« PreviousContinue »
'pressed much affection at the Doctrine preached by Mr. Stapylton, in their usual way of groans,'-Hum-m-mrrh!—and it's hoped a good work is wrought in some of their hearts.'1 I am sure I hope so. But to think of brother worshippers, partakers in a Gospel of this kind, cutting one another's throats for a Covenanted Charles Stuart,-Hum-m-mrrh!
1 Newspapers (in Cromwelliana, p. 92).
HASTE and other considerations forbid us to do more than glance, timidly from the brink, into that sea of confusions in which the poor Scotch People have involved themselves by soldering Christ's Crown to Charles Stuart's! Poor men, they have got a Covenanted King; but he is, so to speak, a Solecism Incarnate: good cannot come of him, or of those that follow him in this course; only inextricability, futility, disaster and discomfiture can come. There is nothing sadder than to see such a Purpose of a Nation led on by such a set of persons; staggering into ever deeper confusion, down, down, till it fall prostrate into utter wreck. Were not Oliver here to gather up the fragments of it, the Cause of Scotland might now die; Oliver, little as the Scots dream of it, is Scotland's Friend too, as he was Ireland's: what would become of Scotch Puritanism, the one great feat hitherto achieved by Scotland, if Oliver were not now there! Oliver's Letters out of Scotland, what will elucidate Oliver's footsteps and utterances there, shall alone concern us at present. For sufficing which object, the main features of these Scotch confusions may become conceivable without much detail of ours.
The first Scotch Army, now annihilated at Dunbar, had been sedulously cleared of all Hamilton Engagers and other Malignant or Quasi-Malignant Persons, according to a scheme painfully laid down in what was called the Act of Classes,-a General-Assembly Act, defining and classifying such men as shall not be allowed to fight on this occasion, lest a curse overtake the Cause on their account. Something other than a blessing has overtaken the Cause-and now, on rallying at Stirling with unbroken purpose of struggle, there arise in the Committee of Estates and Kirk, and over the Nation generally, earnest considerations as to the methods of farther struggle; huge discrepancies as to the
ground and figure it ought henceforth to take. As was natural to the case, Three Parties now develop themselves: a middle one, and two extremes. The Official Party, Argyle and the Official Persons, especially the secular portion of them, think that the old ground should as much as possible be adhered to: Let us fill up our old ranks with new men, and fight and resist with the Covenanted Charles Stuart at the head of us, as we did before. This is the middle or Official opinion.
No, answers an extreme Party, Let us have no more to do with your covenanting pedantries; let us sign your Covenant one good time for all, and have done with it; but prosecute the King's Interest, and call on all men to join us in that. An almost openly declared Malignant Party this; at the head of which Lieutenant-General Middleton, the Marquis of Huntly and other Royalist Persons are raising forces, publishing manifestos, in the Highlands near by. Against whom David Lesley himself at last has to march. This is the one extreme; the Malignant or Royalist extreme. The amount of whose exploits was this: They invited the poor King to run off from Perth and his Church-andState Officials, and join them; which he did,—rode out as if to hawk, one afternoon, softly across the South Inch of Perth, then galloped some forty miles; found the appointed place; a villanous hut among the Grampian Hills, without soldiers, resources, or accommodations, 'with nothing but a turf pillow to sleep on :' and was easily persuaded back, the day after;1 making his peace by a few more,—what shall we call them ?-poetic figments; which the Official Persons, with an effort, swallowed. Shortly after, by official persuasion and military coercion, this first extreme Party was suppressed, reunited to the main body; and need not concern us farther.
But now, quite opposite to this, there is another extreme Party; which has its seat in the Western Shires,' from Renfrew down to Dumfries;—which is, in fact, I think, the old Whiggamore Raid of 1648 under a new figure; these Western Shires being always given that way. They have now got a 'Western Army,' with Colonel Ker and Colonel Strahan to command it; and most of the Earls, Lairds, and Ministers in those parts have joined. Very strong for the Covenant; very strong against all
4-6 October, Balfour, iv. 113-15.
shams of the Covenant. Colonel Ker is the famed Commander Gibby Carr,' who came to commune with us in the Burrow-moor, when we lay on Pentland Hills: Colonel Strahan is likewise a famed Commander, who was thought to be slain at Musselburgh once, but is alive here still; an old acquaintance of my Lord General Cromwell's, and always suspected of a leaning to Sectarian courses. These Colonels and Gentry having, by sanction of the Committee of Estates, raised a Western Army of some Five-thousand, and had much consideration with themselves; and seen, especially by the flight into the Grampians, what way his Majesty's real inclinations are tending,-decide, or threaten to decide, that they will not serve under his Majesty or his General Lesley with their Army, till they see new light; that in fact they dare not; being apprehensive he is no genuine Covenanted King, but only the sham of one, whom it is terribly dangerous to follow! On this Party Cromwell has his eye; and they on him. What becomes of them we shall, before long, learn.
Meanwhile here is a Letter to the Official Authorities; which, however, produces small effect upon them.
For the Right Honourable the Committee of Estates of Scotland, at Stirling, or elsewhere: These.
Linlithgow, 9th October, 1650.
The grounds and ends of the
Army's entering Scotland have been heretofore, often and clearly, made known unto you; and how much we have desired the same might be accomplished without blood. But, according to what returns we have received, it is evident your hearts had not that love to us as we can truly say we had towards you. And we are persuaded those difficulties in which you have involved yourselves,—by espousing your King's interest, and taking into your bosom that Person, in whom (notwithstanding what hath been'
or may be said to the contrary) that which is really Malignancy and all Malignants do centre; against whose Family the Lord hath so eminently witnessed for bloodguiltiness, not to be done away by such hypocritical and formal shews of repentance as are expressed in his late Declaration; and your strange prejudices against us as men of heretical opinions (which, through the great goodness of God to us, have been unjustly charged upon us),—have occasioned your rejecting these Overtures which, with a Christian affection, were offered to you before any blood was spilt, or your People had suffered damage by us.
The daily sense we have of the calamity of War lying upon the poor People of this Nation, and the sad consequences of blood and famine likely to come upon them; the advantage given to the Malignant, Profane, and Popish party by this War; and that reality of affection which we have so often professed to you,—and concerning the truth of which we have so solemnly appealed, -do again constrain us to send unto you, to let you know, That if the contending for that Person be not by you preferred to the peace and welfare of your Country, the blood of your Peoples, the love of men of the same faith with you, and (in this above all) the honour of that God we serve,Then give the State of England that satisfaction and security for their peaceable and quiet living beside you, which may in justice be demanded from a Nation giving so just ground to ask the same,- from those who have, as you, taken their enemy into their bosom, whilst he was in hostility against them: 'Do this;' and it will be made good to you, That you may have a lasting and durable Peace with them, and the wish of a blessing upon you in all religious and civil things.
If this be refused by you, we are persuaded that God, who hath once borne His testimony, will do it again on