. With the English, on the contrary, there was an instinct of revolution, going much beyond the mere desire to reform the episcopal church. This difference in the two nations, the necessary result of their different situation, and for some time not manifest to either, was of a nature to produce discord between them as soon as it became known, which soon occurred.
At the battle of Naseby, in Northamptonshire, the royal army was completely routed, and the king himself, his retreat cut off, yielded himself voluntarily to the Scots, his countrymen, choosing to be their prisoner rather than that of the parliamentarians. The Scots transferred him to their allies, not with the intention of destroying him, but that these might oblige him to conclude a treaty advantageous to both parties. Discussions of a very different nature now arose in the English army: the point was no longer the historical question of the origin of royal and seigneural power, for as to these time had effaced all the data: ardent minds became enthusiastically impressed with the idea of substituting for the ancient form of government an order of things founded on abstract justice and absolute right. They thought they saw the prediction of this order of things in the famous epoch of a thousand years, announced by the Apocalypse, and, in their favourite phraseology, they called it the reign of Christ. These enthusiasts, in like manner, relied upon a passage in the Holy Scriptures to justify their bringing Charles I. to trial and judgment, saying that the blood shed in the civil war ought to fall upon his head, so that the people might be absolved.
During these discussions, the groundwork of which was most grave, though the form was fantastic, the parties who had latest entered upon the struggle against royalty, the lower populace and the ultra-reformers in religion, gained ground, and ejected from the revolution those who had commenced it, the landed proprietors and rich citizens, Anglicans or presbyterians. Under the name of independents, there arose by degrees a new sect, which, rejecting even the authority of ordinary priests, invested every one of the faithful with sacerdotal functions. The progress of this sect greatly alarmed the Scots; they represented that in going beyond the religious reformation, such as they had established it by common accord, the English were violating the solemn act of union concluded between the two peoples. This was the commencement of a misunderstanding which attained the highest point when the independents, having seized upon the king’s person, imprisoned him, and made him appear as a criminal before a high court of justice.
Seventy judges, selected from the house of commons, the parliamentary army, and the citizens of London, pronounced sentence of death on Charles Stuart, and the abolition of royalty. Some acted from a deep conviction of the king’s guilt; others conscientiously desired the establishment of an entirely new social order; others, again, actuated by ambition alone, aspired to the usurpation of the sovereign authority. The death of Charles I. put an end to the reign of the presbyterians in England, and to the alliance of the English with the Scots. The latter, judging of the social condition of the English by their own, could not comprehend what had taken place; they deemed themselves unworthily betrayed by their former friends; and combining with this mortification a secret national affection for the Stuarts, their countrymen, they renewed amicable relations with this family, the instant that the English so violently cast it off. While, at London, all the royal statues were being thrown down, and on their pedestals there was inscribed: The last of the kings has passed away,1 —Charles, son of Charles I., was proclaimed king in the capital of Scotland.
This proclamation did not imply, on the part of the Scots, any abandonment of the reforms they had achieved and defended, sword in hand. When the commissioners from Scotland waited, at Breda, on Charles II., who had already assumed, of his own motion, the title of king of Great Britain, they signified to him the rigorous conditions on which the parliament of Edinburgh consented to ratify this title; these were the adhesion of the king to the first covenant signed against his father, and the perpetual abolition of episcopacy. Charles II., at first, made only evasive answers, in order to gain time for a stroke which he hoped would make him king without conditions. James Graham, marquis of Montrose, at first a zealous covenanter, and then a partisan of Charles I., was charged with this enterprise. He landed in the north of Scotland, with a handful of adventurers collected on the continent, and addressing himself to the chiefs of the mountain and island clans, he proposed to them a war at once national and religious against the presbyterians of the lowlands. The highlanders, who once already in the year 1645 had risen under the command of Montrose against the authority of the covenanters, and had been completely defeated, showed little inclination for a new attack; only a few ill-organized bands descended into the lowlands, around a flag on which was painted the decapitated body of Charles I.1 They were routed: Montrose himself was taken, tried as a traitor, condemned to death, and executed at Edinburgh. Hereupon Charles II., hopeless of regaining absolute royalty, condescended to that offered him by the Scottish commissioners, signed the covenant, swore to observe it inviolably, and entered Edinburgh as king, beneath the quartered limbs of the unfortunate Montrose, suspended from the gates of the town.
