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VOL. I. 








Original authorities for a history of the period, . xi 

Spottiswoode and Calderwood, .... xiii 

The State Papers, . . . . . xv 

Use of the State Papers by the earlier historians, . xv 

Collections of State Papers, ..... xvi 

Sir William Cecil's Collections, .... xxiii 

Comparative value of original documents, . . xxiii 

Knox on Mary and her mother, .... xxv 

Statements that are primd facie incredible, . . xxvi 

Authorities not contemporary, .... xxxiv 

Plan of the work, ...... xxxvi 

Maitland's political and religious attitude to be ap- 
proved, ........ xxxviii 




Birth of Maitland, . . 

The country of the Lammermuirs, . . . 

vi Contents. 

Tliirlstane and the Lauder valley, .... 5 

The Castle of Lethington, 8 

Thomas the Khymer, . . . . . 12 

The " Auld Maitland " of Border Song, . . . 13 

Sir Eichard Maitlaud, . . . . . . 15 

His complaints of the time, . . . . . 22 

His advice to his son, . . . . . . 26 

Thomas Maitland, . . . . . . 27 

John Maitland, the Chancellor, .... 32 

The Duke of Lauderdale, 34 

William Maitland's early life, . . . . 35 


Edinburgh from the Blackford Hill, . . . 37 

The Edinburgh of Maitland, 39 

Scotland in the sixteenth century, . . . . 43 

Xumbers of the people, . . . . 43 

The Borderers, ....... 47 

The Redshanks, . . . . . . 55 

The Lowlanders, . . . . . . . 64 

Destruction of the great woods, . . . . 65 

The monastic life, . . . . . . 67 

The burgh life, 71 

Trade and commerce, . . . . . . 72 

Mansions of the nobles, . . . . . 75 

Agriculture, . 79 

Love of sport, . . . * . -. . . 80 

Wild animals, 81 

Royal hunting-parties, . . . . . . 85 

The Universities, . ' . . . . . 86 

Melville at St Andrews, 90 

The introduction of printing, . . . . 91 

Scottish Literature, . . . . . . 93 

The Romance Writers, . . . . . . 94 

The Annalists, ....... 97 

The Didactic Poets, . . . . .103 

Sir David Lindsay and the Reformation, . . 112 

Contents. vii 



Decline of Feudalism, . . . . . .118 

The great feudal houses, . . . . .120 

Comyn, . . . . . . . .121 

Douglas, 133 

Maitland's contemporaries, . . . . . 143 
Arran Glencairn Argyll, . . . . .144 

The Earl of Huntly, 146 

The Earl of Morton, . . . . . .148 

Parliament and the officials, . . . . .152 



The political position, . . . . . .155 

The English claim to superiority, . . . . 156 

The Scottish anarchy, . . . . . .158 

The Stuarts, 160 

The claim renewed by Henry VIII., . . .162 

Sadler at Edinburgh, 163 

Failure of the negotiations, . . . . .165 
Vengeance of Henry, . . . . . .168 

Eeligion, . . 173 

Principles of the Eeformation, . . . . 174 

St Andrews the ecclesiastical capital, . . . 176 
The earliest reformers, . . . . . .182 

Progress of dissent, . . . . - . 184 

James V. and Sadler, . . . . . .185 

Character of Cardinal Beaton, . . . . 187 

Forces which shaped the Scottish Eeformation, . 189 

The Martyrs, 190 

The Gude and Godly Ballates, . . . .195 

State of the Church, . . . . . . 198 

lumbers of the clergy, . ... . . . 200 

Immorality, idleness, ignorance, .... 202 

viii Contents. 



Early notices of Maitland, 206 

First controversy with Knox, .... 208 

John Knox, 

Maitland as Secretary to the Regent, . . . 213 

Marie of Lorraine, . . . . . .214 

The Congregation of Jesus Christ, . . . 215 

Religious animosity and political disaffection, . . 216 

Knox's position, . . . . . .219 

Maitland quits the Dowager, . . . . 221 

Maitland 's position, . . . . . .223 

Death of Marie of Lorraine, . . . . .225 



The glory of architecture, . . . . . 227 

The medieval churches of Scotland, . . . 228 

The " fiery besom," . . . . . . 230 

Responsibility of Knox, . . . . .235 

Deposition of Marie of Lorraine, . - . . 239 

Failure of the Congregation, . . . .240 

Knox and Elizabeth, . . . V . . 242 

Maitland despatched for English aid, . . 245 

Sadler at Berwick, . . . . . . 246 

Anxiety about Maitland, . . . . .250 

The Convention of Berwick, . . . . 254 

The Siege of Leith and Treaty of Edinburgh, . . 254 

Cecil in Scotland, . . . . . .' 256 

Assistance rendered by Maitland, . - . . 256 

The Parliament of 1560, 260 

Maitland opens the Parliament, . . . 261 

The Confession of Faith, . . . . .263 

Religious divisions Knox and Maitland, . . 265 

Contents. ix 



Mary's claim to the English succession, . . . 269 

Struggle between Mary and Elizabeth, . . . 270 

English poets on Mary and Elizabeth, . . . 271 
Character of Elizabeth, . . . .273 

Character of Mary Contemporary evidence, . . 276 

Sir Ealph Sadler, 277 

Early letters from France, . . . . . 281 

Thomas Eandolph, 284 

John Knox, 286 

Sir Francis Knollys, . . . . . .287 

N. White, . 289 

The scene at Jedburgh, 292 

The true force and charm of Mary's character, . 294 


Mary returns to Scotland, . . . . .302 

She allies herself with the moderate party, . . 304 

She appeals to Maitland, . . . . .307 

Difficulties of his position, ..... 308 

Charges of inconsistency. . . . . .318 

The Chamaeleon of George Buchanan, . . . 319 

The Machiavelli of Eichard Bannatyne, . . 320 

Modern Historians, . . . . . .321 

Character of Maitland, 322 

Speeches and letters, . . . . . .328 

Devotion of his friends Mary Fleming, . . 330 

The gift of ruling men, . . . . .333 

Maitland's aims, . . . . . . .335 


"VTO period of Scottish history has been pro- 
d.uctive of more difference of opinion among 
historical writers than the reign of Mary. There 
is hardly a single event, from the day of her 
birth to the day of her death, which has not 
been the occasion of keen and even vehement 
debate. I have sometimes felt that the con- 
clusions of competent students have varied so 
widely because certain preliminary questions 
have not been sufficiently considered. What 
are the original authorities for Mary's reign ? 
and what is their comparative value ? The 
latter question is, of course, the more import- 
ant of the two ; yet even the former is not 
entirely free from dubiety. Excluding one or 
two English and foreign writers, whose sources 



Introductory Chapter. 

of original information about Scottish affairs were 
obviously extremely meagre, the contemporary 
works which are really valuable appear to me to 
be these : ' The Chronicles of Scotland,' by Robert 
Lindsay of Pitscottie ; ' History of the Refor- 
mation in Scotland/ by John Knox (Laing's 
edition, 1846); ' Rerum Scoticarum Historia/ 
by George Buchanan ; ' The Complaynt of Scot- 
land ;' 1 ' Memoirs of Sir James Melvil of Halhill ' 
(London, 1683); 'Journal of the Transactions 
in Scotland, 1570-73,' by Richard Bannatyne 
(Edinburgh, 1806); 'The Autobiography and 
Diary of James MelvilT (Edinburgh, 1842); 
'Historical Memoirs,' by Lord Herries (Abbots- 
ford Club, 1834); 'The Historic and Life of 
King James the Sext, 1566-1596' (Bannatyne 
Club, 1825); 'A Diurnal of Remarkable Occur- 
rents' (Maitland Club, 1833); "The Diarey of 
Robert Birrel" ('Fragments of Scottish History/ 

1 An admirable analysis of 
The Complaynt of Scotland 
is given by the late Dr Ross, in 
his very suggestive volume on 
Scottish History and Literature 
(1884), pp. 247-292. The au- 
thor is unknown ; all that can 
be affirmed about him is that he 
was one of those representatives 

of the reforming Catholicism 
who stood by Marie of Lorraine 
while she pursued a moderate 
and pacific policy, an advocate 
of the French alliance, and a 
native of the Border counties. 
See Dr Murray's edition of 
The Complaynt (1872). 

Introductory Chapter. xiii 

by Sir J. G. Dalzell: Edinburgh, 1798 which 
contains also the contemporary narrative of the 
battle of Pinkie, " out of the Parsonage of St 
Mary's Hill in London, this xxviii of January 
1548"); 'De origine, moribus, et rebus gestis 
Scotorum,' by John Leslie (Eome, 1578); 'The 
History of Mary Stewart,' by Claude Nau (Edin- 
burgh, 1883); 'History of the Church of Scot- 
land,' by the Eight Eev. John Spottiswoode 
(Edinburgh/ 1851); 'History of the Kirk of 
Scotland,' by Mr David Calderwood (Edinburgh, 
1842); 'Ancient Scottish Poems,' from the MS. of 
George Bannatyne (Edinburgh, 1770); 'Ancient 
Scottish Poems,' from the MS. of Sir Eichard 
Maitland (Pinkerton, 1786) ; ' Scottish Poems of 
the Sixteenth Century' (Dalzell, 1801); and the 
official records of parochial, municipal, and eccle- 
siastical bodies, which have been published by 
the Spalding, Maitland, Bannatyne, and other 

Some of these authorities can hardly perhaps 
in strictness be regarded as original or contem- 
porary. Spottiswoode's father, no doubt, was 
an office-bearer in the Eeformed Church from 
the first ; but Spottiswoode himself was not 
born till 1565. Yet whoever carefully examines 


Introductory Chapter. 

his narrative will come to the conclusion that 
much of his information had been obtained at 
first hand from men who had been eye-wit- 
nesses of the events which he records. The 
same may be said of Calderwood, although 
Calderwood was not more than twelve years 
old when Mary was executed. Calderwood's 
temper was unhappy ; he was, in fact, so dour, 
so irresponsive, so obstinately opinionative, that 
he ultimately succeeded in alienating his warm- 
est friends ; l but he was a man of immense in- 
dustry ; he had collected, at one time or other, 
nearly all the pamphlets and broadsheets on 
ecclesiastical matters, which formed so large a 
portion of the current literature of the latter half 
of the sixteenth century ; and he has thus pre- 
served (though it is true that he borrowed largely 
from Knox, Bannatyne, and Melville) a valuable 
mass of historical documents which would other- 
wise have been lost. On these grounds it ap- 
pears to me that we are justified in regarding 

1 "He was recommended to 
the first commodious room. 
Likely he shall not in haste 
be provided. The man is sixty- 
six years old ; his utterance is 
unpleasant ; his carriage, about 

the meetings of the Assembly 
and before, has made him less 
considerable to divers of his 
former benefactors." (Baillie's 
Letters, 1641.) 

Introductory Chapter. 


both Spottiswoode and Calderwood as original, 
if not strictly contemporary, authorities. 1 

These are the principal contemporary authori- 
ties ; but there are other writings which are 
among the most valuable original contributions 
to the history of the time the State Papers. 

The State Papers, which are accessible to us, 
were for the most part a sealed book to the con- 
temporary historians. It is a mistake, however, 
to imagine that the more important of these inval- 
uable documents have only recently been made 
available for the purposes of historical research. 
For nearly two centuries the extraordinary inte- 
rest of the letters and other documents deposited 
in the great public libraries has been recognised 
by the Scottish antiquary. Mackenzie, in his 
' Writers of the Scottish Nation,' the successive 
volumes of which were published between 1708 
and 1722, acknowledges his obligations to " Mr 

1 That the authors of A Diur- 
nal of Remarkable Occurrents, 
Historic of King James the 
Sext, and Birrel's Diarey were 
living during the reigns of Mary 
and her son does not, I think, 
admit of dispute ; but the pre- 
cise manner in which these con- 
temporary records were pre- 

pared, and by whom, is not 
known ; and the absence of 
any direct information on these 
points is calculated of course to 
impair their value. The " mem- 
oirs" attributed to Lord Herries 
are of doubtful authenticity ; 
they have admittedly been re- 
cast from an earlier manuscript. 

xvi Introductory CJiapter. 

Crawfurd's Collections from the Cotton Library 
in the Lawyers' Library at Edinburgh ; " and he 
prints in the article entitled " William Mait- 
land " three letters by the Secretary, taken from 
the Crawford transcripts. Bishop Keith, whose 
history appeared in 1734, refers to the same 
collection, "The Faculty of Advocates have in 
their fine library at Edinburgh a tolerably good 
collection of papers transcribed from the Cotton 
Library in England;" and he goes on to say that 
he proposes to place in the same library the copies 
of letters written in the French language which 
he had obtained from the Scottish College at 
Paris. (It does not appear that the intention 
was carried out ; the obliging keeper of the 
Advocates' Library assures me that, so far as he 
is aware, the papers to which the Bishop alludes 
have not been preserved.) Principal Eobert- 
son's ' History of Scotland ' was published in 
1759, and in the preface to the first edition he 
refers to the Crawfurd Collection ("the library 
of the Faculty of Advocates at Edinburgh con- 
tains not only a large collection of original 
papers relating to Scotland, but copies of others 
no less curious, which have been preserved by 
Sir Robert Cotton, or are extant in the public 

Introductory Chapter. xvii 

offices in England") as well as to another col- 
lection, in the possession of Mr Goodall, the 
acute critic of the Casket Letters, who was 
one of the keepers of the Library. "Mr Goodall, 
though he knew my sentiments with regard to 
the conduct and character of Queen Mary to be 
extremely different from his own, communicated 
to me a volume of manuscripts in his possession, 
which contains a great number of valuable 
papers copied from the originals in the Cot- 
tonian Library and Paper Office, by the late 
Reverend Mr Crawfurd, Regius Professor of 
Church History in the University of Edinburgh." 
Both of these collections are now in the Ad- 
vocates' Library. The earlier was made for 
David Crawfurd of Drumsoy (mainly by Robert 
Robertson, A.M., about the year 1707), who 
presented it to the Faculty of Advocates. Mr 
David Crawfurd was the Historiographer-Royal, 
and the editor of the well-known ' Memoirs of 
the Affairs of Scotland/ which was published in 
1706. In the preface to the version of the 
' Historic of King James the Sext,' printed for 
the Bannatyne Club, the editor (Thomas Thom- 
son?) gives an account of the circumstances 
attending the " downright forgery," of which 

xviii Introductory Chapter. 

Crawfurd was accused when he asserted that his 
volume of ' Memoirs ' was taken verbatim from 
an authentic manuscript of the period ; and he 
adds, " Had Mr Matthew Crawford, the contem- 
porary professor of Ecclesiastical History in the 
University of Edinburgh, lived to publish his 
projected work on the History of Queen Mary, 
his exposure of these ' Memoirs ' would have 
been in a very different tone from that of Bishop 
Keith," Keith having alluded to " the consid- 
erable variations between the manuscript and 
the print " with a mildness unusual (and ap- 
parently unappreciated) in antiquarian circles. 
Whatever his other merits may have been, Mr 
Matthew Crawford's handwriting is extremely 
illegible, and compares unfavourably with the 
admirable caligraphy of Mr Robert Robertson. 
The copies appear to have been made by the 
professor himself "from several repositories in 
England " during a visit he paid to London in 
1728. The copies of Sir Nicolas Throckmorton's 
letters, however, were obtained as early as Jan- 
uary 1725 " from the originals which were lent 
me by Andrew Spreul, writer in Edinburgh ; " 
and several letters from Queen Elizabeth " in 
the Bishop of Ely's library at Cambridge," were 

Introductory Chapter. xix 

transcribed for him by " Mr Thomas Baker, fel- 
low of St John's College, a curious antiquary." 
I have gone carefully through these collections 
(the David Crawfurd Collection is in three vol- 
umes, the Matthew Crawford in two), and it 
appears to me that in either case the selection 
of documents was made with much skill and 
judgment ; comparatively few papers of first- 
rate importance have been omitted ; the letters 
of Eandolph, Throckmorton, and Knollys, which 
are of immense value to any historian of the 
reign of Mary, are given at great length, while 
there are many interesting letters from Mary, 
Elizabeth, Cecil, Sadler, Lethington, and others, 
as well as a selection from the contemporary 
pasquils, the invectives of George Buchanan 
and the ballads of " Tom Truth." When to these 
are added the original papers collected by James 
Anderson, Postmaster-General for Scotland, and 
published by him in 1728, it is obvious that no 
inconsiderable proportion of the most valuable 
documents in the great public libraries must have 
been well known to the Scotch antiquarian writers 
of the early part of the eighteenth century. 

The industry of these early adventurers is the 
more creditable when the difficulties they had to 

xx Introductory Chapter. 

contend with are recognised. The State Papers 
had not then been calendared, there was not 
even an inventory. A catalogue of the Cottonian 
Library had been printed at Oxford in 1696 ; but 
it was very imperfect ; and it was only in 1802 
that the elaborate catalogue now in use was 
issued. 1 Until quite recently, indeed, little or 
nothing was done to facilitate the use of the 
invaluable treasures which were hidden away in 
public offices and private libraries. Anderson's 
Collections were not printed until 1728. A 
selection from the papers at Hatfield, made by 
Samuel Haynes, the rector, was published in 
1740. Another volume, containing papers of a 
later date, selected by William Murdin, appeared 
in 1759. The State Papers and Letters of Sir 
Kalph Sadler, in three volumes, edited by 
Walter Scott, were published in 1807. Among 
several important collections, issued during the 
last fifty years, the selection made by Thomas 

1 The Manuscripts in the Cot- 
tonian Library were deposited 
in fourteen presses, over which 
were placed the husts of the 
twelve Caesars, and of Cleopatra 
and Faustina. Hence the form 
of reference which is apt to 

puzzle a novice e.g., "Titus," 
" Vespasian," &c. Sir Robert 
Cotton, who was one of a band 
of well-known antiquaries 
Joscelin, Lambard, Camden, 
Noel was born 22d Jan. 1570. 

Introductory Chapter. xxi 

Wright in his ' Queen Elizabeth and her Times ' 
(1838) is perhaps the most useful to students of 
Scottish history. Of the official Calendars, pub- 
lished by authority of the Master of the Eolls, 
it is impossible to speak too highly ; and the 
Scottish Calendar, covering the period from 
1509 to 1589, edited by Markham John Thorpe, 
is one of the very best of the series. The first 
part of the Calendar of the Hatfield manuscripts 
has been published quite recently (1883). It 
has been prepared with great care, and the 
abstracts of all the more important documents 
are unusually full and accurate. In the Fac- 
similes of the National MSS. of England, Scot- 
land, and Ireland (twelve volumes) to which I 
have elsewhere referred, many interesting docu- 
ments illustrating the Mary Stuart period have 
been excellently reproduced by the process 
known as photo-zincography. The two bulky 
volumes which contain selections from the 
Register of the Privy Council during the reign 
of Mary were prepared under the supervision of 
the late Mr Hill Burton; but most of the minutes 
of general historical interest had been previously 
published by Keith and others. It may be said 
with truth that nearly every document, throwing 


Introductory Chapter. 

any light upon the most interesting events of 
the sixteenth century in Scotland, has now been 
made fairly accessible to the historical student. 
One or two may have been overlooked ; the 
treasures of the Vatican have not yet been 
exhausted ; x but, speaking generally, little re- 
mains to be done. The destruction of the 
muniments of the Scottish Colleges in France 
during the Eevolution was a real calamity ; it 
was in the Scottish Colleges at Douay and Paris 
that the letters and reports of Mary Stuart's 
envoys were stored ; and it was from their 
archives that any complete explanation of the 
Darnley and Bothwell episodes might have been 
looked for. But the Colleges were sacked during 
the Eevolution, and the libraries dispersed, 
" the most valuable MSS." we are told, " being 
sold by the quintal or burnt." 2 The Vandals of 
the Revolution cared for none of these things ; 
and it is highly improbable that any of the 
valuable manuscripts which were " sold by the 
quintal" are now in existence. 

1 See the Narratives of 
Scottish Catholics under Mary 
Stuart and James VI. , edited 
by William Forbes Leslie, S.J. 


2 Lord Herries's Memoirs. 
Preface, p. xxv (Abbotsford 
Club, 1836). 

Introductory Chapter. xxiii 

No writer on the age of Mary can overestimate 
his obligations to Sir William Cecil. Cecil was 
the most industrious of English statesmen of the 
first order. His activity, indeed, was almost 
incredible. The papers which he left behind 
him are widely distributed. They form no in- 
considerable portion of the national records, 
the State Papers connected with Mary and Eliza- 
beth in the Library at Hatfield, in the Public 
Record Office, in the Cottonian, Harleian, and 
Lansdowne Collections at the British Museum, 
drafted or endorsed by the great Lord Burleigh, 
being among the most valuable we possess. 

The comparative value of the letters of Ran- 
dolph, Drury, Sadler, Throckmorton, Knollys, 
and other correspondents of the English Secre- 
tary will be dealt with hereafter, in connection 
more particularly with the inquiry into the 
genuineness of the Casket Letters ; but I may 
say here that it has been too much the custom 
to regard " original authorities " with unreason- 
ing reverence, and to accept without question 
whatever is found in their pages. The narrative 
of a contemporary is not conclusive. It must 
be submitted to the ordinary critical tests before 
it can be allowed to pass muster. This rule is 

xxiv Introductory Chapter. 

of general application ; but it applies with special 
force for various reasons to the writers of the 
sixteenth century. Society was divided into 
two hostile camps ; and those in the one re- 
garded those in the other with a peculiar energy 
of dislike. In intestine strife the usages and 
courtesies of war are too often neglected ; when 
civil dissensions are intensified by theological 
animosities, the conflict attains the maximum 
of bitterness. There is barely one of the writers 
I have named on whose unverified testimony it 
is safe to rely. Lindsay of Pitscottie is re- 
garded by many (to some extent unjustly, I 
think) as the most credulous and unveracious 
of Scottish annalists ; but Knox, for one, was as 
credulous as Pitscottie. The Reformer's vigorous 
understanding was clouded by superstition, and 
warped by prejudice; and the dramatic force 
and intense vitality of his narrative must not 
blind us to the fact that he was a man of vio- 
lent and unreasoning antipathies, who listened 
greedily to idle rumour and the gossip of the 

The evidence of the writers of either faction 
must therefore be subjected to the closest 
scrutiny, and accepted with the utmost reserve. 

Introductory Chapter. xxv 

They must be compared one with another, and 
the conflicting evidence carefully weighed. A 
great German historian has demonstrated that 
it is possible by careful analysis to learn where 
a writer obtained the " facts " which he records ; 
and every statement made by Knox or Buchanan 
or Melville must, when necessary or practicable, 
be traced back to its source. A contemporary 
writer is truly valuable only for what he has 
garnered from his own experience ; and his 
authority 1 varies according to the nature of the 
subject. Knox, for instance, was intimately 
acquainted (no man more so) with the proceed- 
ings of the Congregation and of the General 
Assembly ; but he knew little, except from un- 
friendly rumour, of what was doing at Court. 
His relations with the Court were strained or 
hostile ; during many months, indeed, he was 
barely on speaking terms even with Moray ; and 
he regarded Mary and her mother with the most 
vindictive animosity. His eye was jaundiced ; 
he saw men " as trees, walking " ; and the most 
innocent natural phenomena were habitually 
translated by his morbidly vivid imagination 
into supernatural portents. Thus the unpleasant 
fog, the thick easterly "haar," which hung over 

xx vi Introductory Chapter. 

the Forth when Mary landed at Leith, and to 
which Edinburgh from its position is peculiarly 
exposed, was the expression of divine displeasure 
at her return. "The very face of heaven, the 
time of her arrival, did manifestly speak what 
comfort was brought unto this country with her 
to wit, sorrow, dolour, darkness, and all im- 
piety ; for in the memory of man, that day of 
the year, was never seen a more dolorous face 
of the heaven, than was at her arrival. The sun 
was not seen to shine two days before, nor two 
days after. That forewarning gave God unto us; 
but, alas ! the most part were blind." (Turning 
to Brantome, we find that the frivolous French- 
man saw nothing but a dense fog grand 
brouillard). Again (to take another instance), 
Knox asserts, or at least insinuates, that Marie 
of Lorraine was the mistress of Cardinal Beaton, 
and that her daughter was the mistress of 
Chastelard; and modern historians have not been 
averse to adopt these cruel calumnies on his 
unsupported testimony. But the slightest ex- 
amination shows that the Reformer was not in 
a position in either case to speak with authority; 
that he could have had no direct or personal 
knowledge ; and that he merely repeated the 

Introductory Chapter. 


malicious tittle-tattle of ignorant but industrions 
gossips. 1 

To sift in such cases truth from fable, the chaff 
from the wheat, implies the exercise of what has 
been called the historical faculty. The historical 
faculty is an imposing name ; but the historical 
faculty in this connection is only common-sense 
applied to the past. And the common-sense 
which is severely critical, not to say sceptical, is 
the common-sense which must be brought to 
bear upon the records of Mary's reign. Many 
of the judicial depositions of the age, for in- 
stance, were obtained by fraud or torture ; the 
wholesome scepticism of common-sense teaches us 

1 "At the first sight of the 
Cardinal, she said, 'Welcome, 
my lord ; is not the king dead 1 ' 
What moved her so to conjec- 
ture, diverse men are of divers 
judgments. Many whisper that 
of old his part was in the pot, 
and that the suspicion thereof 
caused him to be inhibited the 
Queen's company. However 
the tidings liked her, she 
mended with as great expedi- 
tion of that daughter as ever 
she did before of any son she 
bare." History of the Refor- 
mation, i. 92. The conversation 
between Mary and her brother 

as to Chastelard which Knox 
records is obviously apocryphal. 
(ii. 368.) Knox, of course, 
was not present at the inter- 
view, and he could not have 
obtained his information from 
Moray, for Moray was at that 
time so devoted to Mary that 
he incurred the resentment of 
the Reformer. " In all that 
time the Earl of Moray was so 
fremmit (strange) to Johne 
Knox, that neither by word 
nor write was there any com- 
munication betwixt them." 
(ii. 461.) 

xxviii Introductory Chapter. 

to regard them with acute suspicion. They are 
nearly, if not altogether, as valueless to the 
cautious historian as the confessions of midnight 
irregularities extorted by similar means from the 
witches. He dismisses without hesitation the hal- 
lucinations of the wretched creatures who figure 
so largely in the records of the criminal and spir- 
itual Courts of the Reformation ; but he has to 
deal (and these, of course, require more delicate 
handling) with moral as well as physical improb- 
abilities. A story is related upon what appears to 
be unimpeachable authority which is morally as 
incredible as a moonlight ride on a broomstick. 
Yet here again, neither timidly accepting nor 
rashly rejecting the evidence produced, he must 
allow his own judgment, his own sense of the fit- 
ness of things and the unities of character, free 
play. Hume has demonstrated with irrefutable 
logic that it is always more probable that the 
reporter was mistaken or misinformed than that 
a miracle was worked ; and a moral miracle must 
be nearly as incapable of proof as a physical. 
To both we may apply the Roman proverb, / 
would not believe it were it told me by Cato. 1 

1 "When any one tells me | that he saw a dead man re- 

Introductory Chapter. 


It is necessary to insist on this view ; for there 
are pitfalls on every side of the unwary traveller 
in this difficult country ; and the consistent ap- 
plication of the simple principle that it is more 
probable that the reporter was somehow mis- 
taken than that an event morally or intrin- 
sically incredible occurred, tends unquestionably 
to remove certain of the difficulties which beset 
his path. To take one or two examples. There 
is a report in Bannatyne's Transactions of a ser- 
mon, in which the ministers of the Church are 
exhorted to pray for the Queen, said to have 
been preached in St Giles', on Sunday, 17th 
June 1571, by Alexander Gordon, Bishop of 

stored to life, I immediately 
consider with myself whether 
it be more probable that this 
person should either deceive or 
be deceived, or that the fact 
which he relates should really 
have happened. I weigh the 
one miracle against the other ; 
and according to the superi- 
ority which I discover, I pro- 
nounce my decision, and always 
reject the greater miracle. If 
the falsehood of his testimony 
would be more miraculous than 
the event which he relates, 
then, and not till then, can he 
pretend to command my belief 

or opinion." On Human Un- 
derstanding, section 10 Of 
Miracles. Whately's " Histo- 
ric Doubts concerning Napo- 
leon Buonaparte," which was 
meant as an answer to Hume, 
is essentially a more sceptical 
work than the essay on Mir- 
acles ; for if human testimony 
regarding the contemporary 
events of the nineteenth cen- 
tury may be so logically dis- 
credited, what credit can be at- 
tached to stories which belong 
to a remote past and an age of 
faith ? 


Introductory CJiapter. 

Galloway. 1 Gordon, who was a stanch sup- 
porter of Mary, having been indeed on more 
than one occasion her Commissioner to the Eng- 
lish Court, is reported to have said, " And, 
further, all sinners ought to be prayed for ; gif 
we should not pray for sinners, for whom should 
we pray, seeing that God came not to call the 
righteous, but sinners to repentance. Saint 
David was a sinner, and so was she ; Saint 
David was an adulterer, and so is she ; Saint 
David committed murder in slaying Urias for his 
wife, and so did she ; but what is this to the 
matter ; the more wicked that she be, her sub- 
jects should pray for her to bring her to the 
spirit of repentance." 2 This report of the Bish- 
op's discourse has been used to show that even 
her own partisans admitted that Mary was guilty 
of the crimes with which she was charged. But 
to impartial critics it seemed so incredible that 
one of the Queen's own party should have pub- 
licly accused his sovereign of murder and adul- 
tery, that they preferred to hold that the pre- 

1 It appears, however, that 
the sermon could not have been 
delivered on that day. 

1 Journal of the Transac- 

tions in Scotland, by Richard 
Bannatyne. Edinburgh, 1806 : 
p. 181. 

Introductory Chapter. 


tended discourse was an invention of the enemy, 
it bore, they maintained, " evident marks of 
forgery." 1 The theory of forgery, however, is 
not necessary, it is easy to see how a perfectly 
honest misunderstanding might have arisen. 
The sermon was probably published as a broad- 
sheet, a condensed and imperfect report having 
been supplied to the printer by one of the audi- 
ence. The Bishop's argument was obviously to 
the effect that even on the assumption that Mary 
was guilty of the crimes imputed to her, she was, 
as a sinner as well as their sovereign, entitled to 
the prayers of her ministers. He was putting, 
for the sake of argument, a hypothetical case. 2 
This, I think, is an easy and natural solution ; 
but the report of another admission to the same 
effect, said to have been made by John Leslie, 
Bishop of Eoss, presents greater difficulties. 

1 Senators of the College of 
Justice, by Brunton and Haig 
(1832), p. 131. 

2 Or was it &jeu ffesprit, a sa- 
tirical effusion directed against 
the Bishop as much as against 
Mary? This view is rather 
supported by a later passage, in 
which the preacher confesses 
"this vile carcass of mine to 

be the most vile carrion, and 
altogether given to the lusts of 
the flesh, yea, and I am not 
ashamed to say the greatest 
trumper in all Europe, until 
sic time as it pleasit God to 
call upon me and mak me one 
of his chosen vessels, in whom 
he has poured the spirit of his 

xxxii Introductory Chapter. 

The well-known historian of Scotland was the 
indefatigable servant of Mary. He was for 
years her constant adviser; after he was sepa- 
rated from her, he went from Court to Court, 
proclaiming her innocence and denouncing her 
wrongs. Yet, in a letter from Thomas Wilson 
to Lord Burleigh (November 8, 1571), Leslie is 
represented as bringing the most grotesque and 
monstrous charges against the mistress whom he 
served with loyal fidelity to the end, charges 
far more sweeping, indeed, than the Confederate 
Lords had ventured to offer. " He saith, further, 
that the Queen is not fit for any husband. For, 
first, she poisoned her husband, the French 
King ; again, she hath consented to the murder 
of her late husband, Lord Darnley ; thirdly, she 
matched with the murderer, and brought him to 
the field to be murdered ; and, last of all, she 
pretended marriage with the Duke, with whom 
(as. he thinketh) she would not long have kept 
faith, and the Duke should not have had the 
best days with her." l It appears to me that this 
narrative is intrinsically incredible. I do not 
undertake to offer any explanation ; but and 

1 Calendar of Hatfield Manuscripts, p. 564. 

Introductory Chapter. xxxiii 

this is a question which every reader must de- 
cide for himself is it possible to believe that, in 
conversation with a comparative stranger, who 
was moreover an agent of the English Govern- 
ment, Leslie, that " most pious, able, and devoted 
servant " (as Mary called him in a letter to Philip, 
shortly before her death), did connect, or could 
have connected, his mistress's name with such 
vile and indeed irrational criminality? Here 
again we fall back upon Hume ; we may, or may 
not, be able to explain the misunderstanding ; 
but the fact being in itself incredible / would 
not believe it were it told me by Cato. 

The period to which my examination of the 
State Papers has been specially directed com- 
prises the thirty years between the death of 
James V. and the death of Maitland (1542-1573). 
It has been necessary for me to treat incidentally 
of statesmen, soldiers, and poets who belonged 
to an earlier time ; but, except in the case of the 
Comyns, I have made no special studies for the 
purpose, and even in the case of the Comyns, 
I have constantly felt that the materials which I 
have endeavoured to arrange required systematic 
revision. In the meantime, and until some 
more exhaustive inquiry has been completed, 


Introductory Chapter. 

my provisional sketch may be accepted for what 
it is worth. 

Among writings not contemporary, which are 
more or less instructive for this period, the fol- 
lowing may be noted : Mackenzie's ' Lives of 
Scottish Writers;' 1 Bishop Keith's 'Affairs of 
Church and State in Scotland' (Spottiswoode 
Society, 1844-45); Robertson's 'History of Scot- 
land ; Douglas's ' Peerage of Scotland ' (2 vols., 
1813) ; Scott's ' Minstrelsy of the Scottish 
Border ; ' Chalmers's ' Life of Queen Mary ; ' 
Riddell's 'Peerage and Consistorial Law;' Nichol's 
' History of the Scottish Poor Law ; ' M'Crie's 
' Life of John Knox ; ' ' Historical Account of 
the Senators of the College of Justice ; ' Robert 
Chambers's writings on Scottish Antiquities ; 
Hallam's ' Constitutional History of England ; ' 
Skene's ' Celtic Scotland ; ' 2 Froude's ' History of 

1 Dr Mackenzie was a care- 
less, credulous, and uncritical 
writer ; but, born in 1669, he 
belonged to an age when au- 
thentic traditions of the pre- 
vious century were still current, 
and some of these he, and he 
alone, has recorded. 

2 The extraordinary accuracy 
and keen critical acumen of Dr 
Skene's Celtic Scotland can- 

not be lauded too highly ; and 
though it deals mainly with 
the Scot before his institutions 
had been feudalised, it forms 
the groundwork on which all 
later history must be based. It 
is altogether a monument of 
solid and enduring work which 
has barely been appreciated as 
yet except by a few laborious 

Introductory Chapter. 


England ; ' l Burton's ' History of Scotland ; ' 
Tytler's ' History of Scotland ; ' Schiern's ' Life 
of Bothwell ; ' Sir John Graham Dalzell's an- 
tiquarian reprints (Sir John was a member of 
the Scottish bar, who devoted himself between 
1798 and 1848 to the republication in a conveni- 
ent form of many rare and remarkable tracts 
illustrative of Scottish history) ; Cosmo Innes's 
' Scotland in the Middle Ages,' and ' Sketches of 
Early Scottish History ; ' Walcot's ' The Ancient 
Church of Scotland ; ' Hartings's ' Extinct British 
Animals ; ' and the voluminous Mary Stuart 

1 Only the man or woman 
who has had to work upon the 
mass of Scottish material in the 
Eecord Office can properly ap- 
preciate Mr Fronde's inexhaus- 
tible industry and substantial 
accuracy. His point of view 
is very different from mine ; 
but I am bound to say that his 
acquaintance with the intrica- 
cies of Scottish politics during 
the reign of Mary appears to 
me to be almost, if not quite, 
unrivalled. I am afraid, from 
what I have heard, that Mr 
Froude's proposed History of 
the Empire under Charles V. 
has been definitely put aside. 
One may be permitted to doubt 
whether even the duties im- 

posed upon him by Mr Carlyle's 
testament, and which he has 
discharged with such eminent 
(if unappreciated) sincerity and 
candour, should have been al- 
lowed to stand in the way. 
The nearest approach to a com- 
prehensive European view of 
the Revolutionary movement 
of the 15th and 16th centuries 
is, of course, to be found in the 
successive works of the great 
German historian, whose death 
is announced while these pages 
are going through the press 
Leopold von Ranke ; but Mr 
Symonds and the author of 
Euphorion have presented us 
with isolated " studies ;; of great 

Introductory Chapter. 

literature, from Goodall, Tytler, and Whittaker 
to Hosack, Bell, and Swinburne. 

I have considered it inadvisable to burden the 
text of this preliminary volume l with copious 
footnotes. Such a practice, by interrupting the 
How of the narrative, tends to weaken the in- 
terest and distract the attention of the reader. 
The leading authorities are specified in this in- 
troduction ; and an Appendix of Notes and Il- 
lustrations, containing numerous extracts from, 
and references to, original writers and records, 
is in preparation. If I am not mistaken, the 
Appendix will be found by no means dry, the 
direct and naive comments of contemporary 
observers having generally a natural freshness 
which the more laboured narrative of the his- 
torian fails to retain. I am not conscious in any 
case of missing the exact sense of the passages 
which I have taken from State papers and other 
contemporary documents; but I have ventured 

1 I propose to divide my 
narrative into three Books. The 
first Book is contained in the 
volume now published, and in- 
cludes the period from Lething- 
ton's birth to Mary's return to 
Scotland in 1561. The second 

Book will cover the period be- 
tween 1561, when Mary re- 
turned, and 1567, when she 
abdicated ; the Third, the 
period between the abdication 
and Maitland's death in 1573. 

Introductory Chapter. 


not unfrequently to substitute a modern for an 
obsolete word ; and, as a rule, I do not adhere to 
the spelling. I have made one exception only 
certain of Lethington's letters, printed now for 
the first time, are given exactly as they were 
written. 1 The purist of a Text Society may pro- 
perly enough resent any tampering with an 
original text ; but the business of a writer of 
history is to make himself intelligible to his 
contemporaries, and it is a mistake to use 
language (except perhaps when specially char- 
acteristic and graphic as John Knox's often is) 
which has become obsolete, and which, without 
a glossary, cannot be understood by a fairly 
intelligent reader of modern English. 

A history written during the evenings of busy 
days, devoted to other work, is produced under 
obvious disadvantages. Yet it may possibly be 
argued on the other hand that 

" The sense that handles daily life, 
That keeps us all in order more or less," 

and that is as valuable to the man of letters as 

1 The letters referred to will 
be found in the second volume, 
in the chapter devoted to the 
Maitland - Sussex correspond- 

ence. About two hundred of 
Maitland's letters are in exist- 

xxxviii Introductory Chapter. 

to the man of action, is braced and invigorated 
by the habitual intercourse with all sorts and 
conditions of men which the secluded scholar 
does not enjoy. 

I cannot expect that the conclusions which I 
have ventured to formulate in this book will be 
accepted by the zealots on either side. The 
Calvinistic or Puritan view of the Scottish 
Reformation has had brilliant apologists ; so 
has the Catholic ; but the policy, moderately 
conservative, rationally progressive, of the party 
that Maitland led, has been treated with con- 
sistent unfairness. Yet Maitland, according to 
the view I hold, was in complete intellectual 
accord with the prudent compromise which 
Elizabeth and Cecil, which the English Church 
and the English Commonwealth, represent. 
Somewhat behind the iconoclastic Radicalism, 
somewhat in advance of the reforming Catho- 
licism, he followed in politics and religion the 
via media. The moral and material prosperity 
of Scotland is traced by many eloquent writers 
to the revolutionary movement of which Knox 
was the soul. It may be reasonably doubted 
how far this view is consistent with a sound 

Introductory Chapter. 


construction of the facts of history. The Church 
of Knox, after a stormy struggle of a hundred 
years, during which it had failed to conciliate the 
aristocracy on the one hand, or the sober in- 
telligence of the middle and lower classes on 
the other, burnt itself out in Covenanter and 
Cameronian. The Church that survived, the 
Church that is identified with the true social 
development of Scotland, is the Church of Mait- 
land and Spottiswoode, of Forbes and Leigh- 
ton, of Carstares and Robertson, of Robert Lee 
and Norman Macleod and John Tulloch. 1 The 
theocratic government which the extreme party 
in Church and State desired to establish was 
inconsistent with the genius of a free people ; 
the Revolution of 1689, in spite of obvious 
limitations, was the beginning of a better order 
of things ; and to the Union, far more than to 
the Reformation, the amazing progress which 
Scotland has made since the early years of the 
eighteenth century is to be ascribed. 

1 In associating these names, 
I assume of course that there is 
in religious societies a moral and 
spiritual continuity (the apos- 
tolical succession of Christian 

life and conviction), a contin- 
uity which may be held perhaps 
to be even more essential than 
that which is ecclesiastical 

xl Introductory Chapter. 

The famous minister of Queen Elizabeth was, 
during many anxious years, the constant corres- 
pondent of William Maitland ; long after Mait- 
land's tragic end, Lord Burleigh, as we know, 
looked back with pathetic regret to the interrup- 
tion of " the old familiar friendship and strict 
amity " : Were the pretty frivolities of the Age 
of Dedications still in vogue, a record of the life 
and times of " Lethington " would have been 
most fitly inscribed to the illustrious minister 
of Queen Victoria, who maintains undimmed the 
civic renown of the Cecils, and who values, as 
Maitland valued, sobriety in religion and sanity 
in politics. 

J. S. 

15th Oct. 1886. 






WILLIAM MAITLAND of Lethington, one 
of the most remarkable Scotsmen of the 
sixteenth century, was born about the year 1528. 
The accurate and industrious David Laing says 
generally that he was born some time between 
1525 and 1530 ; and we may therefore conclude 
that the date can be only approximately de- 
termined. If he was born in 1525, he was 
forty-eight years old when he died ; if he was 
born in 1530, he was not more than forty-three. 
A brief life, according to either reckoning ; but 
one into which much was crowded. 

The country of the Lammermuirs is the coun- 

VOL. I. A 

2 Lethington and the Lammermuir. 

try of the Maitlands. They owned the lands 
that lie between the upper waters of the Leader 
and the Tyne, their old keep of Thirlstane 
being built upon an affluent of the Leader 
the more modern Tower of Lethington rising 
from a conspicuous plateau on the Tyne near 
Haddington. Some fifteen or twenty miles of 
a rough moorland track lead from the vale of 
the Leader to the vale of the Tyne. It is a 
country with a character of its own ; and the 
pedestrian who traverses these bare high-lying 
valleys, while the mists of an autumnal morning 
are driving round the Lammerlaw, will not read- 
ily forget the impression they make. Even now 
it is a place where the characteristics of the 
solitary sheep-walks of the Border dales are 
appreciated with exceptional vividness. There 
is nothing Alpine about the scenery, it would 
be absurd to associate the mountain glory and 
the mountain gloom with these unromantic up- 
lands. The rocks which dip into the sea at 
Fast Castle and St Abb's Head are very grand ; 
but of course, regarded simply as scenery, they 
have nothing in common with the inland range 
to which they truly belong. Yet the pastoral 
solitude of the region is not unimpressive. 
From Tollishill to Tester ten miles as the crow 
flies there is not a shepherd's hut. The tramp 
who misses the track in winter or early spring 

Lethington and the Lammermuir. 3 

may be lost for days. The snow lies deep, and 
the mists the easterly "haar," to which a range 
that skirts the shore of the German Ocean is 
pecularily exposed, as well as the true moun- 
tain mists are blinding. From the summit of 
the Lammerlaw one-third of Scotland lies at our 
feet ; but there are comparatively few points of 
vantage from which a distant view can be ob- 
tained. To the eye of a stranger, indeed, no- 
thing can be more confusing than this intricate 
network of valleys, this convolution of glens, 
this vast billowy plain, where the waves rise 
and fall in soft and tender lines, and one rounded 
summit succeeds another with almost wearisome 
iteration. The only token of human life on their 
bracken-covered sides is the occasional sheep-pen 
which, however, when empty and deserted, 
seems somehow to add to the loneliness of the 
surroundings. What sounds there are serve 
only to deepen the impression of absolute quiet- 
ude, the croak of a raven, the whir of the 
moorfowl, the wail of whaup and plover, the 
bleating of the sheep. 

The hill-country of Lauderdale even to-day 
is seldom explored. There are probably a hun- 
dred glens which are not visited once a-year, 
except by the shepherds. Others where grouse 
are sufficiently abundant may be shot over about 
the Twelfth of August for a week. The birds, 

4 Lethington and the Lammermuir. 

however, on these low-lying moors (the Lammer- 
law itself is only seventeen hundred feet above 
the sea) are shy and wild, and after the first day or 
two quite unapproachable. Such a district as I am 
describing must have been three hundred years 
ago wellnigh impenetrable. From Soutra to 
Penshiel there was one track only across the hills 
which a horseman could ride. The slopes of the 
Lammermuir were at an early period dense with 
forest and populous with game. In a manuscript 
history of one of its moorland parishes, the 
author observes that the names of the properties 
were mostly taken from those of the wild animals 
that used to haunt them. It was "a place 
which of old had great woods, with wild beasts, 
from which the dwellings and hills were de- 
signed, as Wolfstruther, Eoecleugh, Hindside, 
Hartlaw, and Harelaw." The wolf and the 
forest had possibly disappeared before Lething- 
ton was born ; but, even apart from savage ani- 
mals and primeval thickets, it is obvious that 
during an unquiet and turbulent reign, his 
native valleys must have been well suited for 
concealment and defence. Within a day's ride 
of the capital, the sanctuaries of the Lammer- 
muirs, sparsely peopled by clansmen whose 
fidelity was absolute, were specially convenient 
to a statesman who had many enemies. We 
hear, indeed, on more than one occasion, that 

Lethington and the Lammermuir. 5 

the Secretary is " in hiding among the 

Thirlstane the modern Thirlstane of the 
Earls of Lauderdale stands within a mile of 
the curious old burgh of Lauder, where a system 
of land-tenure virtually amounting to peasant- 
proprietorship has existed for many hundred 
years. It seems to have worked fairly well, 
than the burgesses of this secluded community, 
a more thriving, thrifty, well-to-do set of Scots- 
men are hardly to be met with this side the 
Atlantic. The Maitlands, quitting the cradle of 
the family in a neighbouring strath, appear to 
have latterly appropriated the burgh fortalice of 
Lauder. The central tower of the original fort- 
ress still remains ; but first the Chancellor 
William Maitland's brother and then the Duke, 
adapted it to the more refined requirements 
of modern life. The park, through which the 
Leader winds, is finely wooded ; one or two of 
the trees a noble sycamore, a still nobler ash 
are of immense age ; but the famous bridge, over 
which "Bell -the -Cat" and his brother nobles 
hanged the unlucky favourites of James III., has 
been removed. There are many pictures of the 
Duke, pictures in which the story of swift 
deterioration may be plainly read ; a lovely 
Countess by Gainsborough or Romney ; another 
delicate and winning face by a French artist ; 

6 Lethinyton and the Lammermuir. 

all the Earls for two hundred years ; and three 
or four portraits of undoubted antiquity, which 
are said to be those of William Maitland and his 
brother. A strong family likeness runs through 
them all ; the character of a politic and powerful 
race has impressed itself upon their faces. It 
may be doubted, however, whether any entirely 
authentic portrait of William Maitland is in 
existence ; that in ' Pinkerton,' which is said to 
be taken from the Lauder portrait, is a manifest 
caricature of the original ; on the other hand, an 
engraving in the ' Iconographia Scotica ' repro- 
duces with tolerable fidelity one of the portraits 
in the Great Hall. The black velvet robe is 
trimmed with fur ; the broad white collar is 
richly laced. The hair is of a delicate auburn, 
so are the eyes, which are almond-shaped. 
The nose is long and peaked ; the lines of the 
mouth, partly covered by the pointed mous- 
tache, are strong and masterful. There is 
nothing severe or sinister about the face ; one 
feels, indeed, that it might become on occasion 
keenly sarcastic ; but for the moment the air of 
absolute composure, of an almost sluggish mas- 
terfulness, is complete. The curiously arched 
eyebrows remind one of the Mephistopheles in 
Retsch's outlines ; and the expression of repose, 
the accentuation of languor, is perhaps only a 
trick of the diplomatist, who, while seemingly 

Lethington and the Lammermuir. 7 

inert and incurious, follows with instinctive vigi- 
lance every feint of his adversary. So the matter 
stands. We cannot positively affirm that any 
portrait of William Maitland has been preserved ; 
but even if it could be demonstrated that the 
Secretary did not " sit " to the artist, it is quite 
possible (the family traits, as I have said, being 
so persistent and indelible) that we have a good 
deal of " Lethington " in this really admirable 
bit of work by an earlier Jamesone. 

The surroundings of the old keep of Thirl - 
stane, in the adjoining dale, will appear familiar 
to those who know the Border landscape of the 
late George Harvey. There is the long shoulder 
of the pastoral hill, patched with heather and 
flecked with sunshine ; the brawling mountain 
torrent hurrying down to meet the Leader and 
the Tweed ; the strong square tower, with its 
immemorial ashes and knotted and twisted 
thorns, perched on the high table-land which 
rises steeply from the water-edge ; the rounded 
backs of the Lammermuirs along the northern 
sky. Of a summer evening, when, though the 
sun has set behind " Eildon's triple height," day- 
light still lingers in the west, and flushes the 
zenith, it is difficult to imagine a scene more 
peaceful, or in some aspects more pathetic. 
Save for complaint of curlew and plover, the 
silence is unbroken, and the haunting fascina- 

8 Lethington and the Lammermuir. 

tion of the Borderland may then be felt at its 
best ; 

" The grace of forest charms decayed, 
And pastoral melancholy." 

When I stood the other day within its crumbling 
walls the cuckoo and the corn-crake were calling. 
The corn-crake and the cuckoo are not exactly 
modern inventions. They must have been vocal 
in the valleys when robber-chiefs dwelt here 
among armed retainers, and vigilantly watched 
the rough and dangerous track that led across 
the hills from the Scottish capital to the North- 
umbrian moors. We associate these sounds with 
utter peacefulness and the sweet amenities of the 
spring; what associations did they stir, what 
feelings did they rouse, in the breasts of the 
freebooters of the Border ? The whole environ- 
ment of our life has so completely changed, that 
it is wellnigh impossible to realise to ourselves, 
even imaginatively, the conditions, moral, in- 
tellectual, and physical, of that fierce and tur- 
bulent society. 

But Lethington is the ancestral seat that is 
most closely associated with William Maitland. 
It is probable that he was born within the old 
tower; there his boyhood and early manhood 
were passed ; the " Politician's Walk " is still 
pointed out by the local antiquary ; his friends 
in Haddington and elsewhere knew him as " the 

Lethington and the Lammermuir. 9 

young Laird " ; in all the diplomatic correspond- 
ence of the age "the Lord of Lethington" is a 
famous and familiar name. To Cecil, to Eliza- 
beth, to Norfolk, to Mary Stuart, "Lethington" 
was the synonym for the gayest wit and the 
keenest intellect in Scotland. The hill-country 
is close at hand ; but the castle stands on the 
plain, the fertile Lothian plain that lies be- 
tween the Lammermuir and the sea. The great 
central tower of the "Lamp of Lothian" the 
Abbey Church of Haddington and the great 
square keep of Lethington, are the two historical 
monuments of the district where John Knox and 
William Maitland were born. They have stood 
the wear and tear of centuries ; many centuries 
will pass before they cease to be landmarks. 

The castle of Lethington is perhaps the finest 
existing example of a kind of building which 
united enormous strength with entire simplicity. 
There is some little attempt at ornamentation 
about the roof; the rain is carried off through 
the grinning mouth of griffin or goblin ; half-a- 
dozen narrow windows and narrower loopholes 
pierce the walls at irregular intervals ; but other- 
wise the precipice is sheer no shelf or ledge 
breaks the fall. From the flat plain, this pro- 
digious piece of simple, massive, monumental 
masonry rises like a natural rock. The walk 
round the battlements is as the path along a 

10 Lethington and the Lammermuir. 

sea-cliff. The fine park is thickly wooded ; but 
a broad, straight, grassy avenue, twice the 
breadth of the castle, has been cut across the 
forest, somewhat formal, like the approach to 
a French chateau, through which a delightful 
glimpse of green fields and winding rivulet and 
purple moorland is gained. The interior for 
three centuries or more can have undergone 
little, if any, change ; the kitchen, the great 
hall, the bedrooms, the vaulted roof, the wind- 
ing staircase in the wall, the arms of the Mait- 
lands above the doorway, are in perfect pre- 
servation. Before the introduction of artillery, 
such a fortress was virtually impregnable. When 
the owner had closed and barricaded the one 
massive oaken door on the ground -floor, the 
waves of war beat around it in vain. 1 Life 
inside the walls, to be sure, must have been 
somewhat flat and monotonous ; but the roof 
protected by its stone balustrade was always 
open to air and sky, and formed probably the 
favourite lounge of the imprisoned inmates. 
Built midway of a gentle slope facing the 

1 The author of 'A Diurnal 
of Occurrents' says that the 
castle was burnt by the Eng- 
lish on 15th September 1549. 
"Upon the 15th day thereof 
the Englishmen past out of 
Haddington, and brunt it and 

Leidington, and past away 
without any battell, for the 
pest and hunger was richt evil 
amangst them." The damage, 
however, could not have been 

Lethington and the Lammermuir. 1 1 

Lammermuir, the view from the highest turret 
is extremely fine. The towers of the Abbey 
Church, indeed (the Abbey lying to the north 
in the shallow basin of the Tyne), are not in 
sight ; but from east to west the billowy sweep 
of wooded knoll and yellow strath appears well- 
nigh illimitable. Coalston and Salton, Tester 
and Whittinghame places renowned in history 
and legend are near at hand. So are Soutra 
and the Lammerlaw. The capital itself (or the 
heights in its neighbourhood) may once have 
been visible on a clear day; but on that side 
the spreading branches of a circle of venerable 
limes now rise above the roof. 

Lethington has passed away from the Mait- 
lands, and the name of the great historical 
mansion is not to be found on the map. The 
Duke sold it to the cousin of a famous hoyden, 
the saucy and frivolous Frances Stewart of 
De Grammont's scandalous chronicle. It is said, 
indeed, to have been virtually given to him by 
the spoilt beauty after she became Duchess of 
Lennox, Lord Blantyre being a poor man, the 
purchase-money was advanced to him by his 
cousin. Hence the fantastic modern name 
Lennoxlove. Thus also it comes about that the 
heirlooms of the Maitlands are to be found, not 
at Lethington, but at Thirlstane ; and the only 
picture of much interest on the walls is that of 

12 Lethington and the Lammermuir. 

Frances Stewart herself, painted by Sir Peter 
for the Duke. 

"Fife and the Lothians" was then the politi- 
cal heart of Scotland ; and Maitland was lucky 
in being born within twenty miles of the capital. 
No fitter birthplace, indeed, for a Scottish states- 
man could have been selected. The Lauderdale 
Maitlands, it is true, did not rank with the great 
governing houses of Hepburn or Hamilton or 
Hume ; but, though commoners themselves, they 
were allied by marriage with the nobility of 
Lothian; the family was now prosperous and 
powerful; and their lineage was not undis- 

Before the Leader joins the Tweed, it passes 
the hamlet of Earlston, Earlston being the 
modern corruption of Ercildoun. Thomas the 
Ehymer is a somewhat shadowy and unsubstan- 
tial figure, and modern scepticism treats his pro- 
phetic utterances with scant respect. But even 
the historical iconoclast does not venture to im- 
peach the authority of the feudal conveyance 
which has been duly recorded, and charters 
granted by or to the Laird of Ercildoun are still 
in evidence. That the poet was married is another 
fact which has been fully established ; and his 
wife, if the unbroken tradition of Lauderdale may 
be accepted, was a daughter of the then knight 
of Thirlstane the ancestor of William Maitland. 

