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charge of lord Traquair, treasurer of the kingdom. In this castle they found the regalia, the crown, sceptre, and sword of state, which they immediately removed to the castle of Edinburghl. Bishop Guthry affirms, that the capture of Dalkeith was under the advice and recommendation of the earl of Traquair, one of his majesty's ministers—“ His lordship was so unfortunate, that very shortly it came to be believed that himself was the man that put the general upon the prize 2.” The Covenanters also got possession of Dumbarton Castle, whilst its governor reposed in that security which he supposed consistent with a state of external peace and internal loyalty. It was well garrisoned and victualled, and Sir William Stuart, the governor, was a man of loyalty and vigilance. On a day which the Covenanters had appointed for one of their days o. fasting, Sir William had gone to church in the town of Dumbarton with his principal officers, and on their return they were made prisoners by Semple, the provost, and the laird of Ardincaple, when the few troops remaining in the fortress being dispirited by the capture of their governor and officers, yielded at the first summons. This strong hold was committed to the earl of Argyle, who occupied it with a strong body of his followers 3. Stirling Castle was under the command of the earl of Mar, and who, being “a sure friend to the reformers,” betrayed his trust, and held it against the king for the insurgent Covenanters 4.
Thus, before Charles had begun to arm or to make any preparations for war, the Covenanters had taken the initiative, and had obtained possession of all the strong holds of the kingdom. This emboldened them, and drew many of the waverers to their standard, and equally depressed the loyal part of the nation, who, though they constituted the great majority of the people, yet remained quietly at their homes looking on the passing triumphs of the Covenanters with fear and amazement. In the meantime, however, the loyal citizens of Aberdeen began to construct barriers, and to throw up some hasty fortifications on the south entrances to the town, under the direction and command of the marquis of Huntly, whom the king had appointed his lieutenant in the north. “Aberdeen,” says Mr. Napier, “was an oasis in the desert. The arts of insurgency had been so successful throughout the rest of Scotland, as to create a specious but false appearance of national feeling in favour of the covenant: Here, however, all that was rational, well-ordered, and estimable, was yet actually predominant. Blasphemy did not pass current for piety, nor the darkling and destructive ravings of fanaticism for the out-pourings of gifted and enlightened minds ?.".
i Stevenson's Church and State, 364. * Balfour's Annals, ii. 321-323.
2 Guthry's Memoirs, 45. Stevenson's Church and State, 364.
When the energy of the citizens of Aberdeen was reported to the Tables, they, with the concurrence of their commanderin-chief, despatched the earl of Montrose with power to levy the feudal array of Fife, Strathern, Angus, and Mearns, and to suppress the loyal inhabitants of that city. The fame of Montrose preceded him, and on his approach, the marquis of Huntly retreated towards his own territories, and the citizens, thus left to their own resources, were obliged to surrender unconditionally on the 30th of March. Montrose ordered them immediately to fill up their trenches, to level their defences, and to deliver up all their munitions of war. A heavy fine was also imposed, but which Montrose had the magnanimity to remit. The true spirit of the covenant was here displayed; and “ some fiery ministers that attended him urged no less than that they should burn the town, and the soldiers pressed for liberty to plunder it; but he was more noble than to hearken to such cruel motions, and so drew away his army without harming them in the least.” He pursued the marquis of Huntly, and made him prisoner in his own house; and although he himself agreed to all the terms of the Covenanters, yet his sons, the gallant lord Gordon and lord Aboyne, refused to be included in their father's submission, and made their escape. On his return to Aberdeen, Montrose compelled the citizens to subscribe the covenant with the Assembly's declaration, under pain of confiscation of their goods. At first they resisted, under plea of conscience; but rather than suffer for conscience sake, they complied on the 10th of April; and on the 15th they sent commissioners to the Tables at Edinburgh. On the approach of the Covenanters, Adam Bellenden, the bishop of Aberdeen, and some of the professors of the university, with a few “ of the most malicious of the burgesses," took shipping, and sought shelter in England from that puritanical persecution which was brought to their doors 2. At that time, Dr. John Forbes, of Corse, and son of the late bishop, Dr. William Leslie, principal of King's College, of the same family as the famous nonjuror Charles Leslie, and Dr. Alexander Scroggie, Dr, Robert Baron, professors of divinity, Drs. James Sibbald and Alex. ander Ross were the city clergymen. These men were the
Montrose and the Covenanters, i. 173,
butts of covenanting malignity and persecution, because they had faithfully ministered the doctrine and sacraments, and the discipline of Christ, as the Lord had commanded, and as the church and realm of Scotland had received the same-they had with all faithful diligence banished and driven away all erroneous and strange doctrines contrary to God's word, and used both public and private monitions and exhortations, as well to the sick as to the whole, within their cures—they were diligent in prayers and reading of the holy Scriptures, and in : such studies as helped to the knowledge of the same, laying aside the study of the world and the flesh--they were diligent to frame and fashion themselves and their families according to the doctrine of Christ, and made themselves wholesome examples and patterns to their flocks—and moreover, they maintained and set forward quietness, peace, and love, among all christian people, but more especially among those committed to their chargel. With such antagonists as these it is not surprising that Henderson, Cant, and Dickson, surnamed “the three apostles of the covenant,” had been worsted the preceding year; and Rutherford complained that he had not even been able to gain a single adherent in that city.
