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to breed a fear of our becoming obnoxious into your majesty's dislike, if your highness should still remain unacquainted with the reasons of our opinions delivered concerning the said Acts.” 1
The document here cited is called “The humble Supplication of a great Number of the Nobility and other Commissioners in the late Parliament.” It was not presented to the king, or at all events it was not read by him ; but it had a separate and eventful history of its own, as we shall presently see. Meanwhile we may close the account of this Parliament with the emphatic character given to it by Sir James Balfour : 'In short, of thirty-one Acts and statutes concluded in this Parliament, not three of them but were most hurtful to the liberty of the subject, and as it were as many partitions to separate the king from his people. This Parliament was led on by the Episcopal and Court faction, which thereafter proved to be that stone which afterwards crushed them in pieces, and the fuel of that flame which set all Britain afire not long thereafter.” 2
Measured by the events that are to follow, this Parliament seems a matter of small moment or interest—a scene of petty jealousies and misunderstandings likely to be blown away and forgotten. But in reality it is the mark of a critical epoch. For the first time in our History there opens a quarrel between the Crown and the Estates of Parliament, and each returns from the discussion in surly menace, importing a farther and more determined trial of strength. That there never had as yet been a trial of strength between the two powers, had an obvious reason-on the side of the Crown such a contest was utterly hopeless. Whether that was a good form or a bad form of government where the Estates of Parliament were supreme, and the sovereign only their head and the proclaimer of their determinations, is a question in political philosophy. But so it was that the States had the chief ruling power, and now the Crown was preparing to invade it.
i State Trials, iii. 604.
2 Annals, ii. 200.
Apart from the discussions in the Estates, the clergy of the High Presbyterian party brought up a protestation of their own grievances. It was presented to the king, who handed it to some one in attendance, and it seems to have been heard of no more. As it denounced all the innovations in the Church since the days of its purity under the Melvilles, its tenor may be inferred from the preceding narrative. The remonstrants, among minor matters, desired that they might “ be freed from foul aspersions of picknaming,” because they had been nicknamed as “Puritans”-a term then recently imported from England. Their general conclusion was: “We have no General Assemblies; our provincial assemblies and presbyteries are so confused that no good is done; corrupt doctrines publicly vented in pulpits and schools without any restraint or censure ; atheism, Popery, and profanity grows exceedingly; ignorant and debauched ministers are tolerated; the godly learned and painful are grieved and persecuted ; commissioners-voters in Parliament—lie untried and uncensured.”] The meaning of this last grievance is, that members of Parliament were not made responsible to the ecclesiastical courts for their votes and general conduct as legislators.
These affairs occurred during a long-looked-for visit by the king to the country of his birth. He entered Scotland on the 12th of June 1633. He had with him a brilliant train, which, counting servile attendance as well as the nobles and officers of State, amounted to above one hundred and fifty persons. Of these, far more significant than all the rest of the troop were two bishopsone of whom was Laud. The pageantries for the occasion appeared to have been much more gorgeous than any previously offered in Scotland even to royalty, for the country had thriven in half a century of peace. It was said, however, that in emulation of the splendour of their English visitors, the Scots gentry spent more than they could well afford, and thus added a feeling of impoverishment to the causes of discontent which crowded on the inaus
1 Row, 358 ; State Trials, iii. 607.
Vi har et bien
picious event. The ceremony of the king's coronation passed with great state and solemnity in the Abbey Church of Holyrood House. He who had the principal part in the marshalling of all the ceremonies of the occasion, the Lord Lyon, tells us : “ Because this was the most glorious and magnifique coronation that ever was seen in this kingdom, and the first King of Great Britain that ever was crowned in Scotland, to behold these triumphs and ceremonies many strangers of great quality resorted hither from divers countries.”
