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- The Life of John Milton Vol. 3 1643-1649 - 90/128 -


with respect to Ireland she remarks: "I am astonished that the Irish do not give themselves to some foreign king; you will force them to it at last, seeing themselves made a sacrifice."--The result was that, though the terms of Charles's draft Answer got about, and he was in a manner committed to them, the message which he did formally send to Parliament, on the 20th of December, was quite different from the Draft. It explained that, though he had bent all his thoughts on the preparation of a written Answer to the Nineteen Propositions, "the more he endeavoured it he more plainly saw that any answer he could make would be subject to misinformations and misconstructions." He repeats, therefore, his earnest desire for a personal treaty in London. [Footnote: Burnet's Hamiltons, 381-389 (for the interesting correspondence between the King and Lanark); King's Letters, liii.-lxii. in Bruce's _Charles I. in_ 1646, and Queen's Letters in Appendix to the same: Rushworth, VI. 393; and Parl. Hist. III. 537.]

Meanwhile, quite independently of the King, his messages, or his wishes, matters had been creeping on to a definite issue. For four months now there had been a most intricate debate between the Scots and the English Parliament on the distinct and yet inseparable questions of the Disposal of the King's Person and the Settlement of Money Accounts. Though the reasoning on both sides on the first question was from Law and Logic, it was heated by international animosity. Lord Loudoun was the chief speaker for the Scottish Commissioners in the London conferences; the great speech on the English side was thought to be that of Mr. Thomas Challoner, a Recruiter for Richmond in Yorkshire; but the speeches, published and unpublished, were innumerable, and a mere abstract of them fills forty pages in Rushworth. Not represented by so much printed matter now, but as prolix then, was the dispute on the question of Accounts. The claim of the Scots for army-arrears and indemnity was for a much vaster sum than the English would acknowledge. This item and that item were contested, and the Accounts of the two nations could not be brought to correspond. Not even when the Scots consented to a composition for a slump sum roughly calculated was there an approach to agreement. The Scots thought 500,000_l_. little enough; the English thought the sum exorbitant. Equally on this question as on the other it was the Independents that were fiercest against the Scots and the most careless of their feelings; and again and again the Presbyterians had to deprecate the rudeness shown to their "Scottish brethren." And so on and on the double dispute had wound its slow length between the two sets of Commissioners, the English Parliament looking on and interfering, and the Scottish Parliament, after its meeting on the 3rd of November, contributing its opinions and votes from Edinburgh. [Footnote: Rushworth, VI. 322-372.]

