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

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writes that Atholl was expected with 2000 men. Colville puts
himself at Elizabeth's disposal " as her born subject." ^^ There
is an undated address of Gowrie, Bothwell, Atholl, Ochiltree,
and Murray to " the Reverend Pastors of the Kirk presently
assembled at Dunbar," to announce their rising in arms against the
Spanish faction, and requesting the preachers to take record of
their proceedings.^'' It is even said, in ' The Chronicles of the
Families of Atholl and TuUibardine ' (i. 51), that Atholl was pres-
ent at the Raid of Leith (April 3) with Bothwell. He was de-
nounced rebel (April 26) for not appearing to answer concerning
his dealings with Bothwell. ^'^ Hunsdon, who knew about the plot,
could not learn that Atholl " or any other of his confederates " had
appeared in arms (April 7).^^ From a letter of John Colville to
Locke (April 28) it appears that Atholl and his party deemed that
their success and Bothwell's was impossible, if James really meant
(as he had promised) to " pursue the papists." Cecil had advised
the AthoU-Bothwell party to await events, and they would not act
violently "unless Atholl be pursued." ^'-^ On May 3 Colville com-
plained that both England and the Kirk had advised delay, to them
and to Atholl, till James's intentions as to the Catholic earls were
thoroughly known. Many of Bothwell's horses had died ; his
party meant to assemble at Hexham.^''

By July Atholl had been appointed one of James's lieutenants to
pursue Huntly with fire and sword, and by August his brother-in-
law, Gowrie, had retired to Padua, there to prosecute his studies.
Thus the Atholl-Gowrie branch of the Bothwell-Ochiltree confeder-
acy was broken off: its existence was due partly to Elizabeth and
Robert Cecil, partly to family feud against Huntly, partly to hatred
of Maitland, and in part to Protestant excitement. Had the
Northern lords warmly backed Bothwell at the Raid of Leith he
would probably have triumphed. The Kirk had temporised, but
now one of its members gave James some trouble.

There was a preacher at Perth, named John Ro^s, who dealt very
plainly with James. He said that there were many traitors, but the

VOL. II. 2 B


king was the chief. "We never got good of the Guisian blood, for
Queen Mary, his mother, was an open oppressor of the saints of
God." When examined on this historical statement, he admitted
that he remembered no persecutions by Queen Mary ; doubtless he
had thought it a safe remark to make, on general principles. James
was "a reprobate king," and (which was true) "a dissembling hypo-
crite." How the ministers looked on Ross's performance is not
very clear. The author of ' The Historic of King James the Sext '
says that Ross was examined before certain select ministers and the
king's commissioners. "The whole number of the Assembly"
(including the king's commissioners?) "approves his whole doc-
trine," — as to his threats of judgment and rebukes, — "except in
such heads as seem to be most offensive." ^^ The author sympathises
with Ross. But he has only made an excerpt from the judgment of
the Assembly which " admonished " Ross because the occasion of
his sermon might have made it appear that the Kirk sided with
Bothwell ; because he produced a sentence against the House of
Guise, de fiituro, and because he was harder on the king than his
own years and experience warranted. Ross was therefore warned to
speak at all times reverently of his majesty. This was the decision
of the General Assembly, and Ross's reluctant and guarded apology
was the result. But there had been an earlier inquiry, on May i,
in ]Mr Robert Bruce's garden. Here, too, Ross was admonished ;
" some of the brethren thought it hard to say that the king should
die in blood for sparing the shedding of blood, yet others justified
it, that 'it was agreeable to the Word and common experience.'"'*-
Apparently James was not satisfied, for ' The Historic of King
James the Sext' adds that "as he could not be avenged on Ross by
any ecclesiastical law of theirs, or municipal law of his own," he, by
advice of his Council, banished Ross from the realm. This Ross
was a kinsman of Bothwell on the Hepburn side. He avowed a
desire to see all papists hanged.

If we consider the state of affairs when Ross preached, and
the dangers from the AthoU-Bothwell confederacy, his sermon has
much the air of a provocative to assassination. There were preachers
who justified his words about James "dying in blood." Though the
general sense of the Assembly did not carry it to the length of
approving of Ross, he was certainly let off very lightly, without even
a sentence of temporary suspension. Dr M'Crie states the matter
thus : " They censured a preacher of the name of Ross, who had


been guilty of this offence " — that is, of " rash or irreverent speeches
against the king or his Council."

