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dramatic form in the combat of Highlanders before the 1396
king on the North Inch of Perth.

Henry VII., as might have been expected from his
character, dealt with the Scotch question in the spirit of ^^^^^
cool diplomacy, and he was in a fair way to success^


Henry VIII. in dealing with it gave way to arrogant 154^
passion. The marriage at last projected between his son
and the heiress of Scotland seemed likely to do what
might have been done by the marriage of the heir of
Edward I. with the Maid of Norway. But the rash
attempt of the Protector, Somerset, to enforce the nuptials,
while it brought him the laurels of Pinkie Cleugh, was 1547
the ruin of his policy, and made over the hand of Mary
queen of Scots to France. Critics of the policy of Edward
I. say that the two nations were not then ripe for union.
Were they riper after centuries of war, mutual devasta-
tion, and ever-deepening hate ?

Then came the Reformation and changed all. In Scot-
land too a religion of sacraments and ritual had degener-
ated into a soulless formalism, and the magic means of
salvation were bought and sold. In Scotland too the
scandalous wealth of a torpid establishment, the world-
liness and greed of the clergy, called aloud for reform.
In Scotland too vice had entered with indolence into the
monastery, and nature had avenged herself on the enforcers
of priestly celibacy by substituting the concubine for the
wife. Clerical abuses in a rude society, if not greater,
were probably coarser and more repulsive than in Eng-


land. The people thirsted for a purer and more living
faith, and thirsted for it probably all the more because
their worldly estate was poor. The suffering of protestant
martyrs, who were the offspring of English LoUardism,
and of whom Wishart was the chief, had stirred the
popular heart. Meanwhile a rapacious aristocracy thirsted
for the spoils of the church. Scotch nobles had not
failed to lay to heart the example set them by Henry VIII.
and his partners in confiscation. Reform found a supreme

j572~ leader and organizer in John Knox, a man of extraordinary
force and dauntless courage, a thorough-going disciple of
Calvin and sworn foe of everything papal, a modern
counterpart of the Hebrew prophet who put to death the
prophets of Baal. Knox had opened his career as an

1546 accomplice after the fact in the slaying of Cardinal Beaton,
the chief of the idolaters and the murderer of the saints.
In Scotland there was no despotic Henry VIII. to curb
and attenuate the protestant movement. The young queen

1560~ ^^^ away in France, and a foreign woman, Mary of Guise,
held the reins of government as regent with a weak hand.
Nor was there in Scotland a conservative middle class to
temper the force of any revolution. The Reformation
was carried at once to its full length by a fervid, fierce,
and impetuous people. The whole catholic system, with

1560 its hierarchy and priesthood, its sacraments, its confes-
sional, its penance and absolution, its saint-worship, its
purgatory, its priestly synods and ecclesiastical courts,
was swept away. If bishoprics were retained it was only
that their holders might make over their lands to the
nobles. The place of Catholicism was taken by Calvinism,

1561 organized by Knox, with its democratic church assemblies,
its preachings instead of the Mass, its austere simplicity


of worship, its rigid Sabbatarianism instead of festivals
and Lent. Iconoclasm wrecked the monasteries and swept
the churches. The beautiful cathedral of Glasgow, the
pride of her burghers, narrowly escaped. The Lords of
the Congregation, as the nobles who supported the revo-
lution styled themselves, lent their hearty support to
thorough-going changes in religion. But when it was
proposed to transfer the wealth of the old church to the
new ministry, they waved the proposal aside as a devout
imagination, and, in the words of Knox, kept two-thirds
of the fund for the devil while the other third was shared
between the devil and God. The protestant ministers
faced their poverty heroically, and perhaps it was their
spiritual salvation. After some shif tings and oscillations,
caused mainly by struggles for authority between the
ministry and the lay powers, Scotland, under the guise
of a monarchy, settled down into an aristocratic republic
with a strong theocratic tinge. If the ministers could
have had their way it would have been a theocracy indeed,
the church would have been beyond the control of the
civil power, and its presbytery would have exercised over
life and conscience an authority not less than that of the
priest, and socially perhaps even more oppressive. Scot-
land would have been a counterpart of Geneva under
the dictatorship of Calvin. Scotch religion, however, was
popular in its character. It admitted the laity to a share
in church government, though in a way which identified
them with the clergy. It recognized the priesthood of the
head of the family, as we see it in 'vThe Cotter's Saturday
Night." It was an Old Testament religion, with the
stern righteousness of the Old Testament, an Old Testa-
ment Sabbath in place of the Roman calendar, Old


