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of Catherine de Medicis, and recognised James as her successor on the throne of England, her reign would have been undisturbed by many a danger, and her memory would be without its deepest stain. The course she took was at once the least honourable and the most perilous. Mary, in England, was the centre of all mischief. The long injury of her imprisonment made the world forget her crimes: the old schemes were renewed; to enthusiastic natures any plot became holy which had for its object the triumph of the true faith and the restoration of freedom to the captive. Elizabeth owed her safety solely to the jealousies between France and Spain. Not only were these powers unable to co-operate even for the humiliation of England, neither could resist the temptation of thwarting any promising plan devised by the other.
While the weakness and prejudices of Elizabeth were thus injurious to herself, they brought bitter disaster upon Scotland.
The Queen's party revived: Murray, the one man able to control Scotland, was assassinated; the Catholic nobles, believing in the restoration of Mary, took heart; the leading Protestants, dazzled by the same mirage, deserted the good
But what changed Maitland of Lethington, and, through him, Grange, into the most zealous of queensmen, has never, perhaps, been satisfactorily explained. " Mr. Froude's theory is that Maitland was deluded by the vain hope of winning for Mary the English crown. Mr. Burton has no particular theory about the matter; and, in default of one, falls back upon an illustration. Lethington took his inspiration ' from the lamp. Among the common politicians of the day he 'was like an alchymist acquainted with formidable chemical
combinations unknown to others, and not so well at his own command but that the result was often explosive and dis'astrous.' Besides being led away by his own over-subtle fancies, Maitland mistook the position and misread the character of Elizabeth. Her weakness and fickleness, and the duplicity which is the consequence of weakness and fickleness, were past even his finding out. Maitland, Argyle, and Grange were all the victims of her hesitation, or the dupes of
The King's party, and with it the cause of the Reformation, was for a time in evil case. Morton upheld it alone. He was the strength of the party, and the true ruler of Scotland, while power was nominally intrusted to the feeble hands of Lennox and Mar. History has done but scant justice to this
Mr. Froude somewhere calls him an unprincipled scoundrel;' and even the cooler judgment of Mr. Burton
seems warped against him. We cannot concur in this severity of condemnation. Unprincipled, in private life, Morton was. Unhappy in his marriage, he was a libertine in his amours. But profligacy was a small matter in days of universal profligacy; that Morton had in common with many who were without his excuse. Unprincipled in public life he was not. True, his principles were purely political ; for the religious interests at stake he cared as little perhaps as Lethington himself. But such as they were he stuck to them; he chose them early, he adhered to them always, he carried them to final triumph, and he was put to death because of them. The nature of the man was hard and stern; he was feared and obeyed, but never loved, even by those of his own party. In the crisis of his fate, when done to death by the wretched courtiers of James, the Presbyterians whom he had saved would not move on his behalf. But now at least we may estimate fairly the merits of a statesman, undisturbed by doubts as to the piety of his motives and the purity of his life. His courage, vigour, and tenacity of purpose compel our respect; his fidelity to his party and his services to freedom demand our gratitude. Abandoned by his old allies, Morton found support in an unlooked-for quarter. For the second time in Scotland's story the middle class arose and saved their country. As we pointed out in our notice of Mr. Burton's former volumes, it was this class which brought the War of Independence to a successful issue.
During the kingly period they disappear from the stage: they were exhausted with misery, and the wretched turmoils which then desolated the land were nothing to them. But now they were roused by stimulants of terrible potency. The pure religion which they had learned to cherish was to be torn from them; a Popish adulteress was again to reign; the Spaniards, led by the dreaded Alva, were about to land on their shores; and in such straits their natural leaders were deserting them. But the more desperate the danger the higher swelled the national spirit. And the preaching of Knox, old though he was, and broken, and unable to reach the pulpit without aid, could yet stir the heart of Scotland • like ten * thousand trumpets. Blamed for his attacks on Mary, he thus vindicates his speech: “That I have called her ane obstinate adolatrice, ane that consented to the murther of her awn husband, and ane that has committed whoredom and villanous ' adultery, I gladly grant and never minds to deny; but railing and sedition they are never able to prove in me, till they first compel Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, St. Paul, and others, 'to recant, of whom I have learned plainly and boldly to call ' wickedness by its own terms—a fig a fig, and a spade a spade.' The nation was roused by his denunciations; it was he who at this supreme crisis turned to foolishness the wisdom of Lethington and the chivalry of Grange, and called to life the Commons of Scotland; and the Commons of Scotland saved the liberties and religion of their own country, and in so doing saved also the liberties and religion of England.
This rise of the Commons is the one attractive feature in that cruel time. Scotland became the theatre of a desolating civil war.
She had known many miseries of strife and rebellion ; but never anything like this. No quarter was given on either side. No sex or age was spared—women and children were tossed living into their burning houses. But the issue, failing the arrival of Alva, was never doubtful. Knox foresaw surely of the castle of Edinburgh, that it should rise like a ' sandglass, and spew out the captain with shame.'
