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[This day. 


The Times. 

" Men of culture in general, but Scotsmen in particular, will be charmed 
with ' The Scotland of Mary Stuart.' " 

The Spectator. 

" We have here a most picturesque and delightful instalment of history, 
in the highest sense of the word literary, full of brilliant pictures of the 
time, and a realisation of all its national peculiarities, which help us to 
see the Scotland of Mary Stuart as perhaps we have never done before. 
Nothing could be better than this historical landscape ; it is full of in- 
struction and entertainment." 

The A thenceum. 

"We can assure the reader he will find no lack of entertainment in the 
volume now before us, and we doubt not he will be grateful to the author 
for a work of so much freshness and originality." 

The Academy. 

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description and narrative." 

The Guardian. 
" Admirable both in its arrangement and in its matter." 

The Scottish Church. 

"There is proof on every page of discriminating original research into 
the best authorities ; of painstaking analysis of evidence ; and of the judg- 
ment of a mind singularly free from bias, especially ecclesiastical bias, 
upon the several characters that played the leading parts during Mary's 
troubled reign." 

The Northern Whig. 
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Mary's life in Scotland, ..... 3 

Her active habits, ...... 5 

Maitland as chief Minister of Mary, ... 7 

Corruptions of Catholicism, . . . . . 10 

Inconsistencies of the Eeformers, . . . . 11 

The provisional settlement in Scotland, . . . 13 

Maitland's ecclesiastical policy, . . . . 14 

A policy of peace, moderation, and restraint, . . 18 

The Confession of Faith, 19 

The proclamation of 1561, . ... . 23 

Conciliation of Elizabeth, . . . . . 25 

Knox's policy of exasperation, . . . . 32 

Knox and Mary, 36 

Pretensions of the Calvinistic preachers,. . . 49 

Maitland's controversies with Knox, . . . 57 

The settlement of the Church, . . . . 65 

Scotland and the Eeformation, . . . . 66 

Character of Knox, . . . . . . 74 

Success of Maitland's ecclesiastical policy, . . 79 

vi Contents. 



Political difficulties, . . . . . . 81 

Attitude of Cecil, . . . . . . 82 

Maitland for Union, . . . . . . 84 

His commanding position, . ... . . 88 

Randolph's letters, . . . . . . 89 

Proposals for an interview with Elizabeth, . . 94 

The Maitland-Cecil correspondence, . . . 100 

Urgency of Maitland for Union, . . . .102 

Cecil's coldness, . . . . . . .109 

The Succession controversy, . . . . .114 

Vindication of Maitland's position, . . . 121 

The negotiations for Mary's marriage, . . . 125 

Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, . . . .127 

Bad faith of Elizabeth, 129 

The offer of Leicester an insult to Mary, . . 134 

How is Moray's animosity to be explained ? . . 135 

Hostility of Elizabeth, 143 

Maitland favours Norfolk, . . . . .147 

Elizabeth declares against Mary, . . . . 150 

The Eun-about-Eaid, 152 

Mary scatters the rebels, . . . . . 152 



Pertinacity of Mary's enemies, . . . . 153 
Maitland's discouragement, . . . . . 155 

Moray in England, 160 

Moray allies himself with Darnley, . . .163 
The conspiracy against Eizzio, . . . . 166 

The murder, ...... 167 

Euthven's narrative, . . . . . .169 

Was Maitland implicated ? 171 

Analysis of the evidence, . . . . .171 
Mary escapes from Holyrood, . . . .177 

Contents. vii 

Her clemency to the conspirators, . . . . 179 

Her difficulties, 180 

(a) Eelations with Maitland, . . . . 181 
(6) Folly of Darnley, . . . . ' . '. 183 

(c) Return of Bothwell, 186 

(d) Her broken health, 188 

The conference at Craigmillar, . . . . 191 
The murder of Darnley, . . . . .196 
The supper at Ainslie's tavern, . . . 201 

The ravishment, 202 

The Bothwell marriage, . . . . . 203 

Probable explanation of Mary's conduct, . . 204 

Scandalous stories, ...... 208 

Maitland's complicity in the murder, . . . 211 
Accompanies Bothwell to Whittinghame, . . 215 
Opposes the Bothwell marriage, . . . . 219 

His life in danger, . . . . . .220 

Leaves the Court, . . . . . . 225 

Did he desert Mary ? 227 

Union of the nobles against Bothwell, . . . 231 
Was the nation against Mary ? . . . .237 
Did she refuse to leave Bothwell? . . . 242 

Maitland saves Mary's life, . . . . .245 





Maitland's " pliancy," . . . . . . 252 

Throckmorton sent to Scotland, . . . . 253 

Meets Maitland at Fast Castle, , : . . . 254 

Throckmorton at Edinburgh, . . . .255 


Interview with the Lords, . .260 

Eeturn of Moray, .. ,.'-. 261 

His character, . . . . .264 

Maitland meets him at Whittinghame, . .265 

His severity to Mary, . . .266 

Accepts the Regency, . .267 

Failure of Throckmorton's mission, . . . 268 

Maitland's speech to the Estates, . * . . 270 

Coldness between him and the Regent, . . . 274 

Mary escapes from Lochleven, . . . . . 275 

Her escape alters the situation, . . . .276 

The Conference at York, . . .. : . . 277 

Maitland disapproves of the Conference, . . 280 

He revives the project of a marriage with Norfolk, . 284 

He declares that Mary is not guilty, . . . 288 

Norfolk betrayed by Moray, . . . .289 

Moray's treachery to Northumberland, . . . 291 

Offers to exchange Northumberland for Mary, , 292 

Imprisons Maitland, . . . . . .294 

Maitland rescued by Kirkaldy, . . . ". 295 

Maitland's "day of law," . . . '.. . 297 

Unpopularity and death of Moray. . . . 298 


History of the discovery of the Casket, . . . 300 

Had it been in Bothwell's possession ? . . 301 

Was it taken from Dalglish 1 . . . .301 

Suspicions attaching to Morton, .... 303 

Examination of the external evidence, . . . 304 

(a) Throckmorton's letter of July 1567, . . 305 

(b) Moray's information in July, . . . .306 

(c) Information received by Drury in November, . 307 

(d) The meeting of the Secret Council in December, 308 

(e) The Act of the Estates in December, . . 310 
(/) Translations sent to Elizabeth in June 1568, . 312 
(g) Receipt granted by Moray in September, . . 313 
(h) The letters (in Scots) exhibited at York, . . 314 

Contents. ix 

(i) The letters (in French) produced at Westminster, 318 

(f) The letters printed by Buchanan and Cecil, . 327 
(&) The copies preserved at Hatfield and in the Ee- 

cord Office, 334 

Examination of the internal evidence, . . . 335 

Style and substance of the letters, . . . 336 
Verbal correspondence between the Glasgow letter 

and Crawford's deposition, . . . . 339 
Conclusion : The letters cannot be accepted as evi- 
dence by the historian, . . . . .341 



Character of Morton, ...... 343 

The political situation on Moray's death, . . 345 

The bad faith of Elizabeth, . . . . .346 

Maitland's resentment, . . . . .348 

Urges the English Ministers to restore Mary, . . 350 

Eandolph is sent to " kindle the fire," . . . 355 

Strength of Mary's party, . . . . .357 

Sussex devastates the Lowlands, . . . . 358 

Indignation of Maitland, . . . . .359 

He retires to Athol, . . . . . . 360 

Correspondence with Sussex, . . . . 362 

He vindicates his consistency, . . . . 366 

He returns to the Castle in April 1571, . . . 373 

Eapid development of his illness, . . . .374 

His intellectual vigour and elasticity, . . . 376 

Bird's-eye view of the Douglas wars, . . . 378 

Within the Castle, . . . . . .379 

Interview with the Ministers, . . . . 380 

Edinburgh during the war, . . . . .385 

(a) The rival Parliaments, . . . . .386 

(b) The satirical literature, . .. . . . 388 

(c) Jokes on John Knox, . . . . .390 

(d) Sickness among the citizens, . . . .j 392 

(e) Violence of the preachers, . . . .393 
(/) Knox attacks Lethington, . . . . 395 
(g) Ferocity of the war, . . . . .398 


Outside the walls, . 400 
The Laird of Braid, . 

Execution of the Archbishop, . . . 402 

The Surprise of Stirling, . 403 

Adam Gordon in the North, . .404 

Moderation of Maitland, . . . .405 

The truce of 1572, 406 


Disastrous effects of the Abstinence, . . . 408 

The Massacre of St Bartholomew, . . . . 410 

Knox's message to Kirkaldy, . . . 412 

Morton is made Kegent, . . . . . 413 

The war is renewed on 1st January 1573, . . 414 

Maitland's "obstinacy," 415 

He appeals to Morton, . . . . .419 

The English Army enter Scotland, . . . 420 

Siege of the Castle, 421 

Fall of the Castle, ... 422 

Maitland's last letter to Burleigh, . . . . 423 
Execution of Grange, . . . . . .425 

Death of Maitland, 427 

Mary Fleming and her children, . . . . 429 

Estimate of Maitland's character and career, . . 431 

[Note to Volume Two. / have succeeded in bringing 
within the compass of a single volume the events of Mait- 
land's life from the return of Mary in 1561 to his death in 
1573. This, hoioever, has only been effected by a process of 
severe compression, many interesting letters having been 
abridged or omitted. I purpose to collect in another volume 
" The Letters of Lethington," illustrated by extracts from 
contemporary writings and records. But as " the letters " 
will be published separately, "the life" may now be regarded 
as complete. /. S.] 






~M~ARY landed at Leith on the 19th of August 
- L "- L 1561 ; she was married to her cousin Henry 
Stuart, Lord Darnley, on the 29th of July 1565. 
During these years her life, though uneventful, 
was not unhappy. Holyrood was the head- 
quarters of the Court, and the sombre old pile, 
which had more than once been gutted by the 
" auld enemy," put on something of summer 
brightness during her stay. Mary had the easy 
manners of her race ; she cared little for cere- 
mony or ceremonial state ; had she been a man 
she would have sought adventure like her father 

Maitland and Knox. 

"riding out through any part of the realm 
him alone, unknown that he was king." She 
dined with the wealthier citizens ; for the poor- 
est she had a ready smile and a pleasant word. 
The Reformers complained that she was addicted 
to dancing, " her common speech in secret was, 
she saw nothing in Scotland but gravitie, which 
she could not agree weill with, for she was 
brought up in joyousitie so termed she dancing 
and other things thereto belonging ; " 1 and there 
were frequent sports and masques among the 
courtiers and the ladies of the Court, after the 
somewhat ponderous fashions of the time. Yet 
graver matters were not neglected, she read 
Livy " daily " with Buchanan, 2 she sat in Council 
with her nobles, the envoys of foreign princes 
were duly welcomed and hospitably entertained. 
She did not, however, I believe, care much for 
Holyrood; the palace lay low among its marshes; 
and the turbulent Calvinism of the capital was a 
constant menace to a Catholic queen. It was at 
Falkland and St Andrews that she felt most at 
home. She loved the hardy outdoor life with 
hawk and hound. During the four years pre- 
ceding her marriage, passing, as I have said 

1 Caldenvood, ii. 159. 

2 "The Queen readeth daily 
after her dinner, instructed by 
a learned man, Mr George 
Buchanan, somewhat of Livy." 

Randolph to Cecil, April 7, 
1562. When the date only is 
given, the letter is in the Rolls 

Maitland and Knox. 

elsewhere, whole days in the saddle, she had 
ridden through every part of her kingdom, ex- 
cept the wild and inaccessible district between 
the Cromarty and the Pentland Firths. Before 
she had been a month in Scotland she had 
visited Linlithgow, Stirling, Perth, and St An- 
drews. The spring of 1562 was spent in Fife ; 
the autumn in the northern counties. She was 
at Castle Campbell in January 1563, when the 
Lady Margaret was married to Sir James Stewart 
of Doune. She went back for a few weeks to 
Holyrood, but she left again in February, and 
did not return till the end of May. She had 
promised to go to Inverary early in June ; but 
Lethington, who had been in France, was still 
absent, and she was anxious to confer with him 
before she left. " We have now looked so long 
for the Lord of Lethington that we are almost 
at our wits'-end. The Queen thinketh it long, 
and hath stayed her journey towards Argyle 
these seven days, with purpose whether he come 
or not to depart upon Tuesday next." l On the 
29th of June (Lethington having in the mean- 
time returned) she started for Inverary, where 

1 Randolph to Cecil, June 19, 
1563. Lethington had been on 
a mission to France. Randolph 
adds : " Some others think 
that some misfortune is fallen 
unto him, others more malici- 

ously report, and say that he 
is stayed there, and commanded 
to keep his house. Thus I am 
sure that some would have it. 
In this sort they dally with 
their own merry conceits." 

Maitland and Knox. 

she arrived on the 22d of July. Crossing the 
Clyde and making a long round through Ayr- 
shire and the Stewartry to St Mary's Isle, it 
was the late autumn before she regained the 
capital. The spring of 1564 was passed in Fife ; 
then in July, Parliament having been dissolved, 
she went to the great deer-hunt in Athol, where 
" three hundred and sixty deer, with five wolves, 
and some roes," were slain ; crossed the "Mounth" 
to Inverness ; visited the Chanonry of Eoss ; and 
returning leisurely by the east coast, reached 
Holyrood on the 26th of September. She was 
at Wemyss Castle in Fife when, on 16th Febru- 
ary 1565, she met Darnley for the first time; 
and it is probable that she was with Athol at 
Dunkeld some time in June of the same year, 
for it was on her return from the Highlands 
that, hearing of the plot of the disaffected nobles 
to kidnap her lover and herself, she rode from 
Perth by the Queensferry in one day to Lord 
Livingston's house of Callendar a ride of not 
less than forty miles. 

During most of this time Maitland, as the 
Prime Minister of the Queen, was the most con- 
spicuous figure at the Scottish Court. In all 
Scotland, indeed, no man, Knox only excepted, 
was more widely known, or, upon the whole, 
more widely liked. He had attained a great 
political position ; and Mary, one of the most 

Maitland and Knox. 

generous of women, was even extravagantly 
munificent to her favourite ministers. She 
created her brother, the Lord James, Earl of 
Moray, enriching him with the spoil of half-a- 
score of abbeys ; the revenues of Crossraguel 
were given to Buchanan ; and out of the Church 
lands round Haddington ample provision was 
made for Maitland. " At my arrival at Dunbar, 
I heard that the Lord of Ledington was at Led- 
ington, taking possession of the whole abbacy 
which the Queen had given him, so that he is 
now equal with any man that hath his whole 
lands lying in Lothian. I chanced upon him 
there, and accompanied him the next day to 
Edinburgh." 1 Many of the men who had been 
the recipients of Mary's bounty came by-and-by 
to conspire against her : Buchanan took away 
her good name, Moray her crown ; but Maitland, 
as I expect to be able to show, was never un- 
grateful to his liberal mistress. The relations 
between them were from first to last (with hardly 
a break) intimate and cordial. There can be 
no doubt, I think, that Maitland was warmly 
attached to Mary. He vindicated her title ; he 
advocated her claims ; he believed quite sin- 
cerely that, supported as she was by the great 
nobles and the mass of the common people in 

Randolph to Cecil, Dec. 13, 1563. 

8 Maitland and Knox. 

either realm, she was in the end bound to win ; 
and though his confidence must have been some- 
times severely tried, yet even when her fortunes 
grew hopeless, he clung to the cause which he 
had made his own with obstinate fidelity, and 
he laid down his life in a service which had 
become desperate. The personal fascination of 
the Queen unquestionably accounts for several 
incidents in his career which, on any other 
theory of the motives by which he was influ- 
enced, would appear inexplicable. It must be 
frankly admitted that on more than one occasion 
his policy, as her minister, could not have been 
dictated by political considerations only; and 
we are driven to conclude that even the cool and 
wary diplomatist had not been insusceptible to 
"the enchantment whereby men are bewitched." 
Of the policy, civil and ecclesiastical, which 
Maitland pursued, of his attitude to the great 
political and religious problems of the age, I 
have now to speak ; and I shall endeavour to 
do so as clearly and briefly as is practicable. It 
is necessary that the arguments which weighed 
with the men to whom he was opposed should 
be fairly stated ; and I propose to state them, as 
far as need be, in their own words. In this 
chapter, therefore, the chief figures will be 
Maitland and Knox; in the next, Maitland 
and Cecil. 

Maitland and Knox. 

The most charming and spontaneous of Ger- 
man lyrists insists, in his essay on the Romantic 
revival, that Leo X. was just as zealous a Pro- 
testant as Luther. Luther's protest at Wit- 
tenberg was in Latin prose ; Leo's at Rome in 
stone and colour and ottava rhymes. " Do not 
the vigorous marbles of Michael Angelo, Giulio 
Romano's laughing nymph - faces, and the life- 
intoxicated merriment in the verses of Master 
Ludovico, offer a protesting contrast to the old 
gloomy withered Catholicism ? " And he con- 
cludes that the painters of Italy, "plunging into 
the sea of Grecian mirthfulness," combated priest- 
dom more effectively than the Saxon theologians ; 
and that the Venus of Titian was a better treatise 
against an ascetic spirituality than that nailed to 
the church door of Wittenberg. 

The bubbles blown by a jester like Heine are 
sometimes more suggestive than the weightiest 
argument of the moralist. No one knew better 
than Heine did that the passage from which I 
have quoted was in one sense (the Italian re- 
nascence being in comparison with the German 
sterile if not corrupt) extravagantly unfair. But 
it is not to be denied that in another and pos- 
sibly a larger sense it is the simplest statement 
of fact. The Reformation, in its initiation and 
in its essence, was a measure of enfranchisement. 
It was a mental, as well as a moral and spiritual, 


Maitland and Knox. 

revolt ; the aspiration of the intellect for " an 
ampler ether," as well as the aspiration of the 
conscience for " a diviner air." 

The Church of Eome, which had once done 
much for the freedom of mankind, 1 had latter- 
ly become a burden too heavy to be borne. A 
colossal system of priestcraft, of sacerdotal pre- 
tences and sacramental mystifications, was sup- 
ported by sanctions which, when not artificial, 
were immoral. The Maker of heaven and earth 
could only be approached through the priest; 
the priest was often a man of ill-repute ; the 
penalties of wrong -doing were remitted, the 
grace of God was secured, not by repentance 
and amendment of life, but by the conjuring of 
a consecrated caste ; pardons for past sins, in- 
dulgences for future sins, might be bought for 
money. This clerical absolutism, as arbitrary as 
it was unconscientious, as sordid as it was cor- 
rupt, as hurtful to intellectual freedom and polit- 
ical liberty as to the spiritual life, was the sys- 
tem which the Reformers undertook to abolish. 

But happily or unhappily, according to the 
point of view few of the Reformers had any 

1 Even Heine, in the essay 
from which I have quoted, ad- 
mits that the Catholic Church 
had had a wholesome effect on 
" the over-robust " races of the 

North. "Through grand ge- 
nial institutions it controlled 
the bestiality of the barbarous 
hordes of the North, and tamed 
their brutal materialism." 

Maitland and Knox. 11 

adequate conception of the higher and wider in- 
terests which their struggle against an exclusive 
sacerdotalism involved. Protestantism is the 
religion of reasonableness as opposed to the re- 
ligion of authority, and the Protestant who puts 
an infallible book or an infallible creed in the 
place of an infallible Church is disloyal to the 
principles of the Reformation, if not to the prac- 
tice of the Reformers. The practice, we may 
admit, was not uniform or consistent ; but the 
men who most powerfully impressed the infant 
Churches of the Continent were the Luthers and 
the Calvins. It was the same in Scotland. Mait- 
land represented the spirit of criticism, Knox the 
spirit of dogma ; yet it cannot be said that Mait- 
land was more successful than Erasmus. 

Sainte Aldegonde a man of versatile ability, 
a poet, an orator, a theologian, a fine scholar, an 
acute diplomatist was one of the most accom- 
plished leaders of the Protestant revolt in the 
Netherlands ; yet even Sainte Aldegonde was 
vexed and irritated by the tolerant temper of 
William the Silent. "The affair of the Ana- 
baptists," he wrote on one occa-sion, " has been 
renewed. The Prince objects to exclude them 
from citizenship. He answered me sharply that 
their yea was equal to our oath, and that we 
should not press this matter unless we were 
willing to confess that it was just for the Papists 

1 2 Maitland and Knox. 

to compel us to a divine service which was 
against our conscience. In short, I don't see 
how we can accomplish our wish in this matter. 
The Prince has uttered reproaches to me that 
our clergy are striving to obtain a mastery over 
consciences. He praised lately the saying of a 
monk who was not long ago here, that our pot 
had not gone to the fire as often as that of our 
antagonists, but that when the time came it 
would be black enough. In short, the Prince 
fears that after a few centuries the clerical 
tyranny on both sides will stand in this respect 
on the same foooting." 

Wise and memorable words ! The Prince was 
not mistaken ; in the highest sense as a vin- 
dication, that is, of the rights of reason and 
conscience, as a protest against a sacerdotal 
monopoly, as well as against an incredible super- 
stition the Reformation failed, nowhere more 
conspicuously than in Scotland. The Reformers 
did not loose the bonds of superstition : they 
banished one incredibility to replace it by 
another. And the Church of Knox was as 
arbitrary, as domineering, as greedy of power, 
as the Church of Hildebrand. 

We are now told that the conjunction was 
inevitable; it was the sixteenth century, not 
the nineteenth ; the age needed a Luther and a 
Knox. A conservative reformation undertaken 

Maitland and Knox. 13 

by Erasmus or Maitland could not have success- 
fully resisted the inevitable Catholic reaction. 
This is the argument, as I understand it; but 
we are not informed how far the Catholic reac- 
tion was rendered " inevitable " by the Calvinist 
and the Iconoclast. 

When Mary returned to Scotland in August 
1561, what may be called a provisional govern- 
ment was in existence. The fabric of Cathol- 
icism had been shaken not shattered. The 
citizens of the burghs were Protestants. A 
certain number of the greater and lesser barons 
were "earnest professors." But there were great 
Catholic nobles, and the new ideas had not 
reached the rural and Highland districts. In 
the populous towns the monastic buildings had 
been wrecked. The patrimony of the Church 
had been secularised ; but the alienations were 
frequently nominal, and if Catholicism had been 
restored, the revenues would have been recovered, 
and applied to the purposes of religion. So far 
as a Parliamentary Convention could disestablish 
and disendow the Church, it had been disestab- 
lished and disendowed ; but statutory definitions 
do not always correspond with the fact, and 
what was legally dead might yet be politically 
and practically alive. There was a want of 
authority everywhere, and the force which was 
strong at the centre became weak, if not im- 

14 Maitland and Knox. 

potent, before it reached the extremities. The 
new ecclesiastical organisation was yet in its 
infancy. Knox was a power in himself ; but he 
was still an eruptive and revolutionary power ; * 
and except in the towns he had no considerable 
following. The nobles, with a few exceptions, 
were careless, if not cold. It was exceptionally 
a period of transition, and the next few years 
would determine what impress the Church and 
the nation would take. Mary, during these 
years, was the central figure ; but the real 
struggle, as we shall see, lay between Knox 
and Lethington. 

The ecclesiastical policy which Maitland pur- 
sued may be defined in a sentence. He was 
strenuously opposed to whatever would render 
a religious peace between England and Scotland, 
between Elizabeth and Mary, difficult or imprac- 

The Confession of Faith had not been approved 
by Elizabeth. Its bitter Calvinism was little to 
her taste, and Cecil would probably have been 
pleased if its sanction by the Estates had been 
postponed to a more convenient season. Mait- 
land had done what he could to mitigate its 
austerity ; but he probably regarded the abstract 

1 Knox once tried to persuade 
Elizabeth that he was a moder- 
ate reformer ; but she would 

not listen to him. National 
MSS. of Scotland, iii. 45. 

Maitland and Knox. 15 

propositions of theology with indifference, and 
it was only where it trenched upon civil rights 
and duties that he insisted on its revision. Mait- 
land, no less than Elizabeth, was keenly opposed 
to theocratic government ; the Church was very 
well in its place ; but a parliament of preachers 
would have been simply intolerable. The Church 
of Rome had been an imperium in imperio : for 
this among other reasons the Church of Rome 
had been abolished. It appeared to Maitland, 
as it appeared to Elizabeth, that the ecclesiasti- 
cal society which undertook to exercise temporal 
as well as spiritual lordship, must become a focus 
of sedition, and consequently a danger to the 
State ; and that any proposal, however modestly 
disguised or studiously veiled, to override the 
law of the land by the law of the Church was to 
be steadily resisted. Knox was eager to have 
the Book of Discipline accepted by the lords ; 
but Maitland's opposition to a scheme, involving 
a domestic inquisition and a social censorship, 
could not be overcome. 

Maitland's position, on the other hand, as re- 
gards Mary's Catholicism, though constantly mis- 
understood and misrepresented, is not less clear. 
It was not to be expected that Mary would be 
persuaded to join a Calvinistic and Presbyterian 
Church. But the Church of Elizabeth was in a 
different position; the English Church could 

16 Maitland and Knox. 

hardly be said to have relinquished the Catholic 
tradition. The new creed of Northern Christen- 
dom had not had time to crystallise ; and the 
doctrinal standards of the various sects were not 
yet regarded with the unreasoning reverence 
which time and habit beget. There was nothing 
in Maitland's view to prevent an " accord " be- 
tween Mary and Elizabeth ; nothing in fact to 
make a religious peace between the Churches of 
the two nations hopeless. The preachers did 
their best to mar the prospects of union. They 
affronted the Queen. They insulted her minis- 
ters. They inveighed against her creed. They 
presented Protestantism to her in its most 
repellent aspect. But Maitland did not despair. 
The advantages of an accord on matters of reli- 
gion between the two Queens and the two na- 
tions being so obvious, he believed that if Mary 
and Elizabeth met the difficulties might be re- 
moved. Some articles of peace, some comprehen- 
sive settlement tolerable to all reasonable men, 
might surely be devised. It is certain that Knox, 
who hated Prelacy nearly as hotly as he hated 
Popery, did not view the scheme with a friendly 
eye; and Cecil, holding that Mary, Catholic- 
Protestant or Protestant-Catholic, would always 
be a menace to Elizabeth, was secretly hostile. 
The interview never took place; and as time 
wore on, the differences which had once been 

Maitland and Knox. 17 

capable of peaceful adjustment, were emphasised 
and accentuated. 

Mary was not invited on her return to ratify 
the proceedings of the Parliament which had 
abolished the ancient Church. She had refused 
to do so before she left France ; the Parliament 
of 1560, she alleged, had neither been lawfully 
convened nor lawfully constituted. A compro- 
mise that left matters open for any subsequent 
change of circumstances was agreed to with 
apparent unanimity. The proclamation of 25th 
August 1561 was probably drawn by Maitland. 
It provided that the form of religion presently 
" standing " should in the meantime be con- 
tinued. The final settlement was purposely de- 
layed. The proclamation was substantially a 
declaration that the whole religious state was 
provisional. This was exactly what Maitland 
in the interests of a comprehensive pacification 
must have desired. There was at least no legis- 
lative bar to union ; a truce had been proclaimed ; 
and when passion had cooled and prejudices had 
been conciliated, union might come. 

I am aware that this view of Maitland's eccle- 
siastical policy is somewhat unusual. But I be- 
lieve it to be in accordance with the facts which 
have been recorded, not, it may be, by eccle- 
siastical historians, but by contemporary writers 
whose fairness and impartiality are undoubted. 


18 Maitland and Knox. 

To a consecutive narrative of these facts the 
incidents of the struggle between Maitland's 
policy of peace and Knox's policy of exaspera- 
tion I must now address myself. 

The objects then of Maitland's policy were : 

(1) To prevent Scottish Protestantism from as- 
suming a form that would make an accord with 
Elizabeth and English Protestantism impossible. 

(2) To bring the Queens together, with the view 
of concluding a comprehensive religious peace 
between the two nations on a reasonable basis. 

(3) To dissuade the preachers from presenting 
such a caricature of Protestantism to Mary as 
might confirm her attachment to Catholicism 
and increase the difficulties of an accord. (4) 
To restrain the extravagant pretensions of the 
preachers, whose doctrines of spiritual independ- 
ence and spiritual supremacy were incompatible, 
in his view, with the maintenance of civil 
authority and orderly government. 

1. It is known that the Confession of Faith, 
before it was ratified by the Estates, had been 
submitted to Maitland and the Lord James for 
revision. They had together gone over it ; they 
had modified the severity of its language ; and 
they had deleted one whole chapter on the 
duty of subjects to the civil power which would 
certainly have proved distasteful to Elizabeth. 
But Maitland and Randolph were obviously 

Maitland and Knox. 19 

extremely doubtful whether even the revised 
version would be acceptable at Westminster. 
" If my poor advice might have been heard," 
the English envoy was careful to explain to 
Cecil, "touching the Confession of Faith, it 
should not so soon have come into the light. 
God hath sent it better success for the confir- 
mation thereof than was looked for ; it passed 
men's expectations to see it pass in such sort as 
it did. Before that it was published or many 
words spoken of it, it was presented unto certain 
of the lords to see their judgment. It was com- 
mitted unto the Lord of Lethington and the 
Sub-Prior to be examined. Though they could 
not reprove the doctrine, yet did they mitigate 
the austerity of many words and sentences which 
sounded to proceed rather of some evil conceived 
opinion than of any sound judgment. The 
author of the work had also put in his treatise 
a title or chapter of the obedience or disobedi- 
ence that subjects owe unto their magistrates, 
that contained little less matter in few words 
than hath been otherwise written more at large. 
The surveyors of this work thought it to be an 
unfit matter to be treated at that time, and so 
gave their advice to have it out." 1 A week 
later Maitland wrote to Cecil to the same effect. 

1 Randolph to Cecil, 7th September 1560. 


Maitland and Knox. 

It was not yet too late, he added, to amend any 
article that Elizabeth might hold to be amiss. 
" If there be anything in the Confession of our 
Faith which you mislike, I would be glad to 
know it, that upon the advertisement it may 
rather be changed (if the matter will so permit), 
or at least in some thing qualified, to the con- 
tentation of those who otherways might be 
offended." 1 The Confession, however, was a 
difficult work to recast ; it hung together with 
logical tenacity ; if one brick was dislodged, the 
whole structure might be imperilled. Granting 
the fundamental assumption of its compilers, 
there was no road by which the conclusion at 
which they arrived " And therefore we utterly 
abhor the blasphemy of them that affirm that 
men who live according to equitie and justice 
shall be saved " 2 could be avoided. The Scot- 
tish Pharisee who held that he was not as other 
men " we are the only part of your people that 
truly fear God " 3 was proud of his isolation. 

1 Maitland to Cecil, 13th Sep- 
tember 1560. 

2 "Henry Balnares, in his 
book upon Justification, affirms, 
That the justification spoken 
of by St James is different 
from that spoken of by St 
Paul ; for the justification by 
good works which St James 
speaks of only justifies us be- 

fore men ; but the justification 
which St Paul speaks of justi- 
fies us before God. And that 
all, yea the best of our good 
works, are but sins before 
God." Mackenzie's Writers of 
the Scottish Nation, iii. 147. 

3 Supplication of July 1565. 
Keith, iii. 113. 

Maitland and Knox. 21 

"As touching the doctrine taught by our min- 
isters, and as touching the administration of 
Sacraments used in our churches, we are bold to 
affirm that there is no realm this day upon the 
face of the earth, that hath them in greater 
purity ; yea (we mon speak the truth whomso- 
ever we offend), there is none that hath them in 
the like purity. For all others retain in their 
churches, and the ministers thereof, some foot- 
steps of Antichrist and some dregs of Papistrie; 
but we have no thing within our churches that 
ever flowed from that Man of Sin." 1 They, at 
least, had made no pact with Satan ; in Scot- 
land, if nowhere else, " Christ's religion had 
been established de novo." 2 In the remarkable 
letter addressed in December 1566 on behalf of 
the General Assembly to the bishops and pas- 
tors of the Church of England, Knox (who was 
the penman) tried hard to be civil, if not 
friendly ; but, by the time he had finished, the 
English bishops and pastors had been roundly 
told that they still flaunted in " Romish rags." 
" If these have been the badges of idolaters in 
the very act of their idolatry, what hath the 
preacher of Christian liberty, and open rebuker 
of all superstition, to do with the dregs of that 
Romish beast ? yea, what is he that ought not 

1 Knox, ii. 264. | 2 Keith, iii. 91. 

22 Maitland and Knox. 

to fear, either to take in his hand or his fore- 
head the print and mark of that odious beast ? " 
" All that are in civil authority," he continued 
in his characteristic vein, "have not the light of 
God shining before their eyes in their statutes 
and commandments, but their affections savour 
over much of the earth and of worldly wisdom ; 
and therefore we think you should boldly opone 
yourself not only to all that power that will or 
daur extol the self against God, but also against 
all such as daur burthen the consciences of the 
faithful, further than God hath burthened them 
by his own word." * This characteristic epistle 
throws considerable light upon Knox's tactics. 
In England, where the Puritans were still few 
in number, the Reformer was content to plead 
for toleration : " Ye cannot be ignorant how 
tender a thing the conscience of man is ; " but 
the moment the Border was crossed, dissent, 
however conscientious, was to be rigidly re- 
pressed. When the people of God were in a 
minority, it was the duty and privilege of the 
idolatrous ruler to respect the principle of re- 
ligious liberty ; but whenever the people of God 
were in a majority they were bound to execute 
God's justice against the idolater. Who, then, 
were the people of God? Knox had no diffi- 

1 Calderwood, ii. 332. 

Maitland and Knox. 23 

culty in answering the question, The Church 
of Scotland was pure ; all others had some 
"footsteps of Antichrist and some dregs of 
Papistrie." The letter to the Church of Eng- 
land was an official document, in which a show 
of courtesy was preserved ; the true feeling of 
the preachers was perhaps more nearly ex- 
pressed in that letter of Goodman to Cecil, in 
which he exhorts him to abolish " all the relics 
of superstition and idolatry, which, to the grief 
of the godly, are still retained in England, and 
not to suffer the bloody Bishops and known 
murderers of God's people to live, on whom 
God hath expressly pronounced the sentence 
of death, for the execution of which He hath 
committed the sword into your hands." 1 

Any compromise between the prophet who 
had been admitted, as he believed, to the most 
intimate counsels of the Eternal, and the Papist, 
the Prelatist, and the Anabaptist, was not to be 
expected ; but for several years after Mary's re- 
turn, Knox did not represent the governing power- 
in Scotland. Moray had been won over by Mait- 
land, and the proclamation of 25th August 1561 
was the official declaration of the policy which 
they had resolved to adopt. The significance of 
a declaration which was bitterly resented by 

1 Goodman to Cecil, October 26, 1559. 


24 Maitland and Knox. 

Knox and the extreme Calvinistic faction, has 
not been sufficiently appreciated, and its lan- 
guage deserves careful study. Eecognising the 
great inconvenience that might arise through 
the division and difference in matters of religion 
which her Majesty is most desirous to pacify by 
" ane good ordour " to the honour of God and 
the tranquillity of her realm, and " means to 
take the same by advice of her Estates as soon 
as conveniently may be," it enjoined all good 
citizens (in the meantime until the Estates of 
the realm may be assembled, and her Majesty 
has taken a final order by their advice and public 
consent, which her Majesty hopes shall be to the 
contentment of the whole nation) to make no 
alteration or innovation of the form of religion 
" publicly and universallie standing at her Ma- 
festy's arrival." x This proclamation, which was 
more than once repeated during Mary's reign, 
was the provisional charter of Protestantism in 
Scotland. The leaders of the moderate party 
did not desire any more explicit declaration ; 
and, in spite of the urgency of the Kirk, declined 
to move on the line of further definition. The 
indisposition of the lay lords of the Congregation 
was attributed by the preachers to a selfish re- 
gard for their own convenience : Moray, for in- 

1 Register of the Privy Council, i. 266. 

Maitland and Knox. 


stance, would not support the proposal, because 
he was waiting for the parliamentary ratification 
of his earldom. 1 But, if I am not mistaken, the 
delay is mainly attributable to Maitland's re- 
solve that when the time for union with Eng- 
land arrived, union should not be rendered more 
difficult by any legislative impediments. If peace 
with Elizabeth and the English Church could 
only be concluded on a broader and more Catho- 
lic basis than the Confession of Faith supplied, 
the Confession of Faith, as the act of a conven- 
tion which had neither been duly summoned nor 
legally constituted, could be quietly set aside. 2 

2. This explanation of Maitland's attitude is 
confirmed, I think, by the extreme anxiety which 
he manifested to bring about an interview between 
Elizabeth and Mary. Many subjects, other than 
religion, as we shall see in the next chapter, would 

1 "The Earldom of Murray 
needed confirmation, and many 
things were to be ratified that 
concerned the help of friends 
and servants ; and therefore 
they might not urge the Queen, 
for if they did so, she might 
hold no Parliament ; and what 
then would become of them that 
had melled with the slaughter 
of the Earl of Huntly? Let 
that Parliament pass over, and 
when the Queen asked anything 
of the nobility, as she must do 

before her marriage, then should 
the religion be the first thing 
to be established." Knox, ii. 

2 The Proclamation certainly 
seems to imply that, in the opin- 
ion of its framers, the Acts of 
the Parliament of 1560 had not 
the force of law. The proceed- 
ings of the Assembly in 1564, 
and the modification of the 
"Articles" suggested by Mait- 
land, are in accordance with 
this view. Keith, iii. 91. 

26 Maitland and Knox. 

have come to be discussed at their meeting ; but 
the resolution of " the religious difficulty " would 
have been among the earliest. It was obvious 
to Maitland that unless some basis of reconcilia- 
tion could be found, Mary's position must be- 
come critical, if not untenable. A Catholic 
queen among a people obstinately Protestant 
had an arduous enough part to play ; but a 
Catholic queen in Scotland and a Protestant 
queen in England was a political embarrassment 
which, as Europe then stood, would not admit of 
amicable adjustment. Maitland from an early 
date had appreciated the difficulties of the sit- 
uation ; and when, on Elizabeth's rejection of 
i Arran, the nation as one man went over to 
Mary, he continued to maintain that a cordial 
union with England was the only admissible 
solution. The scene in the Council Chamber 
on that occasion has been vividly described by 
Eandolph. The Secretary stood almost alone. 
"If ever at any time the Lord of Lethington 
did show the excellence of his wit, his love to 
his country, his affection and goodwill towards 
us, he did that day in them all more than could 
be thought to be in any one man." x When on 
Mary's return Maitland became her minister, it 
is plain that he was still firmly convinced that a 

1 Randolph to Cecil, 6th February 1561. 

Maitland and Knox. 27 

close alliance with England, a perfect under- 
standing with Elizabeth, was the one safe and 
practicable policy. Of this policy Mary appears 
entirely to have approved. She put herself in 
his hands ; he became " the whole guider of her 
affairs." " His advice is followed more than any 
others." 1 We must remember, therefore, when 
we read the letters in which he expresses the 
utmost confidence that were the Queens to meet 
a religious accord might be brought about, that 
Lethington was at the time the Queen's most 
intimate and trusted adviser. If any one in 
Scotland knew what Mary's real sentiments 
were, Maitland did. Nor was he singular in 
his confidence, the wary Randolph, for instance, 
was quite as sanguine of a successful issue. 
Cecil's envoy employs the Puritanic phraseology 
of his faction, but his meaning is clear enough. 
"Your Grace shall know by the Lord of Leding- 
ton sent unto your Majesty from the Queen's 
Grace his sovereign, her Grace's mind more 
amply than ever I spake of it or can now write. 
By whom I am also required to signify unto 
your Majesty the continuance of her goodwill, 
the desire she hath to see your Majesty, how 
loth she would be that your two Majesties 
should not come unto the perfect point of your 

1 Randolph to Cecil, 6th February and 13th December 1563. 

28 Maitland and Knox. 

desires to live in perpetual peace and amity. 
The ways and means thereunto shall be opened 
unto your Majesty at this present [that is, by 
Lethington]. The desire of all godly thereunto 
is such as without that they see no way to a 
happy or contented life. The hope they have 
that your Majesty shall be the instrument to 
convert their sovereign to Christ and knowledge 
of His true Word, causeth them to wish above 
measure that your Majesties may see the one 
the other." x Both Maitland and Randolph were 
men who, in such ticklish negotiations, were 
constitutionally cautious; and Maitland, more- 
over, was decidedly of opinion that the meeting, 
if it led to no settlement, would be worse than 
useless ; failing to remove, it would increase the 
unkindness. But he appears to have had no 
doubt that by judicious address a religious ac- 
cord could be brought about. "The Queen my 
mistress doth so gently behave herself in every 
behalf as reasonably we can require. If any- 
thing be amiss, the fault is rather in ourselves. 
You know the vehemency of Mr Knox's spirit, 
which cannot be bridled, and yet doth some- 

1 Randolph to Elizabeth, 26th that Mary " will never come to 

May 1562. See also his letter God before the Queen's Ma- 

of 7th December 1561, in which \ jesty draw her," and that the 

he says that Lethington and clamour of people and preach- 

. the Lord James are of opinion ers will have no effect upon her. 

Maitland and Knox. 29 

times utter such sentences as cannot be digested 
by a weak stomach. I would wish he would 
deal with her more gently, being a young prin- 
cess unpersuaded. For this I am accounted to 
be too politic ; but surely, in her comporting 
with him, she doth declare a wisdom far exceed- 
ing her age. God grant her the assistance of 
His spirit. Surely I see in her a good toward- 
ness, and think that the Queen your sovereign 
shall be able to do much with her in religion if 
they once enter in a good familiarity." 1 Nor, 
when weighing the evidence, is it unimportant 
to notice that the mere suspicion that Mary 
might be won over to Anglicanism infuriated 
Knox. " The little bruit," Kandolph wrote, 
"that hath been here of late, that the Queen 
is advised by the Cardinal to embrace the re- 
ligion of England, maketh them now almost 
wild of the which (religion) they both say and 
preach that it is little better than when it was 
at the worst. I have not so amply conferred 
with Mr Knox on these matters as shortly I 
must, who upon Sunday last gave the cross and 
the candle such a wipe, that as wise and learned 
as himself wished him to have held his peace." ' 

It may be argued indeed that it was extreme- 
ly unlikely that Mary would desert the faith in 

1 Maitland to Cecil, 25th 
October 1561. 

2 Randolph to Cecil, 12th 
February 1562. 

30 Maitland and Knox. 

which she was educated, and to which she was 
passionately attached. It is true that at a later 
period, as was natural, and indeed inevitable, her 
fidelity to the Catholic Church became a proverb. 
The world had been very hard to her ; yet when 
the rest of the world had deserted her, the 
Catholic Church had remained true. She had 
been bitterly persecuted, and persecution bore 
its usual fruit. She was driven into an ardour 
of piety alike by gratitude and resentment. But 
the evidence that she was an ardent or scrupu- 
lous Catholic when she first came to Scotland 
is very meagre. " The Queen," Throckmorton 
wrote soon after her arrival, " quietly tolerates 
the Reformed religion, who is thought to be no 
more devout towards Eome than for the con- 
tentation of her uncles." This was the common 
impression ; and it appears to have been well 
grounded. Men like Maitland and Randolph 
and Throckmorton were not easily misled ; yet 
these acute observers appear to have entertained 
no doubt that Mary's courteous bearing to the 
dignitaries of her Church, and consistent defence 
of the rights of her co-religionists, did not imply 
any fanatical attachment to the doctrine or cere- 
monies of Rome. She may have deceived them, 
of course; but the charge of inveterate bad 
faith, so far as I am able to form an opinion, 
cannot be substantiated. In all her contro- 

Maitland and Knox. 3 1 

versies with Knox she was perilously outspoken. 
No doubt he tried her patience severely ; and, 
irritated by his confident pertinacity and arro- 
gant masterfulness, she may have said more 
than she meant to say more than she said to 
Maitland or Eandolph. It was natural, indeed, 
that a woman whose relations were mainly 
Catholic should be reluctant to separate herself 
from them. She desired, of course, to stand 
well with her uncles and with France. She 
needed allies ; yet in the confused political state 
of Europe it might chance, should she incur 
their displeasure, that she would find herself 
without a friend. The Catholic conspiracies in 
which she was said to have engaged were the 
inventions or exaggerations of a fanatical fac- 
tion. The visit of a Catholic priest was magni- 
fied into treason to "true religion." 1 Unless 
she joined the Catholic league (of which there 
is absolutely no proof), it cannot be fairly said 
that during her stay in Scotland she was impli- 
cated in any plot against Protestantism. 2 On 
the other hand, it was very commonly believed 

1 Eandolph to Cecil, August 
1, 1562. Kandolph says that 
Lethington had positively as- 
sured him of his certain know- 
ledge that the messenger from 
the Pope who had come to 
learn if Mary would send a 
representative to the Council 

of Trent "shall return in 

2 Randolph's letter of 7th 
February 1566 (in which he 
says that Mary had signed the 
Catholic Bond) is contradicted 
by Bedford's letter of Febru- 
ary 14. 

32 Maitland and Knox. 

that even her uncles (Elizabeth's friendship 
being once assured) were willing that she should 
join the Anglican Church ; l and upon the whole, 
it rather appears that, but for the implacable 
animosity of the Calvinistic preachers, Mait- 
land's scheme of a religious peace might have 
succeeded with incalculable advantage, it need 
not be added, to either nation. 

3. In Maitland's letter of 25th October 1561, 
the earliest intimation of his dissatisfaction with 
the conduct of the extreme Protestant faction 
in their treatment of Mary is to be found. Knox 
had resolved that, so far as in him lay, the 
policy of moderation, of conciliation, should be 
defeated. There could be no truce between the 
idolater and the people of God, between "the 
Eoman harlot " and " the immaculate Spouse of 
Christ." 2 At whatever cost, Mary should learn 
the truth. On the Sunday following her return, 
she heard in the courtyard of the palace the 
gentlemen of Fife, with the Master of Lindsay 
at their head, clamouring against the Mass. Not 
only was the Queen to be deprived of the most 
solemn sacrament of her Church, but the persons 
who celebrated it were to be punished according 
to God's law. "The idolater priest should die 
the death." Knox passionately declared from 

1 Randolph's letters to Cecil, 1562. 
January 30 and February 12, j 2 Calderwood, i. 228. 

Maitland and Knox. 33 

the pulpit of St Giles', that one Mass was more 
fearful to him than "ten thousand armed ene- 
mies landed in any part of the realm." Arran 
protested against the proclamation of the 25th 
August, on the ground that it might protect the 
Queen's Popish servants who went to Mass 
against the penalties attaching to idolatry, a 
protection which ought not to be afforded, he 
continued, " na mair nor gif they commit slauch- 
ter or murder, seeing that the one is meikle mair 
abominable and odious in the sight of God than 
is the others." A peculiar and ponderous vein 
of pleasantry characterised the entertainments 
provided for Mary by the Council when she en- 
tered the capital in state. Maitland was away 
at Westminster on a mission to Elizabeth ; 
and the civic authorities appear to have taken 
advantage of his absence to introduce some 
humorous interludes of which the Secretary of 
State might possibly have disapproved. " Upon 
Tuesday last she made her entry. She dined in 
the Castle. 1 The first sight that she saw after 

1 In going from Holyrood to 
the Castle she had avoided the 
High Street. " Her Highness 
departit from Holyroodhouse, 
and raid by the lang gait on 
the north side of the said burgh, 
unto the time she come to the 
Castle, where was an yet made 


for her, at the quhilk she come 
in and rode up the Castle bank 
to the Castle, and dined there- 
in." Diurnal of Occurrents, 
p. 67. The " Lang Gait " must 
have skirted the margin of the 
Nor' Loch. 

34 Maitland and Knox. 

she came out of the Castle was a boy of six years 
of age, that came, as it were, from heaven out of 
a round globe, that presented unto her a Bible 
and Psalter, and the keys of the gate. There, 
for the terrible signification of the vengeance of 
God upon idolatry, were burnt Corah, Dathan, 
and Abiram, in the time of the sacrifice. They 
were minded to have had a priest burned at the 
altar at the elevation ; the Earl of Huntly stayed 
that pageant." * When, a few days afterwards, 
Mary went to Perth and St Andrews, a candle 
standing at her bedside set fire to the curtain. 2 
It was the judgment of God ; she had attended 
the Popish service in her progress, or, as the 
Reformers phrased it, " all which parts she pol- 
luted with her idolatry ; " and this was the ap- 
propriate punishment. " Fire followed her very 
commonlie in that journey." 3 On her return to 
Edinburgh, she found that the magistrates had 
issued a proclamation by which drunkards, adul- 
terers, Catholic priests, and other improper 
characters were banished from the town. " The 
Queen was very commovit " at the tenor of the 
order, and caused the provost and bailies to 
be removed from office. Knox's indignation 
at the high-handed action of the Court was 
unbounded. Yet no redress was to be had, 

1 Randolph to Cecil, Septem- 2 Ibid., September 24, 1561. 
ber 7, 1561. 3 Knox, ii. 287. 

Maitland and Knox. 35 

" unless we would arm the hands of the people 
in whom abideth yet some spark of his fear ; " 
for even the Protestant nobles were ready to 
humour the Queen; "the permission of that 
odious idol the Mass, by such as have professed 
themselves enemies to the same, doth hourly 
threaten a sudden plague." l Lethington and 
the Lord James were mainly responsible for the 
backsliding of the nobility, " the whole blame 
lieth upon their necks." 2 The counsels of "pol- 
itick heads " were scouted ; the courtiers were 
told by the preachers that they had begun again 
" to shake hands with the devill ; " Maitland was 
"the father of all mischief;" and a storm of 
boisterous ridicule was directed against " him that 
hes the honor to be the Queen's brother." Idol- 
atry, they declared, was never more prevalent in 
the realm. " And yet who guides the Queen and 
the Court ? who but the Protestants ? hor- 
rible slanderers of God and of His holy Gospel t 
Better it were unto you plainly to renounce 
Jesus Christ than thus to mock His blessed 
Evangel." 3 

A sermon by Knox was not unfrequently a 
great political event. His harsh sense was in 
the highest bursts of his oratory curiously blended 

1 Knox to Mrs Anna Locke, i 2 Knox to Cecil, October 7, 
October 2, 1561. 1561. 

3 Knox, ii. 362. 

36 Maitland and Knox. 

with an emotional, if not imaginative, fervour, 
which appealed powerfully to the people. The 
sturdy and somewhat stolid envoy of Elizabeth 
bears emphatic testimony to its amazing force. 
"Where your honour exhorteth us to stoutness, I 
assure you the voice of one man is able in one hour 
to put more life in us than five hundred trumpets 
continually blustering in our ears." * But, after 
Mary's return, the Eeformer's " thundering ser- 
mons" seem to have had less effect upon his 
hearers ; the arrogance of his bearing, the vio- 
lence of his invective, rejoiced his enemies and 
disturbed his friends. The Queen, on the other 
hand, was studiously moderate. She pled for 
liberty of conscience, and liberty only ; and the 
nation began to recognise that the plea was not 
unreasonable. The picture of Mary struggling 
somewhat feebly and blindly on behalf of the 
principles of religious liberty against the stormy 
and insistent invective of the Reformer, has, it 
must be confessed, its touch of pathos and its 
touch of humour. " Mr Knox spake upon Tues- 
day to the Queen. He knocked so hastily upon 
her heart that he made her weep, as well you 
know there be of that sex that will do that as 
well for anger as for grief." 2 

This was their first interview ; and at this and 

1 Randolph to Cecil September 7, 1561. 

Maitland and Knox. 


subsequent meetings Knox found, to his surprise, 
that the Queen's spirit, in spite of her tears, was 
as little craven as his own. " If there be not in 
her a proud mind, a crafty wit, and ane indurat 
heart against God and His truth, my judgment 
faileth me." 1 Whether he was right or wrong 
in his estimate of her character, he took care to 
inform her that the * First Blast of the Trumpet ' 
had been primarily directed against the wicked 
Jezebel of England, and that personally he was 
prepared to recognise her authority, and to 
obey her commands in whatever was lawful, 
" as weill content to live under your Grace, as 
Paul was to live under Nero," a somewhat 
equivocal compliment. But temporal rulers, he 
continued, were bound to submit themselves to 
the rule of the Church. Mary interrupted him. 
Which Church did he mean ? " For my part," 
she said, " I think the Kirk of Eome to be the 
true Kirk'." " Your will is no reason," Knox 
replied ; " nor will your judgment make that 
Koman harlot the true spouse of Christ." " My 
conscience," said Mary, " persuadeth me not so." 
" Conscience ! " exclaimed Knox, " conscience re- 
quireth knowledge, which I fear ye want." " I 
have both heard and read," said Mary. " So did 

1 Knox, ii. 286. See also 
his letter to Cecil, October 7, 

1566. Hatfielcl Calendar, 262. 


Maitland and Knox. 

the Jews," was the reply, " the Jews who cruci- 
fied Christ." "You interpret Scripture," Mary 
retorted, " after one manner, the Pope and cardi- 
nals after another ; whom shall I believe, or who 
shaU be judge ? " " Ye shall believe God," Knox 
replied, "that plainly speaketh in His Word; 
and further than the "Word teaches you, ye neither 
shall believe the one nor the other. The Word 
of God is plain ; and if there appear any obscur- 
ity in one place, the Holy Ghost, which is never 
contrarious to Himself, explains the same more 
clearly in other places ; so that there can remain 
no doubt but unto such as obstinately remain 
ignorant." * 

A sermon directed against the Queen's dancing 
was the occasion of the second interview. The 
most innocent sports were denounced by the 
Reformers ; yet it was with difficulty that the 
affections of " the rascal multitude " were diverted 
from their Robin Hoods and Little Johns, their 
Abbots of Unreason and Queens of May ; and it 
needed half a century of Calvinistic rule to re- 
concile the mass of the people to a prohibition 
which had been, from the first, the cause of con- 
stant heartburning. The Queen's dancing, as we 
have seen, did not escape their censure. " In 

1 Condensed from Knox, ii. 
277-86, and Calderwood, ii. 
148-53. There are persons, I 

believe, who still hold that 
Knox's reasoning is satisfac- 

Maitland and Knox. 39 

presence of the Council, she kept herself very 
grave ; but how soon that ever her French fil- 
locks, fiddlers, and others of that band got the 
house alone, there micht be seen skipping not 
very comely for honest women." 1 But the danc- 
ing in which Mary indulged during the early 
days of December 1562 was particularly repre- 
hensible. " She danced excessively till after 
midnight, because that she had received letters 
that persecution was again begun in France." 2 
So taking for his text, " And now understand, 
ye kings, and be learned, ye that judge the earth," 
Knox began to tax, as he admits, " the ignorance, 
vanity, and despite of princes against all virtue." 
Next morning Mary sent for her censor, and in- 
quired if it was true, as she had been informed, 
that he had travelled to bring her into the con- 
tempt of her people. Knox denied that he had 
done so ; the Queen had been misinformed : he 
had merely said that rulers who danced as the 
Philistines danced would receive the reward of 
dancers, " and that will be drunk in hell; for God 
will not always afflict His people, neither yet will 
He always wink at the tyranny of tyrants. If 
any man, madam," he continued, " will say that 
I spack mair, let him presently accuse me." Mary 
naturally enough replied that the words as re- 

1 Knox, ii. 294. | 2 Ibid., ii. 330. 


Maitland and Knox. 

ported by himself were " sharp eneuch," but did 
not press him further. 1 

They met again at Lochleven Castle in 1563. 
Mary had failed, he contended, to put in force the 
laws against the celebration of the Mass ; and when 
rulers failed to use the sword of justice against 
idolaters, the right of their subjects to take it in 
hand themselves could not be gainsaid. " The 
examples are evident ; for Samuel feared not to 
slay Agag, the fat and delicate king of Amaleck, 
whom King Saul had saved ; neither spared Elias 
Jesabel's false prophets, and Baal's priests, albeit 
that King Achab was present." Mary, after a 
few more Old Testament precedents illustrative 
of Jewish justice had been produced, adroitly 
contrived to turn the conversation to other sub- 
jects, Alexander Gordon, Ruthven, Lethington, 
the Argylls. Ruthven, she complained, had been 
lately placed on the Privy Council, and Ruthven 
she cordially disliked. " Whom doth your Ma- 
jesty blame ? " Knox asked. " Lethington," she 
answered. But Maitland was in France at the 
time, and Knox not ungenerously declined to 
assail his absent rival. " That man is absent for 
the present, madam, and therefore will I say 
nocht against him." 2 Knox appears to have 

1 Knox, ii. 333. 

2 Mary's dislike of Ruthven 
is alluded to in Randolph's 

letter to Cecil, June 3, 1563. 
" The Queen cannot abide him, 
and all men hate him." 

Maitland and Knox. 41 

lodged at Kinross ; for the conversation which 
had been carried on in the Castle the night before, 
was resumed next morning on the Hawking hill 
to the west of the town, where her attendants 
with horse and hawk and hound were waiting 
the signal to start. 

As time wore on the irritation increased. 
Moray, the Master of Maxwell, all those of the 
lay lords, except Glencairn, who had been the 
pillars of the infant Church, one by one deserted 
Knox, and went over to the faction that Mait- 
land led. The insolent personalities in which 
the preachers indulged were more than the nobles 
could stomach. The " supplications " of the Gen- 
eral Assemblies had become thinly veiled incite- 
ments to sedition. The Queen must put away 
"that idol and bastard service of God, the Messe," 
" as well from herself as from all others within 
this realm;" and she was plainly told that, al- 
though nothing was more odious to them than 
tumults and domestic discord, yet would they 
attempt the uttermost before they beheld with 
their own eyes the house of God demolished, 
" quhilk with travail and danger God hath within 
this realm erected by us." If redress was not 
speedily afforded, they were assured that God's 
hand would not long spare in His anger " to 
strike the head and the tail ; the inobedient 

42 Maitland and Knox. 

prince and the sinful people." Lethington, among 
others, having taken exception to the form as 
well as the substance of the address ("For who 
ever saw it written to a prince that God would 
strike the head and the tail ? "), Knox promptly 
rejoined, "that the prophet Esaias used such 
manner of speaking; and there was no doubt 
he was weill acquainted in the Court ; for it was 
supposed he was of the king's stock." His an- 
swer to the suggestion that a complaint might 
be preferred against any person who was guilty 
of a contravention of the law, was happier and 
more pointed. The sheep, he said, might as well 
complain to the wolf. " If the sheep shall com- 
plain to the wolf that the wolves and whelps has 
devoured their lambs, the complainer may stand 
in danger ; but the offender, we feare, shall have 
liberty to hunt after the prey." Lethington, 
it is added, considered such comparisons the 
Queen having shown no desire or inclination to 
establish Papistry " veray unsaverie " ; and the 
Assembly appear to have agreed with him ; for 
the supplication, Knox adds, " was given to be 
reformed as Lethington's wisdom thought best. 
And in very deed he framed it so, that when it 
was delivered, and she had read somewhat of it, 
she said, ' Here are many fair words ; I cannot 
tell what the hearts are.' And so, for our paint- 

Maitland and Knox. 43 

ed oratory, we were termed the next name to 
flatterers and dissemblers." 1 

The Queen's growing popularity with her 
subjects was wormwood to Knox. While the 
preachers were everywhere denounced as " rail- 
ers," Mary's conciliatory policy was as widely 
approved. When she opened the Parliament of 
1563, she received, as she rode from Holyrood 
to the Tolbooth, an enthusiastic welcome from 
the citizens of the capital. " Such stinking 
pride of women as was seen at that Parliament, 
was never seen before in Scotland. Three sundry 
days the Queen rode to the Tolbooth. The first 
day she made a painted oration ; and there micht 
have been heard among her flatterers, ' Vox 
Dianse ! The voice of a goddess and not of a 
woman ! God save that sweet face ! Was there 
ever orator spak so properlie and so sweetly ? ' 
To flatter a woman, and that woman a queen and 
a Catholic, was a dire offence in Knox's eyes; 
and he took a characteristic revenge by abusing 
the fashion of her petticoats. "All things mis- 
liking the preachers," we are told, " they spak 
boldly against the tarjetting of their tails " 
some mysterious device of the feminine toilet 
which, they expected, would " provoke God's 
vengeance not only against those foolish women, 

1 Knox, ii. 338-45 ; Calderwood, ii. 187. 

Maitland and Knox. 

but against the whole realm which allowed such 
odious abusing of things that might have been 
better bestowed." 1 Mary, as we know, was 
being wooed by France, Austria, and Spain ; 
and before the Parliament adjourned, Knox de- 
livered a rousing discourse against her marriage 
with an infidel. " Whensoever," he declared, 
" the nobility of Scotland, professing the Lord 
Jesus, consents that an infidel (and all Papists 
are infidels) shall be head to your sovereign, ye 
do as far as in ye lieth to banish Christ Jesus 
from this realm." Mary was very indignant, 
and Protestant and Catholic alike were offended, 
"this manner of speaking being judged intol- 
erable." Knox was again summoned to the 
palace, where the Queen, moved to tears, re- 
proached him for his harshness. But the sturdy 
divine, who had looked many angry men in the 
face, as he said, " without being afraid beyond 
measure," was nothing abashed. " When it shall 
please God," he told the Queen, "to deliver you 
from that bondage of darkness and error in the 
which you have been nourished, your Majesty 
will find the liberty of my tongue nothing 

These and the like scenes were not calculated 
to lessen the friction between the courtiers and 

1 Knox, ii. 381. 

Maitland and Knox. 45 

the preachers, between Maitland and Knox. 
Knox was implacable, and no entreaties, no con- 
siderations of policy or expediency, would induce 
him to moderate the vehemence of his " railings," 
or the directness of his " applications." It was 
after one of these characteristic outbursts that 
Lethington, we are told, "in open audience gave 
himself unto the devill" if ever from that day 
he should regard what became of the ministers. 
"And let them bark and blaw," he added, "as 
loud as they list." The breach between the two 
factions was complete. Knox thundered against 
the Protestant apostates ; while Maitland's mock- 
ing retort, " we must recant and burn our Bill, 
for the preachers are angry," added fuel to the 
flame. We need not wonder that a politic states- 
man who had all along been anxiously working 
for concord should have been bitterly mortified 
by what he must have regarded as gross and 
criminal indiscretion ; but it was not until he 
had convinced himself that Knox was irrecon- 
cilable, and that it was impossible on any terms 
to win him to a happier and less combative 
mood, that he gave unrestrained expression to 
his displeasure. " The Secretar burst out in a 
piece of his choler." 

One more attempt was made by the ecclesi- 
astical courts, before the Darnley marriage, to 
deprive Mary of her Mass. The General Assem- 

46 Maitland and Knox. 

bly in the summer of 1565 presented a petition 
to her requiring that "the Papistical and blas- 
phemous Mass " " be universally suppressed and 
abolished throughout the realm, not only in the 
subjects but also in the Queen's Majesty's own 
person." Mary returned a dignified answer. 
She could not forsake the religion in which she 
had been brought up, and which she believed to 
be well grounded, "beseeching all her loving 
subjects (seeing that they have had experience 
of her goodness, that she neither hath in times 
by-past, nor yet meaneth hereafter, to press the 
conscience of any man, but to suffer them to 
worship God in such sort as they are persuaded 
to be best), that they will not press her to offend 
her own conscience." * To Mary's ill-timed and 
premature plea for toleration (as such we are 
now taught to regard it by men who are clam- 
orous for religious equality), Knox, from the 
pulpit of St Giles', replied with characteristic 
vigour and promptitude. Darnley had come to 
hear the sermon in the Protestant sanctuary on 
Sunday, 19th August, three weeks after he was 
married. The text was taken from Isaiah : " 
Lord our God, other lords than Thou have ruled 
over us ; " and the appropriate application was 
duly made. God had given the government of 

1 Caldenvood, ii. 295. 

Maitland and Knox. 47 

the realm to "boys and women" to rebuke the 
people for their iniquity and ingratitude ; and if 
order was not taken with " that harlot Jesabel," 
the vials of the divine wrath would be emptied 
upon the land. Knox had become so used to 
strong language, as the opium-eater becomes 
used to an immoderate quantity of his drug, 
that he failed to appreciate its effect upon per- 
sons who were unfamiliar with his uncourtly 
candour. It may have been the language, or it 
may have been the length, of the sermon ; but 
Darnley at any rate, we are told, was profoundly 
annoyed. The author of the 'Diurnal of Oc- 
currents ' says only, " Whereat the king was 
crabbit ; " but Knox's own version supplies some 
amusing details. " And because he had tarried 
an hour and more longer than the time appointed, 
the king, sitting in a throne made for the occa- 
sion, was so moved at this sermon that he would 
not dine ; and being troubled, with great fury, 
he passed in the afternoon to the hawking." 

The vehemence of Knox, however, must not 
be confounded, as it has sometimes been, with 
deliberate rudeness or boorish disrespect; an 
entire absence of sound judgment, charity, and 
tact is the worst that can be laid to his charge. 
His missionary zeal was untempered by apostolic 
discretion. Yet the effect was the same, had 
he desired to confirm Mary in her mistaken 

48 Maitland and Knox. 

opinions, lie could not have followed a more 
successful method than he adopted. We must 
remember, however, that the phrase " mistaken 
opinions," as used by us, was incomprehensible 
to Knox. The Mass was idolatry, idolatry was 
crime, and the people and rulers who refused to 
inflict the punishments which God had attached 
to crime, would themselves be punished. " In 
the northland where the autumn before the 
Queen had travelled, there was ane extreme 
famine, in the quhilk many died in that country. 
The dearth was great over all, but the famine 
was principally there. And so all things apper- 
taining to the sustentation of man, in triple and 
more, exceeded their accustomed prices. And 
so did God, according to the threatening of His 
law, punish the idolatry of our wicked Queen. 
For the riotous feasting and excessive banquet- 
ing wheresoever that wicked woman repaired, 
provoked God to strike the staff of bread, and to 
give His malediction upon the fruits of the earth." 1 
" God from heaven and upon the face of the 
earth gave declaration that He was offended at 
the iniquity that was committed even within 
this realm ; for upon the 20th day of Januare 
there fell weit in great abundance, quhilk in the 
falling freizit so vehemently that the earth was 

1 Knox, ii. 367. 

Maitland and Knox. 49 

but ane sheet of ice. And in that same month 
the sea stood still, and neither flowed nor ebbit 
the space of 24 hours. These things were not 
only observed," Knox adds, " but also spoken 
and constantly affirmed by men of judgment and 
credit." l The effect of this, fantastical fanaticism 
upon a proud and high-spirited woman may be 
easily guessed. Knox was the foremost of the 
Eeformers ; yet Mary had found that Knox was 
narrow-minded, superstitious, and fiercely intol- 
erant, so narrow-minded, intolerant, and super- 
stitious that he had no difficulty in believing that 
the orderly course of nature was interrupted be- 
cause the Queen dined on wild fowl and danced 
till midnight. If this was Protestantism, she 
would have none of it. Nor can we blame her 
much. The ecclesiastical dictator at Edinburgh 
was as violent and irrational (it might well appear 
to her) as the ecclesiastical dictator at Eome. 
Was it worth her while to exchange the infallible 
Pope of the Vatican for the infallible Pope of the 
High Street ? 