We have given fuller details, and dwelt more than may seem
needful on these performances of the ministers of religion, because
they show the nature of the relations between Kirk and State,
Were they endurable relations ? Could the king oblige Mr Ross by
hanging perhaps the majority of his subjects ? Had he more power
than his ancestors possessed in the way of forfeiting some of his
most potent and least accessible nobles ? Was it feasible for him to
capture men who, if defeated, had the roadless retreats of the High-
lands behind them ; and was this action specially possible when
Bothwell was threatening the capital ? It was in such circumstances
that the clergy, when consulted, so mildly " admonished " the
preacher of a sermon which was, at the least, bitterly insulting, and
in some places provocative of those murders of kings familiar " to
the Word and common experience." As James's reign was the
prelude to a terrible civil war, provoked in great part by royal
retaliation on the ministers, it appears desirable to leave no doubt as
to the conduct, the ideals, and the aspirations of the Brethren. It
may be said, on their side, that they merely represented " his
majesty's Opposition " ; that, in the absence of the press (which,
however, dealt in scurrilous pamphlets and ballads), the pulpit was
the only place where freedom of speech was possible. But neither a
parliamentary Opposition nor an advanced Liberal press pretends to
be inspired by " the Spreit of God," and finds its claims accepted by
its party. This pretence the preachers did make, therefore they were
dangerous to an intolerable degree, and the perils caused by their pre-
tensions were the direct source of James's equally unjust repressions.

Turning from his clergy to the eternal disturber of his country,
Elizabeth, James was able to answer her letters in her own style.
She had been ' surprised, wondered whether she dreamed or not.
James also asked whether there were visions about. Bothwell had
not only been harboured in England, but had received English
gold, and had raised English soldiers, proclaiming his rate of pay at
English parish churches. He had appeared at Edinburgh, and had
led his troops back, with banners displayed, to English ground.
Where were Elizabeth's many promises not to receive Bothwell ?
In what had James deserved her anger ? His one offence was that
he had not dealt with certain of his own subjects in such form and
at such time as Elizabeth, in his place, might have deemed fitting.


He had sent Zouche back with scant courtesy, reckoning him rather
a herald with a challenge than a friendly ambassador.*^

The General Assembly met in May, made their usual complaints,
and produced a pleasant piece of folk-lore, " the horrible supersti-
tion in not labouring a parcell of ground dedicated to the Devil,
under the name of ' The Goodman's Croft.' " We may conjecture
that, the devil being addicted to sowing tares, it was thought well
to leave him a "pofifle or pendicle" of ground where he could
exercise his industry. On May 30 Parhament forfeited Angus,
Errol, and Huntly, but Mr Davidson gave "a free rebooke of all
estats." He accused the preachers of greed, and of " winking at
the profaning of the Sabboth day " (Sunday). He drew a parallel
between James and Charles IX. of France, the man of the Bar-
tholomew Massacre : the parallel was rather in favour of Charles.
Charles had been kind to Coligny and the Huguenots, k nder and
more promising than James was to his Protestant subjects. Yet
Charles had massacred the Huguenots on a large scale, and there-
fore it was well to keep a watchful eye on James. *^

We must remember that the Brethren lived in constant fear of a
popish plot and a massacre. This appears curious, for we are apt
to suppose that Edinburgh was entirely Protestant. Davidson de-
clared, however, that he " feared the multitude of Edinburgh . . .
more than I fear the Court." This looks as if, while the richer
citizens were orthodox, the Reformation had not really touched
Knox's old allies in mischief, " the rascal multitude."

Though forfeited, the Catholic earls were passing their time "in
great jollity," and Huntly continued to make new buildings at
Strathbogie. Bothwell was in poverty in Liddesdale, and already
it was rumoured that he would join the Catholic earls. A ship
from Spain arrived at Aberdeen (a report in the ' Spanish State
Papers ' says that it contained a papal subsidy of gold for the king).
The barque was taken by the citizens, whom Huntly terrified into
surrendering the passengers by threats of fire and sword, while he
seized the money nieatit for his sovereign ! This is alleged in a
strange legendary report sent by an anonymous writer to Spain,
but the document is full of wild myths and romances (July).'*^ *

* It seems to me very improbable that the money " from Pope Clement VIII.
to the King " was really destined for James with his knowledi;e. The authority
cited by Mr Hume Brown (ii. 217, note 2) is 'Spanish State Papers,' iv. 590.
That document is not only anonymous, but is sheer mythology'. In my opinion


