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

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ceeding from God" (1578).^ This was the 'Book of the Polecie
of the Kirk,' and confirmed it never was. In 1580 "the office
of bishops was damned." Episcopacy, the Brethren declared, was
" brought in by the folly of men's invention " ; all bishops were
discharged from all functions, and could not sit as simple minis-
ters till admitted de novo by the General Assembly, under penalty
of excommunication, which meant universal boycotting. We find
Andrew Melville explaining to Beza in 1578 that the nobles
maintain " that the sentence of excommunication shall not be
held valid until it has been approved by the king's Council after
taking cognisance of the cause." He adds that "civil penalties,
according to the laws and customs of our country, accompany
the sentence of excommunication."^ This puts the case of the
Kirk in a nutshell. They claimed the right to inflict the sever-
est civil penalties independent of the civil power. The Brethren,
the professors, were to be able, through their pulpiteers, to deprive
the king's servants of their civil rights and to drive them from

It happened in 1581 that James's Ministers or rulers, Arran
and Lennox, were either profligate or disloyal to the established
religion of their country. But the claim of the Kirk to inflict
civil destruction, contrary to the will of the State, was a thing
utterly intolerable ; and, as Morton said, there never was peace
or order in Scotland " until some of the most zealous were
hanged," and the rest after 1688 were content to abate their
unendurable pretensions. Meanwhile several, at least, of the


bishops of 1572-82 were certainly knaves, corrupt and simoniacal,
and justly opposed by the Brethren. It is a quarrel in which
neither side can wholly merit our sympathy ; the Court favourites
and their bishops were as odious as the exaggerated desires of
the Kirk to rule the State. A phrase of the Second Book
of Discipline runs thus : " The ministers exercise not the civil
jurisdiction, but teach the magistrate how it should be exercised
according to the Word." The magistrate is to "submit himself
to the discipline of the Kirk, if he transgress in matters of con-
science and religion."" Now the preachers could persuade them-
selves that any part of State policy — say, a French or Spanish
Alliance or marriage, or the supporting of Episcopacy — was
"matter of conscience." Consequently they could and did inter-
fere, scolding and libelling from the pulpit, excommunicating at
their own wills, and yet pretending to restrict themselves to spirit-
ual affairs.

Thus the dragon's teeth were sown which sprang up as armed
men in the civil wars. On the other hand, thus the intrigues of
Lennox for handing over James to a foreign land and a foreign faith
were checked ; while James, like Mary, was goaded by sermons
into a hatred of the Kirk which produced its own baneful effects.
It was a deadlock. Yet it is highly improbable that James, left
to himself, would ever have returned to his mother's creed ; for
by training, by interest, and by vanity about his own gifts as a
theologian he was Protestant.

To the political intrigues which followed Morton's death, and
to their ecclesiastical embroilments, we now return. Just before
Morton's head fell, Mary wrote to Archbishop Beaton about her
hopes. James had sent her letters and a "token." She trusted
that he would come into her devotion, and be a king indeed, for
the Continent had never acknowledged him as king. Weary and
outworn by thirteen years of prison, she only wanted to be at
peace. Yet she was trying to establish relations between James
and Spain, contrary, it seems, to the wishes of her ambassador
at the Court of France.^

Presently (September 18, 1581) Mary resolved on the scheme
of the " Association " (a shared royalty) between her and James.
She had never acknowledged him as king. If she did so now,
by the "Association," the effect would be, so the preachers and
the Brethren thought when the plan reached their ears, to annul

MARY'S INTRIGUES (1581). 279

the acts of James's reign up to that moment. " The approbation
of religion,^ and all other things done since his coronation,
should be accounted null ; such as had been the king's friends
should be counted traitors, and his adversaries good servants,"
says Calderwood, speaking of the events of January and February
in the following year.-^'^

