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

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— the eternal vain Stuart hopes. Among the English nobles there
had been a plot to arrest Cecil and marry Mary to Norfolk; and
Norfolk was also mixed up in another plot, to reach his ends by the
aid of Spain and the Spanish Ambassador. Cecil discovered, and
with much tact stopped, the perils to himself: Norfolk's marriage
project remained alive, flattered by many of the English lords,
and by Mary's old friend, Throckmorton, but concealed from
Elizabeth. For the success of these schemes it seemed desirable
that Mary should become an Anglican : she actually listened to
three weekly British sermons all through Lent ; and even Mr
Froude, usually pitiless, writes, "It is frightful to think of what
she must have suffered."

Despite, or in consequence of, Murray's coup d'etat in Scotland,
despite Huntly's surrender to him on May 10, Elizabeth began
once more to try to emancipate herself from her embarrassing
captive. Lesley, who was deep in the intrigues against Cecil, with
Norfolk, and with the Spanish Ambassador, de Guereau, was chosen
to negotiate with Elizabeth for Mary's release. He says that he
drew up a long list of articles. They secured the English succes-
sion for Mary, and restored her, with an amnesty, and punishment
of Bothwell, if he was extradited. ^'' Cecil offered other projects,
only one of which was a slight advance on what Elizabeth had
vainly suggested after the reading of the casket letters. Mary,
writing to Chatelherault, bade him be of good hope. To La
Mothe Fenelon she said that, whatever promises she might sign
to get out of England, she would always be France's friend. ^'^ She


had a slight illness after taking medicine, and, perhaps lest she
should be accused of poisoning her prisoner, Elizabeth seemed
ready to let her go. Certain articles were sent by Elizabeth to
Murray in the care of John Wood, an extreme Puritan and deadly
enemy of Mary. At the same time Mary sent, by Lord Boyd,
to her party the Duke of Norfolk's marriage proposals. She had
not accepted them with enthusiasm, though backed by Leicester,
Pembroke, and most of the English Council. To win Norfolk
meant, for Mary, to lose France and Spain ; moreover, she would
not wed Norfolk without Elizabeth's consent. Meanwhile Elizabeth
was not apprised of the Norfolk marriage, — her lords seem to have
expected the idea to be mooted to her by Murray. But Murray
was putting down the North, reducing Huntly to obedience,
insulting Mary in proclamations, and in no mood to secure her
freedom, or comply with the suggestions carried to him by Wood
(May 1 6). 19

Though Wood was despatched on May i6, he does not seem ta
have hurried, for Murray, at Aberdeen, did not answer Elizabeth
till June 5. He said that Elizabeth's ideas of the terms for Mary's
release were " utterly unlooked for," which might be rendered
"utterly unwelcome." He asked for delay; he would try to find a
fit negotiator. ^*^ He sent Wood to Lethington (June 10), who was
at home, suffering from " an infirmity in his feet," the beginning
of his fatal paralysis. Wood informed Cecil that Lethington was
willing to come as negotiator " if other impediments do not hinder."
Murray was " driving time " as to arranging the unwelcome com-
promise on which Elizabeth was insisting. Murray also wrote to
Norfolk in such terms that Norfolk tells him on July i, "You have
not only purchased a faithful friend, but also a natural brother" —
that is, brother-in-law. Norfolk says that he is betrothed to Mary ;,
he has gone so far that he cannot "in conscience" draw back.
Indeed we find Mary writing affectionate letters to Norfolk (August
24).^^ The tone of submission is disagreeably like that of the
casket letters to Bothwell. But if Norfolk cannot retreat, neither
can he go on till Murray removes the " empechements " — that is,
consents to the annulling of Mary's marriage with Bothwell, which
now she herself recognised as illegal, a thing she could not well do
at Lochleven when she was (Nau says) with child by him. Norfolk
therefore asks Murray to make haste, and to receive Mary's com-
mission from Lord Boyd. This was the letter which Murray later


sent to Elizabeth as evidence against Norfolk, his "faithful friend
and natural brother." ^^ It is evidence that, as late as July i,
Norfolk thought Murray his friend, and an advocate of his
marriage with Mary.

Boyd met Murray at Inverness, and Lesley says that Murray
received the terms of compromise very well, and called a convention
to consider them at Perth. -^ The convention met on July 25-28;
but Murray was hesitating, as Throckmorton learned from Wood,
and from a letter sent by Lethington. Throckmorton therefore,
in a cyphered letter, advised Murray to trust Lethington, "who is
undoubtedly the wisest and sufficientest man to provide for him
and all the rest. For if he leaves to be advised by him, he and
his country will be in the greatest peril and confusion" (July 20).^*
But Murray had made up his mind not to trust Lethington, who
was on the side of Mary ; for the very good reason (as he told
Morton frankly) that he expected her return to power.

