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official duty, and meddle with matters that did not altogether belong to them. On the occasion in question, however, it is to be kept in view, that they felt themselves called upon to act as they did, in consequence of the danger with which the spiritual wellbeing of the people seemed to them to be threatened. They felt that principles of deep and awful moment were at stake, and were convinced that the proposed innovations were fraught with evil to the best interests, temporal and eternal, of the people. As faithful shepherds it behoved them to warn their flock of the impending danger ; as vigilant watchmen it was required of them to sound the alarm when they saw the enemy preparing to approach. Ready themselves to endure everything rather than relinquish their principles, they felt it incumbent to rouse their followers to the same pitch of conscientious and holy determination. And in following out this course, Mr. Napier may rest assured, they went to work after a very different fashion from what he supposes. They were not the men to aim at accomplishing their designs by working upon the fears or the feelings of the weaker sex. It is in a very different quarter that be must look for the sleek and soft-tongued parsons, who • familiar with a round
of ladyships,' act the part of drawing-room agitators, and seek, by working upon the nerves or the bigotry of their female disciples, to raise an excitement, which may be turned to good account in favour of the continually and much endangered Church.' The clergy of the Covenant were men, every inch of them. They scorned to ply the distaff, when the circumstances of their country called upon
them to wield the mace. Confident in the rectitude of their principles and the honesty of their intentions, they came boldly, before their countrymen, and spoke their minds in open day. Hence the real secret of the depth and permanence of their influence over the movements of their party. Nothing appears to us more preposterous than to attribute this to their hold upon the women. It is true that the Scottish females of that period took a deep interest in public affairs, and it is no less true, that it was among them that open resistance to the use of the liturgy in the churches first broke out; but had there been no more powerful element at work upon the minds of the male part of the population than what arose from their influence, we may rest assured the matter had never come to the issue of a civil war. Does Mr. Napier himself believe, or does he expect any man of sense to believe, that the riotous proceedings of Jenny Geddes and her assistant serving wenches,' were the real commencement of the mighty conflict in which the nation was soon after involved with its rulers ? What! because an old woman lost her temper in church, and imperilled the life of the officiating clergymen by flinging her stool at his head, and because a few scores of
persons of her own sex and class seconded her fury by 'voices and missiles,'
are we to be told that a whole nation, hastily espousing her quarrel, would take up arms against their sovereign, and carry on a long, a bloody, and an expensive war in defence of a cause to which they were seduced only by the skill with which a few crafty nobles and intriguing clergymen improved' the feminine tumult? Had Mr. Napier perused the page of human nature with half the diligence which he has bestowed upon the wormeaten records of former times, he would have learned that it is not by such sudden and intemperate outbursts of individual wrath that the peace of nations is broken, and the stability of thrones endangered. Emotions that are so easily excited into unseasonable fervour, lie too near the surface, and have too little hold upon the moral and intellectual energies of the people, to be sufficient for the parentage of mighty revolutions. Where a single spark kindles a devastating flame, the materials for the conflagration must have been previously collected; where the • lenis susurrus’ of a local tumult stirs a kingdom into rebellion we may rest assured that the minds of the people have been previously unsettled by the criminality or folly of their rulers. Had the unseemly conduct of the women on the occasion referred to, been called forth by nothing but their own excited feelings, their wrath would have cooled with the ducking of the first scold whom the magistrates might have doomed to that once approved and appropriate punishment. But vehement as their indignation was, it was not from it that danger to the commonwealth was to be apprehended. It was in the pallid sternness, the compressed lips, the knit brows, the gloomy silence of the dark-visaged mass that partly in indifference, partly in displeasure, looked on whilst the fury of the women was expending itself in noisy outrage, that the signs of the impending storm were to be descried. The outrage which had been committed upon the most cherished rights of the nation, had kindled a deep and moody resentment which the excesses of a mob could neither express nor satisfy.
It was whilst this excitement was rising to its height, that Montrose arrived in Edinburgh. His name appears for the first time in connexion with the famous convention of November, 1637, out of which the Institution of the Tables, already referred to, arose. His appearing on this occasion among the ranks of the disaffected party, has been usually attributed to a feeling of mortified pride in consequence of the treatment he had received from the king in London ; but when we consider that it was not until some considerable time after his arrival in Scotland, that he joined the Covenanting party, and that at no period of his connexion with them, did his conduct betray any of that rancorous partisan-ship which commonly characterizes the man who adopts a side in a great national conflict from motives of mere personal offence, the soundness of this opinion may well be questioned. Mr. Napier
attributes Montrose’s adduction to his mind having been worked upon by the craft of Lord Rothes and the clergy, quoting as his authority the words of Baillie—the canniness of Rothes brought ' in Montrose to our party '—and a MS. deposition by Robert Murray, minister of Methven, taken in 1641, in which Montrose is introduced as affirming that Murray was an instrument in • bringing him to this cause.' It is quite possible, however, that both Rothes and Murray may have dealt with 'Montrose, as the phrase went, without either of them practising any deceit upon his mind. There is nothing to forbid the supposition that he agreed with his former guardian, Lord Napier, in the opinions which led that nobleman, along with many others of the same moderate and rational views, to espouse the side of the people against the bishops; and though some management might be necessary to induce him to commit himself to active measures, it is quite possible, and from all we know of his character and subsequent career, extremely probable, that he did not take that step without a full conviction of its necessity, and a clear understanding in his own mind how far he was prepared to go in the course on which he had thus entered.