Meanwhile in Scotland, since Morton's death, Arran (James
Stewart) and Lennox had not been on the best terms. Arran was
playing for the support of the Kirk. He had, indeed, seduced the
wife of Lord March — that is, of James's great-uncle, his grand-
father Lennox's brother, who had been transferred to the Earldom
of March, in the new Lennox's interest. The lady got a scandal-
ous divorce and was married to Arran. But then the pair sub-
mitted to the censures of the Kirk, and, like Burns in later days,
occupied the place of penitence. Lennox', of course, was intriguing
against the Kirk : however, he and Arran were reconciled. James
took pleasure in the society of the new Lady Arran, which cannot
have been improving to his morals. At a Parliament in October,
Angus, Archibald Douglas, and many others of the name were
forfeited. The king, however, would not gratify Lennox by
receiving Sir James Balfour, one of his father's murderers. Later,
James was less scrupulous. Elizabeth sent Errington to Scotland,
as usual to counterplot Lennox ; but Errington was not allowed to
cross the Border. Elizabeth, when she learned this, was heard
murmuring her rage against "that false scoundrel of Scotland,"
who had called Morton " father " when he meant to have Morton's
head. She fell back on an attempt to set Mary against her son,
and to restore the exiled Hamiltons. Her interest in them was
caused by their value as a counterpoise to Lennox and the Stewarts.
But Mary was not to be entrapped. The wiles of a prisoner are
de bonne giierre, and historians waste indignation on the duplicity
of Elizabeth's victim.

Mary's plan was to deny to Elizabeth that she had any special
relations with Spain, or expected any aid thence, while she was
really treating for assistance with Mendoza, the Spanish Am-
bassador in England. ^^ The queen, as usual, had " too many
irons in the fire." She was regarding Mendoza and Spain as her
chief hopes, but her affairs and those of Scotland became hopelessly
embroiled through the enthusiastic efforts of Jesuit traffickers to
sweep Guise, France, the English Catholics, and the Pope into an


impossible alliance with Spain. On the English Catholics Mendoza
himself was working (September 1581). To them he pointed out
that France would always prevent Spain from succouring them,
out of jealousy, while Scotland was the true point d'apptii. Six
Catholic English lords, therefore, met secretly, and sent a priest
on a mission to Scotland — or perhaps two were sent.^^ The envoy
of the lords was to see Lennox, and tell him that if James turned
Catholic many of the English nobles and people would declare him
heir to the English crown, and would release Mary. If James de-
clined conversion, they would oppose him and favour another
candidate. These English lords "are all Spanish and Catholic at
heart," and desire nothing from France. If James came into
their views, they would send their sons as hostages to him, and
raise the North in arms, restore the Church, and release Mary.
Mendoza actually "thought the business well founded." Presently
two of the six lords were in prison.

Though the subject is rather obscure, it seems that an emissary
of the six English lords was taking their striking proposals into
Scotland, while Father Parsons, or Persons, the famous Jesuit, was
simultaneously, but independently, plotting there, first through Father
Watts, and then through Father Holt. Parsons had apparently
despatched Watts and fled to France before the six lords sent
their man. The Catholics at this moment were being furiously
persecuted in England ; it was the time of the martyrdom of
Campian ; they could not keep in touch with each other's plans,
they blundered into each other's plots, and no business could
be less " well founded " than that in which Mendoza placed his
hopes. Watts met Seton, and had a secret interview with the
young king, to what result he does not say. He had hopes
of Lennox, Huntly, Eglinton, Caithness, Seton, Ogilvy, and
Ferniehirst. But all of those were conspicuously broken reeds :
they would not even pay the expenses of Catholic missionaries, if
Parsons sent them ! ^^ The person sent by the English lords met
the same noblemen in Scotland, who, unanimously and with en-
thusiasm, declined to be at any expense for the salvation of their
souls. If somebody else would pay the Catholic missionaries, they
would get them a secret hearing from the king. This envoy had
little to do with Lennox, whom he found French, not Spanish,
and "avowedly schismatic." So Mendoza wrote on October 20,
and it is really difficult to determine whether he is not speaking


of Watts after all. In any case, Father Parsons, and Allen, later
cardinal, in France, heard of the results, which, we see, came to
no more than this, that if the Jesuits would send missionaries
to Scotland at their own expense, Seton and Ferniehirst and the
rest would see what they could do. That was a very different
thing from converting James by way of a coup de mam and the
offer of the English succession.^*

Meanwhile Mary was keeping her faithful Beaton, her ambas-
sador in France, in the dark, and was trafficking through Allen.
Parsons now sent Father Holt into Scotland with the priest
who had been the envoy of the English lords (two of whom were
already in prison). On February 9, 1582, Mendoza reported to
Philip a message brought by Holt from Scotland. He had met
Lennox, Huntly, Argyll, and others, who suggested the follow-
ing hopeful plan : (i) To convert James by disputations between
Presbyterians and Catholics. (2) If he will not be converted by
fair means, to get Mary's leave to convert him by force. (3) To
carry him out of the country, if Mary approves. (4) Or to depose
him till Mary arrives. For those purposes they need the aid of
2000 men in Spanish service. The puerile absurdity of these
proposals is conspicuous. Even Mendoza knew that not only the
preachers, but Arran, "a terrible heretic," were opposed to the
Church ; the idea, therefore, was to murder Arran. ^^ Later it
was the English who desired to murder him.

