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discipline. Spottiswoode's story about his desire to destroy the
cathedral is not corroborated by records, though it has a strong hold


on tradition. A man of extraordinary energy, wedded to his own
opinions, and better fitted to support them by scholarly argument
than any other in Scotland, Melville in 1575, as a member of the
General Assembly, and a member of the committee which met
Morton's commissioners, " stirred up John Drury ... to propound
a question touching the lawfulness of the episcopal function, and
the authority of chapters in their election." ^^ Melville advanced
the usual arguments about the episcopos and the presbyter. The
chief result of the discussion was to allow for the present the name,
and to curtail the authority, of bishops, who must each take charge
of a particular "flock" and kirk within their dioceses. This Boyd,
Archbishop of Glasgow, declined to do. There being a vacancy at
St Andrews, Morton had Patrick Adamson, a man of some learning,
and of an unhappy future, elected : the Assembly found that he
refused their conditions, and meanwhile suspended him. Matters
remained unsettled till the Assembly at Dundee (July 1580), for
new troubles were vexing the State.

It is now necessary to glance back at the secular affairs since
1574. They are of an incidental sort, with little bearing on the
main tendency of things. Killigrew in 1574-75 made no speed in
"the great matter" of handing over Cecil's "bosom-serpent," the
Queen of Scots, to execution in her own country. Elizabeth was
coquetting with the Alencon marriage : her attention was distracted
by the death of Charles IX., and in April 1575 Walsingham feared
that Morton, neglected by England, was favouring the Hamiltons
and looking towards France.-'' Killigrew and Davison, the secre-
tary, later so unhappily connected with the execution of Mary, were
on their way to Scotland when the Border peace was broken on
July 7 by the raid of the Reidswire.^-'-

At a Warden court, Sir John Forster and Sir John Carmichael
presiding, a brawl arose among their followers ; the Scots had the
worse, but were reinforced from Jedburgh ; Sir John Heron was
slain, and the English Warden, with many gentlemen and some 300
followers, was captured. Sir John Forster behaved with tact and
good sense, refusing to make a national quarrel out of a chance
onset, but Elizabeth ordered Morton to meet Huntingdon in Eng-
land. This Morton refused to do, and Elizabeth compromised for
a meeting at the " Bond Rode " on the frontier, near Berwick. -
Huntingdon, like Foster, was pacific, and sensible.^^ The affair, he
said, was but "a brauble." Nobody was certain whether the Jed-

voL. 11. R


burgh people first called " A Jeddart ! a Jeddart ! " or whether the
Tynedale men began to shout and shoot. Elizabeth's fiery mes-
sages were not delivered to Morton, who patched the quarrel up
with Huntingdon on August 16-19.

Killigrew had entered on his embassy, and sent in a long report
of Scottish affairs.^* There was a kind of renewal of the king's and
queen's parties. The laird of Lochleven, William Douglas, who
sold the Earl of Northumberland, had laid an ambush for the
Hamiltons, to avenge Murray on Bothwellhaugh ; and Arbroath,
son of Chatelherault, was in fear of his own responsibility for
Murray's murder. He therefore aimed at marrying the widow of
Buccleuch, a sister of Morton's nephew, the Earl of Angus, and at
thus allying the Hamiltons with the Regent. This placed Argyll
and Atholl, Buchan and Mar, in opposition to Morton and the
Hamiltons, while old Chatelherault died, after a long and varied
career of good-humoured and fickle incapacity. Arran was still
confined in Draffen Castle as a lunatic ; meanwhile Morton tem-
porised as to the Hamilton-Angus marriage. Sir James Balfour
was still tolerated by Morton, after his countless treacheries, and
was used when the Regent " would contrary the ministers " or the
citizens of Edinburgh. Morton, though not popular, was fearless,
and went shooting or enjoying the contemplative recreation of
angling almost unattended. The Esk at Dalkeith was not yet
poisoned, and the Regent must have found it an ideal stream for
trout and sea-trout. Because he " contraried " the burgesses,
Morton, naturally, was popular with the working classes, whom
Killigrew reckoned much more important. Morton's enemies ad-
mitted that " they could not find his like " as a ruler. Bothwell,
in Denmark, was now reported to be " greatly swollen " and near
his death. He had still a stroke at Morton in him, if his dying
confession be authentic, and, if not, it was still useful. The country
was peaceful and prosperous, and it is almost a comfort to learn
that, in days when river-pollution was unknown, and Tweed poachers
less skilled than in our day, " the fishing of salmon is this year
utterly failed in Scotland, and at Berwick also." Corn was never
so plentiful, so the want of rain cannot have been the cause of this
dispensation, though a dry autumn may have prevented fish from
running up. Our comfort lies in thinking that, as bad fishing
seasons of old were followed by good, so it may be again, "who
live to see it."

