THE Queen having thus been obliged to resign her sceptre, by the basest means, and her son being crowned, by similar arts, there was now a king in possession, though unequal to the legitimate end of a just government, with a provisional administration. The two persons, who, chiefly, influenced this revolution, and now conducted this temporary rule, was Secretary Maitland, for foresight, and the Earl of Morton, for agency, two of the chief, and convicted, murderers of the late King.
These two miscreants, after concurring with Bothwell, in the King’s murder; after procuring his acquittal by a fictitious trial; after marrying him to the Queen, by fraud, and force; after drawing their swords, to free the Queen, from his thraldom, and for his punishment; perfidiously took the Queen prisoner, at Carberry-hill, and allowed Bothwell to escape, deliberately: Such conduct is an evident proof of guilty conduct. Morton, and Maitland, who acted, merely, as the agents of Murray, now committed the Queen to Lochleven castle, till they should do justice on Bothwell. And it may be allowed, that they made great efforts to arrest Bothwell, after they knew that he was out of reach. Bothwell had been already tried, and acquitted, by means of the two men, Morton, and Maitland, who now insidiously pursued him: and, under a legitimate government, could not have been again tried.
From the epoch of all those conspiracies, at Michaelmas 1566, Murray was intimately acquainted with the various plots; as the chief advantage of them was to result to him. When he set out, for France, on the 9th of April, he was perfectly aware of what was in contemplation. From the moment, that Morton, and other guilty nobles, drew their swords, at Stirling, for dethroning the Queen, and crowning her infant son, Murray’s elevation was the great end; and the conspirators, constantly informed him of their progress; solicited his return; and refused, to act with Thorkmorton, as ambassador, till Murray’s arrival. His influence, and his energy, in Scotland, were sufficiently known, in France. He was even induced to swear to the King of France, and to the Queen’s uncles, that he would set the Queen, at liberty, on his return, and restore her to her dignity. As soon as the chief insurgents heard of Murray’s arrival, in London, they sent Sir James Melvill to meet him; and to acquaint him with the progress of their affairs. Secretary Maitland met him, at Whittingham, where the death of Darnley had been concerted, and where the whole plan of Murray’s inauguration, as Regent, was now settled. Murray set forward, on the morrow, to Edinburgh; and was met, by great numbers on the road; and was joyfully received into Edinburgh, on the 11th of August 1567. Some time before him, had arrived, at Edinburgh, Mons. Lygnerol, a French envoy, whose feebleness was, merely, a representative of the ignorance, and inconsistency of his court. Even Throckmorton, however, instructed, could make but little impression on the guilty ruffians, who now governed Scotland, and had objects of their own, to effect, which had been long determined.
Murray, and other nobles, went to Lochleven castle, four days after, to see the Queen. She held a conference with them altogether, and afterwards, with Murray alone. To the nobles, at parting she said: “My Lords, you have had experience of my severity, and of the end of it; I pray you, also, let me find, that you have learned, by me, to make an end of yours, or at least, that you can make it final.” They did not expect, perhaps, that she would point her parting speech so sharply. Murray’s cold, and dark, conversation did not please her; as we may easily conceive, in her circumstances. He would not disclose to her what he conceived of her, whether good, or ill, or what he meant, with regard to her, of mischief, or good. This conversation was afterwards renewed with her, when he spoke more plainly; when he behaved himself more like a ghostly father unto her, than like a counsellor. In conclusion, Murray left the Queen that night, in hope of nothing, but God’s mercy; intimating, thereby, that some of the lords wished to put her to death: In the morning, however, he assured her of her life; but, as to her liberty, it lay not in his power, said he: and thus did he perform the solemn engagements to the French King. Favours of every sort the Queen had conferred on all those nobles, particularly, on Murray; but, never did one of them an injury, except that too many boons, which cannot easily be requited, operates as injuries, which are not forgotten. Those nobles had committed the atrocious crimes of murder, and treason, in which Murray had plainly participated. The Queen had committed no crime, being innocent of any knowledge of her husband’s death: yet, may she have been chargeable with indiscretions, the greatest whereof was, in trusting such villains, as Murray, Morton, and Maitland.
The lords returned from Lochleven to Stirling on the 16th of August; and three days after, came to Edinburgh. Here, met Murray and Maitland, on one side, and Throkmorton, on the other, who endeavoured, by orders of his mistress, to obtain some alleviation of the Queen’s imprisonment: But, Murray very fairly avowed, that though he had not been here, during the late action, which occasioned so great a change, yet, did he entirely approve of it, and support it. He stated to Throkmorton the conclusion of his speech to the Queen, at parting, in this manner. “Madam, I will declare to you, which be the occasions, that may put you, in jeopardy, and which be they, that may preserve you: First, for your peril, these be they; your own practices to disturb the quiet of your realm, and the reign of your son; to enterprize, to escape, from where you are, to put yourself at liberty; to animate any of your subjects, to troubles, or disobedience; the Queen of England, or the French King, to molest this realm, either with their war, or with war intestine, by your procurement, or otherwise; and your own persisting, in this inordinate affection, with the Earl of Bothwell.” What was all these intimations, but so many menaces, which he meant, probably, that Thorkmorton might convey to her.