Meanwhile James prepared for war in the North, and granted a
commission of lieutenancy to Argyll and Atholl, who, according to
Colville, was as much a traitor as ever.*^ In the defect of a police
force, or of a regular army, it was the practice, when one noble or
chief was contumacious, to give another noble " letters of fire and
sword " against him, and Huntly is said to have had some such
commission against the bonny Earl Moray. The preachers and
burgesses of Edinburgh were now asked to raise " waged men " for
the Northern raid, which they did with some reluctance. War
was delayed till the infant prince had been baptised at Stirling
(August 30), where Sussex represented Elizabeth. The festivities
included the usual fantastic pageantries, and James vexed "good
men " by wearing his French order of the Sai7it Esprit.

James and Elizabeth were now on the best terms. Bothwell was
bidden to leave England. On July 30 he had let Cecil know,
through Colville, that the Catholic lords had been soliciting him.
They offered 25,000 crowns if he would come over to them, and
bring the AthoU-Gowrie party with him, and abandon Colville.
He waited to know Elizabeth's mind : as for the money (Spanish,
no doubt), if he did not take it, Home would. He proposed, if
Elizabeth agreed, that he should accept the 25,000, and then use it
" for pursuit of the said papists " who gave it, while Elizabeth
might pay back the papists. Bothwell wished Colville to put this
remarkable proposal to Cecil as an abstract question in casuistry,
" an A B case " of conscience : " May A, to whom B (a papist)
offers money for his alliance, take the money and use it against
B ? " Colville asked Cecil to answer in the abstract form, that
Bothwell might think Colville had so stated it. Colville added that
James rather thought Prince Henry to be the son of one of his
courtiers, probably of Lennox. A Darnley and Mary quarrel, he
said, was at hand.

This Colville, at whose wedding John Knox was present, is a

Father Gordon, Huntly's uncle, had persuaded himself that he might persuade
the Pope that James, if supplied with gold, would be converted, and later, per-
suaded himself that Huntly was a worthy recipient of the ducats. Major Martin
Hume's 'Treason and Plot' (1901) may be recommended to readers curious in
these intrigues. I am not as convinced as Major Hume that James was deeply
concerned in them; and, if he was, he only sought preservation from the dis-
graceful intrigues of Elizabeth, and of the factions whom she suborned in Scotland.
The King, naturally, wished to protect his powerful Catholic subjects from per-
secution, and to escape from Elizabeth's spadassins, Bothwell and his adherents.
He also needed to know what his Catholic earls really intended.


fairly representative scoundrel of the period : his later fortunes were
such as he deserved, but the interesting point is the use of such
abominable tools by England.'*" In September Colville had to
report that " unhappy Bothwell " was not running a straight course
with Elizabeth, but was off to meet Huntly. This deeply grieved a
professor so earnest as Colville, who could only hope that "the
Lord would send light out of darkness." So sincere a Protestant
as Colville could no longer be a partner with one who had joined
himself unto idols. He went to Edinburgh on September 1 2 and
wrote a letter of farewell to his old master. The Earl had openly
said that Colville meant to betray him (which he probably did
intend), and Colville was hurt. But he had got Bothwell cleared
of " the odious imputation of witchcraft," he said : and who but he
had given tone to Bothwell's enterprises in general ? Colville had
often hazarded his body for this ungrateful patrician, " but God only
knows how far I hazarded my conscience in making black white
and darkness light for your sake." That was what Colville felt most
bitterly. He therefore proposed to seek James's pardon, " spending
the rest of my days quietly in the fear of that gracious and omnipo-
tent Lord," with other canting phrases.^^ To James next did Col-
ville write, likening himself to a dead dog, and addressing the king
as " Oh, Glory of Albion ! " He quoted Ovid and the Bible, and
rather impiously likened James to the Founder of Christianity. He
simply wallowed in remorse and abject apology.**^ He reported to
Cecil the shameful backsliding of Bothwell. But a few months ago,
to quote Moysie, "all the ministry favoured the Erie Bothwell,
thinking him most meit to be chiftaine for the professoriris," and
now he had joined the idolaters.^*^

We know what Bothwell had been doing. He had met the
Catholic lords in Angus ; his messenger, one Orme, was caught,
and a proclamation of September 30 disclosed his iniquitous inten-
tions. He was to make a raid on Holyrood, seize James, shut him
up in the Keep of Blackness, raise the Borderers, and capture the
Northern castles. ^^ Home, Cessford, and Buccleuch had taken his
lands, and would make the Border too hot to hold him.* Colville