Testament hatred of idolatry, with which popery was
identified, and Old Testament tyrannicide. From the
Old Testament, too, came the belief in witchcraft, and the
mania for witch-hunting which prevailed to a hideous
extent. To the catholic cathedral, or church, with its
poetry in stone, succeeded the bare preaching-house ; for
the poetry of the catholic ritual popular psalmody was the
only substitute. The result was a national character,
austere, sombre, strenuous in upholding its right.

Of liberty of opinion there was little more than there
had been under the old church. Presbyterianism, like
episcopacy, proclaimed itself manifestly divine, and called
upon the civil magistrate to give effect to its excommuni-
cations and to punish disbelief. Catholicism was perse-
cuted in its turn ; the celebration of the Mass was made
penal ; for the third offence the penalty was death. Still
an open Bible was an advance on papal or priestly infalli-
bility, and education, which, as necessary to the reading
of the Bible, Presbyterianism strenuously fostered, was
enlightenment. The life of the Scotch nation, even its
political life, henceforth found an organ more ■' in the
assemblages of the church, where the people were repre-
sented, than in the parliament, where the aristocracy bore

The relations of Scotland to England, her ancient enemy,
on one hand, and France, her ancient ally, on the other,
were at once changed by sympathy with English protes-
tantism and antagonism to French popery, represented
first by the French regent, Mary of Guise, and afterwards
by the queen her daughter, a widow of France. There
is henceforth a strong English party in Scotland, headed
\y^ Knox, whose feelings towards France had not been


sweetened by his experience as a prisoner in the French
galleys. Hard pressed by the regent and her French
soldiery, the Scotch reformers welcomed the sight of an
English fleet. With England, they thrilled with horror
at the massacre of St. Bartholomew, and held their forces
in readiness to encounter the Spaniard if he landed from
the Armada. They proposed a Scottish husband for
Elizabeth in the person of the Earl of Arran, and a union
of the nations. ' This,' they said, ' would be the surest
bond of alliance ; other devices might seem probable for a
time, but they feared not for long ; this would remove all
doubt for ever. England heed fear no loss of her pre-
eminence. The laws of Scotland were derived from those
of England and of one fashion. Ireland might then be
reformed, and the queen of England might become the
queen of the seas, and establish an ocean monarchy divided
from the rest of the world.' As to the laws, strictly
speaking, they were somewhat astray, the law of Scotland
being more Roman, while that of England was more
feudal ; but as to political character and the general
tendency to free institutions, they said aright.

There follows a diplomatic struggle for ascendancy in
Scotland, carried on through a series of years between the
English on one side, and the French interest, which is that
of the catholic reaction and the house of Guise, on the
other. Among the Scotch politicians there is much of
faction, family enmity, personal ambition, and rapacity,
though the mask of religion is worn, and conspirators
include the security of the reformed church among the
professed objects of a political murder. The most conspic-
uous figures are Murray, Mary's half-brother, a somewhat
enigmatic character, by some thought as honest as he cer-


tainly was sage, who heads the protestant and English
party ; Kirkaldy of Grange, at one time chivalrous and
loyal, though he ended not so well ; and Maitland of
Lethington, a subtle and restless intelligence, master of
all statecraft that could be learnt from books. On the
part of England, the policy of the wise counsellors of
Elizabeth is curiously crossed by the waywardness and
duplicity of their mistress, her feminine jealousy of the
queen of Scots, on one hand, and her unwillingness to
support subjects against their sovereign on the other.
For some time the great question is Mary's marriage.
Elizabeth, in a moment of strange caprice or self-deceit,
offers to her rival her own Leicester. Mary, though a
pupil of the polished and wicked court of France, is a
devout catholic, and keeps up a close correspondence with
Rome, her relatives the Guises, and the king of Spain.
The rude remonstrances and homilies of Knox could only
deepen her hatred of the Kirk, and denunciations by the
populace of what they styled her idolatry would have the
same effect. But she had been trained to dissimulation,
and she dissembled her hatred of the reformed religion,
biding her time for its overthrow and the re-establishment
of the true faith. Her time might have come. The fire
of the Reformation had begun to cool ; for iconoclasm
there was no more food ; the nobles cared only for a quiet
title to their church lands, for which they would probably
have sold their national religion, as their fellows did in
England ; and the queen, young, beautiful, spirited, and
enchanting, was beginning to win the heart of her people.
But love ruined Mary's game and that of her patrons, by
;1565 throwing her into the arms of Darnley, a handsome, fool-
ish, worthless youth, and a catholic. There followed dark