On the 22d of August 1567, Murray was proclaimed the Regent, for obtaining whereof he had committed so many crimes. He was now sole ruler of Scotland. One of his first measures was, to destroy the public seals, which bore the name, or title of the Queen. His next object was of more importance, though less innocent. It was to obtain, from Sir James Balfour, who had acted, knavishly, the castle of Edinburgh. It was readily surrendered, on the following conditions: A pardon, for his concern in the King’s murder; a gift of the priory of Pittenweem; a pension out of the priory of St. Andrew’s to his son; about 5,000l. In money; the government of the castle to the laird of Grange. These terms were readily granted; and the castle was surrendered, in the night of the 24th of August, to Murray, who immediately, made Grange the governor. What corruption! But, what did Murray care, for the King’s murder, having been himself a latent conspirator, who made use of Bothwell, as his cat’s-paw?
His next exploit was the obtaining of Dunbar castle, in which he was aided by Morton. He obtained this strong fortress on the 30th of September, on terms of surrender, which were granted to the laird of Whitlaw, the governor. The terms were violated; and the governor was prosecuted, as a rebel, at the instigation of Morton, who obtained a gift of his escheat. Whitlaw was neither guilty, nor suspected of any concern, in Darnley’s murder: But, he was prosecuted, under an illegal denunciation of the insurgent nobles, who were guilty, that whoever would not join them, should be deemed guilty of the king’s murder: But, who empowered rebels to make such a law? was such a proclamation binding on any one, after the re-establishment of something like a regular government. Yet, was Whitlaw pursued to a forfeiture, by Morton, who obtained his escheat, and who owed him a grudge for marrying the widow of his elder brother. Such was the violence of Murray’s government, as regent; evincing, that usurpation ends, generally, in tyranny. The Regent’s expedition to the southern borders, where he was attended, by Morton, is a proof of this: On pretence of punishing the border thieves, they made an expedition to the south, in order to chastise several respectable gentlemen, who were not favourable, either to the late usurpation, or to the viceregal government. There were large districts, and some towns, who were extremely dissatisfied with this guilty revolution, and the corrupt result: Dumfries would not suffer the herald to proclaim the regent within its limits. There was, during the autumn of 1567, a considerable ferment within the realm; owing to the narrow ground, on which had been founded the late revolution. Murray endeavoured, with some success, to mollify the Hamiltons, and their connexions, against the meeting of parliament, on the 15th of December 1567. Neither Elizabeth, nor the French, were better satisfied with Murray, and his faction, who knew, however, that Cecil would protect them from the English, and they feared not the French.
The time was now come when Morton was to be rewarded for all his murders, and his treasons. He already had received the estate of Whitlaw, who was forfeited, without law. On the 11th of November 1567, he was restored, by Murray, to the office of chancellor, which was taken from Huntley. After the forfeiture of Bothwell, “his foul complotter in the horrid deed,” the regent conferred on Morton the office of great admiral of Scotland, the office of high sheriff of the shires of Edinburgh, and Hadington, was given him by Lenox, in fee, and heritage: Morton enjoyed all those lands, and offices till his forfeiture, for the King’s murder, in 1581. Such were the villanies of that age, which remain to be detected, by the present!
The great object, which induced the calling of the parliament, on the 15th of December 1567, was to legalize the revolution, which had placed the Queen in prison, and her son upon her throne. The regent, and his followers, did not, as we have seen, feel quite easy, either at home or abroad. And measures were taken, by the ruling powers, to bring as great a number of partizans, into parliament, as possible.
