Chapter XI. Montrose.
 

They stopped for the night at a village fifteen miles away from Edinburgh, and after they had had their supper Harry inquired of Jacob how his dispute with the divines had passed off the evening before.

Jacob burst into a fit of laughter.

"It was the funniest thing you ever saw," he said, "Imagine a large room, with the chief presbyter sitting at a table, and eight other men, with sour countenances and large turned-down collars and bands, sitting round it. William Long and I faced them at the other end, looking as grave and sanctimonious as the rest of them. The proceedings were, of course, opened with a lengthy prayer, and then the old gentleman in the center introduced us as the commissioners from London. William rose, and having got up by heart the instructions to the commissioners, he said that he would first briefly introduce to his fellow divines the points as to which differences appeared to exist between the Presbyterians of the north and those of the south, and concerning which he was instructed to come to an agreement with them. First, he gave a list of the points at variance; then he said that he understood that these, quoting from his document, were the views of his Scotch brethren; and he then proceeded to give briefly the arguments with which he had been furnished. He said that his reverend brother and himself were much wearied with long travel, and that they would fain defer the debate for another two days, but that in the meantime they would be glad to hear the views of their friends. Then did one after another of these eight worthy men rise, and for six mortal hours they poured forth their views. I do not know whether it was most difficult to avoid laughter or yawning; but, indeed, Master Harry, it was a weary time. I dared not look at William, for he put such grave attention and worshipful reverence on his face that you would have thought he had been born and bred to the work. When the last of the eight had sat dawn he rose again, and expressed a marvelous admiration of the learning and eloquence which his brethren had displayed. Many of their arguments he said, were new to him--and in this, indeed, I doubt not he spoke truth--and he perceived that it would be hard to answer all that they had so learnedly adduced. Upon the other hand, he had much to say; but he was willing to allow that upon some points he should have difficulty in combating their views. He prayed them, therefore, to defer the meeting for two days, when he would willingly give them his views upon the subject, and his learned brother would also address them. He proposed that the party should be as small a one as that he saw before him, and that, after hearing him, they should, if possible, come to some arrangement upon a few, at least, of the points in dispute, so as to leave as small a number as might be open to for the public disputation which would follow. The worshipful party appeared mightily taken with the idea, and, after an hour's prayer from the chairman, we separated. I hardly slept all night for laughing, and I would give much to see the faces of that honorable council when they hear that they have been fooled."

"You have both shown great wisdom, Jacob," Harry said, "and have behaved in a sore strait with much judgment and discretion. It was lucky for you that your reverend friend did not, among his eight champions, think of inviting our little friend from London, for I fear that he would at once have denounced you as not being the divines whose credentials you presented."

"I was afraid of that," Jacob said, "and therefore begged him specially, on this our first conference, to have only ministers of his own circle present. He mentioned that one or two godly ministers from London were present in the capital. I replied that I was well aware of that, but that, as these men were not favored with the instructions of the convention, and knew not the exact turn which affairs had taken up to the period of my leaving, their presence might be an embarrassment--which, indeed, was only the truth."

"We must make a circuit to-morrow," Harry said, "to avoid Stirling, and will go round by Doune, and thence make for the north. Once among the mountains we shall be safe from all pursuit, and from any interference by the Roundheads, for I believe that the clans of this part are all in favor of Montrose--Argyll's power lying far to the west."

"It will be a comfort," Jacob said, "not to be obliged to talk through one's nose, and to cast one's eyes upward. I imagine that these Highlanders are little better than savages."

"That is so," Harry said. "They are, I believe, but little changed since the days when the Romans struggled with them, and could make no head north of the Forth."

The next day, by a long circuit, they traveled round Stirling, and reached the bridge of Doune, there crossing the Teith unquestioned. They soon left the main road, and struck into the hills. They had not traveled far when three strange figures suddenly presented themselves. These men were clad in a garb which to the lads was strange and wild indeed. The kilt, as worn by Highlanders on show occasions in the present day is a garment wholly unlike that worn by their ancestors, being, indeed, little more than a masquerade dress. The kilt of the old time resembled indeed the short petticoat now worn by savage peoples. It consisted of a great length of cloth wound round and round the loins, and falling like a loose petticoat to the knees, a portion being brought over one shoulder, and then wrapped round and round the body. It was generally of dark material; the tartans now supposed to be peculiar to the various clans being then unknown, or at least not worn by the common people, although the heads of the clans may have worn scarfs of those patterns. A Highland gentleman or chief, however, dressed in the same garb as Englishmen--that is, in armor, with doublet and hose. His wild followers lived in huts of the most primitive description, understood no language but their own, obeyed the orders of their chiefs to the death, and knew nothing either of kings or of parliaments. For arms these men carried a broad target or shield made of bull's hide, and a broadsword of immense length hanging behind them, the hilt coming above the shoulder.