conspiracies among the nobles ; the murder, first of
Rizzio, the secret minister of the queen in her intrigues 1566
with the catholic powers, by Darnley and those who had
made a jealous boy their tool ; afterwards of Darnley
himself, most likely with the complicity of the queen. i567
Then came the scandalous marriage with Both well, the 1567
rebellion, the imprisonment at Lochleven, the resigna-
tion of the crown, th^ escape, the overthrow of Mary's
cause at Langside, her flight to England, and the tragedy 1568
with which it closed. It is needless to say that when the 1587
question of deposing her was mooted, the Hebrew theo-
crats of the Kirk eagerly pronounced sentence on a mur-
deress and adulteress. Could they have had their own
way she would have met the fate of Jezebel.

The reign of James himself in Scotland had been a
minority of disorder, followed by the sway of a vicious
favourite and by a series of cabals, conspiracies, judicial
murders, and private wars, in which no respect was
shown for the royal person.

The crowns were now united. Philosophic statesman-
ship in the person of Bacon desired a closer union, and
the king had largeness of mind enough to enter into
Bacon's views. Without an incorporating union it was
certain that the lesser kingdom would be a satrapy.
But national prejudice on both sides, especially on the
side of England, after centuries of enmity and frequent
warfare, was still too strong. Enactments directly hostile
were repealed, and the judges, making law, decided that
natives of Scotland born since the king's accession were
not aliens in England. No more for the present could
high statesmanship attain.

In Ireland the hideous struggle between the native
VOL. 1 — 27


barbarian and the half-civilized invader had gone on for
four centuries with the usual horrors of such struggles.
To the war of races the Reformation, by turning the in-
vaders protestant, had added a wav of religion. Ireland
had been drawn into the vortex of the great European
struggle between the two creeds. Spain, to which she
looked across the Bay of Biscay, had marked in her a
point of vantage for attack on England. More than once
Spanish troops had landed on the Irish coast. At Smer-
1580 wick a body of them had surrendered to the Lord Deputy
Grey, Spenser's ^'Artegal," and had been put to the
sword in cold blood with a ruthlessness which rivalled
Alva or Parma. This had lent a spur to English con-
quest, which had been pressed forward during the reign
of Elizabeth with the steady aim and centralized power of
the Tudor monarchy, but with forces stinted by the de-
mands of the continental conflict and by the parsimony of
the queen. Nothing could exceed the atrocities of the
perennial struggle, in which the natives were treated by
the invaders as vermin to be extirpated, any means being
lawful for their destruction. From the Pale, the narrow
sphere of their dominion, as from a citadel, the deputies
swept the country with periodical hostings or raids, leav-
ing in their track desolation, famine, corpses rotting on the
ground, and wretches feeding on human flesh. While
the eagles of adventure took wing for the Spanish main,
the vultures swooped on Ireland and fleshed their beaks
in her vitals. The septs meantime in themselves advanced
not beyond their tribal state. They showed no tendency
to coalesce into a nation. While the invader was warring
on them all, they continued to war upon each other, and
it was doubtful whether, had the invader not been there,


much less desolation and barbarism would have been pro-
duced by tribal feuds. Nor were the tyranny and the
lawless exactions of the chiefs, with their robber bands
of gallowglasses, less oppressive probably than those of
the conqueror, or their bearing towards dependents less
insolent than his. The great chiefs had assumed a char-
acter between tribal chieftainry and feudal lordship, and
perhaps worse for the people than either, saving that in
the relation to the chief something might remain of the
clan sentiment to which there was no counterpart in the
case of the feudal lord. Common ownership of the land
had become little more than an idea, though an idea still
cherished in the native mind. Savages, or little better
than savages, economically, socially, and morally, the tribes
at all events, remained. Marriage was scarcely held
sacred among them. The common, or rather insecure,
ownership of land, which is part of the tribal system, was
fatal in Ireland, as it has been elsewhere, to agriculture,
to which, moreover, the climate was unpropitious, being
generally far more suited to pasture than to the raising of