Lethington and the Lammermuir. 13 

I do not know if this knight of Thirlstane can 
be identified with the " auld Maitland " who is 
the hero of a well-known ballad recovered by Sir 
Walter Scott from the recitation of Mrs Hogg 
the venerable mother of the Ettrick Shepherd. 
This Sir Eichard was the owner of Thirlstane 
during the war of independence, and his obsti- 
nate defence of the old castle, judging from the 
fragments that remain, must have furnished a 
popular theme to many a Border minstrel. 
Among the romantic figures dear to the com- 
mon people commemorated by the Bishop of 
Dunkeld, " Maitland with his auld beard grey " 
occupies a prominent place. According to the 
ballad, the English army under Edward, after 
harrying the Merse and Teviotdale, " all in an 
evening late," came to a " darksome house " 
upon the Leader. The darksome house was 
Thirlstane, where a grey-haired knight, in an- 
swer to Edward's summons, " set up his head, 
and crackit richt crousely." He had got, he 
said, his "gude auld hoose," from the Scottish 
king, and he would keep it as long as it would 
keep him, against English king or earl. The 
siege lasted for more than a fortnight ; but 
each assault was repulsed ; and at last auld 
Maitland was left "hail and feir" "within 
his strength of stane." The king was bitterly 
mortified; and when at a later period he met 

14 Lethington and the Lammermuir. 

young Maitland abroad, the face of the stern 
old father " Sic a gloom on ae browhead ! " 
still haunted his memory. "For every drap 
o' Maitland blude, I'll gie a rig o' land." The 
young Scottish soldier was nowise loath to ac- 
cept the invitation ; and when he had got the 
representative of " the auld enemy " fairly under 
foot, he gave him characteristically short shrift. 

" It's ne'er be said in France, nor e'er 

In Scotland when I'm hame, 
That Englishman lay under me 
And e'er gat up again." 

Between this Sir Eichard, whose exploits were 
" sung in many a far countrie, albeit in rural 
rhyme," and the Sir Richard of Mary Stuart's 
Court, the figures of the successive owners of 
Thirlstane are somewhat dim and undistinguish- 
able. A "William de Mautlant of Thirlstane 
joined the Bruce, and died about 1315. His 
son, Sir Robert Maitland, who, on 17th October 
1345, had a charter of the lands of Lethington, 
fell next year at the battle of Durham. John, 
the son of another William, married Lady Agnes 
Dunbar, daughter of Patrick, Earl of March 
March was one of the greatest of the great 
earldoms and died about 1395. Then Robert 
Maitland of Thirlstane was in 1424 one of the 
hostages for James I. William Maitland, the 
father of the later Sir Richard, and the grand- 

Lethington and the Lammermuir. 15 

father of Queen Mary's Secretary, married a 
daughter of George, second Lord Seton, and fell 
at Flodden. It is plain from this brief retro- 
spect that for several hundred years the ances- 
tors of " Lethington " had held a considerable 
and distinguished place among the great county 
families of the Merse. The name, moreover, 
had been intimately associated with some of the 
most stirring events in the national annals. We 
need not wonder, therefore, that the second Sir 
Richard should have prided himself as he did 
upon his descent. He was "dochter's son" of 
the noble house of Seton ; and he " collectit, 
gaderit, and set furth" with keen enjoyment 
the records of that gallant race. But he was 
probably thinking of the untitled gentlemen 
who had lived at Thirlstane on the Leader son 
succeeding father in an unbroken line for many 
generations when he wrote, with pardonable 
complacency, in the prologue to his history, 
" For we see some men, barons' and small 
gentlemen's houses, which began before some of 
the said great houses (now decayed), and con- 
tinued all their time, and yet stands lang after 
them in honour and sufficient living." 

Of this Sir Richard the famous father of the 
more famous son, whose life I have undertaken 
to write a good deal of information through 
various channels has come down to us, and may 

16 Lethington and the Lammermuir. 

here be pieced together. He was ninety years 
old when he died in 1585 ; so that he must have 
been born four or five years before the close of 
the fifteenth century. He succeeded to the 
family estates in 1513 ; and about 1521 married 
Mariot Cranstoun, the daughter of the Laird of 
Crosbie. They had seven children three sons 
and four daughters. Both Sir Richard and 
Lady Maitland attained extreme old age the 
wife dying on the day her husband was buried. 
During his long life he held high office in the 
State, Keeper of the Privy Seal, Commissioner 
to England, Senator of the College of Justice. 
He was, according to the poet who wrote his 
epitaph (Thomas Hudson, " the unremembered 
name of him"), " ane worthy knight, baith 
valiant, grave, and wise ; " and the eulogy was 
not undeserved. His " steadfast truth and un- 
corrupted faith" had never been impugned either 
by friend or foe. 1 Enemies indeed he had none ; 

1 Knox indeed asserts in his 
reckless fashion that Maitland 
was bribed to allow Cardinal 
Beaton to escape from prison 
in 1543. "But at length by 
buddis given to the said Lord 
Seaton and to the old Lord of 
Lethingtoun, he was restored 
to St Andrews, from whence he 
wrought all mischief." Sadler 
and Arran must have known 

who were implicated ; but, 
though they talked the matter 
over, Lethington's name does 
not occur. " Then he told me," 
Sadler writes, reporting his 
conversation with the Regent, 
" then he told me swearing 
a great oath that the Cardi- 
nal's money had corrupted 
Lord Seton." 

Lethington and the Lammermuir. 17 

both factions respected and trusted him ; the 
counsel of the " unspotted and blameless " judge 
was always in request. James VI. observed, on 
his retirement from the active duties of the 
bench, that he had served with unswerving 
fidelity, " our grandsire, gudsire, grandame, 
mother, and ourself ; " so that Sir Eichard must 
have been in the public service in one capacity 
or other for upwards of sixty years. 

It was a wild and stormy time ; and the man 
who, in high office during sixty of these troubled 
years, was permitted to lead a simple, studious, 
tranquil, and, for the most part, uneventful life, 
must have been exceptionally fortunate, as well 
as constitutionally prudent. Several months of 
each year were of course spent in the capital ; 
but Lethington was his favourite residence. He 
loved the quiet of the country. There he col- 
lected his poems ; there he planted ; there he 
gardened. The apple still prized as "the Leth- 
ington," was, it is said, introduced by him from 
abroad. A contemporary poet has painted with 
cordial sympathy, and no inconsiderable skill, 
the characteristic attractions of the old keep. 
Let Virgil praise Mantua, Lucan Corduba ; but 
the excellence of Lethington its massive tower, 
its walls exceeding strong will be his theme. 
He can keep silence no longer; he must "put 
furth his mind," as he says, with natural quaint- 

VOL. I. B 

18 Lethington and the Lammermuir. 

ness. How delightful it is to gaze from the 
wide roof over fair fields and woods ; to see 
Phoebus rise from the Lammermuir, or at 
nightfall "to hear the bumming of the air 
and pleasant even's sound!" The arbours, the 
flower-beds, the orchard green, the " alleys fair, 
baith braid and lang," which he praises, are still 
preserved ; but the lands have passed away from 
men of "Maitland blude"; even the historic 
name has been stupidly and foolishly discarded ; 
and one fears that the bard's inquiry 

" Who does not know the Maitland blude, 

The best in all the land ; 
In whilk some time the honor stude, 
And worship of Scotland ? " 

would not now receive, even from the dwellers 
on the soil which Sir Eichard owned, any clear 
or articulate response. It is only a hundred 
years ago since Pinkerton was able to assure 
his readers that Barbour's ' Bruce,' Blind Harry's 
'Wallace,' and Sir David Lindsay's poems "might 
be found in modern spelling in almost every 
cottage in Scotland." I imagine that, out of 
the libraries of the learned and curious, not 
half-a-dozen copies could now be produced. The 
new democracy appear to have absolutely no 
interest in the story or ballad which was the 
delight of their fathers and grandfathers. We 

Letliington and the Lammermuir. 19 

have wisely or unwisely made a clean sweep 
of the Past. 

A great calamity overtook Sir Richard at a 
period of his life which cannot now be precisely 
fixed. We know, however, that before Mary 
returned to Scotland he was blind. The loss 
of sight to a man of his tastes must have been 
a severe privation; but he bore the affliction 
with characteristic calmness and cheerfulness. 
Fortunately it did not incapacitate him for 
active life, he continued to occupy his seat 
on the bench, which he did not definitely resign, 
as we have seen, till within a year or two of 
his death. In the country he must now, how- 
ever, have been comparatively helpless. Field- 
sports were out of the question, and even his 
trees and flowers had possibly ceased to inter- 
est him. " I am visited with such infirmity," 
he says, in the preface to the ' History of the 
Setons/ "that I am unable to occupy myself 
as in times past. But to avoid idleness of mind, 
and because in these days I think it perilous to 
' mell ' with matters of great importance, I have 
among other labours gathered and collected the 
things set forth in this little volume." By 
"other labours" he probably alludes to what 
ultimately became his engrossing occupation 
the cultivation and collection of verse. The 
Maitland Manuscripts preserved at Cambridge 

20 Lethington and the Lammermuir. 

are worth far more than their weight in gold 
are in fact invaluable ; for had they not been 
preserved, much of the early poetry of Scotland 
would have been irretrievably lost. Mary Mait- 
land was his favourite amanuensis (she wrote 
with admirable distinctness and legibility, be- 
sides being a bit of a poet herself) ; and thus 
father and daughter seated at the window of 
the Great Hall which looks out on the Lammer- 
law months, and possibly years, were pleasantly 
and profitably spent. 1 

Sir Richard's own verses not as poetry in- 
deed, but as records of the time are interesting 


and valuable. They confirm the agreeable im- 
pression of his character which we otherwise 
obtain. The writer was not a man of any excep- 
tional insight or brilliancy ; but his sincerity, his 
shrewdness, his fine sense, his good feeling, his 
homely honesty and rectitude, are disclosed on 
every page. The passion 2 of the Reformation 

1 The Scottish Text Society 
are about to republish the Cam- 
bridge MSS. A facsimile of a 
page from the folio Maitland 
MS. in the Pepys Collection in 
Magdalen College will be found 
in the third volume of the 
'Facsimiles of the National 
Manuscripts of Scotland' (No. 
XXVI.), which also contains 
two pages from the quarto MS. 

in the beautiful handwriting of 
Mary Maitland (No. LXXII.) 

2 The hysterica passio, we 
might say, when such an in- 
cident as this was possible : 
" There chanced a duel, a single 
combat, betwixt James Hep- 
burn of Moreham and one 
Birnie a skinner in Edinburgh. 
They were both slain and buried 
the morning after. Hepburn 

LetTiington and the Lammermuir. 21 

does not appear to have touched him. In a 
fanatical age he was fair; he was tolerant at a 
time when toleration was held to be a mark of 
the beast. A good deal of the liberal spirit 
which distinguished the son is found in the 
father. Though latterly a stanch Protestant, he 
had no patience with the "fleshly gospellaris," 
as he calls them, who though most godly in 
words were loose livers, and who, though in all 
other things they acted " maist wicketlie," yet 
held themselves to be the true servants of God, 
because they called the Pope Antichrist, and the 
Mass idolatry, and ate flesh on Fridays. There 
is a fine passage in the ' History of the Setons,' 
where, after recording the benefactions of Jane 
Hepburn to the church of Seton, he continues : 
" Peradventure some in these days will think 
that building of kirks, giving of ornaments 
thereto, and founding of priests, are superstitious 
things and maintenance of idolatry, and there- 
fore not worthy to be put in memory. But who 
will please to read the histories and chronicles of 
all countries will find the conquest of lands, the 
moving of wars, and the striking of fields and 

alleged and maintained that 
there was seven sacraments ; 
Birnie would have but two or 
else he would fight. The other 
was content with great pro- 

testations that he would defend 
his belief with his sword ; and 
so, with great earnestness they 
yoked, and thus the question 
was decided." 

22 Lethington and the Lammennuir. 

battles most written and treated of, howbeit 
the said conquests and doings proceeded of most 
insatiable greediness, and most cruel tyranny, 
against all law both of God and man. And since 
things unleesom as these are written to the com- 
mendation of the doers thereof, may I not set 
forth such works as, through all Christendom, 
and with all the estates thereof, were held of 
greatest commendation and most godly ? How 
they pleased God, I refer to Himself who sees 
the hearts and intentions of all creatures. At 
the least it shows the liberal and honourable 
heart of the doers thereof, who would rather 
spend their geir and goods upon such visible 
and commendable acts than hoard and poke up 
the same in coffers, or waste it upon unlawful 
sensuality or prodigality." 

We are constantly told that the principles of 
civil and religious liberty were unfamiliar to the 
men of the sixteenth century, and that tolera- 
tion, liberty of conscience, freedom of speech 
and thought, were plants of later growth. But 
such a passage as this (and there are many 
similar passages, for instance, in the contem- 
porary letters of William the Silent) seems to 
show that the idea was not so unfamiliar as it is 
said to have been, and that the reformers who 
attached civil and ecclesiastical penalties to "un- 
licensed thinking" sinned wilfully, and against 

Leihington and the Lammermuir. 23 

the light. And if we are to accept Sir Richard's 
deliberate judgment the impressions of a singu- 
larly sober and judicial observer we are tempted 
to question how far the new order of things, as a 
reformation of morals, was a real advance upon 
the old. Much of the literature of the age, at 
least, seems to support the contention that there 
was little immediate amendment of life, and that, 
in some respects indeed, the ultra-Calvinistic 
revolution did more harm than good. It was 
natural, of course, that the liberation of the 
fresh and ardent activities which were every- 
where at work should be attended by occasional 
outbursts of anarchy and licence ; and too much 
validity must not be ascribed to complaints 
which were perhaps unconsciously exaggerated. 
The preachers ultimately succeeded in stemming 
the tide. Open sin as well as innocent gaiety 
were proscribed ; but the Puritan was not vic- 
torious for nearly a century ; and if Scotland 
had been content with such " reasonable reforma- 
tion" as Sir David Lindsay and Sir Richard 
Maitland advocated, it is possible that his aid 
might have been entirely dispensed with. The 
religious debauch has been followed once, and 
perhaps more than once, in our history by the 
inevitable reaction. 

Sir Richard's complaints are very specific, and 
are so far borne out by much contemporary evi- 

24 Lethington and the Lammermuir. 

dence. Where is the blitheness that hath been ? 
he inquires. The popular festivals and merry- 
makings are forbidden ; the old familiar and 
kindly relations between the laird and his 
dependants have ceased to exist. Justice cannot 
be administered ; the great men come to the bar 
with "jak of steel," and overawe the judges. 
The thieves of Liddesdale are more truculent 
than ever. Both the temporal and spiritual 
estates are " soupit in sensualitie"; and, in spite 
of the pretended reformation, at no former time 
were vice and crime more prevalent, pride, 
envy, dissimulation, on the one hand; theft, 
slaughter, and oppression of the commons on the 
other. Euth and pity are banished. The peas- 
antry had been well treated by the kirkmen ; 
but since the teinds and kirk-lands have been 
appropriated by lay lords they are utterly 
wrecked having been either evicted from their 
holdings, or ruined by monstrous rents and 
oppressive services. The commons were profit- 
able to the common- weal ; what is to come of 
the land, he asks, when none are left to defend 
it ? But though the honest hind is ruined, the 
money which has been wrung from him is reck- 
lessly thrown away on unprofitable luxuries. 
New-fangled fashions are spreading among the 
wealthy traders. The furred cloaks of the wives 
and daughters of the citizens are made of the 

Leihington and the Lammermuir. 25 

finest silk their hats are " cordit " with gold, 
and " broidered " with golden thread their shoes 
and slippers are of velvet. 

It may be said that these are the complaints 
of an aristocratic grumbler, who had no very 
warm attachment to the new order and the new 
men ; but the language used by the preachers of 
the Reformed Church themselves was just as 
vehement. The General Assembly which met 
at Leith in January 1572 twelve years after 
the Reformation had been completed was 
opened by an address from the Reverend David 
Ferguson ; and it is tolerably obvious, from the 
unqualified terms in which he denounced the 
prevailing ungodliness and immorality, that up 
to that time no amendment had been observed 
by those most closely interested. " For this day 
Christ is spoiled among us, while that which 
ought to maintain the ministry of the Kirk and 
the poor is given to profane men, flatterers in 
Court, ruffians and hirelings; the poor in the 
meantime oppressed with hunger, the kirks and 
temples decaying for the lack of ministers and 
upholding, and the schools utterly neglected." 
If he had been brought up in Germany, he con- 
tinues, " where Christ is truly preached, and all 
things done decently and in order," and then 
should have seen "the foul deformity of your 
kirks and temples, which are more like sheep- 

26 Lethington and the Lammermuir. 

cots than the house of God," he could not have 
believed that there was " any fear of God or 
right religion in the most part of this realm." 
" And as for the ministers of the Word, they are 
utterly neglected, and come in manifest contempt 
among you ; whom ye mock in your mirth and 
threaten in your anger." This spirited discourse 
was printed at St Andrews in 1573, and was 
approved by Knox, who "with my dead hand 
but glad heart " praised God that " in this desola- 
tion " such light was still left in His Church. It 
is clear, indeed, that Knox himself, in his latter 
years, was profoundly dissatisfied with the fruits 
of the Eeformation. His influence had declined ; 
he was very lonely : " Jezebel " had been cast 
out, and the preachers were victorious ; yet some- 
how the Church did not thrive. 

One of the most interesting of Sir Richard's 
poems is addressed to his eldest son " Counsel 
to my son being in the Court." It was written 
about 1555, soon after William Maitland had 
entered the service of the Queen-Regent. He 
entreats his son to be neither a flatterer nor a 
scorner ; but to treat all men with equal courtesy 
and gentleness. He warns him against " playing 
at the carts," unless, indeed, for pastime or in- 
considerable stakes. Though he should rise to 
the highest place in the government, he is to 
remember the instability of fortune, and walk 

Lethington and the Lammermuir. 27 

warily. He is not to seek prematurely for ad- 
vancement ; experience steadies the judgment ; 
and it is well not to be over-confident in a world 
which is as changeable as the moon or the sea. 
He is to follow a consistent course, be not blown 
about, he says emphatically, by "winds of all 
airts." And above all he is to be true in thought 
and deed to the Queen, caring at the same time 
for the poor man, and maintaining justice and 
right. One is not quite sure, when reading this 
poem, how far the old laird understood or appre- 
ciated his brilliant son. After the Secretary's 
death, Sir Richard wrote to Elizabeth to assure 
her that he did not approve of all that William 
Maitland had done. But upon the whole, the 
relations between father and son, from first to 
last, appear to have been entirely cordial. There 
was a good deal, indeed, of the incalculable about 
the younger man, and Sir Richard may occasion- 
ally have felt as the mother hen feels when her 
duckling takes to the water. This liking for an 
unfamiliar element is, we may fancy, a constant 
source of surprise and disquietude to the mater- 
nal mind ; and Lethington's brilliant audacities 
may sometimes have been misinterpreted by his 
father as they were by others. 

All Sir Richard's sons were men of extraordi- 
nary force of character ; even Thomas, who died 
young and who is remembered mainly as one of 

28 Leihington and the Lammermuir. 

the learned controversialists in Buchanan's cele- 
brated symposium ' De Jure Eegni apud Scotos ' 
must have been a remarkable man. He is the 
reputed author of a jeu desprit printed in Cal- 
derwood, which for its ironical force and grave 
simplicity is not unworthy of Swift or Defoe. 
It professes to report the speeches which were 
delivered at an informal meeting by the leaders 
of the extreme party in Church and State on the 
proposal that Moray should accept the crown. 
The peculiarities of each of the speakers Knox, 
Lindsay, John Wood, James Macgill, and the 
rest are hit off with entire fidelity ; and the 
grave tone of an impartial reporter is preserved 
with whimsical decorum. The preachers were 
very angry; they denounced the anonymous 
author and his " forgery," as they called it, with 
the utmost bitterness ; and anxiously assured 
their people that no such meeting had been held. 
Irony is the flower (the flower or weed ?) of a 
later season. The delicate incisiveness and subtle 
reserve of a weapon that wounds with the stealthy 
stroke of the stiletto were indifferently appre- 
ciated at a time when heads were harder and 
thicker than they are now, and when good down- 
right abuse a blow straight from the shoulder 
such as Knox could deliver was required to 
impress an argument on the understanding. The 
bubbles that float on the surface of a refined and 

Lethington and the Lammermuir. 29 

polished society are common enough among us ; 
Canning, Praed, Disraeli, Thackeray, Aytoun, 
Martin, have brought the art of blowing them to 
perfection ; but Maitland's political squib was 
perhaps the first of its kind in Scotland, and 
deserves recognition accordingly. 

Here are a few words from the speech assigned 
to Knox : " ' I praise my God greatumlie that 
hath heard my prayer, which often times I 
poured forth before the throne of His Majesty, 
in anguish of my heart ; and that hath made 
His Evangell to be preached with so notable a 
success under so weak instruments ; which in- 
deed could never have been done, except your 
Grace had been constituted ruler over the Church, 
especially indued with such a singular and ar- 
dent affection to obey the will of God and voice 
of His ministers. Therefore it seemeth to me 
necessar, both for the honour of God, the comfort 
of the poor brethren, and the utility of this com- 
monweal, that first your Grace, next your estate, 
be preserved in equality of time, and not to 
prescribe any diet of fifteen or seventeen years, 
leaning more to the observation of politic laws 
than the approbation of the eternal God. As 
I could never away with their jolly wits and 
politic brains, which my Lord Lindsay calleth 
Matchiavel's disciples, so should I wish they 
were out of the way if it were possible. Better 

30 Lethington and the Lammermuir. 

it is to content ourselves with him of whose 
modesty we have had good experience, both in 
wealth and trouble, than to change from the 
gravity of an aged ruler to the intemperancy of 
an unbridled child. Your Grace hath perceived 
how the blast of my trumpet against the Kegi- 
ment of Women is approved of all the godly. I 
have written in like manner, and have it ready 
for the printing, a book wherein I prove by suffi- 
cient reasons that all kings, princes, and rulers 
go not by succession ; and that birth hath no 
power to promote, nor bastardy to seclude, men 
from the government. This will waken others 
to think more deeply. Besides this, we shall 
set furth an act in the General Assembly ; and 
both I and the rest of the brethren shall ratify 
the same in our daily sermons, till that it be 
more than sufficiently persuaded to the people. 
This being solemnly done, the book of God 
opened and laid before the nobility, who will 
say the contrair, except he that will not fear 
the weighty hand of the magistrate striking with 
the sword, and the censure of the Kirk rejecting 
him, as the scabbed sheep from the rest of the 
flock, by excommunication ? ' Then my Lord 
Eegent said : ' Ye know I was never ambitious : 
yet I will not oppose myself to the will of God, 
revealed by you who are His true ministers. But, 
John, hear ye tell your opinion in the pulpit.' 

Lethington and the Lammermuir. 31 

Which when he had promised to do, the Laird 
of Pittarow was desired to speak." 

The finale as related by Calderwood, is highly 
characteristic of the manners and customs of a 
theocratic society : " David Forrest, called the 
General, gave a copy of it to Alice Sandelands, 
Lady Ormeston, and affirmed it to be true. She 
brought it to Mr Knox, and asked if it was true. 
He answered, 'Ye sail know my answer after- 
ward.' So the next preaching day he rehearsed 
the contents of it, and declared that the devill, 
the father of lees, was the chief inventor of that 
letter, whosoever was the penman, and threat- 
ened that the contriver should die in a strange 
land, where he should not have a friend near 
him to hold up his head. And as the servant of 
God denounced, it came to pass ; for he departed 
out of this life in Italy while he was going to 
Kome." 1 

1 Satirical effusions do not 
appear to have been in favour 
with the Presbyterian clergy. 
Thus we find in the Chronicle 
of Perth : " Henry Balnaves 
and William Jack made their 
repentance in their own seats 
on Sabbath afternoon, for mak- 
ing libel against Mr William 
Couper, minister, and Henry 
Elder, clerk 

As King David was ane sair sanct 
to the crown, 

So is Mr William Couper and the 
clerk to this poor town." 

Not content with ecclesiastical 
censure, an Act of Council was 
afterwards passed, which de- 
clared that neither of them 
" should bear office or get hon- 
orable place in the town there- 
after." Considering the strength 
of their own language, the min- 
isters must have been extraor- 
dinarily sensitive. 

32 Lethington and the Lammermuir. 

John Maitland, the second son, was born in 
1545, so that he was a mere lad when "Leth- 
ington " was in the prime of life. He was a 
fine scholar some of his Latin epigrams are 
still preserved ; an eminent lawyer, who had 
acquired wide repute as a jurist before he was 
raised to the bench ; and he was made a judge 
at three -and -twenty. He lacked the supreme 
gifts of his elder brother the flash of genius, 
the play of wit, the brilliant gaiety; but for 
sheer force of character he was not a whit his 
inferior. When he emerged from the long 
eclipse that followed the fall of Mary's faction 
in Scotland, he rose with extraordinary rapidity 
to the highest place in the State. He was the 
favourite minister of James. The great nobles, 
the old earls, regarded him with distrust ; but, 
confident in the support of the middle classes 
and of the Kirk, he successfully defied their 
hostility. The conflict with Bothwell, the con- 
flict with Mar, were prolonged and obstinate ; 
but, though he met with occasional misadven- 
tures, his intrepidity, his political sagacity, his 
indefatigable industry, made him indispensable 
to the king, and when he died in his fiftieth 
year he was still one of the foremost men, if 
not the foremost man, in Scotland. He was 
building the great house at Thirlstane when he 
was suddenly seized with mortal illness ; and 

. Lethington and the Lammermuir. 33 

his grandson, the famous or infamous Duke, 
years afterwards, completed the princely house, 
which a too sanguine architect had left unfin- 
ished. He had so far, indeed, outlived his pop- 
ularity. He had established the Presbyterian 
form of worship and government in the Church ; 
the Act of 1592, "the charter of the liberties 
of the Kirk," as it is called, was his work ; but 
he had been concerned in the death of "the 
bonnie Earl of Moray," a crime which, taking 
hold of the popular imagination, like the death 
of Darnley, Scotsmen have never ceased to de- 
test. Lord Burleigh said that the Scottish 
Chancellor was " the wisest man in Scotland ; " 
and the intimate relations "the old familial- 
acquaintance and strict amity " which Sir 
William Cecil had maintained with Lethington, 
were renewed with the younger Maitland ; but 
there was a large alloy of baser stuff in his 
" wisdom " ; the ardent Churchman was careless 
of religion, and the sagacious and patriotic 
statesman was restrained by no vulgar and in- 
convenient scruples. 

Lord Thirlstane John Maitland was made a 
peer before he died was buried in the Abbey 
Church of Haddington, where many of the Mait- 
lands lie. On a florid monument of yellow 
marble in the aisle his virtues were duly com- 
memorated by his august master in even more 

VOL. i. c 

34 Lethington and the Lammermuir. 

florid verse. The monument has been carefully 
preserved ; it is within a few yards of the simple 
slab which marks the last resting-place of Jane 
Welsh Carlyle. 

On the later fortunes of the Maitlands, as 
peers of Scotland, it is not here necessary to 
enlarge. Only once in the years that suc- 
ceeded did they rise again into distinct his- 
torical and national importance. The portly 
figure of Lauderdale a grotesque and uncouth, 
but terribly impressive figure occupies a large 
part of the canvas which the painters of the 
next century devoted to its beauties and to its 
wits. The apostate Covenanter became the boon 
companion of Charles, and the contrast between 
the austere discipline of the conventicle and the 
gaieties of a voluptuous Court was no doubt 
keenly relished. The coarse and sensual tastes 
of the man were not perhaps inbred ; the evil 
grew upon him as we can partly trace in the 
portraits that remain ; under happier stars, and 
a better master, the most highly gifted Scotsman 
of the time might have been worthily and pro- 
fitably employed. But the infamy which, in 
the judgment of his countrymen, attaches to 
that sinister career, is not now likely to be 
relieved by any touch of brightness which the 
closest scrutiny (and five - and - twenty vol- 
umes of unexplored Lauderdale manuscripts 

Lethington and the Lammermuir. 35 

repose in the British Museum) can throw 
upon it. 1 

Of the earlier life of William Maitland, little, 
indeed nothing, with certainty is known. I am, 
for various reasons, inclined to believe that he 
was born about the year 1528, it is probable 
that his brother John, the Chancellor of James 
VI., was not born before 1545 ; and John was 
one of the younger members of a family which, 
as I have said, consisted of three sons and four 
daughters. 2 William was little more than a boy 
when, following the fashion of the time, he went 
to St Andrews, and he probably completed his 
education abroad. The close connection between 
Scotland and France was still maintained, and 
the sons of the Scottish gentry were well re- 
ceived by the polished society of a capital 
where Marie of Lorraine had been a familiar 
figure, and where her daughter, the little Queen 
of Scots, with her band of maiden " Maries," and 
the fair scholars of the cloister, now held a mimic 
Court. It is obvious from his correspondence 
that Maitland had been highly educated ; the 
incidental allusions, the classical innuendoes, the 

1 Selections from these papers 
are being published by the 
Camden Society. 

2 Pinkerton says John was 
born about 1537; but he was 

only fifty when he died in 
1595. The date commonly as- 
signed is 1545, and this agrees 
with the inscription on his 

36 Lethington and the Lammermuir. 

bright byplay in his letters, are characteristic of 
a man of graceful and scholarly accomplishment. 
He was not, perhaps, a profound or laborious 
student ; but for a man of action, for a man of 
the world, his store of poetry and philosophy 
was by no means contemptible, and he could 
use it on occasion with characteristic prompti- 
tude and adroitness. The erudite Elizabeth 
declared that Lethington was " the flower of 
the wits of Scotland ; " in many a sharp debate, 
in many a Biblical controversy, Knox found 
him no mean antagonist. Yet it is certain that 
he was an even better judge of men than of 
books. Than the young Scotsman, who in his 
thirtieth year became a Minister of State, no 
keener critic of the follies and foibles of the 
world, of human nature in its strength and in 
its weakness, was then living. 



rPHE stranger who from the summit of Black- 
ford Hill gazes across green strath and 
winding river and autumn-tinted woods to the 
distant Ben Lomond and Ben Ledi, is astonished 
by the wonderful variety and beauty of the 
landscape. No fairer scene had Marmion sur- 
veyed ; (the magic light of an incomparable 
imagination falls here as elsewhere !) and many 
who have gone further afield than Marmion are 
ready to admit that it is not easily rivalled. 
The capital itself and its immediate surroundings 
can be studied to better advantage from this 
than from any other coign of vantage in the 
neighbourhood. Arthur's Seat, with the long 
buttress of Salisbury Crag, stands directly before 
us. A mile or so to the west the Castle crowns 
the rocky ridge which rises from Holyrood to 
St Giles', and on which Old Edinburgh was built. 
Beyond the spires of church and citadel stretch 

38 The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

the blue waters of the Forth and the low shores 
of Fife. In the mid distance lies the rocky 
island of Inchkeith ; and with a field-glass the 
masts of the merchant navy riding in the roads 
of Leith (where Winter's fleet lay during the 
famous siege) may be singled out one by one. 
The level plain between us and the city the 
arena, as it were, of a spacious amphitheatre 
is surrounded on every side by eminences more 
or less commanding, the Castle Kock, the 
Calton Hill, Arthur's Seat, the heights of Black- 
ford, Craiglockhart, and Corstorphine. Directly 
behind us lies the deep glen of the Hermitage, 
with its rich sweep of autumnal woods ; while 
still further to the south the graceful line of the 
Pentlands rises sharply and picturesquely above 
the pastoral hills of Braid. 

It is not less than three miles from Blackford 
to the Castle Hill ; but the whole intervening 
space has now been built over, much of it 
within the memory of middle-aged men. The 
squalid and densely populated " closes " that 
surround the Grassmarket and the Greyfriars 
are succeeded by stately crescents and spacious 
squares, and these again by the sumptuous villas 
of the lawyers and merchants of the prosperous 
capital of the north. 

The Edinburgh that Lethington knew as a lad 

The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 39 

the Edinburgh of 1545 or of 1550 was con- 
tracted within narrow limits. It occupied the 
back of the ridge between the Castle and Holy- 
rood, or to speak more correctly, between the 
Castle and the Netherbow ; for at that time the 
Canongate, which continued the High Street to 
the palace of Mary Stuart, formed a separate 
burgh. On the north no fortified line of wall 
was needed the deep dip into the Nor' Loch 
being sufficient protection for the lofty buildings 
which were there crowded along the brink of a 
wellnigh impassable ravine. 

Outside the city wall to the south, there was 
little building of any kind. The district was 
sparsely peopled. There were one or two 
chapels or religious houses ; some sort of pro- 
visional shelter on the Boroughmuir for those 
smitten by leprosy or the plague ; a hamlet of 
rustics beside St Eoque ; the strong castle of the 
Napiers of Merchiston, and the mansion of the 
Lairds of Braid. A dense forest of oak had at 
one time clothed the gentle slopes that lie be- 
tween Merchiston and the Pentlands ; "a field 
spacious and delightful by the shade of many 
stately and aged oaks ; " but the forest had been 
gradually thinned out ; much of the timber had 
been used for the construction of booths and 
galleries in the city ; and the wild creatures 

40 The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

who had haunted the sylvan glades of Blackford 
and Braid had been driven back upon the valley 
of the Tweed and the moors and marshes of the 
Upper Ward. 

The French called the city Lislebourg a 
name which now seems hardly appropriate. In 
the sixteenth century, however, Edinburgh was 
nearly surrounded by water. The Nor' Loch 
and the marshes of the Boroughmuir have been 
drained; but the picturesque slopes of Arthur's 
Seat still rise from the reedy margin of lakes 
where the ousel and the moor-hen breed. 

The edge of the ridge on which the buildings 
of Old Edinburgh were piled is nowhere more 
than a few yards wide. The main thoroughfare 
occupied this narrow arete. The steep and often 
precipitous " closes " which join the High Street 
and Canongate at right angles, and constitute 
the most notable feature of the old town, take 
their character from the lie of the ground which 
they occupy. They form a series of stairs or 
ladders, on either side of the ridge, leading 
straight from the level and open country below 
to the central thoroughfare. In this main 
thoroughfare the whole public life of the city 
was concentrated. Here was the great Collegiate 
Church of St Giles' here the market-places 
(the Tron and the butter Tron), the Cross, the 
Parliament House, the Courts of Justice, the 

The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 41 

dwellings of the great nobles and lawyers and 
merchants and ecclesiastics. 1 The population of 
the capital at this time did not amount to more 
than forty thousand souls ; but it was crowded 
into a space where at the present day it would 
be difficult to accommodate one-half the number. 
The whole length of the High Street from the 
Castle to the Tron is only eight hundred yards ; 
from the Castle to Holyrood not more than 
fourteen hundred. The capital was thus as 
populous as an ant-hill; and from morning to 
night the main street at least must have pre- 
sented a busy- and stirring scene a scene which 
no doubt reminded the Flemish trader of the 
turbulent burgher life of the great cities of his 
native land of Ghent and Antwerp and Bruges. 
Much of the business was transacted in the open 
air; the "closes," each shut off by its gate from 
the High Street, were so narrow that neighbours 
sitting at door or window could converse across 
the footpath. The ferment of this excited and 
animated life, favourable as it was to the growth 
of a somewhat turbulent democratic sentiment, 
must have been highly contagious. Priests and 
nobles and tradesmen and caddies jostled one 

1 The High Street, however, 
even at this time, had been 
mainly appropriated by the 
trading community the great 

nobles and ecclesiastics having 
already retreated to the aris- 
tocratic " closes." 


The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

another on the " causey." They met in the 
great cathedral at the solemn functions of the 
Church ; they bartered and trafficked in the road- 
way ; the women sat and gossiped on the outside 
stairs of the houses, or along the open galleries ; 
no criminal was taken to the Tolbooth or hanged 
at the Cross, no troop of retainers wearing the 
livery of Douglas or Hamilton entered the gates, 
no sermon was preached in St Giles' or speech 
made to the Parliament, without the whole com- 
munity being forthwith apprised of what had 
taken place. The "rascal multitude" of the 
capital was alternately abused by courtly Church- 
man and uncourtly Reformer; and the impul- 
siveness which led them to side now with the 
one faction and now with the other, was no doubt 
due to the feverish conditions of the life they 
led. Brought daily together into intimate con- 
tact, each craftsman was known by headmark to 
every other. All public acts, all political and 
municipal duties, were transacted under a fierce 
blaze of light, which excited and stimulated the 
entire society. Thus it came about that at not 
unfrequent intervals, when heated by zeal or 
blinded by panic, they sallied out, master and 
man, like a swarm of angry bees. 1 

1 Taylor, the Water Poet, I am writing, gives a graphic 
who was in Scotland some fifty picture of the capital as it was 
years after the period of which in the beginning of the next 

The Scotland of Mai*y Stuart. 


Of this stirring and crowded life, and of the 
influence it exercised on the nation at large, I 
shall have occasion to speak hereafter ; in the 
meantime we must try to realise with some dis- 
tinctness the condition of provincial Scotland, 
the Scotland that lay outside the walls of the 
capital, about the time when William Maitland 
left the family nest to try his fortune at Court. 
The country everywhere was thinly peopled ; 
the whole population in the middle of the six- 
teenth century did not probably exceed six 
hundred thousand souls. The estimate is ap- 
proximate only; there are no statistics which 
can be implicitly trusted. For a nation which 
was forced to play a great part in the Euro- 

century : " Leaving the castle, 
I descended lower to the city, 
wherein I observed the fairest 
and goodliest street one-half 
an English mile from the Castle 
to a faire port which they called 
the Netherbow, and from that 
port the street which they call 
the Kenny-gate is one quarter 
of a mile more, down to the 
King's Palace, called Holy -rood- 
house ; the buildings on each 
side of the way being all of 
squared stone, five, six, and 
seven stories high, and many 
by -lanes and closes on each side 
of the way, wherein are gentle- 
men's houses, much fairer than 

the buildings in the high street, 
for in the high street the mar- 
chants and tradesmen do dwell, 
but the gentlemen's mansions 
and goodliest houses are ob- 
scurely founded in the afore- 
said lanes ; the walls are eight 
or ten foote thick, exceeding 
strong, not built for a day or 
a week or a month or a year ; 
but from antiquity to posterity 
for many ages." [Since this 
chapter was in type, some in- 
teresting information on the 
topography of Old Edinburgh, 
by Professor David Masson, 
has appeared in the ' Scotsman' 

The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

pean politics of the age, the number seems to 
us insignificant ; but, with our " teeming mil- 
lions," we are apt to forget that the influ- 
ence of a nation does not necessarily depend 
on its numerical superiority. Athens, in her 
prime, had only three hundred and fifty thou- 
sand citizens ; the population of Judea did not 
exceed a million and a quarter. Before the war 
of the Succession, which placed Robert Bruce 
on the throne, the population of Scotland had 
probably been as great as it was in the be- 
ginning of Mary's reign ; but three centuries of 
bloody wars and disastrous feuds had effectually 
arrested the natural growth. During the forty 
years of comparative tranquillity which followed 
there was a rapid rise. Because of the long 
truce, as Buchanan observes of an earlier pause 
in the slaughter, " there were more young men 
in the country." When James VI. ascended 
the English throne in 1603, his Scottish sub- 
jects numbered about a million. 

It is difficult to believe that the ruler of 
this handful of people could on occasion bring 
twenty or thirty or forty thousand men into 
the field. The number of Scotsmen who fought 
at Flodden has been possibly overstated by our 
earlier writers ; yet there seems no good reason 
to doubt that at least thirty thousand men-at- 
arms were gathered upon the Boroughmuir. 

The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 45 

But when we remember that every man and 
boy between sixteen and sixty years of age was 
"liable to serve, the difficulty is to some extent 
removed. The population of Scotland according 
to the census of 1881, slightly exceeded three 
millions and a half. Of this number nearly one 
million males were between the ages of sixteen 
and sixty. Assuming that the population is 
now six times greater than it was in the reign 
of James IV., and that the proportion of avail- 
able males to the whole population remains 
about the same, there must have been in 1513 
considerably upwards of one hundred thousand 
men capable of bearing arms. On a grave 
national emergency, and when the great nobles 
were cordially united, it is quite possible that 
at least a third of this number thirty or forty 
thousand more or less disciplined retainers 
may have followed the king to the field. 

From the point of view of the social and 
political observer, the people of Scotland during 
the sixteenth century might have beeen roughly 
classified as Borderers, Lowlanders, and Celts, 
the inhabitants of the Border dales, of the Low- 
land counties along the eastern seaboard, and 
of the wild and mountainous districts, Highland 
and Island, lying behind the chain of the Gram- 
pians. In constructing a picture of the Scotland 
of Mary Stuart these broad lines of demarca- 

46 The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

tion must be habitually recognised. Impassable 
marshes where the bittern and bustard lodged ; 
broad meres haunted by water-fowl ; masses of 
primeval forest from which the wild creatures 
of the chase the wolf, the boar, the red-deer 
had not yet been driven ; a scanty strip of 
arable land round the unfrequent hamlet, and a 
considerable breadth of pastoral country, rising 
through meadow-grass and bent and heather, to 
the stony infertility of the surrounding moun- 
tains ; the splendid and imposing houses of the 
religious orders, the fortified castles of the nobles, 
the wretched cabins of the peasantry; these were 
common to each. But while among the wilds of 
Liddesdale and Badenoch the people were in a 
very rudimentary stage of civilisation, were not 
yet weaned from the savage ways of their an- 
cestors, Fife and the Lothians were compara- 
tively settled. " Fife and the Lothians " is a 
convenient colloquial expression much in use at 
the time; but "Fife and the Lothians" really 
represented a much wider territorial area an 
area extending on the one hand to Glasgow, and 
on the other to Elgin or Aberdeen. Trade, 
agriculture, commerce historical, ecclesiastical, 
and legal culture the amenities of social and 
domestic life the political forces which deter- 
mine the form of government, were to be found 
there, and there only. The capital, the univer- 

The Scotland of Mary Stuart, 47 

sity towns, the rising burghs, the thriving sea- 
ports, were included in the "inland counties," 
from which the outlaws of Athol and Badenoch 
and the broken men of the Border "stark 
mosstroopers, and arrant thieves " were ex- 
cluded by Act of Parliament. 1 

Of the outlying districts, the Border country 
was most intimately associated with the general 
history of the time, and exercised the most 
direct influence upon the course of events. 

The rain-cloud that sweeps the sides of Ettrick 
Pen helps to fill the Tweed, the Annan, and the 
Esk ; and the configuration of the Border dales 
will be best understood if we take our stand on 
one or other of the peaks of the range of which 
Ettrick Pen is probably the true summit. To 

1 Marie of Lorraine, the Queen 
of James V., landing at Fife 
Ness, rode to St Andrews, 
where she was met by the 
bridegroom. "When the Queen 
came to her palace, and met with 
the King, she confessed unto 
him, she never saw in France, 
nor no other country, so many 
goodly faces in so little room, as 
she saw that day in Scotland : 
For she said it was shown unto 
her in France, that Scotland 
was but a barbarous country, 
destitute and void of all good 

commodities that used to be in 
other countries ; but now she 
confessed she saw the contrary: 
For she never saw so many fair 
personages of men, women, 
young babes, and children, as 
she saw that day." There may 
have been a touch of flattery 
in this speech ; but other 
travellers were struck in the 
same way ; and the " East 
Neuk of Fife" was probably 
in the reign of James V. the 
most settled and progressive 
district in Scotland. 

48 The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

the north and north-east we have the valley of 
the Tweed, to the south and south-west the 
valleys of the Esk and the Annan. The Tweed 
falls into the German Ocean ; the Esk and 
Annan into the Solway. The tributary valleys 
of the Tweed are those through which the 
Ettrick, the Yarrow, the Leader, and the Teviot 
flow. All these, except the Leader, descend 
from the hill-country which lies to the south ; 
the Leader alone, issuing from the Lammer- 
muirs, belongs to the north. Speaking gener- 
ally, it may be said that the basin of the Tweed 
comprehends the whole of the fertile strath that 
lies between the Lammermuir and the Cheviots. 
Melrose, Dryburgh, Roxburgh, Kelso are built 
on the banks of the main stream ; Branxholm 
stands on the Teviot ; Ferniehurst on the Jed. 
This is the Scott and Ker country, the Lords 
of Buccleuch and the Kers of Ferniehurst and 
Cessford. Crossing the hillside above Branx- 
holm we reach the system of valleys whose 
combined waters ultimately form the Esk 
Eskdale, Ewesdale, Wauchopdale, and Liddes- 
dale. Dwelling close to the Border among 
wellnigh inaccessible marshes (the Debateable 
Land of Canonbie, Morton, and Kirkandrews, 
the cause of constant strife), the men of these 
dales Armstrongs, Elliots, Grahams, and Littles 
were exceptionally turbulent and troublesome. 

The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 49 

The " thieves of Liddesdale " had an ill repute, 
and defied with impunity the Scottish and 
English Wardens. " The Armstrongs of Liddes- 
dale," Magnus wrote in 1526, "had reported 
presumptuously that they would not be ordered, 
neither by the King of Scots, their sovereign 
lord, nor by the King of England, but after 
such manner as their fathers had used before 
them." Hermitage Castle was the only con- 
siderable place in these remote and lawless 
valleys. Built by Nicolas de Soulis, it had 
afterwards come to be a stronghold of the 
Douglas. On the overthrow of the great house, 
the Hepburns of Hailes appear to have assumed, 
by a rather loose kind of hereditary title, the 
Wardenship of the Middle Marches, and Hermit- 
age passed into their hands. Annandale is the 
last of the true Border dales ; for Nithsdale, 
which is sometimes classed along with them, is 
separated from England by the broad waters 
of the Solway. The " great names " in these 
western valleys were Jardine, Johnstone, and 
Maxwell. The dales must at that time have 
been populous, on a week's notice seven thou- 
sand men could be raised in Nithsdale, Annan- 
dale, and Liddesdale alone. 

The fighting men of the Border were all 
mounted. As light irregular cavalry, as scouts 
in a difficult country, their services to a more 

VOL. I. D 

50 The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

organised force were often invaluable. The 
Border nags were slight, but wiry and inde- 
fatigable, and perfectly suited for Border travel 
and Border warfare. They could pick their 
way with admirable sagacity along the narrow 
and slippery tracks that crossed the quaking 
mosses of Tynedale or Tarras ; they could 
clamber like goats across a mountain -pass or 
up the bed of a torrent ; in the darkest night, 
through the wildest storm, the natural w T ariness 
which they shared with the fox and the foumart 
could be implicitly trusted. The man who had 
lost his arm was not more helpless than the 
Borderer who had lost his horse. On the other 
hand, when man and horse were well mated, 
the mosstrooper was a formidable foe. In his 
steel bonnet and leather jacket, " dagg " or 
" hackbut " at his saddle-bow, and a Jedburgh 
stave or jack-spear ready to his hand, he could 
ride forty miles between dusk and dawn, and 
then swoop like a hawk upon a hostile clan or 
the " auld enemy " of England. They were not 
gipsies ; they clung with persistent fidelity each 
man to the dale where he was born ; but the life, 
if not nomadic, had no element of stability or 
permanence. The beacon-fires which sent the 
news of a raid from peel to peel were constantly 
blazing. By the time the slogan of the free- 
booters was heard, the cabins had been unroofed 

The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 5 1 

and dismantled, the women and children, the 
sheep and cattle, had been huddled within the 
thick walls of the neighbouring castle, and the 
men had ridden off through moor and moss to 
rally the outlying retainers of their chief. Re- 
parabit cornua Phoebe was the motto of the 
Scotts of Harden. It might have been adopted 
by the Border men in general. They were, in 
FalstafFs phrase, "Diana's foresters, gentlemen 
of the shade, minions of the moon." Passion- 
ately fond of the chase, the "mysteries of woods 
and forests " appealed to the imagination of the 
Borderer with peculiar force. But the moon- 
light ride across the hills, with the prospect of a 
sharp skirmish and a rich haul of " nolt " and 
nags on the other side of the water, was a still 
finer joy. It was a cruel, lawless, and anarchic 
society ; yet it had at the same time some of the 
virtues which a more polished community is apt 
to lose. The Eed Indian is a Eed Indian to the 
end ; but the Border blood was good. Though 
entirely illiterate, the Dalesmen were not devoid 
of imagination. The plaintive wail of the Border 
ballad, the echo of an earlier minstrelsy, has still 
to a Scottish ear a charm of its own. They were 
brave and fearless ; devout after a fashion ; bribe 
or menace could not shake their fidelity. The 
unwritten laws of Border honour were inflexibly 
maintained by thieves and outlaws. A traitor 

52 The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

coming among them fared badly. He was a 
marked man, and had short shrift. The Judas 
who betrayed the fugitive Northumberland was 
never forgiven. "To take Hector's cloak" be- 
came a proverbial term of reproach. 

About the time of Hector's treachery one of 
Cecil's emissaries made his way into Teviotdale, 
where the Earl of Westmorland was in hiding 
amongst the Kers. Constable was an abom- 
inable scoundrel ; but his narrative is bright and 
animated. The devil quotes Scripture, we are 
told; and the familiar letters of Elizabeth's 
ministers, in which, while invoking the coun- 
tenance of the Almighty in language borrowed 
from the Psalms and the Prophets, the basest 
intrigues are unblushingly disclosed and dis- 
cussed, simply amazes us. The obliquity of the 
puritanic conscience, the deadness of the moral 
sense in profoundly moral men, is an almost 
unaccountable phenomenon; we can have no 
doubt of the sincerity of their religious zeal, and 
yet they lied like troopers. What is the explan- 
ation ? Constable had a keen perception of the 
infamy of his mission ; yet Cecil himself could 
not have applied the salve of the public well- 
being to his conscience with more unctuous 
adroitness. He sincerely trusts that Elizabeth 
will be merciful ; for he could never forgive 
himself if his victims were brought to the block. 

The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 


" If it should turn to the effusion of their blood, 
my conscience would be troubled all the days of 
my life." His guides, though thieves and out- 
laws, were quite incorruptible ; his own mission, 
he admits, was intrinsically base. " This be a 
traitorous kind of service that I am w T ayded in, 
to trap them that trusted me, as Judas did 
Christ." The men he was bribed to betray were 
his own kith and kin, old friends and neigh- 
bours ; and he praises Lady Westmorland 
against whose husband's life he was plotting 
with affectionate if discriminating enthusiasm, 
"a faithful servant of God; a dutiful subject 
to the Queen's Majesty ; an obedient, careful, lov- 
ing wife to her husband ; and of a ripeness of wit, 
readiness of memory, and plain and pithy utter- 
ance of her words. I have talked with many, 
but never with her like." 1 One is glad to know 
that the fugitives escaped, and that his own 
experiences were not altogether pleasant. "I 
came furth of Scotland on Sunday, the extremest 
day for wind and snow that ever I rode in ; " 
"I dare not ride over the fells without more 
company, for I was in great peril meeting a 
company of Scots thieves on Thursday at night 
last." But, as I have said, the fellow wrote 

1 Lady Westmorland was 
Anne Howard, daughter of the 

Earl of Surrey, and sister of the 
Duke of Norfolk. 


Tlie Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

admirably, and no livelier picture of the interior 
of a Border peel has been preserved. 

" So I left Ferniehurst and went to my host's 
house, where I found many guests of divers 
factions, some outlaws of England, some of Scot- 
land, some neighbours thereabouts, at cards ; 
some for placks and hardheads ; and after that 
I had diligently learned and inquired that there 
was none of my surname that had me in deadly 
feud, nor none that knew me, I sat down and 
played for hardheads amongst them, where I 
heard vox populi that the Lord Eegent would 
not for his own honour, nor for honour of his 
country, deliver the Earls, if he had them both, 
unless it were to have their Queen delivered to 
him ; and if he would agree to make that ex- 
change, the Borderers would start up in his con- 
trary, and reive both the Queen and the Lords 
from him, for the like shame was never before 
done in Scotland, and that he durst better eat 
his own ' lugs ' than come again to seek Fernie- 
hurst ; if he did, he should be fought with ere he 
came over Soutra Edge. Hector of Harlow's 
head was wished to have been eaten amongst 
us at supper." 1 

1 .<Eneas Sylvius, one of the 
Piccolomini, afterwards Pius 
II., who was in Scotland in 
1413, found the Borderers, lay 
and clerical, much inclined to 

conviviality. At a merry meet- 
ing in a priest's house on the 
English side of the Border, 
which had been prolonged into 
the small hours, there was an 

TJie Scotland of Mary Stuart. 55 

George Buchanan was a native of the Lennox 
from the hamlet of Moss near Killearn, where 
he was born, the mountains round Loch Lomond 
are plainly visible and his notices of the neigh- 
bouring highlands and islands, with which he 
was familiar, are lively and valuable. From 
Buchanan (from Buchanan supplemented by 
Leslie, Monro, and other contemporary writ- 
ers) a sufficiently accurate picture of the Celtic 
mountaineer of Mary's reign may be obtained. 
In the earliest Scottish maps the "Mounth" is 
the dividing line between Highland and Low- 
land ; and the " Mounth " is an extension of 
the Grampian chain, stretching from the Dee 
on the one side of the island to the Linnhe 
Loch on the other. "Le Mounth ubi est pes- 
simum passagium sine cibo," is an entry that 
indicates with perfect exactness the feelings 
about the mountain -barrier, and the country 
behind it, which was then common in the " inland 
counties." Mary went to Inverness by the level 
road along the east coast ; yet of that holiday 
ride Eandolph, who accompanied her, wrote : 
" From Stirling she taketh her journey as far 
north as Inverness a terrible journey both for 
horse and man, the countries are so poor and the 

alarm after midnight that the 
Scotch mosstroopers were near 
at hand, whereupon the jovial 

company broke up, and took 
refuge without delay in the 
neighbouring "peel." 

56 The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

victuals so scarce. It is thought that it will be 
a journey for her of two months and more." 
The confused chaos of hill and valley lying 
along the " Deucaledonian Sea," which occupies 
an uncertain space in the older maps, is described 
by their authors as the favourite haunt of shy 
and savage creatures which elsewhere were gra- 
dually disappearing. " Hie maxima venatio." 
" Hie habundant lupi." It was the country of 
the red-deer and the wolf; in a still earlier age, 
of the wild boar and the beaver. Eobbers were 
numerous upon the land, pirates upon the water ; 
yet even along that remote and dangerous coast 
peaceful industries had begun to establish them- 

Buchanan's survey takes us along the coast- 
line from Ailsa Craig to the Shetland Islands. 
Kyle and Galloway, he tells us, were richer in 
flocks than in corn. The people salted and ate 
the eels which were caught in all the lochs in 
vast numbers a curious fact ; for though still a 
favourite fish in England, the lower classes in 
Scotland would now as soon think of eating an 
adder or a toad as an eel. The light and sandy 
soil round Ayr was better fitted to produce 
brave men than corn and cattle ; but the town 
itself was already a thriving seaport. The lofty 
Ailsa in the offing, then as now tenanted by 
multitudes of solan-geese, but inaccessible to 

Tlie Scotland of Mary Stuart. 57 

man except by a single dangerous footpath, was 
resorted to during the summer season while the 
cod-fishing lasted by immense numbers of small 
craft. To avoid the risk of rounding the Mull, 
the seamen entering or quitting the estuary 
dragged their light vessels across the isthmus 
at Knapdale. Jura was finely wooded, and 
abounded in deer ; and lead was obtained in the 
rich and fruitful May. The tombs of the kings 
of Scotland, Ireland, and Norway could still be 
seen at lona. Multitudes of sea-fowl were taken 
in Eum, Tiree, and the remoter islands ; in Col- 
onsay the rare eider bred ; and herds of seals 
sunned themselves upon every sandy beach. At 
Vaterza large numbers of fishermen assembled at 
certain seasons ; Barra was already noted for its 
cod-fishery ; and Skye, where corn, black cattle, 
and herds of mares abounded, was famous for its 
herring and its salmon. Seals, sea -fowl, and 
dried mutton were paid as rent by the tenants. 
At a time when kings and queens and great 
nobles were passionately fond of hawking, the 
trees and rocks where the falcons bred were 
jealously preserved; yet what trade there was 
with the outside world consisted mainly of fish. 
The peaceful merchant trading among the islands 
was exposed indeed to no inconsiderable risks. 
The western seas, wild and stormy at all times, 
were then infested by piratical craft. In the 

58 The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

wooded island of Kona was a deep inlet " where 
pirates lurked." In Uist were numerous caves 
covered with heath "the lurking-places of 
robbers." On an island opposite Loch Broom 
the Celtic freebooters lay in the sheltered bays, 
and " kept watch for travellers ; " while South 
Gruinart one of the most romantic and charm- 
ing districts on the mainland was then, in 
Buchanan's words, " darkened with gloomy 
woods and infested with notorious robbers." 
The northern islanders, the Orcadians and 
Shetlanders, had little intercourse with Scot- 
land, and traded chiefly with Norway. They 
bought their boats from the Norwegian ship- 
builders, and sent them in exchange oil, butter, 
fish, and a coarse thick cloth, which the women 
wove. They were remarkably healthy, and lived 
to a great age. One of them who died quite 
lately, Buchanan adds, married a wife when he 
was one hundred years old ; and in his hundred 
and fortieth year was so hale and vigorous that 
in his frail skiff he would brave alone the rough- 
est seas. 

