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years after, discovered that this opinion, however plausible, was ill-founded ; and that the two brothers had not carried on their machinations all alone.
But though it be discovered that Gowrie did not act without associates, little additional light is thrown, by this discovery, on the motives and intention of his conduct. Ít appears almost incredible that two young men of such distinguished virtue should revolt all at once from their duty, and attempt a crime so atrocious, as the murder of their sovereign. It appears still more improbable, that they should have concerted their undertaking with so little foresight and prudence. If they intended that the deed should have remained conccaled, they could not have chosen a more improper scene for executing it than their own house. If they intended that Henderson should have struck the blow, they could not have pitched on a man more destitute of the courage that must direct the hand of an assassin ; nor could they expect that he, unsolicited, and unacquainted with their purpose, would venture on such a desperate action. If Ruthven meant to stab the king with his own hand, why did he withdraw the dagger, after it was pointed at his breast? How could he leave the king, after such a plain declaration of his intention ? Was it not preposterous to commit him to the keeping of such a timid associatė aş Henderson ? For what purpose did he waste time in binding the hands of an unarmed man, whom he might easily have despatched with his sword ? Had Providence permitted them to imbrue their hands in the blood of their sovereign, what advantage could have accrued to them by his death? and what claims or pretensions could they have opposed to the rights of his children? Inevitable and instant
vengeance, together with perpetual infamy, were the only consequences they could expect to follow such a crime.
On the other hand, it is impossible to believe that the king had formed any design against the life of the two brothers. They had not incurred his indignation by any crime ; and were in no degree the objects of his jealousy or hatred; nor was he of a spirit so sanguinary, or so noted for rash and desperate valour, as to have attempted to murder them in their own house, where they were sui rounded with many domestics, he only with a slender and unarmed train ; where they could call to their assistance the inhabitants of a city, at the devotion of their family, while he was at a distance from all aid ; and least of all would he have chosen for his associates in such an enterprise, the earl of Mar and the duke of Lennox, the former connected in close friendship with the house of Gowrie, and the latter married to one of the earl's sisters.
Whichsoever of these opposite systems we embrace; whether we impute the intention of murder to Gowrie, or to the king; insuperable difficulties arise, and we are involved in darkness, mystery, and contradietions. Perhaps the source of the whole conspiracy ought to be searched for deeper, and by deriving it from a more remote cause, we may discover it to be less criminal.
To keep the king of Scots in continual dependence was one great object of Elizabeth's policy. In order to this, she sometimes soothed him; and sometimes bribed his ministers and favourites; and when she failed of attaining her end by these means, she encouraged the clergy to render any administration which she distrusted unpopular, by decrying it, or stirred up some faction of the nobles to oppose and to overturn it. In that fierce age, men little
the conspiracy, and were protected by Elizabeth. And James himself, though he prudently concealed it, took great umbrage at her behaviour. None, however, of Elizabeth's intrigues in Scotland tended to hurt the king's person, but only to circumscribe his authority, and to thwart his schemes. His life was the surest safeguard of her own, and restrained the popish pretenders to her crown, and their abetters, from desperate attempts, to which their impatience and bigotry might, otherwise, have urged them on. To have encouraged Gowrie to murder his sovereign, would, on her part, have been an act of the utmost imprudence. Nor does this seem to have been the intention of the two brothers. Mr. Ruthven, first of all, endeavoured to decoy the king to Perth, without
attendants. When these proved more numerous than was expected, the earl employed a stratagem in order to separate them from the king, by pretending that he had rode away towards Falkland, and by calling hastily for their horses, that they might follow him. By shutting James up, meanwhile, in a distant corner of the house, and by attempting to bind his hands, their design seems to have been rather to seize than to assassinate him. And though Gowrie had not collected his followers, so as to have been able to detain him long a prisoner in that part of the kingdom, by open force, he might soon have been conveyed aboard the English ship, which waited perhaps to receive him, and he might have been landed at East Castle, a house of Logan's, in which, according to many obscure hints in his letters, some rendezvous of the conspirators was to be held. Amidst the surprise and terror, into which the king must have been thrown by the violence offered to him, it was extremely natural for him to conclude that his life was sought. It was
the interest of all his followers to confirm him in this belief, and to magnify his danger, in order to add to the importance and merit of their own services. And thus, his fear, and their vanity, aided by the credulity and wonder which the contemplation of any great and tragical event, when not fully understood, is apt to inspire, augmented the whole transaction. On the other hand, the extravagance and improbability of the circumstances which were added, detracted from the credit of those which really happened ; and even furnished pretences for calling in question the truth of the whole conspiracy.
In the following parliament, the dead bodies of the two brothers were produced according to law; an indictment for high treason was preferred against them ; witnesses were examined ; and, by an unanimous sentence, their estates and honours were forfeited ; the punishment due to traitors was inflicted on their dead bodies; and, as if the punishment hitherto in use did not express sufficient detestation of their crimes, the parliament enacted that the surname of Ruthven should be abolished ; and in order to preserve the memory of the king's miraculous escape, and to declare the sense which the nation had of the divine goodness, to all future ages, appointed the fifth of August to be observed, annually, as a day of public thanksgiving.
MASTER OF GRAY.
EAGER to deprive the banished nobles concerned in the Raid of Ruthven, of Elizabeth's protection, James appointed the master of Gray his ambassador to the court of England, and intrusted him with the conduct of a negotiation for that