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1661. Jan. 1.
BOOK the committee of estates had imprisoned or disw persed.3
The parliament was opened by Middleton, with acco a splendor to which the nation had been long un-'
accustomed. The elections had been secured by..
3 Wodrow's History of the Sufferings of the Church of Scotland, vol. i. p. 7. 13. Crawford's History, MS. vol. ii. 1. 5. 420. Clarendon's Life, ii. 101.
* Baillie, ii. 449. Wodrow, i. 21. Kirkton's History of the late Revolution in the Church, MS. Advocates' Library,
ed by an unforeseen disaster which the nation in- BOOK curred. The crown and sceptre, during the usurpation, had been secreted in the North ; but the 1661. public records, which Monk had removed to Lon-Loss of the don, were detained by Clarendon till the summer cords. had elapsed, to discover the original covenant and declarations which the king had subscribed. They were shipped for Scotland after a fruitless search; but the vessel was wrecked in the winter season, and the records of the kingdom were irrecoverably lost. A disaster which it is impossible to estimate, is naturally exaggerated, and we deplore the loss of those historical memorials which escaped the destructive policy of Edward I. Yet if a few historical records have perished, an impure and enormous mass of judicial proceedings does not deserve regret.5
When the parliament proceeded to public busi- Prerogative ness, the first consideration was, how to restore and assert the prerogative to its full extent. The chancellor was received as official president; the nomination of judges, counsellors, and officers of state, was declared a branch of the divine prerogative, inherent in kings. The command of the militia, the power of declaring war, the right to summon or dissolve conventions, parliaments, and public assemblies, were acknowledged to reside in
5 Wodrow, i. 18. Burnet, i. 157. Ayloff's Calendars of Charters, p. 354.
BOOK the crown alone; and as the happiness of the people
consists in maintaining the prerogative entire, to oppose, or impugn the authority of the act, was converted into treason. Illegal convocations, leagues, and bonds, were severally prohibited. The covenant was indirectly repealed, by an act to prevent its renewal without the king's consent. His supremacy was indirectly established by an oath of allegiance, that the sovereign was supreme governor in all cases, over all persons, ecclesiastical and civil; and although the chancellor protested that no authority was implied in communion or in discipline, the presbyterians demanded in vain, that the explanation of supreme civil governor, should be inserted in the oath. An ample recognition of the prerogative was required from persons in public office; but the oath of allegiance was imposed indiscriminately, as a fruitful source of persecution, on all persons, at the pleasure of the council, under the penalty of incapacitation from public trust. Instead of the monthly assessments exacted by Cromwell, an excise of forty thousand pounds a-year was conferred on the king for life, to preserve the public tranquillity by a military force. To restore the prerogative of which the crown had been despoiled, was perhaps unexceptionable ; but in these acts, the late proceedings of the nation were indiscriminately
of the civil
condemned, and the prerogative was magnified BOOK by rhetorical flourishes, to the most exalted despotism.
The commissioner had been selected as exempt Former from scruples, and although his natural violence rescinded was heightened by intemperance, an obsequious beginning parliament was prepared to yield to his most ex- wa travagant demands. The lords of articles became impatient and tired of particular reversals: but there were two parliaments whose acts it was difficult, yet necessary to repeal, in order to absolve the king
from his promise to preserve the established church. · His father had presided in the one, and himself
in the other. The presbyterian church was confirmed by the acts of both; the repeal of which might excite a spirit of remonstrance, sufficient to deter the king from the introduction of prelates. A general rescissory act was suggested, to annul the parliaments themselves, from the year one thousand six hundred and thirty-three, as injurious to the prerogative, or defective in form; and a proposal made in jest, was adopted in earnest, from the feverish intoxication of Middleton and his friends. The constraint under which the crown was supposed to labour, had no place in the parlia
7 Middleton was of a good family in the North, but of no estate ; and rose from a pikeman in Hepburn's regiment in France. Kirkton, MS. His father was murdered sitting in his chair, by Montrose's soldiers, when they overrun the country in 1645. Wodrow.
BOOK ment held in one thousand six hundred and forty
one, when the late king attended and ratified its acts from choice : the parliament in one thousand six hundred and forty-eight was chosen and directed by his particular instructions, to confirm the engagement. But the commissioner maintained that the former had been held in the interval be. tween two rebellions, when the necessity of affairs, without any personal violence, had imposed a real constraint on the king; while the latter, to conciliate the fanatics, had entered into the engagement on such hypocritical terms, that the whole of its proceedings deserved to be condemned. Notwithstanding a vigorous opposition from Crawford, Cassilis, Loudon, and the old covenanters, the act was approved by a large majority, and ratified without waiting for instructions from court. The covenants, and the laws that established presbytery, were virtually repealed; and with some improper limitations on prerogative, every constitutional barrier was thus removed. But the act was more pernicious still, as a precedent destructive of all security in government, and of all confidence between the people and the king. The laws, if defective, were open, they affirmed, to amendment and review ; but if one parliament, under the pretext of fear, or the necessity of public affairs, can rescind another, the first principles of government are subverted. A future legislature may annul the present, on the same pretext that the present abro