Lethington was also much influenced by his wife, one of the queen's
Maries ; moreover, he was, as the phrase runs, " in a cleft stick."
His part in Darnley's murder was well known. Any quarrel with a
powerful lord might bring on him an indictment. Mary also held
proofs against him, as Wood had informed him on June 11, 1568.
But it seemed safer to make his peace with Mary by procuring her
restoration (he appears by this time to have received " assurances "
from her), than to take the chance of what might come out against
him in Scotland. Again he had, for the hour, Elizabeth to back
him in Mary's restoration, and he perhaps hoped for the success
of his really unique public object, the union of the crowns of the
two countries. Throckmorton, who was in favour of the Norfolk
marriage to secure the succession, therefore advised Murray to be
guided by Lethington. Had Lethington known Mary's mind, he
would have learned that he was unforgiven.

A glance at the names of the assembly in Perth (July 28) shows
that Mary's enemies were in force. Here were Mr Froude's " small
gallant knot of men who had stood by the Reformation through
good and evil." There were Murray, Morton, Glencairn, and the
Master of Marischal ; with Lindsay and Ruthven, Sempil, and the
traitor Bishop of Orkney ; James Makgill, the enemy of Lethington,
and Bellenden, the Justice - Clerk. The burghs, under the
influence of the preachers, were hostile, and the Provost of and
member for Glasgow was Stewart of Minto, Lennox's trusted retainer,.


while Erskine of Dun represented Montrose. On the other side,
Argyll (though named), did not appear ; Chatelherault and Herries,
taken prisoners " under trust," were locked up in Edinburgh Castle :
the temper of the gathering was shown by the fact that Lethington
needed an escort of Huntly's and Atholl's men.^^

Lesley declares that Murray and Wood made a fair show of
backing Mary's restoration, but secretly urged their partisans " to
cry out against the same." ^^ Murray thus saved his credit with
Elizabeth. The assembly rejected the proposal for Mary's " equality
of government." '^'^ Mary's demand for an assent to the annulment
of her marriage with Bothwell (without which she could not espouse
Norfolk) was refused by forty votes to nine, offence being taken at
her styling herself " Queen," and the Archbishop of St Andrews
"Head of the Church," a truly Stuart -like error of judgment.
Lethington argued for Mary against Makgill, and taunted the
adversaries with refusing now what they had imprisoned Mary for
not granting two years earlier. The Treasurer, Richardson, took
note that Lethington, his brother, and James Balfour had " opposed
the king's authority," and that whosoever did so in future would be
-deemed a traitor. ^^

Mr Froude represents Murray as now influenced against Leth-
ington by the statements of Paris, Bothwell's valet, engaged in
the Darnley murder. He implicated Lethington, but Murray and
every one knew Lethington's guilt. Moreover, Paris was not
examined (or, if examined, his statement of an earlier date is not
produced) till twelve days a/fer the convention at Perth. After
the convention was over, on August 9 and 10, Paris was examined
at St Andrews, apparently before Wood, George Buchanan, and
Ramsay, a retainer of Murray, who wrote the depositions in French.

The whole affair was suspicious. Paris had been extradited, as
we saw, and handed over to Clark, captain of the Scots in Danish
service, on October 30, 1568. He might have been sent home
in time to be examined before the English commissioners in mid-
December of that year. Nay, in an early form of Buchanan's
* Detection of Queen Mary,' which was ready in manuscript for
the Westminster Commission, it is urged that Paris ought to be
produced as the man who knows most about the murder.^^

But Paris was not produced. He would have exposed the
damning fact that some of Mary's accusers and Murray's asso-
ciates were themselves guilty. According to Murray's report to


Elizabeth, Paris did not reach Leith till June 1569, and his ex-
amination was put off during Murray's northern progress. Eliz-
abeth (August 22) tried to stop the execution of Paris, Murray
replied that Paris had been executed on August 16 at St Andrews.
But Murray, as we shall see, did not send Paris's " authentick "
depositions to Cecil till the end of October, when he found that
he and Lethington (whom Paris implicated in Darnley's murder)
had irretrievably broken with each other.^*^

