CHARLES II.-HOW THE KING CAME TO HIS OWN AGAIN
After the Lowlands of Scotland had yielded to Crom
well, the Highlands still held out and still fought, but at
length the last Highland chief laid down his arms, and
Scotland formed part of the Commonwealth, as the
government was now called.
Cromwell had abolished Kings, now he abolished the
Scottish Parliament. There should be, he said, only one
Parliament for the whole kingdom, which should meet
at Westminster, and there Scottish and Irish members
should come, as well as English.
Cromwell made many wise laws, and under the stern
rule of the Lord Protector the country gradually settled
down into peace and prosperity. But this did not last long,
for in 1658 a.d. Cromwell died. He had been a strong
ruler. He had indeed made himself king in everything
but name, so that it seemed quite natural to the people
to choose his son Richard to succeed him. But Richard
Cromwell was a very different man from his father. He
was neither strong enough nor clever enough to rule,
and after a few months he gave it up, and went away to
his house in the country. There he lived quietly until he
died many years later.
As soon as Richard Cromwell went away, quarrels
began as to who should govern. In England, many of
the people were tired of the stern rule of the Puritans,
for they made life very dull, calling innocent games and
music wicked, and thinking it sinful even to dress in
bright colours. They remembered that over the sea
there was a king—the King whom the Scots had already
crowned—and they began to long for him to come back.
The Scots had never forgotten their King. They had
been the first to rise against Charles I. ; but they had
never wished to kill him, and they had been the last to
yield to Cromwell. Under Cromwell they had found no
more freedom than under Charles I., and now they too
thought of the King over the water.
Monk, who had ruled Scotland for Cromwell, seeing
how things were, began to march to London with his
army. He was a stern and silent man. He told no one
what he meant to do, but for some time, letters had been
passing between him and Charles, who was now living in
One day while Parliament was sitting, news was
brought that a messenger with a letter from the King was
The King !
Not for ten years or more had there been a King.
The messenger was brought in, and the letter was
read. It promised that all those who had rebelled should
be forgiven ; it promised that if they would now receive
their King, people should be allowed to believe what they
thought to be right. When the letter had been read, the
members rose up and shouted, ‘ God save the King.’ The
Commonwealth was at an end.
On the 29th of May 1660 a.d. Charles II. landed in
England. When the news reached Scotland, it was
received with frantic joy. People shouted and cheered
and danced. Fountains ran with wine, and in Edinburgh
THE KING COMES TO HIS OWN AGAIN 355
alone, thousands of glasses were broken after drinking the
health of the King. For it was the fashion, after drinking
the health of any great person, to break the glass so that
it should never be used for any meaner purpose. And
now so often was the King‘s health drunk, that it was
said that the noise of the breaking of glasses in the
streets was like the clash of armies.
The coming of Charles II. was called the Restoration.
Now that the King was restored, the Scottish Parliament
was also restored. Cromwell’s idea that there should be
only one Parliament for the whole kingdom, was a good one.
But neither the Scots nor the English were ready for it,
and as soon as they could, they went back to the old way.
The Scottish Parliament always opened with a great
procession. The members met at Holyrood, and rode in
state to the Parliament house. This was called the
Riding of Parliament. So on New Year’s Day 1661 a.d.
there was a solemn Riding.
The crown, which had been so bravely kept, was
brought from its hiding-place, and with the sceptre and
the sword of state, was carried before the procession.
The King was not there, but behind the crown rode a
soldier called Middleton, whom Charles had sent as Vice
Regent, that is, in place of the King.
Then by two and by two came the nobles, riding
slowly. They were all clad in splendid robes. and behind
them walked gentlemen holding up their trains. Footmen
and guards surrounded them, and so, with beat of drum
and blare of trumpet, they reached the ancient Parliament
Yet for all the solemnity and grandeur of its opening,
there never was a more wretched Parliament in Scotland.
‘ It was a mad, roaring time,’ says a man who lived and
wrote in those days. ‘ And no wonder it was so, when the
356 SCOTLAND’S STORY
men of affairs were almost always drunk.’ So it came to
be called the ‘ Drunken Parliament.’
This Parliament passed an act called the Rescissory
Act, by which all the laws and acts passed since 1640 a.d.,
nine years before the end of the reign of Charles I., were
recalled. So that by this act, the Covenant, which had
become the law of the land, was swept away ; the Presby
terian Church and all its courts was disestablished ; the
freedom of religion, for which the people had fought so
hard, was gone.
This was what Charles had set his heart upon. He
hated the Presbyterians. He had neither forgotten nor
forgiven the dreary life they had made him lead when he
came to take the crown ten years before. The Marquis
of Argyll, the greatest Presbyterian chieftain in Scotland,
had set the crown upon his head. But Charles knew no
gratitude, and when the Marquis came to do honour to
his King, the King would not receive him, but ordered
him to be imprisoned in the Tower, because he had
rebelled against Charles I.
Argyll was afterwards sent to Scotland, and there he
was executed, as his great enemy Montrose had been. He
met his death bravely. ‘I had the honour to set the
crown upon the King‘s head,’ he said, ‘ and now he
hastens me to a better crown than his own.’
The Marquis was executed partly in revenge for the
death of Montrose. Yet Charles, when he came to
Scotland, had denied that brave friend and follower, and
had pretended to be glad that he had been killed. Now,
when it suited him, he ordered Argyll‘s head to be placed
over the gate of Edinburgh, to blacken in the sun and
wind, as that of Montrose had done.
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