Leslie's description is substantially to the same 
effect ; but it contains some additional touches. 
The more distant parts of the island are horrible, 
he admits, by reason of the Grampian moun- 
tains, and " other rough, sharp, and hard hills, 
full of moss, moor, and morass." Yet there are, 

Tlie Scotland of Mary Stuart. 59 

even beyond the " Mounth," some favoured spots 
such as Lochaber, of which, indeed, Buchanan 
had declared that it was "delightful from its 
shady groves, and pleasant rivulets and foun- 
tains." At the time when the Bishop wrote, 
Loch Broom had become the central station for 
the herring -fishing on the west coast ; it was 
"copious in herring miraculouslie," and was 
resorted to not only by Scotch fishermen, but 
by the English, the French, and the Flemings. 
A species of goat found on the island of Hirta, 
was remarkable for its size and its magnificent 
horns. Capercailzie, falcons, eagles, grouse, 
black-cock, bustards, and six kinds of geese, are 
among the wild-fowl enumerated by Leslie. Of 
the wild goose, he says, there is a marvellous 
multitude in the west isles, where they are 
captured in nets, and domesticated by the 
natives. Wild swans do not seem to have been 
so numerous on that side of the island ; the Loch 
of Spynie and other inland waters on the east 
coast having been then, as they are still, among 
their favourite haunts. The Orkney Islanders 
traded with Holland as well as with Scandinavia 
whale-oil being the chief commodity which 
they exported. Their horses were very small, 
but in labour marvellously durable ; and food 
was so cheap among them, that a hundred eggs 
could be bought for a French sous of Tours. 

60 T/ie Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

"And that none think that I speak sophisti- 
cally, those eggs of which I speak are hens' 
eggs, and new and fresh; and again, that I be 
not thought to speak hyperbolicly or above my 
bounds, I say less (they shall understand) than 
the truth is." 

The pirates and robbers, " the wicked thieves 
and limmers," " the strange beggars resorting 
in great numbers out of the Highlands," against 
whom many old statutes were directed, were 
outside the pale of Lowland charity ; but of the 
people " we call Kedshanks," who occupy " the 
mair horrible places of the realm," both Buchanan 
and the Bishop speak in eulogistic terms. They 
are not blind to their faults, indeed ; some of 
which, it is to be feared, the Celt has not yet 
unlearnt or outgrown. Leslie, for instance, 
complains that " not karing as it war for the 
morn," they catch only as many fish as will 
serve for immediate use leaving the more 
lucrative deep-sea trade to be prosecuted by 
others. But the simple, abstemious, hardy life 
led by the mountaineers, is cordially praised. 
They could go all day without food eating 
only in the early morning and at night. Hunt- 
ing and fishing supplied them with what food 
they needed. They flayed the deer where it fell, 
and the skin filled with water served as a vessel 
in which to boil the flesh. They naturally de- 

The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 


lighted in blue and purple and other brilliant 
colours ; but their plaids and kilts were of a 
plain dark brown a colour so like the heather 
among which they lurked, that it failed to 
attract the eye. Wrapped in their plaids, they 
braved the severest storms in the open air 
sleeping sometimes even among the snow. Their 
beds were composed of fern or heather ; when 
they travelled abroad they threw aside the pillow 
and blanket with which they were supplied by 
their hosts, lest they might grow effeminate like 
their Lowland neighbours. 1 They wore an iron 
head-piece, and a coat of mail made of loose iron 
rings, very light and flexible, "harnest with 
jacks all woven through with iron hooks " as 
Leslie vividly describes it. The bow was their 
favourite weapon (it was retained, indeed, by the 
hill-poacher till about the end of last century ; 
and among the braes of Eannoch many an 
antlered stag fell to the eagle-feathered arrow 

1 Some of whom seem actu- 
ally to have enjoyed the luxury 
of a feather-bed. At least in 
the inventory of Archbishop 
Beaton's effects (in his action 
against Mure of Caldwell), " 23 
fedder beds " are included. The 
value put upon them is rather 
suggestive of rarity, they were 
luxuries which, like the glass 
windows at Alnwick, were laid 

away very carefully when the 
owner left. " It were good," 
the steward says in his report 
on Alnwick Castle for the year 
1567, "that the whole lights 
of every window, at the de- 
parture of his lordship, and 
during the time of his lord- 
ship's absence, were taken down 
and laid up in safety, until his 
return they be set up anew." 


The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

of Ewen M'Ewen within the memory of people 
who were living the other day), though some 
carried swords, and others Lochaber-axes. The 
Highland Celts, like the Dalesmen, were passion- 
ately fond of music. They played on bagpipe 
and harp the harps of the greater bards being 
richly decorated with silver and precious stones. 
The praise of brave men and brave deeds was 
the subject of their songs, which, Buchanan 
observes, were " not inelegant." The caustic 
Dunbar, on the other hand, was very hard upon 
the Celtic minstrels : 

" The Devil sae devt was with their yell, 
That in the deepest pot of hell, 
He smorit them with smoke." l 

The Catholic bishop naturally commends the 
constancy of the Celt to the Catholic faith. 
The Borderers, who long resisted the preachers 
(Norfolk says significantly that the Humes and 
the Kers sided with the Congregation for the 
expulsion of the French, but were not inclined 
to them in matters of religion), were won over 
at last ; but the new doctrines failed to cross 

1 The serenade of bagpipes 
to which Mary was treated on 
her arrival at Holyrood is 
noticed by Brantome : " He ! 
quelle musique ! et quel repos 
pour sa nuit ! " " She was so 
weill pleased with the melody," 
Calderwood observes, " that she 

willed the same to be continued 
some nights after." I suspect 
it was to the same favourite 
musical instrument that Frois- 
sart alludes "it seemed as if 
all the devils of hell had been 

The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 63 

the mountain-barrier, and in Highland glen and 
western island the people continued to worship 
as their fathers worshipped before the days of 
Knox. Amongst the Eedshanks he continues 
is continual battle. The greater of degree 
and the nobler of blood is in the war the fore- 
most. Their prince or captain they hold in such 
reverence, that for his cause or at his command 
they will venture their own life, be the danger 
or death never so bitter. If at any time they 
are free from war, they spend it not in idleness 
or vanity or auld wives' fables, but in making 
the limbs of their bodies more firm and fit by 
running, fencing, and wrestling. Even the wild 
beasts of the forest they run down on foot. No 
men thus are less delicate than the Redshanks, 
or less given to voluptuous and fleshly pleasures. 
And in the same manner of way they bring up 
their "bairns" in shooting of arrows, in feed- 
ing of horses, in casting darts, in hearing of the 
men of renown in whose footsteps they are 
to tread. 1 

So much for the Redshank of Mary's reign. 
It was a hard life that he led ; according to 
modern standards he was little better than a 

1 Condensed from Leslie. Society by Father E. G. Cody. 
The amusing translation into The Western Islands were visit- 

the vernacular by Father James 
Dalrymple, has been recently 
edited for the Scottish Text 

ed by Dean Monro, who de- 
scribes the tombs of the Kings 
at lona, in the year 1549. 

64 TJie Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

savage ; and the modern historian waxes merry 
at his expense. A paradoxical Froude or a 
quixotic Kuskin may possibly be inclined to 
maintain, indeed, that the education which 
makes men simple, hardy, brave, and frugal is 
not to be despised. How many a scholar from 
Eton or Oxford could spend the winter night 
among the heather a mouthful of oat-cake for 
supper, a "green turf" for a pillow, the North 
Star straight overhead and rise at daybreak 
with the moorcock and the whaup ? 

When we descend from Border peel and High- 
and clachan to the low countries lying mainly 
along the eastern seaboard, we come among a 
people who, in spite of domestic feuds and the 
weakness of the central government, are com- 
paratively peaceful and civilised. Except when 
civil war was actually raging, the itinerant 
"chapman" might carry his pack from Glas- 
gow to Edinburgh, from Edinburgh to St An- 
drews and Perth and Aberdeen, without much 
risk. There was no general or organised police 
force to render life and property secure ; but, 
continual anarchy being insupportable, an im- 
plicit understanding existed among the greater 
barons that each within his own territory 
would be responsible for the maintenance of 
some degree of order. The extensive woods, 

The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 65 

which at an earlier period had covered the coun- 
try, had been destroyed. Only a fragment of 
the Silva Caledonia remained. Timber was 
scarce, and in those districts where peat could 
not be obtained, the people were badly off for 
fuel. But the removal of almost impassable 
thickets had been attended with one advan- 
tage : the outlaw the robber and the assassin 
was deprived of a secure retreat. He could 
no longer shelter himself in the gloomy and 
inaccessible depths of a forest which stretched 
from Loch Awe to the Border. Other savage 
creatures, too, were scared away. The red-deer 
could still roam across the heather; but when 
the forest fell before fire or axe, the wolf was 
fain to retreat to Badenoch or Lochaber. 

When these changes came about it is difficult 
exactly to determine. In the country of Buchan, 
which, before the breaking out of the English 
wars, was densely wooded, no tree will grow. 
The oaks which are dug out of the mosses bear 
upon them the marks of fire ; and the popular 
fancy in consequence attributes their destruction 
to some great social convulsion possibly the 
" harrying " of the district by Eobert or Edward 
Bruce. We know that the contemporary earl 
petitioned Edward I. to grant him maremium, 
in consideration of the losses he had sustained 
by the war. Edward acceded to the request, 

VOL. i. E 

66 The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

and allowed him fifty oaks yearly out of the 
royal forests "in Buchan and Kintore." From 
this it would appear that the then earl one of 
the great house of Comyn had been attacked, 
and his district " harried," some time before the 
final defeat on Aiky Brae sent him an exile to 
the English Court. The abundance of the bog- 
oak in countries where, through " the penuritie 
of wood," the people burnt peat alone, aston- 
ished the writers of the time. " But how has 
such great and wide woods ever there grown, 
where now by no art or craft of man, will not 
so much as ane small wand grow (the ground 
is so barren), we cannot marvel enough." One 
considerable calamity, indeed, is probably con- 
nected with the ruin of the forest that stretched 
along the eastern seaboard. Large tracts of 
arable and pasture land which the wood pro- 
tected are now covered with sand. The whole 
parish of Forvie, burgh and landward, has been 
" ouircassen." The vast sand-hills of Foveran, 
over which one can tramp for hours, were, we 
are told, "formerly flowery meadows." A de- 
lightful naturalist, who died only the other day, 
has described, with -singular vividness, the barren 
bents between Spey and Findhorn ; these barren 
bents were once the mos-t fertile lands in Moray. 
The light flakes have drifted across the chapel 
of Pittulie, the tower of Kattray, the church at 

The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 67 

Cruden, which was built by King Malcolm in 
memory of the nobles who fell in his last battle 
with the Danes. " The kirk that was biggit to 
this effect," Bellenden says, " as afttimes occuris 
in thay partis, was ouircassen by violent blasts 
of sandis." The mischief became so threatening, 
that in the next century the Scottish Parlia- 
ment, " considering that many lands, meadows, 
and pasturages lying on the sea-coasts have 
been ruined and overspread in many places of 
this kingdom," punished with fine and imprison- 
ment the offence of pulling up by the root the 
bent or bushes of juniper that gave solidity to 
the shifting soil. It was probably the fringe 
of low and fertile land along the shore that was 
first brought into cultivation, and which at one 
time had been most densely peopled ; and the 
great sand-banks of Moray and Aberdeenshire 
may thus preserve unhappily beyond reach 
of the most congenial Dryasdust some unique 
records of a perished society. 

There can, I think, be little doubt that what- 
ever was best and worthiest in Scottish life for 
several hundred years, was to be found in one 
form or other in connection with the great re- 
ligious houses the abbeys and monasteries 
which were planted in nearly every district, 
however remote and however inaccessible. The 
missionary genius of the Catholic Church had 

68 The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

been stronger than stormy strait, or rugged 
mountain, or inclement sky. The massive 
strongly fortified square towers, with their 
picturesque roofs and gables, and turrets and 
bastions, which rose darkly against wood and 
hill from every coign of vantage, might more 
readily attract the eye ; yet it was not in the 
noble's castle, but in the monastic buildings 
lying along the river -bank in the sheltered 
valley below, that the sacred flame of liberal 
culture, of polite learning, of a humane civil- 
isation, was encouraged to burn. The Abbey 
Church of Haddington was emphatically "the 
Lamp of Lothian " : and from age to age, from 
Kirkwall to the Border, such lamps had been 
lit. The moral, spiritual, intellectual illumina- 
tion of the people what of it there might be 
came from them. That the religious orders in- 
creased and multiplied inordinately, need not be 
denied ; and it is plain that immediately before 
the Keformation (although the evils have been 
grossly exaggerated) there was much idleness 
and much corruption among the higher clergy. 
But within the precincts of each of the wealthier 
abbeys an active industrial community (whose 
influence had been so far entirely beneficial) 
was housed. The prescribed offices of, the Church 
were of course scrupulously observed (or if not 
scrupulously, at least in a spirit of becoming 

TJie Scotland of Mary Stuart. 69 

decency) ; but the energies of the society were 
not exclusively occupied with, nor indeed mainly 
directed to, the performance of religious duties. 
The occupants of the monasteries wore the reli- 
gious garb ; but they were road-makers, farmers, 
merchants, lawyers, doctors, as well as priests. 
Up to the middle of the sixteenth century, com- 
munication between one district of Scotland and 
another was slow and laborious. There were 
tracks across the mosses which a pedestrian 
could use, and through the heather where a 
pack or saddle horse could be taken ; but they 
were difficult at all times, and during rainy or 
wintry weather, dangerous, if not impassable. 
One would have expected that the road along 
the coast which led to Berwick, to York, to 
London, to Rome the great highroad which 
every eminent Scotsman on his way to foreign 
Court or famous University had used age after 
age would have been plainly marked and fairly 
maintained ; but it was not so. Norfolk writes 
that the artillery for the siege of Leith would re- 
quire to be sent by sea, " by reason of the deep 
and foul ways between Berwick and Leith ; " and 
elsewhere he observes that the country is ill 
suited even for carts. The earliest roads in 
Scotland that deserved the name were made by 
the monks and their dependants ; and were in- 
tended to connect the religious houses as trading 

70 The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

societies with the capital or the nearest seaport. 
A decent public road is indispensable to an 
industrial community ; and a considerable pro- 
portion of the trade of the country was in the 
hands of the religious orders. They had depots 
in the burghs where they stored the produce of 
farm and workshop, and booths where it was 
sold. The monks of Melrose sent wool to the 
Netherlands ; others trafficked in corn, in timber, 
in salmon. They were large employers of labour, 
and the peaceful peasant in the ecclesiastical 
vineyard had rights and privileges which the 
serfs of the nobles did not enjoy. Their service 
was thus extremely popular, and there is every 
reason to believe that they were good and gener- 
ous masters. Many of them had been educated 
abroad, and had come into contact with the 
most enlightened of their contemporaries. Ee- 
turning to their native valleys, they brought with 
them the wider views and the liberal tastes which 
they had acquired at Paris or Bologna. Some 
of them had studied medicine, others had studied 
law, others Aristotle and the schoolmen. They 
became the schoolmasters, the lawyers, the doc- 
tors of a community which was protected from 
the strife of the turbulent world outside by the 
sanctity which attached to the religious profes- 
sion. The sons of the great nobles and of the 
country gentlemen were taught " grammar and 

The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 71 

dialectic " in the library of the convent ; the 
sick arid the maimed were lodged in the hospital. 
There was thus ample scope for every taste, lay 
and clerical, practical and speculative, from 
the monk who looked after the pigs and poultry, 
to the monk who illuminated a missal or com- 
posed a chronicle. Each community, each order, 
as was natural, had its characteristic likings 
and dislikings. One house turned out the best 
scholars and lawyers, another the finest wool 
and the sweetest mutton ; one was famed for 
poetry or history, another for divinity or medi- 
cine. 1 There were drones among them, no doubt, 
but there are drones in every profession; and 
whoever fancies that the members of the reli- 
gious orders planted in Scotland passed their 
lives in sloth and sensuality, is the victim of a 
delusion. The courtyard of a Scottish monas- 
tery during the fourteenth and fifteenth cen- 
turies was a busy thoroughfare, which, when 
business was pressing, might readily have been 
mistaken by a stranger for the market-place or 
the exchange. 

For some time, however, before the Refor- 
mation, the burghs upon the coast, from the 
Scottish Sea (as the Firth of Forth was then 

1 We are told, for instance, 
that polite literature was cul- 
tivated at Cupar and Arbroath, 

solid learning at Glasgow, his- 
torical study at St Colms, and 
so on. 

72 The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

called) to the Firth of Cromarty, had monopo- 
lised the general trade of the country. The 
burgh from an early period had been regarded 
with exceptional favour by the Scottish kings. 
Many of the charters which secure the priv- 
ileges and define the duties of the burgesses, 
are of great antiquity ; and before the unhappy 
strife with England had become chronic under 
Bruce and Stuart, several of these trading com- 
munities had attained prosperity and import- 
ance. A considerable foreign trade had been 
attracted, and foreign merchants, chiefly Flem- 
ings, had established themselves at the chief 
seaports. There was at first no common bond 
between the incorporations ; but learning in 
course of time that union is strength, the prin- 
cipal towns formed themselves into trading 
confederacies, one of them representing the 
northern, the other the southern burghs, as 
divided by the "Mounth." At a later period 
the northern and southern leagues united in, 
what is still known as the Convention of Eoyal 

Fife at that time was probably the most dense- 
ly populated county in Scotland ; flourishing 
burghs, still picturesque in their decay, were 
dotted thickly along its coasts ; Buchanan alludes 
somewhere to the rich zone of townlets by which 
it was girdled ; and the " grey cloth mantle with 

The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 73 

its golden fringe" is the not infelicitous com- 
parison attributed to his pedantic pupil. The 
Fife seaports make quite a goodly show in the 
records of the time Kinghorn, Eaiisferry, Elie, 
St Monance, Largo, Anstruther, Crail, St An- 
drews, Leven, Wemyss, Inverkeithing, Aberdour. 
Considering the extent of commerce at the time, 
their imports and exports were considerable. 
They exported, we are told, the furs of the 
marten and the weasel ; the skins of the goat, the 
fox, and the red-deer (at an earlier period, of the 
beaver and the sable) ; wool, salt, salmon, white 
fish, and oysters, the wool and the salmon 
possibly being the staple commodities. The 
merchants of Delft, Bruges, Lille, and Rouen, 
were their chief customers ; and from the French 
and Flemish cities their vessels returned with 
the wines of Burgundy and Bordeaux, silk, fine 
cloth, the precious metals. The Flemings, who 
were settled in various districts of Scotland, had 
taught the native craftsmen to carve wood and 
work in leather ; but the really fine pieces of 
artistic handiwork which decorated the churches 
the sacerdotal robes, the illuminated horse, the 
gold and silver vessels were brought from 

One is struck when running over the names of 
the Scottish burghs by the absence of any ob- 
vious law to account for the growth of one and 

74 The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

the decline of another. The Fife burghs have' 
withered away. Fordoun, "a strong town, 
famous for the relics of St Palladius ; " Candida 
Casa, "the ancient town and episcopal see of 
St Ninian," secure as marked notice from Pit- 
scottie as Glasgow and Dumfries. So far as we 
are able to judge from the evidence that exists, 
the three most important places in Scotland 
during the early part of Mary's reign were 
Edinburgh, St Andrews, and Aberdeen. Edin- 
burgh, " the king's seat, where also is the Castle 
of Maidens, a very strong and defensible place ; " 
St Andrews, " specially famous for the Univer- 
sity, and beautified with the see of the Archbishop 
and Primate of all Scotland;" Aberdeen, "be- 
tween Don and Dee, with a guidlie universitie, 
and two fair bridges, one of seven arches of four- 
square stone, verie rare and marvellous, and the 
other, ane arch of curious workmanship." As the 
key to the northern counties and the Gordon 
country, as well as the busiest seaport between 
Leith and Inverness, Aberdeen exercised no 
inconsiderable influence at an early period ; but 
the leading events in the national history had 
for some time now been associated with St 
Andrews and Edinburgh. Before the close of 
the fifteenth century, Edinburgh had become 
the political, St Andrews the ecclesiastical, cap- 
ital of Scotland. 

The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 75 

"Our towns," Leslie remarks, "we fortify not 
with walls." It had at no period been the 
custom of the Scot to place his trust in stone 
and lime ; and his rulers had taken care that the 
security of walled cities should not tempt him 
to become indolent in the use of arms. Bruce 
had advised his countrymen never to risk a 
pitched battle ; and Douglas loved better to hear 
the lark sing than the mouse cheep. So long 
as they could retire upon a barren and hungry 
morass they were invincible ; for they laid waste 
the country as they passed, and the "auld 
enemy " found little to plunder and less to eat. 
The capital itself had not been fortified till a 
comparatively recent period, and of all the lesser 
burghs Perth only had walls. 

The mansions of the feudal nobility were 
sometimes erected within the municipal boun- 
daries ; but as a rule the great nobles lived at 
their own castles in the country, surrounded by 
their vassals and dependants. They were by 
no means exclusive ; and a rude but abundant 
hospitality was extended to every kinsman how- 
ever remote, and to any stranger who passed 
within hail. Hostelries had been established by 
James I. in burghs and market towns ; but in 
the landward districts they were few and of ill 
repute, and except where the hospice of the 
monk took the place of the tavern, the passing 


The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

traveller could not but fare badly. 1 The houses 
of the peasantry were miserable cabins, thatched 
with reeds or straw, dark, narrow, and noisome, 
"wherein the people and the beasts," as Pit- 
scottie says, " do lie together." No one can help 
feeling that the architecture of the Border peel 
is entirely in harmony with the character of the 
country ; it is as much a product of the soil in 
which it is rooted as the heather and the birch ; 
and the same remark applies, a few notable ex- 
ceptions notwithstanding, to the castles of the 
Scottish nobles in general. The towers scattered 
over the Lowlands were such as those in which 
the Maitlands dwelt Lethingtons on a slighter 
and less ambitious scale ; the idiomatic expres- 
sion in stone and lime, if I may use the expres- 
sion, of the temper of a warlike race hardy, 
defiant, severely simple, rudely independent, as 
their own lives. The rudeness of the life, in- 
deed, has possibly been exaggerated. If we can 
trust the letters and documents that remain, 
Hugh Rose of Kilravock, in his pleasant castle 
on the Nairn, bore a near resemblance in tastes 
and habits, in likings and dislikings, to the 

1 The monasteries both in 
England and Scotland were 
extensively used for the enter- 
tainment of travellers, many of 
them being in remote and se- 

cluded districts where no other 
shelter could be obtained. Thus 
it was urged on behalf of Hex- 
ham that there was no house 
within many miles. 

The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 


country gentleman of to-day. Many conve- 
niences of modern civilisation were no doubt 
lacking. He had no railway, or telegraph, or 
post-office, or daily paper ; but these are not 
indispensable to "plain living and high think- 
ing," and the cultivation of a wholesome national 
life. A man may be wise, sagacious, and politic 
who eats his black pudding off a pewter plate, 
and swallows his black broth with a wooden 

" Aut quis 

Simpuvium ridere Numae, nigrumque catinum 
Ausus erat ? " 1 

Yet the most cultivated taste finds in the 
baronial architecture of that age much that is 
admirable ; and it is obvious (in some of the 
minor arts especially) that the craftsmen, lay 
and clerical, had attained remarkable proficiency. 
On the polished panel of hall or chapel, a cun- 
ning pencil has been at work ; and the heavy 

1 The homely simplicity of 
considerable Lowland lairds ex- 
cited the "Water Poet's" sur- 
prise. There were then no 
drapers or haberdashers in the 
country; and Taylor remarks 
upon the plain homespun 
clothes of the laird who main- 
tained forty or fifty servants, 
and dispensed a lavish hospi- 
tality, "his beaver being his 
blue bonnet; no shirts but of 

the flax grown on his own 
ground, and of his wife and 
daughter's spinning ; and his 
stockings, hose, and jerkin off 
his own sheep's wool." The 
family papers of the Roses of 
Kilravock were edited for the 
Spalding Club by Mr Cosmo 
Innes one of the pleasantest 
and soundest writers on Scot- 
tish antiquities. 

*78 The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

oaken cabinets the buist and the ambry in 
which the household napery and silver were 
stored, are often marvels of quaint and delicate 
carving. The dress, too (of the upper classes at 
least), was extremely picturesque. The common 
people had been required by many sumptuary 
laws to restrain their love of fine clothes and 
gaudy colours, and to appear (except on holidays, 
when a somewhat livelier tint was lawful) in the 
homeliest and most primitive homespun. But 
the attire of the gentry, especially of the great 
dignitaries in Church and State, was sumptuous 
and superb. Sir Eichard Maitland, as we have 
seen, complains that even the wives of simple 
burghers had taken to gold embroidery and deli- 
cate lace ; and a rich and elaborate toilet had 
always been the besetting weakness (if we so 
regard it) of the great Norman noble. Even his 
morning undress the light robe of mail which 
he wore when hunting or hawking or "harrying," 
must have charmed the eye of an artist ; and 
the dress of high ceremonial, the velvet robe or 
doublet, lined with rich furs and powdered with 
jewellery, showed a thorough understanding 
an instinct like that of a Parisian modiste 
of the resources of brilliant colouring, and the 
harmonious combination of ponderous draperies. 
The art is lost ; the modern Englishman in full 
dress is a dull and sombre if not entirely ludi- 

The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 79 

crous figure. To the Puritan of the Common- 
wealth, to Tribulation-Wholesome and Praise- 
God-Barebones, the change from purple and fine 
linen to a Quaker-like drab is possibly to be 

The great bulk of the community outside the 
towns, without distinction of class, were em- 
ployed in agriculture. A considerable breadth 
of corn was sown in the Carse of Gowrie and the 
lowlands of Moray ; but the farms elsewhere 
were mainly pastoral. The people were shep- 
herds, and their "sheep-cotes" are constantly 
mentioned in the earliest charters. The occupa- 
tion of husbandry, as I have said, was not con- 
fined to any one class James the Fifth himself 
having been at one time a sheep-farmer on a 
great scale. We learn from Pitscottie that the 
king had ten thousand sheep " going in Ettrick 
Forest, in keeping by Andrew Bell ; " and from 
Sadler, that the undignified conduct of his 
nephew, in " keeping sheep and such other vile 
and mean things," was the cause of lively an- 
noyance to the King of England. James might 
obtain whatever he needed by plundering the 
Church ; why should a king disgrace himself by 
embarking in trade ? " That kind of profit," the 
envoy was instructed to point out, " cannot stand 
with the honour of a king's estate ; " and the true 
policy was plainly indicated, " rather by taking 

80 The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

some of the religious houses, by good and politic 
means establish your revenue in such sort as ye 
shall be able to live like a king, and yet not 
meddle with sheep." James, who was resolved 
to have no hand in the spoliation of the religious 
houses, turned away with a pleasant jest : "By 
my troth," quoth he, " I never knew what I had 
of my own, nor yet do." 

The pastoral life is associated in idyllic poetry 
with simple tastes and abundance of leisure. 
Corydon lies on the banks of the stream all day 
long, and makes love to Phyllis. If his tastes 
are ruder and rougher, he hunts the deer with 
his dogs. He has no theatre within easy reach, 
but in the village ale-house there is gossip, and 
perhaps a song, of a winter night. Pastoral life 
in Scotland was probably much like pastoral life 
anywhere else only a little sterner, a little 
more exacting, than in the South. Foreign 
visitors who ventured to cross the Tweed, found 
that while the women were easy in their manners, 
and "addicted to love," the men, young and old, 
rich and poor, were passionately fond of hunt- 
ing. The Edinburgh townsmen had their Eobin 
Hood and Abbot of Unreason the thousand 
distractions of a busy and crowded capital ; but 
in the country the love of sport was universal 
and exclusive of every other, and the number of 
wild animals in early times had been so enor- 

The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 81 

mous, and the forest police so inefficient, that the 
passion was easily gratified. 

Of the Caledonian bear, famous in the Roman 
arena, only a faint tradition remained. He had 
been extirpated at a remote period. So (except 
at one doubtful station on Loch Ness) had the 
beaver. But the wolf, the boar, and the wild 
white cattle were still not uncommon. When 
Leland wrote, even the southern part of Britain 
was covered with immense woods. Needwood 
was not far from the metropolis, and Needwood 
forest was twenty-four miles in circumference ; 
while Channock Chase, the woodlands of Staf- 
ford, the wild country round Buxton and the 
Peak, connected the midland with the Border 
forests. A mighty forest, which included Et- 
trick and others, extended from Chillingham to 
Hamilton ; further north the Silva Caledonia 
ran through Monteith and Strathearn to Athol 
and Lochaber. From these vast solitudes it was 
difficult to dislodge their savage inmates. The 
fierce wild boar routing for acorns or wallow- 
ing in the mire lurked among the reeds which 
fringed the western meres ; so late as 1617 they 
were, we learn, still met with at Whalley. Of 
all the wild creatures, however, the wolf was the 
most troublesome and the most tenacious. He 
was an Ishmael from his birth ; outside the 
beasts of venery and the forest, any one might 

VOL. I. F 

82 The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

kill .him and his whelps. But it was difficult to 
find their breeding-places, and the young were 
cunningly hidden among the rushes, furze, and 
rocks of the most inaccessible thickets. " They 
were richt noisome," Bellenden says, "to the 
tame bestial in all parts of Scotland ; " and the 
sheep were folded nightly to escape their rav- 
ages. About the Blackwater and Kannoch, the 
passes were often rendered dangerous by reason 
of the multitude of rabid droves by which they 
were infested ; and " spittals " or shelters had 
to be provided for the protection of belated 
travellers. The western Celts indeed had fre- 
quently to seek for burial-places on the islands 
along the coast the brutes disinterring the dead 
who were buried on the mainland. Between 1427 
and 1577, numerous Acts for their destruction 
were passed by the Parliament. The last great 
outbreak occurred during Mary's reign ; and 
though several of the great woods were there- 
after burnt down to root them out, they were 
not finally exterminated till towards the close of 
the seventeenth century. The wild white cattle 
were originally denizens of the Caledonian for- 
est. They must have been in their prime 
indeed they still are noble animals : the cow 
delicate and finely limbed as a hind ; the bull of 
purest white, with black muzzle and " mane of 
snow." Lord Fleming complained bitterly in 

The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 83 

1570, that the Lennox faction had slain and 
destroyed the white kye and bulls of his forest 
of Cumbernauld, "to the great destruction of 
policy and hinder of the common weal." " For 
that kind of kye and bulls has been keepit these 
many years in the said forest," and the like were 
not to be found in any other part of the island 
" as is well known." The race, however, is 
not yet extinct, if, as is probable, the herds at 
Cadzow and Chillingham represent the ancient 

Though the larger beasts of the chase had been 
considerably thinned out by the middle of the 
sixteenth century, immense quantities of game, 
from the red-deer to the golden plover, were 
then to be found in every district of Scotland. 
Game was a common and favourite article of 
food though if it is true that the rank guil- 
lemot from the Bass was esteemed a delicacy 
among the upper classes, the taste of our an- 
cestors cannot have been very fastidious. They 
had no Wild Birds Protection Act ; but a close 
time for grouse, plover, partridges, and black 
game had been prescribed by Parliament, and 
extended from Lent to August. There were 
Acts also against the taking of their eggs, and 
in 1565 the shooting of water-fowl was abso- 
lutely prohibited. This may have been the con- 
sequence of Mary's visit to Fife in January of 

84 The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

that year, when, as Knox complains, she was 
magnificently banqueted everywhere, " so that 
such superfluity was never seen before within 
this realm ; which caused the wild-fowl to be 
so dear that partridges were sold for a crown 
apiece." Such a price was of course entirely 
exceptional : in ordinary years, as we learn from 
accounts that have been preserved, a wild goose 
could be had for two shillings, a swan or crane 
for five, a partridge for eightpence, while plover, 
dottrel, curlew, wild-duck, teal, lapwing, red- 
shank, cost fourpence each. From the royal 
household books it appears that in addition to 
the birds just named, woodcock, black-cock, 
moor-fowl, larks, and sea-larks were usually to 
be found in the royal larder. 

Both James V. and his daughter were fond 
of the chase. Mary was much at Falkland 
a charming palace on the eastern slope of the 
Lomonds where she could hunt and hawk at 
her leisure ; and during the numerous journeys 
she made from one end of the kingdom to the 
other, she had abundant opportunity to enjoy 
her favourite amusement. Historians who have 
dwelt upon the indolent and voluptuous habits 
of the Queen (they have represented her as read- 
ing French novels in bed till mid-day) cannot 
be aware that during her stay in Scotland, half 
of each year at least was spent in the saddle. 

The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 85 

Until her health broke, after her confinement, 
Mary was one of the hardiest of women : she was 
frequently absent from the capital for months at 
a time moving about from house to house, and 
seldom resting at one place for more than a 
night or two. Day after day she must have 
been in the saddle from early morning till dark ; 
and to her companions in these expeditions the 
assertion (afterwards made by Buchanan and 
others) that a ride from Jedburgh to Hermitage 
and back was an unaccountable and unprecedent- 
ed experience, would appear sufficiently absurd. 

Several records of these royal hunting-parties 
have been preserved. James V., who on occa- 
sion would, as Pitscottie says, " ride out through 
any part of the realm him alone, unknown that 
he was king," occasionally took his Court and 
the greatest of his nobles along with him to the 
hunting-field. The sport in Meggatland, when 
Huritly, Argyll, and Athole brought their deer- 
hounds, was not confined to the eighteen score 
of deer that were slain ; for as the same quaint 
and veracious chronicler adds significantly, 
" Efter this hunting the king hangit Johnie 
Armstrange." At the great Athole hunt in 1529 
there were killed " thirty score of hart and hind, 
with other small beasts, sic as roe and roebuck, 
woulff, fox, and wyld cattis." Again, in the 
year 1563 Athole was the scene of a " royal hunt- 


TJie Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

ing," at which Mary was present. For two 
months the Red-shanks had been driving the 
deer from the surrounding mountains into one 
compact body, so that not less than two thousand 
red-deer, besides roe and fallow, had been col- 
lected in Glen Tilt before the royal party arrived. 
One of the Queen's dogs being let loose upon a 
wolf, scared the main body, which broke through 
the beaters ; yet the slaughter was great. Three 
hundred and sixty deer, with five wolves, and 
some roes, made up a goodly bag. 1 

I have said that St Andrews had become the 
ecclesiastical capital of Scotland, it was now 
also the scholastic ; though the University of 
Aberdeen, a more recent erection, had already 
enlisted some distinguished teachers and pro- 
duced some famous scholars. Even Leslie, while 
deploring the theological heresies which had 
taken root in its colleges, was ready to admit 
that philosophy and the " humanities " were ex- 

1 These monster " huntings " 
long continued popular. Tay- 
lor, who was in Scotland in 
1619, and who had brought 
with him introductions to the 
Earl of Mar and Sir William 
Murray of Abercairney, found 
that they had gone to hunt at 
" Brea of Marr." He overtook 
them at Braemar, where hun- 
dreds of Celts, wearing kilts, 

drove the deer to the sports- 
men, who in the space of two 
hours bagged " eighty fat deer." 
Among the game, "caperkel- 
lies and termagants" (caper- 
cailzie and ptarmigan) are in- 
cluded. After supper in the 
gloaming, they lighted a fire 
of firwood " as high as a May- 

The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 


cellently taught. " The city of St Andrews," he 
says, " is the chief and mother city of the realm, 
where is a famous university and a notable 
school. Would to God," he continues, " they 
flourished as well in their theology as they 
flourish in their philosophy and other humane 
studies !" I do not know if any minute or vivid 
picture of its scholastic life prior to the Reforma- 
tion has been preserved ; and by the time that 
James Melville entered its walls, " the many 
fair, great, and excellent bells of St Andrews " 
reminding the iconoclasts of the noble church 
they had wrecked had been carried off, with 
much else that was characteristic of the bygone 
time. It is probable, however, from the Bishop's 
remark, that the curriculum of " ethnic " or 
liberal study at the University did not suffer 
any radical change at the instance of the Re- 
formers, who indeed, after the first irrepressible 
outburst, do not appear to have retained any 
considerable influence in that conservative seat 
of letters. 1 Though Melville was not born till 

1 Melville's account of Knox's 
relations with the St Andrews 
professors of " the humanities " 
appears to show that the Ee- 
former was rather apprehen- 
sive of the eifects of " ethnic " 
or secular learning upon his 
scholars. His attitude, indeed, 

to the " Auld and New Col- 
leges " was strained, if not hos- 
tile : it was " necessary above 
all things " (to quote his own 
words, as recorded by Richard 
Bannatyne) " to preserve the 
Church from the bondage of 
the Universities." 

88 The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

1556 and among his earliest recollections were 
the bonfires that blazed when James the Sixth 
was born the narrative of his school and col- 
lege career may be held to represent with sub- 
stantial accuracy the character of the schooling 
which Scotsmen received during the minority 
of Mary. 

James Melville (the nephew of the more cele- 
brated Andrew, but a churchman of mark and 
repute in his time) was born in his father's house 
of Baldovy, near Montrose, and his early educa- 
tion was received in the neighbourhood. His 
father, who had studied theology with Doctor 
Macabeus in Denmark, and had " sat under " 
Philip Melanchthon at Wittenberg, was the 
minister of the parish of Meriton, and appears 
to have been a mild and sweet-tempered man, 
devoted to the little boy whose mother had died 
soon after his birth. " A verie honest burges 
of Montros has oft told me that my father wold 
lay me down on my back, playing with me, and 
lauch at me, because I could not rise, I was so 
fat ; and wold ask me what ailed me. I wold 
answer, ' I am sa fat I may not gang.' ' About 
the fifth year of his age the " grate Buik " was 
put into his hand ; but as he made little progress 
in reading, he was sent when seven to a school, 
taught by the minister of Logie. " We learned 

The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 89 

there the rudiments of the Latin grammar, with 
the vocables in Latin and French ; also divers 
speeches in French, with the reading and right 
pronunciation of that tongue. We proceeded 
further to the Etymologie of Lilius and his Syn- 
tax, as also a little of the syntax of Linacre ; 
therewith was joined Hunter's Nomenklatura, 
the Minora Colloquia of Erasmus, and some of 
the Eclogs of Virgil and Epistles of Horace ; also 
Cicero, his epistles ad Terentiam." " I was at 
that school the space of almost five years, in the 
quhilk time, of public news I remember I heard 
of the marriage of Hendrie and Marie, King and 
Queen of Scots, Seingnour Davie's slauchter, of 
the king's murder at the Kirk of Field, of the 
Queen's taking at Carberry, and the Langside 
field." " Also I remember weill how we passed 
to the head of the town to see the fire of joy 
burning upon the steeple head of Montrose at 
the day of the King's birth." When he returned 
home, his sister Isabel would read and sing to 
him " David Lindsay's book concerning the latter 
judgment, the pains of hell and joys of heaven, 
whereby she would cause me baith greet and 
be glad ; " and he himself would rehearse, in the 
church of Montrose, Calvin's Catechism " on the 
Sabbaths at afternoon." There came also at that 
time to Montrose a "post that frequented Edin- 

90 The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

burgh," and brought back psalm-books and " bal- 
lates" of Eobert Sample's making, as well as 
Wedderburn's songs. 

Melville went to St Andrews in 1571, and 
entered in the course of philosophy under Mr 
William Collace, "who had the estimation of 
the maist solid and lernit in Aristotle's Philo- 
sophic. Then he gave us a compend of his awin 
of Philosophic and the parts thereof of Dia- 
lectik, of Definition, of Division, of Enunciation, 
and of a Syllogisme Enthymen, and Induction." 
There were thirty-six scholars in the class ; but 
a little lad named David Eliston was far away 
the best, passing the others "as the aigle the 
howlet." "We enterit in the Organ of Aris- 
totle's Logics that year, and learnit till the 
Demonstrations." " I wald gladly have been at 
the Greek and Hebrew tongues ; but the lan- 
guages were not to be gotten in the land." 
" But of all the benefits I had that year was the 
coming of that most notable prophet and apostle 
of our nation, Mr John Knox, to St Andrews." 
" Mr Knox would sometimes come in, and repose 
him in OUT College-yard, and call us scholars 
unto him and bless us, and exhort us to know 
God and His wark in our country, and stand by 
the guid cause, to use our time weill, and learn 
the guid instructions, and follow the guid ex- 
ample of our masters." 

The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 91 

Melville's later " testimony " does not concern 
us here ; but these notices of his early life are 
very graphic. Knox is popularly identified with 
the institution of the parish school, and there 
can be no doubt that he was genuinely anxious 
to extend and improve the educational machin- 
ery of the time. It does not appear, however, 
that during his life any considerable advance 
was made. The nobles were greedy ; the minis- 
ters miserably poor ; there were no funds avail- 
able for the endowment of parochial teachers, and 
few were appointed till a much later period. 
The schools that were to be found in communi- 
ties like Montrose had existed for many years, 
and were originally connected with the neigh- 
bouring monasteries. The monks were abolished, 
but the schools remained ; and though of course 
affected by the teaching of the Eeformers, and 
reflecting the progress of religious opinion, were 
really a survival from the Catholic Church. 

A printing-press had been established in Scot- 
land before the battle of Flodden was fought 
(1507 is the date commonly assigned) ; but the 
number of books issued during the next fifty 
years was inconsiderable. The editions of pop- 
ular poems and Acts of Parliament, printed be- 
fore the close of Mary's reign, that have been 
preserved, are now rare and costly; a copy of 
the Scots Acts, which had been bought for a few 

92 The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

shillings in 1779, was recently sold for upwards 
of 150. Almost all the books published in 
Scotland till a quite recent period, indeed, have 
become extremely scarce ; they were bought for 
use, and not for show, and have, in fact, been 
" thumbed " out of existence. The chap-books 
that were carried about the country by the chap- 
men on their stout little nags were mostly " blas- 
phemous rhymes," the concise and not too 
flattering criticism which the churchmen who 
drew the statute of 1551 applied to such com- 
positions as the ' Guid and Godly Ballates.' It 
is difficult to determine what proportion of " the 
current literature" of the first half of the six- 
teenth century in Scotland the contemporary 
prose and verse had been committed to print ; 
but it may be assumed that it was not large, and 
that much of it remained in manuscript, the 
manuscript being transmitted from hand to hand, 
and copied as opportunity served. The old pop- 
ular songs of Scotland, which sprang from the 
soil as did the Border ballad, have perished ; 
and had it not been for the industry of Maitland 
and Bannatyne, even the more elaborate pro- 
ductions of a literary poet like Dunbar might 
have been lost. Some of his most characteristic 
poems, indeed, were included in the earliest 
volume printed at the Edinburgh press in 1508 
by Chapman and Miller; but the antiquaries 

The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 93 

of the last century were not aware that a single 
copy of that volume was in existence. The few 
tattered pages of the only copy that has been 
recovered are now in the Advocates' Library. 

It may be said with very little exaggeration, 
that nearly the whole literature produced in 
Scotland up to this time had taken the form of 
verse. 1 We have now gained, I hope, a more 
or less clear understanding of the material con- 
dition of the people : unless we know something 
of the subjects that enlisted their sympathies, 
appealed to their tastes, and delighted their 
imagination, we shall fail to understand what 
manner of men they were. Religion, politics, 
literature, are the three most potent forces that 
mould society ; the religion and politics of the age 
must be separately treated ; but before I close 
this chapter, a brief survey of Scottish literature 
as a moral and spiritual factor in the formation 
of the Scottish character, as well as the intel- 
lectual atmosphere of the men and women who 

1 In fact, the only consider- 
able work in the vernacular, 
written before the death of 

adhere very closely to his text, 
it has much of the spirit and 
vigour of an original work. The 

James V., was Bellenden's trans- j first edition of the 'Scotorum 

lation of Hector Boece's ' His- Historiae ' was printed at Paris 

tory of the Scottish People.' j about 1527, and the translation 

It is an admirable specimen of ! appeared in 1536 printed at 

the Scots tongue at its best ; Edinburgh by Thomas David- 

and, as the Archdeacon did not ; son. 

94 The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

were the contemporaries of Lethington, may 
not be uninviting or uninstructive. 

The forms which Scottish poetry assumed be- 
tween the age of Thomas the Rhymer and the 
age of Sir David Lindsay are capable of broad, 
if somewhat rough, definition. Scottish poetry 
had passed through three distinct stages : the 
writers who found their themes in the medieval 
romance had been succeeded by the writers who 
found their themes in the national history ; and 
these in their turn by writers who may be de- 
scribed as didactic the poets of morality, spec- 
ulation, reflection, analysis. The last class may 
be divided again into the euphuistic and realistic 
schools, the earlier didactic poetry being as a 
rule distinguished by such extravagance of con- 
ceit and fantastic quaintness of invention as we 
find in the Elizabethan euphuists ; the later by a 
quite remarkable sincerity, simplicity, and caustic 
force. Until we come to Burns, indeed, we do 
not find anything in Scottish literature more 
terse and incisive, more direct and trenchant, 
than the satire of Dunbar. 

The medieval story of Arthur and his knights 
was perhaps the only "light literature" to be 
found in the Scottish mansion - house up to 
the close of the fourteenth century. James of 
Douglas, Lord of Dalkeith, in 1392, made a testa- 
ment, in which he left to one friend "all of my 

The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 95 

books of grammar and dialectic," and to another 
" all my books as well of civil law and statutes 
of the kingdom of Scotland as of romance." The 
schoolmen, the statutes of the realm, and the 
romance-writers, these were the works, and the 
only works, that the library of one of the great 
Scottish nobles then contained. Very little, 
however, is known of the Scottish romance- 
writers. In Barbour's poem, the fugitive Bruce, 
to lighten the monotony of their exile, reads to 
his friends "the romance of worthy Ferembras"; 
and there are occasional allusions, in other 
writers, to this early form of fiction. The 
romance of 'Sir Tristrem' 1 is" said to have been 
written by Thomas Learmonth of Ercildoune, the 
' Geste of Kyng Horn ' being also ascribed to 
him, as well as that strange and fancifully pic- 
turesque ballad upon his interview with the 
Queen of Faerie, and his descent into elf-land, 
which is familiar to all lovers of poetry. Besides 
the ' Sir Tristrem ' of the Ehymer, one or two 
other fragments of the Scottish romance poet 
the most important of which are assigned to 
"the gude Schir Hew of Eglinton" have been 
preserved. But they are hardly of a stamp to 
make us regret that so many have perished. 

1 An admirable version of . has been lately issued by the 
' Sir Tristrem,' edited by George Scottish Text Society. 
P. M c Neill, LL.B., Advocate, 

96 The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

The poetry is as indifferent as the morality. 
The ethical system of the medieval romance is 
certainly a very curious and rather perplexing 
business. Reverence for the honour of woman 
is said to have been the absorbing sentiment of 
the knightly religion ; yet there are few of the 
heroines of chivalry who do not live in "notour" 
adultery ; and the most valiant knight at the 
tourney or on the battle-field is commonly the 
most dissolute in domestic life. The marriage 
vow is never strictly observed, and is constantly 
treated with open or implied contempt ; while 
the relation between the lover and his mistress 
is regarded as far more binding and sacred. 

o o 

The faithless wife may be extenuated and ex- 
tolled ; but the woman who is false to her para- 
mour merits the last penalties that the courts of 
the gay science can inflict. A generation which 
has accepted the Tennysonian version of the 
Arthurian legend will be surprised, and probably 
shocked, by the strength of the invective which 
the learned Roger Ascham directed against the 
Knights of the Round Table, and the ladies 
whose favours they wore. " In our forefathers' 
time, when Papistrie as a standing poole covered 
and overflowed all England, few books were red 
in our toong, saving certayne books of chivalrie, 
as they sayd, for pastime and pleasure, which, as 
some say, were made in monasteries by idle 

The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 97 

monks and wanton chanons. . . . This is 
good stuff for wise men to laughe at, or honest 
men to take pleasure at. Yet I know when 
God's Bible was banished the Court, and ' Morte 
Arthure' receaved into the Prince's chamber. 
What toys the daily reading of such a booke 
may worke in the will of a yong gentleman or 
a yong maide, that liveth welthely and idlely, 
wise men can judge, and honest men doe 

The songs which the people sung are lost ; 
only the well-known lines about the golden age 
of Alexander III. (preserved by Wyntown), and 
as many about the great victory at Bannockburn, 
have come down to us. So that until we reach 
Barbour, the first of the annalists, the names 
even of the " makeris " have been forgotten. 

The notion of throwing the history of the 
world into irregular verse could only have 
occurred to men who were very ingenious, very 
idle, and intensely prosaic. These, for the most 
part, were exactly the kind of persons who 
undertook the work. The annalists were ecclesi- 
astics who had been taught the scholastic philo- 
sophy and the scholastic theology. Any kind of 
literary occupation must have been welcome to 
men of scholarly accomplishment, who, shut up 
in remote monasteries, were divorced from the 
affections of domestic and the ambitions of public 

VOL. I. G 

98 The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

life. The metrical chronicles in which the fables 
of history or the traditions of the people were 
reproduced with tedious fidelity in involved and 
ungraceful rhyme, cannot be approved as poetry. 
But they are valuable to the historian. Though 
the men who composed them were not gifted 
with the vision and faculty divine, or indeed 
with much literary aptitude of any kind, their 
accounts of contemporary events may generally 
be relied on, and their pictures of ancient man- 
ners are sometimes graphic, and always useful 
and interesting. 

It would be excessively unjust, however, to 
class John Barbour with the common herd of 
annalists. The Archdeacon of Aberdeen was an 
authentic poet. 

Barbour was born at Aberdeen in the early 
part of the fourteenth century, and he lived till 
near its close. He was educated at Aberbroth- 
ick, but he frequently visited Oxford (as the 
safe-conducts granted by the English King bear) 
"for purposes of study." By the year 1375 
' The Bruce,' he tells us, was about half finished, 
and a few years afterwards a pension of twenty 
shillings a-year was bestowed upon him in ac- 
knowledgment of his services by King Eobert II. 
He appears to have been a voluminous writer. 
Wyntown mentions a work on the genealogy 
of the Scottish Kings, compiled by the Arch- 

The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 99 

deacon ; and Henry the Minstrel thus alludes to 
him in his ' Wallace ' : 

" Master Barbour, quilk was a worth! clerk ; 
He said the Bruce amang his other werk." 

A contemporary of Chaucer, Barbour is entitled 
to a place not far removed from that occupied by 
the father of English poetry. ' The Bruce ' is 
unquestionably a great work. It relates a heroic 
story with force, fire, and picturesqueness. That 
story had been only recently concluded. Bar- 
bour had spoken with the men who fought at 
Bannockburn. The hearts of the people still 
beat high when they recalled the great victory 
which had secured their freedom. To this inti- 
mate connection with the actors the animated 
earnestness of the poem is to be ascribed. The 
interest which the author expresses is not feigned. 
He relates a story in which he thoroughly be- 
lieves, and which engages his keenest sympathies. 
The cause of Bruce is the cause of freedom and 
of the Scottish people ; those who have betrayed 
it or its friends are traitors to liberty, and as 
such are sternly denounced. " In hell con- 
dampnyt mot they be." Such is the spirit of the 
writer, who was evidently in other respects a 
man of liberal cultivation, moderate in opinion, 
and, like many of the Scottish ecclesiastics, not 
intolerant in religion. His book is in conse- 

100 The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

quence full of life. There is a glow on the page. 
Easy, simple, unpretentious in tone garrulous 
sometimes as a village gossip the Archdeacon 
fires up, rises into strong, clear, emphatic speech, 
whenever any noble deed stirs his imagination or 
provokes his sympathy. His cheek flushes and 
his pulse throbs. This is the charm of ' The 
Bruce.' It is clear as noonday that this cour- 
teous dignitary of the Church, who derives ten 
pounds a-year from the customs of Aberdeen, 
loves truth and freedom and the right loyally, 
and hates whatever is mean, or shabby, or base, 
or dishonest. His eye moistens when he re- 
cords the woman-like tenderness which his hero 
extends to the weak ; and the noble words on 
freedom come direct from his heart. The figures 
who move on his pages are drawn, moreover, 
with individual distinctness and distinction of 
outline. His insight into character is really fine, 
and he sometimes introduces a slight touch of 
rare excellence so excessively truthful, delicate, 
and refined, that it comes on us as a surprise. 
One only of these characteristic touches can be 
noted here. Bruce, with his own arm, has barred a 
narrow pass against a host of enemies, and when 
the battle is over, the soldiers crowd round their 
leader : 

" Syk wordis spak thai of the king, 
And for his hey wndretaking 

The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 101 

Farlyit, and yarnyt hym for to se, 
That with hym ay wes wont to be." 

They long to look upon him as if they had never 
looked upon him before. The great deed has 
removed him from them ; he has become strange 
to them, as a prophet becomes strange to his 
brethren when he returns from the innermost 
sanctuary with the glory of the Lord about his 
head. This eager curiosity of the companions 
who had fought by his side for years, as if the 
sight of the hero might help to explain the 
heaven-inspired might which he had put forth, 
is a fine and imaginative trait. 

Andrew Wyntown ought to have been a poet. 
His lines were cast in pleasant places. The 
canon regular of St Andrews was transferred to 
the monastery of St Serf. The Priory of St Serf 
was situated on the Inch of Lochleven, not far 
from that other island where Mary's captivity 
was passed. Here, amid the solitudes of that 
lonely lake, " betwene the Lomownde and Ben- 
arty," these remote ecclesiastical pioneers, the 
Culdees, had planted a religious house at a very 
early period. They were succeeded by a colony 
of the canons of St Augustine ; and this colony, 
about the close of the fourteenth century, Andrew 
Wyntown was sent to rule. Culdees and canons 
have departed, and the Inch has returned to its 
original tenants. The mallard haunts the reeds, 

102 The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

and the black - headed gull breeds upon the 

But the peaceful Prior was only an annalist. 
He had a tolerable eye for the picturesque, and 
his descriptions are sometimes animated enough ; 
but, for the most part, his versified chronicle reads 
like an inventory. He was a learned man for his 
day, and the shelves of the little island library 
must have been tolerably well furnished. He 
alludes to many of the medieval poets and philo- 
sophers, and he mentions by name the author- 
ities from whom he derived his materials the 
Bible, Orosius, Petrus Comestor, Martinus Pol- 
onus, " wytht Ynglis and Scottis storys syne." 
Some of the stories which he relates are suffi- 
ciently startling, and he believes implicitly in 
the marvels which he records ; yet his pains- 
taking narrative, especially of events which 
happened near his own time, retains a certain 
historical value. 

Henry the Minstrel once enjoyed a wide popu- 
larity. He was the second Homer not because 
of his blindness only. But his ' Schir William 
Wallace ' is now wellnigh forgotten. It wants 
the poetic salt which keeps Barbour's poem fresh ; 
and his hero is a Jack-the-Giant-killer a myth- 
ical slaughterer who is not believed in out of 
the nursery. The Archdeacon of Aberdeen was 
a scholar and a politician as well as a poet, 

The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 103 

and his work is penetrated by high intelligence 
and a lofty spirit of patriotism ; but Blind Harry 
rarely rose above the doggerel sing-song of the 
street ballad-monger. The real Wallace, so far 
as we can judge, was a sagacious, valiant, and 
single-hearted man a martyr whose death con- 
secrated a cause that might otherwise have failed ; 
but Blind Harry's ' Schir William ' is a melo- 
drama of the bloodiest dye, always extravagant, 
frequently grotesque, and not unfrequently re- 

The annalists were succeeded by the more 
strictly literary poets, whom, for want of a better 
name, I call didactic. I have divided them 
roughly into euphuists and realists : James the 
First and Kobert Henryson representing the 
former; Dunbar, Douglas, and Lindsay the 
latter class. None of these poets, indeed, were 
euphuists in the sense in which John Lily was a 
euphuist. An ornate and corrupt diction was 
unfamiliar to Scottish ears. Nothing can be hap- 
pier or terser than Barbour's style at its best, and 
Barbour's supremacy was for long undisputed. 
But this simplicity of taste in the case of the 
earlier euphuists was mainly confined to the 
language. The ideas are grotesque, the forms 
artificial, and the machinery where it does not 
break down entirely involved and laborious. If 
the hero falls in love, he cannot say so plainly 

104 The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

and be done with it. We have to follow him 
to the Court of Venus ; we have to listen to a 
long harangue from Minerva and her owls ; and 
we have, aided by the Virgin Mary, to propi- 
tiate Cupid and the Graces. Elaborate allegories 
that are even more tedious are bound up with 
this mythological trumpery. " Good Hope " 
drives us desperate. The interminable exhor- 
tations of " Patience " try the sweetest temper. 
Of Henryson's shorter poems, for instance, the 
most popular among his contemporaries was that 
entitled the ' Garment of Gude Ladyis,' in which 
every article of female dress, down to the garter, 
was identified with some grace or virtue ! Yet, 
curiously enough, though they fantastically dis- 
guised the passions and the emotions, in one 
respect these writers were always natural. Their 
appreciation of the humorous was keen and 
true. They attacked abuses with no inconsider- 
able force and shrewdness of satire. Their direct 
and vigorous ridicule at least never lost itself 
in the mists of allegory. It is these parts of 
their writings these, and an occasional touch 
of unpremeditated pathos that we continue to 
read with interest. The mythologies and the 
allegories have grown musty and ill-flavoured, 
but the scraps of pleasantry are still living. 

