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A history of Scotland from the Roman occupation (Volume 2) online

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quested ]\Iary to consider the pleas of Lennox and his wife for
restoration to their legal status in Scotland.^^ Lady Lennox was
daughter and heiress of Angus; Lennox, before he turned English-
man and was forfeited in 1543, held the Castle of Dumbarton.
The Hamiltons had entered on a great share of the Lennox
properties. The return of Lennox to Scotland boded no peace,
and Elizabeth had once before told him that his pleas were but
"colour for a higher feather," the marriage of his son, Darnley,



to Mary. In July Randolph, instead of accompanying Mary to
the Highlands in a kilt, as he had intended to do, was recalled
to the English Court. On August 20 he received, as we have
already said, the instructions of Elizabeth. He was to threaten
breach of amity if an imperial marriage was designed, and to
hint, as from himself, that Elizabeth would resign to her Dudley,
— ^'' such an one as she would hardly think we could agree unto"
wrote Elizabeth with her own hand. This marriage would
"further Mary's interest, if so she should appear that she be
our next heir." ^^ For many months Mary was held in the toils
of this absurd, insulting, evasive proposal. Elizabeth merely
wished to gain time, and to pose to herself as the heroine of
a novel of self-sacrifice. Thus she fretted Mary into her fatal
step, the ruinous marriage with Darnley. Even Murray faintly
resented the interferences of Elizabeth. ^^ Knox wrote to Cecil in
distress. Nine out of twelve of the Council would accept Mary's
desires. If Murray remained staunch, then there was hope ; Mary
was "born to be a plague to the realm," she and her "inordinate
desires." On the same day Knox wrote to Dudley (October 6).
Either Knox was a man of wonderful simplicity, or he took the
most roseate view of Dudley's character by design. He suggested a
hope that this wretched minion might " walk in that straight path
that leadeth to life." He hoped that Dudley, who was ready to
sell himself to Spain, would " advance purity of religion." ^^

At the same time (October 9) Knox took a step which
was bold, but proved safe. In these evil days he had little
to comfort him except the burning of two witches.^'' But, in
Mary's absence at Stirling, the mass was attended by Catholics
at Holyrood, in contravention of the arrangement permitting it
only where she was at the time. Some of the godly were de-
puted to spy on the Catholics and note their names. There was
brawling in the chapel. Armstrong and Cranstoun, the offenders,
were committed for trial. Knox, therefore, was commissioned by
the local Brethren to write for aid to the godly everywhere.
Masses, he said, were openly maintained. " The blood of some
of our dearest ministers has been shed without fear of punishment
or correction craved by us," apparently in private feud. And
now Cranstoun and Armstrong are under charge of intended
murder and invading the palace. He convocated the godly to
Edinburgh for the day of the trial.^^ Murray and Lethington in


vain pointed out to Knox the nature of his act. He was resol-
ute : he appeared before the Court attended by a vast crowd.
Mary laughed, Knox says, and promised to repay him for mak-
ing her weep. She was foiled, and " the rigid mmister prevailed."
Knox browbeat the Council and judges, who, of course, had pre-
ceded him in convoking unlawful assemblies. He was unanimously
acquitted, though if it was illegal to assemble a multitude to over-
awe justice, he ought to have been condemned. Mary asked
whether " to make convocation of her lieges was not treason ? ''
Ruthven, whom "all men hated," says Randolph, observed, "Nay,
for he makes convocation of the people to hear prayer and ser-
mon almost daily, ... we think it no treason." Mary brushed
the slender sophistry away. Knox maintained that what he had
done " I have done at the commandment of the general Kirk of
this realm." As Mr Hume Brown writes, Knox acted "with the
consent of the faithful in Edinburgh, though probably on his own
initiative." ^^ Knox himself tells us that he had a general charge
" to make advertisement whenever danger should appear." ^^ The
"general Kirk" had no more legal right than the members of any
other " band " to convocate the lieges and overawe justice. It was
against this practice of theirs that Mary's son, James VI., had to
fight so long and sore a battle. But the Council had been, and
again might be, in the same case as Knox. Thus the Kirk won a
great triumph over the State, and appeared as imperium in imperio.
To modern minds it seems that the Council should have committed
Knox, while the judges of Cranstoun and Armstrong might have
acquitted them, as they had merely disturbed an assembly not
lawful in the eye of the law which prohibited the mass. A
General Assembly supported Knox and ratified his behaviour.
The antagonism of Kirk and State and the right of the Kirk
to call men to arms were thus proclaimed : nor was the condi-
tion of things much improved, in essentials, till the Revolution
of 168S.