4. In a theocratic society the Church and the 
State are one ; and the prophet of the Israelitish 
records is a lawgiver, a magistrate, and a politi- 
cian, as well as a preacher. Knox's notions of 
government were taken from the Old Testament. 

1 Knox, ii. 417. 

50 Maitland and Knox. 

Maitland, on the other hand, was a secular states- 
man, who steadily resisted the intrusion of the 
Church into civil affairs. We have already had 
a sample of the wares in Knox's wallet ; and the 
briefest narrative of his controversies with Mait- 
land will serve to show that the Hebrew prophet 
is an unmanageable element in modern society, 
and that the application of the principles which 
Knox asserted and Maitland resisted must lead 
directly to anarchy. 

We have seen that from the day the new reli- 
gious society was instituted Maitland openly op- 
posed the inordinate pretensions of the preachers. 
He had said " in mockage," when Knox's special 
and vehement application of the prophet Hag- 
geus was being addressed to the Parliament of 
1560, "We mon now forget ourselves, and beir 
the barrow to build the houses of God." He had 
declared again with his usual verbal felicity 
that the Book of Discipline was " a devout im- 
agination," meaning probably that such a code 
of exact and salutary discipline might suit the 
Civitas Dei when it came to be established, but 
was ill adapted for any existing society. Knox 
was anxious that the treatise should be ratified 
by the Estates; Maitland, on the other hand, 
was resolved that no parliamentary sanction 
should be given. It had been signed informally 
in 1560, Knox being urgent, by some of the 

Maitland and Knox. 51 

lords of the Congregation ; but it would appear 
that later on they had come to be of opinion 
that they had acted unadvisedly ; and Lething- 
ton's plea, addressed to the members of the 
Assembly of 1561, that subscription had been 
a formal act, which meant little or nothing 
" many subscribed in Jide parentum, as the 
bairns are baptised " seems to have satisfied 
most of the lords who were present. " How 
many of those that signed that book would be 
subject to it ? " he inquired, with significant 
emphasis. The answer was, "All the godly." 
" Will the Duke ? " (Lethington had been ap- 
prised, no doubt, that the Hamiltons were now 
unfriendly.) "If he will not," Lord Ochiltree 
replied, " I would that he was scrapped out, not 
only of that book, but also out of our number 
and company." But Ochiltree appears to have 
had no support among the " worldlings," and 
after an angry speech from Knox, Lethington 
told him plainly that the discussion need not 
be protracted ; " Stand content, that book will 
not be obtained." 

The penalties against Popery were, as we have 
seen, extraordinarily harsh. The Catholics had 
looked forward to Mary's return, hoping that 
with her help the severity of the Acts might be 
relaxed ; but they were disappointed. We learn 
from one of Maitland's earlier letters that the 

52 Maitland and Knox. 

penal statutes had been rigorously enforced, and 
that in point of fact the Popish priests were in 
worse plight than before. 1 Maitland, for reasons 
to which I have already adverted, was distinctly 
in favour of a lenient administration of the law, 
and we find the Reformers complaining on more 
than one occasion that the Secretary was not a 
keen persecutor. Knox, alluding to a prosecu- 
tion which was begun when Maitland was in 
France, observes that the Queen asked counsel 
of the old Laird of Lethington, " for the younger 
was absent, and so the Protestants had the fewer 
unfriends ; " and it is quite true that during the 
latter years of the Lethington administration the 
penalties inflicted upon those who adhered to the 
ancient faith were comparatively light. On the 
other hand, he regarded the seditious doctrines 
which were aired in the pulpit of St Giles' with 
marked disfavour. The preachers declared that 
they held a civil as well as a divine commission, 
a secular as well as a spiritual warrant. They 
were above the law when the law was in their 
judgment unjust. They prayed for the Queen 
as " a thrall and bondwoman of Satan," and for 
the rebel lords as " the best part of the nobility." 
A religious festival not uncommonly developed 
into a political saturnalia. The first public fast 

Maitland to Cecil, 15th January 1562. 

Maitland and Knox. 53 

of the Keformed Church was held during the 
week for which Eizzio's murder had been planned; 
and in the form of prayer prepared by Knox for 
the occasion, his knowledge of the plot enabled 
him to exercise his prophetic gifts with marked 
advantage. "When, after a tumult in Edinburgh, 
the lawless citizens were warned not to take the 
law into their own hands, the Eeformer pro- 
tested against the " high threatenings " and 
offensive language of the Royal letter. Knox's 
defiance of authority has been defended by indis- 
creet apologists ; but Maitland's reply to the 
argument that the godly might break with im- 
punity any law they disliked appears to be un- 
answerable. "For if all private persons should 
usurp to take vengeance at their own hands, 
what lies in ours ? And to what purpose hath 
good laws and statutes been established ? " l 

An accidental outburst of fanaticism in the 
Abbey Church during the Queen's absence at 
Stirling in 1563 brought the contention between 
the extreme and moderate parties to a crisis. 
The Calvinistic rioters were identified, and two 
of their number were summoned to underlie the 
law. Knox promptly called his faction to arms. 
The trial was to take place on the 25th of Octo- 
ber, and early in the month the Fiery Cross, in 

1 The Queen's Letter of 24th April 1565. 

54 Maitland and Knox. 

the form of an Encyclical from the Calvinistic 
leader, was speeding through the Covenanting 
counties. " Wheresoever two or three are gath- 
ered in my name, there am I in the middest of 
thame," was the superscription of this singular 
declaration of war, in which the writer craved 
the Congregation to convene in Edinburgh on 
the day of trial, " for the advancement of God's 
glory, the safety of your brethren, and your own 
assurance." It was an insolent attempt to over- 
awe the Judges by collecting in the capital a 
mob of Protestant fanatics. " The brethren pre- 
pared themselves, as many as were thought ex- 
pedient in every town and province, to keep the 
day." A civil war was in prospect ; but the 
tenor of the letter was made known to the Queen, 
and Knox was called before the Council. 

The Eeformer was urged, both by Moray and 
by Maxwell, to withdraw the obnoxious circular, 
but he obstinately refused. He had been guilty 
of no offence. " No offence ! " exclaimed Max- 
well, " to convocat the Queen's lieges ! " " Not 
for a just cause," Knox replied, vindicating his 
conduct by the example of the lords of the Con- 
gregation, who two years before had risen in 
arms against their sovereign. Maxwell was an- 
swering reasonably enough that, times having 
changed, the precedent was inapplicable, when 
he was interrupted by Knox : " It is neither the 

Maitland and Knox. 55 

presence nor the absence of the Queen," he said, 
" that rules my conscience, but God speaking 
plainly in His Word ; what was lawful to me 
last year is still lawful, because my God is un- 
changeable." What could a Maitland or a Max- 
well make of this impracticable controversialist, 
a controversialist whose ultimate court of ap- 
peal was the Old Testament narrative as inter- 
preted by himself? 

Knox, however, was ultimately discharged by 
the Council. The Queen was present on the 
occasion, Maxwell on one side of her chair of 
state, Maitland on the other. The Council was 
composed exclusively of the lords who had be- 
longed to the Congregation, Moray, Marischal, 
Glencairn, Euthven. Behind the lords, at a little 
distance from the table, sat, among others, " auld 
Lethington, father of the Secretar." The exam- 
ination was mainly conducted by Maitland, who 
had no difficulty in disposing of the pleas that 
were urged by Knox and his partisans. The pre- 
cedent of the convocations which had been held 
during a period of civil strife was clearly inap- 
plicable : " Then was then, and now is now. We 
have no need of sic conventions as sometimes we 
have had." Then the Queen herself interposed : 
" Who gave him commandment to make convo- 
cation of my lieges ? Is not that treason ? " 
Ruthven had recourse, in answer, to a trans- 

56 Maitland and Knox. 

parent evasion (of which Knox, indeed, had al- 
ready availed himself) ; it was not treason, he 
contended, " for he makes convocation of the 
people to hear prayer and sermon almost daily, 
and whatever your Grace may think thereof, we 
think it not treason." Mary tore the cobweb to 
pieces. "I. say nothing," she retorted, "against 
your religion or against your convening to your 
sermons. But what authority have you to con- 
vocate my subjects when ye will, without my 
commandment ? " Knox's reply was to the effect 
that he had acted on the commandment of the 
Kirk ; but the greater part of his defence was 
devoted to a violent invective against the "pes- 
tilent Papists, who, being the sons of the devill, 
maun obey the desires of their father, who 
has been ane liar and 'ane murderer from the 

Knox asserts that Lethington was eager for a 
conviction, and that the lords were offended by 
his importunity. " What ! shall the Laird of 
Lethington have power to controul us ? or shall 
the presence of a woman cause us to offend God 
by condemning the innocent against our con- 
science ? " It rather appears, however, that the 
prudential considerations (a conviction might 
possibly have led to a riot) which induced the 
lords to discharge him did not imply any ap- 
proval of his conduct ; for it is from the time of 

Maitland and Knox. 57 

his appearance before the Council that the divi- 
sion between the Court party and the Church 
party becomes most marked. The Master of 
Maxwell " gave unto the said John a discharge 
of the familiaritie which before was great be- 
tween them ; " and even Moray was thereafter 
for many months divided from the man to whom 
he had been bound by the closest ties. " In all 
that time the Earl of Moray was so fremmit to 
John Knox that neither by word nor write was 
there any communication betwixt them." 

An unsuccessful attempt to bring the two 
parties together was made during the sitting of 
the Assembly which met at Edinburgh in June 
1564. Lethington presided, Knox was in atten- 
dance, and the conference ultimately resolved 
into an animated discussion between the preacher 
and the politician. The report comes from 
Knox, and we may fairly conclude that he does 
no injustice to his own argument ; yet the 
reasonableness of Maitland's position, the fairness 
of his judgment, and the felicity of his language, 
are conspicuous throughout. The figures of the 
representative leaders stand out boldly, and the 
hopelessness of any compromise between the 
men is nowhere else more distinctly brought 
home to us. Knox belonged, heart and soul, to 
the Church militant of the sixteenth century; 
whereas Maitland, in his manner of speech and 

58 Maiiland and Knox. 

habit of thought, was essentially modern. A 
brief resume of this dramatic dialogue will in- 
terest the reader. 1 

It must be premised, however, that a confer- 
ence had been held soon after Mary's return, at 
which the question, " Whether subjects might 
put to their hand to suppress the idolatry of 
their prince ? " had been keenly debated. The 
preachers were prepared to insist on conformity, 
the lords were in favour of liberty, " and the 
votes of the lords prevailed against the minis- 
ters." It was resolved, however, that the judg- 
ment of the Church of Geneva, the mother 
Church of the more rigid Protestantism, should 
be obtained. Knox offered to correspond with 
Calvin ; but on the plea (it was only " a shift to 
gain time," we are told) that " there stood meikle 
in the information," the Secretary undertook to 
prepare and forward the memorial. 

The conference was held in the " Inner Coun- 
sel House." Besides the Duke, Moray, Argyll, 
Morton, Glencairn, Marischal, Rothes all those 
who had been hitherto the steadiest friends of 
the Church, but who were now dismayed by 

1 As the report of the con- endeavoured rather to preserve 
ference occupies forty pages of the tone and temper, the char- 
Knox's narrative in Laing's acteristic peculiarities of the 
edition (ii. 421-461), my sum- ' speakers, than to follow the 
mary of the debate is neces- argument closely, 
sarily of the slightest. I have \ 

Maitland and Knox. 59 

Knox's violence were present on behalf of the 
lords ; Erskine of Dun, Spottiswoode, Craig, and 
others represented the ministers. The debate 
was opened by Lethington, who, insisting upon 
the immense importance of a friendly under- 
standing between the sovereign and her people, 
pointed out that the goodwill which had hitherto 
been preserved was in danger of being inter- 
rupted by the indecent invective and virulent 
hostility of the preachers. Knox replied that 
any truce between wicked rulers and the people 
of God was not to be desired, and that God, in 
His hot indignation, would strike the people who 
winked at the idolatry of their prince. 

Lethington. That is a head, Mr Knox, where- 
upon you and I have never agreed. How are 
you able to prove that God has plagued or 
stricken a people for the idolatry of their prince, 
if they themselves led godly lives ? 

Knox. The Scripture of God teaches me that 
Jerusalem and Juda were punished for the sin 
of Manasses. It is true that the king was not 
wholly to blame, for idolatry and false religion 
have ever been and ever will be pleasing to the 
most part of men ; and a great number, no 
doubt, followed him in his abominations, and 
suffered him to file Jerusalem and the temple of 
God ; for which sin the whole nation was justly 
responsible ; even as the whole of Scotland is 


Maitland and Knox. 

guilty this day of the Queen's idolatry, and you, 
my lords, specially above all others. 

Lethington. Therein we shall never agree ; but 
of that we shall speak more at large hereafter. 
Now, as regards the form of prayer which you 
use for the Queen ? 

Knox. God knows that publicly and privately 
I have prayed for her conversion, showing the 
people the danger in which they stand by reason 
of her indurit blindness * 

Lethington. That is it wherein we find the 
greatest fault. You call her the slave of Satan ; 
you affirm that God's vengeance hangs over the 
realm by reason of her impiety, what is this 
but to rouse the heart of the people against her 
Majesty ? 

Knox. It sufficeth me, my lord, that the Master 
and Teacher of baith prophets and apostles has 
taught me so to pray. 

Lethington. Wherein rebels she against God ? 

Knox. In all the actions of her life, but espe- 
cially that she will not hear the blessed Evangel 

1 This had been the form 
adopted by Knox since the 
Queen's return. At least as 
early as October 29, 1561. 
Randolph wrote to Cecil : " Mr 
Knox's prayer is daily for her, 
' That God will turn her obsti- 

nate heart against God and His 
truth ; or if the Holy Will be 
otherwise, to strengthen the 
hands and hearts of His chosen 
and elect stoutly to withstand 
the rage of all tyrants,' in words 
terrible enough." 

Maitland and Knox. 61 

of Jesus Christ, and that she maintains that idol, 
the Messe. 

Lethington. She thinks it not rebellion, but 
good religion. 

Knox. So thought they that sometimes offered 
their children unto Moloch, and yet the Spirit of 
God affirms that they offered them unto devills 
and not unto God. 

Lethington. Yet why not pray for her without 
moving any doubt ? 

Knox. Prayer profits the sons and daughters 
of God's election only, of which number whether 
she be ane or not, 1 have just cause to doubt. 

Lethington. Well, let us come to the second 
head. Where find ye that the Scripture calls any 
the bond-slaves to Satan ? or that the prophets of 
God speak so irreverently of kings and queens ? 

Knox. The Scripture says that by nature we 
are all of the sons of wrath ; now, what difference 
there is between the sons of wrath and the slaves 
of the devill, I understand not. 

Lethington. But where will ye find that any of 
the prophets did so entreat kings and queens ? 

Knox. In more places than one. Achab was 
a king and Jesabell a queen, and yet what the 
prophet Elias said to the one and to the other I 
suppose ye be not ignorant ? 

Lethington. These were singular motions of 
the Spirit of God, and appertane not to our age. 

62 Maitland and Knox. 

[Letliington, who had been " leaning upon the 
Master of Maxwell's breast," here said, " I am 
almost weary. I would that some other would 
reason upon the other heads." But no one com- 
ing forward, the discussion on the extent of the 
obedience due by subjects to their rulers was 
resumed by him.] 

Lethington. How will ye prove that the per- 
sons placed in authority may be resisted, seeing 
the apostle has said, " He that resists the powers 
resisteth the ordinance of God " ? 

Knox. That the prince may be resisted, and 
the ordinance of God not violated, is evident, for 
Saul was the anointed king, and the Jews his 
subjects, and yet they so resisted him that they 
made him no better than mans worn. 

Lethington. I doubt if in so doing the people 
did well. 

Knox. The Spirit of God accuses them not of 
any crime, but rather praises them. And there- 
fore I conclude that they who gainstood his com- 
mandment resisted not the ordinance of God. 

Lethington. All this reasoning is not to the 
purpose. Our question is, whether we may and 
ought to suppress the Queen's Mass, or whether 
her idolatry shall be laid to our charge ? 

Knox. Idolatry ought not only to be sup- 
pressed, but the idolater ought to die the 

Maitland and Knox. 63 

Lethington. But there is no commandment 
given to the people to punish their king if he 
be an idolater. 

Knox. I find no more privilege granted unto 
kings by God, more than unto the people, to 
offend God's majesty. And for the probation, I 
am ready to produce the fact of one prophet 
for ye know, my lord, that Eliseus sent one of 
the children of the prophets to anoint Jehu, who 
gave him in commandment to destroy the house 
of his master Achab for the idolatry committed 
by him, and for the innocent blood that Jesabell, 
his wicked wife, had slain. 

Lethington. We are not bound to imitate ex- 
traordinary examples, unless we have the like 
assurance and commandment. We have not the 
like commandment. 

Knox, That I deny; for the commandment 
the idolater shall die the death is perpetual, as 
ye yourself have granted. 

Lethington. You have produced but one 

Knox. One sufficeth ; but yet, God be praisit, 
we lack not others. Amasias and Joash, kings 
of Judah, were both punished for their iniquity 
Joash by his awin servants, and Amasias by the 
whole people. 

Lethington. I doubt whether they did well. 

Knox. It shall be free for you to doubt as you 

64 Maitland and Knox. 

please ; but whaur I find execution according to 
God's laws, I daur not doubt of the equity of 
their cause. And further, it appears unto me 
that God gave sufficient approbation and allow- 
ance for their conduct, for he blessit them with 
victory, peace, and prosperity, the space of fifty- 
two years thereafter. 

Lethington. But prosperity does not always 
prove that God approves the acts of men. 

Knox. Yes, when the acts of men agree with 
the will of God. 

Lethington. Well, I think ye shall not have 
many learnit men of your opinion. 

Knox. The truth' ceases not to be the truth, 
though men misknow it. Yet, I praise my 
Lord, I lack not the consent of God's servants 
in that head. [Here he presented to Lething- 
ton the Apology of Magdeburg, signed by cer- 
tain ministers of the Lutheran Church.] 

Lethington (after reading the names). Homines 

Knox. Dei tamen servi. 

So the controversy ended, and the scruples of 
neither party were resolved. It is the way of 
most controversies. Lethington proceeded to 
explain why he had not written to Calvin the 
explanation being approved by " the clawbacks of 
the Court"- but even Calvin's judgment would 
have had little weight. For the division between 

Maitland and Knox. 65 

the advocates of custom and the advocates of 
change, between the advocates of authority and 
the advocates of revolution, is not yet healed. 
It is one of the root-questions of politics. If 
every citizen who is dissatisfied with the estab- 
lished order is entitled to take the law into his 
own hands, orderly government is made impos- 
sible. Yet there are extraordinary occasions 
when resistance to a " wicked ruler " becomes 
the plainest duty of the subject. The right of 
insurrection in certain extreme cases is now 
more fully admitted than it was when Maitland 
lived ; yet even to-day the most advanced the- 
orist will be ready to own that the doctrine of 
resistance as formulated by Knox could lead 
only to anarchy. 

Maitland, it may here be added, took an ac- 
tive part in the proceedings which were rendered 
necessary by the alienation of the revenues of 
the Church. The ministers were very indignant 
at the inadequacy of the provision which was 
made for them by the Privy Council, even the 
" third " (which was ultimately set aside for their 
sustentation) being burdened with a provision in 
favour of the Crown. 1 "Twa parts," they de- 

1 It was at first a fourth only. 
Kegister of Privy Council, 22d 
December 1561, i. 192. Hunt- 

is reported to have addressed 
the Council : " Good day, my 
Lords of the twa-pairte." 

ly, after the Act was passed, 


66 Maitland and Knox. 

clared, "had been freely given to the devil, and 
the third had been divided between the devil 
and God." They maintained, moreover, that 
those who had been empowered by the Council 
" to modify the stipends " had been niggardly in 
the extreme. They were particularly wroth with 
the Comptroller (Wishart, the Laird of Pittarrow), 
one of their own men, who had been selected 
indeed to protect their interests ; and the con- 
trast between his professions and his practice 
was severely satirised. " The good Laird of 
Pittarrow was an earnest professor of Christ ; 
but the meikle devill take the Comptroller ! " 
Maitland, on the other hand, contended that the 
" modification " had been so favourable to the 
ministers that at the end of the year the Queen 
would not have enough "to buy her a pair of 
new shoes"; and Christopher Goodman, who, 
though he held an English benefice, had taken 
a leading part in the controversy, was tersely 
advised to mind his own business : " Ne sit 
peregrinus curiosus in aliena republica." 

If the religious revolution in Scotland has 
been bitterly denounced, it has also had eager 
apologists. The teaching of Knox, we are told, 
has been " the immediate cause of all that is best 
and greatest in Scottish character"; and "the 
resolute and noble effort of the Scottish people 

Maitland and Knox. 67 

to make Christ's gospel the rule of their daily 
lives " has been emphatically approved. The 
passion of the partisan is apt to provoke indis- 
criminate retaliation ; and there are men of learn- 
ing and judgment who do not hesitate to declare, 
on the other hand, that the revolution, as con- 
ducted by Knox, was an immense misfortune for 
Scotland, throwing back for not less than two 
hundred years its art, its civilisation, and even 
its religion. It does not appear to me that either 
view is entirely just ; although I incline to hold, 
upon the whole, that if Maitland's counsels had 
prevailed, the effect of the Reformation on 
morals, on doctrine, on the social relations, on 
the intellectual life, would have been more salu- 
tary than it was. 

That among the earlier Reformers there were 
many simple and earnest souls to whom spiritual 
verities were intensely real who saw the pure 
and noble figure of Jesus waiting for them in 

o o 

the heavens, while meantime they themselves in 
an evil world fought the good fight and kept 
the faith which He had bequeathed to them 
need not be doubted. But this was hardly the 
aspect in which religion presented itself to the 
mind of Knox. The jealous God of prophet and 
psalmist, who had commanded the chosen people 
to root out the Canaanite and slay the idolater, 
was the central figure of his theology. Divested 

68 Maitland and Knox. 

of its technical phraseology, the gospel according 
to Calvin is capable of succinct definition. The 
first man had incurred the displeasure of Al- 
mighty God by eating forbidden fruit. For this 
act of disobedience he and his innocent offspring 
had been devoted to everlasting fiery torments 
justly and righteously devoted ; but out of 
the depths of His divine compassion the Lord 
had devised a scheme of salvation by which a 
select minority might be enabled to escape. His 
only begotten Son was sent to bear the punish- 
ment which they had incurred, and which other- 
wise would have fallen on them. While the 
elect, thus vicariously punished and vicariously 
redeemed, will be taken up to dwell with their 
Master and Saviour in heaven, the rest of the 
human race (who have drawn blanks in this tre- 
mendous lottery) will be cast into the tormenting 
fire of hell, where they will spend eternity in the 
practice of sin, and in sinking lower and lower 
into the hideous abyss of evil. This is Calvinism 
pure and undiluted ; and the tragic conception 
of the relations between man and his Maker 
which the gloomy logic of a theologian had con- 
jured up, was seared by Knox and his successors 
upon the soul of the Scottish people. A horror 
of great darkness rose up, like a pestilential 
exhalation, from the pit, obscuring the gracious 
light and benignant glory of heaven. What this 

Maitland and Knox. 69 

whimsically tragic scheme of doctrine (for it is 
whimsical as well as tragic) had led to in the 
course of a century or two, is known to every 
reader of Burns's immortal satires ; and men 
who are yet hardly past their prime can still 
remember how the religion of Scotland had been 
demoralised by it when they were boys. 

A system of doctrine which is unreal or fan- 
tastic must react injuriously, one would fancy, 
upon the practical morality of a people. " Mor- 
ality in its theological aspect," to borrow Pro- 
fessor Huxley's weighty words, " is obedience to 
the will of God." The will of God, as disclosed 
to the Scottish Calvinist, involved, it must be 
admitted, some rather singular conclusions. 
That the Pope was Antichrist, that bishops 
w r ere servants of the devil, that witches and 
warlocks were to be burnt alive, that churches 
were to be built like barns, that works of art 
were to be disfigured and defaced, that actors of 
plays were to be branded and banished, that 
persons who walked in the fields or gathered 
"grosers" in time of sermon were to be excom- 
municated, that the Sabbath was a season of 
penitential gloom, that dancing and other inno- 
cent pleasures were a device of Satan, that a 
belief in the real presence was idolatry, and that 
the idolater was to die the death, these were 
some of the definitions of God's will, to which 

70 Maitland and Knox. 

the Scottish Calvinists, then and later, proceeded 
to give effect. The determination to live in 
obedience to God's will is deserving of all praise ; 
but it is obvious that the quality of the morality 
must depend to some extent on the conception 
that has been formed of what that will requires ; 
and it cannot perhaps be said that in this sense 
the Reformers had made any appreciable advance 
upon the monk and the pardoner. 

No one now denies that fanaticism, intemper- 
ate zeal, cruel intolerance, iconoclastic excess, 
characterised the Reformation in Scotland. Is 
fanaticism good ? Are intemperance, intellectual 
narrowness, ferocious invective good ? Are these 
the legitimate fruits of a moral and intellectual 
revival? In this sense, again, we have to ask 
ourselves, Was Knox's way best, or was Lething- 
ton's ? Unless the plea of urgent necessity is 
admitted, there can be no question of what the 
answer must be. For my own part, I decline to 
accept the plea. I see no reason to doubt that 
the Reformation (even in Scotland) might have 
been successfully conducted on other lines, that 
a real reform of abuses moral and spiritual might 
have been brought about without the sacrifice of 
intellectual breadth and veracity, of moderation, 
of comprehension, of Christian charity. 

When we are told that Knox's Reformation 
was the cause of all that is " best and greatest " 

Maitland and Knox. 


in the Scottish character, we are tempted to ask 
whether in point of fact the Scot since Knox's 
time has risen to any high moral or spiritual 
level? It is probable that under any form of 
religion or government the national caution and 
the national shrewdness would have led to ma- 
terial success and worldly prosperity. But is it 
just to assert that the severe and gloomy Puri- 
tanism of the preachers has impressed upon the 
national conscience a finer ideal of duty or a 
higher standard of purity? If this could be 
truly asserted, then, indeed, the narrowness, the 
fierceness, the bigotry might be forgiven. That 
the life led by " the Scottish commons " a since 
the Reformation has been, as a rule, simple, 
frugal, and devout, I would gladly believe ; but 
that it has been in many respects a maimed and 
stunted life, wanting in beauty and attractive- 
ness and the instinctive refinement of more 
favoured nations, as well as hard, narrow, and 
merciless in judgment and conduct, cannot, I 
am afraid, be denied. Nor do sobriety, purity, 
and cleanliness quite consist with certain un- 
pleasant returns which have been taken to show 

1 It has been said that " the 
Scottish commons" were cre- 
ated by Protestantism. It ap- 
pears to me that the commons 
in Scotland, as the commons 
elsewhere, were the growth of 

new social and economical con- 
ditions, ; the decay of the 
feudal society, and the rise of 
the burghal, being among the 
most active of the agencies at 

72 Maitland and Knox. 

(rather unfairly, I believe) that among the na- 
tions of Europe the countrymen and country- 
women of Knox are the most intemperate and 
the most unchaste. 

Any general reflections on national peculiarities 
should be made with the utmost reserve, and 
when I say that the Puritan training of the 
nation had an unhappy effect upon its morale, 
I am ready to admit that the opposite view may 
be supported by plausible argument. To me, 
however, it appears that the bonds from which 
the Scots have had to free themselves in later 
times, cut them to the bone. The iron entered 
into their souls ; and, while it cannot be reason- 
ably affirmed that the Reformation refined the 
manners or purified the morals of the people, 
Covenanter and Cameronian the lineal de- 
scendants of Knox became as morbidly super- 
stitious and as crazily fanatical as any fasting 
saint or howling dervish. 

If the influence of the Knoxian Reformation 
upon morals, upon the soul and the conscience, 
cannot be unreservedly approved, the effect upon 
the intellectual life was distinctly disastrous. 
The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries were the 
witnesses of a new Birth. The fruitful methods 
of a new philosophy were being applied; the 
initial step in an incredible development of 
philosophy, poetry, theology, science, had been 

Maitland and Knox. 73 

taken. Men who had hitherto walked in a vain 
show, were about to return to sincerity and to 
nature ; the swaddling - clothes of the middle 
ages were being laid aside ; and the nations of 
Northern Europe, to whom the mummeries of 
superstition and the traditions of the schoolmen 
had grown musty and ill-flavoured, welcomed, 
with the fresh delight and innocent wonder of 
children, the free and liberal air of a larger life. 
Wise thinkers like Erasmus, sagacious statesmen 
like Maitland, would have associated the ecclesi- 
astical traditions with the new secular impulses ; 
but the Luthers, the Calvins, and the Knoxes 
were as hostile to intellectual freedom and 
spiritual breadth as Pope or bishop. The re- 
formers of religion put a new face upon the old 
unrealities and the old unveracities, and then 
proceeded to enforce them by the time-honoured 
sanctions, the fagot here, eternal fire hereafter. 
Their first business in Scotland was to con- 
struct an exhaustive form of excommunication, 
directly thereafter they succeeded in obtain- 
ing an Act from the Estates which punished 
witchcraft with death. It need not be added 
that the higher literature of Scotland, the litera- 
ture which has given Scotland a place among 
the nations, owes nothing to its Puritanism. 
Hume, Burns, Scott each in his own fashion 
led the revolt against the Knoxian tradition. 

74 Maitland and Knox. 

On the singular figure of Knox himself the 
undoubted leader of the religious movement in 
Scotland men will continue to look, as his con- 
temporaries looked, with mingled feelings of ad- 
miration and aversion. In the case of so unique 
a personality, the temptation to burn or to adore 
becomes wellnigh irresistible. The flaws in a 
character of exceptional force and masterfulness 
are of course accentuated by its virility ; and in 
Knox especially, it cannot be denied, there was 
much that was not admirable. Such words as 
charity, chivalry, magnanimity, were not to be 
found in his dictionary, and the ideas which they 
represented he would have laughed to scorn. 
The coarse strain in his nature is most notice- 
able, perhaps, in his estimate of, and in his inter- 
course with, women : there are allusions to his 
first wife in his letters which no man of natural 
delicacy could have committed to paper. 1 Mar- 
jory Bowes died when he was almost an old man, 
and then he married the daughter of Lord Ochil- 
tree, a girl in her teens. 2 His impotent struggles 
to escape from the net which he had incautious- 
ly woven for himself in the ' First Blast of the 
Trumpet ' are whimsical in the extreme. " Jere- 

1 e.g., Knox to Cecil, August | dolph to Cecil, January 22, 

23, 1559. 

1564. Knox was born in 1505 ; 

2 Randolph says she was " a he married Margaret Stuart in 
young lass of sixteen." Ran- ; 1564. 

Maitland and Knox. 

mie prayed for the prosperity and health of 
Nebuchadnezar. Did he therefore justify his 
cruelty against Jerusalem ? I am assured he did 
not, as his own prophesie beareth plain witness." 1 
In his dealings with men, Knox was often unscru- 
pulous, sometimes, if rarely, dishonest. When 
the Congregation, were anxiously looking for help, 
from Elizabeth, he wrote to Sir James Croft that, 
as matters stood, the English Government might 
safely break with France, " but if ye list to 
craft with them, the sending of a thousand or 
more men to us can break no league nor point 
of peace contracted betwixt you and France ; for 
it is free for your subjects to serve in war any 
prince or nation for their wages ; and if ye fear 
that such excuses will not prevail, ye may de- 
clare them rebels to your realm when ye shall be 
assured that they are in our company." 2 Even 
Croft " the bell-wether of all mischief " 3 was 
shocked, or professed to be shocked, by the cyni- 
cal levity of the proposal, how could a " wise 
man" like Mr Kuox fail to see that this "dis- 
honourable device " would deceive nobody ? It 
is needless to repeat that Knox was intensely 
superstitious. The changes of wind and weather 
were spiritual portents which the Almighty per- 

1 Calderwood, iii. 53. 

2 Keith, i. 398. 

3 Norfolk to Cecil, June 4, 

1560. My impression is that 
Norfolk alludes to Croft. 

76 Maitland and Knox. 

mitted him to interpret. His disciples believed, 
indeed, that the gift of prophecy had been given 
to their master, as it had been given to Isaiah 
and Ezekiel. The reasonably probable deduc- 
tions from current events which native shrewd- 
ness enabled him to make, were magnified into 
inspired vaticinations ; and vindictive antici- 
pations of approaching doom not unfrequently 
brought about their own fulfilment, as Kir- 
kaldy and others found to their cost. The hori- 
zon of his mind was narrow ; it had no " atmo- 
sphere "or " perspective," as artists would say ; 
and the limitations of his intellect reacted upon 
his policy. The historical continuity and the 
historical development of great institutions were 
conceptions which he could not grasp. He was 
ready at any moment to break with the past, 
and to " establish the Church of Christ de novo." 
And if his logic was arbitrary, his dogmatism 
was inveterate. The Bishop of Rome was the 
Man of Sin, the Son of Perdition, the Babylonian 
harlot, what more needed to be said? He 
thundered against the Mass ; it was more ter- 
rible to him than a host of armed enemies ; but 
he failed to show wherein the mystery of the 
Eucharist was more incredible than the mystery 
of the incarnation or the mystery of the resur- 
rection, than the miracle in Cana of Galilee, or 
the miracle in Bethlehem of Judea, He was a 

Maitland and Knox. 77 

forcible but not a great or entirely honest rea- 
soner, and the vigorous and animated argument 
was sometimes sophistical and sometimes puerile. 
His sarcasm was clumsy, his irony wanted finish. 
The broad and boisterous caricature in which he 
delighted was closely akin to horse-play ; while 
his humour, sometimes hilarious, sometimes sat- 
urnine, would have shocked a more fastidious 
society. Yet friend and foe were fain to admit 
that the weapons in his controversial armoury 
had one invaluable merit they almost invari- 
ably silenced his adversaries. He convinced as 
a sledge-hammer convinces. And even if his 
defects of temper and manner had been graver 
than they were, this rude and rugged figure, in 
the plain Geneva gown, can never cease to be 
interesting and even memorable to Scotchmen. 
Seldom before had such sturdy courage and such 
unflagging energy, such fertility of resource, such 
fire of zeal, such majesty of invective, animated 
the friends and confounded the enemies of the 
truth. His undaunted bearing in the presence 
of learned doctors and hostile nobles cannot be 
too highly praised. " He never feared the face 
of man." The constitutional insensibility to 
danger is shared by many coarse and inferior 
natures ; but Knox was not the vulgar bully of 
the ecclesiastical arena. The burden of the Lord 
was upon him. Stronger, far stronger than nat- 

78 Maitland and Knox. 

ural intrepidity, was the abiding conviction that 
he had been permitted to enter into the counsels 
of the Most High, and that the God of Israel 
was on his side. Thus in the darkest hour his 
confidence was unshaken. Of him, as of William 
of Orange, it might be truly said, " See vis tran- 
quillus in undis." He was never, indeed, so great 
as in adversity ; and when, from the wrath of 
man and the wiles of the Evil One, the afflicted 
people of God appealed to the Eternal, it was 
the voice of Knox that shaped their prayer. " It 
remaineth that both they and we turn to the 
Eternal, our God (who beats down to death to 
the intent that He may raise up again, to leave 
the remembrance of His wondrous deliverance, 
to the praise of His own name), which, if we do 
unfeignedly, I no more doubt but that this our 
dolour, confusion, and fear shall be turned into 
joy, honour, and boldness, than that I doubt that 
God gave victory to the Israelites over the Ben- 
jamites after that twice with ignominy they were 
repulsed and dung back. Yea, whatsoever shall 
become of us and our mortal carcasses, I doubt 
not but that this cause, in despite of Sathan, 
shall prevail in the realm of Scotland. For as it 
is the eternal truth of the eternal God, so shall 
it at the last prevail, howsoever for a time it be 
impugned. It may be that God shall plague 
some, for that they delight not in the truth, al- 

Maitland and Knox. 79 

belt for worldly respects they seem to favour it. 
Yea, God may take some of his dearest children 
away before that their eyes see greater troubles. 
But neither shall the one nor the other so hinder 
this action but in the end it shall triumph." l 

So long as Maitland retained the control of 
public affairs in Scotland, the provisional reli- 
gious peace was strictly observed. It may be 
truly said that during the whole of his adminis- 
tration, inasmuch as active intolerance was dis- 
couraged by those in power, Ephraim did not 
envy Judah, nor Judah vex Ephraim. The prin- 
ciples of wise restraint and judicious abstinence 
were recommended to priest and people by a 
Minister who was constitutionally averse to 
" the falsehood of extremes." On the fall of 
Mary and the retirement of Maitland, Knox 
regained his influence over the lords. At the 
Assembly of the " Kirk of God," which met at 
Edinburgh on 25th July 1567, the nobility, 
barons, and others of the Kirk promised faith- 
fully, in the presence of God, " to root out, 
destroy, and utterly subvert all monuments of 
idolatry," and thereafter " proceed to the punish- 
ment of the idolaters." And on the 29th, Mor- 
ton, for the infant King, who had been crowned 

1 Knox, i. 472. 

80 Maitland and Knox. 

that day, solemnly swore that " out of all my 
lands and empire I shall be careful to root out 
all heresy," an oath confirmed by Moray him- 
self as Eegent on the 22d of August, " Out of 
this realm of Scotland, and empire thereof, I 
shall be careful to root out all heretics and 
enemies to the true worship of God." 1 

1 Kegister of the Privy Council, i. 536-42-48. 



TT7E have seen that there was an active and 
unscrupulous faction in Scotland who 
were always bitterly hostile to Mary Stuart. 
They suspected her as a " Frenchwoman " ; they 
detested her as a " Papist." Randolph, whose 
relations with Knox were close, if not cordial, 
has described the situation with his usual lu- 
cidity : "And to make it more plain unto your 
Majesty, so long as this Queen is in heart 
divided from her subjects through the diversity 
of religion, they neither have that quietness of 
mind nor peace in conscience that is most to be 
desired in true worship of their sovereign, nor 
yet see how her state can long continue, seeing 
the self-same seeds remain that was the occasion 
of a former mischief." l With the help of Mait- 
land, the Scottish irreconcilables were mean- 

1 Kandolph to Elizabeth, 26th May 1562. 

82 Maitland and Cecil. 

while kept in check. But Mary had other than 
domestic enemies, and among these the most 
powerful was the famous Minister of Queen 
Elizabeth. Cecil's conviction that Mary Stuart, 
as Queen of Scotland, was a constant menace to 
England and to Elizabeth never wavered. But 
for Cecil, Maitland's policy of conciliation might 
have succeeded. The disaffected faction were 
in a minority. The " Professors " were not pop- 
ular with the great nobles or with the mass of 
the common people. The high-spirited girl, with 
the blood of Bruce in her veins, could count with 
confidence on every Scotchman whose patriotism 
was more deeply rooted than his Calvinism. 
But Cecil, like Knox, had resolved from the 
outset that Mary should fail ; and Cecil's patient 
animosity was even more deadly than Knox's 
truculent violence. They were in many respects 
uncongenial allies ; but they had correctly ap- 
prehended the conditions of the problem which 
they had set themselves to solve, and each knew 
that the one was indispensable to the other. 

Much, I admit, may be urged for Cecil. He 
was fighting the battle of reasonable Protestant- 
ism against heavy odds. England was, as it 
seemed, the last citadel of freedom ; England 
alone stood between Charles V. and universal 
empire. "The Emperor is aiming at the sover- 
eignty of Europe, which he cannot obtain with- 

Maitland and Cecil. 83 

out the suppression of the reformed religion ; 
and unless he crushes the English nation, he 
cannot crush the Eeformation." l These were 
the words of the foremost man in England at 
the moment ; and it was owing to him, more 
than to any other English statesman, that Eng- 
land was not crushed in the contest. But the 
risks as well as the responsibilities were enormous ; 
and we need not blame him over-much if the 
weapons which he selected were not invariably 
those which a more fastidious taste or a more 
sensitive conscience would have approved. Nor- 
folk had told Cecil in 1560 that he was glad 
to learn that Elizabeth had determined to " go 
through" with the Scottish business, "either by 
fair means or foul" z The phrase was as apt 
and expressive as it was frank. Mary was, from 
first to last, a danger to Elizabeth, and it was 
necessary that the danger, " by fair means or 
foul," should be removed. Elizabeth's advisers, 
it may be admitted, did not exaggerate the pos- 
sible peril. A stormy channel divided England 
from the mainland of Europe, and a race of 
hardy mariners were being bred who could be 
trusted to hold their own upon the narrow seas. 
But the Border was the weak point in the 

1 Creighton's ' Age of Eliza- 2 Norfolk to Cecil, 19th April 
beth,' p. 14. 1560. 

84 Maitland and Cecil. 

national defence. It was the chink in Cecil's 
armour. While resolutely facing the great 
Catholic powers of the Continent, the English 
statesman was always haunted by an uneasy 
suspicion that there was danger in the rear. 
The " auld enemy " hung like a thunder-cloud 
above the northern passes. The Scottish Border 
was " a dry march," and the road by Carlisle or 
Newcastle to the south a beaten thoroughfare. 
If a French or Spanish force were once landed 
at Leith or Dumbarton, it might be at Durham 
within the week. Mary was a covert or open 
enemy : a vital position could not be left in an 
enemy's hand ; at all hazards, it must be carried. 
Cecil's friendly overtures were only diplomatic 
feints ; the negotiations in which he engaged 
between 1561 and 1566 were not seriously in- 
tended ; and while waiting patiently for the 
inevitable outbreak (which in the meantime he 
was doing his best to provoke), he adroitly con- 
trived to amuse Mary and occupy her Ministers 
with illusory prospects of friendship and alliance. 
Maitland's position as Mary's Minister was 
not less clear. Scottish patriots and Scottish 
prophets had dreamt from of old of a Scottish 
prince upon the English throne ; and Maitland, 
if not a prophet, was a patriot to the core. If 
Elizabeth died childless, Mary was the next heir ; 
and the vision of the long line of kings, of 

Maitland and Cecil. 85 

Banquo's issue, "that twofold balls and treble 
sceptres carry," which haunted the owner of a 
fruitless crown and a barren sceptre like a 
nightmare, was beheld by Maitland with grow- 
ing distinctness. Thus and thus only could 
any solution of the old puzzle be brought about. 
There would be a union of the crowns, and a 
union, so far as Scotland, so far as the weaker 
and more jealous people was concerned, neither 
humiliating nor inglorious. The clause in the 
Treaty of Edinburgh, which provided that Mary 
" in all times coming " should renounce the right 
to the English succession, was one therefore 
which he could not advise her to ratify ; but 
if this clause were withdrawn and the Scottish 
right of succession were recognised, then Mary 
might bind herself to become the close ally of 
England ; might enter into a marriage agreeable 
to Elizabeth ; might even acquiesce in the doc- 
trine and conform to the ritual of the Anglican 
branch of the Catholic and Apostolic Church. 
This was, it seems to me, a policy of patriotism 
and common-sense ; and to this policy Maitland 
steadily adhered. It did not succeed ; but that, 
as we shall see, was not his fault. 

The historians of the period, indeed, have 
maintained with suspicious unanimity that Mait- 
land's policy was altogether impracticable. No 
peace was possible, they hold, until Mary, by 

86 Maitland and Cecil. 

signing the Treaty of Edinburgh, had explicitly 
renounced her claim to Elizabeth's crown. " The 
Scottish Queen," Mr Burton asserts, " by de- 
clining to accept of the Treaty of Edinburgh, 
adhered to her claim on the English throne ; " 
but the provision in the Treaty to which Mary 
prudently and reasonably demurred (as it seems 
to me) was, that she and her husband should 
" in all times coming " abstain from bearing the 
English title. 2 Could these words be construed 
into an absolute renunciation of her right, or 
could they not ? If they could not, then Mait- 
land was over scrupulous ; but if (by any license 
of diplomacy or verbal ingenuity) they were 
capable of being so construed, he was bound to 
protect the Scottish interest in the succession 
" by declining to accept of the Treaty." 

It does not appear to me that the opposite 
view can be seriously argued ; even Cecil him- 
self ultimately allowed that it could not. We 
shall see indeed that, as time wore on, the 
ground of debate was gradually shifted, the 
reasonableness of Mary's contention being in the 
end expressly recognised by Elizabeth's Ministers. 

No one can doubt that Maitland ardently 
desired the union of the nations. He was in-. 

1 History of Scotland, iv. ! 2 The Treaty is printed in 



Maitland and Cecil. 87 

deed all his life a passionate Unionist, and for 
union lie was ready to sacrifice much that to 
a Scotsman was dear. He adhered steadily to 
Mary Stuart ; she had interested him, and per- 
haps fascinated him, as we have seen ; but his 
loyalty to her cause is mainly to be ascribed, I 
believe, to the clear conviction that under no 
other ruler could the nations be brought to- 
gether. To every Scotsman who might other- 
wise have aspired to the Scottish crown to 
Arran, to Darnley, to the Lord James there 
was one insuperable objection, his accession 
would make union impossible. Failing Eliza- 
beth and the issue of Elizabeth, Mary was the 
undoubted heir of Henry VII. ; and the English 
people would have Mary, and Mary only. 

It was during the years of which I am now 
writing that is to say, between 1561 and 1566 
that Maitland was most powerful ; his au- 
thority with Mary, if not with Elizabeth, was 
unbounded ; and our estimate of the policy 
which he pursued at this time must largely 
determine our judgment of his capacity and 
sagacity as a statesman of the first rank. I do 
not wish my conclusions to be taken on trust ; 
his own letters are in evidence ; and from these 
a fairly intelligible view of his attitude to the 
great public affairs in which' he was engaged 
may be obtained. They are sometimes enig- 

88 Maitland and Cecil. 

matical, often elliptical ; but, as a rule, " the 
mark at which he constantly shot" (to use his 
favourite expression), is defined with entire 
lucidity and eminent frankness. 

Maitland's commanding position at this time 
is attested by all his contemporaries. He was 
the real ruler of Scotland during the compara- 
tively peaceful and prosperous years that suc- 
ceeded Mary's return. Moray might be in greater 
place, and the Calvinistic historians were natu- 
rally desirous to associate the name of their most 
eminent leader with the firm yet judicious con- 
duct of public affairs which characterised the 
administration; yet even Moray's eulogists are 
constrained to admit that he was skilfully second- 
ed by Maitland. " Moray employed as his chief 
counsellor," this is Buchanan's testimony " Wil- 
liam Maitland, a young man of prodigious ability, 
whose brilliant talents had already lent lustre to 
his career, and excited the liveliest expectations 
of future excellence. By their firmness and wis- 
dom entire tranquillity was preserved, both at 
home and abroad, a state of affairs agreeable to 
all good men, and disagreeable to the factious 
only." If the records of the secret diplomacy of 
the time are to be trusted, it was Maitland, how- 
ever, rather than Moray, who was the master 
spirit at Mary's Court. Moray's grave and de- 
corous walk in life is mildly approved ; but 

Maitland and Cecil. 89 

Lethington is the dominating personality, and 
his political influence is unbounded. He was 
the principal Secretary (the Secretary of State, 
as we would say) ; a member of the Privy Coun- 
cil ; the envoy to Elizabeth and Catherine of 
Medicis ; Mary's closest and most trusted ad- 
viser. The union of the kingdoms ; the ratifica- 
tion of the Treaty of Edinburgh ; the succession 
to the English crown; the Queens tnarriage; 
were among the most urgent of the controversies 
that engaged the attention of diplomatists dur- 
ing the comparatively peaceful years that pre- 
ceded the Darnley misadventure ; and on all 
these questions Lethington was the spokesman 
of the Scottish Government. But he was more. 
Kandolph's letters indicate unmistakably that 
the Secretary's judgment was the determining 
factor in any resolution taken at Holyrood. On 
all questions of foreign or domestic policy his 
opinion was decisive. In the lively letters of 
Elizabeth's envoy, from which some extracts 
may here be given letters which throw a vivid 
light upon the scenes in which, and the men 
among whom, he moved the Lord of Lething- 
ton is unquestionably the most interesting and 
imposing figure. 

I had brought the narrative of events in an 
earlier chapter to the period of Mary's return to 
Scotland. Soon after her return Lethington was 

90 Maitland and Cecil. 

despatched with a conciliatory message to Eliza- 
beth ; and it was during his absence that Ran- 
dolph was for the first time presented to Mary. 
" She spake nothing to me at the time of my 
tarrying here," he reported to Elizabeth, " but 
after my departure, told my Lord James she 
perceived that your mind was that I should 
remain here. And after some words, both in 
earnest and mirth, had between them of my 
doings here in times past, ' Well,' saith she, ' I 
am content that he tarry, but I'll have another 
there as crafty as he.' I threatened upon the 
Lord James that these words were rather his 
than her Majesty's ; but, however it be, there is 
one presently of hers with your Majesty that 
can play his part with craft enough." 1 Mary 
was absent from Edinburgh when Maitland re- 
turned ; but Randolph saw him as he passed to 
the Court. " He was as greedy to hear news of 
this country as I was desirous to hear of mine. 
I find that his absence hath nothing hindered 
his credit. It is suspected that the Lord 
James seeketh too much his own advancement, 
which hitherto little appeareth for anything he 

1 Randolph to Elizabeth, 6th 
September 1561. "Crafty "is 
here used in the sense of " poli- 
tic." In his letter of the 12th 
September, Randolph asks for 

an increase of his allowance, 
seeing that "Scotland is no 
place where I can live without 
money in my purse.' 

Maitland and Cecil. 91 

ever received worth a groat. It is thought that 
Lethington is too politic ; and take me these 
two out of Scotland, and those that love their 
country shall soon find the want of them. The 
Papists bruit them to favour England too well ; 
others that they are too well affectioned to their 
own ; so that these two alone bear the bruit and 
brunt of whatsoever is either done, thought, or 
spoken." l "I receive of her Grace at all time," 
he adds in a later letter, "very good words. I am 
borne in hand by such as are nearest about her, 
as the Lord James and the Lord of Lethington, 
that they are meant as they are spoken ; I see 
them above all others in credit, and find in 
them no alteration, though there be those that 
complain that they yield too much unto her 
appetite, which yet I see not. The Lord James 
dealeth according to his nature, rudely, homely, 
and bluntly ; the Lord of Lethington more de- 
licately and finely, yet nothing swerveth from 
the other in mind and effect. She is patient to 
hear, and beareth much." 2 Writing a day or 
two afterwards, he alludes to some of the things 
which Mary had to hear and bear. " It is now 
called in question whether that the Princess 
being an Idolater may be obeyed in all civil and 
political actions. I think marvellously of the 

1 Randolph to Cecil, 24th j 2 Randolph to Cecil, 29th 
September 1561. | October 1561. 

92 Maitland and Cecil. 

wisdom of God that gave this unruly, incon- 
stant, and cumbersome people no more power 
than they have, for then would they run wild. 
Now they imagine that the Lord James groweth 
cold, that he aspireth to great matters ; Liding- 
ton ambitious and too full of policy. So there 
is no remedy, say they ; it must yet come to a 
new day. To the contrary of this I persuade 
by all means that I can ; and in my conscience 
they are in the wrong to the Lord James. And 
whensoever Lidington is taken out of his place, 
they shall not find among themselves so fit a 
man to serve in this realm. As I thought thus 
to have ended, there were sent unto me your 
letters, brought by Le Croc, who, as the Lord of 
Lidington giveth me to understand, hath made 
very honorable report of the Queen's Majesty, my 
sovereign. The Lord James also confirmeth the 
same with many merry words, that this Queen 
wished that one of the two were a man, to make 
an end of all debates. This, I trow, was spoken 
in her merry mood." * In the letter of the 17th 
December. Mary's " merry words " are again re- 
peated. " When any purpose falleth in of mar- 
riage, she saith that she will have none other 
husband than the Queen of England. He is 
right near about her who hath often times heard 

1 Randolph to Cecil, 4th November 1561. 

Maitland and Cecil. 93 

her speak it." Randolph obviously alludes to 
Lethington, of whom, in the same letter, he 
says, that " the more privy he is unto all her 
doings than it is possible for me to be, the better 
is he able to inform your Honour of her thoughts 
in that matter ; and I assure myself that there 
lacketh no good will in him thereunto ; for so 
much as I am able myself to conjecture, she 
meaneth no less than to do what she can to 
unite the two realms in so perfect an amity, as 
the like hath not been. I never have access 
unto her Grace on any occasion but our purpose 
endeth in that matter. The Bishops know not 
yet what they may well think of her. The 
Lord James, say they, beareth too much rule ; 
Lidington hath a crafty head and fell tongue ; " x 
and between the two they were sadly per- 

These sketches belong to the year 1561; from 
that time onwards Maitland's influence was 
constantly on the increase. " The Lord James " 
had a good deal of what the most whimsical of 
English humourists has called " worldliness and 
other worldliness " in his nature ; and while by 
no means so rapacious as Morton, the fair lands 
of Mar or Moray were prizes which he eagerly 
coveted, and which he pursued with characteristic 

1 Kandolph to Cecil, 7th December 1561. 

94 Maitland and Cecil. 

patience and tenacity. His position, moreover, 
was somewhat difficult, the leader of the 
" precise Protestants " was also the brother of 
the Queen. We need not wonder, therefore, that 
he should have maintained a certain reserve, and 
that while he was engaged in consolidating a 
great territorial position, the conduct of public 
affairs should have been more and more entrusted 
to Maitland. The friendly relations between the 
two statesmen were not interrupted ; yet there 
are indications that Moray had begun to realise 
that he was being thrust into the background by 
his more adroit and brilliant colleague. 

To return to Randolph. The English envoy 
was a hearty advocate of Maitland's proposal 
that the Queens should meet. " Touching this 
Queen's going into England, how, when, with 
many other things that are to be weighed 
therein, I trust your Honour is satisfied, or 
at the least knoweth the Lord of Lethington's 
judgment, who both doth all, and ruleth those 
matters as may best fall out to the Queen his 
mistress' honour, and weal of both realms." l But 
even in a matter of his own devising Maitland 
showed his constitutional wariness. " I find in 
him great good will to further all godly pur- 
poses that may draw on amity or kindness, but 

1 Randolph to Cecil, 2d January 1562. 

Maitland and Cecil. 


he allegeth the danger to be so great, and the 
event so uncertain, that it behoveth him warily 
to proceed. As the felicity shall be great if 
there come good success of any meeting that 
may be between the two Princesses, so the least 
thing that seemeth amiss is his utter ruining. 
He findeth not such maturity of judgment and 
ripeness in experience in his Mistress as he doth 
in the Queen's Majesty my Sovereign, in whom 
both nature and time hath wrought much more 
than is common to many of greater years, x 
wherefore he judgeth it the harder dealing with 
her in those cases, and the more peril to be the 
only author, counsellor, and persuader in so 
weighty a matter. We have disagreed. He 
looked for assurance in all things. Audaces, I say, 
Fortuna adjuvat, et nonfit sine periculo f acinus 
magnum et memorabile" 2 Lethington was not 
deficient in audacity ; and possibly the show of 
reluctance had been exaggerated ; for within a 
few days all difficulties at Holyrood appear to 
have been removed. " If it were not committed 
to me for a great secret, I could assure your 
Honour that it is so far resolved and concluded 
between this Queen, the Lord James, and the 
Lord Ledington, that if it be not utterly refused 

1 This letter was obviously 2 Randolph to Cecil, 15th 
intended for Elizabeth's per- January 1562. 

96 Maitland and Cecil. 

by you it shall pass any man's power in Scotland 
to stay it. All danger or suspicion is quite set 
apart. It hath been said unto myself not long 
since that the dishonour of the father breaking his 
promise" to meet Henry VIII. at York "should 
be repaired with the affiance and trust the 
daughter hath in our Queen's virtue and honour. 
This Queen is so far resolved, that she hath 
already pressed twice or thrice the Lord of 
Ledington to pass in post with full commission 
from her to demand an interview, and to accord 
in what manner and how it may be ordered." 
Maitland, indeed, was still desirous to have some 
more definite promise from Cecil, "to know 
from your Honour what appearance there may 
be of good to either realm unto which he 
seemeth to bear so equal and indifferent favour, 
as if the misfortune of either were utter de- 
struction to himself," x while there were others, 
like Knox, who did not regard any approach 
to friendliness between the Queens with favour. 
" Some allege the hazard of herself and nobles ; 
many are loth for the charges ; others say that 
amity being once made, that her power will be the 
greater. Though in verity the charges will be 
great, and a hard matter to find so much gold 
that is current in England in men's hands in 

1 Randolph to Cecil, 28th February 1562. 

Maitland and Cecil. 97 

Scotland as will furnish this voyage, yet I know 
that this last point is more feared of many in 
Scotland than either of the other two. The 
difficulty is for the exchange, seeing there are 
many here that have great sums of silver that 
have little gold. Of this matter the Lord of 
Ledington shall have commission to confer, 1 as 
also of divers other points." 2 It was not, how- 
ever, until the twenty-third of May that he was 
able to announce that the Lord of Lethington 
"departeth hence without fail on Tuesday 
next " ; and Mary's letter to Elizabeth recom- 
mending " our trusty and well belovit, the Lord 
of Lethington, our Principal Secretar," as " being 
a man of a lang time well known unto you," and 
inviting her to give credence to him "as to our- 
self," is dated two days later. 

Maitland's mission was speedily accomplished ; 
but the meeting, as we shall see, never took 
place, an excuse for delay having been dis- 
covered at the last moment by the English 
Council. He was again in England on Mary's 
service in 1563. "It is now resolved that the 
Lord of Ledington shall visit the Queen's Ma- 
jesty from hence. How shortly he departeth I 
know not. One thing your Honour may know 

1 The difficulty was after- | 2 Randolph to Cecil, 31st 
wards arranged by Maitland. March 1562. 


98 Maitland and Cecil. 

assuredly, that for the advancement of his mis- 
tress' service he will do and say whatsoever lieth 
in his power. He is charged here to have been 
over good servant unto her. His advice is fol- 
lowed more than any other's. A man in such 
place ought to have many wits and well tem- 
pered." * On the occasion of this visit he went 
as far as Paris, and proposals for Mary's mar- 
riage with a prince of the blood were made to 
him when there, both by Spain and Austria. 
He had been instructed on this occasion to 
correspond directly with Mary, and his growing 
authority with the Queen appears to have been 
resented by Moray. He had not returned when 
Eandolph on 3d June wrote to Cecil : " I know 
not upon what deserts, but many men have 
conceived strangely of the Lord of Ledington. 
I would to God that he had been plainer with 
my Lord of Moray than he hath been. I know 
the wisdom of the Lord of Ledington to be 
such that he will use those matters well at his 
return. His desire is to do good to all men; 
and that never framed well to any man that 
hath the place that he occupieth. I write not 
these things unto your Honour with other mind 
than that I do lament that such a friend unto 
our country, such a servant as this Princess 

1 Randolph to Cecil, 6th February 1563. 

Maitland and Cecil. 99 

hath not his like, one that is able and willing 
to do good for the continuance of amity and 
peace betwixt the two realms, should in any- 
thing overshoot himself." x The differences with 
Moray, however, appear to have been quickly 
composed on Maitland's return. " Upon Thurs- 
day last the Lord of Ledington arrived here. 
These three days past have been too little to 
satisfy the Queen's demands. I can yet per- 
ceive no misliking of his doings, nor worse 
opinion of himself than was at his departure. 
This Saturday at night the Earl of Moray 
arrived from St Johnston, and found the Lord 
of Ledington and me communing, being even 
then in purpose of those points that the unkind- 
ness rose between them. I doubt not the Lord 
of Ledington will well satisfy him, wherein 
though I never desired to meddle, yet will the 
Lord of Ledington that I shall speak somewhat 
before his departure. The natures of them both 
is so good, that I neither mislike nor mistrust 
but all matters shall grow to a good end." 2 

Diplomacy had failed to bring about a meet- 
ing between the Queens; and the marriage 
negotiations which followed were still less suc- 
cessful. The vague promises of Elizabeth, that 

1 Randolph to Cecil, 3d June 

2 Randolph to Cecil, 13th 
June 1563. 

100 Maitland and Cecil. 

in the event of Mary making a marriage agree- 
able to England her title to the English Crown 
would be recognised, were distrusted by Mait- 
land from the first. " The Lord of Ledington 
wishes that the Queen had descended into more 
particulars, for he sayeth that those general deal- 
ings breed ever suspicion of good meaning. I 
charged him with no less on his Sovereign's behalf, 
or rather his own, w r ho was the whole guider of 
her affairs." x Maitland had become by this time 
" the whole guider of her affairs " ; and a year 
later Randolph, on his way to the Berwick Con- 
ference, uses even stronger language. " 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 ! " 2 

So much for Randolph. I have brought to- 
gether a few scraps from a voluminous corre- 
spondence, which, if carefully sifted and in- 
telligently annotated, might be made public with 
immense advantage to the serious student of 
Scottish history. 

I now turn to the Cecil correspondence, which, 
in so far as it is devoted to the discussion of the 
larger political questions of the day the Union 

1 Randolph to Cecil, 13th 2 Randolph to Elizabeth, 7th 
December 1563. November 1564. 

Maitland and Cecil. 101 

with England, the succession to the Crown, the 
marriage of the Queen is hardly less interesting 
than Kandolph's. 

It need not be repeated that Maitland and 
Cecil were close allies. For several years, in- 
deed, their relations were exceptionally intimate. 
The English Minister (no less than his mistress) 
appears to have had the most implicit confidence 
in Maitland's discretion and judgment. " Oh, 
for one hour of Lethington ! " is the burden of 
more than one letter. "I have upon this news 
.wished to have had but one hour's conference 
with the Lord of Lethington ; " * and long after 
Maitland was gone he looked back regretfully to 
"the old familiar friendship and strict amity" 
which they had steadily maintained, and which 
had been brought to such a disastrous close. 
Yet it is impossible to read their correspondence 
without coming to the conclusion that (whatever 
success it might have had with Elizabeth her- 
self) Maitland's policy of concord, of a friendly 
understanding between the Queens, was persist- 
ently thwarted by Cecil. Lethington is one of 
the last men to whom unreasoning obstinacy 
can be justly imputed. He detested dogmatism. 
He was seldom, if ever, over-confident. " Your 
Honour knoweth," he told Cecil on one occasion, 

1 Cecil to Randolph, 30th June 1561. 


Maitland and Cecil. 

"that I love not to promise things uncertain, 
and that maketh me to write less in this behalf 
than I see likelihood shall follow." : But Mait- 
land, as we shall find by-and-by, was firmly con- 
vinced that if the English Government had left 
the Scots to settle their own affairs, the con- 
spiracies against Mary would have failed. The 
Scottish anarchy, in which she went down, was 
Cecil's work. His incurable animosity w^as fatal. 
I have said that the Union of the kingdoms 
was the key-note of Maitland's policy; Peace 
as the means, Union as the end. For ten years, 
at least say from 1559 to 1569 there is hardly 
a letter in which the arguments for a close 
friendship between the nations and their rulers 
are not pressed home, with this condition al- 
ways that the terms of the accord shall not be 
dishonourable to Scotland. " Your Honour doth 
know that the mark I always do shoot at is the 
union of these kingdoms in a perpetual friend- 
ship. There is no good in my opinion to be 
wrought that doth not tend to that end. Now 
I begin to learn what misery it is for a man to 
bear a great burden of the common affairs ; but 
I am so far proceeded that forwards I must 
go." 2 The siege of Leith was in progress at the 

1 Maitland to Cecil, 27th 
March 1560. 

2 Maitland 
April 1560. 

to Cecil, 9th 

Maitland and Cecil. 


time this letter was written ; and the stout re- 
sistance of the handful of French soldiers had 
begun to dishearten the allies. But Maitland 
would not listen to any craven counsel ; for he 
was satisfied that unless the French were re- 
moved, and the realm governed by born Scots- 
men, Union was impossible. " I am not ignorant 
how great a burden your Honour doth sustain in 
these our matters, but since they be so far pro- 
ceeded, there is no back-going, and therefore I 
pray your Honour faint not, but go through. 
I doubt not we shall be shortly at an end. In 
matters of such consequence, I would not wish 
we were too scrupulous." 1 He is careful to 
assure Cecil that the English are very popular 
with their allies : " I am assured the people 
never bare so good affection to any nation as 
they presently bear to the English." 2 It was 
only because it would lead to Union that he 
favoured the Arran marriage. He would rather, 
he confessed, that the negotiations had been 
opened more secretly. "Yet did I rejoice to 
see the whole Estates, although in other points 

1 Maitland to Cecil, I7tli 
April 1560. There are some 
interesting letters at this time 
with reference to the negotia- 
tions with the dying Queen in 
the Castle of Edinburgh at 

which Lethington was present. 
Maitland to Cecil, 26th April 
and 24th May 1560. 

2 Maitland to Cecil, 28th 
April 1560. 


Maitland and Cecil. 

of divers opinions, yet with one uniform consent 
so earnestly wish the consummation of that mat- 
ter that I well perceive it is the only mean to 
join us in an indissoluble union." 1 But Cecil 
received the proposal with marked disfavour, 
and Maitland's rather frigid logic (he knew that 
the match was impossible) failed to convince 
either Elizabeth or her Minister. " You know 
the purpose for which our Ambassadors come to 
England, wherein though I have ever found you 
cold, and that you shifted the matter as one un- 
willing to talk much in it ; yet can I not per- 
suade myself that (being so wise and so well 
affected towards your country as I know you to 
be) you do altogether mislike it. It may be 
that you be entered in a worse opinion of this 
country upon the late sight you have had of a 
part of it, seeing the wealth of the same noth- 
ing like to your realm ; yet am I sure you have 
sufficiently considered that the lack of wealth 
doth not proceed from the ground itself, or 
sterility of the soil, but of other occasions, which 
be accidents. A realm being years together 
destitute of constant government, the Princess 

1 Maitland to Cecil, 18th 
August 1560. There is an ac- 
count in this letter of the man- 
ner in which the Confession 
of Faith was ratified by the 

Estates. "It was no small 
wonder to see what victory 
the truth did obtain by so 
uniform consent." See also 
the letter of 15th August. 