HE INCLINES TO MARY (1576-77). 259

Killigrew found Morton apparently strong and prosperous. But
the aftair of the Hamilton marriage already indicated the chance of
an Argyll and Atholl opposition. Spottiswoode also tells us that
the Regent's cruelties were disliked. One of the queen's Maries,
Mary Livingstone, had married John Semple of Beltrees. Morton
tried to wring from him some lands given by Mary to his wife, and
Semple had said something perilous. It was suspected that the
Hamiltons had instigated him and his nephew, Whitford of Milnton,
to shoot Morton. Threatened with torture, Semple, not a brave
man, confessed ; but Milnton, even under torture, denied the charge,
and had public opinion on his side.^^ Whatever truth there may
be in this anecdote, we observe after the Reformation the increased
employment of torture to extract evidence. In the earlier part of
Scottish history we seldom hear of this cruel and detestable practice,
at least as exercised on gentlemen.

We now find Morton conscious that his position was imperilled.
As early as November 1574 he was reported by the Spanish Am-
bassador to intend to marry Queen Mary.^^ He now looked in the
same direction. On April 15, 1577, Lord Ogilvy wrote to Arch-
bishop Beaton, Mary's ambassador in France, a letter unknown
to Mr Tytler and earlier historians. It contained matter already
touched on in July 1576 by Beaton of Balfour. Morton, in short,
was anxious to deal with, or pretended to be anxious to deal with,
Mary and France. When James should come to power Morton had
reason for anxiety. He knew what befell the Boyds when the young
James III. came to his own. He knew that his enemies would
put at him, and use as their instrument his connection with
Darnley's murder. Sir James Balfour, with Beaton, was intriguing
for the queen, and as to Darnley's murder, Balfour knew everything.
" Ane schamful bruit " as to Morton's guilt prevailed among the
populace. Therefore Morton in 1577 spoke "reverently" of Mary,
desiring her restoration, if James died. He would rather serve
her and her race than any of the world, as God was his judge.
Granted an amnesty, he would work for a restoration of the queen.
Sir James Balfour was as friendly as Morton. Both only wanted
assurances from Mary. The queen put no more confidence in
Morton's professions than did her descendant, the King over the
Water, in those of Robert Walpole when that Minister's power
decayed. She feared a trap. But the advances of Morton prove
that he knew the dangers of his position.-''


We have already seen indications of a coalition between Atholl,
Argyll, and Mar against the Regent, to whom Argyll was hostile
because of the forced surrender of Mary's jewels. Atholl, too,
could not well be content, as he was threatened with excommuni-
cation for idolatry. Mar, a very young peer, had not been in-
trusted with the guardianship of James, who was in the hands of
his father's brother, Alexander Erskine. But for a while Argyll and
Atholl were quarrelling, and attacking each other's countries,
Argyll about the same time being at feud with Clan Donald. In
this affair Argyll incurred Morton's displeasure, so he and Atholl
again drew together."^ Alexander Erskine also began to distrust
Morton's intentions as to seizing James. He induced Argyll and
Atholl to visit him at Stirling, where Argyll appealed directly to the
boy king against the tyranny of Morton, and asked for an assembly
of the nobles. Atholl urged the same advice : troubles were brew-
ing, and Elizabeth, through Bowes and Randolph, attempted to
reconcile all parties (January 30, 1578). In March Lady Lennox,
the mother of Darnley, died in England, to all appearance recon-
ciled with Mary, and a believer in her innocence. To EHzabeth
Lady Lennox concealed this change of mind, if a change there
was, but that she would have done in any case. We are left to
conjecture as to whether the reconciliation was sincere, or whether
Lady Lennox feigned cordiality for the sake of advantages to be
drawn from Mary.^ In any case, she had given ISIary written assur-
ances of belief in her innocence. The death of this lady opened
the path for Stewart d'Aubigny in France, whom James later created
Duke of Lennox. Meanwhile, in England, her granddaughter, Ara-
bella Stewart, child of Charles, younger brother of Darnley, was to
inherit the sorrows of the line. The Lennox estates in England
remained for many years the desire of James's heart.

