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

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was to get Lennox, who had taken refuge in Dumbarton, out of
Scotland. Bowes was usually convinced that James was with him
and the raiders in this desire ; later he misdoubted that " the young
cock " had beguiled him. After many delays and intrigues, Lennox
obtained leave to go to France through England. But he had first
appeared at Blackness, awaiting the result of a rather ingenious plan
for seizing James. The conspirators were to conceal themselves in
the dark gallery over the Royal Chapel, and thence, when the nobles
had left the king after supper, were to enter the palace by a little
entry, of which James's porter, Boig, had given them the keys. They
would " persuade the king to be contented, and send for Lennox,"
and would then kill Mar, John Colville, a busy man on the raiders'
side, and others : all this on the night of Lennox's hasty arrival at
Blackness (November 28).^^ Lennox, when he arrived in England,
acquainted Mendoza with this plot and its divulgence by "the king's

To what extent was James himself a consenting party to this new
seizure of his person, and how far, on the whole, did he go with
Lennox in his designs for a restoration of the Church ? The answer
depends on another question. How far was James aware of Lennox's
designs for an alteration of religion ? Lennox, we must remember,
had signed the National Covenant, and it may be doubted whether
he had ever revealed to James his intention of converting him by
force, or carrying him abroad to be converted. James was personally
fond of Lennox, and he regarded himself as a captive, and an in-
sulted captive, of the raiders. His position was this : he had
promised Elizabeth that Lennox should go to France, and he tried
to send him thither. So fai» he was not deceiving Bowes. But,
already a casuist, he reckoned that he had never promised that
Lennox should not return. While Lennox was in Scotland the life
of James was not safe from the raiders. They knew the peril of
their own position, and Bowes knew it. They held a wolf by the
ears. Elizabeth would not pay them — would not pay the guard they


had set over the king : probably she would desert them. One day
James would escape and revenge himself. If they listened to their
English allies they would kill James ; but to kill James meant a
Hamilton as king, or a civil war. They were thus anxious merely
to get Lennox out of the country, and the king knew that this measure
was for his own safety. Whether he would willingly have gone with
Lennox, had the attempt from Blackness succeeded, we cannot tell.
But, knowing now of the attempt, James had arranged to recall
Lennox from France, and a plan had been sketched for trapping the
Ruthven lords in Edinburgh Castle and freeing the king — so Lennox
informed Mendoza.**^ Meanwhile, publicly, James had been forced
to acquiesce in the situation. He did not dismiss Boig, the porter.

While Lennox tarried at Dumbarton the lords had put forth an
enormously long indictment of him, which, from the style, seems to
have been composed by the preachers, or by John Colville, who
had been a preacher, and was their man of tongue and pen.
Lennox replied, and asked to be heard before Parliament ; but it
was not the way to permit accused persons to defend themselves,
as we know from the case of Queen Mary. Craig scolded James
in public.^^ Angus was admitted to the king's peace. On October
19, 1582, a Parliament, or Convention, met at Holyrood. Its
proceedings, in the recorded Acts of Parliament, are deleted, —
crossed out, — and, so marked, look oddly in the printed Acts (vol.
iii. pp. 326-328). The deleted proceedings announce that holy
religion and his majesty's royal person were in peril, wherefore
Gowrie and the rest were compelled to commit the Raid of
Ruthven, which is decreed to be "good, sincere, thankful, and
necessary service." Arran is to be warded by Gowrie at Ruthven.
James, on the first opportunity, scored out this paper security for
the Ruthven lords.

A General Assembly, meeting in October, had ratified the
Ruthven conspiracy with their spiritual approval, which was,
apparently, infallible. This action James never forgave, though he
had been consulted by the preachers, and had given them his
sanction. Bowes meanwhile was making efforts to extract the
casket and casket letters for Elizabeth from Gowrie, but failed.
After Govvrie's death the letters entirely vanished. A casket at
Hamilton Palace is not the original coffer.^- Mary had been
declaring the letters forgeries, and menacing their holders. Bowes
said that Elizabeth needed them " for the secrecy and benefit of the


cause," a phrase which will be diversely interpreted by Mary's
friends and enemies.

The end of the complicated intrigues of this year was that
Lennox at last went to London, on his way to Paris ; that Angus
was seemingly received into favour by James ; that James felt, or
pretended, great devotion to EHzabeth. But from Bowes's long
and tedious letters it is plain that the Ruthven conspirators were
uneasy and at odds among themselves ; that Arran was likely to
be liberated ; and that Elizabeth would not take the only way to
attach to herself the Ruthven lords — would not buy them.