Maitland and Cecil. 105 

a minor and furth of her realm, so long in a 
continual war, and for the most part of the time 
oppressed with strangers, besides many other 
incommodities, you may imagine if it have good 
cause to be very wealthy." Other nations in- 
deed might be richer, yet was their friendship 
less precious to England " in that God by crea- 
tion of the world hath granted to us a preroga- 
tive above all nations that they with all their 
riches are not able to purchase." 1 

When early in 1561 the Ambassadors who 
had been sent to treat for the marriage re- 
turned from England, they found the whole 
situation changed. Francis was dead, and Arran 
had been refused by Elizabeth. "I see men 
here will begin to make court to the Queen our 
Sovereign more than they were wont to do, and 
press to put themselves in her good grace ; yet 
I fear not but the most part will keep touch with 
you, whereof I offer myself not only as a mean 
to do what I can, but also in recognaissance 
of the great friendship I have found at your 
hands." 2 In his next letter, Maitland excuses 
himself for his long silence, things were so 
perplexed that he had abstained from writing 
until he could give Cecil some more resolute 

1 Maitland to Cecil, 13th 
September 1560. 

2 Maitland to Cecil, 10th 
January 1561. 

106 Maitland and Cecil. 

advertisement. " Things now grow towards a 
conclusion. First, in matters of religion many 
things are determined for the policy of the 
Church, and order taken for establishing of 
religion universally, something more vehement 
than I, for my opinion, at another time would 
have allowed." But the "vehemence" might 
be useful if it brought the two nations more 
closely together, and prevented the Congregation 
from being over-confident. " The king's death 
is commonly taken for a great benefit of God's 
providence, yet durst I never greatly rejoice at 
it. The security thereof hath lulled us asleep. 
The fear of strangers is for the present taken 
away." The nation, he added, was turning to 
Mary, and the Lord James was to be sent to 
" grope her mind." Though " zealous in religion, 
and one of the precise Protestants," the Queen's 
brother was the most likely ambassador to gain 
her confidence. The object of the legation was 
to ascertain " whether she can be content to re- 
pose her whole confidence upon her subjects or 
not." "Though I fear many simple men shall 
be carried away with vain hope, and brought a- 
bed with fair words, yet if my Lord James can 
fully persuade her to trust her own subjects, I 
will enter in some courage." l In a later letter 

1 Maitland to Cecil, 6th February 1561. 

Maitland and Cecil. 107 

he describes the views of the various factions, 
he himself obviously inclining to the moderate 
party, which held that Mary should be invited to 
return, " provided that she neither bring with 
her force, neither yet counsel of strangers." 
Many were anxious, now that the Arran mar- 
riage had fallen through, that the old league 
with France should be renewed, the amity of 
England, to which they were joined by " a dry 
marshe," not being assured. For his own part, 
he was confident that, unless Mary could be 
reconciled to Elizabeth, the intelligence between 
the two nations could not long continue. " All 
is as yet calm," he adds, "and shall be, I doubt 
not, so long as men can be content to be bridled 
with reason." x 

I have discussed in a previous chapter the 
import of the letters written by Maitland during 
the anxious weeks that preceded Mary's return. 
In them, it will be remembered, the necessity for 
a good understanding between the Queens was 
urgently enforced. The letters that follow are in 
the same strain. Maitland, as we have seen, was 
sent to London directly on Mary's arrival to 
plead for friendly dealing from Elizabeth, but 
Elizabeth was too angry to listen to argument. 2 

1 Maitland to Cecil, 26th 2 Lord Herries says that 
February 1561. i Maitland without any author- 


Maitland and Cecil. 

There was only one road to amity, she 
said, the ratification of the treaty of Edin- 
burgh. " Eatify the treaty ; why do you delay 
to ratify the treaty ? " Maitland adroitly 
avoided a categorical reply : he had no instruc- 
tions ; there had been no time to summon 
the Estates ; the Queen was busy. But there 
can be little doubt that he was even then con- 
vinced that, until the clause relating to the 
succession was modified, Mary's consent ought 
not to be given. Elizabeth required an absolute 
renunciation of the Scottish right of succession ; 
the treaty imported as much, " in all times 
coming," even in the event of Elizabeth dying 
without issue, Mary was to refrain from pressing 
her claim ; and to such renunciation neither 
Maitland nor Moray was prepared to agree. 
Maitland, however, was still urgent for a friendly 
understanding, how urgent may be gathered 
from the letters that he wrote on his return to 
the northern capital. The "tender amity" of 
the cousins would lead to " a godly accord " 
between the realms. "If by the means of 
us two," he told Cecil, " such a communication 

ity introduced the subject of 
the succession with the view of 
prejudicing Elizabeth against 
Mary (Memoirs, p. 59). The 
highly dramatic dialogue be- 
tween Elizabeth and Mait- 

land reported by Buchanan, 
and reproduced by Spottis- 
woode, was constructed by 
Buchanan in obedience to what 
were then regarded as the 
canons of historical art. 

Maitland and Cecil. 109 

may be procured, we shall be esteemed happy 
instruments for our countries. I know how un- 
willing you be to enter in matters of so great 
consequence, yet when you shall consider what 
surety, quietness, and commodity this motion 
importeth to the Queen our Sovereign and your 
native country, I suppose you will be bold to 
utter frankly your opinion in it. God hath by 
times offered many means of a godly conjunction. 
By what providence it hath chanced that none 
hath taken effect as yet I cannot tell. Tliis 
hath most likelihood to come to pass, is grounded 
upon equity, and is such as neither party can 
thereby think himself aggrieved. Surely if this 
shall be overthrown, as others have been hereto- 
fore, it may be judged that God is not pleased 
with us, and wills that one of us shall ever be 
a plague to the other. Let us do our duty," 
he concludes, " and commit the success to God." x 
The urgency of Maitland contrasts strikingly 
with Cecil's coldness. The one is eagerly pressing 
forward ; the other is warily holding back. 
Maitland never wearies in his determination to 
bring the Queens together ; he records every 
flattering speech that Mary makes ; he beseeches 
Elizabeth to write often and with her own hand. 
"I see her Majesty in nothing doth like more 

1 Maitland to Cecil, 25th October 1561. 

110 Maitland and Cecil. 

than often to visit and be visited by letters of 
such as she does love." If Cecil will not be 
frank, if he will continue to speak in "parables," 
Maitland will address himself directly to his 
mistress. But he cannot believe that the English 
Secretary is hostile. " Weary not by your 
credit to continue the amity begun. You never 
did anything more worthy of yourself, nor more 
worthy of praise in the sight of God and men." x 
For his own part, he admits that there is nothing 
on earth that he desires more than their friend- 
ship. " I trust your Lordship believe th that 
with all my heart I do wish those two Princesses 
to be joined in tender friendship, and indeed it 
is the earthly thing I most earnestly call to God 
for." 2 On the same day he wrote to Cecil again 
urging him to use his friendly offices with Eliz- 
abeth. "Persuade her Majesty to take occasion 
sometimes to write with her own hand. Be the 
letters never so short, or of small moment, yet 
will her Highness much esteem them coming 
from that place. We be here in a corner of the 
world, separated as it were from the society of 
men, and so do not every day hear what others 
are doing abroad in the world." 3 

The correspondence during the next year 

1 Maitland to Cecil, 7th 
December 1561. 

2 Maitland to Dudley, 26th 

December 1561. 

3 Maitland to Cecil, 26th 
December 1561. 

Maitland and Cecil. Ill 

1562 is continued in the same strain, though 
a distinctly sharper tone is at times perceptible. 
Much of it relates to the proposed interview. 
While anxious that it should take place without 
delay, the danger of an unfriendly or ineffectual 
meeting is strongly insisted on by Maitland. His 
own responsibility was great. " The matter be- 
tween the Queens be such as may not be com- 
municated to many, so as I am enforced to take 
upon myself only the whole advising of my 
Mistress in those causes, without the assistance 
of others, having none in a manner with whom I 
dare freely confer, but only my Lord James." 
"As to me ever since I entered in any trade of 
public actions, I have ever been a minister of 
peace, and always bent myself that way as a 
thing in my judgment pleasing God and most 
profitable to both realms." He implores Cecil to 
be frank. " Write to me your mind as I do. We 
shoot both at one scope, which is the union of 
the isle, and therefore it is not convenient that 
we should deal together as strangers. I pray 
you," he repeats, "write plainly and directly unto 
me." * A fortnight later he is still more em- 
phatic. The interview would be good and com- 
fortable to all were it brought to a good end ; 
" but (which God forbid) if it should fall out 

1 Maitland to Cecil, 15th January 1562. 

112 Maitland and Cecil. 

amiss, as it is likely to dissolve the mutual good 
intelligence, and endanger the peace, so shall it 
not fail greatly to discredit those who have been 
its chief promoters." Was it likely to be brought 
to a good end or would it fall out amiss ? That 
was a question which Cecil only could answer, 
and Cecil spoke in parables. " Now I will merely 
complain of you to yourself. You write always 
to me parables, at least brief and dark sentences, 
and you have experience of my simplicity. Janus 
sum non ^Edipus. I would be glad that you 
should utter yourself unto me more plainly." x 

A letter, written on the last day of February, 
is, as a vindication of his own consistency, as 
a statement of the principles on which he was 
acting, more than usually interesting. He is 
about to come to London. " I see the Queen 
my mistress will employ none there but me, 
although I would be glad, and have earnestly 
pressed the contrary ; but I come no speed." 
He had many enemies who would at once take 
advantage of any misadventure. " All these 
dangers shall not stay me, if I may have any 
assurance from you that good is like to come of 
my labour. If you will go no further with me, 
if you will but write this ' Come : you shall be 
welcome' I will boldly proceed, always trust- 

1 Maitland to Cecil, 29th January 1562. 

Maitland and Cecil. 113 

ing that you will be loth to see me employed in 
a negotiation of which no good is like to follow. 
You have always been a father unto me, and 
whatsoever good luck shall fall unto me is due 
unto you. Achieve that you have begun, and 
maintain that you have already made. I am 
thought here to be one of your creatures. I will 
never disavow it. Eather than that the amity 
betwixt these realms I have so long and so 
many ways travelled in, be not brought to pass, 
I shall give a shrewd venture. I trust God will 
prosper all works that be laid on so just a foun- 
dation, and I have in a manner consecrat myself 
to the Commonwealth. The uniting of this isle 
in friendship hath in my conceit been a scope 
whereat I have long shot, and whereunto all my 
actions have been directed these five or six 
years. I pressed it in Queen Mary's days, al- 
though frustrate in the Queen your mistress' 
time many and divers ways, and ever as one 
occasion doth fail me I begin to shuffle the cards 
of new, always keeping the same rounds. I shall 
not weary so long as any hope remaineth." * 

After the interview had been definitively 
abandoned, the correspondence between the 
Ministers slackened. In the beginning of 1563 
we find Maitland attributing the cessation of 

1 Maitland to Cecil, 28th February 1562. 

114 Maitland and Cecil. 

their intercourse to some " hidden mystery," and 
intimating that he would trouble Cecil no longer 
with letters, but content himself with the Italian 
proverb, Quello che e da esser non puo mancar. 
He proceeds to point out that while the Scottish 
Borderers were in such order " as the like was 
not seen in any age heretofore," there were 
continual broils upon the English side. " For 
other news," he concludes, " all things (praised 
be God) be in good quietness, and no altera- 
tion at all, neither in the outward appearance, 
nor yet the inward affections." 1 There can be 
no doubt indeed (it may be said in passing), 
that during the early years of Mary's reign 
the hitherto distracted country enjoyed a sin- 
gular measure of prosperity and peace, and that 
the moderation of the Queen, the wisdom of 
her Minister, had won in a quite unusual meas- 
ure the confidence of the people. 

The tranquillity was short-lived ; it was des- 
tined to be rudely and wantonly interrupted. 

I have now completed what I have to say 
upon the Cecil-Maitland correspondence in so 
far as it throws light upon Maitland's policy of 
conciliation ; but there are two letters which, in 
connection with the Succession controversy and 
Mary's renunciation of her title under the Treaty 

1 Maitland to Cecil, 3d January 1563. 

Maitland and Cecil. 


of Edinburgh, are extremely instructive, and 
which no student of the political situation can 
afford to disregard. One of them is signed by 
Mary ; but it may be safely assumed that both 
were written by Maitland. 1 

The first is dated 7th October 1561. It is from 
Maitland to Cecil. 

Although he had received three letters from 
Cecil, he had forborne to write Maitland ex- 
plained until Mary had answered the message 
from Elizabeth sent by Sir Peter Mewtas. That 
answer having been despatched, and being of such 
a sort as to satisfy Elizabeth, he was now able 
to give his own opinion boldly. "I find in the 
Queen my mistress a good disposition to quiet- 
ness, but I see therewithall joined a careful re- 
gard to her own estate, and such a courage as 
will be loth to forego her right. If the Queen's 
highness your Sovereign will be conformable, 
she may assure her own estate, have the Queen 
my mistress to be a trusty and dear friend to 
her, and put the whole subjects of the isle in 
a happy estate. God forbid that anything should 
impede so good a work ! It will be easily espied 
who shall have the better of the bargain. Your 

1 In fact, alluding to Mary's 
letter, Maitland assures Cecil 
that if it be in any respect 
amiss, "the lack must be im- 

puted to my unskilfulness and 
haste." Maitland to Cecil, 5th 
January 1562. 


Maitland and Cecil. 

gain shall be assured and in your hand ; ours 
only in possibility. You have a great present 
advantage, and we only a future contingent. If 
either by Act of Parliament or later will of 
Henry VIII. anything hath been done derogatory 
to the Queen my mistress's interest, I pray you 
consider what injury has been done to us, and 
how just cause we have to ask redress of it. It 
doth appear by the contract of marriage, and is 
true, that Queen Margaret was married to King 
James IV., my Sovereign's grandfather, as eldest 
lawful daughter of King Henry VII. ; and by 
your own histories it doth appear that he meant 
not by the same marriage to debar her, or the 
issue of her body, from the succession of his crown 
perpetually, but rather the flat contrary. I re- 
member the Queen's majesty said to me that 
the like was never demanded of any prince, 
his heir-apparent to be declared in his own time. 1 
That would have appeared somewhat reasonable 
if the succession had remained untouched accord- 
ing to the law ; but whereas by a limitation men 

1 Buchanan represents Eliza- 
beth as saying that the demand 
" that while alive I should keep 
my shroud constantly before 
rny eyes is unexampled " (Book 
XVII.) That was the argu- 
ment on which Elizabeth, when 
hard pressed, always fell back. 

The argument of assassination 
appears to me to have little or no 
validity ; even Mr Froude ulti- 
mately admits that " of assassi- 
nation she could scarcely be in 
greater danger than she was al- 
ready," vii. 72. 

Maitland and Cecil. 117 

have gone about to prevent the providence of 
God, and shift one in the place due to another, 
then can the party offended do no less than seek 
the reformation thereof. And for my opinion 
it is honorable for the Queen's highness your 
Sovereign to determine certainly the succession 
of the Crown in her own time rather than to 
suffer it thus to hang in suspense. For princes 
be as fathers to their country ; and what father, 
seeing clearly that his sons will contend for his 
inheritance, will not rather himself appoint the 
differens. The Queen my mistress is descended 
of the blood of England, and so of the race of 
the Lion on both sides. I fear she would rather 
be content to hazard all than forego her right. 
1 pray you, if it be possible, let no little diffi- 
culty frustrate both realms of so great a benefit 
as is to be looked for by conjunction of these two 
Princesses. The danger of recourse which the 
discontented subjects of your realm might have 
to the heir-apparent, if any were determined, is 
no sufficient reason in my judgment to defeat so 
good a purpose. No matter excellent, or of great 
moment, can be clear of all difficulties ; yet might 
such security be devised as might clear that 
danger." l 

who lived in these days credibly 

1 Maitland to Cecil, 7th Oc- 
tober 1561 Haynes, 373. He 
adds, " I have been by many 

informed that if the two kings 
had met at York, as was once 


Maitland and Cecil. 

Maitland was mistaken in assuming that 
Mary's answer would satisfy Elizabeth. Eliz- 
abeth wrote to Mary in November, in a some- 
what peremptory strain, desiring to know 
the reasons why she still delayed to ratify 
the Treaty. Maitland thereupon advised Mary 
to defer her answer until he had had an oppor- 
tunity of consulting Cecil, with whom he had 
often and amply discussed the question. " What 
be the impediment why her Majesty ratifieth 
not the Treaty you can well enough judge. You 
know how prejudicial it is to her highness, and 
what interest she may pretend. I will, after my 
accustomed manner, deal frankly with you : Who 
can advise her Majesty, being so nigh of the 
blood of England, to do that which shall make 
her, as it were, a stranger to it ? " If, however, 
Mary were recognised as the successor, on the 
failure of Elizabeth's issue, she would consent to 
anything that might tend to the honour and 
security of Elizabeth. Such was his confidence in 
Cecil that, subject to this condition, he would fol- 
low whatever course he advised ; and Mary would 
not reply until his advice had been received. 1 

thought, King Henry was fully 
determined to limit the succes- 
sion of his crown to our sover- 
eign his nephew, which belike 
may serve her Highness for a 
precedent. And if he, being ir- 

ritated by the breach of that ap- 
pointment, did anything preju- 
dicial to his nephew, what equity 
was in it you may judge." 

i Maitland to Cecil, 15th 
December 1561. 

Maitland and Cecil. 119 

No answer being returned by Cecil, on the 
5th of January 1562, Mary addressed herself to 
Elizabeth. She was surprised to learn, she said, 
that the English Queen had not been satisfied 
with her assurances. Her meaning was sincere, 
just, and upright, and the words were temperate. 
She had wished the Treaty of Edinburgh to be 
revised by English and Scottish Commissioners. 
Elizabeth had asked her to communicate either 
through Randolph or directly by letter. She 
preferred the latter course, and "the memory of 
all former strange accidents " being on her part 
clean extinguished, will deal with her with per- 
fect frankness, as becomes two sisters whose firm 
amity has not been shaken. She will not touch 
upon the circumstances under which the Treaty 
was passed, or the sufficiency of the commissions 
of those who negotiated it ; but she will go at 
once to the main question. "How prejudicial 
that Treaty is to such title and interest as by 
birth and natural descent of your own lineage 
may fall to us, by inspection of the Treaty itself 
you may easily perceive ; and how slenderly a 
matter of such great consequence is wrapt up in 
obscure terms. We know how near we are 
descended of the blood of England, and what 
devices have been attempted to make us as it 
were a stranger to it. We trust, being so near 
your cousin, that you would be loth we should 

120 Maitland and Cecil. 

receive so manifest an injury. In so far as the 
Treaty concerns us, we are content to do all that 
of reason may be required of us, or rather to 
enter into a new of such substance as may stand 
without our own prejudice, in favour of you and 
the lawful issue of your body ; provided always 
that our interest to that crown, failing of your- 
self and the lawful issue of your body, may 
therewithal be put in good surety ; which 
matter being in this sort knit up betwixt 
us, and the whole seeds of dissention taken 
up by the root," a great and firm amity might 
be established. 1 

It does not appear that the letter had the de- 
sired effect. Elizabeth did not reply, and Cecil 
protested that Maitland w T as " partial " to Mary, 
and was dealing only for "profit." "There is 
good reason," Maitland answered with spirit, 
"why, of all her subjects, I should love and 
honour her Majesty ; yet can I not perceive in 
this case any point wherein I have uttered my 
affection or inclined the balance more on the 
one side than the other : unless, if the matter 
be narrowly looked to, some might think I am 
too negligent on her part, whose honour I am 
bound in duty most to respect. You are witness 
of all my actions in it, and can best judge if I 

1 Mary to Elizabeth, 5th January 1562 Haynes, 378. 

Maitland and Cecil. 121 

have not ever had the common quietness of the 
whole isle chiefly before my eyes." What had 
been proposed, indeed, was more advantageous 
to Elizabeth than to Mary. "Your game is as- 
sured and present ; ours but in possibility and 
altogether uncertain, et quodammodo spes inanis, 
pendens a futuro eventu, wherein there is in a 
manner no likelihood, your sovereign being 
young, and apt to bear children, if her mind 
were disposed to marry." And, except in the 
sense that " the common quietness " would be 
profitable to both realms, it could not be said 
with any justice that he sought amity for 
"profit" only. 1 

I should have fancied that the import of these 
and similar letters could not have been misun- 
derstood. But Maitland's apologist has moun- 
tains of prejudice to remove ; and the part he 
took, as representing Mary, in the prolonged 
controversy regarding the ratification of the 
Treaty of Edinburgh and the Succession, has 
been persistently misrepresented. It may be 
prudent, therefore, to state with the utmost pre- 
cision the pleas which his advocate is entitled to 
prefer. They are these : 

1. That if the Treaty of Edinburgh contained 
an absolute renunciation of the Scottish right of 

1 Maitland to Cecil, 27th February 1562. 

122 Maitland and Cecil. 

succession, Maitland, on behalf of Mary, was 
justified in refusing to ratify it. 

[About this proposition there can hardly be 
any difference of opinion. Those who insist that 
Mary was bound to ratify must hold that the 
words of the Treaty did not infer an absolute 

2. That, in the opinion of the English and Scot- 
tish Ministers, the words of the Treaty amounted 
to an absolute renunciation. 

[It is enough to refer to Cecil's letter of 14th 
July 1561 (in which he informs Throckmorton 
that the possibility of an accord on the footing 
of admitting Mary's interest " in default of heirs 
of Elizabeth's body," had been mooted as " a 
matter secretly thought of"), and to Moray's of 
6th August 1561, addressed to Elizabeth, both 
written before Mary's return. Moray, after 
pointing out that Mary will " think it hard, 
being so nigh of the blood of England, so to be 
made a stranger from it," suggests, as an admis- 
sible solution, the compromise to which Cecil 
had alluded. " What inconvenience were it (if 
your Majesty's title did remain untouched, as 
well for yourself as the issue of your body) to 
provide that to the Queen my sovereign her own 
place were reserved to the crown of England, 
which your Majesty will pardon me if I take to 
be, by the law of all nations, as she that is next 

Maitland and Cecil. 


in lawful descent of the right line of King Henry 
the Seventh, your grandfather ; and in the mean- 
time this isle to be united in a perpetual friend- 
ship?"] 1 

3. That Maitland's proposal that the Treaty 
should be revised with the view of saving the 
Scottish right of succession, in the event of 
Elizabeth dying without issue, was entirely 
reasonable ; and that its reasonableness was 
ultimately admitted by the English Ministers. 

[Elizabeth's instructions to the Earl of Bed- 
ford, when sent to Scotland to be present at the 
baptism of Mary's son, the future James VI., 
dated 7th November 1566, contains these words: 
" And as yourself knows how we sent you to 
France to that Queen, to require the confirma- 
tion of the Treaty of Edinburgh, and the same 
being since deferred, upon account of some words 
therein prejudicial to the Queen's right and title, 

1 Moray to Elizabeth, 6th 
August 1561. This is one of 
the rare cases in which Mr 
Froude's abstract of a letter is 
imperfect and misleading. Mo- 
ray asks, What inconvenience 
were it? (obviously suggesting 
that there would be none); 
whereas Mr Froude makes him 
write," Inconvenient were it," 
adding, " The inconvenience of 
which Lord James spoke would 

in all likelihood have been her 
immediate assassination." vi. 
353. This reading is obvious- 
ly erroneous ; could the Lord 
James have suggested "a mid- 
way " to Elizabeth (" if any mid- 
way could be picked out to re- 
move this difference to both your 
contentments") which would in- 
evitably have led to her " im- 
mediate assassination " ? 


Maitland and Cecil. 

our meaning is to require nothing to be con- 
firmed in that Treaty but that which directly 
appertains to us and our children, omitting any- 
thing in that Treaty that may be prejudicial to 
her title, as next heir after us and our children ; 
all which may be secured by a new treaty 
between us." And she proceeds to declare 
" that she will neither do nor attempt, nor 
suffer to be attempted, anything derogatory to 
Mary's title to be next heir after us and our 
children." 1 In the articles delivered to Mary 
by Cecil and Mildmay four years later, it was 
stipulated that Mary should confirm the clause 
in the Treaty of Edinburgh, or the true mean- 
ing thereof, for her forbearing from all manner 
of titles, challenges, or pretences to the Crown 
of England (not, be it observed, " in all times 
coming," as the clause ran, but) " whilst the 
Queen's majesty or. any issue to come of her 
body shall live and have continuance ; with pro- 
vision for the Queen of Scots that thereby she 
shall not be secluded from any right or title 
that she or her children may hereafter have, if 
God shall not give to the Queen's majesty any 
issue of her body to have continuance." The 
article, as amended by Mary, was agreed to. 2 

1 Instructions to the Earl of 
Bedford, 7th November 1566. 

Calig. x. 384. 

2 Articles delivered to the 

Maitland and Cecil. 


Other references might be given ; but these are 
sufficient to show that Elizabeth and Cecil were 
latterly ready to admit that Maitland's conten- 
tion was well founded.] 

4. That the failure to arrive at an accord was 
due to the double-dealing of Elizabeth, and not 
to Mary's bad faith. 

But the arguments on which this proposition 
proceeds cannot be properly appreciated until 
the circumstances attending Mary's marriage 
have been described. 

We have arrived at the beginning of the year 
1564. By that time, through Maitland's urgency, 
the marriage negotiations had made considerable 
progress. Mary Stuart was the greatest match 
of the day, Queen of Scotland, Dowager of 
France, there was no alliance to which she 
might not aspire. Her hand, indeed, was being 
eagerly competed for by half the princes in 

Queen of Scots, 5th October 
1570 Haynes, 608. It is 
highly characteristic of Mary's 
magnanimous spirit that even 
in her captivity she resolutely 
declined to agree to the Article 
by which the exiled North- 
umberland was to be delivered 
to Elizabeth. She would not 
consent, she declared, "as it may 
not stand with her honour to 
deliver those who are come for 

refuge within her country, as 
it were to enter them in place 
of execution." The governing 
party in Scotland were not so 
scrupulous. Morton sold the 
fugitive to Elizabeth (after he 
had been treacherously arrested 
by Moray) for a few thousand 
pounds. The people, however, 
were furious ; and Moray's 
treachery was never forgiven 
by the Borderers. 

126 Maitland and Cecil. 

Europe. France, Spain, Austria, Sweden, being 
each in the field. But as a foreign marriage 
would have been regarded with displeasure by 
the English Government, Mary, on Maitland's 
advice, conditionally undertook, for the satisfac- 
tion of Elizabeth, to accept an English or Scot- 
tish noble. The condition was to the effect that 
in the event of Elizabeth dying without issue, 
Mary should be declared her heir. 

Cecil, as we have seen, had all along been pas- 
sively obstructive ; he had declared against the 
interview ; he had delayed the settlement of the 
succession ; he had spoken in parables. Although 
the form of the controversy had by this time 
changed, the same dilatory pleas continued to 
be put forward. Elizabeth trifled about Mary's 
marriage as she trifled about her own. She 
lured Mary on with promises which she did not 
mean to keep. She led Mary to understand that 
if her advice about the marriage was followed, 
Mary's desire for recognition would, in one form 
or other, be gratified. 

I am by no means sure that, even with the am- 
ple materials now available, we know the whole 
truth. It is difficult to unravel these tortuous 
intrigues. There is a sudden and mysterious 
change in the attitude of several of the leading 
actors which I do not think has been entirely 
explained. But some time before the close of 

Maitland and Cecil. 127 

1564, there are indications that Cecil was becom- 
ing actively aggressive. He appears to have 
felt that the opportunity for which he had waited 
had at length arrived. The diplomatic farce had 
been played out, and he could, with such decent 
reservations as might be prudent, show his hand 
to his Scottish confederates. Of Knox and the 
Knoxians he was sure ; there had already been 
misunderstandings between Moray and Maitland 
and Moray and Mary which might be used to 
detach James Stuart from his sister's side. 

The apple of discord was found in Darnley. 
Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, was the great- 
grandson of Henry VII. Margaret Tudor, a 
year after Flodden was fought, had married 
the Earl of Angus, by whom she had one daugh- 
ter, and this daughter was Darnley 's mother. 
There were doubts about Margaret Douglas's 
legitimacy ; it was said that Angus had been 
contracted to Lady Traquair, and that the sub- 
sequent marriage with Margaret Tudor was ir- 
regular, if not invalid. Cecil was nothing loath 
to utilise any plea of the kind when it would 
serve his turn ; but the objection was never seri- 
ously pressed, and Darnley was everywhere re- 
cognised with special cordiality by the great 
Catholic houses as the lawful cousin of Mary 
and Elizabeth. The Lennox Stuarts were them- 
selves closely related to the reigning family ; so 

128 Maitland and Cecil. 

that on either side the descent was illustrious : 
than the young Lord Darnley for he was only 
a lad of eighteen no noble with more of the 
royal blood of Scotland and England in his veins 
was to be found in either realm. The Hamiltons, 
if Mary left no child, would inherit the crown ; 
but the legitimacy of the Hamiltons was as open 
a question with the curious in genealogies as the 
legitimacy of the Stuarts ; and in spite of a great 
political and territorial position, they were no- 
where popular. From every point of view save 
one Henry Stuart was a desirable parti. The 
exception, indeed, was serious. Though tall and 
handsome in person, his mind was feeble, his 
moral nature undisciplined, his temper intrac- 
table and uncertain. Lennox, who had fled to 
England when Arran went over to France, had 
been in exile now for more than twenty years. 
The Scottish earl, in fact, had become an Eng- 
lish subject ; he had married in England, his 
children had been born in England, his estates 
were in England. Although his relations with 
the English Court, which during Mary Tudor's 
time had been exceptionally cordial, had become 
strained, if not unfriendly, on Elizabeth's acces- 
sion, his eldest son, as the nearest prince of the 
blood, was already a familiar figure at Greenwich 
and Westminster. " Yet you like better of 
yonder long lad," Elizabeth said to Melville 

Maitland and Cecil. 129 

when Robert Dudley was made an earl. The 
"long lad" was the young Henry Stuart. 1 

To unravel the tangled skein of Elizabeth's 
intrigues is, as I have said, no easy matter. It 
is possible that her tortuous policy was not con- 
sistently pursued ; she lived, so to speak, from 
hand to mouth, and she was not restrained by 
any fastidious scruples, by any weak regard for 
appearances, from turning her back on herself. 
In these circumstances, any show of dogmatism, 
any over-confidence, ill becomes the historian ; 
and I cannot venture to affirm that the explana- 
tion which I suggest is more than reasonably 
probable. The view I take is this ; the policy 
of procrastination being in the meantime no 
longer admissible (for neither Mary nor Mait- 
land would consent to further delay), it became 
Elizabeth's cue to fan the smouldering embers 
of Scottish disaffection into a flame ; and she 
may have shrewdly calculated that between 
Robert Dudley and Henry Stuart some cause 
of quarrel, some ground of offence, was sure to 
be found. This much at least may be asserted 
with tolerable confidence ; if Mary during these 
negotiations was not forced into an utterly false 
position, it was not the fault of Elizabeth. 

Elizabeth's conduct (except perhaps on the 

1 Melville's Memoirs, p. 48. 

130 Maitland and Cecil. 

plea that the law of self-preservation overrides 
every other), admits of no excuse. She allowed 
Lennox to return to Scotland, and warmly re- 
commended him to the good offices of Mary ; a 
little later Darnley received permission to follow 
his father to the Scottish Court ; he had barely 
crossed the Border when the Scottish Queen 
was informed with almost insulting directness 
that even if she condescended to marry Leicester 
(the English noble selected by Elizabeth), her 
claim to the English succession would not be 
admitted. We need not wonder that in these 
circumstances it should have been the general 
impression that the marriage with Dudley had 
never been seriously contemplated by Elizabeth, 
and that Darnley was sent north to woo, if not 
to win, his cousin. 1 

The conviction that Elizabeth was acting in 
bad faith appears to have been universal at the 
time. Her own Ministers did not believe that she 
would resign the one man by whom her heart 
had been touched. All the contemporary writers 
were of opinion that her indignation at Mary's 
choice of Darnley was simulated. Melville, who 
was much employed in England at the time, ex- 
pressly says, " The Queen of England began to 

1 Lord Kobert Dudley was 
created Earl of Leicester on 

29th September 1564. 

Maitland and Cecil. 131 

suspect that the marriage with Leicester might 
take effect. Her apprehension of this occasioned 
the Lord Darnley his getting more readily license 
to come to Scotland in hope that he, being a 
handsome lusty youth, should rather prevail 
being present, than Leicester who was absent. 
Which license was procured by means of Secretary 
Cecil, not that he was minded that any of the 
marriages should take effect, but with such 
shifts to hold the Queen unmarried as long as he 
could." x Knox writes to the same effect. " In 
her heart Queen Elizabeth was not angry at this 
marriage ; for she thought that the Scots Queen 
being married to one of inferior rank, would be 
less proud." 2 Buchanan, Castelnau, Eandolph, 
Sir James Balfour, Lady Lennox, were all con- 
fident that the marriage was secretly favoured 
by Elizabeth ; and the testimony of Sir Nicholas 
Throckmorton who had been sent to Scotland 
to declare her displeasure, is still more conclusive. 
He warned Cecil that it was of the utmost im- 
portance for the success of his negotiation that 
the real opinion of the English Council should 
not be known in Scotland. " I should be sorry if 
any one coming out of England should be able to 
give this Queen intelligence that her proceed- 
ings with Lord Darnley are not so ill taken there 

3 Melville's Memoirs, p. 53. a Knox, ii. 474, 481. 

132 Maitland and Cecil. 

by her Majesty and her Council as in all my 
negotiations I pretended ; for that would much 
hinder the purpose the Queen would be at." 1 
" The purpose Elizabeth would be at " what- 
ever that purpose might be would be hindered, 
Throckmorton believed, by her duplicity being 

It may be argued, indeed, that Elizabeth, in 
covertly promoting the Darnley marriage, was 
acting unwisely, and against her own interest. 
It rather appears to me, however, that a policy 
which Cecil approved must have had something 
to recommend it. Mary, if she married Darnley, 
could not marry Leicester. Though it is true 
that Elizabeth (so far as we can see) had no 
sincere intention of parting with her lover, yet, 
if Mary was driven into rejecting him, his dis- 
missal might be construed into an affront. On 
the pretext, moreover, that Mary had failed to 
implement her promise to marry the English 
nobleman selected by Elizabeth, the negotia- 
tions regarding the Succession (which had been 
growing inconveniently pressing) might be def- 
initively closed. Then it was by no means 
improbable that a Lennox marriage might set 
Scotland in a blaze. The two great feudal houses 
of Hamilton and Douglas would regard such an 

1 Throckmorton to Cecil, 21st May 1565. 

Maitland and Cecil. 133 

alliance with not unnatural jealousy. There was 
an old blood-feud between the Hamiltons and 
the Stuarts. Chatelherault was meantime the 
heir-apparent to the throne, but his title would 
no doubt be set aside if Darnley were made king. 
Morton was the guardian of his nephew the 
youthful Earl of Angus an influential and lu- 
crative office ; but if the Lennox proscription 
were annulled, the claims of the Lady Margaret 
Douglas would become formidable. She was the 
rightful heir, and it could at least be plausibly 
maintained that the honours and estates of 
Archibald Douglas had lawfully vested in his 
daughter. 1 Knox and the " precise Protestants " 
were ready to rise at any moment, and the 
Queen's marriage with a nobleman who was 
said to be a Papist, and who was certainly not 
a " precise Protestant," would furnish a colour- 
able apology for rebellion. 

Through this difficult country where pitfalls 
abounded Lethington had to travel as best he 
might. It was becoming more obvious to him 
every day that, in the present temper of the 
English Government, the close alliance between 
the Queens on which he had counted could not 

1 Morton was secured by Lady letter to Maitland, " I gave 

Lennox resigning any claim she the Queen 1000 crowns in a 

might have ; " for which," Mor- purse." Bannatyne's Journal, 

ton afterwards declared, in a p. 480. 


Maitland and Cecil. 

be secured. The offer of Dudley had been re- 
ceived by him with incredulity, the worthless 
minion of Elizabeth could be no fit match for 
his mistress. It was little better than an insult, 
indeed, to limit Mary's choice to the "scoundrel " * 
of whom Cecil, remembering the suspicions at- 
taching to Amy Kobsart's marriage and death, 
had written : " Nuptise carnales a Isetitia in- 
cipiunt et in luctu terminantur." 2 Maitland 
would probably have preferred a royal alliance 
for his mistress ; he saw the Spanish Ambassador 
when in London, during the summer of 1564, 
and there was some talk of Don Carlos. 3 But 
the risks were too great, and Lethington, from 
this time forward, if I am not mistaken, favoured 
Darnley's suit. A far-seeing statesman like 
Maitland must have instinctively recognised 
that in many ways a marriage, which would 
conciliate the rivalries and consolidate the claims 

1 " The scoundrel object of 
Elizabeth's own affections." 
Froude, viii. 148. 

2 Hatfield Calendar, p. 337. 

3 There is a curious account 
of Don Carlos in one of Chal- 
loner's letters to Elizabeth at 
this very time. "The Prince, 
as everybody affirmeth, hath a 
wit, but a strange wit ; not re- 
movable from an opinion once 
caught ; liberal ; a rememberer 

of injuries ; desirous of State and 
rule ; a despatcher of suitors ; 
far diverse from liking of many 
things that his father liketh. 
Notable tales have been told 
me, both of his deeds and say- 
ings." 10th August 1564. Hat- 
field MSS., p. 301. The Don 
Carlos negotiation by Maitland 
is described in a letter of the 
Bishop of Aquila. Froude, vii. 

Maitland and Cecil. 135 

of those who were descended from Margaret 
Tudor, would be highly politic. He was prob- 
ably led to believe, like the rest of the world, 
that such a union would not be disagreeable to 
Elizabeth. He had no reason to suppose that it 
would be displeasing to Moray. Knox, he knew, 
would be hostile ; but Knox's hostility was to be 
counted on in any case. The weakness and 
violence of Darnley's character had not yet been 
offensively manifested, and altogether there was 
much to recommend the match. 

Moray was still the close ally of Maitland. 
Up to the close of 1564 they continued, as we 
know, to work cordially together. There had 
been temporary misunderstandings, it is true ; 
but these had been cleared up ; and there was 
nothing to show that any radical divergence of 
opinion had been established. Moray had been 
as confident as Maitland that the return of 
Lennox would be attended with no danger to 
the English alliance or to religion. How then 
are we to explain his precipitate desertion to the 
enemy ? his sudden animosity to Darnley ? his 
frantic alarm for religion ? Moray, as I have said 
before, had little original or independent force ; 
at one time he was led by Maitland, at another 
by Knox, at another by Morton ; it would rather 
appear that now the gift of the earldom having 
been duly ratified by the Estates Knox was 


Maitland and Cecil. 

regaining the ascendancy which he had lost. 
Cecil, moreover, had become of late more dis- 
tinctly averse to the policy of conciliation. Yet 
these circumstances are insufficient to explain 
altogether the sudden change of front ; there 
must have been, besides, some obscure Eliza- 
bethan intrigue, of which no trace has been 
recovered. 1 Moray's apologists have admitted 
that he was not unaffected by the last infirmity 
of noble minds ; and his enemies did not hesitate 
to affirm that he was as inordinately greedy of 
money as of power. To either of these frailties 
the appeal may have been directed ; but that he 
sincerely held, when he took up arms against his 
sister, that liberty and religion were in immi- 
nent peril, I do not, for my part, believe. 

Maitland was very active during the anxious 
months that preceded the marriage. He must 
have appreciated, as we have seen, the political 

1 Was it the promise of the 
Crown ? Mary's letters seem to 
point to this ; and Moray had 
always been regarded as a pro- 
bable candidate in the English 
interest. The Prior of St An- 
drews was "to be thought of " 
in certain eventualities, Croft 
wrote to Cecil (3d August 1559), 
and Cecil had afterwards ex- 
pressed the opinion that "the 
Lord James was not unlike to 

be a king soon" (19th June 
1560). Randolph reported, on 
3d May 1565, that the Queen 
had said of Moray " She saw 
whereabout he went, and that 
he would set the crown upon 
his own head." See also Lord 
Herries's Memoirs (35, 54), in 
which it is alleged that these 
suspicions were generally enter- 
tained, and not by Mary only. 

Maitland and Cecil. 


advantages of the Lennox alliance ; and the 
bent of his inclination may be gathered from 
occasional allusions in Randolph's letters. " The 
Queen undertakes to end the quarrel between 
the Duke and the Earl of Lennox, whose name 
Lethington is now supposed to favour from the 
love he beareth to Mary Fleming." " Some there 
are that would I should believe that he liketh 
better of Lord Darnley than any other." "The 
Queen maketh no word of Darnley ; yet many 
suppose it concluded in her heart, and Maitland 
is wholly bent that way." " Lord Ruthven is 
wholly theirs. Maitland is suspected to favour 
the Queen and Darnley more than he would 
seem ; and yet he is not trusted by them," he 
adds, although the fact to which he proceeds to 
refer "Lennox being in great want of money 
borrowed five hundred crowns from Maitland " 
would seem, on the contrary, to imply very 
confidential relations. 1 The Lennox faction, it 
need not be doubted, had done their utmost to 

1 Kandolph to Cecil, 24th Oc- 
tober, 3d November 1564, 3d 
May 1565. Throckmorton, 
writing a few weeks after the 
last letter, suggested that Eliza- 
beth and her Council should 
express their surprise that 
Lethington, being a man of 
knowledge and judgment, could 

be so blinded as to further this 
marriage, "whereof besides 
your certain intelligence from 
hence, you did too well espy 
in his last legation " to Eng- 
land. Throckmorton's Memo- 
rial, 27th May 1565 : Keith, ii 

138 Maitland and Cecil. 

secure Maitland's adhesion. The Cumbernauld 
Flemings were the natural allies of the Lennox 
Stuarts; after the marriage, Lord Fleming, 
"now in principal credit with our young king," 
was made Chamberlain ; 1 and Mary Fleming, to 
whom Maitland was already devoted, was pos- 
sibly induced to use her influence with her 
lover. It was rumoured, indeed, that as early 
as 1562 Maitland had been in communication 
with the Lady Margaret Douglas ; 2 she had sent 
him by Melville a watch set with rubies and 
diamonds ; and we know that Lennox himself 
on his arrival in Scotland gave the Secretary 
" a very fair diamond in a ring." These judi- 
cious courtesies were gracefully acknowledged 
when Maitland delivered the " oration " to the 
Estates on the occasion of Lennox's restoration. 
He had been commanded by Mary, he said, to 
take the Chancellor's place, and to state some- 
what more at large the reasons which induced 
her to comply with the Queen of England's 
desire that the Earl should be restored to his 
honours and estates. Many respects would have 
inclined her to accede to the request, as the 
antiquity of his house, the surname he bears, 
his close affinity to herself, the affectionate ur- 
gency of Elizabeth, whose earnest commendation 

1 Randolph to Cecil, 31st July 

2 Calderwood, ii. 203. 

Maitland and Cecil. 139 

had not been of least moment ; but besides that, 
he continued, the Queen was naturally inclined 
to pity the decline of noble houses, and had far 
more pleasure in advancing the ancient blood 
than in witnessing the decay and overthrow of 
any good race. Then with a compliment to the 
gentle nature and prudent government which 
had brought about their present felicity "peace 
with all foreign nations, and quietness among 
ourselves in such sort that it might be truly 
affirmed that in living memory Scotland had 
never been in greater tranquillity" he con- 
cluded by exhorting them to give no heed to 
false bruits and rumours, which were the most 
pestilent evils that could afflict a Commonwealth. 1 
Yet Maitland, though he favoured Darnley, was 
prepared to take Leicester on one condition, the 
recognition of Mary's title. Both Mary and 
Maitland, from the first, had been sufficiently 
plain-spoken. "Now think you, Master Ran- 
dolph," the Queen had said, addressing the Eng- 
lish envoy, " that it will be honorable in me to 
debase my state and marry one of her subjects ? 
Is this conformable to her promise to use me as 
a daughter or a sister ? " 2 Maitland had ex- 
pressed himself in similar terms ; and their re- 
pugnance to an unworthy alliance had never been 

1 Kobertson, i. 278. 2 Kandolph to Cecil, 30th March 1564. 

140 Maitland and Cecil. 

disguised. But if by means of Leicester the 
Scottish succession could be assured, both Mary 
and Maitland, it is probable, would have accepted 
Elizabeth's terms. Maitland, however, was not 
to be satisfied with " parables " ; he must know 
where he stood ; and Cecil's assurances were 
studiously ambiguous. He implored him to be 
frank. "If a conjunction be really meant, I 
doubt not but you will find conformity enough 
on our part ; but if time be always driven with- 
out further effect than hath yet followed, I am of 
opinion he shall in the end think himself most 
happy who hath least meddled in the matter. 
Gentle letters, good words, and pleasant messages, 
be good means to begin friendship among princes ; 
but I take them to be too slender bands to hold 
it fast. In these great causes between our sov- 
ereigns I have ever found that fault with you 
that as in your letters you always wrote obscurely, 
so in private communications you seldom uttered 
your own judgment : you might well academico 
more dispute in utramque partem, leaving me in 
suspense to collect what I could. Marry," he 
concludes somewhat bitterly, after hinting that 
he will be driven to adopt a like reserve, " I fear 
the common affairs do not fare a whit the better 
for our too great wariness." : 

1 Lethington to Cecil, 6th June 1564. 

Maitland and Cecil. 141 

Cecil, however, could not afford to be frank, 
for Elizabeth was still trifling with Mary; of 
that there can be now no doubt. But her own 
position was sufficiently embarrassing, each 
step only leading her further into the mire. 
Out of the "labyrinth " into which she had wan- 
dered, there was at last indeed no " outgait " 
that she could see. Cecil had been ailing, and 
she wrote to him in dire perplexity. " In ejus- 
modi laberintho posita sum de response meo 
reddendo Reginse Scotise, ut nescio quomodo illi 
satisfaciam, quum neque toto isto tempore illi 
ullum responsum dederim, nee quid niihi dicen- 
dum nunc sciam. Invenias igitur aliquid boni 
quod in mandatis scriptis Randoll dare possem, 
et in hac causa tuam opinionem mihi indica." l 
What was she to say ? Could Cecil invent some 
excuse ? She was at her wits' end. The secret 
conference at Berwick where Maitland and 
Moray were pitted gainst Bedford and Randolph 
only increased the irritation. Cecil had an- 
ticipated that it " would not succeed," and on 
receiving Randolph's report, he wrote the violent 
letter of the advocate who, feeling that he has 
no case, prudently takes the initiative, and 
abuses his adversary. " What is to be thought 
of their conduct in the late Conference at Ber- 

1 Elizabeth to Cecil, 23d September 1564. 


Maitland and Cecil. 

wick? Surely my Lord of Lethington knows 
how to make a bargain. As they mean now to 
fall roundly to work, so will we also. The 
Queen was loth to meddle in their sovereign's 
marriage ; but being required, she gave her 
advice, and named a noble gentleman, noble in 
all qualities requisite, and comparable to any 
prince born ; and now they must have the 
establishment of their Queen's title as second to 
her Majesty." 1 Eandolph informed Cecil that 
" the two Lords had been worked up into great 
agonies and passions " by his insulting message ; 
but there is no trace of bitterness in Maitland's 
dignified reply. Cecil might in fewer lines, he 
observed, have comprehended matter more to 
their contentation. They were unwilling to 
give their sovereign advice to do that which 
might be dishonourable and unsafe. Cecil had 
said that he would write plainly ; but there were 
in his letter as many ambiguities as words ; and 
until these were cleared up, no progress could be 
made. 2 The official letter was temperate ; the 
confidential letter which accompanied it was still 
more conciliatory. " The matter itself hath not 
so many difficulties, but you may soon remove 

1 Cecil to Maitland and 
Moray, 16th December 1564. 

2 Maitland and Moray to 
Cecil, 24th December 1564. 

Maitland and Cecil. 


them all if you list." x How honorable were it, 
he writes a month later, how honorable were 
it for them both, if thus the Union of the 
kingdoms could be compassed. Their fame 
would outshine that which attached to the men 
who had most valiantly served Edward in the 
conquest, and Eobert the Bruce in the recovery, 
of the country. 2 But Maitland was eloquent 
and urgent in vain ; the news from Scotland had 
apparently reassured Elizabeth ; Moray was 
wavering, Chatelherault was in a panic, Knox 
and his friends were ready to rise. The time 
had come, she thought, when Leicester or no 
Leicester she could dictate her own terms ; and 
at last there was abundance of plain speaking. 
She had not yet made up her mind, she said, 
whether she would marry or not. She must de- 
cline to recognise the Queen of Scots as second 
person, or to take any measures to settle the 
succession ; meantime she could only say that if 
Mary would marry Leicester and listen to Knox, 
something might be done for her by-and-by. 
Cecil must have been blind indeed if he did not 
know that a message couched in these terms 
would of a certainty drive Mary into Darnley's 
arms. By a curious, if not suspicious, coinci- 

1 Maitland to Cecil, 25th 
December 1564. 

2 Maitland to Cecil, 1st Feb- 
ruary 1565. 

144 Maitland and Cecil. 

dence, Henry Stuart had by this time " received 
license from the Secretary to come to Scotland," 
and was now in attendance at Holyrood. 1 

Mary did not disappoint the expectations of 
Elizabeth. She was bitterly mortified by the 
message ; there were rumours in the palace of 
vehement " commotion " ; for a day and night 
her passion was extreme. Maitland, who felt 
that the friendship of the Queens was wrecked, 
could not counsel any further delay. The Queen 
must marry ; and by accident or of design, 
Elizabeth and Cecil had directed all eyes to 
Darnley. As Darnley 's first night in Scotland 
had been spent at Lethington, Maitland, we may 
presume, was still anxious to be friendly. It 
was otherwise with Moray. His feud with Knox 
had been healed. He was again " suspected to 
be led by England." 2 The rumours, so persistent 
at every crisis, that he aimed at the Crown were 
again in the air. He had given Cecil to under- 
stand during the previous summer that Lennox 
might be permitted to return to Scotland without 
any danger to the reformation ; now he told his 
sister that he durst not consent to her marriage 
with one "who he could not assure himself 

1 Kandolph, writing on 20th 
April, refers to the common sus- 
picion of Elizabeth's object in 
sending Darnley to Scotland. 

See also his letter of 15th April. 
2 Randolph to Cecil, 8th May 

Maitland and Cecil. 145 

would set forth Christ's true religion." Although 
the Proclamation of 1561 had been quite recently 
renewed, and the severe penalties against the 
celebration of their rites had been so rigidly en- 
forced that the Ayrshire Catholics had been 
driven (like the Ayrshire Covenanters a century 
later by Claverhouse's dragoons) to meet their 
priests " in secret houses, in barns, in woods, and 
on hills," 1 Moray professed to be confident that 
if the Queen married Darnley the Protestants 
" were undone." 2 

Those who believe that Moray was sincerely 
alarmed for Protestantism should turn to the 
correspondence of the previous year to which I 
have just referred. Knox had written a wild 
letter to Elizabeth protesting against the return 
of Lennox. Elizabeth appears to have been im- 
pressed by the appeal, and Cecil was directed to 
suggest to Maitland that Mary's consent to his 
return might be withdrawn. It was then that 
Moray as well as Maitland remonstrated with 
the English ministers. The sudden change in 
Elizabeth's mind, Maitland wrote, was not a 
little marvellous to him, " seeing how earnestly 

1 Randolph to Cecil, 1st May 
1563. The priests, we learn, 
had been apprehended and 

their reasons for rising made 
by the Lords at Dumfries, 19th 
September 1565. Calderwood, 
ii. 569. 

2 See also the statement of 


146 Maitland and Cecil. 

her Majesty did recommend unto me my Lord 
of Lennox's cause and my lady's at my last 
being in Court ; nay, suddenly after I had taken 
my leave you yourself, at her Majesty's com- 
mandment, did send after me by post her let- 
ters to the Queen's Majesty, my mistress, very 
affectionate in their favour, willing me to pre- 
sent the same with recommendation from the 
Queen. And now, having once, under her great 
seal, permitted him liberally to come, it will be 
a hard matter to persuade my mistress to revoke 
it ; and I dare little presume to enter into any 
such communication with her Majesty, knowing 
how much she doth respect her honour where 
promise is once passed, and how unwilling she 
is to change her deliberations being once re- 
solved ; which as she will not do herself, so doth 
she altogether mislike in others. The religion 
here doth not depend upon my Lord of Lennox's 
coming, neither do those of the religion hang 
upon the sleeves of any one or two that may 
mislike his coming. For us, whether he come 
or do not come, I take to be no great matter, 
up or down." 1 Moray was quite as decided. 

1 Maitland to Cecil, 13th | request to that effect must be 
July 1564. He adds that if made, as she could not other- 
Elizabeth really wished to stay wise withdraw her promise, 
him, Mary would " forbid it Elizabeth as usual was burrow- 
for her pleasure," but an official \ ing in the dark. 

Maitland and Cecil. 147 

" As to the faction that his coming might make 
for the matters of religion, thanks to God our 
foundation is not so weak that we have cause 
to fear if he had the greatest subject of this 
realm joined to him, seeing we have the favour 
of our prince, and liberty of conscience in such 
abundance as our hearts can wish. It will neither 
be he nor I, praised be God, can hinder or alter 
religion here-away ; and his coming or remain- 
ing in that cause will be to small purpose." x 

It is hard to believe, with these letters before 
us, that Moray was in earnest when he opposed 
the Lennox marriage on the plea that religion 
was in peril. I am, for my part, constrained to 
believe that the pretence of religion was a mask. 

Maitland. however, did not even yet despair 
of a pacific settlement of the difficulty. He 
could not bring himself to suspect that Cecil 
had all along been working for Mary's ruin; 
and it appeared to him that if Darnley was 
obnoxious to Elizabeth, and Leicester obnoxious 
to Mary, some other suitor could be found who 
might be agreeable to both. He went to Eng- 
land in May, the object of his mission being, 
as has generally been supposed, to win Eliza- 
beth's consent at the eleventh hour to the Len- 
nox marriage. But there is an entry in Cecil's 

1 Moray to Cecil, 13th July 1564. 

148 Maitland and Cecil. 

diary which gives a different complexion to the 
negotiations, and which has not hitherto, so far 
as I know, been noticed by the historians of 
the period. " May 6. Lethington in England. 
Treated of Leicester marriage ; but he liked it 
not, but treated for the Duke of Norfolk, which 
was then refused." * He liked it not ; but treated 
ybr the Duke of Norfolk. I conclude from this 
that Mary up to the beginning of May was not 
bent upon Darnley, that, on the contrary, if 
one of the great English nobles had been ac- 
ceptable to Elizabeth, she was ready to take 
him. The secret overture did not succeed ; and 
during Maitland's absence Mary's indignation 
got the better of her judgment. Her passion 
boiled over ; and on his way home he was met 
by a messenger from the Scottish Court, who 
brought with him an angry letter from the 
Queen. She would marry where she liked, and 
would be fed by Yea and Nay no longer. Leth- 
ington was to return to Elizabeth and tell her 
so to her face. There was to be no more tri- 
fling. The letter had obviously been dashed off 
in a moment of excessive irritation, " it wanted 
neither eloquence, despite, anger, love, nor pas- 
sion." 2 It was accompanied by another more 

1 Cecil's Journal is printed 2 Throckmorton to Leicester 
by Murdin. and Cecil, llth May. 

Maitland and Cecil. 149 

purely personal (such as Mary delighted to ad- 
dress to her favourites) ; written with her own 
hand, it was, said Throckmorton, " the most 
favourable and gentle letter that ever Queen 
did address to her servant." But Maitland, now 
seriously alarmed for his mistress's safety, in- 
stead of returning to London, hurried on to 
Alnwick, where he overtook the English envoy. 
They arrived at Edinburgh together, and Leth- 
ington, finding that the Court was at Stirling, 
left Throckmorton in the capital, and went on 
alone. He was unusually moved. Elizabeth 
had told him in effect that the Lennox marriage 
would be taken as a declaration of war. Then 
there was treason at home, Knox had been 
consistently hostile, and even Moray could no 
longer be trusted. Was it possible that Mary 
could weather the storm that was brewing ? 
His remonstrances were not wholly without 
effect ; both Throckmorton and Eandolph told 
Cecil that if Elizabeth were liberal a reasonable 
"composition" could be effected. 1 But at the 
English Court there was no sincere desire for a 


composition, the information from Scotland 
leading Cecil to believe that Mary was certain 
to be worsted. The opportunity for which he 
had waited so long was not to be missed. So, 

1 Eandolph to Cecil, 7th Ju- 
ly. Throckmorton to Eliza- 


Maitland and Cecil. 

on the 8th of June, Elizabeth, "understanding 
that by the marriage with Lord Darnley the 
cause of religion shall be desturbed," instructed 
Eandolph " to encourage all those who were 
well-minded to preserve the same, and to assure 
them of her support" assurances which, during 
the next four or five months, were constantly 
repeated. It is said that she gave them good 
words and good wishes only ; but this is a mis- 
take ; with unwonted liberality she supplied the 
funds that they needed. 1 The dogs of war were 
let loose not for the first, nor for the last, 
time by Elizabeth. During the next eight 
years, with hardly an interval of quiet, the 
wretched country, which, as we have seen, had 
never been more peaceful or prosperous than 
under Maitland's vigorous, and Mary's " gentle," 
government, was delivered over to Anarchy. 

Though Maitland's anxiety for cautious deal- 
ing may be approved by the historian, it does 
not appear to have been well taken by the 
Queen. Eandolph asserts that the conduct of 
public affairs was now committed to Rizzio, 

1 Of this there is plenty of 
evidence ; for instance, there is 
a petition to Elizabeth from 
two Scotsmen, who complain 
that they had been put to the 
last extremity by their sove- 
reign, in consequence of having 

conveyed an aid of money sent 
by her Majesty through Mr 
Tamworth, the special envoy, 
to the Earl of Moray. August 
1565. See also Elizabeth to 
Bedford, Sept. 2. 

Maitland and Cecil. 


and that Lethington had leisure to make love. 1 
Whatever the cause, it is tolerably certain that 
for some months Mary withdrew, or appeared to 
withdraw, her confidence from Maitland. She 
may have resented his abrupt return from his 
English mission. She may have felt that one 
who had been so closely associated with Moray 
was not a counsellor who could be intrusted 
with State secrets when Moray was in the 
field. The crafty Italian, for his part, may 
have thought to secure his own place, and en- 
hance his own consequence, by inciting her 
against her Minister. And there could be little 
in common between the wilful and petulant lad 
who had been raised by Mary's favour to the 
giddy eminence which turned his foolish head 
and the acutest statesman of the age. Leth- 
ington continued to act as principal Secretary 
of State ; the public duties of the office were 
duly discharged by him ; but there is certainly 
reason to believe that the close intimacy which 

1 From the 17th of March, 
the approximate date of the 
rupture, the reader must be on 
his guard against a too ready 
acceptance of Kandolph's nar- 
rative. Thenceforth he was 
entirely under the influence of 
the faction opposed to Mary, 
and every action of the Queen 

was distorted by a distempered 
and jaundiced eye. "So," Mr 
Froude admits, " she may have 
appeared in Randolph's eyes ; 
and yet the change may have 
been more in Randolph's power 
of insight than in the object 
at which he looked." Froude, 
viii. 177. 

152 Maitland and Cecil. 

had hitherto been encouraged by the Queen was 
temporarily interrupted. He had felt that the 
risks she was running were too great ; and he 
had not hesitated to speak his mind. 

The risk was great ; but intimate as he had 
been with the Queen, he hardly knew as yet the 
stuff of which she was made. The insurrection 
was nipped in the bud. The disaffected Lords 
were driven across the Border. Before the end 
of the autumn Elizabeth was suing for Mary's 
friendship, and Moray had abjectly besought 
Bizzio to intercede for him with his sister. It 
is true that the nation as a whole went with 
Mary ; the country was more prosperous and 
peaceful than it had been in the memory of 
living men ; and the pretences which had been 
put forward by " the professors " were too crude 
and frivolous to mislead. But it was the high 
spirit of the Queen herself, her daring cour- 
age, her readiness, her resource, that crushed 
the rebels. Others might doubt and delay ; but 
Mary, with Darnley at her side, was ready for 
any adventure. "And albeit the most part 
waxed weary, yet the Queen's courage in- 
creased manlike, so much that she was ever 
with the foremost." a 

1 Knox, ii. 500. 



T7ROM the time of the Run-about-Raid as 
-*- Moray's rising was named till Mary's fac- 
tion on Maitland's death was finally stamped out, 
the history of Scotland is hopelessly monoton- 
ous. The persistent efforts of Cecil and Knox to 
discredit the Queen were ultimately attended 
with success, though Mary's power of recovery 
was really surprising. The contest, indeed, was 
not so unequal as it might seem ; for there can 
be little doubt that, till the very last, the mass 
of the Scottish people were warmly attached to 
their Sovereign. Unhappily for her cause the 
political force of the country was practically 
concentrated in "Fife and the Lothians." The 
Fife gentry, the Lothian burghers, were stout 
soldiers as well as ardent " professors," and a 
summons from Moray and Morton could bring 
together a couple of thousand men " weill bodin 
in feir of war " in eight-and-forty hours. It was 

154 TJie Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

England, however, that turned the scale against 
Mary. Without the aid of Cecil, Moray and 
Morton would unquestionably have failed. There 
is abundance of evidence to show that Knox and 
his friends were acutely conscious that outside a 
narrow area they had a scanty following. A 
wide democratic franchise would probably have 
arrested the Reformation ; and we shall see as 
we proceed that, had the Scots been left to fight 
it out among themselves, Mary would have been 
Queen till she died. Maitland was devoted to 
his mistress ; but knowing that with England 
actively hostile, her ultimate success was im- 
possible, he strove to disarm its hostility. He 
would have welcomed the closest union ; but 
when friendliness was no longer to be looked 
for, he only asked to be let alone. 

The historian should as far as possible keep 
his mind clear of theories ; but the historian 
who recognises in the Run-about-Raid, the Rizzio 
murder, the Darnley murder, the Both well catas- 
trophe, a uniformity of motive the animosity 
of Knox and the duplicity of Elizabeth, as well 
as the indiscretion of Mary will be able to 
maintain his thesis by many cogent arguments. 

While the virulence of Knox was mainly 
polemical, Cecil's hostility was serious and states- 
manlike. An English Minister was entitled 
to hold that, while the wave of Conservative 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 155 

reaction was sweeping over Europe, Mary was a 
constant danger to England. It is the methods 
of the English Government that are fairly open 
to criticism. We hear enough of Mary's bad 
faith ; but Mary's bad faith was pellucid candour 
when compared with the rank dishonesty of her 
cousin. Hardly, indeed, in the whole annals of 
diplomacy can a parallel be found for the un- 
blushing mendacity of Elizabeth. 

Maitland was not easily discouraged ; but he 
was ill at ease after the Lennox marriage. He 
was not misled by Mary's rapid progress and 
brilliant peremptoriness. She had spoken with 
the spirit of a Queen ; neither France nor Eng- 
land, she had declared, should come between her 
and her revolted subjects ; and he could not but 
admire the force and independence of her bearing. 
But it was not diplomacy. He knew that on 
these lines no solid or permanent success was 
to be looked for. Mary could not afford the 
luxury of humiliating her formidable rival ; had 
she been discreet she would have held her 
tongue, and preserved, while she went her own 
way, a show of amity with England. But she 
was a woman an angry woman with weak 
and evil counsellors at her side. It appeared 
only too probable that Darnley and Kizzio be- 
tween them would drive Elizabeth, irresolute as 
she was, into active intervention. Maitland 

156 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

looked on anxiously ; but the Queen was still 
cold and suspicious. It was alleged that he 
was well affected to the rebels. Letters came 
to him from Moray. So, though he continued 
to attend the meetings of the Privy Council, his 
advice was seldom asked. It was at this time 
that Eandolph wrote, " My old friend Lething- 
ton has leisure to make love ; and in the end, 
I believe, as wise as he is, he will show himself 
a very fool and stark staring mad." ] (Whether 
it was love or politics that was to drive him out 
of his senses, does not clearly appear.) When 
Tamworth went down to Scotland at the time 
of the Run-about-Raid, Maitland, however, was 
still in close attendance upon the Queen. Mary 
gave him permission to see the English envoy, 
to whom he spoke with his usual frankness. 
" Upon Sunday last, at night," Tamworth wrote, 2 
" I arrived here in Edinburgh, very weary by 
reason of a number of evil horses that I found 
by the way. The next day I reposed myself, as 
well to consider upon those matters committed 
to my charge, as by the advice of Mr Randolph 
to talk with the Lord of Lethington, who durst 
not have to do with us, until such time as 
he knew the Queen his mistress's pleasure. 

1 Randolph to Cecil, 31st ! 2 Tamworth and Randolph to 
October 1565. Cecil, 10th August 1565. 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 157 

Having obtained leave of her Grace, he came 
to us, with whom we could not have so much 
talk as we desired ; but thus much in effect by 
him we did understand, that there was very 
little hope of any reconciliation between the 
Queen and the Earl of Moray. By him also do 
we find that so great matter of misliking hath 
proceeded from the Queen, the Earl of Lennox, 
and Lord Darnley towards the noblemen of this 
country, that there is entered such a hatred into 
their hearts, and such mistrust," that no com- 
munication was possible. " She remaineth al- 
ways in mind to pursue them to the uttermost." 
This was in August ; throughout the winter 
Maitland remained at his post ill at ease, as 
I have said ; yet it is clear from the terms of 
the letter he wrote to Cecil early in 1566, 1 that 
he had begun to hope that more friendly rela- 
tions were being established. " I was glad to 
understand by your letter sent to me with our 
herald, your good continuance in your accus- 
tomed disposition to nourish amity betwixt the 
two Queens and Realms. I am assured there is 
no amity so profitable for both ; as also, if any 
breach come at any time (which God forbid), it 
shall be most dangerous to both. And therefore, 
happy may the Ministers be accounted, who shall 

1 9th February 1566. 

158 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

have credit to do good offices betwixt them. I 
am sorry that any occasion to the contrary has 
been thought to have fallen out. Yet, praised 
be God, nothing is on either part so far past, 
but all may be reduced to the former estate if 
the right way be taken. Marry, I see no certain 
way unless we chop at the very root ; you know 
where it lieth, and so far as my judgment can 
reach, the sooner all things be packed up, the 
less danger there is of any inconveniences. The 
bearer can declare to you my opinion, whom I 
pray you to credit. This letter shall only serve 
as a gage of my correspondence to your dis- 
position in all things that may tend to quiet 
the two Kealms, and unite the two Queens in 
perfect accord. As occasion shall serve, I will 
make you overtures to that end, desiring you to 
do the like unto me ; and by that means renew 
our old intelligence, which shall bring forth fruit 
when it shall please God to prosper our counsels. 
In the meantime let us omit no lawful means, 
and remit the success to Him who hath their 
hearts in His hand, and shall move them as 
pleaseth Him. Many considerations do move 
me to write thus earnestly, which I am assured 
yourself will approve. So I take my leave." l 
So much for Maitland. The other actors in 

1 Maitland to Cecil, 9th February 1565. 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 159 

what was rapidly becoming a strangely exciting 
and tragic story were widely distributed and 
variously occupied. Moray and his friends were 
in England ; Morton and Ruthven, who had 
fallen away from them, were with the Court ; so 
were the nobles personally and politically at- 
tached to the Queen, Huntly, Athol, Bothwell, 
Sutherland, Caithness. Knox had ventured to 
remain in Edinburgh, and preached occasionally 
in St Giles'. Before the close of the year 1565 
Darnley and Rizzio had ceased to be allies ; and 
Rizzio, as the only official at Holyrood who could 
conduct her foreign correspondence, was becom- 
ing indispensable to the Queen. There had been 
rumours of contention between husband and wife, 
amantium ires, as Randolph said, and the 
feeble and petted lad, who owed everything to 
Mary, was already plotting against her. It was 
also rumoured before the year was out, indeed, 
it was widely known that in a few months 
Mary would be a mother. 

When Moray was driven across the Border, 
the revolutionary faction had been foiled for the 
moment. But with Moray at Newcastle, Cecil 
at Westminster, Morton at Holyrood, and Knox 
in St Giles', there was plenty of explosive mate- 
rial about. No experienced statesman, no friend 
of orderly government, could venture to hope 
that the clouds had been finally dispersed. The 

160 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

storm had failed to clear the sky ; the air was 
still charged with electricity. The stress of the 
political situation indeed might not inaptly have 
been described in the words of the great English 
poet ; for though " the van ward clouds of evil 
days had spent their malice," yet 

" The sullen rear 
Was with its stored thunder labouring up." 