Mendoza sent Holt back to Scotland, approving of the pro-
posals, and now (February - March, 1582) Holt was joined in
Scotland by the Scottish Jesuit, Father Creighton. He had con-
ferred with Guise on the way, thus beginning to bring in the
French influence, and to tangle the threads which Mendoza
wished to keep in his own hands. He was hidden in Holyrood
for several days, and Lennox wrote to Mary. He had learned
from Creighton that he himself was to head a papal and Span-
ish army for her relief, an army of 15,000 men. He therefore
proposed to go over to France to make arrangements. The plot
was already burlesque. Who was to give 15,000 men to be led by
Lennox ? Already, too, Walsingham and Leicester had an English
counterplot with Angus to seize James, and they expected to pur-
chase Arran (March 19, 1582).^'' Meanwhile Mary and Mendoza
knew that Lennox's 15,000 men were men in buckram. "It is
the first," writes Mary to Mendoza, " that I have heard of such


a thing." She desired the whole affair to be concealed from de
Tassis, the Spanish Ambassador in France, and she laughed at the
absurd desire of the intriguing Jesuits, that Mendoza should leave
London to meet them at Rouen (April 6, 1582).^^ Mary, in short,
declined to be mixed up with the Jesuits. Mendoza told Philip that
Father Creighton " has changed my mode of procedure " by invent-
ing airy armies, and giving the baton of command to Lennox. ^^

Both Mary and Mendoza opposed Lennox's desire to leave for
France. France was the very country they wished to keep in
the dark, as any large Spanish force leaving for Scotland would
bring the French, from jealousy, to the aid of England. Men-
doza entreated Creighton and Holt to confine themselves to the
saving of souls, — it was a pity that the clergy should interfere in
military matters. They continued to interfere. At the end of
April Mendoza was asking Beaton in Paris what grounds Creigh-
ton could have for his high-flown promises of an army to Len-
nox, while Elizabeth (he says, probably exaggerating) was sending
money and jewels to Scotland to bribe the party out of power
to seize the king.^^ Mary was still most anxious (May 15) that
the affair should be kept secret from de Tassis, the Spanish Am-
bassador at Paris. But the Jesuits, in the Scots familiar phrase,
" let the pigs run through the job." Creighton and Holt, dis-
obeying Mendoza, had gone to Paris, had met Beaton and Guise,
Parsons and Allen. They reported dreams of Lennox: with Spanish
forces he would convert Scotland and James, and rouse the North,
and restore England to Rome. Guise offered to invade Sussex as
soon as the Spaniards landed in Scotland ; Parsons was to carry
letters from Lennox to Philip ; Creighton to the Pope. Lennox's
demands were now immense, 20,000 men for Scotland, large sums
of money, a guarantee for the value of his own estates. Yet
Creighton reported that James was still a heretic, though in constant
danger of his life from the plots of Elizabeth.^'' Mendoza " ex-
pressed a wish, as a Christian," that the Catholic schemers " might
succeed." They met Guise at the house of de Tassis, whom Mary
wished to keep out of the affair, which Guise wished to be sub-
sidised by the Pope alone, so de Tassis wrote to Philip (May 29).
Philip saw that too many people knew, and asked de Tassis to
detain Parsons (June 11). In fact he stamped out the plot.

While the Jesuits were taking all into their own hands with
boyish eagerness, the preachers in Scotland knew that mischief


was on hand. By January 15 82 the preachers had found out
the scheme of the Association. On January 24, 1582, Durie
informed his Edinburgh congregation that James was to traffic
with France, the Due de Guise, and his mother : Durie had
wormed it out of George Douglas, Mary's agent. ^^ At that time
sermons were naturally popular. They contained the latest news,
foreign and domestic, with a violent harangue. A National
Covenant or band against the Roman pravity had already been
sworn to and subscribed (March 1581), specially directed against
Catholics who falsely, and for political reasons, pretended to be
adherents of the truth. James himself was a covenanter; so
was Lennox, but that did no longer protect him : Durie was on
him ; and henceforth attacked him from the pulpit. Lennox had
got the gift of the archbishopric of Glasgow, and had appointed a
minister named Montgomery as tulchan archbishop. Montgomery
was paid to be a filter through which the money would reach
Lennox. Simony could not be carried further. The preachers
persecuted Montgomery, and terrified him into submission by
threats of excommunication, but he took heart again, and tried
to occupy his pulpit in the cathedral.