What they said the lads could not understand. But when Harry repeated the word "Montrose," the Highlanders nodded, and pointed to signify that the road they were pursuing was the right one, and two of them at once set out with them as escorts.

For several days they traveled north, stopping at little groups of cabins, where they were always received with rough hospitality, the assertion of their guides that they were going to the great earl being quite sufficient passport for them. Bannocks of oatmeal with collops, sometimes of venison, sometimes of mountain sheep, were always at their service, washed down by a drink new to the boys, and which at first brought the water into their eyes. This was called usquebaugh, and had a strange peaty flavor, which was at first very unpleasant to them, but to which before they left Scotland they became quite accustomed. The last two days they traveled upon broad roads again, and being now in a country devoted to the Earl of Montrose, were under no apprehension whatever of interference.

At last they reached the place where the earl was residing. His castle differed in no way from those of the nobility of England. It was surrounded by walls and towers, and had a moat and other means of defense. The gate was guarded by men similar in appearance to their guides, but dressed in better material, and with some attempt at uniformity. Large numbers of these were gathered in the courtyard, and among them were men-at-arms attired in southern fashion. The guides, having performed their duty of conducting these strangers from the borders of their country, now handed them over to an officer, and he, upon learning their errand, at once conducted them to the earl.

Montrose was a noble figure, dressed in the height of the fashion of the day. His face was oval, with a pointed mustache; long ringlets fell round his head; and his bearing was haughty and majestic. He rose from his chair and advanced a step toward them.

"Do I understand," he said, "that you are bearers of dispatches from his gracious majesty?"

"We are, sir," Harry said. "The king was pleased to commit to me various documents intended for your eye. We left him at Oxford, and have journeyed north with as little delay as might be in these times. The dispatches, I believe, will speak for themselves, I have no oral instructions committed to me."

So saying, Harry delivered the various documents with which they were charged. The earl instructed the officer to see that they were well lodged and cared for, and at once proceeded to his private cabinet to examine the instructions sent him by the king. These were in effect that, so soon as the army of the convention moved south from Dundee, he should endeavor to make a great raid with his followers upon the south, specially attacking the country of Argyll, so as to create a diversion, and, if possible, cause the recall of the Scotch army to defend their own capital.

For some weeks the lads stopped with Montrose. They had been furnished with garments suitable to their condition, and Harry was treated by the earl with the greatest kindness and courtesy. He often conversed with him as to the state of politics and of military affairs in England, and expressed himself as sanguine that he should be able to restore the authority of the king in Scotland.

"These sour men of the conventicles have ever been stiff-necked and rebellious," he said, "and have enforced their will upon our monarchs. I have not forgotten," he went on, striking the hilt of his sword angrily, "the insults which were put upon Queen Mary when she was preached to and lectured publicly by the sour fanatic Knox, and was treated, forsooth, as if she had been some trader's daughter who had ventured to laugh on a Sunday. Her son, too, was kept under the control of these men until he was summoned to England. It is time that Scotland were rid of the domination of these knaves, and if I live I will sweep them from the land. In courage my wild men are more than a match for the Lowlanders. It is true that in the old days the clans could never carry their forays southward, for, unaccustomed to discipline and unprovided with horses or even with firearms, they fared but badly when opposed to steel-clad men and knights in armor. But I trust it will be different this time. I cannot hope to infuse any great discipline among them. But they can at least be caught to charge in line, and their broad claymores may be trusted to hew a way for them through the lines of the Lowlanders. I trust, above all things, that the king will not be persuaded to negotiate with the traitors who are opposed to him. I know, Master Furness, that, from what you have said, your views run not there with mine, and that you think a compromise is desirable. But you do not know these fanatics as I do. While they clamor for toleration, they are the narrowest of bigots, and will themselves tolerate nothing. Already I have news that the convention between the Scotch conventicle and the English rebels is agreed to, and that an order has gone forth that the Presbyterian rites are to be observed in all the churches of England. They say that thousands of divines will be turned from their churches and their places filled with ignorant fanatics, and this they call religious liberty. Why, when Laud was in power his rule was as a silken thread compared to the hempen rope of these bigots, and should the king make terms with them, it will be only to rule henceforth at their bidding, and to be but an instrument in their hands for enforcing their will upon the people of these countries."