On March 4, 1578, the intrigues of the nobles against Morton
came to a head. They had of their party the king's tutor, George
Buchanan, who had quarrelled with Morton, says Sir James Mel-
ville, about a favourite horse, which the Regent seized. On INIarch
4, Argyll at Stirling, backed no doubt by Buchanan, requested
James to call a convention of nobles. Alexander Erskine, who
held Stirling Castle, was of the same mind, with Atholl, Montrose,
Livingstone, Lindsay, Ruthven, Ogilvy, the Chancellor (Glamis),
the comptroller (Tullibardine), and the secretary, the lay Abbot of
Dunfermline. Morton sent Angus, Herries, and Ruthven : he


announced his readiness to resign the Regency. His offer was
accepted, he received a discharge, and resigned the Castle of
Edinburgh, where a skirmish occurred. On the same day Glamis,
at Stirling, was shot in a scuffle between his followers and those of
Crawford. Alexander Erskine was to be keeper of Edinburgh
Castle, held for James in the meantime by Drumquhassel and
Seton of Touch. AthoU succeeded Glamis as Chancellor. The
death of Huntly (sudden, and followed by hauntings of his castle,
described by Knox's secretary) removed another of the chief con-
spirators against Darnley. Bothwell, Lethington, Argyll, were also
dead, but vengeance still hung over Morton. He submitted to his
fall with singular patience : he had his plan in reserve, and Ran-
dolph knew it. A council of nobles, the successful revolutionists,
was appointed for James ; and a Parliament proclaimed for
July lo.^*'

Things were not to move peacefully : " all the devils in hell are
stirring," wrote Randolph, to whom, as to Elizabeth, a Scotland
qi>iet under Morton's heel was an ideal Scotland. From her English
prison Mary was making a new party in Scotland. On April 26,
1578, the young Earl of Mar, jealous of his uncle, James's Gover-
nor, Alexander Erskine, came with armed men into Stirling Castle.
Blows were dealt in the early morning, and Erskine's son was
crushed to death in the mellay, where his father plied a halbert.
Argyll pacified the tumult, James endured the first of his many
terrors in his own palace, Alexander Erskine fell ill from grief and
chagrin, and young Mar was master of Stirling Castle and of James,
being backed by the laird of Lochleven, Angus, and the secret
influence of Morton. In short, it was a Douglas coup d'etat of the
old kind.

A compromise was effected. Mar was retained in his father's
office of governor of James and commander of Stirling Castle, and
James really seems to have liked and trusted all the Erskines.
Argyll, Atholl, and Morton met at the ex-Regent's house of Dalkeith,
where they dined and slept. But at breakfast Morton was missing :
he had ridden secretly to Stirling, joined Mar, and was as powerful
as ever (May 28, 1578). On June 18 Morton at Stirling secured
the appointment of a new Council, himself holding the foremost
place. He desired the Parliament of July to be held at Stirling ; his
adversaries declared for Edinburgh, and sent Lindsay and Ruthven
to Stirling to protest against the Parliament held there. There were


disturbances ; the anti-Mortonites raised the townsfolk of Edinburgh.
In brief, the two hostile parties armed, and the anti-Morton faction
advanced with a large army, Lowland and Highland, to Falkirk. But
Bowes, Elizabeth's ambassador, negotiated a peace, while Morton's
foes were arrayed at Bannockburn. A reconciliation was made ;
Argyll, Lindsay, and Ruthven were placed on the Privy Council,
and after August 13 the hostile forces dispersed, and at the end
of October a friendly dinner left the disputants in good humour. ^^

In these turbid waters Mary and Lesley, who was now abroad,
had been fishing, and intriguing with the Guises. Her trust was
that, by AthoU's aid, the Guises might secure the person of her son,
whereas she suspected Morton of meaning to intrust him to Eliz-
abeth. She had hopes from the Hamiltons, and, strangely, from
Drumquhassel, who, as a retainer of Lennox, had in 1567-70 been
her bitter enemy. Now she dreamed that he might put Dumbarton
again into the hands of her friends. She was especially anxious
that Stewart d'Aubigny, a nephew of the late Regent Lennox,
brought up in France, should not be employed by the Guises in
the scheme of carrying James off to France. She did not trust
him, and to employ him would be to alienate the faction of Arabella
Stewart, Darnley's niece. She remembered that d'Aubigny's uncle,
Lennox (Darnley's father), had been sent from France when she
herself was a baby, and had revolted to England, carrying off the
French gold intended for the party of Cardinal Beaton. Drum-
quhassel was to manage all the intrigue as to handing over James
to the Guises. Mary was sending a symbolic token, in enamelled
gold, to James, by the emissary of the Guises, who must not be
d'Aubigny, and must deal with Drumquhassel and Alexander Erskine.
She apparently regarded Atholl and Argyll as at her obedience, her
bitterest hatred being reserved for Morton. All this Mary wrote to
her ambassador in France, Archbishop Beaton, from Chatsworth, on
September 15, 1578.^^

