Andrew Lang.

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

. (page 35 of 60)
Online LibraryAndrew LangA history of Scotland from the Roman occupation (Volume 2) → online text (page 35 of 60)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

"That would be putting two weapons in the hand of my enemy in
place of one," — an obvious reflection.^^ She withdrew the word
" enemy," and asked Melville if he could invent any security for
her own life, if Mary were spared? Melville's arguments were
good, she said, and she promised another audience.

Mr Froude's account of this interview is curious and most mis-
leading. He writes : " Melville spoke at length, but vaguely ; and,
knowing that James was at heart only anxious for his own interest,
Elizabeth suggested maliciously that, if she pardoned his mother,
he should renounce his own pretensions in the event of any future
conspiracy. If he would do this, the Lords and Commons might
perhaps be satisfied and allow her to live. Neither Scotland nor
James were \sic'\ prepared to sacrifice what they had set their hearts
on with so much passion. The queen told the ambassadors that
their request could not otherwise be granted. They made a formal
protest, and withdrew." ^^

This did not happen. Elizabeth dismissed the envoys, after
finding Melville's reasoning " good." The next audience was de-
ferred for five or six days, and in this interval a gentleman unnamed
was sent to Gray with the proposal which Mr Froude tells us that
Elizabeth made to Melville, Gray, and Keith. Gray rejecta fort
loing ceste ouverture, asking the gentleman if he was commissioned
to make the hypothetical proposal, " which the other excused, as
merely put forth by way of talk." ^°

It is thus, at least, that Mr Froude's authority, a " Memoire "
from Chateauneuf the French Ambassador to Elizabeth, describes
the circumstances. Melville did not speak " vaguely," Elizabeth
did not " maliciously " make this absurd suggestion attributed to
her, to Melville, Keith, and Gray. Scotland and James knew
nothing of the matter. The notion was mooted, some days later, to
Gray alone, by an unnamed gentleman, who professed to speak


without authority, merely in a way of talk. In a later interview,
according to the French account, Elizabeth announced her deter-
mination to put her hands in Mary's blood. The Scots delivered
a protest, and said that James would summon the Estates and
appeal to all Christian princes. Elizabeth declared that she would
send an envoy to James, as she disbelieved his representatives.
They averred that James would receive none of her envoys till their
own return, and they sent to their king to demand leave to quit
England. This they obtained "in five or six days." Elizabeth
said that she would despatch her man, and they begged that Mary
might live till his return. This grace Elizabeth refused. The
Scots reported all to Chateauneuf, and went home. They had
been accused of designs against Elizabeth, because one of their
suite, Ogilvie of Pourie (later a double-dealer, and spy of Cecil),
was found carrying unloaded pistols, as a present from Gray to
an English friend.

Such is the French account, and it leaves no stain on the envoys
of Scotland. The story that Gray " whispered in Elizabeth's ear,
The dead do?i't bite" is found in Camden and Calderwood, and
everywhere, but where is the authority ? When had Gray an oppor-
tunity of whispering in Elizabeth's ear? Another version is that
Gray used the phrase tnortui no?i mordent in a letter to Elizabeth
after he left London. Spottiswoode says that when Gray was tried
in May 1587 he confessed "that when he perceived her inclining
to take away the Queen of Scots' life, he advised her rather to take
her away in some private way than to do it by form of justice," and,
if this were true, Elizabeth certainly tried to follow the advice. (It
is true of Gray before his embassy, but during his embassy he
changed his note and was a true Scot.) But Paulet would not be
her bravo. *'^ Nobody impeaches Melville's loyalty, but he on
January 26, 1586, declared to James that Gray "has behaved him-
self very uprightly and discreetly in this charge, and [is] evil taken
with by divers in these parts who were of before his friends." ^^
Melville also avers that " letters come from Scotland " represent
James as indifferent to his mother's fate. We do not know what
party was guilty of these letters.