Through all the magnificence of the scene there were visible to acute observers some things, small in themselves, but full of evil portent, like the skeleton at the feast. We find them noticed with a regretful eye by Spalding, who was no Presbyterian, but a Cavalier from the north. His sympathies were with Prelacy; but they were conservative sympathies, desiring that what was well should be let alone. “Now," he says, “it is marked that there was ane four-neuket taffil [four-cornered table] manner of ane altar standing within the kirk, having thereupon twa books at least resembling clasped books, called blind books, with twa wax chandeliers, and twa wax candles whilk was un
for the au
1 Balfour's Works, ii. 199. Sir James left two documents descriptive of the ceremonies which it was his official duty to organise and superintend : “The order of King Charles entring Edinbrugh in stait at the West Port, and his march throughe the toune to Holyrud. house, 15th Junii, anno 1633 ;” and “The memorable and soleme Coronatione of King Charles, crowned King of Scotland at Holyrud. house the 18th Junii 1633” (Works, iv. 354 et seq.) Both papers are formal official records of the ceremonies, with especial reference to the marshallings and precedencies. They are thus as dry as a Court gazette, but they must be very valuable to the special students of Court ceremonies. It will be seen that the man who gives himself dutifully to the courtly pomps and ceremonies which are the business of his office, is the same who has left his sharp censure of the conduct of the Court. With this solemn official record it may be of interest to compare the account of the whole given by a humble but acute outside observer, John Spalding, the town-clerk of Aberdeen. He describes how in his progress through the town the king was assailed by seven successive speeches, “which haill orations his majesty with great pleasure and delight, sitting on horseback as his company did, heard pleasantly” (Memorials of the Troubles, i. 32 et seq.)
on the i
lighted, and ane basin wherein there was nothing. At the back of this altar, covered with tapestry, there was ane rich tapestry wherein the crucifix was curiously wrought; and as these bishops who were in service passed by this crucifix they were seen to bow their knee and beck, which, with their habit, was noticed, and bred great fear of inbringing of Popery, for whilk they were all deposed, as is set down in these papers. The Archbishop of Glasgow and remanent of the bishops there present who was not in service changed not their habit, but wore their black gowns without rochets or white sleeves." 1 The Archbishop of St Andrews and four bishops did “the service” “with white rochets and white sleeves, and copes of gold having blue silk to their foot.”
Another narrator puts on the picture this additional touch, that when the Archbishop of Glasgow, who had no rochet, stood at the king's left hand to partake in the ceremony, “Bishop Laud took Glasgow and thrust him from the king with these words, ' Are you a Churchman, and wants the coat of your order?'"?
Accompanying the commissary clerk of Aberdeen, we find him, with the greedy curiosity naturally attracted by any new and alarming phenomenon, telling how the king went to the Church of St Giles, “and heard John Bishop of Moray teach in his rochet, which is ane white linen or lawn drawn on above his coat, above the whilk his black gown is put on, and his arms through the gown-sleeves, and above his gown-sleeves is also white linen or lawn drawn on, shapen like ane sleeve. This is the weed of archbishops and bishops, and wears no surplice ; but Churchmen of inferior degree in time of service wear the same, which is above their claiths—ane syde [long] linen cloth over body and arms like to ane sack.
“The people of Edinburgh, seeing the bishop teach in his rochet, whilke was never seen in St Giles's Kirk since the Reformation, and by him who sometime was ane of their own town's Puritan ministers, they were
i Spalding's Memorials of the Troubles, i. 36. 2 Rushworth, ii. 182.
grieved, and grudged thereat, thinking the same smelt of Popery.” 1
These things gave a substantial meaning only too distinct to the vague Act authorising the king to readjust the robes of the clergy. It was the first great act of war in the contest about" the whites," as the correspondence on the English side terms the rochet of the bishop and the surplice of the priest or presbyter. It might be called a small matter; but if so, why press it with such virulent determination on those who would none of it? The recusants, however, satisfied themselves that it was not a small matter. The character of the innovation startled the eye. A change from black to white—it was almost equivalent to a shifting from gravity to frivolity, and courted inquiry. This was rewarded by the discovery that the innovation was associated with abjured abominations. It was not as a mere colourless raiment, one of the showy idolatries into which the Church of Rome had lapsed; but it was something worse. The Presbyterian clergy, pursuing inquiries to help them in the controversial maintenance of their standards, found, as is the wont of Churchmen, that the arrangements impulsively adopted by them in the confusion of the Reformation were precisely those which the standards of truth, when deliberately examined, required of them. They found that the Church of Rome had not only lapsed into its peculiar idolatry, but that it had preserved within its practice many of the rites of the heathen priests of old. Among these “the whites” were found to be the robes of the priests of Isis, and were thus among the abominations from which the children of Israel had sought refuge in the desert. So it came to pass that as this was the point on which the Scots Presbyterians were most resolute in resistance, so was it that on which King Charles and his advisers were most resolute on conformity.
He and his evil genius returned to London towards the end of July, leaving behind them a goodly store of combustible materials all ready for the torch which was to be
1 Spalding's Memorials of the Troubles, i. 39.