CHARLES I.-HOW THE SOLDIER POET HELPED
Charles promised the Covenanters freedom, but he never
meant to keep his word. Soon war broke out again. The
Scots marched into England, and there, instead of being
feared, as they used to be, they were greeted as friends.
For many of the English hated the Prayer Book.
These Puritans, as they were called, sided with the Scots.
Charles was also quarrelling with his English Parliament.
His army fought in a half-hearted way, and soon it fled
before the Covenanters. So the King was obliged to
make peace, and the Covenanters went home triumphant.
The quarrels between Charles and his English Parlia
ment now grew worse and worse. James VI. had tried to
be an autocratic king, that is, he had tried to do exactly
as he liked. The King can do no wrong, he said, and he
had taught his son Charles to think and to say the same.
At last the whole country rose in rebellion. This is called
the Great Rebellion, and in it English, Scots, and Irish,
all took part
It was a war for freedom and a war for religion that
now began. On one side were the King and many of
the lords and gentlemen who were Roman Catholics and
Episcopalians, on the other side were the members of
Parliament, the Presbyterians and Puritans, and most of
the common people. In Scotland, many of the nobles too,
fought against their King, but some fought for him. Chief
THE SOLDIER POET HELPS THE KING 341
among these was James Graham, Marquis of Montrose.
Montrose was handsome and brave, a soldier and a poet.
He was so noble and so fearless, that he seemed more like
a knight of ancient days, than a man of his own time. He
had been a Covenanter, and had fought for the Covenant.
Now he fought for the King. Traitors change from side
to side, yet no one has ever called Montrose a traitor,
because, although he was a Covenanter and a Presby
terian, he had never wished to overthrow the King, and
although he now fought for the King, he remained a
Presbyterian to the day of his death.
When all the country rose in war, a great Scottish
army marched into England to help the Parliamentarians.
Montrose had been with the King‘s army in England, but
seeing that he could do no good there, he made up his
mind to return to Scotland. He knew that in the High
lands there were many loyal men who would fight for the
King, if they had a leader. But how to get there was the
difficulty. Between him and the Highlands stretched half
the length of England, and all the Lowlands of Scotland,
filled with the King’s enemies. The King’s enemies were
Montrose’s enemies, and he knew that if he were caught,
he would certainly be killed. But no danger ever made
‘ He either fears his fate too much,
Or his deserts are small,
That puts it not unto the touch
To win or lose it all.’
So he sang. Dressed like a groom, mounted upon a poor
old horse, and leading another by the bridle, he rode
behind two of his friends, as if he were their servant. In
this way they passed safely through England.
When they came to the Border, they were told that the
traitor Montrose was somewhere near, and that soldiers
were searching for him everywhere. But in spite of that,
they passed on. They had gone a little farther, when a
soldier came up to them. This man had fought under
Montrose, and in spite of his disguise, he knew him quite
‘ My lord Montrose,’ he said.
But the Marquis calmly went on with what he was
doing, pretending not to know that he was being
‘ My lord,’ said the man again.
‘ What folly is this ?’ said one of the gentlemen, hoping
still to deceive the man, ‘ this is my servant.’
But the man laughed scornfully. ‘ What,’ he said, ‘ do
I not know my lord Montrose well enough ? But,’ he
added, humbly and respectfully, ‘ go your way, and God
be with you whithersoever you go.’
When the Marquis saw that it was useless to try to
deceive the man, he gave him some money, and sent him
away. Then, knowing from this adventure how dangerous
it was to delay, he and his friends rode as fast as they
could, sparing neither their horses nor themselves, till
they reached the Highlands.
There, for some days, Montrose lay hidden, sleeping
among the hills by night, hiding in a peasant’s hut by day.
At first, things seemed quite hopeless. But soon he heard
that another of the King‘s friends had landed from Ireland,
bringing with him about a thousand men. Montrose at
once joined them, and was received with joy as their
leader. Then with this little army, he began his battles
for the King.
The men were badly clothed, and scarcely armed at
all. Their weapons were sticks and stones, axes, and heavy
Highland swords, called claymores. A few had rusty old
guns, but they had no cannon, and only three horses. But
THE SOLDIER POET HELPS THE KING 343
the men were fiercely and recklessly brave. Their leader
had the courage of a King. Day by day the army grew.
Montrose swept all Scotland, winning victory after victory,
till all Scotland seemed to be at his feet, and he even
hoped to march victoriously into England.
But the soldiers he had had to fight against were
untrained, and when the Scottish commander in England
heard of what was happening in Scotland, he sent an
army back from England to fight Montrose. Mon-
trose marched southward to meet this army. But as he
marched, many of his Highlanders left him, and so, when
he reached a place called Philiphaugh, he had hardly
more soldiers than when he had begun his victorious
campaign. There, whilst Montrose himself was in the
neighbouring town of Selkirk, his camp was surprised in
the early morning by the Parliamentarians under Leslie.
For the first time, Montrose with his rough High
landers had to face tried soldiers. For the first time he
was defeated. So complete was his defeat, that he fled
back to the Highlands. There, for some months, he tried
hopelessly to raise another army.
In England, meanwhile, many battles were being
fought, sometimes one side winning, sometimes the other.
But at last the Parliamentarians got the best of it. Then
Charles, seeing that his cause was lost, gave himself up to
the Scots. Even then, the Scots would have fought for
their King again, if he would have allowed both England
and Scotland freedom in matters of religion. But this,
Charles would not promise, so the Scots gave him back to
the English, and went home to Scotland
When Montrose knew that the King was a prisoner,
and his cause hopeless, he fled away across the sea to a
country called Holland. He went as he had come little
more than a year before, disguised as a servant.
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