While acknowledging the rights of Charles II., the Scots did not propose to aid him in reconquering royalty in England. They separated their national affairs from those of their neighbours, and only contemplated the securing to the son of Charles I. the title of king of Scotland. But the party which in England had seized upon the revolution, grew alarmed at seeing the heir of him whom they called the last of the kings established over a portion of Great Britain. Fearing an hostile attempt on his part, the independents resolved to anticipate it. General Fairfax, a rigid presbyterian, was charged with the command of the army raised to invade Scotland; but refusing to serve against a nation which, he said, had helped the good work for which he had first drawn the sword, he sent in his resignation to the house of commons. The soldiers themselves manifested no inclination to fight men whom they had so long styled our brethren of Scotland.
The successor of Fairfax, Oliver Cromwell, a man of rare political and military activity, overcame this hesitation by persuasion or violence, marched to the north, defeated the Scots and their king at Dunbar, and occupied Edinburgh. He called upon the people of Scotland to renounce Charles II., but the Scots refused to abandon in danger him whom they had involved in danger, and patiently endured the oppressions inflicted by the English army in all directions. Charles II. was far from rendering them devotion for devotion; in the extremity of Scotland’s misfortunes, deserting the presbyterians, he surrounded himself with old partisans of episcopacy, with highland chiefs, who gave the name of Saxons, Sassenachs, to their neighbours of a different religion, and debauched young nobles, to whom he said, in his orgies, that the religion of the Roundheads was not worthy of a gentleman. With the aid of the adventurers whom he assembled around him, he attempted an invasion of the western coast of England, while the English army occupied the east of Scotland. There were still in Cumberland and Lancashire many catholic families who, on his approach, took up arms for him. He hoped to raise Wales, and turn to profit the national enmity of the Cambrians to the English, but his troops were completely beaten near Worcester; and he himself fled in disguise, through many dangers, to the western coast, whence he sailed for France, leaving the Scots under the weight of the misfortunes which his coronation and his invasion of England had brought upon them.
These misfortunes were overwhelming; viewed with distrust, as a place of landing and of encampment for the enemies of the revolution, Scotland was treated as a conquered province. On the slightest appearance of revolt or opposition, her leading men were imprisoned or put to death; the thirty Scottish members, who had seats in the great council of the commonwealth of England, far from affording their fellow-citizens aid and succour, became the instruments of the foreign tyranny. Oliver Cromwell governed the Scots despotically up to the moment when, under the name of Protector, he obtained an unlimited authority over the whole of Great Britain; general George Monk, who succeeded him in Scotland, pursued a line of conduct equally harsh and cruel. Such was the state of things when, in the year 1660, after the death of the Protector and the deposition of his son, Richard Cromwell, Monk, suddenly changing sides, conspired against the republic and for the re-establishment of royalty.
The joy caused by the restoration of the Stuarts was universal in Scotland; it was not, as in England, caused simply by the sort of discouragement and political scepticism into which the ill success of the revolution had thrown men, but by a sentiment of real affection for a man whom the Scots regarded almost as the king of their choice. The return of Charles II. was not connected, in their country, with the re-establishment of an ancient social order, oppressive and unpopular; this great event appeared to their eyes, a personal restoration, as it were. They hoped that things would return to the point in which they were before the invasion of Cromwell’s army, and that the covenant, then sworn by Charles II., would be the rule of his government. They attributed the king’s former distaste for the rigidness of presbyterian discipline to youthful errors, which age and misfortune must have corrected.