History, it is said, does not repeat itself. At this time in Scotland
history was a series of repetitions. There was a formula, the old
play was played, with occasional changes in the actors. The
English and Protestant lords, backed by the Kirk, seized the king,
relying on the aid of Elizabeth. She was too thrifty to pay them
adequately ; their party dwindled ; the French or Spanish, or
anti-Kirk party, got the king ; Catholic plots were woven ; they
were discovered ; the webs were rent ; and the English party of
the lords had another chance. The quarrel about Episcopacy
broke forth, was quieted, and broke forth again. Elizabeth played
the game of cat and mouse with Mary, and set Mary against James,
James against his mother, till the axe fell at Fotheringay. The
result was that James, a nervous creature, perpetually in danger of
his life, captured, preached at, bullied, became one of the falsest
and most selfish of dissemblers, longing for freedom and revenge,
and, in appearance at least, wavering in religion.

When Lennox left Scotland with shattered health, two French
ambassadors arrived : first La Mothe Fenelon, accompanied by
Davison as a spy ; later came Mainville. Lennox and La Mothe
met on the road and had a brief conversation, to which Davison
listened, as far as the wind and rain permitted. James was, or
pretended to be, anxious to get rid of La Mothe.

La Mothe delivered an address on the Old Alliance, the desir-
ableness of constitutional action, his king's anxiety for James's
freedom, his hope that James would let bygones be bygones, and
so forth.^3 'Phg ministers correctly suspected deeper designs, and
sent a deputation about the dangers to religion. Mainville wore
the cross of an order — this was a badge of antichrist. He desired
a private mass, a thing not to be endured. He washed the feet of
thirteen poor men on Maundy Thursday — nothing could be more



detestable. When the magistrates, by James's order, gave La
Mothe a dinner, the preachers proclaimed a fast, and three sermons
were preached in five hours. La Mothe retired ; he had brought
gold with him, and may have bought a few lords. Mainville stayed
longer, waiting to see how affairs would turn.

In London Lennox had seen Elizabeth, and announced him-
self a Protestant, while through his secretary he assured Mendoza
that he was a Catholic, and would land again in Scotland with
a Catholic army under Guise. In Paris, however, he would
play the Huguenot to blind his enemies. Once arrived in Paris,
he either betrayed Mary's and Guise's plans, and a scheme for
carrying James to France, or he used these revelations as a
blind for Walsingham, or he stood to win on either chance.
In any case, he died in May of a flux to which he seems to
have been subject : he and Morton had both been very ill after
gorging themselves at a dinner of Lindsay's. In his last letter,
recommending his children to James (who befriended them),
Lennox professed himself a Protestant, which probably means
that he thought James resolute in that faith. He had said as
much to Mauvissiere, the French Ambassador in London, and
Mauvissiere told one Fowler, a spy of Walsingham's, who was
employed in seducing Archibald Douglas, a prisoner, from Mary's
cause. Fowler also learned that Gowrie was weary of his charge
of James. He needed guards, could not pay them, and Bowes
could not wring the money from Elizabeth.^'* At this time the
Scots captured the Jesuit Holt, and Elizabeth urged the use of
the boot. To torture was her peculiar joy, but James managed
to let Holt escape. English pirates, as cruel as their queen,
caught and tortured the captain and crew of a Scottish ship,
The Grace of God, so that " some lost their thumbs and fingers,
and some their sight and hearing." Yet the English have always
blustered about the cruelty of the Spaniards ! *^

In April two envoys were sent from Scotland to Elizabeth :
one, Colville, later ruined, and a spy, had taken a great part
in the Raid of Ruthven ; the other, Colonel Stewart, had acted
as agent between Mary and the late Lady Lennox after their
reconciliation, and at heart was Mary's man. Stewart was to
consult Elizabeth as to James's marriage and affairs in general ;
was to pray that she would resign to him the Lennox lands in
England; to ask for ^10,000 in gold and ;^5ooo a-year; to


