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thrust in among them. Their first work was to put to good use the blank power which the Estates had conferred on the king as to the apparel of Churchmen; and a warrant was sent down which, among other things, directed “that the lords archbishops and bishops shall, in all churches where they come in time of divine service or sermon, be in whites—that is, in a rochet and sleevesas they were at the time of our coronation; and especially whensoever they administer the holy communion or preach. And they shall likewise provide themselves a chymerthat is, a satin or taffeta gown without lining or sleveesto be worn over their whites at the time of their consecration. And we will that all archbishops and bishops aforesaid that are of our Privy Council or of our Session shall come and sit there in their whites, and maintain the gravity of their places. And for all inferior clergymen we will that they preach in their black gowns; but when they read divine service, christen, bury, or administer the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, they shall wear their surplices." 1
It was determined at Court to strike a blow that would frighten the opposition gradually gathering in Scotland. There had been, as we have seen, a Supplication. This inferred grumbling or complaint ; and perhaps some actionable matter might be found in it. The Supplication had been prepared by William Haig of Bemerside. It was handed to Lord Balmerinoch, who, after revising it, passed it over to Lord Rothes for presentation to the king. The king had given directions to those about him not to present to him any insolent or unbecoming applications, and Rothes was troubled about the view that might be taken of the Supplication. He tried to sound the king before determining, and got from him the not assuring answer, “ My lord, ye know what is fit for you to represent, and I know what is fit to me to hear and consider; and therefore do or do not upon your peril.” 2 He tried the policy of treating the Supplication as worthy of suppression, and yet giving the king an opportunity of
1 Act. Parl., v. 21.
State Trials, iii. 629.
seeing it if he desired so to do. The dialogue between them is thus given : “Sir, there is a petition given me presently to be looked upon and considered, which I have in my pocket, which I have, according to your majesty's command, suppressed ; if your majesty be pleased to look upon it ?' to which his majesty answered, “It is no matter -I have no leisure—I am going to the park.'” The paper was then returned to Balmerinoch, with the opinion that it would be dangerous to present it.
If a prosecution were raised, it would be for “leasingmaking,” or uttering a document tending to render the sovereign and his Government odious-the offence more generally known as political libel. For such a prosecution it was necessary to establish that the document had been shown to some one, and it was not difficult to find one who had seen it as revised by Balmerinoch and interlined in his hand. Haig, the draughtsman of the paper, when he saw the coming storm, escaped to Compvere, and it fell on Balmerinoch alone.
The Supplication was a short paper, with the heading, “To the king's most excellent majesty, the humble Supplication of a great number of the nobility and other commissioners in the late Parliament.” Its phraseology is throughout as respectful and deferential as the language of the day could render it. The two strongest passages are those already quoted-the one as to the coupling measures together so as to compel a vote either for the acceptance or the rejection of both, the other as to the king's attendance and taking notes. The latter, which is the really serious point, is approached with so much timidity that the passage about it, as cited above, will'be found to be hesitating and obscure. It involved what in England would have been termed a breach of privilege, and was a forecast of those tamperings with the English House of Commons which had so disastrous an end. The Scots Estates had ever held a haughty independence of the Crown, even so far that they counted the royal assent to a measure by touching it with the sceptre as a mere act of courtesy not necessary to give the force of law to the Acts of the Estates. There is something
grotesque, after reading the mild and decorous Supplication, to find it characterised in the indictment thus: “ Whilk scandalous, odious, and seditious libel did not only seditiously, reproachfully, and outrageously tax our sacred person in our behaviour at Parliament, but also contains many points and purposes of false calumnies, public scandals, and reproaches against us, our estate and government, depraving our laws and Acts of Parliament, and misconstruing our just and glorious proceedings in our first Parliament.”
