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HAMILTON AND LAUD-THE KING'S PREPARATIONS-MOVEMENTS IN
SCOTLAND-THE SEIZURE OF EDINBURGH CASTLE AND OTHER FORTRESSES--ROYALIST FLEET IN THE FORTH-ALEXANDER LESLIE GATHERS A COVENANTING ARMY-COMPOSITION OF THE ARMYTHE LOWLAND AGRICULTURISTS-ARGYLE'S HIGHLANDERS—THE CAMP ON DUNSE LAW - THE KING'S ARMY ON THE OTHER SIDEHINTS ABOUT A "SUPPLICATION”—THE PLAN TRIED-THE KING'S RECEPTION OF IT --- PACIFICATION OF BERWICK – SUSPICIONS-A SUPPLEMENTAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY-DEMOLITION OF EPISCOPACY REPEATED-THE KING'S LARGE DECLARATION-A PARLIAMENTTHE CONSTITUTION OF THE ESTATES-DEALINGS WITH THE FRENCH COURT-THE QUARREL RENEWINGSTATE OF FEELING IN ENGLAND -AN ENGLISH ARMY MARCHING TO THE NORTH-LESLIE'S ARMY RECONSTRUCTED-MONTROSE AND THE PASSAGE OF THE TWEEDCROSSING THE TYNE AT NEWBURN, AND DEFEAT OF THE KING'S ARMY-OCCUPATION OF NEWCASTLE-TREATY OF RIPON.
HAMILTON's conduct received the approval of Laud, and therefore of the king; and he went to Court to hold consultations, having first taken advice from Laud on the propriety of such a step. So far as the voices of that age come down to the present, the loudest in denunciation and the firmest in the demand of strong measures is still the voice of Laud. He chafed with fierce impatience at the slowness and insufficiency of the preparations for punishment. “I am as sorry," he says, “as your grace can be, that the king's preparations can make no more haste. I hope you think-for truth it is, I have called upon his majesty, and by his command upon some others, to hasten
all that may be, and more than this I cannot do." And a few days later on the 7th of December: “In tender care of his majesty's both safety and honour, I have done, and do daily call upon him for his preparations. He protests he makes all the haste he can, and I believe him ; but the jealousies of giving the Covenanters umbrage too soon have made the preparations here so late. I do all I can here with trouble and sorrow enough.”1
The preparations were very formidable in design: “ His majesty was to raise an army of thirty thousand horse and foot, and to lead them in person towards Scotland: he was to write to all the nobility of England to wait upon him to the campaign with their attendants, who should be maintained by his majesty's pay: he was to put good garrisons in Berwick and Carlisle-two thousand in the former and five hundred in the latter : he was at the same time to send a fleet to ply from the Firth northward for stopping of trade, and making a great diversion for guarding the coast : he was also to send an army of five thousand men under the marquis his command to land in the north and join with Huntley's forces; all which should be under his command, he retaining still the character of Commissioner, with the addition of general of the forces in Scotland, and with these he was first to make the north sure, and then to move southward, which might both make another great diversion, and encourage such as wished well to his majesty's service, who were the greater number in those parts. Next, the Earl of Antrim was to land in Argyleshire, upon his pretensions to Kintyre and the old feuds betwixt the Macdonalds and Campbells ; and he promised to bring with him ten or twelve thousand men. And last of all, the Earl of Strafford was to draw together such forces as could be levied and spared out of Ireland, and come with another fleet into Dumbriton Firth; and for his encouragement the marquis desired him to touch at Arran (that being the only place of his interest which he could offer unto his majesty), and he would be sure of all his men there (such naked rogues as