Now we happen to be able to corroborate Melville's statement as
to Gray in an unexpected way. The Master really did his best for
Mary during his embassy, and really incurred the enmity of his former
friends at EHzabeth's Court. The proof comes in a letter of March


3, 1586, from Edinburgh to Walsingham. The writer signs himself
"87611." He was, in fact, Logan of Restalrig, so famous after
his death for his alleged connection with the Gowrie Conspiracy.
We can identify him, because, writing to Walsingham, he asks that
letters for the Master of Gray from England may be sent to hi7n,
(to "87611"); and Gray himself, writing to Archibald Douglas,
requests him to send letters, not direct to him, but to Logan of
Restalrig. Thus Logan of Restalrig and " 876!!" are one and the
same person. The letters are not in his own but in an Italian
or " Roman " handwriting. By this means, after his return to
Scotland, the Master concealed his correspondence with England. ^^
Logan is therefore Gray's intermediary with Walsingham and
Archibald Douglas. He also offers, being Gray's cousin and very
intimate with him, to betray all his designs to Walsingham, like
a good old Scottish gentleman. (Logan's mother was sister of
Gray's father, Patrick, Lord Gray.)

The point, however, is that Logan corroborates Robert Melville's
account of Gray's behaviour as ambassador. Standing up for Mary,
he incurred the deadly hatred of Leicester, previously his friend.
Gray himself, says Logan, is " greatly altered of his former goodwill
professed to England." He has told the reason of the change to
Logan. In autumn 1586, before his embassy, Gray had written to
Leicester, "And that in matters of State and great importance
which are not necessary to be rehearsed at this present . . . the
matter itself was so odious." That is to say, before his embassy
Gray had written to Leicester advising the death of Mary ; even
Restalrig thought this "odious." But, Gray warmly taking Mary's
part in London, Leicester sent his earlier and odious letters to
James by Sir Alexander Stewart. Leicester " did what in him lay
to imperil the Master's life, standing, honour, and reputation for
ever," says Logan, and Elizabeth orally gave Sir Alexander Stewart
similar directions. Apparently Stewart thought it wiser to hand the
letters back to Gray himself : Logan has just read them, and Gray is
now hostile to Leicester and Elizabeth. Logan, however, will keep
Walsingham advised of any anti-English movements of Gray. Thus
Gray's advice that Mary should die is advice given prior to the death
of his Astrophel, and to his own sudden (and short-lived) con-
version. At his trial (May 15, 1587) Gray confessed that in
August 1586, before Sidney's death and long before his own em-
bassy, he had written thus to England : " If the Queen of England



could not preserve her own security without taking his majesty's
mother's Hfe, because mortui nofi mordent, yet it were no ways
meet that the same were done openly, but rather by some quieter
means." ^*

Thus, under criticism, the famous tale of Gray, with his mortui
non mordent, dropped like poison into Elizabeth's ear, seems to
vanish. The " whispering " during the embassy is replaced by
writing before the embassy. We shall see that the offences which
caused the fall of Gray had no concern with treachery during his
embassy. We have also seen that (though an enemy of Mary),
when once he was charged with her cause, to win her life was, in his
own opinion, his true interest. This brought him ill-will, as Robert
Melville and Logan wrote, among his English friends.

On Gray's return to Edinburgh Courcelles wrote to France (but
appears not to have sent the message) that Gray had " behaved very
honestly in England," and being now " malcontented for some
secret cause with England," offered his service to France. Now
Gray, before setting out on his embassy, had threatened that he
would be avenged on Elizabeth if he failed. " If that queen do no
better in things to the king than I see her minded, by God she will
deceive herself. And, for myself, if I find such usage as hitherto I
have received, the devil learn her ! " ^^ As to Mary's life, Gray
" would rather win the thanks for it than otherwise." On the
whole, then, it seems that Gray did not commit the crowning treason
for which his name reeks in tradition. It is one thing to say, at the
first news of the Babington conspiracy, that if Mary nmst die, it had
better be " quietly," and quite another thing to use the office of a
suppliant ambassador for the destruction of Mary's life. The Gray
who was mourning for Sidney did not sink to that extreme of guilt,
but quitted himself "like a Scottis man." His fall was the result of
intrigues concerned with religion.