The story of James I. is a romantic and melan- 
choly one. He was the second son of Robert III 

The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 105 

by Arabella, daughter of Sir John Drummond of 
Stobhall, his elder brother being that unlucky 
Duke of Rothesay who, if the story is true, was 
starved to death by his uncle at Falkland. Born 
in 1394, he was barely twelve years old when, 
on his way to France, he was captured by the 
English cruisers. During his captivity in Eng- 
land, which lasted till 1424, he resided succes- 
sively at London, Nottingham, and Windsor ; 
and it was during this period that the Lady 
Jane Beaufort, daughter of the Earl of Somer- 
set, granddaughter of the Duke of Lancaster, and 
so connected with the blood-royal of England, 
excited the romantic love which is described in 
' The Kingis Quair.' James returned home with 
an English bride, and was crowned at Scone on 
the 21st of May 1424. A more accomplished 
prince never governed Scotland. He had studied 
philosophy and jurisprudence ; he was a painter, 
a musician, and a poet a keen hunter and a 
dexterous swordsman. Many of these accom- 
plishments were rare in his native land, and were 
not probably regarded with any particular favour 
by an illiterate society ; but the mild and grace- 
ful scholar quickly convinced his turbulent sub- 
jects that liberal studies had not incapacitated 
him for vigorous rule. He kept the nobles in 
order, and he reformed the clergy. He founded 
the University of St Andrews, and he diligently 

106 The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

encouraged commerce, literature, and the arts. 
His reign is an oasis in the desert of Scottish 
history. It was unfortunately cut short. The 
King was assassinated on the night of the 20th 
February 1437, in the monastery of the Domini- 
can friars at Perth, by a party of conspirators 
who were in league with his uncle, the Earl of 
Athole. The evening before his death was spent 
in the usual way "Yn reading of romans, in 
syngyng and pypyng, in harpyng, and in other 
honest solaces of grete pleasance and disport." 1 

If * Christ's Eark of the Grene ' was written by 
James (it is now maintained to be of later date, 
by argument which apparently assumes that the 
existing poem cannot be a modernised version of 
an older work), his vein of humour must have 
been of no mean order. The fun, if a little bois- 
terous, is genial and hearty, and the poem long 
enjoyed a more than local celebrity: 

" One likes no language but the Faery Queen, 
A Scot will fight for Christ's Kirk o' the Green." 

The 'King's Quair,' which he dedicates to his 
masters, Gower and Chaucer, and in which he 
celebrates the attractions of his future consort, 
is, however, his best-known work ; and, in spite 

1 Every lover of poetry is i is based upon the traditional 
aware that Eossetti's fine bal- stories to which this foul nmr- 
lad, " The King's Tragedy," i der gave rise. 

The Scotland of Mary Stuart 107 

of its mythological machinery, contains many 
passages sweet, winning, and simple. The lan- 
guage, as in the lines beginning, " besy goste, 
ay flickering to and fro," is sometimes singularly 
happy ; and the picture of the Lady Jane, walk- 
ing in the early morning below the window of 
the captive King, is fresh and vivid, as if taken 
directly from nature. 

" G-ude Mr Robert Henryson " (it is thus that 
Dunbar alludes to the author of the ' Testament 
of Cresseid ') birched the boys of Dunfermline 
towards the close of the fifteenth century. The 
provincial dominie wrote one or two poems, 
simple in feeling and vigorous in style, which it 
is hardly fair to forget. Like much of the poetry 
of the period, however, they hover in an uncer- 
tain way between the true and the fantastic. 
Inexpert in the use of their weapons, inexperi- 
enced in the management of the passions, un- 
protected by the overseeing power which kindles 
and restrains, the poets of the fourteenth and 
fifteenth centuries " went aft agee." No supreme 
artistic insight kept them straight ; a false note, 
in music or in emotion, did not pain them. 
Their ingenuity, in short, was their ruin ; they 
were sure to run their best feelings to death or 
into sheer unnaturalness. Henryson's conception 
of Saturn, for example, is freezingly grim ; but 
he cannot stop until he has told us that the god's 

108 The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

arrows are " feathered with ice and headed with 
hailstanes " a minute and over-nice conceit 
which spoils the picture. One scene only is 
entirely and continuously good, and shows the 
real power that Henryson possessed. The false 
Cresseid, as a punishment for her incontinence, 
has been smitten with leprosy ; and, while beg- 
ging with her wretched companions along the 
street, she encounters her hero-lover, who is re- 
turning from a brilliant and successful charge. 
She is sadly changed, but there is something 
in the bleared face of the leper that recalls to 
Troilus the charming grace and bewitching 
beauty of Cresseid, " sometime his awin dar- 
ling." He gazes upon her in silence for a mo- 
ment, casts a purse into her lap, and sorrowfully 
resumes his march. That silent interview, that 
pause during which, although there is an uncer- 
tain and uneasy sense of pain in the hearts of 
both, no direct recognition takes place, is instinct 
with the true spirit of tragic poetry. 

William Dunbar w r as the greatest Scottish poet 
of the fifteenth century, having had in any cen- 
tury, indeed, few rivals. There is something 
about Dunbar which cannot fail to attract. He 
is brilliant, satirical, inventive ; his wit is vigor- 
ous, and he has a wealth of words, sometimes 
solemn and impressive, sometimes keen and in- 
cisive ; but the hardy and masculine indepen- 

The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 109 

dence, the direct and personal force of his genius, 
is its chief charm. Though he hung about 
Holyrood, he was no courtier. He sometimes 
condescended to flatter, but he did it with an ill 
grace. There was a want of reverence in him, 
and of the facility which suits the atmosphere of 
a court. A brave, fiery, keen-spirited, irascible 
man, rather apt to use unconventional colloquial 
language, such I take him to have been. It is 
very likely that he was imprudent ; his passions 
were hot, and his tongue sharp and cutting. He 
felt no pity for folly ; his contempt for baseness 
could not be kept decorously veiled ; he attacked 
with unsparing ridicule all the impostors, lay 
or clerical, of his day. Thus he made many 
enemies. He spoke the truth, which cannot be 
done on easy terms even at present, and enemies 
found many chinks in his armour. Both his life 
and his writings supplied abundant material for 
friendly criticism. He was obviously a danger- 
ous character, a pestilent fellow, who was intol- 
erant of convention, and who treated dignified 
dulness, however exalted, with scant respect. The 
plain speaking of the Two Married Women and 
the Widow must have startled an age which 
was used to plain speaking. Kind Kittok's ad- 
venture in heaven is an audacious conception, 
which no later master of the grotesque not 
Burns in "Tarn o' Shanter," not Byron in the 

110 The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

"Vision of Judgment," not Goethe in the 
" Faust " prologue has contrived to surpass ; 
and we can still figure to ourselves the conster- 
nation it must have provoked in precise and 
orthodox circles. 1 So William Dunbar never 
obtained a benefice, and his life wore away in 
penury and disappointment. He felt this neglect 
keenly, the sceva indignatio hurt him, as it hurt 
Swift. The mortified poet grew more bitter as 
he grew old ; made sharper jests, and put more 
gall in his ink. Yet, like Swift, he could love 
as cordially as he hated; and he praises those 
whom he admires the reverend Chaucer, the 
moral Gower, Barbour, Henrisoun, and the rest 
of the Scottish "makaris" with the ungrudg- 
ing warmth of a generous nature. 2 

Gavin Douglas was the third son of Archi- 
bald, Earl of Angus the famous Bell-the-cat ; 
and as a scion of the great house of Douglas, 

1 " Scho slepit quhile the morne at noon, and rais airly ; 

And to the yettis of hevin fast cam the wife fair, 
And by Sanct Petir, in at the yet scho stale prevely ; 
God lukit and saw her lattin in, and lewch his hert sair. 
And thar, yeris sevin, 
She levit a gud life, 
And was our Ladyis hen wife ; 
And held Sanct Petir at stryfe, 
Ay quhile scho wes in hevin." 

2 The most elaborate and ac- prepared for the Scottish Text 
curate edition of ' The Poems j Society by the late Mr Small, 
of William Dunbar' is that : 

The Scotland of Mary Stuart. Ill 

he occupied a foremost place in the ranks of 
the Scottish nobles. At an early age he was 
made Kector of Linton, and he continued to hold 
that rustic benefice until, in 1501, he was pre- 
ferred to the Provostship of St Giles. It was 
during this period of his life, and amid the pas- 
toral scenery of the Tyne, that he wrote most 
of his poems. Two of his brothers and two hun- 
dred gentlemen of the name of Douglas fell on 
the disastrous field of Flodden ; and in conse- 
quence, probably, the plaintive lament, " The 
Flowers of the Forest," has been sometimes attrib- 
uted to the Bishop. Within a year of her hus- 
band's death, the widow of James IV. was united 
to the youthful Earl of Angus, the nephew of 
Gavin Douglas, and the grandson of Bell-the- 
cat. The courtly poet soon became a favourite 
at Court, and was destined for the primacy by 
the Queen, but, after a prolonged and exciting 
struggle, was forced to content himself with the 
bishopric of Dunkeld. 1 Though he was deeply 
implicated in the violent intrigues of a turbulent 
age, the Bishop appears to have been a man of 
mild temper, simple manners, and profuse hospi- 
tality. "King Hart" and "the Palice of Hon- 

1 Even at Dunkeld he had i sent a shower of cannon-shot 
difficulties : his rival, Andrew > at the deanery, where the new 
Stewart, holding the steeple of bishop was lodged. 
the cathedral and the palace, 

112 The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

our " were once famous poems ; and till a com- 
paratively recent date his loose but spirited trans- 
lation of the " ^Eneid " might be found on many 
a cottage book-shelf. His taste in poetry was 
not particularly pure. Eapid and impetuous, 
but turbid and discoloured, the style of the High- 
land bishop may be compared not inaptly to one 
of his Highland streams, during what in Scot- 
land is called a spate. In his writings, more- 
over, there are few of those satirical or personal 
touches which give so keen an interest to Dun- 
bar's. He had been up to a certain point a suc- 
cessful man. Fortune had smiled upon him ; 
the Court had been gracious. A son of the great 
house of Douglas could not, even in his fall, 
have been exposed to the keen social mortifica- 
tions which made Dunbar so bitter. 

Gavin Douglas died in 1522, at which time 
Sir David Lindsay of the Mount had entered on 
his thirty-third year. Sir David was a volumin- 
ous writer ; but it is probable that he would 
have been pretty nearly forgotten by this time 
had he not allied himself with the early Ee- 
formers, to whose cause he rendered essential 

In Scotland, as in England, the satirical poets 
were the vanguard of the Reformation. The 
freedom of speech which these writers enjoyed 
unchallenged must prove inconvenient to histo- 

Tlie Scotland of Mary Stuart. 113 

rians who are used to associate the supremacy of 
the Catholic Church with a period of gloomy 
and inquisitorial intolerance. An occasional foray 
was undertaken by the bishops ; but, speaking 
generally, the free-and-easy comments of the 
popular satirists were left unchecked. The truth 
is, that the upper clergy had grown fat, indolent, 
and luxurious, and were not disposed to deal 
very rigorously with wit and invective, even 
when directed against themselves. The Protes- 
tant apologist declaims against the corruption 
of the prelates, the fact being that they were 
not so much corrupt as decrepit. Bored to death 
by the monotony of the religious life, mumbling 
Latin prayers which meant less than nothing to 
their minds, with " no more individual fervour 
of belief than of individual levity of disbelief," 
they had reached the stage of spiritual dotage. 
Some of them, indeed, it is only fair to remem- 
ber, were men of high cultivation, who liked 
poetry, and did not care, we may presume, to 
burn its professors ; and there were, moreover, 
sagacious and virtuous men in their ranks who 
were really anxious that the scandals which 
weakened their communion should be put away, 
that the cancer which was eating into the heart 
of the Church should be cut out. The light 
artillery of the popular poets was thus permitted 
to become a potent, if impalpable, ally of the 

VOL. I. H 

114 The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

Reformers. Henryson had exposed the abuses 
of the Consistorial Courts (the crying grievance 
of the age); nor had he hesitated to place popes, 
cardinals, bishops, and abbots in the infernal 
regions, where they 

" For evill disponying of thair places rent, 
In flambe of fyre were bitterly turment." 

In the "Daunce" the fiends laugh heartily 
at " the bair schevin necks " of the priests ; and 
in the "Freris of Berwick" an admirably 
spirited and brilliant dramatic poem, which, I 
believe, could have been written by no one ex- 
cept Dunbar the vulgar habits and dissolute 
lives of the monks are ridiculed with great comic 
power. Another poem "A General Satire" 
sometimes attributed to Dunbar, sometimes 
to Inglis, Bishop of Culross, is mercilessly severe 
upon the higher clergy. " Sic pryd of prellat- 
tis," who would neither preach nor pray ; " sic 
hant of harlettis with thame nicht and day" 
had never before been known in Scotland. 
Other modes of attack were devised. Comic 
and obscene songs were translated into "Gude 
and Godly Ballates." Shakespeare, when he 
describes the Puritan who "sings psalms to horn- 
pipes," refers, no doubt, to this practice ; and a 
somewhat similar metamorphosis is alluded to in 
" The Merry "Wives of Windsor,"" But they do 

The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 115 

no more keep pace together than the Hundredth 
Psalm to the tune of ' Green Sleeves.' " 

Sir David Lindsay was probably the first man 
in high station who publicly ventured to beard 
the clergy. 1 Lindsay, with a remarkably easy 
and fluent style, united considerable power of 
humorous invective. In his "satiric touch" 
there is none of the imaginative richness and 
amplitude of Dunbar; yet while the one was 
neglected and forgotten, the name of " Davie 
Lindsay" was familiar till the other day in 
every Lowland cottage. His character, besides, 
was intrepid and fearless ; and in " The Mon- 
archic," "The Three Estaitis," " Kitteis Con- 
fession," and numerous other pieces, he attacked 
the abuses of the Church with singular force, 
and it must be added incredible plainness, of 
speech. (He could be as nasty, indeed, as 
Swift at his nastiest.) He ridicules the absur- 

1 Calderwood mentions a confessed, that as the priests 

black friar, John Killore, who and obstinate Pharisees per- 

was " cruelly murdered " upon suaded the people to refuse 

the Castlehill at Edinburgh, in Christ Jesus, and caused Pilate 

the year 1539. "Friar Killore condemn him, so did the 

set furth the history of Christ's bishops and men called reli- 

passionin the form of a comedy, gious blind the people, and 

which was acted at Stirling in persuade princes and judges 

the king's presence, upon a to persecute such as professed 

Good Friday, in the morning, Jesus Christ his blessed Gospel. 

in which all things were so This plain speaking so inflamed 

lively expressed, that the verie them, that after that they 

simple people understood and thirsted ever for his blood." 

116 The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 

dity of the Latin service, priests and people 
" nocht understandyng quhat they sing nor say." 
He assures his audience that "popes, patriarchs, 
and prelates venerable," are made over to sen- 
suality and other evil lusts. The bishops have 
palaces and places, " and want no pleasure of 
the fairest faces." Friars will ready entrance 
get, when lords are "haddin at the yet." His 
pardoner produces a ludicrous jumble of charms, 
the jaw of Fin Macoull, the cord that hanged 
John Armstrong : 

" Of gude hemp soft and sound ; 
Gude halie people, I stand for'd, 
Quahever beis hangit with this cord 

Neidis never to be dround ; " 

and " Verritie " is treated as a delinquent by the 
ecclesiastical Court, and put in the stocks the 
New Testament, " in English toung, and printed 
in England," having been found in her wallet. 
Kitty, after some frank and unreserved confes- 
sions, is absolved by her priest for a plack, 

" And mokil Latyne he did mummill ; 
I hard na thing but bummil." 

" The Three Estaitis " was more than once acted 
before the Court ; and though it was preposter- 
ously prolix "lestand fra nyne houris afore 
none till six hours at evin " we can understand 
how the spectators must have enjoyed its novel 
and racy delineations of ecclesiastical delinquen- 

The Scotland of Mary Stuart. 117 

cies, and the important part it must have played 
in preparing the minds of the people for the 
religious revolution that was at hand. The last 
performance appears to have taken place on 12th 
April 1554, before the Queen and Commons, on 
the play-field at Edinburgh ; and the author died 
in 1555. 

This is briefly the history of Scottish poetical 
literature down to the middle of the sixteenth 
century. Poetry had reached an age when men 
were beginning to weary of grotesque conceits 
and scholastic ingenuities, and when reality, 
directness, and vital truth were urgently de- 
manded. In the literature, as in the religion 
and science, of the new era, we find an intense 
desire and determination to return to fact. The 
fictions of poets, the fictions of astrologers, the 
fictions of priests, were put aside ; and the barest 
and homeliest truth received a welcome which 
had been hitherto reserved for the imposing but 
meretricious "idols" of the imagination. The 
people were resolved no longer to tolerate a lie, 
however fair and comely; but to bring them- 
selves without loss of time into tolerably honest 
relations with the universe. How far they suc- 
ceeded, how far they failed in doing so, is the 
history of the sixteenth century. 



II TAITLAND who had been engaged in her 
-^- service since 1554 became Secretary of 
State to Marie of Lorraine in 1558. 

It was the eve of the Reformation in Scotland. 
The forms of the old society, half military, half 
monastic, which had come down from the middle 
age, were still in existence ; the system of state- 
craft and priest-craft, which had determined the 
fate of countless beings for many generations, 
though stricken at the heart, still presented to 
the indifferent onlooker an unshaken front. The 
medieval Catholicism of Scotland, like its medi- 
eval feudalism, was still, it seemed, virile and 
vigorous. But as we can see now the life 
somehow had been eaten out of it ; it was a 
house of cards which the lightest breeze would 
shatter. The years between 1554 and 1558 may 
be taken as the dividing-line between two epochs. 
Maitland's political life belongs mainly to the new 

The Feudal Society. 119 

epoch ; what it is indispensable to say of the old 
may properly be said now. The retrospect is 
not unnecessary; the historical continuity of 
great institutions is not lightly broken; age is 
linked to age ; even the Keformers, though they 
refused to keep any terms with the ecclesiastical 
past, were unable to cut themselves quite adrift. 
Civil and ecclesiastical forces working together 
had provided some sort of government for Scot- 
land. I propose in this chapter to deal with the 
Government then existing as a form of the 
feudal societies which had once prevailed uni- 
versally in northern Europe on its political or 
secular side. 

When Lethington entered public life, the con- 
centration of the administrative, political, and 
legislative functions of the State in the capital 
had already made considerable progress. The 
Sovereign, in a country where feudalism retains 
its vitality, has only a nominal supremacy. A 
strong central government is inconsistent with 
the spirit of a system which, in return for certain 
well-defined military services, devolves upon the 
great vassals its civil and criminal jurisdiction, 
the duty of executing justice and the right to 
inflict punishment. Elsewhere in Europe, the 
old order was crumbling away, and men had 
begun to figure to themselves, however crudely 
and vaguely, the large outlines of a new society. 

120 The Feudal Society. 

"While in France and England the disintegrating 
forces, directed by astute ministers and master- 
ful rulers, were freely and visibly at work, in 
Scotland the power of the great feudatories was 
still apparently intact. But though the Baron's 
Court might continue to sit ; though the right of 
pit and gallows might be retained; though a 
Gordon or a Douglas or a Campbell might still 
maintain in Border dale or Highland glen a more 
than royal state, the spell had somehow lost its 
charm. In Scotland, too, the knell of feudalism 
had been sounded. The executive force was 
being gradually centralised, and the Court of 
Session, as a supreme and final court of justice, 
had been established. The protracted contest be- 
tween the Stuart kings and a fierce and barbar- 
ous aristocracy had not been entirely fruitless ; 
spite of numberless misadventures, and the per- 
sistent ill-luck which dogged them like a shadow, 
the Stuarts had ranged themselves prematurely 
it might be on the side which in the long-run 
was bound to win. Mary Stuart was the latest 
victim in the obstinate and bitter struggle be- 
tween the Crown and its vassals; and many 
causes besides the hostility of the nobles 
contributed to her defeat. 

Marie of Lorraine became Kegent in 1554 ; 
and before 1554 the thirteen ancient Celtic earl- 
doms had, with one exception, died out. The 

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exception was Mar, and even Mar was in abey- 
ance. It was not until 1565 that Lord Erskine's 
right was vindicated by Queen Mary, as in our 
own day the right of a later Erskine has been 
vindicated by Queen Victoria. Through invet- 
erate usage, indeed, the old territorial areas, the 
old territorial titles, were, in the main, retained ; 
but the tenure had been feudalised, and the 
nobles were Normans. 

Twice since the rise of the feudal aristocracy 
two great houses the one of Norman, the other 
of Flemish extraction had attained exceptional 
distinction and unbounded authority, the house 
of Comyn and the house of Douglas. Some 
brief record of their history may enable us to fol- 
low the fortunes of the Scottish monarchy from 
a comparatively early age down to the period at 
which my narrative begins. 1 

It was probably the European reputation of 
a later Earl that obtained for the "Count of 
Buchan" a place among the Scottish auxiliaries 
of Charlemagne, 

" Quell' avaltor, che un drago verde lania, 
El' insegna del Conte de Boccania," 

1 I do not desire to poach on 
the preserves of the pedigree- 
hunter being well aware that 
whoever ventures into that dif- 
ficult country does so at his 
own risk. The history of these 

old families is beset with diffi- 
culties, and the casual inquirer 
must be satisfied if the broad 
outlines of his sketch, as illus- 
trative of the national annals, 
are fairly accurate. 

122 The Feudal Society. 

but long before John Stuart was born, the 
Comyns had appropriated the name and made 
it famous in Scotland. For two centuries the 
chiefs of this great house were among the Mag- 
nates Scotise. Not many families of the same 
importance have been more utterly swept away. 
Some chance reference in an old chronicle, a brief 
and confused page of the Scottish peerage, a few 
crumbling walls along the shores of the northern 
sea and among the Border glens, are all that 
remain to us of a house that was once more 
powerful than the Crown. 

This illustrious family whose greatness in 
Scotland, according to Buchanan, was never 
equalled, either before or since was remotely 
of Norman extraction. William Comyn, the 
grand-uncle of the first Earl Buchan of the 
name, was a pushing ecclesiastic, who came to 
Scotland from Northumberland early in the 
twelfth century, and was made Chancellor by 
David I. His nephew Eichard received from 
the Crown Prince the first heritable estate which 
the Comyns held in the north, the manor of 
Linton Koderick in Koxburghshire. This gift 
was obtained about 1150, and in less than a 
century thereafter the possessions acquired by 
different members of the family Badenoch, 
Athol, Monteith, Buchan had made it the 
most opulent in the kingdom. Eichard married 

The Feudal Society. 123 

the Countess Hexeld, the granddaughter of 
Donald Bain ; thereby becoming allied with the 
reigning family, and acquiring pretensions which 
his descendants afterwards attempted to assert. 
The favourite minister of William the Lion, he 
shared the misfortunes and secured the gratitude 
of his master. On their return from the Falaise 
captivity, the king rewarded him, along with 
other substantial gifts, by making him Justici- 
ary, at that time probably the most influential 
office in the kingdom. 1 His son William, who 
was born in 1163, twice married. Who his first 
wife was is not known ; his second was Margaret, 
in her own right Countess of Buchan. Richard 
and Walter, the sons of the first marriage, were 
both men of note in their day, and continued 
the latter especially to extend still more widely 
the renown and influence of the family. In 
1230 Walter became Lord of Badenoch, and dur- 
ing the following year obtained, with the heiress, 
the ancient honours and vast possessions of the 
Menteiths. He died without issue poisoned 
by his Countess, it was said and the family of 

1 That is to say, if the Jus- 
ticiarius Scotiae was the su- 
preme judge over the whole 

of the Forth ; and the question 
of their respective jurisdictions 
has not been settled. See Sir 

kingdom; but there was also ; J. Graham Dalyell's ( Fragments 
a Justiciary of Lothian and a ! of Scottish History,' p. 42. 
Justiciary of the kingdom north ! 

124 The Feudal Society. 

his elder brother succeeded to his estates. For 
many years the Lords of Badenoch were more 
powerful than the Kings of Scotland. Their 
properties extended from the Moray Firth to the 
Solway; they monopolised the great offices of 
government ; they conducted the war, the police, 
the diplomacy of the State : at their extinction 
in 1306, by the dagger of Bruce, more than 
thirty Scottish knights of the name claimed kin- 
dred with the house. Black John of Badenoch, 
the father of the Eed Corny n, was appointed, on 
the death of the Maid of Norway, one of the 
six guardians of the kingdom, and was undoubt- 
edly the most influential and sagacious states- 
man of his age. He came forward as a claimant 
during the competition for the Crown, his pre- 
tensions being founded upon his descent from 
the granddaughter of Donald Bain; but he 
quickly withdrew, and in favour, it is said, of 
John Baliol, whose sister he had married, an 
unlucky connection for the race, as it induced 
them to espouse and maintain the English suzer- 
ainty, a disposition fatally confirmed by the 
bloody misadventure at Dumfries. 

Through his second wife Marjory, William 
Comyn acquired the Earldom of Buchan. Mar- 
jory was the only daughter of the last of the 
ancient Thanes, and inherited from her father, 
and bestowed upon her husband, a rich and fer- 

The Feuda I Society. 125 

tile province. Her son, who united in his own 
person the offices of Constable and Justiciary, 
lived to an advanced age, and was succeeded 
by John, the third and last Comyn who retained 
the Earldom of Buchan. Earl William was thus 
the common ancestor of the Comyn houses of 
Badenoch and Buchan. At the extinction of the 
family during the War of Independence, the 
Buchan branch was represented by his grandson, 
the Black Earl ; the Badenoch by his great-great- 
grandson, the Red Comyn. 

Though the policy of the Comyns during the 
period of their supremacy has been freely criti- 
cised, it appears to be admitted, even by their 
critics, that during many years they represented 
a patriotic and national, in opposition to an Eng- 
lish, policy. Whenever Buchan and Badenoch 
were out of favour at Court, it was rumoured 
that English intrigue had proved successful; 
whenever they were restored, that the English 
faction had been foiled. The address and sagac- 
ity of Menteith were successfully opposed to the 
crafty arts of the third Henry. No doubt the 
powerful Earl was often as dangerous to his own 
as to the English monarch. When in 1254 the 
youthful Alexander III. returned from England, 
Menteith insolently declined to deliver up the 
Castle of Edinburgh. In conjunction, moreover, 
with the other leaders of the faction Buchan, 

126 The Feudal Society. 

Athole, and Mar he refused to render any ac- 
count of his government during the absence of 
the royal minor; and when proceedings were 
commenced against him and his friends, he 
stayed them in a characteristic way. Seizing 
the boy-king at Kinross, he carried him a pris- 
oner to Stirling, where he kept him until the 
matter was compromised. Alexander III., a 
proud-spirited man, probably resented this out- 
rage ; but on coming of age he was forced to 
pardon it, and take the Comyns again into 
favour " by reason of the greatness of the fam- 
ily." Towards the close of the War of Indepen- 
dence, indeed, they became the firm allies of the 
English king ; but this may be attributed to 
personal animosity against Bruce, rather than to 
any change in their political creed. The Ked 
Comyn himself had taken no undistinguished 
part in the campaigns of Wallace ; though Wyn- 
town says that the house " welle lowed not Wil- 
liam the Wallace " ; and that at Falkirk in espe- 

" For despite and gret envy 
The Comyn's kin all halyly 
First left the field." 

After that great captain's overthrow, the Eed 
Comyn, as Eegent, " took the keeping of Scot- 
land," and gained several victories over the 
English three in one day at Koslin on which 

The Feudal Society. 127 

occasion the Prior of St Serf puts into his mouth 
a noble and patriotic address to his men : 

" We are all commin of Auld lineage, 
Of lords of fee and heritage, 
That had nothing mair ugsoine 
Than to live in thraldom." 

But with the proverbial fickleness and faithless- 
ness of his race, he continued to intrigue with 
either party until the dagger of the Earl of Car- 
rick ended his indecision. 

The miserable mischance at Dumfries raised 
against Eobert Bruce the bitter and relentless 
hostility of the race. They pursued him like 
sleuth-hounds ; the avenger of Comyn's blood 
was always upon his track. With their aid the 
English reduced the Castle of Kildrummie, and 
captured the chivalrous young brother to whom 
Bruce was attached by ties of peculiar tender- 
ness. At Kingsland they routed his army, and 
nearly succeeded more than once in taking him 
prisoner. But at length the tide turned in the 
king's favour. Twice the Earl of Buchan met 
him at Inverurie. Barbour has described the 
meeting in his rugged chronicle, rugged, yet 
instinct in every line with poetic and chivalrous 
fire ! The Eed Comyn had been slain, and the 
Earl had vowed vengeance : 

" ' And yarnys mair, na ony thing, 
Wengeance of you, Schyr King, to tak ; 
For Schyr Johne the Cumyn his sak, 

128 The Feudal Society. 

That quhilum in Dumfress wes sleyn.' 
The king said, ' Sa our Lord me sayn, 
I had gret causs him for to slay. 
And giff it fall that thai will i'ycht, 
Giff thai assaile we sail defend, 
Syne fall eftre quhat God will send.' " 

But when he came to Inverurie a deadly sick- 
ness fell upon the King. Hearing of this mishap, 
the Earl assembled his kinsfolk, Mowbray, Bre- 
chin, and their retainers, and marched upon the 
diminished encampment : 

" To the Slenauch with all thair men, 
For till assaile the king then, 
Was lyand in till his seckness. 
This wes eftyr the Martymes, 
Quhen snaw had helyt all the land." 

During three days the armies looked at each 
other, the archers only being engaged in inci- 
dental skirmishes, until the royalists thought it 
prudent to retire to the hill-country. So they 
placed the sick King in the midst of his captains, 
and bearing him upon a litter, marched steadily, 
with resolute countenance, past the enemy, who 
could not muster courage to attack that serried 
array of desperate soldiers. The picture, as out- 
lined by Barbour, is extremely impressive. The 
tumultuous crowd of eager enemies awed into 
sudden silence the slow and mournful but un- 
dismayed march of the hardy veterans the rude 
litter, with the stricken King stretched motion- 

The Feudal Society. 129 

less upon it, sick unto death, as it seemed, yet 
even in his winding-sheet a great, resolute, and 
awe-inspiring figure. 

The King and the Earl met again in the same 
place next spring, when the Earl was utterly 
routed. " This victory," Bellenden says, " wes 
sa plesand to King Robert that he gat his heil 
thairthrow." Barbour asserts that Comyn fled 
from the battle-field straight to the English 
Court, where " he deyt sone eftre syne." This 
account, however, is barely correct ; for the Earl 
retreated at first into his own country, where he 
was followed by Edward, the King's brother. 
At Aiky Brae, near Old Deer, the Comyn fought 
his last fight. This Aiky Brae had already 
proved an unlucky spot for his race. The 
second Earl was killed there, when hunting, 
by a fall from his horse. And now, upon the 
same steep declivity, the final discomfiture of 
the great house took place. The Earl himself 
escaped to England, but his clan was almost 

The King took, indeed, signal vengeance. 
The Comyns were his most bitter enemies ; and 
he probably hated them, not only on account 
of their unappeasable animosity, but because he 
had done them a cruel wrong which lay heavy 
on his conscience. So he wasted their country 
with fire and sword : 

VOL. I. i 

130 The Feudal Society. 

" He gert his men bryn all Bowchane 
Fra end till end, and sparyt nane ; 
And heryit then on sic maner 
That eftre that weile fifty year, 
Men menyt ' the Herschip of Bowchaine.' " 

The inhabitants were put to the sword. More 
than thirty of the clan were beheaded in one 
day, and buried together in "the grave of the 
headless Comyns." The great woods of oak 
were burned. To this hour the desolation 
and nakedness of the district attest the cruel 
severity of the punishment that was inflicted. 
The name of Comyn was proscribed. Those of 
the race who had adhered to Bruce like the 
first Buchan of Achmacoy were forced to drop 
the hated surname. Their possessions were con- 
fiscated, and bestowed on the partisans of the 
monarchy. So complete was the destruction, 
that " of a name," says a chronicle of the age, 
" which numbered at one time three earls and 
more than thirty belted knights, there remained 
no memorial in the land save the orisons of the 
monks of Deer." Nor were these " orisons " 
apparently long continued; for the superior of 
their once -favoured abbey was present at the 
Parliament held at Cambuskenneth in 1314, and 
we learn that he affixed his seal to the celebrated 
ordinance then directed against the Comyns. 

Thus did the good King Robert triumph over 
his enemies, not unaided, as the Scottish writers 

The Feuda I Society. 131 

believed, by more than mortal auxiliaries. On 
the day of the battle of Bannockburn, " ane 
knicht with shinand armour" appeared to the 
people of Aberdeen, and discoursed to them of 
the great victory that was being gained over the 
Englishmen. So far away as Glastonbury, in 
remote Somerset, " the nicht afore this battle, 
two men of uncouth habit come to the abbot, for 
it was ane abbay of hospitalite, and desirit lug- 
ing. The abbot ressavit them pleasandly ; and 
quhen he had demandit thame quhat thay war, 
and quhare thay war passand to, thay schew, 
that thay war servands of God, and send be him 
to help the Scottis at Bannockburn. On the 
morrow, the abbot fand them away or evir the 
yetis were opnit, and thair beddis standing in 
the same array as they war left. It was belevit, 
thairfore, that thay war angellis, send, be pro- 
vision of God, to defend the Scottis in thair just 
materis, againis the tyranny of Inglishmen." 

The monkish annalists tell us that the Comyns 
were " addicted to religion " ; and the number of 
religious houses they endowed in Buchan attests 
the magnificent patronage they bestowed upon 
the Church. Though the fanaticism of the saint 
was in those ages not unfrequently combined 
with the ferocity of the savage, it is unnecessary 
to hold that the popular judgment on the fickle- 
ness and faithlessness of this house of " vipers "" 

132 The Feudal Society. 

was well founded. Often arrogant, rapacious, and 
unscrupulous, the Comyns were yet, in the main, 
men of virtue, courage, and resource. Their 
domestic administration, at all events, more 
especially in Buchan, appears to have been wise 
and enlightened. When the Scottish monarchy 
was re-established, men looked back regretfully 
to the golden age that preceded the English 
wars. Nowhere could this sentiment have been 
felt more strongly than in the district which the 
Comyns ruled "the land in the bend of the 
ocean " where a rich, fertile, and nobly wooded 
plain had been turned into a sandhill and a 
morass. The number and magnificence of their 
churches and castles cannot but excite our as- 
tonishment. During their brief reign, religious 
houses, splendidly endowed, were erected at 
Foveran, at Deer, at Turriff, and other places ; 
and every coign of vantage along that storm- 
beaten coast was crowned with tower and but- 
tress. The northern pirates found the familiar 
landing-places vigilantly guarded, and were often 
attacked on their own element by the well- 
appointed " galleys" which, by the tenure of their 
lands, the northern earls were bound to maintain. 
The castle of Kinedar, the feudal seat of the 
Earldom, commanded the fertile valley of the 
Deveron. Dundarg was built among the waves. 
The shattered but massive walls of Slains cling 

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to the rocks that overhang the bay where the 
Dane fought his last battle on Scottish ground. 
The light sand has drifted across the ruins of 
Rattray ; but Inverallochy and Cairnbulg frag- 
ments of antique strength and comeliness still 
rise above the barren bents, no longer populous 
as of yore, and silent save for curlew and plover. 
All these Kinedar, Dundarg, Slains, Rattray, 
Inverallochy, Cairnbulg were strongholds of 
the great house, and were built, it is believed, 
during the century of their supremacy. 1 

The "War of Independence, like the Reforma- 
tion, is one of the great dividing-lines in Scottish 
history. What the family of Comyn had been 
to Scotland before the war, the family of Douglas 
became at its close. The one house rose upon 
the ruins of the other. The Comyn had been 
supreme upon the marches ; in the course of 
fifty years the possessions of the Douglas along 
the Border dales reached from the eastern to the 
western sea. The dalesmen ranged themselves 
behind the banner which bore the bloody heart 
ensign ed with the imperial crown ; and more 

1 In the valuable publica- 
tions of the Spalding Club 
many notices of the Comyns 
will be found. One must take 
these notices for what they are 
worth ; it is probable that in 
many cases they rest on nothing 

better than local tradition and 
the gossip of the illiterate. I am 
glad to learn that a club which, 
under the guidance of Innes, 
Burton, .Robertson, and Stuart, 
did so much excellent work, is 
about to be revived. 


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than once between Douglas and Stuart the Scot- 
tish crown itself hung in the balance. 

The Black Douglas was of Flemish origin ; but 
from the twelfth century Douglasdale had be- 
longed to the family, and they were pretty well 
acclimatised before William the Hardy the 
father of the good Sir James died in exile and 
captivity at York. The exploits of the good Sir 
James, from 1306, when he joined Bruce, to 1330, 
when he fell fighting against the Moors, with 
Bruce's heart at his saddle-bow, were transmitted 
from bard to bard until the figure of the formid- 
able Border chief was wellnigh lost in the mist 
of fable. Than the wild midnight ride with 
two hundred horsemen right through the English 
camp at Stanhope Park to the tent of the Eng- 
lish king, no more romantic and picturesque 
adventure is to be found in the picturesque and 
romantic annals of the house. The good Sir 
James came in for a goodly share of the estates 
forfeited by the Comyns and the other great 
nobles who sided with Edward, in which he was 
succeeded by his brother Archibald, the Eegent 
of Scotland (who fell in the fatal hollow at Hali- 
don), and who could show perhaps a better title, 
for he had married Dornagilla, the daughter of 
Marjory Baliol, and Black John of Badenoch. 1 

1 The peerage- writers appear 
to be rather uncertain, and far 

from unanimous among them- 
selves, as to the descent of the 

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The fruit of this marriage was William, and 
William was the first Earl Douglas, Earl of 
Douglas, and also, through his wife, Earl of 
Mar. One atrocious and unnatural crime, for 
which no intelligible motive has been assigned 
the slaughter of his godfather, the knight of 
Liddesdale, a natural son of the good Sir James, 
in Ettrick forest is associated with his name. 
He drove the English garrison out of Teviotdale, 
which they had held since the rout at Durham ; 
on more than one occasion he crossed the Bor- 
der and harried the northern counties as far as 
York and Penrith. During the whole of his life 
he appears indeed to have been deeply imbued 
with the sentiment which Pitscottie attributed 
to the cadet of the house who burnt Alnwick, 
" not willing to be in an Englishman's debt for 
an evil turn" On the death of David II. in 
1371, the Earl, it is said, put forward a claim for 
the crown ; but on his son marrying a daughter 

Douglas estates on Sir James's 
death. It is expected that 
some of these knotty points 
will be cleared up by Dr Wil- 
liam Fraser in the Douglas 
History, on which he is under- 
stood to be engaged. [I have 
not yet seen 'The Douglas 
Book,' which has been privately 
printed for the Earl of Home 
since the text was written; but 

I am informed that according 
to Dr Fraser, Sir James was 
succeeded by a son William, 
who was succeeded by his uncle 
Hugh, a canon of Glasgow 
Cathedral, who in 1342 re- 
signed the Douglas estates in 
favour of his nephew William, 
the son of Archibald, the Re- 

136 The Feudal Society. 

of Eobert II. , the rivalry between Stuart and 
Douglas was meantime stayed. His son James, 
Earl of Douglas and Mar, was as stout an enemy 
of the English as his father had been ; it is of Earl 
James that Fordoun writes miles acerrimus et 
Anglis semper infestissimus. He fell at Otter- 
burn, the ghastly battle fought in the moon- 
light, which verified the old prophecy that a 
dead man should gain a field. He had a brother 
who became Earl of Angus, and a sister, Isabel 
of Mar, of whom much has been written ; x yet 
on his death the earldom of Douglas passed (by 
special entail, it is supposed) to Archibald, called 
the Grim, another natural son of the good Sir 
James. Archibald the Grim was a man of re- 
markable capacity, " surpassing in civil wisdom, 
prowess, and hardy enterprise," and well qualified 
to extend by his sagacity, and to maintain by 
his sword, the great position of the house. Over 
that sword Froissart grew more than usually ani- 
mated, " scarcely could another man raise it 
from the ground, yet he wielded it with ease. 
Such heavy blows he dealt, that, wherever it 
reached, it overthrew. Before him the hardiest 
of the English army shrank." The son of 
Archibald the Grim was made Duke of Touraine 

1 See an article by the present j wood's Magazine for March 
writer on " Lord Crawford and 1882. 
the House of Mar," in Black- 

TJie Feudal Society. 137 

and Lord of Longueville, and married Margaret, 
the eldest daughter of the Scottish king. His 
grandson, the fifth Earl, who died in 1438, left 
behind him two sons, William and David, 
" gotten upon Mauld Lindsay, dochter to the 
Erl of Crawford," l and a daughter, the Fair Maid 

of Gallowav, whose matrimonial misadventures 

./ ' 

form a somewhat mysterious chapter in the his- 
tory of the house. The boys were young and 
rash, confident and inexperienced, and, spite of 
ten thousand Border spears, no match for the 
astute and crafty politician who, during the 
minority of James II., virtually governed Scot- 
land. The grim banquet in the castle, 

" The black denner 
Erl Douglas gat therein," 

was a bad jest that no necessity could justify ; 
and though Lord Livingstone, who was in league 
with Crichton, afterwards died on the scaffold, 
beseeching his friends "to tak example by him 
of the fragile facilities of the world," yet one of 
the vilest and most wanton crimes in the history 
of Scotland appears at the time to have passed 
almost without notice. It was an age of civil 
anarchy, "so many widowes, bairnes, and 
infants seeking redress for their husbands, kin, 

1 So Pitscottie ; their mo- 
ther, according to Douglas, was 

Lady Euphemia Graham. 

138 The Feudal Society. 

and friends that war cruelly slain by wicked 
murders ; " and one atrocity more or less pos- 
sibly did not count. On the death of this brave 
and imprudent lad, the earldom passed to his 
grand-uncle, a brother of the first Duke of 
Touraine who is known in the history of the 
house as James the Gross. Peaceable and in- 
offensive, fat and unwieldy, the new peer was 
indolently willing to " let byeganes be bye- 
ganes." He had few of the great qualities of 
his race ; and his contemporaries at least appear 
to have been chiefly impressed by his enormous 
size. " The 25th day of March 1443 "in the 
words of an old chronicle, " Erl James Douglas 
deit at the castle of Abercorn, to the token, they 
said, that he had on him four stane of tallow 
and mair" The sons of James the Gross, 
William who was slain at Stirling by the king, 
James who died'in extreme old age at Lindores, 
were the last Earls of Douglas. The end 
came in 1455, when, as Sir Walter Scott says, 
"the sun of Douglas set in blood." 

" They laid about them at their wills and died." 
Some such epitaph can still be read on the 
time-worn slabs in Douglasdale. The Douglas 
was essentially a fighting house ; and though 
some of the Earls were men of political capacity, 
they were as a rule better fitted to wield the 
sword than the pen. For three generations at 

The Feudal Society. 139 

least the power of this formidable family was 
absolutely unbounded ; " nae man was safe in 
the country unless he was either a Douglas or a 
Douglas's man ; " their possessions, Touraine and 
Longueville in France, Lauder, Ettrick, Selkirk, 
Liddesdale, Eskdale, Annandale, Galloway, in 
Scotland, were princely; when William, the 
eighth Earl, defeated the English in the year 
1448, he was Lord Lieutenant of the kingdom, 
and two belted earls, his brothers, fought at his 
side. For five years from 1450 to 1455 the 
nation never knew from hour to hour whether 
Stuart or Douglas would win the day. It was a 
foul blow that was struck at Stirling ; but it 
dissolved a confederacy that would probably have 
proved fatal to the crown. Had the great Border 
chiefs been thoroughly united, nothing indeed 
could have saved the reigning family ; and it 
was fortunate for the Stuarts that one powerful 
branch of the clan held aloof from their kins- 
men and remained fairly loyal. So invaluable 
indeed was the aid that Angus rendered, that it 
was said at the time that "the Eed Douglas had 
put down the Black." 

Upon the whole, the Red Douglas was not 
inferior to the Black. They fought nearly as 
well ; and more than one of them manifested 
considerable management and address in the 
conduct of civil affairs. They were closely con- 

140 The Feudal Society. 

nected with the royal family of Scotland : 
George, the first Earl Angus, of the Douglas 
blood, married Mary Stuart, daughter of Robert 
III. ; James, the third Earl, married Johanna, 
daughter of James I. ; Archibald, the sixth Earl, 
married Margaret Tudor, the sister of Henry 
VIII. and the widow of James IV. The Red 
Douglas had been rewarded for his loyalty to 
the throne by immense gifts of the lands which 
had belonged to the older house ; and he ob- 
tained, in addition, the castle of Tantallon, an 
impregnable fortress which (with Dunbar) com- 
manded the road to Berwick and the whole of 
the eastern counties. Archibald, the fifth Earl, 
was the famous " Bell-the-cat." He became the 
mouthpiece of the illiterate and barbarous nobles, 
who declined to be ruled by a king of pacific 
temper and cultivated tastes, and who placed 
James IV. on the throne from which they had 
driven his father. The social and material pro- 
gress of Scotland during the reign of James IV. 
was marvellous ; since the golden age of Alex- 
ander III. there had been no such period of 
brilliant activity and rapid progress. The in- 
fatuated folly of the vainglorious monarch, whose 
chivalry was as meretricious as his penitence was 
hollow, wrecked the fairest prospect of peace and 
prosperity that Scotland had enjoyed for two 
hundred years. Yet the king, who died at 

The Feudal Society. 141 

Flodden a man in every respect far inferior 
to his father was deeply loved and sincerely 
mourned. " Bell-the-cat " had been his favourite 
minister ; it was not uncharacteristic of the gay 
and petulant egotist, that the night before the 
battle he should have wantonly insulted the a.ged 
earl. Angus quitted the army in despair, but 
he left his retainers behind him ; and next day 
two of his sons and two hundred gentlemen of 
his name fell on that disastrous field. The 
Master of Angus was among the slain ; and his 
son (on the death of "Bell-the-cat" in 1514) 
succeeded to the earldom. The career of this 
Archibald the sixth lord was singular and 
checkered. He married Margaret Tudor; and 
the politic and ambitious noble was thenceforth 
the recognised leader of the English party in 
Scotland. More than once he achieved unex- 
pected success ; more than once he attained 
supreme power. Both the Earl and his brother 
Sir George were men of exceptional capacity; 
yet they built upon the sand, and their most 
skilful combinations sooner or later collapsed. 
The deep and rooted aversion with which they 
contrived to inspire the youthful king was the 
cause of his inveterate hostility to their house ; 
and when, on his death, they were permitted to 
return to Scotland from their English exile, they 
returned only to find that the " English lords " 

142 The Feudal Society. 

were regarded with sullen hostility by the people, 
and that the unguarded promises they had made 
to Henry could not be kept. They had meant 
to be loyal to their engagements ; that, I think, 
is clear from Sadler's narrative ; but the pressure 
of events was too strong for them. Thus it came 
about, that when open war was declared, Henry 
found that the faction in Scotland on which he 
had counted had failed him. He was very wroth, 
and his bitterness against Angus was extreme. 
Kalph Evers and Brian Laton overran the Merse 
and the valley of the Teviot. The abbey of 
Melrose was spoiled, and the sepulchre of the 
Douglas was wrecked. On Ancrum Muir Angus 
took his revenge. The Scottish charge was irre- 
sistible, " the noise thereof," as Pitscottie 
observes, with that touch of picturesqueness 
which is the charm of his narrative, " the noise 
thereof was as the roaring of the sea." Henry 
swore and stormed, but the Douglas blood was 
up. " Is our good brother offended that I 
am a good Scotsman? Because I revenged on 
Ealph Evers the abusing of the tombs of my 
ancestors at Melrose will he for that have iny 
life ? Little knows King Henry the skirts of 
Kernetable. 1 I will keep myself there from the 

1 In Calderwood's manuscript knows King Henry the . . . and 
the passage runs : " Little the skirts of Kernetable." 

The Feudal Society. 143 

whole English army." Angus lived into another 
generation ; Marie of Lorraine, indeed, had suc- 
ceeded to the Regency before he died at his 
castle of Tantalloii. The story of his last inter- 
view with the Queen is possibly apocryphal ; 
but it was obviously made to suit the man 
his hardy, irreverent obstinacy, and bitter 
tongue. The Queen was anxious to recover Tan- 
tallon, which had been a royal fortress before 
it was granted to the fourth Earl. Angus 
listened to her in silence, turning occasionally 
to the falcon, which he was engaged in feed- 
ing. " Will the greedy gled never be full ? " 
he muttered, as if he spoke to the bird on his 
wrist ; and then, bursting out, he addressed 
himself to the Queen, " The castle, madam, 
is yours, and at your command ; but, by St 
Bride of Douglas, I must be the captain ! " 

After the death of Angus, the house of Douglas, 
except in so far as it was represented by the 
Earl of Morton, did not for many years take any 
considerable part in public affairs. The great 
feudal barons, with whom Maitland had to reckon 
while he was in the service of Marie of Lorraine 
and her daughter, were men whose ancestors had 
been ennobled by the Stuarts, and who had suc- 
ceeded by reason of marriage or forfeiture to the 
vast possessions of the older aristocracy. The 
great estates had been broken up ; but there 

144 The Feudal Society. 

were still a score of families whose supremacy 
was undisputed. 

The Earl of Arran, who had been made Duke 
of Chatelherault when Mary was betrothed to 
the Dauphin, was the foremost figure. At the 
death of James V., only an infant a few days 
old stood between him and the throne. The 
fickleness of his convictions and the instability 
of his character had impaired his reputation; 
but his unique position, as head of the Hamil- 
tons and heir -presumptive to the crown, still 
gave him great social power, especially in the 
west. He had large estates in the neighbour- 
hood of the capital itself; strong political con- 
nections in half-a-dozen counties ; while from 
Cadzow to the Cock of Arran his will was law. 

The only other political magnate in the west- 
ern Lowlands was the Earl of Glencairn, a man 
of a very different type. The Lollards of Kyle 
had been the earliest reformers; Ayrshire was 
the soil in which the reformed doctrines took 
deepest root ; and Glencairn was a fit represen- 
tative of the stiff and unflinching fanaticism of 
the Congregation. In spite of the provocations 
of Henry, he and his father had been loyal to 
the English connection ; and when, with the 
connivance of Elizabeth and her ministers, Marie 
of Lorraine was deposed and the French alliance 
renounced, Glencairn at least had no scruples to 

The Feudal Society. 145 

overcome. The Scottish nobles were the mer- 
cenaries of the Eeformation ; but the "Western 
Earl was always loyal to his convictions ; his 
honesty was unstained, his integrity untar- 
nished, by the baser and more worldly motives 
which quickened the piety of Morton, Kuthven, 
Eothes, and the rest. 

Across the Clyde lay the country of the Camp- 
bells, and the Earl of Argyll was the chief of the 
Campbells. He had a vast following among the 
Redshanks of the Atlantic seaboard, the hardy 
mountaineers who dwelt along the picturesque 
shores of the Western lochs and rivers. His 
political force was at all times formidable, and 
when in league with the Stuarts of Athol and 
Lennox, or with the Grahams of Monteith and 
Strathern, wellnigh irresistible ; but the Stuarts 
loved the Campbells as little as they loved the 
Hamiltons ; and many a score which one or 
other would willingly have wiped out in blood, 
many an old grudge, many an unstanched feud, 
kept them apart. Argyll lived at Inverary on 
Loch Fyne ; Menteith at Inchmahome ; Athol 
at Blair of Athol, beyond Killiecrankie ; but 
Lennox, who had married the Lady Margaret 
Douglas, had been in exile for many years, and 
his lands had been divided among the loyal 
gentry of the adjoining counties. The Lady 
Margaret was the lawful heir to the Earldom of 

VOL. I. K 

146 The Feudal Society. 

Angus ; but in consequence probably of her hus- 
band's proscription, her title had been set aside, 
and her claim disallowed. So that a noble house, 
closely allied on either side with the royal 
family, and in whom the honours of Lennox 
and Angus had lawfully vested, was in the mean- 
time landless. 

The Earl of Huntly, in the colloquial language 
of the time, was " the goodman of the North." 
Three great Northern nobles Erroll, Sutherland, 
and Lovat were counted among his allies, if not 
among his retainers ; and when he told Moray 
that he could restore the mass in three coun- 
ties, he did not probably overrate his influence. 
The chief of the Gordon clan was the most opu- 
lent peer in Scotland, and Strathbogie was the 
palace of a prince. A man of vast experience 
as well as of vast possessions, he might easily 
have secured a great political position. But 
though shrewd, subtle, and adroit, he had one 
fatal weakness he was not trusted. The curse 
of the double-minded man was upon him 
Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel. Neither 
friend nor foe, neither Catholic Queen nor Pro- 
testant reformer, could count upon his honour ; 
and the incurable suspicion of dishonesty, of the 
man faithless to his word, tainted his career. 
He had been taken prisoner at Pinkie Cleuch, 

The Feudal Society. 147 

and by fair means or foul had afterwards escaped 
from his English jailor. The story of his escape 
has been told by an old historian ; and the graphic 
force and picturesqueness of the narrative im- 
press it indelibly on the memory : 

" The Earle prepareth a supper for his keepers, 
whereunto they were solemnly invited, and to 
play at cards with him to pass away the tedious- 
ness of the night. At length (as though he 
had played enough at cards) he left off, bot ear- 
nestly desired his keepers to play on ; during 
which tyme, the earle going to the windowe and 
looking out, did, by secret signe, (for he culd 
not weill decerne anything, it wes so extrem 
dark over all the element) easilie understood that 
all things were readie for his journey. The earle 
then doubtful (being some tyme in good hope, 
and some tyme in fear) thought upon many 
things, which he muttered to hiniselff, and, at 
length, unadvisedlie, (as doubtfull men are wont 
to do), burst out into these speeches ; ' A dark 
night, a wearied knight, and a wilsome way, 
God be the guyd !' His keepers heiring him 
speiking to himself, asked him what these secret 
speeches might signifie ? To whom the earle 
fearing to be entrapped, answered, that these 
words were used as a proverb among the Scots, 
and first had their beginning by the old Earle of 

148 The Feudal Society. 

Morton uttering the same in the middle of the 
night, when he lay a-dying." 1 

Of the nobles who were strong in the Eastern 
counties, Marischall, Ruthven, Crawfurd, Ogilvy, 
Rothes, Morton, Bothwell, and Hume, might be 
counted the most powerful. The Earl Maris- 
chall had established himself upon the cliffs of 
Dunnottar and the banks of the Ugie ; Ruthven 
was provost of St Johnston (as Perth was then 
called), and from the castle of Ruthven com- 
manded the city and river which reminded the 
Imperial soldier of Rome and the Tiber ; Lind- 
say and Ogilvy were " great names " in Angus ; 
the Leslies dwelt in Fife ; Hume, Hepburn, 
Douglas of Dalkeith, in Lothian and the Merse. 
Lord Home, to whom Fast Castle belonged, was 
also Warden of the Eastern Marches, and chief of 
a warlike clan. Of the great Border nobles who 
held the road to England, Home, Maxwell, and 
Herries were the foremost, Scott of Buccleuch 
and the Kerrs of Cessford and Ferniehurst being 
still reckoned among the untitled gentry. 

Among the nobles whose lands lay in the im- 
mediate vicinity of the capital, Lord Morton was 
probably the most formidable. He was by birth 
a member of the great Douglas family ; he had 
married his cousin Lady Elizabeth Douglas, the 

1 ' History of the House of Sutherland,' p. 130. 