At this date (December 21) Randolph mentions a domestic in-
cident which yet lives in poetry. The queen's French apothecary
had an intrigue with a French maid of the queen's, and administered
drugs to obviate the results. Both of the guilty pair were hanged.
This is the basis of the famous ballad of " The Queen's Maries," or
*' Mary Hamilton." No Mary was of the Hamilton House : no
Mary, of course, fell into this disgrace and doom.-'* Knox gives


a version different from that of Randolph, and alludes to "the
ballads of that age." He also avers that " shame hasted mar-
riage between John Sempill and Mary Livingstone," one of the
queen's Maries. Dates appear to confute this allegation. Ran-
dolph, on January 9, 1564, mentions the wedding as to be
celebrated between this and Shrovetide 1564, and on February
19 expects the nuptials in about a week. On January 9 Bed-
ford was being invited to the bridal,^^ which was celebrated on
March 4, 1565.^^ Obviously there was no violent hurry, and
it is necessary to be watchful in accepting Knox's anecdotes.
Mary granted lands to the bride and bridegroom on March 9,
1564.^'' The irritation of the Deity declared itself in "wet in
great abundance," which fell on January 20, and froze. There
were also " seen in the firmament battles arrayed, spears and
other weapons. . . . But the queen and our Court made merry,''
says Knox, though rain and an aurora borealis occurred in mid-
winter. And yet the preachers were doing their duty. For a
lapse from chastity " the Lord Treasurer, on Sunday next, must
do penance before the whole congregation, and Mr Knox make
the sermon." -^

Of far more real historical importance than the intrigues as
to Mary's marriage was the tyranny of the pulpiteers. The rift
between them and the Council grew daily wider as the General
Assembly of June drew near. " The threitnyngis of the pre-
chouris wer feirfull," writes Knox in an orthography which takes
nothing from the terror. The daily menaces, bellowed in sermon
or breathed in prayer, hampered a Government which had to
deal with statesmen of this world. In England Elizabeth,
from her seat, bade a preacher be silent when his remarks dis-
pleased her. In Scotland statesmen dared not face the preachers
openly, and fight out once for all the battle of secular freedom.
Lethington ventured to say that " men know not what they speak
when they call the mass idolatry." Knox in the pulpit prophesied
evil for Lethington, and lived to see his ruin. Meanwhile Lething-
ton smiled ; " we must recant, and burn our bill, for the preachers
are angry." At the General Assembly Argyll, Murray, Morton,
Glencairn, the Earl Marischal, and Rothes held aloof from the
Brethren, as did even the faithful laird of Pitarro, Wishart. A
debate was held, in which Lethington ironically advised Knox to
"moderate himself" in his political prayers, which, as Randolph


has shown us, were rather in the nature of curses. " Others may
imitate the h'ke hberty, albeit not with the same modesty and fore-
sight." An argument followed, which Knox reports in thirty-six
pages, the last pages of the History which he certainly wrote him-
self. (The Fifth Book, Laing thought, "has been chiefly derived
from Knox's papers by some unknown hand.") It is needless
to dwell on a controversy in which Lethington had to fight for
modern freedom from clerical dictation on a field composed of texts
chosen from the sacred books of an ancient oriental " peculiar
people." Lethington thought that no contemporary of his own
had a right to imitate Jehu, and kill people whom Knox called
" idolaters." Knox, of course, was of the opposite opinion, Leth-
ington forgot to counter Knox with Hosea's denunciation of Jehu
and his' crime. In the long discussion, of course, neither party
converted the other. " In all that time the Earl of Moray was
so estranged from John Knox that neither by word or letter
was there any communication between them."

Meanwhile, as regarded Mary's marriage, Randolph found
abundant goodwill, but no advance in business. His difficulties
were caused by Elizabeth. First, she wanted Mary to marry in-
finitely below her rank ; next, to marry a man known to be in love
with herself. " The world would judge worse of him " (Dudley)
" than of any living man, if he should not rather lose his life than
alter his thought." ^^ Finally, Mary had no assurance of any reward
if she did marry Elizabeth's favourite. Murray and Lethington
even put forward Darnley, though not with conviction. Knox
had suspected Mary because she kept no garrison on Inchkeith.
Randolph suspected her because she introduced a garrison. ^^ On
March 30 Randolph at last explicitly named Dudley as Elizabeth's
choice for Mary. " Is that," said Mary, " in conformity with her
promise to use me as her sister or daughter ? " What did Mary take
by it, if Elizabeth had children ? On April 30 Kirkcaldy warned
Randolph that Lennox was coming to Scotland, and that Mary
might bring Bothwell back " to shake out of her pocket against
us Protestants."^^ As for "Lennox, on June 16, 1563, Elizabeth
had requested Mary, as we saw, to consider the several suits of
Lennox and his wife. By May 22, 1564, Randolph announced
that Lennox was coming to " sue his own right " as to his Scottish
lands. Yet Elizabeth, as Dr Hay Fleming says, "was ignoble
enough to suggest that Mary should take the blame by withdrawing


that permission " (for Lennox to visit Scotland) "which at her desire
she had granted." ^-