Meanwhile the preachers took the oportunity of Mary's approach-
ing end to show their charity. On February i, 1587, an Act of
Council moved the clergy to pray for the unhappy princess, that
God would illumine her soul with the light of His only Verity and
preserve her body from an apparent peril. ^^ The preachers, says
Courcelles on February 28, "were so seditious as to refuse." Dr
M'Crie, on the other hand (probably not without good grounds;
see note 67), says, "None of the ministers refused to pray for the
queen." Calderwood writes, " They refused to do it in the manner

330 DEATH OF MARY (1587).

he would have it be done," as directly or indirectly condemning
Elizabeth, or suggesting Mary's innocence. The words in the Act
of Council do neither one nor the other. Probably they objected
to any request for prayer, for, of course, that was not direct inspira-
tion by " the Spirit of God " ; also, it was an act of royal inter-
ference. James later, says Spottiswoode, explained that the prayer
was only for Mary's " enlightenment in the truth " (which is in John
Knox) and pardon. That is precisely the meaning of the Act
of Council. However, Mr Cowper was in the pulpit at St Giles's,
and James bade him pray for the queen. Spottiswoode reports
that Cowper said " he would do as the Spirit of God should direct
him." As James very well knew what that always meant, he made
Cowper come out, and the bishop (Adamson) went into the pulpit,
to the disgust of the brethren (February 3). Cowper was warded in
Blackness, but soon released. Spottiswoode avers that the bishop
produced a favourable effect on his audience. Gray had written,
before his embassy, that he never saw the people so united as in the
cause of Mary's deliverance. On the day of Cowper's performance
James interdicted Andrew Melville from preaching. ^^ On February 8
Archbishop Adamson "compeared" before the kirk-session of St
Andrews, with the king's verbal request that the minister would pray
for his mother's " conversion and amendment of life, and if it be
God's pleasure to preserve her from this personal danger wherein
she is now, that she may hereafter be a profitable member in Christ's
Kirk," — that of Scotland.

The kirk-session graciously acceded to his majesty's desire. But
Mary was in danger no more. On that very day was consummated
one of the few crimes that have not been blunders. The only
prison which her enemies could trust to hold the queen had closed
on her :

" To-night she doth inherit
The vasty halls of Death."

May God have had more mercy than man on this predestined victim
o\ uncounted treasons, of unnumbered wrongs : wrongs that warped,
maddened, and bewildered her noble nature, but never quenched
her courage, never deadened her gratitude to a servant, never shook
her loyalty to a friend.

" She was a bad woman, disguised in the livery of a martyr, and,
if in any sense at all she was suffering for her religion, it was because
she had shown herself capable of those detestable crimes which in

NOTES. 331

the sixteenth century appeared to be the proper fruits of it." So
Mr Froude, as if the professors of the fire-new gospel of Pro-
testantism disdained the English design to murder Mary and
James, or the swords that shed the blood of Beaton, or the
daggers that clashed in the brain and breast of Riccio.


'■ Spottiswoode, ii. 321. 2 Spanish State Papers, iii. 525-529.

^ Thorpe's Calendar, i. 478, 482.

* Forbes- Leith, Narratives of Scottish Catholics, p. 192.

^ Stafford to Burleigh, October 30, 1583 ; Hatfield Calendar, iii. 15.

® His letters to Nau and Mary have been published in part by Mr Froude, but
are fully printed in the ' Hatfield Calendar,' iii. 47, 1 17, 206. Probably they were
seized later, at Chartley, with the rest of Mary's papers.

^ Hatfield Calendar, iii. 172, 173.

^ Hatfield Calendar, iii. 47-62.