But the son of Charles I. nourished in his bosom all the hatred of his grandfather and of his father against puritanism, and he felt no personal gratitude to the Scots for the gift of a kingdom which, in his opinion, was his by right of inheritance. Thinking himself, then, free from all obligation towards them, he had the covenant torn to pieces in the marketplace at Edinburgh, and bishops, sent from England, were paraded in triumph by royal officers along the streets. They required from all the ministers of worship the oath of obedience to their orders, the abjuration of the covenant, and the recognition of the absolute authority of the king in ecclesiastical matters. They who refused to take the oath were declared seditious rebels, and were violently expelled from their livings and churches, which were given to new comers, for the most part Englishmen, ignorant and of ill life. These proceeded to celebrate the services and to preach sermons, but none came to hear them, and the churches were deserted.1
The faithful, zealous in their national cause, assembled every Sunday in the bye-places and mountains, which served as refuge for the persecuted ministers; a severe law was issued against these peaceful meetings, to which the agents of authority gave the name of conventicles. Troops were quartered upon the villages whose inhabitants did not frequent their church, and many persons, suspected or convicted of having attended conventicles, were imprisoned, and even publicly whipped. These acts of severity took place principally in the south-western districts, whose population was more disposed to resistance, either from the nature of the country, covered with hills and ravines, or from a remnant of the enthusiastic and pertinacious character of the British race, from which most of them were descended. It was in these districts that the presbyterians began to meet in arms at their secret assemblies, and that whole families, quitting their houses, went to live among the rocks and marshes, in order freely to hear the exhortations of their proscribed priests, and to satisfy the requirements of their conscience.
The constantly increasing severity of the measures against the conventicles, soon occasioned an open insurrection, in which figured as chiefs many rich and influential men of the country. The movement did not extend to the eastern provinces, because the forces of the government, and the terror they inspired, augmented the nearer the vicinity to the capital. The presbyterian army was defeated on the Pentland Hills by the regular troops, who had orders to kill the prisoners, and to pursue the fugitives with enormous bloodhounds.1 After the victory, every family in Ayrshire and Galloway was required to swear an oath not to attend the presbyterian assemblies, and not to give food or refuge to a wandering minister or contumacious presbyterian. Upon the refusal of many persons, all the inhabitants in a body were declared rebels and enemies to the king; and pardons not filled up were distributed for any murders that might be committed upon them.
2 These atrocities were at length crowned by a measure more monstrous than all. The northern highland clans were authorized to descend into the plain and to commit there all the devastation which their old instinct of national hatred against the inhabitants should suggest to them. For several months eight thousand highlanders overran Ayrshire and the neighbouring counties, pillaging and killing at will. A regiment of dragoons was sent from Edinburgh to assist and protect them in their expedition. When it was thought that they had produced the desired effect, an order sealed with the great seal sent them back to their mountains, and the dragoons remained by themselves to secure the entire submission of the country.1 But the evils inflicted upon the presbyterians had augmented their fanaticism by reducing them to despair; some of the most exasperated meeting on the road archbishop Sharp, whom Charles II. had named primate of Scotland, dragged him from his carriage, and killed him in his daughter’s arms.
This crime of a few men was avenged upon the whole country by redoubled vexations and a host of executions. A second rebellion arose, more general and more formidable than the first. The presbyterian army, this time commanded by old soldiers, many of noble family, comprehended several cavalry regiments, composed of landed proprietors and rich farmers, but it was without artillery or ammunition. Every regiment had a blue flag, the favourite colour of the covenanters. Troops of women and children, following the army to the field of battle, excited the men by their cries. Sometimes, after having marched and fought a whole day, without eating or drinking, they would range in a circle round their ministers, and listen with enwrapt attention to a sermon of several hours’ duration, before they thought of seeking provisions or of taking repose.