Much as Harry desired peace and leaned toward compromise, he saw that there was much in what the earl said. All the accounts that reached them from the youth told of the iron tyranny which was being exercised throughout England. Everywhere good and sincere men were being driven from their vicarages to live how best they might, for refusing to accept the terms of the convention. Everywhere their places were filled with men at once ignorant, bigoted, and intolerant; holy places were desecrated; the cavalry of the Commons was stabled in St. Paul's; the colored windows of the cathedrals and churches were everywhere destroyed; monuments were demolished; and fanaticism of the narrowest and most stringent kind was rampant.

During the time they spent at the castle the lads were greatly amused in watching the sports and exercises of the Highlanders. These consisted in throwing great stones and blocks of wood, in contests with blunted claymores, in foot races, and in dances executed to the wild and strange music of the bagpipes--music which Jacob declared was worse than the caterwauling upon the housetops in Cheapside.

The lads had deferred their journey south owing to the troubled state of the country, and the fact that the whole of the south of Scotland was in the hands of the convention. They were therefore waiting an opportunity for taking ship and traveling by sea into Wales, where the followers of the king were in the ascendency. At length the earl told them that an occasion offered, and that although he would gladly keep them by him to accompany him when he moved south, if they considered that their duty compelled them to leave he would place them on board a ship bound for that destination. He did not furnish them with any documents, but bade Harry repeat to the king the sentiments which he had expressed, which, indeed, were but the repetition of loyal assurances which he had sent south by a trusty messenger immediately upon their arrival at the castle.

The boat in which they embarked was a small one, but was fast; which proved fortunate, for they were twice chased by ships of the Parliament. They landed, however, safely at Pembroke, and thence made their way through the mountains of Wales to Hereford, and joined the king, who was still at Oxford.

Events had traveled but slowly in England; the doings of the convention being at that time of greater importance than those of the armies. On the 19th of January the Scotch army had entered England, having marched from Edinburgh through the snow. The Marquis of Newcastle was in winter quarters at York. The town of Newcastle had held out successfully against the Scots. The English regiments in Ireland had been recalled; but had been defeated near Nantwich by Sir Thomas Fairfax. Negotiation after negotiation between the king and the Parliament had failed, and the king had issued writs for a Parliament to assemble at Oxford. This met on the 22d of January, and forty-three peers and a hundred and eighteen commoners had taken their place beside many absent with the army. Of the peers a large majority were with the Royalist Parliament at Oxford while at Westminster a majority of the members sent up by the towns assembled. The Royalist Parliament was sitting at Oxford when Harry arrived; but their proceedings had not upon the whole been satisfactory to the king. They had, indeed, passed votes for the raising of taxes and supplies; but had also insisted upon the king granting several reforms. Charles, untaught by adversity, was as obstinate as ever; and instead of using the opportunity for showing a fair disposition to redress the grievances which had led to the civil war, and to grant concessions which would have rallied all moderate persons to his cause, he betrayed much irritation at the opposition which he met with, and the convocation of Parliament, instead of bringing matters nearer to an issue, rather heightened the discontents of the times. The Parliament at Westminster, upon their side, formed a council, under the title of the committee of the two kingdoms, consisting of seven lords, fourteen members of the commons, and four Scottish commissioners, into whose hands the entire conduct of the war, the correspondence with foreign states, and indeed the whole executive power of the kingdom was given.

The king received Harry with great condescension and favor, and heard with satisfaction of the preparations which Montrose was making for an invasion of the Lowlands of Scotland, and promised Sir Henry to bestow the rank of knighthood upon his son as soon as he attained the age of twenty-one.

For some weeks Harry resided with his father at Furness Hall. He then fell back into Oxford upon the advance of an army from London destined to besiege that town. This force was far greater than any that the king could raise. It consisted of two separate forces, under the command of Essex and Waller. Presently the town was besieged, and although the walls were very strong, the attacking force was so numerous that resistance appeared to be hopeless. On the night of the 3d of June the king left the city secretly, attended only by two or three personal friends, and passed safely between the two armies. These, instead of acting in unison, in which case the besieging lines would have been complete, and the king unable to leave the place, were kept apart by the dissensions of their generals. A council of war took place, and Essex determined to march to the west. The committee in London ordered him to retrace his steps, and go in pursuit of the king, who had made for Worcester. But Essex replied to the committee that he could not carry on war in pursuance of directions from London, and that all military discipline would be subverted if they took upon themselves to direct his plans.

In the meantime, Waller, raising the siege of Oxford, tad gone in pursuit of the king. Charles, seeing that his enemies were separated, returned to Oxford, where he was received with great enthusiasm, and the whole force there, marching out, fell upon Waller at Cropredy Bridge, near Banbury, and defeated him. Having scattered the rebels here, he turned his course west in pursuit of Essex, for his force was sufficient to cope with either of the armies separately, although he had been unable to meet them when united.