* The man who had led Bothwell to this course was " Mr Thomas Cranstoun."
A person called "Mr Thomas Cranstoun" came home with Gowrie from France
in 1600, and was hanged for the Gowrie Conspiracy of that year. He, however,
" lest susjiicion be taken from his name," averred that he had been abroad since
15S9. The Cranstouns at this time were usually of the Kirk party.



wrote thus on September 16. On August 20, three weeks earlier,
he had informed Cecil that Bothwell was otfering Lennox 1000
crowns to pay men to seize James, and that Lennox had induced
Mar to join the plot. The other plan was to allure James away
from his retinue, "when he hunts his bucks in Falkland." "The
captain of that house has promised us, any morning we please, to
draw him out with the huntsmen only to any part of the wood we
please to hide ourselves into."^- This plot is much akin to that of
the Cowrie Conspiracy (1600), by which James was to have been
allured away from the chase in the woods of Falkland. Probably
Lennox, an honourable man on the whole, declined to take part in
these proceedings. We have to note, however, that Robert Cecil
was hardened in such iniquities. It was when he failed with the
Protestant or Indifferent Lennox that Bothwell threw himself into
the arms of idolaters, to the consternation of the godly Colville, and
with them he was still hunting the king. As Bothwell was now a
lost sheep, Elizabeth abandoned him, and Colville was bidden to
seek a pardon from James. This he obtained : we have seen in
what terms he asked for it (September 30), and he assures Cecil
that now he will be a more useful spy than ever ! He did not say
what he had offered " for his peace," but Ochiltree had offered to
catch Angus. What Mr Colville offered will presently appear : it
was the blood of Bothwell's brother. ^^

As for Bothwell, he tried to propitiate the Kirk ; he explained
that though now leagued with papists, it was only in his temporal
interests. ^^ On October 3 the forces of Argyll, going in advance of
the royal army, encountered those of Huntly at Glenrinnes, in Glen-
avon. Argyll, a lad of nineteen, had the slaying of the Bonny Earl
to avenge. His force of 6000 men was, in part, a light armed
Highland levy, and he had neither cavalry nor guns. " The High-
land men are naked men," says a much later ballad : they were no
better equipped with defensive armour now than at Harlaw or
Killiecrankie. Mackintosh was with Argyll, and all Clan Gilzean.
That day one of the chiefs of the Macleans " undoubtedly played
the man," says a letter quoted by Calderwood. The Macleans were
the Spartans of the North ; down to Drummossie day it was their
motto and practice never to turn their backs, but conquer, or die
with their faces to the foe. Such was their ancient and honourable
tradition, which many a time left them a weakened people. Clan
Chattan was divided ; the Macphersons held Ruthven Castle for


Huntly ; Clan GilHvray and the Mackintoshes were with Argyll.
Huntly, like Mar at Harlaw, had a force far inferior in numbers, but
well armed, well mounted, and provided with six guns — weapons of
which the Celts stood in some awe, as being unfamiliar. Argyll,
wisely, was anxious to await the arrival of the more regular forces,
cavalry, and artillery of James. Huntly, however, sent out a cavalry
patrol, which cut up the skirmishers of Argyll and reconnoitred the
position of his main body. With Argyll naturally was the first cadet
of his house, Lochnell. He, it will be remembered, was a partner
of Huntly in " the great band " for the murder of Campbell of
Calder, of the bonny Earl of Moray, and of Argyll himself. Moray
and Calder had been slain in February 1592. Now was Lochnell's
chance to betray Argyll to the same fate.