Moray's role during his exile was not one that 
any man of spirit would have cared to play. 
There are scenes of broad burlesque in "Lear" 
and " Macbeth " ; and the tragedy which was so 
close at hand was preceded by a farce, in which 
the clown's part was taken by Moray. The am- 
bassadors of the Ca-tholic Powers had not hesi- 
tated to accuse the English Queen to her face of 
fomenting civil war in Scotland. The ill success 
of the rebels had by this time dismayed Eliza- 
beth ; and when Moray came to London to re- 
mind her of her engagements, she induced him 
to declare on his knees, in the presence of the 
ambassadors, that she had given the Lords no 
encouragement. " But unto my Lord of Moray, 
she said, Now you have told the truth, for neither 
did I, nor any in my name, stir you up against 
your Queen. For your abominable treason may 
serve for example to my own subjects to rebel 
against me. Therefore get you out of my pres- 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 161 

ence, you are but unworthy traitors." a Eliza- 
beth's transcendent mendacity rose at intervals 
into genius ; and on this occasion she outshone 
herself. But if Elizabeth lied as was her habit 
what is to be said for Moray ? Elizabeth was 
not "a professor"; she sneered at Cecil and 
" his brothers in Christ " ; but Moray was the 
leader of the "precise Protestants," and the 
austere propriety of his life and conversation 
had supplied a text for many a fervid dis- 
course. The interview with Elizabeth was bad 
enough one would have fancied that he could 
not have fallen further yet, if we are to believe 
Melville, there was a lower depth which Moray 
had yet to sound. " Kizzio appeared also to 
have been gained. My Lord Moray had sued to 
him very earnestly, and more humbly than could 
have been believed, with the present of a fair 
diamond enclosed within a letter, full of repent- 
ance and fair promises from that time forth 
to be his friend and protector." 2 How these 
" promises " were kept will appear immediately ; 
but anything more meanly abject than Moray's 
bearing when overtaken by evil fortune it is 
surely difficult to imagine. 

But though Moray was disowned in public, 

1 Melville's Memoirs, p. 57. 
There are many reports of this 
interview an official narrative 


was prepared by Cecil. 
2 Melville's Memoirs, p. 63. 

162 TJie Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

the English Ministers, whose hostility to Mary 
had not been disarmed, was in fact keener than 
ever, were in close and constant communication 
with the exiled lords. Before the new year was 
far advanced, Elizabeth, recovering from her 
panic, had urged Mary to pardon the noblemen 
whose excessive zeal for religion had led them 
astray. Mary would probably have turned a 
deaf ear to these somewhat dictatorial entrea- 
ties, 1 in so far at least as Moray was concerned ; 
for the ingratitude of her brother had stung her 
to the quick. She had replied with spirit to 
Elizabeth's remonstrances at a far more critical 
period ; the hypocritical pretences of the English 
Ministers had then been ruthlessly exposed ; and 
we may be tolerably sure that now, when her 
enemies had been scattered like chaff, her answer 
would have been not less incisive. 2 But the letters 
were never delivered ; Bedford detained them at 
Berwick on the ground that "a matter of no 
small consequence was intended in Scotland," 

1 Elizabeth to Mary, 24th 
February and 3d March 1566. 

2 See the Instructions to 
Tamworth in August 1565, and 
Mary's reply, in which she 
points out that " she has never 
been curious in times bypast 
to inquire what order of gov- 
ernment Elizabeth maintained 

in her ain realm," and " desires 
maist heartily her good sister 
to meddle no further" with 
Moray and the other rebels 
than she herself had heretofore 
meddled with the subjects of 
the English Queen. Keith, 
iii. 231. 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 163 

by means whereof, he explained, the banished 
Lords would be brought home " without further 
suit from Elizabeth." 1 

The "matter of no small consequence" was 
the plot which ended in the murder of Rizzio 
and the return of Moray. Though Morton and 
Ruthven, who were closely related to Darnley, 
had fallen away from Moray when he appeared 
in the field against his sister, the friendly inti- 
macy which had previously existed between 
them had been only temporarily suspended. The 
division was accidental ; the differences were 
superficial ; there was no reason, apart from 
Darnley, why the old allies Knox and Moray 
and Morton and Ruthven should not shake 
hands, and be friends again. 

The earlier historians of Scotland were only 
permitted to call a spade a spade when no re- 
flection on Knox and his friends was intended. 
A fairer estimate is now possible ; and it will 
be admitted by not a few that Moray's conduct 
at this juncture was singularly base. We have 
seen that he had perjured himself to satisfy 
Elizabeth, and had pled with Rizzio for pardon. 2 
But these were comparatively venial offences, 
matters of taste, so to speak, where private in- 

1 Bedford to Cecil, 6th March 

2 We know, besides, that he 

had implored Elizabeth to in- 
tercede for him with Mary. See 
his letter of 31st Dec. 1565. 

164 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

clination might be consulted. The broad Earl- 
dom of Moray, which a year before had cost him 
the friendship of Knox, was in jeopardy, and the 
temptation to retain it by any means "fair or 
foul" was probably irresistible. Yet what he 
now did, justified though it has been by those 
who maintain that Moray, like Arthur, was a 
stainless gentleman, wellnigh exceeds belief. He 
had risen in arms against his sister he had 
shaken her throne because she had elected to 
marry Darnley. He returned to make Darnley 
king, in fact as well as in name. The terms of 
the treaty between these singular allies were re- 
duced to writing, in accordance with the fashion 
of an age which combined lawless violence with 
legal pedantry. These are the Articles of the 
"Band" which Moray signed: "The Earl of 
Moray shall become a true subject and faithful 
servant to the noble and mighty Prince Henry, 
King of Scotland, shall be the friend of his 
friends and the enemy of his enemies. He shall 
at the first Parliament after his return grant, 
give, and ordain the Matrimonial Crown to the 
said noble Prince all the days of his life. 1 
He shall fortify and maintain the said noble 

1 What was meant by the 
Matrimonial Crown is not very 
clear. In a limited sense Darn- 
ley was already King, and what 

he now sought must have been 
a radical title to the Crown in- 
dependent of Mary. 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 165 

Prince in his just title to the Crown of Scotland, 
failing of succession of our Sovereign Lady, and 
shall justify and set forward the same to the 
uttermost. 1 And as he has become true sub- 
ject to the said noble Prince, so shall he not 
spare life or limb in setting forward all that may 
tend to the advancement of his honour." Darn- 
ley on his side undertook that Moray and his 
"complices" should be recalled to Scotland; 
that their treason should be forgiven ; and that 
the Acts of the Estates by which their honours 
and estates were to be forfeited should be im- 
mediately withdrawn. 2 

A more shameful bargain was never struck. 
The fanatical passion of Knox may be held to 
excuse his complicity. The chosen people had 
no scruple in putting the unpopular favourite 
of an idolatrous ruler to death, and Mary was 
the Jezebel of the Reformer's disordered imagin- 
ation. For the cold and scrupulous Moray no 

1 This article was directed him on condition that he would 

against the title of Chatelher- 
ault, who, on account of his con- 
nection with Moray's rebellion, 
was now in exile. In this singu- 
lar fashion Moray repaid the ser- 
vices of his friends. Mr Froude 
says that Chatelherault had 
been allowed to return ; but 
it appears (Douglas Peerage, i. 
700) that Mary had pardoned 

live abroad. See also his let- 
ters to Elizabeth and Cecil from 
Newcastle and Dieppe, 3d Dec. 
1565, and 24th July 1566. 

2 The Articles of Agreement 
are to be found in Ruthven's 
Narrative (Keith, iii. 261). 
Randolph sent a copy of them 
to Cecil. 

166 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

such apology can be found. Had it not been 
established by indisputable evidence, the allega- 
tion that the vir pietate grams of the " precise 
Protestants " of Scotland was ready to cement in 
Rizzio's blood an alliance with Darnley, would 
have been deemed incredible. 

The assassination of Eizzio, the return of Moray, 
the proclamation of Darnley, were only the acci- 
dents of the conspiracy. The plot had a wider 
scope. It was unquestionably directed against 
the Queen herself. Had Mary and Darnley been 
captured as they hurried past Kinross during the 
previous summer, the Queen, it is known, would 
have been imprisoned in Lochleven. Since then 
the situation had been materially modified. 
Mary was now within a few months of her con- 
finement. The probability that a violent mental 
or physical shock would be attended with serious 
consequences, might be followed by her death, 
cannot have been absent from the minds of the 
conspirators. 1 Randolph's sinister auguries were 
like enough to be realised. " I know that there 
are practices in hand contrived between the 
father and the son to come by the Crown against 
her will. I know that if that take effect which 

1 " She being big with child, said Rizzio in any other part, 

it appeared to be done to de- j at any time they pleased, 

stroy both her and her child. (Melville's Memoirs, p. 67.) 
For they might have killed the 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 167 

is intended, David shall have his throat cut 
within these ten days. Many things grievouser 
and worse than these are brought to my ears, 
yea, of things intended against her own person, 
which because I think it better to keep secret 
than write to Mr Secretary, I speak of them but 
now to your Lordship." * What then would 
follow? Chatelherault was in exile; Darnley 
was incapable of governing. Cordially support- 
ed by Elizabeth, Moray was sure to become a 
formidable candidate for the throne. Cecil had 
said years before that the Lord James was like to 
be a king soon ; and Mary once out of the way 
a parliament filled with fanatical partisans 
would have little difficulty in finding that he was 

These then were the confederates. Moray 
and his companions at Newcastle, Bedford and 
Randolph, the agents of Elizabeth, at Berwick, 
Morton, Euthven, and Knox at Edinburgh, were 
leagued with the worthless Darnley and the un- 
grateful Lennox. There was little delay. They 
did not linger over their work. By the 6th of 
March the preliminaries had been completed. 
The capital was filled with the angry zealots of 
the Congregation. Judicial precedents selected 
from the bloodiest passages of Hebrew history 

1 Eandolph to Leicester, 13th February 1566. 

168 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

had fanned their fanaticism into a flame. During 
a week of fasting and humiliation they had fed 
upon the atrocities recorded in the earlier books 
of the Bible. These grim enthusiasts streaming 
out into the High Street from the great church 
where Knox had told them how Oreb and Zeeb 
had been slain, how the Benjamites had been cut 
off, how Haman had been hanged, were in the 
mood for murder. On the last day of the week 
in the winter twilight two hundred armed men 
wearing the livery of Morton and Lindsay sur- 
rounded the palace. The attack being utterly 
unexpected, there was no resistance. The gates 
were closed and barred ; the courtyard was oc- 
cupied ; while Ruthven with some score of his 
friends, guided by Darnley, stole noiselessly up 
the narrow stair which led to the private apart- 
ments of the Queen. It was about seven o'clock 
Mary was at supper. Darnley entered first ; 
but he had hardly uttered a word when the Queen 
looking up beheld a ghastly apparition at the 
open door, Ruthven in complete armour, but 
pale and emaciated, for he was suffering from 
mortal illness, and had risen from his deathbed 
to direct the murder, the man whom with a 
true instinct she had always loathed. " The 
Queen cannot abide him, and all men hate him." l 

1 Kandolph to Cecil, 3d June 1563. 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 169 

Of the miserable tragedy which followed 
enough has been written. The outraged Queen 
standing undauntedly before the craven creature 
who clung in abject terror to the skirt of her 
robe, and whose worst crime had been his devo- 
tion to herself the brief unseemly scuffle in 
almost absolute darkness, for the table with the 
lights had been overturned, and the Countess 
of Argyle had picked up a single taper Mary 
dragged aside by Ruthven, and thrust roughly 
into Darnley's arms the victim hustled across 
the floor the shrill cry for mercy the clash of 
arms on the stair-head ; it is a lurid picture 
never to be forgotten. Ruthven was the lead- 
ing actor ; and there are some sentences in his 
curiously unimpassioned narrative which are yet 
startlingly vivid. 

" Then her Majesty rose upon her feet, and 
stood before David, he holding her Majesty by 
the plates of her gown, leaning back over the 
window, his dagger drawn in his hand ; and one 
of the chamber began to lay hands on the Lord 
Ruthven, none of the King's party being there 
present. Then the said Lord Ruthven pulled 
out his dagger, and defended himself until more 
came in, and said to them, Lay no hands on me, 
for I will not be handled. At the coming in of 
the others the Lord Ruthven put up his dagger ; 
and with the rushing in of men, the board fell 

170 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

to the wall, meat and candles being thereon, 
and the Lady of Argile took one of the candles 
in her hand. At the same instant the Lord 
Euthven took the Queen in his arms, and put 
her into the King's arms, beseeching her Majesty 
not to be afraid ; and assured her that all that 
was done was the King's own deed." Then after 
David had been dragged away, " the said Lord 
Euthven being sore felled with his sickness and 
wearied with his travel, desired her Majesty's 
pardon to sit down, and called for drink for 
God's sake ; so a Frenchman brought him a cup 
of wine, and after he drank, her Majesty began 
to rail at him, saying, Is this your sickness ? 
He answered, God forbid your Majesty had 
such a sickness. Then the Queen said, if she 
died of her child or her Commonweal perished, 
she would leave the revenge to her friends to be 
taken of the Lord Euthven and his posterity." 
At last she broke down. "Then the Lord 
Euthven perceiving that her Majesty was very 
sick, he said to the King it was best to take 
leave of her Majesty, that she might take her 
rest." So they left her with her ladies and 
gentlewomen. "The gates being locked, the 
King being in his bed, the Queen walking in her 
chamber, the Lord Euthven took charge of the 
lower gate and the privy passages ; and David 
was thrown down the stairs from the Palace 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 171 

where he was slain, and brought to the Porter's 
lodge, who taking off his clothes, said, This 
was his destiny. For upon this chest was his 
first bed when he came to this place, and now he 
lieth a very niggard and misknown knave. The 
King's dagger was found sticking in his side. 
The Queen enquired at the King where his 
dagger was ? who answered, that he wist not 
well. Well, said the Queen, it will be known 
hereafter." x 

Was Maitland one of the conspirators ? Was 
he directly or indirectly implicated in the plot ? 
The allegation of his complicity, so far as I can 
judge, rests upon circumstantial evidence only. 
His name is included in Randolph's list of the 
confederates ; and Darnley assured Mary that 
her Secretary had taken an active part in the 
conduct of the plot. He was the friend of Ruth- 
ven : he was the friend of Moray. He disliked 
and suspected Rizzio, who was his political, if 
not his personal, rival. Rizzio, he knew, was 
doing what he could to embitter the relations 
between the Queens. The English alliance (his 
own handiwork) had been put in peril ; but if 
the Italian secretary were removed, the danger 
might be averted. There is an enigmatical and 
ambiguous letter addressed by him to Cecil, in 

i Keith, iii. 361. 

172 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

which, as we have seen, some radical cure is not 
obscurely hinted at. When he declared that 
there was no certain way unless they chopped 
at the root, had Maitland the violent removal 
of Rizzio in view ? * It need not surprise us, 
in short, that grave suspicion should have at- 
tached to him. Circumstanced as he was, it 
was impossible that he should have escaped 

Yet when carefully considered, the evidence is 
not conclusive. There are several circumstances 
(whose cumulative value is considerable) which 
tend to displace the presumption. Kandolph, 
who was at Berwick, had for some months been 
writing rather wildly about Scotch affairs ; and 
Darnley 's testimony is absolutely worthless. His 
unfriendliness to Maitland was notorious ; he ap- 
pears to have lost no opportunity of turning Mary 
against her most capable Minister. We are ex- 
pressly told that the Queen was always well dis- 
posed to Maitland, and that, but for Darnley, no 
unkindness would have arisen between him and 
his mistress. He did not sign the "bands" to 
which Darnley, Morton, and Moray were parties. 
His name does not occur in the Privy Council 
order of 19th March, nor in the subsequent order 
of 8th June ; both of which were directed against 

1 Supra, p. 158. 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 173 

the persons accessory to Rizzio's slaughter. The 
omission cannot have been accidental ; for the 
lists contain upwards of one hundred names, and 
are obviously exhaustive. As his name was not 
included, the incriminating evidence, to say the 
least, must have been considered defective. A 
detailed account of the whole affair was sent by 
Mary on 2d April to her ambassador in France ; 
but she makes no mention of Lethington. 1 It 
may be said that these omissions go merely to 
show that Maitland, like Knox, was not actively 
engaged in the murder. But the curious narra- 
tive by Ruthven from which I have quoted, 
and which is unquestionably authentic, contains 
several allusions to " the Secretary," which could 
hardly have been introduced had the Secretary 
been engaged. Athol, Bothwell, and Huntly 
were in the palace ; but they knew nothing of 
the plot ; and Ruthven leads the reader to infer 
that Maitland, who was extremely intimate with 
Athol (Athol having married a Fleming), was 

1 Her narrative confirms the 
general accuracy of Ruthven's, 
except in so far as it indicates 
that more violence was used 
against herself. Eizzio, for 
safety, having retreated be- 
hind her, Ruthven, she says, 
" with his complices cast down 
our table upon ourself, put 
violent hands on him, strack 

him over our shoulders with 
whinzeards, one part of them 
standing before our face with 
bended daggs." She adds that 
the Lords proposed if she 
would not consent to give the 
whole government to Darnley, 
" to put us to death or detain 
us in perpetual captivity." 
Keith, ii. 411. 

174 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

just as ignorant. Rutliven was in the act of 
assuring Mary that "if anything be done this 
night which your Majesty mislikes, the King 
your husband and none of us is in the wyte," 
when Gray knocked at the door. " At this 
instant Gray knocked fast at the Queen's door, 
declaring that the Earls of Huntly, Athol, 
Bothwell, Caithness, and Sutherland, the Lords 
Fleming, Livingston, the Secretary, and Tulli- 
bardine the Comptroller, with their officers and 
servants, were fighting in the close against the 
Earl Morton and his company, being on the 
King's part." Ruthven hurried down to urge 
the loyal noblemen (who before he arrived had 
been driven back by Morton) to keep the peace ; 
and after having succeeded in pacifying Huntly 
and Bothwell he went on to Athol's room, and 
" found with the said Earl, the Comptroller, the 
Secretary, James Balfour, and divers others." 
After a protracted interview, Athol " perceiving 
all to be the King's own doing, desired Ruthven 
to go to the King, and obtain leave for him to 
pass into his own country, with them that were 
then in the chamber with him." Ruthven con- 
veyed the message to Darnley; and Darnley, after 
seeing Athol, very unwillingly gave the desired 
permission, on the understanding that the Earl 
would return whenever he was required by the 
Queen. " And the Earl took his leave, and 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 175 

passed to his chamber ; for he made him ready, 
and in his company the Earls of Sutherland and 
Caithness, the Master of Caithness, the Secretary 
and Comptroller, with divers others." 1 It is 
difficult to reconcile this narrative with guilty 
knowledge on Maitland's part. Euthven was 
the prime mover in the plot ; and if Maitland 
had been an accomplice, Ruthven would hardly 
have represented him "as fighting in the close 
against the Earl of Morton." Another not un- 
important piece of evidence is found in Robert 
Melville's letter written on 22d October of the 
same year. Darnley, it appears, had continued 

1 Kandolph's letter of 27th 
March represents Lethington 
as present in the palace next 
day. u She sendeth for the 
Lord of Liddington, and in 
gentle words deviseth with 
him that he would persuade 
that she might have her liberty, 
and the guard that was about 
her removed, seeing that she 
had granted their requests. 
He found it very good." 
Wright's ' Queen Elizabeth,' i. 
226. But in the same letter 
it is said that Lethington is 
"within the Lord Athol's 
bounds," " of whom we hear 
that he hath accepted a charge 
from the Queen to enter him- 
self prisoner in Inverness. He 
was participant of this last 

Counsel, discovered by the King's 
self." "Who shall be Secre- 
tary we know not, but my 
Lord of Liddington having 
such friendship with my Lord 
of Athol, it is thought that he 
shall do well enough." Ran- 
dolph was at this time at 
Berwick ; Mary having sent 
him out of the country for 
practising with her rebels. 
All the other authorities agree 
that the negotiations were con- 
ducted by Darnley ; and the 
fair conclusion is that Maitland 
left the palace with Athol, and 
went to the Highlands, " with- 
in the Lord Athol's bounds," 
where he was when the letter 
was written. 

176 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

to accuse Maitland ; and his persistency had 
forced Mary to make some inquiry into the truth 
of the accusations. " The King cannot obtain 
such things as he seeks ; to wit, such persons as 
the Secretary, the Justice-Clerk, and Clerk- 
Kegister, to be put out of their office, alleging 
that they were guilty of this last odious fact, 
ivhereofthe Queens Majesty hath taken trial and 
Jinds them not guilty therein." * Buchanan's tes- 
timony is to the same effect. Though " chiefest 
enemy to David after the King's grace," yet not 
being " advertisit by the Lords " of their enter- 
prise, Maitland took no part in the murder. But 
he was "suspected of the Queen." and he "fled 
with the others." Melville adds that he was in 
danger of his life. " That same night the Earl 
of Athol, the Laird of Tullibardine, and Secretary 
Lethington were permitted to retire themselves 
out of the palace, and were in great fear of their 
lives." 2 

It has been constantly assumed that Lething- 
ton was an actor in the Eizzio tragedy ; but the 
facts to which I have called attention, and which 
have been hitherto overlooked, are hardly con- 
sistent with the popular impression. We know, 
besides, that he was busy making love to the 

1 Eobert Melville to Arch- 
bishop Bethune, 22d October 
1566. Keith (a copy from the 

Scots College, Paris), ii. 461. 

2 Buchanan's Chameleon. 
Melville's Memoirs, p. 67. 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 177 

Queen's favourite Mary at the very time when 
he is accused of plotting against her mistress ; 
and on the whole, after examination of the con- 
flicting testimony, I incline to hold that his 
complicity has not been established. He had 
not, in short, been " advertisit by the Lords." 

The conspirators, foiled by Mary's brilliant 
promptitude, did not reap the harvest on which 
they had reckoned. Moray, Eothes, Ochiltree, 
Kirkaldy of Grange, indeed, rode into Edinburgh 
next day to find the Queen a virtual prisoner in 
Holyrood. But during the night that followed 
Mary convinced her foolish husband that he 
had chosen dangerous allies, as indeed was true 
enough, and persuaded him to fly with her to 
Dunbar. For romantic hardihood, there is noth- 
ing in her eventful life to compare with that 
midnight ride across the Lothians. Groping 
her way through the charnel-house of the Abbey, 
she reached the gate in the palace wall where 
Arthur Erskine was waiting. A single sentinel 
might have stopped her, but they passed unchal- 
lenged by friend or foe. Once clear of the palace 
park and gardens, the open country lay before 
her, and, mounted behind Erskine, in whose 
honour she had boundless confidence " I would 
trust him with a thousand lives ! " she hurried 
on to the coast. Both well and Huntly, "by 
leaping over a window toward the little garden 


178 TJie Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

where the lyons were lodged," 1 had escaped 
from the palace immediately after the murder, 
and were already in the field. In eight-and- 
forty hours Mary found herself at the head of 
an army which the Confederates did not dare to 
face. Retiring from Edinburgh, they dispersed 
in all directions, the majority seeking the hospi- 
tality of Elizabeth, to whose Ministers, as we 
have seen, the details of the plot had been con- 
fidentially communicated some time before its 
execution. " Upon the xvii day of March, quhilk 
was Sunday, the hail Lords, committers of the 
slaughter and crimes above written, with all 
their complices and men of war, with dolorous 
hearts departit from Edinburgh toward Linlith- 
gow, at seven hours in the morning. And upon 
the same day John Knox, minister of Edinburgh, 
in likewise departit from the said burgh at twa 
hours afternoon, with ane great murning of the 
godly of religion." 2 

The Queen was again completely successful ; 
and, bitterly resenting the ingratitude of her 
husband and the perfidy of her nobles, she might 
have been expected to punish the violence of 
which she had been the victim with extreme 
severity. There can be no doubt that with 
Athol and Bothwell and Huntly and the whole 
of the Border clans at her back, she could, had 

1 Melville, p. 64. 2 Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 94. 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 1*79 

she chosen, have sent the insurgent Lords to 
prison or to the scaffold. But she did not 
choose. A policy of conciliation was steadily 
pursued. The treachery of Moray had been a 
bitter mortification ; but Moray was forgiven. 
So were Rothes, and Ochiltree, and Kirkaldy. 
She reconciled old enemies ; she pacified ances- 
tral feuds. She scattered pardons right and 
left. She was eager to forget and forgive. Her 
politic generosity was attended with immediate 
and gratifying success. Her moderate policy 
was universally approved. James VI. was born 
on the 19th of June, and all over Scotland 
" the fires of joy " were lighted. Elizabeth 
wept for envy, she was a barren stock, while 
the Queen of Scots was the mother of a fair son. 
" I never," Le Croc declared, " saw her Majesty 
so much beloved, honoured, or esteemed, nor so 
great a harmony among all her subjects as at 
present is by her wise conduct ; for I cannot 
perceive the smallest difference or division." x 

Yet the prospect was not unclouded. Mary's 
enemies had been baffled for the moment; but 
the religious and political forces which Knox and 
Cecil represented remained persistently hostile. 
Melville (who acted as Secretary in Maitland's 
absence) had been forced to warn his mistress 
that " having so many factious enemies lying in 

1 Le Croc to Beaton, 15th October 1566. Keith, ii. 451. 

180 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

wait to make their advantage of the least ap- 
pearance that can be made," 1 she would re- 
quire to be more than ordinarily circumspect. 
The slightest indiscretion would be cruelly pun- 
ished. Was it probable (her friends could not 
but ask) that a woman like Mary, constitu- 
tionally frank, impulsive, and unconventional, 
would pass through the ordeal unscathed ? 

The general situation was sufficiently embar- 
rassing ; but there were specific difficulties the 
alienation of Maitland, the folly of Darnley, the 
ascendancy of Bothwell, as well as her own im- 
paired health, which at the close of the year 
1566 must have made the most sanguine loyalist 
regard the future with grave apprehension. 

Of these embarrassments indeed one had been 
removed in the course of the autumn. The 
differences with Maitland had been composed, 
and the Queen and her Minister were again in 
friendly accord. 

I have been unable to discover any entirely 
satisfactory explanation of the motives which 
induced Maitland to quit the Court. After 
Eizzio's death, he went with Athol, as we have 
seen, to the Perthshire Highlands ; but though 
Athol must have returned to Holyrood directly 
on the collapse of the conspiracy, Maitland did 

1 Melville's Memoirs, p. 72. 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 181 

not accompany him. The allusions to the Secre- 
tary's movements during the next three or four 
months (which occur in the letters of the English 
agents at Berwick) are, as might be expected, 
somewhat vague and puzzling. In one letter 
the writer declares that " Lethington despairs of 
pardon and must fly into England." Then we 
learn that " he has liberty to live in Flanders ; " 
then that he is going to Caithness, where he has 
been ordered to reside. 1 Soon afterwards he is 
heard of in Lauderdale, and on the 28th of July 
he writes to Cecil from Balloch, above Dunkeld. 
Whatever the origin of the estrangement, how- 
ever, it is tolerably clear that before many weeks 
had passed, Mary had come to regard the absence 
of her most able adviser with keen regret. 2 She 
was not a good hater ; and it would appear that 
she was only prevented from recalling him by 
the importunity of Darnley and the greed of 
Bothwell. Darnley swore that Maitland was one 
of the traitors ; and Bothwell had always held 
that the lands of the Abbey of Haddington 
should have been reserved for a Hepburn. 
Bothwell and Maitland had never been friends ; 
no love had been lost between them in the past ; 

1 Bedford and Randolph's 
letters, 4th April, 25th April. 

2 Lethington's name occurs 
in Mary's Inventories drawn up 

at this time, he is to have a 
piece of the same silver or gold 
edged stuff which she had left 
to Bothwell. 

182 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

and Bothwell may have felt that he was now in 
a position to wipe off an old score. But though 
Darnley and Bothwell were violently hostile, 
the Secretary had powerful allies at Holyrood. 
" There was a controversy," Randolph wrote to 
Cecil on the 2d April, " between the Earls Both- 
well and Athol for the Lord of Liddington, the 
one being his great friend, the other in all cases 
against him. That matter is quieted, and the 
Earl Athol a continual travailer for the Lord 
of Liddington." " The Lord of Liddington's 
friends," he added on 2d May, "make all the 
means they can to stay his departure out of the 
country, whereunto the Queen is not unwilling." 
Mary went to the Castle to be confined in June, 
and until her recovery the controversy was 
allowed to rest. But early in August, after a 
violent scene in her presence between Moray and 
Bothwell, she determined to recall her Secretary 
without further delay. " For news here, the 
Earls of Moray and Bothwell have been at evil 
words for my Lord of Ledingtoun in the Queen's 
presence, and since have not met together ; but 
her Grace is earnest to agree them, and purposes 
to be at Stirling the 24th of this month, and to 
cause Ledingtoun meet her there, to end the 
matter." : The meeting took place soon after- 

1 Kobert Melville to Cecil, 
14th August 1566. In another 

"Advertisement out of Scot- 
land " it is stated that Bothwell 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 183 

wards, not at Stirling, but at a house in the 
neighbourhood of Edinburgh, " a friend's house 
of mine nigh this town." (The friend was prob- 
ably the Laird of Craigmillar, who had married 
the sister of Janet Menteith Maitland's first 
wife.) l " I think your letter," Maitland wrote 
to Cecil in September, " brought with it unto 
me bonum omen, or rather a good luck. For 
the same day it came to my hands, it pleased 
the Queen's Majesty to come to a friend's house 
of mine, nigh this town, secretly, accompanied 
only by the Earls of Argyll, Moray, and Both- 
well, to mak aggreance betwixt the said Earl 
Bothwell and me, where after some conference 
with us both, in the hearing of the others, by 
one consent all differences betwixt us were ac- 
corded, and we made friends. Whereupon her 
Majesty was well pleased that I should resort in 
her company to this town, and received me to 
her good favour and my former place." 2 

The Darnley entanglement was less easily 
dealt with. The foolish and headstrong lad had 

having declared that " ere he 
parted with such lands he 
should part with his life," 
Moray replied that " twenty as 
honest men as he should lose 
their lives ere he reft Lething- 

1 " I will be bold to recom- 

mend unto you this Bearer, the 
Lord of Craigmillar, who is my 
dear friend. He has to his bed- 
fellow my wife's sister." Mait- 
land to Lady Cecil, 19th July 
1560. (Hatfield MSS.) 

2 Maitland to Cecil (from Ed- 
inburgh) 20th September 1566. 

184 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

been sinking deeper and deeper into the mire. 
He had in a fit of incredible folly outraged the 
Queen. He had with characteristic meanness 
and feebleness abandoned his associates in the 
conspiracy. With singular infelicity he had 
contrived to make himself obnoxious to every 
faction in Scotland. He was distrusted by the 
loyalists ; he was hated by the Calvinists. He 
could as little look for friendship from Huntly 
and Bothwell as from Morton and Argyll. His 
own life was loose and disorderly ; yet he was in- 
sanely jealous of every one who approached the 
Queen. " He cannot bear that the Queen should 
use familiarity with man or woman, and especi- 
ally the ladies of Argyll, Moray, and Mar, who 
keep most company with her." a He was utterly 
unqualified for the duties of government ; he 
had neither industry nor natural aptitude ; yet 
he bitterly resented his exclusion from the 
Council Chamber. The sense of the feudal re- 
lation was still strong ; Buchanan's judgment of 
Darnley, as Knox's of Bothwell, proves that 
neither was uninfluenced by the sentiment of 
the time ; yet even Buchanan a native of the 
Lennox has little to urge on behalf of Henry 
Stuart. Had he known it, his only safety was 
to have effaced himself so completely that he 

1 Advertisement out of Scotland. August 1566. 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 185 

should have ceased to be a political embarrass- 
ment. As Elizabeth would not recognise him, 
he set himself to embitter the relations of the 
Queens ; and as Mary declined to gratify his 
childish vindictiveness, he attempted by way of 
reprisal to make mischief between her and her 
Catholic kinsfolk. It must not be forgotten 


that the political relations of the country were 
at the time so delicate that even a fool like 
Darnley might have brought about a catas- 
trophe. Though his intellect was dull his an- 
tipathies were violent, and he appears to have 
regarded Maitland, for one reason or another, with 
special animosity. "We have seen that he was 
anxious to prevent him from returning to Court ; 
and (especially if we attach credit to the asser- 
tion of a contemporary writer whose narrative 
has been recently published) there is reason to 
believe that he had pressed Mary to dismiss him 
from office. " So the King proposed that the 
office of Secretary should be given to the Bishop 
of Boss in the place of Lethington, whom he 
especially charged with having been a principal 
in the late conspiracy ; and in the Queen's ab- 
sence he signed a resolution to that effect which 
had been passed by the Council. The Queen, 
however, would not consent to this measure, for 
she was persuaded that the King had brought 
this charge against Lethington, in order to put 

186 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

into his office a man at his own devotion. She 
refused, therefore, to dismiss Lethington, al- 
though advised to do so by the King and the 
Lords ; for he was a man of understanding, ex- 
perienced in the ways of the country, and of 
whom if the truth be told she stood much in 
need. And further, as there was no proof of the 
charge against Lethington, she caused him to be 
recalled shortly afterwards, trusting more than 
he deserved to his good qualities and his loyalty 
to herself." 1 

The Earl of Both well had returned to Scot- 
land when Moray deserted his sister; and the 
stormy and masterful temper of the Border chief 
was another element of mischief, another danger 
to Mary and the State. James Hepburn was 
not a man of any true political capacity; yet 
the force of his character had been generally 
recognised ; and both Moray and Maitland had 
felt that so constant an enemy of the English 
alliance should if possible be kept at a prudent 
distance from the Court. " He is as mortal an 
enemy to our nation," Randolph had reported, 
" as any man alive ; " and if such a man was 
allowed to worm himself into Mary's confidence 

1 History of Mary Stuart, by 
Claude Nau, her Secretary 
(1883), p. 20. Nau's manu- 
script has been admirably 

edited by the Rev. Joseph 
Stevenson, S.J., who considers 
it authentic, and as possibly 
dictated by Mary herself. 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 187 

he might work a world of mischief. There had 
been, however, no noticeable intimacy between 
the Border Earl and the Queen. His contempo- 
raries allege that he was ill-favoured, if not posi- 
tively ugly ; and, at any rate, he was old enough 
to be her father. It was his political influence 
that was dreaded ; and up to the day of the 
Darnley murder there is, so far as I know, no 
hint or suggestion in any contemporary writing 
that he was the Queen's favoured lover. Years 
before he had been rude and unmannerly : and 
Mary had resented his language ; but now when 
the nobles in whom she had confided had proved 
faithless, when Moray, and Ruthven, and Mor- 
ton, and Grange, and Maitland had successively 
deserted her, she was thrown back upon the 
party in which the sentiment of personal loyalty 
was strong ; and in this party Bothwell was a 
power. It was an immense misfortune for Mary 
that in the unsettled state of the country an 
unprincipled ruffian like James Hepburn should 
have been able to force himself to the front ; but 
his advancement can hardly be imputed to her 
as an offence, or even as a fault. 1 

The stars were fighting against her : misad- 

1 It may be added that most by a sort of hereditary title, or 
of the offices which Bothwell had been obtained at an earlier 
held had either come to him j period. 

188 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

venture succeeded misadventure ; and to crown 
all at this difficult juncture, at this crisis of 
her fate, Mary's health gave way. The birth 
of her child was followed by a period of pro- 
longed prostration. Her constitution was some- 
what peculiar, there was in her case an unusu- 
ally close connection between mind and body. 
Any strong or sudden emotion was certain to 
produce a violent physical reaction. She was 
naturally robust and her spirit was invincible ; 
but there was somewhere a flaw in the organ- 
ism, vexation or displeasure being not unfre- 
quently followed by fainting fits that would last 
for hours. All these constitutional symptoms 
were aggravated after her confinement. Melville 
says that though of a quick spirit, she was " some- 
thing sad when solitary " ; and, surrounded for 
the most part of her life by turbulent and treach- 
erous nobles, the sense of isolation must have 
been often excessive. Hitherto she had borne 
herself with eminent cheerfulness and splendid 
intrepidity; but during 1566 she seems for the 
first time to have lost heart. A vivid realisation 
of the cruel and unscrupulous forces by which she 
was surrounded, and with which she had to con- 
tend, had been forced upon her by the " trag- 
edies " she had witnessed. " I could wish to 
have died," she said to Le Croc after the illness 
at Jedburgh. There can be no doubt that 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 189 

Darnley's crass ingratitude and ineptitude had 
wounded her deeply ; but we may fairly assume 
that had she been in her usual health she would 
not have allowed his misconduct to hurt her, as 
it did. She was morbid and spiritless, the 
mental reflecting the physical depression. Those 
about her recognised the change. " The Queen 
breaketh much," Drury wrote, " and is subject to 
frequent fainting fits." She had been all her life 
at home in the saddle ; and when in October she 
rode from Jedburgh to the Hermitage, she failed 
to remember that she was still unfit for a ride 
which a year before would have been well within 
her powers. Nau says expressly that she had 
not then recovered from the effects of her con- 
finement. " On the day following her ride she 
was seized by a pain in the side which kept her 
in bed. It proved to be a severe attack of the 
spleen, which had troubled her during the pre- 
vious week, and to which pain in the side she had 
been more or less subject ever since her confine- 
ment." a On this occasion she was at the point of 
death. " So severely was she handled, that every 
one thought she would die. The pain in her side 
was very sharp, and was accompanied by fre- 
quent vomiting of blood." 2 The Jesuit father 

1 Nau's Memorials, p. 31. 

2 Edmund Hay's Narrative. 
Nau, p. cxliii. 

190 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

one of the noble family of Erroll from whose 
narrative these words are taken, attributes her 
illness to anxiety about the reception of the 
Papal Nuncio ; but it is more probable, as Leth- 
ington suggests, that she was worried into the 
fever which so nearly proved fatal by the mental 
distress occasioned byDarnley's misconduct, the 
fatigue of the ride no doubt rendering the attack 
more acute. " The occasion of the Queen's sick- 
ness " Maitland wrote " so far as I can under- 
stand, is due to thought and displeasure ; and I 
trow by what I could wring further of her own 
declaration to me, the root of it is the King. 
For she has done him so great honour without 
the advice of her friends, and contrary to the 
advice of her subjects, and he on the other hand 
has recompensed her with such ingratitude, and 
misuses himself so far toward her, that it is a 
heartbreak to her to think that he should be her 
husband ; and how to be free of him she has no 
outgait." 1 This was in October; in December 
Le Croc wrote to Beaton; "The Queen is at 
present at Craigmillar, about a league distant 
from this city. She is in the hands of the phy- 
sicians, and I do assure you is not at all well ; 
and I do believe the principal part of her disease 
to consist of a deep grief and sorrow. Nor does 

1 Lethington to Beaton, 24th October 1566. Tytler, v. 364. 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 191 

it seem possible to make her forget the same. 
Still she repeats these words, I could wish to 
be dead ! " l The young prince was baptised in 
December, and when the French ambassador 
arrived at Stirling he found Mary " weeping 
sore," and complaining of " a grievous pain in 
her side." 

It was when the Queen Avas thus morbidly 
nervous and sensitive unhinged in body and 
mind that the conference at Craigmillar took 
place. What was to be done with the King? 
had become a political question of extreme ur- 
gency. His misconduct at first might have been 
folly only ; but the folly had latterly become so 
pronounced that insanity was the more probable 
explanation. Kandolph had foreseen, when Darn- 
ley set foot in Scotland, that among a proud and 
jealous nobility the foolish lad was like to fare 
badly. Since then he had proved himself as 
his associates had discovered to their cost a 
traitor as well as a fool, and honour among 
thieves is an indispensable virtue. Altogether 
the outlook was black. He was King in name, 
but by his own misconduct he had become 
utterly contemptible. He had not a friend left 
in the world. The isolation of his position so 
tragical as almost to provoke our pity is at- 

1 Keith, i. xcvi. 

192 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

tested by the fact that Huntly and Bothwell, 
as well as Maitland, Moray, and Argyll the 
leaders of all the political parties in Scotland 
were among those who met at Craigmillar. 

The favourite castle of Mary Stuart occupies 
a commanding position on the road to Dalkeith. 
Facing Arthur's Seat, flanked by the Pentlands, 
it crowns the low ridge that lies between the 
two. Though close to the capital so close that 
the chimes of St Giles's bells are clearly heard 
of a summer night the castle is in the open 
country, and the breeze that blows round its 
turrets is fresh and keen. From the battlements 
the outlook is wide, the great Lothian plain, 
with glimpses of shining sea and shadowy moor- 
land, stretching away to the horizon. It was 
here that the political movement against Darn- 
ley first took shape. The substantial accuracy 
of the narrative of the events that occurred at 
Craigmillar during the last days of November 
or the first days of December 1566 prepared 
by Huntly and Argyll has not been seriously 

Argyll was in bed, w r hen early in the morning 
of a December day Moray and Lethington entered 
his room. They came to ascertain whether he 
would assist them in procuring the pardon of 
Morton from the Queen. Morton had been ban- 
ished because he had aided Moray and his friends 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 193 

to return to Scotland, and they felt that they 
would be ungrateful if they left him to suffer for 
the good offices he had rendered them. Argyll 
having intimated that he was willing to assist, 
on the understanding that Mary would not be 
offended, Maitland suggested that the best means 
to secure her acquiescence was to find some 
means by which she could be divorced from 
Darnley, who had behaved so badly to her in 
so many ways. Argyll did not see how this 
could be effected, but Lethington assured him 
that a separation could be arranged. Huntly 
was sent for, and, his consent having been 
secured, they went together to the room occu- 
pied by Bothwell, with whom the matter was 
again discussed. Then the five Moray, Mait- 
land, Argyll, Huntly, and Bothwell had an 
audience of the Queen. Lethington spoke for 
the rest. They could not disguise from her or 
from themselves, he said, that the King's con- 
duct had become intolerable. His evil example 
was hurtful to the whole realm ; and he might 
at any moment do her and them an evil turn 
for which it would be difficult to find a remedy. 
Would she agree to a divorce? Mary listened 
in silence ; at last she replied that if a lawful 
divorce, which would not prejudice her son's 
rights, could be obtained, she might possibly be 
induced to comply with their advice. But it 


194 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

was possible, she added, that Darnley would 
reform ; he might have another chance ; and 
she herself in the meantime could visit her 
friends in France. Then Lethington, speaking 
for the others, said, " Madame, we that are here, 
the principal of your Grace's nobility and Coun- 
cil, will find the means that your Majesty shall 
be quit of him without prejudice of your son ; 
and although my Lord of Moray be little less 
scrupulous for a Protestant than your Grace is 
for a Papist, I am assured that he will look 
through his fingers thereto, and will behold our 
doings, saying nothing against the same." The 
Queen answered, " I will that ye do nathing 
whereby any spot may be laid to my honour 
or conscience, and therefore I pray you rather 
let the matter be in the state it is, abiding till 
God in His goodness provide a remedy. Think- 
ing to do me service," she added, " the end may 
not be conformable to your desires, on the con- 
trary, it may turn to my hurt and displeasure." 
" Madame," said Lethington, " let us guide the 
matter among us, and your Grace shall see 
nothing but what is good and lawful and ap- 
proved by Parliament." * 

Moray did not venture to allege that he was 
not present at the Craigmillar Conference. On 

1 Keith, iii. 290. 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 195 

the contrary he expressly admitted that he was 
there. He had given Elizabeth, he afterwards 
explained, his own version of what took place 
at the interview, and (he continued), whoever 
affirmed that he was privy to any unlawful or 
dishonourable purpose, or that he attached his 
signature to any Band subscribed at Craigmillar, 
spoke wickedly and untruly. 1 It will be observed 
that Moray's reply is in no respect inconsistent 
with the " Protestation," it does not traverse 
any one of the specific averments made by 
Argyll and Huntly. It need only be added 
that if the Conference at Craigmillar is evidence 
against Mary (to the effect that she consented 
to the murder of Darnley), it is precisely to the 
same effect evidence against Moray. The objects 
of the Conference were either lawful and honour- 
able, or unlawful and dishonourable. If they 
were lawful and honourable, neither Mary nor 
Moray is compromised by what took place ; if 
they were unlawful and dishonourable, they in- 
criminate the one exactly in the same sense that 
they incriminate the other. 

The Craigmillar Conference took place during 
the first week of December 1566 ; in the early 
morning of 10th February 1567, the Kirk o' Field, 
where Darnley slept, was blown into the air. It 

1 Keith, iii. 294. 

196 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

is hardly to be denied that the two events 
separated by barely two months stand to each 
other in the relation of cause and effect. But 
with the Craigmillar Conference the direct evi- 
dence against the Queen closes ; the proof that 
connects her with the murder is henceforth 
circumstantial (or inferential) only ; and it may 
be said with some confidence that the clumsy 
catastrophe that ensued was directed neither by 
the keen brain of Maitland, nor by the deft 
hand of Mary. The doom which the Peers had 
virtually pronounced was carried out ; but 
Bothwell's vulgar violence and headstrong pas- 
sion converted what might have been regarded 
as a quasi -judicial execution into a midnight 

It is unnecessary to linger over the incidents 
of a tragedy that has become one of the common- 
places of history. A few of the salient facts, 
however, brought together into orderly sequence, 
may prove serviceable to the reader. 

Darnley, on quitting Stirling, after the bap- 
tism of the infant prince, was seized with what 
appears to have been small-pox. 1 Some writers 
have assumed that poison had been administered 
to him by Mary; others have asserted, with 
greater probability, that his constitution had 

1 Bedford had no doubt that 
it was small-pox. Bedford to 

Cecil, 9th January 1567. 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 197 

been impaired by his excesses, and that the 
poison was in his blood. He lay at Glasgow in 
a nerveless, shattered condition for some time. 
Moved, it may be, by his entreaties (for it seems 
probable that he had asked her to come to him), 
the Queen went to Glasgow, and in the course 
of a few days they returned to Edinburgh to- 
gether. The young prince was at Holyrood, and 
as the disease from which Darnley was suffering 
was understood to be infectious, he was taken 
(though Mary herself was anxious that he should 
go to Craigmillar) to the Kirk o' Field, a house 
which had belonged to one of the monastic 
orders, and which, Knox asserts, had been lately 
bought by " Master James Balfour." Melville 
says that it was a place of good air, more 
bracing for an invalid than Holyrood. Some 
rooms were prepared for the King, and a bed- 
room was fitted up for the Queen, which she 
occasionally occupied during the ten days that 
intervened. On the evening of Sunday, the 9th 
of February, a large quantity of powder was 
conveyed into the house by Bothwell's retainers. 
It has been said that it was deposited in the 
Queen's sleeping-room ; but as the house was 
torn up from the foundations " dung in dross 
to the very ground stone " it appears more 
probable that the greater part of it, at least, 
had been placed in one of the cellars. " The 

198 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

train of gunpowder inflammit the haill timber 
of the house, and trublit the walls thereof, in 
sic sort that great stanes of the length of ten 
foot, and of the breadth of four foot, were found 
blawin frae that house a far way." * As eminently 
characteristic of the parsimonious spirit of this 
penurious Queen " economical even in the pro- 
digality of her vices " it has been asserted by 
Buchanan that on the previous evening the good 
bed on which she had slept was by her direction 
taken away, and an inferior one put in its place. 2 
After supper she went to visit the King, and 
returned about eleven o'clock to the palace, 
where a masked ball was being held. After 
Darnley's death it became the cue of those who 
had been hitherto his most bitter enemies to 
speak well of him. He had repented, they said, 
of his early irregularities, and had sought refuge 
in the consolations of religion. There is a letter 
by Drury, written about the end of April, in 
which it is stated that on the night of his 
murder Darnley, before he went to sleep, re- 
peated some verses of the fifty-fifth psalm. The 
sense of approaching doom may have been hang- 
ing over the victim ; his illness may have 
steadied and sobered him ; but the excessive 
felicity, the suspicious appropriateness, of the 

Historic of King James the 

Sext, 6. 

2 Buchanan, Book xviii. 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 199 

selection is apt to provoke incredulity. About 
two or three o'clock next morning the Kirk o' 
Field was blown into the darkness. " Upon the 
tenth day of Februar, at twa hours before none 
in the morning, there come certain traitors to 
the said Provost's house, wherein was our 
sovereign's husband Henrie, and ane servant 
of his, callit William Taylour, lying in their 
nakit beds ; and there privily with wrang keys 
opnit the doors, and come in upon the said 
prince, and there without mercy wyrriet * him 
and his said servant in their beds ; and there- 
after took him and his servant furth of the 
house and cast him nakit in ane yard beyond 
the thief raw, and syne come to the house again 
and blew the house in the air, so that there 
remainit not ane stane upon aneuther un- 
destroyit." 2 This narrative is > taken from the 
' Diurnal of Occurrents ' ; Kobert Birrel has 
another version ; " The house was raised up 
from the ground with pouder ; the King's 
chambennan, named John Taylor, was found 
with him lying in ane yard dead under ane 
tree ; and the King, if he had not been cruelly 
werriet with his ain garters, after he fell out 
of the air, he had lived." 3 The wretches who 

1 Strangled. I 3 Birrel's Diarey, 7. 

2 Diurnal of Occurrents, 105. j 

200 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

were engaged in the business appear to have 
lost their heads, and the precise manner in 
which Darnley met his death is not certainly 
known. The streets were deserted ; the citizens 
were in bed ; even in the palace the masque 
was over, and the lights were out. Only in 
the lodging of the Archbishop of St Andrews 
a lamp had been burning all night so those in 
the higher parts of the town declared until, 
on the explosion, it was suddenly extinguished. 
The Archbishop lived close to the Kirk o' Field, 
and Buchanan suggests that he was watching 
well knowing what was on hand. 

At what particular moment Bothwell was in- 
duced to raise his eyes to the Queen it is not 
now easy to ascertain. Buchanan alleges that 
they had long been on terms of criminal famili- 
arity; and that Mary's partiality for the lusty 
Borderer was notorious. The evidence, however, 
is all the other way, until after Darnley's death 
there is not a scrap of writing showing that such 
an impression prevailed. The legend was of 
later growth, and with much else may be traced 
to the industrious animosity of the man who 
had been her pensioner, and who at the close 
of the year which according to his view had 
been spent in the shameless gratification of un- 
lawful passion " They seemed to fear nothing 
more than that their wickedness should be un- 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 201 

known" had celebrated her virtues in choice 
Latin. The air, however, was thick with rumours 
of treachery, and once, or more than once, Mary 
had been warned that the Earl intended to carry 
her off. She treated the warnings with charac- 
teristic impatience, refusing to believe that a 
faithful servant of the Crown could so readily 
forget his duty to his mistress. There can be 
little doubt that even before the meeting of the 
Parliament in April, the great Border chief had 
been in communication with several of the lead- 
ing nobility on the subject of the Queen's mar- 
riage. A few of the honester of their number 
appear to have been startled by the man's pre- 
sumption ; but the rest either openly approved 
or silently acquiesced. Such a plot was of 
course very welcome to the faction which traded 
on the dishonour of the Queen. The least clear- 
headed among them could not fail to perceive 
that were Mary forced into a union with Both- 
well, her authority would be at an end. 

Bothwellwas tried for the murder on the 12th 
of April, and on the evening of the 19th the 
memorable supper at Ainslie's tavern took place. 
The supper appears to have been attended by 
all the influential members of the Parliament, 
which on that day closed its sittings. After 
supper, Bothwell laid before the assembled Peers 
a paper which he asked them to sign. The 

202 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

Peers, with the exception of Lord Eglinton, who 
" slipped away," complied with the request ; and 
men like Argyll, Huntly, Cassilis, Morton, Boyd, 
Seton, Semple, and Herries attached their names 
to a " band," by which they engaged to the 
utmost of their power to promote a marriage 
between Bothwell and the Queen. It is difficult 
to fathom the motives which could have induced 
so many powerful nobles to approve a marriage 
which in their hearts they detested; but Mr 
Froude is certainly not far wrong when he sug- 
gests that several at least appended their sig- 
natures in deliberate treachery to tempt the 
Queen to ruin. 

Two days afterwards Mary went to Stirling. 
On her return she was seized by Bothwell, and 
carried off with or without her consent to 
Dunbar. When they reached the castle, the 
true object of the " ravishment " was disclosed. 
Her tears and reproaches this is her own story, 
which may be held to be attested by Maitland 
were thrown away upon her captor, who, after 
she had treated his audacious proposition with 
indignation, produced the " band " which the 
nobility had signed. She was kept for a week 
a close prisoner. During all that time no hand 
was raised to set her free. At length, after 
actual violence had been used, she consented 
to become his wife. 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 203 

It was on the 15th of May that the marriage 
was celebrated. " And that same day this pam- 
phlet was attached upon the palace port, Mense 
malas Maio mibere vulgus ait" The nobles who 
had lured Hepburn on were already mustering 
their vassals, and on the 7th June the Queen and 
her husband were forced to quit the palace and 
make for Borthwick. But they were surrounded 
before they had had time to rest, and it was 
with the utmost difficulty that, eluding the pur- 
suers, they managed to reach Dunbar. On the 
15th June the forces of the Queen and of the 
Confederate Lords faced each other all day at 
Carberry Hill. There was no fighting, however ; 
an agreement having been concluded by which 
Bothwell was discreetly permitted to take him- 
self away to Dunbar (thence to Orkney, Shet- 
land, and the Norwegian seas), Mary returning 
to Edinburgh with the men who, as they pro- 
fessed, had risen to release her from her ravisher, 
but who treated her now that she was in their 
hands with studied rudeness and insults which 
had been carefully rehearsed. They made it 
plain to her from the first that their anxiety for 
her welfare had been feigned; and two days 
later they sent her to the prison on the inch 
of Lochleven which had been prepared for her 
reception by Moray when the Darnley marriage 
was in prospect. 

204 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

Divested of all extraneous matter these are 
the uncontradicted facts ; how are these facts to 
be construed, in what sense are they to be read ? 
Ever since the tragic story took place, there 
_ have been two factions who have found no diffi- 
culties in the way of a definitive judgment. 
On the one hand, it has been maintained (and 
is still maintained by the ecclesiastics who are 
about to canonise her at Eome) that Mary was 
innocent as a child, immaculate as a saint ; on 
the other, that she had sinned as perhaps no 
other woman had sinned, and that the mistress 
of Bothwell was the murderer of Darnley. 

It rather appears to me that no decisive con- 
clusion is now possible, and that anything like 
dogmatism is to be avoided. My own impres- 
sion is that either explanation is too simple and 
complete to be accepted as an entirely adequate 
solution of an extremely obscure and intricate 
problem. I would be inclined to say that there 
is a grain of truth in each : the whole truth in 
neither. While it must be freely acknowledged 
that Mary was rash and indiscreet to the verge 
of criminality, it may yet admit of reasonable 
doubt whether the graver charges preferred 
against her by the ruling party in Scotland have 
been, or are capable of being, substantiated. 

The interpretation which consistently recon- 
ciles all, or most of, the facts known to us, is 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 205 

that which rational criticism will prefer to accept. 
Such reconciliation will help to recommend to 
those who have no antipathies or predilections 
to gratify that interpretation of Mary's actions 
at this time which I have elsewhere ventured to 
propose. 1 Those who agree with me will hold 
that Mary was not entirely unaware of the meas- 
ures which were being taken by the nobility to 
secure in one way or other the removal of Darnley ; 
that if she did not expressly sanction the enter- 
prise, she failed, firmly and promptly, to forbid 
its execution ; that though she hesitated to the 
last between pity and aversion, yet that what 
amounted to, or what may at least be character- 
ised as, passive acquiescence, was sufficient to 
compromise her ; that the equivocal position in 
which she found herself placed, either by acci- 
dent or by design, sufficiently explains whatever 
in her subsequent conduct is wanting in firmness 
and dignity ; that as the plot proceeded, Bothwell 
came to the front, and that to his daring and 
reckless hand the execution of the informal sen- 
tence of the peers was ultimately intrusted ; 
that he induced the nobles who had been his 
accomplices to promote his suit to the Queen, 
and that for various reasons, good, bad, and in- 
different, " the best part of the realm did ap- 

1 The Impeachment of Mary Stuart. 1870. 

206 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

prove it, either by flattery or by their silence " ; 
that in accepting Bothwell, Mary could not be 
accounted a free agent, her health was impaired, 
her spirit was broken, she had been imprudent, 
and her indiscretions could be used against her 
with fatal effect, while (Lethington excepted) 
she had no friend beside her on whose disinter- 
ested counsel she could rely ; that she struggled 
against the indirect compulsion of circumstances, 
and the direct pressure that was brought to bear 
upon her, as best she could, declining to consent 
to a ruinous union until actual force had been 
used ; and that thereafter, there being no other 
" outgait," she submitted with a heavy heart and 
grievous misgivings to the inevitable. 

That this was the view taken by the nobles 
themselves, when they rose to deliver her from 
Bothwell, and that the plea of guilty love and 
guilty knowledge was an after -thought which 
was not put forward until the fanatical party, 
which had been persistently and obstinately 
disloyal, had got the upper hand, and had deter- 
mined, in the name of the infant prince, to seize 
the government and dethrone the Queen, cannot 
well be denied. Indeed the strongest argument 
in favour of the view that Mary's conduct in 
relation to Bothwell is susceptible of an inno- 
cent construction is furnished by the admission 
of the Lords themselves. Their earliest conten- 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 207 

tion was that Mary had been coerced into the 
marriage by Bothwell, and that they had risen 
to free her from her ravisher. This position was 
abandoned, and then they maintained that facts 
notorious to all the world were sufficient to 
convict her of having conspired with her para- 
mour. Later on, however, it became clear to 
them that the indictment would break down if 
it was not otherwise established. It was then, 
and not till then not indeed till Elizabeth had 
assured them that the proof of guilty complicity 
was ridiculously inadequate that certain letters 
which they said were written by Mary were 
reluctantly produced. If these letters were 
genuine love-letters addressed by Mary Stuart 
to James Hepburn there can be no reasonable 
doubt of her guilt. They prove that she was 
" bewitched " by Bothwell, and that under the 
spell of an unaccountable infatuation she en- 
couraged her lover to murder her husband. 
But if they were not genuine what then ? 
Their genuineness will be discussed hereafter ; 
at present all that I need say is, that if it can 
be shown that they were manufactured, and 
manufactured by the Lords themselves, the 
fraud is absolutely fatal. It is not merely that 
the letters cease to be evidence against Mary ; 
they become evidence of the most damning- 
kind against those who used them. Mary may 

208 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

have been in love with Bothwell or she may 
not. Upon the facts presented by the historian 
the judgment remains in suspense. We cannot 
positively affirm that she was or that she was 
not. But if those who accuse her proceed to 
produce as proof of their case love-letters which 
it is plain that Mary did not write, then the 
inevitable conclusion is that Mary was not in 
love with Bothwell. Had she been in love 
with Bothwell, or (which is the same thing for 
my present purpose) had there been any proof 
that she was in love with Bothwell, the services 
of the forger would not have been required. 
The person who pleads but fails to prove an 
alibi is pretty certain to be convicted. Had 
he remained passive, had he stood simply on the 
defensive, he might have escaped. But when he 
avers that he was at a place where it is proved 
that he was not, the jury will not unreasonably 
conclude that he was at the place where he avers 
that he was not. Whenever the Casket Letters 
are discredited, we are logically compelled not 
only to reject the Casket Letters themselves, but 
to place that construction upon the admitted 
facts which is consistent with the innocence of 
the Queen. 

Nor can it be disputed that many of the 
allegations against Mary which were at one time 
urged, with what appeared overwhelming force, 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 209 

have been deprived by more recent investigation 
and keener criticism of not a little of their weight. 
That the criminal relations between Mary and 
Both well were notorious for months ' before the 
murder (the fact being that there is no suggest- 
ion in any contemporary document of improper 
or unusual intimacy, and that, on the contrary, 
the prudence and wisdom of her conduct up to 
the day of the murder are warmly commended 
by those who were nearest to her at the time) ; 
that immediately on her recovery from her con- 
finement she went to Alloa with a crew of 
" pirates," of whom Both well was the captain 
(the fact being that she was accompanied by her 
brother and the chief nobles of her Court) ; that 
whenever she heard of Bothwell's wound she flew 
to Hermitage Castle like a distracted mistress, 
(the fact being that she did not visit Hermit- 
age, again in the company of her brother, until 
she had held the assizes at Jedburgh, and until 
Bothwell was out of danger ten or twelve days 
after she had first heard of the accident) ; that 
whenever Darnley was murdered, casting aside 
all decent restraint, she went to Seton to amuse 
herself at the butts with her lover (the fact 
being that she went to Seton by the advice of 
her physician for change of air, leaving Both- 
well and Huntly in Edinburgh to keep the 
Prince till her return) ; that she was eager for 
VOL. n. o 

210 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

the marriage and hurried it on with unseemly 
haste (the fact being that on the very day of 
the ceremony she was found weeping bitterly 
and praying only for death) : these and similar 
calumnies have been conclusively and finally 
silenced. The future historian of this period 
must eliminate from his narrative the gross and 
grotesque adventures, which appear to have been 
invented, or at least adapted, by Buchanan, 
whose virulent animosities were utterly unscrup- 
ulous, and whose clumsy invective was as bitter 
as it was pedantic. The extravagant perversion 
of fact, which makes the philippic against Mary 
a monument of bad faith, is mildly censured by 
Mr Burton, who is constrained to admit that " in 
the Detection a number of incredible charges 
are heaped up." " The great scholar and poet," 
we are told, " may have known politics on a large 
scale, but he was not versed in the intricacies of 
the human heart." The apology is somewhat 
lame. Buchanan must have been aware that he 
was calumniating the Queen ; and the explana- 
tion that the tirade followed " the grand forms 
of ancient classical denunciation," is hardly an 
excuse for wilful lying. 1 

Much of the reasoning, many of the arguments, 
moreover, to which we have been used, cease to 

1 History of Scotland, iv. 447-449. 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 211 

affect the mind, whenever it is freely admitted 
that Mary could not have been ignorant that the 
peers of Scotland were leagued against her hus- 
band. If Mary was not the accomplice of Both- 
well it has been asked, for instance why did 
she fail to prosecute and punish the murderers ? 
It may be admitted that no resolute effort was 
made to secure their punishment ; but the reason 
is obvious. The Privy Council was the Scottish 
executive ; and every Lord of the Council was 
more or less compromised. Even had Mary been 
anxious to bring the assassins to justice, it would 
have been madness, as matters stood, to make 
the attempt. The trial of Bothwell was forced 
upon a reluctant Council by the importunities of 
Lennox, and the acquittal was a matter of form. 
Still, in all this, there is no evidence of that 
criminal complicity with a lover which is the 
sting of the accusation against the Queen. 

I return to Maitland. 

During the six months that followed the 
Craigmillar conference, Lethington's position 
may be defined without difficulty. He had 
come to the conclusion that Darnley must be 
removed, the " young fool and presumptuous 
tyrant " had made himself impossible, had 
united all parties against him, had alienated the 
Queen and disgusted the nobles. But we may 
feel perfectly certain that Maitland at least was 

212 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

far from eager to put Bothwell in Darnley's 
place. Had he had any suspicions indeed that 
Bothwell aspired to the Crown, had he had any 
suspicions that Bothwell was favoured by Mary, 
he would probably have concluded that Darnley, 
as the lesser evil, might be allowed to remain. 
Peace had been patched up between the Secretary 
and Bothwell ; but the truce was hollow. The 
hostility of the fanatical reformers had not 
abated ; Mary had hitherto parried with success 
the weapons that had been directed against her 
by Knox and Cecil, by Morton and Moray ; but 
if she could be compromised, if, for instance, 
she could be forced into an unworthy and dis- 
honouring marriage, the object for which they 
had so pertinaciously plotted might be attained. 
Knox, could he have had his way, would have 
put Mary to death without scruple ; the laymen 
were less sanguinary ; but now that a prince 
was born they might at least compel her to 
abdicate. James VI., like James IV., could be 
used as a " buckler " by the disaffected nobles 
and the fanatical " professors." They could play 
the son against the mother, as they had already 
played the husband against the wife. The young 
prince, indeed, was in one view a surer card 
than Darnley. There was no risk that an infant 
in arms would turn against them as Darnley 
had turned. Maitland, as we shall see, lent 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 213 

himself to neither faction. He detested Both- 
well ; he distrusted Knox ; whereas he was 
devoted to Mary; and to Mary he steadily 

Whenever Maitland's peace, in the autumn of 
1566, was made with Mary, the relations of the 
Queens again became cordial, or at least assumed 
a show of cordiality. On 4th October he wrote 
to Cecil, urging him to use all such good offices 
as he was wont to use for the joining of the 
realms in perfect amity ; and this letter was 
followed next day by one from Mary herself, 
in which she assured Cecil that until the affair 
of Rokeby the spy she had always had a good 
opinion of him as a faithful Minister ; and that, 
as he had now recovered his old place in her 
goodwill, she would be glad to see him at the 
baptism of the prince, her son. 1 Maitland went 
with her to Jedburgh in October, from whence 
he wrote more than once to Cecil and Beaton, 
describing the symptoms of her dangerous ill- 
ness. 2 A curious letter, dated from Home Castle 
in the Merse, has been preserved, in which he 
tells the English Secretary that his own experi- 
ence of backbiters makes him marvel less at the 

1 Maitland to Cecil, 4th Oc- I October. Maitland to Beaton, 
tober. Mary to Cecil, 5tli Oc- 24th October. It appears from 
tober. the letter of 26th October that 

2 Maitland to Cecil, 24th-26th ; Mary had had a relapse. 

214 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

misconstruction of Cecil's doings. 1 From Home 
the Court moved to Whittinghame, and from 
there to Craigmillar, where, as we have seen, 
the famous conference of the nobles took place. 
Mary, attended by Maitland, left Craigmillar for 
Holyrood on 5th December, remaining in the 
capital till the 10th; and then, "though not 
quite recovered," 2 proceeded to Stirling for the 
baptism of the prince. Camden alleged that 
Darnley was not present at the baptism, as the 
English ambassador had received instructions 
from Elizabeth not to recognise him in any way 
an assertion which Robertson and later writers 
have attempted to controvert. It is to be ob- 
served, however, that in Nau's recently published 
narrative the same reason for Darnley's absence 
is assigned : " The King was not present at the 
baptism, for he refused to associate with the 
English unless they would acknowledge his title 
of King, and to do this they had been forbidden 
by the Queen of England, their mistress." 3 

The baptism was hardly over before Maitland's 
influence was exerted to obtain Morton's pardon 

1 Maitland to Cecil, llth 

2 Bedford to Cecil, 5th De- 

3 Nau, p. 33. Nan's narrative 
agrees with the statement in 
another contemporary MS. in 

the Cotton Library, that "Darn- 
ley was constrained to keep his 
chamber for fear of offending 
the Queen of England, whose 
malice still continued toward 
him." Ibid., p. cxlvii. 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 215 

(which Mary granted with her usual generous 
facility); and early in 1567 this powerful and 
dangerous noble was again in Scotland. It was 
at this time also that Maitland's persistent woo- 
ing was crowned with success ; in January in 
the Chapel-Eoyal at Stirling he was married to 
Mary Fleming. The Queen had threatened to in- 
terrupt his honeymoon by sending him on a mis- 
sion to England ; but he excused himself on the 
plea that it was unreasonable to divorce him 
from the young wife to whom he had been so 
recently united. 1 Some time during January, 
either before or after his marriage, he went with 
Bothwell to Whittinghame, where Morton was 
residing with his near relative, Archibald Doug- 
las. Hitherto Bothwell and Morton had been 
the leaders of hostile factions, and it was prob- 
ably thought desirable that Bothwell should be 
accompanied by one of Morton's friends. But 
Maitland does not appear to have been present 
during the interview at which, as Morton after- 
wards admitted in his confession, the murder of 
Darnley was discussed. Archibald Douglas was 
" in the yarde " ; but no one else. " In the 
yarde of Whittinghame, after long communing, 

1 Maitland to Cecil, 8th Feb- hardly have written had she 

ruary 1567. Mary wrote of the known that Darnley was to 

same date a letter which one be murdered within the next 

is inclined to fancy she could thirty or forty hours. 

