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cases of conscience. And these were taken from what their people said to them at any time, very oft being under fits of melancholy, or vapours, or obstructions, which, though they flowed from natural causes, was looked on as the spirit of God, and a particular exercise to them; and they fed this disease of weak minds too much. As they lived in great familiarity with their people, and used to pray and talk oft with them in private, so it can hardly be imagined to what a degree they were loved and reverenced by them."
This is the favourable side of the picture; let us now turn to the reverse, which is painted with equal truth :
" Their faults and defects were not so conspicuous: they had a very scanty measure of learning, and a narrow compass in it. They were little men, of a very indifferent size of capacity, and apt to fly out into great excess of passion and indiscretion. They were servile, and too apt to fawn upon, and flatter their admirers. They were affected in their deportment, and very apt to censure all who differed from them, and to believe and report whatever they heard to their prejudice. And they were superstitious and haughty. In their sermons they were apt to enlarge on the state of the present time, and to preach against the sins of princes and courts, a topic that naturally makes men popular. It has an appearance of courage, and the people are glad to hear those sins insisted on in which they perceive they have no share, and to believe that all the judgments of God come down by the means and procurement of other men's sins.”
The answer which one of them gave to Middleton, when pressed by him on the subject of the lawfulness or unlawfulness of defensive arms, deserves to be inscribed in letters of gold on the walls of a king's palace : “He wished that kings and their ministers would believe them lawsul, and so govern as men that expect to be resisted; but he wished that their subjects would believe them to be unlawful, and so the world would be quiet.” When sent by Leighton, along with some other divines, to the western counties, they were amazed to see a poor commonality so capable to argue on the points of government and religion. “ Upon all these topics they had texts of Scripture at hand; and were ready with their answers to any thing that was said to them. This measure of knowledge was spread even among the meanest of them, their cottagers and their servants. They were indeed vain of their knowledge; much conceited of themselves; and were full of a most intangled scrupulosity : so that they found or made difficulties in every point that could be laid before them.'
After the government had once more proceeded to force the mitre upon the reluctant head of the Scottish presbytery, and the newly consecrated bishops had gone down in a sort of triumph to Scotland, the privy council deliberated, (if that could
y relenting Their resolutted with regadering an kingdo in their funt of their pray, the milito execute
be called deliberation, when they were all so drunk, as Duke Hamilton said, that they were not capable of considering any thing) about the measures to be adopted with regard to the Presbyterian ministers. Their resolution was, to execute the laws without any relenting or delay; nay, the military were even ordered “ to pull them out of their pulpits, if they should presume to go on in their functions ;” and an invitation was sent over the kingdom,“ like a hue and cry, to all persons, to accept of benefices in the West, which drew many worthless persons thither, who had little learning, less piety, and no sort of discretion.” After Leighton had undertaken the administration of the see of Glasgow, he, in many discourses, excited the episcopal clergy“ to bear the contempt and ill usage they met with as a cross laid upon them for the exercise of their faith and patience-to lay aside all their appetites of revenge, and humble themselves, and then they might expect a blessing upon their endeavours.”
“ This was a new language to the clergy. They had nothing to say against it: but it was a comfortless doctrine to them; and they had not been accustomed to it. No speedy ways were proposed for forcing the people to come to church, nor for sending soldiers among them, or raising the fines, to which they were liable. So they went home, as little edified with their new bishop, as he was with them.”
We suppose, that no people, however subject to arbitrary laws and despotic princes, ever experienced such a continued series of violence and oppression as was maintained by the government of Scotland, during the reign of the two last princes of the house of Stuart. Every administration, by turn, seemed to go a step farther than the one which had preceded it; and the fury of Lauderdale did not more improve upon the drunkenness of Middleton, than it was exceeded by the more regular and systematic cruelty of the Duke of Queensberry. Sometimes, Leighton pleaded, and Hamilton and others remonstrat- . ed, whilst the king would intimate that another mode of proceeding was necessary to his affairs; but the interval was sure to be brief, and there was a quick return to former violence and additional atrocities. The strangest of all the ministers that tyrannized over Scotland, in the reign of Charles, was Lauderdale: sometimes he would break out into the most frantic fits of rage possible, and then, after he had “ let himself loose,” calm all on the sudden; so that his way was “ to govern by fits, and to pass from hot to cold ones, always in extremes.” On one occasion, when Burnet said to him, was that a time to drive the people into a rebellion? “ Yes,” said he, “ would to God they would rebel, that so I might bring over an army of Irish papists to cut their throats ;” and on another, after the high
landers had been sent into the west, to live on free quarter, and the gentlemen of the country refused to deliver up their arms, upon oath, or submit to keep no horse above four pound price, Duke Lauderdale was put “in such a frenzy, that at council table he made bare his arms above his elbow, and swore by Jehovah, he would make them enter into those bonds.” So early as the year 1667, when the severe proceedings of the privy council had thrown the whole kingdom into a fermentation, and a rising had, in consequence, ensued in the West, the description of the conduct both of military and clergy, reminds us of the way in which the crusaders were wont to treat their captives, or the inquisition its victims.
“The forces were ordered to lie in the west, where Dalziel acted the Muscovite too grossly. He threatened to spit men, and to roast them : and he killed some in cold blood, or rather in hot blood; for he was then drunk, when he ordered one to be hanged, because he would not tell where his father was, for whom he was in search. When he heard of any that did not go to church, he did not trouble himself to set a fine upon him: but he set so many soldiers upon him, as should eat him up in a night. By this means, all people were struck with such a terror, that they came regularly to church. And the clergy were so delighted with it, that they used to speak of that time, as the poets do of the golden age. They never interceded for any compassion to their people; nor did they take care to live more regularly, or to labour more carefully. They looked on the soldiery as their patrons: they were ever in their company, complying with them in their excesses: and, if they were not much wronged, they rather led them into them, than checked them for them. Dalziel himself and his officers were disgusted with them."