* Papers of the Master of Gray, p. 16. "It is given out that he is not the
king's son, but Davy's, . . . which he told Cuddy Armourer, with water in his
eyes, being but they two alone." Armourer was a servant and emissary of

^" Davison to Walsingham, Edinburgh, August 24, 1584 ; Papers relating to
the Master of Gray, pp. 5, 6.

1^ Davison to Walsingham, July 4 ; Thorpe's Calendar, i. 477.

^^ Calderwood, iv. 147. ^^ Thorpe, Calendar, i. 479.

1* See p. 308, footnote.

^^ Calderwood, iv. 169 ; Confession of Drummond of Blair.

^'^ Davison to Walsingham, August 8 ; Thorpe, Calendar, i. 4S2.

^^ State Papers, MS. Scot., Eliz., vol. xxxvi. No. 17,

^® July 23, James to Mary ; Murdin, p. 434.

^' State Papers, MS. Scot., Eliz., vol. xxxvi. No. 24.

^ State Papers, MS. Scot., Eliz., vol. xxxvi. No. 29.

^^ Act. Pari. Scot., iii. 347; Calderwood, iv. 197, 198.

^ State Papers, MS. Scot., Eliz., vol. xxxvi. Nos. 50 and 91.

^' Calderwood, iv. 239, 240.

"^ Thorpe, Calendar, i. 488, 489 ; Papers of the Master of Gray, pp. 9, 10 —
Commission to the iVIaster, October 14, 1584.

'-' Labanoff, vi. 16-27 > Papers of the Master of Gray, pp. 30-37.

■•^ Froude, vi. 39. 1870. ^ Teulet, iii. 326, November 25.

'■^'^ Thorpe, Calendar, i. 490, 491.

"■' Papers of the Master of Gray, pp. 41-43.

^" March 12 ; Labanoff, vi. 123- 1 27. ^' Spanish State Papers, iii. 545.

'- Thorpe, Calendar, i. 502. ^'^ Brit. Mus., Caligula, C viii. fol. 222.

^^ State Papers, MS. Scot., Eliz., vol. xxxviii. No. 33.

^ Papers of the Master of Gray, pp. 58-61. '■"' Thorpe, Calendar, i. 513.

332 NOTES.

^'^ Act. Pari. Scot., iii. 373-422. "^ Calderwood, iv. 448-465.

^® Calderwood, iv. 4S5. *•* Calderwood, iv. 401-503.

*i M'Crie, Life of Andrew Melville, pp. 125-130 (1S56) ; i. 362 (1819).

•*- Spanish State Papers, iii. 581. ^ Spanish State Papers, iii. 663,

** State Papers, MS. Scot., Eliz., April i, 2.

•** Spanish State Papers, iii. 590.

■'^ Labanoff, vi. 312, 322 ; Mary to Charles Paget.

•*" State Papers, MS. Scot., vol. xxxix. No. 66.

*® Papers of the Master of Gray, pp. 106, 107.

•"^ Hatfield Calendar, iii. 157. ^ Hatfield Calendar, iii. 173, 174.

*• Couicelles' Negotiations, Bannatyne Club, p. 7.

°- Courcelles, p. 11. In ' Hatfield Calendar,' iii. 185, Keith is printed " Heath."

^ Hatfield Calendar, iii. 190-193. ^'^ Courcelles, p. 13; October 31.

^^ Courcelles, p. 22. ^'^ Thorpe, Calendar, i. 538.

^' Spanish State Papers, iii. 676.

^* The Master of Gray gives practically the same version, but makes himself
the spokesman, and says nothing of Melville (Papers of the Master of Gray, pp.
129, 130).

^^ Froude, vi, 307 (1870).

*" Teulet, Relations Politiques, iv. 166, 167; Memoire pour les Affaires du Roy.
Mr Froude cites "Advis pour M. de Villeroy," which is a different document.

®' Spottiswoode, ii. 373. ^^ Papers of the Master of Gray, p. 133.

®^ Hatfield Calendar, iii. 230 ; Papers of the Master of Gray, p. 139.

"* Privy Council Register, iv. 168.