1 Burnet's Memoirs of Hamilton, 111.
they were is his own phrase); besides, there were store of cows in that island for the provision of the fleet, which he appointed should not be spared.” 1
But poverty stood in the way of this, as of many another brilliant project. Though the revenue from ship-money supported the Court in time of tranquillity, there was so little for any exigency that the expense of becomingly entertaining the queen's mother crippled the treasury. As a type of the condition of the departments connected with war and the national defence, we may take the facts which Sir John Heydon, Lieutenant-General of the Ordnance, gave as his excuse for not rendering certain returns required by the master-general : “ The surveyor is sick; the clerk of the ordnance restrained of his liberty, and one of his clerks absent; the clerk of the deliveries is out of town, and his clerk absent; the master-gunner dead, the yeomen of the ordnance never present, nor any of the gunner attendants.” 2
So wretchedly were the royal fortresses in Scotland apparelled and manned, that the Tables resolved to take them at one sweep out of the hands of the Government. The project was discussed as a matter of policy rather than ability, the question being, whether it was just and prudent to take the king's strong places out of the hands of his appointed servants, and themselves hold them in his name. On the 23d of March, Leslie, at the head of a strong party, demanded possession of Edinburgh Castle. It was refused. Contrary to all proper precaution, he was allowed to put his demand at the outer gate, and when this was closed on him, like a house-door on an unwelcome visitor, he took the opportunity to screw a petard on it. This explosive engine had, of course, been prepared with the latest improvements known in the great war; and the effects of its explosion were so astounding that the garrison tacitly permitted the assailants to take possession of the fortress.
Dumbarton was supposed to be more defensible, "and,"
1 Burnet's Memoirs, 113.
as Baillie says, “what stratagem to use we knew not, the captain being so vigilant a gentleman, and having provided it so well with men, munition, and victuals ; yet God put it in our hands most easily." 1 It happened that this “ vigilant gentleman" attended church on Sunday with so many of the garrison that when they were seized on their way back the place was defenceless. Dalkeith was easily taken by assault. Within it were found the warlike stores about which there had been so much discussion. Something still more interesting was found there,—the Honours of the realm—the crown, sceptre, and sword. These were conveyed with reverential pomp to Edinburgh Castle. Stirling Castle did not require to be assailed—it was in the hands of a sure friend, the Earl of Mar. All this was accomplished without the shedding of a drop of blood, and was treated as a mere change of officers—an administrative reform. Some strong places, in the hands of powerful subjects, such as Hamilton Palace and Douglas Castle, were in the same manner put into safe keeping. The Tables cast longing eyes on the fortress of Caerlaverock, already twice memorable in our History. They let it alone, for a reason which shows how much prudence was allied to their strength. As a Border fortress its possession was of moment. But it might have been assisted from the garrison of Carlisle, and it was infinitely desirable to avoid any conflict with English troops.
On the king's side the Commission of Array was issued requiring the feudal force of England to assemble at York. Hamilton was to take a fleet transporting land-forces into the Firth of Forth. “He desired the king might choose a fitter person for the naval forces, since he was altogether unacquainted with sea affairs, and not fit for such an important service. But his majesty, looking upon this as an effect of his modesty, gave no hearing to it, telling him that as for affairs purely naval, Sir John Pennington, the vice-admiral, should go with him, and would abundantly supply his defects in that.” 2
Such was the practice of the day. It took many years'
1 Letters, i. 193. VOL. VI.
2 Burnet's Memoirs, 114.
experience and many disasters to prove that skill and science are necessary for sea commands, and that birth and rank could not effect the handling of vessels without these qualities.
On the ist of May Hamilton and his fleet entered the Firth of Forth. He had nineteen vessels, and the rumour spread that he brought five thousand men in them. We are told that these were in good condition, “well clothed and well armed, but so little exercised that of the five thousand there were not two hundred who could fire a musket.”] This was, it appears, because the trained men were kept at home for the defence of their own counties in case of need. Whether there actually were five thousand men in the fleet may be doubted. Though there were five regiments, we have seen already how, when two thousand men were ordered from them for service, they were not to be found. Two of these regiments were, as we have seen, sent to join the king's army in the north of England. The whole affair partook of a pretence organised, after the fashion of Chinese warfare, to frighten the country.". But the alarm inspired by it took the wrong direction. It communicated to the preparations of the Tables an impulsive rapidity. They were soon in possession of thirty thousand stand of arms. They had twenty thousand men embodied, and in the hands of an organisation for diligently drilling and training them. Prompt measures were taken for the defence of the coast. Leith was strongly fortified. Round the coast of Fife there was at that time a string of seaport towns which conducted a lucrative commerce. They had an abundant shipping, and, like all enterprising maritime communities of that age, transacted in the Spanish main and other distant seas a kind of business that accustomed them to the use of arms. These towns were so affluent that King Tames compared the bleak county of Fife to a frieze cloak with a trimming of gold-lace. All these towns fortified themselves, and there was no spot where a party could be landed from the fleet without a struggle.
1 Burnet's Memoirs, 120.