Mary's Council had meanwhile determined that she should not
meet Elizabeth this year. Mary, says Randolph, felt " sorrow and
grief" (June 5). Randolph returned to England in June, and
Lethington complained to Cecil of English delays and want of
frankness (June 23). Murray told Cecil that he had not opposed
Lennox's home-coming, that his arrival bred no fears for religion,
that the Protestants enjoyed " liberty of conscience in such abund-
ance as our hearts can wish," and that Mary could not in honour
prevent what she had granted at Elizabeth's request. If Elizabeth
objects, let her refuse permission to Lennox.^^ The truth is that on
May 3 Knox had warned Randolph against permitting Lennox and
Darnley to come back. " Her wanton and wicked will rules all." ^*
On this hint Cecil told Lethington that the Scottish friends of Eng-
land " like not Lennox's coming." " I cannot tell whom you take
to be your best friends," answered Lethington, but he and Murray
had been England's allies, and they have rather furthered than
hindered the arrival of Lennox. If Elizabeth objects, Lethington
is amazed, " seeing how earnestly her majesty did recommend
unto me my Lord of Lennox's cause." Lethington then, by Cecil's
desire, returned to him his own letter, containing Elizabeth's request
for the refusal of permission to Lennox to enter Scotland. i\Iary
replied with equal spirit, and thereby vexed Elizabeth. That incon-
stant woman was so entangled in her own nets that, according to
Mr Froude, she was "harassed into illness, and in the last stage
of despair." In point of fact, it was not Elizabeth but. Cecil that
was ill when the queen wrote to him, in Latin, asking him to
find " some good excuse " (" something kind " Mr Froude renders
aliquid boni) "to be inserted in Randolph's despatches." ^^

In September, after returning from a northern progress, Mary
sent Sir James Melville to the English Court. The knight tells
the tale, in memoirs written long after the event, and not too
trustworthy. Murray and Lethington were still resolute as to
Lennox's visit. It was by Ehzabeth's wish, and they would not
waver with her waverings. Kirkcaldy of Grange wrote very frankly
to Cecil about the Dudley marriage. " If you drive time, I fear
necessity may compel us to marry where we may. . . . Ye may
cause us take the Lord Darnley" (September 9). Melville went
to Court, and his Memoirs contain a lively account of his strange


experiences. Every one knows how, when Elizabeth created Dudley
Earl of Leicester, she "tickled him smilingly on the neck." Every
one has heard of Elizabeth's efforts to extract compliments at Mary's
expense, and how she danced "high and disposedly," and called
Darnley "yonder long lad," "beardless and lady-faced," says Mel-
ville, Melville, in fact, had a secret commission to secure Darnley's
presence in Scotland. On his return he did not conceal from Mary
that Elizabeth was utterly insincere : offered Leicester, but would
never part with him. But to offer Leicester was Randolph, with
Bedford, now authorised.^*^ The vaguest references were made to
Mary's recognition as Elizabeth's heir. The absurd, if not im-
moral, proposal of a menage a trois, Leicester and Mary to live
with Elizabeth, was actually hazarded.

From this point the diplomacy is so prolix and entangled that
only the most important facts can be noted. Throughout, the
object of Elizabeth was to "drive time" and to perplex. Till
March in 1565 Murray and Lethington seem to have sided with
their mistress. Lethington's one object, pursued with a passion
strange in the man, was the union of Scotland and England.
To have secured this, he says, will bring as much honour as was
won by the men who fought beside Bruce for freedom. But he
was to be foiled by the cunning of Elizabeth ; by her passion
for Leicester, whom she was pretending to offer to Mary ; by the
appearance (which Cecil, Leicester, and Elizabeth procured) of
Darnley in Scotland ; by the consequent revival of the Lennox
and Hamilton feud ; by a new feud raised between Murray and
Darnley ; and by the sleepless opposition of the godly. From all
these causes, aided by Mary's sudden caprice for Darnley, and by
Elizabeth's opposition to the Darnley as to all other marriages,
the amity between England and Scotland was broken, and the
wars of the Congregation began again, as before, under the sanc-
tion and with the aid of Elizabeth. On her lies the first blame :
she had at last broken down the self-restraint and aroused the
temper of Mary. Then followed the " strange tragedies " which
Lethington had predicted. These are the chief circumstances
and influences in the space between October 1564 and Mary's
resolution to marry Darnley, announced in April 1565.