^ Courcelles, pp. 37, 38 ; Hatfield Calendar, iii. 192.

®* Privy Council Register, iv. 140.

^^ Calderwood, iv. 606, 607 ; Spottiswoode, ii. 356 ; M'Crie, ' Life of Andrew
Melville,' pp. 131, 132; i. 363-366 (1819). Dr M'Crie quotes Courcelles as
saying that "even those who refused at first" (to pray for Mary) "yielded."
Courcelles writes, " Some of the ministers agreed to pray, . . . but others there
are that stand still fast, . . . but they are fain to yield as well as others." If
they did, Dr M'Crie is right.





The news of Mary's death aroused in Scotland a futile storm of
indignation. A Catholic informant of Cecil's, Ogilvie of Pourie
(already mentioned as a spy and double-dealer), declared that
James was "desperate of his mother's life" (probably the news of
her death was unconfirmed) ; that the country was eager to arm ;
that the Hamiltons offered to burn Newcastle with 5000 men.i *
Had James been a prince of heart and spirit he would long ere
this have summoned his subjects to meet him, " boden in effeir of
war " ; would have slipped the Hamiltons on Newcastle ; Bothwell
and Buccleuch, with all Liddell, Esk, and Teviotdale, on Carlisle ;
would himself have mounted and ridden, while all the blue bonnets
were over the border. Through Angus he might have kept the
preachers in hand, or might have cast them into Blackness, and
thus he might have risked a second Flodden, losing all but honour.
Honour, on the other hand, was all that he lost. Calderwood
says that he "could not conceal his inward joy," and that Maitland
had to put the crowd of courtiers out of the room.^ Courcelles
gives a different account. James told him that he had done all
that could be done, and had only received a note from Elizabeth
with a promise to send Carey, who was at Berwick. James vowed
that, if Mary were dead, he " would not accord with the price of
his mother's blood." He denied the story that he had written

* This young Ogilvie of Pourie was in London with the Master of Gray, in the
Embassy. He sold himself to Cecil, as Logan, also a Catholic, to Walsingham.
Ogilvie's later intrigues, nominally for the Catholics and James with Rome and
Spain, were more or less devices controlled by Cecil.


to Elizabeth, putting Mary's head at her disposal. It is certain,
however, that letters from Scotland, and obscure dealings of Alex-
ander Stewart, did enable Elizabeth to harden her heart ; so the
Master of Gray wrote to the king.^ The Council turned towards
France, where Archbishop Beaton was still to be ambassador for
Scotland, to the horror of the preachers, who feared that Henri III.
would insist on toleration, if he aided James to avenge Mary. On
March 5 James still pretended not to believe in Mary's death, and
awaited the return of his messenger to Carey, his old tutor, Mr
Peter Young. Meanwhile he assured Courcelles that he wished to
desert the English league for the Auld Alliance.

The envoy to Berwick brought back the certainty of what had
befallen, and news that Elizabeth had put her unhappy scapegoat,
Davison, in the Tower. She added what Mr Froude calls "an
abject and ignominious " — we may say a lying and perjured — letter
to James. Nobody was deceived. Archibald Douglas announced
that George Douglas was to be sent on a mission to France :
Courcelles declares that James now suspected and desired to arrest
the Master of Gray, but by April 3 he deemed that James would
work for peace. On March 4 Walsingham wrote to Maitland, to
be shown to James, a long pacific memoir.* French and Spanish
aid, he said, was " in the air " : it always was. The strength of
Scotland was utterly inadequate for the war. James, if he fought,
would lose, perhaps his life, certainly all prospect of the English
crown. The ambition of Philip, the condition of France under the
League, made help from either Power out of the question.

