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This letter deserves the more attention, because, as CHAPTER the proceedings of the Scotch parliament, according to a remarkable expression in the letter itself, were intended to be an example to others, there is the greatest reason to suppose the matter of it must have been maturely weighed and considered. His Majesty first compliments the Scotch parliament upon their peculiar loyalty, and dutiful behaviour in past times, meaning, no doubt, to contrast their conduct with that of those English parliaments who had passed the Exclusion Bill, the Disbanding Act, the Habeas Corpus Act, and other measures hostile to his favourite principles of government. He states the granting of an independant revenue, and the supporting the prerogative in its greatest lustre, if not the aggrandizing of it, to be necessary for the preservation of their religion, established by law, (that is the Protestant Episcopacy,) as well as for the security of their properties against fanatical assassins and murderers ; thus emphatically announcing a complete union of interests between the Crown and the Church. He then bestows a complete and unqualified approbation of the persecuting measures of the last reign, in which he had borne so great a share; and to those measures, and to the steadiness with which they had been persevered in, he ascribes
Transactions in Scotland.
Chapter the escape of both church and state from the fana
ticks, and expresses his regret that he could not be present, to propose in person, the other remedies of a similar nature, which he recommended as needful in the present conjuncture.
Now, it is proper, in this place, to enquire into the nature of the measures thus extolled, as well for the purpose of elucidating the characters of the King and his Scottish ministers, as for that of rendering more intelligible, the subsequent proceedings of the parliament, and the other events which soon after took place in that kingdom. Some general notions may be formed of that course of proceedings, which, according to his Majesty's opinion, had been so laudably and resolutely pursued during the late reign, from the circumstances alluded to in the
preceding chapter, when it is understood, that the sentences of Argyle and Laurie of Blackwood were not detached instances of oppression, but rather a sample of the general system of administration. The covenant, which had been so solemnly taken by the whole kingdom, and, among the rest, by the King himself, had been declared to be unlawful, and a refusal to abjure it had been made subject to the severest penalties. Episcopacy, which was detested by a great majority of the nation, had been
established, and all publick exercise of religion, in CHAPTER the forms to which the people were most attached, had been prohibited. The attendance upon field conventicles had been made highly penal, and the preaching at them capital; by which means, according to the computation of a late writer, no less remarkable for the accuracy of his facts, than for the force and justness of his reasonings, at least seventeen thousand persons in one district were involved in criminality, and became the objects of persecution. After this, letters had been issued by government, forbidding the intercommuning with persons who had neglected, or refused, to appear before the privy council, when cited for the above crimes; a proceeding, hy which, not only all succour or assistance to such persons, but, according to the strict sense of the word made use of, all intercourse with them, was rendered criminal, and subjected him who disobeyed the prohibition to the same penalties, whether capital or others, which were affixed to the alledged crimes of the party with whom he had intercommuned.*
These measures not proving effectual for the pur- Measures of pose for which they were intended, or, as some say, the object of Charles the Second's government being
Laing's Hist. Vol. IV. 34, 60. 74. Woodrow.
CHAPTER to provoke an insurrection, a demand was made
the landholders, in the district supposed to be most disaffected, of bonds, whereby they were to become responsible for their wives, families, tenants, and servants; and likewise for the wives, families, and servants of their tenants, and finally, for all persons living upon their estates ; that they should not withdraw from the church, frequent or preach at conventicles, nor give any succour, or have any intercourse with persons with whom it was forbidden to intercommune; and the penalties attached to the breach of this engagement, the keeping of which, was obviously out of the power of him who was required to make it, were to be the same as those, whether capital or other, to which the several persons, for whom he engaged, might be liable. The landholders, not being willing to subscribe to their own destruction, refused to execute the bonds, and this was thought sufficient grounds for considering the district to which they belonged as in a state of rebellion. English and Irish armies were ordered to the frontiers; a train of artillery, and the militia, were sent into the district itself; and six thousand Highlanders, who were let loose upon its inhabitants, to exercise every species of pillage and plunder, were connived at,
or rather encouraged, in excesses of a still more chapter atrocious nature.*
The bonds being still refused, the government had writs of Lawrecourse to an expedient of a most extraordinary nature; and issued what the Scotch called a writ of Lawburrows, against the whole district. This writ of Lawburrows is somewhat analogous to what we call swearing the peace against any one, and had hitherto been supposed, as the other is with us, to be applicable to the disputes of private individuals, and to the apprehensions, which, in consequence of such disputes, they may mutually entertain of each other. A Government swearing the peace against its subjects was a new spectacle; but if a private subject, under fear of another, hath a right to such a security, how much more the government itself? was thought an unanswerable argument. Such are the sophistries which tyrants deem satisfactory. Thus are they willing even to descend from their loftiness, into the situation of subjects or private men, when it is for the
of acquiring additional powers of persecution; and thus trul y formidable and terrifick are they, when they pretend alarm and fear. By these writs, the persons against whom they were directed, were bound, as in case of the former bonds, to conditions which were
* Burnet. Woodrow. Laing, IV. 83.