There appear to have been many previous considerations, concerning the main point. When the Queen was sent to prison, on the 16th of June, Morton, and his five complotters had no charge against her; as we know from the inanity of their warrant of commitment. At the hour, when she was to be called upon, with threatening tone, and a loud voice, to sign the instruments of her resignation, they had obtained, after more than five weeks inquiry, as we learn, from Throckmorton, documents, to prove the following charges: (1) of tyranny, while Murray, acted as her minion, and Maitland, as her secretary: (2) Of incontinency, with Bothwell, the conspirator with him, and others, of which they had sufficient proof, said they: (3) Of the murder of her husband, whereof, said they, they had apparent proof, as well of her hand writing, as sufficient witnesses. Thus, prepared were they, to criminate the Queen, at the epoch of her resignation. They would be still better prepared, no doubt, when the Parliament approached, to overwhelm her with proofs of every kind. When Murray, as Regent, called, the Privy Council, on the 4th of December, eleven days before the meeting of Parliament, the wise men therein met, with Morton, as chancellor, at their head, could find no other way to justify their proceedings, since her capture, on the 15th of June then past, and no other means, to save harmless the insurgent nobles, but her private letters, which were written, and subscribed, with her own hand, and sent by her to Earl Bothwell, who acted, meantime, as a complotter with themselves, whom she afterwards married, improvidently. This, then, being the only charge against the Queen, on the 4th of December, it is fair to ask them, what had become of the three charges against her before mentioned: her tyranny; her incontinency; and the murder of her husband, with all the proofs, which they had recovered, and possessed, the answer must be, that they had mounted to the moon: If a graver answer be required, it must, necessarily, be, that such charges, and proofs, never existed any where, but in the confident talk of Secretary Maitland to Throckmorton, Elizabeth’s envoy. It is apparent, then, that in the period, from the 20th of July to the 4th of December, Murray, and Morton, and Maitland, had shifted their ground: Her private letters, written, and signed, and sent by her to Bothwell, were the only proofs, which they now brought against her: But, where, and when, and how, were those interesting letters found? Morton, the falsifier, averred, that not far from Edinburgh castle, on the 20th of June then passed, he had intercepted Bothwell’s servant, Dalgleish, bearing a gilt box, full of the Queen’s private letters, from Sir James Balfour, the governor of Edinburgh castle, to Bothwell, at Dunbar. Such is the averment of this falsifier; this assassin of Rizzio; this murderer of the King. Dalgleish was still alive; Was he sent for, and examined? No. Was he examined when taken? No. He was examined on the 26th of June, six days after his interception, about the King’s murder; yet, not a word was asked him, about the boxful of letters. Was Sir James Balfour, who was sitting in the Privy Council, on the 4th of December, examined, on this interesting subject? No. Was Morton, himself, examined? No. Were the box, and letters, laid before the Privy Council, on that occasion? No. The record of that Privy Council is silent, on this head; and it, only says, that such letters existed somewhere: They were not, therefore, produced, before the eyes of the privy counsellors: Now; what does not appear, must be supposed, in all fair discussion, not to exist. When the noble insurgents entered Holyrood-house, they took possession of the Queen’s plate, jewels, and other moveables, as well as her private papers, which were deposited there: But, did they find any letter, or paper, or writing, which would, in any manner, verify, or support, those supposititious privy letters, mentioned, in the act of Privy Council, but not produced? The answer must be, that no such discovery was ever pretended. Now; the only affirmative proof, which was brought of the existence of such supposititious letters, was the averment of Morton, the falsifier, the murderer, the traitor: But, those circumstantial negative proofs, which have been adduced above, would weigh down, in the fair estimate of reason, and judgment, a thousand such averments of such a man.
Murray, Morton, and Maitland, suspected the validity of their own judgments, with regard to those supposititious epistles, when they introduced the Queen’s marriage with Bothwell, as a subsidiary proof. They do not, indeed, mention any of the circumstances, attending that marriage, whether it were affectionate, or forced. There is an act of the Privy Council, on the 21st of July 1567; stating, that Bothwell had arrested the Queen on the highway; had carried her forcibly to his castle of Dunbar; and had therein coerced her, till she consented to marry him. But, consent, and coercion, stand opposed to each other: If she was coerced, she did not consent; and if she did not consent, what proof was her marriage, with that ruffian of her knowledge, or privity, as to her husband’s murder? The answer must be, that such a marriage was no proof, that she was in any manner guilty. The parliament of December 1567, which attainted Bothwell of the murder of her husband, declared him guilty of treason, on three heads; (1) that he had arrested the Queen’s person on the road; (2) that he had carried her, forcibly, to his castle of Dunbar; and (3) that he had coerced her to agree to marry him; and on those three grounds the Parliament forfeited Bothwell: But, the Parliament, incidentally, freed the Queen of any guilt; because she could not be guilty, if those three facts were true. Such, then, were the two justifications, which Murray and his faction set up, for themselves; supposititious letters, which they did not produce, and a marriage, which they themselves enabled Bothwell to effect, by coercion, rather than consent: Yet, such justification did they resolve to brush through the subsequent Parliament; trusting that there would be no objections; and that their assertions would be received, as gospel.