To follow events more closely, Lennox's restoration was publicly
proclaimed at Edinburgh Cross on October 13. Since 1543
Lennox had been " English." His wife, daughter of Margaret


Tudor, was as mischievous an intriguer as ever her mother had
been. She, doubtless, was a Cathohc, and many of Lennox's men
went to mass in Edinburgh. ^'^ But Lennox himself went to " the
preaching place," so did Darnley ; their religion, like that of Prince
Charlie, " was still to seek." Nevertheless, their party in England
was the party of the Catholics.^^ On October 24 Randolph found
that "many desired to have Darnley here." Yet (November 3) he
did not find that Mary and Lethington shared this wish. Chatel-
herault was in despair now that his hereditary foe, Lennox, was in
favour, and had no hope save in Elizabeth. A secret meeting at
Berwick between Murray and Lethington, Randolph and Bedford,
was arranged, but led to nothing. A little explosion of bad temper
took place: nothing was advanced. Randolph (December 2) \vas
opposed to the coming of Darnley, which was earnestly pushed by
Leicester and Cecil, of course with Elizabeth's concurrence.^^ The
coming was not yet, not till February 1565. What was Elizabeth's
motive ? Probably the same as that of Leicester — namely, that
Darnley might captivate Mary, and render nugatory the self-sacrifice
which Elizabeth had promised, the parting from her minion. Mr
Froude writes as if Darnley was barely allowed to come, in con-
sequence of hopes held out by Mary to Randolph that she would
be obedient to Elizabeth. But this was on February 6, 1565.
Now Darnley reached Berwick by February 10. From a letter of
Cecil's, written on February 5, Randolph "perceived what earnest
means have been made both by Leicester and your honour for
Darnley's licence to come to Scotland," a licence which he thought
fatal to his mission. "How to frame this that it may be both to
her majesty's honour and thorough contentment in the end, I must
take one care more upon me, . . . which must be supported by
your honour's good advice, for truly of myself I know not yet what
to think, or how to behave myself" (February 12, 1565).*°

Now Mr Froude argues that on February 6 " Randolph wrote
to Leicester as if there was no longer any doubt that he would
be accepted. . . . Elizabeth permitted herself to be persuaded
that Mary Stuart was at last sincere. Cecil and Leicester shared
her confidence, or were prepared to risk the experiment, and
Darnley was allowed leave of absence for three months in the
belief that it might be safely conceded." *^ Dates destroy this
effort to shelter Elizabeth. Leicester and Cecil had used " earnest
means " for Darnley's journey, and had succeeded, before Ran-

THE ENGLISH SNARE (1565). 1 37

dolph wrote the encouraging letter about Leicester's acceptance on
February 6. As to "sincerity," of course neither Leicester nor
Elizabeth was sincere at any time, least of all in desiring Mary
to wed Leicester. That was precisely what they were scheming
to prevent, while Elizabeth was pretending to think of marrying
the small boy who was King of France. It must be confessed
that this device — namely, to use Darnley as a paratonnere, or
lightning-conductor — to divert Mary from Leicester looks rather
like a scheme in a novel than a stratagem in diplomacy. But
Melville states the plot as a matter of fact in his Memoirs (pp. 129,
130). Randolph had to try to suppress the suspicion of the plan,
which was rife in Scotland : when the plan succeeded, he exclaimed
that Elizabeth was most fortunate, and Mauvissiere, the French
envoy, had no illusions about Elizabeth's part.*^ The English
Court perfectly well knew Darnley's aim. Cecil had announced
it to Sir Thomas Smith on December 30. On February 3, 1565,
hints were drawn up for Throckmorton as to affairs in Scotland,
and what would occur " if Darnley hit the mark." *^ In short,
Elizabeth and her ministers deliberately, and beyond doubt, en-
tangled Mary in the fatal snare of the Darnley marriage. On
February 19 Randolph reported Darnley's movements. He dined
with Lord Robert Stuart, Mary's brother, whom Randolph thought
his evil genius. Yet Lord Robert alone warned Darnley at the last.