We have dwelt longer upon the subject of Scottish character, and Scottish persecutions, not only because the account which Burnet has given of them, is as impartial as it is striking, but because the extracts we have made illustrate, in a remark· able manner, the historical truth, with which the author of Old Mortality has described the fictitious scenes and characters of that admirable composition. The historian furnishes a general view of the life and manners of the same people and period, of which the novelist (since so we must term him for distinction's sake) has given the detail : and whether the one or the other has described them with most truth and felicity, it would be difficult to pronounce. We will give one extract more, in which the defeat of the insurgents at Pentland Hill is represented in a manner, that brings to our recollection the more elaborate account of the victory at Drunclog, and the rout of Bothwell Bridge.
“ The rebels thought to have marched back by the way of Pent
land Hill. They were not much concerned for the few horses they had, and they knew that Dalziel, whose horse was fatigued with a fortnight's constant march, could not follow them. And if they had gained but one night more in their march, they had got out of his reach. But on the twenty-eighth of November, about an hour before * sun-set, he came up with them. They were posted on the top of a hill: so he engaged with a great disadvantage. They, finding they could not get off, stopt their march. Their ministers did all they could, by preaching and praying, to infuse courage into them; and they sung the seventy-fourth and the seventy-eighth psalms. And so they turned on the king's forces. They received the first charge that was given by the troop of guards very resolutely, and put them in disorder. But that was all the action; for in the charge they lost all order, and ran for their lives. It was now dark : about forty were killed on the spot, and a hundred and twenty taken. They were a poor harmless company of men, become mad by oppression.'
If there was any form of Christianity which Burnet was disposed to view with jealousy and dislike, it was that of the Church of Rome. Yet the fears of popery which he entertained, along with many others of the best and wisest men in the nation, did not make him harsh in his demeanour to the votaries of that religion, or illiberal in his estimation of their personal characters. He speaks with kindness of Peter Walsh, “the honestest and learnedest man he ever knew among them;" who, though agreeing in many points of controversy with the Protestants, still continued in the communion of the Romish church—"he was sure he did some good staying still on that side, but that he could do none at all if he should come over : he thought, no man ought to forsake that religion, in which he was born and bred, unless he was clearly convinced, that he must certainly be damned if he continued in it.” Even when at Rome, though without his usual feeling of the consequence attached to all his proceedings, he excused himself from an interview with Pope Innocent XI., on account “of the noise it would make, yet he seems to have mingled freely with the cardinals there, and to have been treated by them with an easy freedom.” One evening, he called on Cardinal Howard, whilst the latter was busy giving reliques to some French gentlemen, which Burnet was invited to see: so he whispered the Cardinal in English, “ that it was somewhat odd, that a priest of the church of England should be at Rome helping them off with the wares of Babylon."
Burnet was told, that Pope Innocent, when he was made Cardinal, had a master to teach him to pronounce the little Latin he had occasion for at high masses; neither did he understand any thing of divinity; so that he remarks, the submitting to his infallibility “ was a very implicit act of faith.”
vol. V. PART II.
This reminds him of what a Jesuit at Venice had told him, when they were talking on this subject : " he said, that being in Rome during Altieri's pontificate, who lived some years in a perfect dotage, he confessed it required a very strong faith to believe him infallible: but, he added pleasantly, the harder it was to believe it, the act of faith was the more meritorious.” With still greater freedom does Queen Christina treat the characters of those holy fathers of the church : she said to Burnet," it was certain, that the church was governed by the immediate care and providence of God : for none of the four popes, that she had known since she came to Rome, had common sense. She added, they were the first and last of men.” Upon the whole, Burnet appears to have been on such good terms with' the cardinals and others at Rome, as to draw down upon him the following reflection of honest Samuel Johnson, who complains, that " while a certain traveller was making his court to cardinals, he got such an almanack in his bones, as to incapacitate him from learning this Scotch trick of a gude memory.” This last expression was designed to ridicule the Bishop's Scottish dialect, and refers to a conciliatory speech of his after the Revolution, when, with that moderation which distinguished him through life, he exhorted all to forgetfulness of injuries, and forgiveness of wrongs. “ Pray you have gude memories, gude memories ; do not remember bad things, but keep your memories for gude things, have gude memories.” The magnanimity and generous forbearance evinced in this singular speech, amply atone for the badness of the dialect and the homeliness of the sentence.
No change has been more frequently and, in some degree, it must be allowed, more justly urged against the character of Burnet, than that of excessive credulity: some, indeed, have not hesitated to say, he had a disposition to believe every thing he had an interest in believing. It is very certain, that the Bishop has given credence to many strange stories, and it unfortunately happens, that some of them are most injurious to the party whom he most disliked and opposed. Without going the length of affirming, that he was in the habit of believing what he wished, it must be confessed, he has often believed what was more plausible than true; and has probably sometimes been led, by the heat and animosities of party, to credit what his judgement, if he could have freely exercised it, would have induced him to reject. The materials for his history were collected, partly from his own observation, and partly from what he learnt from others : what he delivers, as seen by himself, may be relied upon with confidence; and what, as reported by others, we have no doubt he himself believed, notwithstanding subsequent inquiries may have shewn it, in some respects, to be