Harry and his father were not present at the battle of Cropredy Bridge, having with their troops left Oxford on the approach of the Roundheads, together with many other bodies of cavalry, as they could do no good in the case of a siege, and were wanted in the north, where Rupert was on his way to take the command. Joining his force, amounting in all to twenty thousand men, they advanced toward York. Leaving the greater portion of his army at a short distance away, Rupert entered York with two thousand men. Newcastle was in favor of prudent steps, knowing that dissensions existed in the Parliamentary army between the Scots and their English allies. Prince Rupert, however, insisted that he had the command of the king to fight at once, and so, with all the force he could collect, advanced against the Scots. Newcastle was much offended at the domineering manner and headstrong course of the prince and took no part in the forthcoming battle, in which his military genius and caution would have been of vast service to the royal cause.

On the 2d of July, having rested two days, the Royalist army marched out against the Roundheads. The contending parties met on Marston Moor, and it was late in the evening when the battle began. It was short but desperate, and when it ended four thousand one hundred and fifty men had been killed. Here, as in every other fight in which he was engaged, the impetuosity of Prince Rupert proved the ruin of the Royalists. With his cavaliers upon the right of the Royalist army, he charged the Scotch horse, scattered them in every direction and rode after them, chasing and slaying. The center of each army, composed of infantry, fought desperately, and without much advantage to either side. But upon the Royalist left the fate of the day was decided. There a new element was introduced into the struggle, for the right of the Roundhead force was commanded by Cromwell, who had raised and disciplined a body of cavalry called the Ironsides. These men were all fanatics in religion and fought with a sternness and vigor which carried all before them. In the eastern counties they had already done great service; but this was the first pitched battle at which they had been present. Their onslaught proved irresistible. The Royalist cavalry upon the left were completely broken, and the Roundhead horse then charged down upon the rear of the king's infantry. Had Rupert rallied his men and performed the same service upon the Parliament infantry, the battle might have been a drawn one; but, intoxicated with victory, he was chasing the Scottish horse far away, while Cromwell's Ironsides were deciding the fate of the battle. When he returned to the field all was over. Fifteen hundred prisoners, all the artillery, and more than a hundred banners had fallen into the hands of the cavalry; and with the remnants of his army Prince Rupert retired with all haste toward Chester, while Newcastle left York and embarked at Scarborough for the Continent.

Colonel Furness' troop had been with the wing under Prince Rupert, and deep indeed was their mortification when, upon returning to the field of battle, they found that all was lost.

"Unless a very different discipline is introduced upon our side," Colonel Furness said to his son that night in York, "it is clear that the king's cause is ruined. The Ironsides fight in a solid mass, and, after having given a charge, they are ready at order to wheel about and to deliver their attack wheresoever their general commands them. With us, no sooner do we defeat the enemy than we break into confusion, each man scatters in pursuit as if we were hunting a fox, and when at last we draw rein, miles away from the battle, we ever find that upon our return our footmen have been defeated. I fear much that Prince Rupert, with all his bravery, is a hindrance rather than an aid to the Royal cause. His counsels have always been on the side of resistance. He has supported the king in his too obstinate insistance upon what he deems his rights, while in the field his command is fatal to us. I fear, my boy, that the struggle will end badly, and I foresee bad times for England, and for all of us who have supported the cause of the king."

As the dispirited army marched back they received news which somewhat raised their hearts. The king had marched after Essex into Cornwall, and there had driven him into sore straits. He had endeavored to induce Essex to make a general treaty of peace; but the earl replied that he had no authority to treat, and that, even did he do so, the Parliament would not submit to be bound by it. With a considerable portion of his cavalry, he succeeded in passing through the Royal lines; but the whole of the infantry under General Skippon were forced to capitulate, the king giving them honorable terms, and requiring only the surrender of the artillery, arms, and ammunition. The whole of the army returned as scattered fugitives to London.

The king resolved again to march upon the capital. Montrose was now in arms in Scotland, and had gained two considerable victories over the Covenanters. The defeat at Marston had been outbalanced by the victories over Waller and Essex, and the Scotch, alarmed by the successes of Montrose, were ready to listen to terms, Steadily the king advanced eastward, and at Newbury the armies again met. As upon the previous occasion on that field, the battle led to no decisive results. Each side fought stoutly, and at nightfall separated without achieving substantial results. The king fell back upon Oxford, and the Parliament army upon Readings and negotiations were once again renewed between king and Parliament.