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

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and this may be the ship spoken of by Knox as wrecked or nearly wrecked. De
Selve did not believe the story. On August 5 Somerset informed de Selve that
the castle had surrendered on the first day that the battery was erected (de Selve,
p. 178). It does not seem easy to reconcile these facts with Knox's dates and
statements.



22



CHAPTER 11,

THE REGENCY. THE MARRIAGE OF MARY STUART.
1554-1559-

Till the moment when Mary of Guise assumed the Regency,
the national sentiment of Scotland, on the whole, must have
preferred the French alliance to any union or compact with
England. This would not, of course, be the opinion of men
honestly convinced of the merits of the Reformation. In "their
auld enemies of England" these Protestants, like Sir John Mason,
recognised "Christian men"; in the French they saw "idolaters."
Even before the change of religion, persons like Major had found
the best hope for Scotland in union with England. Later, all
who sincerely held the principles of Knox and Rough were of
the same mind. The nobles, as has been shown, though they
might speak the language of the godly, were alternately false to
both parties ;, while all who had suffered in the ferocious wars
of Somerset had a cruel hatred of the English, and little love
for the French. A curious manifesto of a Unionist, James Hen-
derson, is 'The Godly and Golden Book,' addressed to Thynne
and Cecil (July 9, 1549). Henderson desires "the union and
matrimony of the northern and southern parts of this isle of
Great Britain." All are "of one tongue and nature, bred in one
isle, compassed of the sea." Henderson, like Knox and Major,
and indeed like Mary of Guise, pities " the poor labourers of
the ground, ... in more servitude than were the children of
Israel jn Egypt." He proposes that whereas, according to Mary
of Guise, the peasants kept their holdings but for five years, they
now should have long leases at the same rents, and the tithes
so far as not "set to the landlords." Now, just as persecution



HOPE OF SOCIAL REFORMS. 23

was at the moment as cruel in Protestant England as in Catholic
Scotland, so the greed of landlords was as great. The insurrec-
tions of 1549 in England were mainly due to the recent inclosures
of commons by landlords, who " frequently let their lands at an
advanced rent to ' leasemongers ' " (like the larger Highland tacks-
men) " or middle-men, who on their part oppressed the farmer
and cottager that they might indemnify and benefit themselves."^
But Henderson, like Knox and Latimer, was sanguine enough
to hope for a more tolerable social condition as a result of a
purer Christian doctrine. But while it was easy to be godly as
regards dogmas and ceremonies, and not impossible to punish
sexual vices, the Reformers did not succeed in softening the
hearts and subduing the avarice of men. Henderson hoped that
the poor might Hve "as substantial commoners, not miserable
cottars, charged daily to war and to slay their neighbours at
their own expense." So far the union of the crowns was destined
to fulfil his dream : Border raids were diminished and ceased.
He also desired the restoration of the old almshouses and hos-
pitals, decayed under the greedy cadets of noble houses, who
for long had almost monopolised the best benefices. Many
parish churches were " rent or falling down " j^ the most ignorant
and cheapest clergy held the cures. The wealth of the benefices
ought to be expended on rebuilding the churches and securing
adequate ministers, while bishops ought to maintain free schools
in the chief towns.-

Not much is known of this Henderson, who was a Scot-
tish informant of William Cecil. But his book, which he was
anxious to print, proves that Reformers of his stamp ex-
pected social as well as religious reform from Protestantism,
union, and the abandonment of " the bloody league " with
France. To such Scots, when sincere and disinterested, we can
no longer refuse the name of patriots. The whole policy of
Mary of Guise tended to increase their number and influence.
Since de la Bastie's head swung by its long locks at a Bor-
derer's saddle-bow, the Scots had ever resisted the intrusion of
foreigners into places of power. Mary of Guise, nevertheless,
made de Rubay chancellor under Huntly, whose place became but
nominal. Huntly's history is complex and obscure. We have
seen that, after being taken at Pinkie, he either escaped or broke
parole to return to England after a visit to Scotland. While he



24 THE FRENCH UNPOPULAR.

was in England, de Selve thought him double-faced (December
1548).^ In Scotland he showed duplicity, trying to keep touch
with both parties.* He, with Argyll, was expected to keep down
Highland disorders, to " pass upon the Clan Cameron," while
Argyll " passed upon " Clan Ranald.^ Later, according to Lesley,
he was commanded to bring the Macdonalds of Moydart into
subjection. He was deserted by his Clan Chattan allies, in
revenge for his execution of their captain, Mackintosh, and his
expedition failed. He was then imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle,
was deprived of the earldom of Murray, and was sentenced to
five years of exile, though this punishment was remitted. Huntly
was regarded as the champion of the old faith ; but, both under
the Regent and her daughter, he was untrustworthy, was con-
stantly "put at," and finally destroyed.