Dreams, hopes, jewelled tokens, helpless intrigues of exiles and
captives ! The letters of Mary, like the letters of James VIII. and
Prince Charles, revolve in the same sad circle of impossible desires
and frustrated designs. For years, in one form or other, Mary and
her foreign and Catholic allies or well-wishers were to strain to win
James to the French alliance and the Catholic faith. For this was
blood to be shed, against this were myriads of sermons to be
preached, till the young king, often a prisoner, always insulted by

DEATH OF ATHOLL (1579). 263

the preachers, took that prelatical and despotic bent which was the
ruin of his son and of his House, and the cause of the civil war.
The letters of Mary and of Lesley were interrupted and deciphered.
Elizabeth and Cecil always knew exactly the budding and blossoming
times of the plots, and they held by Morton as their best security.
Their confidence in Morton was not misplaced. Probably the most
dangerous of his opponents was the Earl of AthoU. He had taken
no part in, and had no knowledge of, the conspiracy to murder
Darnley, which, save for Huntly, was an entirely Protestant arrange-
ment, whereas AthoU was a Catholic. (While remembering this, we
must not forget that the Catholic party wanted the lives of Murray,
Argyll, Lethington, and Morton.)

On November 8, 1578, Bruce, a treacherous agent of Archbishop
Beaton, describes Atholl as most loyal to Mary, and as keeping
Argyll constant to her cause. But Lady Argyll appears to have
been fickle. Bruce represents her as encouraging James in the love
of his imprisoned mother ; but James " is already very arrogant, and
a great dissembler, and likely to resemble his father (Darnley) and
grandfather (Lennox) in cruelty and want of judgment." Lady
Argyll's own loyalty to Mary was suspected.^^ Atholl being thus
the mainspring of Mary's plans, died suddenly (April 25, 1579) after
a banquet given by Morton at Stirling to unite the assembled nobles.
Accusations of poison always were bandied after a " natural " death :
in Atholl's case there seem to have been some grounds for suspi-
cion, his death being so extremely opportune for Morton. One
Provend, or " Weirdy," was said to have bought the poison, and one
Jerdan to have administered it. Weirdy fled to France.^* On the
other hand, dangerous surfeits after political dinners were common
enough. In August 1580 both Morton and Lennox were "grievously
troubled with the flux by surfeit lately taken at the Lord Lindsay's
house." Atholl may have died of haggis, friar's partens, sheep-head,
and cockie-leekie.'^'^

The new Earl of Atholl, aged eighteen, and Montrose called for
justice ; but Morton and Angus, seizing the occasion of Atholl's
death, marched against the Hamiltons (Lord Claude and the Lord
of Arbroath), took Hamilton Castle, and hanged the garrison. The
Pacification of Perth, as we saw (February 1573), left the charge of
Darnley's murder still hanging over the Hamiltons. Now " that
two-handed engine " was dragged out to smite Morton's foes : a
little while, and it smote himself. The Lochleven Douglas, Mar,


and Buchan were avenging the Regent Murray, and would gladly
have extirpated all Hamiltons. They took Draffen Castle, but Lord
Claude and Arbroath had fled the country. The people about
James had inflamed his anger against the Hamiltons, a thing easy
to do, as they were his nearest heirs. Captain Arrington, whom
Elizabeth sent to Stirling, " could not find in the king other than
fervent hatred against them, and as it were a fear he had of them
... to be dangerous to his person." George Buchanan had taught
him that the Hamiltons, the Archbishop, and Lord Claude were
the murderers of his father, as the House certainly was guilty of
Murray's death, and Lord Claude was implicated in Lennox's
destruction. A boy of thirteen is apt to dread men whom he
believes to have killed his grandfather, uncle, and father. Eliz-
abeth laboured and entreated for Lord Claude and Arbroath, but
her remonstrances were not well received. With the Hamiltons
was banished Sir James Balfour, who instantly began a corres-
pondence with Mary through Archbishop Beaton, and presently
had the satisfaction of bringing Morton to the block.

