Imagens das páginas

among martial nobles, was either unknown or de spised. Zealous for religion, to a degree which distinguished him, even at a time when professions of that kind were not uncommon.

His confidence in his friends was extreme, and inferior only to his liberality towards them, which knew no bounds, A disinterested passion for the liberty of his country, prompted him to oppose the pernicious system which the princes of Lorrain had obliged the queen-mother to pursue. On Mary's return into Scotland, he served her with a zeal and affection, to which he sacrificed the friendship of those who were most attached to his person. But, on the other hand, his ambition was immoderate; and events happened that opened to him vast projects, which allured his enterprising genius, and led him to actions inconsistent with the duty of a subject. His treatment of the queen, to whose bounty he was so much indebted, was unbrotherly and ungrateful. The dependence on Elizabeth, under which he brought Scotland, was disgraceful to the nation. He deceived and betrayed Norfolk with a baseness unworthy of a man of honour. His elevation to such unexpected dignity inspired him with new passions, with haughtiness and reserve; and, instead of his natural manner, which was blunt and open, he affected the arts of dissimulation and refinement. Fond, towards the end of his life, of flattery, and impatient of advice, his creatures, by soothing his vanity, led him astray, while his ancient friends stood at a distance and predicted his approaching fall. But amidst the turbulence and confusion of that factious period, he dispensed justice with so much impartiality, he ropressed the licentious borderers with so much courage, and established such uncommon order and tranquillity in the country, that his administration was extremely popular, and he was long and affece tionately remembered among the common people by the name of the Good Regent.

Variety is pleasant, and contrast tends to elucidate. The character of the regent is delineated by the pen of Dr. Stuart in the following manner: “This illustrious man was the natural son of James V. by Margaret, the daughter of John, lord Erskine. He had been appointed, at an early age to the priory of St. Andrew's ; but he possessed not that pacific mind, which, uninterested in the present world, delights to look to the future, and to busy itself in the indolent formalities of devotion. The activity of his nature compelled him to seek agitation and employment; the perturbed period in which he lived supplied him with scenes of action ; and the eminence of his abilities displayed itself. He discovered a passion for liberty, and a zeal for reli. gion ; and he distinguished

himselt by an openness and sincerity of carriage. These popular qualities pleased the congregation, and procured him their confidence. The love of liberty, however, was not, in him, the effect of patriotism, but of pride ; his zeal for religion was a political virtue ; and, under the appearance of openness and sincerity, he could conceal more securely his purposes. Power was the idol which he worshipped, and he was ready to acquire it by methods the most criminal. He was bold, firm, and penetrating. His various mind fitted him alike for intrigue and for war. destined to flourish in the midst of difficulties. His sagacity enabled him to foresee dangers, his prudence to prepare for them, and his fortitude to surmount them. To his talents, his genius, and his resources, Scotland is indebted for the reformation. By this memorable achievement, he meant nothing more than to advance himself in the road to greatness. To this point all his actions were directed. It gave the limits to his generosity, which

He was

has been extolled as unbounded. His praise, his caresses, and his services, his dissimulation, his perfidiousness, and his enmities, were all sacrifices to ambition. And miscarriage, which has ravished so many laurels from great men, did not tarnish his glory. His success was so conspicuous, that he seemed to have the command of fortune."


Is one of those characters who make a distinguished figure in the Scottish history. Of him, our author says, the queen-dowager suffered an irreparable loss by the defection of her principal secretary, William Maitland of Lethington. IIis zeal for the reformed religon, together with his warm remonstrances against the violent measures which the queen was carrying on, exposed him so much to her resentment, and to that of her French counsellors, that, suspecting his life to be in danger, he withdrew secretly from Leith, and fled to the lords of the congregation ; and they with open arms received a convert, whose abilities added both strength and reputation to their cause.

The leaders of the congregation having resolved to implore the assistance of Elizabeth towards finishing an enterprise, in which they had fatally experienced their own weakness, and the strength of their adversaries, Maitland, as the most able negotiator of the party, was employed in this embassy. There was little need of his address or eloquence to induce Elizabeth to take his party under her protection. She observed the prevalence of the French councils, and the progress of their arms in Scotland, with great concern ; and as she foresaw, the dangerous tendency of their schemes in that kingdom, she had already come to a resolution

with regard to the part she herself would act, if their power should grow still more formidable, One of Maitland's attendants was instantly despatched into Scotland with the strongest assurances of her protection.

After the successful issue of this contest to the confederated lords, Maitland formed part of an embassy to queen Elizabeth, which was attended with a very favourable result. Upon the young queen of Scotland's arrival from France, to assume the reins of her native government, conformably to the plan which had been concerted in France, she committed the administration of affairs entirely to protestants. The prior of St. Andrew's and Maitland seemed to hold the first place in her affection, and possessed all the power and reputation of favourite ministers. Her choice could not have fall. en upon persons more acceptable to her people ; and by their prudent advice the queen conducted herself with so much moderation and deference to the sentiments of the nation, as could not fail of gaining the affection of her subjects, the firmest foundations of a prince's power, and the only genuine source of his happiness and glory. In order to obtain a cordial reconcilement with Elizabeth, Mary sent Maitland to the English court, with many ceremonious expressions of regard for that queen; but, as on each side the expressions of kindness were made with little sincerity, they were listened to with proportional credit. Maitland was at the same time instructed by his mistress to signify her willingness to disclaim any right to the crown of England during the life of Elizabeth, and the lives of her posterity, if, on failure of these, she were declared next heir by act of parliament ; but the proposal was rejected in a peremptory tone, with many expressions of a resolution never to per mit a point of so much delicacy to be touched upon

In the year 1562, a conspiracy by Bothwell and the Hamiltons, to murder Maitland and the other favourites of the queen, was happily discovered, and the conspirators placed in confinement.

During the same year, Mary being desirous of entering into a more intimate correspondence and familiarity with Elizabeth, employed Maitland to desire a personal interview with her. This was accordingly granted ; but, from the prudent policy of Elizabeth, never accomplished. Maitland was again despatched to England, to solicit Elizabeth's consent to Mary's marriage with Darnly; but he had only to learn her decided disapprobation of the match. By his sagacity and prudence, however, he prevented that violent rupture, which the indiscreet conduct of Elizabeth, and the natural indignation of Mary, were so very apt to produce.

In the insurrection which took place in şcotland upon the occasion of this marriage, Maitland refu. sed to have any concern, although in all former commotions he had been directly united with its leaders. With his usual sagacity he foresaw that Murray's opposition to the match would prove dangerous and ineffectual ; but whoever ruled at court, he hoped by his dexterity and talents to render himself necessary and of importance. With many others, however, he was disappointed in his expectations ; the king's headstrong temper rendered him incapable of advice. The queen could not help distrusting men who had been so long and so intimately connected with Murray, and gave herself up entirely to those counsellors who complied entirely with all her inclinations. The return of that nobleman and his followers, was therefore the only event which could restore Maitland and his associates to their former ascendant over the queen. For this reason nothing could be more mortifying to them than the resolution which Mary

« AnteriorContinuar »