Mary of Guise, as Lesley declares, " neglected almost all the Scots
nobles," and admitted only de Rubay, d'Oysel, Bonot, and other
Frenchmen to her counsels.^ The most fortunate occurrences of
these years were the establishment of peace on the Borders, and
the delimitation of the Debatable Land.''' Despite these arrange-
ments (which were previous to the assumption of regency by Mary
of Guise) many Borderers were under bands to England. Such
were the Elliots, Armstrongs, Glendinnings, and Irvings.^ A Parlia-
ment held at Edinburgh in June 1555 throws some light on the
condition of the country. Among evil deeds noted and repressed
are the eating of flesh in Lent, and the revels of Robin Hood, and
of Queens of the May, and " women or others about summer trees
singing." The Protestants whose Lenten beef and mutton were
cut off could scarcely be mollified by this repression of sports in
essence older than Christianity. Vengeance was denounced on
political gossips who blamed the French in Scotland. A " Revoca-
tion" by Mary of grants in her minority, made on April 25 at
Fontainebleau, in the usual form, was recorded. In May 1556,
after the marriage of Mary Tudor and Philip of Spain had seemed
to strengthen the old faith, it was decided that an inquest into all
property should be held, as the basis of new taxation.^ According
to Lesley, the Regent was moved by the advice of her Frenchmen,
who wished to reorganise the system of national defence. Some of
the nobles approved, but the barons totally rejected the scheme.
Three hundred of them met, and denounced a measure contrary to
their ancient feudal methods of military service. They would hear



NEW MEN AND KNOX. 2$

of no mercenary forces, no germ of a standing army; and the
Regent gave way. Many of the protesters against taxation and a
standing army were probably much incUned to the EngUsh party.
Hence, in part, their opposition to the only scheme which
would enable Scotland to put regularly drilled musketeers into
the field. In this Parliament the traitor Brunston, Balnaves, and
William Kirkcaldy of Grange were pardoned, and restored to their
estates. This was a measure of conciliation. Throughout de Selve's
despatches, and despite a letter of Mary of Guise, speaking well of
Chatelherault and the Archbishop of St Andrews, we recognise
friction and jealousy between her and the Hamiltons. She was
therefore anxious to gain over the Protestant party to her cause,
and thus there was a lull in persecution for heresy.

The days of Brunston, Angus, and Sir George Douglas were
nearly ended. New hands, Cecil and Lethington, were weaving the
tangled web of faith and policy. Among these the most vigorous
was Knox, whose biography for this period must be summarised.
He had gone to England, as we saw, when released from the galleys
in 1549. Under Henry VHI. he had regarded the English Church
as little better than the Roman. Under Somerset and Edward VI.
there was more of root-and-branch work. Fiery " licensed preachers "
were needed by the Government, so Knox was licensed. He "was
left to his own devices, and was permitted to introduce into an
English town " (Berwick) " a form of religious service after the
model of the most advanced Swiss reformers." ^° In Berwick he
became the director of a spiritual hypochondriac, wife of Richard
Bowes, an Enghsh gentleman of good family. His visits to her
" gave rise to public gossip " ; but the older Knox grew, the younger
did he like his wives to be, and probably the eyes of Mrs Bowes'
daughter Marjory were as attractive to him as the godly perplex-
ities of her mother. At all events he later wedded the daughter,
Marjory, when he was verging on fifty. In 1551 he went to
Newcastle and took part in the editing of the Second Prayer
Book of Edward VI. He had already, at Newcastle, preached
to a distinguished audience against the mass. As Mr Hume Brown
says, " his method of procedure was arbitrary in the highest degree,
and by a similar handling of texts any fanatic could make good his
wildest visions." But underlying the logic based on detached texts
was his fundamental idea, "that rites and ceremonies were but so
many barriers between the soul of man and God." This notion may



26 KNOX IN ENGLAND.

be true in certain ages, and of certain men. Of other men and
other ages it is not true ; and even Knox admitted the rites of
baptism and of the Holy Communion. Meanwhile he already dis-
played his unparalleled candour and energy in political harangues
from the pulpit. The reforming Somerset fell beneath the axe
guided by Warwick (Northumberland), as the reforming Warwick
(actually a Catholic) was more deservedly to fall in his turn. Knox
even denounced, whether privately or in public seems uncertain,
the execution of Somerset.^^ In 1551 he became a royal chaplain :
his stipend was but ^40 per annum. Northumberland, perhaps to
bridle Knox, offered him the bishopric of Rochester. "What
moved me to refuse ? " he asked Mrs Bowes a year or two later,
and answered, " Assuredly the foresight of evils to come." Whether
he alluded to his gift of prophecy, or only to an obvious inference
from what would follow on the death of Edward VI., a sickly boy,
may have been left to the decision of Mrs Bowes. ^^ " At a later
period," remarks Mr Hume Brown, " he set down this refusal to his
disapproval of bishops."