Two events hurried on the end—the massacre of St. Bartholomew and the conspiracy of Ridolfi. The great crime of the court of Paris produced more immediate and more important effects in Scotland than in any other country. The tendency then gaining ground among the Commons towards the sternest forms of Presbyterianism was quickened by sympathy with the Huguenots, from whom that Presbyterianism had been derived. The nation was transported with a rage and horror before which even the Catholic nobles quailed. Then came the detection of Ridolfi, revealing to Elizabeth something of her danger, laying bare before Cecil the Catholic plottings and the complicity of Lethington. The title of James was recognised. The Pacification of Perth followed; and there remained only the defenders of the castle of Edinburgh-fighting with the desperate fidelity of renegades. Even at the last Elizabeth hesitated; but Morton-unlike Lennox and Mar—would not be trifled with. Accordingly, English cannon were sent round to Leith; the castle fell, and there was peace in the land.
This period of civil war possesses, as we have said, a peculiar interest and importance, because then the Scottish middle class made itself felt as a power in the country, and won a position which it never afterwards lost. It possesses, too, an interest of a different kind in that, before the issue was determined, the man who had called that middle-class into political existence closed, not unworthily, his eventful career.
The last days of Knox present a noble picture of faithfulness and courage enduring to the end. Worn with age; beset with
dangers; his life threatened by Grange himself, the trusted friend of old days; counselled to silence by timid allies; deserted even by his ecclesiastical brethren; he would not be slack in the cause of his country and his God. Driven from Edinburgh, his voice woke the land from distant St. Andrew's; but his work was done, and he returned to Edinburgh to die. His last act on earth was one of mercy. He sent David Lindsay, a minister, to the castle, beseeching the defenders to give rest to the country, and to save themselves from inevitable destruction. Grange was moved by such a message from one whom he had loved and honoured; it drew but a scurril jest from the harder Lethington. Well,' said the dying man, when the failure of his errand was reported to him, 'I have • been earnest with my God anent they twa men.
For the one,
I am sorry that sa should befall him; yet God assures ' me there is mercy for his soul. For the other, I have na warrant that ever he shall be well.'
For all this, as indeed for the whole life of Knox, Mr. Burton, we regret to state, has no fitter words than egotism,' and 'ran*cour,' and arrogance.' Throughout his history he is curiously unjust to the great Reformer. To some extent this is intelligible
. Himself utterly without enthusiasm, Mr. Burton cannot discern the merits, still less make allowance for the failings, of noble and enthusiastic natures. But it is less easy to understand why Mr. Burton should have taken so little pains to show in their true light the undoubted services rendered by Knox to his country -to education, for example; to civil, if not to religious, liberty. He writes of him throughout with a grudge and reserve of praise which seems to spring from a genuine inability to estimate fairly the position and character of the man. The reality of Knox's character has, we think, been obscured hardly less by the zeal of friends than by the malignity of enemies. To us his temperament seems to have been the very reverse of that of a fanatic. It was genial, liberal, kindly. True, he was enthusiastic-zealous even to slaying. He was intolerant too, of Popery and tyranny; and fortunately for him and for us, Popery and tyranny were then combined, at least in Scotland, with foolishness and crime. But enthusiasm is not fanaticism: intolerance does not always spring from mere bigotry. The cause of Protestantism and freedom against Mary, Philip, Alva, and the Pope, was a cause which men had to fight hard for; and which, failing success, they would have had to die for. In such a struggle • enlightened principles of any kind are not likely to find place. Intolerance is the inevitable vice of such a time; and Knox's intolerance took its vehemence from a fiery temperament, heated by his keen perception of the dangers to which truth and freedom were then exposed. Two great political evils throw their shadow over all Scottish historyfierceness of faction and want of public spirit. Knox was fierce enough, and, in a sense, factious; but he was animated by an unselfish zeal for the public good, shared in by few Scotchmen of his own or any other time. Our readers, we are sure, will forgive us if we recall to their recollection Mr. Froude's estimate of the greatest of Scotchmen:
The time has come when English history may do justice to one but for whom the Reformation would have been overthrown among ourselves; for the spirit which Knox created saved Scotland ; and if Scotland had been Catholic again, neither the wisdom of Elizabeth's ministers, nor the teaching of her bishops, nor her own chicaneries, would have preserved England from revolution. His was the voice which taught the peasant of the Lothians that he was a free man, the equal in the sight of God with the proudest peer or prelate that had trampled on his forefathers. He was the one antagonist whom Mary Stuart could not soften nor Maitland deceive; he it was that raised the poor Commons of his country into a stern and rugged people, who might be hard, narrow, superstitious, and fanatical ; but who, nevertheless, were men whom neither king, noble, nor priest could force again to submit to tyranny. And his reward has been the ingratitude of those who should most have done honour to his memory. . . . Even his very bones have been flung out of their resting-place, or none can tell where they are laid; and yet but for him Mary Stuart would have bent Scotland to her purpose, and Scotland would have been the lever with which France and Spain would have worked on England. But for Knox and Burghley—those two, but not one without the otherElizabeth would have been Aung from off her throne, or have gone back into the Egypt to which she was too often casting wistful eyes.'
With the overthrow of the Queen's party ends the interest of Scotch secular history until the union of the crowns. There remains much intrigue and turmoil-raids of Ruthven, Gowrie plots, and frequent outbreaks of feudal savagery; but little to amuse and nothing to instruct. The character of James arrests attention for a moment–in delineating which Mr. Burton has laboured, with evident pains and remarkable success. He displayed from the first all those unkingly qualities which afterwards excited the indignation and contempt of England. We remark the same timidity, the same feeble obstinacy, the same shallow deceit which he thought kingcraft, the same love of favourites, the same strange susceptibility to the attractions of male beauty. Aubigné, Arran, and Gray were the forerunners
History, vol. x. pp. 456, 457.