The true nature of the chances of the Scottish Catholics from
Spain or France may be gathered from the Spanish State Papers.
The English priests, Allen and Parsons, were dependent on Spain,
and on Philip, who ^vas determined to advance his own claims to
the English crown, James being barred as a hopeless heretic.
Meanwhile Robert Bruce, the spy, was intriguing for Claude Ham-
ilton, Huntly, and Morton (Maxwell) both with Guise and with
Philip, and the Duke of Parma, commanding the Spanish forces
in the Low Countries. Ready to take aid from any quarter, Philip
did send 10,000 crowns by Bruce for the Catholic Earls, and Bruce
arranged with Parma a feasible plot for bringing over Spanish troops
in grain vessels. But it was the belief of Philip, and of most of his
advisers, that James would remain a resolute heretic. The Spanish
aid to the Scottish Catholics would only be the means towards a


Scottish diversion in case of a Spanish invasion of England. Bruce
did see James himself, and found him in manner genial, but an
obdurate Protestant, under Maitland, "a heretic and an atheist."
Overcharged with expenses, Philip did not back the Catholic earls,
time was wasted, the plot of the grain ships was delayed till too
late in the season, and though Morton (Maxwell) went to Spain,
offering to hold Kirkcudbright open for the Armada, though Huntly
promised to secure Leith, though an advance on England by way of
Scotland was probably the wisest plan, the Scottish Catholics were
left, detached, poor, and powerless, while England was the aim of
the Armada. Yet for many years, till 1603, the Scottish Catholics
continued to traffic with Spain, and to hope for troops and money
from Spain, while usually disbelieving that James would be con-
verted. James, says Parma to Philip, " becomes more and more
confirmed in his heresy" (1588).^

All this futility of Spanish promises Walsingham clearly discerned.
He added that James might change his creed : he would but be
the more distrusted. The world must acknowledge that James
had done all that man might do — revenge was unchristian, true
honour was not outraged, success was wholly impossible, if war
was attempted.

All this was very true — nay, extremely obvious. But it did not
follow that James need continue to take money from hands dipped
in his mother's blood. Of money, however, from whatever quarter,
James thought no7i olet. Meanwhile (March 1587) Elizabeth carried
out the cruel farce of trying and ruining Davison, her scapegoat ;
and Cecil, in instructions to Carey, was obliged to sink to Eliz-
abeth's level of meanness (April 3).^ James had Elizabeth at an
avail. If she was innocent, if Davison and others were guilty,
then, he said, let them be given up to him. At present her
honour was not cleared. Elizabeth was in the same position as
Mary had been in the commissions at York and Westminster
(1568) as to her guilt of Darnley's death. Like Mary, she finally
said that, as a crowned queen, she was answerable only to God.
Several drafts of her shifting replies exist ; at last she screwed up
her courage to be firm. Clearly she did not share Walsingham's
assurance that James was powerless, and that France and Spain
would not move. Yet nothing could be more manifest.

In Scotland matters were in suspense till the assembling of the
Estates. Arran had been trying to fish in the troubled waters,


accusing, in a letter to Claude Hamilton, several of James's Council
of accession to Mary's death, and of a design to hand him over to
England. Among the accused we only know the name of Angus, who
was arrested : he, at least, cannot have been of those who conspired
against Mary's life. Orders were issued that Arran should be brought
forward to justify his accusations.'^ The matter troubled James,
who, in fact, was vainly tr)nng to get Elizabeth to bribe him by the
Lennox estates in England.^ On May lo Sir William Stewart,
Arran's brother, accused the Master of Gray of his betrayal of Mary
(concerning which we have already spoken) and of divers other
offences. He had, it was alleged, taken a secret part in the Raid
of Stirling (1585), which we know to be true from the Master's own
description of that revolution. He had also dealt with France in the
interest of "liberty of conscience," a charge the most damning that
could be brought against any man in reformed Scotland. He had
devised the death of Maitland, and other advisers of James, by aid
of Arran and Morton. There were other charges. Gray and his
denouncer had probably been in a conspiracy together to oust Mait-
land, and the lords who returned from exile at the Raid of Stirling,

Online LibraryAndrew LangA history of Scotland from the Roman occupation (Volume 2) → online text (page 35 of 60)