The Feudal Society. 149 

heiress of Dalkeith ; and, through his influence 
with Marie of Lorraine, his nephew and ward, 
Archibald Douglas, an infant two years old, was 
preferred in 1558 to the Earldom of Angus. 
Morton was one of the latest recruits of the Con- 
gregation. It was said indeed that gratitude to 
the Eegent accounted for his tardiness : " having 
obtained the Earldom of Angus for his nephew, 
he is unwilling to break with the Dowager;" 1 
but the reason which he assigned, in a character- 
istic letter to Cecil, was probably the true one : 

"I doubt not but your Lordship has suffici- 
ently understood by the Laird of Lethington's 
report, as one that was privy to my determin- 
ation, what mind I have borne to the common 
cause since the first enterprising thereof; as also 
what moved me to stay from declaring myself, 
before the entry of the Queen's Majesty's army ; 
And believe you have found the occasion just as 
the case stood ; for the French being then 
masters of the field where my lands lie, I might 
well have given up my men as a prey to their 
fury, but would not have advanced the cause. 
Since you entered at the beginning, although 
I was well purposed to join with the rest of the 
noblemen, yet seeing the matter come in consid- 
eration, I stayed until the treaty was dissolved ; 

1 Sadler, 6th Nov. 1559. 

150 The Feudal Society. 

and then before the assault when power was re- 
quired, I joined my force with the rest and was 
present with them. Now, albeit nothing was 
craved at the Queen's Majesty, nor promised to 
her Highness in my name, yet I would her Ma- 
jesty had that opinion of me that no man of my 
nation does either more esteem her Highness's 
liberal support granted to this afflicted realm for 
the present, nor yet shall be more willing to ac- 
knowledge that benefit by most humble service, 
than I shall ever be at the uttermost of my 
power, which I propose to utter by effect, when 
occasion shall serve. In the meantime, for the 
small acquaintance I had with you of old, I will 
be bold to require of you, that by your mean, 
her Majesty may understand my affection to do 
her service. Thus after my most hearty com- 
mendations, I wish farewell to you." 1 

He had waited, in short, to see which side 
would w r in ; when the entrance of an English 
army made the issue a certainty, he went over 
to the Congregation. From that time onward, 
however, though caring nothing for religion or 
its restraints, and greedy, rapacious, and dissolute 
beyond belief, it must be admitted that his con- 
stancy to the English alliance never wavered, 
an unaccountable fidelity, which the receipt of a 

1 24th May 1560. From the camp before Leith. 

The Feudal Society. 151 

considerable pension from Queen Elizabeth does 
not entirely explain. The deep and enigmatical 
character of James Douglas perplexed his con- 
temporaries, and Sadler's judgment was sadly 
at fault when he characterised a man of pro- 
found craft and daring tenacity as " simple and 
fearful." x 

These were the great governing families of 
Scotland; and among them the name of the 
" Prior of St Andrews " is not included. The 
natural son of James the Fifth became afterwards 
the celebrated Earl of Moray; but as yet the 
character and capacity of the future regent were 
known only to his intimates. Among these it 
is probable that Lethington might be counted ; 
so much, if I am not mistaken, may be inferred 
from the allusions of their contemporaries. " The 
Lord James" had brothers and sisters Lord 
Robert Stuart, Lord John Stuart, the Countess 
of Argyll, were among the number but though 
their names occasionally occur in the records of 
the time, none of them attained any special 
distinction. If therefore we add to the list of 
the nobles which I have made, the names of one 
or two of the lesser lords Erskine, Fleming, 
Seton, Livingstone we shall have brought 
into one group nearly all the secular nobles 

1 Sadler, 6th Nov. 1559. 


The Feudal Society. 

whose birth and station fitted them to partici- 
pate, on one side or other, in the political and 
religious revolution that was at hand. 

A feudal baron had many local duties to per- 
form, and he lived much among his own people ; 
but he was bound to attend the sittings of the 
Parliament, which were now commonly held in 
the capital. 1 The Scottish Parliament contained 
representatives of every estate the greater and 
lesser barons, the spirituality, the commonality 
who met together in a single chamber; yet 
it was in the Parliament House that the king's 


will was most authoritatively expressed, and 
most readily obeyed. The feudal lord was 
supreme at home ; and it was to him especi- 
ally if he lived in the outlying counties where 
the law was a dead letter a matter of little 
practical concern what acts the Parliament 
might sanction, or what duties it might en- 
join. There was no power in the land capable 

1 Many of the lords spirit- 
ual as well as temporal began 
about this time to reside for a 
part of the year in the capital 
a proof of the growing auth- 
ority of the centralised execu- 
tive ; and some of the houses 
which they built for their own 
use were almost as strong and 
formidable as their castles in 
the country. All over Europe 

the town-houses of the great 
nobles were buildings which, 
when the gates were once barred, 
could stand a siege, although, 
of course, the prison-like pal- 
aces of the Eoman and Floren- 
tine nobility bore little resem- 
blance otherwise to the feudal 
mansions of Edinburgh or 

The Feudal Society. 153 

of enforcing an obnoxious statute upon a 
Campbell, a Hamilton, or a Douglas. The Lords 
of the Articles a Committee of Parliament 
virtually selected by the Crown prepared the 
bills that were to be laid before the House, 
and the estates converted them into " Scots' 
Acts" with loyal alacrity. The executive 
authority of the state, moreover, was largely 
exercised by the Privy Council, and the Privy 
Council was independent of the Parliament ; it 
sat in the royal palace, and its members were 
selected by the sovereign. The forms of the 
Scottish Government were strictly "constitu- 
tional " ; but there can be little doubt that, 
had a small standing army existed, a strong- 
willed ruler, by patience and address, might 
gradually have monopolised all the functions, 
executive and legislative, of the state, and ex- 
ercised an authority little short of despotic. I 
am disposed to believe that these peculiarities 
of Scottish administration had not escaped the 
notice of William Maitland, and that a policy, 
which sought to increase the prerogatives of 
the sovereign by restricting the privileges of 
the nobles, would have had his approval. It 
is curious, at least, that, during the period when 
he was most trusted by Mary Stuart, within 
indeed two years of her return, the two greatest 
nobles in Scotland Huntly and "the Duke" 

154 The Feudal Society. 

should have been bitterly, persistently, and 
successfully assailed. 

The high offices of state, transmitting by a sort 
of hereditary title from father to son, were held 
by the great nobles ; but there were a number of 
posts, connected more particularly with the ad- 
ministration of justice in the capital, which were 
bestowed indifferently upon the more capable 
of the clergy and the lesser gentry. The seats 
upon the bench were filled by an equal number 
of lay and clerical members ; the functionaries 
attached to the civil and consistorial tribunals 
belonged to the legal order which the institu- 
tion of a Supreme Court had called into exist- 
ence ; the Advocate, the Justice-Clerk, the Treas- 
urer, the Secretary, were as a rule personally 
attached to the sovereign. At the time when 
young Lethington first went to Edinburgh, a 
considerable share of the real government of 
the nation was in the hands of the " officials " ; 
and it was by virtue of holding one or other of 
these offices (and thus only indeed) that an 
ambitious politician like Maitland, not belong- 
ing to the great governing families, could look 
for early advancement. 



T7ROM the brief survey of Scottish literature 
* which I have attempted to give in a 
previous chapter, it sufficiently appeared that 
long before William Maitland was born, the 
great and independent tribes which occupied 
the country to the north of the river Tweed 
had been brought into organic union. We are 
apt to misjudge and misunderstand the forces 
that form a nation. There is nothing more 
certain, however, than the proposition which 
most students of history are now prepared to 
accept, that a community does not rise to any 
true corporate life until, so to speak, it has been 
" baptised in fire." The iron must be red-hot 
before it will fuse ; and a severe education, a 
hard experience, is needed to weld a nation 
together. By common sufferings and by com- 
mon triumphs the Scots had bought the right 
to be a people. Their apprenticeship had been 

156 Politics and Religion. 

served in a rough school; but it had taught 
them the lesson which it was designed to teach. 
Cohesion had been given to the national life. 
A true identity had been established. Patriot- 
ism had become a virtue. A vivid sense of 
their essential unity pervaded the whole society. 
They were " Scots," high and low, rich and 
poor, peer and peasant, members of the same 
family. The feeling had grown stronger and 
deeper during centuries of strenuous conflict 
with a foe whose resources were vastly superior. 
The constant strain had never been relaxed ; no 
breathing-space in which to recruit their strength 
had been given them ; year after year the miser- 
able and exhausting conflict had been renewed. 

Up to the thirteenth century the conduct 
of the English kings was fairly justifiable. The 
advantages of union to either people could not 
be overrated. It was obviously a matter of the 
first importance that the whole island, from 
John o' Groat's to the Land's End, should be 
under one ruler. The existence of an alien and 
hostile people across the Border was a constant 
menace ; and the English were naturally in- 
clined to maintain, by fair argument or foul, 
that neither in law nor in fact did such a people 
exist. But the War of Independence should 
have opened their eyes. Edward and his suc- 
cessors continued to insist on a technical plea ; 

Politics and Religion. 157 

they would not recognise the unquestionable 
fact that, whatever might have been the rights 
and wrongs of the past, Scotland was now a 
separate kingdom, and the Scots a distinct 
people. Whoever has read the letter which 
the Scottish nobles addressed to the Pope in 
1317, must acknowledge that the English pre- 
tensions had ceased to be tenable, and, in ceas- 
ing to be tenable, had become criminal and 
foolish. That letter written in uncouth monk- 
ish Latin, which is yet unable to chill the fire 
and fervour of its patriotism establishes beyond 
the shadow of doubt that, before the close of 
the thirteenth century, Scottish nationality was 
an accomplished fact : " From these evils in- 
numerable, by the help of Him who, after 
wounding, heals and restores to health, we were 
freed by our most gallant Prince, King, and 
Lord, our Lord Robert, who, to rescue his people 
and heritage from the hands of enemies, like a 
later Macabeus or Joshua, endured toil and 
weariness, hunger and danger, with cheerful 
mind ; to whom (as to him by whom deliver- 
ance has been wrought for our people) we, for 
the defence of our liberty, are bound, both by 
right and by his deserts, and are determined 
in all things to adhere ; but if he were to desist 
from what he has begun, wishing to subject 
us and our kingdom to the King of England 


Politics and Religion. 

and the English, we would immediately expel 
him as an enemy, and the subverter of his own 
rights and ours, and make another king who 
should be able to defend us. For so long as a 
hundred remain alive, we never will, in any 
degree, be subject to the dominion of the Eng- 
lish. Since not for glory, riches, or honour, we 
fight, but for liberty only, which no good man 
loses but with his life." * 

The English kings never renounced the claim. 
It was seriously insisted on by Henry VIII. after 
the rout at Sol way Moss ; it was a weapon that 
Cecil kept in reserve, and which he liked to play 
with (if only in the closet) when occasion served. 
For the Iliad of woes of which it was the origin 
the English kings are solely responsible. Had 
they been content to waive a claim which they 
could not enforce, the bitter hostility between 
the " auld enemies " would have gradually abated. 
The memory of old wrongs could not have kept 
asunder those whom nature had joined, and three 
centuries of anarchy would have been wiped out 
as with a sponge. Scottish patriotism, no doubt, 
was fanned into a fiercer flame ; but in all other 
respects the fruit was evil, apples of Sodom, 
grapes of Gomorrah. The character of the na- 

1 Non enim propter gloriam modo quam Nemo bonus nisi 
diucias aut honores pugnamus, simul cum vita amittit. 
sed propter libertatem solum- 

Politics and Religion. 159 

tion deteriorated. It may be said without exag- 
geration that, before the struggle had ended, the 
only organised life left in Scotland was the in- 
tense patriotic feeling. All the other ligaments 
that unite society were broken. The land was 
turned into a cock-pit, and the nation into an 
army, which was decimated as systematically as 
soldiers on active service are decimated. Hardly 
a man died in his bed. The great nobles, if they 
were not executed on the scaffold, fell on the 
battlefield. One generation followed another, 
Stuart, Douglas, Hamilton, Home, Scott, dying 
in turn a violent death. It is a chronicle of 
blood, two hundred years of unprofitable and 
wicked slaughter. The monotony of the story 
indeed is as wearisome as its vileness. Patriot- 
ism itself cannot touch with a semblance of 
nobleness the raids of Border ruffians ; and the 
chivalry of Otterburn is but a fiction of the poet. 
Like a pack of the wild animals that were still 
found in their forests, the " gaunt and hungry 
nobles" of Scotland hung upon the flanks of 
their richer neighbours, turning fiercely at in- 
tervals to worry one another. The memorable 
words of Hobbes may be applied indeed with 
eminent fitness to the Scottish anarchy of which 
Edward was the author : " In such condition 
there is no place for industry, because the fruit 
thereof is uncertain, and consequently no culture 

160 Politics and Religion. 

of the earth ; no navigation, nor use of the com- 
modities that may be imported by sea ; no com- 
modious building ; no account of time ; no arts ; 
no letters ; no society ; and, which is worst of 
all, continual fear and danger of violent death ; 
and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, 
and short." l 

When James the Fourth was on the throne, a 
truce was concluded which lasted for several 
years. The progress in art and letters, in agri- 
culture and commerce, during this comparatively 
brief pause, was astonishing. But for the vain- 
glorious folly of the King, it might have been 
the beginning of the end. The Stuarts, from 
first to last, were an unfortunate .in some 
respects an unaccountably unfortunate race. 
Brave, frank, witty, versatile, energetic, they 
were ready, with a sort of plebeian audacity, to 
welcome good or evil fortune. They had little 
pride of station, they were men and women 
who laughed with the keenest zest over the 
humours of the market-place, and who did not 
care to don the mask which custom prescribes 
when a king mixes with the crowd. Under 
immense difficulties in a light, inconsequent, 
irrelevant style they did a good deal for Scot- 
land. For a few years in the maturity of his 

1 Leviathan, chap. xiii. 

Politics and Religion. 161 

powers, each of the Jameses had been King and 
Euler : but they were shortlived ; and during a 
succession of protracted minorities the anarchical 
aristocracy recovered the power of which it had 
been temporarily shorn. 1 This was an accident ; 
but the Stuart character was itself at fault. 
Somewhere in the metal there was a flaw. In- 
firm of temper, they could not bear a protracted 
strain ; impatient of opposition, they could not 
play a waiting game. To form a far-reaching 
design, to mature it in silence, and to cling to it 
to the end, was a line of policy which a Stuart 
might approve in his heart, but which he could 
not follow. They were at once obstinate and 
facile, never more so than when James, in spite 
of warning and portent, cast away his crown 
upon the field of Flodden. 

Flodden was fought in 1513, and during the 
forty intervening years little had been done by 
English statesmen to soothe the jealous suscepti- 
bilities of the northern people, or to smooth the 
way to union. The old enemies continued to 
hate each other with the old cordiality. But 
the Scots now stood mainly on the defensive, 
the lesson which they had been taught at Flod- 

1 Kobert Birrel, an Edinburgh 
burgess, begins his " Diarey " 
with these words, "There hes 
been in this kingdom of Scot- 

VOL. I. 

land ane hundred and fyve 
kings, of whilk there wes slaine 

162 Politics and Religion. 

den not having been forgotten. Once on the 
death of James the Fifth it appeared possible 
that a lasting peace might be cemented ; but the 
chance passed away, and the "trajedies" that 
followed drove the nation wild. The customary 
atrocities were renewed with fresh vigour. No 
English king, since Edward, had been hated as 

O O' ' 

Henry came to be hated. 

It has been urged, indeed, that Henry's 
" rough wooing " was justified by the mendacity 
and treachery of the Scots. An attentive study 
of Sadler's despatches to the English court, and 
other contemporary records, tends, I think, to 
qualify this judgment. 

Sadler had been sent to bring about the mar- 
riage between the infant Mary and the youthful 
Edward, which was designed to secure a definite 
and lasting union. It was the early spring of 
1543 ; James the Fifth had died of a broken 
heart at Falkland, the favourite hunting-seat 
of royalty, where was that " broad-horned species 
of stags" which Buchanan describes, on the 
14th of the previous December; the Douglases, 
Angus and his brother Sir George, had returned 
from their long exile, along with the Lords who 
had been taken at Solway Moss ; the widowed 
Queen with her infant daughter was at Linlith- 
gow ; the great Cardinal, who had been foiled 
in his attempt to secure the office which James 

Politics and Religion. 163 

had probably intended that he should fill, was 
under a cloud ; and Arran the weak and facile 
Hamilton, " altered by every man's flattery and 
fair speech" was Governor of the kingdom. 
At the moment the balance inclined to England ; 
Sadler was sanguine ; but it soon became clear 
that the conditions formulated by Henry pro- 
ceeding upon the implied claim of superiority 
which the Scots had persistently and obstinately 
denied were entirely inadmissible, and would 
never be conceded by the people. 

In the garden at Holyrood Sadler found the 
Governor, who, after a brief interview, bade Sir 
George Douglas convey him to his lodging. Sir 
George one of the "English pensioners," as 
Bothwell offensively called them was friendly, 
but frank. He declared that the Estates would 
not consent to send the infant Mary to England, 
and he pled for patient delay and gentle dealing. 
" If there be any motion now to take the Gover- 
nor from his state, and to bring the government 
of this realm to the King of England, I assure 
you it is impossible to be done at this time. 
For," he continued, "there is not so little a 
boy but he will hurl stones against it, and the 
wives will handle their distaffs, and the com- 
mons universally will rather die in it, yea, 
and many noblemen and all the clergy be fully 
against it." Violent measures would drive the 

164 Politics and Religion. 

Scots into the arms of France; whereas with 
fair means the marriage might be ultimately 
brought about. 

That was Sir George's opinion, and Angus was 
much influenced by Sir George, " we shall ad- 
vise with our brother," being his usual answer. 
A few days afterwards Angus and Glencairn ex- 
cused themselves for not pressing Henry's claim 
that the government should be entrusted to him 
(which when in England they had admittedly 
undertaken to promote), on the ground that, 
before they arrived, a Eegent had been ap- 
pointed by the Estates. " There was no doubt, 
however, but that your Majesty once having the 
interest in the young queen, all the rest of your 
desires would follow." Glencairn sent a letter 
to the same effect, which, " being written with 
his own hand, and therefore not legible," Sadler 
was forced to copy. 

The negotiations dragged on through the 
summer, Sadler using all his influence with 
Henry to induce him to moderate his demands. 
"All your Majesty's purposes may be wrought 
in time without rigour" if he would only be 
patient; and Lord Maxwell whose daughter 
Angus had married was equally urgent, "fair 
and gentle means are the best and most godly 
way." " The Lords will not consent to have an 
English Council in Scotland ; but if your Ma- 

Politics and Religion. 165 

jesty will somewhat relent in your demands, all 
may yet be well." 

Henry's position in the negotiations was thus 
perfectly plain. Mary, now an infant a few 
months old, was to be taken to England, where 
she was to remain in the custody of the King 
till the marriage could be solemnised. In the 
mean time the government of the country was 
to be entrusted to Henry; an English council 
was to be installed at Holyrood ; English soldiers 
were to garrison the castle. Angus must indeed 
have forgotten the history of his house, if he 
fancied for a moment that such an abject capitu- 
lation would be ratified by his countrymen. 

As time passed on the clouds gathered. 
Arran had been well affected to the English 
Protestants ; he had issued a proclamation on 
19th March, making it lawful to read the Bible 
in the mother -tongue ; he had made Henry 
Balnaves his secretary ("I have had mickle 
cumber among the kirkmen for his sake," he 
told the ambassador) ; he had hated the Car- 
dinal, and would have been well pleased if the 
Douglas plot to carry him to Tantallon had 
succeeded. When Sadler suggested that the 
great churchman should be kidnapped and sent 
to England, the Governor was immensely tickled 
by the proposal. " Hereat he laughed, and said, 
' The Cardinal had lever go into hell ! ' " But 

166 Politics and Religion. 

Arran, who was, as Marie of Lorraine truly 
said, " the most inconstant man in the world, 
for whatsoever he determineth to-day he 
changeth to-morrow," began to waver. His 
tone changed. He continued to protest his 
attachment to Henry, " swearing many great 
oaths as wounds and sides (as indeed he is a 
good swearer) " ; and he even persuaded the 
Estates to ratify an emasculated treaty, " at 
the high mass, solemnly sung with shalms and 
sackbuts in the abbey church of the Holyrood 
House." But the tide was too strong for him. 
The Cardinal had escaped to St Andrews. 
"Then he told me, swearing a great oath, that 
the Cardinal's money had corrupted Lord Seton." 
Civil war seemed imminent, there will be a 
wild time, said Angus, " every man preparing 
jacks and spears." But it soon became clear 
that, though some of the Lords were in Henry's 
pay, the Commons and the kirkmen, as well as a 
great party of the nobles, went with the Car- 
dinal. The clergy had refused to perform the 
offices of the church so long as Beaton was in 
prison; and if a war broke out, "they will 
give their own and the church plate, chalices, 
crosses, censers." The common people, more- 
over, began to murmur against Arran as a 
heretic and an Englishman who had sold the 
realm to Henry. Angus and the Border Lords 

Politics and Religion. 167 

were even more unpopular. "They were com- 
monly hated here for your Majesty's sake, and 
such ballads and songs made of them that they 
have been corrupted by the English angels." 
Sadler clearly perceived the gathering of the 
storm. The struggle between " the heretics and 
the English Lords " on the one side, and " the 
scribes and pharisees " on the other, would be 
decided by " the neutrals," who were already 
going over to the stronger faction ; and the 
Governor was going with them. Then the 
storm burst. " The estate of things here is so 
perplexed, and such malicious and despiteful 
people, I think, live not in this world as is the 
common people of this realm, specially towards 
Englishmen." " I think never man had to do 
with such people." Henry in his anger impru- 
dently confiscated the Scottish ships in English 
ports, and would only restore them on conditions 
which, " making them traitors to their own 
country," the Scots indignantly rejected. For 
some days the ambassador was not safe ; he had 
been in great danger, he wrote to Henry; the 
Douglases were unable to protect him, their 
friends forsaking them because they were " Eng- 
lish," and even their own servants "not to be 
trusted in such a quarrel." At last he was 
carried secretly to Tantallon, from whence he 
crossed the Border. 

168 Politics and Religion. 

Henry's passion boiled over. He held that the 
Cardinal had foiled him ; and it was against the 
Cardinal that he was most bitter. " It may like 
your lordship to understand," Secretary Paget 
wrote to Hertford, who was already March 1 1 , 
1543 on his way to Scotland, "the King's 
Majesty's opinion is that it shall be well done 
for such as make raids into Scotland to have 
written upon the church -door, or some other 
notable place within all such towns or states, 
these or such other like words : ' You may 
thank your Cardinal for this; for if he had not 
been you might have been in quiet and rest ; for 
the contrary whereof he hath travelled as much 
as can be to bring you to sorrow and trouble.' ' 

While it is quite true, therefore, that the 
Cardinal and the Queen-mother were all along 
secretly opposed to the English marriage (which 
indeed was not cordially accepted by any power- 
ful party in Scotland), it cannot be denied that 
Henry's inordinate pretensions gave his enemies 
the pretext they desired, and that his impolitic 
violence fanned the smouldering flame into a 
fierce conflagration. The cruelties that were 
perpetrated by the English captains, the ruth 
and ruin that followed the track of their armies, 
had never been excelled in any of the raids that 
had so often desolated the Border homesteads. 
The Scots were exasperated beyond measure. 

Politics and Religion. 


Peaceful and orderly progress was paralysed. 
Union was delayed for half a century. The bar- 
est record of these atrocities suffices to show that 
the statesman who, in the middle of the sixteenth 
century, could look forward with confidence to 
a peaceful union of the crowns, must have been 
immensely sagacious or singularly sanguine. 1 

The burning of the capital was the first argu- 
ment that Henry used. There was no need for 
a declaration of war. No fastidious scruples re- 
quired to be consulted. On a fine Sunday in 
the beginning of May, the citizens saw from 
the Castle-hill and other " eminent places " that 
the Firth was dotted over with the white sails 
of the English ships. There was no fear of 
invasion, however, and the Governor and the 
Cardinal went quietly to bed. " Upon Wednes- 

1 Powerful and bitter expres- 
sion is given to these senti- 
ments in the 'Complaynt of 
Scotland,' which was written 
about 1548. For twelve hun- 
dred years, we are assured, the 
English have been the "auld 
mortal enemies" of the Scot. 
The Scottish lords who sell 
themselves for English gold are 
sternly denounced, and even 
the clergy are exhorted to take 
the field against the cruel in- 
vasion of that "false seed," 
that " unbelieving generation," 

led by a man bloodier than 
Nero or Caligula. The writer, 
whoever he may have been, 
appeals to universal Christen- 
dom to denounce as " God's 
rebels" the people who, by 
their infidelity and sacrilege, 
their tyranny, cruelty, and 
violent usurpation of other 
princes' dominions, without 
title or provocation, have shown 
that they are rather "Sara- 
cens " than citizens of the Chris- 
tian commonwealth. 

170 Politics and Religion. 

day" May 7, 1544 "the English marched 
towards Edinburgh ; first spoiled and then burnt 
the toun and the palace of Holyrood hous. 
There were few touns and villages within seven 
mile of Edinburgh which were not spoiled and 
burnt. Thereafter they spoiled and burnt Leith. 
When they had consumed both the touns, they 
loaded the ships with the spoile." This is the 
Scottish account of the exploit ; an English- 
man who accompanied the expedition contri- 
butes some characteristic touches : " Finally it 
was determined by the said Lord Lieutenant 
utterly to ruinate the toun with fire. We con- 
tinued burning all that day, and the two days 
next ensuing continually, so that neither within 
the walls nor in the suburbs was left any one 
house unbrent. Also we burnt the Abbey called 
Holy Eodehouse, and the palace adjoining to 
the same. In the mean time, there came unto 
us four thousand of our light horsemen, who 
did such exploits in riding and devastating the 
country, that within seven miles every way of 
Edinburgh they left neither peel, village, nor 
house, nor stacks of corn standing unburnt. 
After these exploits done at Edinburgh, and all 
the country thereabouts devastated, the king's 
lieutenant, thinking the Scots not to be con- 
dignly punished, determined not to return with- 
out doing them more displeasure. ... To 

Politics and Religion. 171 

give them better occasion to show themselves 
in the field against us, we left neither peel, 
village, town, nor house, in our way homewards, 
unburnt. . . . The same day we burnt a fair 
toun called Haddington, with a great nunnery 
and a house of Friars. That night they looked 
for us to have burnt the town of Dunbar, which 
we deferred till the morning, when those within 
it were newly gone to their beds ; and in their 
first sleeps, closed in with fire, men, women, and 
children were suffocated and burnt." 1 This 
was a fair beginning; but "as God would be 
known to favour our master's cause " it was not 
enough, or nearly enough. A " bloody ledger " 
exists, wherein the " exploits done upon the 
Scots " between July and November of the same 
year are duly entered. From this it appears 
that 192 towns, towers, and parish churches had 
been destroyed ; 403 Scots had been killed, and 
816 taken prisoner; while 10,380 cattle, 12,492 
sheep, 1296 nags and geldings, had been cap- 
tured and carried off. Next year the wretched 
Borderers were again scourged. Between the 
8th and the 23d of September, 7 monasteries, 
16 castles, 5 market - towns, 243 villages, 13 
mills, 3 hospitals, were utterly wrecked "cast 

1 The Late Expedition in Scotland, the yere of our Lorde 
God, 1544. 

172 Politics and Religion. 

down, burnt, and rased " to slake Henry's 
thirst for revenge. The Abbeys of Kelso, Dry- 
burgh, Melrose, Jedworth, Eccles, were rased 
and cast down the towns were burnt. The 
King's instructions were religiously respected ; 
and even after his death, the carnage went on 
with unabated zest and spirit. Pinkie Cleuch was 
fought on the "Black Saturday" of September 
1547. The injury inflicted on Scotland during 
these eight or nine years was immense ; but 
Henry profited not at all. Before the war was 
finished Mary had been betrothed to the Dau- 
phin, and the English garrisons had been driven 
across the Tweed. 

These were the scenes which Maitland wit- 
nessed as a lad ; his youth was passed among 
people whose fathers and brothers had been 
slaughtered, whose homesteads had been gutted, 
by " the auld enemy." Maitland did not wear 
his heart on his sleeve : he delighted in the 
" mockage " which concealed his serious convic- 
tions ; he had an immense contempt for exag- 
gerated sentiment and fanatical excess. Yet no 
truer patriot was then living, no Scotsman who 
was prouder of Scotland. Not, if he could help it, 
should the long heroic struggle for freedom, for 
independence, prove fruitless at the last. On the 
other hand, he saw with eminent directness, with 
an almost poetic simplicity of insight, of divina- 

Politics and Religion. 173 

tion, that a policy of separation was becoming 
more hopeless, more impossible, every day. 
Irresistible forces were drawing the nations to- 
gether. The stars in their courses were fighting 
for union. This was the political puzzle which 
English and Scottish statesmen were set to solve. 
How and on what terms could the old enemies 
be united ? If the national jealousies were to be 
permanently allayed, if the old sores were to be 
healed, there must be no arrogant assumptions 
on the one side, no sense of humiliation on the 
other. The problem would probably have proved 
insoluble had it been left to work itself out 
through political forces alone. But in the six- 
teenth century the bands of patriotism were 
loosed by a stronger passion. In the reviving 
warmth of the spiritual life the old animosities 
died out, the ancient grudges were forgotten. 
Religion, for once, brought peace not a sword. 
To determine whether the policy of Maitland 
or the policy of Knox was most in harmony 
with the principles of the Reformers, it will be 
necessary hereafter to treat very fully of the 
circumstances attending the Reformation of re- 
ligion in Scotland. In the mean time, I need 
only bring together in the briefest possible sur- 
vey the events which led up to the final rupture 
between the Queen and the Catholic Church on 
the one hand, and the Lords of the Congregation 

174 Politics and Religion. 

on the other. The Keformation as a whole the 
Reformation as the wave of change that in the 
sixteenth century swept across Catholic Europe 
lies outside the scope of this survey, either now 
or later ; yet it is true, I may say in passing, 
that the ideas and feelings which the Reforma- 
tion expressed were everywhere substantially 
the same. The Reformation, when resolved into 
its simplest elements, was a protest against the 
practice, as well as against the doctrine, of the 
papacy. The reviving spiritual life was alienated 
by the doctrinal materialism of Rome ; the re- 
viving moral life was shocked by its cynical 
licentiousness. In Germany the insurrection 
may be said to have been in great measure the 
fruit of a profound spiritual excitement ; in Eng- 
land it was mainly due to the political indigna- 
tion which the corruptions of the monastic orders 
had roused ; in Scotland both forces worked with 
nearly equal energy. But these subjective na- 
tional peculiarities did not affect the vital unity 
of the movement. To throw the imagination 
back into that troubled age ; to watch the mani- 
festations of the strange new spirit which was 
moving with an irresistible impulse all the nor- 
thern peoples, from the rude Prussian amber- 
fisher on the Baltic Sea to the polished courtiers 
and sharp logicians of Paris, Rotterdam, and 
Geneva ; to discriminate between the idioms 

Politics and Religion. 175 

which national habit, idiosyncrasy, and tempera- 
ment impressed upon it ; to appreciate the social 
changes in the life of Europe which it effected ; 
to track its progress, in one nation dying out 
after a brief volcanic life ; in another quenched 
in martyr blood ; in another clinging to the cliffs 
and keeping a pure flame alight in rough 
mountain hearts ; in another wisely assimilated 
by prince and prelate, permitted to work out its 
mission unmolested, and to mould through calm 
and storm the policy of cabinets and the history 
of an empire, this is a task which has never 
yet, in our own country at least, been adequately 
discharged, a labour, indeed, of which few are 
capable. We have " bits," as an artist would 
say, of rare excellence ; but the finished picture 
has not yet been painted. The features of the 
representative leaders, the genial disposition 
and broad sympathies of Luther, his manliness, 
his simple affectionateness, the bluntness and 
heartiness of his temper, the rude strength and 
hilarious riot of his humour ; the wrapt, austere, 
and passionless Calvin, his logical directness and 
naked simplicity of intellect, his legislative capa- 
city, and the great practical and administrative 
genius which cast the stormy forces of the Kev- 
olution into a compact and symmetrical mould ; 
the caustic irony and benevolent piety of Lati- 
mer; the humour, the narrowness, the bitter- 

176 Politics and Religion. 

ness, and the harsh sense of Knox, have been 
portrayed with admirable fairness by one to 
whom many of the best and most attractive 
traits of the Eeformers had been transmitted 
the lamented Principal of the University of St 
Andrews ; and if another writer, of kindred yet 
contrasted gifts, had completed that history of 
the empire under Charles the Fifth which he had 
begun, but from which he was unhappily diverted 
by other duties, the main incidents of a most 
momentous movement would have been brought 
visibly before us, marshalled in brilliant proces- 
sion by the latest master of English prose. 

It is with the city of St Andrews that the 
ecclesiastical history of Scotland, prior to the 
Reformation, is most intimately associated. 

What St Andrews was when Marie of Lorraine 
landed there in 1537, or what it was a few years 
later, when William Maitland crossed the Firth 
to become a scholar in the " humanities " so 
wide and sweeping are the changes it has under- 
gone we can with difficulty conjecture. Even 
within the memory of men now living it has 
altered much. St Andrews, in the days of their 
boyhood, was a truly academic city a dark, 
sombre, ruinous, mildewed, ill -lighted, badly- 
paved, old - fashioned, old - mannered, secluded 
place. Then came the era of the utilitarian re- 
formers, who destroyed its scholastic repose, and 

Politics and Religion. 177 

wiped away its classic dust. But in that earlier 
and darker age to which memory not unwillingly 
returns, a few noble fragments of ancient ruin 
which had resisted the fury of the Knoxian mob, 
the massive walls of a feudal castle, the great 
tower of St Eule, the lovely windows and arches 
of the Cathedral, rose above an old-fashioned 
street, not inconveniently crowded with old- 
fashioned houses, in which old-fashioned pro- 
fessors and old-fashioned ladies looked after 
keen-eyed, threadbare students, who here, in red 
and ragged gowns, cultivated the Muses, like 
the early Edinburgh Reviewers, upon a little 
oatmeal. Very kindly and homely was the life 
they led, a life through which the shrill sea- 
wind blew healthfully, and to which the daily 
round of " golf" on the Links, and the evening 
rubber of long whist in the parlour, added the 
keen zest of physical and intellectual excitement. 
Death has swept them all clean away, wonder- 
ful old Scotch ladies, wonderful old Scotch pro- 
fessors ; and new streets, new terraces, new men, 
new manners, have transformed the modern city 
during the summer months at least into a 
fashionable loitering -place for the lawyers of 
Edinburgh and the traders of Dundee. But 
go to it during winter or early spring before 
the college session is over, before the students 
in their red gowns have deserted the streets, 

VOL. I. M 

178 Politics and Religion. 

before the sociable academic society has taken 
flight, before the east wind has abated, before 
the hoarse complaints of a sea often vexed by 
storm are silenced, before the snow has melted 
away from the distant Angus range, and we 
may even to-day understand the bleak charm 
that thirty or forty or fifty years ago endeared 
this sea-girt seat of early learning and piety 
this severe mother of the intellectual Graces, 
Mater sceva Cupidinum to the most thought- 
less of her sons. 

The decline of St Andrews began with the 
Eeformation : less than a hundred years there- 
after we find the magistrates complaining of its 
decaying trade, its diminished shipping, its de- 
serted streets, its impoverished citizens. It had 
been associated for centuries with the elaborate 
ritual and splendid pageantries of the Catholic 
Church ; when the Church fell, it dragged the 
city along with it. Some slight and imperfect 
notion of the vicissitudes it has experienced may 
be obtained by whoever visits its storm-beaten 
pier. When he finds only a small coaster or two 
moored to the quay, and half-a-dozen deep-sea 
fishing -boats drawn up on the beach, he will 
be inclined to question the statistics of the 
sixteenth -century historian, who informs him 
that during the great annual fair the Senzie 
Fair held in the grounds of the Priory during 

Politics and Religion. 179 

April three hundred vessels from France, Flan- 
ders, and the Baltic entered its famous port. 

St Andrews was probably at its best about the 
middle of the sixteenth century. This venerable 
temple of the Christian faith had not been built 
in a day. It was as old as nay, older than 
the Scottish monarchy. The promontory of 
Muckross is described in our earliest annals as 
one of the favourite haunts of the wild boar. 
Here, in " old unhappy far-off times," not many 
years after the death of our Lord, came a great 
Christian missionary, bearing with him (rever- 
ently, in a silver casket) " three of the fingers 
and three of the toes " of a yet greater apostle. 
Here he founded a Christian church, and con- 
verted to the true faith "that bloody, savage, 
and barbarous people, the Fights." Here a long 
line of saints and bishops, from Adrian to Arthur 
Eoss, lived and died, and were buried in sump- 
tuous tombs which those humble shepherds took 
care to provide for themselves. Here, on a 
barren promontory, rose an exquisite shrine (two 
hundred years they took to build it), whose bur- 
nished copper roof was seen miles off by the 
hardy mariners of France and Flanders who 
ploughed the northern seas. Here grey friars 
and black friars grew fat and sleek upon the 
prudent piety of Scottish kings ; here high-bred 
and high-born legates and cardinals dispensed a 

Politics and Religion. 

princely hospitality; here queens feasted, and 
martyrs suffered, and the fingers and toes of the 
Saint continued to work miraculous cures till a 
comparatively recent period. 

The Priory had been built when Alexander III. 
was king. The Cathedral begun by Arnold in 
1159 was finished by Lamberton in 1318. 1 The 
castle was about the same age as the Cathedral, 
though part of it, erected by Walter Trail, must 
have been of somewhat later date. The Convent 
of the Black Friars was founded in 1274, and 
the Convent of Grey Friars in 1448. The Uni- 
versity was constituted by Papal Bull in 1410 
(thirteen doctors of divinity, eight doctors of 
laws, with doctors learned in logic, rhetoric, and 
philosophy, composed its teaching staff) ; but St 
Mary's, the youngest of the colleges and the 

1 Lamberton was the most 
munificent of its Bishops " a 
prelate wise, active, and a great 
benefactory to the abbey. The 
buildings whereof now we only 
behold the ruins were erected 
upon his charges. He finished 
the cathedral church, which had 
been many years a -building, 
and dedicated the same with 
great solemnity in the year 
1318. He adorned the chapter- 
house with curious seats and 
ceiling ; furnished the canons 
with precious vestments for the 

daily service ; stored their li- 
brary with books ; gave unto 
the prior and convent, the same 
very day, the churches of Dair- 
sey and Abercromby ; and dy- 
ing at last in the prior's cham- 
ber within the monastery, was 
buried in the new church, on 
the north side of the high altar, 
in the year 1328." (Spottis- 
woode, i. 107.) It will be ob- 
served from this extract that 
when Spottiswoode wrote the 
ecclestiastical buildings were 
spoken of as "ruins." 

Politics and Religion. 181 

last good work of the elder Beaton, St Mary's 
(Quo desiderio veteres revocavit a/mores !) was 
not begun till 1538. The magnificent wall, with 
its turrets for sharpshooters and its niches for 
saints, which encloses the priory and the clois- 
ters, was the work of Prior John Hepburn in 
1516. Most of the religious buildings were of 
exquisite finish and noble design ; while over all 
high over all rose the sombre square tower 
of St Rule, a building of unknown antiquity. 

The citizens of this great seat of learning and 
piety had been permitted for many generations 
to carry on their beneficent work unmolested. 
The peaceful labours of its doctors and divines 
had seldom been interrupted by the anarchy and 
turbulence which elsewhere prevailed in Scot- 
land. It was distant from the Borders, where 
the religious houses were periodically " harried," 
and from the mountain -passes, through which 
the Redshanks occasionally issued to spoil the 
northern monasteries. From the earliest ages 
its Bishop had been the " primus," for a hundred 
years its Archbishop had been the metropoli- 
tan, of Scotland. In a great cathedral city 
Catholicism was to be seen at its best and at 
its worst; but whatever covert scandals might 
exist, the spirit of dissent, of discontent, of criti- 
cism, had failed to make itself felt. Until well 
on in the sixteenth century no one appeared to 

182 Politics and Religion. 

suspect that the magnificent vitality of the 
Catholic Church had been seriously shaken. 
Yet within fifty years, to vary the metaphor, 
the whole fabric was in ruins. 

The rift was at first barely perceptible. Up 
to the close of the reign of James V. in 1542, it 
cannot be said that any new scheme of theologi- 
cal dogma had been formulated by those who 
were dissatisfied with the Church of Rome. The 
Lollards who came from Kyle, " that receptacle 
of the saints of old," were very outspoken critics 
of the established religion ; but the main articles 
of their simple protest, dealing with questions of 
conduct rather than of doctrine, compare very 
favourably with the metaphysical inquisitiveness 
and logical hair-splitting which disfigure the Con- 
fessions of the later Reformers. John Reseby, a 
follower of Wyclif, had been "justified" at St 
Andrews in 1408 ; and the Bohemian Paul Craw, 
a disciple of Huss, twenty-five years afterwards. 
Knox, who inclined to hold with characteristic 
narrowness that there was no religion in Scot- 
land prior to the Reformation, is yet constrained 
to admit, in virtue of that earlier " testimony," 
that even in the time of greatest darkness God 
had dealt mercifully with the realm "retaining 
within it some spunk of His light." 

In 1528 Patrick Hamilton, "many ways in- 
famed with heresy, disputing, holding, and main- 

Politics and Religion. 183 

taining divers heresies of Martin Luther and his 
followers," was burnt before " the auld College." 
Knox tells us that in all St Andrews at that time 
there was none found who did not begin to in- 
quire, Whairfor was Maister Patrik Hamilton 
brunt? Soon afterwards Henry Forrest "suf- 
fered death for his faithful testimony to the 
truth," being " burnt at the North Church stile 
of the Abbey Church," so that the heretics of 
Angus across the water might see the fire, 
and possibly mend their ways. John Lindsay 
a prudent friend of the Archbishop had been 
anxious, on the other hand, that the execution 
should be conducted in private, "for the reik 
of Master Patrik Hamilton," he said, "had in- 
fected as many as it blew upon." In 1534 the 
"dumb dogs" "renewed their battle against Jesus 
Christ " ; and Norman Gourlay and another were 
hanged and burnt at the " Rood of Greenside " 
somewhere upon the Calton Hill of Edinburgh, 
I presume "to the intent that the inhabitants 
of Fife, seeing the fire, might be stricken with 
terror and fear." As an Act was passed about 
the same time against throwing down of images 
and invading of abbeys, symptoms of the icono- 
clastic spirit must have already declared them- 
selves. We learn from a contemporary writer 
that in 1543 " there was ane great heresie in 
Dundie ; thair they destroyit the kirkis, and 

184 Politics and Religion. 

wald have destroyit Aberbrothok," had it not 
been for Lord Ogilvy ; : and the coarse and truc- 
ulent scepticism of a later age was vigorously 
parodied by the Perth humourists, who were 
indicted for "nailing two ram's -horns on St 
Francis's head, and putting of a cow's tail to 
his rump." 

It is obvious from these notices that during 
the reign of James, the tide of the Eeformation 
in Scotland had begun to flow. There was as 
yet no very widespread popular feeling on the 
subject ; it had not become a " burning question," 
except in the earlier sense of the words ; but a 
good many men within the Church itself were 
beginning to perceive that the position had 
become untenable; and it is clear that in Fife 
and Angus at least, many "secret professors" 
were to be found. The English envoy, who was 
in Scotland during 1540, draws a vivid picture 
of the state of parties at Holyrood. He had been 
instructed to converse confidentially with the 
King on the conduct of ecclesiastical affairs. 
The greater monasteries were being dissolved in 
England, and Henry wished his Scotch nephew 
to take a leaf out of his book. James, however, 
who seems to have agreed with the old gentle- 
woman of Montrose that swearing was a "great 

1 Diurnal of Occurrents. 

Politics and Religion. 185 

aff-set" to conversation ("By my troth," quoth 
he "No, on my soul," quoth he " By God," 
quoth he emphasise nearly every sentence of 
the lively report transmitted to the English 
Court), was not to be persuaded. There were 
two laws, he said, spiritual and temporal ; he 
did his duty as regarded the one the other he 
committed to the Pope and his ministers. " He 
spoke very softly," Sadler adds significantly, 
"the Cardinal being present." "And in good 
faith," James continued, " I cannot take the 
King's advice ; it is against reason and God's 
law to put down those abbeys and religious 
houses which have stood these many years, and 
God's service maintained and keeped in the 
same." And he shrewdly concluded, " Besides, 
the kirkmen will give me all I want." Sadler then 
tried another tack, denouncing the monks as in- 
dolent, effeminate, and unchaste. " Oh," quoth 
the King, " God forbid that if a few be not good, 
for them all the rest shall be destroyed. Though 
some be not, there be a great many good, and 
the good may be suffered, and the evil must be 
reformed ; as ye shall hear," quoth he, " that I 
shall help to see it redressed in Scotland by 
God's grace, if I brook life." Sadler would have 
had them weeded out by the root ; but the King 
was firm. " I am sure my uncle will not desire 
me to do otherwise than my conscience serveth." 


Politics and Religion. 

The envoy, in a subsequent letter, was forced 
to admit that in spite of ecclesiastical scandals, 
and the progress of " Christ's word and doctrine " 
among the laity, the churchmen were still the 
only capable persons in the country to whom 
the government could be prudently entrusted. 
He had met " a great number of noblemen and 
gentlemen that be well given to the verity of 
Christ's word and doctrine, but the noblemen be 
young. I see none among them that hath any 
such agility of wit, gravity, learning, and experi- 
ence to take in hand the direction of things. So 
that the King is of force driven to use the bishops 
and clergy as ministers of the realm. They be 
the men of wit and policy ; they be never out 
of the King's ear who giveth small care to 
his affairs, being given to much pleasure and 
pastime." 1 

The attitude of James was upon the whole 
reasonable ; and, but for the " trajedies " that 
followed his death, a prudent and statesmanlike 
measure of reform would probably have been 
obtained without undue delay. The Scots were 

1 Sadler was a layman who 
understood the language of 
diplomacy, whereas Barlow, 
Henry's chaplain, was much 
more outspoken and naive. 
While Sadler admitted that the 
Catholic Bishops who held the 

great offices of state discharged 
their duties with discretion and 
address, Barlow roundly de- 
clared that the Scottish king 
was surrounded " by the Pope's 
pestilent creatures and very 
limbs of the devil." 

Politics and Religion. 187 

partly responsible, no doubt ; but the burden of 
blame does not rest on them. It was the frantic 
and irrational violence of Henry VIII. that made 
Reformation in Scotland impossible for wellnigh 
twenty years. 

James Beaton, the Archbishop of St Andrews, 
died in 1539. He had had a checkered experi- 
ence. He was the churchman whose conscience 
" clattered " at the conference which led to 
Cleanse-the-Causey. He had ventured to beard 
the Douglas, and Douglas had proved the 
stronger. The Archbishop was forced to hide 
himself : disguised as a shepherd, he had herded 
sheep on Bogran-knowe, among the wilds of 
Angus. He was succeeded in the primacy by 
his nephew. James Beaton was a churchman of 
fairly average intelligence ; but David Beaton 
was the foremost statesman of his time. Had it 
not been for the implacable animosity of Knox, 
the youthful irregularities of the great Cardinal 
might possibly have been forgotten. The ghast- 
ly caricature of his last night in this world rests, 
so far as I am aware, on unauthenticated rumour; 
and there is little in his character and career 
to justify the bitter invective of the Reformer 
against " the bloody butcher " of the saints of 
God. Beaton was a secular statesman as well 
as an anointed bishop ; and it is probable that 
the policy he adopted when he brought Wishart 

188 Politics and Religion. 

to the scaffold was directed as much against 
sedition as against heresy. There can be little 
doubt that Wishart was aware of Henry's designs 
upon the Cardinal, and that the tragedy in the 
Castle of St Andrews had been rehearsed long 
before. The ferocious jocularity of the Reformer 
over the mangled body " these things we write 
merily " is eminently characteristic, but does 
not impress us with any high sense either of 
his charity or his sagacity. For the murder was 
a political blunder as well as a political crime. 
Approved by a few stern and bitter fanatics, 
the death of Beaton scandalised the nation. 
Henry had devastated the Scottish Border; he 
had burnt the Scottish capital ; now he had 
murdered the only Scottish statesman of Euro- 
pean repute. The patriotic fire flamed up, and 
the people who had been on the verge of a 
spiritual revolt went back meekly to the Catho- 
lic fold. The Scots fighting at Pinkie reproached 
the English for having deserted the ancient 
faith. To be esteemed a heretic was thenceforth 
for many years nearly as disgraceful as to be 
esteemed an Englishman. 

The reaction was in its nature temporary. 
The wave fell back, but the tide had not slack- 
ened. Nor might its further advance, beneficent 
or destructive, be arrested by any dike which 
panic-stricken orthodoxy could raise. The only 

Politics and Religion. 189 

question that remained to be settled when Leth- 
ington, as a potential force, appeared on the 
field, involved merely the old struggle between 
the less and the more. Was it to be a moderate 
and constitutional reform, largely undertaken 
from within, that is to say, by the Courts of 
the Church itself? or was it to be Revolution? 
Knox elected to break with the past : he could 
not help himself, it may be ; but the wisdom of 
his choice is still open to doubt. The Reformer 
in after years may sometimes have regretted 
that he turned a deaf ear to Hamilton's em- 
phatic warning : " The Reformation in many 
things was not without reason, yet you will do 
well to provide yourselves with some new polity 
before you shake off the old. Our hill-men have 
a custom, when breaking a colt, to fasten two 
strong tethers to its head, one of which they 
keep fast till it is thoroughly made. The multi- 
tude, that beast with many heads, should just 
be so dealt with. Master Knox, I know, esteem- 
eth me an enemy ; but tell him from me he shall 
find it true that I speak." 

The forces, direct and indirect, which shaped 
the Scottish Reformation, were very various. 
The " heresies of Martin Luther " were in the 
air. At certain seasons it is almost as difficult 
to escape the infection of heresy as it is difficult 
at others to escape the infection of fever. It 

190 Politics and Religion. 

came from England with the fugitives who had 
fled from the cruelties of the Marian bishops ; 
Scottish merchants and mariners trading with 
the Low Countries and the Rhine brought it 
back with their goods. The new generation, 
the rising men, the men of wit and spirit and 
learning, who could use their tongues and their 
pens with effect upon the people, were eager for 
change. The popular minstrelsy, sacred and 
profane, was on the side of the Reformers. The 
martyrs had borne their sufferings with meek- 
ness and patience ; and heroic legends gathered 
round the scaffolds. The Scottish nobles, who 
had long regarded with a greedy eye the im- 
mense treasures of the Church, now knew that 
the English peers had been enriched from the 
hoards of the clergy. And the corruption of the 
monastic orders, the failure of discipline, the 
degradation of doctrine, had produced grave 
scandals which could no longer be tolerated by 
a society in which the moral sense was not dead. 

The Protestant indictment of the Catholic 
Church in Scotland, however, has been far too 

No one certainly, except a bigot or a fanatic, 
will be disposed to undervalue the constancy of 
the Scottish martyrs at stake and scaffold. In 
the record of each execution there are pathetic 
little touches of humour and pathos which cling 

Politics and Religion. 191 

indelibly to the memory ; Wishart's simple 
words of leave-taking, " for they would drink 
no more with him " ; the fortitude of the Perth 
journeymen, " every one comforting another, 
and assuring themselves to suppe together in 
the kingdom of heaven that night"; Helen 
Stirk's farewell to the husband with whom she 
had earnestly desired to die, " Therefore I will 
not bidde you good-night, for we sail suddanlie 
meet with joy in the kingdom of heaven"; and 
her own death thereafter, in the pool hard by, 
when she had given the baby at her breast 
" the sucking bairn " to one of the bystanders. 
These had no fear of the dark road they were to 
travel, " they constantly triumphed over Death 
and Sathan, even in the midst of the flaming 
fyre." Nor is the human weakness of Ninian 
Kennedy, who " at first was faint, and gladly 
would have recanted," less impressive or touch- 
ing. Kennedy, like Cranmer, shrank from the 
fiery ordeal, yet in the hour of mortal agony was 
constant to what he held to be the truth. It 
may well be that the " faintness " of men like 
Cranmer and Kennedy is not less acceptable to 
Him who holds up "the hands which hang 
down, and the feeble knees," than the confident 
and unfaltering witness of the strong man who 
goes to the stake with a song of thanksgiving on 
his lips, and a sense of triumph in his heart. 

192 Politics and Religion. 

The nobility, the constancy, the heroism, of 
these simple people are beyond all praise ; yet 
in fairness it must be remembered that the 
whole number of persons who suffered for heresy 
in Scotland was not large. The iniquitous in- 
dustry of the Inquisition in the Netherlands is 
branded in black letters on the page of history. 
Men and women were strangled, beheaded, and 
burned alive in hundreds, because they had 
murmured against the rapacity of the priests, or 
could repeat a paraphrase by Clement Marot. 
It was estimated that before 1566 more than 
fifty thousand persons suspected of heresy had 
been put to death. Torture is not cumulative ; 
the suffering of a thousand is not more intense 
than the suffering of one ; and it may be argued 
that the culpability of the Inquisitor is not to 
be measured by the number of his victims. 
Apart from such abstruse paradoxes, however, 
it must be acknowledged that the religious per- 
secution in Scotland was comparatively light. 
It cannot be said with any show of justice that 
the Scottish bishops were unmerciful. They did 
not love blood as Philip and Alva loved blood. 
It is clear, I think, that for many years the new 
opinions were unpopular, and that the ecclesias- 
tical authorities had a free hand. "Then the 
people cried, ' Burne him ! burne him ! " I have 
no note of the exact numbers who suffered at Edin- 

Politics and Religion. 


burgh and St Andrews ; but I incline to believe 
that from first to last, during a period of twenty 
or thirty years, not more than twenty or thirty 
persons were put to death. The barbarous 
manner in which death was inflicted shocks our 
sensibilities ; but at the time, and long after- 
wards, it was regarded in quite a different light. 
Heretics were burnt ; so were witches ; and I 
venture to say that, more than once after the 
Eeformation, the old women who were burnt, 
during a single twelvemonth, because they rode 
on broomsticks to a midnight meeting with the 
devil, or turned themselves into cats and dis- 
turbed the neighbours by their caterwauling, 
outnumbered the heretics who were burnt dur- 
ing the whole period between 1538 and 1558 by 
" those bloody beasts," " those ravenous wolves," 
"those slaves of Satan," "those cruel tyrants 
and unmerciful hypocrites," Cardinal David 
Beaton and Archbishop James Hamilton. 1 We 

1 Epithets culled from Knox 
and Calderwood. I shall have 
occasion to speak of the trials 
for witchcraft later on ; here I 
would only remark, that while 
there is sufficient evidence to 
show that the martyrs died well 
(though most of the lengthy 
"last speeches" are probably 
apocryphal), it is clear that 
the unfortunate creatures, who 

VOL. I. 

were burnt and drowned as 
witches, bore themselves with 
equal (and really quite inex- 
plicable) fortitude. " Inexpli- 
cable," I say ; for we must re- 
member that, unlike the mar- 
tyrs, they had no lofty convic- 
tion of duty, no fervour of 
faith, to support them ; they 
were only the mean and vulgar 
victims of a popular delusion, 



Politics and Religion. 

must remember, moreover, that the Catholic 
prelate had been taught to consider heresy a 
deadly crime, and that to burn the perishable 
body was to save the immortal soul. Estab- 

and yet they died like heroes. 
The confessions they made 
while under torture (of Agnes 
Simpson, it is said, "they 
caused her to be conveyed into 
prison, there to receive such 
torture as hath been lately pro- 
vided for witches in that coun- 
try ;" the obstinate warlock, 
Dr Fian, "so deeply had the 
devil entered into his heart," 
would not confess, although 
his nails had been " pulled off 
with a pair of pincers," and his 
legs had been " so crushed and 
beaten together that the blood 
and marrow spurted forth") 
the confessions thus obtained 
were gruesomely grotesque. 
"At North Berwick Kirk the 
devil enjoined them all to a 
penance, which was that they 
should kiss his buttocks, in sign 
of duty to him, which, being put 
over the pulpit base, every one 
did as he had commanded 
them." " They took a cat and 
christened it, and the following 
night the said cat was con- 
veyed into the middest of the 
sea by all these witches sail- 
ing in their riddles or cives." 
Isabel Grierson was burnt, and 

her ashes scattered to the 
winds, for going to Adam 
Clark's house " in the likeness 
of his own cat " ; Alice Nisbet 
suffered death for using the 
words "the bones to the fire 
and the soul to the devil," to 
take away the pains of labour ; 
Agnes Finnie was worried at 
the stake, and then burnt to 
ashes, " for that falling a scold- 
ing with Bessie Currie about a 
bad sixpence, she threatened 
that she would gar the defl 
tak a bite of her." John Knox 
(although the Catholic satirists 
accused him of being a warlock 
himself, and thus securing the 
affection of Lord Ochiltree's 
daughter " ane damosel of 
noble blood, and he ane auld 
decrepit creature of maist base 
degree of any that could be 
found in the country") had a 
keen nose for a witch. Lady 
Buccleuch, Lady Athol, Lady 
Huntly (and "her principal 
witch called Jonet") figure 
prominently in the narrative. 
The story of Alison Balfour 
has been vividly narrated by 
Mr Froude (Short Studies, i. 
185). The last execution of a 

Politics and Religion, 195 

listed institutions die hard ; but it may be truly 
said that in no other organic revolution of so 
wide a sweep was the loss of life among the 
assailants so inconsiderable. 

