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

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the Master of Glamis received the command of the Guard. ^^

It was a bloodless revolution. The king and the bishops were
once more likely to be laid at the feet of the preachers, as after the
Raid of Ruthven. Yet Catholics or crypto-Catholics, like Morton
(Maxwell) and the Hamiltons, and a desperado like Bothwell, with
such an ideal traitor as the Master, were unseemly instruments in
the restoration of our Zion. With his engrained dissimulation
James affected to rejoice in the changes, and uttered a boastful
Protestant speech in a Parliament held at Linlithgow. There was
to be a league with England, a league of all Christian princes against
idolatry. Yet " the king likes hunting better than church," wrote
Knollys, the new English ambassador, to Walsingham.^^ In Febru-
ary 1586 the veteran Randolph succeeded to the English embassy.
He did not find that the golden age had returned. The godly had
already been sorely disappointed. They had expected that, as
usual, the General Assembly would meet before Parliament met,
and direct the course of that erring lay meeting by prayers and


petitions. They fixed on Dunfermline as the seat of their gathering,
but Hallcet of Pitfirrane, the Provost, would not allow them to enter
the town. Some years afterwards he fell by accident, or was cast by
spirits, out of the third-floor window of the old House of Pitfirrane,
— an obvious judgment on his wickedness in maintaining the law,
"the Black Acts" of 1584, so Calderwood reports. The Brethren
met in Linlithgow, where James Melville, returned from exile, found
them but heavy-hearted. Angus was the only one of the lately
banished peers who gave them any kind of support. The others,
having attained their carnal desires, were indifferent to the welfare
of the Kirk. A pestilence that had been raging ceased miracul-
ously when the godly entered Stirling. Heaven, at least, was

On December i a Parliament was held at Edinburgh, practically
to undo the work of the Parliaments of May and August 1584.
The forfeitures were revoked, the Cowries were restored to their
lands and dignities, the expelled ministers were reinstated in their

There remained strife between the preachers who had subscribed,
like the venerable Craig, the Black Acts of 1584, and those who
had refused. Craig even preached against these recusants. Andrew
Melville, however, took the opportunity of being " plain with the
king." Some papers of controversy passed, James loving polemics
next to hunting. He trusted, he said, that " the whole ministers of
Scotland shall amend their manners " as to railing sermons. He
quoted some Latin, and a little Greek (December 7, 1585).^^ The
preachers, as James Melville said, " threatened, denounced, and
cursed " the lords with evangelical ferocity. The lords took it
sedately ; but James scolded the Rev. Mr Balcanqual from his
gallery in St Giles's. It appears to have been the theory of the
preachers that whatever they said from the pulpit was inspired by
"the Spirit of God." Thus (December 21) James wrangled with
Mr Gibson, minister of Pencaitland —

King. " What moved you to take that text ? "

Minister. " The Spirit of God, sir."

King. "The Spirit of God ! " [repeating thrice over tauntingly).

Minister. "Yes, sir, the Spirit of God, that teacheth all men,
chiefly at extraordinary times, putteth that text in their heart that
serveth best for the time." ^^

We shall meet another example of this claim, which placed the

3l8 FALL OF ADAMSON (1586).

preachers on the footing of inspired prophets whose poUtical
harangues must be allowed entire licence. They claimed " the
liberty of the Word," which meant a freedom of speech and of in-
terference not endurable in a State ruled by the laity. But, on the
other hand, Morton (Maxwell) now " set up the mass," for which he
was imprisoned, and Claude Hamilton reverted to the French and
Marian faction, corresponding with Philip of Spain.

On February 17, 1586, a modus vivendi between the king and the
preachers was arranged. The king was to present bishops to the
General Assembly, from which the bishop " received his admission,"
The prelate was to "serve the cure of a special kirk, the "flock"
having leave to oppose. A presbytery from within his bounds, or
diocese, was to oversee his proceedings : he was to be rather a
" moderator " than a bishop in the usual sense. For his private
conduct he was to be responsible to the Assembly. There were
other restrictions, and the Kirk retained the arm of excommunica-
tion, or " boycotting," that fatal " rag of Rome." Montgomery, the
excommunicated bishop, was to " purge his offence " and be recon-
ciled to the Kirk. A Mr Watson was to apologise in the pulpit for
a trenchant historical parallel drawn by him between James and
Jeroboam, in which James was represented as rather the worse of
the pair, — "an odious comparison." It is to be presumed that on
this occasion Mr Watson was not inspired. But in Fife James
Melville and his adherents attacked their old enemy, Archbishop
Adamson, as a person "envenomed by the dragon." On April 13
the Provincial Assembly of Fife excommunicated the Archbishop,
but sent several preachers and a laird to reason with him. After
some dispute the Assembly excommunicated the Archbishop, and
he in turn excommunicated Andrew and James Melville. Their
friends were said to be anxious to hang him : he is accused of acute
poltroonery, and as a hare ran from South Street to the castle before
him, "the people called it the bishop's witch." ^"^