As for Paris, he had made a declaration on August 9. He
then accused Bothwell and others, but not Mary. On August
10, "interrogated," and probably under fear of torture, he accused
Mary. His depositions are, in many points, irreconcilable with
each other, with probability, and with the dates of events as
presented by whomsoever did present " Cecil's Journal." In one
or two other points they singularly corroborate statements in the
Lennox MSS. Whatever their value as against Mary, the deposi-
tions put an invaluable weapon in the hands of the enemies of
Lethington, now Mary's chief supporter.^^

While the charges of Paris hung over the head of Lethington,
Elizabeth was upbraiding Murray with his conduct of the assembly
at Perth, and with its results. Unless he behaves better instantly,
Elizabeth " will proceed of ourselves to such a determination with
the Queen of Scots as we shall find honourable and meet for
ourselves. . . . We doubt how you will like it" (August 12).^^

Norfolk also expressed his disgust (August 14). On the 20th
August Elizabeth wrote, forbidding Murray to besiege Mary's best
strength, the Castle of Dumbarton, held for her by Lord Fleming.
Murray replied (September 5) by a temporising letter to Elizabeth
from Stirling. On the same day he answered Cecil's remonstrances
about Murray's altered behaviour to Lethington. " The fault
thereof, as God knows, was never in me."

The bolt had fallen : some news of Paris's confessions had
reached Lennox, and Lennox was thought to have caused his re-
tainer, Thomas Crawford, who generally did the denunciations for
him, to accuse Lethington. The Secretary, with AthoU and others,
had held a Highland hunting meeting near Dunkeld, doubtless for
political purposes. They were summoned to a meeting at Stirling
by Murray on September 2. Next day Crawford entered the council-
chamber, fell on his knees, and impeached Lethington and James
Balfour of Darnley's death. This might have been done long ago,


on Hepburn of Bowton's confession, but that had been suppressed
by Murray's party. Now was the convenient season. Lethington
offered to find sureties for his appearance when summoned ; these
were refused, and he was locked up in Stirling Castle.^^ Hunsdon
thought that he was imprisoned, really, for intriguing on Mary's
side north of the Highland line. Lethington, later, learned that
Cecil had discovered that Lennox gave Crawford no commission
to accuse him. In that case Crawford either acted on his own
motion, not on that of Lennox, or was moved by Lethington's many
enemies.^* In no long time Maitland, in Edinburgh Castle,
then held by Kirkcaldy of Grange, his friend, was in cipher cor-
respondence with Mary. He even hoped to bring the preachers
to her side, "howsoever I think Nox is inflexible." ^^

Mary had once again the Flower of Wit for her partisan, and
henceforward Lethington wavered no more. But Mary never
forgave him ; she hated him living, and when he was dead her
detestation pursued him. Ever since she was taken at Carberry
Hill she had loathed him. Lethington had committed some in-
expiable offence. " Yourselves," wrote Randolph to Lethington
and Kirkcaldy, " wrote against her, fought against her, and were
the chiefest cause of her apprehension, and imprisonment, and
demission of the crown." These acts had Lethington committed
immediately after Mary saved his life from the dagger of Bothwell.
But Randolph adds, " With somewhat more, that we itiight say,
if it were not to grieve you too much herein." ^^ If the falsification
of the casket letters is hinted at, it is not the only case in which
Kirkcaldy was accused of forgery, not that his hand could have
forged the casket letters.

On the unhappy Mary, and on Norfolk, another bolt was falling.
About September 6, just after Lethington's arrest, Elizabeth heard
of Norfolk's marriage project. He had ever been too timid to
speak to her and ask for permission. The idea of another woman
being married, most of all Mary, always drove Elizabeth into fury.
She heard of the thing we know not how, and summoned Norfolk
to her presence. What she said may be guessed : Norfolk retreated
to Andover, warning Cecil that Murray had broken out, and was
aiming at the crown of Scotland ; " God send him such luck as
others have had that followed his course." Such luck had Murray
in no long time. 2'' Elizabeth instantly removed Mary to Tutbury,
which was garrisoned, to prevent her from being liberated by the


Catholics of the north. Dan Ker of Shilstock Braes was her rider
on the Border, but by September 18 the Border was overawed by
Murray with a great force. The Regent's position was not, however,
wholly enviable. Elizabeth, angry as she was, now wished, once for
all, to be rid of Mary, to send her into Scotland to take her fortune.
But she stipulated that she must have six hostages — three earls and
three lords — as sureties that Mary " shall live her natural life without
any sinister means to shorten the same."