Buchanan supposed, with the most egregious blunder, that the Parliament met on the 25th of August, instead of the 15th of December; and insisted, that this assembly was so numerous, that no one could remember such a concourse. Keith charges this writer with two wretched defects, inaccuracy, and infidelity, which are the more reprehensible, says he, as this historian was then at Edinburgh: But, Keith did not advert, with sufficient precision, that Buchanan wrote falsehood, deliberately, for the purpose of deception. The question between them, as to the members, in the Parliament, of April, and of December 1567, may be settled, in the following manner, from the Parliamentary record: The Parliament of April had the greatest number of nobles, and other respectable men: The Parliament of December had the greatest number of representatives, from towns, who had been studiously summoned, as ignorant zealots, who were most capable of any impressions, whatever diligence may have been used, by the Regent, to bring voters into his first Parliament. Yet, was it supported, by armed men. The assembly of the church appears to have met, about the beginning of December; and seems to have acted, as agitators to the ensuing Parliament.
Morton, the King’s murderer, presided, in Parliament, as chancellor. His nephew, Angus, a boy of fourteen, carried the crown; and sat, and voted, with his guilty kinsman. The acts of this Parliament were such, as might have been expected form such legislators, so called, on such an occasion. There was, particularly, passed an act, touching “the demission of the crown; and his majesty’s coronation.” Secondly, there was an act, touching “the constitution of James, Earl of Murray, Regent.” Thirdly, there was an act, touching the King’s oath, to be given, at his coronation; Against this oath requiring all future kings, “to be careful to root out of their kingdom all hereticks, and enemies to the true religion,” King William protested, we may remember, that it should not bind him to be a persecutor: Whereupon, the Scots commissioners assured the scrupulous King, that the oath did not mean what it declared: Those commissioners were never thanked, for their exposition so contrary to the real design of that persecuting statute, so different from Mary’s act of toleration.
In the meantime, the church assembly presented the following article to the Parliament, as they seem, also, to have done to the Privy Council of the 4th of December: “This present assembly considering the detention of the Queen’s grace, in the house of Lochleven, [no manifest declaration made of the occasion thereof:] Wherefore, they, as a member of the commonweil of this realm, not only for themselves, but also in the name of the common people thereof, desires, and most humbly desires the Lord Regent, and Estates, of Parliament, to open, and make manifest to them, and to the people, the cause of the detention of the Queen’s grace, in the said house; or else to put her to liberty furth of the samen; so, that they, and the people may… of… their hands.” The Parliament could not but find, that such a desire was reasonable. And this finding, and that desire, were followed, by the act of this same Parliament; touching the retention of our sovereign lord’s mother’s person. Now, this statute is nothing more than the abovementioned act of Privy Council of the 4th of the current month; charged, indeed, somewhat, in the wording of it, and a little, in the sense: Like the Privy Council, the Parliament now declared, that every thing done, by the insurgent nobles, to the Queen’s person, and property, was owing to the Queen’s own fault: In so far as, by divers private letters, written wholly with her own hand, [but not subscribed by her, as the act of Privy Council stated] and sent by her to Earl Bothwell, the chief murderer of her husband; and, by her pretended marriage with him, soon after, she appeared to be privy, and active, in the murder of her husband. Such, then, is the substance of this act of indemnity, which is exactly the same, as the indemnities stated, in the act of Privy Council; only the Queen’s letters, which formed the great justification, both of her imprisonment, and the justification of those, who imprisoned her, in the act of council was written, and signed, by her; but in this act, the letters are stated to be only written by her. Those important epistles were said, by themselves, to have been detected, by Morton, on the 20th of June 1567: But, what justified Morton, and his guilty associates, when they made the Queen a prisoner, on the 15th of June, upon her joining those nobles, on terms, which they instantly violated? what justified those nobles, when they imprisoned, the Queen, on the 16th of June, in Lochleven castle? The answer must be, that they had no justification; as we might, indeed, infer, from the inanity of the warrant of commitment. The chief justification, we see, was the Queen’s letters, whether written, and signed, or written only, by her, they could not tell; but, it is of more importance to enquire, what steps were ever taken to fortify the assertion of such a notorious falsifier, as Morton? The answer must be, that no steps were hitherto taken, to support Morton’s assertion, on which both the Privy Council, and the Parliament, relied without any inquiry. The letters, as we have seen, were not produced, in the Privy Council, on the 4th of the current month: We shall, immediately, perceive, that they were not laid before the Parliament. The act is quite silent, on this important point: It contains no recital, that the letters were laid before the house, or were ever seen, by any of the members. De non apparentibus, et non existentibus eadem est ratio: What does not appear, in nature, or art, or in policy, must be supposed, not to exist. The coincidence of the two acts of Privy Council and of Parliament, in their silence, on this important head, is satisfactory proof, that the Queen’s supposititious letters, were not laid before either.