In April and May this year, says Balfour, “the Covenanters did raise a very gallant army, esteemed to be betwixt twentysix and thirty thousand horse and foot, of which they made sir Alexander Leslie of Balgoney, knight, general. They marched with flying colours to Dunse Law in the Merse, and pitched their tents in face of the king and his army, who were encamped on the south side of the Tweed, at a place called the Birks, some three miles from Berwick up the river, with a far less army (for he was not twelve thousand men, horse and foot), of which Thomas, earl of Arundel and Surry, was general?” During all this interval the fortifications were undergoing repair with the utmost dispatch, and the sea defences were strengthened and planted with heavy ordnance. All the little towns along the south coast of Fife were also fortified hastily, and placed in a tolerable state of defence. Thus, by the activity of the chiefs and the fanatic zeal of the people, the Tables had laid their grasp on the whole strength of the kingdom, while the king, as if stricken with judicial blindness, was vainly endeavouring, by concessions and negotiations, to win them back to their duty and allegiance.
Their preparations, however, at last forced the disagreeable truth upon the king's unwilling consciousness; and when he
i Vows of a Priest at his Ordination.
Annals, i. 324.
could no longer conceal it, he made the indignities which he had sustained in Scotland known to his English privy council. He made it known in England by proclamation that the Covenanters were in arms, and that it was his intention to levy an army, and suppress the rebellion of his Scottish subjects. So little were the affairs of Scotland known or cared about by the English, that Clarendon says this was the first time that the government or people of England had heard of the proceedings in the north. The king now hastily collected an army, and placed it under the command of the earl of Arundel, “a man who had nothing martial about him but his presence and his looks, and therefore was thought to be made choice of for his negative qualities.” The earl of Essex, a most popular nobleman, was made lieutenant-general of the army, whose principal quality seems to have been, “ hatred and contempt of the Scots.” The earl of Holland was entrusted with the command of the cavalry. With his usual infatuation, Charles gave the marquis of Hamilton the command of a squadron of ships, in which were embarked a division of three thousand infantry, for the purpose of distressing the trade of the Scottish towns, and of landing where opportunities offered to make diversions in favour of the grand army. The only military exploit which is worthy of commendation is the forced march of the earl of Essex, at the head of a small party of horse and foot, to secure the town of Berwick, which is the eastern key of the kingdom. During his march he daily met with Scottish nobles and gentry, on the way to court, who communicated the most false and exaggerated intelligence of the advance and strength of the rebels, their superior discipline, and the excellent quality of their troops. And even when he was within one day's march of Berwick, a nobleman high in the king's confidence met him, and advised him earnestly “not to advance farther with his party, which was so much inferior to those of the enemy that it would infallibly be cut off; that he himself overtook the day before a strong party of the (covenanting] army, consisting of three thousand horse and foot, with a train of artillery, and which he had left within three hours' march of Berwick, where they resolved to be the night before, so that his proceeding farther must be fruitless, and expose him to inevitable ruin.” These discouraging reports were intended to stop the royal party in their march, so that the Covenanters might secure Berwick before the royalists could reach it; but, with the true spirit of a faithful soldier,such strategy only accelerated his speed, and increased his anxiety to complete his march. When he came to Berwick the gates were opened
without any attempt at opposition ; and he found that the Corenanters had no forces nearer than Edinburgh. The same nobleman who had attempted to deceive the earl of Essex reported to the king the total defeat of that commander, and that the Covenanters were in possession of Berwick. Such were the arts which the king's false friends practised on him, and his infatuation was so great, that when he discovered this treachery it excited no suspicion in his breast, and he merely remarked, after receiving true information from Essex's despatches, that the covenanting lords' fears had multiplied his sight; “which remissness, to call it no worse, was an ill omen of the discipliue that was likely to be observed 1.”
“ If the war," says Clarendon, “ had been now vigorously pursued, it had been as soon ended as begun ; for at this time they had not drawn three thousand men together in the whole kingdom of Scotland?, nor had, in truth, arms complete for such a number, though they had possession of all the king's forts and magazines, nor had they ammunition to supply their few fire-arms. Horses they had, and officers they had, which made all their show. But it was the fatal misfortune of the king, which proceeded from the excellency of his nature and his tenderness of blood, that he deferred so long his resolution of using his arms; and after he had taken that resolution, that it was not prosecuted with more vigour.” In order to avoid shedding his subjects' blood, he contented himself with an ostentatious pomp of preparation, thinking that the rebels would return to their duty on hearing of the mighty army which he had collected, without risking a contest with such superior numbers. But his privy councillors were in regular communication with the Tables, and conveyed to them all Charles's designs and intentions, so that they were always able to meet and counteract his efforts for their subjugation. He went northward, with almost the whole nobility of England in his train, thinking to awe the rebels into submission without the effusion of blood ; but the progress was more illustrious than the march, and the soldiers were the least part of the army. “ If,” says Clarendon, “ there had been none in the march but soldiers, it is most probable that a noble peace would have quickly ensued, even without fighting 3.”
The court and the army reached the border, and encamped in a field called the Birks, about two miles westward from Berwick, on the right bank of the Tweed, and the king lodged in his tent in the camp. Here the king issued a proclamation, i Hist. of the Rebellion, i. 187—189. ? A mistake, vide p. 7.
3 Hist. of Rebellion. VOL. II.