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

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ligion till Parliament should meet, and she summoned her forces for
various dates. She warned Randolph that she knew his dealings with
her rebels. On August 26 she went to Linhthgow, and began her
hunt of Murray and his accomplices. She would rather lose her
crown, she told Randolph, than not be avenged on Murray. This
he ascribed to private grudge, and perhaps may hint that Murray
was aware that she was Riccio's mistress. Randolph wrote thus on
August 27. He had long dwelt on her infatuation for Darnley.
Mary was but a bride of a month ; was she, in Randolph's opinion,
already perhaps an adulteress ? Bedford made the same insinuation
as early as September 19.'' On October 16, 1565, de Foix reports
from London that he asked Elizabeth why Mary hated Murray, — as
if his ingratitude and open rebellion were not cause enough ! Eliza-
beth, after a pause, answered that it was because Mary had learned
" that Murray had wanted to hang an Italian named David whom
she loved and favoured, giving him more credit and authority than
were consistent with her interest and honour." ^ The fair subject of
these slanders was meanwhile driving her rebels up and down the

When Mary reached Glasgow, Murray retired on Paisley, and
thence to Hamilton. Here a fight was expected, and it is curious


to note Mr Froude's account of the affair. " Mary carried
pistols in hand, and pistols at her saddle-bow." Now Randolph
mentions a rumour of this kind, but adds, " I take it for a tale."
" Her one peculiar hope was to encounter and destroy her brother,"
says Mr Froude, apparently holding that Mary carried her apocryphal
pistols for this fratricidal purpose. "A fight was looked for at
Hamilton, where " (as Mr Froude quotes Randolph's letter of
September 4) "a hundred gentlemen of her party determined to
set on Murray in the battle, and either slay him or tarry behind
lifeless."^ Randolph said nothing of this kind: he said the very
reverse. The passage is thus given in the ' Calendar of State
Papers ' : ^ "Ac. gentlemen are determined to set upon hym in the
battayle self whear soever the Queenes howsband be, and ether to
slaye hym " (Darnley, Mr Bain adds in a note) " or tarrie behynde
lyveles amongeste them." " Other devices there are for this " (that
is, for slaying Darnley), " as hard to be executed as the other. If
this continue, they " (the rebels) " trust not a little in the queen's
majesty's support " — that is, in the support of Elizabeth. Mary has
so much to answer for that historians need not attribute to her
party the homicidal designs of her opponents. Murray's men were
sworn to kill Darnley, not Mary's men to kill Murray.

There was no fight at Hamilton or elsewhere. On the night of
August 30 Murray, Chatelherault, Glencairn, Rothes, Boyd, and the
rest rode into Edinburgh. Erskine (now Earl of Mar) fired on them
from the castle. The Brethren would not join them, even for pay.
" The Calvinist shopkeepers who could be so brave against a miser-
able priest had no stomach for a fight with armed men," says Mr
Froude. The Lords kept asking Bedford to send them English
musketeers : none were sent. On September 2 they fied before
dawn, only escaping Mary by favour of a tempest which changed
burns into rivers and delayed her march. "And albeit the most
part waxed weary, yet the queen's courage increased manlike, so
much that she was ever with the foremost," says Knox or his con-
tinuator. The Lords retired on Dumfries, where they lay for three
weeks, while Mary raised forced loans, and took in hand the godly
towns of Dundee and St Andrews, while securing Glasgow from
Argyll. Her main need was money, and on September i o she sent
Yaxley, an English retainer of Darnley's, to solicit help from the
King of Spain. ^'^ She announced that she would maintain "the
liberty of the Church," and that she wished to resist the estab-


lishment of Protestant errors, a point to which we shall return.
Yaxley was drowned on his return voyage : his Spanish money
never reached Mary.

