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of Lethington. Though I was not here at the lords’ doings, I must support them; and having taken on me the burden of the regency, which I should gladly have eschewed, I mean to employ my life in defence of that act, and will either reduce the nation under the king's authority, or it shall cost me my life.”*
Elizabeth appears to have been at this moment on the brink of a rupture with her allies in Scotland. She proposed to the French government that, as open hostilities might endanger the life of Mary, England and France should interdict all traffic with the Scotch rebels and their abettors.t Cecil informed the English minister at Paris of his mistress's solicitude to avert the example of regicide, in terms so earnest as to indicate a compassionate regard to the personal safety of her kinswoman. “No counsel,” Cecil complains, stay her majesty from manifesting her misliking of the proceedings against the queen of Scots, though I think the French may and will catch the lords, and make profit of them, to the disadvantage of England.” I Eighteen months afterwards, she claims the merit of having resisted, for Mary's sake, the counsel of politicians, in a letter to that princess herself, with little delicacy indeed, but with considerable appearance of sincerity. “ How void was I of regard to the designs against my crown, which the world had seen attempted by you, and to the security which might ensue to the state by your death; when I, finding your calamity to be so great, that you were at the pit's rink to have miserably lost your life, did not only entreat for your preservation, but so threatened some that were irritated against you, that I may say I was the principal cause of saving you.”] The English queen, probably with
* Throgmorton to Elizabeth, 22d Aug. Keith, 448.
* Cecil to Norris, 19th Aug. 1567. Cabala, 129. ; and on the 3d of Sep tember he informs the same ambassador, -" Her majesty is still offended with the lords for the queen. The example moveth her.” — Ibid. 130.
Elizabeth to Mary, 20th Feb. 1569–70. Robertson, App. xviii. . At the same time Elizabeth instructed sir H. Norris to represent to the king and queen-mother of France, that “when the queen of Scots was conducted from the field of battle to a place of restraint, where she refused to renounce the said murderer, while she was thereby in present danger to have her life taken from her by the fury of the nation, as she well knoweth, we, by speedy messages, and other earnest means used to those who were most irritated against her, saved her life." - Digges' Complete Ambassador, 14. The book, absurdly so entitled, ought to have been called “Walsingham's Correspondence," which forms the greatest part of its valuable contents.
no farther fixed intention than that of deterring the Scottish chiefs from offering violence to their sovereign, opened a negotiation with that portion of the nobility daily growing stronger, who were manifestly preparing to resist the regent. * It is evident from the tone of satisfaction in which Cecil soon after speaks of Moray's government, that Elizabeth was soon obliged to be content with his assurance that he would save the life of his sister, and that all farther attempts would be big with peril to that unfortunate princess. She soon withdrew from her advances to the confederates: but they persevered. The house of Hamilton, with their powerful connections and numerous followers, constituted their main strength. That illustrious family, declared by parliament to be next in the order of royal succession to Mary and her issue, between whom and the throne now stood nobody but a feeble infant, were impatient of the rule of a subject, and deemed it a proof of exemplary moderation that their ambition was bounded by the regency. To overthrow Moray, they coalesced with men of all opinions. The bishops, the great abbots, the Roman catholic lords, and all who were attached to the queen, either by gratitude or loyalty, including also those who were recalled to her cause by compassion, or moved by fear of confusion, flocked to Hamilton, and professed a determination to atone for their rebellion. The defection of the earl of Argyle from the protestants is ascribed by some to his descent from the Hamiltons by his mother, who was a daughter of that great family. Lethington, who, though he had connived at the king's murder, was a man of mild disposition, had been estranged from his old associates, by their refusal to grant
* Elizabeth to Throgmorton, 29th Aug 1567. Keith, 441. « Let the Hamiltons understand that we will allow their proceedings for the relief of their sovereign, and will do whatever is reasonable for the queen our sister,”