The Kirk, and the charge of witchcraft, proved in the end too
heavy for the Archbishop. Dr M'Crie, the sympathetic biographer
of Andrew Melville, regards the procedure of the Fife synod as
"precipitant and irregular." The General Assembly, not the synod
under Adamson's enemies, was the proper place for his arraignment.
Though Calderwood denies that there was a conspiracy against
Adamson, Dr M'Crie quotes a contemporary diary (April 10) to
the effect that he " was stricken by the Master of Lindsay, and


Thomas Scott of Abbotshall." In May Adamson made a form of
submission to the General Assembly, disclaiming superiority over
his synod and right to judge ministers : so he was reinstated. The
modus vivendi of February was brought before the Assembly in May,
and was somewhat watered down, presbyteries being re-established.
James could not yet erect bishops who were bishops indeed, but
" the horns of the mitre " and the hated name of bishop were not
removed from the fold. Andrew Melville (May 26) was sent north
of Tay, to convert any Jesuits he might find in these benighted parts,
and to give the town and University of St Andrews a little peace.
But James had a master of the hawks who, again, had a friend
who was a tenant of Andrew Melville's " New College " (St Mary's
Hall), and James, for the consideration of a low rent to the friend
of his falconer, restored Andrew Melville to his place. '*^ James did
nothing without an element of the grotesque.

During this unsettlement in ecclesiastical affairs Randolph was
busy at Holyrood (February 26, 1586). His chief aim was to
settle the league with England, and to procure the pardon and
return of Archibald Douglas. As a traitor to Mary, Archibald was
her foe, and his influence with James would be pernicious to the
Scottish queen. That unhappy lady had been removed in January
from Tutbury to Chartley. At Tutbury Amyas Paulet had excluded
her from all news of the world, and, so far, her life was safe, for
she could not conspire. At Chartley, however, Walsingham set his
trap for her ; arranged, with a Catholic spy named Gifford, a means
of communication between her and her friends ; opened, deciphered,
•copied, and then forwarded her letters to her abettors. Meanwhile
Mary supposed that her faithful agent, Morgan, in the Bastille, had
found the way by which she was communicating with Mendoza in
Paris. *^ She informed him (May 20) that if James remained heret-
ical, she had made Philip her heir. Walsingham thus acted as
an agent provocateur, with the natural results. Mary might have
been — she long had been — kept harmless perforce. Now she was
committing herself, not only to the Catholic plan of invasion, but
probably to Babington's murder plot, all of which was known to
Elizabeth and Walsingham.

It is unnecessary to explore the intricacies of Walsingham's
■conspiracy. The advocates of Mary argue that she was not con-
cerned in, or at least was not convicted of a part in, the assassination
plot. The evidence, for lack of certain original papers, may not


have been technically complete. Mr Tytler, an impartial author,
argues that forged additions were made to Mary's letters, and it
may have been so, though the argument is not convincing.
Mendoza wrote to Philip, " I am of opinion that the Queen of
Scotland must be well acquainted with the whole affair, to judge
from the contents of a letter which she has written to me, which
letter I do not enclose herewith, as it is not ciphered, but will send
it with my next" (September lo). No such letter appears in the
Spanish correspondence. Mary herself denied that she was con-
cerned in the murder plot, in a letter to Mendoza (November 23).^^
But if she schemed Elizabeth's death as a means of her own liber-
ation, Mary acted in accordance with the principles of an age when
kings, priests, and preachers delighted in the dagger. Elizabeth
had been conscious of the plot against Riccio, and against Mary's
own existence. Later, Elizabeth urged Amyas Paulet to play
against Mary the part now assigned to Ballard and Savage against
herself. Mary had pensioned the assassin of her brother, Murray,
and now she was maddened by many years of cruel imprisonment
and by unnumbered wrongs. Common prudence ought to have
kept her aloof from Babington, but it would have been a moral
miracle had any ethical considerations given her pause.