On September 2 the rebel lords, from Dumfries, sent Robert
Melville to England, asking for 3000 men, money, and ammun-
ition.^^ EHzabeth had granted ;^3ooo, as if a gift from Bedford,
and denied the fact to de Foix, who threatened that France would
help Mary, if Elizabeth aided Mary's rebels.^- Meanwhile in
Mary's camp all was not well. On September 29 de Foix reports
that Lethington is not listened to ; James Balfour, John Lesley,
and Robert Carnegie are trusted. Bothwell's arrival was certain
to cause divisions. Lethington and Morton were probably in-
triguing with the rebels : Lethington and Bothwell were old
enemies. Only a strain of Douglas blood in their kin kept
Lindsay, Ruthven, and Morton nominally loyal to Darnley, a
Douglas on the spindle side. By October 2 Cockburn could tell
Cecil that Mary and Darnley were at strife, Darnley wanting
Lennox to be in command on the Border, while Mary preferred
Bothwell, "therefore she makes him lieutenant of the Marches." ^^
Mauvissibre, an envoy from France, could not induce Mary to
treat with the Lords at Dumfries. Mr Froude quotes a letter
of Bedford to Cecil of October 5. "She said she would hear
of no peace till she had Murray's or Chatelherault's head." ^*
This appears in the Calendar as " there is talk of peace with that
queen " (Mary) " but that she will first have the head of the
Duke or of Murray." On October 8 Mary left Edinburgh for
Dumfries, with " the whole force of the North," under Huntly,
now provisionally, till Parliament met, restored to his father's
lands and dignities. He blamed Murray for the recent ruin of
his father. The Lords did not await Mary's advance. They
had crossed the Border to Carlisle on October 6, and we can
scarcely agree with Mr Froude that Mary, " following them in
hot pursuit, glared across the frontier at her escaping prey, half
tempted to follow them, and annihilate the petty guard of the
English commander." ^^ On October 14 Mary was still at Dum-
fries.^^ On the same day, from Carlisle, INIurray wrote to Cecil,
explaining his real motives for rebelling. " Neither they nor I
enterprised this action (without foresight of our sovereign's in-
dignation) save that we were moved thereto by the queen, your
sovereign," ^^ (Mr Froude prints '■'■with foresight" in place of


'■' ivithout") The Lords went to Newcastle. On October 17
Bedford announced that Murray was probably going to London.
On October 20 Elizabeth bade Bedford stop Murray, at Ware;
on October 21 he received commands not to approach Eliza-
beth. However, Elizabeth altered her plan and allowed him to
advance, for her new purposes.

She wished to prove that she had never intrigued with Mary's
rebels. She played a little comedy. First, says Mr Froude,
following de Silva, the Spanish Ambassador, she received Murray
secretly at night, and, with Cecil, instructed him in his part, to
be acted next day. Of this rehearsal the official report, drawn
up on October 23, for distribution in the Courts of France and
Spain, says nothing. Murray, says the official record, was brought
into the presence of Elizabeth, her Council, Mauvissiere, and de
Foix, the French Ambassador. He knelt, and explained that he
wished to beg Elizabeth to intercede for himself and his friends
with Mary. Elizabeth replied that it was strange for a man in
his case to approach her. What could he reply to the charges
of refusing to obey Mary's summons, and of levying a force
against her? He must answer "on the faith of a gentleman."
Now Murray, nine days earlier, as we saw, had told Cecil that
he never would have stirred but for Elizabeth's impelling him.
However, now he said that he disobeyed Mary's summons to
meet her at Court because he learned, on his way, that his life
was in peril, and that he then gave her this reason. He ex-
plained that Mary asked him who gave him warning, and that
he declined to give up his informant, at least till six months
were gone. So he was put to the horn, and wandered about,
a fugitive, with Argyll, Chatelherault, and Glencairn, reaching
Dumfries " with not much above eighty horse." He had chosen
"so to flee rather than to be a party against his sovereign."
How untrue all this was we have seen. He utterly denied that
he had ever been privy to any scheme for seizing Mary. His
one purpose was to defend true religion, peace, and amity with
England. Elizabeth "very roundly" told him before the am-
bassador that not for the world would she aid any rebel against
his sovereign. Her conscience would in that case condemn, and
God would punish her. So she broke off the interview.

Such is the gist of the official report.^^ If the official report
is correct, Elizabeth lied boldly and Murray held his peace,