Meanwhile his energies were directed against the custom of
kneeling at the celebration of the eucharist. He appears to
have had a hand in the preparation of the " Black Rubric,"
and, that once inserted, he had " a good opinion " of the
Second Prayer Book of Edward VI. That good opinion later
changed into contempt.^^ In February 1553 he was offered, and
declined, the vicarage of All Hallows, in Bread Street. Presently
came the conspiracy of Northumberland to secure the throne, on
Edward's death, for his daughter-in-law. Lady Jane Grey. The
hearts of the people of England were with Mary Tudor, her cause
prevailed, and Knox found that his " foresight of troubles to come "
was justified. He had denounced Northumberland, from the pulpit,
before Edward VI. as Achitophel, Paulet as Shebna, and somebody
unidentified as Judas.'^ Mr Hume Brown suggests that Northum-
berland tolerated these harangues because he had no party except
in the extreme Protestant body. Tolerated Knox was, and so he
was confirmed in the habit of using the pulpit as the platform.
This habit he carried into Scotland, and it practically meant that
preachers, in a kind of inspired way, and with the sanction of their
own and their flock's belief in their inspiration, were to guide the
foreign and domestic policy of the State. These pretensions are
incompatible with political freedom. Through the reigns of Mary,



KNOX STIRS UP ENGLISH PROTESTANTS. 2/

James VI., Charles I., and Charles II. they were persisted in, till
the Stewarts and the Hierocrats broke each other, and were broken,
and the pulpiteers slowly became content to know their place.

Under Mary Tudor, Knox did not hold his post and accept
martyrdom. He went abroad in January 1554, and at Geneva
and Zurich consulted Calvin and Bullinger on certain cases of
conscience. Is obedience to be rendered to a magistrate who
enforces idolatry and condemns true religion ? This is a hand-
some example of Knox's method. After 1560 a Scot who thought
that the old faith was " true religion " was to be compelled by
severe penal laws to "obey the magistrate" — the Presbyterian
magistrate. Our beliefs as to what is " trew " are subjective and
uncontrollable. But Knox believed, with a faith that moved
political mountains, that his religion was the only true religion.
Much of his power lay in faith so absolute, so devoid of shadow of
turning. He asked other questions, but this of godly resistance to
the idolatrous magistrate was the most important. Calvin and
Bullinger put the questions by ; for Calvin they had not yet risen
into the sphere of political politics. For the moment Knox bade
the faithful, whom he had left to the tender mercies of Mary Tudor,
"not to be revengers of their own cause," "not to hate with any
carnal hatred these blind, cruel, and malicious tyrants." In "a
spiritual hatred " they might freely indulge.^'^ Knox's hatred of
Riccio, Mary, Mary of Guise, and his other opponents was, doubt-
less, not "carnal" but spiritual. The worldly eye does not easily
detect any essential distinction in the two forms of deadly detesta-
tion. Returning to Dieppe, he sent a mission to " the professors of
God's truth in England." ^^ In this tract Knox, after lashing Mary
Tudor with Biblical parallels, exclaims, " God, for his great mercy's
sake, stir up some Phineas, Elias, or Jehu, that the blood of abomin-
able idolaters may pacify God's wrath, that it consume not the whole
multitude." ^'' Jehu murdered Jezebel, and Knox's prayer is a pro-
vocation to murder. Did Knox forget Hosea i. 4 ? " The Lord
said, ... for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of
Jezreel " (the scene of the deed) " upon the house of Jehu." As
his most recent biographer says, " In casting such a pamphlet into
England, at the time he did, he indulged his indignation, in itself
so natural under the circumstances, at no personal risk, while he
seriously compromised those who had the strongest claims on his
most generous consideration." ^^ The fires of Smithfield soon after