Such was the army which, a few miles from Glasgow, routed the regiment of guards, the best cavalry of all Scotland, occupied the town, and forced a body of ten thousand men to fall back upon Edinburgh. The alarm it caused the government was such that considerable forces were sent in all haste from London, commanded by the duke of Monmouth, natural son of Charles II., a man of gentle disposition, and inclined to moderate principles, with whom were joined two lieutenants of a very different character: general Thomas Dalziel, and Graham of Claverhouse, who, neutralizing the conciliatory tendencies of Monmouth, obliged him to give battle to the insurgents near the little town of Hamilton, south of Glasgow. The Clyde, whose stream is very deep in this spot, was crossed by a long and narrow stone bridge, called Bothwell Bridge, which the presbyterians occupied. They were driven from this position by the artillery that fired upon them from the bank of the river, and by a charge of cavalry upon the Bridge. Their defeat was complete, and the English army entered Edinburgh, carrying on their pikes severed heads and hands, and bringing, tied two and two upon carts, the chiefs of the presbyterian army, and the ministers whom they had taken prisoners, who underwent with the greatest firmness torture and death, bearing testimony unto death, as they expressed it, to the truth of their national faith.1
The presbyterian party could not recover their defeat of Bothwell Bridge, and the mass of the Scots, renouncing the covenant, in the defence of which so much blood had been spilt, submitted to a kind of modified episcopacy, and acknowledged the authority of the king in ecclesiastical matters. But grief at having lost a cause that had been national for a century and a half, and the memory of the battle which had destroyed all hope of ever seeing it triumph, long survived in Scotland. Old ballads, still sung in the villages at the close of the last century, speak of Bothwell Bridge, and of the brave men who died there, with touching expressions of sympathy and enthusiasm.2 Even at the present day the peasants take off their caps when they pass the blackened stones that here and there, upon the hills and moors, mark the graves of the puritans of the eighteenth century.
As the enthusiasm and energy of the Scottish presbyterians gradually lessened, the government became less distrustful and less cruel towards them. James, duke of York, who, in the reign of his brother, Charles II., had, for pastime, witnessed the infliction of the torture upon refractory ministers, exercised no severity against them after he became king; and his endeavours to substitute catholicism for protestantism were far from exciting so much hostility in Scotland as in England. The presbyterians forgave him his love of popery, in consideration of the hatred he displayed to the episcopalians, their latest persecutors. When a conspiracy, led by the bishops and nobles of England, called in William of Orange and expelled James II., the Scottish people exhibited little enthusiasm for this revolution, lauded as so glorious on the other side of the Tweed; they even hesitated to concur in it, and their adhesion was rather the work of the members of government assembled at Edinburgh, than a genuine act of national assent. Yet the authors of the revolution of 1688 made to Scotland, in matters of religion, concessions which they had not made to England, where the intolerant laws of the Stuarts were maintained in all their rigour. On the other hand, the few obstinate enthusiasts who, under the name of Cameronians, endeavoured, in the beginning of the eighteenth century, to rekindle the half extinct flame of puritanism, were violently persecuted, and bore testimony, by the whip and pillory, on the market-place of Edinburgh. After their time, this austere and impassioned belief, which had combined into one sect the whole populations of the Scottish lowlands, was gradually concentrated in a few isolated families, distinguished from the rest by a more strict observance of the practices of their worship, a more rigid probity, or a greater affectation of it, and the habit of employing the words of the Scriptures on every occasion.
Notwithstanding the evils which the Stuarts had inflicted upon Scotland ever since they had filled the throne of England, the Scots preserved a sort of sympathy for this family, independent, in the minds of numbers, of all political or religious opinions. An instinctive aversion to the new dynasty was felt concurrently, though in unequal degree, by highlanders and by lowlanders. The former threw into it all the ardour of their ancient hatred to the people of England; among the latter, differences of social position, of connexion with the existing government, of religious belief or personal character, produced different shades of zeal in the cause of the heirs of James II. The Jacobite insurrection of 1715, and that of 1745, on the landing of the son of the Pretender, both commenced in the highlands: the second found in the towns of the south and east partisans enough to create a belief that the Celtic and Teutonic races of Scotland, hitherto enemies to each other, were about to become one nation. After the victory of the English government, its first care was to destroy the immemorial organization of the Gallic clans. It executed many chiefs of these clans on the scaffold; it removed others from the country, in order to suspend the exercise of their patriarchal authority; it constructed military roads over moor and mountain, and enrolled a great number of highlanders among the regular troops serving on the continent. As a sort of compromise with the tenacity of the Gael to their ancient customs, they were allowed to combine, in a singular manner, a portion of their national costume with the English uniform, and to retain the bagpipes, their favourite instrument.