Meanwhile Randolph (April i) secured James's signature to the
league with England, and sent at the same time orally by bearer
news of a Scottish conspiracy against Elizabeth.^

The Scottish conspiracy was connected with Lord Claude Ham-
ilton, Morton (Maxwell), and Huntly, who offered to Guise, through
Robert Bruce, to restore Catholicism, and hand over Scottish sea-
ports to Spain.'*^ On May 20 Mary wrote of Lord Claude as
worthy to be Regent of Scotland, and to be declared heir to the
crown if James had no issue, while James was to be seized
and handed over to Spain. '*^ The letter containing this plan,
with Mary's intention to disinherit James in favour of Philip IL,
was of course detected and deciphered for Walsingham. When
James learned the facts, his inclination to the league with England,
and to the abandonment of his mother, was naturally increased.
But he had already received and conversed with his father's
murderer, Archibald Douglas. On May 6, from Randolph's
lodgings in Edinburgh, Archibald Douglas wrote a very long
letter to Walsingham.*'^ He had met James in Gray's rooms
on May 3. He presented a letter from Elizabeth in his favour.


James, after reading it, professed himself Archibald's friend, the
friend of his father's rrturderer and his mother's betrayer, and envoy
of the queen who was weaving; her nets round Mary ! The king
acquitted Archibald, as to Darnley's murder, of all but that fore-
knowledge which every politician of the time had possessed, " so
perilous to be revealed, in respect of all the actors in that tragedy,
that no man without extreme danger could utter any speech thereof,
because they did see it, and could not amend it." This was glaring
hypocrisy. The confessions of Hepburn of Bowton, Morton, and
Binning left no doubt as to the actual guilt of James's new friend.
Meanwhile the Secretary and Archibald might arrange his trial
(which they did by help of a packed jury, containing Archibald's
friend, the famous Logan of Restalrig, and two other Logans ; by
suppression of evidence, and by the royal countenance). James
then sought to find out how he stood with Elizabeth, and went so
far as to hint at sending a Scottish contingent to aid her in the
Low Countries. There Sir Philip Sidney was engaged, and the
Master of Gray, for love of Sidney, had nearly ruined himself in
levying a band of soldiers of fortune, whom he intended to lead
to Flanders.

James was soon summoned back to his lords, and Archibald
Douglas had a conversation with Maitland, the Secretary. He
gathered that the league with England was unpopular with the
nobles, as was the idea of an expedition under Gray to the Low
Countries, involving as it did peril from Spain. The Court was
full of jealous confederacies. Randolph, however, carried his point
as to the league. After considerable delay it was confirmed at Ber-
wick (July 5). The contracting parties were to maintain the Re-
formed religion, which was bearing such remarkable fruits of virtue :
neither was to aid a foreign Power in any attack upon the other :
each was to assist the other with armed forces, in case either was
invaded. Rebels were to be delivered up or expelled. James re-
ceived little satisfaction as to the succession, and his pension
(^4000) could scarcely be extorted from the harpy-like clutches
of Elizabeth.

As far as promises and parchment could go, Elizabeth was now
secure against a Catholic invading force landed in Scotland, and
James was utterly wrested from his mother's cause, July was em-
ployed in allowing Mary to involve herself, in appearance at least,
with Babington and the murder plot ; and on August 3 she was



taken when on a hunting ride and carried to Tixall. Her papers
and her secretaries, Nau and Curie, were seized : Nau and Curie
were cajoled into confessions. As early as July 22 Elizabeth had
found the Master of Gray's stay in Scotland "necessary for her
service," in consequence of reports now rife as to the enterprise by
Lord Claude Hamilton, Morton, and Huntly. Gray and Archibald
were to act as detectives for the English queen. It may be hoped
that Gray, who had intended to join Sidney in the Low Countries
and had spent freely in raising men, desired to escape from the
necessity of more and meaner treasons towards Mary. By September
8 Gray reported to Archibald Douglas, now James's ambassador to
England, the delight of the king at the discovery of his mother's
conspiracy. " But his opinion is that it cannot stand with his
honour that he be a consenter to take his mother's life, but he is
content how strictly she be kept, and all her old knavish servants
hanged." Gray added that the needs of all honest men " require
that she were out of the way." *^ Walsingham requested Gray not
to allow James to interfere. Mary's " trial " at Fotheringay had been
arranged for, and was likely to be short. Presents of horses were
made to James by advice of Archibald Douglas.