216 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

the Earl of Both well proposed to me the purpose 
of the King's murther, requiring what would be 
my part thereunto, seeing it was the Queen's 
mind that the King should be tane away ; be- 
cause, as he said, she blamed the King mair of 
Davie's slaughter than me. My answer to the 
Earl Bothwell at that time was this ; that I would 
not in ony ways meddle with that matter, and that 
for this cause, ' Because I am but newlie come 
out of a new trouble, whereof as yet I am not 
redd ; being forbidden to come near the Court by 
seven miles ; and therefore I cannot enter myself 
in sic a new trouble again.' After this answer, Mr 
Archibald Douglas entered in conference with 
me, persuading me to agree with the Earl Both- 
well. Last of all, the Earl Bothwell yet being 
in Whittinghame, earnestly proposed the same 
matter to me again, persuading me thereunto, 
because the Queen would have it to be done. 
Unto this my answer was : I desired the Earl 
Bothwell to bring the Queen's handwrite to me 
for a warrant, and then I should give him an 
answer ; otherwise I wud not meddle therewith. 
The quhilk warrant he never reported unto 
me." 1 Maitland's name, it will be observed, is 
not introduced ; and I am not acquainted with 

1 Morton added that, being 
afterwards in St Andrews about 
the time of the murder the 

proposal was renewed, and that 
his answer was, that " I had 
not gotten the Queen's answer 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 217 

any other evidence that directly connects him 
with the murder. He knew, no doubt, as Mary 
knew, that Darnley's removal had been resolved 
on by the peers ; but it would rather appear that 
he had not been apprised of the singular plan of 
campaign devised by Bothwell. The three rode 
back to Edinburgh Lethington, Bothwell, and 
Archibald Douglas; and soon after reaching 
Holyrood if Douglas can be believed he was 
directed by Lethington to return to Whitting- 
hame, and inform Morton that the Queen would 
receive no speech of the matter appointed unto 
him, " which answer, as God shall be my judge, 
was no other than these words : ' Schaw to the 
Earl Morton that the Queen will hear no speech 
of that matter' appointed unto him.' ' " And 
when I cravit " he continues " that the an- 
swer might be made more sensible [explicit], 
Secretary Ledington said that the Earl would 
sufficiently understand it." 1 

in writing, which was promised ; sion, Bothwell did not use 

unto me ; and therefore, seeing them. Nor is it easy to under- 

the Earl Bothwell never re- ; stand why the woman who 

ported any warrant of the wrote the Casket Letters should 

Queen, I meddled never fur- have hesitated to comply with 

ther with it." Any one of the the request of a lover to whom 

Casket Letters would have been it is plain (if the letters are 

sufficient warrant ; and as he ! genuine), she could, for fear or 

was obviously very anxious to for love, refuse nothing, 
secure Morton's assistance, one ' 1 Archibald Douglas to Mary 

is inclined to wonder why, if Stuart, April 1568 (Harleian). 
they were then in his posses- 

218 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

The murder was quickly followed by the farce 
of Bothwell's trial, by the meeting of Mary's last 
Parliament, by the supper at Ainslie's Tavern. 
Bothwell was playing for high stakes ; he could 
not afford to wait ; the least delay would have 
been fatal to the enterprise on which he had 
ventured. The capital was feverish and ex- 
cited ; the sense of the coming calamity was 
in the air. Omens were not wanting ; the 
higher powers, it was remarked afterwards, 
watched the development of the plot with in- 
terest. "During the journey a raven continu- 
ally accompanied them from Glasgow to Edin- 
burgh, where it frequently remained perched 
on the late King's lodging, and sometimes on 
the Castle. But on the day before his death, 
it croaked for a very long time upon the 
house." * " The Castle of Edinburgh was ren- 
dered to Cockburn of Skirling by the Queen's 
command. The same day there raise ane vehe- 
ment tempest of winde, which blew a very 
great ship out of the rade of Leith, and sic 
like blew the tail from the cock which stands 
on the top of the steeple away from it ; so 
the old prophecy came true, 

" When Skirling shall be capitaine 
The cock shall want his tail." 2 

1 Nau's Memorials, p. 33. 2 Birrel's Diarey, 21st March 1567. 

TJie Conspiracies of the Nobles. 219 

One man only of those about the Queen did 
not lose his head. No portent was needed to 
assure Maitland that unless Mary could escape 
from the trap that had been set for her, dis- 
aster was imminent. He steadily opposed the 
Bothwell marriage. " The best part of the 
realm did approve it either by flattery or by 
their silence ; " but Maitland, with hardly an 
ally, ventured to speak his mind freely. Al- 
most every man of political repute in Scotland 
signed the bond which recommended Bothwell, 
as a fit husband, to the Queen ; but Maitland's 
name was not attached. 1 The Earl resented 
the Secretary's pertinacious opposition ; and as 
it was well known that he was not the man 
to stick at trifles, it was more than once 
rumoured that Maitland's life had been threat- 
ened. He was in Mary's train when, on " St 
Mark's even," she was taken by Bothwell at the 
Almond Bridge. Whether Mary was privy to 
the "ravishment" will never be known with 

1 According to one list, Mo- 
ray's name as well as Morton's 
was adhibited to the bond. 
It is said that Moray could 
not have signed, as he had left 
Edinburgh before the night of 
the supper ; but if the bond 
was prepared, there was no 
reason why his signature might 
not have been attached on an 

earlier day. In fact he dined 
with Bothwell a day or two 
before he left. Those who 
argue that Morton did not 
sign, forget that he admits in 
his confession that " sindrie of 
the nobility, and I also, sub- 
scryvit a band with the Earl 
of Bothwell" for the Queen's 

220 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

certainty ; Melville, who was also with her, 
writing in his old age, declared that Captain 
Blackadder, who had taken him, alleged that 
it was done with the Queen's own consent. 
This avowal (which is not quite consistent, it 
may be observed, with Bothwell's "boast," in 
the sentence immediately preceding, that he 
would marry the Queen, " who would or who 
would not : yea, whether she would herself or 
not") this avowal has been accepted some- 
what hastily as conclusive proof against Mary ; 
the truth being that as evidence it is posi- 
tively worthless ; for it may be safely as- 
sumed that Bothwell would in any event have 
assured his followers that the Queen's consent 
had been obtained, and that neither resistance 
nor punishment need be apprehended. 

Maitland was carried with Mary to D unbar, 
where Bothwell's will was law ; and there can 
be no doubt that for some time thereafter he 
was in constant peril. Had it not been for 
Mary's intervention, indeed, it is more than 
probable that he would have been put to death 
by his reckless jailer before he had been an hour 
in the Castle. The rumour that had reached 
Edinburgh thus appears to have had some 
ground in fact. " Upon the same day it was 
alleged that it was devisit that William Mait- 
land, younger of Lethington, Secretaire to our 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 221 

Sovereign Lady, being in her companie, suld 
have been slain." * When they reached Dunbar 
both Bothwell and Huntly turned upon Mait- 
land. The Queen threw herself between them. 
She told Huntly that if a hair of Lethington's 
head did perish, she would cause him to forfeit 
lands and goods and lose his life. One virtue, 
if one only, Mary had, nothing, apparently, 
could shake her steadfast loyalty to her friends. 

Drury's letter, from which these particulars 
are gleaned, shows that Maitland had taken 
measures, if his life was again in imminent 
peril, to escape from the Court. It proves, 
moreover, that the scheme of using the son 
against the mother had taken shape at an earlier 
period than is commonly supposed, and that the 
motives of the Archbishop of St Andrews in 
favouring the marriage had been already sur- 
mised. Drury was an inveterate gossip, and 
the political scandal in his letters is often quite 
unreliable ; but on this occasion his information 
with regard to the position of parties in Scot- 
land a week before the marriage appears to 
have been obtained from persons who could 
speak with authority. 

" It may please your Honour to be advertised 
that my last advertisement concerning the de- 

1 Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 107. 

222 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

termination of the Lords at Stirling to crown 
the Prince is true, and also that they mean to 
deal with the Queen to put away the soldiers, 
and be better accompanied of her nobility. 
Otherwise unless she write unto them, or they 
see writings confirmed with her hand, they will 
not credit them, but believe that she has been 
forced, and will defend the Prince and maintain 
the nobility and liberties of their country. This 
morning a gentleman of very good credit desired 
to speak with me secretly in the bounds, which 
I answered, and met with him. He showed me 
among the rest a letter sent from the dearest 
friend that the Lord of Ledington hath, re- 
quiring him to advertise me of his great desire 
to speak with your Honour (by letters till you 
may do otherwise) concerning those matters 
that doth concern the service of the Queen's 
Majesty. He also sends me word that the 
Queen for certain will marry the Earl Bothwell ; 
whom he says he knows to be a great enemy 
unto the Queen's Majesty and to her country. 
Also he advertises me that he minded this night 
past to escape from the danger he is in and 
presently to repair to the Lords at Stirling. 
He meant once to have come to Fast Castle, 
but altered. He means to escape by this means. 
He will come out to shoot with the others, for 
so far he has liberty, having a guard with him, 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 223 

and between the marks, riding upon a good nag 
will haste himself to a place appointed where 
both a fresh horse and company tarry for him. 
He should have been slain the first night of the 
Queen's last coming to Dunbar. Huntly should 
have been at the execution, to whom the Queen 
said if a hair of his head did perish, she would 
cause him to forfeit his lands and goods and lose 
his life. The cause why of late he was supposed 
to be Bothwell's was for certain letters he wrote 
to the Earl of Athol and others to which he 
was compelled ; but, by a trusty messenger, he 
did advise to which of his writings they should 
not give credit. It is expected she will pres- 
ently send for the nobility to come to the mar- 
riage, and that she means to levy both horsemen 
and footmen, which if she doth the Lords mean 
also to gather. It is judged the Bishop of St 
Andrews encourages the Queen and Bothwell in 
this manner to proceed, not for any good will 
to either of them, but for both their destruc- 
tions, the rather to bring his friends to their 
purpose. The Lord of Ledington hath earnestly 
requested me to convey his message unto your 
Lordship (affirming that therein I shall do the 
Queen good service), and that your Honour 
would let her Highness know he had that to 
say that would conserve the benefit of both the 
realms. It is thought by others that after he 

224 Tlie Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

hath been with the Lords he may have cause to 
repair to your Court." l 

Even when it became clear to Maitland that, 
after what had occurred, the marriage could not 
be prevented, and that the part he had taken 
against it had converted Both well into a bitter 
enemy, he remained at the Queen's side. He 
did his best to smooth the thorny path on which, 
willingly or unwillingly, she had entered. Mary's 
instructions to her ambassadors, in which she 
explains the enormous difficulties by which she 
had been beset, are understood to have been 
drawn by Maitland. The key in which they 
are pitched is studiously moderate. The Queen 
had been badly treated by her powerful subject ; 
but she was now content to accept the choice of 
her nobles, and to make the best of a bad busi- 
ness. Bothwell's earlier history having been 
passed in review, surprise is expressed that a 
noble who had proved himself so uniformly 
loyal should have ventured to intrigue against 
her. Before, however, he had even "afar off" 
begun to discover his intentions to herself, he 
had obtained from the assembled Estates their 
consent to the marriage ; and thereafter, finding 
that the Queen would not listen to his suit, he 

1 Drury to Cecil, 6th May 
1567. Condensed and modern- 
ised, Drury's involved sen- 

tences being often barely in- 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 225 

had forcibly carried her to Dunbar. There, 
after having again rejected him, she was shown 
the bond signed by the nobles upon whose 
counsel and fidelity she had before depended. 
"Many things we revolved with ourself, but 
never could find ane outgait." Having at length 
extorted an unwilling consent, the Earl resolv- 
ing " either to tine all in an hour, or to bring 
to pass that thing he had taken in hand," insist- 
ed on an immediate marriage. " So ceased he 
never, till by persuasions and importunate suit, 
accompanied not the less by force, he has finally 
driven us to end the work begun at sic time and 
in sic forme as he thocht might best serve his 
turn, wherein we cannot dissemble that he has 
used us otherways than we have deservit at his 
hand. But now," she concludes, " since it is 
past, and cannot be brought back again, we will 
mak the best of it." * 

Maitland was one of the last of Mary's friends 
to leave the Court ; but the savage violence 
of Bothwell ultimately exhausted his patience. 
Athol was already in arms, and he stole away 
to Athol. " Not long after," Melville says, " the 
Earl of Bothwell thought to have slain him in the 
Queen's chamber, had not her Majesty come be- 

1 Instructions to the Bishop 
of Dunblane, May 1567. Keith, 


ii. 592. 

226 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

twixt and saved him ; but he fled next day, and 
tarried with the Earl of Athol." 1 Melville's 
memory sometimes played him false ; but there 
is other evidence to the same effect. " Upon 
the 5th June," according to the contemporary 
chronicle, "the Secretaire, suspectand his life, 
left our soveraine lady and the Court, and de- 
partit to the Callendar." 2 A few days later he 
wrote to Cecil : 

" SIR, The reverence and affection I have 
ever borne to the Queen my mistress hath been 
the occasion to stay me so long in company with 
the Earl of Bothwell at the Court, as my life 
hath every day been in danger since he began 
to aspire to any grandeur, besides the hazard of 
my reputation in the sight of men of honour, 
who did think it in me no small spot that, by 
my countenance and remaining in company with 
him, I should appear to favour such a man as 
he is esteemed to be. At length, finding the 
best part of the nobility resolved to look nar- 
rowly to his doings, and being by them required, 
I would not refuse to join me to them in so just 
and reasonable a cause, the ground whereof the 
bearer and Mr Melville can report unto you at 
length. I pray you that by your means we 

1 Melville's Memoirs, p. 80. 2 Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 112. 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 22*7 

may find the Queen's Majesty's favourable allow- 
ance of our proceedings, and in case of need that 
we may be comforted by her support to further 
the execution of justice against such as shall be 
found guilty of an abominable murder, perpe- 
trated on the person of one who had the honour 
to be of her Majesty's blood. If in the begin- 
ning it would please her Majesty to aid these 
noblemen with some small sums of money to 
the levying of a number o'f harquebusiers, it 
would in my opinion make a short and sudden 
end of the enterprise, whereunto I pray you put 
your helping hand. I will not trouble you with 
many words for lack of leisure, by reason of the 
bearer's sudden despatch. And so I take my 
leave of you. From Edinburgh, the 21st of 
June 1567. Your Honour's at commandment, 


It has been alleged by his enemies that Mait- 
land, deserting Mary as he had deserted her 
mother, went over to the faction which had risen 
against her. It is a serious accusation, and 
requires to be seriously examined. 

It was undoubtedly the general opinion at the 
time that the Queen had been, and was being, 
roughly handled by Bothwell. " I plainly re- 

1 Maitland to Cecil, 21st June 1567. 

228 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

fused to proclaim them," Craig said, in his de- 
fence to the Assembly, " because I had not her 
hand write ; and also because of the constant 
bruit (rumour) that the lord had both ravished 
her and keeped her in captivity." x " When I 
returned to Edinburgh," Melville says, " I dealt 
with Sir James Balfour not to part with the 
Castle, whereby he might be an instrument to 
save the Prince and the Queen, who was disdain- 
fully handled, and with such reproachful lan- 
guage, that in presence of Arthur Erskine I 
heard her ask for a knife to stab herself ; or else 
said she I shall drown myself." 2 " Many of 
those who were with her," he adds, "were of 
opinion that she had intelligence with the Lords, 
especially such as were informed of the many 
indignities put upon her by the Earl of Both well 
since their marriage. He was so beastly and 
suspicious that he suffered her not to pass one 
day in patience, without making her shed abund- 
ance of tears." It was consequently believed 
by many that " her Majesty would fain have 
been quit of him, but thought shame to be the 
doer thereof directly herself." 3 "I perceived," 
Le Croc wrote, on the evening of her marriage 
day, " a strange formality between her and her 

1 Calderwood, ii. 394. 3 Ibid., p. 82. 

2 Melville's Memoirs, p. 81. . 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 229 

husband, which she begged me to excuse, saying 
that if I saw her sad, it was because she did not 
wish to be happy, as she said she never could be, 
wishing only for death. Yesterday, being all 
alone in a closet with the Earl Bothwell, she 
called aloud for them to give her a knife to kill 
herself with. Those who were in the room ad- 
joining the closet heard her." It w T as alleged at 
the time that Bothwell cared so little for the 
Queen that even after the divorce Lady Jean 
Gordon continued to reside with him as his wife ; 
and in the Holyrood " interior " under the Both- 
well regime, which Sir James Melville has pre- 
served for us, the rude force and insolent master- 
fulness of the truculent Borderer are portrayed 
with consummate, if unconscious, art. " I found 
my lord Duke of Orkney sitting at his supper, 
who welcomed me, saying, I had been a great 
stranger, desiring me to sit down and sup with 
him. I said, I had already supped ; then he 
called for a cup of wine and drank to me, saying, 
'You had need grow fatter, for,' says he, 'the 
zeal of the commonwealth hath eaten you up, 
and made you lean.' I answered that every 
little member should serve for some use, but the 
care of the commonwealth appertained most to 
him, and the rest of the nobility, who should be 
as fathers of the same. ' I knew well,' says he, 
' he would find a pin for every bore.' Then he 

230 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

fell in discoursing with the gentlewomen, speak- 
ing such filthy language, that they and I left 
him, and went up to the Queen." J The Lords 
themselves declared that both before and after 
her marriage Mary was virtually deprived of her 
liberty ; Both well, they asserted, " kept her en- 
vironed with a perpetual guard of two hundred 
harquebussiers, as well day and night, wherever 
she went," admitting few or none to her speech ; 
" for his suspicious heart, brought in fear by the 
testimony of an evil conscience, would not suffer 
her subjects to have access to her Majesty, as 
they were wont to do." Had they not risen, 
what, they inquired, would have been the end ? 
Bothwell would have made away with Mary as 
he had made away with Darnley, and the other 
wife that he maintained " at home in his house " 
would have been put in her place. 2 

It is unnecessary to adduce further evidence ; 
it is clear that from the day Mary was taken to 
Dunbar she was shamefully " mishandled," and 
that her misery was great. Bothwell's head had 
been turned by his success, and all the evil ele- 
ments in his brutal nature had come to the top. 
It must be difficult, one would suppose, for those 
who have carefully followed the narrative of 

1 Melville's Memoirs, p. 80. 

2 The Lords of Scotland to 

Keith, ii. 677. See also the 
Minute of the Privy Council of 

Throckmorton, llth July 1567. | llth August. 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 231 

Mary's sufferings at this time to hold that she 
was a willing victim. When it is pointed out, 
however, that even on the day of her marriage 
she was weeping sorely and longing only for 
death, we are reminded that she was " overmas- 
tered by an imperious infatuation," a sweeping 
and somewhat singular apology. 1 

These were the scenes which were being en- 
acted at Holyrood when Maitland stole away 
from the Court to join the nobles who were 
arming their vassals. The two parties Con- 
servative and Radical, Catholic and Calvinist 
had by this time coalesced. The faction which 
had been persistently disloyal were first in the 
field ; but they had latterly been joined by many 
of the nobles who were personally attached to 
the Queen. There can be little doubt that the 
irreconcilables had been sedulously preparing for 
the crisis which they had helped to accelerate 
(how far, by flattering his ambition, they had 
tempted Bothwell to aspire, how far, by forcing 
her into an anomalous and untenable position, 
they had tempted Mary to comply, cannot per- 
haps be precisely known ; but that there had 
been a world of double-dealing is clearly proved) ; 
and that they hoped to turn it to their own 
advantage. But the ostensible object of the 

1 Burton, iv. 416. 

232 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

rising was to deliver the Queen from Bothwell ; 
and unless this plea had been put forward, no 
alliance with the loyalists would have been 
practicable. When the pretence succeeded, and 
when men like Athol and Argyll and Maitland 
were found in their ranks, it became all the more 
necessary to disguise in the meantime their real 
design. I entertain no doubt that a Government, 
of which, either as King or Kegent, Moray should 
be head, had been long in contemplation ; and 
Moray was thought to have purposely left the 
country before the marriage, in order that his 
partisans might have a freer hand in dealing 
with his sister. But this was a dead secret as 
yet; Morton and Lindsay and Glencairn and 
Grange were in arms, not to subvert the Gov- 
ernment, but to release the Queen ; and it was 
on this understanding that they were joined by 

It is important (not for Maitland's consistency 
only) that on this point there should be no mis- 
understanding ; and, as it happens, the evidence 
is conclusive. Robert Melville, writing to Cecil 
in the beginning of May a week before the 
marriage informed him that the Lords were 
ready to take the field. " Since the Earl Both- 
well did carry the Queen's Majesty violently to 
D unbar, where she is judged to be detained with- 
out her own liberty, and against her will, divers 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 233 

noblemen yea ! the most part of the whole sub- 
jects of the realm are very miscontent therewith, 
and apparently will not bear it. The truth is, 
when she was first carried to Dunbar by him, the 
Earl of Huntly and my Lord of Ledington were 
taken as prisoners, and my brother James, with 
divers other domestic servants ; and her Majesty 
commanded some of her company to pass to 
Edinburgh and charge the town to be in armour 
for her rescue. Quhilk they incontinent obeyit, 
and past without their ports upon foot, but could 
not help ; quhilk shame done by a subject to our 
Sovereign offends the whole realm." (Melville, 
it will be observed, confirms the statement in 
the ' Diurnal/ that the news of the ravishing of 
her Majesty having been brought to the Provost 
of Edinburgh, " incontinent the common bell 
rang, and the inhabitants thereof ran to armour 
and wappynnis, the portes was steekit, the artil- 
lery of the castle shot." 1 ) " And it appears both 
Papist and Protestant joins together with an 
earnest affection for the weill of their country. 
The said Lords are gone to their counties to 
assemble their friends together with sic expedi- 
tion as they may." 2 The Proclamation issued 
by the Privy Council on 6th June (on the pre- 

1 Diurnal of Occurrents, 24th 
April, p. 109. 

2 Kobert Melville to Cecil, 

7th May 1567. National MSS. 
of England, Part III., No. Ix. 

234 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

amble that the Queen's Majesty's most noble 
person is and has been for a long space detained 
in captivity and thraldom), goes on to declare 
that the nobility have assembled to deliver her 
from bondage and captivity. Again, in the 
Proclamation of 12th June, it is stated that 
James, Earl Bothwell, having, on the 24th April, 
put violent hands on our Sovereign Lady's most 
noble person, and having since then detained her 
in captivity, the Lords have risen to deliver her 
from her prison. In the Minutes of June 16, 
June 21, June 26, July 7, July 9, and August 
11, the same plea is repeated, the Peers had 
pursued and were pursuing Bothwell for having 
laid violent hands upon the Queen. 1 It will be 
observed that most of these minutes are of later 
date than Carberry ; so that even after Mary had 
been sent to Lochleven, the nobles (in whose 
counsels by this time Morton had acquired a 
commanding influence) did not venture to imply 
that she was Bothwell's accomplice. The pre- 
tence on which she was sent to Lochleven (viz., 
that she had refused to abandon Bothwell) will 
be afterwards examined ; what I am at present 
concerned to show is, that the nobles, when 
Maitland joined them, were in arms, not against 
Mary, but against Bothwell, her jailer. 

1 Register of Privy Council, vol. i. pp. 519-545. 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 235 

It is difficult indeed to read the proclamations 
of the Lords with patience. They were written 
by the men who had plotted against the Queen. 
They were written by the men who were the 
accomplices of Bothwell. The declaration that 
they had risen to release Mary was ridiculous 
pretence ; the declaration that they had risen to 
revenge Darn ley was odious hypocrisy. I speak, 
of course, of the faction which Morton led. There 
were men in the ranks of the Confederate Lords 
from an early period who were the true friends 
of Mary Stuart ; later on these were joined by 
Maitland. But in so far as the Moray-Mortou 
faction had a hand in its production, the defence 
of their policy which is contained in the public 
records is grotesquely insincere and transparently 

Maitland at least was for the Queen. It was 
Bothwell who drove him from the Court ; it was 
to rid the Queen of Bothwell that he joined the 
Lords. He had been with her throughout the 
whole dismal business ; he had witnessed her 
humiliations ; he had listened to her complaints ; 
yet this acute and observant diplomatist, who 
had enjoyed the closest intimacy with his mistress, 
had obviously failed to discover any indications 
of that overpowering passion which, as was after- 
wards alleged, had driven her into Bothwell's 
arms. " Maitland, in proportion as he favoured 

236 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

the Queen's interest, hated Bothwell as a per- 
fidious villain, from whom his own life was in 
danger." 1 "Sir William Matlane had joined 
himself before to the Lords for hatred of Both- 
well. Now being rid of him he writeth to the 
Queen offering his service ; sheweth how it might 
stand her in good stead by the apologue of the 
mouse delivering the lion taken in the nets." 2 
The testimony of Melville, Herries, Nau, and 
other contemporary writers, is to the same effect ; 
Maitland was not a traitor ; though he left the 
Court he did not desert the Queen. "He only 
sought to rescue her from Bothwell." 3 Throck- 
morton, to whose interesting letters I must refer 
at greater length immediately, was sent by 
Elizabeth to Scotland to remonstrate with the 
Lords, and at Fast Castle he was met by Mait- 
land. Maitland was for Mary, Throckmorton 
emphatically declared, but he added despond- 
ently, " God knows he is fortified with very 
slender company in this opinion." 

In one respect Throckmorton was mistaken. 
The Lords, indeed, would have had him believe 

1 Buchanan, Book xix. 

2 Calderwood, ii. 371. Nau 
says, " Lethington sent a 
small oval ornament of gold on 
which was ennamelled JSsop's 
fable of the lion enclosed in the 

net, with these words in Italian 
written round it, ' A chi basto 
Panimo, non mancano le 
forze.' " Memorials, p. 59. 

3 Leslie's Narrative, Scottish 
Catholics, p. 1 25. 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 237 

that Mary was hated by the people, who were 
eager for her execution. So far as the Knoxian 
fanatics and the rabble of the capital were con- 
cerned, this was possibly true enough. Throck- 
morton mentions that the Ecclesiastical Conven- 
tion was again in session ; and it was from the 
lips of these austere zealots that the sentence 
of death proceeded. Knox himself, it need not 
be doubted, would, with the zest of a Hebrew 
prophet, have hewed the idolatress in pieces 
before the Lord. But the Knoxian fanatics and 
the rabble of the capital were not the people of 
Scotland. This is the mistake that so many 
modern historians have made, they have con- 
founded the nation at large with an active and 
organised minority. To do them justice, Knox 
and his allies did not deny that they were the 
minority ; on the contrary, they gloried in their 
numerical inferiority. The Lord was on their 
side ; it mattered not who was against them. 
Knox never wearied of repeating that the most 
part of men were addicted to idolatry. Edin- 
burgh was the stronghold of the precise Prot- 
estants ; but when it was proposed to take a 
plebiscite of the citizens as to what form of 
religion should be provisionally established, "the 
hail brethren of the Congregation within this 
toun" vehemently objected. They could not 
consent, they said, that " God's truth should be 

238 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

subject to voting of man ; " " for it is na new 
thing but mair nor notour that fra the beginning 
of the wide warld to this day, and even now in 
all countries and touns, the maist part of men 
has ever been against God and His house." 1 In 
a pastoral letter, written by Knox after Mary 
had escaped from Lochleven, he expressed his 
deep regret that they had not put her to death 
when she was in their hands. The danger would 
not have been great, he added, "for although in 
number the wicked might have exceeded the 
faithful," yet " the little flock " would have been 
as victorious as in former contests. 2 So that it 
is a mistake to assume that in July 1567 the 
nation was hostile to Mary. The mass of the 
people had been taken unawares ; they believed 
the Lords when they declared that they were 
fighting for the Queen ; and before the fraud 
was discovered the mischief was done. The 
Confederates at Carberry, to use a familiar 
phrase, won by a fluke. It is universally ad- 
mitted that had the Queen remained at Dunbar, 
" could she have had patience to stay at Dunbar 
for three or four days without any stir," the 
Lords would have dispersed. " The people did 
not join as was expected ; " the leaders were 
divided ; some were adversaries, some were neu- 

1 Keith, i. 487. 2 Keith, iii. 199. 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 239 

trals ; "so that they were even thinking to dis- 
solve, and leave off their enterprise to another 
time, and had absolutely done so." * That is 
Knox's admission ; Buchanan's is even more un- 
qualified. " Wherefore the ardour of the people 
having subsided, perceiving no likelihood of their 
rising being successful, and almost reduced to 
extremity, they already deliberated about dis- 
persing without accomplishing their design." 2 
But a fatal imprudence brought Mary to Car- 
berry Hill. Yet in spite of calumny and calam- 
ity, the sympathy of the people could not be 
restrained. The tide, if it had ever run against 
her, suddenly turned. The Lords could not 
count even upon the Edinburgh rabble ; for the 
democracy of the capital was as fickle as it was 
fierce. The narrative of the events that immedi- 
ately followed Carberry, as given in the ' Historic 
of King James the Sext,' is extremely instructive. 
" She being credulous rendered herself willingly 
to the Lords ; who irreverently brought her into 
Edinburgh about seven hours at even, and keepit 
her straightly within the Provost's lodging in 
the chief street ; and on the morn fixit a white 
banner in her sight, wherein was painted the 
effigy of King Henry her husband, lying deed 
at the root of a green growing tree, and the 

1 Knox, ii. 558. 2 Buchanan, Book xviii. 

240 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

picture of the young Prince sitting on his 
knees with his hands and countenance toward 
heaven, with this inscription, Judge and revenge 
my cause, Lord ! This sight greivit her great- 
umlie, and therefore she burst forth exceeding 
tears, with exclamation against these Lords wha 
held her in captivitie, crying to the people for 
Christ's cause to relieve her from the hands of 
these tyrants. The people of the town convenit 
to her in great number, and perceiving her so 
afflicted in mind had pitie and compassion of her 
estait. The Lords perceiving that, came unto her 
with dissimulat countenance, with reverence and 
fair speeches, and said that their intention was 
noways to thrall her, and therefore immediately 
would repone her with freedom to her ain palace 
of Halyruidhouse, to do as she list ; whereby 
she was so pacified as the people willingly de- 
parted ; And on the next evening, to colour their 
pretences, conveyed her to the palace, and then 
assembled themselves in counsel to advise what 
should be thought best to be done ; And it was 
decernit, that immediately she should be trans- 
ported to the fortalice of Lochleven, and there 
to be detenit in captivitie during her life, 
and constranit to transfer the authority of her 
Crown from her person to the young Prince her 
son ; to the end that they might rule as they 
listed, without any controul of lawful authority ; 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 241 

whilk continued for many years." x The author 
of this narrative, it may be objected, is a partial 
witness ; but he is corroborated by writers who 
were the bitterest critics of the Queen. "Hatred," 
Buchanan admits, "was turned into compassion " ; 
Calderwood confesses that " the hatred of the 
people was now by process of time turned into 
pitie ;" and Spottiswoode is even more emphatic ; 
" The common people also, who a little before 
seemed most incensed, pitying the Queen's estate, 
did heavily lament the calamity wherein she was 
fallen." 2 

The intensity of the public feeling accounts 
for the midnight ride to Lochleven. It had be- 
come apparent to Morton and his more astute 
and unscrupulous allies that if the revolution 
was to succeed, a vigorous policy must be in- 
stantly initiated. The Queen must be silenced ; 
the Queen must be secluded. But how were 
they to justify the forcible detention of the 
sovereign on whose behalf, as they alleged, 
they were in arms ? There were honest men 
among them. No one had expressed his de- 
testation of the murder and of the marriage 
more freely than Grange ; but Grange was a 
soldier of unblemished repute, an obstinate, 

The Historic of King James 

the Sext, p. 13. 

2 Calderwood, ii. 37. Spot- 
tiswoode, ii. 63. 

242 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

intractable, high-minded, chivalrous gentleman. 
Grange would not lend himself to a fraud ; and, 
since Mary had trusted herself to his honour, he 
had come to believe that she was more sinned 
against than sinning. Grange was assured so 
it was said that Mary was still devoted to 
Bothwell ; that she had refused to leave him ; 
that a loving letter, which she had addressed to 
him, had been intercepted. Even her apologists 
need not hesitate to admit that the Queen was 
at this moment in a position of grave embar- 
rassment. Every path she could follow was 
beset with peril. Whether she was enciente 
has been doubted ; she believed that she was, 
and her belief was probably well founded. 1 
She might by this time have concluded that 
nothing was left for her but (in her own 
words) " to make the best of it." And it is 
easy to understand, when she found that his 
accomplices had turned upon him like a pack 

1 See Throckmorton's letter 
of 18th July, and the account 
of the miscarriage by Nau, p. 
60. Mr Froude says (ix. 65) that 
"the Queen remained at Dun- 
bar to suffer, according to . her 
subsequent explanation of what 
befell her, the violence which 
rendered her marriage with 
Bothwell a necessity, if the 
offspring which she expected 
from it was to be born legiti- 

mate." So far as I am aware, 
the reason assigned by Mr 
Froude that the marriage 
was necessary to legitimate 
the expected offspring was 
never assigned by Mary. 
When Throckmorton wrote, 
Mary had been married for 
upwards of two months, and 
he alluded to the issue of the 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 243 

of famished wolves, how the woman who had 
never loved Bothwell in his prosperous days, 
may have stood loyally by him in his ad- 
versity. These were the traitors who had 
truly murdered Darnley, and yet they dared 
to flaunt a banner in the face of heaven 
which called for vengeance on his murderers, 
" Judge and avenge my cause, Lord ! " 
What perfidy, she might well ask, could com- 
pare with this? Judas betrayed his Lord with 
a kiss ; but he did not add to his guilt by 
professing that another had done it : he went 
and hanged himself. Although a high-spirited 
woman like Mary Stuart may possibly have 
been influenced by such feelings as I have 
indicated, their existence is purely conjec- 
tural. Mary may have declined to separate 
herself from Bothwell, or she may not ; we 
cannot tell : no one was allowed to see her, 
no one was allowed to speak with her, not 
even the envoy of Elizabeth, not even the 
Ambassador of France ; we only know what 
the Lords said that she said. The value of 
hearsay evidence, tainted as this was, will be 
considered hereafter; but I may say here that 
the motive that tempted them to lie, if they 
did lie, is obvious enough. An apology was 
needed for their sudden change of front ; and 
the pretence that Mary clung with unreason- 

244 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

ing obstinacy to her lover, was probably as 
good as any other that could be invented at 
the moment. The specific allegation that on 
the night of her capture she addressed a few 
lines of ardent devotion to Both well is now 
generally discredited, even Hume and the 
younger Tytler (both hostile to Mary) ad- 
mitting that the writing, if any such there 
was, must have been fabricated. Mary Stuart, 
whatever else she might be, was not a fool ; and 
it would have been monstrous folly to expect 
that a letter so fatally compromising would 
escape the vigilance of her keepers. We may 
be tolerably sure, moreover, that if the letter 
had been intercepted, it would have been pro- 
duced. Melville informs us that "it was al- 
leged " that a letter to Bothwell, written the 
night she was taken, was used to silence Kir- 
kaldy's scruples. " Grange was yet so angry 
that, had it not been for the letter, he had in- 
stantly left them." But in the answer of the 
Lords of Scotland to the remonstrances of Eliza- 
beth, prepared not later than July llth, only 
three weeks after Carberry, there is no allusion 
to the intercepted letter ; x and as their defence 

1 Nor, it may be added, is 
there any allusion to those 
other letters which they after- 
wards alleged had at this time 

been already for three weeks 
in their hands, the Casket 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 245 

proceeded on the plea that Mary still clung to 
Bothwell, it may be confidently assumed that 
had such an invaluable and indeed conclusive 
piece of evidence been in their possession, it 
would then and there have been produced. 
Thus there is no direct evidence to show 
that Mary parted from Bothwell reluctantly, 
and there is plenty of the best evidence to 
show that after they were parted she never 
manifested the least desire to rejoin him. The 
delirium the infatuation of the most polished 
and brilliant woman of her age for an ill- 
favoured and illiterate lover of forty was 
obviously as transient as it was unaccountable. 1 

1 On the whole, I am in- 
clined to hold that, after being 
more or less forced into the 
marriage, Mary had resolved 
"to make the best of it." 
Though she did not love 
Bothwell, she must have loved 
the Lords still less, and she 
may have set herself to con- 
quer her repugnance to an un- 
congenial alliance. There is 
reason to believe that Lething- 
ton was taken aback by her 
passion of resentment at the 
treachery of the Lords, and 
her resolution to remain with 
the man who had been really 
forced upon her by Morton and 
his allies. Maitland is rep- 
resented as saying at a later 

period that "the same night 
the Queen was brought to 
Edinburgh I myself made the 
offer to her, gif she would 
abandon my Lord Bothwell 
she should have as thankful 
obedience as ever she had since 
she came to Scotland. But no 
ways would she consent to 
leave my Lord Bothwell, and 
so she was put into Lochleven, 
at the which time we hoped 
that all men should have as- 
sisted to the revenge of the 
king's murder, but never ane 
came to us after Carberry Hill ; 
on the contrary the Lord Huntly 
and many others rose up against 
us, so that they were a greater 
party than we." Bannatyne's 

246 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

Meantime during these anxious days Mait- 
land did what he could. He was fighting for 
Mary's life. The gloomy fanatics who had been 
summoned to the Convention thirsted for her 
blood. It was a plain duty, they declared, to 
put her to death. The Lord had delivered her 
into their hands. There can be no doubt that 
for some days her peril was great ; her own 
friends, finding how they had been misled by 
the revolutionary faction, were one by one steal- 
ing away from the capital ; Morton and Knox 
remained Morton, Knox, and their allies ; and 
Morton was as unscrupulous as Knox was 
" austere." 1 We do not know all that occurred 
after Carberry ; the letters of Drury were written 
from Berwick, and most of his correspondents 
in Scotland were ignorant or intemperate par- 
tisans; but, from Throckmorton's confidential 
correspondence with the English Court after 
his arrival at the Scottish capital, it may be 
fairly concluded, I think, that to Maitland 
who had been on various occasions of essential 
service to Morton Mary at this time owed 
her life. 

Of Mary Stuart, however, as an independent 

Journal, p. 158. These words p. 146. 

recall an earlier declaration in l Knox returned on 6th July, 

which Mary's repugnance to "very austere." Throckmor- 

break her plighted word is em- ton to Cecil, 18th July, 
phatically insisted on. Supra, 

The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 247 

princess, there was now an end. The conspiracies 
of the disaffected nobles, which had been more 
than once defeated by her resolute spirit, were 
at length completely successful, and there were 
grim rejoicings in the Puritan camp. If Mary 
was the accomplice of Bothwell, she deserved 
all that she got ; if she was the innocent victim 
of an unscrupulous policy, which in the name of 
pure religion traded on sedition and did not 
shrink from crime, the sympathy that she has 
received has not been exaggerated. Maitland's 
fixed idea had hitherto been that the union 
of the kingdoms was a political necessity, and 
that only through Mary Stuart could Union be 
secured. I do not think that he ever seriously 
wavered in his loyalty to his mistress ; but it 
is interesting to note that even when the cloud 
was blackest he would listen to no terms of 
composition which did not involve the acknow- 
ledgment by Elizabeth, in one form or other, 
of the Scottish title. Throckmorton reported 
that some talk had passed between him and 
the Secretary with reference to the custody of 
the Prince. He had found from Lethington, 
he said, that the principal point that would 
induce the Lords to deliver their prince into 
England would be the recognition of his title 
to the succession of the Crown of England, in 
default of issue of Elizabeth's body. " I do well 

248 The Conspiracies of the Nobles. 

perceive that these men will never be brought 
to deliver their Prince into England except 
upon this condition ; " " for," saith Lethington, 
" that taking place, the Prince shall be as dear 
to the people of England as to the people of 
Scotland ; and the one will be as careful of his 
preservation as the other. Otherwise," he saith, 
" all things considered, it will be reported that 
the Scotsmen have put their Prince to be kept 
in safety, as those which commit the sheep to 
be kept by the wolves." x 

1 Throckmorton to Leicester, 24th July 1567. 




ITAITLAND'S position after the Lords had 
111. broken with Mary was one of extreme 
difficulty. To save the Queen's life was his first 
object ; to bring about some reasonable composi- 
tion between her and the Scottish Peers was his 
next. Moray was away having prudently ab- 
sented himself, as was his habit ; but Maitland 
was obviously under the impression that he 
might count on Moray's help. He was quickly 
undeceived. He saw at once or at least within 
a few days of the Regent's return that James 
Stuart, if he did not take his sister's life, would 
not hesitate to assail her honour. Moray whose 
sober gait and homely address cloaked a tower- 
ing ambition was bent, for one reason or other, 
upon an irreparable breach. Maitland believed, 
on the other hand, that, with the Scottish people 
divided as they were, years of bloody and boot- 
less war could only be avoided by a policy of 

252 Maitland and Moray. 

forbearance. To seek a road from which there 
could be no return, to fight the quarrel out to the 
bitter end, seemed to him to be folly, how far 
better it would be if only by tact and temper 
some reasonable compromise could be effected ! 
But to save Mary's life he had to yield himself 
to the stream until he was strong enough to 
breast it. " Pliant in their direction, unshaken 
in their aim," was said of the Jesuit fathers ; 
and the moralists who are unwilling to own that 
under any pressure is a politic pliancy admissible, 
will conclude that Maitland's conduct during the 
two years that followed Mary's fall cannot be 
justified. Nor though I believe that the more 
it is examined and the better it is understood, 
the less will it be condemned do I altogether 
defend it. The most honest of men could not 
have occupied so equivocal a position with per- 
fect honesty. Yet it is abundantly clear from 
contemporary testimony that no one was de- 
ceived. All Scotland knew that Lethington was 
on Mary's side ; all Scotland knew that Lething- 
ton held that Moray had played his sister false. 
Moray himself knew it ; and when he had finally 
and decisively thrown in his lot with Morton, 
who became, as was said at the time, his " second 
self," the cordial relations with Maitland neces- 
sarily ceased. Maitland, whose scorn of phari- 
saic pretence scorched like fire, was not misled 

Maitland and Moray. 253 

by Moray's sophistry ; and his tacit condemna- 
tion must have been ill to bear. But I antici- 
pate. Moray was still in France, from whence 
indeed he was only permitted to depart on the 
understanding that he disapproved of the vio- 
lence of the disaffected nobles, and that he was 
going home, as he said, to save his sister's life. 

Among the houses where the English envoys 
were wont to rest themselves during their lei- 
surely progress to the Scottish capital, "Whitting- 
hame and Fast Castle were two of the most 
noted. Whittinghame belonged to a Douglas, 
Fast Castle to a Hume ; and it was at Fast Cas- 
tle on the rocky shore of the Northern Sea 
that Throckmorton, despatched in haste by Eliz- 
abeth to learn what had happened in Scotland, 
was met by Lethington. Throckmorton was an 
old friend of the Scottish Secretary : and as they 
could communicate freely and frankly with each 
other, the letters in which his negotiations with 
the nobles are described, are, to whoever is in- 
terested in Maitland's career, of really inestima- 
ble value. 

It must be premised that the ostensible object 
of Throckmorton's mission was, as he told the 
French ambassador at Ware, " to comfort the 
Queen of Scots in this her calamity, which her 
Majesty did take for too great an indignity to 
be shewed to a Queen by her subjects, and to 

254 Maitland and Moray. 

procure her liberty." x Elizabeth's exaggerated 
expressions of sympathy were not believed by 
those who knew her best to be entirely genuine ; 
they believed, on the contrary, that Throckmor- 
ton was sent not merely to lecture Mary on her 
misconduct (Elizabeth would have been more 
than woman had she neglected to improve the 
occasion), but to quicken the resentment of the 
insurgent lords against their sovereign. It must 
be admitted that the tone she adopted in ad- 
dressing an assembly of proud and turbulent 
nobles was eminently calculated to bring about 
such a result, a result, be it observed, entirely 
consistent with the policy which had been con- 
stantly pursued by the English government 
since Mary's return to Scotland. 

" I lodged at Fast Castle that night, accom- 
panied by the Lord Hume, the Lord of Leding- 
ton, and James Melville, where I was entreated 
very well according to the state of the place ; 
which is fitter to lodge prisoners than folks at 
liberty. As it is very little, so it is very strong." 
He had conferred with Lethington, and had 
found that the Lords were naturally suspicious 
of Elizabeth's motives, and would in the mean- 
time join neither with France nor England. 
" For they think it convenient to proceed with 

1 Throckmorton to Cecil, 2d July 1567. 

Maitland and Moray. 255 

you both pari passu, for that was my Lord of Led- 
ington's term." The envoy proceeded to enlarge 
on Elizabeth's good faith ; " but at these things 
the Lord of Ledington smiled and shook his 
head, and said, ' It were better for us you would 
let us alone, than neither to do us nor your- 
selves good, as I fear me in the end it will 
prove/ adding, later on, ' If you will do us 
no good, do us no harm, and we will provide for 
ourselves.' " x 

Throckmorton arrived in Edinburgh on July 
12th. The next day, being Sunday, was held 
as a solemn communion and solemn fast ; and 
the scrupulous Morton, declining to transact any 
secular business on that day, was unable to 
receive the English envoy. Lethington, how- 
ever, came to him in the afternoon. During the 
interview, in which the distrust of Elizabeth's 
motives was accentuated, Throckmorton gathered 
that he would not be permitted to see Mary. 
" I would all our company," Lethington de- 
clared, " were as well willing to accomplish your 
sovereign's intents and desires as I am ; for my 
own part I am but one, and that of the meanest 
sort, and there be many noblemen, and such as 
have great interest in the matter ; marry, you 
shall be assured. I will employ my credit as much 

1 Throckmorton to Cecil, 12th July 1567. 


Maitland and Moray. 

as lieth in me to satisfy the Queen your mistress." 
The General Assembly of the Church, he added, 
was to meet on the 20th ; and Throckmorton ap- 
prehended, " unless the Lord of Ledington and 
some others who be best affected to her, do provide 
some remedy," that measures of extreme severity 
to the Queen would be taken by Knox and his 
friends. The Calvinistic rabble of the capital 
were bitter against her. " The common people 
do greatly dishonour the Queen, the women be 
most furious and impudent against her, and yet 
the men be mad enough." 1 

Throckmorton wrote two days afterwards that 
he was still denied access to the Queen, that 
Knox had returned to town, and, armed with 
precedents from Holy Writ, was expected to be 
"very austere" in his denunciations of "that 
wicked woman." " The Queen is in very great 
danger of her life, by reason that the people as- 
sembled at this Convention do mind vehemently 
the destruction of her." 2 Next day he reported 
that " the repair to this town doth begin to be 
great," and that the matter was like to be brought 
to one of four issues. Some would deprive Mary 
of her estate and her life, others would keep her 
in prison, others would have her appoint a coun- 

1 Throckmorton to Cecil, 
14th July 1567. 

2 Throckmorton to Cecil and 
Elizabeth, 18th July 1567. 

Maitland and Moray. 257 

cil of the nobles to govern the kingdom, whereas 
Lethington, " though fortified with very slender 
company," was in favour of lenity. He would 
" restore the Queen to her liberty and royal 
estate, taking securities for the preservation of 
the Prince and the banishment of Both well." 
Knox, on the other hand, was eager for her exe- 
cution. " This day being at Mr Knox's sermon, 
who took a piece of the Scripture forth of the 
book of the Kings, and did inveigh vehemently 
against the Queen, and persuaded extremities 
towards her by the application of his text." He 
had again conferred with Lethington, who had 
told him that the Lords, who had concluded 
that, except fair words, they would have little 
support or favour from Elizabeth, were still in no 
sort willing that he should see the Queen. 1 

Throckmorton, convinced now that his em- 
bassy would fail, was urgent for an answer. 
"The Earl Morton answered me, That shortly 
I should hear answer from them ; but the day 
being destined (as I did see) to the Communion, 
continual preaching, and common prayer, they 
could not be absent nor attend matters of the 
world ; for first they must seek the matters of 
God, and take counsel of Him who could best 
direct them. Notwithstanding, he promised 

1 Throckmorton to Cecil, 19th and 20th July 1567. 

258 Maitland and Moray. 

there should be no delays used." "And the 
same night, about 11 of the clock, the Lord of 
Lidington came to me at my lodgings." Leth- 
ington brought with him the answer of the 
Lords in writing, which was so far unfavour- 
able ; and then, being pressed by Throckmorton, 
frankly explained his own view. " You see our 
humour here and how we be bent. Let the 
Queen your sovereign and her council be well 
advised ; for surely you run a course which will 
breed us great peril and trouble, and yourselves 
most of all. Do you .not see that it doth not lie 
in my power to do that I fainest would do, which 
is to have the Queen my mistress in estate in 
person and in honour? I know well enough 
it is not hidden from you the extremity that 
the chiefest of our Assembly be in concerning 
the ending of this matter. You heard yester- 
day, and somewhat this day, how both you 
and I were publickly taxed in the preachings, 
though we were not named. We must be fain 
to make a virtue of necessity, and forbear neither 
to do ourselves good, the Queen, nor our country. 
And the Queen your mistress had need to take 
heed that she make not Scotland by her dealings 
better French than either it would be or should 
be. You see in whose hands resteth the power. 
You know the Frenchmen have a saying, ' II 
pert le jeu qui laisse la partie.' (He loses the 

Maitland and Moray. 


game that quits the side.) To my great grief I 
speak it, that the Queen my sovereign may not 
be abiding amongst us. And this is not time to 
do her good, if she be ordained to have any. 
Therefore take heed that the Queen your sove- 
reign do not lose altogether the goodwill of this 
company irrecoverably ; for though there be 
some amongst us which would retain our Prince, 
and amity to England's devotion, yet I can 
assure you if the Queen's majesty deal not other- 
wise than she doth you will lose all. And it shall 
not lie in the power of your well-willers to help 
it, no more than it lieth in our power now to 
help the Queen our sovereign." x The Lords had 
said in their answer that they would " not pro- 
ceed further than justice and the necessity of the 
case shall lead us." Throckmorton pointed out 
that the limitation was extremely elastic ; where- 
upon Lethington, with ironical courtesy, compli- 
mented the diplomatist on his remarkable pene- 
tration. " When I had perused this writing 
delivered to me by the Lord of Lidington, I 
asked him how far these words, ' Necessity of 
their cause,' in the end of the same did extend, 

1 "The Laird of Lething- 
ton," he adds afterwards, " hath 
travelled with sundry of the 
wisest to make them desist 
from dealing in any matter 

which doth concern the Queen " 
without effect. See also his 
letter of the 9th August to 

260 Maitland and Moray. 

and how far they might be led ? He made me 
none other answer, but shaking his head said, 
Vous estes ung renard" * 

At last, on the 24th, when the Lords, yielding 
to the clamour of the extreme Calvinistic fac- 
tion, had resolved to dethrone the Queen, and to 
crown the Prince, Throckmorton was admitted 
to an interview with the Council. " Whereupon, 
accompanied by the Lord of Lidington and 
others, I went to the Tolbooth. There I found 
the Lords set about a long table, and round 
about them a great number of barons and gen- 
tlemen, to the number of forty, bestowed upon 
seats. At my coming in they did all rise ; and 
after I had saluted and embraced such as I had 
not seen before, we sat down. Then the Lord 
of Lidington and the Earl of Morton required 
me to declare unto that assembly such matters 
as I had to open on your Majesty's behalf. Then 
I did deliver unto them all the points of your 
Majesty's instructions, pressing earnestly the 
enlargement of the Queen, and their permission 
to let me have access unto her. I was answered 
by the Lord of Lidington, who, after secret con- 
ference with the Earl of Morton at the board's 
end, said thus unto me, ' My Lord Ambassa- 
dor, to part of these matters the Lords have al- 

1 Throckmorton to Elizabeth, 21st July 1567. 

Maitland and Moray. 261 

ready these days past answered you ; and for 
the rest they pray you to have patience, that 
they may consult upon them.' Whereupon I re- 
tired myself with the same Lords which brought 
me thither." The answer of the Council was 
brought to him in the evening by Lethington. 
Mary was in strict confinement at Lochleven, 
and even Elizabeth's envoy, they had decided, 
could not have access to her. 1 

The singular anxiety shown by the Lords to 
prevent any communication with the captive 
Queen cannot but excite suspicion and surprise. 
Why, for instance, was Elizabeth's envoy ex- 
cluded ? Keports of what Mary said in her con- 
finement were freely circulated in the capital ; 
but as no one except her jailers were permitted 
to pass the doors of her prison, the words attrib- 
uted to her are, as evidence against her, of no 
value whatever. 

While this was the position of affairs in Scot- 
land, Moray was on his way home. Fearing 
that he might be detained, he had stolen away 
from Paris, and had crossed the Channel in an 
English fishing-boat. 

I am far from confident that the estimate I 
have formed of Moray's character is just. There 
must be something about the grave and reticent 

1 Throckmorton to Elizabeth, 25th July 1567. 

262 Maitland and Moray. 

leader of the " precise Protestants " a figure so 
attractive to many highly competent judges 
which I have failed to appreciate. One feels, 
moreover in Moray's case perhaps more than 
in most that he belongs to a world which has 
little in common with our own, and to a society 
with which our relations are strained. When 
we read the Order of the Privy Council, which 
(starting from the preamble that " our auld 
enemies of Ingland are in readiness to invade 
the realm, and to burn, herry, slay, and destroy 
the lieges of the same "), requires beacon-fires to 
be constantly maintained between Berwick and 
Linlithgow, " the first bail to be made and 
kepit upon Saint Abb's Head, the second bail 
to be made and kepit upon Dowhill aboun Fast 
Castle, the third bail to be put and kepit upon 
the Dounlaw aboun Spott, the fourth bail to be 
put and kepit upon North Berwick law, the fifth 
bail to be made and kepit upon Dounprenderlaw. 
the sixth bail to be made and kepit upon Arthur 
Seat or the Castel of Edinburgh, and the seventh 
bail to be upon Binningscrag aboun Linlithgow " 1 
(from whence Stirling and the inland counties 
might be duly warned), when we read this, and 
remember how in our time friendly messages 
flash quick as thought from Tay or Tweed to 

1 Register of Privy Council, i. 73. 

Maitland and Moray. 263 

Thames or Severn, and how the man who has 
slept at Perth may be at Westminster in time 
to dine ; or when we read the return obtained 
by Cecil in 1567, from which it appeared that 
though there were 512 Frenchmen and 2993 
Dutchmen in London, the Scotsmen numbered 
36 all told, 1 when we read this, and remember 
how the metropolis is now overrun by those 
who were themselves born, or whose fathers 
were born, on the further side of the Tweed, 
the enormous change that has taken place is 
vividly impressed upon our minds. The fashion 
of the world to which Knox and Moray belonged 
has passed away. It is hardly an exaggeration 
to say that we live on a different planet. 

Nor is it our environment only that has altered. 
" Hujuscemodi heroicse conjunctiones, ex quibus 
multorum populorum et regnorum salus dependit, 
per manum Domini reguntur, cujus est orbis ter- 
rarum et omnes inhabitantes eum." These words 
are taken from an official letter addressed by 
Christopher Mundt to Sir William Cecil. 2 What 
would we think of a diplomatic despatch signed 
by Lord Palmerston or Lord Salisbury conceived 
in this vein ? That it was a grotesque carica- 
ture, if not an impudent fabrication, would be 
the unhesitating verdict. Our mode of speech, 

1 Haynes, p. 462. 2 12th October 1563. Haynes, p. 405. 

264 Maitland and Moray. 

our cast of thought, have so completely changed, 
that the difficulty of understanding the men to 
whom Mundt's style was familiar, must often 
prove insuperable. I am willing to admit that 
to the inability to bridge the gulf my incapacity 
to do justice to Moray is possibly to be attributed. 
I do not think that he was a great man ; I am 
not sure that he was a good one. 

Not even the most fanatical admirer has found 
in James Stuart's career any of the brilliant 
qualities of genius. His intellect was not inven- 
tive ; he had little vivacity of mind or individu- 
ality of character. He was a considerable sol- 
dier, a competent politician ; but, with no origi- 
nal force, he was unable to stand alone, and he 
leant successively upon Knox, and Maitland, and 
Morton. His piety was sincere ; but it failed to 
curb his cupidity and his ambition. The moral 
loftiness of a pure and decent life has been not 
extravagantly eulogised ; yet it cannot be de- 
nied that he was mercenary, greedy of power, 
and that he lent himself with abject facility to 
the tortuous intrigues of Elizabeth. The pliancy 
of Lethington was not inconsistent with inde- 
pendence and self-respect ; but the shrill appeals 
for mercy which Moray, when confronted by evil 
fortune, addressed to Mary, to Elizabeth, to 
Darnley, to Bizzio, were profoundly undignified. 
To smooth the way to an earldom, he worried 

Maitland and Moray. 


Huntly into rebellion. 1 He betrayed Norfolk, 
he betrayed Northumberland, he betrayed his 
sister. Moody in temper, clmrlish in manner; 
close, cold, and calculating ; undemonstrative, 
unimaginative, he had few of the attractive 
qualities which win the regard of the people ; 
yet his patient force, his frigid obstinacy, sup- 
plied the lack of more brilliant parts. During 
his life (except by the gloomy zealots of the 
Congregation) he was little liked ; but his tragic 
end silenced the calumnies of partisans, and the 
memory of the " good Eegent " is still widely 

Moray was met at Berwick by Melville, and 
at Whittinghame by Maitland. Melville had 
been sent on in advance by Lethington to im- 
press the views held by the party he led upon 

1 No adequate explanation j 
of the incidents that ended in 
Huntly's death at Corrichie 
has yet been offered. When he 
was dead he was denounced on 
all hands ; but it must not be 
forgotten that only a few days 
before his death, the not too 
friendly Randolph wrote from 
Old Aberdeen (31st August 
1562), "Huntly is here, not 
well in his Prince's favour ; 
and how well that man doth 
deserve, your honour knoweth, 
by his upright dealing with all 

men that he hath to do with." 
Upon the whole, the explana- 
tion that he was " worried into 
rebellion" by Moray appears 
the most probable. Maitland, 
for his part, seems to have held 
that both Huntly and "the 
Duke" were far too powerful. 
The singular speech after Cor- 
richie, which Knox assigns to 
Maitland, can hardly be regard- 
ed as authentic. It is curiously 
out of keeping with the charac- 
ter of the man. 

266 Maitland and Moray. 

the Regent. " That part of the Lords " this is 
Melville's narrative " that did still bear a great 
love for the Queen, and had compassion upon 
her estate, and who had entered upon the enter- 
prise only for safety of the prince and punish- 
ment of the murder, as among others the Earl 
of Athol and Secretary Lidington, sent their 
instructions with me to my Lord of Moray pray- 
ing him in their name to behave himself gently 
and humbly with the Queen, and to procure as 
much favour for her as he could." Melville 
intimates that Moray appeared not unwilling to 
follow his advice. " But when he went to see 
the Queen at Lochleven, instead of comforting 
her, and following the good counsel he had got- 
ten, he entered instantly with her Majesty in 
reproaches, giving her such injurious language 
as was like to break her heart. We who found 
fault with that procedure lost his favour. The 
injuries were such that they cut the thread of 
love and credit betwixt the Queen and him for 

ever." l 

The severity of Moray at his interview with 
his sister has been otherwise explained. When 
he first heard that he was to be Regent he was 
" right glad" ; but he afterwards affected to hold 
back. He was anxious, it appeared, that the 

1 Melville Memoirs, p. 87. 

Maitland and Moray. 267 

Queen herself should invite him to accept the 
Eegency. The severity of his language, the hard- 
ness of his manner, were intended to intimidate 
her. Mary was to be made to believe that she 
was in imminent peril, and that her brother only 
could save her. Throckmorton's account of the 
meeting tends to confirm this impression. The 
English envoy, who had been satisfied from the 
first that " Moray will run the course that these 
men do, and be partaker of their fortunes," l was 
not surprised to learn that Moray, when he went 
to Lochleven on 15th August, "behaved himself 
rather like a ghostly father unto her than like 
a counsellor." The Queen wept bitterly ; but 
Moray was unmoved. "In conclusion, the Earl 
of Moray left her that night in hope of nothing 
but of God's mercy, willing her to seek that as 
her chief est refuge. And so they parted." 

Next morning " betime " the play was played 
out. Moray affected to relent. If it was in his 
power, her life would be spared. Nay, he would 
assure her of her life on one condition. The con- 
dition, if not expressed, was implied. 

Mary, who had spent the night in a state of 
cruel uncertainty for what she could tell, the 
scaffold might be preparing in the courtyard of 
the castle " took him in her arms and kissed 

1 Throckmorton to Cecil, 12th August 1567. 

268 Maitland and Moray. 

him, requiring him to accept the Eegency of the 

On Moray's return to Edinburgh he saw 
Throckmorton, and gave him his version of the 
interview. But when Throckmorton asked to 
be allowed to declare Elizabeth's commission, he 
was put off to a more convenient season. "The 
Earl of Moray answered, We must now serve 
God, for the preacher tarry eth for us, and after 
the sermon we must advise of a time to confer 
with you. And so the said Earl took his leave 
of me." 1 

Throckmorton was not received by Moray till 
the 21st, when the decision of the Council was 
communicated to him by Maitland. The Queen 
of England had charged them to set Mary at lib- 
erty. But the Queen of England was not their 
sovereign. They were the subjects of another 
prince. And he added with significant em- 
phasis there was no way to do Mary so much 
harm as to precipitate matters before they were 
ripe. A few days later Throckmorton was dis- 
tinctly informed that they would not permit 
him to see the Queen. 2 

Elizabeth's envoy prepared to leave. A pres- 
ent of gilt plate had been prepared for him, and 

1 Throckmorton to Cecil, 
20th August 1567. 

2 Throckmorton to Cecil, 22d 
August, 1st September 1567. 

Maitland and Moray. 269 

lie was asked to accept it, but lie refused. He 
could accept no present, he said, except from the 
Queen their sovereign. Lethington accompanied 
him to his lodgings, and again pressed him to 
accept the gift. " Whereunto I did not yield, 
but so took my leave of him." 1 

" The time was not ripe." The extreme fac- 
tion was still in power. The people as a whole 
had been taken by surprise, and were not yet 
prepared for vigorous action on behalf of their 
sovereign. The Queen must wait. She was 
safer in prison. That was the policy which 
Maitland advocated. 

Throckmorton left Edinburgh on 30th Au- 
gust 1567; Mary escaped from Lochleven on 2d 
May 1568. In Maitland's opinion, as in Mel- 
ville's, her escape was premature. " She escaped 
out of Lochleven too hastily ere the time was 
ripe." Had she had patience to wait, the nation, 
which was wearying of the Regent's rule, would 
have risen for her as one man. But her ill-luck 
was persistent. She repeated the mistake she 
had made at Carberry. 

During the intervening months we hear little 
of Maitland, who was occupied with the routine 
duties of administration. The speech which he 
delivered on behalf of Moray at the opening of 

1 Throckmorton to Cecil, 1st September 1567. 

270 Maitland and Moray. 

Parliament in December has been preserved. It 
is a skilful sketch in neutral tint, the official 
manifesto of the Regent's Government ; and 
though the evident anxiety to avoid the dan- 
gerous quicksands of controversy is very char- 
acteristic of its author, it cannot otherwise be 
taken as representing his personal convictions. 
As a more than usually interesting example of 
a " Queen's speech " to the Scottish Parliament 
of the sixteenth century, the reader, however, 
may wish to see it : 

" If at any time heretofore parliaments have 
been thought necessary or profitable, I think 
whosoever shall look into the present estate of 
this realm will judge that is not without pur- 
pose that you are assembled at this time. And 
that for divers considerations whereof every one 
is of sufficient consequence to require this gen- 
eral convention ; to wit, the establishing of one 
uniform religion ; the acknowledging of the just 
authority in the person of the King our Sov- 
ereign Lord, upon demission of the crown in his 
favour by the Queen his mother, and during 
his minority in the person of my Lord Regent, 
also by her appointment ; the reunion of the 
minds of the nobility in so far as any diversity 
of judgment has appeared in their actions the 
time of the late controversies ; the taking order 
for the cruel murder perpetrated in the person 

Maitland and Moray. 271 

of the King, our Sovereign Lord's father of good 
memory, besides many other disorders standing 
in the public state very worthy to be redressed 
by the grave judgment of you my Lords, and 
others here assembled, which I pass over in 
silence, as unwilling to weary you with an un- 
necessary recital of the points which more pro- 
perly will be brought before the Lords of Articles. 
These I have but touched, chopping at them, 
without any further overture, leaving more 
ample discourse upon every head to the open- 
ing thereof in its just time and place. Two 
points I may not omit, both tending to your 
great comfort, if with thankful hearts you will 
embrace God's benefits so liberally offered unto 
you. The first is your duty to examine what 
great success in a short time has followed upon 
a small beginning concerning matters of religion, 
and therewithal to consider God's providence 
towards you, whose care of your preservation 
in this behalf has not only been extended 
towards the safety of your consciences, although 
that is the principal and chief benefit, but also 
to the security of your lives and lands, wherein 
as he has wrought miraculously and far beyond 
your expectation, so has he exceeded the ordi- 
nary and common course of the furth-setting of 
his glory by the hands of the nations round 
about you. The quietness that you presently 

272 Maitland and Moray. 

enjoy declares sufficiently the victory that God 
by his word has obtained amongst you within 
the space of less than eight or nine years. How 
feeble the foundation was in the eyes of men, 
how unlikely it was to rise so soon to such a 
greatness, with what calmness the work has 
proceeded, not one of you is ignorant. Iron 
has not been heard within the house of the 
Lord, that is to say, the whole is builded, set 
up, and erected without bloodshed. Note it, 
I pray you, as a singular testimony of God's 
favour, and a peculiar benefit granted only to 
the realm of Scotland, that the true religion has 
obtained a free course universally through the 
whole realm, and yet not a Scotchman's blood 
shed ! With what nation on the earth has God 
dealt so mercifully ? Consider the progress of 
religion from time to time in other countries 
Germany, Denmark, England, France, Flanders, 
or where you please, you shall find the lives of 
many thousands spent before they could pur- 
chase the least part of that liberty, whereunto 
we have attained, as it were, sleeping upon down 
coddes [pillows]. As God's mercies in this be- 
half has been more plentuously poured out upon 
you than others, when you deserved nothing 
less, so if you be found negligent to put the 
talent to profit whereof he has put you in trust 
(specially when you have the time and fair 

Maitland and Moray. 273 

occasion offered), it is to be feared that by the 
dreadful plagues that shall come upon you, he 
shall teach others not to abuse the time of his 
merciful visitation. This I say not that I dis- 
pair of your zeal to go forward in the work you 
have begun, but to admonish you of your duty. 
Next to encourage you (which is the second head 
I had to touch) by reason of the fit instrument 
you have to forthset the godly ordinances you 
shall agree upon, as well in matters of religion 
as touching the Commonwealth, I mean my Lord 
Regent, whose behaviour being so well known to 
you all by the experience you have had of him 
from the beginning even to this hour, will make 
me to speak of him the more moderately, espe- 
cially in his presence. This only will I dare 
promise in his name, that he will never take 
upon him to raise himself above the law, but on 
the contrary, will submit his own person to the 
law, according to such ordinances as you may 
agree upon, without respect to his own private 
commodity." l 

One curious feature of this speech may be 
noticed ; while the tribute to the Regent is com- 
paratively cold and formal, Mary's mild govern- 
ment is warmly approved. " The true religion 
has obtained a free course universally throughout 

1 State Papers, Scotland (Eliz.), vol. xiv. No. 95. 

274 Maitland and Moray. 

the realm, and yet not one Scotsman's blood lias 
been shed ! " Otherwise it is Moray who speaks 
Moray who, yielding to the importunities of 
Knox, had resolved that there should be no 
more " mildness," and that the " crime " of heresy 
should be punished with death. 