Elizabeth also bade her envoy, Henry Carey, ask Murray bluntly
whether he had treated, behind her back, for the Norfolk marriage
(September 21).^^ Norfolk was sent for to Windsor, but feigned
himself too ill to travel. Several English partisans of the Norfolk
marriage were held to examination, including Throckmorton. Lesley
was also examined. The bishop told as much truth as he thought
was already known, and as many fables as he deemed likely to pass
undetected. Murray, in a letter to Elizabeth of October 29, told
what he deemed convenient about the business, and enclosed
Norfolk's brotherly letter to himself. But there was a point beyond
which even Lethington could not go, and that point had been
passed by Murray. He invited Lethington to accuse Norfolk ; but
Lethington, he says, "flatly denied to me in any sort to be an
accuser of the Duke of Norfolk, thinking he shall escape these
storms." Not being so sanguine, Murray was an accuser of the
duke. Murray ends by communicating the blessed news that a
Catholic gentleman " has become a good Christian man, and a
favourer of the Gospel." Finally, as Lethington, being altogether
reprobate, will not betray Norfolk, Murray sends, what he had kept
back for two months, Paris's confession accusing Lethington of
Darnley's murder, " in authentic form." Perhaps he had, less
formally, sent it before.^^

Meanwhile Lethington, arrested at Stirling, had been carried to
Edinburgh, and lodged in the house of one David Forrester, a
friend of Murray's. It was not deemed safe to place him in the
castle, commanded by his friend Kirkcaldy. Morton hated Lething-
ton and James Balfour, who, however, was allowed to live in Fife
under heavy sureties. But Maitland did not long remain in durance.
James Kirkcaldy visited him while at supper at Forrester's, and
the same evening Kirkcaldy of Grange brought a letter, forged in
Murray's name, obtained Lethington's release, and carried him to
the castle, where he was safe. Robert Melville, under examination


in October 1573, said that he thought Kirkcaldy of Grange was
himself the forger. Lethington was in the castle by October 23.
"A day of law " was set for him on November 21, but by November
5 Drury knew that he had called all his friends to back him in the
old Scottish way, — indeed he was sending out his circulars on
October 31.*^ He professed himself ready, after his trial, to undergo
English justice, as an English subject, regarding his traffic with

There was no day of law for Lethington. Morton was afraid to
appear as accuser ■ though he says that Lethington had confessed
to him his guilt. *^ The town was full of Lethington's armed sup-
porters. Murray convened their chiefs, pointed out that they had in-
vited him to be their Regent, and now opposed him. He prorogued
the trial, awaiting instructions from Elizabeth. Civil war was thus
postponed. He had heard (November 22) of the rebellion of the
North of England, which had risen without Norfolk. The English
Catholics — Northumberland, Westmoreland, and the rest — failed to
rescue Mary, who was transferred from the care of Shrewsbury to
that of Huntingdon, and after a vain parade the leaders fled across
the Border. On December 8 Murray mustered his forces to resist
the entry of the English rebels ; he again summoned them to
Peebles, to resist "the abominable mass" on December 20. The
English chiefs, in sorry state, fled to the Black Laird of Ormiston,
one of Darnley's murderers, to the Laird's Jock, and Jock o' the
Side (December 2 1).'*^ Murray marched to Hawick. The English
Government hoped to capture the fugitives by bribing the Black
Laird with a free pardon for Darnley's murder. ^^ But even
Ormiston, a man stained with every crime, could not be bought
to break the law of Border hospitality. Possibly he did not get the
chance. A convenient traitor was found in Hector Armstrong,
whose name became a proverb for perfidy. Aided by Martin
Elliot, he beguiled and took Northumberland, despite a gallant
attempt at rescue by Borderers of both countries. Black Ormiston
seized his moment, and robbed Lady Northumberland of all her
own and her husband's jewels, clothes, and money. ^* Northum-
berland was handed over to Murray, but the Kers honourably
entertained Westmoreland at their strong Castle of Ferniehirst, near
Jedburgh. On January 2 Northumberland was sent to occupy
Mary's old rooms at Lochleven.

Having now, in Northumberland's person, something to offer by


way of exchange or barter, Murray asked Elizabeth to hand over
Mary, her Hfe being guaranteed by the deUvery of hostages. Among
others, Morton and Mar signed the request, and Ruthven, who, says
Nau, had been making love to Mary when she was in Lochleven.
John Knox, "with his one foot in the grave," on January 2, 1570,
advised Cecil that "if he struck not at the root" (Mary), "the
branches that appear to be broken " (her party) " will bud again
with greater force."