assent to the ratification of the endless treaty between Mary
and the English queen, and to inquire about James's right of
succession to the English throne (April-May 1583).*^ Redress
for the piracies was also mentioned. Most desired was money
to pay James's guards : Bowes was asked by Walsingham to
lend it ; Walsingham would give security for repayment.'*'' By
the end of May Fowler could report his success in purchasing
Archibald Douglas, who "was skilled in deciphering." Archibald
is probably the person mentioned by Bowes from Edinburgh on
April 7. If so, he was associated with Glencairn, an untrusty ally
of Gowrie ; and the plan was to bring Archibald back to Scotland
as a supposed agent of Lennox (named in cipher "870"), which
would enable him to be trusted by, and to betray, Mainville,
Huntly, Glencairn, and Montrose. There were difficulties, as
Archibald would perhaps be accused of Darnley's murder, though
he declared that Morton's confession, implicating him, "was not
worth five shillings." The scheme was deferred by Bowes's
advice.*^ On May 29 Colville and Stewart left London in disgust,
and the expense of James's guards fell on Walsingham. Bowes,
in Edinburgh, foresaw trouble : James, if his requests were denied,
would revolt to Huntly, Atholl, and other non-English nobles.^®

Elizabeth in April had been in one act of her treaties with
Mary : endless, and never meant to end. She communicated
Mary's offers through Bowes to James. The prince remarked
that, seeing Elizabeth and himself were coming to terms, his
mother tried to throw this "bone to stick in their teeth." In
any "association" he "doubted some prejudice might come to
him " ; the association was " tickle to his crown." In brief,
James suspected that Mary wished to share or even monopolise
his power, and so held off from the association.^*' Elizabeth
probably reckoned that she held James through his own selfish-
ness, and therefore declined to yield the Lennox estates or
advance money for the guardsmen, without whom she might at
any moment lose him. Her highest offer was a pension of
^2500. Colville and Colonel Stewart came home in anger, and
Elizabeth renewed her dealings with Mary. But these Elizabeth
never would conclude, and, whatever Mary's crime as to Darnley,
this eternal game of cat and mouse excites pity and indignation.
Meanwhile James's dealings with Elizabeth, and his Protestantism,
diverted Guise from his scheme of invading Scotland. To land


an army in England seemed more feasible. Nothing was feasible :
all had to be managed by messengers, whom EHzabeth was cer-
tain to trap and torture. The aspect of politics was altered
again when, after the failure of the mission to EHzabeth, James
freed himself from Gowrie, who was heartily sick of his charge.

The escape was managed thus : Patrick Adamson, Archbishop of
St Andrews, was of course much suspected and detested by the
preachers and the Brethren. But Patrick had a house of sufificient
strength, the Castle of St Andrews, which Archbishop Hamilton
had rebuilt after its ruin by the French guns that avenged the
Cardinal. Here since the General Assembly of April 1582
Patrick had " lain like a tod [fox] in a hole, diseased of a great
feditie, as he called his disease." Patrick, not being a godly man,
had protected, and later given up, a poor woman accused of witch-
craft : she was said to have transferred his malady to a white pony,
and the historian of the Kirk relates with glee that she was after-
wards burned at Edinburgh.^^ It was to Patrick's "hole," the
Castle of St Andrews, that James now fled. Sir James Melville
was concerned in the escape, James appointed, he tells us, a
convention at St Andrews, inviting Huntly (not the partner in
Darnley's murder, who was long dead), Montrose, Argyll, Craw-
ford, Rothes, March, and Gowrie, who is represented as having
come round to James's cause. He was certainly thought a waverer
by Angus and otheis of his party, was weary of politics, and was
building and decorating "a fair gallery" at Gowrie House in Perth,
a gallery destined to be fatal to his line. The king sent Colonel
Stewart to call in Sir James Melville, who was tired of Courts, but
visited James at Falkland (June 27). Sir James argued that the
king was now practically free and had better let bygones be by-
gones. This he promised to do, but he must first be free indeed.
He therefore rode to his great-uncle, the Earl of March, who vras
living in St Andrews, and met him, with other gentlemen, at
Dairsie on the Eden. At St Andrews James lodged in the Novum
Hospitium, where the old gateway stands. The place was very in-
secure, the mob was not to be trusted, and Melville induced the
king to move into the Bishop's castle, which he did in the more
haste as armed men were waiting to seize him in the abbey gardens.
Next day James was again in peril, as the lords of the English
party arrived in arms. However, the Provost mustered a force,
aided by the loyal lairds and Gowrie.