The importation of protestantism in its Tudor form
into Ireland was a total failure. Against protestantism
of the more enthusiastic kind the heart of the Celt is not
closed. In the Highlands of Scotland he is a fervid
Presbyterian ; in Wales a fervid Methodist. Even in
Ireland ardent preaching has been known to win him.
But the Tudor compromise, with its politic coldness and
formality, suited him not. Besides, it was the religion of
the invader, and its liturgy was in an alien tongue. Nor
was the Anglican church in Ireland missionary in its
early, any more than in its later, day. It was a church


of English ascendancy, of political party, of persecution,
and of plunder. An archbishop of Cashel held, in addi-
tion to his archbishopric, three bishoprics and seventy-
seven benefices. Simony as well as pluralism was rampant.
Patrons put horseboys into benefices and themselves took
the income. Churches by scores lay in ruins. The only
propagandism which the Anglican hierarchy in Ireland
attempted was that of intolerant legislation which, being
feebly carried into effect, but embittered hatred. The
Irish Celt clung more than ever to his own religion and
to his connection with Rome, while the catholic priest-
hood became rude tribunes of the people, and natural
enemies of the government.

At last the sword of comparative civilization prevailed.

1599 The Lord Deputy Mountjoy hit upon the true military
policy, which was not that of raids, but that of bridling
each district with a permanent fort. The last great
chiefs, after making their submission, bearing English
titles as earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnel, and being en-
listed as auxiliaries of the government, found that English
law encroached on their rude domination, flung off their
earldoms, returned to their Irishry, rebelled or conspired,
were driven into exile, and forfeited their lands. At the
same time a better and more statesmanlike spirit began
to prevail among the conquerors. Its highest representa-

1604 tives were the Lord Deputy, Sir Arthur Chichester, and
the lawyer. Sir John Davies, author of a famous treatise
on Irish government. These men addressed themselves
to the work of civilization, backed by the English govern-
ment with good will, though with imperfect light. The
process was now completed of turning the land of Ire-
land legally from tribal into shire-land, with individual


instead of tribal ownership and security of tenure, under
the rules of the English law, which, though themselves
half-feudal and somewhat barbarous, were yet propitious
to agriculture compared with the tribal system. The
people were all solemnly assured for the future of free-
dom from the insolence and exaction of the chiefs, of the
impartial care of the government, and of equality before
the law. In the words of the Lord Deputy's proclama-
tion, "Every Irishman, his wife, and his children, were
thenceforth the free, natural, and immediate subjects of
his majesty, and not to be reputed the natives, or serfs, of
any other lord or chieftain, and were to understand that
his majesty could and would make the meanest of his
subjects who deserved it by his loyalty and virtue as
great and mighty a person as the best and chiefest of the
lords." The Celt feels the benefit of good government as
well as the Teuton, albeit he may not be quite so capable
of giving it to himself, and he appreciates justice like
other men. We are told that the Irish welcomed the
happy change and flocked to the courts where impartial
justice was administered, though optimists may have
taken for grateful enthusiasm that which was little more
than gregarious curiosity. Davies tells us that the wild
inhabitants wondered as much to see the king's deputy as
Virgil's ghosts wondered to see ^neas alive in hell. To
extend parliamentary institutions to Celtic Ireland, just
emerging from tribalism, was an undertaking the arduous
character of which was less apparent to the statesmen of
those days than it is to us who understand diversities of
national character and stages of political development.
The necessity of preserving English and protestant as-
cendancy, however, was felt, and the representation was