When the Scots lost their religious and political enthusiasm, they directed to the cultivation of literature, the imaginative faculties which seem in them a last trace of their Celtic origin as Gauls or as Britons. Scotland is perhaps the only country of Europe where knowledge is really a popular acquirement, and where men of every class love to learn for learning’s sake, without any practical motive, or any view to change their condition. Since the final union of that country with England, its ancient Anglo-Danish dialect, ceasing to be cultivated, has been replaced by English as the literary language. But, notwithstanding the disadvantage experienced by every writer who employs in his works an idiom different from that of his habitual conversation, the number of distinguished authors of every class, since the middle of the last century, has been far greater in Scotland than in England, taking into account the difference of population of the two countries. It is more especially in historical composition and in narrative that the Scots excel; and we may consider this peculiar aptitude as one of the characteristic indications of their original descent; for the Irish and the Welsh are the two nations who have at greatest length and most agreeably drawn up their ancient annals.
Civilization, which makes rapid progress among all the branches of the Scottish population, has now penetrated beyond the lowland towns into the highlands. Perhaps, however, in seeking to propagate it there, the means adopted of late years have been too violent, have been more calculated to effect the destruction than the amelioration of the Gaelic race. Converting their patriarchal supremacy into seigneural rights of property over all the land occupied by their clans, the heirs of the ancient chiefs, the English law in their hands, have expelled from their habitations hundreds of families to whom this law was absolutely unknown. In place of the dispossessed clans, they have established immense flocks and a few agriculturists from other parts, enlightened, industrious persons, capable of carrying into execution the most judicious plans of cultivation. The great agricultural progress of Rosshire and Sutherlandshire is greatly vaunted; but if such an example be followed, the race of the most ancient inhabitants of Britain, after having preserved itself for so many centuries and among so many enemies, will disappear, without leaving any other trace than a vicious English pronunciation in the places where its language used to be spoken.
[3 ] See Book X.
[1 ] Matth. Paris, i. 130.
[2 ] See Book X.
[3 ] Matth. Paris, i. 131.
[4 ] Annales Waverleienses, ut sup. p. 243.
[1 ] Henric. Knyghton, De event Angl., lib. iii. cap. ii. ut sup. col. 2478.
[2 ] “Ah! is the mad knave knave enough for this? If he will not come to us, we will go to him.” (Joh. de Fordun, Scoti-chronicon, p. 969.)
[3 ] Cum nous par nostre malvès counsaile et faus...(Knyghton, col. 2481.)
[1 ] See Book VIII.
[3 ] David Barbour, The Bruce, p. 12.
[4 ] The king Edward with hornes and hounes him soght. (Hardyng’s Chronicle, cap. clxviii. at the word Edward the First.)
[1 ] Walter Scott, Lord of the Isles, notes to canto ii.
[1 ] Walter Scott, Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, vol. i.
[1 ] Avec les batimens et tout le cheptel, manants, bestiaux, charrues, &c.—Cum terris, domibus, ædificis, accolabus, mancipris vineis, sylvis, &c. (Spelman, Glossar. verbo Accola.) See Pinkerton, Hist. of Scotland, i. 252.
[2 ] See Appendix No. XXXIII.
[1 ] Motto of Archibald Douglas, earl of Augus, in the reign of James III. of Scotland.
[1 ] Walter Scott, Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, vol. i.
[1 ] In the Anglo-Norman language, Chivaler de Countee.
[2 ] Psalm cxlix.
[1 ] Exiit tyrannus, regum ultimus.
[1 ] Walter Scott, Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, vol. i.
[1 ] Burnet, History of his own Time (London, 1725), i. 230, et seq.
[1 ] The chased and tossed Western men (Scott, Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border.)
[1 ] Burnet, ut sup. ii. 738.
[1 ] Burnet, ut sup. p. 830.
[2 ] See Appendix, No. XXXIV.