But though an official show of friendliness was 
preserved, there can be no doubt that, even prior 
to Mary's escape, the alienation between Maitland 
and Moray had been constantly growing. Mait- 
land believed that the Regent had behaved badly 
to his sister ; he had broken his promise to deal 
gently with her, and his continued and unlooked- 
for severity had displeased the nobles. The Re- 
gent, who professed. " to direct all his ways im- 
mediately by the word of God," was shocked, or 
affected to be shocked, by Maitland's easy mor- 
ality. The Secretary might be a master of 
" worldly policy " ; but the carnal mind was 
enmity against God ; and the unsanctified gifts 
of a secular statesman were not appreciated by 
the pious pensionaries of Elizabeth. So Moray, 
as far as possible, dispensed with his services, 
and it soon became notorious that they had 
ceased to be friends. This was Moray's explan- 
ation ; but Melville assures us that the Regent 
was to blame. Moray was surrounded by para- 
sites. They were men of little character and 
inferior abilities, who, without regard to the 

Maitland and Moray. 275 

public interest, sought their own advancement. 
Lethington, on the other hand, was naturally 
unselfish, and had devoted himself with absolute 
devotion to the common good. And " his wit 
so far excelled theirs " he adds that whenever 
they found the chance they did him an ill turn. 
Yet Maitland's influence was so powerful, and 
his experience so wide, that the machinery of 
government would have come to a stop had he 
been driven from office. So Moray was mean- 
while forced to hide his dislike to a statesman 
whose commanding position was everywhere 
recognised. " The necessary evil " was the nick- 
name that the Regent gave him, and by which 
he was known among the Regent's creatures. 

Moray's authority was being slowly but surely 
undermined, when, " on the second day of May, 
upon a Sunday at even," Mary escaped from 

It is improbable that Lethington was con- 
cerned in this premature adventure. But had 
Mary reached Dumbarton in safety, he would 
certainly have exerted himself to bring about 
an accord between her and her subjects. It was 
rumoured, indeed, that even on the morning 
of Langside, Mary, " to save blood, was ready, 
upon the Laird of Lethington's motion, to tem- 
porise, and come to some composition." Her 
message, however, intrusted to a Hamilton, did 

276 Maitland and Moray. 

not reach Maitland, who, concluding that she 
had no mind to hasten a pacification, was forced 
to witness a disaster, which, had he received 
her letter in time, might possibly have been 
averted. 1 

The escape of Mary to England, however, 
changed the whole aspect of affairs. She was 
no longer a close prisoner. The calumnies from 
which she had suffered, if they were calumnies, 
would no longer be permitted to pass unchal- 
lenged. She could make her voice heard. The 
story of her wrongs would ring through Chris- 
tendom. Elizabeth had posed as the friend of 
the captive Queen, and now that the captive was 
free, what was Elizabeth to do ? The English 
Queen was not over scrupulous ; but after her 
passionate protestations of friendship she was 
bound either to aid Mary or to let her go. She 
did neither. As the cat plays with the mouse 
which she has caught before she puts it to death, 
so Elizabeth played with Mary. 

What she did was this. She offered to act as 
umpire, with the view of bringing about a friend- 
ly understanding between the Queen of Scots 
and her rebellious subjects. A charge of politi- 
cal misgovernment would be tabled pro forma 

1 Cott. MS., Cal. B. iv. 1066, ; to the same effect. Memoirs, 
quoted by Father Stevenson. p. 91. 
Nau, p. cxcix. Melville writes 

Maitland and Moray. 277 

by Moray ; and she would then decide that he 
had failed to substantiate his case. No charge 
affecting Mary's personal honour would be ad- 
mitted. This was what she told Mary. Moray, 
on the other hand, was assured that any evidence 
in his possession showing that Mary was the 
accomplice of Bothwell in the murder of Darnley, 
would be received and considered ; and he was 
urgently pressed to produce it. The bad faith 
of Elizabeth admits of no defence. 

Encouraged by these secret assurances, Moray 
went to the Conference. He brought with him 
a packet of letters and poems which had been 
found (so it was said) in a silver box belonging 
to Mary, and which he alleged were written by 
her. These were the documents which have 
since been known as the Casket Letters. 

Of these papers I shall speak more fully in a 
subsequent chapter. Here it need only be said 
that the production of some such writings was 
essential to Moray's defence. A word of ex- 
planation will make this clear. 

The Lords, with Moray at their head, were at 
the bar of the public opinion of Europe. They 
had dethroned their Sovereign ; they had kept 
her in prison ; they had threatened her with 
death. What apology could they offer ? Unless 
Mary could be discredited and dishonoured, they 
were without excuse. The plea that Mary was 

278 Maitland and Moray. 

removed for reasons of public policy because 
her government had been oppressive or corrupt 
was, in view of the unprecedented tranquillity 
that under the Lethington administration had 
existed in Scotland since her return in 1561, 
transparently futile. They might say that Mary 
knew that Darnley was to be murdered. Mary 
could retort that they themselves were the mur- 
derers, an allegation "hardly to be denied," as 
the shrewd Sussex phrased it. They could say 
that she had married Bothwell. Mary could 
reply that she had yielded an unwilling consent 
to their urgent solicitations. These pleas, it was 
obvious, would not serve their purpose ; we 
know, indeed, that when they were offered at 
York, Elizabeth told them roundly that they 
were trifling with her. It was necessary that 
fresh ground should be broken ; that a graver 
charge should be formulated, and (if possible) 
substantiated. A graver charge was formulated. 
Darnley, they declared, was killed, not because 
he had made himself obnoxious to the nobility, 
not because he was the occasion of unkindness 
with England, but because Mary who had been 
Bothwell's mistress had resolved to become Both- 
well's wife. The Lords had felt all along that 
their original defence was intrinsically weak, and 
they had taken care to prepare for its probable 
failure by more or less obscurely intimating that 

Maitland and Moray. 279 

they had another in reserve. A sentence was 
introduced into an Act of the Estates, whether 
with or without the consent of the majority of 
the members is still matter of debate, 1 which 
declared that "by divers her privie letters written 
halelie with her ain hand," she was privy art and 
part to the murder of her husband. Mary was 
taken in June ; the Act was passed in December ; 
and so far as I am aware this was the first public 
intimation of the contemplated change of front. 
The letters were not produced to the Parliament, 
and until Mary escaped from Lochleven we hear 
no more of them. They remained for another 
year in the custody of the precise and scrupulous 
Morton. It will thus be seen that, except for 
the alleged incriminating admissions under Ma- 
ry's own hand, the charge must have collapsed. 
There was no other evidence of any validity to 
show that Mary had " art or part " in Both well's 
evil deed. 

What view was taken by Maitland of the pro- 
ceedings at York and Westminster? Did he 
approve of the Conference ? Did he hold that 
Moray was acting honestly and honourably? 
Did he believe that the letters were written by 
Mary, and sent by her to Bothwell? These 

1 See the Protestation of the 
Lords at Dumbarton, Septem- 

ber 1568. (Goodall, ii. 354.) 

280 Maitland and Moray. 

questions have been often put ; they do not 
some of them at least do not admit of a con- 
clusive answer ; but it can at least be said with 
some confidence, that had Maitland entertained 
the strongest conviction that the charges against 
Mary had been trumped up by an unscrupulous 
faction, he would not have acted otherwise than 
he did. 

Maitland, who had lost all confidence in Eliza- 
beth's rectitude, appears from the first to have 
regarded the proposed Conference with marked 
disfavour. He went to York very unwillingly ; 
but Moray, who was afraid to leave him in Scot- 
land, forced him to accompany the Commissioners. 
" Moray took him to York," Mackenzie says, 
" rather out of fear than any love he had for 
him, knowing that the bent of his inclination 
was for the Queen, and that no man was more 
capable of serving her friends in his absence 
than Maitland was." l The contemporary his- 
torians write to the same effect. Buchanan, 
Melville, and Spottiswoode are agreed that Leth- 
ington, who secretly favoured the Queen, was in 
favour of " mildness." " The Secretary had long 
withstood the sending of any Commissioners to 
England, and simply refused to go on that 
journey ; yet the Eegent, not holding it safe 

1 Writers of the Scottish Nation (1722), iii. 227. 

Maitland and Moray. 281 

to leave him at home, did insist so with him 
as in the end he consented." l 

Though Maitland went to York, it may be 
said quite truly that he, who was commonly the 
spokesman of his countrymen, took no part in 
the proceedings. He was opposed, we are told, to 
" odious accusations," and he held himself aloof 
from the farce that was being played. Once only 
did he come to the front, when Cecil's favourite 
plea of an English suzerainty was put forward 
by the English Commissioners, Maitland indig- 
nantly or sarcastically protested. " The first day 
of meeting, the Duke of Norfolk required that 
the Regent should make homage in the king's 
name to the Crown of England. Whereat the 
Regent grew red, and knew not what to answer ; 
but Secretary Lidington took up the speech, 
and said that when the lands of Huntingdon, 
Cumberland, and Northumberland, with such 
other lands as Scotland did of old possess in 
England, were restored to Scotland, homage 
would gladly be made for the said lands ; but 
as to the Crown and Kingdom of Scotland, it 
was freer than England had been lately when it 
paid St Peter's pence to the Pope." 2 

Buchanan frankly admits that the Regent 
accused his sister to excuse himself. Moray, 

1 Spottiswoode, ii. 90. 2 Melville, 94. 

282 Maitland and Moray. 

indeed, had offered precisely the same plea to 
Mary when she reproached him at Lochleven 
with the injurious language introduced into the 
Act of the Estates of December 1567. "He 
answered, That he and the rest of the nobility 
could do no less for their own surety." 1 But 
although they had publicly asserted in the Act 
of 1567 that in so far as "by divers her privie let- 
ters written hailie with her ain hand, and sent by 
her to James, Earl Bothwell," it was most certain 
that she was privy to the murder of the king ; 
although what purported to be copies of the let- 
ters had been submitted by Moray to Elizabeth 
before the opening of the conference ; although 
the letters themselves had been secretly exhib- 
ited to the English Commissioners at York ; 
Moray hesitated, or affected to hesitate. His 
sister's honour was dear to him. He had done 
enough. Why should his finer feelings be 
wounded ? But Elizabeth was obstinate. She 
did not appreciate his sensitive scruples. The 
letters must be produced. She had seen them 
in June, and she had somewhat too freely ex- 
pressed her opinion that they were forgeries. 2 

1 Drury to Cecil, 3d April j ambassador. Moray's letter to 

1568 (Cotton). 

2 Jules Gau tier's Histoire de 
Marie Stuart (1809) in Scheirn., 
p. 413. The words were spoken 
in the presence of the Spanish 

Middlemore (22d June) proves 
that copies had been sent to 
London in June. (Goodall, ii. 

Maitland and Moray. 283 

But if the Lords could once be induced to lay 
them before the assembled peers at Westminster 
or Hampton Court, the breach between them 
and their mistress would be irreparable. Mel- 
ville's graphic account of the farcical scene, when 
Moray swearing he would ne'er consent consented, 
is known to be substantially accurate. " Then 
Secretary Cecil asked if they had the accusation 
there ? Yes, says Mr John Wood ; and with 
that he plucks it out of his bosom ; but I will not 
deliver it, says he, till her Majesty's handwriting 
and seal be delivered to my Lord Eegent for 
what he demands. Then the Bishop of Orkney 
snatcheth the writing out of his hand. Let me 
have it, says he ; I shall present it. Mr John 
Wood ran after him, as if he would have taken 
it again. Forward goes the Bishop to the coun- 
cil-table, and gives in the accusation. Then 
cries out the Chamberlain of England, Well 
done, Bishop, thou art the frankest fellow among 
them all. Only Mr Henry Balneaves had made 
resistance, and called for Secretary Lidington, 
who waited without the council-house. So soon 
as Balneaves had called for him he came in, and 
whispered in the Eegent's ear, that he had 
shamed himself, and lost his reputation for 

ever." 1 

1 Melville Memoirs, p. 97. 

284 Maitland and Moray. 

Elizabeth did not believe that the writings 
were genuine ; did Maitland ? It might pos- 
sibly be enough to reply that at the very mo- 
ment when the letters were being submitted to 
the Commissioners, a treaty of marriage be- 
tween Mary and Norfolk was being negotiated 
by him. We have seen that in 1565 he had 
favoured the Duke. The premier peer of Eng- 
land was a worthy suitor for Mary's hand. Spite 
of all that had occurred in the interval, his 
opinion had not changed ; and whenever he 
arrived at York the proposal was renewed. The 
serious business of the day was transacted "in 
the fields " after the Commissioners had ad- 
journed their sittings. The details of the nego- 
tiations at York were not accurately known till 
a later period, not, indeed, until Moray had 
betrayed the Duke ; but it is clear, if the depo- 
sitions of the witnesses in the Norfolk trial are 
credible, that Maitland regarded the darker 
accusations against Mary, and the evidence on 
which they proceeded, with contemptuous in- 
credulity. He had been behind the scenes ; he 
had examined the fragments of manuscript 
which the industrious animosity of Morton's 
hirelings had pieced together ; and his belief in 
Mary's innocence had not been shaken. 

John Leslie, Bishop of Ross a man whose 
zeal was untempered by discretion, and whose 

Maitland and Moray. 285 

judgment was often at fault was acting for 
the -Scottish Queen ; Norfolk was the chairman 
of the Commissioners appointed by Elizabeth 
to try the cause ; Maitland, though he secretly 
favoured Mary, was in the company of the Ee- 
gent. None of these men, it is plain, had any 
confidence in Elizabeth's good faith ; it is just 
as plain, on the other hand, that they were con- 
fident that Mary had been unfairly accused. 
One of the charges against Norfolk was that he 
had disclosed to Lethington the instructions he 
had received from Elizabeth for the conduct of 
the inquiry. A curious piece of evidence was 
produced by the prosecution. A letter had been 
addressed by Leslie to Mary on the 3d of No- 
vember, containing an account of the interview 
between Maitland and the Duke. The letter, or 
the draft of the letter, was lost by the Bishop 
(the Bishop had a knack of losing his papers), 
" and by good hap found by the Kegent." Moray 
sent it to Cecil, and it was produced at Norfolk's 
trial. " Please your Majesty" it ran " I con- 
ferred at great length with the Lord of Lething- 
ton a great part of the night, who assured me 
that he had reasoned with Norfolk this Saturday 
in the fields, who determined to him that it was 
the Queens fixed purpose not to end your cause 
at this time, but to hold the same in suspense, 
and do that was in her power to cause us to 

286 Maitland and Moray. 

persew extremely, to the effect that the Regent 
and his adherents might utter all they could to 
your dishonour; to the effect, as was supposed, 
to cause you to come into disdain with the whole 
subjects of your realm, that you may be the 
more unable to attempt anything to her disad- 
vantage ; and to this effect is all her intention, 
that when they have produced all they can 
against you, the Queen will not appoint the 
matter instantly, but transport you up into the 
country." 1 No attempt was made to show 
that Norfolk had misunderstood or misrepre- 
sented Elizabeth ; the charge against him was 
that he had disclosed what it was his duty to 
hide, " disclosed to Lidington the Queen's in- 
tention to be in certain points in disfavour of 
the Scottish Queen." ; The line taken by Mait- 
land is described in almost identical words by 
Norfolk and Leslie. The Bishop, when examined 
in the Tower on 6th November, frankly admitted 
that Mary had been led to believe that the Con- 
ference at York was simply meant to bring about 
an accord, and that this was the reason why 
Norfolk had been appointed. " In the mean- 
time, before our passing to York, Robert Mel- 
ville came to Bolton with letters sent by Leth- 
ington from Fast Castle to the Queen my mis- 

1 Murdin, p. 45. 2 Haynes, p. 573. 

Maitland and Moray. 287 

tress, to advertise her that the Earl of Moray 
was wholly bent to utter all that he could against 
her, and. to that effect had carried with him all 
the letters which he had to produce against her 
for proof of the murder, whereof he had recov- 
ered the copy, and had caused his wife write 
them, which he sent to the Queen ; and that he 
would not have come into England in the Earl 
of Moray's company unless it had been to do 
her service, and to travel for mitigation of the 
rigours intended. At Lethington's lodgings at 
York we talked almost the whole night. He 
told me that he had advised Norfolk to counsel 
the Earl of Moray and others to abstain from 
uttering any dishonest matter against the Queen ; 
but to grow to some composition among them- 
selves. The Duke spake nothing particularly of 
the marriage, but referred all to Lethington." * 
Norfolk, for his part, did not deny that he had 
conferred with Lethington. " It is also to be 
noted," he explained in his confession, " that 
although Lethington came in company of the 
.Regent, he was not unsuspected of the Regent ; " 
and in his answer to the articles of impeach- 
ment, he declared that Lethington told him at 
York that he came there not against the Queen 
of Scots, but on her part, giving him to 

1 Murdin, p. 52. 

288 Maitland and Moray. 

understand that " the Queen of Scots was not 
guilty." ] 

I propose in the next chapter to consider, in 
connection with the Casket Letters, the value of 
the evidence against Mary produced at the Con- 
ference ; now I am only concerned to show that 
the impression which that evidence had produced 
upon the mind of an unusually astute and well- 
informed observer was by no means favourable 
to the authenticity of the incriminating writings. 

Lethington's record, it may be argued, is not 
clean, and the declaration of his belief in Mary's 
innocence proves little. But there is one fact 
which those who distrust Maitland most must 
admit to be of immense significance. For it was 
immediately after the production of the Casket 
Letters that the noblest man in Scotland " the 
mirror of chivalry " went over to Mary Stuart. 
Had he believed the letters to be genuine, would 
Kirkaldy of Grange have deserted the Kegent ? 
He left Moray because Moray had lent himself 
to a fraud. The Casket Letters were published 
to make Mary impossible. They did not make 
her impossible ; in point of fact they consoli- 
dated her party. She was in better case after 
their publication than she had been before, 
Grange being only one of many who then 

1 Duke of Norfolk's Answers, 3d November 1571 (Murdin). 

Maitland and Moray. 289 

changed sides. The strong reaction that set in 
was due, I believe, to the conviction that the 
Queen had been infamously maligned. 

The relations between Maitland and Moray 
were not improved by the incidents of the Con- 
ference, and, as time passed, they became more 
and more strained. Maitland indeed had been 
guilty of one fatal imprudence, relying upon 
the Regent's honour, he had tried to interest him 
in the Norfolk marriage. Moray behaved with 
characteristic duplicity ; so long as he remained 
in England he led Norfolk to understand that the 
proposal was cordially approved by him ; when- 
ever he was safely across the Border, with Eliza- 
beth's 5000 in his pocket, he did his best to 
thwart it. It was necessary that the Scottish 
courts should declare that the marriage with 
Bothwell was invalid, or that the Scottish Par- 
liament should consent to a divorce. Without 
some such declaration of nullity the negotiations 
with Norfolk could not be concluded. A few 
months previously the Lords had been eager for 
a divorce, to which, as they then declared, the 
infatuated Queen would not consent; now, in- 
stigated by Moray, they obstinately opposed it. 
" Lethington," we are told, "raged, but pre- 
vailed not." 1 The Convention was dissolved; 

1 Calderwood, ii. 490. 

290 Maitland and Moray. 

Maitland after a parting speech, in which he 
sarcastically congratulated the Lords on their 
new-born zeal for Bothwell's domestic happiness, 
went away with Athol, putting a mountain-pass 
between himself and the Regent ; and the breach 
between them was complete. 

It had been arranged that whenever the divorce 
was granted, Maitland should see Elizabeth, and 
obtain her consent to the marriage. The match 
had been approved by Sussex and Throckmorton 
as well as by Maitland and Moray. Many of the 
more moderate men in either realm had come to 
see that while the best part of the people of 
Scotland adhered with passionate loyalty to their 
captive Queen, there could be no real peace 
until she was restored ; and Lethington held 
that the Norfolk marriage would " end all 
troubles." 1 A scheme which might have saved 
the wretched country from years of anarchy was 
wrecked by Moray's treachery. Maitland was 
kept at home ; and Elizabeth, hearing of the 
scheme from some vindictive gossip, was mor- 
tally hurt. Cecil wrote that she was as much 
offended with the manner of the compassing of 
the marriage as with the marriage itself ; 2 Nor- 
folk was sent to the Tower; and Drury was 
despatched to bring Moray and Maitland to 

1 Hatfield Calendar, 434. 2 Cecil to Drury, 9th Sept. 

Maitland and Moray. 


book. The Eegent was abjectly submissive. 
Without a scruple lie disclosed all that he knew. 
Sheltering himself meanly behind Lethington 
and the Duke, he sent Cecil the private and 
confidential letters he had received from Nor- 
folk. Maitland, on the other hand (Maitland like 
Mary was always magnanimous), treated Eliza- 
beth's petulant anger with scorn. When Moray 
urged him to accuse the Duke, he told him dis- 
tinctly that nothing would induce him to betray 
the man who had trusted to his honour. 1 After- 
wards, at the instance of Elizabeth, the solicita- 
tions were renewed ; but Maitland was obdurate. 
He assured the Eegent, with admirable gravity, 
that " there never was any mention of the said 
marriage between the Duke and him, neither by 
privy conference nor by letters." 2 Maitland's 
loyalty, however, did not save Norfolk. The 
evidence furnished by the Kegent was used with 
fatal effect at the trial ; and there can be little 
doubt that the double-dealing of Moray brought 
Norfolk to the block. 

About the same time another great English 
noble the fugitive Northumberland in defiance 
of the laws of Border hospitality, was arrested by 
Moray and lodged in Lochleven. He was kept 

1 Moray to Cecil, 9th Oct. 

2 Moray to Cecil, 7th Nov. 

292 Maitland and Moray. 

there in Mary's prison until the price put upon 
his head by Morton, the forty pieces of silver, 
had been paid by the English Government ; and 
then he was handed over to Elizabeth to die, as 
Moray truly phrased it, the death of a traitor. 
The Borderers were furious, and Scotsmen of 
every faction were shamed by a deed which hurt 
the national honour. " All Tevydale hates the 
Eegent," Hunsdon declared emphatically, and 
the feeling was not confined to Teviotdale. 

The general exasperation was increased when 
it was rumoured that Moray was engaged in 
what was regarded as a shameful traffic with 
Elizabeth. He was ready, it appeared, to barter 
Northumberland for Mary. Knox had con- 
sistently advised his friends in the Council to 
put Mary to death ; and he had quite lately 
addressed a pastoral to the Church, in which he 
had declared that " if she had suffered, according 
as God's law commandeth murderers and adul- 
terers to dee the death, the wickedness taken 
out of Israel, the plague should have ceased." 1 
Now on the 2d of January 1570 the Eeformer, 
with his one foot in the grave, wrote to Cecil 
urging him to " strike at the root." Cecil, when 
consulting upon the matter of weight that was 
about to be opened to him, was to turn his eyes 

1 Calderwood, ii. 482. 

Maitland and Moray. 293 

unto God and forget himself and his. 1 What 
was the " matter of weight " ? The " consulta- 
tion " to which Knox alluded was undoubtedly 
that which Cecil was about to hold with Nicolas 
Elphinston. Elphinston had been despatched 
from Edinburgh by Moray, on the day that 
Knox's letter was written, to open a secret 
negotiation with the English Secretary. A 
manuscript note of Moray's proposals in Cecil's 
handwriting has been preserved. The Eegent 
had been urged by Elizabeth to deliver up 
Northumberland. It was a hard request. He 
would incur the hatred of his countrymen if 
he surrendered a banished man to be slain ; but 
he was ready to consent if, in exchange for 
Northumberland, his sister the Queen of Scots 
(with an immediate advance of money and a 
present of arms and ammunition) were given 
into his hands. 2 No one at the English Court 
affected to doubt what the proposed exchange of 
prisoners really implied. Were Mary once in 
Morton's hands (and Morton had become Moray's 
" second self "), she would have short shrift. 

The shameful bargain was never completed. 
Moray's agent was still at Westminster when 
Moray was shot by Bothwellhaugh. 

1 Knox to Cecil, 2d January 2 Note of Instructions to El- 
1570. National MSS. of Eng- phinston, 19th January 1570. 
land, iii. 68. 

294 Maitland and Moray. 

A few weeks before the apprehension of Nor- 
thumberland the differences between the Kegent 
and Maitland had come to a head. Maitland on 
the rising of Parliament had betaken himself, as 
we have seen, to the Athol country, where Moray's 
writs did not run. There had been rumours for 
some time that his life was in danger ; and he had 
thought it prudent to withdraw from the Court. 1 
Moray felt that the moment had arrived when 
decisive action was necessary, and he was per- 
suaded by Morton to strike the first blow. Mait- 
land was decoyed to Stirling. " The Earls of 
Athol and Crawford were coming to the Conven- 
tion, and by the way happened to be hunting 
about Dunblane ; and Secretary Lethington being 
in their company, the Eegent suspected that they 
were practising somewhat for the Queen's return, 
which he dreaded. When the Lords were all 
convenit in the Council House, there was a gen- 
tleman callit Thomas Crawford, servant to the 
Earl of Lennox, introduced, and he, in presence 
of the Kegent and the Lords, accusit Secretary 
Lethington of the king's murder. The Secretary 
presently offered to find caution, to be answer- 
able to the laws for that crime, how soon he 
should be required thereto. Crawford replied 
that because he was accusit of treason, he should 

1 Hunsdon to Cecil, 5th August 1569. 

Maitland and Moray. 


not be permitted to find caution, but should be 
compelled to remain in prison till lie should be 
tried, either clean or guilty ; and the Lords 
voted that he should be imprisoned. The Earl 
of Athol was hereat heavily commovit, and de- 
partit from Stirling immediately. This accusa- 
tion was devisit by the Regent and the Earl of 
Morton." 1 

Maitland was immediately sent under escort 
to Edinburgh, where he was lodged in a house 
belonging to David Forrester, 2 in the immediate 
vicinity of the castle. Grange was in command 
of the castle ; but recent events had shaken his 
fidelity to the Eegent. The admiration which 
he had felt for Moray had been transferred to 
Maitland. Maitland had fascinated Kirkaldy as 
he had fascinated Elizabeth. News came to the 
castle that the Secretary was to be hardly dealt 
with ; his jailers were about to remove him to 
Tantallon, where he would be at Morton's mercy. 
Kirkaldy did not hesitate ; he came down at 
nightfall to the town with a company of soldiers, 
surrounded the house where Maitland lay, took 
him from his keepers, and conveyed him to the 
castle, which was from that time forward the 
headquarters of Mary's faction in Scotland. The 

1 Historic of King James the 
Sext, p. 42. 

2 Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 

296 Maitland and Moray. 

defection of Grange hurt Moray keenly. It was 
the hardest blow that had yet been dealt him. 
" I know that the taking of Lidington to the 
castle sunk deepest into the Eegent's heart." l 
Moray was probably ill advised when he at- 
tacked Maitland. The quarrel deepened the dis- 
trust with which the Government had come to 
be regarded since Morton's ascendancy in its 
counsels had been recognised. " Upon the ap- 
prehension of Lidington arose great speeches in 
Scotland of mischief that would follow." 2 So 
strong was the feeling, that Maitland was able to 
assure Mary a few days later that all Scotland 
was in her favour. 3 The great English nobles, 
on their side, were scandalised by what they 
held to be a crowning act of treachery. " It 
can be seen by Moray's dealing with Lethington 
what mark he shoots at. He that hath been so 
bold with his own mistress as to bereave her of 
her kingdom and liberty, hath forgotten all for- 
mer friendship. He hath a new mark in his 
eye, no less than a kingdom. God send him 
such luck as others have had that followed the 
same course." 4 Of all his old friends, Maitland 

1 Melville, p. 102. September 1569. 

2 Hunsdon to Cecil, 18th Sep- 4 Norfolk to Cecil, 15th Sep- 
tember 1569. Hatfield Calen- tember 1569. Hatfield Calen- 
dar, p. 419. I dar, p. 419. 

3 Maitland to Mary, 20th j 

Maitland and Moray. 


alone had a good word for the Eegent. " All pub- 
lic men," he told Cecil, " are subject to the malice 
of the world. The Kegent hath yielded more to 
my enemies than he would of his own nature." x 
A " day of law," as it was called, was appointed 
for the Laird of Lethington ; but when it came 
Moray did not venture to accuse him. The capital 
was crowded with Lowland and Border nobles, 
all willing and eager, after the curious fashion 
of the age, to prove Maitland's innocence with 
their swords. Maitland was fast becoming, as 
Eobertson says, " the soul of his party " ; and 
the assembly that day in the streets of Edin- 
burgh was the earliest intimation of the immense 
influence he had acquired. Moray bent to the 
storm. He was well acquainted with the custom 
of the country : he had availed himself of it on 
more than one occasion ; but he now professed 
to be scandalised by this unprecedented defiance 
of the sovereign authority. The Lords had as- 
sembled to overawe the officers of the law, and 
the trial would be postponed to a more suitable 
day. Moray rode off with Morton, and Mait- 
land went back to the castle. They did not 
meet again. 

i Maitland to Cecil, 23d Oc- 
tober 1569. Kirkaldy had the 
strongest belief in Maitland's 
integrity : the issue, he confi- 

dently assured Bedford, "will 
be to his honour and inno- 
cence " (October 23). 

298 Maitland and Moray. 

It is impossible to doubt that during the last 
month of the year 1569 during the last month, 
that is to say, of Moray's life a political crisis 
was imminent. The Regent was tottering to 
his fall. His unpopularity was unbounded. He 
had hurt the pride of the nation, and the nation 
was not disposed to forgive him. The storm was 
ready to burst, when, on 24th January 1570, he 
was shot at Linlithgow. If it be true that a 
blunder is less excusable than a crime, then no 
excuse can be offered for Bothwellhaugh. Mary's 
exultation, though very wrong, was very natural ; 
but, in so far as her true interests were involved, 
the murder of Moray was an immense mistake. 
The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the 
Church, and the pitiful death of the "Good Re- 
gent " gave fresh life to the waning zeal of the 



TT was implicitly admitted at the time by 
-*- Elizabeth and her Ministers that unless the 
Casket Letters were genuine, the graver charges 
against Mary, as the accomplice of Bothwell, 
could not be sustained. Apart from the Casket 
Letters, there was really no evidence that Mary 
was guilty in any other sense than every mem- 
ber of the Privy Council who had been present 
at Craigmillar was guilty ; and the authenticity 
of the contents of the silver box has therefore 
come to be a question of vital importance. Those 
who incline to hold that Mary was guilty of 
adultery and murder must be convinced that 
the genuineness of the Casket Letters has been 
established, and established just as the genuine- 
ness of an ancient manuscript, or the rare copy 
of a famous edition, is established. It is a bibli- 
ographical question, to be determined as other 
bibliographical questions are determined. The 
internal evidence furnished by the letters them- 

300 The Casket Letters. 

selves is not, of course, in such an inquiry, to be 
entirely disregarded ; but the external evidence 
the true history of the casket and its contents 
as affecting the statements made by those who 
produced it for a specific purpose is that which 
is virtually decisive. 1 

The inquiry is undertaken to enable the his- 
torian to answer these questions ; Is it proved 
that the letters were written by Mary ; that they 
were addressed to Bothwell ; and that they were 
(either when discovered or at any previous time) 
in his possession ? The Lords alleged that all these 
questions could be answered in the affirmative ; 
the letters were Mary's letters, were addressed to 
Bothwell, and were recovered from him. 

Such a general averment was of course insuf- 
ficient ; more specification was needed ; and to- 
wards the close of the year 1568 a detailed and 
circumstantial narrative was furnished by Mor- 
ton. The incriminating letters, he declared on his 
honour, were found in a casket which had been 
left in the custody of the Governor of Edinburgh 
Castle, Sir James Balfour, by Bothwell. Both- 
well sent a servant, George Dalglish, to receive 
them from Balfour ; and Dalglish, while return- 

1 I have treated the question j more fully than it is possible or 
of the Casket Letters in ' The expedient to do in this volume : 
Impeachment of Mary Stuart ' j and to that paper, as well as to 
(originally published in 1870 Mr Hosack's admirable treatise, 
republished in 1876 and 1883) I must refer the reader. 

The Casket Letters. 301 

ing through Edinburgh on 20th June 1567, was 
captured by Morton's retainers with the casket 
and letters in his possession. That was the 
substance of Morton's story. 

The casket was taken from one of Bothwell's 
servants, and it contained letters written by the 
Queen. It is because they were taken from Dal- 
glish that it is concluded, and reasonably conclud- 
ed, that they had been in Bothwell's possession. 

Were they taken from Dalglish ? 

Dalglish was captured on 20th June 1567 ; 
and, so far as I know, the allegation that the 
casket was found on Dalglish was not made 
until 16th September 1568 that is to say, after 
an interval of fifteen months. 1 On that day, at 
a meeting of the Privy Council, the casket was 
given over by Morton to Moray, and in the 
register of the Council, after the contents of the 
" silver box overgilt with gold " have been speci- 
fied, it is added, " which box and whole pieces 
within the same were taken and found with um- 
quhile George Dalglish, servant to the said Earl 
Bothwell, upon the xx day of June, the year of 
God 1567 years." Until 16th September 1568 
Dalglish's name does not appear in connection 

1 Mr Froude assumes (ix. gent was leaving Edinburgh 

199) that this declaration was to attend the Conference at 

made in 1567 ; in point of fact York, 
it was not made until the Re- 

302 The Casket Letters. 

with the finding of the casket ; other names 
were in the meantime mentioned ; in a manu- 
script, for instance, to which Calderwood had 
access, Bothwell's messenger is said to have 
been a Hepburn. " I find in a certain manu- 
script that the messenger was Mr Thomas Hep- 
burn, parson of Aldhamstock." l 

What did Dalglish say? Before 16th Sep- 
tember 1568 Dalglish had been executed as an 
accomplice in the murder of Darnley. He was 
therefore out of the way, and could not be inter- 
rogated. His examination, however, had been 
taken before his execution, and we might rea- 
sonably have expected that the circumstances 
attending the finding of the casket would have 
been referred to in the deposition. But strange 
to say there is no word in the deposition regard- 
ing the casket ; no question was put to him with 
reference to a momentous incident of which he 
was, if not the sole, at least the most competent, 
witness, a momentous incident, for at the time 
when he was executed, the Lords had elected to 
use the alleged contents of the casket in their 
defence, having solemnly declared, in the Act 
of Parliament of December 1567, that by Mary's 
letters to Bothwell it was evident that she was 
privy to the murder of her husband. A singular 

1 Calderwood, ii. 367. 

The Casket Letters. 303 

omission ! an unaccountable blunder ! incap- 
able, indeed, of rational explanation except on 
one hypothesis, the hypothesis that Morton was 
lying. The Lords must have known how inval- 
uable such evidence would be. They were pru- 
dent plotters, who did nothing rashly. Recalling 
the precise and technical legal language in which 
the different " bands " to which they had been 
parties were drawn, we may say of them, as 
Charles II. said of certain cautious conspirators 
of his reign, that " they committed treason by ad- 
vice of counsel." Unless the story was invented 
by Morton, the absence of any allusion to it in 
Dalglish's deposition is entirely unaccountable. 

It may be added that neither Sir James Bal- 
four, nor any of those present when Dalglish 
was apprehended, were examined. Balfour 
should have been brought to prove that he had 
received the casket from Bothwell, and that he 
gave it to Dalglish ; and some of Morton's re- 
tainers to prove that they took it from the man 
to whom Balfour gave it. 

It is obvious, therefore, that grave suspicion 
attaches to Morton's story. Morton was quite 
unscrupulous ; and it might be said with perfect 
justice (in the sense that he observed neither) 
that his word was as good as his bond. The 
chance is that he was lying. If a judicial inquiry 
had been ordered, and letters purporting to be 

304 TJie Casket Letters. 

written by the Queen had been found by an offi- 
cer of the law in Bothwell's repositories, the pre- 
sumption of their genuineness would have been 
strong. But, in the circumstances, it is folly to 
contend that the casket with its contents was 
traced into Bothwell's hands. 

The argument, of course, is not conclusive. 
Morton may have lied ; yet the letters may have 
been written by Mary. We have now to in- 
quire, therefore, whether any evidence leading 
to a rational belief in the authenticity of the 
documents they produced, was submitted by the 
Lords ; or whether, on the other hand, the whole 
circumstances do not more or less clearly indi- 
cate that a fraud was committed. 

There can be no reasonable doubt let me say 
here in passing that the fraud, if fraud there 
was, was contrived by Morton, whose name con- 
stantly occurs in connection with the letters. 
It was Morton's men who apprehended Dalglish ; 
it was Morton who for more than a year had the 
" handling " of the letters ; it was Morton who 
gave them to the Eegent when the Commission- 
ers were leaving for York. Morton one of the 
mercenaries of the Eeformation, who, like others 
of his trade, combined craft with ferocity had 
plenty of clever scamps in his pay dissolute 
lawyers, unfrocked priests who, out of the mass 
of Mary's manuscripts which were found at 

The Casket Letters. 305 

Holyrood, could have manufactured with facility 
a score of letters to a lover. The crime of for- 
gery was at that time in Scotland one of the 
most common (a state of matters possibly ex- 
plained by the fact that while the bulk of the 
community were illiterate, a small minority of 
clerks and lawyers were highly accomplished), 
and the forger who undertook to imitate the 
" Italian " handwriting of Mary, when intro- 
ducing a compromising paragraph into an inno- 
cent letter, had an easy task. 1 

1. The earliest allusions to Mary's incriminat- 
ing letters is to be found in a letter written by 
Throckmorton on 25th July six weeks after 
Carberry. If the Lords he wrote cannot by 
" fair means " rid themselves of their Queen, 
they mean to charge her with the crimes of 
Tyranny, Incontinency, and Murder the mur- 
der of her husband, " whereof they say," he 
continues, " they have as apparent proof against 
her as may be, as well by the testimony of her 
own handwriting, which they have recovered, as 
also by sufficient witnesses." Throckmorton was 
not permitted to see the " handwriting " ; the 
letters were not shown to him ; and his descrip- 

1 One of the most elaborate 
forgeries of the age was the 
' Confession of the True Chris- 
tian Faith,' issued in 1581, and 

which professed to be signed by 
the Archbishops of St Andrews 
and Glasgow, and the Bishop of 
Aberdeen. Calderwood, iii. 54. 


306 The Casket Letters. 

tion is certainly as loose and vague as it could 
well be. Whether the threats then used by the 
Lords were seriously intended, we do not know. 
Of the charge of incontinency (except with Both- 
well) we hear no more ; and the charge of 
tyranny, in view of Mary's just and gentle 
government, was ludicrously wide of the mark. 
2. Moray, who was at the time in London or 
Paris, received about the end of July from a cor- 
respondent in Scotland what purported to be an 
abstract or summary of the most important of 
the incriminating letters. According to his cor- 
respondent, the letter stated that the writer 
proposed to go and fetch her husband ; to ad- 
minister poison to him at a house on the road ; 
if the attempt to poison did not succeed, to have 
him blown up on the night of the marriage of 
one of her servants ; and it concluded by entreat- 
ing her lover, if he did not divorce, at least to 
poison his wife ! 1 It need hardly be said that 
this account does not correspond in any partic- 
ular with the letter ultimately produced. If a 
letter in these terms ever existed, it was judici- 
ously suppressed, judiciously, for it would have 
been difficult to convince any sharp-witted critic 
that so circumstantial an anticipation of the cir- 
cumstances attending Darnley's murder at Kirk- 

1 Froude, ix. 119. 

Tlie Casket Letters. 


o'-Field had been, or could have been, written 
before it occurred. 1 It is to be noted, moreover, 
that Moray had been assured by his correspon- 
dent that the letter addressed by Mary to Both- 
well " was signed with her name." In point of 
fact, none of the letters afterwards produced was 
either signed or addressed. 

3. About the end of November 1567 Drury 
was informed that at a meeting of the Lords 
who had been present at Craigmillar, it was 
agreed that the bond for the removal of Darnley, 
which had been signed by them in December 
1566, and which had been placed by Both well 
for better security in the silver casket, should be 
" turned into ashes." " The writing which did 
comprehend the names and consents of the chiefs 
for the murdering of the King is turned to 
ashes ; the same that concerns the Queen's part 
kept to be shown." It may be presumed that 
this discreet arrangement was sanctioned by 
Moray out of regard for his sister, Moray's 
tender regard for his sister's honour being the 
plea invariably put forward for any act of pecu- 

1 The Kirk-of-Field was, at 
the last moment, selected at 
Darnley's own desire. " It was 
devised in Glasgow that the 
King should have lien first at 
Craigmillar ; but because he 
had no will thereof, the pur- 

pose was altered, and conclu- 
sion taken that he should lie 
beside the Kirk-of-Field." Nel- 
son's Deposition, Goodall, ii. 

2 Drury to Cecil, 28th No- 
vember 1567. 


The Casket Letters. 

liar baseness. 1 The information Drury had re- 
ceived is otherwise corroborated ; and it seems 
indeed by no means improbable that Bothwell, 
who was keenly interested in its preservation, 
should have placed the Bond in the casket, and 
the casket in the castle. Morton declared, of 
course, that the contents of the casket had not 
been tampered with ; but if Drury's information 
was correct if when it came into Morton's 
hands it contained not the letters but the Bond, 
if when it left them it contained not the Bond 
but the letters Morton lied. What was taken 
from the casket, what was placed in the casket, 
by Morton, only Morton could tell ; and Morton 
could keep his own counsel better than most 

4. At a meeting of the Secret Council of the 
nobles who had been in league against Bothwell 
(it does not appear to have been a regular meet- 
ing of the Privy Council, as no minute of such 
a meeting is to be found in the Eegister), held at 
Edinburgh on the 4th of December 1567, an 
Act was passed in which it was declared that 
they had taken up arms against the Queen, be- 
cause " by divers her privie letters written and 
subscrivit with her ain hand, and sent by her to 

1 Moray's enemies had no tence ; " Crocodili lacrymae ! " 
belief in the sincerity of his Leslie says emphatically, 
regard for Mary ; it was a pre- Goodall, ii. 290. 

The Casket Letters. 309 

James, Earl Bothwell," l it appeared that she was 
privy to the murder of her husband. The terms 
of this minute are in many respects open to 
observation. Up to the day it was written 
4th December the Council had invariably as- 
serted that Mary was Both well's victim ; now for 
the first time they alleged that she was his 
accomplice; and the evidence on which they 
professed to proceed was her own letters. But 
the letters had not merely convinced them of 
her complicity ; it was the discovery of the let- 
ters, they add, which induced them to take up 
arms against her. So that the letters must ha,ve 
been in their possession not later than the month 
of May, the rising having occurred in the first 
week of June. Yet they never alluded to the 
letters till 4th December ; and the reasons as- 
signed for the rising in the earlier minutes of 
the Council from June till August are incon- 
sistent with the view that any such letters had 
been recovered. They afterwards asserted, as 
we have seen, that the letters (which had been 
the occasion of the rising) were not recovered 
until Dalglish's apprehension on 20th June 
three weeks after the rising had proved success- 
ful. All these variations are suspicious ; but 
the important words of the Act, as bearing on 

1 Goodall, ii. 64. 

310 The Casket Letters. 

the present inquiry, are those which allege that 
the letters were not only written but subscribed 
with her own hand by Mary. As the letters 
ultimately produced, and which came to be 
known as the Casket Letters, were not signed, 
it is tolerably certain that the Casket Letters 

were not laid before the Council. The statement 


that they were signed corresponds with the ac- 
count transmitted to Moray ; and it is clear that 
from July to December the persons who " had 
the handling of the letters " (to use Mr Burton's 
suggestive words) pretended that they bore 
Mary's name. Any one accidentally lighting 
upon such papers would naturally, in the first 
instance, turn to the signature ; and it is obvi- 
ous, from the emphatic manner in which sub- 
scription is insisted on, both in Moray's letter 
and in the Act of Council, that the Lords clear- 
ly recognised the importance that would be at- 
tached to it. But when the scraps of paper, on 
which monstrous confessions of lust and mur- 
der had been scribbled either by Mary or by 
Morton's scribes, were at last reluctantly ex- 
hibited in public, it was found that they bore 
no signature. 

5. A few days later the Estates ratified an 
Act of Indemnity in which the letters are referred 
to as "written halelie with her ain hand." The 
accurate and industrious Chalmers was of opin- 

The Casket Letters. 


ion that the letters were not laid before the 
Parliament ; but it is probable that in accord- 
ance with practice some documents were tabled 
pro forma with the Act. "We cannot tell whe- 
ther these documents were the letters ultimately 
produced at Westminster ; for they were neither 
read nor inventoried nor recorded. 1 We know, 
however, that the Peers who met at Dumbarton 
Argyll, Eglinton, Huntly, Maxwell, Erroll, 
and a score of others solemnly declared that 
the document (or documents) produced along 
with the Act, was not in the handwriting of the 
Queen. The Act was hastily passed, the loy- 
alists in the house, afraid if opposition were 
offered, that it might endanger her life, allow- 
ing it to be read without debate. Too much 
importance must not be attached to the tactics 
adopted by the Queen's adherents during her 
imprisonment, she was then in the power of 
ruthless enemies, and it was only by a show of 
acquiescence, of submission, that her friends 
succeeded in saving her life. Her jailers, indeed, 
did not scruple to inform her friends that a 
successful rising would be the signal for her 
execution. " And in case the noblemen favour- 
ers of her Majesty, had raisit ane army to that 

1 If any of the Casket Let- have been immediately after- 
ters were among the documents wards returned to Morton, 
tabled with the Act, they must 

312 The Casket Letters. 

effect, it was menacit and boasted that they 
should send her heid to them." 1 The Queen's 
party had given hostages to fortune, and were 
bound to walk warily. . 

6. Up to June 1568 it does not certainly ap- 
pear that either the letters or copies of the letters 
had been seen by any one outside the inner circle 
of Morton's intimates. After Mary's escape from 
Lochleven, however, it was necessary to take ac- 
tion of some kind ; and Moray's Council having 
had " copies of the letters translated into Scotch," 
sent them to Elizabeth by John Wood. The letters 
did not impress Elizabeth, she told the Spanish 
ambassador that they were manifest forgeries. 
One cannot but wonder that Moray, when he 
was inviting Elizabeth to express an opinion 
upon their genuineness, should have considered 
it necessary to translate them into Scots, 
French being a language with which the Eng- 
lish Queen might be presumed to be familiar. 
(Indeed, at the memorable interview at West- 
minster in October 1565, she had told Moray 
that she understood French better than Scotch.) 
Whether the copies sent in June were exact 
translations of the letters afterwards produced 
we do not know ; they were probably returned 
to Wood, and are not now in existence. 

1 The instructions agreed on at Dumbarton. Goodall, ii. 360. 

The Casket Letters. 313 

7. On 16th September 1568 the casket was 
handed over to Moray by Morton, in whose ex- 
clusive possession, as we have seen, it had re- 
mained up to that date. Dead men tell no 
tales ; Dalglish had been executed on 3d Janu- 
ary ; and now for the first time we hear that it 
had been taken from Dalglish on 20th June of 
the previous year. The receipt granted by 
Moray "testifies and declares," moreover, that 
Morton had " truly and honestly observit and 
kepit the said box, and haile writs and pieces 
within the same, without ony alteration, aug- 
mentation, or diminution thereof, in ony part or 
portion." Seeing that the casket had been in 
Morton's custody for nearly fifteen months, it 
is hard to understand how Moray, untouched 
by any sense of shame, could have emitted such 
a declaration. There had been " no alteration, 
augmentation, or diminution " of the contents ; 
yet, according to Drury, it was notorious that 
the bond for the murder of Darnley had been 
abstracted. He who excuses, accuses himself; 
and Moray's assurance that the box had not 
been tampered with since it was recovered, is 
calculated for how could Moray know ?-r- to 
intensify the suspicions it was meant to allay. 

8. When Mary reached England after the dis- 
astrous battle of Langside, Elizabeth proposed 
that the matters in dispute between her and her 

314 The Casket Letters. 

subjects should be referred to a Commission. 
Mary at once, and Moray after considerable hesi- 
tation, agreed to the reference. Mary's instruc- 
tions to her Commissioners contained the follow- 
ing article : "In case they allege they have any 
writings of mine which may infer presumptions 
against me, ye shall desire that the principals 
be produced, and that I myself may have inspec- 
tion thereof, and make answer thereto ; for ye 
shall affirm in my name I never wrote anything 
concerning that matter to any creature ; and if 
any such writings there be, they are false and 
feigned, forged and invented by themselves to 
my dishonour and slander ; and there are persons 
in Scotland, both men and women, who can coun- 
terfeit my handwriting, and write the like man- 
ner of writing which I use as well as myself, and 
principally such as are in company with them- 
selves." The Commissioners the Duke of Nor- 
folk, the Earl of Sussex, and Sir Ealph Sadler 
met at York in the beginning of October ; and 
on the 20th were secretly, and in the absence 
of Mary's representatives, waited upon at their 
lodgings by the representatives of the Confeder- 
ate Lords. " In private and secret conference 
with us, not as Commissioners, as they protested, 
but for our better instruction," the incriminating 
documents were for the first time exhibited. 
"And these men do constantly affirm the said 

The Casket Letters. 315 

letters and other writings which they produce of 
her own hand, to be her own hand indeed." It 
might be reasonably concluded from these words 
that the Scottish Commissioners represented that 
the letters then and there produced were in the 
handwriting of the Queen, and that Moray and 
Morton had ventured at last to exhibit the ori- 
ginal documents. But it would appear that this 
was not the case. The extracts which were 
made and transmitted to London by the English 
Commissioners were taken from the Scots ver- 
sion, and are identical, word for word, with the 
corresponding passages in the letters as after- 
wards printed in Scots. If we accept the lan- 
guage of the Commissioners in its literal sense, 
we are driven to hold that the first time that the 
letters were seen by any one except the Lords 
themselves they were in Scots. Be this as it 
may, however, the Commissioners cautiously 
avoided expressing any decided opinion upon 
the authenticity of the letters. " In a paper here 
enclosed," they proceed, " we have noted to your 
Majesty the chief and special points of the said 
letters, written, as they say, with her own hand, 
to the intent it may please your Majesty to 
consider of them, and so to judge whether 
the same be sufficient to convince her of the 
detestable crime of the murder of her husband, 
which in our opinion and conscience, if the said 

316 The Casket Letters. 

letters be written with her own hand, is very 
hard to be avoided." " If the said letters be 
written with her own hand," then, of course, 
there could be no doubt whatever of her guilt. 
The Earl of Sussex, after examining the letters, 
addressed a confidential letter to Cecil, in which 
the hesitation of the official letter is strongly 
emphasised. The Lords will not venture, he 
says, to accuse the Queen of murder on the 
strength of the letters they had produced, as in 
that event "she will deny them, and accuse the 
most of them of manifest consent to the murder, 
hardly to be denied, so as upon the trial on both 
sides her proofs will judicially fall best out, as it 
is thought." " And now touching my opinion of 
the matter," he continued, " I think surely no end 
can be made good for England except the person 
of the Scotch Queen be detained by one means 
or other in England." To accomplish this object 
the Queen must be proved guilty of the murder. 
But "if this will not fall out sufficiently (as / 
doubt it will not) to determine judicially, if she 
denies her letters," another line which he points 
out, and to which I will advert immediately, 
would require to be taken. 1 The sagacious and 
experienced Sussex, it is clear, had formed an 
extremely unfavourable opinion of the probative 

1 Sussex to Cecil, 22d October 1568. 

The Casket Letters. 317 

value of the documents which the Lords had 
produced at York. 

It is important to notice that the first docu- 
ment furtively exhibited at York purported to 
be a warrant from Mary requiring the nobles 
assembled at Ainslie's tavern to sign the 
" band " for her marriage. The Scotch Com- 
missioners alleged that this writing was found 
in the silver casket with the others. If such 
a writing existed, its production at the offi- 
cial inquiry would have been decisive. The 
authenticity of the other documents might be 
challenged. They had been seen presumably by 
Bothwell only. But here was a document which 
had been perused by all the chief nobility of the 
kingdom. Yet at the solemn conference at 
Westminster the warrant was not produced. It 
was never shown, except surreptitiously at York. 
Now the warrant produced at York was either 
written by Mary, or it was not. If it was writ- 
ten by Mary, it is impossible to believe that 
such a damnatory piece of evidence would have 
been afterwards withdrawn by the Lords ; if it 
was not written by Mary it was/on/ec?, and the 
Lords did not produce it at the official confer- 
ence, because they knew that the fraud would be 
immediately detected and summarily exposed. 
Falsum in uno, falsum in omnibus, is a maxim 
that applies here with irresistible force. One of 

318 The Casket Letters. 

the writings was fabricated ; if one, why not all ? 
That no such warrant was produced at Ainslie's 
was afterwards admitted by Buchanan himself. 1 
The fact, indeed, that at a later period Mary un- 
dertook, at their desire, to pardon the Lords for 
having signed the " band," sufficiently disproves 
the allegation that she had, by a writing under her 
hand, invited them to sign it. The mysterious 
and otherwise unaccountable disappearance of 
the fabricated warrant is one of the ugliest facts 
which the defenders of the Lords have to face. 

9. The Conference adjourned to Westminster 
(where the whole members of Council were added 
to the commission), and in the absence of Mary's 
Commissioners, the " original" documents (which 
it now appeared were written in French) were at 
last produced, with evident hesitation and re- 
luctance. Would they stand the severe scrutiny 
to which they might be subjected ? The alarm 
of the Lords was natural but needless. Copies 
of the compromising letters were taken, and these 
copies were left with the Council ; " which writ- 
ings," the minute bears, "being copied, were 
read in French, and a due collation made there- 
of as near as could be by reading and inspection, 
and made to accord with the originals which the 
said Earl Murray required to be redelivered." 

1 History, Book xviii. 26. 

The Casket Letters. 319 

No examination of the letters (with the view of 
testing their genuineness) was made at West- 
minster; all that was done was to collate the 
copies with the originals, which were immediately 
returned to the Lords. When the letters had 
been duly copied and compared, the Council, . 
along with six of the great nobles, were sum- 
moned to meet at Hampton Court. The results 
of the Conference were laid before them. The 
casket was again produced. Then, but not till 
then, the letters were compared with genuine 
letters addressed to Elizabeth. Why this vitally 
important examination should have been delayed 
till the last moment, and why, when it did take 
place, it should have been hurried over, are facts 
which have not been explained. No expert was 
called in, and the examination was suspiciously 
perfunctory and unscientific. " It is to be 
noted," Cecil frankly admits, " that at the time 
of the producing, showing, and reading of all 
these foresaid writings, there was no special 
choice nor regard had to the order of the pro- 
ducing thereof; but the whole writings lying 
altogether upon the Council table, the same were 
one after another showed rather by hap, as the 
same did lie upon the table, than with any choice 
made, as, by the natures thereof, if time had so 
served, might have been." 

It is known that great pressure was brought 

320 The Casket Letters. 

to bear upon the assembled Peers to induce them 
to return a verdict unfavourable to Mary ; but 
the utmost that could be extracted from them 
was a prudent recommendation that Elizabeth 
should not admit Mary to an audience, " as the 
case now did stand" that is to say, upon the 
ex parte evidence which had been fraudulently 
laid before the Council by Mary's enemies in her 
absence. On hearing of what had taken place, 
Mary at once demanded that she should have 
access to the pretended letters ; but after a good 
deal of fencing this was finally denied to her, 
and the Lords were hurriedly sent back to Scot- 
land with the letters, being informed by Eliza- 
beth before they left that " there had been no- 
thing sufficiently produced nor shown by them 
against the Queen their sovereign, whereby the 
Queen of England should conceive or take any 
evil opinion of the Queen, her good sister, for 
anything yet seen." 

It has been said, however, that Mary, through- 
out the Conference, manifested suspicious eager- 
ness to prevent the production of the letters. 
The charge, which is a serious one, appears to 
be due to a misunderstanding. 

The private conference to which Elizabeth 
proposed, and Mary agreed, that her cause should 
be referred, was purely political in its constitu- 
tion and objects. Mary was to table a charge 

The Casket Letters. 321 

pro forma against her revolted subjects, and they 
were to defend themselves on public grounds. 
The conference was intended to be the instru- 
ment by which an arrangement between Mary 
and the Lords should be carried through. But 
from the first Mary declined to allow any matter 
affecting her own honour to be introduced. If 
such matters were introduced, her Commissioners 
were instructed to protest, and withdraw from 
the Conference. Elizabeth was a party to this 
agreement. The bond was broken by Moray. 
He went secretly to the English Commissioners 
at York, and showed them copies of the Casket 
Letters. Mary's Commissioners were not per- 
mitted to be present, did not know, indeed, for 
some days that such a breach of faith had been 
committed. But the moment that Mary heard 
of the plot, she took up a position from which 
she never wavered. Though her own Commis- 
sioners were scarcely so firm, Mary herself always 
said, " I consent to this private Conference with 
a view to an amicable adjustment of the diffi- 
culties between my subjects and myself. If, 
however, you bring against me any charge 
affecting my honour, accommodation is impos- 
sible. Thenceforth it must be war to the knife. 
And to no secret conclave can I consent to refer 
such an accusation. I must be heard in public 
before the Queen, the assembled Peers of Eng- 


322 The Casket Letters. 

land, and the Ambassadors of Christendom. I 
will not trust such a question to the decision of 
any meaner tribunal. But I solemnly declare 
to the world that the pretended letters are not 
mine, but have been fabricated by my accusers. 
Let them be produced, and let me be furnished 
with copies. I pledge my word of honour to 
prove that they have been forged, no such let- 
ters having ever been written by me." Her own 
letter, when she heard of Moray's treachery, is 
extraordinarily powerful and pathetic. " We 
have received the eik given in by the Earl 
Moray and his accomplices. And where they 
charge us with unnatural kindness toward our 
son, alleging we intended to have caused him 
follow his father hastily ; howbeit the natural 
love the mother beareth to her only child is 
sufficient to confound them, and needs no other 
answer ; yet considering their proceedings by- 
past, who did him wrong in our womb, intend- 
ing to have slain him and us both, there is none 
of good judgment, but may easily perceive their 
hypocrisy, how they would fortify themselves in 
our son's name till their tyranny were better 
established." And then she instructs her Com- 
missioners to obtain copies of the letters, so that 
she may establish her innocence. 1 But her re- 

1 Mary to her Commissioners, 
19th December 1568. Hatfield 

Calendar, 383. 

The Casket Letters. 323 

quest was disregarded. No a public inquiry 
would not be granted. The letters were pro- 
duced in her absence. Then she said, "Show 
me the letters give me copies. I will under- 
take even before a tribunal which has disre- 
garded the plainest rules of justice and fair 
dealing, to manifest that they are malicious 
inventions." But again No. The letters were 
always withheld from her (even though the 
French ambassador, at her instance, urgently 
expostulated with Cecil), and she was never 
allowed an opportunity to expose the deception. 

It has been said again that she did not mean 
seriously to defend herself. She would go before 
the assembled peers, and on her honour as a 
sovereign princess declare that she had been 
falsely accused. She was a great actress, and 
she desired only a great stage on which to dis- 
play her histrionic powers. 

But it is forgotten that the moment she heard 
of the charges, she set herself to obtain the evi- 
dence that was available. She got Huntly and 
Argyll to declare in writing what they knew ; 
and had it not been for the " protestation" thus 
obtained, we should never have learnt some of 
the most important facts of the case as telling 
against her accusers. This single document 
changed in one moment the whole aspect of the 
controversy. It was thenceforth impossible to 

324 The Casket Letters. 

maintain that the Scotch Protestant nobles were 
not privy to the plot against Darnley. How 
much more might have been discovered had a 
really honest investigation been undertaken ? 
It is forgotten, besides, that, rather than have 
the inquiry stifled, she ultimately consented to 
allow the case to proceed before the same secret 
tribunal. But her appeal was rejected. Eliza- 
beth would neither hear her defence, nor permit 
her to see the letters. The Council, when hard 
pressed, declared that no charge against Mary 
had been substantiated, and despatched Moray 
and his famous casket across the Border in the 
depth of winter, with 5000 in his pocket to 
pay his expenses. 

It was a severe winter, one is rather glad to 
know, and Moray, who (to use his own words) 
" would have had his throat cut before he got to 
Berwick," had he not pretended to favour the 
Norfolk marriage, 1 must have had an anxious 
journey. Hunsdon, who was waiting to convey 
him across the disturbed Border country, com- 
plains bitterly of the weather and of the people. 
" Here hath been so great a frost as, notwith- 
standing the gentle thaw, if repairs had not been 
done to the bridge, a great piece of it had lain in 

1 Moray to Burleigh, 1569. 
(Harleian) Robertson, i. 449. 

Moray quite frankly admits his 

The Casket Letters. 325 

the sea. I was fain to have it watched three 
nights, and rose one night, at two of the clock in 
the morning, to bring company to save it, when 
men were afraid to stand upon it ; so that unless 
some order be taken for it, the next great frost 
it will away. In this town of Berwick it is not 
the least want that there is never a physician 
this side of York if indeed there be any there. 
There are great troubles in Scotland, and great 
likelihood of greater, for every man doth what 
he lists. There used to be seven or eight houses 
of strength in the neighbourhood, to which the 
warden might repair upon occasion of service, 
but now there is not one that a man can lie dry 
in, the halls serving for the sheep and cattle at 
nights, and the chambers being used to store hay 
and corn." 1 

Mary's conduct during the Conference was 
thus, as far as I can judge, perfectly frank, 
simple, and straightforward, whereas Elizabeth's 
was marked by constant duplicity, there being 
abundant evidence to show that the investiga- 
tion was conducted dishonestly. The Earl of 
Lennox, for instance, opportunely appeared at 
Westminster as one of Mary's accusers ; years 
afterwards Lady Lennox admitted that her hus- 
band had been induced to appear by the urgency 

1 Hatfield Calendar, pp. 389, 397. 

326 The Casket Letters. 

of the English Council. If Elizabeth had ever 
been sincerely anxious to befriend the sister 
queen whom rebellious subjects had deposed, 
that time had passed before the conference met. 
Her instructions to Norfolk have been already 
referred to ; and the remarkable letter from Sus- 
sex to Cecil throws a yet clearer light upon the 
spirit in which the inquiry was thereafter con- 
ducted. " The object of the Council should be 
to retain Mary as a prisoner in England, and 
this could be effected only by rendering the 
breach between her and the Lords irreparable. 
If they could be induced to assail her honour, 
it was highly improbable that any truce, however 
hollow, could thenceforth be patched up between 
them. The pretended letters could not, indeed, 
be safely subjected to public investigation and 
hostile criticism, but they might be privately 
produced, and their tenor would be noised abroad. 
The mere rumour that such letters had been pro- 
duced would cast a slur upon Mary's reputation, 
and lessen her influence in England, where she 
was growing dangerously powerful." Such was 
the substance of this remarkable communication ; 
and whoever attentively follows the subsequent 
proceedings of the Conference the anxiety of 
the English Council to secure the production of 
the letters, and their steady, persistent resolu- 
tion to prevent Mary and her friends from exam- 

The Casket Letters. 327 

ining them will find that the advice was acted 
upon to the letter. 

The Council, as we have seen, did not venture 
to condemn the Queen, nor to declare that the 
letters were genuine ; but even if such a declara- 
tion had been made, what would it have been 
worth ? There are certain plain rules regarding 
the admission of evidence which are invariably 
observed in the courts of every civilised country. 
That reasonable precautions shall be taken to 
prevent documents from being tampered with ; 
that in the event of challenge they shall be com- 
petently authenticated ; that there shall be no 
break in the chain which connects them with 
the accused ; that the accused shall be duly in- 
formed of their nature, and that he or his advis- 
ers shall have free access to them, it has been 
found that the enforcement of some such rules 
as these is essential to the exclusion of false tes- 
timony, and to the righteous administration of 
justice. To call an investigation in which all 
these safeguards were notoriously disregarded a 
fair and honest attempt to arrive at the truth, is 
worse than absurd. 1 

10. For several years nothing further is heard 
of the letters. They were first made public in 

1 The Minutes of the Confer- 
ence have been frequently 
printed. They will be found 

in Murdin, Goodall, and else- 

328 The Casket Letters. 

1571, appended to the 'Detectio Marise Reginse' 
of Buchanan, which was published in the Latin 
and Scots languages during that year, a French 
translation appearing in 1572. There is no reason 
to suppose that the Latin version of the ' Detec- 
tion ' was not revised by Buchanan as it went 
through the press ; and there is every reason to be- 
lieve that the Scots version (published by author- 
ity of Cecil) was made by Buchanan himself, as it 
bears constant traces of his vigorous and sinewy 
style, and is perhaps the most perfect specimen 
of the classical Scots which we possess. The 
French edition, in spite of some transparent 
mystification, stands substantially in the same 
position, it was the fruit of the obscure but 
sleepless activity of Cecil. Most of the letters 
were printed in the Scots and French editions, 
three only in the Latin. It was presumed for 
two hundred years that the French versions 
thus jointly guaranteed, as it were, by Buchanan 
and Cecil were copied verbatim from the French 
originals, alleged to have been written by the 
Queen. A not unnatural presumption ! But 
in 1754 a philological contribution to the con- 
troversy was made by Goodall, which, for in- 
genuity and research, deserves to rank along- 
side the works of the great critics who have 
exercised their wits on classical antiquity. He 
proved that the Scots letters were the original, 

The Casket Letters. 329 

and that the French had been translated from 
the Scots, or from the Latin. This he did mainly 
by showing that the Scots, so to speak, were 
idiomatic and proverbial, and that in the 
French the Scots proverbs and idioms had been 
slavishly and clumsily reproduced. He showed, 
moreover, that the grossest blunders had been 
made by the translators. " I am irket (wearied) 
and gangand to sleep," said the Scotch writer. 
The Latin translator, reading "nakit " for " irket," 
wrote " Ego nudata sum ! " The French trans- 
lator, exaggerating the blunder, exclaimed, " Je 
suis toute nue ! " I am stark naked ! a nice 
condition in which to write a letter to a lover 
during a winter night ! Goodall held that 
the discovery entitled him to say that as the 
French letters which had been produced against 
Mary had undoubtedly been translated from 
another language which she barely understood, 
he had demonstrated that she did not write them, 
and that they must have been fabricated by 
those who produced them. This was so unanswer- 
able that a change of front became necessary. 
The French versions, which for two hundred 
years had been regarded as the identical letters 
which had come from the pen of Mary Stuart, 
and which had been published as such by Buch- 
anan and Cecil, were courageously repudiated. 
Admitting that Goodall was right, Mary's assail- 

330 The Casket Letters. 

ants replied, " True, the French versions 
appended to the ' Detectio ' are translations 
from the Scots ; but these are not the letters 
which were produced at Westminster ; the ori- 
ginal letters in French are lost : what we now 


possess are translations into French made from 
the Scotch translation." The weakness of the 
explanation is obvious. The only motive which 
could have induced Buchanan and Cecil to re- 
translate the Scotch translation into French 
would have been the loss of the original French. 
Buchanan, however, was the literary apologist 
of the Confederate Lords ; and there can be no 
doubt that they placed all the materials in their 
possession at his disposal to enable him to com- 
pile his apology, " by him only for his learning 
penned, but by them the matter ministered." 1 
Is it conceivable that he was refused access to 
the original documents by those in whose defence 
he was engaged? Then it is beyond question 
that Cecil was in possession of the French copies 
which were left at Westminster. Yet we are 
required to believe that both Cecil and Buchanan 
refused to use the originals which were in their 
own hands, and preferred to publish a version 
which was translated from a translation. It is 
surely more reasonable to hold that the existing 

1 Goodall, ii. 377. 

TJie Casket Letters. 331 

French versions were exact reproductions made 
at the time of the letters produced at West- 
minster. But then this reasonable view forces 
us to adopt one or other of two conclusions, 
either that the Queen first wrote the letters in 
Scots and then translated them into French, 
which is incredible ; or otherwise that they were 
written for her (that is to say, forged), which 
is by no means incredible. 

