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protesters. The dispute raged between James and Calderwood as
to the power of the Assembly "to make canons and constitutions
of all rites and orders belonging to Kirk polity." There was much
wrangling on minute technical points, personal to Calderwood's
own position, for he had been under a kind of ecclesiastical arrest.
There was a confused scene, several people speaking at once, and
some pushing Calderwood about. Apparently there was some mis-
understanding on technical points, Calderwood misapprehending
James's meaning, and James misconceiving Calderwood's. In the
end, probably by the influence of the bishops, Calderwood was
exiled.^^ He did not at once leave the country, but remained till
after the king's Five Articles had been accepted by the Assembly
of Perth, in August 1618. Then Calderwood produced a tract
against the innovations and the legality of the Assembly which
accepted them. The Assembly at St Andrews, in November 16 17,
had been thinly attended, and had merely trifled with the subject.
James was indignant. In letters not without coarse humour, he
rebuked Spottiswoode and the bishops ; they, at least, should keep
Christmas with sermons and ceremonies. He would cut off the
stipends of all recalcitrant ministers, and stop the " Constant Plat "
or commission for the better endowment of the Kirk. The bishops
were themselves most reluctant to force the king's Five Articles on
the country.

James had outraged Scottish feelings where they were most
tender, by a proclamation licensing sports in Lancashire on Sunday.
The populace, he said, had but one free day in the week, and on
that day, for lack of amusements, they tippled in alehouses. Let
them go to church first, and play at any harmless games in the
afternoon. James had, now and then, a dangerous knack of being
in advance of his age. The prohibition of amusements on Sunday
was, in fact, a mere invention of Presbyterians. There was a
Biblical command not to 7i>ork on the seventh day ; the Kirk had
made it of all rules the most sacred not to play on the first day of
the week. When Mr Black, who was the occasion of the Edinburgh
riot of 1596, was asked to set down a list of precepts, "he placed
in the forefront that order be taken for keeping of the Saboth day,"
though why Sunday should be styled Sabbath has always perplexed
the ungodly.^^

The ancient faith offered a number of things that could be done,



and done with, penance, pilgrimage, and so forth. In this sort the
Kirk had only "the Sabbath": you could definitely abstain from
golf or football on Sunday, whatever you might do in the rest of the
week. Perhaps this was the cause of the increasing strictness of
the Scot about Sunday, and that sentiment James ruthlessly offended.
His articles, the Articles of Perth, were voted in the Assembly of
August 1618. It was easily proved to be an illegal Assembly,
pamphlets concerning it flew about, especially that of Calderwood was
notorious. People fled the churches where kneeling was enforced,
or did not kneel. Men of all ranks were recalcitrant. The Earls of
Roxburgh and Linlithgow made ingenious excuses for evading the
practice, as did the Provost of Edinburgh and Sir James Skene. The
archbishops who disliked the Articles, or rather the trouble about
the Articles, as much as any one, were perpetually arguing with non-
conforming preachers. The great old name of William Kirkcaldy
of Grange reappears ; its new bearer wrote a pamphlet against the
Articles of Perth. Mr Robert Bruce was again in trouble for
contumacy. Sentences of banishment and fines were frequent.

The Easter of 1621 could not be reckoned a success. In the
Little Kirk, on Good Friday, there were about sixty men and twelve
women. The fair sex were, in religion, the more tenacious; Catholic
ladies got their easy husbands into trouble, as did Covenanting
ladies under Charles II. Wives and mothers now kept the less
resolute sex from conformity, and the ladies are said to have filled
Mr Calderwood's purse well before he went abroad, while Lady
Cranstoun had especially sheltered him, though not as Dainty Davy
was later concealed at Cherrytrees. The communion in the Old
Kirk was peculiar. " The Chancellor distributed the bread to four
or five, but Mr Patrick gave it to them all over again, to make sure
work." All the women present did not kneel, they resolutely sat.
The University did not communicate at all. The general public
communicated sitting, at Dalkeith, Duddingston, and Prestonpans.
The profaner sort, in May, went to May revels at Roslin, while
English and Dutch artisans set up a Maypole at St Paul's Works.
This we know to have been a heathen abomination denounced by
the prophets of old. (For the Assembly of Perth, see Calderwood,

vii. 304-339-)

Parliament was appointed for the first of June 1621. "The best
affected professors " began to agitate, and wished the Town Council
to petition against the Articles of Perth. The Provost was afraid to