In exacting hostages for Mary's safety, Elizabeth might have done
worse than stipulate that Knox should be one of them. In the
instructions of the bearer of Knox's letter, Elphinstone, were com-
prised Murray's terms for the bargain. Lesley heard of the affair
from Mary herself, as did La Mothe Fenelon, and the exchange did
not take place.*^

Lesley, however, was imprisoned in the Tower, he thought because
Murray revealed his part in the negotiations with Norfolk. All Scot-
land, wrote Hunsdon from Berwick, was infuriated by the demand
for Northumberland's extradition. Sadleyr did not believe that
jNIurray would dare to give him up. Murray, who had behaved
with humanity to Lady Northumberland, rescuing her from the
Black Laird, made an attempt to take Dumbarton, held by Fleming
for Mary, but failed. He was at Stirling on January 14. On the
23rd, as he rode through Linlithgow, Mary's birthplace, he was shot,
from the window of a house in the street, by Hamilton of Bothwell-
haugh. The miscreant occupied a house belonging to Archbishop
Hamilton : he covered the floor of the little room wherein he lay
with a feather mattress, to deaden the sound of his booted feet ; he
darkened the room with a black curtain hung behind him ; barred
the door opening on the street, and had a swift horse saddled at the
back door. He fired : Murray reeled in his saddle : Bothwellhaugh
mounted and spurred. He cleared a fence which stopped his pur-
suers, by dint of sticking his dirk into his horse's flank, and galloped
into Hamilton, where the Archbishop and Arbroath, son of Chatel-
herault, received him with acclamations. The Regent died with
calmness and fortitude, slain by a man whom he had spared after
Langside fight.

The character of Murray has been debated with superfluous fury.
To Mr Froude he seemed "noble" and stainless: through Mr
Froude's pages he moves crowned with a halo. " He impressed
de Silva with the very highest opinion of his character." *^ We turn



to de Silva. He reports that Murray promised " to do his best for
his sister. I am more indined to believe that he will do it for
himself, as he is a Scot and a heretic." *^ That was the very high
opinion of Murray's character which de Silva conceived, and it was
proved correct.

The sentimental defenders of Mary speak of Murray as a bastard,
U7i grcdin, a lickspittle, a hypocrite, and a "beaten hound." He
was a Calvinistic opportunist. Believing in union with England,
and in Protestantism, he steadily did his best for these causes. He
had a pension from Elizabeth, and took a rich present from France.
He was undeniably grasping : Kirk land's or maiden's lands came
alike welcome to him. He was ambitious, but it is vainly asserted
that he schemed to win the crown. An opportunist of that age had
to " look through his fingers " at crime. He had a guilty foreknow-
ledge of Riccio's murder, with the danger involved in it to Mary and
her unborn heir. He was involved in a band between Bothwell,
Morton, and other nobles against Darnley ; but this band was
probably not of a homicidal character. He left Edinburgh on
the day of Darnley's murder. He entertained the murderers at
a little dinner. To accuse his sister of the assassination he em-
ployed her accomplices, — if she was guilty. He backed, by his
oath, Morton's oath that the casket papers had been in no re-
spect tampered with. In Mr Froude's opinion they had been
tampered with, the band for Darnley's murder had been removed.
" If it was done with Murray's fullest consent, his conduct might
well be defended." Perjury is not easily defended, and Murray
cannot have been ignorant that Hepburn of Bowton's confession,
which he put in against his sister, had been mutilated to shield
his associates.^^

An opportunist, in an age of public crime, has an uneasy course
to steer. But Murray was brave ; in private life without reproach ;
sagacious ; honourable in his tutelage of his ward, the little king ;
and he would have made an excellent ruler, had he not been
debarred by the accident of his birth. His murder, over which
Mary rejoiced, pensioning the criminal, was a blunder. Nothing
but discredit was gained by herself or her fickle false partisans.
Their first act was one natural to the Border clans, and highly
injurious in its results to IMary's interest. The day after the
murder of Murray, Buccleuch, Ferniehirst, and the English exiles
swept across the Marches with 2000 horse, took a lar^e booty.



burned, and ravaged. This, later, gave Elizabeth an excuse to
invade Scotland, and wreck the country as far as Lanarkshire,
under the pretext of punishing her rebels and their allies — a

Online LibraryAndrew LangA history of Scotland from the Roman occupation (Volume 2) → online text (page 24 of 60)