Once committed, the ardour of his temperament and the daring character of his genius, led him to pursue with unhesitating vigour those measures which appeared conducive to the interests of the cause he had espoused. At the convention above mentioned, he was named, along with Lords Rothes, Loudon, and Lindsay, to represent the nobility of Scotland in the Committee of Tables; and in this capacity he was accessary to the composition of, as he was among the first to affix his bold and masculine signature to, that memorable paper the Solemn League and Covenant.' This document was drawn up by Henderson, minister of Leuchars, and Johnstone, of Warriston, by order of the Tables, after a very decided instance of Charles's perfidy and obstinate determination to enforce his ecclesiastical innovations. It was framed upon the model of the Bands,' as they were called, into which from very ancient times the Scotch had been in the habit of entering for mutual support and defence in seasons of peril. One of these, which had been framed at the time of the Reformation, and had been adopted as the National Confession of Faith, was selected by the Covenanters as the basis on which their document was to be formed; or rather was reissued by them, with the addition of a single elause to the effect that all persons signing it were obliged to defend each other against all sorts of persons whatsoever. The addition of this clause has drawn down upon them the charge of duplicity as well as rebellion; inasmuch as, it is said, they issued the document as a simple copy of the former Confession, whereas it contained a clause pledging all who signed it to stand by each other against any and every opponent, not even excepting the
sovereign himself. The charge of duplicity has been very generally admitted against them by historians, and among the rest by Dr. Cook, who usually stands forth as their defender;* but as it appears to us with glaring injustice, for in the preamble to the bond, after reciting
the different occasions on which this Confession had been signed, they proceed to say, 'and now subscribed .by us noblemen, barons, gentlemen, burgesses, ministers, and • commons under subscribing, together with our resolutions and
promises, for the causes after specified, to maintain the said true * religion, and the King's Majesty according to the Confession · aforesaid and Acts of Parliament.'+ Nothing appears to us more certain than that by the words we have printed in italics, the editors of the Covenant intended to intimate that the document, as issued by them, contained something new—something both in the shape of resolution and of complaint, which did not pertain to the document as formerly signed. As to the charge of rebellion, it is to be observed, in the first place, that it is by no means clear that the clause in question was intended to pledge those who signed it to take up arms against the king. The phrase "all
sorts of persons whatsoever,' is certainly sufficiently general; but when it is remembered, that both in the preamble and in the body of the document it is distinctly affirmed, that the objects for which the mutual bond was given were conjointly the maintenance of true religion, and of the King's Majesty,' it seems but fair to conclude that it was not intended that the sovereign should be included amongst the number of those against whom the subscribers pledged themselves to defend each other. But, further, even supposing that resistance to the sovereign was distinctly contemplated on the part of those who issued this document, of what crime were the leaders of the Scottish nation guilty in so acting, under the circumstances in which their country was at that time placed? The principle on which Dr. Cook rests their defence is one which no man in the present day surely will venture to question, viz., that when the ends for which all ‘government should be instituted are defeated, the oppressed have a clear right to disregard customary forms, and to assert the privileges without which they would be condemned to the degradation and wretchedness of despotism.'! To this Mr. Napier has nothing to oppose but his old assertion that the Covenanters were a mere restless and unprincipled faction. But if they were only a faction, where, we ask, was the nation? The statements
History of the Church of Scotland, ii. 416. + See the whole document in Peterkin's Records of the Kirk of Scotland (p. 9), a work now in course of publication, and which promises to be of great use to the student of Scottish Ecclesiastical History,
* Vol. ii. p. 415.
of Mr. Napier's own book amply confute his assertion; witness the account he has given of the rapturous and universal signing of the Covenant, from the MSS. of the Episcopal parson of Rotheimay, vol. i. pp. 151–157. That a document which was subscribed by nearly all the inhabitants of the metropolis, ' every one contesting who might be first;' which all the nobility, gentry, and clergy who were present at Edinburgh at the time it was issued, subscribed and swore to; which, as it passed through the country, was signed by myriads, of whom many
subscribed with tears on their cheeks, while others did draw their own blood, and used it in place of ink to underwrite their
names; and to speak for which was on the part of a clergyman such a passport to popularity, that no church could contain his • hearers,' and some kept their seats from Friday till Sunday to
get the communion given them sitting ;' – that such a document should speak the language of a mere faction with whom the nation at large had no sympathy, is an assertion which nothing but the blindest spirit of faction could tempt any man to hazard. If ever a nation were unanimous in the adoption of any measure for the purpose of securing from its governors those immunities of which no ruler is entitled to deprive his subjects, it was the Scottish nation at the period referred to; and in such a case had the leaders of the Covenanters even formally proposed to levy war upon the sovereign in case of his attempting to break their league or frustrate their just designs, they had done nothing inconsistent with those relations which subsist in every free state between the ruler and his subjects. We are still, however, of opinion, that no such step was so much as contemplated by the Covenanters at the time when their bond was drawn up. The enemies against whom they sought to protect at once their own rights and those of the throne, were the bishops and the pope, and it was not until they saw Charles madly bent upon identifying himself with these, that they felt constrained to appear in arms against him. The grand object of their enterprise was the protection of their civil and religious immunities; their war with their sovereign was a mere accident arising out of his pertinacious defence of measures by which these were endangered. The Covenanters were not republicans; they had no sympathy whatever with the anti-monarchical party in England; they were, on the contrary, enthusiastically attached to the monarchical form of government, as subsequent events prove; and if in struggling for their rights, circumstances threw them into collision with their sovereign, their maintenance of such a conflict can be traced only to their preference of principles to persons, and their anxiety to support the real interests of the throne, even at the expense of the most cherished prejudices of the individual by whom it was occupied.