To Charles in Newcastle all this had been inexpressibly interesting. A rupture between the English and the Scots, such as would occasion the retreat of the Scots into their own country, carrying him with them, was the very greatest of his chances; and it was in the fond dream of such a chance that he had procrastinated his direct dealings with the English Parliament. But from this dream there was to be a rude awakening. It came in December, precisely at the time when he was corresponding with the Queen and Lanark over his proposed compromises on all the Nineteen Propositions. Already, indeed, there had been signs that the dispute between the two nations was working itself to an end. By laying entirely aside the question of the Disposal of the King's person, and prosecuting the question of Accounts by itself, difficulties had been removed and progress made. It had been agreed that the sum to be paid to the Scots should be 400,000_l._ in all, one-half to be paid before they left England, and the rest in subsequent instalments; and actually on the 16th of December the first moiety of 200,000_l._ was off from London in chests and bags, packed in thirty-six carts, to be under the charge of Skippon in the North till it should be delivered to the Scots. Yes! but would it ever be delivered to the Scots? Not a word was in writing as to the surrender of the King by the Scots, but only about their surrender of the English towns and garrisons held by them; and, so far as appeared, the money was to be theirs even if they kept the King. Here, however, lay the very skill of the policy that had been adopted. Instead of persisting in the theoretical question of the relative rights of the two nations in the matter of the custody of the King, and wrangling over that question in its unfortunate conjunction with a purely pecuniary question, it had been resolved to close the pecuniary question by putting down the money in sight of the Scots as undisputedly theirs on other grounds, and allowing them to decide for themselves, under a sense of their duty to all the three kingdoms, whether they would let Charles go to Scotland with them or would leave him in England. Precisely in this way was the issue reached. But oh! with what trembling among the Scots, what wavering of the balance to the very last! Dec. 16, the very day when the money left London, there was a debate in the Scottish Parliament or Convention of Estates in Edinburgh, the result of which was a vote that the Scottish Commissioners in London should be instructed to "press his Majesty's coming to London with honour, safety, and freedom," for a personal treaty, and that resolutions should go forth from the Scottish nation "to maintain monarchical government in his Majesty's person and posterity, and his just title to the crown of England." This vote, passing over altogether the question of the surrender of the King, and pledging the Scots to his interests generally, was a stroke in his favour by the Hamilton party in the Convention, carried by their momentary preponderance. But the flash was brief. There was in Edinburgh another organ of Scottish opinion, more powerful at that instant than even the Convention of Estates. This was the Commission of the General Assembly of the Kirk, or that Committee of the last General Assembly whose business it was to look after all affairs of importance to the Kirk till the next General Assembly should meet. The Commission then in power, by appointment of the Assembly of June 1646, consisted of eighty-nine ministers and about as many lay-elders; and among these latter were the Marquis of Argyle, the Earls of Crawford, Marischal, Glencairn, Cassilis, Dunfermline, Tullibardine, Buccleuch, Lothian, and Lanark, besides many other lords and lairds. It was in fact a kind of ecclesiastical Parliament by the side of the nominal Parliament, and with most of the Parliamentary leaders in it, but these so encompassed by the clergy that the Hamilton influence was slight in it and the Argyle policy all- prevailing. Now, on the very day after that of the Hamilton resolutions in Parliament for the King (Dec. 17), and when Parliament was again in debate, the Commission spoke out. In "A Solemn and Seasonable Warning to all Estates and Degrees of Persons throughout the Land" they proclaimed their view of the national duty. Nothing could be more dangerous, they said, than that his Majesty should be allowed to come into Scotland, "he not having as yet subscribed the League and Covenant, nor satisfied the lawful desires of his loyal subjects in both nations;" and they therefore prayed that this might be prevented, and that, in justice to the English, to whom the Scots were bound by the Covenant, the King should not be withdrawn at that moment from English influence and surroundings. This opinion of the Commission at once turned the balance in the Convention. The resolutions of the previous day were rescinded; and on that and the few following days it was agreed, Hamilton and Lanark protesting, that nothing less than the King's absolute consent to the Nineteen Propositions would be satisfactory, and that, unless he made his peace with the English, he could not be received in Scotland. When the letters with this news reached Charles at Newcastle, he was playing a game of chess. He read them, it is said, and went on playing. He had a plan of escape on hand about the time, and the very ship was at Tynemouth. But it could not be managed. [Footnote: Rushworth, VI. 389-393; Burnet's Hamiltons, 389-393; Baillie, III. 4, 5; Parl. Hist. III. 533-536.]