5l6 BLACK SATURDAY (1621).

receive and present the address. Some ministers did send in a
supplication to no purpose. On July 22, Parliament having been
put off, a preacher dealt with the king in the fearless old fashion,
and publicly insulted the bishops to their faces. He was warded in
Dumbarton. The preachers had gathered from all quarters and
were expelled from the town ; they had been canvassing for votes
as to the Articles. They published long protestations and admoni-
tions against " usurped government and damned hierarchy." ^^ These
tracts influenced the voters, but were counterworked ^y the
Marquis of Hamilton, the king's commissioner, and by Tam o' the
Cowgate, now Earl of Melrose. The first business was financial :
James's expenses for his daughter Elizabeth, the wandering Queen
of Hearts and of Bohemia, being very heavy. The Lords of the
Articles were selected thus : the bishops chose eight peers, they
chose eight bishops, and the sixteen chose eight barons, or lairds,
and eight burgesses. The officers of State voted with the Lords of
the Articles. A considerable amount of taxation was imposed,
including an income tax for three years on investments. The Lords
of the Articles carried, by a large majority, the Articles of Perth.
On the last day of the Parliament, as the Lords were riding to the
Tolbooth, an omen occurred. A swan flew over their heads,
"muttering her natural song." Calderwood is as fond of omens
as Homer or Livy ; the people deemed the portent evil ; but we are
not told whether the bird flew from left or right : Sextos or dpia-Tepos
o/Dvts. The amount of pagan superstition among the brethren is

The protest of the preachers was not accepted. The Articles
were offered e?z bloc, no debate was permitted ; votes were
given as "agree," "disagree," and Calderwood asserts that "dis-
agrees " were recorded as " agrees." Proxy votes, which had
recently come in, were allowed. The Articles were carried by a
considerable majority. "God appeared angry at the concluding of
the Articles," observes Calderwood : the month being August, there
was a thunderstorm. The day was called " Black Saturday." The
ungodly had the impudence to aver that the Articles, like the law
of Moses, were confirmed by fire from heaven, which Calderwood
regards as "a horrible blasphemy." Thus heaven and the swan
were moved by what clearly was a despotic, unconstitutional, and
hasty proceeding. But as arguments in debate do not affect votes,
the house might have discussed the Articles for a month without


arriving at any otlier decision. " The ayes have it." The Articles of
Perth were as important as injudicious, and filled the mouths of
men. The learned editor of the "Privy Council Register" doubts
whether many of the Presbyterian clergy of Scotland to-day could
tell what the Five Articles of Perth were.^* If he is right, the
education of the Presbyterian clergy, as regards the history of their
own Church, must be neglected.

The affairs of the Kirk now continued to be one long course of
compulsion and resistance. Bruce was sent back to Inverness : the
Easter and Christmas communions were deserted, or were scenes of
disorder. The entry of conformist ministers to parishes was
opposed. On June 16, 1622, died the great Chancellor Dunfermline,
James's chief minister in Scotland, the upright Octavian of old days.
Even Calderwood has a good word for him, though he was
" popishly inclined." " He was a good justicier, courteous and
humane both to strangers and to his own country people, but no
good friend to the bishops." A Catholic himself, Dunfermline
would have governed Scotland well : neither he nor any other
statesman, lay or clerical, approved of James's despotism about the
Articles of Perth. Dunfermline was succeeded in the chancellorship
by Sir George Hay, Clerk of the Register. The king now bade all
preachers take example by the English Book of Homilies, " a
pattern and a boundary, as it were, for the preaching ministers."
Nobody was to touch on "the deep points of predestination,
reprobation, or grace," things to be left to bishops and deans.
Faith and good life were alone to be the topics. Puritans and
Papists were not to be attacked from the pulpit.

Here was a drying up of the wells ! No politics and no
predestination were permitted in the preaching place, " a blash o'
cauld morality " alone was left to the brethren. Tyranny, it might
seem, could go no farther. ^^ But tyranny could go farther. In the
New College at St Andrews the English Liturgy was actually used
in chapel (Jan. 15, 1623). On June 20 a portrait of the king, at
Linlithgow, fell from the wall. As a king of France did not survive
a similar omen for more than six weeks, it was reckoned that
James's time might be short. It was not to be long, but Lennox
died first, and suddenly, on February 16, 1624. He was kind and
popular, and never meddled in Kirk matters. The opposition to
the Articles waxed so strong in Edinburgh that a proclamation was
issued against conventicles (June 10, 1624). James actually

5l8 DEATH OF JAMES (1625).

threatened to remove the Courts of Justice from Edinburgh — the
old threat after the December riot of 1596 — if the citizens would
not go to communion on Christmas day. But on December 15,
1624, the Council proclaimed that on November 26 James had
agreed to defer his threats, as in the proclamation, till Easter. He
died on March 27, 1625 : "the Lord removed him out of the way
fourteen days before the Easter communion." So says Calderwood,
who mentions the reports that James was poisoned by the mother of
Buckingham. It would have been just as easy for Episcopalians to
say that he was poisoned by an agent of the Presbyterians.