The ecclesiastical events of the summer of 1579 were important,
but it seems better to introduce an account of them later, and at
present to follow the course of political intrigue. In INIay Mary was
anxious to communicate with her son, and hoped that Archbishop
Beaton would be allowed to visit him (May 31).^^ On June 7
she wrote to Robert Bowes, Elizabeth's ambassador in Scotland,
whose dry letters make us regret the lively Randolph. She
announced the arrival of her secretary, Claude Nau, in Edinburgh.
Elizabeth had given permission for his visit ; but his packet of
letters and the symbolic jewel for James were not accepted, because
Mary could not bring herself to address her son as king. Thus it
never was possible to bring about an understanding between Mary
and James. Nau and others assured Mary that she was dear to
her son, though "the poor child does not show it in the captivity
he is, fearing therethrough, as there is great appearance, the hazard
of his life" (July 4). Morton alone prevented the Council from
permitting James to receive Nau's parcel.

In September Esme Stuart d'Aubigny landed in Scotland. He
was the son of Lennox's brother, Darnley's uncle, John ; was a
man accomplished, attractive, false, and instantly became a great
favourite of James. He came to Stirling on September i 5, and at
once grew intimate with the captain of the guard, James Stewart,


a son of Lord Ochiltree, and brother-in-law of John Knox, a brave
adventurer, soon to be the most powerful man in Scotland. On
September 30 James at last visited Edinburgh : " he was ane
great delyt to the beholderis," whose trade had long suffered from
the absence of the Court.^' James was welcomed in various ways
by his loyal lieges, and attended a Parliament held on November
II and 12. Here the Hamiltons, Lord Claude and the Lord of
Arbroath, were forfeited, and that in despite of Elizabeth's wishes
conveyed through Captain Arrington. On October 20 the captain
had informed Cecil that d'Aubigny would probably receive the
earldom of Lennox, with grants out of the lands of the ruined
Hamiltons. The prophecy was fulfilled ; d'Aubigny, now to be
known as Lennox, obtained the rich Priory of Arbroath, and the
custody of Dumbarton Castle, the old gate of France into Scotland.
The captaincy nominally remained in the hands of Drumquhassel,
once the foe, now the friend, of Mary. Naturally the preachers
were alarmed, — " they cried out continually against atheists and
papists, that would turn to his majesty's ruin, and the hurt of
the trew professors." -^^

The professors were in an undesirable position. They had to
choose between Lennox, presumed to be an atheist or a papist, and
Morton, whose private and public character gave opportunities to
the ungodly. At that time the Press was beginning to exist in the
shape of pamphlets, and of " jjlacards," a kind of leading articles,
set up in public places. Calderwood, a rather soured divine, but
an astonishingly industrious and learned historian, who lived into the
age of Charles I., has preserved for us one of these placards directed
against Morton, and fixed on the cross of Edinburgh. The public
was invited to consider whether Morton " had ever, or yet hath, any
regard to the glory of God," and history must acknowledge that this
was not his ruling motive. It was true, the placard admitted, that
Morton had ruined the Hamiltons, a thing pious in itself, but it
was done for private reasons ; on the other hand, he had spared
Buccleuch, who was with the Hamiltons at the death of the Regent
Lennox, and had looked through his fingers at Ferniehirst, suspected
of being art and part in Darnley's murder. The country, said the
journalist, " ought first to pursue the king's cruel murder against
the Earl of Morton." Sir James Balfour, if he had been permitted,
would have showed the band for Darnley's death, "as he will do
yet, God willing, when time and place may serve."

266 INTRIGUES OF d'AUBIGNY (l 579-1 580).

With all his faults, Morton was now, as a sound anti-papist, the
darling of the Kirk which he had robbed. It was therefore necessary
that Lennox should conciliate the Kirk. He professed to bring an
open mind to the consideration of their tenets. His " little master,"
young James, w'as already a theologian, and it was a touching sight
to see the young Josiah striving to win his elder kinsman from Baal
and the Scarlet Woman. He lent Lennox books of controversy, and
accompanied him to the sermons. On April 11, 1580, Arrington
reported to Bowes a suspected plot of Morton's to seize the king at
Stirling. On the i6th Bowes wrote to Walsingham with the news of
a counterplot of Lennox and Argyll to carry James to Dumbarton,
whence he might easily be taken to France. Thence Sir James
Balfour was expected to arrive, with the eternal band that was to ruin
Morton — a paper that either did no longer exist or was deemed by
Balfour too dangerous to produce. Elizabeth sent Bowes to under-
mine Lennox : she was ready even to pay pensions to the lords — the
only really efficacious argument. ^^ Bowes on his arrival found that
one class of men were not venal, the ministers. A single "reader" in
James's household took a present, the tutor, Mr Peter Young, and
the rest refused money. This is a crucial proof that the Reforma-
tion, which only added hypocrisy to the vices of the nobles, was

Online LibraryAndrew LangA history of Scotland from the Roman occupation (Volume 2) → online text (page 28 of 60)