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is a halt or a retreat, it is part of the strategy that is to lead more surely to victory. The opposite force is immediately conscious of the change. It is no longer the half-mocking obstinacy that baffled King James in his impetuous resolutions and profuse gifts which he could not make good. The opposition becomes as stern and as firm of purpose as the aggressive Government.
The contrast is far more distinct in Scotland than in England, for reasons of a very obvious character. There the action of the common law and the practice of Parliament had taken far deeper root in precedent and system than any constitutional organisations in Scotland, and were consequently less easily shaken. There, too, the ecclesiastical principles and practice which were to be forced on Scotland were in peaceful possession. Then the quantity of dubiously-fluctuating property which had arisen out of the dispersal of the Church revenues was still, apart from all other agencies, a distinct element of disturbance in Scotland. King James, with his personal peculiarities and humours, was an essential feature in the political state of Scotland, giving the final touch to the uncertainties and incoherences of its condition; and when the political parties in his ancient kingdom found themselves in the hands of his grave son, it made something like a reversal of that dramatic arrangement which, after the audience have been saddened by the tragedy, restores them to cheerfulness by the drolleries of the farce.
The new king had not been two months in possession when the equanimity of the more zealous opponents of the old religion was disturbed by the news that he had brought home a Popish wife, Henrietta Maria, the daughter of Henry IV. of France.1
But this domestic event was only a brief interruption to an act of more distinct and formidable import. In the
1 Row, the historian of “the Kirk," tells us : “It is very remark. able that the queen's mass, the pest of the soul, and a most raging pestilence killing bodies, came to London together. Oh that men had eyes in their heads to see, and hearts to consider, the Lord's ways !”—P. 339.
month of November the town of Edinburgh, and presently all Scotland, was stirred by a royal proclamation made in the usual form by heralds at the market-cross. It announced a general revocation by the new king of all grants by the Crown, and all acquisitions to the prejudice of the Crown, whether before or after his father's Act of Annexation in 1587. This was virtually the proclamation of that contest of which King Charles was destined never to see the end. It professed to sweep into the royal treasury the whole of the vast ecclesiastical estates which had passed into the hands of the territorial potentates from the Reformation downwards, since it went back to things done before King James's annexation. , "Teinds," or tithes, as we have seen, were not named in King James's Act, but they were specified in King Charles's proclamation. He held that what the Crown had given the Crown could revoke; and the terms used by him were interpreted as a revocation, through the exercise of the royal prerogative, of those grants which had been fortified by a Parliamentary title in being confirmed by Acts of the Estates. This revocation swept up not only the grants made by the Crown, but the transactions, made in a countless variety of shapes, by which those in possession of Church revenues at the general breaking up, connived at their conversion into permanent estates to themselves or to relations, or to strangers who rendered something in return for connivance in their favour or for assistance in some shape to enable them to take possession. It was maintained, on the king's part, that the receivers of these revenues, which had belonged in permanence not to the men who drew them, but to the ecclesiastical offices to which they were attached, were illegal; and had this view been taken at the be. ginning, instead of standing over for upwards of sixty years, we, looking back upon it from the doctrines of the present day, must have pronounced it to be a cor. rect view. The revenues of suppressed ecclesiastical offices are now held to belong to the nation, and ase *protected by Parliament from appropriation by greedy and powerful men.
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The armed contest which broke forth twelve years afterwards has had so much more attraction for the world, that this, virtually the first act of war, has received scant attention; and therefore, whatever we can find to elucidate its immediate impression and influence is valuable. Sir James Balfour, an active courtier and statesman, calls it that revocation “of which the kingdom received so much prejudice, and in effect was the ground-stone of all the mischief that followed after, both to this king's Government and family; and whoever were the contrivers of it deserve, they and all their posterity, to be reputed by these three kingdoms infamous and accursed for ever."]
It was believed to be for the creation of a force to further this project that a revolution was effected on the bench by dismissals and new appointments. At the same time, in connection with sinister rumours about the feats of the prerogative in England, the king appointed a new tribunal in Scotland, to be called the “Commission for Grievances.” It scarcely took sufficient root to be visible in history. Sir James Balfour says of it: “ The wisest and best-sighted not only feared, but did see that this new commissional court was nothing else but the Star-Chamber Court of England under ane other name, come down here to play the tyrant, with a specious visor on its face. But after much debate between the nobility then at Court and his majesty thereanent, it being sorely cried out against by all honest men, it evanished in itself without so much as once meeting of the commissioners therein named.” 2
It was clear, from the spirit in which the revocation was received, that, as an act of the prerogative not backed by the Estates, it would be defied, and that in their present humour the Estates would not back it. The king fought for some time a harassing personal contest with those potentates whom it was of most importance to gain. The largest owners of ecclesiastical revenues were the houses of Hamilton and Lennox; and we are told that
these were induced to give up revenues sufficient to endow the two archbishoprics, “by a secret purchase, and with English money,” that a good example might be set to other owners of ecclesiastical revenues. 1
In the year 1628 Lord Nithsdale was commissioned to deal with the chiefs of the powerful body who had acquired the ecclesiastical revenues. The following curious and emphatic story of his mission is told by Bishop Burnet:
“Upon his coming down, those who were most concerned in those grants met at Edinburgh, and agreed that when they were called together, if no other argument did prevail to make the Earl of Nithisdale resist, they would fall upon him and all his party in the old Scottish manner, and knock them on the head. Primrose told me one of these lords-Belhaven, of the name of Douglas-who was blind, bid them set him by one of the party, and he would make sure of one. So he was set next the Earl of Dumfries. He was all the while holding him fast ; and when the other asked him what he meant by that, he said, ever since the blindness was come on him he was in such fear of falling that he could not help the holding fast to those who were next to him. He had all the while a poniard in his hand, with which he had certainly stabbed Dumfries if any disturbance had happened. The appearance at that time was so great, and so much heat was raised upon it, that the Earl of Nithisdale would not open all his instructions, but came back to Court, looking on the service as desperate; so a stop was put to it for some time." 2
Before absolutely believing in this savage story, we would require to have it on authority better than that of so arrant a gossip as Burnet, who was born about fifteen years after its period. But unless there had been reason for it in the temper of the men he speaks of, he would not have ventured to tell it.
The class to be affected by a resumption of ecclesiastical property was of course limited, and it will be proper to
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1 Burnet's Summary of Affairs before the Restoration.
look to the nature of the limitation. The project opened
A large part of these revenues came in the shape of tithe drawn in kind—the tenth part of the produce of the land. Those lay lords who succeeded to these rights of the old Church were called “the titulars of the teinds," teind being old Scots for tenth, called in England tithe. This fund it was usual to call “the spirituality" of benefices, as a divine right inherited by the clergy from the Jewish dispensation, the separate estates enjoyed by the clergy being called temporalities. In many instances the possession of these separate estates made the titulars of the tithes also the lords-superior over vassals who had to pay the tithe, while, as the holders of Church estates, they