I have already referred to the part taken by 
approved writers, like Sir David Lindsay, in 
the work of the Reformation. But there was 
another class of writers, represented to us by 
the Wedderburns, 1 who rendered essential ser- 
vice. These men, who must have possessed no 
mean poetic faculty, took the popular songs and 
rhymes, many of which were lewd and obscene, 
and converted them into spirited hymns, in 
which the Lord was praised and the Pope de- 
nounced with equal energy and acerbity. The 
framers of the statute of 1551 complain that 
" printers constantly print buiks concerning the 
faith, ballads, songs, blasphemous rhymes, as 
well of kirkmen as temporals." These broad- 
sheets were scattered over the land, and were 

witch in Scotland took place 
at Dornoch in 1722, an old 
woman, who, on being brought 
out for execution, the weather 

of Witchcraft, p. 200.) 

1 James Wedderburn, the 
elder brother, who had a " good 
gift of poesie," escaped from 

being severe, sat composedly j the persecution, and died at 
warming herself by the fire Dieppe. It was his brother 

prepared to consume her, while 
the other instruments of death 
were being got ready. (C. 
Kirkpatrick Sharpe's History 

John who turned indecent 
" songs and rhymes " into godly 
hymns. Calderwood, i. 143. 

196 Politics and Religion. 

immensely relished by a class to which more 
serious argument would probably have failed to 
appeal. The "Gude and Godly Ballates" are 
thus extremely interesting to those who are 
anxious to ascertain how the Reformation 
the change of religious opinion among the 
masses was brought about. They are what 
we would now call evangelical in their tone, 
and the music often recalls the rhythms and 
refrains of that negro minstrelsy which recent 
revivalism has appropriated. The language in 
which they are written is remarkably pure ; 
I am not acquainted, indeed, with any better 
specimens of the idiomatic vigour and liquid 
sweetness of the Scots tongue at its best. A 
genuine vernacular melody pervades such lines 
as these : 

" my deir heart, young Jesus sweit, 
Prepare thy creddill in my spreit, 
And I sail rock thee in my heart, 
And never rnair from thee depart ; " 

or these (from the rendering of the 124th 
Psalm) : 

" Like to ane bird tane in a net, 
The whilk the fowler for her set, 
Sa is our life weel win away." 

They look forward with confidence to a trium- 
phant issue, " Be mirrie and glad, and be no 
more sad, The day of the Lord draws neir," 

Politics and Religion. 197 

"Hay now the day dawns, The night is neere 
gone," and the note of victory is well sus- 
tained : 

" The net is broken in pieces small, 
And we are savit fra their shame. 
Our hope was ay and ever sail 
Be in the Lord, and in his name, 
The whilk hes creat hevin so hie, 
And made the eird so marveilouslie, 
And all the ferlies of the same." 

The burden of the hymns, as was natural, is 
the superiority of the worship of our Lord to 
the worship of saint or Virgin, "For ye were 
all at God's horn; This babe to you that now 
is born, Sail make you saif and for you die, 
And you restore to liberty ; " " He tholit 
pains, Of hunger, cauld, and miserie, And we 
gat life when he did die." The adaptation of 
the popular airs sometimes produces a rather 
grotesque effect, as in the lines with the re- 
frain, " Who is at my window ? who ? who ? 
Goe from my window ; goe, goe ; " or in those 
into which the " Huntsman's Chorus " is intro- 
duced : 

" With hunts up, with hunts up, 
It is now perfite day ; 
Jesus our King is gane in hunting, 
Who likes to speed they may. 
The hunter is Christ that hunts in haist, 
The hunds are Peter and Paul ; 
The Paip is the fox, Rome is the rox 
That rubbis us on the gall." 

198 Politics and Religion. 

Vigorously idiomatic as these verses are, those 
on the monks, friars, and nuns, which begin : 

" Of Scotland well the friers of Faill 
The limmery lang hes lastit, 
The monka of Melrose made gude kaill 
On Friday when they fastit ; " 

are even more telling. The rapacity of the 
pardoners who gave "remission of sins in auld 
sheep's skins," and of the friars who made 
fortunes out of the pains of purgatory, "the 
reik sa wonder dear they salde, For money, 
gold, and landes," and out of worthless masses 
for the dead, "Requiem seternam fast they 
patter, Before the deid with holy water," leads 
up to the conclusion of the whole matter, 
"The Paip, that pagan full of pride, He hes 
us blinded lang." 

I have said that the charges against the Cath- 
olic clergy have been somewhat highly coloured 
by Protestant apologists. But when every 
reasonable allowance is made, it must be ad- 
mitted that the state of the Church invited 
attack. The best men were aware that reform 
was inevitable ; and, in point of fact, the repair 
of the ecclesiastical edifice had been undertaken 
when the storm burst. The scandals connected 
with concubinage, the traffic in indulgences, 
non-residence, pluralities, and the action of the 
Consistorial Courts, had attracted the attention 

Politics and Religion. 199 

of the Convention which met at Edinburgh in 
1549, and appropriate remedies were being 
devised. Whether these would have proved 
effectual cannot now be known. The Church, 
if not dead, was moribund ; and it may be that 
more trenchant treatment was needed than the 
orthodox surgery would have sanctioned. 

Where there is smoke there is fire ; and a 
long period of ease and prosperity had undoubt- 
edly demoralised the clergy. Their wealth, their 
numbers, their indolence, their sensuality, their 
rapacity, their childish ignorance and vanity, 
furnished abundant material for the popular 
moralist and the popular satirist. The people 
had lost faith in them ; they had lost faith in 
themselves. The energies of a vast organisation 
were paralysed by indecision and indifference as 
much as by incapacity. The life had been eaten 
out of its service ; there was no reality in its 
creed. The prayers were learned by rote ; the 
sermons were mechanical and perfunctory. The 
fiery zeal of the Eeformers gave force to their 
denunciations and a rude eloquence to their 
appeals ; and the common people, deserting the 
splendid shrines which the piety of their ances- 
tors had raised, flocked to listen to teachers who 
were in deadly earnest. The spells which had 
been potent had lost their force. The " curse " 
pronounced by the priest had once been tremen- 

200 Politics and Religion. 

dously effective ; but it had been vulgarised by 
mean and mercenary use ; and now when the 
Vicar rose on Sunday and cried, " One hath tint 
a spurtell ; there is a flail stolen beyond the 
barn ; the good-wife on the other side of the 
gate hath lost a horn-spoon ; God's curse and 
mine I give to them that knoweth of this gear, 
and restores it not ! " the people laughed in his 
face. The denunciations of the Church, like so 
much else, had become a farce, which provoked 
open ridicule. Even the rustic gossip, drinking 
his " Sunday's penny " at the ale-house door, 
would jest with the passing friar upon the pru- 
dent economy of his investment. " Will they 
not give us a letter of cursing for a plack, to last 
for a whole year, to curse all that looks over our 
dike? That keepeth our corn better than the 
sleeping boy, who will have three shillings in 
fee, a sark, and a pair of shoon in the year." 
The exactions of the Church, however, especially 
in the Consistorial Courts, ultimately became 
oppressive, and excited the keenest resentment. 
The experience of the litigants before these 
ecclesiastical tribunals supplied not a few shafts 
for Lindsay's quiver. Many of them no doubt 
had found with the unlucky " Pauper " in ' The 
Three Estates/ that while the expenses of pro- 
cess were ruinous, no redress was to be had, 
" Bot I gat never my gude gray meir again." 

Politics and Religion. 201 

According to a manuscript in the Advocates' 
Library, there were at the time of the Reforma- 
tion about four thousand six hundred men and 
women in Scotland charged with ecclesiastical 
duties. Of these, thirteen were bishops, sixty 
priors and abbots, five hundred parsons, two 
thousand vicars, eleven hundred monks, friars, 
and nuns. This was a tremendous drain upon 
the productive power of the country; but the 
property which had been diverted from secular 
uses to the support of the priesthood was, pro- 
portionately, even greater. The resources of the 
Church were immense : it has been estimated 
(though the estimate is probably much exagger- 
ated) that the clergy drew in one form or other 
one half of the annual income of the land. 
"Halfe the riches on the molde is seasit in 
their handes." The possession of such enormous 
wealth was of course attended with danger, as 
well as fertile of abuse. In the first place, it 
led to what was in effect the secularisation of 
the temporalities the great prizes of the 
Church : they became a provision for needy 
courtiers and royal bastards. The Archbishop 
of St Andrews, who fell at Flodden, was the 
natural son of James III. ; and long before the 
Reformation, the revenues of the great abbeys 
and priories were held in commendam by lay- 
men whose services to the State could not be 

202 Politics and Religion. 

otherwise rewarded. In the next place, it excited 
the cupidity of the needy nobles. Arran was 
not credited by his contemporaries with keen 
political discernment ; but when he told Sadler 
that so many great men in the kingdom were 
Papists, that " unless the sin of covetousness 
brought them to it," he saw no chance of refor- 
mation, he proved himself a true prophet ; he 
hit the nail on the head. The Reformed preach- 
ers did their part fairly well ; but if the title of 
the aristocracy to the patrimony of the Church 
of Koine had not been identified with Protestant- 
ism, it is probable that the Church of Knox 
would have been short-lived. It was of the 
English nobles that Hallam remarked in a rare 
epigram, " According to the general laws of 
human nature, they gave a readier reception to 
truths which made their estates more secure " ; 
but the irony would have been even more in- 
cisive if it had been applied to the " gaunt and 
hungry nobles of Scotland." 

Although the Church had become a dead 
weight upon the productive industry of the 
nation, the burden might have been borne with- 
out serious complaint if the clergy could have 
retained the respect of the influential laity. I 
do not attach much importance, as I have said, 
to the grosser charges in the indictment against 
the Church. Knox's legends of monastic gallan- 

Politics and Religion. 203 

tries are like the stories of Boccaccio. " Mr 
Norman Galloway was brunt," Pitscottie says, 
" because he married ane wife ; but if he had 
had ane thousand whoors, he had never been 
quarrelled." "They think na shame," one of 
the moralists in ' The Three Estates ' observes, 
" to have ane huir, and some hes three." 
There is no reason to doubt that celibacy led to 
concubinage ; but the connection, in the case of 
the secular clergy at least, was not regarded, by 
the opinion of the time, as immoral : it was a 
domestic and permanent arrangement, and only 
in a technical sense (as wanting the formal sanc- 
tion of the Church) differed from marriage. 
When we hear of the proclamation in open Par- 
liament of clerical irregularities in high places, 
we are apt to impute the disclosure to a cynical 
disregard of public opinion and public decency, 
the truth being that, until the very eve of the 
Reformation, concubinage did not in any ap- 
preciable measure offend the conscience of the 

To maintain, however, that concubinage was 
not demoralising, is to shut our eyes to the plain- 
est facts. A certain looseness and laxity of moral 
fibre was unquestionably the result of an equiv- 
ocal connection ; and it was at least indirectly 
responsible for the sloth, ignorance, and spiritual 
apathy which had come to characterise the cleri- 

204 Politics and Religion. 

cal caste. Lindsay's satire is most trenchant 
when it is directed against the indolence of the 
priesthood. " Sleuthful idilness" is an injury to 
the Commonwealth. " Qua laboures nocht he 
sail not eat," is the salutary moral which he is 
constantly enforcing. Nor was the ignorance 
of the clerical teacher less open to observation. 
"The ignorance of the times was so great, that 
even the priests did think the New Testament 
to have been composed by Martin Luther." 
Nor was this ignorance any bar to preferment. 
George Crichton, Bishop of Dunkeld, " a man 
nobly disposed and a great housekeeper," is 
reported to have thanked God that he knew 
neither the Old Testament nor the New, and 
"yet had prospered well enough in his day." 
The frivolous subtleties which engaged the atten- 
tion of the learned were perhaps even more 
symptomatic of the state of mental torpor into 
which the Church had fallen. The great Pater- 
noster controversy was, we learn, the occasion 
of fierce and prolonged debate. Should the 
Paternoster be addressed to the saints, or to 
God only ? That was the question. " In the 
University the contention ceased not ; where- 
upon the doctors did assemble to dispute and 
decide the question. In that meeting some held 
that the Paternoster was said to God formaliter, 
and to saints materialiter ; others, not liking 

Politics and Religion. 205 

this distinction, said that the Paternoster ought 
to be said to God principaliter, and to saints 
minus principaliter; others would have it ulti- 
mate et non ultimate ; others primario et secun- 
dario ; and some (wherewith the most voices 
went) that it should be said to God capiendo 
stride, and to saints capiendo large." As the 
doctors differed, the question was referred to the 
Synod, where it was diplomatically determined, 
after long debate, that the Paternoster ought to 
be said to God, "yet so that the saints ought 
also to be invoked." 

To this the doctors had come. The people 
sat in darkness, while spiritual and intellectual 
stupor settled, like densest fog, upon the Church. 
The monasteries, as nurseries of learning and 
of the arts, of statesmen and jurists, of poets 
and historians, had accomplished the object for 
which they were instituted. The end had come. 
The old order passed away. Fresh activities 
were being called into action ; new weapons 
were being forged. The monotonous lesson 
which universal experience enforces was repeat- 
ing itself once again. System after system has 
its day ; institution succeeds institution ; 

" And God fulfils Himself in many ways, 
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world." 



TvURING the year 1559 the figure of the young 
Laird of Lethington becomes brilliantly dis- 
tinct ; a flood of light is poured upon him ; we 
have thenceforth week by week, sometimes day 
by day, the letters written by himself, as well 
as constant allusions to him in the letters of his 
contemporaries. Previous to 1559 the notices, 
on the contrary, are singularly bald and curt ; 
and we seek in vain for any adequate explana- 
tion of the amazing influence which we find him 
wielding when he suddenly emerges from almost 
total obscurity. We are still, therefore (except 
for a few salient facts), in the region of conjec- 
ture, and must piece together the scanty mate- 
rial at our disposal as best we can. 

We have seen that Sir Richard was not an 
ardent Reformer, and his attitude to the contro- 
versies of the time is not unskilfully defined by 
Knox. Wishart, attended by Knox (carrying 

The Eve of the Reformation. 207 

his uncomfortable two-handed sword, we may 
presume), had been a guest at Lethington the 
night before his apprehension. " The second 
nicht he lay in Lethingtoun, the Laird whereof 
was ever civil, albeit not persuaded in religion." 
Ever civil, albeit not persuaded in religion. That 
was in 1546, when the younger Lethington was 
still a lad. It is probable, indeed, that he was 
absent from home at the time, at St Andrews 
or elsewhere. The Eeformer does not allude to 
him, as he probably would have done had he 
then made the acquaintance of one who was 
afterwards so famous, and so closely associated 
with the new order of things. In 1553 Maitland 
was married to Janet, the daughter of Menteith 
of Kerse ; and during the next year at latest 
he must have entered the public service, the 
first payment of a pension of one hundred and 
fifty pounds being then entered in the Treasurer's 
accounts. It is not until 1555, however, that 
he is introduced into Knox's narrative ; and the 
earliest allusion is very significant. Knox re- 
turned from Geneva sometime during the autumn 
of that year " in the end of the harvest " to 
find that, in the capital at least, there were many 
secret " professors " of the Reformed doctrines, 
who did not scruple to join in the worship, and 
to partake of the sacraments, of the Catholic 
Church. To bow in the house of Eimmon was 

208 The Eve of the Reformation. 

an offence which the intrepid Reformer could not 
stomach, and against which he vehemently pro- 
tested. The mass was idolatry, and it was a 
deadly sin to hold any truce with the idolater. 
" Wherewith the conscience of some being ef- 
frayed, the matter began to be agitat fra man to 
man, and so was the said John called to supper 
by the Laird of Dun, for that same purpose, 
whare was convened David Forress, Maister Ro- 
bert Lockhart, John Willock, and William Mait- 
land of Lethingtoun, younger, a man of good 
learning and of sharp wit and reasoning. The 
question was proposed, and it was answered 
by the said John, ' That it was nowise lawful 
to present himself to that idol.' Nothing was 
omitted that micht mak for the temperisar, and 
yet was every head so fully answered, and espe- 
cially ane whairunto they thocht their great 
defence stood (to wit, that Paul, at the command- 
ment of James, and of the elders of Jerusalem, 
passed to the Temple and feigned himself to pay 
his vows with the others). This, we say, and 
others, were so fully answered, that William 
Maitland concluded, saying, ' I see perfectly 
that our shifts will serve nothing before God, 
seeing that they stand us in so small stead be- 
fore man.' The answer of John Knox to the 
fact of Paul, and to the commandment of James, 
was, that Paul's fact had nothing to do with 

The Eve of the Reformation. 209 

their going to Mass ; for to pay vows was some- 
times God's commandment, and was never idol- 
atry ; but their Mass from the beginning was 
and remained odious idolatry ; therefore the 
facts were most unlike. Secondarily (said he), 
I greatly doubt whether either James's com- 
mandment or Paul's obedience proceeded from 
the Holy Ghost." The passage is extremely 
characteristic, and, in so far as it represents 
the original conflict of opinion (afterwards to 
become more pronounced) between the mode- 
rate and radical parties in the infant Church, 
extremely instructive. This was the first con- 
troversy between Knox and Maitland of which 
any record has been preserved ; it was the first 
of many in which (according to Knox) " the said 
John " was uniformly successful. One would 
have liked to hear, on this as on other occasions, 
what Lethington for his part had to say; 
whether he acknowledged, or whether he denied, 
that he had been driven from the field, and 
that the preacher was more than a match for the 
politician. These academical controversies will 
be fully described and discussed in a future 
chapter ; meantime it is enough to point out 
that the passage I have quoted admirably illus- 
trates one of the Reformer's most characteristic 
traits, his profound confidence in his own infal- 
libility. Victory remained with him ; but it was 
VOL. i. o 

210 Tlie Eve of the Reformation. 

a victory not over Lethington only, but over 
Lethington with James and Paul at his back. 
" I greatly doubt whether either James's com- 
mandment or Paul's obedience proceeded from 
the Holy Ghost." 

Knox was now fifty years old, and the great 
work of his life still lay in the future. From 
the park of Lethington one looks down upon the 
hamlet where he was born the suburb of Had- 
dington, on the further bank of the Tyne. It 
seems to me, I confess, a most strange coincidence 
that the two most remarkable men the two 
most notable figures of the age in Scotland, 
should have had, as we may say, a common 
birthplace, should have sprung, so to speak, 
from the same soil ; for the Castle of Lethington 
is barely a mile from the " Gilford Gait." More 
than twenty years had passed since Knox had 
received from a Black Friar that Black Friar 
against whom the Grey Friars " rouped as they 
had been ravens, yea, rather, they yelled and 
roared as devils in hell" his first "taste of the 
truth." Since then his adventures had rivalled 
the apostle's, "In journeyings often, in perils 
of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine 
own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in 
perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in 
perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren ; 
in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, 

The Eve of the Reformation. 211 

in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold 
and nakedness." He had gone to St Andrews 
after the Cardinal's slaughter an act which, 
like the murder of Kizzio, 1 he cordially ap- 
proved; he had been ordained to the ministry 
in the Abbey Church, not by the hands of 
the bishop, but by the call of the brethren ; 
he had been in the Castle during the siege ; 
he had been made prisoner by the French ; 
he had been a galley-slave for many months, 
and had seen far off at sea from the bench 
to which he was chained, the burnished copper 
of the cathedral roof reflect the morning sun. 
Then he was released ; but the clouds had 
closed over Scotland, and he did not venture to 
return. So he had remained abroad mainly 
with Calvin at Geneva until landing at Leith, 
in the September of 1555, he began to exhort 
secretly in the house where he lodged, the 
house of James Syme, "that notable man of 
God." It was there and then that he met Eliza- 

1 This has been denied ; but 
the evidence is conclusive. 
Thus, when speaking of the 
old Lord Ruthven, he adds, 
" Father to him that prudently 
gave counsel to tack just pun- 
ishment upon that knave Da- 
vie " ; and again, " That great 
abuser of this commonwealth, 

that pultron and vile knave 
Davie, was jnstlie punished by 

, who, all for their just act, 

and most worthy of all praise, 
are now unworthily left of their 
brethren, and suffer the bitter- 
ness of banishment and exile." 
History of the Reformation, 
i. 99, 235. 

212 The Eve of the Reformation. 

beth Adamson, of whose death he has left so 
impressive a narrative. " And she shortly there- 
after slept in the Lord Jesus, to the no small 
comfort of those who saw her blessed departing. 
This we could not omit of this worthy woman, 
who gave sa notable a confession, before that the 
great licht of God's word did universallie shine 
throughout this realm." 

It is obvious, from Knox's narrative, that as 
early as 1555, Maitland occupied a recognised 
and assured position. On that occasion he ap- 
pears to have been the spokesman of the party 
which was inclined to " temporise." That party 
had not resolved definitely to break with the 
Catholic Church, or to embark in a religious war 
of which the issue could not be foreseen, but 
which was certain, whenever fanatical passion 
was roused, to be carried to the last extremity. 
It was the party of the Renaissance rather than 
of the Reformation, of the new learning rather 
than of the New Light. It was the party to 
which the younger men mainly belonged, the 
men of wider culture and a more liberal creed. 
Of these moderate men, who in one sense, 
however, most truly represented the distinctive 
principles of the Revolution, Lethington was the 
leader. To him, more impressively than to the 
others, the dying appeal of Wedderburn might 
have been addressed, " We have been acting 

The Eve of the Reformation. 213 

our part in the theater ; you are to succeed ; see 
that you act your part faithfullie ! " 

The scene to which I have just alluded must 
be kept in mind if we desire to understand Leth- 
ington's attitude during the next four years. He 
was now in the service of Marie of Lorraine; 
three years later, on the death of Bishop Panter 
of Ross, he became her Secretary of State. He 
was at first probably employed chiefly in diplo- 
matic correspondence ; but he was sent as an 
envoy to London in February 1558, and again 
to Paris, in a similar capacity, in March 1559. 
It is probably to the latter mission that Buchanan 
refers in the ' Chameleon,' when he asserts that 
Maitland actually outwitted the Cardinal of 
Lorraine, who was then esteemed the first diplo- 
matist in Europe. But during all these years 
he seems to have taken little, if any, part in the 
domestic controversies of the time. Some of the 
polemical papers issued by the Government were 
probably drawn by him ; but his name does not 
appear. His relations with the Regent must have 
been very confidential : there is a curious entry 
in the Treasurer's accounts which points to close 
social intimacy " To the Regent 10, to play 
at the carts with the Earl of Huntley and young 
Lethingtoun ; " and Lord Wharton, writing to 
London in November 1557, expressly mentions 
that Maitland was then "great with the Dowager." 

214 The Eve of the Reformation. 

Knox was very wroth when the Queen was 
appointed Eegent. She was a Catholic ; she 
was a female ; and the author of ' The Monstrous 
Eegiment of Women ' was naturally indignant. 
" She was made Regent in the year of God 1554, 
and a crown put upon her head, as seemly a 
sight {if men had eyes) as to put a saddle 
upon the back of ane unruly cow." For Leth- 
ington, however, the large and magnanimous 
nature of Marie of Lorraine must have had a 
powerful attraction ; and the political opinions 
which she held were in harmony with his own. 1 
She appears to have been sincerely anxious to 
promote a moderate policy, to conciliate public 
opinion, to reconcile the contending factions, to 
bring about an accord. She failed as she was 
bound to fail. Between the obstinate conserva- 
tism of the Bishop of Moray, who would not put 

1 Her love of justice was 
proverbial. " Do justice," she 
wrote to the judges, "to this 
poor woman, for they have 
done her great wrong ; the small 
flies are taken in the spider's 
web, and the large ones pass 
through." National MSS. of 
Scotland, vol. iii., No. 28. " In 
her court," says Spottiswoode, 
" she kept a wonderful gravity, 
tolerating no licentiousness ; her 
maids were always busied in 
some virtuous exercise, and to 

them she was an ensample every 
way of modesty, chastity, and 
the best virtues." Spottis- 
woode, i. 320. This is the 
woman against whom Knox, 
inflated with spiritual pride, 
denounced the judgment of 
God. " Within few days after, 
yea, some say that very day, 
began her belly and loathsome 
legs to swell, and so continued 
till that God did execute His 
judgment upon her." 

The Eve of the Reformation. 215 

away his concubine " mair nor the Bishop of 
St Andrews," on the one hand, and the arid but 
passionate dogmatism of Knox and Glencairn on 
the other, it was hopeless to look for compromise. 
War was inevitable. The charges of bad faith 
that the preachers directed against the Eegent 
are now discredited. The pledges of princes, 
she is reported to have said, were not to be too 
strictly construed. " It became not subjects to 
burden their princes with promises, further than 
it pleaseth them to keep the same." Such 
speeches rest on Knox's unsupported testimony. 
The Eeformer, we have seen, was easily gulled ; 
he implicitly accepted every piece of idle gossip 
that told against the enemies of the truth ; his 
wonderfully animated and realistic narrative is 
the chronique scandaleuse of the Reformation. 
The Regent did not mean to deceive ; it was the 
position that was equivocal. She was carried 
in different directions by contending currents, 
whose violence she could not control. She did 
her best, I believe. She was anxious that the 
ecclesiastical estate should be purified so far 
she went with the Reformers ; but at the same 
time she was zealous for the ancient faith. Had 
Lethington (or such as Lethington) been able 
to retain command of the reforming forces, an 
" accord " might have been arrived at. But they 
escaped from his control. Knox's coarser and 

216 The Eve of the Reformation. 

more imperative personality stamped itself in- 
delibly upon the infant Church. The movement 
gained momentum as it proceeded. The flood 
increased in destructiveness as it descended. It 
ceased to be Eeform ; it grew to be Revolution. 
On the one side, there was the congregation of 
Jesus Christ ; on the other, the synagogue of 
Satan. The ancient temples of the faith were 
" monuments of idolatry ; " the priests who min- 
istered at their altars, " Baal's shaven sort," who 
" bare the beast's mark." The framers of the 
famous address " To the Generation of Anti- 
christ, the Pestilent Prelates and their Shavelings 
within Scotland" gave characteristic utterance 
to the feeling which was growing rapidly more 
intense : " Yea, we shall begin that same war 
which God commanded Israel to execute against 
the Canaanites ; that is, contract of peace shall 
never be made till ye desist from your open 
idolatry and cruel persecution of God's children. 
And this we signify unto you in the name of 
the eternal God, and of His Son Jesus Christ, 
whose verity we profess, and Evangel we will 
have preached, and holy sacraments rightly min- 
istrat, so long as God will assist us to gainstand 
your idolatry." 

Nor was this all. The Congregation gradually 
became the focus of political disaffection as well 
as of religious animosity. They produced autho- 

The Eve of the Reformation. 217 

rities from Holy Writ for sedition and rebellion 
as well as for murder. Crude democratic theo- 
ries were in vogue. A theocracy saturated with 
socialism was the form of government which the 
leaders of the movement openly approved. The 
Eomish priests had appropriated the patrimony 
of the people ; and the singular certification of 
the beggars " The Blynd, Cruked, Bedrelles, 
Wedowis, Orphelingis, and all uther Pure, sa 
viseit be the hand of God, as may not worke " 
might have been penned by Mirabeau or St Just. 
"We have thought good therefore, or we enter 
with you in conflict, to warn you in the name of 
the great God, by this public writing, affixed on 
the gates where ye now dwell, that ye remove 
furth of our said Hospitals, betwixt this and the 
feast of Whitsunday next, so that we, the only 
lawful proprietors thereof, may enter thereto, 
and afterward enjoy thai commodities of the 
Kirk, quhilk ye have hereunto wrongouslie 
halden fra us." The letters that the Congre- 
gation addressed to the Kegent were arrogant 
and masterful, letters that might rather, as she 
said, "have come from a prince to his subjects 
than from subjects to them that bare authority." 
It was at this time that the modern theory that 
the governor is the servant of the governed, and 
therefore liable to be censured at their pleasure, 
first took shape. Knox, indeed, accepted the 

218 The Eve of the Reformation. 

doctrine of popular rights and civil licence with a 
characteristic reservation, the anathema against 
the unpopular ruler was to be pronounced by a 
prophet of the Lord. " We cannot forbid our 
preachers to reprehend that which the Spirit of 
God, speaking in the prophets and apostles, have 
reprehended before them. Eliah did personally 
reprove Achab and Jesabel of idolatry, of avarice, 
murther, and such-like. Isaias called the magis- 
trates of Jerusalem, in his time, companions of 
thieves, princes of Sodom, bribe-takers, and mur- 
therers. Jeremie said, the bones of King Jehoi- 
akim should wither with the sun. Christ called 
Herod a fox. Paul called the High Priest a 
painted wall, and prayed to God that he would 
strike him, because, against justice, he com- 
manded him to be smitten." l It may be added 
that, among the Reformers, even before Eliza- 
beth succeeded to the English throne, the old 
enmity to England was dead or dying. Certain 
tragic accidents connected with Mary's mar- 

1 Knox resented the imputa- 
tion of sedition, but on very 
slender grounds ; and the Queen 
gave expression to the general 
feeling when she wrote that " it 
is not the advancement of the 
Word and religion which is 
sought at this time, but rather 
a pretence to overthrow or al- 
ter" the existing Government. 

Knox admits that the charge 
was generally believed. " For 
many (and our brethren of Lo- 
thian especially) began to mur- 
mur that we sought another 
thing than religion, and so 
ceased to assist us certain days 
after that we were come to 
Edinburgh." Knox, i. 419, 

The Eve of the Reformation. 219 

riage had changed the current of the national 
feeling ; and the soldiers and statesmen of France 
unexpectedly found themselves regarded with 
the jealous aversion and alarm which the Scots 
had hitherto reserved for their nearest neigh- 
bours. What between political discontent, and 
the bitterness of religious discord, conciliation 
became thenceforth a hopeless enterprise. The 
Queen was compelled, by the imperious instinct 
of self-preservation, to sanction a policy of re- 
pression, a policy for which she had naturally 
no taste, and to which she was driven against 
her better judgment. 

The mine had been carefully laid when, 
in the spring of 1559, Knox again returned to 
Scotland. To most eyes the future was dim 
and clouded ; but one man at least knew what 
he wanted. Knox had been bred in a school of 
exact logic, and he had formulated the articles 
of his revolutionary code with the scientific pre- 
cision of his master. Think of him what we 
may, the essential greatness of the great Ee- 
former cannot be disputed. The simple elemental 
forces of nature sometimes unveil themselves to 
our eyes, and the Scottish iconoclast was one of 
these forces. But Knox's intellect was construc- 
tive as well as destructive. He had no rever- 
ence, and he had no diffidence. He was willing 
to make a tabula rasa of the past ; but then, 

220 The Eve of the Reformation. 

on the other hand, a quite original theory of the 
universe a brand new scheme of doctrine and 
discipline was ready, on a day's notice, to take 
its place. The First Confession of Faith, in 
which the whole plan of the Divine government 
from the remotest eternity is explained with 
transparent lucidity, was prepared in less than 
a week. The facility with which he constructed 
a speculative proposition has never been ex- 
celled ; no timid respect for antiquity, for long 
experience or inveterate custom, weakened the 
invention of this audacious artist. One may 
say, almost without exaggeration, that John 
Knox was the Eeformation. It is extremely 
doubtful whether, at any time during his life, the 
majority of the Scottish nation was Protestant in 
more than name. But the Eeformers were a com- 
pact and resolute minority, led by a man who 
never doubted that he held a Divine commission ; 
whereas the mass of the people were indifferent 
and inert. No one cared, apparently, to offer a 
strenuous resistance to revolution. The priests 
had lost heart as they had lost faith. " The 
great men gaped after the Church estates, and 
the commoners were fleshed with the spoils of 
abbeys and religious houses." l 

"John Knox was the Reformation," a fact 

1 Lord Herries's Memoirs, p. 55. 

The Eve of the Reformation. 221 

which, as we shall find, meant much. It meant 
that the moderate reformers in either Church 
had been swept aside. It meant that the 
"monuments of idolatry" had been violently 
cast down. It meant that the Catholic tradi- 
tion had been contemptuously discarded. It 
meant, in short, that there had been a convul- 
sion of nature, the hurricane and the earth- 
quake, not the silent renovation and gentle pro- 
cesses of the spring. 

The growing exasperation of the contending 
factions increased the difficulties of Maitland's 
position. The Eegent, who had been forced, 
much against her inclination, to become a par- 
tisan, was now surrounded by French soldiers 
and Romish priests. A Protestant Secretary of 
State in such society was an anomaly, if not a 
scandal. Maitland was sincerely attached to 
the Queen, and he was naturally unwilling to 
quit her service. She was ill and in peril ; shut 
up within the walls of Leith, and exposed to all 
the miseries of a siege. We do not know much 
of the circumstances which at last forced him 
to withdraw. Knox says that he came over to 
the Lords a few days before All Hallow evin ; 
and sometime in September he had intimated 
to Sir James Croft that his departure was immi- 
nent. He had probably waited on in the hope 
that some reasonable terms of accord might be 

222 The Eve of the Reformation. 

devised ; and it was only when the annoyances 
to which he was exposed became intolerable, that 
he left. Modern historians have been rather in- 
clined to suggest that he deserted and betrayed 
the Queen. It was not in this light, however, 
that his conduct was regarded by earlier writers 
who were better acquainted with the circum- 
stances than we can be. Both Knox and Cal- 
derwood agree that Maitland was not only 
" suspected " as one that favoured the Congre- 
gation, but was actually in danger of his life. 
He had "spared not to speak his conscience," 
" to utter his mind in controversies of religion," 
when the doctors of the Sorbonne, who had been 
brought across from Paris to make an end of 
heresy (a company or two of soldiers, as matters 
then stood, would have proved a stronger argu- 
ment), failed to convince him. Maitland, as 
we know, had a sharp tongue and a ready wit ; 
and the Sorbonne doctors were so annoyed, that, 
in concert with the Bishop of Amiens, they 
took what they probably regarded as more 
effectual means to effect his conversion. "The 
Bishop it was," according to Calderwood, 1 
" that stirred up the French soldiers to kill 
William Matlane of Lethington, because his 

1 And also according to Bu- 
chanan, from whose History 

(chap, xvi.) Calderwood's ac- 
count is obviously derived. 

The Eve of the Reformation. 223 

Sorbonne doctors could not refute him with suf- 
ficient reasons in the conference with them." 
" Which, perceived by the Secretary," Knox 
adds, " he convoyed himself away in a morn- 
ing and rendered himself to Maister Kirkaldie, 
Lard of Grange," who had already joined the 

Apart, however, from the irksomeness of life 
in a beleaguered city, among unfriendly and 
hostile critics, it is easy to understand why 
Maitland, as a moderate Eeformer, should have 
been anxious to regain his liberty of action. 
The fanatical spirit which had taken possession 
of the Congregation made him uneasy. The 
leaders were losing control of their followers. 
Anarchical forces, which threatened the very 
foundations of society, had been recklessly liber- 
ated. The religious saturnalia which followed 
was alienating the prudent and frightening the 
timid. Maitland had by this time perceived, 
w r ith his intuitive and unfailing sagacity, that 

/ * 

the enterprise of the Eeformers could not be 
successfully prosecuted without the help of 
Elizabeth ; and the help of Elizabeth was not 
to be had on such terms. The destructive 
forces, if left to themselves, would leave only 
a blackened ruin behind ; it was essential, 
if any real advance was to be made if any 
true progress was to be secured that they 

224 The Eve of the Reformation. 

should be directed and controlled by some 
one who could enlist on behalf of social order 
and a religious peace the temperate wisdom of 
either nation. 

Lethington was eagerly welcomed by the Lords 
of the Congregation, of whom the Prior of St 
Andrews, the Earls of Glencairn and Argyll, and 
Kirkaldy of Grange, had been for some months 
the actual, if not the nominal, leaders. John 
Knox of course was with them ; and his sheer 
force of character and impressive power of ap- 
peal had been of the utmost service in keeping 
them together. But there was no one among 
them with a trained capacity for the conduct of 
public affairs, and with the organising faculty 
which is needed to give political coherence to 
the irregular impulses of popular enthusiasm. 
Maitland was the one man in Scotland at the 
moment who could fill the place ; and the ad- 
hesion of a young and daring, but astute and 
far-seeing diplomatist one who had already, 
moreover, been brought into close official rela- 
tions with the English Government was an 
enormous advantage. The personal fascination 
which Maitland exercised over the English 


Queen was now successfully exerted. Eliza- 
beth's scruples were overcome, and Lord Grey, 
with eight or ten thousand men-at-arms, was 
sent across the Border. 

Th e Eve of the Reformation. 225 

One of the earlier and nobler actors here 
passes from our story. Marie of Lorraine (she 
was Marie of Lorraine by birth, Marie of Longue- 
ville by marriage) had been for some time in 
broken health ; the spirit was still high and in- 
domitable, but the flesh was weak ; and early in 
1560 it became generally known that the Queen 
was dying. She lingered on for several months, 
an occasional gleam of success lighting up 
the gloom that yet gathered steadily round her 
deathbed. While the French soldiers, protected 
by nothing stronger than a " sand wall," as Nor- 
folk contemptuously termed it (" it is shame to 
lie so long at a sand wall " l ), still held the Eng- 
lish army at bay, the Eegent had bidden farewell 
to friend and foe. She died in the Castle of 
Edinburgh the victim of a slow and wasting 
malady far from her own people, far from her 
native France a lonely and defeated woman. 
She suffered for the sins of others, who left her 
in a distant land to bear the heat and burden of 
the day alone. But to the end her great quali- 
ties asserted themselves, her sweet, generous, 
and forgiving temper, her magnanimity and 
breadth of view, her silent and patient heroism. 
The end, long looked for, came at last, somewhat 
suddenly. It was a painful and pathetic scene, 

1 Norfolk, 27th April 1560. 
VOL. I. P 

226 The Eve of the Reformation. 

which stirred the hearts of stern and ruthless 
nobles, but of which Knox writes in his " merri- 
est " vein. She had called one of his long-winded 
denunciations a "pasquil," and he had never 
forgotten the offence. The tortuous intrigues 
and politic duplicities of the Minister of Right- 
eousness may be forgiven by those who hold 
that the end justifies the means ; but the sheer 
inhumanity which Knox occasionally manifested 
hardly, from any point of view, admits of pallia- 
tion. The times were rough : it was a wild 
society; yet among all its records of violence 
and crime, no page is more revolting to the 
modern student of morals than that on which 
the Historian of the Reformation deliberately, 
in cold blood, long after the event registers his 
indecent triumph. 

But I anticipate. Some of the incidents of 
the eventful year when, in Pitscottie's phrase, 
"began the uproar of religion," must be more 
particularly noticed. 



greatest glory of a building is not in 
-*- its stones nor in its gold. Its glory is 
in its Age, and in that deep sense of voiceful- 
ness, of stern watching, of mysterious sympathy, 
nay, even of approval or condemnation, which 
we feel in walls that have long been washed by 
the passing waves of humanity. It is in their 
lasting witness against men, in their quiet con- 
trast with the transitional character of all things, 
in the strength which, through the lapse of sea- 
sons and times, and the decline and birth of 
dynasties, and the changing of the face of the 
earth, and of the limits of the sea, maintains its 
sculptured shapeliness for a time insuperable, 
connects forgotten and following ages with each 
other, and half constitutes the identity, as it 
concentrates the sympathy, of nations ; it is in 
that golden stain of time that we are to look for 
the real light, and colour, and preciousness of 

228 The Revolution. 

architecture ; and it is not until a building has 
assumed this character, till it has been intrusted 
with the fame and hallowed by the deeds of 
men, till its walls have been witnesses of suffer- 
ing and its pillars rise out of the shadows of 
death, that its existence, more lasting as it is 
than that of the natural objects of the world 
around it, can be gifted with even so much as 
these possess of language and of life." 

So far Mr Euskin. 

Scotland was singularly rich in early master- 
pieces of Christian art. Thirteen cathedrals, as 
well as a vast number of churches attached to 
the monastic establishments, had been erected 
between Kirkwall and Whithorn, between lona 
and St Andrews. Scotland might be the poorest 
and rudest country in Europe, but its churches 
were as spacious, as massive, as splendidly decor- 
ated, as the temples of Italy or France ; and the 
nation was justly proud of these noble buildings. 
The medieval minster was not built in a day ; 
the solid walls had been slowly raised while 
generation after generation of pious worshippers 
passed away like the leaves ; architect had suc- 
ceeded architect each impressing his own per- 
sonality, the genuine artistic feeling of his own 
time, upon tower and column, upon arch and 
buttress. The variety, the intricacy, the subtle 
contrasts of the majestic pile, upon which, after 

The Revolution. 229 

so many years, the last carven stone had been 
laid, could not but stir such feelings as are ex- 
perienced in the presence of great natural mar- 
vels ; for here too the hand of man had ceased 
to be felt. The Cathedral of Elgin was " noble 
and beautiful, the mirror of the land and the 
fair glory of the realm " ; but the cathedrals of 
St Andrews and Aberdeen, of Glasgow and Dun- 
blane, were just as famous. In the Abbey of 
Dunfermline "three sovereign princes with all 
their retinue" could be lodged; yet Melrose, 
Paisley, and Aberbrothick were, we are told, 
second to none. The sound of the great bells 
of Kirkwall could be heard across the stormy 
firth by the dwellers on the mainland ; Chanonry 
was the northern Wells, an architectural gem 
of extraordinary purity and finish. Nor was 
their impressive beauty of design and execution 
their only title to regard. In a rude age, the 
sanctity which attached to the monastic build- 
ings served in a measure to protect them from 
violence ; and they had become in course of time 
the public museums and the public libraries, 
where the most venerable relics the historical 
records and title-deeds of the nation had been 
deposited. Many of them, besides, had been 
intimately associated with the most memorable 
events in the national history. The Scottish 
kings had been crowned at Scone ; they had 

230 The Revolution. 

been buried at Melrose and lona. Before the 
high altar of Cambuskenneth the Scottish nobles 
had sworn fealty to Bruce. There, too, the first 
Scottish Parliament had been held. The Char- 
terhouse of Perth had been founded by the 
accomplished author of 'The King's Quair;' 
Dunfermline was the shrine of the sainted Mar- 
garet. On their internal decoration, moreover, 
the wealth of priest and noble had been freely 
spent. The sacramental vestments were marvels 
of rich embroidery ; the most delicate art of the 
workers in silver and gold had been lavished 
upon the sacred vessels. Articles of priceless 
value reliquaries, albs, chasubles, copes, cibories, 
crosses, chandeliers, lamps, censers, organs, pic- 
tures, statues had been ungrudgingly devoted 
to the service of God. With much that was 
meretricious and much that was puerile, it might 
yet be said with confidence that in these august 
sanctuaries of the medieval Catholicism, the 
deepest and most imaginative expression of the 
national life was to be found. 

Knox landed at Leith on the second of May 
1559 ; and within a month of his coming, many 
of the noblest churches in Scotland had been 
utterly wrecked. His progress was marked by 
ruin and devastation; it was like the track of 
an avenging angel. The zigzag of the light- 
ning is not more destructive. From Perth to 

The Revolution. 231 

Cupar; from Cupar to Crail, St Andrews, and 
Lindores ; then by Scone, Stirling, and Linlith- 
gow to Edinburgh, the "fiery besom" which 
had been seen in the sky, and which had pre- 
saged ruin and disaster, swept across the land. 
The slighter and more delicate fabrics were cast 
down; when the time-stained, weather-beaten 
mass of lichened stone rising like a natural 
rock above the surrounding hovels successfully 
defied pick and axe, crowbar and hammer, the 
windows were smashed, the statues defaced, the 
interior gutted. It cannot be said, perhaps, 
that much was taken away, vandalism rejoices 
rather in havoc than in spoil ; and on the fires 
which they kindled with the precious wood 
whereon the pains of hell and the glories of 
paradise had been carved with untiring devotion 
and illimitable industry, manuscripts of unknown 
antiquity, missals illuminated by Flemish and 
German artists, the registers of the church, the 
records of the State, the sacred vestments, the 
holy vessels, were indiscriminately heaped. A 
blind rage and fury had taken possession of the 
destroying army; and a handful of fanatics 
on the march from Perth to Edinburgh, Spottis- 
woode says, "they passed not three hundred 
men in all" destroyed in a month the most 
precious heirlooms of a people. Among the 
churches that were wrecked or defaced while the 

232 The Revolution. 

iconoclastic fever lasted were those of St 
Andrews, Edinburgh, Dunblane, Dunkeld, Dun- 
fermline, Aberbrothick, Kelso, Kilwinning, Les- 
mahagow, Lindores, Perth, Balmerino, Cupar, 
Crossraguel, Paisley, Stirling, Cambuskenneth, St 
Ninians, and Scone. It was pitiful wastefulness, 
hardly to be justified by the plea that it was 
only a reprisal, or by that other plea urged by 
the reformers, " We, perceiving how Satan in 
his members, the antichrist of our time, cruelly 
doth rage," and resolute that no deceitful truce 
be patched up with " dumb dogges and horned 
bishops," here once and for all make any 
terms of accord, which " politic heads " might de- 
vise, now and in all time coming, impossible. 

Knox arrived at Perth on the 10th of May, 
and on the llth the devastation began. After 
a sermon by the Reformer in St John's Church 
" that thundering sermon against idolatry " a 
priest, "to declare his malapert presumption," 
opened up a glorious tabernacle that stood upon 
the high altar. Such a proceeding was, of 
course, intolerable, and certain godly men who 
had remained behind the rest had gone to 
dinner having first stoned the priests, pro- 
ceeded " to put hands to the said tabernacle, and 
to all other monuments of idolatry." This they 
did with such despatch that before the " rascal 
multitude " had dined, the business was finished. 

The Revolution. 233 

The rascal multitude finding themselves antici- 
pated at St John's, proceeded " without delibera- 
tion " to the Black and Grey Friars, and then 
to the Charterhouse, a building of " a wondrous 
cost and greatness." Thereafter "the common 
people began to seek some spoil" (which they 
found in abundance such scandalous puncheons 
of salt beef ! such sheets, blankets, and beds as 
no Earl in Scotland had better !) ; but the earnest 
professors sought only to abolish the places and 
monuments of idolatry, in which they were so 
busy and laborious that, within two days, only 
the bare walls of these great religious founda- 
tions remained. 

At Crail, at Anstruther, and at St Andrews, 
the Reformation repeated itself in exactly the 
same fashion. Knox's sermon at Crail, in which 
he invited his hearers either to die as men or to 
live victorious, was followed by an attack upon the 
church, the audience being so moved that they 
immediately pulled down all the altars and 
images in the town. At St Andrews, in like 
manner, the discourse on the purgation of the 
Temple being finished, the provost and bailies 
did thereupon agree to remove all monuments of 
idolatry, "which also they did with expedition." 
The Cathedral Church was sacked, and the monas- 
teries of the Black and Grey Friars razed to the 
ground. The "reformation" of the monks of 

234 TJie Revolution. 

Lindores took place about the same time, 
"their altars overthrown, their idols, vestments 
of idolatry, and mass-books burnt in their ain 
presence," to the great contentment of the Ee- 
former. " that my heart could be thankful 
for the super-excellent benefit of my God ! The 
long thirst of my wretched heart is satisfied in 
abundance ; for now forty days and more hath 
my God used my tongue to the manifestation of 
His glory." 

Emboldened by the support they had received, 
the Congregation, with Knox in their midst, 
began their march upon Edinburgh. They 
paused for a day at Perth, the scene of the 
earliest reformation, and spent their leisure not 
unprofitably. The Abbey and Palace of Scone, 
the most venerable monuments in Scotland, were 
within easy reach. By a curious fatality, the 
rascal multitude, in spite of the restraint of 
Knox's presence, were again in the mood for 
mischief. " So was the Abbey and Palace ap- 
pointed to saccage ; in the doing whereof they 
took no long deliberation, but committed the 
whole to the merciment of fire." At Stirling the 
churches were purged, the monasteries wrecked, 
the Abbey of Cambuskenneth cast down. The 
like was done the third day after at Linlithgow. 
At Edinburgh, where Lord Seton was provost, 
" a man without God, without honesty, and often 

The Revolution. 235 

times without reason," some preparation had 
been made for the protection and defence of the 
monasteries ; but on the approach of the Congre- 
gation Seton deserted his charge, leaving, as 
Knox remarks, " the spoil to the poor, who had," 
he continues, " made havoc of all such things 
as was moveable before our coming, and had left 
nothing but bare walls, yea, not so much as door 
or window ; wherethrough," he concludes, " we 
were the less troubled in putting order to such 

It has been maintained that the Congregation 
was not responsible for these excesses. Neither 
Knox nor the Lords, it appears, were to blame, 
the " rascal multitude," whom they were un- 
able to control, being the real culprit. Though 
it is true that the Eeformer professes on one 
occasion to be ashamed of his followers, the plea 
is not tenable, and cannot be admitted. The 
connection between a sermon by Knox and an 
act of destructive vandalism was as invariable 
as a natural law. The devastation, indeed, was 
the logical development of his policy of " Thor- 
ough." If the nests were pulled down, the 
rooks would not return. If the religious houses 
were dismantled, if the churches were dese- 
crated, if the monuments of idolatry were de- 
faced, any risk of reconciliation with " the pes- 
tilent prelates and their shavelings" would be 

236 The Revolution. 

averted. That was his policy, and it was the 
policy which long after the occurrence of the 
first violent outbreak of popular passion was 
deliberately adopted by the responsible leaders of 
the movement. The Charterhouse was sacked 
on llth May 1559 ; the Act for the demolition of 
cloisters and abbey churches was the work of the 
Convention which met at Edinburgh in May 
1561. The execution of the Act was intrusted 
to the lay Lords ; and, while neither Argyll nor 
the Prior of St Andrews can be accused of slack- 
ness, the Earl of Glencairn, by the prompt 
destruction of Paisley, Crossraguel, and Kilwin- 
ning, appears to have secured the honours of the 
day. The main incidents of the campaign of 
1561 have been very vividly described by Spot- 
tiswoode, " Thereupon ensued a pitiful vasta- 
tion of churches and church-buildings throughout 
all the parts of the realm ; for every one made 
bold to put to their hands, the meaner sort imi- 
tating the ensample of the greater and those who 
were in authority. No difference was made, but 
all the churches were either defaced or pulled 
to the ground. The holy vessels, and whatever 
else men could make gain of timber, lead, and 
bells were put to sale. The very sepulchres of 
the dead were not spared. The registers of the 
church and bibliotheques were cast into the fire. 
In a word, all was ruined ; and what had escaped 

The Revolution. 237 

in the time of the first tumult, did now under- 
go the common calamity ; which was so much 
the worse, that the violences committed at this 
time were coloured with the warrant of public 

The poverty of Protestant Scotland in sacred 
buildings " whose walls have long been washed 
by the passing waves of humanity " is sufficiently 
accounted for by these deplorable incidents. 
It has recently been urged, indeed, that not 
only are ruins, and especially Gothic ruins, 
fragrant with wallflower and mantled with 
ivy, extremely attractive (as if Knox and his 
followers in casting down churches had designed 
merely to gratify the taste for the picturesque 
which a later age might develop), but that the 
ancient churches have suffered more from the 
ignorant neglect of the seventeenth and eigh- 
teenth centuries than from the angry iconoclasm 
of the sixteenth. The argument of course is in 
one sense valid ; but in one sense only for it 
must not be forgotten that the state of feeling 
which allowed the minsters to crumble away 
without remonstrance or remorse was directly 
due to the teaching of the Keformers. The 
stones in many cases may not have been 
actually dislodged by Knox or Glencairn ; but 
the people had been taught that these were the 
synagogues of Satan in which "Baal's shaven 

238 The Revolution. 

sort " had practised their abominations ; and 
the deserted building came to be regarded not 
only with pious dislike but with superstitious 
horror. The popular fancy associated the kirk- 
yard where the "auld Papists" were buried 
with the pranks of hobgoblins and the witches' 
midnight revel : to the ploughman hurrying 
along after dark with averted eye the place 
became "uncanny"; and in course of time the 
rank growth of thistles and nettles formed a 
natural barrier which few cared to cross. Then 
came the troopers of Cromwell, as destructive 
in their grim deliberate fashion as Knox's 
passionate vandals ; the wind blew, the rain 
beat ; and now, one comely fragment, now, 
another, came down with a crash which startled 
the village. This is the history of more than 
one of the vast edifices which yet later on, when 
the lands round about were enclosed, served as 
quarries for the farmers' dikes ; but if the devout 
catholic sentiment, the profound feeling of awe 
and reverence which the house of God inspired, 
had not been wantonly disturbed, such a history 
could not have been written. Some of the 
preachers came to see that they had made an 
enormous mistake ; Knox himself confessed, the 
year before his death, that the barns and " sheep- 
cots" for they were little better in which 
public worship had been held since the demoli- 

The Revolution. 239 

tion of the abbeys, were scandalously unfit for 
such a purpose. 

To return. After the march on Edinburgh 
there was a pause. The iconoclastic passion had 
exhausted its first force; the wave had spent 
itself. The Congregation could not maintain the 
position it had taken, and was ultimately com- 
pelled to fall back, the Hamiltons upon Glasgow, 
Euthven and the others upon Stirling and Perth. 
The Regent took advantage of the respite to 
fortify Leith ; and Leith as a base of action for 
her troops, as well as a city of refuge for herself, 
was invaluable. The Protestant Lords, alarmed 
by the rapidity with which the works were 
pushed on, angrily demanded what she meant ? 
Her answer was not wanting in dignity and 
pathos. " And like as a small bird being pursued 
will provide itself some nest, so her Grace could 
do no less in case of pursuit, but provide some 
sure retreat for herself and her company." Then 
she spoke rather bitterly of their dealings with 
the English Queen, their disloyalty to their 
native sovereign. The Lords, however, were rude 
and dogged ; they were not men to be touched 
by any graces of style or felicity of appeal ; and 
apprehending that the peril was imminent, they 
again called their retainers to arms and advanced 
on the capital. But after several weeks' skir- 
mishing, having failed to make any impression 

240 The Revolution. 

upon the walls of Leith, they became dis- 
heartened, their force melted away, and in spite 
of a sermon from Knox and an earnest appeal 
from Maitland (who had now joined them), they 
determined to return to Stirling. They had 
ventured some weeks before in a solemn as- 
sembly to depose the Regent ; Knox had been 
called in ; the Old Testament had been ransacked, 
and the precedents duly considered. It appeared 
that in deposing of princes, God did not always 
use His immediate power, but sometimes used 
other means which His wisdom thought good 
and justice approved. "As by Asa He removed 
Maacha his own mother from honour and author- 
ity which before she had brooked ; by Jehu He 
destroyed Joram and the whole posterity of 
Achab ; by diverse others He had deposed from 
authority those whom before He had established 
by His own word." This daring act, this deliber- 
ate defiance of the sovereign authority, had at 
the moment been received with acclamation by 
the citizens of Edinburgh : but the citizens of 
Edinburgh were as fickle as they were fierce ; 
and on the sixth of November the discredited 
allies left the capital at midnight amid the gibes 
and jeers of the inconstant populace. " The dis- 
piteful tongues of the wicked railed upon us, call- 
ing us traitors and heretics ; every ane provoked 
other to cast stanes at us. One cried, ' Alas that 

The Revolution. 241 

I might see ! ' another ' Fye, advertise the 
French, and we shall help them now to cut the 
throats of these heretics.' So were the cogita- 
tions of many hearts revealed. For we would 
never have believed that our natural countrymen 
and women could have wished our destruction so 
unmercifully, and have so rejoiced in our adver- 
sity. God move their hearts to repentance ! " 
On this as on many other occasions, the Refor- 
mers had to confess sorrowfully that " the hearts 
of the people were against the professors." These 
manifestations of popular disfavour were, to Knox 
especially, peculiarly galling. 

At Stirling Knox resumed the interrupted dis- 
course ; the text was taken from the eightieth 
Psalm : " God of hosts, turn us again ; make 
Thy face to shine, and we shall be saved " ; and 
the sermon itself rings like martial music. By its 
stirring and piercing eloquence, its confident ap- 
peal to the Eternal, " the minds of men began 
wondrouslie to be erected " ; and at its close a 
momentous resolution was taken, momentous to 
Scotland, to England, to Europe. " In the end 
it was concluded that William Maitland should 
pass to London to expone our estate and condi- 
tion to the Queen and Council." 