He met Mary at Wemyss Castle, in Fife, on February 17. Thence
he went to see his father and AthoU at Dunkeld, returned and
went with Mary to Edinburgh, heard Knox preach, supped with
Murray, and danced with the queen. " His behaviour is very well
liked, and hitherto so governs himself that there is great praise of
him " (February 27).^* What did Lethington think? He merely
wrote to Cecil (February 28) that he was in love (with Mary
Fleming), and therefore " in merry pin."

Meanwhile Bothwell was asking for leave to come home from
France, and Randolph (March 3) was much in doubt as to Mary's
real sentiments. Elizabeth's were plain : she let Mary know that,
even if she married Leicester, her recognition must wait till the
English queen either married or announced her resolve never to
marry — till the Greek Calends, in fact.^^ Mary wept, and Leth-
ington said that he could not and would not advise her to wait
any longer. Murray was "the sorrowfullest man that can be."^*^
This was on March 1 7 ; on the 20th Randolph reported trouble;

138 RICCIO "CREEPS IN" (1564)

Mary was aiming at general toleration, but her godly subjects would
die rather than permit freedom of conscience. Lennox was gather-
ing adherents — Atholl, Caithness, the detested Ruthven, and Home.
Chatelherault, Argyll, and Morton (jealous of the Douglas lands of
Angus, to which Lady Lennox had a claim) were watchful on the
other side. Murray was at feud with Lennox's friends. Darnley,
when Lord Robert Stuart showed him Murray's possessions on the
map, "said that it was too much." Murray heard of this, and
Mary bade Darnley apologise (March 20).'*'' Meanwhile Riccio, a
Piedmontese and musician, had " croope in " to be Mary's Secretary
for French Affairs. ^^ Knox writes of the summer of 1564, "Davie
began to grow great in Court. . . . Great men made in Court
unto him, and their suits were the better heard." ^'^ Riccio was
born about 1534, and came to Scotland in the suite of the Mar-
quis de Morette, Ambassador of Savoy, in 1561. He became a
valet de chambre^ like Moliere, and succeeded Raulet, as French
secretary, in December 1564. His influence in March 1565 was
already very great. The fatal piece was now set, and all the
characters of the tragedy were falling into their places.

Murray was on less amiable terms than usual with Mary in the
season of Easter. Her hour had dawned, and she was hurrying to
her doom by the paths which the Stuarts were wont to tread. Her
religion, by no fault of her own, was in itself fatal. She had a
favourite servant, a foreigner and low-born, even as such men were
dear to James HL She had, as was soon too obvious, a fatal
caprice for Darnley, a boy, a fool, and a coward. Her best allies,
IMurray and Lethington, were day by day more estranged. The
nobles were grouping into two hostile " bands " ; the Stuart and
Hamilton feud was captained on either side by Lennox and Chatel-
herault, while Mary, from clan sympathy, stood by the Stuarts.
Men were alarmed for their lands, once those of Lennox, and apt
to be restored to him. The Protestants were in the state of ap-
prehensive fear and Vv^rath, which is the mother of revolutions.
Mary herself had been goaded into reckless wilfulness. The stress
of contending world-forces was thrusting against a girl, and against
a lad, who in our day might still have been at a public school.
Darnley, in fact, now suffered from the puerile complaint of
measles, and Mary's assiduity in nursing him at Stirling in April
set tongues moving.^*^ Her self-restraint was tried by a cowardly
assault on a priest, who was pilloried, pelted with " thousands " of


eggs, and put into irons. Mary bade the Provost oi Edinburgh
release the man, with two Catholics who had heard his mass.
"There is now greater rage amongst the faithful," says a spy, and
the faithful were also resenting the idolatrous doings of Elizabeth.
Murray and Lethington had asked Cecil to labour for the sus-
pension of an edict enforcing the clerical costume of " tippets and
caps," and the godly heard with horror that Elizabeth had silenced
a preacher in mid-sermon.

U'hile men's minds were thus inflamed there were distinct rumours
that Mary had secretly married Darnley. On April 26 the French
Ambassador at London wrote to Catherine de' Medici announcing
the arrival of Lethington, and of letters from Randolph declaring
that Mary was already wedded (he means afifianced), and that only
the ceremonies of the Church remained to be fulfilled. ^^ The
Spanish Ambassador was of the same opinion. Information was
sent to the Tuscan Court that Mary and Darnley had been wedded,
or betrothed, in the chamber of Riccio.^- On April 24 Elizabeth
gave Throckmorton certain instructions for a mission to Scotland :
on May 2 he received another set of orders. He was to tell Mary

Online LibraryAndrew LangA history of Scotland from the Roman occupation (Volume 2) → online text (page 15 of 60)