Mary was heard in her defence, without counsel or witnesses,
at Fotheringay: at Westminster (October 25) the witnesses were
examined without the presence of the accused. On November
22 the sentence of death was communicated to the Queen of
Scotland, who received it as became her. But Elizabeth must
still play cat and mouse. She had various selfish reasons for
hesitation : it was not by any means certain that Mary's death
would make her own life more secure ; she did not love to set
a precedent for laying hands on an anointed queen ; possibly she
may not have been unvisited by compunction. After making a
sacred promise, symbolised by the gift of a ring with a diamond
cut in likeness of a rock, she had imprisoned her guest, exposed
her shame, devastated her country, turned the natural love between
parent and child into hatred, and, finally, she had practically been
agent provocateur of the plot for which her guest was to die. Her
natural indecision was fostered by all these causes, but her Parlia-
ment and her Ministers were resolute.

As regards Scottish history, the only question of interest is, How
did the king, and how did the country, behave in the shameful
prospect of seeing the royal head touched by a foreign hangman ?


The news of the conspiracy in which Mary was implicated had
reached James's advisers early, before the conspirators themselves
knew that they had been discovered. Mary was writing her fatal
letters to Babington (fatal whether they are wholly genuine or not)
on July 25 and 27. On August i (probably Old Style) the Master
of Gray wrote to Archibald Douglas, who had set out to London as
James's ambassador. The laird of Fintry (in France a Catholic ally
of Gray's) had been with him ; " it seemed to me his errand was for
to know what conspiracy this was that of late had been discovered
in England. I pretended I knew nothing of it as yet. He was very
inquisitive, so I let him see that I thought his mistress " (Mary)
"should be touched. He said that was an Allemanique quarrel "
{quereUe d'AlIemagne) " to be quit of her," *^ By September 8 James
was fully informed, and was congratulating Elizabeth, as we saw.
His idea was (and probably remained) that his mother should be
kept in such close confinement that further action on her part would
be impossible. This had already been the case at Tutbury, and this
course James recommended to Archibald Douglas (September 10).
In an accompanying letter in " white ink " the Master told Douglas
that though James desired his mother to live, " I pray you beware in
that matter, for she were well out of the way." He suggested that
Douglas should get money for him from Elizabeth, as he was much
dipped by the expenses for his intended Flemish expedition. ^'^ On
October i Gray informs Douglas that " the king is very instant for
his mother," and intends to send Gray as his envoy to plead for her
with Elizabeth. James must therefore have been hoodwinked by the
Master, who himself then wished Mary "out of the way." On
October 4 de Preau, calling himself Courcelles, and representing
France at Holyrood, reports James's attitude. Lord John Hamilton
and the faithful George Douglas of the Lochleven adventure had been
warning him of his dishonour if Elizabeth " put her hands in Mary's
blood." James, in reply, spoke of his mother's injuries to himself.
He must consider his own interests, and he did not believe that
Elizabeth would touch his mother without warning him. He ad-
hered to his plan of strict confinement.^^

Bothwell (Francis Stewart, nephew of Queen Mary's Bothwell)
blundy told James that if he allowed Elizabeth to slay Mary he
deserved himself to be hanged next day. James "laughed, and
said he would provide for that." But his nobles were higher
of heart. They left him no peace (October 31) till he decided


to send an envoy, William Keith, a young man, and a pensioner
of Elizabeth.^2 Gray foresaw that he himself would later be sent,
and that the mission would be his "wrack" — as it was (October
25). James wished him at this inopportune juncture to press the
question of his own succession, all that he really cared for, and
Gray must " crab " (he says) either Elizabeth or his master. He
never v\-as in such a strait, and thought of escaping to Flanders,
if Douglas could make Elizabeth advise James to that effect. If
not, if he is obliged to go to England, "/ must be a Scottis
tfian. ... I protest before God I shall discharge myself so of
my duty, if I be employed, that whether it frame well or evil,
the king my master shall not justly blame me." Thus good and
bad even now warred in the heart of the Master, yet, of all his
perils, he most dreaded — sea-sickness on the voyage to the Low
Countries ! " I will not for ten thousand pounds endure the sea
this season." On the whole, among his confusions, it was plain to
Gray that if Mary, after all, was to escape, it was best for him that
it should be by his means.