Sadler was the stormy petrel of Scottish poli- 
tics, and it was of evil omen that he was again at 
Berwick. It was now November, and we have 

VOL. I. Q 

242 The Revolution. 

seen (from the Eegent's letter) that during the 
autumn months informal communications had 
passed between the insurgent Lords and the 
English Court. Cecil was eager to take advan- 
tage of the opening; but Elizabeth hesitated. 
The deposition of sovereigns by their subjects 
was not at all to her taste. It might grow dan- 
gerous if it became a habit, and the infection 
spread. The moderate party in Scotland had 
been overborne by the fanatical Calvinistic fac- 
tion ; and, constitutionally cautious, she detested 
fanaticism nearly as much as she detested Cal- 
vinism. The Revolution so far had been the 
handiwork of Knox ; and Knox she hated. The 
Congregation had shown no capacity for political 
organisation ; inflated with spiritual pride, they 
had been arrogantly confident in prosperity, and 
helplessly incapable in defeat. Were these the 
allies on whose firmness and constancy she could 
rely, these " men of butter," as Alva called 
the Eeformers? But Cecil was urgent, and 
Elizabeth, " greater than man, less than wo- 
man," caring for her safety more than for her 
scruples, never allowed her feminine antipathies 
to override her masculine common-sense. Sad- 
ler was the confidant of the English Council ; 
and, with anxious instructions to deal warily, he 
was despatched to Berwick to reconnoitre and 

The Revolution. 243 

One initial difficulty presented itself With 
whom was he to treat? What envoy from an 
insurgent faction would be welcomed at Green- 
wich or Westminster ? Knox was the real leader : 
the Lords not being ready writers, he seems at 
first to have conducted, under the nom de plume 
of Sinclair (his mother's name), nearly the whole 
correspondence, "in twenty-four hours I have 
not four or five to natural rest, and ease of this 
wicked carcass " ; but Knox was out of the ques- 
tion. One sometimes wishes that Elizabeth and 
Knox had met ; the interview, it cannot be 
doubted, would have formed a lively, possibly a 
stormy, episode in the History of the Eeformation. 
The mere sound of his name drove Elizabeth 
wild. The "Monstrous Regiment of Women" 
was an unpardonable affront, which she had not 
forgotten, and which she never forgave. He 
had made a clumsy effort to apologise ; but an 
apology from Knox was very like a sound rating 
from another man ; and the maladroit letter 
which he wrote judiciously suppressed by Cecil 
would only have increased her choler. A 
prophet charged to announce the judgment of 
the Lord occupies a difficult position when he 
has to own that he has made a mistake : and it 
was hardly to be expected that a retreat in such 
circumstances should have been graciously or 
gracefully executed. When he told Cecil that, 

244 Tlie Revolution. 

" being overcome with iniquity" " a traitor to 
God, and worthy of hell " " ye have followed 
the world in the way of perdition, and shall 
taste of the same cup that politic heads have 
drunken before you," he did not mean to be 
rude ; and Cecil, who could estimate prophetical 
warnings at their true value, probably did not 
mind. But when he was required to signify to his 
haughty and passionate mistress that, although 
" contrar to nature and without her deserving " 
(seeing that she had " declined from Jesus Christ 
in the day of His battle "), she had been raised 
to the throne of England, yet if she would 
confess that " the extraordinary dispensation of 
God's great mercy had made that lawful to her 
which both nature and God's law did deny unto 
all women," her authority would be provision- 
ally admitted, the prudent Minister felt that it 
was time to interpose. Sadler was warned to 
keep the truculent prophet well out of sight. 
"Of all others, Knox's name, if it be not Good- 
man's, is most odious here ; and therefore I wish 
no mention of him hither;" 1 and Cecil's own 
impatience with these ill - timed admonitions 

1 This was written on the j good here." A more adroit 

envoy was obviously needed ; 

31st October ; on the 3d of No- 
vember he returns to the sub- 
ject, "Surely I like not Knox's 
audacity. His writings do no 

and at this very time Leth- 
ington's services became avail- 

The Revolution. 245 

found expression in a characteristic reply : 
" Maister Knox, Maister Knox ! Non est mas- 
culus neque foemina, omnes enim, ut ait Paulus, 
unum sumus in Christo Jesu. Beneclictus vir 
qui confidit in Domino ; et erit Dominus fiducia 

The adhesion of Maitland changed the whole 
aspect of affairs. It gave ,the conduct of the 
revolutionary movement to a skilled and trained 
diplomatist; but it did more. So long as he 
remained with the Regent, it might be taken as 
an assurance that she had not broken with, or 
been deserted by, the moderate reforming party. 
When the Queen's Secretary, on the other hand, 
went over to the rebels, it was a significant 
declaration that French soldiers and foreign 
ecclesiastics had rendered a policy of conciliation 
hopeless. Maitland had no sympathy with 
either extreme ; but he was forced to make his 
choice. Practical statesmen cannot be unduly 
finical. They must not cling with fastidious 
tenacity to what they hold to be the best. In 
this imperfect world it is seldom the best way 
that succeeds only the second best ; and the 
second best must be accepted as the line on 
which social and political movement of any kind 
is possible. Maitland, besides, was already, as 
I have said, a familiar figure at the English 
Court. He had acquired, or was to acquire, a 

24G TJie Revolution. 

personal ascendancy over Elizabeth which even 
Cecil never possessed. Elizabeth bore with Cecil 
because she could not help herself; but the 
puritanic quality of his mind, and the puritanic 
flavour of his speech, were always distasteful to 
her, and she sneered irreverently at her faithful 
Secretary and " his brothers in Christ." She 
was a bit of a pagan, and so was Maitland ; and 
the gallant address and gay wisdom of " the 
flower of the wits of Scotland " were relished by 
her to the last. Knox admits that in his mission 
the Secretary " travailed with no less wisdom 
and faithfulness than happy success " ; and the 
Convention of Berwick an English fleet in the 
Firth of Forth under Winter, an English army 
before Leith under Lord Grey was the first 
fruits of his diplomacy. 

Enough has been written about the siege of 
Leith and the Treaty of Edinburgh; yet it is 
interesting to watch, from such a coign of vantage 
as Sadler occupied during these anxious months, 
the game that was being played ; and I may 
briefly note some of the more striking incidents 
recorded day by day in the voluminous cor- 
respondence that has been preserved. Berwick 
was the point on which the roads from New- 
castle, Carlisle, and Edinburgh converged ; and 
though lying close to the turbulent Border coun- 
try, its strong English garrison, as well as the 

The Revolution. 247 

easy communication it enjoyed both, by land and 
sea, alike with England and Scotland, made it a 
place of the first importance, especially when 
war was imminent, or intrigue rife. The dull 
and peaceful life which Sadler and Norfolk 
appear to have led while the negotiations with 
Lethington were in progress contrasts curiously 
with the organised anarchy which prevailed, and 
the constant strife which was being waged, out- 
side the walls. " It is more than thirty years 
ago," Sadler wrote to Cecil, "since I had some 
understanding of this frontier, and yet did I 
never know it in such disorder; for now the 
officer spoileth the thief, and the thief robbeth 
the true man, and the true men take assurance 
of the thieves that they shall not rob them, and 
give them yearly rent and tribute for the same." 
There was much complaint of the delay and 
negligence of the "posts"; yet letters either 
from the Council at London or from the Lords 
at Stirling appear to have arrived daily. The 
fortress of Berwick was built above the Tweed, 
where the salt water mingles with the fresh, and 
commanded a wide sweep of land and sea. 
"This morning is past by here a great ship in 
which it is supposed that the Frenchman is." 
" I would to God ye had been more forward in 
time. There is passed by here eleven sails in 
sight, which we take to be French." " Hourly 


The Revolution. 

we look for the arrival of the ships." " This 
day there is passed by here twenty-seven or 
twenty-eight sail of ships ; we are in good hope 
that it is the ordnance, which will much avail." 
" Because the way and passage through Lothian 
is very difficile, we have sent the Laird of Brun- 
stone by Carlisle." "The treasure could not be 
carried but in carts, for which the country serveth 
not. This was in pence, two pence, and old 
Testones. For God's sake send it in gold or 
new silver." l These slight homely touches 
serve to vitalise the scene ; we can see the 
anxious envoys of Elizabeth in the chilly Border 
town (" Our winds here being rather winter 
winds than summer winds," Norfolk writes as 
late as 15th May) watching the white sails of 
the craft that crept along the coast, or the gleam 
of the Border spears. 

The spring of 1560 must have been unusually 
late; but 1559 had also been a backward year. 
On the 8th September Balnaves arrived at Ber- 
wick, when it transpired that the Eeformers 
had been hindered by the lateness of the har- 
vest, as the destruction of the standing corn, 
which could not have been avoided in the event 
of a rising, would have turned the people against 
them. Alexander Whitelaw followed on the 

1 Letters from Sadler and 
Norfolk, 27th Sept., 19th Dec. 

1559, 7th Jan., 20th Jan., 18th 
April, 27th April 1560. 

The Revolution. 249 

29th with the information that the Congregation 
were unable to meet until 15th October, "they 
could appoint no shorter day, as their harvest 
by reason of foul weather is far behind, and not 
a quarter done." 

The interest of the winter and spring centred 
in Maitland. His mission to England was re- 
garded by Sadler and Norfolk, as well as by 
Randolph and Cecil, as of supreme importance. 
The Englishmen at Berwick had had, it must be 
confessed, a difficult part to play. While solemn- 
ly assuring the Regent that Elizabeth was her 
very good friend, they were secretly to encourage 
and succour the rebels. Arran was smuggled 
across the Border with a forged passport pre- 
pared by Cecil, in which he was described as 
"M. de Beaufort, a gentleman of our good 
brother the French King's, sent into Scotland 
to our good sister the Queen Dowager." The 
Congregation were told that they should " devise 
such ways whereby they might be helped by us, 
and yet we to remain in peace as we do " ; 
Sadler was to lend them money secretly, taking 
the bonds in his own name, " so that the Queen 
should not be a party thereto " ; the money w r as 
to be in French crowns, "for if it be in any 
English coin, it will be the sooner suspected from 
whom they have it." Despite of every precau- 
tion the perfidy got wind, and Cecil had to warn 

250 The Revolution. 

his " brothers in Christ " to be more circumspect, 
" of all others," he adds contemptuously, " of 
all others, these Scots be the openest men that 
be." But the harder the lying, the more unctuous 
the language. " And so I take my leave, pray- 
ing Almighty God to make you the instrument 
of His true honour, against Anti-Christ, the per- 
petual enemy of His dear Son, our Saviour 
Christ." No writer of legitimate comedy could 
have ventured upon so broad or farcical a 
contrast ; and yet, as I have said before, the 
men were perfectly sincere. It is difficult to 
define with precision the moral and mental 
characteristics of the duplicity which deceives 
itself; but whatever term we may select to 
designate their double-dealing, we cannot justly, 
I think, call it hypocrisy. 

It became obvious, however, before the winter 
was far advanced, that the show of neutrality 
could not be preserved much longer, and that 
a decisive step one way or other would require 
to be taken. So Lethington's movements were 
closely scanned, and his coming eagerly awaited. 
There were a number of false alarms. Eandolph, 
writing on 9th November from Stirling, informed 
Sadler that Maitland had received his despatch, 
and would be at Berwick within eight days at 
furthest. But a week passed and he did not 
arrive. Sadler began to fancy that he had gone 

The Revolution. 251 

by the "West Marches, the Carlisle route, where 
the Maxwells were strong, being then deemed 
the safest. A few days later, however, he wrote 
to Cecil that Lethington was certainly coming, 
for whose secret conveyance to Court, by the 
coast road, he would provide what was necessary. 
" Things must rest awhile until you see what he 
bringeth. The Lords wait for his answer." On 
the 21st the envoy was still en route. " Leth- 
ington and Kandolph will be here as soon as 
wind and weather will serve. Nothing is known 
till Lethington come, whom we look for hourly. 
We shall send Captain Randall back in the boat 
that brings him." On the 22d there is " con- 
tinual expectation of Lethington's arrival " ; and 
on the 23d " Lethington is still hourly looked 
for ; he is supposed to be detained by the 
Regent's death, of which the brute continueth. 
The wind hath served so well, he should other- 
wise have been here." Then in a letter from 
Randolph the delay was explained, they had 
been detained by Arran's sickness, who for four 
days was " sore troubled " (whether it had 
been bodily or mental "trouble" does not ap- 
pear ; the taint of insanity may have begun to 
show itself), and on the 24th they landed at Holy 
Island. " On Thursday last, Lethington and 
Randolph arrived at Holy Island, and when the 
night came we received them secretly into the 

252 The Revolution. 

Castle here." Maitland, who frankly admitted 
to Sadler that without an English army the 
contest was hopeless, left for London before day- 
break of the twenty-fifth. 

The negotiations proceeded rapidly ; but Mait- 
land's instructions were not sufficiently definite, 
and Melville went back to Scotland to ascertain 
the resolution of the Lords on certain points, 
taking with him a letter from Maitland to Sad- 
ler, the seal of which a serpent entwined round 
a cross placed upon a skull, between the letters 
E. P. is still unbroken. The Council, how- 
ever, did not wait for Melville's return; Win- 
ter's ships were in readiness, and on the twenty- 
third of December the fleet sailed. Cecil was 
unusually elated. " Our ships be on the seas, 
God speed them ! God give you both good 
night, for I am almost asleep (12 P.M.)" But 
the wind was contrary. So late as the sixth of 
January, there had been no tidings of them at 
Berwick, and the rumour ran that they had 
been driven back. " The messenger from the 
Lords with the double of Lethington's articles 
has arrived. He was eight days on the sea, and 
could not land till yesternight, which he did at 
Holy Island with much difficulty and danger. 
No news of Mr Winter, which would be great 
comfort." Winter in fact did not reach the 
Forth till the afternoon of the twenty-second, 

The Revolution. 253 

when he had been four weeks at sea, even for 
that age an unusually protracted voyage. 

Lethington remained in London till the 
middle of February, in constant communica- 
tion with Cecil, whose confidence he entirely 
gained. He had engaged to meet the English 
and Scottish Commissioners at Berwick, and 
he brought with him a cordial letter from 
Elizabeth's Secretary. " Good Mr Sadler, you 
have known this bearer, the Laird of Lethington, 
but I here have had great profit of him, finding 
him to be both wise, honest, and constant. I 
pray you let him receive your friendly entertain- 
ment, with some addition for my sake. God 
send us a good end of your ministerial labours. 
Time serveth all turns, and loss of time loseth 
all good things." 1 Lethington was the first to 
arrive. " Yesternight," Norfolk wrote on the 
morning of the 24th, " arrived here the Laird of 
Lethington, and at the same instant came also 
the Master of Maxwell from Carlisle ; but the 
rest of the Lords which come by sea are not yet 
arrived, by reason that the winds are contrary." 

1 Lethington had written to 
Sadler from London on llth 
January thanking him for his 
services. " Ye have enterit my 
haill nation in obligation to 
you ; and I hope it shall prove 
at length ye have also weill de- 

servit of your awin country. I 
look for the Queen's final answer 
and my despatch to-morrow ; 
quilk obtenin I will make speed 
towards you. Cecil is writing. 
I am in good hope." 

254 The Revolution. 

The letter, however, was not sealed when the 
Scottish deputies appeared. " One of the Queen's 
Majesty's ships named The Falcon is arrived 
here in the haven-mouth with the Lord James 
and the rest of the Lords of Scotland, for whom 
we have presently sent out boats to bring them 
to land." The Convention of Berwick was duly 
signed and sealed, among the rest by " William 
Maytlande of Lethingtoun, younger." Maitland 
immediately returned to London, where he re- 
mained for some weeks. " Because they require 
certain promises under the great seal, they have 
determined to send the Lord of Lydington to 
be a humble suitor to her Grace. Surely we find 
them grave and discreet men, unwilling to prom- 
ise more than they can perform ; " and ready to 
acknowledge that without English aid they were 
unable to resist the French. About that there 
could now be no doubt. It abundantly appears 
from the report of the conferences that in 
attempting to subvert the established govern- 
ment and the established religion, the Congrega- 
tion had undertaken a task beyond its strength. 
Even against a considerable English army, the 
handful of French made a gallant stand. " The 
Scots can scale no walls ; " but on this occasion 
the taunt might have been directed with equal 
justice against their allies. The ill-success was 
attributed to the incapacity of Lord Grey, who, 

The Revolution. 255 

it was insinuated, might lead a troop of horse, 
but was not fit for so great a command. Nor- 
folk, who was very sore at the miscarriage, and 
who had expressed himself strongly against 
the general's mistaken tactics in the conduct 
of the siege, was forced to offer a doubtful 
apology to his colleague: "Grey is nowise to 
blame, except it be for that he has not his wits, 
and memory faileth him." 

The tenacity with which the French clung to 
their rotten walls was quite unlocked for. 
Elizabeth had expected a holiday promenade, an 
easy " walk over " ; and it seemed now that the 
enterprise might prove costly in more senses 
than one. Conscientious were reinforced by par- 
simonious scruples. She began to repent. She 
had listened to evil counsels. Cecil's advice had 
led her astray. Cecil, for his part, was not anxi- 
ous to prolong a war which was hardly justified 
by the usages of nations, and which, if prolonged, 
might involve larger issues than he cared to 
raise. If the French would leave the Scots to 
settle their own affairs, the English army would 
be withdrawn. The extreme men, the fanatical 
visionaries who had dreams of a New Republic, 
a Civitas Dei, a theocracy in Church and State, 
inveighed bitterly against the terms of the 
treaty ; but they were forced to give way. 
Cecil himself came down to Edinburgh, where, 

256 TJie Revolution. 

with Maitland's assistance, he succeeded in 
bringing the various factions to an accord. 

The French Commissioners were reasonable 
enough ; they even agreed to an article affecting 
Mary's title to the English succession, which was 
clearly outside their commission, and which was 
subsequently the occasion of endless controversy ; 
the impracticable preachers were the difficulty. 
No official record of the claims they urged has 
been preserved ; but it is plain that Cecil's pati- 
ence was severely tried by their unreasonable- 
ness. At one time he was almost tempted to 
leave them to fight it out among themselves, 
"we have to deal with so crooked and subtle a 
nation," he exclaimed impatiently, unconsciously 
repeating the words which Sadler had used twenty 
years before. Some of the Lords, indeed, "to 
the hazard of their lives and land," would listen 
to reason ; but the preachers and the fanatical 
leaders of the Congregation were stubborn as 
mules. " I find the Lord of Lethington disposed 
to work the minds of the nobility to anything 
that your Majesty shall determine. He is of 
most credit here for his wit " (or policy, as we 
would say), " and almost sustaineth the whole 
burden of government." " We find a great 
commodity in the Lord James and the Lord 
Lethington, who be well content to follow 
our opinions in everything. Surely the Lord 

The Revolution. 257 

James is a gentleman of great worthiness." Two 
days later the prospect had not brightened. 
" Our travail, and especially mine, is more with 
the Lords of Scotland than with the French. I 
find some so deeply persuaded in the matter of 
religion, as nothing can persuade them that may 
appear to hinder it. My Lord of Lethington, 
whose capacity and credit is worth six others, 
helpeth much in this, or else surely I see folly 
would hazard the whole." * 

Maitland's moderation was all the more wel- 
come, because he had at first been inclined to 
hold that a premature and inconclusive peace 
would be injurious. He had made Lady Cecil's 
acquaintance when in London, and a close friend- 
ship had sprung up between them. In more 
than one letter to her the distrust of " communi- 
cations " is forcibly accentuated. But he had 
come to see that any violent disturbance of the 
existing polity would be of doubtful advantage. 
The Dowager's discernment had not been at fault 
when she said that though the Congregation at 
first did rise for matters of religion, they after- 
wards shot at another mark ; and Balnaves can- 
didly admitted to Sadler that the mark they shot 
at was, as he phrased it, "an alteration of the 
state and authority." Cecil, who in the privacy 

1 Cecil, 19th, 23d, and 25th June 1560. 
VOL. I. R 

258 TJie Revolution. 

of his study was ready to argue that the Crown 
of England had a just and unfeigned title to the 
superiority of Scotland, and that the French 
Queen, as Queen of Scots, owed homage to the 
Queen of England, was much too discreet to pro- 
claim such a doctrine from the housetops. The 
line that he took in public was to suggest that if 
Mary declined to accept the reforms which were 
proposed by the nobility, the government should 
be intrusted to the next heirs ; and that if she 
should refuse to recognise the Hamiltons, then 
but I must use his own words " it is appar- 
ent that Almighty God is pleased to transfer 
from her the rule of the kingdom for the weal of 
it," a rapid and daring feat of logic. But if it 
came to be a conflict between the rival houses, there 
could be little doubt Maitland must have felt 
that the great majority of the people, the tempo- 
rary irritation against France having subsided, 
would prefer a Stuart to a Hamilton, the historic 
family to the family of an upstart. If Elizabeth, 
indeed, could have been persuaded to accept 
Arran, an alliance which placed a Scottish noble 
upon the English throne might have proved an 
acceptable solution of the puzzle. But Maitland 
knew that Arran was a violent half-witted lad 
in whom the hereditary incapacity had developed 
into specific mental disease ; and he knew, more- 
over, that the shrewd Elizabeth rated him at his 

The Revolution. 259 

true value. Such a marriage would certainly 
never take place ; and even as a marriage de 
convenance, was hardly perhaps to be desired. 
Then there was the Prior of St Andrews Mary's 
brother who was supposed to aspire to the 
Crown, and whose name at least had been includ- 
ed in the list of possible claimants. Of the Lord 
James we shall hear much hereafter ; here it is 
enough to say that Margaret Erskine (who was 
carried off by James the Fifth on the very morn- 
ing of her marriage with Douglas of Lochleven 
so the story ran) was alleged by some to be the 
King's lawful wife. Maitland might possibly have 
preferred the Lord James ; but, upon the whole, 
he appears to have arrived at the conclusion that 
a provisional government in Mary's name was in 
the meantime the more prudent alternative, and 
that, till public opinion was more matured, and 
the public mind better informed, any fundamen- 
tal alteration of the " state and authority " should 
be delayed. Maitland was not an idealist ; for 
him the visionary Republic had no attractions ; 
but in the present mood of the populace it was 
extremely probable that some grotesque scheme 
of government might be adopted. It was better, 
therefore, to wait ; and another consideration 
may have had its weight. The Queen of France 
could never be Queen of Scots ; she might keep 
the name, but the power would remain with the 

260 The Revolution. 

Scottish executive council : on the other hand, 
Francis was feeble and ailing ; and by-and-by 
Mary might be able a free woman, no longer 
entangled by foreign ties to return to her native 

The faction which had been eager for political 
as well as religious change had, however, little 
reason to complain. The French Commissioners, 
indeed, would not meddle with "religion," 
dropping it like a hot potato, which was sure to 
burn whoever touched it ; but they consented to 
the meeting of a Parliament in which the needful 
reforms might be deliberately considered. Of 
this Parliament the advanced party gained, as 
might indeed have been expected, complete con- 
trol. The legality of its composition was open 
to exception (the whole of the lesser gentry of 
Fife and the Lothians attached to the Congrega- 
tion were present in a compact body, an entire 
innovation undoubtedly upon constitutional prac- 
tice), and the Conservative party refrained from 
any act of participation which could afterwards 
be construed as an admission that it had been 
lawfully summoned or was lawfully constituted. 
The Earl of Athol, Lord Somerville, and Lord 
Borthwick declared that they would believe as 
their fathers had believed before them ; but, with 
no formal protest, and with hardly a reclaiming 
voice, the ancient Church was abolished. 

The Revolution. 261 

The Parliament was opened by Maitland, who 
took the place which Huntly, conveniently de- 
tained at home by "an infirmity in his leg," 
should have occupied. The address of the " har- 
rangue-maker," as the Scots called the Speaker 
of their Parliament, was modest and restrained. 
" Silence being commanded, the Lord of Liding- 
ton began his oration. He excused his insuffi- 
ciency to occupy that place. He made a brief 
discourse of things past, and of what necessity 
men were forced to for the defence of their 
country, what remedy and support it pleased 
God to send them in the time of their necessity, 
how much they were bound heartily to acknow- 
ledge it and to requite it. He took away the 
persuasion that was in many men's minds who 
held back, and who wrongly supposed that other 
things were meant than those that were at- 
tempted. He advised the Estates to lay all 
local affections aside, and to lend themselves 
wholly to the true service of God and of their 
country. He urged them to remember in what 
state Scotland had been of long time for lack of 
government and exercise of justice. He exhorted 
them to mutual amity and hearty friendship, 
and to live with one another as members of one 
body. He prayed God long to maintain this 
peace and amity between sovereign princes, and 
especially betwixt the realms of England and 

262 The Revolution. 

Scotland in the fear of God ; and so ended." 
The purpose of the speech was obvious : it was a 
studiously moderate appeal to the moderate men 
in either camp ; an appeal to the men of order 
as against the men of anarchy ; an appeal to the 
men of common-sense as against the men of 
dreams and visions. Whether the proceedings 
of the Parliament were in accord with Maitland's 
real sentiments, we are not expressly informed. 
He was well aware that a radical reconstruction of 
the ecclesiastical polity would be demanded, and 
so far as existing institutions were indefensible, 
he was anxious that they should be radically 
reformed. Beyond this he was not prepared to 
go. A theocracy headed by Knox was just as 
distasteful to him as a theocracy headed by 
Beaton or Hamilton. It has sometimes oc- 
curred to me that the expedient, by which the 
preachers were diverted from the preparation of 
a scheme of civil and ecclesiastical polity until 
Parliament had been dissolved, was devised by 
Maitland. For Christianity, as a system of doc- 
trine, Lethington, it is plain, cared not at all. 
He was not an unbeliever. In Scotland, in the 
sixteenth century, the man who had ventured to 
suggest, even tentatively, that God was a " bogle 
of the nursery," would have been stoned to death. 
But Maitland, who understood Knox's foibles, was 
well aware that the preparation of a Confession of 

The Revolution. 263 

Faith, of a compendious manual of doctrinal theo- 
logy, of a series of speculative propositions on the 
relations between God and man, was a temptation 
which the Reformers could not resist. It was a 
duty which, on the slightest provocation, they 
would " gladly undertake." There were no end 
of ticklish practical questions requiring the most 
delicate handling ; if, while these were in course 
of solution, the preachers could be induced to 
enter the thorny theological labyrinth, might it 
not be well ? Might it not be attended with 
advantage to all concerned ? That Maitland 
attached no particular sanctity to the articles of 
belief which were then formulated is clear enough ; 
he was ready to throw them overboard without 
even a pretence of reluctance : if Elizabeth, he 
told Cecil, would only specify those that she 
disliked (for a Calvinistic confession stank in her 
nostrils), he would have them recast without 
delay. Knox's Confession is a singular docu- 
ment : weak and disingenuous when it attempts 
to define the grounds on which an authoritative 
Protestant creed can be constructed, " the 
Notes by which the true Church is discerned 
from the false," weak, that is to say, on the 
logical and argumentative side, it rises into that 
impressive eloquence, that intense emotional 
fervour and force of spiritual expression, of which 
Knox was a master, when it treats of the assur- 

264 The Revolution. 

ance of faith, of the immortality of the soul, of 
the resurrection of the body. "In the general 
judgment there shall be given to every man and 
woman resurrection of the body. For the sea 
shall give up her dead, the earth these that be 
therein enclosed ; yea, the Eternal, our God, shall 
stretch out His hand on the dust, and the dead 
shall arise incorruptible, and that in the sub- 
stance of the self-same flesh that every man now 
beareth, to receive, according to their works, 
glory or punishment. For such as now delight 
in vanity, cruelty, filthiness, superstition, or 
idolatry, shall be adjudged to the fire unquench- 
able, in which they shall be tormented for ever, 
as well in their own bodies as in their souls, 
which now they give to serve the devil in all 
abomination. But such as continue in welldoing 
to the end, boldly professing the Lord Jesus, 
we constantly believe that they shall receive 
glory, honour, and immortality, to reign for 
ever in life everlasting with Christ Jesus, to 
whose glorified body all his elect shall be made 
like, when he shall appear again in judgment, 
and shall render up the kingdom to God his 
Father, who then shall be, and ever shall remain, 
in all things, God blessed for ever." This is the 
poetry of theology : its science may be con- 
temptible and incredible ; but the broad moral 
truth that death is the wages of sin has never 

The Revolution. 265 

been more forcibly expressed or intensely real- 
ised. Upon the whole, Maitland appears to have 
done his best, where civil rights and civil inter- 
ests were involved, to restrain the impetuous 
fanaticism of the Assembly. He did not always 
succeed ; it is difficult to believe, for instance, 
that he approved of the Act which made the 
celebration of the most solemn and indispensable 
rite of the Catholic Church punishable with death. 
A statute which provided that no persons should 
say mass, or hear mass, or be present thereat, 
under the pain of confiscation of their goods and 
punishment of their bodies for the first fact, 
banishment out of the realm for the second fact, 
and death for the third fact, that was a statute 
which Lethington certainly did not draw. It 
was coined in another mint, it bears the un- 
mistakable impress of another hand. It was the 
work of the man who cast out " the monuments 
of idolatry," and committed the abbeys to " the 
merciment of the fire." 

Even at this early period the friction between 
Knox and Maitland, between the inspired pro- 
phet of the Lord and the tolerant scholar of 
the renaissance, had declared itself. Maitland's 
irony had the same effect on Knox that the red 
flag of a matador has on a bull. It was so deft, 
so keen, so incisive, that it touched him before 
he was aware. He manifests a quite unusual air 

266 The Revolution. 

of helplessness while this agile foe dances round 
him, pricking him before and behind, on this 
side and on that. He devotes a copious and 
entirely original comminatory service to Mait- 
land ; the mocker (he is prophetically assured) 
will suffer for his " mockage," here and here- 
after, in this world and in the next. I have 
said that the Reformed preachers were extraor- 
dinarily sensitive, resenting with more than 
papal authoritativeness the most innocent bad- 
inage directed against themselves or their office. 
But Maitland's shafts went home. He was 
not a jester only; the light play of his wit 
masked serious conviction and deliberate policy. 
Though the prophet who can interpret the ob- 
scure oracles of the Most High is not as a rule 
oppressed with humility, it cannot be said that 
Knox was vainer than his brethren. It was no 
doubt, however, rather mortifying to learn that 
the Secretary of State, instead of being im- 
pressed by the special and vehement applica- 
tion of the prophet Haggeus, had shrugged his 
shoulders, and treated the discourse with un- 
disguised and unbecoming levity, " We mon 
now forget ourselves, and bear the barrow to 
build the houses of God " ; or to have been told 
to his face that the Book of Discipline, the 
scheme of Church government which had been 
so anxiously prepared, was a " devout imagina- 

The Revolution. 


tion." It is clear that these speeches stung 
Knox to the quick ; and the reason is plain. Had 
they come from another man, they would have 
meant little ; coming from a keen and liberal 
thinker like Maitland, they were significant of 
much. They were the first notes of adverse 
criticism, the earliest intimation that the severe 
ecclesiastical regimen which the Eeformers in- 
tended to prescribe would not be accepted with- 
out remonstrance, and that the affirmation of 
their claim to bind and to loose on earth and in 
heaven, as the Pope of Eome before them had 
bound and loosed, would not be readily granted. 
The Papal jurisdiction had been abolished be- 
cause its spiritual pretensions had become in- 
tolerable ; it is amusing, if rather saddening, to 
reflect that the first business of the leaders of 
the infant society was to construct an elaborate 
form of excommunication. 1 

1 These are the words of ex- 
communication, After the of- 
fender is cut off, secluded, and 
excommunicated from the body 
of Christ and the society of the 
church, " And this his sin, by 
virtue of our ministry we bind, 
and pronounce the same to be 
bound in heaven and earth. 
We further give over into the 
hands and ppwer of the devil 
the said A B to the destruction 
of his flesh ; straitly charging 

all that profess the Lord Jesus, 
to repute and to hold him ac- 
cursed, and unworthy of the 
familiar society of Christians ; 
declaring unto all men that 
such as hereafter, before his 
repentance, shall haunt or fam- 
iliarly accompany him are par- 
takers of his impiety, and 
subject to the like condem- 
nation." A tolerably compre- 
hensive " cursing " for a Church 
six months old. 

268 The Revolution. 

The provisional settlement which had been 
arrived at, the interim modus vivendi in politics 
and religion, could not possibly have been per- 
manent. What the future had in store for 
Scotland, supposing that the French king had 
lived, we can only conjecture. But all was 
changed in a day by the death of the feeble 
Francis. The Keformers made " merry " over 
the sufferings of Mary Stuart's husband, as they 
had made " merry " over the sufferings of Mary 
Stuart's mother. " Lo ! the potent hand of God 
from above sends unto us a wonderful and most 
joyful deliverance ; for unhappy Francis, husband 
to our sovereign, suddenly perisheth of a rotten 
ear that deaf ear that never would hear the 
truth of God." The exultation was premature ; 
the merriment was short-lived. The death of 
Francis restored the daughter of James the 
Fifth to her own people ; and for the next ten 
years the history of Scotland is the history of 
Mary Stuart. 



rPHE legal status of Elizabeth Tudor was a 
puzzling question which the astutest lawyer 
would have failed to settle to his own satis- 
faction. Was she the lawful daughter of Henry 
VIIL, and therefore in right to the English 
Crown ? or was she a bastard without any 
rights whatever? Her wilful father, according 
to his mood, had advocated either view, she 
was legitimate or illegitimate, as it suited the 
whim or policy of the moment. The Catholic 
princes, indeed, were substantially agreed that, 
on the death of Mary Tudor, the Scottish great- 
granddaughter of Henry VII. was the rightful 
heir ; but Elizabeth was now de facto, if not 
de jure, Queen of England, and she had the 
whole Protestant world at her back. The 
assumption of the English arms by Mary was 
an impolitic act, for which she invariably de- 
clared that she was not responsible. The heralds 

270 Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor. 

might argue that as by the rules of their craft 
she was entitled as next heir to bear the arms, 
the assumption did not imply any claim, direct 
or indirect, to the crown during Elizabeth's life ; 
and even the style of " Queen of England " 
could hardly, with any show of logic or sense of 
humour, be resented by the sovereign, who had 
ventured to call herself " Queen of France." 
But what at another time might have been dis- 
regarded as frivolous technicality or petulant 
tu quoque, became as matters stood a grave 
political indiscretion ; Elizabeth was justified 
in resenting it ; and if the Treaty of Edinburgh 
had been confined to the settlement of a well- 
grounded complaint, Mary could not have ob- 
jected. But, as we shall find, it went much 
further, and the article was so framed that it 
might be construed (I confess that I do not see 
how it can be read in any other sense) as an 
absolute renunciation in all time coming even 
in the event of Elizabeth dying without issue 
of her right to the English succession. If 
this was the concession which Cecil obtained by 
" a brawling message " to the French commis- 
sioners, he did not gain much in the end ; for 
Mary quietly but persistently refused to confirm 
a treaty by which her title had been thought- 
lessly or fraudulently signed away. 

I have now reached the point where the 

Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor. 271 

struggle the long and bitter struggle between 
Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor may be said 
to have begun. 

The story I suppose we may venture to say 
the immortal story of these women first took 
literary shape before the close of Elizabeth's 
reign. The unhappy Mary had been defeated 
and defamed ; while round the triumphal chariot 
of her rival the huzzas and hosannahs of a 
grateful people welcomed "the good Queen 
Bess." Spenser, and a greater than Spenser, 
were in the throng ; and their voices, like the 
pure notes of a great singer, rise above the con- 
fused babble and inarticulate clamour of the 
crowd. Eound Shakespeare the most gifted of 
his contemporaries are like Liliputians round 
Gulliver ; and we never realise how unique and 
incredible he is till we place them side by side. 
It is true, no doubt, that Spenser's portrait of 
Mary Stuart is not in his best manner. The 
contrast between the wise Mercilla and the false 
Duessa is too much in the style of the early 
painters, who strove to represent on one canvas 
the joys of heaven and the pains of hell. The 
lights as well as the shadows are too absolute 
too Rembrandtesque ; the features of the one 
are flattered, the features of the other are 
blackened and distorted, till neither one nor 
other is recognisable. On this hand we have 

272 Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor. 

the peerless Mercilla, a maiden queen of high 
renown, the heir of ancient royalties and mighty 
conquerors, at whose feet kings and kaisers are 
proud to sit, her sword the minister of divine 
justice, her sceptre "the sacred pledge of peace 
and clemency with which high God had blest 
her happy land," who lets fall on her rival's 
neck, not the sword of the executioner, but 
" perling drops from her fair lamps of light," 
and who, when at length constrained to put her 
to death, mourns for her with more than needful 
natural remorse, and piously extends the last 
sad honours to her wretched corse. On that 
hand we have the false Duessa, who had 
treacherously plotted against the merciful Mer- 
cilla, who had wrought great and mickle mischief 
unto many a knight, whose face was marred by 
foul abuse and blotted by malignant passions, 
who had been guilty of Sedition and Impiety, of 
Incontinence and Murder. James the Sixth was 
very angry at what he held to be a thinly veiled 
insult to the memory of his mother ; but it was 
hardly worth his while to complain as he did. 
For it must be confessed that while there are 
one or two impressive and imposing lines, the 
arraignment as a whole is altogether unworthy 
of the spiritual genius of Spenser in its higher 
moods. It is the coarse and crude polemic of a 
party scribe, a gross and intemperate caricature. 

Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor. 273 

How immeasurably superior is Shakespeare ! 
How perfect the form, how suave the tone, 
how mellow the light ! Courtly adulation never 
wore a more fanciful dress, never offered a more 
delicate worship : 

"But I 'might see young Cupid's fiery dart 
Quenched in the chaste beams of the wat'ry moon. 
And the imperial votaress passed on 
In maiden meditation fancy free ; " 

while the rebuke itself (the invective, if we 
may call it invective) is almost as fine as the 
flattery : 

" Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath 
That the rude sea grew civil at her song, 
And certain stars shot madly from their spheres 
To hear the sea-maid's music." 1 

It is hardly necessary to say that the cult 
of " the good Queen Bess " has long since died 
out. From the moment that the State Papers 
were made accessible to the public, its fate was 
virtually sealed. No fervour of patriotism or 
ardour of piety could replace the idol on the 
pedestal from which it had been dislodged. It 
was seen that the tears of the crocodile were less 
false than these "perling drops." The maiden 
Queen of high renown, the fair vestal throned 
by the west, proved to be a woman who in 

1 As early as 1567 we find j Bothwell as a hare. Facsimiles 
Mary represented (in a rough ! of National MSS. of England, 
caricature) as a mermaid, I Part III., No 63. 

VOL. I. S 

274 Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor. 

thought and deed was shamelessly unconscien- 
tious, and in thought, if not in deed, shame- 
lessly immodest. The wise and just Mercilla 
swore like a trooper and lied like Lucifer. With- 
out any charm of face or figure the imperial 
votaress was vainer than a peacock. Mean, 
avaricious, and mendacious ; hard, heartless, and 
fickle, we see her now as she was ; and the 
picture is not one on which it is pleasant to 
look. But she had one supreme virtue she 
succeeded ; and it is the strangest commentary 
upon the confused political state of Europe at 
the moment, when it can be said, and said with 
apparent truth, that only such a woman could 
have succeeded. If an honest, capable, clear- 
sighted sovereign had occupied the English 
throne during the years between 1560 and 1580, 
it is possible, nay probable, that the English 
Eeformation might have been nipped in the 
bud. But there is a strength in folly as in 
weakness ; and Elizabeth's folly was so incal- 
culable that it disarmed the most cunning com- 
binations, and baffled the maturest foresight. 
Had there been a grain of honesty in her nature, 
or of consistency in her convictions, the Spanish 
fleet would not have sailed up the Channel twenty 
years too late. To the end of her life she was 
insincere with herself, and dishonest to all who 
served her. There is a study in one of Con- 

Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor. 275 

greve's plays for which the elderly Elizabeth 
might have sat. It may be true that Congreve's 
muse was often artificial and meretricious ; but 
the picture of the godless old hag who kisses 
her hand to her gallant with a coquettish giggle 
while Death is lugging her away, who paints her 
skinny and withered cheeks while she is toppling 
over into the grave, is drawn by a master of 
tragic comedy. In such ghastly coquetries the 
last years of the woman who had braved the 
Vatican and wrecked the Armada passed away. 

It cannot be denied, however, that Elizabeth 
could display on occasion the rough and hardy 
vigour of the Tudor. If she swore like a trooper, 
she was as insensible to physical fear or womanish 
tremors ; slippery as an eel so long as slipperiness 
would serve her turn, she stood her ground, when 
forced to the wall, with the tenacious and well- 
nigh heroic obstinacy of her race. Driven from 
her last covert her mean trickeries, subterfuges, 
mendacities, detected, exposed, no longer of any 
avail she would turn savagely upon her pur- 
suers, bidding them defiance with haughty port 
and reckless tongue. She was absolutely with- 
out conscience, and though perhaps not origin- 
ally or intrinsically cruel, she had none of the 
sensitiveness of a high-strung and generous tem- 
perament. Thus she could be merciless without 
wincing, and (except, perhaps, at the very last) 

276 Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor. 

remorse did not hurt her. Irritable and intract- 
able on the surface, subject to gusts of passion 
that swept her off her feet, restrained by no large- 
principles of duty either in religion or statecraft, 
her mental patience was indomitable and almost 
feline. With cat-like tenacity she clung, blindly, 
instinctively, ungraciously, against her will, to 
the line of policy more or less clearly defined 
for her by Cecil which kept her on the English 

But the Queen of Scots remains the central 

The character of Mary Stuart is one of those 
riddles which men will continue to read to the 
end each in his own way. Where so many 
learned doctors have differed, it would be pre- 
sumptuous and impertinent to dogmatise. No 
solution, it may be presumed, can now be alto- 
gether adequate ; as the story proceeds, if every 
incident is related with perfect fairness and 
scrupulous accuracy, a more or less clear im- 
pression of her unique personality may be gained 
by the reader ; but it is idle to hope that all 
difficulties can be smoothed away. Yet it ap- 
pears to me, that while historians have not been 
slow to evolve for our instruction from their 
inner consciousness a consistent and more or 
less logical theory of her character and career, 
the direct testimony of contemporary observers 

Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor. 277 

has been too much neglected. She was followed 
from her cradle to the scaffold by curious and 
critical eyes ; statesmen, poets, diplomatists have 
recorded with eminent exactness, and sometimes 
with picturesque vivacity, the impression she 
produced upon them. It may be well in the 
meantime to hear what these witnesses have 
to say : by-and-by we may come to estimate 
how far the evidence of the men and women 
who saw her face to face verifies or invalidates 
the speculations of the closet. 

Sir Ralph Sadler had much to do with Mary's 
later fortunes ; and it is from his letters, curi- 
ously enough, that we get the first glimpse of 
the baby Queen. Sadler was one of the men 
who, by their industry, fidelity, and, it must 
be added, unscrupulousness. rendered important 
service to the English Government during the 
later Tudor regime when such qualities were 
urgently needed. The confidential servant of 
Queen Elizabeth, the trusty agent of Cecil, was 
sincerely attached to the principles of the Re- 
formers ; but, like many of the Secretary's corre- 
spondents, Sadler was a man of business as well 
as a man of religion, and the business was not 
unfrequently of a kind which a man of honour 
w T ould have hesitated to undertake. The moral 
obtuseness which enabled these statesmen to con- 

278 Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor. 

duct the most questionable transactions without 
any sense of discomfort would not appear so 
singular to us, perhaps, had it been unaccom- 
panied by unctuous fervour of language and 
puritanic rigour of judgment. One is inclined 
at first sight to conclude that the attitude of 
mind which Sir Ralph's correspondence discloses 
must have been more or less pharisaic. It was 
not so the man was perfectly sincere ; but the 
policy he was employed to forward being in 
accordance, as he believed, with the will of 
God and for the advancement of His kingdom, 
he failed altogether to perceive that the end 
did not sanctify the means. Absorbed in a 
mission which involved the highest interests 
of millions of human beings, in this world and 
in the next, the immorality of the intrigue faded 
out of sight. He perjured himself with a good 
conscience. He lied with the unction of an 

Sadler had been in Scotland, as we have seen, 
when James the Fifth was living, and he has left 
us a lively picture of the King of the Commons 
and his Court. James, having sown his wild oats 
with ungrudging prodigality, was then leading 
a tranquil and temperate life with Marie of Lor- 
raine. The noble ladies who had been honoured, 
or dishonoured, by the attentions of their king 
Margaret Erskine, Elizabeth Carmichael, Eliza- 

Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor. 279 

beth Shaw, Eupheme Elphinston had been 
pensioned off or decently married ; and suffi- 
cient provision, mainly taken from the revenues 
of the Church, had been made for the offspring 
of these fugitive amours. I have already had 
occasion to refer to Sadler's first official visit to 
Scotland, in connection with another chapter of 
this history : here it is enough to say that 
Henry's ambassador met with little success, 
James refusing point-blank, as we have seen, to 
suppress the religious houses, and to enrich the 
Crown at their expense (after the English fashion) 
as his uncle had advised. Within a few months 
of James's death, Sadler was again at the Scottish 
Court, engaged this time in a more doubtful 
and dangerous venture. The advantages of an 
English alliance would no doubt have been 
appreciated in course of time by the Scottish 
people ; but Henry's arrogance and impatience 
were ruinous. Sadler was an able diplomatist ; 
but even at his best he was no match for the 
great Cardinal ; and on this occasion heavily 
handicapped he was badly beaten. The nation 
was in one of its sulky, irate, intractable moods ; 
suspicious of England, suspicious of France ; 
ready to pick a quarrel with the first comer, 
and to resent any affront, however slight and 
accidental, with more than ordinary warmth. 
Henry's imperious and dictatorial manner was 

280 Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor. 

not calculated to soothe these nervous suscepti- 
bilities ; and thus, between his master's urgency, 
the doubtful temper of the nobles who were 
yet in the main friendly to England, and the 
unacknowledged and impalpable but potent 
pressure of the astutest statesman of the age, 
Sadler was not happy. The widowed Queen was 
living at Linlithgow, and it was in the royal 
palace which her father had built that Sadler for 
the first time saw Mary Stuart. The Dowager, 
on her side, was suspiciously friendly and con- 
fidential. The ambassador had been misled. 
Arran, seeking Mary for his own son, was hostile 
to the English alliance, whereas she and the 
Cardinal were blameless. 

It was the twenty - second of March 1543. 
" And," quoth she, " the Governor said that the 
child was not like to live ; but you shall see," 
quoth she, " whether he saith true or not " ; and 
therewith she caused me to go with her to the 
chamber where the child was, and showed her 
unto me, and also caused the nurse to unwrap 
her out of the clothes, that I might see her 
naked. I assure your Majesty it is as goodly a 
child as I have seen of her age, and as like to 
live, with the grace of God." He saw her again 
on the tenth of August. " The Queen told me 
that her daughter did grow apace ; and soon," 
she said, "she would be a woman if she took 

Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor. 281 

after her mother; who indeed is of the largest 
stature of woman. And therewith she caused 
also the child to be brought to me, to the in- 
tent I might see her, assuring your Majesty that 
she is a right fair and goodly child, as any that 
I have seen for her age. And then after a little 
time passed in the beholding of the child " they 
finally parted. 

The volumes of facsimiles, reproduced, by an 
admirable method, from the most remarkable of 
our historical manuscripts, are among the most 
splendid ever printed in this country. Hidden 
away in the libraries of wealthy book-hunters, 
they have become rare and costly already ; by- 
and-by they will be worth their weight in silver, 
if not in gold. This is the reason, it may be, 
why they are so seldom read, so little used. It 
is a pity ; for they bring us into vital relations, 
into curiously close contact, with the kings and 
queens and scholars and statesmen who wrote 
them. If a copy could be placed in each of our 
public schools, and the teacher were able to say, 
Here is a letter from Elizabeth ; here is a State 
paper by Cecil ; this was written by John Knox, 
that by Argyll, history would be vitalised. 
Among the Scottish facsimiles, some of the 
letters despatched from France when the Queen 
of Scots was still a girl are full of interest. This 

282 Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor. 

schoolgirl scrawl, for instance (the characters are 
large and round, yet not unlike those with which 
we are familiar from her later letters), comes 
from Mary herself. It was addressed to the 
Dowager -Queen on the occasion of her first 
communion : 

" MADAM, I am very glad to have the means 
of writing to you my news, being in very great 
pain from being so long without hearing any of 
yours. Madam, I have heard that the Governor 
has put himself at your will, and has restored 
into your hands the principal places of the 
kingdom, of which I am very glad, and every 
day praise our Lord for it ; and also that all the 
princes and great lords have returned unto you. 
1 have come to Meudon to Madam, my grand- 
mother, in order to keep the feast of Easter, 
because she and my uncle Monsieur the Car- 
dinal wish that I should take the sacrament. 
I pray to God very humbly to give me grace, 
that I may make a good beginning. I must not 
forget to tell you that this bearer has done good 
and acceptable service to the king. 

" Here, Madam, I will present to you my 
humble recommendations to your good favour, 
beseeching the Creator to give you in continued 
health a very happy life. Your very humble 
and very obedient daughter, MARIE." 

Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor. 283 

" Dieu, auquel je supplie tres humblement me 
donner la grace d'i bien commancer." These 
words were written about 1554, when Darnley 
and Bothwell, and the Kirk o' Field and the 
scaffold at Fotheringay, were yet in the far 
distance. One is tempted to say, knowing 
what we know now, that sadder words words 
more pregnant with the keenest irony of con- 
trast were never written. A good beginning ! 
God help her ! Had she no vision of the end ? l 
From other letters belonging to the same period 
(printed in these volumes), we gather that the 
Queen of Hearts had already begun her career 
of conquest. Thus, when she is seven years old, 
her half-brother Francis of Orleans writes to 
their mother : " I must not forget to tell you 
that the little Queen of Scotland is found by 
every one so engaging that the king is more 
than content." " The Queen your daughter," 
Margaret of France, afterwards Duchess of Savoy, 
remarks, ' ' the Queen your daughter improves so 
much in every way that I cannot write enough 
about her ; her honesty and goodness become 
every day more marked." Anne d'Est, the 
Princess of Ferrara, is even more enthusiastic : 
" You have the best and prettiest little Queen 

1 The contrast, too, between State, " En ma fin est mon 
the words in this early letter commencement," is sufficient- 
and the words on her cloth of 1 ly striking. 

284 Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor. 

in the world ; her talk and carriage are so dis- 
creet that we no longer think of or treat her as 
a child." And a year or two later, on the eve 
of her marriage to the Dauphin, Diane de Poic- 
tiers confirms the impression of Mary's early tact 
and reasonableness : " She spoke to the Scottish 
deputies not as an inexperienced child, but as a 
woman of age and knowledge : they will tell you 
this when they return." 

Eandolph was the English resident at the 
Scottish Court during nearly the whole of Mary's 
reign. Patient, diligent, assiduous, sagacious, 
his letters are crowded with realistic touches 
which have high merit, and display an unsus- 
pected mimetic faculty. He seems to have used 
the pen to clear, so to speak, his mental vision ; 
he speculates revolving the pros and cons 
while he writes ; the entire scope of an obscure 
passage of intrigue will flash upon him, grow 
luminous, just as he closes his letter. He lives 
in his work, and the personages in whose for- 
tunes he is absorbed, pass to and fro on his 
pages with extraordinary vitality, sincerity, and 
sprightliness. Not that it ever occurs to him 
that he is an artist ; it is all in the way of 
business only ; yet had Cecil employed a Shake- 
speare he could hardly have secured a more 
living picture of the Court and capital of Scot- 

Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor. 285 

land. Both Mary and Lethington had a singu- 
lar interest for him ; the more he saw of Mait- 
land, the more he was impressed by his fine 
intelligence, his profound capacity and persua- 
sive force ; and the Queen, whom he had been 
taught to distrust, fairly disarmed him. Her 
frank address, her hardy simplicity, her sportive 
badinage and gay banter, may have cloaked, as 
we are now led to understand they did, the 
subtlest state-craft ; but that was not the im- 
pression they made upon this wary and watch- 
ful observer at the time ; and the explanation 
seems somewhat strained. 

Randolph went with her on that progress to 
Inverness which ended in the rout of Corrichie, 
" a terrible journey both for horse and man, 
the countries are so poor and the victuals so 
scarce." There were apprehensions, too, about 
the temper of the Gordons, the slightest mis- 
adventure might have brought about an explo- 
sion. But during all that anxious time, Mary 
was as cool as the oldest soldier in her train. 
"I never saw the Queen moved never dis- 
mayed ; nor never thought I that stomach to 
be in her that I find. She repented nothing, 
but when the Lords and others at Inverness 
came in the morning from the watch, that she 
was not a man, to know what life it was to lie 
all night in the fields, or to walk upon the 

286 Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor. 

causeway with a jack and knapsack a Glasgow 
buckler and a broadsword." * It was her habit 
to sit in the Council Chamber at Holyrood 
" sewing some work or other " (surely a pretty 
feminine trait !) while the Lords deliberated, so 
that if necessary she could take part in the 
discussion ; and no duty of state was neglected 
by her; but when she unbent she unbent wholly. 
Kandolph tried on one occasion, when she was 
enjoying a brief holiday at St Andrews, to in- 
troduce some graver matter; but Mary would 
not listen. " I see now well," she exclaimed 
in that tone of banter which suited her so 
well, " that you are weary of this company and 
treatment. I sent for you to be merry, and 
to see how like a bourgeois wife I live with my 

1 Randolph's words recall 
Knox's account of the high in- 
trepid spirit displayed by Mary 
when she swooped down upon 
the rebel Lords during the Run- 
about-Raid. " Soon after their 
return to Glasgow, the King 
and Queen were certainly ad- 
vertised that the Lords were 
passed to Edinburgh; and there- 
fore caused immediately to warn 
the whole army to pass with 
them to Edinburgh the next 
day, who, early in the morning, 
long before the sun was risen, 
began to march. But there 

arose such a vehement tempest 
of wind and rain from the 
east, as the like had not been 
seen before in a long time ; so 
that a little brook turned in- 
continent into a great river, 
and the raging storm being in 
their face, with great difficulty 
went they forward : And albeit 
the most part waxed weary, 
yet the Queen's courage in- 
creased man-like so much that 
she was ever with the foremost. 
There were divers persons 
drowned that day in the water 
of Carron." II. 500. 

Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor. 287 

little troop, and you will interrupt our pastime 
with your great and grave matters. I pray you, 
sir, if you be weary here return home to Edin- 
burgh, and keep your gravity and great embas- 
sade until the Queen come thither, for, I assure 
you, you shall not get her here, nor I know 
not myself where she is gone. You see neither 
cloth of estate, nor such appearance, that you 
may think there is a Queen here, nor I would 
not that you should think that I am she at St 
Andrews that I was at Edinburgh. Go where 
you will," she added, " very merry," " I care no 
more for you." 

Sir Francis Knollys, on finding how trouble- 
some she could make herself, came to dislike 
Mary ; but when she first flashed upon him in 
her dishevelled beauty and stormy anger travel- 
stained though she was by her long ride after 
the Langside panic the puritanic veteran 
warmed into unpremeditated welcome. When 
we read the remarkable letters in which he de- 
scribes the fugitive Queen, we cease to wonder at 
the disquietude of Elizabeth ; a, glance, a smile, 
a few cordial words, from such a woman might 
have set all the northern counties in a blaze. 
The cold and canny Scot, whose metaphysical 
and theological ardour contrast so curiously with 
his frugal common-sense, could stolidly resist 

288 Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor. 

the charm ; but the Catholic nobles, the Border 
chivalry, would have responded without a day's 
delay to her summons. 

" We found her," Sir Francis wrote to Eliza- 
beth, " in her chamber of presence ready to re- 
ceive us, when we declared unto her your High- 
ness's sorrowfulness for her lamentable misad- 
venture. We found her in her answers to have 
. an eloquent tongue and a discreet head ; and it 
seemeth by her doings she hath stout courage 
and liberal heart adjoining thereto." Ten days 
afterwards he continued to write in the same 
strain. " This lady and princess is a notable 
woman. She seemeth to regard no ceremoni- 
ous honour besides the acknowledgment of her 
estate royal. She showeth a disposition to speak 
much, to be bold, to be pleasant, to be very 
familiar. She showeth a great desire to be 
revenged of her enemies. She shows a readi- 
ness to expose herself to all perils in hope of 
victory. She desires much to hear of hardiness 
and valiancy, commending by name all approved 
hardy men of her country, although they be her 
enemies ; and she concealeth no cowardice even 
in her friends. The thing she most thirsteth 
after is victory ; and it seemeth to be indifferent 
to her to have her enemies diminished either by 
the sword of her friends, or by the liberal prom- 
ises and rewards of her purse, or by division and 

Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor. 289 

quarrels among themselves. So that for victory's 
sake, pain and peril seem pleasant unto her ; and 
in respect of victory, wealth and all things seem 
to her contemptuous and vile. Now what is to be 
done with such a lady and princess, and whether 
such a lady and princess be to be nourished in 
our bosom, or whether it be good to halt and 
dissemble with such a lady, I refer to your 
judgment. The plainest way is the most hon- 
ourable in my opinion." Months pass away, 
and his ardour does not abate. " She does not 
dislike my plain dealing. Surely she is a rare 
woman ; for as no flattery can lightly abuse her, 
so no plain speech seemeth to offend her, if she 
think the speaker thereof to be an honest man." * 

When Cecil's friend, Mr White, was on his 
road to Ireland in the spring of 1569, he 
learned that Mary had been removed to Tutbury 
Castle, and that by making a slight detour he 
might be able to see the woman on whom, in 
pity or aversion, all eyes were then turned. 
White appears to have been a well-meaning but 
vulgar busybody ; with little feeling of delicacy 
or decency, and no sense of humour ; a dull, but 
not incurious or unobservant man to whom 
posterity indeed is really indebted ; for he con- 

1 May 29, June 11, August 8, 1568. 
VOL. I. T 

290 Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor. 

trived to record his impressions of the captive 
Queen with such unconscious sincerity and direct- 
ness, that no better picture of Mary in her Eng- 
lish prison has been preserved. 