January 1646-7 was an eventful month. On the 1st it was settled by the two Houses that Holdenby House, usually called Holmby House, in Northamptonshire, should be the King's residence during farther treaty with him; and on the 6th the Commissioners were appointed who should receive him from the Scots, and conduct him to Holmby. The Commissioners for the Lords were the Earls of Pembroke and Denbigh and Lord Montague; those for the Commons were Sir William Armyn (for whom Sir James Harrington was substituted), Sir John Holland, Sir Walter Earle, Sir John Coke, Mr. John Crewe, and General Browne. On the 13th these Commissioners set out from London, with two Assembly Divines, Mr. Stephen Marshall and Mr. Caryl, in their train, besides a physician and other appointed persons. On the 23rd they were at Newcastle. On the whole, the King seemed perfectly content. When the English Commissioners first waited on him and informed him that they were to convey him to Holmby, he "inquired how the ways were." On Saturday, Jan. 30, the Scots marched out of Newcastle, leaving the King with the English Commissioners, and Skippon marched in. Within a few days more, the 200,000_l._ having been punctually paid, and receipts taken in most formal fashion, as prescribed by a Treaty signed at London Dec. 23, the Scots were out of England. The Scottish political Commissioners (Loudoun, Lauderdale, and Messrs. Erskine, Kennedy, and Barclay) had left London immediately after the conclusion of the Treaty. [Footnote: Commons Journals, Jan. 7 and 12, 1646-7; Rushworth, VI. 393-398; Parl. Hist. III. 533-536; Burnet's Hamiltons, 393-397. Burnet has a curious blunder here, and founds a joke on it. Before the Scottish Commissioners left London, he says, there was a debate in the Commons as to the form of the thanks to be tendered to them. It was proposed, he says, to thank them for their _civilities and good offices_, but the Independents carried it by 24 votes to strike out the words _good offices_ and thank them for their _civilities_ only. "And so all those noble characters they were wont to give the Scottish Commissioners on every occasion concluded now in this, that they were _well-bred gentlemen_." On turning to the Commons Journals for the day in question (Dec. 24, 1646), one finds what really occurred. It was reported that Loudoun, Lauderdale, and the other Scottish Commissioners, were about to take their leave, and that they desired to know whether they could do any service for the English Parliament with the Parliament of Scotland. The vote was on the question whether thanks should be returned to them _for all their civilities and for this their last kind offer_. The Independents (Haselrig and Evelyn, tellers) wanted it to stand so; the Presbyterians (Stapleton and Sir Roger North, tellers) wanted an _addition_ to be made, _i.e._, I suppose, wanted some particular use to be made of the offer of the Commissioners to convey a message to the Scottish Parliament. Actually it was carried by 129 to 105 that the question should stand as proposed by the Independents; and, the Lords concurring next day, the Commissioners were thanked in those terms.]

With the Scottish lay Commissioners, there returned to Scotland at this time a Scot who has been more familiar to us in these pages than any of them. For a long time, and especially since Henderson had gone, Baillie had been anxious to return home. Having now obtained the necessary permission, he had packed up his books, had taken a formal farewell of the Westminster Assembly, in which he had sat for more than three years, had received the warmest thanks of that body and the gift of a silver cup, and so, in the company of Loudoun and Lauderdale, had made his journey northwards, first to Newcastle, thence to Edinburgh, and thence to his family in Glasgow. On the whole, he had left the Londoners, and the English people generally, at a moment when the state of things among them was pleasing to his Presbyterian heart. For, both in the Parliament and in the Westminster Assembly, notwithstanding the engrossing interest of the negotiations with and concerning the King, there had been, in the course of the last five months, a good deal of progress towards the completion of the Presbyterian settlement. Thus, in Parliament, there had been (Oct. 9) "An Ordinance for the abolishing of Archbishops and Bishops within the Kingdom of England and the Dominion of Wales, and for settling their lands and possessions upon Trustees for the use of the Commonwealth." It was an Ordinance the first portion of which may seem but the unnecessary execution of a long-dead corpse; but the second portion was of practical importance, and prepared the way for another measure (Nov. 16), entitled "An Ordinance for appointing the sale of the Bishops' lands for the use of the Commonwealth." Then in the Westminster Assembly there had been such industry over the _Confession of Faith_ that nineteen chapters of it had been presented to the Commons on Sept. 25, a duplicate of the same to the Lords Oct. 1, and so with the residue, till on Dec. 7 and Dec. 12 the two Houses respectively had the text of the entire work before them. The Houses had not yet passed the work, or


The Life of John Milton Vol. 3 1643-1649 - 90/128

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