It seems now to be pretty apparent, that those supposititious letters were never shown, in Scotland, where they could have been detected. They were shown, however, in England. And the Queen, no sooner heard, that her opponents had such letters, in their possession, than she ordered her commissioners to protest, most solemnly, that she had never written such letters; that there were several persons, in Scotland, who could counterfeit her writing. Here, then, have we the Queen’s solemn denial, with probability, opposed to Morton’s falsehood, and Maitland’s forgery, with improbability. The four first letters, in Goodalls’ series, were said to be written, from Glasgow, in January 1567, while the Queen was elsewhere, if we may credit public records, rather than unauthorized assertions. The period chosen, for forging such supposititious letters, was the very moment, when, being reconciled to her husband, she went to Glasgow, to bring him to Edinburgh. We may thus perceive, then, that the four letters, which were supposed to be sent, from Glasgow, were obvious forgeries.
At the end of the session, after the King’s advocate had laid before Parliament, the writings, and other proofs, for verifying the charges against Bothwell, and his associates, the three estates adjudged him guilty of several points of treason; to wit, for treasonably, and violently arresting the Queen’s person on the high road; for carrying her, forcibly, the same night, to Dunbar castle; and therein detaining her, by violence, the space of twelve days, and by force, and fear, compelling her to agree to marry him. The facts, which were thus stated, in that act of forfeiture against Bothwell, evince the innocence of the Queen; because those facts, showing a constant violence, force, and fear, operating upon the Queen, during a dozen days, she could not be guilty, in any sense. Sir James Melvill, who was, also, carried prisoner to Dunbar castle, informs us, that Bothwell, having the Queen thus, in his power, “boasted he would marry the Queen; who would, or would not; yea, whether she would herself, or not.” We now perceive what sort of sophistry it was in Murray, Morton, and Maitland, to insist, that the Queen must have previously known of the murder of her husband: There might have been something, in this position, had she voluntarily chosen him, for her husband: But, when we perceive, from their own showing, that she continued a dozen days, in a baron’s castle, under violence, and fear, before she agreed to marry him, the subsequent marriage, thus enforced, supplies no proof of her privity to the murder of her husband, which was accomplished, by Murray, Morton, Maitland, and Bothwell for their cat’s-paw, with other subordinate characters: And the Queen was made the victim of that conspiracy, whatever pretences Murray, Morton, and Maitland, set up, and forgeries they committed, to cast the guilt upon the innocent Queen, whose crown was coveted, by the ambition of Murray; whose government was hated, by Morton, and Maitland; because she had pardoned the treasons of both.
We now perceive that the justification, which was attempted by Murray, and his faction, for dethroning the Queen, and crowning her son, has failed egregiously: The privy letters, which were to cover her with shame, they were afraid to produce, in the Privy Council, or in the Parliament of Scotland, and have only involved themselves, in disgrace. The Queen’s marriage with Bothwell, which was to convict her of foreknowledge of her husband’s murder, being thus proved, by an act of Murray’s Parliament, to have been forced upon her, by the treasonous violence of a dozen days durance, proves only the villainy of Murray’s faction, having Morton, and Maitland, for its chiefs, which, maliciously, involved an unprotected Princess, in such a choice of difficulties. Murray, and his partizans, thus stand uncovered, by any justification, the traitors, who dethroned the Queen, without utility; the wretches, who brought forward forgeries, to justify their own falsehoods; the flagitious villains, who attempted to cast the guilt of the king’s murder, from themselves upon their innocent sovereign; all stand before the world, as the most consummate miscreants of a miscreant age: This seems to be the only act of this session, which bears upon the detention of the Queen’s person: Yet, is it curious to remark, that while it justifies, and indemnifies the nobles, and others, who arrested and imprisoned the Queen; yet, does it not, by any distinct clause, or express declaration, provide, for retaining the Queen, in prison, after the rising of the Parliament. Murray, and his faction, plainly intended, that the Queen should be imprisoned for life; yet, seemed to be afraid to declare as much, by this act, which contains nothing but fiction, and falsehood, as the recited motives of passing it.
The only other statute of that Parliament, in which the Queen was, particularly concerned, was the act of indemnity, granted to Douglas of Lochleven, for detaining the King’s mother. It recites the order of commitment, by Morton, and five other nobles, on the 16th of June, to take the Queen into his safe keeping, till further enquiry were made, into the King’s murder: It also recites a declaration, which he had obtained, from the Queen, on the 28th of July, then passed, that she had not been violently treated by him; which several documents were recited, as produced, and shown to the Regent, and estates of Parliament; who thereupon legalized his conduct, and indemnified his heirs. We thus see, in the practice of parliament, that the documents, whereon any act was founded, were produced, and shown, in Parliament: All except the act, for justifying the nobles, who dethroned the Queen, and crowned her son, which was grounded upon supposititious letters, that were neither shown, nor produced; because they might have been seen, by those, who could have easily detected them, with other fictions, and falsehoods.