favourable terms to the queen. Sir William Murray of Tullibardine, who had been a partisan of uncommon violence, is said to have now changed his side from per. sonal resentment to Moray. The confederates found means to open an intercourse with Mary, who issued a commission to the duke of Chastelherault, to be her lieutenant of the kingdom. Moray, not without suspicion, or perhaps information of the designs formed against him, again visited his sister at Lochleven. She offered to quiet their apprehensions from Both well by a marriage, and proposed to wed George Douglas, a handsome stripling about eighteen years of age, for whom she spread her snares. He was the younger son of Lady Lochleven and consequently Moray's half-brother. But that nobleman evaded her proposal, and contented himself with the observation, that he was of too humble a rank for her consort, and that the states of the realm could alone determine such high matters. The regent expressed no wonder at this mention of a fourth husband, so soon after she had shown a resolution to cling to Bothwell ; - a determination, of which the obstinacy was evinced by the strange pretext of honour under which she sought to hide it from Throgmorton. He might have suspected that, independently of her reasons of policy for gaining Douglas, she might have honoured that youth by casting upon him one of her vagrant glances of momentary preference. This proposal of marriage to Douglas was chiefly contrived to hide the design of escape really entertained. On the 25th of March she dressed herself in the clothes of her laundress, who had come from the adjacent village, and carrying with her a basket of linen to be washed, she covered her face with “ a muffler,” and entered into the boat which had carried the laundress to the island. One of the watermen, with rough gallantry, tried to lift up the muffler, saying gaily,- “ Let us see what manner of dame this is.” As she put up her hand to resist him, their wonder and their suspicion were awakened by its whiteness and delicacy. They refused to land her at Kinross, where
George Douglas, with Semple and Beaton waited for her. But they were so faithful and compassionate as to keep her secret. They relanded her on the island. The plan must, however, have been soon discovered, for sir William Drury gives an account of it from Berwick, on the 3d of April to Cecil. * Yet, notwithstanding the failure of this attempt, it was repeated, with more success, on Sunday the 2d of May. On that evening, while lady Lochleven and her eldest son were at supper, William Douglas, a youth brought up in the castle, stole the keys. He opened the gates in order to let out the queen with one attendant, and he locked them on the outside to delay the pursuit. On their landing at Kinross from the wherry to which they trusted themselves, they were received with gladness by George Douglas, with lord Seaton, Mr. Hamilton, and Mr. Beaton, three of her constant and devoted adherents. She mounted her horse and did not slacken her gallop till she reached Niddry Castle t, the seat of lord Seaton, in West Lothian. After three hours' repose, she rode to Hamilton, where she was welcomed with joy, no longer dissembled, by a body of brilliant nobles, and a band of three thousand of their warlike followers. Her first act was to protest against the signatures extorted from her at Lochleven. The next was to require from Moray a renunciation of his illegal power. He was then holding a justice eyre at the neighbouring city of Glasgow.
Moray was attended only by his ordinary train, or by such armed men as were necessary to execute justice in a turbulent period. He was advised to fall back on Stirling, and to wait the reinforcements likely to arrive. But he was a man of resolute character : he understood the value of opening the contest with a bold front; and he dreaded the dispiriting effect of a retreat as more important than any military consideration of numbers in a war of which the event so much depended upon popular feeling. He considered the neighbourhood of • Keith, 569, &c.
+ Near Kirkliston.
the domains of Lenox, Glencairn, and Semple, as an advantage not to be lightly abandoned ; and above all he relied on the protestant zeal of the presbyterian city of Glasgow, if they were assured of faithful aid, and animated by the example of fearless allies. His numbers at last did not exceed 4000 men.
The queen's army, in a few days, increased to 6000, under the command of the earl of Argyle, the queen's lieutenant. Eloquent historians, both of the sixteenth and of the eighteenth century, have put in the mouths of the chiefs on both sides who assembled to deliberate on their movements those common-places which have been uttered in every age for or against caution or boldness. These topics, however, are seldom used in consultations respecting important measures, which are generally governed by the urgent necessities of the time, and by the minute circumstances of each particular case. The inaction of the queen's army for a time seemed to be rendered advisable by the departure of the earl of Huntly, who had gone to bring up his vassal tribes from the highlands, and of Ogilvie, who had repaired to his estates in the north with the like purpose. But if they decided for delay, it was evidently necessary to avoid giving the enemy an opportunity of forcing them to battle, which they might have guarded against, either by fortifying themselves in the advantageous position where they were quartered, or by a march towards Edinburgh, which would have concealed their retreat under specious appearances of advance. They apparently chose the least eligible of all plans, if their object was to avoid action. On the 13th of May, 1568, eleven days after the queen's escape from Lochleven, they marched from Hamilton towards Dumbarton, where it was said that their object was to leave the queen safely lodged in the castle, that they might be at liberty to direct their movements according to the circumstances of policy or of war.
But by this march they put into the hands of their vigilant adversary, who was encamped in the flank of their line of advance, the choice of attack or delay,