Lochnell, if we may believe a letter cited by Calderwood, had
expected to lead the van. He therefore arranged with Huntly that
he should direct his whole artillery on the yellow flag of the clan,
under which Argyll himself would be stationed. Lochnell would
then take to flight, which would lead to the flight of his vanguard,
and the ruin, probably the death, of Argyll. But Argyll, instead of
letting Lochnell lead the vanguard, kept him beside his own person,
under the yellow standard, which had formed no part of his ingeni-
ous scheme. Either by the artillery-fire, or in Huntly's charge on
the yellow standard, Lochnell was slain, and a great number of the
Campbells turned and fled ; but the main body occupied a hill-top,
beneath which lay a morass, while the sun blazed in the eyes of
Huntly's and Errol's cavalry. Errol turned to avoid the marsh and
outflank the enemy, but Auchendown, making a frontal attack, saw
his men mowed down by the arrows and musket- balls of Clan
Gilzean, covered as they were by a coppice. Nevertheless Gordon
of Auchendown pressed on, charging up-hill ; but he was shot, and
the Celts cut off his head. Huntly's force was now enclosed
between the Macleans and the Campbells, but he led a desperate
charge to extricate his vanguard. Now Maclean, plying a Danish
battle-axe and wearing heavy armour, cut his way to Huntly's
standard, which he captured, slaying the man who bore it. Errol
was wounded by a bullet and an arrow, Gordon of Gight was slain,
Huntly was unhorsed, but remounted, and led a fresh charge. On
this the Campbells who had stood fled, while Argyll wept for the
dishonour of his name. The victory, after heavy loss, remained
with Huntly : the Macleans retired in good order, but Argyll's camp


fell into the enemy's hands. In a report to Spain Huntly has only
thirty-seven men, who kill 500 of Argyll's force, losing only one man
wounded — a miracle.-''

It was on the day after this gallantly fought affair that James
rode out of Edinburgh, Morton being left in command of the town.
The Melvilles, by James's desire, accompanied him, " because the
people were jealous of him." Nor was James Melville satisfied.
Huntly's force, sorely shaken by their losses at Glenrinnes, dis-
persed, and ' James occupied Aberdeen. But money was needed
for the forces, and James Melville was sent to Edinburgh to procure
supplies. He was to announce that James would burn the castles
of his foes, yet " moyen was maid " that they should be spared.
However, the arguments of Andrew Melville prevailed, Strathbogie
and other seats, Errol's, and the houses of some Gordons and
Ogilvies, were demolished. ^^ This was not enough for James
Melville. The royal raid ended for lack of supplies, and, says
Melville, " when all was done, little sound meaning and small effect
further was produced." The king returned to Edinburgh, Lennox
remained at Aberdeen in command, and many barons and chiefs,
the Earl Marischal, Lovat, Grant, Mackintosh, and others came
under oaths of loyalty.

Though the Catholic earls and their new associate, Bothwell,
were practically broken, the state of the country and of political
factions was purely chaotic. While the earls were gathering head
again, and it was found necessary to reinforce Lennox in the
North, Argyll was mustering his forces anew (December 12).^^
Smarting from the shame of his defeat at Glenrinnes, he .had
discovered the whole secret of the great band, the complicity of
Ardkinglas, and the treachery of Lochnell, which fate had so
strangely avenged. He would take further vengeance himself upon
Huntly's country and his own faithless clansmen and allies. In
many districts there was " much blood shed, and many horrible
murders were committed ; the son slaying the father, one brother
the other, and brothers' sons killing each other, thieves spoiling and
oppressing, and men daily ravishing " (probably abducting is meant)
"women; but no execution of justice, either by the king or the
inferior magistrates," says Calderwood.

It was not possible for James to execute justice, if he had been so
inclined, for want of force, and the cause of want of force was want
of money. At any time Elizabeth could have secured a peaceful


Scotland, at great advantage to her own revenues, by a subsidy of
some ;^2o,ooo annually. But she preferred to pension traitors,
and James, having done her work in the North, was now refused
;/^2ooo which had been promised to him. He was naturally
annoyed, and sent Colonel Stewart on a fruitless search for
assistance in the Low Countries (December 12).^^ In her
habitual avarice Elizabeth fostered the many troubles of Scot-
land. Money she would supply to James's rebels : to himself
she grudged or denied it, thereby doing her best to throw him
on the side of Spain, and to cause the very dangers which it was
essential to her to prevent. Nevertheless James arrested Argyll in
the midst of his enterprises of vengeance and spoliation, warding
him for a time in Edinburgh Castle. Calderwood, who grumbles
at the defect of justice, also grumbles at the detention of Argyll as
a mere pretence for extorting money. ^^ James (January 29, 1595)
summoned a convention of nobles and endeavoured to alleviate
the condition of the people. His "waged men" had disbanded
for want of pay, and he was almost as helpless as usual. '^'^ Atholl
as well as Argyll was "warded."

Moved by the king, however, the preachers at last agreed to
excommunicate Bothwell (February 18, 1595). He had shown
his true colours by leaguing with papists, hoc nocuit. We must
not regard all of the Kirk as official allies of Bothwell. James

Online LibraryAndrew LangA history of Scotland from the Roman occupation (Volume 2) → online text (page 41 of 60)