to deceive the French spectators. Dr Hay Fleming writes, " Sin-
fully silent Murray seems to have been under Elizabeth's denun-
ciation." ^^ Mr Froude remarks that Murray " was evidently no
consenting party to the deception." Yet it is Mr Froude who tells
us that "Elizabeth had exercised a wise caution in preparing Murray
for this preposterous harangue," her first speech. Did she instruct
him in one scene of the comedy and not in another? Besides,
"Elizabeth had doubtless made it a condition of her further
friendship that he should say nothing by which she could be
herself incriminated." If Murray admitted that condition, of
course, and undeniably, he was (though Mr Froude denies it)
"a consenting party to the deception." That Mary, a beautiful
unhappy woman, should enchant historians, and lead them into
fairyland, is intelligible. But by what spell does a rigid male
Scottish Puritan carry grave writers captive ? Mr Froude says
that Sir James Melville " describes Elizabeth as extorting from
Murray an acknowledgment that she had not encouraged the
rebellion, and as then bidding him depart from her presence
as an unworthy traitor. Sir James does but follow an official
report which was drawn up under Elizabeth's eye and sanction."
As a matter of fact, the official report is destitute of what Mr
Froude says that it contains. After declaring that God would
punish her if she aided rebels, she " so brake off hir speche any
farder with hym."-^ Knox, or his continuator, tells us that after
the two French envoys had departed, Murray said to Elizabeth,
"We know assuredly that we had lately faithful promises of aid
and support by your ambassador and familiar servants in your
name, and further we have your own handwriting confirming the
said promises." ^^ Perhaps Murray told Knox that he thus allowed
Elizabeth to lie in public, and then rebuked her in private. His
was not a noble part ; but then there is no reason for believing
the story. We cannot ascertain the precise degree of the stain-
less Murray's degradation. However, at the lowest reckoning, it
was dark and deep. "Sinfully silent" he was, even if, as Dr
Hay Fleming supposes, he may have been staggered by Eliza-
beth's " shameful audacity." That he could not be, however, if
de Silva truly reports that Elizabeth had rehearsed the piece with
him on the previous night. Mr Froude, accepting the anecdote,
can yet believe that Murray "was not a consenting party to the
deception." Perhaps admirers of Murray will do well to hold

154 darnley's feud with riccio.

that Elizabeth did secretly train him to the comedy. We can
better excuse Murray for

"sinning on such heights with one,
The Flower of all the West and all the world,"

Gloriana herself. Best palliation of all, Murray must have known
that no mortal was deceived by the transparent farce.

Though Argyll remained in his own country as safe as an in-
dependent prince, and wasted the lands of Lennox and AthoU,
Murray and his brother-exiles were now discredited. Mary was
in the position of her father, James V., when he expelled Angus
and the Douglases. But Captain Cockburn, an envoy from Cecil,
and a historically minded man, warned Mary of her danger by this
very example. James had taken little, Cockburn said, by his
expulsion of the Douglases.^^

Presently the ghost of the ancient Douglas feud was to arise
against Mary. In short, since Bruce forfeited the Anglophile lords,
entailing thirty years of war on his country, such measures as Mary
took with Murray and his allies had never prospered in Scotland.
The great Scottish Houses, however divided among themselves,
were allied by ties of blood, and had one common interest, that
of rebelling with relative impunity. On that point they were sure to
cling together, as Mary was to learn. She had meanwhile terrified
Elizabeth, who offered to send commissioners to treat, but presently
recovered heart, and made Randolph declare that he had misunder-
stood her letter. That letter was demanded, but Randolph would
not give it up. Elizabeth still took the view that Darnley was
no king, but her rebellious subject. Mary's own party was disunited.
Lethington, who had always been with Mary, though less listened to
at this time than Riccio and Sir James Balfour, was known or sus-
pected to have intrigued with Murray. In November he was trying
to recover favour. ^^ Morton also, the son of the perfidious Sir
George Douglas, might hold the Great Seal, but his loyalty was
dubious."^ Meanwhile, in December and early spring, Darnley was
often absent for long periods, hawking, hunting, " drinking, and
driving ower," as James VI. said of himself. Knox's continuator
says that Mary let Riccio use a stamp bearing Darnley's signature,
alleging that "the king" was often absent "at his pastime," as in
fact he was.-^