The Parliament rose, upon the 29th of December 1567, after establishing the religion, and passing a variety of laws, both moral, and political. On the morrow, the Privy Council resolved, that justice airs should be held, within the several shires, the object whereof was, sufficiently obvious, to oblige every one to obey the regent; and to enable the Regent to harass those, who might be suspected of disaffection to him. As a proper prelude to those courts, four persons were executed, on the 3d of January 1568, who had been convicted of the King’s murder: The persons, who were thus executed, were Dalgleish, Powrie, Hepburn, and Hay; the servants, and friends, of Bothwell: They all acknowledged their guilt; and in their declarations, acquitted the Queen of any knowledge of their guilty act. It was but too much the practice, in those times, of treason, and conspiracy, to inflict rigorous punishment on the low, but to exempt the high: The Regent, the Chancellor, the Secretary of state, and other eminent men, were all more guilty of the King’s murder, than those four who suffered.
While the Regent, and his officers, thus endeavoured to execute justice, and to gain adherents, they did that, which offended many persons: The Regent, who had preachings, three times a week, caused the Privy Council to order the lead, which covered the cathedrals of Aberdeen, and Murray, to be taken off, and sold, for the maintenance of his soldiers. The Regent, in the meantime, avowed his hostility to the Hamiltons, by an attack, on John, commendator of Arbroath; and thereby intimated his purpose of ruling a divided people, with a rod of iron.
The Regent, at the end of March 1568 made a second visit to the Queen, with whatever purpose. She is said to have charged Murray with having used great rigour towards her, during the late Parliament: He, certainly, carried through laws of extreme violence against the Queen; by condemning her, without hearing her defences; and by founding strong measures, upon suppositious letter, which were not openly produced, in a free assembly. The Regent is said to have answered, that he, and his associate nobles, could do no less, for their own security, as they had effected her imprisonment; so that they justified one crime, by committing another. This answer contains much truth; but, it may be doubted, whether so artful a statesman would avow so plainly what he had an interest to conceal. The Queen is next made to talk of marrying George Douglas, the brother of the Laird of Lochleven: But, it was forgotten, that she was already a married woman. It seems more certain, that she attempted to escape, on the 25th of March, from Lochleven castle, in the disguise of a laundress; and had well nigh effected her purpose, by means of George Douglas, the youngest brother of William Douglas of Lochleven, the Queen’s jailor, as well as half brother of the Regent; being all the children of Margaret Erskine, the mistress of James V. whom Sir Robert Douglas, afterwards married: Those Douglasses were of course legitimate; the Regent Murray was illegitimate. George Douglas, having thus failed, and being turned out of the castle, and island, was not, however, driven from his purpose: He gained to what he supposed the noble design of effecting the liberation of a Queen, William Douglas, an orphan boy, who was then under eighteen years of age, who had been brought up, in Lochleven castle: This boy was quite equal to the trust put in him; as he was sly, and silent, enterprizing and persevering. Such were the two persons, who chiefly effected the escape of the Scotish Queen, from Lochleven castle.
There arrived, soon after, Mons. Beaumont, a French ambassador, to put the Regent in remembrance of his solemn engagements to his master, to enlarge the Scotish Queen, from her imprisonment: and to claim his punctual performance. On the 27th of April, the ambassador discussed with the Regent this business, which was so important to the Queen. But, the Regent was at no loss, for shuffling answers, whence the French King might have perceived his own weakness, in trusting to the promises of a faithless man; and whence it might have been inferred, that his purpose was, to retain his captive, for life, in prison.
Yet, whatever might be the Regent’s purpose, in regard to his sister, to whom he owed so much; yet, was he disappointed in a manner, which he did not foresee. He had heard of the Queen’s former attempt to escape, from her confinement, notwithstanding his menaces of death, in case of her failure. He had been often warned, as it should seem, that there were many, and persevering intrigues, to free the captive Queen, from her unmerited imprisonment. Yet, the Regent, trusting to his own sagacity, or deluded, by flattery, or folly, did not adopt any measures of prevention, except, that his half brother, George Douglas, who had been recently detected, in trying to free her from prison, had been turned out of Lochleven castle. Yet, did he persevere in his generous purpose, of rescuing a captive Queen; owing to whatever motive of interest, or commiseration, or attachment, to an elegant Princess of five and twenty. He engaged, in his generous purpose, the boy, William Douglas, who was more artful, or fortunate, than he had been. On Sunday, the 2d of May 1568, at seven, in the evening, while the family were, at supper, this boy contrived to steal the keys of the castle, and let the Queen, and her maid, out of the stronghold; and locking the gates, behind them, so as to prevent the pursuit, he put the fugitives into a small boat, and rowed them to the appointed landing place. Her old, and faithful servant, John Betoun, had been employed, during several weeks, in carrying messages, from Lochleven, to Hamilton, and from Hamilton to Lochleven, in concerting the Queen’s escape. This worthy, and intelligent man, was waiting upon the shore, with George Douglas; and these zealous men, knowing from an appointed signal, that the Queen was safe on board the boat, gave notice to Lord Seaton, and James Hamilton of Orbieston, who approached, with their faithful followers: They soon mounted the Queen, and her maid, on horse-back; and galloped to Lord Seaton’s house of Niddery, in West Lothian, for the night: and early on the morrow, she was conveyed safe to Hamilton, accompanied by her two deliverers, George, and William Douglas.
