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BOOK privy council intermixed its tortures with the most
ensnaring questions: Was Sharp's death murder? Was the rising at Bothwell rebellion? Is Charles a rightful king, or a tyrant whom it is lawful to dethrone or deprive of life? The unhappy victims of suspicion and rage, too sincere, or by the torture made unable to prevaricate, were dismissed from this severe inquisition to the justiciary court; and from the justiciary court to the place of execution. Among the first who suffered, for opinions not treasonable till they were extorted by the council, was a brother of the laird of Skene, who was convicted on his answers to those interrogatories: but the punishment was afterwards extended even to helpless females, in the flower of their youth. The wretched Cameronians who suffered death for their religious opinions, expired with such resolution, that when their lives were offered by the duke, if they would acknowledge his majesty, or even exclaim on the scaffold, God bless the king, the very women refused to forfeit the crown of martyrdom. The frenzy of these deluded creatures might have excited the compassion, but could never justify the resentment of government. Their punishment demonstrated the unextinguishable hatred and fury of the royalists,
27 Id. They were executed with some others for child murder. "I am but twenty," said one, with an affecting simplicity," and am not come here for murder, for they can charge "me with nothing but my judgment." Cloud of Witnesses.
who believed that their former sufferings could BOOK never be avenged. From each example they perceived that the opinions were propagated which they attempted to suppress, and that the veneration for the covenant was cherished and encreased by the dying breath, and by the blood of numerous martyrs with which it was attested and sealed. But instead of remitting an unavailing punishment, they transferred the execution to an early hour, at a distance from the city, to avoid the multitudes, whom the sufferers never failed to convert by their death. It is said that the persecution was stopt by the duke, who committed the fanatics to hard labour in a house of correction. No example of the fact exists; on the contrary, executions for private opinion continued to multiply during his whole administration and reign. It is asserted, by the same author, that he indulged, without emotion, in contemplating the torture of state prisoners, as a curious experiment, while other counsellors recoiled from the scene; and on one occasion it is certain that he assisted from choice, when Spreul was twice exposed to the question almost without intermission 28.
His disposition was haughty, severe, and in- His cha flexible: and his natural severity, heightened by bigotry, was never mitigated by experience; for his character was better adapted to sustain adversity with patience, than prosperity with modera
BOOK tion. The mediocrity of his genius was compensated, imperfectly, by application to business. He introduced a strict œconomy into the revenues of Scotland, but was never able to comprehend the extensive, and reciprocal interests of the people and the throne. His sincerity appears the more estimable when compared with his brother's; but he contemned, and without scruple perverted the impartial administration of justice; and his promises were sometimes infringed from the suggestions of his bigotry, sometimes from the pernicious maxim of state necessity. On his return, he forgot the moderation which he had observed in his former visit; and if he continued affable to the tories, as the royalists were now denominated, his mind, exasperated perhaps by a ludicrous incident which I shall proceed to relate, appeared inexorable towards the fanatics, of whose support he despaired. Having engrossed the administration to himself, he formed a motley party, composed of Lauderdale's opponents and friends; and impatient of an honourable exile, dispatched his favourite Churchill to solicit his recall, which was still inexpedient, or permission to hold a parliament in Scotland, which it was impossible to refuse29.
The students at the university of Edinburgh, had engaged by an oath to burn the pope in effigy at Christmas. Notwithstanding the vigilance of
29 Fountainhalls' Memoirs, MS.
the magistrates and the military, to prevent this BOOK juvenile insult to the duke's religion, they accom plished their purpose with much fortitude and address. The imprisonment of these youthful patriots was resented by the populace. The blue ribbon of the covenant30 was revived by boys and apprentices, with an inscription against the pope; and the court party retorted by wearing red ribbons, with a device expressive of their abhorrence of fanaticism. Amidst these absurd disputes, the provost's house was burnt to the ground. The accident was ascribed to revenge, and although no discovery was made, the university was shut up, and the students were expelled for a time from the town. These incidents convinced the discerning Churchill that the duke was unable, without his brother's support, to maintain himself in Scotland, much less to assert his right of succession by arms 31.
The parliament, which was intended in the one A parlia kingdom to strengthen, and in the other to secure Aug. 13. his right of succession, was opened with magnificence: the crown was borne by Argyle, a distinction regarded as ominous to his family; and on the death of Rothes, the office of chancellor becoming vacant, retained the chief nobility in de
30 Hence a true blue whig, from the favourite colours of the covenant, adopted, it is said, from an injunction to the Jews (Numbers, xv. 38.) Fountainhall's Mem. MS.
31 Dalrymple's Mem. i. 365.
BOOK pendence and suspense. An objection to the com mission of the duke, as a papist incapacitated to represent his brother, was privately agitated; but Hamilton refused to embark in a dangerous opposition, unless a majority were previously secured 32. On assurance of additional security for the proAct of suc- testant religion, an act was passed to assert the unalterable right of succession to the crown. From a fruitful principle, that the regal power was of divine origin, the parliament declared that no difference of religion could alter, that no statute or law could suspend, the lineal order of succession to the crown; and that it was treason either to attempt an innovation, or to propose limitations on the future administration of the presumptive heir. When we peruse the act, and consider how soon the crown was afterwards forfeited; when we contemplate how frequently and happily the lineal succession has been since inverted, we must smile with contempt at the extreme fragility of political laws, and at the anxious precaution with which the most violent of them are framed only to be disregarded and ultimately broken.
The decline of Lauderdale's credit exposed lord Hatton his brother to detection and disgrace. He was accused of perjury on Mitchell's trial; his letters were produced; and the infamy of the fact was proclaimed in parliament, but the inquiry was suppressed. Lord Bargeny, the duke of Hamil
32 Burnet, ii. 325. Fountainhall's Mem. MS.