But it is to be observed that while as regards 
those portions of the letters from which Goodall 
mainly derived his illustrations, no reply to him 
is possible, yet there are other portions of certain 
letters, and indeed whole letters, to which his 
argument does not apply. As regards certain 
letters or portions of letters, it has been shown 
that the French in which they are written is 
idiomatic, and that the Scotch versions have 
been made from the French. Now, assuming 
that we have in every case the letters produced 
at Westminster, it would appear reasonable to 
hold (1) that the vernacular French was not 
written by the person who wrote the corrupt 
French, and (2) that the letters in which ver- 
nacular French is mixed with corrupt French 
have been in some way tampered with. It has 
been observed, moreover, that it is the corrupt 
French, not the vernacular French, which con- 
tain the passages that compromise the Queen. 


Tlie Casket Letters. 

How are these singular facts to be explained ? 
One plausible explanation has been suggested, and 
one only. ' The Confederate Lords had obtained 
on the night it may be that Holyrood was 
sacked notes, letters, diaries, poems, in the 
handwriting of Mary. These were subjected to 
a process of manipulation. Equivocal phrases, 
compromising allusions, were introduced. The 
work was rudely done, so much so that the in- 
terpolated passages can even yet be detected. 
But something more was needed, some more 
unqualified admission of guilty intimacy and 
shameless sin. The Glasgow letter was either 
wholly or almost wholly fabricated. This is the 
letter (or letters) from which Goodall has taken 
his most pertinent illustrations ; and if this letter 
is shown to have been manufactured, the case 
against the Queen breaks down. 1 

I will only venture to add here that (so far as 
I am able to form an opinion) the effect of the 
production of the letters before the Council, and 
of their subsequent publication in Buchanan's 
" little books," has been extravagantly exagger- 

1 The persistency with -which 
the Scots version appears and 
reappears is certainly very re- 
markable. A Scots version 
was sent to Elizabeth in June 
1568 ; a Scots version was ex- 
hibited at York ; the French 

versions published by Buch-^ 
anan and Cecil were taken from 
the Scots. The Scots is the 
substance, the French is the 
shadow ; and the question nat- 
urally arises Was' it ever 
anything more 1 

The Casket Letters. 


ated by later historians. The letters did not 
alienate Mary's friends either in England or 
Scotland. The great nobles, the statesmen and 
soldiers to whom they were exhibited, did not 
cease to support her. Many of them, like 
Lethington and Grange, sooner or later laid 
down their lives for her. Darnley's own mother, 
writing to Mary in 1575, besought her to trust 
in G-od that all would yet be well, " the 
treachery of the traitors who accused you being 
now better known than before." 1 It appears, 
therefore, to be a not unfair inference, that even 
when they originally appeared, the letters were 
not sincerely believed to be authentic by those 
behind the scenes. Cecil was extremely anxious 
that they should be published, and surrepti- 
tiously encouraged their publication ; but the 
verdict of the Council had been substantially in 
favour of Mary; and the surreptitious publica- 
tion, though it may have temporarily inflamed 
provincial animosities, did not influence the 
settled convictions of Catholic Europe. Long 
before Mary's tragical death the Casket Letters 
had virtually passed out of remembrance, even 
the violent rhetoric of the ' Detectio ' having 
failed to give them vitality as a permanent 
political force. 

1 Countess of Darnley to 
Mary, 10th November 1575. 

National MSS. of England, III. 

334 The Casket Letters. 

11. Contemporary copies of certain of the let- 
ters have been preserved in two of our great 
libraries. Three are in the Record Office ; three 
are at Hatfield. Of the letters in the Record 
Office which are supposed to incriminate the 
Queen, Mr Markham Thorpe, who prepared the 
Calendar of State Papers relating to Scotland 
during her reign, emphatically declared, in his 
admirable introduction, that looked at in every 
light they were open to the gravest suspicion, 
" abundance of insinuation, much assertion of 
guilt, but proof nowhere." The members of the 
Historical Commission who are preparing the 
Calendar of the Papers at Hatfield have arrived 
substantially at the same conclusion, none of 
the series can be used, they say, as direct evi- 
dence against Mary, and some of them have been 
suspiciously manipulated. In these circum- 
stances an accomplished and impartial scholar 
like Mr Mandell Creighton is driven to conclude 
that " at present the balance of evidence seems 
to tend to the conclusion that the letters were 
forgeries." 1 

I have now completed my examination of the 
historical testimony, the external evidence of 

1 Age of Elizabeth, p. 78. 
The original documents have 
long disappeared. They were 
returned to Morton in 1571, af- 

ter the ' Detectio ' had been pre- 
pared (Goodall, ii. 91); some 
years later they were in the 
Earl of Gowrie's possession. 

The Casket Letters. 335 

the authenticity of the letters ; the examination 
of the internal evidence need not detain us for 
any time ; and it will tend to brevity if one of 
the letters only the Glasgow letter or letters 
is selected for criticism. The letters must stand 
or fall together (for if it was possible to fabricate 
one, it was possible to fabricate all) ; and if this 
letter, which is by far the most incriminating, is 
shown to be spurious, the critic's work is done. 
Besides the Glasgow letter, a considerable num- 
ber of papers in prose and verse were "found" 
in the casket. The verses are possibly in the 
main genuine; the Lords had enjoyed abundant 
opportunity to ransack Mary's private cabinets ; 
and assuming that it was proposed to fabricate an 
incriminating letter, it was obviously advisable 
to shuffle it up, and pass it off along, with writ- 
ings that were authentic. It was advisable for 
two reasons (1) Because the attention of those 
examining the documents would be diverted 
from a close, exhaustive, and dangerously exclu- 
sive examination of the fabricated letters ; and 
(2) Because, assuming that the forgery was not 
palpable, the genuine documents would incline 
the mind to a readier reception of the others. 
(The anticipation, as we know, was verified, the 
mass of writings having been heaped upon the 
Council table, and examined at random.) If the 
verses were written by Mary (as is by no means 

336 Tlie Casket Letters. 

impossible), they were certainly written at an 
earlier period of her life. There is nothing in 
their form or treatment at least to connect them 
with a frantic passion for Bothwell. The woman 
who wrote them was playing with love. The 
poetical language of a soul ablaze with passion 
would have been very different. 

A court of law is disposed to regard internal 
evidence, which is proverbially inconclusive, with 
scant respect ; but it is seldom that internal 
evidence is so conclusive as in the case of the 
Casket Letters. It requires the fine critical 
acumen of a Bentley or a Jebb to detect the cor- 
rupt passages in a classical text ; but we might 
as easily believe that " Hamlet " was written by 
Bacon, as that the Glasgow letter was written 
by Mary. Mary's letters, as a rule, are refined 
in tone, elegant in expression, harmonious in 
texture and composition. The Glasgow letter is 
coarse, awkward, and the merest patchwork. Of 
the Queen's singular felicity of expression there 
is no trace whatever, a rustic wench trying pain- 
fully to write a letter to a sVeetheart would have 
succeeded better. To my ear, moreover, there is 
a false note in the passion which it affects to dis- 
close ; it is crude, theatrical, violently overdone. 
" Have ye not desire to laugh to see me lie so 
well ? " is a question that neither Mary nor 
Shakespeare would have put. A woman like 

The Casket Letters. 337 

Mary, taking such vile work in hand, would have 
gone to the end in dogged silence, feeling the 
degradation of her treachery too keenly to boast 
of it even to her lover. Then there are passages 
so offensively unsavoury (as that which describes 
how Lord Livingston took her about the body 
when she was warming herself against him) that 
they could only have been written by a woman 
who had forfeited her self-respect, and lost all sense 
of decency. Apart from the letters, there is no 
proof that Mary was such a woman ; and of the 
lurid and consuming flame of debasing passion 
which, if we are to believe the letters, made her 
for a day, a week, a month, the bond-slave and 
humble minister of Bothwell's ambition, there is 
no trace elsewhere in her life. It may be con- 
fidently affirmed, indeed, that Mary Stuart was 
the last woman in the world who would have 
prostrated herself in abject submission at the 
feet of a lover. 

When we come to look at its form, as apart 
from its substance, the fragmentary character of 
the Glasgow letter is perhaps its most unac- 
countable feature. The different paragraphs into 
which it is divided are not joined together in 
any true sense. It lacks the unity of form as 
much as the unity of feeling. In the first place 
there is a paragraph of plain business-like nar- 


338 The Casket Letters. 

rative, which might have been addressed to the 
Council (as perhaps it was), the account of the 
journey to Glasgow and of her reception there. 
In the second place there is a paragraph devoted 
to a curiously and incomprehensibty minute re- 
lation (incomprehensible except in one view) of 
her conversations with Darnley. In the third 
place there are some violent explosions of jeal- 
ousy and remorse. In the fourth place there 
is a table of contents. In the fifth place there 
is the interjected paragraph about Lord Liv- 
ingston eminently nasty. In the sixth place 
there are further explosions. In the seventh 
place there is the suspicious apology for the 
peculiarity of the handwriting, " Excusez mon 
ignorance a escrier excusez la briefuete des car- 
acteres." And in the last place there is another 
table of contents, which contains, inter alia, 
this unaccountable intimation, " Eemember me 
of the Lord Bothwell ! " 

It is hard to believe that this singular and 
incoherent jumble could have been a love-letter 
addressed by Mary to Bothwell, and we may 
safely assert that such another love-letter does 
not exist. On the other hand it has been argued 
that no forger would have ventured to introduce 
such a multitude of petty allusions and irrelevant 
details, as occur in the report of the interviews 
with Darnley, into a fabricated document ; and it 

The Casket Letters. 339 

may be conceded that a prudent forger would 
have invented as little as possible. But if he 
had pages of Mary's handwriting jottings, half- 
finished memoranda, leaves from journal or diary 
in his possession, or if he derived his informa- 
tion from an independent and presumably authen- 
tic narrative, why should he have hesitated to 
use his materials with absolute freedom ? How 
far the letter was fabricated, how far it consisted 
of memoranda in Mary's handwriting, it is im- 
possible to say ; but there is a large portion of it 
which can be detached from the rest, and assigned 
to the original author. For it is a remarkable 
fact perhaps the most remarkable in this re- 
markable history that another report of the 
voluminous conversations with Darnley is in 
existence. Eobert Crawfurd, of whom we have 
heard before, was in attendance on Darnley at 
Glasgow, and in compliance with a request from 
Lennox so he said he noted down at the time, 
or shortly afterwards, the particulars of the con- 
versations between his master and the Queen. 
Here then is Mary's alleged report to Both well on 
the one hand, and Crawfurd's report (obtained 
through Darnley, for he was not present) on the 
other. It is marvellous that two reports of the 
same conversation should have been preserved ; 
but still more marvellous that the two should be 
identical word for word. They agree, as Mr 


The Casket Letters. 

Burton has innocently admitted, " with over- 

whelming exactness ": 


" Ye asked me what I ment 
bye the crueltye specified in 
my lettres ; yat proceedethe 
of yow onelye, that wille not 
accept mye offres and repent- 
ance. I confesse that I have 
failed in som thingis, and yet 
greater faultes have bin made 
to yow sundrye tymes, which 
ye have forgiven. I am but 
yonge, and ye will saye ye have 
forgiven me diverse tymes. 
Maye not a man of mye age, 
for lacke of counsell, of which 
I am very destitute, falle twise 
or thrise, and yet repent, and 
be chastised bye experience ? 
If I have made any faile that 
ye wul think a faile, howsoever 
its be, I crave your pardone, 
and protest that I shall never 
faile againe. I desire no other 
thinge but that we may be 
together as husband and wife. 
And if ye will not consent 
hereto, I desire never to rise 
futhe from this bed. There- 
fore, I pray yow, give me an 
answer hereunto. God know- 
eth how I am punished for 
making mye god of yow, and 
for having no other thought 
bat on yow. And if at ainie 
tyine I offend yow, ye are the 


" Ye ask me quhat I mene be 
the crueltie conteint in my let- 
ter ; it is of yow alone, that 
will not accept my offeris and 
repentance. I confess that I 
have faillit, but not into that 
quhilk I ever denyit ; and 
sicklyke hes faillit to sindrie 
of your subjectis, quhilk ye 
have forgiven. I am young. 
Ye will say that ye have for- 
given me ofttymes, and yit yat 
I return to my faultis. May not 
ane man of my age, for lacke of 
counsell, fall twyse or thyrse, 
or in lack of his promeis, and 
at last repent himself, and 
be chastisit be experience ? 
If I may obtain pardoun, I 
proteste I shall never mak 
faulte agane. And I craif na 
uther thing bot yat we may be 
at bed and buird togidder as 
husband and wyfe ; and gif ye 
will not consent heirunto I sail 
nevir ryse out of yis bed. I 
pray yow tell me yoor resolu- 
tion. God knawis how I am 
punischit for making my god 
of yow, and for having na uther 
thoucht bot on yow ; and gif at 
ony tyme I offend yow, ye are 
the caus ; because quhen ony 
offendis me, gif for my refuge 

The Casket Letters. 


cause; for that when anie offend- 
ethe me, if for mye refuge I 
might open mye minde to yow, 
I would speak to no other ; but 
when ainie thing is spoken to 
me, and ye and I not beinge 
as husband and wife ought to 
be, necessitee compelleth me 
to kepe it in my brest," &c. 

I micht playne unto yow, I 
wold speiks it unto na uther 
body ; but quhen I heir ony 
thing, not being familiar with 
yow, neccessitie constrains me 
to keip it in my briest," &c. 

I venture to affirm that the two most skilful 
reporters in the world, sitting side by side, and 
recording the words as they fell from the lips of 
the speakers, could not have preserved a more 
perfect verbal accord. It is clear as day, indeed, 
that the two documents were drawn by the same 
hand, were coined in the same mint. But what 
does this imply ? The persons for whom Craw- 
furd's report was prepared were the persons who 
afterwards produced the Glasgow letter ; and 
the inference that the letter was (so far) copied 
from the deposition appears to be irresistible. 
Where the rest of the letter was taken from, we 
have at present no means of knowing. 1 

This is the case that has been made against 

1 Here again the question of 
the original language of the 
letters comes in. Is it conceiv- 
able that that part of the 
(Scots) Glasgow letter which 
corresponds word for word with 
Crawfurd's deposition could 
have been translated from the 

French ? This is to reverse 
the natural order, which is, 
1. Crawfurd's deposition ; 2. 
Crawfurd's deposition copied 
into the Scots version of the 
Glasgow letter ; 3. The Scots 
version of the letter translated 
into French. 

342 The Casket Letters. 

the Casket Letters. I do not say that it is con- 
clusive. Though it is extremely unlikely that 
the letters were written by Mary, yet it cannot 
be asserted with absolute certainty of conviction 
that she did not write them. The historian, 
however, is not required to address himself to 
the solution of problems which the lapse of time, 
or the animosity of partisans, may have rendered 
insoluble. He has to consider only whether cer- 
tain documents, to which, ever since they were 
first produced, acute suspicion has been held to 
attach, can be accepted by him as material on 
which it is safe to build. For my own part, I am 
slow to believe that any entirely candid and 
cautious inquirer will henceforth be willing to 
accept the responsibility. He will hold, on the 
contrary, that the contents of Morton's casket 
have been insufficiently authenticated, and that 
Mary must be condemned, if condemned at all, 
upon other evidence. 



rfIHE death of Moray is a distinct landmark in 
-^- the contest which had been begun when 
the Confederate Lords first rose against their 
Sovereign. Maitland had for some months now 
been regarded, both at home and abroad, as the 
leader of the Queen's party; on Moray's death 
the " King's men " had to look about for a new 
leader, and the new leader was found in Morton. 
The " dark and dangerous " Douglas was a man 
eminently suited to the time ; and yet, from 
almost every point of view, his character was 
detestable. He was insatiably greedy. It was 
said of Moray that his avarice was like the bot- 
tomless pit ; the saying might have been applied 
far more truly to Morton. He was notoriously 
and shamelessly profligate. He had no lawful 
issue ; but the richest benefices in Scotland were 
held by a score of needy bastards. He was hard, 
cruel, unscrupulous. He had as little mercy for 

344 The Douglas Wars. 

man as he had respect for woman. His rivals 
died like flies; and his Castle of Dalkeith to 
which he sullenly withdrew when the evil mood 
was on him was, in popular parlance, "the 
Lion's Den." But he was a strong man, a 
man of no mean political sagacity who went 
straight to his mark. He had immense patience, 
unflinching firmness, dog-like tenacity. Though 
feared and hated, he was implicitly obeyed. 
The earlier Regents Moray, Lennox, Mar 
were puppets in his hand. He held Scotland 
in an iron grip. He brought the lawless Border- 
ers to their senses, " a matter not heard nor 
seen in many ages before." 1 In spite of his 
vices, in spite of his crimes, he was the trusted 
leader of the Congregation : and though he 
treated the preachers with cynical insolence, 
and though his Tulchan Bishops were a scandal 
to the Church, yet in a sense he was always true 
to the Reformation. His lewd conversation, his 
filthy jests, his shameless greed, his rapacious 
exactions, his unclean life, were forgiven ; for 
he was one of the " elect," and do what he chose 
he could not forfeit his birthright. 

The funeral of the Regent was the occasion of 
a great gathering of the Lords in Edinburgh ; 
and by them when the ceremony in St Giles' 

1 Murdin, 203. 

The Douglas Wars. 345 

was over Maitland was brought down from the 
Castle, and, being placed at the bar to answer 
the charge preferred against him by Crawfurd, 
was promptly acquitted. " After his coming he 
made ane perfect oration, in sic sort and manner, 
that all the Lords, yea, his verry enemies, judgit 
him to be innocent thereof." * 

Moray had been in a sense the lawful Eegent : 
but Moray was gone ; and the course was now 
clear for Mary. There would be no peace for the 
distracted country until their lawful Sovereign 
was restored. This was Maitland's view, and it 
was the view of Grange, and Huntly, and Hume, 
and Herries, and Hamilton, and three-fourths of 
the peers and people of Scotland. But peace 
and prosperity in Scotland under Mary was a 
prospect which Elizabeth did not relish : nor did 
Morton ; and between them they made peace 
impossible. The Scottish Anarchy was their joint 

Elizabeth for fifteen years was the evil genius 
of Scotland. During all that time she did her 
best to make anything like orderly or settled 
government impossible. She did not desire, as 
so many of the English kings had desired, to ex- 
tend the English border from the Tweed to the 
Tay. It would have been better, perhaps, if her 

1 Diurnal of Occurrents, 158. 

346 The Douglas Wars. 

army, which more than once was sent to scourge 
the wretched country, had been permitted to 
remain. But whenever Mary's party had been 
sufficiently weakened and disheartened so as to 
make the fratricidal conflict more equal Sussex 
or Drury withdrew to Berwick, leaving the exas- 
perated kinsfolk to fight it out among themselves. 
It was Elizabeth's policy that Scotland should be 
( not a subject province but) weak, distracted, 
anarchical ; and for more than three years after 
the Eegent's death the policy was brilliantly 
successful. In the Devil's dance that was known 
as the Douglas Wars, the figures are obscure 
and phantasmal, like those that wheel round the 
Witches' Caldron on Brocken or Blasted Heath ; 
the air is lurid and murky, heavy with poisonous 
fumes, on which, as on the dull February sky, 
gloomy shadows are projected, " battles arrayit, 
spears and other weapons, and as it had been 
the joining of two armies." Morton's ferocity 
was infectious; men who under other circum- 
stances might have shown themselves liberal 
and humane were guilty of the abominable 
atrocities practised by savage tribes. For all 
this Elizabeth was responsible. 

It has been alleged, indeed, that during these 
years Elizabeth was honestly anxious for Mary's 
restoration to her kingdom. She was her true 
friend. My own belief is, that whatever Eliza- 

The Douglas Wars. 347 

beth's professions might be (and while they 
blinded Maitland they even misled Cecil), she 
had implicitly resolved from the outset that the 
captive should not again be Queen. If Mary 
were to go back to Scotland, it must be as a 
criminal to be tried for her offences by a tribunal 
where the law was interpreted by Morton and 
the Gospel applied by Knox. Had the Scots, on 
the other hand, been left to themselves, it can 
hardly be doubted that Mary would have recov- 
ered her crown. With the Border clans at her 
back, Scott, Ker, and Hume on the eastern, 
Johnstone, Jardine, and Maxwell on the western 
marches, with all the great nobles, Chatelherault 
and Argyll, and Athol and Huntly, cordially 
united under Maitland, the issue after Moray's 
death could not have been doubtful. But when- 
ever Mary's star rose above the horizon it was 
obscured by the thick cloud of Elizabeth's vin- 
dictive animosity and jealous alarm. Whatever 
course Mary's friends might take was construed 
into an affront. Morton and Mar were prepar- 
ing to make such terms for themselves as Mait- 
land would listen to when the English army was 
thrown across the Border. Ferniehurst and 
Branxholm were wrecked, the lands of Herries 
were harried, the castle of Chatelherault was 
burnt over his head. Negotiations without end 
were begun, protracted for months, and finally 

348 The Douglas Wars. 

broken off on some frivolous pretext, which, 
however, had been carefully provided. When 
Morton came to London to ratify the treaty of 
peace which the two Queens had virtually con- 
cluded, he suddenly discovered that he had no 
powers, and his apology was promptly accepted 
by Elizabeth. Semper eadem, always the same 
story, a policy of equivocation, of procrasti- 
nation, of evasion, a policy, however, which, 
through all its devious windings, had one end, 
and one end only, in view, the ruin, directly 
or indirectly, of Mary Stuart. If Morton would 
make an end of her, well and good ; if not, she 
would be kept in an English jail till she died. 

It was the bad faith of Elizabeth in detaining 
Mary that Maitland most bitterly resented. He 
would have rejoiced to humiliate her; "to make 
the English Queen sit upon her tail, and whine 
like a whipped hound," would have been true 
enjoyment. (It may well be doubted, however, 
whether the cautious diplomatist used these 
words ; they are attributed to him, if I am not 
mistaken, on the authority of Sussex, and it was 
not likely that he would make Sussex his con- 
fidant.) It is manifest, indeed, that Maitland 
seriously believed all along that Mary in her 
English prison was not safe ; and in a letter to 
Leslie he impressed upon the impulsive Bishop 
the absolute necessity of cautious dealing. What- 

The Douglas Wars. 349 

ever conditions were imposed by Elizabeth must 
be accepted by Mary, if thereby her liberation 
could be secured. " We are to yield in every- 
thing, and receive humbly at English hands 
what they please to give us. It breaks my heart 
to see us at this point that Englishmen may 
give us law as they will. Yield as little as ye 
may, but yield to all rather than she remain 
a prisoner, because I think her life always in 
danger in medio nationis pravce. You write of 
a secret purpose touching her escape. I pray 
you, beware, for albeit I would be content to be 
banished from Scotland all the days of my life 
to have the Queen of Scots obtain her liberty 
without the Queen of England's consent (for the 
great discourtesy she has used toward her) rather 
than that she should have it with her consent, 
and I the best Earldom in Scotland because 
I would she might be even with the Queen 
of England," yet he could not advise Mary 
to press that way unless she was well assured 
there was no hidden snare. " I fear deadly the 
craft of her enemies," he adds. " Save her life 
whatever ye do, and sure I am that God with 
time shall bring all other things to pass to our 
contentment. But that point lost can never be 
recovered, and then all is gone." 1 Yet it is true 

1 Maitland to Bishop of Ross, 17th August 1570. 

350 The Douglas Wars, 

that Maitland suffered himself to be deceived by 
Elizabeth ; the letters she continued to write to 
him " more gentle and loving than ever she 
did " were not thrown away ; for to the very 
end he believed that Mary would be restored, 
and that Elizabeth would come to see that her 
restoration was inevitable. 

Maitland's efforts to avert the evils that were 
approaching did not succeed ; and it is fair 
matter for argument whether, even if Mary with 
the help of Elizabeth had been restored, the 
Scottish anarchy, in one form or other, could 
have been averted. But no one can doubt that 
Maitland was sincerely convinced that through 
Mary, and through Mary only, was provisional 
truce or permanent peace to be obtained. 

On the Eegent's death Maitland lost no time 
in approaching the English ministers. The two 
arguments which he never failed to press during 
the next three years were that the party in 
favour of Mary's return embraced all the great 
and ancient houses of the realm, and that under 
Mary only could a stable government be formed. 
We gather from his letter to Cecil of the 26th 
January that the political consequences of Moray's 
death (if he should die) had been discussed by 
them during Maitland's attendance at the West- 
minster Conference. 

The Douglas Wars. 351 

" SIR, This strange accident (whereof I think 
before this time you are more than sufficiently 
advertised) hath given me occasion presently to 
write unto you, and to reduce to your remem- 
brances some discourses past betwixt us, the 
time of our being the last year in England. In 
the which, so far as I could conceive, you and I 
both agreed in judgment that, howsoever for a 
time our State here in Scotland might have a 
course, it could be of no long continuance, unless 
the dangerous division standing betwixt the 
Queen and nobility of this realm were brought 
to some accord, by means of the Queen's Majesty 
your Sovereign. We could easily espy the neces- 
sity of a reconciliation, but the conditions were 
not so facile to be framed, which might be honor- 
able for the one, and sure for both the parties. 
As I can remember, we did touch in communi- 
cation some accidents that might fall out and 
be stumbling-blocks, as the death of the King, 
of the Regent, and such like, whereof the peril 
might grow to us ; and whereupon we did collect 
the necessity of an accord. Now to my great 
grief one of the points which I ever feared has 
come to pass, and so we do remain in the briars ; 
at which end to find an issue I see not, unless 
your mistress take some convenient course both 
for herself and us : You know the estate of 

352 The Douglas Wars. 

Christendom, how it doth stand for the present, 
better than I ; You know the state of your mis- 
tress's affairs ; upon which two you may well 
collect, which way will best serve her turn, as 
well presently as hereafter. I dare not presume 
to prescribe you any certain rule, nor yet am I 
myself tied to any resolute conclusion ; but I 
trust when you shall remember how the world 
goeth you shall not think it impertinent yet to 
consider if there remain any means of an accord. 
You know of old what reverence I bear to your 
person, and how highly I do esteem your judg- 
ment which maketh me to submit mine unto 
yours ; so that I am rather to be directed by 
you (if you find any aptness in me) than to 
trouble you with anything I can invent : Always 
in me you shall find no change of affection, if 
either the Queen's Majesty or you will employ 
me in anything may tend to the conservation 
of the mutual intelligence betwixt the countries 
and common wealth of both ; Howsoever some 
have gone about to persuade you of the contrary, 
I pray you keep one ear for me ; and whensoever 
you will examine my doings, you shall find by 
my answers to you, that I shall disavow nothing 
that is true, nor disguise my dealings, but simply 
avow wheresoever I have been a medlar in any- 
thing ; as also that I have never been privy to any 
practice whereby, directly or indirectly, prejudice 

The Douglas Wars. 353 

hath been meant to the Queen's Majesty, her 
person or estate. Yours at commandment, 


the 26 of January 1569." 

The letter which Maitland addressed to 
Leicester in March was much more explicit. 
He explained that there were two factions in 
the country, the King's and the Queen's, the 
King's being supported by three or four of the 
meanest among the Earls, by several of the 
lesser barons, and by the larger burghs ; the 
Queen's by the next of blood, the first in rank, 
the most ancient and the most opulent of the 
nobles, and by a great number of the inferior 
sort throughout the realm. The mandate which 
Moray held had lapsed, and his removal was 
daily adding to the number of those who fa- 
voured Mary's restoration, and who were already, 
indeed, more than a match for their rivals. If 
the Scots were left to themselves, there could be 
no doubt of the issue. But would they be left 
to themselves ? There were ominous rumours, 
which, however, he refused to credit, that an 
English force was to be thrown across the Border 
to weaken and intimidate the party who were 

1 Maitland to Cecil, 26th Jan. 1570. Haynes, 575. 

354 The Douglas Wars. 

loyal to their lawful sovereign. Elizabeth would 
be ill advised to sanction such a proceeding, for 
it would drive the loyalists, whose alliance was 
courted both by France and Spain, to seek aid 
elsewhere. "This, for my own part, I abhor, 
and desire never to see a stranger set foot on 
this land ; yet I know not what point necessity 
may drive us to ; as if men in the middle of the 
sea were in a ship which suddenly should be set 
on fire, the fear of burning would make them 
leap into the sea, and thereafter the fear of the 
water would make them cleave again to the ship ; 
so for avoiding a present evil, men will many 
times have recourse to another not less danger- 
ous." If Elizabeth, however, would proceed by 
treaty instead of by force she might reconcile 
the factions, and save the State. 1 Towards the 
close of the month, a letter " dyted by the 
Secretar," and signed by a score or more of the 
Queen's Lords Huntly, Argyll, Athol, Home, 
Erroll, Eglintoun, Crawford, Marischal was 
directed to Elizabeth, in which she was assured 
that she would find it unprofitable if she joined 
her fortune with " a small portion of this realm/' 
when she might have the whole at her devotion. 2 
The conditions of more than one agreement be- 

1 Maitland to Leicester, 20th 
March 1570. 

2 Calderwood, ii. 547. 

The Douglas Wars. 


tween the Queens, which would be acceptable to 
all parties in Scotland, were sketched by Mait- 
land; and though in one form or other they 
involved the restoration of Mary, the most wary 
of the soldier-statesmen of England could not see 
that they were " amiss." 1 

Maitland's anxious efforts to pacify the con- 
tending factions would probably have been 
successful, had it not been for Elizabeth. 
Elizabeth could not afford to see the Scots 
united, and the smouldering flame of faction 
was stirred up by her envoy, who a bird of 
evil omen was again in the northern capital. 
Though Kandolph's crafty counsels and obscure 
intrigues were keenly resented by moderate 
politicians like Argyll, Morton lent a ready ear 
to proposals which flattered his avarice and his 
ambition. The seeds of division were quickly 
sown. The English faction met at Morton's 
either in Edinburgh or at Dalkeith ; while 
Maitland's house in the Meal Market was the 
rendezvous of the Lords who were well affected 
to Mary. " In the month of March the Lords of 
baith parties comperit in Edinburgh ; the Queen's 
faction lugeit themselves near the Castle, and 
were callit by the other party in derision The 
Lords of the Meal Market; for the Secretaire 

1 Many " plats " were attri- 
buted to Lethington, and two 

of them at least are in his hand- 


The Douglas Wars. 

also lugeit there." We learn from Buchanan 
that during this time so many Lords met daily 
at Maitland's house, to which he was confined 
by the gout, that it was commonly called the 
School, and he the Schoolmaster. The negotia- 
tions between the parties, after being carried on 
for some time, broke down ; Morton and Eliza- 
beth between them made a reasonable composi- 
tion impossible ; and before Maitland and his 
friends had time to quit the capital, the invading 
army was across the Border. His mortification 
at the failure to arrive at a settlement was 
extreme, and Elizabeth's unreasonableness was 
severely denounced. "It is a mystery to me," 
he wrote to Cecil with unusual bitterness, 
" whereof I cannot conceive the reason, that so 
many noblemen who would be glad to do the 
Queen of England service, should be altogether 
neglected by her for the pleasure of a few, 
inferior to them in every way, whereby in their 
defence they are constrained to seek foreign aid." 
" The faction that aspires to rule without reason, 
and can be content neither with fellowship nor 
union, lays the whole burthen on me." He was 
still ready, however, to do his utmost for peace, 
and to let bygones be bygones. "Every way 
be sure I shall not be Lot's wife." 1 

1 Historic of King James the 
Sext, 51. Buchanan, Book xv. 

Maitland to Cecil, 17th May 

The Douglas Wars. 357 

Mainland's conviction that Mary's party was 
the stronger appears to have been well grounded. 
Huntly was supreme in the northern counties, as 
was Athol in the central, and Argyll in the 
western, Highlands. Huntly, Athol, and Argyll 
were far, no doubt, from the political centre (so 
that the fray was sometimes over before they 
had time to rally their retainers) ; but the im- 
mense possessions of the Hamiltons lay in the 
immediate neighbourhood of the great southern 
burghs, while the passes leading to England were 
held by warlike clans who had been stricken with 
shame by Moray's perfidy to Northumberland, 
and were now devoted to Mary. Eandolph, 
who came to " kindle the fire," was forced un- 
willingly to admit that so far as he could judge 
the Queen must finally prevail. 1 Soon after his 
election, the new Regent Lennox was elected 
in July advised the English ambassador that it 
was impossible for him, without English aid, to 
resist the enemies who were closing round him, 
Huntly from the north, the Hamiltons from 
the west, Herries, Lochinvar, Buccleuch, Fernie- 
hurst, from the Border dales. 2 Sussex was 
thereupon instructed (on the pretext of pun- 
ishing the Dacres) to divert the threatened 

1 Melville, 107. 

2 Lennox to Randolph, 31st July 1570. 

358 The Douglas Wars. 

attack, by ravaging the Western Borders. 1 And 
there is a well-known " memorial " by Cecil, pre- 
pared early in March six weeks after Moray's 
death in which, on the ground that Mary's 
faction was rapidly increasing and the King's 
rapidly decaying, he recommended that the army 
should be instructed to enter Scotland and 
"chastise her Majesty's rebels." 2 

The Secretary's instructions, as we know, were 
carried out to the letter. Sussex swore that 
before the light of the coming moon was passed 
a memory should be left in Scotland which the 
youngest child would not forget. " Ninety 
strong castles, towers, and dwelling-houses, with 
three hundred towns and villages, were utterly 
destroyed." The Kers, the Scotts, and the 
Humes were " harried " because they were 
Mary's friends. So were the Hamiltons ; so 
were the Maxwells. The devastation in Lanark- 
shire was " in sic sort and manner as the like 
in this realm has not been heard before." The 
" poor tenants and friends " of Fleming and Liv- 
ingstone on the Monkland were so "herried that 
nae heart can think thereon but the same must 
be dolorous." 3 At length Sussex, half ashamed 
of the havoc he had wrought, ordered the army 

3 Diurnal of Occurrents, 

Elizabeth to Sussex, 26th 

July 1570. 

Hatfield Calendar, 465. 

ir t 

The Douglas Wars. 359 

home. Maitland with ironical courtesy con- 
gratulated him on his success. There had been 
nothing like it, he said, for a hundred years. 
" You tell me that her Majesty's forces are re- 
voked. I am glad thereof more than I was at 
their coming, and indeed it is not amiss that they 
should have a rest and a breathing-time between 
one exploit and another. This is the third 
journey they have made in Scotland since 
your Lordship came to the Borders, and if the 
amity and good intelligence between the realms 
which now prevail would permit me to use a 
phrase not unknown to our forefathers, I would 
say that they have reasonably well aquitted 
themselves of the duties of ' auld enemies,' and 
have burnt and spoiled as much ground within 
Scotland as any army of England did in a year 
these hundred years by-past, which may suffice 
for a two months' work, though you do no more. 
The rude people of Scotland are apt to speak 
rashly, but I am content to use a phrase of your 
own language with which you are acquainted, 
and to acknowledge that you have not been idle 
in the pursuit of her Majesty's rebels." 

Meantime Maitland had quitted the capital. 
He was far from ^rell : the disease of which he 
died had already declared itself : but his spirit 
was unbroken and his enthusiasm contagious. 
" Ay sen syne," Buchanan wrote in 1571, "he 

360 The Douglas Wars. 

has been at all convocations of the King's pro- 
fessit enemies in Scotland in Dunkeld, in Athol, 
in Strabogie, in Braidalbine, and elsewhere." 
While Lauderdale was being ravaged by Forster 
(old Sir Kichard was very angry, and abused the 
Englishmen in a spirited poem), William Maitland 
took up his abode at Blair of Athol, where he 
continued to reside till the autumn of the year. 
" Before the army returned to Edinburgh " the 
English army which had been engaged in the 
destruction of Hamilton " the Bird in the Cage 
took his flight from the Castle of Edinburgh, 
and lighted at length in the Blair of Athol, where 
he remained practising his auld craft till the 
month of August. Confound him and his mali- 
cious mind ! " 1 The Bird in the Cage, it may 
be observed, was one of the many sobriquets 
applied to Maitland by the satirists of the 
Regent's faction: 

" A baleful bird that wantis wings to fle, 
Nurrist in a nest richt craftie wyles to hatch." 

" Mitchell Wylie's sore feet " was also from this 
time a favourite theme for the brutal wit and 
ferocious invective of the writers of Lekprevik's 
broadsheets. The refrain of the well-known 
ballad in which " The crookit leads the blind " is 
directed, I presume, as much against the bodily 

1 Bannatyne's Narrative, 22. 

The Douglas Wars. 361 

as against the mental infirmity from which the 
Secretary was understood to suffer. 1 

It was at Blair of Athol that most of the 
interesting letters addressed by Maitland to his 
numerous correspondents during his absence from 
Edinburgh were written. Surrounded by the 
faithful clansmen of his brother-in-law (the Earl 
had married Margaret Fleming), a difficult pass 
between him and the fanatical burghers of Perth 
and Dundee, he could hatch his " craftie wiles " 
at leisure in this secure and secluded retreat. 
His friends joined him there, and at the Council 
of Balloch above Dunkeld, the Secretary, it was 
rumoured, had enough to do to conciliate the 
rivalries of the various leaders, "which per- 
ceived of the Great God the Secretaire, he laid 
sic a plaster to that wound of variance as he 
could for the time." 2 The rumour was possibly 
unfounded ; but it correctly indicated the popu- 
lar feeling that no man or woman who had been 
brought into close contact with Maitland could 
resist the singular persuasiveness of his " fell 
tongue." " You know who it is that enchanteth 
all the wits of Scotland," Randolph wrote to 
Cecil with significant emphasis. According to 
Calderwood, Maitland was " the soul of all the 

1 All these broadsheets were ! 284. 
printed in 1570. Thorpe, i. ! 2 Bannatyne, 38. 


The Douglas Wars. 

godless band," and Sussex declared, at the begin- 
ning of the conflict, that " his party can do 
nothing without him." x To their " Grit God 
the Secretaire " the nobles lent a ready ear ; and 
the Duke and Argyll and Huntly and Athol were 
as wax in his hands. " The Lord Hume, as a 
man desperate, came to seek comfort from his 
Grit God the Secretaire." " The Thursday there- 
after was the Duck brought furth of the Castle, 
and made his harangue to the Grit God the 
Secretaire, before whom he poured forth his 
prayers." 2 A secular satirist might have been 
permitted to write in this fashion without rebuke ; 
but coming from John Knox's own servant it 
sounds just a little profane. It is only fair to 
remember, however, that Bannatyne, in spite of 
his devotion to his master, was a born fool. It 
was difficult to make Knox ridiculous ; but 
" gude godly Mr Eichard " on more than one 
occasion nearly attained the distinction. 

The curious letters which passed between 
Maitland and Sussex at this time, in which 
Sussex assailed, and Maitland justified, his con- 
duct to Mary, are more than ordinarily interest- 
ing. They do not throw much light indeed 
upon the reasons which induced him to consent 

1 Kandolpli to Cecil, 2d May 
1570. Caldervvood, ii. 544. 

Sussex to Cecil, 9th May 1570. 
2 Bannatyne, 11, 13. 

The Douglas Wars. 363 

to the Queen's temporary deprivation ; but they 
certainly show that Moray's rigorous policy to 
his sister was from the first resisted and resented 
by Maitland. Mr Tytler fancied that Maitland's 
plea that a complete explanation must needs 
" touch more than himself," referred to his royal 
mistress ; to me it seems much more likely that 
he alluded to the obligation of secrecy by which 
(though his official relations with the Lords had 
since ceased) he held that he was still in honour 
bound. The letters have not been hitherto 
printed ; and, as specially characteristic of the 
writer, one or two of them may here be given. 
It is necessary to select, for Maitland's pen was 
never more busy than when he was rusticating 
in Athol. Bannatyne complains, indeed, that 
during the Secretary's absence, " the posts gat 
no rest between the Castle and the north." 

Maitland had been in communication with 
Sussex for some time, but the earlier letters 
have no special interest. The letter of 2d June 
is the first to which attention need be directed. 
It is a reply to one from Sussex written on 30th 
May, in which the English general had animad- 
verted on Maitland's, and justified his own, con- 
duct. If Sussex Maitland wrote back had 
procured the liberation of his brother, and the 
restitution of his goods, he would remember a 
good turn, " for in good faith I do not so much 

364 TJie Douglas Wars. 

regard the restitution of the goods, as that the 
Border men on both sides should have occasion 
to think that Rowland Forster might unpunished 
do an open injury to me and mine." 

Sussex had accused him of dealings with the 
French and of discourtesy to Elizabeth. The 
truth was Maitland replied that he had 
written freely to Leicester and Cecil, but had 
received no answer. " Wherein I might well con- 
ceive they intended not to burden me with any- 
thing, and therein I have cause to praise their 
discretion that had so good consideration of the 
inability of my person, which hath need rather 
of repose than to be continually tossed with the 
tale of public affairs." What mind he had to 
draw the French or any other strangers into 
Scotland could be gathered from his own letters. 
On one point he had been always explicit; he 
altogether misliked that Elizabeth by any man's 
persuasion should go about to suppress or dis- 
credit the greater part of the nobility for the 
pleasure of another faction inferior to them in all 
respects. He had also wished that by her Ma- 
jesty's means such an accord might be made 
between the Queen of Scotland and her people 
as might stand with the honour of the Queen of 
England, the surety of the whole nobility of 
Scotland, and the continuance of the amity be- 
twixt both realms ; so that thus no foreign prince 

The Douglas Wars. 365 

should have occasion to meddle in any matter 
concerning the Isle. This was the mark he had 
always shot at, whatever his enemies might say, 
and his enemies would no doubt say the worst of 
him. " Upon two points all my actions shall 
rest ; the quietness of my native country and 
conservation of the amity between England and 
Scotland. Whatever may serve to these ends, 
I shall set forward to my uttermost." 

The excuse made by Sussex that he would 
have withdrawn the English army had his 
overtures been accepted by Maitland was one, 
he remarked, that took him by surprise. He 
had anxiously considered every proposal that 
had been made, and would do so again, " for 
in my dealing you shall find no subtlety." 
He was glad to hear that the army was to 
be recalled. They deserved a breathing-time ; 
for they had done more harm in one year 
than any army of the " auld enemies " these 
hundred years by-past. Though he was afraid 
that the Scottish nobles would not now be 
so ready to treat as before their country was 
spoiled and their houses ruined, yet he would 
do his best. " I find no time unfit to do good." 

The efforts made by Sussex to have Maitland's 
property restored were not successful ; but in 
his letter of 10th June Maitland thanks the 
English general warmly for the trouble he had 

366 The Douglas Wars. 

taken. " So that finding no lack of goodwill 
in your Lordship, I remain for my part fully 
contented, although I should never recover one 
groat's worth." He had not yet heard from 
Huntly, Argyll, and the Duke ; for they were 
far asunder ; but he hoped to do so shortly. 
For himself he was prepared to accept the 
conditions proposed by Sussex one point only 
reserved, that no rigour should be practised 
to the Queen of Scots to content a faction 
in Scotland ; a faction which without Eliza- 
beth's countenance would forthwith come to 
nought. " I trust your Lordship hath not as 
yet found any lack of plainness in my writ- 
ing ; no more you shall in my doing. If there 
be anything amiss it is that I write sometimes 
too frankly. I pray you find no fault therein, 
for it is my nature both to speak and to write 
liberally to such as I am familiar with." He 
added that the more Sussex saw of the Lords 
who were against Mary the less he would like 

Maitland's letter of 16th July is probably the 
most interesting of the series. It discusses with 
much animation the speculative puzzles which 
had been submitted by Sussex. The English 
general had pointed out that Maitland, who had 
at one time, as he contended, been urgent for 
rigorous dealing with Mary, was now on her 

The Douglas Wars. 367 

side. Could that be unjust to-day that yes- 
terday was just ? Were good and evil to be 
judged by the affections of the moment ? 
Sussex in support of his thesis had appealed 
not to the Scriptures only, but to the Civil 
Law and Moral Philosophy, subjects, of which 
Maitland declared possibly with undue hu- 
mility that he himself knew little. Yet small 
learning, he continued, was needed for his 
justification. " But first, I must complain that 
you require in me a more firm cleaving to an 
opinion which hath once entered into my head 
than were fit. Your Lordship will not pro- 
fess that you have never changed your mind 
even in matters of great consequence. I re- 
member to have read in a good author, one 
who in his time was no 'prentice in the poli- 
tick science (being from his youth brought up 
in that trade), that it was never praised in 
those that were excellent in the government of 
the commonwealth to remain perpetually in 
one opinion, but, as in sailing, it is a chief 
point of the master's art when ruling his 
ship to direct his course as the stormy blasts 
of wind and weather shall permit," so in po- 
litical matters a certain judicious pliancy was 
needed. Zeno indeed had held that a wise man 
never changed ; but not being a wise man, he 
would take the liberty to judge indifferently of 

368 The Douglas Wars. 

things according as he saw likelihood of suc- 
cess. Had he been a scholar in philosophy, 
he would not have directed his study after 
the intractable discipline of the Stoics, but 
would rather have become a student in that 
school where it is taught that wise men's 
minds must be led by probable reasons the 
doctrine that the disciples of Plato and Aris- 
totle had embraced. " That same firm, certain, 
unchangeable, and undoubted persuasion which 
is requisite in matters of faith must not be re- 
quired of men in matters of policy" If in 
causes touching the State he had been led by 
probable reasons to change his mind, why should 
he be blamed ? And if the later mind were 
the better mind, he could say with great di- 
vines, Non pudet nos errores nostros revocare. 
If such a constancy (which he would rather 
term obstinacy and pertinacity) were to be re- 
quired of men (as if they had entered into a 
bond or obligation with themselves and each 
other), then they must beware to utter any 
opinion whatever. The Queen of England re- 
served right to like that which formerly she 
misliked ; why should he not have the same 
freedom, if the welfare of his country required 
it at his hand ? The Scripture allowed that 
good and evil were relative terms, in so far as 
good things might be abused, or the reverse ; 

The Douglas Wars. 369 

and the Roman jurisconsults taught that the 
least variation in causes, times, places, persons, 
occasions, might alter the decision .that should 
be given. So also the moral philosophers. 
Bonum et malum, in short, must be read by 
politicians as meaning profitable and unprofit- 
able, fit or unfit, for the purpose in hand. 
" If two or three years ago I had thought a 
matter convenient to be done which now I 
think altogether unfit, shall it be reckoned as 
inconstancy? I think not. More years have 
brought with them more experience, and no 
marvel if experience have taught me things 
whereof before I was ignorant. The chief thing 
we ought most to respect is our country, the 
common parent of us all, and the quiet thereof. 
To that end we must direct all our actions." 
He may have thought once that a policy would 
be universally approved by his countrymen 
which he now found would only lead to dis- 
cord. (And yet he had been of opinion from 
the first that the Scottish quarrel should be 
referred to an indifferent umpire who could 
conciliate the various factions.) Sussex had 
said that the persons, the causes, the matters, 
were the same ; this was not so ; time had al- 
tered many things. The person of the Regent 
Moray, for instance, was a circumstance of no 
small moment ; for with his death there was 

VOL. II. 2 A 

370 The Douglas Wars. 

an end of the government to which they had 
consented. Then, in so far as the Queen was 
concerned, that might now be rigorous dealing 
which two years ago was not. " To keep a 
man a month in prison, or to restrain his liberty 
for a few days for sufficient considerations, may 
well stand with equity, whereas it might be 
accounted great rigour if the same person were 
detained seven years captive. To sequestrate 
the Queen's person for a season might perhaps 
be excused, but to keep her all her days in 
close prison were rigour intolerable. I know 
that for our affirmation or denial nothing is 
changed of the substance of things ; nor are 
they good or ill, rigorous or equitable, because 
we think them so. But we must think them 
good or ill, rigorous or equitable, because they 
are so indeed. What / think to be rigour 
is not material ; but what I trust the Queen 
your Sovereign will have regard to is, what 
in honour and conscience she thinketh, and 
what throughout Christendom in the judgment 
of men free from passion will be thought, to 
be rigour. It may be that your Lordship has 
seen me with those that have earnestly per- 
suaded worse to be done to the Queen of Scots. 
But sure I am you have not known me to 
be a persuader of such matters against her. 
I never went about from the beginning to per- 

The Douglas Wars. 371 

suade her destruction, nor meant at any time 
ill to her person. There be noblemen and 
others of good credit yet living who can bear 
me record that within a month after the late 
Regent accepted office, I dealt earnestly with 
him to accord with his Queen. The same ad- 
vice I renewed many times after, before his 
going to England; how earnestly I did press 
him in England to follow that course, num- 
bers of men, English and Scotch, do know," 
the English Council, he added, nay Eliza- 
beth herself, having been privy to it. From 
first to last, indeed, he had been in favour of 
an accord. He had sometimes, he admitted, 
spoken and done more than Mary could di- 
gest at the moment. But his object had ever 
been to hold the balance just, that it might not 
sway too much to one side or the other, and 
thereby hinder the accord. " I have insisted the 
more upon this head because it doth touch me 

One other letter remains to be noticed. Sus- 
sex had professed that he was not convinced, and 
had renewed the attack. But Maitland had said 
what he had to say, and refused to prolong a 
barren discussion. "Although I should make 
no answer to it, it can nothing prejudge the 
matters we have in hand, seeing that the whole 
argument consisteth of the accusation of me for 

372 The Douglas Wars. 

(as you think) the late alteration of my mind, 
which is rather ad hominem than properly ap- 
pertaining to the cause. For as I wrote in other 
letters, what / think to be done or not to be 
done is not material. But what in reason and 
in honour ought to be done is to be considered. 
The cause in itself is neither the better nor the 
worse for my doings, whether they have been 
good or ill. Although I can directly answer the 
principal heads of your Lordship's letter, and 
sufficiently refute the most part of the objections 
laid out against me, yet for good respects I will 
forbear, seeing my silence can no ways be pre- 
judicial but to myself. If I should directly enter 
to purge myself, I must enter in a discourse 
which must needs touch more than myself, and 
rather than do so, I will suffer that in the mean 
season men judge of me and my actions as shall 
please them. Besides that, I will not deal in 
logomachy with your Lordship, with whom I have 
to deal in matters more profitable for the quiet 
of both the countries. In the meantime, I doubt 
not that your Lordship will judge of me charita- 
bly, remembering St Paul's rule ; where he doth 
advise us to beware to judge Servum alienum, 
he doth add these words, Domino suo stat vel 
cadit. What my behaviour was towards the 
Queen, either the time I was in England or be- 
fore, I must be answerable to herself, and when 

The Douglas Wars. 373 

my doings shall be examined, and I called to 
account therefor, I trust by God's grace they 
shall be as able to abide the trial of any indiffer- 
ent judge as any man that was of the faction 
there. Your Lordship will bear with me if for 
good and necessary considerations I forbear to 
insist any more upon this head. There will be a 
time when I, with less danger, and your Lord- 
ship's better contentation, may particularly sat- 
isfy your Lordship touching myself in every- 
thing wherein you now stand in suspense." x 

Maitland returned to Edinburgh on llth April 
1571. On that day he entered the Castle, which 
he was not to quit till the Castle was in ruins. 
The rest of his life what of it remained was 
spent within the walls of the fortress which 
crowned the bold rock that dominates the Lothi- 
ans. When they brought him out to the walls 
of a summer morning high above the turmoil 
of the streets, and the murmurs of the angry 
burghers he could look across the Forth to Fife, 
past the Ochils to Ben Lomond and Ben Ledi. 
Here, at any rate, he was safe from the malice 
of his enemies ; and he was too busy to find 
the confinement irksome. The Castle was the 
strongest place in Scotland, and the undisci- 

1 Maitland to Sussex, 9th 
August 1570. All these letters 

are in the Record Office. 

374 The Douglas Wars. 

plined forces of the Regents could make no 
impression upon it. They were flung back again 
and again, and until the English cannon were 
dragged across the marshes of the Merse, Leth- 
ington and Grange could afford to smile at the 
bungling strategy of their rivals. 

The disease from which Maitland suffered a 
form of paralysis or creeping palsy had been 
rapidly developed during his absence from Edin- 
burgh. The most active-minded man in Scotland 
was now a helpless cripple. The author of ' The 
Historic of King James the Sext' asserts that 
Lethington " departit this life suddenly of an 
auld disease of the impotence of his legs." But 
in 1571 Maitland's illness could not have been of 
long standing. I am not aware, indeed, that 
there is any allusion to his bodily weakness prior 
to 1570. The wits of the Congregation first 
began to make merry with his infirmities in the 
spring of that year. They then, indeed, professed 
to believe that the " gut," as they called it, was 
one of his "craftie shifts." " He pretendit the 
inabilitie of his bodie ; but the truth was they 
could do nothing without him, more than the 
wheel can do without the ax-tree. He was lustie 
enough at his table, both at noon and even." * 
This refers to the early days of March, when the 

1 Calderwood, ii. 544. 

The Douglas Wars. 375 

Lords were resorting to his house in the Meal 
Market : towards the end of the month he went 
to meet the French Ambassador at Niddrie in 
West Lothian. "The Secretar was unable of 
his body, yet must he be carried hither in a 
coach." l Whatever his enemies might insinuate, 
however, it is clear enough, from contemporary 
letters, that Maitland's sickness was not feigned. 
" I doubt nothing so much of him," Eandolph 
wrote, "as I do of the length of his life. He 
hath only his heart whole and his stomach 
good, with an honest mind, more given to policy 
than to Mr Knox's preachings. His legs are 
clean gone, his body so weak that it sustaineth 
not itself, his inward parts so feeble that to 
endure to sneeze he cannot, for annoying the 
whole body. To this," Randolph cynically con- 
cludes, "hath the blessed joy of a young wife 
brought him." 2 His health had probably im- 
proved in the keen air of Athol ; but he must 
have had a relapse either at Aberdeen or at 
Strathbogie ; for he was perfectly helpless when 
in April 1571 he landed at Leith, from whence 
he was transported to the Castle on a litter. 
" On Tuesday the tenth of April, the heid of wit, 
the Secretaire, landed in the night at Leith, 

1 Calderwood, ii. 550. 

2 Randolph to Cecil, 1st March 1570. 

376 The Douglas Wars. 

where he remained till the morn, and was borne 
up by six workmen with sting and ling, and Mr 
Robert Maitland haulding up his head, and when 
they had put him at the Castle yet, ilka ane of 
the workmen gat three shillings, which they 
receivit grudgingly, hoping to have gotton mair 
for their labours." 1 

The vigour and elasticity of Maitland's intel- 
lect, however, had been in no degree impaired 
by his broken health. " His wits are sharp 
enough," the English envoy reported in March 
1570. Eandolph saw him again, and for the 
last time, in March 1572. Then he was too ill 
to rise from his chair ; but his temper was as 
equable, his head as cool, his mind as unclouded 
as in his best days ; and his fidelity to his mis- 
tress was unshaken. " Never," Morton's partisan 
angrily declared, " never have I found in so weak 
a body a man less mindful of God, or more un- 
natural to his country." His sufferings during 
the siege must have been excessive ; the rough 
soldier-life of the camp could not but be trying 
to an invalid whose nerves had been rendered 
sensitive by protracted pain ; and we learn that 
when the cannons were fired the soldiers carried 
him down into the vaults below St David's 
tower, "because he could not abide the shot." 2 

1 Bannatyne, 130. 2 Advices out of Scotland, 10th Feb. 1573. 

The Douglas Wars. 377 

Maitland's cold and sarcastic humour did not 
invite sympathy ; he was, as a rule, very taciturn 
about himself seldom repining, never boasting ; 
yet there must have been in him in this reti- 
cent and somewhat hard and cynical man an 
inner fire, and the stuff" of which martyrs are 

The figure of the Marian leader, indeed, dur- 
ing these miserable years, cannot fail to impress 
the imagination. The Bird was in the Cage. 
The king of the forest had been stricken down 
by mortal sickness. Yet it may be said without 
exaggeration that Maitlaiid from his sick-bed 
governed Scotland. The Cruikit led the Blind. 
The Kegents were men of straw, all save Mor- 
ton, whose turn as Eegent had not yet come ; 
so were Hume and Chatelherault and Huntly. 
Maitland, on the other hand, as Mr Froude has 
said, was probably " the cleverest man, as far 
as intellect went, in all Britain." Kirkaldy was 
a brilliant soldier ; but Maitland's brain was the 
"ax-tree" which held his party together. The 
strain must have been great. Argyll had already 
deserted Mary ; Langside had been lost by his 
incapacity, and now he had publicly crossed 
over to the enemy, bribed, it was believed, 
rightly or wrongly, by the unscrupulous Morton, 
who had persuaded the Kirk to divorce him 

378 The Douglas Wars. 

from his wife. 1 Elizabeth's persistent hostility 
was no longer disguised, the Eidolphi con- 
spiracy having frightened her into frankness. 
Yet all men knew that while Maitland lived 
spite of Cecil and Elizabeth, spite of Morton and 
Argyll, Mary's cause was not hopeless. 

The history of Scottish parties from 1570 to 
1573 is a tangled labyrinth, through which it is 
difficult to pick one's steps. I have thought that 
a bird's-eye view of the more striking incidents 
of the civil strife taken, let us say, from Mait- 
land's coign of vantage on the Castle rock would 
prove more instructive than a minute and weari- 
some narrative of obscure intrigues and barbar- 
ous forays. From the Castle we can descend 
to the Edinburgh streets, and the immediate 
neighbourhood of the capital. It was round the 
capital that the main interest centred ; but there 
may be time for a glance at the remoter pro- 

1 "Withal the Lords of the 
.Regent's part so assisted Argyll 
that he was parted from his 
lawful wife, and adjoinit him- 
self in marriage with a daugh- 
ter of this Robert, Lord Boyd ; 
and ilk ane of them obtenit a 
fat Kirk benefice in recompence 
of their declining " (Historic 
of King James the Sext, 85). 
" The greedy and insatiable ap- 

petite for benefices was the maist 
cause thereof" (the falling away 
from the Queen), " for there 
was nane brought under the 
King's obedience but for reward 
either given or promised. Also 
the Earl of Argyll was greatly 
persuaded hereto by Lord Boyd, 
who persuaded the Kirk to part 
the said Earl and his wife" 
(Diurnal of Occurrents, 238). 

The Douglas Wars. 


vinces, where Adam Gordon, in a brilliant 
campaign, was restoring the authority of the 
Queen. 1 

Of the life within the Castle itself, we hear 
little, what information we have being mainly 
derived from Maitland's letters. 2 An eyewit- 
ness, however, has recorded the incidents of a 
singular and interesting conference between the 
Secretary (who had by this time, however, been 
deprived of his office) and the ministers of the 
Kirk. Mr Burton believed that John Knox was 
present, Knox being the "Mr John" to whom 
Maitland addressed his argument ; but I suspect 
that Mr Burton was wrong. It appears that the 
interview took place when the Canongate Parlia- 
ment of 1571 was sitting; the Canongate Par- 
liament did not meet till the 14th of May, and 
John Knox had left for St Andrews on Saturday 
the 5th. I am afraid, therefore, that the aged 
Eeformer could not have been present. It is a 
pity; for his presence would have added consider- 
ably te the interest of a scene which even in his 
absence must have been striking enough. 

" At our entry in the Castle, we past to the 

1 Most of the incidents noted 
occurred between the spring of 
1571 and the summer of 1572 ; 
but strict chronological order is 
not preserved. 

2 The successive messengers 
from England were permitted 
to enter; but their polemical 
and political despatches throw 
little light upon the scene. 


The Douglas Wars. 

Great Hall on the south side, where soon after 
Sir James Balfour came to us ; and thereafter 
the Lord Duke, and at last the Captain of the 
Castle ; who desired the Lord Duke and us also 
to enter in the chamber within the said Hall, 
where the Lord Secretaire was sitting before his 
bed in a chair. My Lord Duke sat down. So 
the Captain desired us all instantly to sit down, 
which we did." * 

The ministers intimated that they had come 
to learn whether the Lords were prepared to 
offer any articles or terms which might lead to 

The Lord Secretar. Mr John, ye are overwise. 
We will make no offer to them that are in the 
Canongate ; for the principal of the nobility of 
Scotland are here, to whom they who are in the 
Canongate are far inferior in rank. Therefore it 

1 Through, the energy of Ma- 
jor Gore Booth of the Royal 
Engineers, and the munificence 
of an Edinburgh publisher, the 
" Great Hall " has been recent- 
ly restored. I am not sure that 
it is possible to identify "the 
chamber within the said Hall " 
which was occupied by Lething- 
ton as a bedroom ; it was prob- 
ably one or other of the rooms 
between the Great Hall and the 
room known as Queen Mary's ; 

but the door communicating 
with the Great Hall has been 
built up. The windows look to 
the south, across the Lothian 
plain to the Pentlands. I may 
add that the part of the Castle 
in which Lethington and the 
Marian leaders were lodged had 
been an old palace of the kings 
of Scotland, and had been occu- 
pied by Mary when her son was 

The Douglas Wars. 381 

becometh them, rather to make offers to us. If 
they admit, indeed, that they have gone astray, 
the noblemen here will concur to provide for their 

Mr Craig. But seeing there is a lawful author- 
ity established in the person of the Kegent, our 
duty is to admonish your Lordships to obey the 

The Secretar. I will show you our proceed- 
ings from the beginning. There were two rea- 
sons that moved the nobility at Carberry Hill : 
the one was to punish my Lord Bothwell for the 
King's murder ; the other to dissolve the unhappy 
marriage between him and the Queen. This is 
plainly declared in all the proclamations and 
other writings made at the time. We did not 
mean to put the Queen out of her office ; had 
she at once consented to separate herself from 
Bothwell we should have continued in her obedi- 
ence. This I told the Queen the night she was 
brought to Edinburgh. We had hoped that all 
Scotsmen would have assisted us ; but after Car- 
berry our numbers fell away ; Lord Huntly and 
many others rose against us the greater part of 
the realm. What were we to do ? We required 
the cloak of some new authority to preserve 
order in the meantime ; so the King was pro- 
claimed. But it was only a provisional arrange- 
ment ; and from the day of the Eegent's return, 

382 The Douglas Wars. 

I constantly urged him to come to a composition 
with his sister. We were ill-advised, I admit, 
to proclaim the King ; for he never can be justly 
King as long as his mother liveth. And this is 
the opinion of all here present. 

[At this speech the Lord Duke, Sir James 
Balfour, and the Captain nodded their heads and 
confessed that it was the truth.] 

Mr John. It appears to me that God hath 
beguiled you, for though He used you as an in- 
strument to set up the King's authority, yet it 
appears He will not set it down again at your 

The Secretar. How know ye that ? Are ye 
of God's counsel ? Quisfuit consiliarius ejus ? 
Ye may see the contrary within few days. 

Mr John Winrame. The argument, my Lord, 
appeareth very good, that the authority once 
established by the Estates ought to be obeyed 
until it is set down again by the same. 

The Secretar. I marvel that you will say so ; 
for I remember to have heard Mr John Rowe, 
Mr "Willocks, and the rest of you preach concern- 
ing Papistrie, that albeit it were established by 
long continuance and authority of princes, yet 
should it be violently rejected ; and as it came 
in over the dyke, so should it be shot over the 

Mr John. In this your argument, my Lord, I 

The Douglas Wars. 383 

perceive a paralogisme ; and that by reason there 
is great difference betwixt religion and matters 
of policy. For a wicked religion ought incon- 
tinently to be rejected. But otherwise is it in 
the policy, and chiefly in the established author- 
ity of kings and princes. And thus we have 
concluded that the King's established authority 
should be obeyed. 

Sir James Balfour (interposing]. How know 
you that it is lawfully established ? 

Mr John. My Lord, I can well answer that 
argument, for I was present in the Parliament. 
If it be true that you are there standing, or that 
yon little dog is lying in the Secretare's lap (for 
a little messan was lying upon his knee), so is it 
true that I have said. 

The Seeretar (after further argument). See 
ye not what these men who are in the Canongate 
pretend ? Not else, I warrant you, but to rug 
and reive other men's livings, and to enrich 
themselves with other men's gear. 

Mr Craig. Let such things be spoken of them 
as be yonder, mickle worse is spoken of them 
that be here. 

The Seeretar. And what is that, Mr Craig ? 

Mr Craig. My Lord, it is plainly spoken that 
those who are here travel only to cloak cruel 
murderers, the consciences of some. of you, in- 
deed, being pricked with the same. 


TJie Douglas Wars. 

The Secretar. Yet, Mr Craig, so long as I was 
with them, they never accused me of the King's 
murder, and last year they purged me of it. 
Yea, to be short with you, so long as I was a 
pillar to maintain their unjust authority, they 
never putt at me as they do. 

Mr Craig. But how will you deny the King's 
authority, seeing that you have professed the 

The Secretar. The King's authority was set up 
in respect of the Queen's demission of the crown. 
How was that demission obtained ? Was it 
made willingly ? Lord Lindsay deponed that it 
was ; but when the Regent required him to go 
to England to testify that the Queen was free at 
the time, he swore a great oath and said, "My 
Lord, if ye cause me to go to England with you 
I will spill the whole matter, for if they accuse 
me, of my conscience I cannot but confess the 
truth." 1 " 

" And thus we took our leave and came away." 