It is not easy for us to know what kind of men the mass of the
ministers were at this period. In 1577 Morton had sent a long list
of questions to the General Assembly. Some of them were conceived
in a spirit of mockery, such as, " Whether a man may be both a
minister and a reader, or an officer of arms, or a lord's or laird's
steward, grieve, pantry-man, or porter ? " Ministers might keep
public-houses, and it is probable enough that some of them, in the
deficiency of endowments, resided with lairds as chaplains, assisting
also in keeping the accounts of the estate. Many of the ministers,
certainly, were men of learning, such as Melville, Smeaton, Pont
(who was skilled in the law), Davidson (who wrote the humorous
poem against Morton) ; and one of their charges against Lennox's
archbishop, Montgomery, was that he spoke disrespectfully of the
learned languages. " He went about, so far as he could, to bring
the original languages, Greek and Hebrew, in contempt." He also
begged the preachers "to leave off to put on crowns and off
crowns," and he daringly denied that the majority of mankind go
to hell.^^ This, at least, is asserted by his enemies.

In April the Glasgow ministers were summoned to meet James
at Stirling, and to accept Montgomery. Accompanied by many of


the Brethren, they refused to acknowledge the Royal power in the
matter, and Durie threatened to excommunicate the archbishop
elect.-^ Not long after, in May, a present of horses arrived for
James from the Due de Guise. The man who brought them had
been employed to carry the head of Coligny as a token of the suc-
cess of the Bartholomew massacre, and nothing could have been
better calculated than his arrival to arouse the anger of the Pro-
testants. Durie went to Kinneill, where James was staying with
Lennox, and rebuked the king. On May 23 he preached against
Lennox and Arran. This was on a Wednesday, for Wednesdays
and Fridays were days of preaching. Next week he was summoned
to Dalkeith, and insulted by Lennox's kitchen valetry. James
ordered him to leave Edinburgh. He was backed by his presby-
tery, but was compelled to go. On June 9 the presbytery decided
to excommunicate Montgomery, and the poet Davidson " did the
curse " in the kirk of Liberton. He proposed to renew at Perth the
armed rising which began the Reformation.^* Lennox was cen-
sured for entertaining the excommunicated Montgomery ; and a
list of complaints was sent to James, including his relations with
the bloody persecutor Guise. On July 6, at Perth, Arran asked
Andrew Melville who dared subscribe these articles ? " We dare,
and will subscribe them, and render our lives in the cause," said
Andrew, and all signed. Lennox and Arran perceived that the
preachers had some lay support.

On June 27 Andrew Melville (now Principal of St Mary's College
in St Andrews) denounced the "bloody gully " of absolute power
before the General Assembly. Of all people. Sir James Balfour
was present as an elder ! The " secret assistance " which the Kirk
expected took the usual shape of a band "against Dobany"
(D'Aubigny, Lennox) among the discontented lords, such as the
Earl of Gowrie (Ruthven, who had aided his father in Riccio's
murder), Angus, Mar, Glencairn, Argyll, Lindsay, Rothes, and
others. Elizabeth supplied Angus with money, and Lennox
dreaded assassination.^^ Mendoza represents him as personally
timid in an acute degree. Montgomery, as an excommunicated
man, was driven out of Edinburgh by the mob in circumstances so
ludicrous that James, hearing of the matter, lay down on the soil
of the Inch of Perth, where he rolled about in helpless laughter.-^
Though the king's sense of humour was strong, he seems to have
been aware that a plot against him had been arranged, and de-


feated, in July. Bowes (August 15) had warned Glencairn, Mar,
Boyd, Lindsay, and others that Lennox meant to arrest them
for this conspiracy.^^ There was strife between the artisans and
burgesses of Edinburgh, the craftsmen insisting on being repre-
sented in the town council. In this dispute Lennox and Arran
took opposite sides. Lennox meant to have occupied Edinburgh
with Borderers on August 27 ; but the discontented lords, Gowrie
and his faction, though the scheme of their band was incomplete,
anticipated Lennox's movement against them, and seized the person
of James, who was unaccompanied by Arran and Lennox, in the
coup d'etat known as the Raid of Ruthven.