It was a real grief to Gray that at this hour his friend Sir Philip
Sidney was killed at Zutphen. We find the noble Fulke Greville
bewailing his loss to Archibald Douglas. " Divide me not from
him " (Sir Philip), " but love his memory and me in it." A strange
shrine was the heart of the Douglas traitor for that heroic friend-
ship ! On November 6 the jNIaster also laments the peerless knight,
whose fall made his scheme of retiring to join Sidney in Flanders
impossible. " He and I had that friendship, I must confess the
truth, that moved me to desire so much my voyage of the Low
Countries." The Master's love for Sidney came near to redeeming
him, and perhaps linking his renown with that of Astrophel. The
thought of Sidney seems to have inspired the Master, and he
appeals to Archibald, as "a good fellow," to work in the interests of
the men of the sword who were to have fought with him in Flan-
ders, "that they be well used, and not made slaves of, as they are."
" Would to God I could get again bygones ! " he exclaims. It is
the tragedy of a soul not yet lost.

Meanwhile every noble of heart was engaging in Scotland for
Mary's behoof; but this, again, brought the Catholics to the front,
which aroused the jealousy of the preachers. ^^ Yet all Presby-
terians were not so bitter, and Angus, the Abdiel among the nobles,
desired to tell James, if he might see him, " that the nobles will not


endure that the Queen of England shall put her hands in his
mother's blood, who could not be blamed if she had caused the Queeti
of England's throat to be cut, for detaining her so unjustly pris-
oner."^* Angus struck the right note for Mary's defence, not that
she was innocent, but that she was blameless. Even James re-
marked "that his mother's case was the strangest that ever was
heard of, the like not to be found in any story of the world," and
asked Courcelles " if he had ever read of a sovereign prince that
had been detained prisoner so long time, without cause, by king or
prince her neighbour, that in the end would put her to death."
It had been James's wish to send Bothwell with the Master of Gray :
a passport for Bothwell was refused by Elizabeth, Courcelles attrib-
uted the refusal to Archibald Douglas and Gray (December 31).^^
Courcelles represented James's attitude as more becoming when he
wrote to Henri III. than when he wrote to d'Esnaval. From his
letters to d'Esnaval we gather that James held by his idea of solitary

To Walsingham Gray described his mission as " modest, not
menacing." James had sent a stern letter to Elizabeth by Keith,
but for this Keith and Archibald Douglas apologised to Cecil : " it
hath proceeded by a necessity to which the king is forced by the
exclamation of his subjects" (December 6). This apology was
offered by Archibald Douglas's advice.^*^ He, if not Keith, had been
betraying Mary's interests. They were clearly Elizabeth's pensioners,
wrote de Vega to Philip from London. ^^ Gray also apologised from
Stamford on Christmas Day, as he rode south with Robert Mel-
ville. For the rest, as to Gray, historians denounce him for the
betrayer of Mary to the scaffold, and as the wretch who, while pre-
tending to plead for her, secretly urged Elizabeth to seal her doom.
But the friend of Sidney did not sink so low. Gray, it will be
made certain, discharged his duty like "a Scottis man." Earlier,
before his embassy, he had wished Mary " out of the way." But
now he took a nobler course, a course more worthy of his As-
trophel, and the common story of his infamy appears to rest on a
confusion between his attitude in August 15S6 and his conduct
during his embassy.

On January 6-16, 1587, Melville, Gray, and Keith had an audi-
ence from Elizabeth. Like Napoleon on such occasions, she
bullied, saying that if she had such a servant as Robert Melville she
would cut his head off. Melville replied that he was ever ready to


Stake his life rather than advise his master ill, and that James had
not one faithful servant who would counsel him to let his mother
perish. Three or four days later (January 9-19) the envoys again
saw Elizabeth and made proposals. They did not, like Charles II.
when Prince of Wales, offer Elizabeth carte blanche for a parent's
life. They gave the surety of James and all the lords. If Eliz-
abeth would hand Mary over to them, they promised to make her
resign, in favour of James, all pretence to the English crown, with
the guarantee of the King of France. Elizabeth said suddenly,

Online LibraryAndrew LangA history of Scotland from the Roman occupation (Volume 2) → online text (page 34 of 60)