On the morrow James was master of the castle, and a bitter day
must that have been for Andrew Melville, the Principal of St
Andrews. The king proclaimed an amnesty, went to Ruthven,
dined with Gowrie, and was apparently reconciled to him. But
Arran (the Colonel Stewart who dragged down Morton) returned
presently to power and favour. This boded evil.^- The preachers
met James at Falkland; one or two behaved with tact, another
threatened : " there was never one yet in this realm, in chief
authority, that ever prospered after the ministers began to threaten
them." ^^ James smiled ; he was to prove an exception to the

His intentions, as publicly proclaimed, were to be " an universal
king " — that is, to reconcile parties, and to be subject to no clique
of nobles. When a captive, he had been compelled to express
acquiescence in the Raid of Ruthven, but his proclamations now
declared that the parties to the conspiracy must seek " remissions "
for their deed. Such a paper remission Gowrie sought and obtained,
thereby disgusting his late allies. The king spoke much of " clem-
ency," which was doubly distrusted. Many intrigues were being
woven which were only in part known even to the preachers.
Young Seton (a son of Mary's staunch friend. Lord Seton, and to
be recognised as a brother of Catherine Seton in Scott's 'Abbot')
was at Paris in July, dealing not with Guise, but with de Tassis,
the Spanish Ambassador, and hoping to secure religious tolerance.^*
Immediately after the affair at St Andrews, de Tassis heard, from
an unnamed Scots lord, that Sir Robert Melville, ^^ a strong Marian,
had organised the business, and that James's Council, pending the
arrival of Arran, were Argyll, Montrose, Rothes, Marischal (Keith,
founder of Marischal College), and Gowrie, " by whose advice he is
influenced." James wanted Mainville to return, and wanted money
from Henri HI.^^ But Henri HI. had no money to give, and was
on ill terms with Guise, who needed a foreign war, and was working
on Philip to lend men and ships, and with the Pope to give money,
for the release of Mary and for the restoration of Catholicism in
England. It was known to the preachers that the young laird
of Fintrie, a Catholic, later martyred, and a relation of Archbishop
Beaton, was in Scotland, and probably Fintrie carried a curious
letter from James himself to Guise, of which a copy was forwarded
to Phihp.

This letter, from Falkland, August 19, would have shown the


ministers that their distrust of James's relations with Guise, "the
bloody persecutor of the saints," was more than justified. The king
thanked God for preserving the life of Guise, who had aided Mary
and James in their utmost need. If James possesses the splendid
qualities attributed to him by Mainville (and he does not disclaim
them), he owes it to his Guise blood. He hopes to follow in the
footsteps of the House of Lorraine. He has achieved his free-
dom, " as it were in sport," so adroit is he, " and is ever ready to
avenge himself when the opportunity occurs.'' That was precisely
the opinion entertained by the enterprisers of the Raid of Ruthven.
He approves of Guise's project. Acting on Mainville's advice, he
has, for love of Guise, allowed the Jesuit, Holt, to escape, a cir-
cumstance which, in treating with Ehzabeth and the preachers,
he discreetly veiled. People were always escaping, he said ; there
was nothing "uncouth" in that. But James did not profess any
inclination to join the Roman Church, without which Philip would
do nothing for him. He had mentioned all this only to Morton
(Maxwell) and to Gowrie! Now, if Gowrie was not Protestant, who
was ? He ran too many double courses. ^^

James now issued a proclamation expressing his mind as to the
Raid of Ruthven, and calling Durie with other preachers to St
Andrews he asked them what they thought of it. They answered
ambiguously : he had better consult the General Assembly.^^ At
the end of the month Mar and the Master of Glamis — he of the
impertinently obtruded leg — were placed in ward. Early in Sep-
tember Walsingham, much against his will, was sent down by Eliz-
abeth. He could do nothing with James, and advised Elizabeth to
slip at him the Hamiltons, then exiles in England. He also left a
plot against James, to explode when he had returned to England ;
but the plot was dropped.^^ Arran had discovered it, and reinforced
the guards. Walsingham remonstrated about Holt's escape. James
replied that he would have extradited Holt, an English subject, if
Elizabeth had handed over Archibald Douglas, "who is known to
be guilty of my father's murder." (James's filial feehngs did not
prevent him from accepting, soon after, the services of Archibald,
and his father's murderer was employed to destroy his mother.)^**
He denied to Walsingham what he had professed to Guise, his
connivance at Holt's escape. Such had education and environment
made James at the age of seventeen.