The king passed away in the midst of the tempest which he had
raised, which his son would raise to a higher power, but which only
years could lull, pulveris exigid jactu. Not only justice and fairness,
but the most ordinary common-sense, should have warned James
against this final and fatal meddling with the consciences of the
majority of his people. Conscience in these days went for very
little. James had burned two Unitarians in London without
provoking remonstrance, but then the Unitarians were a little flock.
The consciences of Catholics were wronged every day : they were
driven into impious temples, and compelled to sit at a sacrilegious
feast. But if numerous, they were weak and without leaders ; the
world was against them. To force, as James did, the consciences
of the Presbyterian majority, who were soon to have leaders enough,
and who had arms and resources, was not more cruel and wicked than
to burn Unitarians, and drive Catholics, by fines and banishment, to
eat and drink their own damnation. But that infamous policy, as
against Catholics, being approved of by the majority, was successful.
To constrain the conscience of the learned, the rich, the many, even
of the nobles in several cases, was not more wicked, but was
impolitic to the verge of insanity.

Even Spottiswoode was heard to say that the king was determined
to be his own Pope. His theology had advanced rapidly since
the day when he told the General Assembly that the Church of
England dealt in " a mass without the liftings " (the elevation of the
host), and that Christmas and Easter were human inventions.
Though James is said, not on the best authority, to have foreseen
the mischief inherent in the character of Laud, no one could tell
where he would stop. He might become a Catholic after the
manner of Henry VIH., and enforce a popeless Catholicism. The
Articles of Perth seem very trifling matters to us : to the Scots


they implied acceptance of every doctrine that they disbelieved in
and detested. The king, by an autocratic violence, was forcing
them to forswear their creed and imperil their immortal souls.
They were being constrained to be idolaters. "The Spreit of God"
was banished from their congregations. The Divine afllatus was
checked by

De par le Roi ; dejetise d Dieu
De faire miracle dans ce lieu.

It was thus that the conduct of the king appeared to the minds of
the Presbyterians. They had brought it on themselves. Their
irreconcilable way, their taunts and insults, their intolerable claim to
political interference, based on their inspiration, had never been
forgotten or forgiven by James. Not content to break their power,
in its pretensions as absurd, in its consequence as insufferable as his
own, he had given his son Charles to a woman of the idolaters. Who
knew but that, like Argyll, he might become an idolater himself?
He died before discontent broke into flame, felix opportunitate

On James himself the final word was spoken when he was called
"the Wisest Fool in Christendom." Despite his ungainly and
disgustful ways, his grotesque eccentricities, his pedantries, his
shameful favourites, and evil example of tolerating vices, some of
which he did not practise, James was probably the ablest man of
his house since the death of James I. of Scotland. That he should
have succeeded as he did, despite his personal disadvantages ; that
he should have floated through the ceaseless turmoils of his reign in
Scotland, and escaped the intrigues of England, — aimed at his liberty,
but involving danger to his life, — these things proved remarkable
qualities. Once safe in England he had really nothing to fear from
the Kirk, the danger came from his own intolerable despotism. While
he was in Scotland the Kirk could agitate till a sufficient number
of nobles was ready to seize the royal person. That was the danger
which his accession to the English Crown annihilated. A wise man
would have taken the opportunity to be tolerant of the preachers.
But James only showed his cleverness in wrangles with them, his
folly by goading them to resistance.