duly manipulated for that purpose. When the first par-
1613 liament of all Ireland met at Dublin there was a division
on the election of the speaker. The majority went out
into the lobby. The minority, remaining in the House,
elected its man, and seated him in the chair. The major-
ity on its return seated its man in the other man's lap.
It is easy to deride the ignorance of political philosophy
betrayed in thrusting representative institutions on a race
unparliamentary by nature and destitute of political train-
ing. It is easy to declaim about adapting institutions to
national feelings and character. It is not so easy to say
precisely what ought to have been done. Civilization
could not be grafted on tribalism ; nor was any attempt
made to graft it on tribalism in the case either of the
Scotch or the Welsh Celt. Perhaps the rule of a just
and sympathetic despot, like Chichester, with law officers
like Sir John Davies, would have been best, at least till
the apparition of order and justice had become less strange
in Ireland than the apparition of JEneas in the realm of

The flight and attainder of the rebel earls, and the sup-
pression of the subsequent rebellion of O'Dogherty had
1611 been followed by a great forfeiture of lands in Ulster to
the crown. This violated the notion that the land be-
longed not to the chief, but to the sept, which was still
ingrained in the Irish heart, though it appears that, in
fact, the joint ownership, like the practice of annual re-
division, had become a thing of the past, and had been
superseded by a virtual lordship of the chief. It is not
probable that mere forfeiture would have produced any
great shock. It was otherwise when the forfeited land
was colonized or " planted," as the phrase then was, with

XX JAMES I • 423

English and Scotch, while the native Irish were driven
out to make room, or reduced to the condition of Gibeon-
ites under the stranger. This, which amounted to the
creation of another Pale, seems to some to have been a
fatal error and the main source of the calamities which
followed ; though it is not denied that industry both agri-
cultural and textile came into Ulster with the colony,
nor can the statesmen of that time be much blamed for
thinking that the readiest mode of teaching the people
the arts of life was the exhibition of this practical exam-
ple. A more palpable error was the persecution of the
native religion, which inevitably made the priest, who had
the key to the hearts of the people, a conspirator against
the government. The excellent and sensible Chichester
left to himself would have abjured persecution. Anxious
as he was for the introduction of protestantism, his policy
would have been that of a missionary church. But the
state bishops insisted on legal compulsion and they pre-
vailed with the government in England. On every side
we are met by the consequences of the union of the
church with the state, and the entanglement of the real
duty of government with its supposed duty of maintain-
ing and enforcing the true religion.

The European struggle between protestantism and
Catholicism is now far advanced and the outlines of the
final partition begin to appear. The Teuton as a rule is
protestant. He is strong-minded and seeks, not like the
southern son of the Renaissance, beauty, but the truth.
If he remains a catholic, it is under special influence, as
the four mountain Cantons of Switzerland are secured to
the ancient faith by their isolation, their simplicity, and


their jealousy of protestant Berne ; or as part of Germany
is kept catholic by the power of princes, some of them
ecclesiastical, supported by the Empire in the hands of
the catholic house of Austria, which will presently crush
protestantism in its hereditary domain. The intrigue of
the Jesuit, creeping to the ear of kings or their favourites,
getting the education of the ricli into his hands by his
mastery of classical culture and polite accomplishments,
winning spiritual dictatorship by his skill as a confessor
and pliancy as a casuist, has everywhere seconded, per-
haps more than seconded, the catholic sword. Rome,
too, has been shamed and frightened into reform ; has
purged herself of some at least of her scandals ; has
called again upon the religious enthusiasm of her chil-
dren ; has produced Carlo Borromeo, St. Francis de Sales,
Xavier, St. Theresa. In Spain the Reformation has been
utterly extinguished by the Inquisition, whose success is
a black testimony to the policy of thorough-going perse-
cution. In France the Catholic League, with Spain at its
back, has been beaten, and tlie ex-Huguenot, Henry IV.,
is king. But he has paid for his kingdom with a
Mass, which, all securities for Huguenot privilege not-
withstanding, will prove the surrender of his cause, and,
when bigotry has mounted the French throne, the death
of his religion. Italy, always the land, not of the Re-
formation, but the Renaissance, the fiery life of her muni-

Online LibraryGoldwin SmithThe United kingdom; a political history → online text (page 30 of 84)