Darnley's behaviour was the more inconsiderate as in November


it became obvious that Mary was with child, though Randolph
doubted the fact as long as possible, indeed till April. There
were jars as to the precedence of Darnley's name or Mary's in public
documents. Knox's continuator, and Buchanan, having just com-
plained that Darnley received a kingly title, now grumble that his
name was omitted, or that Mary's had precedence.-*^ Bishop Keith
remarks that Mary signed her name first in order less than a month
after her marriage. In royal charters, the Bishop says, " I can certify
my readers that the queen's name is never so much as once set
before the king's." ^'^ "The ki7ig and queen's majesties," "Our
sovereign lord and lady," also appear in the Privy Council Register.
But on December 22, 1565, our soveran queen is named before
our king in a statute for coining a penny of silver called the Mary
Ryall, a coin whereon "Maria" precedes " Henricus."-^ All
this vexed Darnley's royal ambitions. On Christmas Day, 1565,
Randolph reports on this weighty matter, and suspects a7}iantiuni
ircz, lovers' quarrels. Did he really think Riccio " the happiest of
the three "?-^ In December Chatelherault, who had submitted,
was exiled to France for five years. This limited forgiveness was
resented by Lennox and Darnley, deadly foes of the Hamiltons.^*^
Murray was asking Mary to pardon him, asking Elizabeth to inter-
cede for him. His kinsman, Douglas of Lochleven, offered Riccio
;^5ooo (Scots) for his influence, and was refused. ^^ Murray gener-
ously begged Randolph not to incur suspicion for his sake, and
though he professed himself the servant of Elizabeth, he certainly
clung staunchly to his exiled allies — so mixed is the character of
this enigmatic earl. The important question was. What should
be decided in the Parliament, which was to have met in February
1566, but was now postponed to early March? The banished
lords were summoned to hear their own forfeiture pronounced in
this Parliament. No less than total ruin to them, the chief
noble friends of the Kirk, was implied. But as to religion,
what would be decided ? Mary had always referred a definite
ecclesiastical settlement to a Parliament which had never sat.
Now that Parhament seemed to be at hand — though it was
never to meet.

Mary is accused of great duplicity in this matter of religion.
What had she promised, for example, recently, on July 12, 1565?
Merely that her subjects should not be " molested in the quiet using
of their religion " ; " in the using of their religion and conscience


freely" (July 20).^- On September to, it is true, she asked Philip
of Spain for aid against " the entire ruin of the Catholics, and the
establishment of these wretched errors," and for " the perpetual
liberty of the Church." ^^ Mary had told both Protestant and
Catholic, had told Knox and had told the Pope, that she would
defend the Catholic Church. "Ye are not the Kirk that I will
nureiss. I will defend the Kirk of Rome, for I think it is the trew
Kirk of God," said Mary to Knox.^* There is no duplicity in that
declaration. It may be detected, if at all, in Mary's proclamation at
Dundee on September 15. On September 10 she had told the
King of Spain that she foresaw the " danger of the establishment
of wretched errors, for which the king and I, as we desire to resist
them, shall be in danger of losing our crown, and our claim of right
elsewhere" (in England), "if we have not the aid of one of the
great princes of Christianity." On September 15, in the Dundee
proclamation, Mary denies that she intends " the subversion of the
state of religion which their majesties found publicly and universally
standing at their arrival in this realm." ^^ Their majesties have " a
sincere meaning toward the establishing of religion" "Their good
subjects [may] assure themselves to be in full surety thereof in time
coming." All laws of every kind " prejudicial to the same " are to
be abolished in Parliament. But " the same " seems to mean the
7iot " pressing of any person in the free use of their conscience, or
attempting anything against the same [Protestant] religion." Finally,
after Riccio's murder in March 1566, and after Parliament had been
dispersed, Mary told Beaton, her ambassador in France, that in
electing the Lords of the Articles (March 7) the Spiritual Estate was
represented, "in the ancient manner, tending to have done some
good anent restoring the auld religion." ^^ Lesley says that a
measure was to be proposed to "allow the bishops and rectors
the full exercise of their ancient religion/' ^"^

Now, taking all this together, we may, perhaps, venture to
conceive that Mary always intended to secure, if she could,
the parliamentary sanction of " freedom of conscience " and the
" liberty " of her own Church. It does not seem by any means
to follow that she intended to persecute or molest Protestants.
On Christmas Day, 1565, Randolph wrote, "It is said liberty
of conscience shall be granted at this Parliament." ^^ If we
believe that to permit one religion is to molest the devotees of
another; if the right to persecute was an established Protestant