Having the opportunity, for the first time in history, to quiet the
Borders, he took it, and he was not wholly unsuccessful with the
Highlands. No man could put down the feuds of the nobles and
the gentry, but he considerably discouraged them. His ineffable


conceit and relentless egotism (not unaccompanied by good nature
where he was unopposed), and the dissimulation bred by a youth
of fear, in an atmosphere of universal falsehood and treachery, were
his worst moral qualities as a man. Though a pedant he was
learned, probably the most learned man who ever occupied a
British throne, though in literary qualities he was far behind the
royal poet who was slain in the Dominican monastery of Perth ;
while in wit he could not compare with Charles II. To regard
James as a mere grotesque figure, "gentle King Jamie," is an error :
he could be terrible. As a rule, when he was in the right (as in the
matter of the Union, and in his toleration when politics were not
concerned) he was in the right too soon ; while in the matter
of witchcraft he was in the wrong too late. Too late, also, he
was in his almost unavoidable acceptance, as doctrine, of the
Tudor practice of despotism. No king of Scotland was encouraged
by such fulsome ilatteries as, in England, continued from the courtly
abasement of Elizabeth's reign.

James took for reahties the formulae of adulation which survived
from the court of a woman and a Tudor. Parliament could not
remove the fond illusions on which his son was to make shipwreck.
Of James's six immediate ancestors, five had died a violent death,
as his unhappy son was to die. Charles I. was the only Stuart
king since Robert III. who did not begin his reign with a long
minority. That which had been so constant a curse to his house
might, in this one case, have been a blessing. To James alone, the
least desirable, the most distasteful of his line, did Heaven give good
fortune. How he abused the gift has been made manifest.

The period covered by our volume ends with James's death.
But we must return, in the following chapter, to the remoter and
more lawless portions of his realms.


* Spottiswoode, iii. 156.

^ Spottiswoode, iii. 148-155, December 1604.

^ Register Privy Council, vii. 512-513, 517-518.

•* State Trials, vol. ii. pp. 561-695.

^ Pitcairn, ii. 5S4.

NOTES. 521

' Spottiswoode, iii. 289, note by Mr Mark Napier, apparently.

' To what extent James was consciously implicated in this affair of the letter to
the Pope, or in Ogilvie of Pourie's mission to Rome and Spain in 1595, is a very
obscure question. As to the letter which caused the ruin of Balmerino, Mr Hume
Brown says, "There can be little doubt that James wrote it" (Hume Brown, ii.
237, note 2). Mr Gardiner disbelieves this, and speaks of the king's "trans-
parent ingenuousness" (Gardiner, ii. p. 33). The author inclines to agree-
with Mr Gardiner, that Balmerino's confession contains the truth (Pitcairn, ii.
568 et seq.). As for Ogilvie of Pourie, in 1601 he wrote to the king, " I never had
or used any commission of your majesty to any foreign prince in my life, neither
in Flanders, France, nor Spain," which is probably true, though it is Pourie who
says so (Hatfield MSS. 90, vol. cxxxvi.). Cf. p. 496 supra.

^ Privy Council Register, ix. ix.

^ Privy Council Register, ix. xiii. xv.

10 Privy Council Register, ix. 75.

11 Privy Council Register, ix. 714, 715.
^^ Calderwood, vii. 164.

^^ Calderwood, vii. 173.
" Pitcairn, iii. 254, 257.

^■' Relatio Incarcerationis et Martyrii P. Joannis Ogilbei . . . descripta ad
verbum ex autographo ipsius (Duaci, 1615).
^® Calderwood, vii. 193.

" Botfield, Original Letters (1S52), ii. 385, 387.
"^ Botfield, Original Letters, ii. 399-401.
^^ Narratives of Scottish Catholics, pp. 311, 312.
-" Calderwood, vii. p. 196.
-' .See Chapter IX. of this volume.
- Calderwood, vii. 203.
^ Calderwood, vii. 222.

^ On this work see Dr Masson, Privy Council Register, x. cviii. cix.
^ Calderwood, vii. 220-242 ; Spottiswoode, iii. 230-238.
^ Calderwood, vii. 243.
■■^ Original Letters, ii. 496-499.
'■^ See Privy Council Register, vol. xi.
-^ Spottiswoode, iii. 241, 245.
^^ Spottiswoode, iii. 246, 247.
^1 Calderwood, vii. 261, 271.

"'-' Hay Fleming, St Andrews' Kirk-Session Register, ii. IxxiiL
•'^ Calderwood, vii. 472-488.
** Privy Council Register, xii. p. Ixxxv.
^ Calderwood, vii. pp. 560-562.





