THIRD DEGREE AT NEWCASTLE
THE Scots lost no time in making it clear that there was to be no nonsense about honouring their conveniently unwritten bond with the King. Lord Lothian, who had been sent to fetch him in, was a peculiarly unfortunate choice, for Charles had caused him to be arrested three years previously and held in close confinement on suspicion of treacherous dealings on a mission to France. He had now the opportunity for evening up the score. He proceeded to order his Sovereign, in a strain of bullying arrogance, to sign the Covenant forthwith and assist in forcing England and Ireland under the Presbyterian yoke. Also to make Montrose--to whom with pointed insolence he referred as James Graham--lay down his arms. The King pricked his tormentor's bladder by reminding him that he who had made James Graham a Marquis had also created William Kerr Earl of Lothian--which is all the change Lothian got out of him; but it was a foretaste of the kind of treatment which, for the brief remainder of his life, he must accustom himself to expect.
Now that the jaws of the trap had closed behind him, the bait was withdrawn. Not the least pretence was made of according him his royal status or refusing to force his conscience, still less of restoring him to his own in England by Scottish aid. He was a prisoner under close arrest, with sentries posted round his lodging to cut off all communication with the outer world. And indeed he was subject to treatment from which in civilized countries prisoners, even in jail, are exempt, for they would not be satisfied till they had broken his will and rendered him body and soul their passive instrument. The process to which he was to be subjected was one for which our own age has coined a phrase--the third degree; one of unremitting pressure, with interludes of suavity alternating with threats and bullying. And if in the long run it should prove that the victim was unamenable to treatment, they would have no more use for him and would proceed to dispose of him as best suited their convenience.
The Scots themselves were playing a difficult, not to speak of a perilous game. That they should have the disposal of the King's person was highly unwelcome to their English partners, and there