1 Condensed from Banna- 
tyne, 156-68. It is unfortunate 
that all the reports of the dis- 
cussions between Maitland and 
the ministers of the Kirk were 
prepared by the ministers them- 
selves. They had little diffi- 
culty, therefore, in showing 
that the Secretary was worsted, 
and that their side came off 

with flying colours. Had an 
indifferent reporter been pres- 
ent the impression produced 
might possibly have been dif- 
ferent ; for we can gather, even 
from their own partial narra- 
tive, that Maitland's fence was 
keen and incisive, and that it 
required a nimble adversary to 
parry his attack. 

The Douglas Wars. 385 

It is a curiously impressive picture, one that a 
capable Scottish artist might be tempted to re- 
produce. The group round the bed on one side 
the great nobles who had sworn fealty to Mary, 
on the other the hard, unsmiling ministers of 
Knox's Kirk and in the centre the helpless 
cripple, who had once " enchanted all the wits 
of Scotland," and whose " fell tongue " was still 
quick for jest or gibe or serious repartee, with 
the little dog in his lap. 

When Lethington returned from Athol in the 
spring of 1571, the capital had not been invested. 
Communication was still open. A feeble and ill- 
sustained assault upon the Castle in the autumn 
of 1570 had been easily repulsed ; Lennox had 
retired disheartened by his failure ; and the 
Captain had taken advantage of the respite to 
provide for the defence of the town as well as 
of the Castle. The walls had been strengthened ; 
the gates secured ; cannon had been planted at 
the West Port, at the Black Friars' Yard, and on 
the steeple of St Giles' ; and a sufficient number 
of trained soldiers had been brought in by Fer- 
niehurst and the Hamiltons to man the works. 
So that until the Abstinence of August 1572 
both town and Castle were in Kirkaldy's keep- 
ing, and as most of the citizens who were zealous 
for the Congregation had betaken themselves to 
Leith or elsewhere, the capital, from the Castle 

VOL. II. 2 B 

386 The Douglas Wars. 

Hill to the Netherbow, was, during these months, 
exuberantly loyal. It was not till the beginning 
of 1572 that the Eegent's army occupied Leith ; 
and many weeks passed before the communica- 
tions of the besieged with the surrounding coun- 
try were effectually interrupted. As late as 10th 
June 1572, we are told that the horsemen riding 
round Braid and other places thereabout, brought 
to the town " forty head of nolt great and 
small." * During the whole of this period sev- 
eral contemporary pens were at work, and many 
interesting notices of the events that were taking 
place within and without the walls have been 

The meeting of "the Estates" had long been 
a popular ceremony, and during a period of in- 
testine strife each party was eager to preserve a 
show of legal right by holding a Parliament of 
its own. A peculiar authority was supposed to 
attach to the acts of a Parliament that met in 
the metropolis ; and the Regent's Lords who as- 
sembled in a house in the Canongate adjoining 
the city wall, " without the gates, yet within 
the liberties of the town," 2 assumed that they 
had complied with this unwritten law of the 
constitution. They invited Grange to lend 
them the " honours " for the opening ceremony ; 

1 Diurnal of Occurrents, 300. 2 Spottiswoode, ii. ] 57. 

The Douglas Wars. 387 

but Grange politely declined, retaining them 
for the use of Maitland's Parliament, which was 
held a few weeks later in the Tolbooth. Then 
they were brought down with great state from 
the Castle, Hume bearing the sword, Huntly 
the sceptre, and the Duke the crown. It was 
at the Tolbooth Parliament that Mary's letter, 
in which she declared that in resigning her 
crown she had done so on the advice of her 
friends among the Lords who were privy to the 
extremity intended against her had she refused, 
and who had counselled her to make no diffi- 
culty, " as she tendered her ain life and would 
eschew present death," was produced. 1 The 
letter was probably drawn by Maitland, and 
confirms what is otherwise known, that he was 
one of the persons who had counselled the 
Queen to yield, on the ground that an ex- 
torted consent had no validity, moral or legal. 
The main business of the Parliaments was 
to pass Acts of Attainder, Maitland and his 
friends being forfeited by the one, Mar and 
Morton by the other. But both parties were 
well aware that the conflict of opinion had 
reached a stage when it could not be composed 
by Act of Parliament. It was true then, as it 
is true now, that the decent fictions of constitu- 

1 Bannatyne, 222-224. 

388 The Douglas Wars. 

tional government cannot stand the strain of a pro- 
found antipathy. When parties hate each other 
as Maitland's men hated Morton's, and Morton's 
Maitland's, the question must be settled outside 
the House, and with other weapons than words. 

Yet even in that age the political satirist was 
busy at his work. Broadsheets in black-letter 
were scattered about the streets of the capital. 
Those that denounced the Queen and the Queen's 
men came from Robert Lekprevik's press, so 
long as Lekprevik ventured to remain. When 
Edinburgh became too hot for him, he took his 
types to Stirling, and thence to St Andrews. 
Buchanan's political pamphlets were printed by 
Lekprevik, the 'Chamaeleon' at Edinburgh, the 
'Admonition to the True Lords ' at Stirling. 
Buchanan wrote in prose ; but most of the broad- 
sheets were in verse. I presume they were 
hawked about the country by itinerant vendors, 
who possibly, in doleful recitative, gave the 
public a sample of their wares as they passed. 
The poetry was not of a high order; but it 
served its purpose. The circumstances attending 
Darnley's murder could not have been more 
concisely stated than in ' Ane Trajedy in forme 
of ane Diallog ' : 

" Bot of your king, shortly for to declair, 
Bothwell with pulder blew him in the air 
At her request." 

The Douglas Wars. 389 

' The Lamentation of Lady Scotland,' ' The Hail- 
some Admonition,' 'The Tressoun of Dumbar- 
ton,' ' The Siege of the Castle of Edinburgh,' 
belong to the same class. Most of them were 
written in the interest of the Lords, and those 
published after the Castle had fallen were ob- 
viously intended to inflame the populace against 

" And some said best the Secretar to hang, 
To his illusones we believt ouir lang ; " 

and to induce the Eegent to execute Kirkaldy, 

" Kemember Ahab for his feebleness, 
Wha gart King Benhadab in his scherat go, 
Quhilk was his wrack ; be war ye do not so." 

Tom Truth, on the other hand, was the cham- 
pion of the Queen ; but as the most effective 
satire in prose was written by Thomas Maitland, 
so the most pungent in verse was written by 
John Maitland. His invective upon the sale 
of Northumberland by Morton is touched by a 
passionate bitterness which reflected the popular 
mood. "The traitor that the gude Lord Percy 
sauld" had been false to the laws of Border 

" For Scotland aye, of auld or new, 
To banisht wichts was ever true." 

The whole nation would be blamed for the 
shameful deed ; but the guilt was Morton's, 

390 The Douglas Wars. 

the Scottish Judas, who, for the blood he had 
shed, would have a bloody end, 

" Had Christ Himself been, in the Percy's room, 
I wight ye would have playit Judas' part, 
Gif Cayphas had offert you the sum." 1 

Though the preachers were still active, as we 
shall see, the austerities of the puritanic regime 
had been somewhat mitigated in the capital by 
Grange and Maitland. It was expedient during 
a season of trial and privation that the citizens 
should be occupied and amused ; and the old 
May-day sports and pageants were wisely re- 
vived for their benefit. We learn that in spite 
of the dearth, "they abode patiently and were 
of good comfort, and usit all pleasures which 
were wont to be usit in the month of May in 
auld times, such as Kobin Hood and Littlejohn." : 
The soldiers, though probably a rough lot, were 
active and zealous, and they had their little 
jokes, which amused the idlers on the " causey," 
and helped to pass the time. When they had 
planted the ordnance on the steeple of St Giles', 
they baptised the big cannon " John Knox." 
It was unsafe, however, to indulge in jokes on 
Knox ; the cannon afterwards burst, and killed 
two of the gunners ; " this they got," Bannatyne 

1 Several of these satirical the Record Office, 
poems are printed in Dalyell's | 2 Diurnal of Occurrents, 
Collection ; the others are in ' 263. 

The Douglas Wars. 391 

remarks, "for their mockery of God's servants." 
It was bad enough to laugh at Knox, whose un- 
popularity, however, with the Castle people we 
can understand (Bannatyne asserts that he was 
so detested by them that a soldier from Leith was 
run upon and wounded simply because he bore 
the name); but it would appear that even the 
blameless Richard himself had sometimes been 
the occasion of unseemly mirth. The St An- 
drews " post " being in the Castle one day, was 
asked by Lady Home "gif John Knox was 
banisht St Andrews, and gif his servant Richard 
was dead." The postman replied that " he knew 
no sic thing." But the Lady Home and others, 
her friends, would take no denial ; they "threiped 
in his face" that Knox had been banished, 
" because that in the College Yard he had raisit 
some saints, amongst whom there came up the 
Devill with horns, which, when his servant 
Richard saw, he ran wud (mad), and so died." l 
Poor Lady Home ! She must have found it 
rather dull in the Castle, and possibly meant 
no harm. But Bannatyne was justly offended. 
" Lord, hear Thou their blasphemies spoken 
against Thy servant ! " There are some rather 
happy touches of humour in these little jokes 
of the " Castillans " which Maitland may have 

1 Bannatyne, 310. 

392 The Douglas Wars. 

enjoyed ; and perhaps, after all, the men were not 
quite so black as they have been painted ; for 
even Grange that star which fell from heaven 
though he allowed the citizens to revive their 
Eobin Hoods and Littlejohns and Queens of 
May, sent them to bed in good time. All the 
lights in the town, we learn, were out as a rule 
by nine o'clock. It was a primitive, patriarchal 
government, and the sumptuary measures which 
it enforced were not at all in accordance with 
loose modern ideas. 

More than once during these troubled years 
Scotland was scourged by pestilence. It was 
the plague of 1568 that drove George Banna- 
tyne to Meigle (where he wrote out the famous 
Bannatyne Manuscript) ; and the striking ac- 
count in Melville's diary of the deserted streets 
of the capital during the pest, " We rade in at 
the Netherbow, through the great street of Edin- 
burgh to the West Port, in all whilk way we saw 
not three persons," refers to a later visitation. 
But if the plague itself was not present, there was 
much sickness in the beleaguered city, where for 
several months food and fire were only to be had 
at famine prices. The general discomfort was 
increased by the bitter weather ; the winters of 
1571, 1572, and 1573 were exceptionally severe, 
in each year the snow lay deep till April ; and 
Grange was latterly obliged to take down the 

The Douglas Wars. 393 

wooden houses of the citizens who had fled to 
Leith, and sell the timber for firewood. We 
learn that the owners, who were naturally 
disgusted when they returned and found that 
their property had been appropriated, were 
among those who afterwards on the fall of 
the Castle were most clamorous for Kirkaldy's 

During the whole of the contest, service was 
celebrated in the great church in the High 
Street; but Knox had been persuaded to leave 
.the capital; and from May 1571 to August 1572 
he resided at St Andrews. The relations of the 
Kirk with the Castle were somewhat delicate 
and peculiar. The steeple of St Giles' had been 
taken possession of by the soldiers ; but the 
preachers' were permitted to officiate in the build- 
ing itself, and so long, at least, as Knox re- 
mained the violence of their invective against 
the Queen and the Queen's friends was un- 
measured. The patience of the Congregation, it 
must be confessed, had been sorely tried. One 
by one their most eminent men had fallen away 
from them, and the defection of Grange in par- 
ticular had been bitterly deplored. " To see 
stars fall from heaven, what godlie heart cannot 
but lament, tremble, and fear ? " The discipline 
of the infant Church, moreover, had failed to 
arrest immorality ; we learn that in the districts 

394 Tlie Douglas Wars. 

where the " professors " were most powerful in 
Perth and Aberdeen, for instance every second 
or third child was born out of wedlock. Nor 
was this the worst, the ministers of the Kirk 
had been wounded in the house of her friends, 
and Morton, on whom, among the lay Lords, 
they mainly depended, treated them as if they 
had been lackeys. " Dumb dogs," they declared, 
were suffered by him to mock the ministry of 
the Word ; and when they ventured to remon- 
strate, he told them curtly that he would stand 
no nonsense, and that they were " proud knaves " 
whose pride he would lay. Knox's influence was 
on the wane ; even within the Assembly his 
authority was no longer absolute. " What I 
have been to my country," he said bitterly, re- 
senting the disrespect with which he had been 
treated, " albeit this unthankful age will not 
know, yet the ages to come will be compelled to 
bear witness to the truth." He was very lonely 
at St Andrews, where he appears to have been 
intensely disliked ; for when he left it to return 
to Edinburgh, he left it, Bannatyne acknow- 
ledges, "not without dolour and displeasure of 
the few godly, but to the great joy and pleasure 
of the rest." There is reason to believe that he 
had quarrelled with the professors ; at least, 
when he got back to Edinburgh he was very 
sarcastic upon those who cultivated " the profane 

The Douglas Wars. 395 

learning of the Epicureans," and he solemnly 
warned his friends " to preserve the Kirk from 
the bondage of the Universities." 

The aged Eeformer would only return to 
Edinburgh on condition that he would not be 
required to "bridle his tongue"; and imme- 
diately on his return " verie weak in bodie, but 
mightie in spirit " he took full advantage of the 
concession. " His threatnings were very sore ; " 
but his voice, which was failing him, had grown 
too weak for the great church, and a room was 
provided for him in the Tolbooth, where he con- 
tinued to denounce Grange and Maitland and 
the Queen till he was carried home to die. The 
end was obviously not far off. His " mortal car- 
cass " had become a burden to him. " I thirst to 
be dissolved from this body of sin." 

It is curious that the last public act in which 
he took part was a controversy with Maitland, in 
which his unfair and unscrupulous method of 
dealing with political opponents was character- 
istically manifested. In point of time it belongs 
to the next chapter ; but it may be convenient 
to notice it now. 

It has been sometimes maintained that Leth- 
ington was an unbeliever, and the sentiment 
that " God is a bogle of the nursery " has been 
attributed to him. I have been unable to find 
the words in any contemporary narrative ; and 

396 The Douglas Wars. 

there is at least negative evidence to show that 
he did not use them. About the middle of No- 
vember 1572, Maitland addressed a letter to the 
Session of Edinburgh in which he complained of 
the sermon that Knox had preached on the pre- 
vious Sunday. " It has come to our ears by 
credible report" this is the substance of his 
letter "that your minister, John Knox, as well 
publicly in his sermons as otherwise, has slan- 
dered me as an atheist, and enemy to all religion ; 
in direct speeches, that I have plainly spoken 
in the Castle that there is neither heaven nor 
hell, and that they are things devised to fray 
bairns, with other sic language, tending to the 
like effect, unworthy of Christian ears, to be re- 
hearsit in the hearing of men ; which words, be- 
fore God, never at any time proceeded from my 
mouth, nor yet any other sounding to the like 
purpose, nor whereof any sic sentence might 
l>e gathered ; for (praised be God) I have been 
brought up from my youth and instructed in 
the fear of God, and to know that He has ap- 
pointed heaven for the habitation of His elect, 
and also hell for the everlasting dwelling-place 
of the reprobate. Seeing he has thus ungently 
used me, and, neglecting his due vocation, the 
rule of Christian charity, and all good order, has 
maliciously and untruly lied on me, I crave re- 
dress thereof at your hands," to the effect that 

The Douglas Wars. 397 

he should be compelled either to prove his allega- 
tions or to withdraw them, " at least that here- 
after ye receive not every word proceeding from 
his mouth as oracles, but know that he is a man 
subject to vanity, and that many times does 
utter his own passions and other men's inordi- 
nate affections in place of true doctrine. It is 
convenient that ye believe not every spirit, but 
try the spirits, whether they are of God or not." 
Two or three days after the letter was received, 
it was read to Knox, who was then on his death- 
bed. His answer was highly characteristic. The 
Secretary, he said, had been the chief author of 
all the mischief done both in England and Scot- 
land. He had troubled his native commonwealth, 
and the Kirk of God within the same. Was 
not this manifest proof of what the preacher 
had alleged ? It was to him and to the whole 
world sufficient declaration that the Secretary 
denied there was " ony God to punish sic wick- 
edness, or yet ony heaven or hell, wherein virtue 
shall be rewarded and sin punished, the workers 
whereof God would destroy, as might be seen in 
the ninth Psalm." It was not education, Knox 
continued, that made a true Christian, but only 
illumination of the heart by the Spirit of God ; 
for who was better brought up than Julianus the 
apostate, and sindrie others ? As to the Secre- 
tary's declaration that the preacher was a man 

398 The Douglas Wars. 

subject to vanity, he could only say that though 
he was a most vile and wretched creature, yet 
that the things he had spoken would be found 
as true as those spoken by the earlier servants 
of God. 1 

It is obvious that this was no reply ; (it did 
not follow because Maitland had sided with the 
Queen that he disbelieved in the Deity and in 
a future state) ; and we may now hope that 
" the bogle of the nursery " has been finally 

The war was known as the Douglas war, and 
it got the name on account of the atrocities 
practised by Morton. Men and women were 
sent to the shambles like sheep. Quarter was 
neither asked nor given. Prisoners were shot 
down, or hanged on the nearest tree. Natural 
affection was forgotten. "You should have 
seen fathers against their sons, sons against 
their fathers, brother fighting against brother." : 
Grange sent a company of soldiers to help Adam 
Gordon in the north ; they were surprised and 
surrounded by Morton's troopers, and were 
forced to surrender. "But the horsemen of 
Leith, after they had received them as prisoners, 
slew fifteen of the most able and strong men of 
them ; the remainder they drove to Leith like 

1 Bannatyne, 414-421. 2 Spottiswoode, ii. 158. 

The Douglas Wars. 399 

sheep, stobbing and dunting them with spears, 
where they were all hanged without further 
process ; and this form of dealing was called 
the Douglas wars." 1 The country people who 
continued to supply the town with provisions 
were treated with the same barbarous severity. 
" Upon the 13th day of May there was twa men 
and ane woman hangit in Wester Ednionstoune, 
for bringing of leeks and salt to Edinburgh." 
The hanging of women, indeed, appears to have 
been quite a common occurrence. " And when 
poor women," Lethington wrote to Mary, "haz- 
arded during the night to bring in some victuals 
for themselves and their poor bairns, ay as they 
fell into the hands of their watches, they were 
hangit without mercy. By that way they have 
hangit a great number of women, and some of 
them with bairn, and parted with bairn upon 
the gallows, a cruelty not heard of in any 
country." 2 Morton had set an evil example 
which the Castle was forced to follow. " They 
were constrainit to do as their enemies does to 
them." So, on an eminence beside the town, 
Grange hanged two of Morton's men who had 
been taken; and (one is glad to learn) "gave 
another his life at the request of the Secretar." 3 

1 Historic of King James the August 1572. 

Sext, 102. 3 Diurnal of Occurrents, 294- 

2 Lethington to Mary, 10th 296. 

400 The Douglas Wars. 

Bannatyne sums up his account of these atroci- 
ties with epigrammatic curtness ; " So there is 
nothing but hanging on either side." 

Thus much for the city ; outside the walls 
disorder was rampant. The houses in the im- 
mediate neighbourhood Craigmillar, Merchis- 
ton, Slateford, Eedhall, Corstorphine were gar- 
risoned by the Eegent's troops ; but they were 
insufficient to invest the town ; and there were 
constant skirmishes between them and the sol- 
diers of the Castle who were able to run the 
blockade. From Niddrie to the " drake myre " 
at Merchiston, the goods of the country people 
were plundered daily by the ruffians on one side 
or the other. Lethington was taken and re- 
taken ; so was Merchiston ; so was Blackness. 
The experiences of Knox's friend Fairley, the 
laird of Braid it was Fairley who persuaded 
him to leave Edinburgh ; it was Fairley to whom 
he said on his deathbed, " I have been greatly 
beholden and indebted to you, which I can 
never be able to recompence you, but I commit 
you to One who is able to do it, that is, to the 
eternal God " have been related by Bannatyne. 
Braid lay three miles to the south on the road 
to the Pentlands ; and there was a cross-track 
by " Braid's Craigs " which led to Dalkeith. The 
Eeformers did not care much for the pictur- 
esque ; but Knox, when visiting his friend, must 

The Douglas Wars. 401 

surely sometimes have been struck by the wide 
and noble view the towered and castellated 
ridge, the blue waters of the Firth, the green 
hills of Fife on which the windows of the old 
house looked. 1 

" Friday, the 25th of May, a dozen of soldiers 
came to Braid at supper-time, and spoiled the 
miller's house (the miller being at supper with 
the Laird) ; and when they saw the miller com- 
ing in and staying them from spoiling his house, 
took him and brought him to the yeat of Braid, 
and gave the Laird injurious words, bidding him 
come out to Captain Melville, or else they should 
burn the house about his lugs. The Laird, being 
a quiet man, bade them depart, saying that he 
had nothing to do with them. They still con- 
tinuing in their injurious words, and misusing 
the Laird's miller before his eyes, the Laird 
went forth with a two-handed sword (the rest 
of his household accidentally detained followed 
as they might) ; the soldiers or the most part of 
them discharges their hagbritteris at the Laird, 
but by God's providence he escaped their fury, 
and straik ane of them braidlings with his 
sword to the earth, wha cried that he would 

1 It is much to be regretted 
that the picturesque slopes to 
the south of Edinburgh have 
been, or are being, defaced by 

the speculative builder. The 
right to protect the amenity of 
a great city should be vested 
in some responsible authority. 

VOL. II. 2 C 

402 The Douglas Wars. 

be taken. Other two of them having their 
pieces undischarged (in one of them there was 
three bullets), and seeing one of their marrows 
dung to the ground, they discharge baith at the 
Laird ; yet by God's eternal providence he was 
so preservit that he got no hurt, nor none of 
his, albeith they were all without armour; but 
the skaith fell upon themselves, for they slew 
their ain man that had rendered himself to the 
Laird ; and so the soldiers when they had dis- 
charged their pieces fled to the town, and made 
report that the Laird of Braid had a company of 
men of war waiting them. So the alarm struck, 
and all came forth to the Querrel Holes, but 
hearing the truth were stayed by the Laird of 
Merchiston, who shewed Captain Melville that 
there were other men coming from Dalkeith 
for the Laird's relief, as that they did with 
speed." 1 

Similar scenes were enacted all over the 
country. At Brechin, thirty or more of the 
Queen's men taken by Lennox " danced their 
fill in cords." When the Castle of Dumbarton 
was surprised, the Archbishop of St Andrews 
was discovered among the prisoners. Lennox 
his old enemy gave him short shrift. Three 
days after he was taken he was hanged at 

1 Bannatyne, 174. 

The Douglas Wars. 403 

Stirling, "as the bell struck at 6 hours at 
even." The ferocious jocularity of the enemy 
who attached these lines to the gibbet 

" Cresce diu felix arbor, semperque vireto 
Frondibus, et nobis talia poma feras " 

was highly characteristic of the time. " And 
that same nicht this other verse, as ane antidote 
to the first, was affixt upon the kirk door, and 
divers other remarkable parts of the town 

" ' In faelix pereas arbor, si forte virebis 
Imprimis utinam carminis author eas.' " 1 

The death of the great churchman " remainit 
not long unrevenged." The Archbishop was 
hanged in April ; the Black Parliament, as it was 
called the Parliament of which the boy-King 
had said, pointing to the roof, " There is ane hole 
in this Parliament " met at Stirling in Septem- 
ber. Lennox was there, and Morton and Glen- 
cairn, and half the Lords of Scotland. A daring 
and brilliant exploit was devised by Maitland, 
which might have changed the whole future of 
the war. Under cover of night, a hundred or 
two of the Castle garrison stole out of the town, 
and rode swiftly to Stirling, which they reached 
before dawn. The surprise for a time was com- 
plete, Lennox, Morton, Glencairn, and the rest 

1 Historic of King James the Sext, 72. 

404 The Douglas Wars. 

were taken in their beds. By five o'clock the 
victorious slogan of the Borderers was ringing 
through the streets : God and the Queen ; ane 
Hamilton; think on the Bishop of St Andrews; 
all is ours. And but for the Border greed, all 
would have been theirs. . The Scotts and the 
Kers, however, felt that such a providential 
opportunity was not to be neglected ; and while 
they were engaged in spoiling the goods of the 
citizens, the Regent's retainers rallied. The en- 
terprise failed ; but the Bishop was avenged ; 
for in the pursuit Lennox was shot through the 
body, and died the same night. Maitland was 
bitterly mortified by the miscarriage, as he told 
Drury, a great enterprise had been lost by negli- 
gence. 1 A little later Adam Gordon, who had 
reduced all the country beyond the Dee to the 
Queen's obedience, very nearly succeeded in a 
similar adventure. The Earls of Crawford and 
Buchan, the Lord Glammis, and the Master of 
Marischal were assembling their forces in Brechin, 
when Gordon, surprising the watch that guarded 
the bridge across the South Esk, surrounded the 
houses in which the Lords were lodged. It was 
found, however, that they had managed to make 
good their escape ; roused by note of bugle or 
bagpipe, they had hastily left the town not a 

1 Thorpe, 326. 

The Douglas Wars. 405 

moment too soon. Many of their retainers were 
slain. 1 

A very considerable number of Lethington's 
letters written from the Castle have been pre- 
served, and during the same period the envoys 
accredited by Elizabeth had frequent interviews 
with him. I am not concerned to maintain that 
his schemes for composing the Scottish troubles 
were always identical ; they varied more or less 
according to the pressure of events, and the 
moods and humours of the English Queen. 
The English envoys were very outspoken ; they 
had little love for the leaders of the party to 
which they were accredited, and Lennox in par- 
ticular they regarded with unconcealed con- 
tempt. " Money is the man in Scotland," Drury 
said after an interview with Morton ; "the Scots 
never keep any promise longer than it suits their 
turn," was the verdict of Hunsdon. 2 But they 
had one and all profound respect and real 
liking for Lethington, and more than once 
they were forced to admit that his proposals 
were not unreasonable. While Maitland was 
not prepared to acknowledge the Eegent or to 
yield the Castle, he was ready to give way in 
everything that was not essential, and to com- 

1 Spottiswoode, ii. 175. 

2 Drury to Burleigh, 14th 
September 1571. Hunsdon 

to Elizabeth, 29th September 

406 The Douglas Wars. 

mit the settlement of the controversy to "a 
neutral and indifferent Government," or within 
certain limits to Elizabeth herself. He saw no 
particular reason, he said, why the English 
Queen should insist on one form of administra- 
tion in Scotland rather than another ; he thought 
his own plan quite as likely to preserve the 
amity between the kingdoms ; but he would 
" leave a large field for her Majesty to walk in 
at her pleasure, it being too narrow a close that 
hath but one outgait." x If Mar (who succeeded 
Lennox) had been allowed to use his own judg- 
ment, he would have acceded to terms which were 
favourably regarded by Elizabeth ; but Morton 
was behind him, and Morton would listen to no 
overture for peace. Drury assured Burleigh in 
October Sir William Cecil had been Lord Bur- 
leigh since the spring of the year 2 that the 
Regent would be well content that the troubles 
were ended ; but, he added, " Morton rules all, 
and will not consent that the Queen's party 
should be treated with at all." 3 Morton's was 
a policy of extermination, and it was carried out, 
as we have seen to the letter, and as we 
shall see to the bitter end. 

1 Maitland to Hunsdon, 
24th November 1571. 

2 Cecil was created Lord 

Burleigh 25th February 1571. 
3 Drury to Burleigh, 27th 
October 1571. 

T/ie Douglas Wars. 407 

The contest between the two parties might 
have been indefinitely prolonged ; but in July 
1572, on the urgent representations of Eliza- 
beth, an Abstinence was agreed to. It lasted 
from the 1st of August 1572 to the 1st of Jan- 
uary 1573. 



Abstinence, for those in the Castle, was 
a fatal blunder. So long as the capital 
was in their hands they had breathing - room. 
It was an easy matter to invest the Castle ; it 
was wellnigh impracticable, for any force that 
Morton could raise, to invest the city. The 
moment that the truce was signed the discon- 
tented citizens flocked back from Leith. They 
were incensed by the loss of their property, and 
they were furious against Grange and Maitland. 
Knox also returned, and, as we have seen, his 
threatenings were very sore. The moral effect 
upon the spirits of the besieged was bad. A 
hostile city was at their feet, in which, by shrill 
and clamorous tongues, their evil deeds were 
denounced. Then there was fresh opportunity 
for intrigue. The highest noble in Scotland was 
never inaccessible to a bribe ; and the agents 
who had been despatched by Cecil were lavish 

The Fall of the Castle. 409 

of promises. Pensions were granted with un- 
heard-of liberality ; the tightly drawn strings of 
Elizabeth's purse were for once unloosed. The 
disintegrating forces, in short, were everywhere 
at work, and before the close of the armistice 
the English envoys were able to assure their 
mistress that the war was virtually at an end. 

Within a day or two, Lethington realised that 
a grave mistake had been made. At the very 
moment when Gordon in the north, Ferniehurst 
in the south, and the loyalists of the west were 
carrying all before them, their progress had 
been arrested by the truce. He felt that he 
had been unwise and precipitate. He was un- 
usually depressed when, on the tenth day of the 
Abstinence, he wrote to Mary. The armistice, 
he informed her, had been accompanied by most 
"disadvantageous conditions" for them, seeing 
they had been forced to make the town "pa- 
tent" to the enemy. " Your Majesty," he con- 
tinued, " must provide some way for the safety 
and furnishing of the Castle of Edinburgh, for 
it is the mark our adversaries always shoot at, 
and they will spare nothing, either by might or 
slight, to come by it ; for they have experience 
whereof it may serve, and that it is aye able to 
cast the ball, as indeed it had put this matter 
lang syne out of play, gif France had played 
her part. We shall provide for the safety of 

410 The Fall of the Castle. 

it as well as we may, but it will be baith costly 
and cumbersome ; and will require far more 
expenses now, when our enemies have the town 
at their devotion, nor it did before. It will not 
be a small thing will serve that turn, and there- 
fore your Majesty must with diligence provide 
a relief for it, and cause money be sent to 
victual it for a year at least, and furnish it 
with all provision necessary, as also to maintain 
the garrison ; for so long as the Castle is pre- 
served the cause will not perish. I refer the 
rest to your Majesty's discretion. God knows 
what burden we have borne, for the furnishing 
of all the charges of this war has lain solely on 
our own shoulders, whereby we have beggared 
ourselves and all the friends we had credit of." 1 
The cause of Mary had been hurt by the 
Abstinence ; but the Massacre of St Bartholomew 
inflicted a wound from which it never recovered. 
The news of the bloody festival that had been 
held in the capital of France was received in 
Edinburgh a day or two after Knox's return, 
and it furnished him with a text for a discourse 
which curdled the blood of his hearers. Politic 
heads had mocked him : but he had been right 
after all; this was what Catholicism had come 
to ; and Grange and Maitland and the rest of 

1 Maitland to Mary, 10th August 1572. 

The Fall of the Castle. 411 

them might lay the lesson to heart. He told 
the French ambassador to warn "that murderer 
his master " that sentence had been pronounced 
against him; that God's vengeance "shall never 
depart from him nor his house, but that the same 
shall remain an execration unto the posterities to 
come, and that nane that shall come of his loins 
shall enjoy the kingdom in peace and quietness, 
unless repentance prevent God's judgments." 1 

This was the last flicker of the flame ; a week 
or two thereafter Knox took to his bed, and he 
died on the 24th of November. A Convention 
of all the Reformed Kirks within the realm, to 
consider how they could protect themselves 
against the "great murders and mair than 
beastly cruelties of the bloody and treassonable 
Papists," and from the decrees of the " devilish 
and terrible Council of Trent," had been called 
by the Privy Council for the 20th October ; but 
it does not appear that Knox was present at the 
meeting. His thoughts in these last days turned 
again to the men in the Castle, one of whom he 
"had loved so dearly." He had told his hearers 
months before at St Andrews that the Castle of 
Edinburgh would " rin like a sand-glass " ; .that 
it would " spew out the Captain with shame " ; 
that Grange would leave it not through the gate, 

1 Bannatyne, 402. 

412 The Fall of the Castle. 

but over the wall. Now from his sickbed he 
sent a parting message to Kirkalcly, which was 
brought to the Castle by Mr David Lindsay, the 
minister of Leith ; " ' Go, I pray, and tell him 
that I have sent you to him once more to warn 
and bid him, in the name of God, leave that 
evil cause, and give over that Castle ; gif he will 
not, he shall be brought down over the walls of 
it with shame, and hing against the sun ; so 
God has assurit me.' Mr David, howbeit he 
thought the message hard and the threatning 
over particular, yet obeyed, and past to the 
Castle, and .meeting with Sir Eobert Melville 
walking on the wall, told him ; wha was, as he 
thought, mickle movit with the matter. There- 
after he communed with the Captain, whom he 
thought also somewhat movit ; but he passed 
from him to the Secretary Lethington, with 
whom, when he had conferred a while, he came 
out to Mr David again, and said to him, c Go, 
tell Mr Knox he is but a drytting prophet ! ' 
Mr David, returning, told Mr Knox he had dis- 
charged the commission faithfully ; but that it 
was nocht weill accepted of, after the Captain 
had conferred with the Secretary. ' Weill,' says 
Mr Knox, 'I have been earnest with my God 
anent they twa men; for the ane I am sorry 
that so it should befall him, yet God assures me 
that there is mercy for his soul ; for that uther 

The Fall of the Castle. 413 

I half na warrand that ever he sal be weill.' 
Mr David says he thought it hard, yet keipit 
it in mind till Mr Knox was at rest with God." 1 

They had come to the last act of the play. 
Neither Knox nor Maitland was long for this 
world. But the characteristics of the two men 
are carefully preserved in the closing scene, 
each is consistent, logical, to the end. Maitland 
continued to scoff as he had scoffed from the 
beginning at the spiritual thunders of the Kirk, 
Knox was but a " drytting prophet " ; while 
Knox, in the exercise of " a commission man 
cannot limitate," declared the judgment of the 
Almighty. " I haif na warrand that ever he sal 
be weill." 

Knox died about " eleven hours at even " on 
the day that Morton was made Regent. Morton, 
as we have seen, had long been the ruling spirit 
of the faction opposed to Mary; and when, on 
Mar's sudden death, the highest place in Scotland 
became vacant once more, it was immediately 
recognised that, among the King's men, Morton 
was the only possible candidate. 2 On his elec- 
tion, any hope of peaceful adjustment had to 
be renounced. Neither Maitland nor Kirkaldy 
could venture to treat, as they said, with their 
most bitter enemy; and Morton's policy was 

Melville's Autobiography, 


2 There was, however, some 
talk of Argyll. 


The Fall of the Castle. 

summed up in the brief but comprehensive 
formula " Hang them all." 

The Abstinence, the " tragic nuptials " at Paris, 
and Morton's election, were the beginning of the 
end. On the 1st of January, before the citizens 
were out of bed, a warning gun from the Castle 
announced that the truce was over. Measures 
had been already taken by the Regent, notwith- 
standing the armistice, to hem the Castle people 
in. "A fortress and bulwark had been erected 
before the face of the Tolbooth that looked to 
the Castle, in the strait passage opposite the 
goldsmiths' shops ; and another in the strait 
passage opposite the north door of the Capital 
Kirk." 1 The Castle was now closely invested, 
and the isolation of the defenders was complete. 
Outside the walls, as I have said, intrigue had 
been at work ; and the siege had hardly re- 
commenced before it was found that the great 
Lords who had hitherto supported Mary 
Huntly, Hamilton, and the others were willing 
to come to terms. Maitland addressed a pas- 
sionate remonstrance to Huntly (Elizabeth, he 
said, would be afraid to meddle, and aid was on 
its way from France) ; 2 but Huntly had made 
up his mind to go with the rest, and the agree- 
ment known as the Pacification of Perth 23d 

1 Historic of King James the 
Sext, 125. 

2 Maitland to Huntly, 23d 
February 1573. 

The Fall of the Castle. 415 

February 1573 was accepted with practical 
unanimity. 1 Elizabeth still wavered at times ; 
but the negotiations with Morton for the judicial 
murder of Mary were progressing satisfactorily, 
and she was coming to feel that the unscrupu- 
lous Douglas was an invaluable ally. Blunt and 
insolent by nature, he was her humble servant, 
and his singular fidelity to the English alliance 
deserved to be rewarded. The year 1573 was 
yet young when, yielding to the steady pressure 
that was brought to bear upon her by her own 
ministers by Burleigh, Drury, Eandolph, and 
Killigrew she gave instructions for the move- 
ment of the army across the Border. The de- 
fences of the Castle had been surreptitiously ex- 
amined by English experts during the truce, and 
it had been ascertained that the cannon at Ber- 
wick might be trusted in the course of a few days 
to silence " muckle-mou'd Meg " and her sisters. 
The letters of the English agents are filled 
with complaints of Lethington's " obstinacy " at 
this supreme moment. There was still time to 
save him if he would only consent to accept the 
inevitable. " The flower of the wits of Scotland " 
was held in high esteem to the last by Elizabeth 
and her Ministers ; and they were, I believe, 
sincerely anxious to save him. It was a thou- 

1 Register of Privy Council, ii. 193. 

416 The Fall of the Castle. 

sand pities that a statesman and scholar who had 
shone at Greenwich and Westminster should 
perish in an obscure brawl, in a desperate cause. 
But Lethington pertinaciously refused to admit 
that it was desperate. A physician never de- 
spairs of his patient ; his motto is that while 
there is life there is hope. And to a certain 
extent Maitland's "obstinacy" may be justified. 
He was the last stay of Mary Stuart. If the 
Castle capitulated there would be an end of the 
conflict. The Castle, he was confident, could not 
be taken except by the English cannon. But 
was Elizabeth willing to enter on an adventure 
w r hich would expose her to the resentment of the 
Catholic Princes, which would be denounced as 
a fresh violation of international comity, which 
would cost lives and money ? She had, as is 
known, encouraged him to believe that she would 
not ; and he did not believe that she would. 
So long then as the Castle held out, Mary's 
chances were nearly as good as they had been 
at any time for eighteen months. No one could 
tell what a day might bring forth. Elizabeth 
might die might go ad .Patres, as he said ; 
the French troops might land at Leith ; Philip 
might be won over ; Huntly and Chatelherault 
and Argyll might fall away from the Eegent ; 
the Pacification of Perth would hardly stand the 
wear and tear of a protracted struggle, and the 

The Fall of the Castle. 417 

Queen's friends, the moment they found that 
Morton's plans had miscarried, would gladly 
return. When, indeed, the English troops were 
once across the Border, he knew, he must have 
known, that the game was up. But even then, 
was it worth his while to own that he was 
beaten ? He would be loyal to the last ; neither 
threat nor bribe would shake his fidelity to his 
lawful Sovereign ; if the worst came to the worst 
he could only die, and he was already on his 
deathbed. Upon the whole, it seems to me that 
he was well advised to act as he did, and to 
separate himself by a declaration that could 
admit of no misconstruction from the faint- 
hearted friends who had deserted their mistress. 
Maitland, indeed, had latterly told Mary more 
than once that she should make what terms she 
could with Elizabeth. It was his duty to conceal 
nothing from her, and to advise her to the best 
of his ability. " I would wish your Majesty, 
seeing how slack a part France has tane with 
you, should essay yet by all means gif ye may 
win the Queen of England, for I see not by what 
other means your relief can be wrought, and, it 
may be, gif ye make her good offers, she will now 
show you more favour than when you had more 
friends." * When he wrote this letter he was the 

1 Maitland to Mary, 10th August 1572. 
VOL. II. 2 I) 


The Fall of the Castle. 

victim of no illusion ; he felt that the ground 
was giving way under his feet ; and that he 
ought to let her know the worst. But none the 
less he was bound in honour to be true to her 
flag until she was willing to release him. When 
he found that no terms had been made with her, 
and that Elizabeth and Morton on the contrary 
were scheming to put her to death with such 
farce of judicial forms as might satisfy the 
scrupulous and silence the timid, it was hardly 
possible for Maitland to take any other course 
than he took. Even if escape for himself were 
possible, he was bound to remain where he was ; 
it was his duty to go down with the ship. 

Once more, however, it was proved that, with- 
out the aid of England, the whole force of Puritan 
Scotland was powerless against the Castle. The 
Castle had been closely invested since the first 
day of the year ; but by the end of April no 
progress had been made, and Mary Stuart's flag 
still floated from St David's Tower. 1 The garrison 
were provisioned for a siege ; and if only their 
water held out, and the English cannon could be 
detained at Berwick, there seemed no reason to 
despair. " The Scots can scale no walls," had 

1 " But in the meantime, a 
banner of red colour, denounc- 
ing war and defiance, was set 
upon the chief tower of the 

Castle, callit King David's 
Tower." King James the Sext, 

TJie Fall of the Castle. 419 

been said years before ; and the walls of Edin- 
burgh Castle crowned an inaccessible precipice. 
I have said that there could be no treaty 
between Maitland and Morton; yet it appears 
that during the autumn of 1572, when the Earl 
was seriously, if not dangerously ill, some at- 
tempt to arrive at an understanding had been 
made. " Since God has visited baith him and 
me with corporal diseases, and little likelihood 
that ever we shall meet face to face," Maitland 
desired his cousin the Laird of Carmichael, to 
see the Earl and recall to his mind the old fa- 
miliarity that had been between them. " Since 
the indisposition of my person will not suffer me, 
I will pray my cousin to desire him in my name 
to call to his remembrance what friendship has 
been of auld between him and me ; what good 
offices I have done to him, and how my credit 
with the Queen has man)'- times served him, as 
well in advancing him to honour and reputation 
in the country, as in settling him and those 
dearest to him in the security of their livings. 
I trow he will confess that by my labours only 
he was made Chancellor, when the Earl of Moray 
was bent to purchase the office for his gud-father 
the Lord Marischal. I think also he will acknow- 
ledge that I was the chief instrument to obtain 
the Queen's consent, and that specially by my 
credit the security was purchased of both the 

420 The Fall of the Castle, 

houses of Angus and Morton. I need not repeat 
the good part I keepit to him during his trouble ; 
what danger in many ways I thereby incurred. 
This is known to few so well as to himself ; he 
knows in his conscience that he never received 
so many good turns at any one man's hand, and 
that all that I did was out of kindness only, and 
not for his gear." * This last effort at a friendly 
understanding failed ; it was made in good faith 
by Maitland who had heard that the Kegent 
was dying; but Morton on his recovery re- 
turned an ungracious answer. Had they been 
brought together at that time, it is just possible 
that some provisional modus vivendi might have 
been devised. But it must be frankly admitted 
that peace on any terms was almost hopeless. 
The gulf that separated the two men was really 
impassable. It was with difficulty that Morton 
was brought to agree to the Pacification of Perth, 
and Maitland declared that the conditions of the 
Pacification were shameful. In Maitland's view, 
indeed, it was an ignominious capitulation, to 
which no true friend of Mary except in the last 
extremity could consent. 

The English army arrived at Edinburgh on the 
25th of April ; the heavy guns were disembarked 
at Leith on the 26th ; and in the course of a few 

1 Bannatyne, 474. 

The Fall of the Castle. 421 

days thereafter the ordnance was in position. 
" Upon the 12th, 13th, and 14th days of May, in 
the night, the artillery of England was placed 
about the Castle of Edinburgh for the siege in 
this manner. On the north side of Mr John 
Thornton's lodging on the Castle Hill lay the 
cannon royal, and two other cannons ; on the 
crofts of the Grey Friars lay three great cul- 
verin ; at the Scots crofts lay six great culverin ; 
above the west side of St Cuthbert's Kirk lay 
two Scottish iron pieces ; at the north side two 
Scots great culverins, and my Lord Argyle's 
cannon, with four pott pieces ; at the lang gait on 
the east side of the said pot pieces lay three small 
pieces, with strong and deep trenches in all 
parts." From this account, as well as from that 
which is contained in ' Birrel's Diarey,' it would 
appear that the Castle was entirely surrounded. 
There were twenty great pieces, Birrel says, 
" stellit " at four different places, five on the 
Castle Hill, five at the Greyfriars' churchyard, 
five near the West Port, and the other five be- 
yond the Nor' Loch. 

The siege lasted for nearly a month ; the de- 
fence was stubborn ; more than once the Castle 
cannon tore up the trenches, and dismounted 
the guns that were being placed ; 2 but the fire 

Diurnal of Occurrents, 331. 

Birrel's Diarey, 20. 

2 Holinshed's Chronicle, i. 


The Fall of the Castle. 

of the English artillery, when once in posi- 
tion, quickly asserted its superiority, and the 
walls began to crumble into ruin. Then a spring 
of fresh water, to which the garrison trusted, was 
cut off ; 1 and the soldiers, who, according to Mel- 
ville, had been tampered with by the Kegent, 
began to murmur at the obstinacy of their lead- 
ers. It was necessary to come to terms ; and on 
the night of the 29th May, Grange and Maitland 
and Home and Melville surrendered uncondi- 
tionally to the English General. When they had 
been removed, the Castle was occupied by the 
Eegent's soldiers. 

Maitland and Grange expected to be treated 
as prisoners of war ; but they had fallen into the 
hands of a ruthless enemy. They were in the 
meantime, no doubt, the guests of the English 
General, and in a letter to Elizabeth they strongly 
insisted tha.t she was bound in honour to save 
them from the tender mercies of Morton. But 

. 1 I am given to understand 
that only one spring of water 
on the rock is now known. 
From Holinshed's account, the 
garrison in 1573 must have had 
access to others. " They were 
deprived of water because the 
well within the Castle was 
choked with the ruins of the 
.Castle walls ; and the other well 
without could not serve them, 

because there was a mount 
made to hinder them. Another 
water there was (which was un- 
known to such as were without 
the Castle), and was taken from 
them by the loss of the spur, 
out of which they were wont to 
have a pint a day for every sol- 
dier." Holinshed's Chronicle, 
i. 413. 

The Fall of the Castle. 423 

though the Castle had been taken by her own 
troops, and though, by the usage of war, they 
were entitled to her protection, she could not re- 
sist the importunities of the Kegent. Drury 
was directed to deliver them over to a man from 
whom no mercy was to be looked for. 
This was Maitland's last letter to Cecil : 
The malice of his enemies had been the more 
increased against him because he had rendered 
himself to her Majesty, and now sought refuge at 
her hands. But whatever their malice might be 
he did not fear that it would take effect ; for he 
knew with how gracious a princess he had to do, 
and he could not mistrust her clemency. He 
took it that Parcere subjectis, et debellare super- 
bos, was the motto that she affected. He and 
Grange had rendered themselves to her Majesty, 
which to Morton they would never have done 
whatever their extremity. They did not believe 
that she would return them into the hands of 
their mortal enemies. If her clemency were 
extended to them, she would have them per- 
petually at her devotion. They were now of 
small value, but perhaps hereafter they might 
be able to do her some service. Cecil, they 
were confident, would further their request. 
At no time had his friendship been more 
necessary to them, and they trusted that in 
their extremity, when they had more need of 

424 TJie Fall of the Castle. 

it than ever they had, they could rely on his 
good offices. 1 

Grange and Maitland had been brought down 
from the Castle through a disorderly crowd. The 
mob, according to Melville, was mainly composed 
of the citizens opposed to Mary whose property 
had been confiscated during the siege. " My 
brother, Sir Robert, lay with me at his own 
lodgings ; the Laird of Grange and Secretary 
Ledingtoun, for their greater security, remained 
with the Marshal of Berwick (at Leith), because 
that the people of the town of Edinburgh were 
greatly their enemies. For except a few that 
tarried within the town, the most part of the 
richest men and merchants left and went to Leith 
to take part with the Regent, therefore their 
houses were spoiled, upon which account they 
did bear great hatred to those in the Castle." 2 
Such a crowd was of course bitterly hostile to 
the Marian leaders, and might easily have been 
induced to resort to acts of violence. We learn 
from a contemporary satire that, as they passed 
down the Castle Hill, the rabble pressed round 
the escort and jeered at the prisoners. " Whare 
are they? Let us see the louns. Go to, and 
staen. them. Let them tak na rest." In the 

1 Maitland and Grange to 
Burleigh, 1st June 1573(Cotton). 

2 Melville, 121. 

The Fall of the Castle. 


same broadsheet (which was mainly directed 
against Kirkaldy urging his execution) the 
people were reminded that the prophecy of Knox 
had been fulfilled : 

" Then was compleit the prophecy of Knox, 
Doune fra that Craig Kirkaldy sal reteir 
With shame and slander like ane hunted fox." 

Wherever hanging was needed, Morton might 
be trusted to do his duty ; but when he sent 
Grange to the scaffold he could not perhaps help 
himself. The ministers of the Kirk were resolved 
that Knox's vaticinations should come true to 
the letter. So they clamoured for his execution ; 
and Morton for once was willing to oblige them. 1 
" Mr David, the morn by nine hours, comes again 
to the Captain and resolves him that it behoved 
him to suffer. ' then, Mr David,' says he, 
'for our auld friendship and for Christ's sake 
leave me not ! ' So he remains with him, who 
pacing up and down a while, and seeing the day 
fair, the sun clear, and a scaffold preparing at 
the Cross in the High Gate, he falls in a great 
study, and alters countenance and colour ; which, 
when Mr David perceived, he came to him, and 

1 Had it not been for the 
ministers, however, it is prob- 
able that Morton's avarice 
would have saved Kirkaldy. 
See his letter to Killigrew 

(5th August 1573), in which 
he says that he had refused 
the bribe, "considering what 
has been, and daily is, spoken 
by the preachers, &c." 

426 The Fall of the Castle. 

asked him what he was doing ? ' Faith, Mr 
David,' says he, ' I perceive well now that Mr 
Knox was the true servant of God, and his 
threatning is to be accomplished ; ' and desired 
to hear the truth of it again. The which Mr 
David rehearsed, and thereupon he was greatly 
comforted, and began to be of good and cheerful 
courage. In the end he beseeches Mr David not 
to leave him, but to convoy him to the place of 
execution. ' And take heed/ says he, ' I hope 
in God, after I shall be thought past, to give 
you a token of the assurance of mercy to my 
soul, according to the speaking of the man of 
God/ So about three hours after noon, he was 
brought out, and Mr David with him ; and about 
four, the sun being about west of the north-west 
neuk of the steeple, he was put off the ladder, 
and his face first fell to the east ; but within a 
bonnie while turned about to the west, and there 
remained against the sun ; At which time Mr 
David, ever present, says he marked him, when 
all thought he was away, to lift up his hands 
that were bound before him, and lay them down 
again softly; which moved him with exclama- 
tion to glorify God before all the people." x 

It was a cruel deed ; and the historians of a 
milder age may be permitted to regret that the 

1 Melville's Autobiography, 35. 

.The Fall of the Castle. 427 

vindication of Knox's prophetic faculty involved 
the extinction on the scaffold in the High Street 
of a heroic and blameless life. The game, more- 
over, was hardly worth the candle. Quite a 
minor prophet might have been warranted to 
predict that, in a turbulent and distracted 
country, the man who had incurred the hatred 
of Morton would not die in his bed. Happily 
the kirkmen were satisfied, Knox's omniscience, 
they held, had been authoritatively, if not con- 
clusively, established. 

" Thus we play the fools with the time, and 
the spirits of the wise sit in the clouds and 
mock us." The follies of bur forefathers have 
become remote and incredible fictions at which 
we can afford to smile. But it is just possible 
that to those who occupy " the orchestra and 
noblest seats of heaven " the comedy of the 
Present may be not less mirth-provoking than 
the comedy of the Past. Knox may have been 
a " drytting prophet " ; but are the prophets in 
whom we trust a whit more respectable? On 
the other hand, we may perhaps venture to hope 
that our foolishness is more innocent than theirs, 
inasmuch as it is not inspired by the mad fury 
of fanaticism nor attended by wilful cruelty. 

Maitland would have gone the same road as 
Grange had he lived. But when he was 
brought down from the Castle he was in the 

428 The Fall of the Castle. 

last stage of a deadly disease, and his strength 
was gone. He died about a week after the 
Castle fell, though the exact day has not been 
determined. 1 The usual rumours of foul play 
were current ; but there is really no reason 
whatever for holding that poison was adminis- 
tered to him either by himself or by others. 
Melville, indeed, remarks that " Secretary Leth- 
ington died at Leith, after the old Eoman fashion, 
as was said, to prevent his coming to the sham- 
bles with the rest ; " and Killigrew reported to 
Cecil that Maitland was dead (though for his 
own part he was able to say nothing as to the 
manner of his death), "not without suspicion of 
poison." : But (though the rumour that he had 
been poisoned by Morton reached Mary) the best 
informed believed that the shock of a crowning 
disaster had proved too much for his enfeebled 
body. He died of "an auld disease of the im- 
potence of his legs," 3 the paralysis which had 
made him a helpless cripple ; but the fall of the 
Castle and the ignominy of defeat no doubt hast- 
ened his end. " Lidington is dead from his 
natural sickness, being also stricken with great 
melancholy which he conceived of the hatred 

1 The author of the ' Diur- 
nal ' states that he died on 9th 
June ; but it appears more 
probable that he died on the 


2 Killigrew, 12th June 1573. 

3 Historic of King James the 
Sext, 144. 

TJie Fall of the Castle. 


that he did see all his countrymen bear towards 
him since he came out of the Castle, in such sort 
as Sir William Drury was forced to keep a strong 
guard to save him in his own lodging from the 
fury of the people." * This was written by Lord 
Burleigh on 14th June, and Lord Burleigh had 
no doubt received the particulars from Drury 
himself. Drury's letter, unfortunately, has not 
been preserved. 2 

Maitland's body, according to the barbarous 
usage of Scotland in such cases, was left un- 
buried. The English General reported to Bur- 
leigh on 18th June that he had been pressed 
by the Earl of Athol and others " that the body 
of Lidington might be buried, and not remain 
above the earth as it does;" and two days later 
Mary Fleming addressed a touching appeal to 
the English Minister. The cause of the widow 
and orphan, she said, was in the hand of Al- 
mighty God ; but her husband had always re- 
posed such confidence in Cecil that the desolate 
wife would venture to address him. Would he 
move his mistress to write to the Regent that 
the body of her husband, which when alive had 
not been spared in the service of her Highness, 
might now, after his death, receive no shame or 

1 Burleigh to Shrewsbury, 
14th June 1573. 

2 I am informed by the com- 

pilers of the Hatfield Calen- 
dar that it has not been re- 

430 The Fall of the Castle. 

ignominy, and that the heritage secured long 
since to herself and her children might be re- 
stored to them ? 1 Morton, or whoever was 
responsible, must have disregarded her entreaties ; 
and it was not until Elizabeth had warned him 
very sharply that the usage of Scotland was a 
disgrace to a civilised people, that the remains 
of the great statesman were decently interred. 

His children he had a son and daughter by 
Mary Fleming were declared incapable of hold- 
ing land in Scotland ; and it was not until 1584 
that the disability was removed. A rehabilita- 
tion under the Great Seal was granted to his 
heirs on the 19th February of that year. His 
son James, a Koman Catholic, sold the estate of 
Lethington to John Maitland, the Chancellor, 
and appears to have lived mainly abroad. Long 
afterwards 8th June 1620 we find him expos- 
tulating with Camden upon certain passages in 
the ' Annals ' which reflected injuriously, as he 
thought, upon his father. (Yet Lethington was 
one of Camden's favourite statesmen, one of 
the heroes of the Eeformation ; " Vir inter Scotos 
maximo rerum usu, et ingenio splendidissimo, 
si minus versatili.") His daughter Margaret 
married Robert Ker of Cessford, who in course 
of time became the first Earl of Roxburghe. 

1 Mary Maitland to Burleigh, 21st June 1573 (Cotton). 

TJie Fall of the Castle. 


Kirkaldy's daughter Janet had been married in 
1561 to Thomas Ker of Ferniehurst. There 
was thus a close connection by marriage between 
the "men in the Castle" and the two great 
Border houses, which are still represented in 
the Scottish peerage by the Dukedom of Rox- 
burghe and the Marquisate of Lothian. 

With the fall of the Castle, with the death of 
Maitland, a chapter of history closes. Mary had 
said, in her own graceful way, " Ayez memoire 
de Tame et de 1'honeur de celle qui a este votre 
royne ; " and in many a Scottish household, as 
the years went by, the memory of the queenly 
woman who had been their Queen (0 Dea certe I) 1 
was cherished with growing ardour. But of 
Mary Stuart, as a serious political force in Scot- 
land which had to be reckoned with by states- 
men, there was thenceforth an end. Of Lething- 
ton himself little more need be added. He had 
many faults ; but these have been absurdly 
caricatured by malice and ignorance. I do not 
think that it is fair to say that he was false to 
Mary of Lorraine, that he was false to the Lords 
of the Congregation, that he was false to Mary 
Stuart, that he was false to her brother and to 

1 It was Brantome who de- goddess, the carriage of the 
clared that Mary had the air, Virgilian vera Dea. 
the distinction of an authentic 


The Fall of the Castle. 

her son. I am not convinced that he was the 
accomplice of Morton when Kizzio was slain, or 
the accomplice of Bothwell when Darnley was 
murdered. He did not undervalue the Keforma- 
tion ; but he valued it as it was valued by Eras- 
mus, not as it was valued by Calvin. He was a 
skilful ruler, an adroit and persuasive diploma- 
tist ; but he was more ; he was a proud and 
patriotic Scotsman, and the dream of his life the 
mark at which he always shot was the union of 
the kingdoms under a Scottish prince. 

1 I cannot conclude this 
volume without thanking Mr 
Froude, Sir Theodore Martin, 
and other friends, for the as- 
sistance they have kindly ren- 
dered me. The occasional no- 
tices of Lethington that occur 
in Mr Froude's great history 
are as just and discriminating 
as they are brilliant ; and his 
suggestions have been extreme- 
ly valuable. It is a real pleas- 
ure to me to remember that, 
though we have been often in 
sharp collision on many vital 
questions connected with the 
Marian period, a friendship of 
thirty years has never been 
interrupted for an hour. 

I may mention here, what I 
omitted to mention at its pro- 
per place, that Sir Walter Scott's 
specific statement that prepara- 

tion had been made by Moray 
to capture Mary and Darnley 
as they rode from Perth in the 
summer of 1565, "a body of 
horse was for this purpose sta- 
tioned at a pass under the hill 
of Benarty, called the Parrot- 
Well," is confirmed by, and 
was probably derived from, the 
local tradition of the district. 
Sir Walter was well acquainted 
with Kinross -shire, to which 
during many years he paid an 
annual visit as the guest of his 
friend, the Chief Commissioner 
Adam. My grandfather, who 
was the resident Sheriff at Kin- 
ross, and a famous angler on 
Loch Leven before Loch Leven 
was famous, used frequently to 
meet him at Blairadam, where 
Sir Walter, leaning across the 
dinner-table, in accordance with 

The Fall of the Castle. 433 

Lethington did not succeed ; his policy failed 
disastrously ; he was driven to an ignominious 
surrender, and he* died a miserable death. Fan- 
aticism, it must be admitted, has compensations 
of its own. The zealot on the cross can look for- 
ward to the crown, passing, as the greatest of 
our poets has phrased it, 

" Through the brief minute's fierce annoy 
To God's eternity of joy." 

But Maitland had little to look forward to in 
this world or the next ; neither the spiritual 
consolations nor the posthumous prizes of the 
martyr, whose praise is in all the Churches, were, 
or could be, his. He was not sustained by pious 
enthusiasm, or the ardent idealism of faith. He 
knew that he would be defamed by the bigots 
who were to write the annals of the Kirk; he 
could have no confident assurance that the vigi- 
lance of later historians might be trusted to re- 
verse an ungenerous and partial verdict. Yet 
he preserved to the end (though he was dying by 
inches) his serenity, his alertness, his high spirit, 
his sportive humour, his mental balance, his intel- 

the fashion of the time, would 
address him in words which be- 
came familiar in after years to 
a younger generation (for to my 
grandfather Sir Walter was the 

first of men, and every remin- 
iscence memorable) : " Would 
the Shirra of the Loch take a 
glass of wine with the Shirra 
of the Forest?" 

VOL. II. 2 E 

434 The Fall of the Castle. 

lectual intrepidity and incisiveness, his devotion 
to his mistress, his loyalty to his Queen. Of 
Maitland, as of Van Arteveldt', it might be said 
with perfect appropriateness, 

" Dire rebel though he was, 
Yet with a noble nature and great gifts 
Was he endowed courage, discretion, wit 
An equal temper and an ample soul, 
Kock-bound and fortified against assaults 
Of transitory passion, but below 
Built on a surging subterranean fire, 
That stirred and lifted him to high attempts. 
So prompt and capable and yet so calm." 

He failed ; and yet in a sense he succeeded. 
Though he was not permitted to enter into the 
promised land, he was one of the pioneers who 
paved the way to Union. The difficulties were 
enormous ; but the impulse which he communi- 
cated was never entirely lost; "Per varios 
casus, per tot discrimina rerum, Tendimus in 
Latium." Nor must it be forgotten that it is 
the impress of men like Maitland not the 
impress of men like Knox that has made 
this nation what it is. Knox, could he have 
had his way, would have revived the classical 
republic or the oriental theocracy. The pro- 
vincial narrowness and fierce intolerance of 
the Congregation were not compatible with 
the maintenance of individual rights and the 
discharge of imperial obligations, with political 

The Fall of the Castle. 435 

moderation and sober freedom. It was the con- 
sistent application of the rational principles of 
civil and ecclesiastical government that are iden- 
tified with statesmen and churchmen of the 
Maitland type, which gave us a stable monarchy, 
a world-wide empire, 

" And rule of seas which tire the sea-mew's wing." 

Meanwhile Mary in her English prison had 
heard of Maitland's death. She was a brave 
woman, and she bore herself bravely to the last ; 
yet she could not altogether conceal from those 
about her the sharp pang that hurt her when 
she learnt that her great Minister was dead. 
Shrewsbury brought her the news that the 
Castle had fallen. She told him coldly that he 
was ever the messenger of evil, of whatever 
might miscontent and annoy her. Then she left 
him, to purge her melancholy, as he said, 
alone. " She makes little show of any grief" he 
added, " and yet it nips her very near" l 

Death during these last years had been busy ; 
Knox and Moray and Norfolk and Maitland and 
Grange were gone ; of the actors who had played 
the parts of kings and queens, only Elizabeth 

1 Shrewsbury to Burleigh, 7th June 1573, 

436 The Fall of the Castle. 

and Mary and Morton remained. Mary was to 
die on the scaffold ; so was Morton : Mary, very 
simply and nobly, or (otherwise) with that finest 
art which conceals the art ; Morton in a quaint 
Puritanesque fashion, the grim ministers of the 
Kirk killing the fatted calf for the last meal of 
the prodigal who had spent his substance (and 
the substance of other people) in riotous living. 
Elizabeth alone died in her bed ; but the closing 
scene of a strange and eventful life was far from 
edifying ; and had she anticipated what was to 
come the weary and lonely days, the sleepless 
and spectre-haunted nights she might have been 
tempted to exchange that prolonged paralysis of 
soul and body for a surer and sharper stroke. 



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" Le meilleur de ces livres est sans conteste 1'ouvrage de deux volumes 
que M. John Skelton d'Edimbourg a ecrit sous le titre, ' Maitland de 
Lethington : L'Ecosse de Marie Stuart.' L'auteur, de'jk honorable- 
rnent connu par un grand nombre de travaux litteraires et politiques, 
nous y donne la biographie du Secretaire d'Etat de Marie, avec de 
nombreuses et interessantes digressions sur 1' aspect general des affaires 
d'Ecosse au XVI e siecle. L'ouvrage, e"crit d'un style vif et pittoresque, 
est fort attrayant, en memo temps que sur beaucoup de points il ouvre 
des perspectives nouvelles et importantes. " Professor MARTIN PHIL- 
IPPSON, in the Revue Historique. 

"Wir schliessen unser Referat iiber eine in ihrer Art classische 
Schrift die kein Freund der Wahrhait ohne reiche Belehrung aus der 
Handlegt." Professor BELLESHEIM, in Literarische Rundschau. 

1 ' It has been reserved for the ardent polemical zeal and brilliant 
literary ability of Mr Skelton to extricate for us out of the coils of 
contemporary vituperation and subsequent vague tradition, some 
image of the unique personality of Maitland of Lethington, the arch- 
antagonist of John Knox." Professor DAVID MASSON, on Scotch 
Historical Research. 

"To those who have not passed through the painful experiences of 
an examiner, I may recommend the brief discussion of the genuine- 
ness of the Casket Letters, in my friend Mr Skelton's interesting work 
on 'Maitland of Lethington.' " Professor HUXLEY, in the Nineteenth 

" Mr Skelton's now completed work forms one of the most original 
and valuable contributions to Scottish history completed within 
living memory." Professor STOEY, in the Scots Magazine. 

"The touching sketch of Mary's mother, the truculent figure of 
Knox, the fine and subtle picture of Lethington himself, are all most 
important and worthy of notice ; while the portrait of Mary will de- 
light all Mary's lovers, and move even the most prejudiced on the 
other side." Mrs OLIPHANT, in BlacTcwood's Magazine. 

1 ' Mr Skelton's picturesque and fascinating volumes on ' Maitland 

of Lethington.' A striking historical portrait limned with care- 
ful and felicitous skill." Mr T. F. HENDERSON, in The Casket Letters 
and M&ry Stuart. 

" Mr Skelton has produced a work of much brilliancy; his style is 
both lucid and animated, his descriptions are vivid, and his characters 
are always distinctly and forcibly drawn. As a defence of Maitland it 
is at least ingenious and well sustained." The Rev. A. J. CAELYLE, 
in the Historical Review. 

' ' ' Maitland of Lethington ' is the basis of a solid historical reputa- 
tion of a very high class." "A. K. H. B.," in Twenty-five Years of 
St Andrews. 

"Of Mr Skelton's charming and animated work I desire to make 
special mention. The Lethington of these pages owes his existence to 
Mr Skelton's portrait." MICHAEL FIELD, in The Tragic Mary. 



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Edition on Japanese paper, 8 net (out of print). 
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"The splendid monograph on Mary Stuart by Mr Skelton is per- 
haps the most sumptuous volume ever published in illustration of the 

life and fortunes of the beautiful and unhappy Queen of Scots 

Mr Skelton's contribution to the controversy is of great weight and 
moment, and cannot be neglected by any serious student of the sub- 
ject." The Times. 

"There are four portions of this book which, regarded strictly as 
literature, could hardly have been surpassed, the account of Mary's 
life in France, the description of the Scotland into which she was 
plunged, the indictment of her enemies, and the narrative of her life 

in England Mr Skelton has done much. Above all he has, in this 

superb book, exhibited, as no one has ever exhibited before, the eter- 
nal charm of the greatest, the most unfortunate, the best loved, the 
best hated, of all the sorceresses of history." The Spectator. 

"We do not think the case for Queen Mary has ever been argued 
so ably and convincingly as by Mr Skelton, or her story (especially 
that of her youth in France) made so present, human, and touching 
in its insatiable interest." The World. 



D* Skelton (Sir), John 

787 Maitland of Le thing ton, 

M2St> and the Scotland of Mary 

1894 Stuart