There immediately repaired to the Queen a dozen nobles, many gentlemen, and so many common men, as to form an army of 6000 strong. On the 8th of May, only five days after the Queen’s enlargement, there was a written engagement, entered into, for her defence, by nine earls, nine bishops, eighteen lords, and many others. Those facts evince what a powerful body of every rank were attached to the Queen, after all her misfortunes. The French ambassador remarked, that he had never seen so many men, so speedily convened.
At Glasgow, where the Regent was holding courts of justice, it was not easily believed, that the Queen was arrived, at Hamilton: But, this last event, at so little a distance, could not be long concealed. And the wonderful alteration, in many minds, and many faces, soon evinced, the great effects of this exhilarating truth. Some slipped, privately, away; others sent quietly, to beg the Queen’s pardon; and not a few joined her openly: So that the Regent was advised, to retire, from Glasgow, to Stirling: But, he was not a man, to avoid difficulty; or to retire from danger. He saw, that his retirement would be deemed a flight; and that such a measure would encourage his enemies, and dishearten his friends.
The Queen’s first step was to warn the Regent, to retire quietly, from his ill acquired power; and to restore the sceptre to her legitimate hands: But, he had acquired his power, by too many hazards, and crimes, to relinquish it, without a struggle. Whereupon the Queen declared, in presence of the nobles, and other respectable persons, who were assembled about her, at Hamilton, that the documents, for the resignation of the crown, which Lord Lindsay had forced her to sign, in the prison of Lochleven, were extorted, from her, by fear: She required Robert Melvill, who had been present, at the signature of those guilty papers, to testify what he saw. The convention, at Hamilton, thereupon declared the Queen’s resignation to be void; owing to the circumstances attending it. Both parties now made hasty preparations, to decide that question, by the sword. But, all the wisdom, in counsel, and all the vigour of war, were on the side of the Regent. The Queen, meantime, sent John Betoun to England, and to France, to notify her escape from prison, and to solicit assistance. The Queen then resided in Draffan castle, the ancient stronghold of the Hamiltons. And an attempt was meanwhile made, by the parson of Audhamstochs, to surprise Dunbar castle, for the Queen’s interest; but it failed, owing to want of force, more than deficiency of enterprize. It is apparent, from the letters of Drury to Cecil, that the English government took a strong part against the Queen, in support of the Regent.
If we may believe Melvill, the Queen had no inclination, for warfare, nor any purpose to hazard an engagement; but, to shelter herself in the strong castle of Dunbarton; and to wait events, both from the affections of her people, and succours, from abroad. The nobles, however, who surrounded her, were too confident in their numbers, without reflecting how often the victory is won, by skill, over all the efforts of strength. The Queen, at the same time, endeavoured to obtain her object, by treaty; without adverting, that the Murrays, the Mortons, and the Maitlands, if they negotiated, it would, only, be, to deceive, and betray. The Queen’s army, which was conducted by Argyle, marched from Hamilton, on the 13th of May, 1568, with design to convey her to Dunbarton castle. The Regent, being informed of this intention, marched his inferior numbers, with some field pieces, to Langside, in Renfrewshire, which lying directly on the road, he, in some measure, fortified. The Queen’s army attacked the village; but after a sharp conflict, were repulsed. The Queen, seeing the fate of the field, left it, with speed, attended by Lord Herries; and retired into Galloway, whence, according to Lord Herries’s opinion, she could retire, by sea, either into England or France. The Queen did not stop, till she found herself in Dundreinnen abbey, near Kirkudbright, sixty miles, from the unfortunate field of Langside. After a slight repast, she held a consultation, on the question, what course she should next pursue. Her friends, strenuously, objected to England, as a country, where she could not expect any safety: yet, feeling the mortification of returning to France, as a fugitive, she resolved to trust to the recent kindnesses of her faithless cousin, rather than expose herself to the coarse malignity of the Queen-mother. This resolution, being thus unwisely taken, Lord Herries wrote, on Saturday, the 15th of May, to Lowther, the deputy captain of Carlisle; informing him of the Queen’s misfortune; and desiring to know, if the Scotish Queen, should be reduced to the necessity, of seeking refuge, in England, she might come, safely, to Carlisle. Lowther wrote a doubtful answer; saying, that Lord Scroope, the warden of that march, was at London, to whom he had written; but, if the Queen should be pressed, by necessity, to pass the borders, he would meet, and protect her, till his mistress’s pleasure were known. Without waiting, however, for this answer, which was promptly written, the Queen, with sixteen attendants, the chief of whom, was the gallant Lord Herries, embarked in a fishing boat, for Cumberland; and, on the evening of Sunday, the 16th of May 1568, arrived safe, at Workington. On this occasion, the unfortunate Queen had not a second habit, nor a shilling in her pocket. She immediately wrote, however, to her good sister; informing her of her arrival, and of the cause of her adventure. The Scotish Queen seemed, at first, not to wish to be known; but, the neighbouring gentlemen, hearing that certain strangers had landed there, from Scotland, soon discovered in her coarse disguise, that she was no ordinary person; and they respectfully conveyed her to Cockermouth, where she remained till Lowther, Lord Scroope’s deputy, assembled the country, and conducted her, honourably, says Cecil, to the castle of Carlisle, as her prison.