28 KNOX AND CALVIN (1555).

blazed out. It was easy, and perhaps natural, for opponents to say
that Knox had hghted them. He had described the Queen of
England as " an open traitress," had spoken of what would have
occurred if she " had been sent to hell before these days," had
called for a Jehu, and certainly had compromised the flock which
he had abandoned. In uttering provocatives to, and applauses of,
political murders, Knox of course spoke as a man of his age.
Greece had applauded Harmodius and Aristogiton, murderers of
a tyrant. Elijah had impelled Jehu, the murderer of an idolater.
Catholics and Protestants at this period believed that they had
Biblical and classical warrant for the dagger. But there was a
certain shamefacedness, as a rule, in clerical abettors of murder.
Knox, for his part, is frank enough. That Christ came to abolish
such deeds of blood is no part of the reformed Christianity of
Knox.

He later moved to Frankfort, and took a vigorous part in
the quarrels of the English Protestant refugees as to their Church
service. A congregation, who sat under Cox, insisted on uttering
the responses, or " mummuling " as Knox called it ; and now he
discovered even in the Second Prayer Book of Edward VI. " things
superstitious, impure, unclean, and imperfect." ^^ In the end some
of Cox's party denounced Knox to the Frankfort magistrates for the
treason to the Kaiser, Philip, and Mary contained in his ' Godly
Admonition ' to the faithful in England. He had drawn a trenchant
historical parallel between the Kaiser and the Emperor Nero.
Knox had to leave Frankfort. He arrived in Geneva in April
1555. There he found Calvin wielding the full powers of a
theocracy. Outlanders had been enfranchised : the native vote
was swamped ; the ministers could excommunicate, with all the
civil consequences of a State " boycott," " virtually implying ban-
ishment." Such, or very similar, was the condition to which Knox
and his successors endeavoured to reduce Scotland. And now,
after harvest in 1555, to Scotland Knox returned, at the request of
Mrs Bowes. He probably did not know himself how safe was this
venture into the native country where, nine years ago, his peril had
been extreme. Despite the execution of Wallace, various causes
had contributed to keep down persecution. It was not the policy
of Archbishop Hamilton. The ambitions of his House, disap-
pointed for the time by the deposition of Chatelherault from the
regency, would not be forwarded by the unpopularity that cruelties



KNOX AND LETHINGTON (1555). 29

must arouse. Mary of Guise, for her part, was trying to conciliate
the Protestants.

In 1549, and in 1552, the Church had been talcing shame
to herself for the evil lives of clerics : a Reformation from within
was being attempted. The Catechism of Archbishop Hamilton
was issued early in 1552, after the Provincial Council in January
of that year. It is "a fine piece of composition, full of a
spirit of gentleness and charity," says Mr Hill Burton. The
tolerance of tone, and the preference for a Christian life as more
essential than disputes on Christian mysteries, are worthy of Ninian
Winzet.-^ In these years, then, the Reformers, such as Harlaw
(originally an Edinburgh tailor) and Willock (an Ayrshire man)
ventured back into Scotland and held forth in private. " And last
came John Knox, in the end of harvest." Lodging at Edin-
burgh with John Syme, " that notable man of God," Knox ex-
horted secretly. In a Mrs Barron Knox found another Mrs
Bowes, — " she had a troubled conscience." Like Edward Irving,
and other popular preachers, Knox had enormous influence over
women. He seems to have been unwearied in listening to the
long and complex chapter of their spiritual sorrows, to which the
Catholic confessors probably lent an accustomed and uninterested
hearing. At this juncture even masculine consciences were
"affrayed" as to the propriety of bowing down in the house of
Rimmon, and going to mass.

To discuss this question of conformity, Knox dined with
Erskine of Dun, Willock, and William Maitland, younger of
Lethington. Here we first meet this captivating and extra-
ordinary man, a modern of the moderns, cool, witty, ironical,,
subtle, and unconvinced ; a man of to-day, moving among
fanatics and assassins, and using both, without relish as without
scruple. Knox decided that it was not lawful for a Christian
man to present himself to that idol, the mass. It was argued,
perhaps by Lethington, that the thing had New Testament
warrant. The probatory text was Acts xxi. 18-27. On St Paul's
arrival at Jerusalem, after a missionary expedition among the
Gentiles, St James pointed out to him that many Jews professed
Christian principles, but remained " zealous for the law." Paul was
accused of wishing them to " forsake Moses " and disuse circum-
cision. Would Paul give a practical proof that he had not broken
with the old Law ? Paul therefore ritually " purified " himself with