privilege ; if Mary ever promised to ratify that privilege as soon
as she could get a Parliament together ; — then her duplicity
is undeniable. But it is otherwise if she aimed at Parliamentary
sanction for freedom of conscience and concurrent endowment.
Perhaps that is the defence which she would have made of her
own behaviour. If, on the other hand, Mary joined the Catholic
League, as Randolph averred to Cecil (February 7, 1566), the
defence is valueless. "This band ... is subscribed by this
queen," he says. But the nuncio, on March 16, 1567, tells
the Pope that Mary missed her chance by refusing to accept
certain advice when it was offered to her; '■'■ ella non ha voluto
}uai i}ite?idere." ^^ Dr Hay Fleming observes, " It is impossible,
however, to say what Mary might have done " in certain circum-
stances which did not occur.*^ Mr Froude unhesitatingly accepts
Randolph's affirmation, though Bedford, a week later, says that
Mary has not yet " confirmed " the band.'*^ Mr Froude sums up
the matter thus : *' Mary determined to make an effort to induce
the Estates to re-establish Catholicism as the religion of Scotland,
leaving the Protestants for the present with liberty of conscience,
but with small prospect of retaining long a privilege which, when
in power, they had refused to their opponents." ^^ Whatever were
her exact intentions, if she declined to join a league, and aimed at
a constitutional security for freedom of conscience, her duplicity,
as politicians go, can scarcely be deemed exorbitant. She was
merely like Burke, as described by Fox, "right, too early." But
it is true that to prevent Protestants of Knox's kind from perse-
cuting Catholics was, in fact, to deprive them of " freedom of con-
science," as they understood that expression. As to the Catholic
League which Mary is said to have joined. Father Pollen asserts
that there was no such league to join.'*^ What really happened
was extraordinary enough. In February 1566 Mary sent the Bishop
of Dunblane to Rome to ask for a subsidy. The Pope, pitying the
estate of Mary after the Riccio conspiracy, promised money, which
was to be brought by a nuncio. The nuncio never did bring it,
for he made it a condition that Mary should first execute Murray,
Argyll, Morton, Lethington, Bellenden, and Makgill ! Mary declined
to decapitate her Cabinet, and, till the hour of Darnley's death
(February 10, 1567), Mary's Catholic friends were pressing on her
the destruction of her Ministers, while her Protestant Ministers were
arranging the murder of her husband. Such, in brief, is the result


of Father Pollen's recent researches ("Papal Negotiations with Queen
Mary"), though perhaps "discourting," not death, would have sufficed.

In February 1566 matters hurried to their extraordinary conclu-
sion. Darnley, early in the month, was observed to be unusually
devout as a Catholic; Maitland of Lethington as a Protestant.
Bothwell was "the stoutest but worst thought of" champion of the
Kirk. But on February 4 Rambouillet arrived from France to in-
vest Darnley with the Order of St Michael. A heraldic question
arose. Was Darnley (who had not yet received the crown matri-
monial) to use the arms of Scotland? "The queen bade give him
only his due." ^'* This chagrin must have been inflicted between
February 4 and February 10. Now "about February 10 the king"
(Darnley) " sent his dear friend and cousin George Douglas, son "
(bastard) " to his uncle, Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus, and
declared unto Lord Ruthven how that David" (Riccio) "abused
the king in many sorts, and staid the queen's majesty from giving
him the crown matrimonial of Scotland, . . . besides many other
wrongs, which the king could not bear longer." So writes Ruthven

What followed was a Douglas treason, Ruthven's first wife being
a Douglas, sister of George Douglas, Darnley's messenger of murder.
Morton, another ringleader, was a Douglas also. The plot did not
spring merely from Darnley's jealousy of Riccio. Before George
Douglas carried Darnley's words to Ruthven, Randolph (February 5)
had written that " the wisest were aiming at putting all in hazard "
to restore Murray and the exiles.'"' The day before Darnley tried
to enlist Ruthven, Lethington wrote to Cecil, " Mary ! I see no
certain way unless we chop at the very root : you know where it
lieth." *^ The root to be chopped at was the life of Riccio at least,
if not of the queen.

Many currents met to swell the stream of the conspiracy. There
was Darnley's personal jealousy of Riccio. There was the hatred of
the nobles for a favourite, low-born and an alien. There was the desire
of all the kindred and friends of Murray and Ochiltree to bring them
home. There was the trepidation of the godly, ever nervous about
the Kirk. On January 10, 1566, the new Pope, Pius V., had
written to Mary. He understood (he was always marvellously ill-
informed) that Mary had restored the ancient faith "throughout
your whole realm." Nothing could be more remote from the truth.
However, a French envoy, Clerneau, was in Edinburgh (January 27).


On January 30 Mary and Darnley appointed the Bishop of Dunblane
their "orator" at Rome. Whatever leaked out of all this inflamed
the Protestants, The Bishop of Dunblane's real object was to
extract money for Mary's religious purposes from the Pope. But
only a portion of the money ever reached Mary's hands, in August
or September 1566. She did not spend the coin on advancing the
Catholic cause. But that she was dealing with the Pope would be
known, her adherence to an alleged Catholic league was asserted,

Online LibraryAndrew LangA history of Scotland from the Roman occupation (Volume 2) → online text (page 17 of 60)