In the meantime, continues Cecil, that is to say, on the 20th of May, the Queen’s majesty having heard, certainly, of the Scotish Queen’s landing, sent express commandment to the deputy of Carlisle, to treat her with all honour, and favour, that he could, and commanded that the Lady Scroope, the Duke of Norfolk’s sister, being in the north parts, should speedily repair, with other ladies, and gentlewomen, to attend on her: and further sent letters of comfort to the said Queen; and gave order, also, that Lord Scroope, the warden of those frontiers, being then at court, and Sir Francis Knolls, the vice chamberlain, to depart in post, towards the said Queen, with letters, and messages of as much comfort, as the time will allow; who departed the 20th of May; and at their coming to her, declared the Queen’s grief of mind, for her many late mishaps; and therewith gave her an assurance of her friendship and favour, that with her honour, any way she might: whereof, the Scotish Queen took great comfort, and speedily sent up the Lord Herries, as her most trusty counsellor, a nobleman of great understanding, and the Lord Fleming, whom she afterward made her chamberlain, to the Queen’s Majesty. It was, moreover, ordered, that she, with her train, should be entertained with all honour, and courtesy, and a free liberty given to her servants, or subjects, to come to Carlisle to speak with her, and to return into Scotland, at their pleasure. Thus much from Cecil. Had all been like this! But, it is easy to see, that much of this attention to the Scotish Queen was merely affected, in order, to show fair appearances to the eyes of France, and Spain; to withdraw the Queen’s attention, from her sense of captivity; and to lay a foundation of confidence, whereon might be built a large superstructure of future wrongs.
Here, must this section close; having thus conducted the Scotish Queen to Carlisle; and here may it be fit, to pause awhile; and to lay before the judicious reader, some lighter subjects.
From the Paper Office, I submit the attendants upon the Scotish Queen, at Carlisle, and Bolton, with some remarks upon the margin, by Secretary Cecil:
The Bishop of Ross,
The L. Herries,
The L. Lyvingston,
The L. Fleming,
Mr. Hamilton, master of household,
A Frenchman, comptroller,
J. Livingston, master stabler,
Mr. Douglas, (George),
Little Douglas (William, the orphan boy),
The Laird of Whitlaw,
The Laird of Skirling,
The Lady Livingstone,
The comptroller’s wife,
The Queen’s want of apparel ought not to surprise us; considering her late adventures. The messenger, Richard Graham, whom Scroope, and Knollys, sent to the Earl of Murray, for the Queen’s wardrobe, remaining at Lochleven, returned with five small cart loads, and four horse loads of apparel. Through the disguise of her apparel, Lord Scroope, and Sir Frances Knollys, saw, that she was an elegant woman. Knollys wrote to Cecil: “Surely, she is a rare woman: For, as no flattery can abuse her; so no plain speech seems to offend her, if she thinks the speaker an honest man.” In another letter from Knollys to Cecil of the 28th of June, he says: “So that now here are six waiting women, although none of reputation, but Mistress Mary Seaton, who is praised, by this Queen, to be the finest busker, that is to say, the finest dresser of a woman’s head of hair, that is to be seen, in any country; whereof we have seen divers experiences, since her coming hither: And, among other pretty devices, yesterday, and this day, she did set such a curled hair upon the Queen, that was said to be a perewyke, that showed very delicately: And, every other day, she hath a new device of head dressing, without any cost, and yet setteth forth a woman gaylie well.”