30 KNOX AND MARY OF GUISE (1556).

four shaven men under a vow. With them he entered the temple
"until that an offering should be offered for every one of them."
Apparently the argument was that the sacrifice of the mass
answered to this offering of " the shaven sort " of Hebrew votaries.
As a matter of fact, Paul was mobbed by the Jews. Knox,
evading the " offerings " (the essence of the parallel), replied that
" to pay vows . . . was never idolatry," but the mass ivas idolatry.
"Secondly," said he, "I greatly doubt whether either James's
commandment or Paul's obedience proceeded from the Holy
Ghost." For, in fact, Paul was mobbed, which showed "that
God approved not that means of reconciliation, but rather that
he plainly declared that evil should not be done that good might
come of it." Lethington had an obvious reply. First, by Knox's
own showing, evil, in this case, was no^ done. Next, Stephen
was worse handled than Paul ; did such results prove God's
displeasure ? Lastly, by what right did Knox determine when
the apostles were, and when they were not, inspired ? However,
Maitland is not reported to have pressed these answers, and
conformity began to be disused by the godly. Knox now visited
some country houses. He stayed with Erskine of Dun, and with
old Sir James Sandilands at Calder House. Here he met Lord
Erskine (later sixth Earl of Mar), Lord Lome, who became fifth
Earl of Argyll in 1558, and the Bastard of Scotland, Lord James
Stewart, Prior of St Andrews and Macon, later Earl of Murray,
and at this time a man of twenty-three or twenty-four years of age.
Till Christmas, Knox lectured in Edinburgh, then in Kyle, Ayr,
at the house of Glencairn, Finlayston, and elsewhere about the
country, ministering the Sacrament in the Geneva way. Conse-
quently he was summoned to appear for trial in the Dominicans'
church in Edinburgh on May 15, 1556. But "that diet held not."
Erskine of Dun, with divers other gentlemen, convened at Edin-
burgh, and the bishops, as Knox says, either " perceived informality
in their own proceedings, or feared danger to ensue upon their
extremity, it was unknown to us." The latter alternative is the
more probable. After successful sermons, Knox sent a letter to
the Regent, who showed it to the Cardinal's nephew, James Beaton,
Archbishop of Glasgow, saying, in mockage, " Please you, my Lord,
to read a pasquil." The letter had been conciliatory, for Knox,
who, irritated by the Regent's scorn, published it anew, with
truculent additions. Nothing galled him like a gibe.^^ Knox now



STATE OF PUBLIC OPINION. 3I

sent Mrs Bowes, " and his wife Marjory,", abroad ; visited the Earl
of Argyll of the 1000 crowns; then crossed to Dieppe in July 1556,
and so proceeded to Geneva, to resume his care of the English
congregation. Here we may glance at the process of evolution
by which Protestantism was increasing its hold upon Scotland.
Between the release of Knox from the galleys and his visit to his
native country in 1 555-1 556, the new movement had advanced
rapidly. Progress was due in part to the arrival of preaching
refugees from England, and of Knox ; in part to the toleration
forced on the Government, or congenial to Mary of Guise ; in part
to the death or decline of the old intriguers like Glencairn and
Argyll, with the advent of a younger generation.

Among the middle and lower classes, too, the leaven of reform
was working busily. Mr Carlyle has eloquently complained that no
clear view of this travail is given by historians. When he desires
to see and hear the spiritual ferment of a grave, ardent, and deeply
moved people ; to watch the tokens of hearts convinced of sin ; and
the stir of indignation against a secular imposture, the new joy of
men between whose hearts and God the barrier of ceremony is
broken, — he is told a tale of scandal in high life. He is put off with
the amours and hates of Darnley, Riccio, Mary, and Bothwell.

In fact, while human beings are of concern to human beings, that
tragedy will be the subject of interest and dispute. There are here
terrible and sorrowful facts, facts in great numbers, if not precisely
recorded. But, as to the weightier matter, the development of
national character, no man was minutely watching and recording the
veering breezes of public " feeling " on the eve of the Reformation.
Knox himself was abroad, though his letters contain valuable evid-
ence. Two relics of the scanty popular literature born in that age
of strife lend themselves to our inquiry. The first is ' The Com-
playnt of Scotland' (1549), a treatise of which only some four
copies have survived — a proof, perhaps, of its popularity.^^ The
authorship is uncertain ; much of the work, indeed, is borrowed
from the French of Alain Chartier. The political reflections, how-
ever, are original and interest us. With a great parade of learning
the author laments the evils of the times. The English, though



Online LibraryAndrew LangA history of Scotland from the Roman occupation (Volume 2) → online text (page 4 of 60)