The General Assembly met in October. They grumbled about


the reception of young Fintrie, about favour shown to David
Chalmers, who, says Buchanan, had abetted the amours of Bothwell
and Mary. The Assembly held him suspected of Darnley's murder,
in which, apparently, a large part of the population had been en-
gaged. The Assembly growled at the scarcity of witch-burnings,
and made other more legitimate complaints. James was later to do
their will on witches, and to do it with a zest. The best part of
James's reply dealt with the pretensions of the preachers to dictate
his choice of ministers, and to oppose his friendly relations with
foreign Powers, " from which no princes or commonwealth in the
world abstaineth, although being diverse in religion." The Assembly
now " delated " Aristotle and other classical authors of heterodox
opinions, to the number of twenty. Tutors at the universities
must " evince their errors, and admonish the youth to eschew the
same." ^^

On November 13 Lennox's son, a boy, arrived from France and
was taken into favour, rising to ducal rank. A convention at
Edinburgh, of December 7, stamped as traitors such Ruthven
plotters as would not repent. Now the old Act approving of the
Raid was deleted.^^ Angus was banished beyond Spey ; Mar and
the Master of Glamis thought of retreating to Ireland, others to
France ; Gowrie remained at Court. He had failed to arrange a
revolutionary plot with Mar and Bowes, or had refused. James
knew of a plot to kidnap him while hunting, planned by Angus
(December 29).^ "The matter is dissembled for the present."

The new Bothwell, Francis, son of a sister of the wicked earl,
was beginning his career of storms by quarrelling with Arran. The
turbulent John Durie, however, was subdued : threats of setting his
head on a spike produced a recantation from him in the pulpit.^*
Mary's influence, Bowes believed, wholly governed James.^^ But at
this time was captured Francis Throckmorton, an agent in Guise's
great doomed project of an invasion of England ; and that enter-
prise was to bring ruin, through Throckmorton's extorted con-
fession, on many of its devisers. The rack, as usual, extracted
from the unhappy Throckmorton all that he knew, and his account
of an intended invasion alarmed the advisers of Elizabeth. They
were really in no great danger : Philip required much more urging
before he would move, and the Pope was stingy. Events were to
prove that England could guard her own. But it seemed desirable
to win over James. That worthy messenger, Archibald Douglas,


was to be sent to Scotland to tell James that Elizabeth would recog-
nise him (January 23, 1584)."^ But on the very next day Bowes,
from Berwick, informed Walsingham of a new plot of the lords of
Mary's party, while the laird of Applegarth accused Angus of a con-
spiracy, already known to James, to seize him in the old way. Two
English emissaries from Mary were working in Scotland ; Bowes
could not identify, and failed to kidnap them, A month later (Feb-
ruary 19, 1584) James took the extraordinary step of writing to the
Pope as well as to Guise. Arran, "that terrible heretic," was at
this time the young king's chief adviser, and we are inclined to sus-
pect that James, alarmed by the plots and rumours of plots, wrote
without Arran's knowledge. He speaks of his gratitude to the
Pope as the friend of his mother, and of his own danger from evil
subjects leagued with Elizabeth, " with the object of utterly ruining
me." Unless aided by the Pope, James will be forced " to second
the design of my greatest enemies and yours," " I hope to be able
to satisfy your Holiness on all other points."^''

James must have been terrified by the plot of the English party,
Angus and the rest, organised by Colville (the man of the Raid of
Ruthven and of the mission to Elizabeth), who was now in exile
at Berwick, working with Bowes. Some bishop, perhaps Patrick
Adamson, who had carried his " feditie " to England on a mission,
stood in the way, and Colville (March 23) thought that he should
be " removed." Up to mid-April " the news was good," said Col-
ville, and on April 19 Bowes was waiting to hear of the success of
the plot. Rothes, Angus, Mar, and others were to meet in Lothian.
Gowrie was loitering at Dundee, ready to join the rebels if they
succeeded, to sail away if they failed. He appears to have been
trimming. Certainly he was in touch with Angus through Hume of
Godscroft. He professed to James his intention of sailing abroad,
but he lingered, watching events, and equally distrusted by both
parties, Elizabeth was being pressed to support the party which she
had so often deserted, when instead of joyous news of the success
of the blow to be dealt on April 18, Bowes received evil intellig-
ence. Arran knew everything, and had only waited till the head of

Online LibraryAndrew LangA history of Scotland from the Roman occupation (Volume 2) → online text (page 31 of 60)