The following passage, in a tone new to Scots ears, is instructive as an announcement of Charles I.'s views of sovereignty : “ Albeit by the law of God and laws of all nations the person of the supreme and sovereign prince is and ought to be sacred and inviolable, and he ought to be reverenced, honoured, and feared as God's lieutenant on earth; and that all subjects are bound and tied in conscience to content themselves in humble submission to obey and reverence the person, laws, and authority of their supreme sovereign ;-yet the said unhappy and infamous libel, in the first entry thereof, begins with an outrageous upbraiding and taxing of our sovereign lord's majesty of a point of injustice or indiscretion in our behaviour at Parliament, for putting of notes (as the said infamous libel alleges) upon the names of a number of our subjects who did vote contrar to the Acts of our Church government passed in Parliament, whilk is ane fearful thing in ane subject, to pry into the gesture of his sovereign in his supreme court, and upon a gesture without speech to infer a ground of exprobation and reproach to the sovereign prince.” 1
The trial was protracted by long pleadings founded on the doctrines of the civilians, and the report of it is like an interminable academic disputation. Besides the Justinian laws themselves, a host of commentators are brought up. We have not only the illustrious names of Bartolus and Baldus, who gave more law to Europe than any monarch that ever reigned, but a string of such less noted
1 State Trials, iii. 597, 598.
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names, as Cravetta, Muretus, Galesius, De Castro, Labio, and Menochius. Nothing might at first thought seem fairer than to found such a prosecution on the cold logic of the old civilians-nothing could more effectually refute any imputation that the law was made for the occasion ; and yet no professional ingenuity could have contrived a new law better fitted for the object in view. The old Roman law de libellis famosis had been inverted by a power outside the law. The only way in which the Ronan could publish his libel was by passing the manuscript from hand to hand. The apparatus for publicity was now the press; and it was then beginning to teem with those thousands of controversial pamphlets, every one of which was a libel in the eyes of those who were chastised by it. The handing about of a written paper gave the inference of privacy rather than publicity; and in fact the Supplication had only been shown with extreme caution. It was pleaded that the document was intended for the royal eye alone; but to this there was a ready answer— its promoters themselves had, on mature consideration, decided that it was a document of too outrageous a character for presentation to the sovereign.
All the conditions attending this prosecution show a consciousness in its promoters that they were treading on very dangerous ground. Each step in it was taken with hesitation, after dubious councils. Hence it stretched from the summer of 1634 into the spring of 1635, the accused lying all the while in prison. The jury, according to the practice of Scotland, numbered fifteen, deciding by a majority. They stood eight to seven, being a majority of one for a conviction. After further hesitation and consultation, the end was that a royal remission or pardon was granted to Balmerinoch. But this act of mercy brought the king and his advisers no favour or credit. The feeling was that they dared not execute the sentence, and that the threats, humiliations, and personal captivity to which they had subjected one of a fierce and proud aristocracy were so much substantial oppression and injustice, which would have gone much farther had
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it not been arrested by imbecility rather than justice or generosity.
A zealous Presbyterian annalist assures us that during the trial “ the common people avowedly, with loud and high-lifted-up voicés, were praying for Lord Balmerinoch, and for all those that loved him and his cause, and prayed for a plague to come upon them that had the blame of his trouble."1 Bishop Burnet hints at a more formidable feeling, telling that when the trial came to an end, “many meetings were held ; and it was resolved either to force the prison to set him at liberty, or if that failed, to avenge his death both on the Court and on the eight jurors—some undertaking to kill them, and others to burn their houses. When the Earl of Traquair understood this, he went to the Court, and told the king that the Lord Balmerinoch's life was in his hands, but the execution was in no sort advisable; so he procured his pardon.” 2
Some other incidents were overshadowed by the importance of this prosecution. A new Episcopalian diocese was created : it included that part of the diocese of St Andrews stretching from the Forth to the Border; and the see was in Edinburgh, the Church of St Giles being the cathedral. William Forbes, the first Bishop of Edinburgh, was consecrated in 1634.3 In 1635, Lord Kinnoul,
1 Row's History, 384.
2 These threatening symptoms are repeated by Malcolm Laing in language of greater strength and expressiveness; and other writers, following his authority, have heightened the colours. I have taken Burnet's own words, as he is the only authority I can find for the suspicion or fear of an outbreak. He was not born till eight years afterwards, but he mentions good opportunities possessed by him for becoming acquainted with the story he tells. “My father,” he says, “knew the whole steps of this matter, having been the Earl of Lauderdale's most particular friend. He often told me that the ruin of the king's affairs in Scotland was in a great measure owing to that prosecution; and he carefully preserved the petition itself and the papers relating to the trial, of which I never saw any copy besides that which I have. And that raised in me a desire of seeing the whole record which was copied for me, and is now in my hands.”—Summary of Affairs before the Restoration.
3 The charter of erection will be found at length in Keith's Catalogue of Scottish Bishops, p. 28.