On his arrival Mary came out of the presence- 
chamber and bade him welcome. After evening 
service she talked with him from six to seven, 
asking him to excuse her bad English. He told 
her, with questionable courtesy (only the whole 
letter was obviously meant for Elizabeth), that 
she ought to be very thankful for such prince- 
like entertainment. " And for my own part did 
wish her Grace meekly to bow her head to God, 
who hath put her into this school, to learn to 
know Him to be above kings and princes of this 
world ; with such other like speeches as time 
and occasion then served ; which she very gently 
accepted, and confessed that she had indeed great 
cause to thank God for sparing of her, and great 
cause also to thank her good sister for this kind- 
ly using of her. As for contentation in this her 
present estate she would not require at God's 
hands, but only patience, which she humbly 
prayed Him to give her. I asked her Grace, 
since the weather did cut off all exercises abroad, 
how she passed the time within ? She said that 
all day she wrought with her needle, and that 
the diversity of the colours made the work seem 
less tedious, and continued so long at it till very 

Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor. 291 

pain made her to give over ; and with that laid 
her hand on her left side, and complained of 
an old grief newly increased there. Upon this 
occasion she entered into a pretty disputable 
comparison between carving, painting, and work- 
ing with the needle, affirming painting in her 
opinion for the most commendable quality. I 
answered her Grace I could skill of neither of 
them, but that I had read ' Pictura ' to be 
veritas falsa. With this she closed up her talk, 
and, bidding me farewell, retired into her privy 

So the interview closed. Mary had obviously 
had enough of his pedantic moralities ; and he 
proceeds to record the impression which he had 
received. " But if I (who in the sight of God 
bear the Queen's majesty a natural love beside 
my bounded duty) might give advice, there 
should very few subjects in this land have access 
to, or conference with, this lady. For beside 
that she is a goodly personage (and yet in 
truth not comparable to our Sovereign), she 
hath withal an alluring grace, a pretty Scottish 
speech, and a searching wit clouded with mild- 
ness. Her hair of itself is black ; and yet Mr 
Knollys told me that she wears hair of sundry 
colours." Then he adds : " In looking upon her 
cloth of estate, I noted this sentence embroid- 
ered, En ma Jin est mon commencement which 

292 Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor. 

is a riddle I understand not. My Lord of 
Shrewsbury is very careful of his charge ; but 
the Queen outwatches them all, for it is one 
of the clock at least every night ere she go to 
bed. The next morning I was up timely, and 
viewing the seat of the house, which in my 
opinion stands much like "Windsor, I espied two 
halberd-men without the castle wall searching 
underneath the Queen's bed-chamber window. 
And so waiting an easterly wind I humbly 
take my leave." 1 

The scene at Jedburgh in 1566, when for sev- 
eral days Mary was in extreme danger, appears 
to have softened for the moment the bitterest 
animosities. Even in articulo mortis, as it 
seemed, the Queen was composed, courageous, 
magnanimous. Twenty years afterwards the 
end came, the scaffold, the block, the sword 
of the executioner, the shame of a public death. 
So environed, the stoutest heart might have 
failed ; but Mary did not falter. " She herself 
endured it (as we must all truly say that were 
eyewitnesses) with great courage and show of 
magnanimity." Thus Mr Marmaduke Darell on 
"this present Thursday" (February 8, 1587 
the day of her execution) wrote to Mr William 

1 26th Feb. 1569. 

Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor. 293 

Darell from " this Castle of Fotheringay." It 
was simply pretence and artifice, we are now 
asked to believe ; the great actress had reached 
the crowning scene of the play, and her acting 
was no doubt consummate. But the sick-bed at 
Jedburgh was quite honest even Knox admits 
as much. She was dying in an obscure Border 
hamlet a scanty company, a mean stage yet 
she bore herself with the same instinctive and 
considerate magnanimity. Understanding that 
death was near, she gathered the Lords about 
her, and committed her son and her country to 
their charge. " I seek not lang life in this 
world," she is reported to have said, by one who 
was present ; and then she added, " Ye know 
also, my Lords, the favour that I have borne 
unto you since my arriving in this realm, and 
that I have pressed none of you that profess the 
religion to a worship that your conscience does 
not approve. I pray you also on your part not 
to press them that makes profession of the auld 
Catholic faith ; and if indeed you knew what it 
is to a person in such extremity as I am, you 
would never press them. I pray you, brother," 
she continued, turning to the Earl of Moray, 
" that ye trouble nane." x This was the legacy 

1 Queen Mary at Jedburgh in 1566. By John Small, F.S.A. 
Scot. Edinburgh: 1881. 

294 Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor. 

of peace and goodwill, of tolerance and charity, 
that the dying Queen was leaving behind her. 
Knox, in his account of the incident, uses very 
nearly the same words : " Within a few days 
after she took sickness in a most extreme man- 
ner, for she lay two hours long coal dead, as it 
were, without breath or any sign of life ; at 
length she revived, and speaking very softly she 
desired the Lords to pray for her to God. She 
said the Creed in English, and desired my Lord 
of Moray, if she should chance to depart, that he 
would not be over-extreme to such as were of 
her religion." 

Out of these casual notices, written mostly on 
the spur of the moment, and not intended for 
publication, some more or less lively idea of 
Mary, in her habit as she lived, may be gathered. 
I am not prepared to say that they are unambig- 
uous, or capable of being construed in one sense 
only. But it rather appears to me that they are 
not consistent with that view of her character 
which has been lately presented to us by a mas- 
ter of English prose, and which, as a masterpiece 
of graphic art, has stamped itself upon the 
popular imagination of our time. Some of us 
may have seen on the walls of an old Scottish 
mansion-house, not unknown to fame, the picture 
of a girl in her first youth, attired in a demure 

Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor. 295 

conventual habit. The heavy sombre dress em- 
phasises the gay and delicate beauty of the face, 
the peach-like bloom on the white cheek, the 
covert smile that lurks between the tinted lips. 
This, they say, is a portrait of the Queen ; but 
in the old houses of the Scottish gentry nearly 
every pretty face, to which no ancestral mem- 
ories attach, purports to be a " Mary Stuart." * 
Then there are portraits of her in more than one 
European gallery, in which it is difficult to de- 
tect any trace of the ingenuous girlish charm ; a 
woman of a far different type, whose thin lips, 
whose watchful eyes, are cruel and inscrutable as 
Medea's. 2 This, or such as this, is the Mary that 
Mr Froude sets before us. Her intellectual cool- 
ness masks tropical passion ; her honeyed words 
hide deadly poison. Sharp as steel, hard as ada- 
mant, touched by no pity, hurt by no remorse, 
with unflinching determination, with absolute 
masterfulness, the murderer of Darnley, the boon- 
companion of Bothwell, passes on to her evil end. 
Somewhere between the two somewhere be- 
tween the innocent and guileless girl and the 

1 My impression is that the 
little sketch to which I refer 
was to be seen thirty or forty 
years ago at Fyvie Castle. The 
description, at least, is taken 
from a note made about that 


2 The unpleasant " Sheffield 
portrait," preserved at Hard- 
wick Hall, is skilfully repro- 
duced in Leader's 'Mary Queen 
of Scots in Captivity.' 

296 Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor. 

hard and treacherous woman, the true Mary 
Stuart may perhaps be found. 

It is not my purpose in the meantime to take 
any part in the partisan controversy of which 
" the daughter of debate " has been the exciting 
cause. It appears to me, however (this much 
may here be said), that only through a profound 
misconception is it possible to discover conspicu- 
ous political capacity in Mary Stuart. No words 
of praise can be too high for many of her gifts. 
But these gifts were not specifically intellectual. 
The consummate statecraft with which she is 
credited was not appreciated by her contem- 
poraries ; the Machiavellian astuteness, the al- 
most preternatural keenness of sight, readiness 
of resource, tenacity of purpose, and singleness 
of aim, are comparatively recent discoveries. 
The woman that her contemporaries knew was 
not one who, in Shakespearian phrase, " bears all 
down with her brain" Knox indeed professed 
to find in her a craft beyond her years ; but 
Knox's judgments of womenkind (as I have had 
occasion to show), were of little value. Had the 
Queen been a Calvinist, he would have seen in 
her " craft " true wisdom, and in her " hatred of 
the word " pure religion. Mary Stuart had many 
of the brilliant qualities of her race ; but she had 
also their fatal defects. She lacked the coolness, 
the self-control, the patience that becomes the 

Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor. 297 

diplomatist. Her quick resentment was often 
as imprudent as her prompt forgiveness. Her 
impulsive anger sometimes undid in a day the 
politic labour of months. Her keen contempt 
for the pharisaic bearing and spiritual arrogance of 
the " Congregation of Jesus Christ " found vent 
sooner or later in rash and scornful words that 
worked her bitter harm. She really desired to 
stand well with the English Queen ; but her 
cousin's mean duplicity and blundering craft 
exhausted her patience ; and a biting jest or a 
scornful laugh did more to exasperate Elizabeth 
than the Darnley murder or the Bothwell mar- 
riage. Neither her letters nor her poems are 
above mediocrity. The style is sufficiently 
graceful, but the sentiments are faded and 
commonplace. Her State papers, indeed, are 
remarkably able ; but then they were written 
by Lethington ; and from the first Mary was 
clever enough to recognise Maitland's consum- 
mate ability, and real devotion to her service. 
On the purely intellectual side, therefore, it 
appears to me that Mary was mediocre, if not 
weak ; but, as I have said, most of her other 
gifts were beyond praise. She was the most beau- 
tiful woman of her age, and the most beautiful 
woman of her age must have found in her beauty 
alone a force of attraction and command. Her 
social charm was unrivalled, Knox even, and 

298 Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor. 

Eandolph and Throckmorton, could not quite 
resist "the enchantment whereby men are be- 
witched." Something more, however, than social 
charm or physical beauty was needed to make 
her what she was, one of the half-dozen women 
of the world who are not forgotten, nor like to 
be forgotten. And " the strain of rareness " (to 
borrow another phrase from Shakespeare) which 
we fail to find in her intellect, we find in her 
character. Her personal force was boundless ; 
wherever we come directly in contact with her, 
we are in contact with a rich and vivid " human- 
ity." The words that have been used to describe 
another remarkable woman are even more close- 
ly applicable to Mary. " Throughout, as with 
Rosalind, her royal descent is patent; like Or- 
lando's mistress, she betrays her origin in a 
hundred gallant and inspiring qualities the 
quickness and brilliance of her blood, her ex- 
quisite and abounding spirit, her delicate vigour 
of temperament, her swiftness of perception, her 
generous intensity of emotion." These are gifts 
of the soul, emotional, not intellectual, or at 
least only remotely intellectual ; and out of them, 
when finely mixed, is wrought the " strong toil 
of grace," the incommunicable feminine charm, 
the je ne sais quoi on which the Frenchman 
retreats when the subtle something eludes his 
analysis, of which the little Queen had early 

Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor. 299 

found the key. It may be that in Mary's nature 
the bitter and the sweet were perversely mixed. 
It may be that she was a cruel and crafty 
coquette, who played with men's hearts and 
lives as a cat plays with its mouse. On the 
evidence beside us, however, it is difficult to 
hold this view. So far as I can judge, the caress- 
ing sweetness, the gracious and persuasive tact, 
the broad human interest, the polished urbanity, 
the flattering appreciation, the gaiety and the 
pensiveness, were not borrowed, were not feigned. 
Nature had generously dowered her. Mary 
Stuart was one of the rare women who, in what- 
ever station she is born, rules her world the 
great world or the village green as if the talis- 
man by which hearts are won had been given 
her by a Fairy Godmother. 

Whether Mary had any very keen sense of 
right and wrong is another question on which 
I do not enter here. Morality is a very wide 
word ; it embraces pity, tenderness, fidelity, 
unselfishness, as well as honesty, purity, tem- 
perance, truthfulness, self-restraint. Whether 
Mary's moral code included the severer virtues, 
we shall see before the end comes ; but that she 
was loyal to her convictions (such as they were) 
and faithful to her friends, an indulgent mistress, 
a generous though even-handed ruler, will, I 
think, be generally admitted. Whether she was 

300 Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor. 

more, or whether the cruel injustice, the bitter 
persecution (as she regarded it) which clouded 
her life, hurt the finer nature which God had 
given her, the sequel will show. Only this need 
be added, That for such a woman a woman 
to whom the sense of freedom was as the breath 
of her nostrils no more frightfully inhuman 
punishment could have been devised than eigh- 
teen years' imprisonment. We need not wonder 
that Elizabeth's crowning blunder the scaffold 
at Fotheringay should have been accepted with 
more than stoical calm. 

" A frightfully inhuman punishment ; " and 
in this we find the conclusive answer to the plea 
that the imprisoned Mary, in conspiring against 
Elizabeth, was guilty of what Spenser calls " se- 
dition." If Mary during her captivity plotted 
against her jailer, who can blame her? Eliza- 
beth, with her eyes open, chose to run the risk. 
and she should have been ready to accept the 
consequences. To take Mary's life because she 
was a danger to the throne may have been pru- 
dent and politic ; but to put her to death, because 
by every possible means she strove to regain 
her freedom, admits of no defence. To assume 
that a woman like Mary would willingly consent 
to wear her chains was simple infatuation. Eliza- 
beth's astonishment at her guest's ingratitude 

Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor. 301 

was childish petulance or ridiculous pretence ; 
she knew, or ought to have known, when she 
elected to become her keeper, that it was thence- 
forth war to the death ; and that in such a con- 
test, no weapon of offence or defence would be 
left untried. 



TETHINGTON'S position on the death of 
Francis became one of extreme difficulty. 
It was probable that his alliance with the Con- 
gregation would be resented by the daughter as 
it had been resented by the mother. 1 He had 
deserted the Dowager-Queen ; he had organised 
the rebel government ; he had plotted with 
Elizabeth and Cecil. Could he become the 
minister, the confidential minister, of Mary 
Stuart? All these embarrassing questions are 
emphasised, are looked at from every possible 
point of view, in the letters that he wrote during 
the interval between the death of the French 
king and the return of Mary. 

1 That the Queen-Dowager 
should have resented Mait- 
land's defection with peculiar 
bitterness, was quite natural. 
" Ross, the Scottish herald, re- 
ported that the Dowager was 

very lenient, and would re- 
ceive the Lords into favour, if 
they put away young Lething- 
ton and others by whom they 
had been misled." Sadler, 
15th November 1559. 

The Minister of Mary Stuart. 303 

The question was settled for him by the 
Queen. She had felt from a very early period 
that there was a substantial agreement between 
herself and Maitland. " I understand the Queen 
of Scotland hath hitherto no great devotion 
to Maitland, Grange, and Balnaves ; whereof I 
am nothing sorry," Throckmorton wrote from 
Paris in spring ; but Throckmorton was wrong. 
Even then Mary had made up her mind to win 
Maitland. 1 She had seen him abroad probably 
on more than one occasion ; at the time, no 
doubt, little more than a lad, but gallant, san- 
guine, ardent, intrepid. This was a man fit for 
all adventures ; and in Lethington from the 
very first she appears to have discovered a kin- 
dred spirit. She was a Catholic, he was a 
Calvinist ; he a simple gentleman, she the heir- 
ess of an ancient monarchy and a long line 
of kings ; the contrasts could be multiplied 
indefinitely ; yet a true identity drew them to- 
gether. Whatever their station, whatever their 
creed, they were in character and temperament 
children of the renaissance. Between Knox 
and Maitland there could be no real union, 
whereas the ties that bound Maitland to Mary 
were of the closest kind. I am not blaming 

1 Throckmorton adds in the i can to win them to her, which 

same letter, " But she mindeth 
to use all the best means she 

she trusteth well to compass " 
(May 1, 1561). 

304 The Minister of Mary Stuart. 

either Knox or Maitland ; it is not a matter for 
praise or blame ; it is simply a matter of fact. 
Knox was as ruthless as a prophet of Israel, as 
narrow as a Spanish Inquisitor ; whereas Mait- 
land and Mary belonged to the new world. In 
their lack of moral fervour and ascetic intensity, 
in their contempt for convention and conven- 
tional standards, in their freedom from obsolete 
prepossessions, in their directness, their frank- 
ness, their urbanity, they represent the modern 

It has been asserted, indeed, that Mary re- 
turned to Scotland with a purpose "fixed as 
the stars " to undo the Eeformation. She was 
a missionary of the Catholic Church, prepared, 
at whatever cost, to bring back the flock which 
had strayed into forbidden pastures, to the Roman 
shepherd and the Apostolic fold. Her conversa- 
tions with the English minister at Paris, prior to 
her departure for the North, which have been 
recorded with obvious fidelity, do not certainly 
strengthen this view. It appears to me to be 
clear that before these interviews took place, 
Mary had resolved to follow the moderate coun- 
sels with which Maitland's name was already 
identified, steering a middle course between 
the bitterness of Knox and the bitterness of 
Huntly. "Well," quoth she, "I will be plain 
with you. The religion which I profess, I take 

TJie Minister of Mary Stuart. 305 

to be most acceptable to God, and indeed neither 
do I know, or desire to know, any other. Con- 
stancy becometh all folks well, but none better 
than Princes and such as have rule over realms, 
and specially in matters of religion. For my 
part, you may perceive that I am none of these 
that will change their religion every year ; and 
as I told you in the beginning, I mean to con- 
strain none of my subjects, but should wish that 
they are all as I am, and I trust they shall have 
no support to constrain me." Such a plea for 
liberty of conscience must have been as displeas- 
ing to the one faction as to the other to the 
fanatical Catholic as to the fanatical Calvinist. 
It is urged, of course, that these declarations 
were insincere and intended to deceive ; words 
only, not deeds. But the fact remains that, 
both before and after her return, Mary refused 
to ally herself with the extreme factions, and 
steadily resisted the pressure that was brought 
to bear upon her from the rival camps. She 
exerted her influence to procure a measure of 
toleration for those who adhered to the ancient 
Church ; and Knox complains bitterly that her 
plea for the liberty of the conscience was urged 
with some measure of success. " And in very 
deed so it came to pass ; for the Queen's flattering 
words, ever still crying, ' Conscience, conscience ; 
it is a sore thing to constrain the conscience/ 
VOL. i. u 

306 The Minister of Mary Stuart. 

blinded all men." On the other hand, she de- 
clined repeatedly and emphatically to ally her- 
self with the enemies of the Eeformation. All 
Scotland north of Dunkeld was at Huntly's 
bidding; everywhere the Catholic Lords were 
ready to join him ; and if Mary had accepted 
the invitation which was conveyed to her by 
Leslie to land at Aberdeen, and put herself 
at the head of the Conservative reaction it is 
possible that she might have swept the " Pro- 
fessors " across the Border. My own opinion is, 
that without the aid of Elizabeth (and Elizabeth 
would hardly have cared to interpose at the 
moment, the French being now fairly out of 
the country, 1 and her previous venture having 
been attended, as she thought, with such in- 
different success), there was no force at the 
disposal of the Congregation which could have 
stayed her advance for a week. But she would 
not listen to Leslie. She would have no more 
war. She would accept the established order, 
not unreservedly indeed, but in so far as it was 
consistent with a prudent, moderate, and con- 
ciliatory policy, " with quietness, peace, and civil 
society." 2 The hearts of the people were to be 

1 Small garrisons, indeed, still j rival she sent them back to 
remained at Dunbar and Inch- France. 

keith it was characteristic of 2 Proclamation of 25th Au- 
Mary that directly on her ar- gust. 

The Minister of Mary Stuart. 307 

won ; and she had determined to win them. 
" The Scottish Queen passed by sea into Scot- 
land the 19th of this month. She hath no 
soldiers nor train, and but a small household. 
She meaneth to commit herself to the trust of 
her own" l This was the information which Cecil 
had received, and it was substantially correct. 
Mary knew, however, that such an experiment 
could not succeed if the leader of the moderate 
party was hostile ; hence the importance which 
she attached to Maitland's adhesion. Her 
friendly advances were crowned with success. 
Her frankness disarmed him ; his doubts and 
scruples were removed ; and from the day of 
her return till the day of his death, he re- 
mained her trustiest, her most devoted, and her 
most serviceable minister. 

There is the ring of genuine feeling, of a high 
and magnanimous nature, in the letter which 
she addressed to him on the eve of her return. 
She would gladly employ him in her service, 
for she had no doubt of his goodwill. She 
understood the scruples which he felt ; he had 
been the diplomatic chief of the disaffected 
Lords ; he had been in correspondence with 
England and with Elizabeth. But she had for- 

1 Cecil to Sussex, 21st Aug. position here to be at any new 
1561. He adds, referring to charge, for that there appeared 
Elizabeth, " I saw small dis- so hard fruit of the former." 

308 The Minister of Mary Stuart. 

given all past offences, and for the future she 
would entirely trust him. She had always ap- 
preciated his wisdom and sagacity, and she was 
now confident of his affection and fidelity. Here- 
after they would deal openly with each other. 
He was not to fear what gossips and tale-bearers 
might say ; such creatures had no credit with 
her, she did not listen to calumny : she judged 
her ministers by their actions, and by their zeal 
and faithfulness in her service. 1 

It was not, however, until Mary's personal 
fascination was brought to bear, that Lething- 
ton's doubts and scruples were entirely removed. 
The policy of her return continued to be eagerly 
canvassed with the English envoy ; and Ean- 
dolph's narrative would rather incline us to 
believe that up to the last moment Maitland 
was desirous that she should be detained abroad. 
" I have shown your Honour's letters," he wrote 
to Cecil, " unto the Lord James, Lord Morton, 
Lord Lethington : they wish, as your Honour 
doth, that she might be stayed yet for a space ; 
and if it were not for their obedience sake, some of 
them care not though they never saw her face." 2 
This is scarcely a fair representation of Mait- 
land's view, which upon the whole was that of 

1 29th June 1561, from Paris (French). 

2 9th August 1561. 

The Minister of Mary Stuart. 309 

a patriot and a statesman. The existing " regi- 
ment " was avowedly provisional, and experience 
did not lead to any confident belief in its sta- 
bility. It lacked all the elements of a strong 
government ; antiquity, common consent, a clear 
and definite policy. What continuity it had it 
owed to Lethington himself, the whole burden 
of administration having devolved upon him. 
This was a condition of things which he justly 
regarded with apprehension ; and after Mary 
had been released by the death of Francis from 
her French connection, he saw only one tolerable 
issue, the return of the Queen of Scots to 
Holyrood on certain specified conditions. Of 
these the most important was the institution 
of cordial relations between the two Queens, 
so closely allied, and hitherto so bitterly divided. 
If Mary could be induced to prefer the friend- 
ship of England to the friendship of France, 
all might yet be well ; and he believed that, 
with delicate handling and judicious concession, 
such a union could be effected. " Otherwise I 
fear it shall be hard to do." 1 These were the 
suggestions which he had sent to Cecil early in 
the year; but Elizabeth's obstinate insistance 
upon an untenable claim made it " hard to do." 
The obstinacy of Elizabeth is not intelligible. 

1 26th February 1561. 

310 The Minister of Mary Stuart. 

It was, as Lethington clearly saw, of the first 
importance that Mary should be coaxed into 
friendliness ; yet the English ministers made 
themselves and their mistress as unpleasant to 
her as they well could. They might be sure 
that Mary would never renounce her right to 
the English succession ; and even if they had 
bullied her into ratifying the article which con- 
tained the renunciation, what real advantage 
would they have gained? A renunciation into 
which she had been coerced, any renunciation, 
in fact, obtained by fair means or foul, would 
not, when the crisis arrived, have been worth 
the paper on which it was written. Cecil, Bed- 
ford, Throckmorton, were offensively peremp- 
tory ; l but Mary's steady resistance could not 
be overcome. She was as deftly courteous as 
Lethington himself could have been ; but neither 
threat nor entreaty moved her an inch. The 
decision must be delayed till she returned to 
Scotland ; then she would take the advice of 

1 Although they were aware of heirs of Elizabeth's body " is 
that Mary's construction of the j mooted as " a matter secretly 
treaty as prejudicial to her thought of." See also Moray's 

rights to the English succes- 
sion was sound. This is tacitly 
admitted by Cecil in his letter 
of 14th July to Throckmorton, 
when the possibility of an ac- 
cord on the footing of admit- 
ting Mary's interest " in default 

letter of 6th August to Eliza- 
beth, in which he says that 
Mary will no doubt "think it 
hard, being so nigh of the 
blood of England, so to be 
made a stranger to it." 

The Minister of Mary Stuart. 311 

her Council; nothing could be done till then. 
This was not a very promising beginning ; but 
Elizabeth, yielding to her imprudent and childish 
resentment, continued to put herself still further 
in the wrong. She refused to grant a safe-con- 
duct to Mary, and she led the whole world to 
believe, rightly or wrongly, that, but for the 
accident of a fog,, the Scottish Queen would 
have been the tenant of an English prison. 
Mary was quick to profit by the blundering 
diplomacy of England. "Monsieur 1'Ambas- 
sadour," she said to Throckmorton, " it will be 
thought very strange among all princes and 
countries that the Queen your mistress should 
first animate my subjects against me, and now, 
being a widow, impeach my going into my own 
country. If," she added afterwards, "my pre- 
parations were not so far advanced, peradventure 
your mistress's unkindness might stay my voy- 
age ; but now I am determined to adventure 
the matter, whatever come of it. I trust the 
wind will be so favourable that I need not come 
to the coast of England ; but if I do, your mis- 
tress will have me in her hand, and if she be 
so hard-hearted as to desire my end, she may 
then do her pleasure. Peradventure that might 
be better for me than to live. In this matter," 
quoth she, " God's will be done." 1 

1 26th July 1561 (from Paris). 

312 The Minister of Mary Stuart. 

It is plain that Maitland was profoundly 
chagrined by Cecil's clumsy tactics. Instead 
of delicate handling and judicious concession, 
there had been either unpardonable blundering, 
or deliberate design to make a friendly accord 
between the Queens impossible. His own safety 
was compromised. " I pray you consider what 
danger it is for me to write. Many men's eyes 
look upon me ; my familiarity with your realm 
is known, and so far misliked that, unless our 
Queen be made favourable to England, it shall 
be my undoing." 1 For him personally this was 
bad enough ; but a far more serious danger was 
to be apprehended. The peace of the realms 
had been compromised. His letter of August 
tenth is in this connection extremely instructive. 
It is necessary, indeed, to read between the lines ; 
for it is in substance, though not in form, a 
strong remonstrance against the policy of exas- 
peration on which Elizabeth was bent. " I do 
also allow your opinion anent the Queen's jour- 
ney to Scotland ; whose coming hither, if she be 
enemy to the religion, and so affected towards 
your realm as she yet appeareth, shall not fail 
to raise wonderful trajedies." Though there 
were many waverers, " yet I doubt not but the 
best sort will constantly and stoutly bear out 

1 26th February 1561. 

The Minister of Mary Stuart. 313 

that which they have begun." His own peril 
was great, yet if it might be compassed that the 
two Queens should be as dear friends as they 
are tender cousins, then would he have as good 
part in her good grace as any of his quality 
in Scotland. " If this cannot be brought to 
pass, then I see well it will be hard for me to 
dwell in Eome and strive with the Pope." On 
the whole, the Queen's return, though not with- 
out many and evident dangers, was to be desired ; 
" for what is not to be feared in a realm lacking 
lawful government ? It is now more than two 
years past that we have lived in a manner with- 
out any regiment ; which, when I consider some- 
times with myself, I marvel from whence doth 
proceed the quietness which we presently enjoy, 
the like whereof, I think, all the circumstances 
being weighed, has not been seen in any realm." 
There was no danger of a breach in the continu- 
ance of the amity betwixt the realms so long 
as Mary was absent; "and if all men were so 
persuaded as I am, and did consider the conse- 
quences which I foresee, little peril would be 
after her coming : but her presence may alter 
many things." In the brief note which he had 
addressed to Cecil on the previous day, and which 
had obviously been penned hurriedly on his 
return from the North, he had urged indirectly 
the same considerations. " There is nothing for 

314 The Minister of Mary Stuart. 

us so dangerous as temporising. Our country- 
men's wits be best upon the sudden, and if 
matters be trained in length, then lack of 
charges killeth us. I can never change my 
opinion that the good intelligence between 
the realms can never be put in security unless 
by some means the Queen my Sovereign may 
be persuaded to enter into it." l The moods 
which these letters disclose are, it must be con- 
fessed, somewhat mixed ; but the same cannot 
be said of that which followed. In the inter- 
val Mary's messenger, Captain Anstruther, had 
arrived at Edinburgh, bringing the alarming 
intelligence that Elizabeth had practically de- 
clared war against her cousin, and that an 
English fleet, intended to intercept her, was 
cruising off the Northumbrian coast. Lething- 
ton's habitual courtesy to Cecil was sorely tried ; 
the gross and indeed grotesque impolicy of the 
proceeding almost took away his breath. His 
worst anticipations were to be verified ; the 
home-coming would now, without fail, raise 
" wonderful trajedies." What was to be done ? 
He wrote to Cecil the morning after Anstruther 
had landed : " If two galleys may quietly pass, 
I wish the passport had been liberally granted. 
To what purpose should you open your pack 

1 9th August 1561. 

The Minister of Mary Stuart. 315 

and sell none of your wares, or declare you 
enemies to those whom you cannot punish ? It 
passeth my dull capacity to conceive what this 
sudden enterprise should mean. My wit is not 
sufficient to give advice in so dangerous a cast 
God maintain his cause and those that mean 
uprightly. I pray you send me your advice 
what is best to be done, as well in the common 
cause as in my particular, who am held to be the 
chief meddler and principal negotiator of all the 
practices with your realm : though I be not in 
greatest place, yet is not my danger least 
especially when she shall come home, having so 
lately received at your Queen's hands so great a 
discourtesy as she will think." * Maitland was 
right; the action of the English Government 
had been perverse beyond belief ; they had done 
precisely what he had all along warned them 
against doing. The brutum fulmen was as im- 
politic as it was stupid. " If two galleys may 
quietly pass, I wish the passport had been 
liberally granted." Four days afterwards Mary 
landed at Leith ; and as Maitland had antici- 
pated "her presence altered many things." 

The Minister of Mary Stuart was now in his 
thirty-third year a man comparatively youth- 
ful, yet with a most varied experience ; and 

1 15th August 1561. 

316 The Minister of Mary Stuart. 

some more complete estimate of his personal 
qualities, of his striking individuality, than I 
have yet been able to give, may here be at- 
tempted. When this is done, the narrative of 
the eventful years that were to follow need not 
be again interrupted. Lethington had a good 
deal of the magnetic force of his mistress; he 
was a man eminently fitted to win and attract ; 
yet while he was warmly loved by those whom 
he loved, he inspired those who disliked and dis- 
trusted him with an even keener aversion. When 
trying to arrive at some tolerably just conclu- 
sions about this remarkable man, we must look 
on both sides of the picture, must weigh the 
invective of Knox and Buchanan, as well as the 
friendly testimony of Mary and Elizabeth, of 
Cecil and Kirkaldy. All of them, indeed, at 
one time or other, had expressed their admira- 
tion of his political sagacity and administrative 
genius ; but the position was so perplexing, and 
the governing forces so complex and intricate, 
that the parts of the actors were being con- 
stantly recast. Out of the same fountain came 
sweet water and bitter. The friend of to-day 
was the foe to-morrow r . We must remember, 
besides, that Maitland allied himself with a 
cause that failed. Even in her own age there 
were men who felt that a smile from Mary on 
her scaffold was worth any star or ribbon that 

Tlie Minister of Mary Stuart. 317 

the prosperous Elizabeth could bestow ; but 
these were the Quixotes at whom the world 
laughs. The beaten men are always at a dis- 
advantage ; the faction that wins commands the 
machinery by which fame is dispensed, and hon- 
our awarded, and truth suppressed ; and the poli- 
tician who does not put his foot on his rival when 
he is down is false to the traditions of his craft. 

Lethington, besides, belongs to a class of men 
who are not favourites with the multitude. Sim- 
plicity of motive and action is demanded of the 
popular hero. The subtilties of the moral life, 
the baffling entanglements of the obscurer pas- 
sions, are as little appreciated by children and 
savages as the delicate gradations of colour. 
Maitland, it need not be concealed, is one of the 
difficulties of the historian. His record is not 
clear. We are in the Debatable Land. The 
temptation in such cases rather to cut than 
to untie the ravelled knot is often irresistible. 
Kirkaldy was a soldier whose transparent sin- 
cerity of temper and heroic singleness of aim 
could not be honestly misconstrued by the un- 
friendliest critic ; whereas the pliant diplomacy 
of Lethington (the bewildering tactics of a dar- 
ing general) has been not uncommonly, even by 
his friends, confounded with cynical dishonesty 
or juggling craft. " What profit," Buchanan 
asks with effective if bitter rhetoric, " what 

318 TJie Minister of Mary Stuart. 

profit shall the Queen gather of him that has 
been (as she knows) so oftentime traitor to her 
mother, to herself, to her son, to her brother, 
and to her country?" 

The charge of inconsistency is a charge which 
a statesman is frequently, if "not invariably, en- 
titled to disregard. The ship which beats up 
channel against the wind, now on the one tack, 
now on the other, cannot be accused of vacilla- 
tion ; though it alters its course, it has still the 
same goal in view, and is constantly nearing the 
port for which it is bound. On the other hand, 
the man who insists on knocking his head against 
the stone wall which he cannot cross is stupid, 
if not criminal. The perfidies of a selfish time- 
server are of course inexcusable ; but a states- 
man of the first rank must be judged less by his 
actions than by his aims. Maryland's reply to 
the accusation of inconsistency would probably 
have been that, though he had been allied with 
many factions, " the mark he constantly shot at " 
had never varied ; and on the answer to the 
question, What was the mark he shot at ? what 
were his aims ? our estimate of the honesty or 
dishonesty of his political career will ultimately 
come to depend. We know, in point of fact, what 
Lethington did say. In the correspondence with 
Sussex, the pleas which he urged were discussed 
in a curiously academic spirit ; but (assuming 

The Minister of Mary Stuart. 319 

that the facts were correctly stated) their validity 
could not be disputed ; and they amounted to a 
distinct declaration that, in spite of inevitable 
oscillations of opinion, he had preserved from 
first to last an essential consistency. 

For more than a hundred years the coarse 
daub which George Buchanan entitled ' Chamae- 
leon' was held to be a fair, if not a flattering, 
portrait. The chamaeleon, we are informed, 
can imitate all colours, save only the white and 
the red ; " white, quilk is taken to be the sym- 
bol and token of simpleness and loyalty, and 
red signifying manliness and heroical courage." 
Such a creature, " subtle to draw out the secrets 
of every man's mind," had recently been engen- 
dered in Scotland, "in the county of Lothian, 
not far from Haddington," and so on, and so 
on, in the ponderous satirical fashion of the age. 
It was rumoured at the time that Lethington 
had been anxious to prevent the circulation of 
the pamphlet (he had sent a company of his 
men to arrest the printer, who barely managed 
to escape) ; but the rumour is ill -authenticated, 
and Maitland, who treated the persistent attacks 
of the preachers with contemptuous indifference, 
was not likely to trouble himself about a clumsy 
and anonymous libel. 1 As the tract was written 

1 In Bannatyne's Journal of | 14th April 1571, it is said 

320 The Minister of Mary Stuart. 

during 1570, when the tide of factious feeling 
was running high and strong, Buchanan's real 
estimate of Maitland's character is probably to 
be looked for elsewhere. In his History that 
"story of Scotland" on which he was engaged 
at the time (purging it, as he told Cecil, of 
"English lies and Scottish vanity") he praised 
the Secretary with unusual warmth. Maitland 
had rendered signal service to his country ; he 
was "a young man of the most consummate 
ability, and of great learning." Kichard Banna- 
tyne's Journal, though more honest and less 
rhetorical, is even more intemperate than the 
'Chamseleon.' Maitland is the "Mitchell Wylie" 1 
of Scotland, the most persuasive and insidious 
of political casuists. This sneering Mephistoph- 
eles, this evil spirit in human form, is potent 
for mischief. As clay in the hands of the potter, 
so are Huntly, and Chatelherault, and Grange, 
and Hume in the hands of " their great god, the 
Secretaire." " God confound his malitious and 

" This night at evin, about house with sic things as he 
eleven hours, Captain Melville feared stild have hurt him gif 

came unto Robert Lepreviks's 
house and sought him (as he 
had done twice before), and 
looketh all the house for the 

they had been gottin." There 
were probably a good many of 
these " things," as all the 
broadsheets against the Queen 

' Cameleone,' which the Secre- \ and her party came from Lepre- 

taire fearit that he had prentit ; viks's press. 

but he, being warned before, ' 1 Machiavelli. 
escapet, and went out of his 

The Minister of Mary Stuart. 321 

politicke heade ! " is the pious petition with 
which "gude godly Mr Kichard" rounds off 
his reminiscences. In one sense, of course, no 
higher testimony to Maitland's abilities could 
be offered ; it is clear that by the enemies of the 
Queen he was feared even more than he was 

It is from Buchanan's * Chamseleon ' and Ban- 
natyne's Journal that the "Lethington" of the 
later historians has been derived. While admit- 
ting that his talents as a statesman were of the 
highest order, they ask us to believe that his 
policy was " too artificial and technically subtle," 
as though he had been a speculative student 
whose principles of action had been evolved from 
his inner consciousness, and who had never come 
into close contact with his fellows, a judgment 
which, as I shall have occasion to show, is very 
wide, indeed, of the mark. The extraordinary 
excellence of Principal Robertson's historical 
writings has not of late been sufficiently recog- 
nised; and the brief page that he devotes to 
Lethington is expressed with admirable lucidity. 
Yet even Robertson's estimate was coloured by 
the " Mitchell Wylie " tradition. " Maitland had 
early applied to public business admirable nat- 
ural talents, improved by an acquaintance with 
the liberal arts ; and at a time of life when his 
countrymen of the same age were following the 

VOL. I. X 

322 The Minister of Mary Stuart. 

pleasures of the chase, or serving as adventurers 
in the armies of France, he was admitted into all 
the secrets of the Cabinet, and put upon a level 
with persons of the most consummate experience 
in the management of affairs. He possessed, in an 
eminent degree, that intrepid spirit which delights 
in pursuing bold designs, and was no less mas- 
ter of that political dexterity which is necessary 
for carrying them on with success. But these 
qualities were deeply tinctured with the neigh- 
bouring vices. His address sometimes degener- 
ated into cunning ; his acuteness bordered upon 
excess ; his invention, over-fertile, suggested to 
him on some occasions chimerical schemes of 
policy too refined for the genius of his age and 
country ; and his enterprising spirit engaged 
him in projects vast and splendid, but beyond 
his utmost power to execute." How far this 
estimate of his public career is sound and just, 
how far it rests upon a palpable and radical 
misconception, will appear in the course of the 
narrative. Meantime such personal traits as 
have been preserved may be brought together. 

The two qualities of Maitland's intellect which 
most impressed his contemporaries were his ex- 
traordinary insight and his extraordinary per- 
suasiveness. He was, according to Buchanan, 
" subtle to draw out the secrets of every man's 
mind." The gift of reading the thoughts of those 

The Minister of Manj Stuart. 323 

with whom he was brought into even casual 
contact, a faculty intuitive and instinctive, yet 
capable of being highly cultivated, and of course 
invaluable to the diplomatist, appears to have 
belonged to Lethington in a quite unusual de- 
gree. It is associated by Buchanan with the 
imitative capacity which the chamaeleon pos- 
sesses ; and if by imitation we understand the 
intellectual sympathy which is the finest form 
of flattery, the explanation may probably be ac- 
cepted. And of Lethington it could be said more 
truly than of almost any other man then living, 
that he " could wile the bird off the tree." Kude 
nobles, austere zealots, crafty diplomatists, were 
as wax in his hands ; they could as little resist 
that " fell tongue " as the mariners of Ulysses- 
could resist the songs of the Sirens. I have 
already spoken of his personal ascendancy over 
Elizabeth. " I wish you were here," Leslie wrote 
to him from London, when a very delicate 
negotiation was in progress ; " you could well 
have handled the Queen of England after her 
humour, as you were wont to do." " I think 
there be some enchantment whereby men are 
bewitched," was written of Mary ; but it might 
have been written of Mary's minister. Cecil's 
" brothers in Christ " came latterly to re- 
gard him with a sort of superstitious dread ; 
there was something sinister and " uncanny " 

324 The Minister of Mary Stuart. 

about this potent wizard which turned his ad- 
versaries' weapons and weakened their guard. 
He made even the sturdy and unsusceptible 
Eandolph uneasy ; the English envoy looked 
forward, for instance, to the conference at Ber- 
wick, in which he was to be pitted against him, 
with almost ludicrous apprehension. "What 
is in the Laird of Lethington, your Majesty 
knoweth, for his wisdom to conceive, and his wit 
to convey, whatsoever his mind is bent unto 
to bring to pass. I doubt not but his will is to 
press us to the uttermost. To meet with such 
a match your Majesty knoweth what wit had 
been fit ; how far he exceedeth the compass of 
one or two heads that can guide a queen and 
govern a whole realm alone ! your Majesty may 
well think how unfit I am for my part, and how 
far he is able to go beyond me. I would that it 
were not as I know it to be." l 

Lethington was not only a versatile and many- 
sided man ; but we find in him, moreover, a 
combination of qualities that are rarely united. 
On the one side he is keen, supple, pliant, dex- 
terous, adroit ; on the other, strong, resolute, 
constant, fearless. Brilliant but erratic, was the 

1 Kandolph to Elizabeth, 7th ' they shall not find among 
Nov. 1564. Eandolph writes j themselves so fit a man to serve 
elsewhere : " Whenever Leth- ' in this realm " (24th October 
ington is taken out of his place, i 1561). 

The Minister of Mary Stuart. 325 

popular verdict ; the fact being, as we shall see, 
that he adhered to his convictions with singular 
tenacity, and that the basis of his character was 
an eminent common-sense. He had indeed, as 
is obvious, the most profound confidence in his 
own powers : nor was his confidence without 
warrant; for he had measured himself against 
the most famous of his contemporaries, and he 
knew that he was as strong as the best of them. 
And he delighted in the delicate and difficult 
game he had to play he was a tireless swimmer 
whose energies never flagged. Yet though he 
had the keenest enjoyment in the consciousness 
of intellectual supremacy, and an almost scorn- 
ful reliance on the completeness of his own 
mental equipment, he was never rude, arrogant, 
or aggressive. 1 His self-restraint was perfect. 
Much of the charm of his manner, much of the 
attractiveness of his character, may be traced, no 
doubt, to the native urbanity which did not fail 
him even when disease and evil fortune had 
done their worst. He was perennially gay, deft, 

1 Throckmorton (21st July 
1567) gives us a lively notion 
of Lethington's mode of parry- 
ing a difficult question. " When 
I had perused this writing de- 
livered me by the Lord of 
Leddington, I asked him how 
far these words, Necessity of their 

cause in the end of the same, 
did extend, and how far they 
might be led? He made me 
none other answer, but, shaking 
his head, said, ' Vous estes ung 
renard' (i.e., You are a very 

326 Tfie Minister of Mary Stuart. 

incisive. And he had a light hand ; he did 
his work with surprising ease neatly, cleanly, 
promptly, adroitly without effort and without 
strain. A simple gentleman by birth, he was 
for many years, like Disraeli, the trusted leader 
of the great nobles. Like Disraeli too, like 
many politicians similarly gifted, he has been 
accused of levity and unconscientiousness. If 
we are required to admit that, with a touch of 
what would now be called the Bohemian in his 
nature, he manifested scant respect for pious 
custom and decent convention (though even 
this much of positive accusation is barely war- 
ranted by any well -ascertained facts), it may 
fairly be answered that the frank cynicism of a 
Maitland or Disraeli does infinitely less harm to 
society than pharisaic cant or sentimental in- 
sincerity. The political leader who saps the 
morals of the people and debauches the pub- 
lic conscience is, in the words of the Poet- 
laureate, the " rogue in grain, veneered with 
sanctimonious theory," the sophist, the shuffler, 
and the trickster. There was a wide gulf in- 
deed between Maitland and most of the men by 
whom he was surrounded. " The Lord James 
dealeth according to his nature, rudely, homely, 
and bluntly; the Laird of Lethington more 
delicately and finely ; " l and the contrast 

1 Randolph to Cecil, 24th Oct. 1561. 

The Minister of Mary Stuart. 327 

between Maitland and Knox was still more 
marked. Nothing more futile and grotesque 
than Knox's application of the precedents of Old 
Testament history to the problems of modern 
life can well be imagined ; and this Lethington 
was quick to perceive. Interminable disquisitions 
on Achas, Urias, and the sons of Zeruiah were 
answered by a shrug of the shoulder or a curl of 
the lip. Page upon page of prolix argument and 
laborious trifling (even Calderwood admits that 
Knox was "prolix") were rendered of no avail 
by a keen epigram or a timely jest. The 
preachers inveighed against the "guydars of the 
Court " ; but Maitland, though he could wear 
the cap and bells on occasion, was a political 
reasoner of the highest order ; and an admirable 
common -sense gave strength and substance to 
the "mockage" that Knox so deeply resented. 
Nor can it be said with justice that he was 
politically more unscrupulous or " immoral " 
than the other statesmen of the age. That he 
made at least one fatal mistake, that on more 
than one occasion he miscalculated the strength 
of the forces with which he had to reckon, is not 
to be denied ; yet his political sagacity was 
seldom at fault. If he had no high spiritual 
aims, and little patience with hysterical piety 
and intemperate zeal, he was at least entirely 
sane, and his unambitious gospel is the gospel 
of common-sense. 

328 The Minister of Mary Stuart. 

During several of the eventful years over 
which this history extends, Maitland was the 
spokesman of the Scottish people ; and men of 
all parties were proud of his wit, his gaiety, his 
readiness, his epigrammatic force. He was a 
trenchant orator : and his rapidly written letters, 
of which many have been preserved, are fresh 
and animated. They have a literary flavour 
which we seldom find in State papers and pub- 
lic despatches ; and the illustrations with which 
he enforces his arguments are derived from the 
most varied sources. " I pray you," he writes 
to Cecil with reference to the succession, " that 
the Queen's Majesty may know my opinion, and 
this withal : Multa cadunt inter calicem supre- 
maque labra. In things uncertain which do 
depend a futuro eventu, more frankness may be 
used to put our estate in security and quietness. 
I think you have heard the apologue of the 
philosopher who, for the emperor's pleasure, 
took upon him to make a mule speak. In 
many years the like may yet be either the 
mule, the philosopher, or the emperor may die 
before the time be fully run out." l In another 
letter he advises his correspondent to read " the 
twa former orations of Demosthenes called Olyn- 
thiacse," and consider what counsel that wise 

1 9th August 1561. 

The Minister of Mary Stuart. 329 

orator gave in a like case to the Athenians his 
countrymen. " There may ye learn of him what 
advice is to be followed when your neighbour's 
house is on fire." l He warns Throckmorton that 
French gold is coming into the country, and that 
the Scottish nobles are extremely impecunious. 
" I remember," he adds, " an old verse of Chaucer 
' with empty hand men should no hawkis 
lure' sapienta pauca." 2 The whole of the 
curious correspondence with Sussex, in which 
the morality of his conduct and the consistency 
of his policy are forcibly vindicated, sparkles with 
classical innuendo and learned repartee. Eliza- 
beth declared that Sussex had the best of the 
argument ; he had worsted " the flower of the 
wits of Scotland " : but Elizabeth on that occa- 
sion was a partial witness. The Catholic bishops 
complained, with perfect justice, that Maitland 
had " a crafty head and a fell tongue." 3 Many 
of his mots have become historical ; and he was 
probably one of the men who speak better than 
they write ; but though the style is sometimes 
involved and the allusions obscure, his letters 
are on the whole extremely interesting. 

1 20th January 1560. Eob- 
ertson says that this letter is by 
Maitland ; the compiler of the 
Cottonian Catalogue inclines 
apparently to attribute it to 


2 10th June 1561. 

3 " Fell " in the sense of art- 
ful or persuasive. 

330 The Minister of Mary Stuart. 

The best testimony, however, to the peculiar 
attractiveness of Lethington's character, is to be 
found in the devotion of his friends. The sweet- 
ness of a finely balanced nature was even more 
winning than its intellectual force. The satirists 
of the Congregation laboured hard to account 
for the fascination ; but their theories were dis- 
cordant and inadequate. Now it was " Machia- 
velli " ; now it was the Old Serpent, who tempt- 
ed Eve in Eden, and who, for some inscrutable 
reason, had been permitted to return to trouble 
the people of the Lord. The affectionate interest 
with which the smallest details of his domestic 
life were regarded, has preserved many slight 
but characteristic traits which would otherwise 
have been lost. Envoys and diplomatists turned 
aside from affairs of State to record the progress 
of his flirtation with Mary Fleming. Mary 
Fleming was the flower of the Marys. She was 
the Queen's favourite maid. After the Chastelar 
incident they occupied the same room and slept 
in the same bed ; at the innocent merrymakings 
of a pleasant, homely, uncourtly life, against 
which Knox inveighed as though they had been 
the midnight orgies of a Messalina, the Queen 
would deck her out in her own robes and jewels. 1 

1 Mary Fleming indeed had illegimate daughter of James 

the royal Stuart blood in her IV. by Isobel Stewart, daughter 

veins, she was the grand- ! of the Earl of Buchan. 
daughter of Janet Stuart, the \ 

The Minister of Mary Stuart. 331 

Maitland's first wife Janet Menteith was dead, 
and he fell in love with the fair daughter of Lord 
Fleming. His passion was the talk of the town. 
There was much jesting among the courtiers 
many humorous gibes from friend and foe. " The 
Secretary's wife is dead," Kirkaldy wrote, " and 
he is a suitor for Mary Fleming, who is as 
meet for him as the writer is to be a page." 
Later on we learn that Maitland was expected to 
join the Lennox faction, " for the love he beareth 
to Mary Fleming." Kandolph in especial made 
very merry at his friend's expense. " My old 
friend Lethington hath leisure to make love ; and 
in the end, I believe, as wise as he is, he wilTshow 
himself a very fool, and stark staring mad." But 
Maitland took the badinage in good part, and a 
letter which he sent to Cecil at the time, is writ- 
ten in riotous spirits and with almost boyish 
abandon. The anxious minister of Queen Eliza- 
beth, whose devotion to business is so pleasantly 
censured, must have been somewhat astonished 
when he found this letter upon his table among 
his graver despatches. He had of late Mait- 
land wrote been somewhat perplexed, under- 
standing that Cecil was sick, the rather that he 
could not ascertain whether it was the cough 
which universally did reign, or other more dan- 
gerous disease, that troubled him. He was glad 
to hear that he was better, but would not be fully 

332 Hie Minister of Mary Stuart. 

reassured until lie had a letter from him written 
with his own hand. " I am not tarn cupidus 
rerum novarum, that I desire any change ; and 
if my fortune should lead me to England again, 
I wish not to have occasion to make any new 
acquaintance." The English minister was not 
faultless, and reformation at his age was hardly 
to be looked for ; but though he did not like 
Cecil much, he might like his successor still less ! 
" Therefore, however far I mislike you, I wish 
you to do well to yourself, and suffer neither the 
evil weather nor the evil world to kill you. As 
there are in you many good parts which I miss 
in myself, so I find in me one great virtue where- 
of, for your commodity, I wish you a portion ; 
to wit, the common affairs do never so much 
trouble me, but that at least I have one merry 
hour of the four-and-twenty ; whereas you labour 
continually without intermission, nothing con- 
sidering that the body, yea, and the mind also, 
must sometime have recreation, or else they can- 
not long last. Such physic as I do minister for 
myself, I appoint for you. Marry ! you may per- 
haps reply that, as now the world doth go with 
me, my body is better disposed to digest such 
than yours is (for those that are in love are ever 
set upon a merry pin !) ; yet I take this to be a 
most sovereign remedy for all diseases in all per- 
sons. You see how I abuse my leisure, and do 

The Minister of Mary Stuart. 333 

trouble your occupations with matters of so light 
moment. It is not for lack of a more grave sub- 
ject ; but that I purposely forbear it not know- 
ing in what sort I may touch it and avoid offence. 
I will, with better devotion, look for other matter 
in your next letter, than for any answer to this 
foolish letter of mine except indeed to be adver- 
tised of your convalescence. You can impart 
those news to none that will be more glad of 
them. Like as, if you will command anything 
that lieth in my power conveniently to do, you 
will find none, next your son, over whom you 
have more authority. And so, after my most 
hearty commendations, I take my leave. From 
Edinburgh the last of February 1564, 1 yours at 
command, W. MAITLAND." 

In fine, Maitland's was one of the governing 
minds of the age in which he lived. The num- 

1 That is, 1565. Lething- 
ton's reckoning was of course 
different from ours. The Ju- 
lian style, which was then about 
ten days behind the true time, 
was universal throughout West- 
ern Europe till Pope Gregory 
XIII.'s correction of the calen- 
dar in 1582 ; and the change 
from 25th March to 1st Jan- 
uary (adopted in France in 
1564) was not made in Scot- 

land till 1600, nor in England 
till 1752. The letter which 
Lethington dates " the last of 
February 1564," was, according 
to our present reckoning, writ- 
ten on llth March 1565. It is 
unnecessary to alter the days of 
the months ; but, to avoid con- 
fusion, it is best to adhere uni- 
formly to 1st January as the 
beginning of the year. 

334 The Minister of Mary Stuart. 

ber of such men at any particular period is as 
a rule extremely limited much more so than 
is commonly supposed. I am inclined to hold 
that, at the period of which I am writing, there 
were not above three or four men of distinctly 
original and creative force in the whole island, 
from John-o'-Groats to the Land's End. In 
England they had Cecil ; in Scotland, John 
Knox and William Maitland. Cecil's " brothers 
in Christ" the envoys and emissaries of the 
English Government were men of a specifically 
inferior order, who derived their inspiration 
from their master, and who, when deprived of 
his guidance, of the habitual support of his 
cautious but fertile brain, showed themselves, 
almost without exception, extraordinarily help- 
less. Cecil was partly to blame, no doubt, his 
industry was so prodigious that he monopolised 
the whole business of administration, and his 
subordinates, having no opportunity of acquir- 
ing the rudiments of the art, were, when left to 
their own resources, unmanned by the unwonted 
sense of responsibility. There are eminent writ- 
ers who would be prepared to place the Earl of 
Moray beside Knox and Maitland and Cecil. 
It appears to me that Moray belongs to another 
class altogether, the class of men whose mental 
processes are slow, involved, and dependent. 
It was a common saying later on, when he came 

The Minister of Mary Stuart. 335 

to be Regent, that Moray was the hand and 
Morton the head ; and during the earlier and 
brighter years of Mary's reign, it might have 
been said quite as truly with even greater 
truth indeed that if Moray was the hand, Mait- 
land was the head. The radical energy, the 
illuminating force, came from Maitland ; and we 
do not, I think, meet with any other man in 
Scotland at the time Knox, and perhaps Mor- 
ton, excepted who possessed the high and rare 
gift of ruling men in so marked and eminent a 

I have said that a statesman in Lethington's 
position must be judged less by his actions than 
by his aims. What were his aims ? We shall 
see, as we proceed, that they involved the de- 
termination of political and religious questions 
of the first importance. How to diminish the 
power of an anarchical nobility, hoiv to promote 
the union of the nations, how to secure the succes- 
sion to a Scottish prince, how to establish a reli- 
gious peace on tolerable conditions these were 
the problems to which, as a Scottish Protestant 
and a Scottish patriot, Maitland addressed him- 
self ; and it will be found, I believe, that the sec- 
ular and ecclesiastical policy which he steadily 
and consistently pursued, was upon the whole 
as just as it was reasonable. His field of action 
was comparatively narrow ; but the issues of the 

336 The Minister of Mary Stuart. 

conflict in which he was engaged were moment- 
ous and far-reaching. He knew that they were 
so ; and the spirit in which he worked was 
largely affected by the knowledge. " Remem- 
ber, the end of this service is not as many other 
wars have been ; this will serve our posterity ; 
and therefore bestow your knowledge and travel. 
And though the journey have many difficulties, 
yet is it more honerable being hardly obtained. 
Fare you well, and speed you." 



















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