A few insolent words, construed as mutiny, were enough to bring Lord Mountnorris before a council of war, and to inflict on him a sentence of death. But his tyranny aimed at public ends, and in Ireland the heavy hand of a single despot delivered the mass of the people at any rate from the local despotism of a hundred masters. The Irish landowners were for the first time made to feel themselves amenable to the law. Justice was enforced, outrage was repressed, the condition of the clergy was to some extent raised, the sea was cleared of the pirates who infested it. The foundation of the linen manufacture which was to bring wealth to Ulster, and the first developement of Irish commerce, date from the Lieutenancy of Wentworth. But good government was only a means with him for further ends. The noblest work to be done in Ireland was the bringing about a reconciliation between Catholic and Protestant, and an obliteration of the anger and thirst for vengeance which had been raised by the Ulster Plantation. Wentworth, on the other hand, angered the Protestants by a toleration of Catholic worship and a suspension of the persecution which had feebly begun against the priesthood, while he fed the irritation of the Catholics by schemes for a Plantation of Connaught. His purpose was to encourage a disunion which left both parties dependent for support and protection on the Crown. It was a policy which was to end in bringing about the horrors of the Irish revolt, the vengeance of Cromwell, and the long series of atrocities on both sides which make the story of the country he ruined so terrible to tell.
But for the hour it left Ireland helpless in his hands. He doubled the revenue. He reorganized the army. To provide for its support he ventured, in spite of the panic with which Charles heard his project, to summon an Irish Parliament. His aim was to read a lesson to England and the King, by showing how completely that dreaded thing, a Parliament, could be made the organ of the royal will; and his success was complete. Two-thirds, indeed, of an Irish House of Commons consisted of the representatives of wretched villages, the pocket-boroughs of the Crown; while absent peers were forced to entrust their proxies to the Council to be used at its pleasure. But precautions were hardly needed. The two Houses trembled at the stern master who bade their members not let the King " find them muttering, or, to speak it more truly, mutinying in corners," and voted with a perfect docility the means of maintaining an army of five thousand foot and five hundred horse. Had the subsidy been refused, the result would have been the same. "I would undertake," wrote Wentworth, "upon the peril of my head, to make the King's army able to subsist and provide for itself among them without their help".
While Wentworth was thus working out his system of "Thorough" on one side of St. George's Channel, it was being carried out on the other by a mind inferior, indeed, to his own in genius, but almost equal to it in courage and tenacity. On Weston's death in 1635, Laud became virtually first minister at the English Council-board. We have already seen with what a reckless and unscrupulous activity he was crushing Puritanism in the English Church, and driving Puritan ministers from English pulpits; and in this work his new position enabled him to back the authority of the High Commission by the terrors of the Star Chamber. It was a work, indeed, which to Laud's mind was at once civil and religious: he had allied the cause of ecclesiastical organization with that of absolutism in the State; and, while borrowing the power of the Crown to crush ecclesiastical liberty, he brought the influence of the Church to bear on the ruin of civil freedom. But his power stopped at the Scotch frontier. Across the Border stood a Church with bishops indeed, but without a ritual, modelled on the doctrine and system of Geneva, Calvinist in teaching and to a great extent in government.
The mere existence of such a Church gave countenance to English Puritanism, and threatened in any hour of ecclesiastical weakness to bring a dangerous influence to bear on the Church of England. With Scotland, indeed, Laud could only deal indirectly through Charles, for the King was jealous of any interference of his English ministers or Parliament with his Northern Kingdom. But Charles was himself earnest to deal with it. He had imbibed his father's hatred of all that tended to Presbyterianism, and from the outset of his reign he had been making advance after advance towards the more complete establishment of Episcopacy. To understand, however, what had been done, and the relations which had by this time grown up between Scotland and its King, we must take up again the thread of its history which we broke at the moment when Mary fled for refuge over the English border.
After a few years of wise and able rule, the triumph of Protestantism under the Earl of Murray had been interrupted by his assassination, by the revival of the Queen's faction, and by the renewal of civil war. The next regent, the child-king's grandfather, was slain in a fray; but under the strong hand of Morton the land won a short breathing-space. Edinburgh, the last fortress held in Mary's name, surrendered to an English force sent by Elizabeth; and its captain, Kirkcaldy of Grange, was hanged for treason in the market-place; while the stern justice of Morton forced peace upon the warring lords. The people of the Lowlands, indeed, were now stanch for the new faith; and the Protestant Church rose rapidly after the death of Knox into a power which appealed at every critical juncture to the deeper feelings of the nation at large. In the battle with Catholicism the bishops had clung to the old religion; and the new faith, left without episcopal interference, and influenced by the Genevan training of Knox, borrowed from Calvin its model of Church government, as it borrowed its theology.