It was on August 22 that Gowrie (Ruthven), Mar, the Master of
Glamis, Lindsay, and others took and, held James at Ruthven
Castle, near Perth, a seat of Gowrie, where he had been hunting.
Neither Arran nor Lennox was with him, — he was fairly trapped.
The plot had been managed by Angus, with the collusion of Eng-
land, which desired the deaths both of Lennox and Arran. Spottis-
woode narrates that, as James tried to leave the room where the
conspirators were, the Master of Glamis stepped to the door and
stopped him. The king burst into tears. " Better bairns weep
than bearded men," quoth the Master.^^ Calderwood makes Stir-
ling the scene, the time August 31, and makes the Master of
Glamis insult James by thrusting his leg before him. Mendoza
gives another account of this insult, making Gowrie interfere,
and dating the event on October 13. Mendoza, as translated by
Major Martin Hume, says nothing about Gowrie's insulting leg. As
rendered by Mr Froude he does, and asks someone to bring the
king " a rocking-horse " — " a poney " in Major Hume's rendering. ^^
Mr Froude adds that James " swore he would make Gowrie pay
for the insult with his life"; Major Hume, "that he would reward
him for it some day."

In spite of these confusions of evidence, James was probably in-
sulted, and certainly regarded himself as a captive and dishonoured.
This " bairn " bided his time, and made " bearded men weep " when
it came. Meanwhile he was powerless. Arran at once rode to
him with one or two grooms : his brother was waylaid and wounded :
Arran himself was made prisoner. Next day the captors laid their
grievances before James. He governed, it was said, not through
his Council, but through Lennox, who was known to intrigue with
Bishop Lesley and Archbishop Beaton. The " ministers of the


blessed Evangel, and the true professors," had taken the liberty to
emancipate James from such advisers.^" James was brought to
Perth, and, like his mother when seized by Bothwell, had to pro-
claim that he was no captive. Lennox, with Herries, Maxwell,
Home, Seton, and Ferniehirst, repaired to Edinburgh, but took no
energetic measures.^^ The new Bothwell, Francis Stewart, recently
brought back by the king from Italy, son of a sister of Bothwell's
by a bastard of James V., was with the Gowrie party, so was holy
Ker of Faldonside. Elizabeth (August 30) sent Sir George Carey to
James, complaining of Lennox.^^ Bowes was also sent, and the
veteran Randolph was most anxious to go. He had sown the seeds,
as Archibald Douglas told him, when trying to do a bargain with
him in horse-flesh, for now Archibald hoped to ride home.^^ Archi-
bald says that Arran was offering to accuse Lennox of treason, and
it is very probable.^* However, Archibald was to sell himself
frequently before he crossed the Border.

From Edinburgh Lennox sent envoys to James, who assured
them that he was a captive. The young king was sorely tried.
The Lennox plot had been to convert him by force, and carry him
abroad, if necessary. The Ruthven raiders held him a prisoner, and
his life was in danger. James was hke his grandfather when Sir
George Douglas told him that they would tear him in two if the
adverse party took hold of him. The foreigners and Lennox pulled
one way, England and the Ruthven raiders tugged in the opposite
direction. But James was fond of Lennox ; his Ruthven captors
he detested, except Mar. Historians maintain that James was
ready to barter his creed for political advantages.^^ This was not
his mother's opinion. " As his mother remarks," wrote Mendoza,
" preaching will be of no avail to convert the king ; he and the
country must be dealt with by main force "^^ (August 30). The
day after Mendoza wrote thus, he learned that Elizabeth had
heard of the success of her plot with Angus — the Raid of
Ruthven. Mendoza also heard, and this is notable, that the
English trafficker with Angus was the Earl of Huntingdon, and
that his party were muttering that it would be well to poison
both James and Mary, " whereby Leicester and his party of
heretics think they can assure the claim of Huntingdon." This
was probably true ; for, later, Gowrie confessed that he had
known an English plot to cut off both James and Mary, and had
refused to carry it out.^'' Gowrie told the same story to the


Master of Gray. Thus assassination plots were not confined to
the Catholic party, nor to the Scots.

The Ruthven raiders held power for but ten months. The letters
of Bowes, the English Ambassador, then in Scotland, prove that the
party was never solid : they all suspected each other ; even Gowrie
was under suspicion, Glencairn was doubtful, and Bowes could only
trust Mar and the Master of Glamis, as a rule. The aim of the party

Online LibraryAndrew LangA history of Scotland from the Roman occupation (Volume 2) → online text (page 30 of 60)