« ZurückWeiter »
Montrose's victories-The new model of the army-
WHILE the king's affairs declined in England, CHAP.
some in LVIII. seemed to promise him a more prosperous issue of 1645. the quarrel.
BEFORE the commencement of these civil disor- Montrose's ders, the earl of Montrose, a young nobleman of a victories. distinguished family, returning from his travels, had been introduced to the king, and had made an offer of his services; but by the insinuations of the marquis, afterwards duke of Hamilton, who possessed much of Charles's confidence, he had not been received with that distinction to which he thought himself justly entitled. Disgusted with this treatment, he had forwarded all the violence of the covenanters ; and, agreeably to the natural ardour of his genius, he had employed himself, during the first Scottish insurrection, with great zeal, as well as success, in levying and conducting their armies. Being commissioned by the Tables to wait upon the king, while the royal army lay at Berwic, he was so gained by the civilities and caresses of that monarch, that he thenceforth devoted himself entirely, though secretly, to his service, and entered into a close correspondence
Nalson, Intr. p. 63.
CHA P. with him. In the second insurrection, a great military command was entrusted to him by the covenanters; and he was the first that passed the Tweed, at the head of their troops, in the invasion of England. He found means, however, soon after to convey a letter to the king: And by the infidelity of some about that prince; Hamilton, as was suspected; a copy of this letter was sent to Leven, the Scottish general. Being accused of treachery, and a correspondence with the enemy; Montrose openly avowed the letter, and asked the generals, if they dared to call their sovereign an enemy: And by this bold and magnanimous behaviour, he escaped the danger of an immediate prosecution. As he was now fully known to be of the royal party, he no longer concealed his principles; and he endeavoured to draw those who had entertained like sentiments, into a bond of association for his master's service. Though thrown into prison for this enterprise," and detained some time, he was not discouraged; but still continued, by his countenance and protection, to infuse spirit into the distressed royalists. Among other persons of distinction, who united themselves to him, was lord Napier of Merchiston, son of the famous inventor of the logarithms, the person to whom the title of GREAT MAN is more justly due, than to any other whom his country ever produced.
THERE was in Scotland another party, who, professing equal attachment to the king's service, pretended only to differ with Montrose about the means of attaining the same end; and of that party, duke Hamilton was the leader. This nobleman had cause to be extremely devoted to the king, not only by reason of the connexion of blood, which united him
"It is not improper to take notice of a mistake committed by Clarendon, much to the disadvantage of this gallant nobleman; that he offered the king, when his majesty was in Scotland, to assassinate Argyle. All the time the king was in Scotland Montrose was confined to prison. Rush. vol, vi. p. 980.
to the royal family; but on account of the great C H A P. confidence and favour with which he had ever been, LVIII. honoured by his master. Being accused by lord 1645. Rae, not without some appearance of probability, of a conspiracy against the king; Charles was so far from harbouring suspicion against him, that, the very first time Hamilton came to court he received him into his bed-chamber, and passed alone the night with him." But such was the duke's unhappy fate or conduct, that he escaped not the imputation of treachery to his friend and sovereign; and though he at last sacrificed his life in the king's service, his integrity and sincerity have not been thought by historians entirely free from blemish. Perhaps (and this is the more probable opinion) the subtilties and refinements of his conduct and his temporizing maxims, though accompanied with good intentions, have been the chief cause of a suspicion, which has never yet been either fully proved or refuted. As much as the bold and vivid spirit of Montrose prompted him to enterprizing measures, as much was the cautious temper of Hamilton inclined to such as were moderate and dilatory. While the former foretold that the Scottish covenanters were secretly forming an union with the English parliament, and inculcated the necessity of preventing them by some vigorous undertaking the latter still insisted, that every such attempt would precipitate them into measures, to which, otherwise, they were not, perhaps, inclined. After the Scottish convention was summoned without the king's authority, the former exclaimed, that their intentions were now visible, and that, if some unexpected blow were not struck, to dissipate them, they would arm the whole nation against the king; the latter maintained the possibility of outvoting the disaffected party, and securing, by peaceful means, the allegiance of the kingdom. Unhappily for the royal
* Clarendon, vol. iii. p. 380, 381.
Nalson, vol. ii: p. 683.
CHA P. royal cause, Hamilton's representations met with LVIII. more credit from the king and queen, than those of Montrose; and the covenanters were allowed, without interruption, to proceed in all their hostile measures. Montrose then hastened to Oxford; where his invectives against Hamilton's treachery, concurring with the general prepossession and supported by the unfortunate event of his counsels, were entertained with universal approbation. Influenced by the clamour of his party, more than his own suspicions, Charles, as soon as Hamilton appeared, sent him prisoner to Pendennis castle in Cornwal. His brother, Laneric, who was also put under confinement, found means to make his escape, and to fly into Scotland.
THE king's ears were now opened to Montrose's counsels, who proposed none but the boldest and most daring, agreeably to the desperate state of the royal cause in Scotland. Though the whole nation was subjected by the covenanters, though great armies were kept on foot by them, and every place guarded by a vigilant administration; he undertook, by his own credit, and that of the few friends who remained to the king, to raise such commotions, as would soon oblige the malcontents to recal those forces, which had so sensibly thrown the balance in favour of the parliament. Not discouraged with the defeat at Marston-moor, which rendered it impossible for him to draw any succour from England: he was content to stipulate with the earl of Antrim, a nobleman of Ireland, for some supply of men from that country. And he himself, changing his disguises, and passing through many dangers, arrived in Scotland; where he lay concealed in the borders of the Highlands, and secretly prepared the minds of his partisans for attempting some great enterprise."
'Clarendon, vol. v. p. 618.
Wishart, cap. 3.
No sooner were the Irish landed, though not ex- CHA P. ceeding eleven hundred foot, very ill armed, than Montrose declared himself, and entered upon that 1645. scene of action which has rendered his name so celebrated. About eight hundred of the men of Athole flocked to his standard. Five hundred men more, who had been levied by the covenanters, were persuaded to embrace the royal cause: And with this combined force, he hastened to attack lord Elcho, who lay at Perth with an army of six thousand men, assembled upon the first news of the Irish invasion. Montrose, inferior in number, totally unprovided with horse, ill supplied with arms and ammunition, had nothing to depend on, but the courage which he himself, by his own example, and the rapidity of his enterprises, should inspire into his raw soldiers. Having received the fire of the enemy, which was answered chiefly by a volley of stones, he rushed amidst them with his sword drawn, threw them into confusion, pushed his advantage, and obtained a complete victory, with the slaughter of two thousand of the covenanters.*
THIS Victory, though it augmented the renown of Montrose, increased not his power or numbers. The far greater part of the kingdom was extremely attached to the covenant; and such as bore an affection to the royal cause, were terrified by the established authority of the opposite party. Dreading the superior power of Argyle, who, having joined his vassals to a force levied by the public, was approaching with a considerable army; Montrose hastened northwards, in order to rouse again the marquis of Huntley and the Gordons, who, having before hastily take arms, had been instantly suppressed by the covenanters. He was joined on his march by the earl of Airly, with his two younger sons, sir Thomas and sir David Ogilvy: The eldest
1st of Sept. 1644. Rush. vol. vi. p. 983. Wishart, cap. 5.