A NECESSARY result of James's accession to the English throne was
the pacification of the Borders. For several centuries the Marches
of the two countries had been in a social condition much like that
of the tribes on the Afghan frontier of India. A warlike population,
existing in the clan system, had no particular morality or loyalty,
except fidelity to the laird, to "the name," and to outlaws and
banished men. " On no condition was extradition " allowed on the
Border. Property consisted chiefly of cattle and horses, and, by
endless raids, was kept in lively circulation. There was, of course,
a standing feud between the clans on either side of the burn or glen
which constituted " the Border " in each district. But the feud
between English and Scots, as such, was relatively mild, and even
humorous, — a kind of game with rules of " hot trod," and " cold
trod," and so forth, of its own ; these laws regulated raids and the
recovery of cattle stolen in raids. The wardens, also, — it might be
Buccleuch and Scrope, with their deputies, such as Scott of the
Haining, and Salkeld of Corby, — had peaceful days of meeting, when
the riders of both sides met and discussed their feats of robbery
and fire-raising, and their duels, much as men might discuss a foot-
ball match. Now it is the Captain of Bewcastle who has harried
Jamie Telfer of the Dodhead ; now it is Jamie Telfer who has
" warned the water speedily," and brought all the Scotts of Upper
Teviotdale down on the Captain of Bewcastle.

Rough " riding ballads " were sung about these feats, which now
and then entailed a vendetta, but, on the whole, did not cause much
bad blood. In fact, one of the peculiarities of the Border was that


certain clans, as the Netherby Grahams, the Elliots, Crosbies,
Nixons, and Robsons, were of dubious nationality : they might take
either national side, as opportunity served and temptation arose.
Probably Buccleuch contrived the rescue of Kinmont Willie with
the aid and connivance of the Grahams who lay between Langholm
and Carlisle. On both sides of the line the adjacent clans had a
common interest in preserving their lawless freedom. Justice only
took the shape of sporadic hangings of " pretty men," who were re-
spected and regretted, and left friends and sons to carry on the old
sportive military existence. Private feuds between clans and
neighbours were more cruel and violent than the skirmishes of an
international character. Kers and Scotts and Elliots, in the east and
centre, Maxwells and Johnstons in the west, and in Dumfries and
Galloway, fought like fiends, for centuries, over some old quarrel of
which the origin might be lost, but which produced new bloodshed
and new revenges in every generation. The Criminal Trials are
full of " spuilzies," maiming of cattle, burnings, shootings "with
hagbuts and pistolets," slayings of men. The existence of this ani-
mated kind of society was inevitable while the two countries were

But when James became King of England, the Borders, as he
said, became the " heart of his royal empire." The shires of
Berwick, Selkirk, Roxburgh, Peebles, Dumfries, and the Stewartries
of Dumfries and Annandale must be brought to order, and five
gentlemen were appointed commissioners for that purpose. They
had powers to hold courts, and were granted immunity for "any
mischance or inconvenient," such as hanging the wrong man. For
Northumberland, Cumberland, and Westmorland commissioners
were also appointed. Extradition was now to be the order of the
day. The incorrigible were to be, rather vaguely, " removed to some
other place," where "change of air" might "make in them a change
of manners." Of the English commissioners, the name of Sir
Wilfrid Lawson is most familiar to modern ears ; of the Scots,
Gideon Murray of Elibank on Tweed. All dubious characters were
to be disarmed, especially of hagbuts and pistols, before May 20,
1605 ; and a kind of census of the natives was to be taken. No
gaols existed, so new gaols were to be built in the burghs, and as
the prisoners could not maintain themselves in prison, and the
burgesses would not, "justice is to be administered to them as soon
as possible." Hence our proverb, "Jeddart justice: hang a man


first, and try him afterwards." So the commissioners, not without
misgivings and questions, began to hang persons Hke "Jock of the
Shiels, ane lymnar of auld." They doubted about poor Jock, but
the Lords said " Hang him." Tom Armstrong, " a proper young
man," against whom there was no evidence at all, the Lords ordered
to be hanged, merely pour encourager les autres. A horse had been
stolen, its owner went to Peebles to testify that Tom was innocent,
yet the gallows got him. In April 1606 we find some forty proper
men hanged — surely the worst use to make of them ; and about
fifteen others, including a bastard of Kinmont Willie, were hanged
in November. Scores of freebooters were fugitive in the hills and
morasses, pursued by " lurgg dogges." Cranstoun got an indemnity
for executions done without trial ; and the active Earl of Dunbar
was placed on the Border Commission. In 1607 a number of small

Online LibraryAndrew LangA history of Scotland from the Roman occupation (Volume 2) → online text (page 54 of 60)