Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

had taken to treat the exiles with rigour. This they imputed to Rizio, which completed the disgust

those nobles had from other reasons conceive ed against him, and inspired them with thoughts of vengeance, in no wise suitable to justice, to humanity, or to their own dignity. These were followed into action by the well-known assassination of that courtly parasite, which, although it had the effect of restoring Murray to favour, was followed by the ruin of the principal actors in the tragic scene. As Maitland was not directly nor openly implicated in this flagrant breach of the law, he was not under the necessity of accompanying Morton and the rest in their flight into England.

Maitland now closely associated himself with Murray, but both were soon displaced by Bothwell, in the councils of the queen. Upon the murder of the young king, and the odious attachment of Mary to the person too justly suspected of the crime, Maitland joined that association of the nobles, which had for its professed object the protection of the young prince's person, to become master of which repeated attempts had been made by Bothwell, and some rash threatenings thrown out against him. This association at the same time flew to arms, and mustered an army, which, at the field of Pinkey, obtained the surrender of Mary to their guidance, and the expulsion of Bothwell from the kingdom.

The confederated lords, after committing Mary a prisoner to Lochlevin Castle, deliberated with the utmost anxiety concerning the settlement of the nation, and the future disposal of her person. Maitland proposed, that after punishing the murderers of the king, and dissolving the marriage with Bothwell ; after providing for the safety of the young prince, and the security of the protestant religion, that the

queen
should be re-established in the pose

the crown,

session of her regal authority. But this proposal was rejected for a scheme less moderate, and less to the interest of Maitland ; Mary was to resign

the

young king was to be crowned, and Murray to be appointed regent. In the execution of this plan, the nobles endeavoured to extort a resignation of the crown from Mary, but at the same time she was informed by Maitland and others, the persons most attentive to her interests, that one extorted through fear, and granted during her imprisonment, was void in law, and might be revoked so soon as she recovered liberty. From deference to their opinion, she accordingly granted all that was required, and Murray was soon afterwards fully confirmed in the government of the kingdom.

Upon Mary's ill-advised submission of her cause to queen Elizabeth, and the order of the latter to the regent to send commissioners on his part to York, Maitland was appointed to attend the commission as an assistant. He owed this distinction to the regent's fear, rather than to his affection; he had warmly remonstrated against this measure; he wished his country to continue in friendship with England, but not to become dependent on that nation. He was desirous of re-establishing the queen in some degree of power, not inconsistent with that which the king possessed ; and the regent could not with safety leave behind him a man, whose views were so contrary to his own, and who, by his superior abilities, had acquired an influence in the nation, equal to that which others derived from the antiquity and power of their families.

During the proceedings in England, the fertile and projecting genius of Maitland first conceived the scheme of uniting Mary to the duke of Norfolk in marriage : but like all those concerted for her relief, it ended tragically. During the progress of these negotiations, the queen's partisans in Scotland, who made - no doubt of their issuing in her restoration to the throne, with an increase of authority, were wonderfully elevated. Maitland was the soul of that party, and the person whose activity and ability the regent chiefly dreaded. He continued to foment the spirit of disaffection in Scotland, and had seduced from the regent lord Home, Kirkaldy, and several of his former associates. While he enjoyed liberty, the regent could not reckon his own person secure.

For this reason he employed captain Crawford, one of his creatures, to accuse him of being accessory to the murder of the king ; and under that pretence carried him a prisoner to Edinburgh. The would soon have brought him to trial ; but he was saved by the friendship of Kirkaldy, governor of the castle, who by pretending a warrant for that purpose from the regent, got him out of the hands of the person to whose care he was committed, and conducted him into the castle, which from that time was entirely under Maitland's command.

Maitland and Kirkaldy still continued to acknowledge the king's authority ; but having endeavoured in vain to bring about a reconciliation between the two parties, and the queen's faction increasing in strength, they afterwards openly acceded to it. Maitland was appointed secretary; but upon the elevation of Lennox to the regency he was deprived of the office, and denounced by him a traitor and enemy to his country; and in a parliament held May 14, 1571, he was attainted.

Maitland and Kirkaldy still ardently adhered to the declining interests of the queen. Several overtures were made for a reconciliation of the parties, but without effect. Mary's adherents were now divided into two parties ; at the head of the one were Chatelherault and Huntly; Maitland and Kirkaldy were the leaders of the other. The latter were indebted for their importance to their personal abilities, and to the strength of the castle of Edinburgh, which was in their possession. Maitland's genius delighted in forming schemes that were enterprising and dangerous ; and Kirkaldy possessed the intrepidity necessary for putting them in execution. The castle they knew was so situated as to defy all the regent's power, and while Chatelherault and his party came to a reconciliation with the regent, they remained alone in desence of the queen's cause. In process of time, however, the regent, assisted by forces and artillery from England, succeeded in reducing the castle, and Maitland with others surrendered themselves to the English general, who promised, in the name of his mistress, that they should be favourably treated. But Elizabeth, without regarding Drury's honour, or his promises in her name, abandoned them to the regent's disposal, who soon after condemned Kirkaldy and his brother to be hanged at the cross of Edinburgh. Maitland, who did not expect to be treated more favourably, prevented the ignominy of a public execution by a voluntary death,“ and ended his days,” says Melvil, " after the old Roman fashion.”

Maitland had early applied to public business, admirable natural talents, improved by an acquaintance with the liberal arts ; and at a time of life when his countrymen of the same quality were following the pleasures of the chase, or serving as adventurers in foreign armies, he was admitted into all the secrets of the cabinet, and put upon a level with

persons of the most consummate experience in the management of affairs. He possessed in an eminent degree that intrepid spirit which delights in pursuing bold designs, and was no less master of that political art and dexterity which is necessary for carrying them on with success. But these qualities were deeply tinctured with the neighbouring vices ; his address sometimes degenerated into cunning, his acuteness bordered upon excess of subtlety and refinement ; his invention over fertile, suggested to him on some occasions, chimerical systems of policy, little suitable to the genius of the age ; and his enterprising spirit engaged him in projects vast and splendid, but beyond his utmost power to execute. All the contemporary

writers, to whatever faction they belong, mention him with an admiration which nothing could have excited but the greatest superiority of penetration and abilities.

KIRKALDY OF GRANGE.

This celebrated warrior makes his first appearance on the theatre of public affairs in Scotland at the assassination of Cardinal Beatoun. He was one of the determined few who relieved their country from the sway of that insolent man, and gained possession of a castle without noise or tumult, which, in the opinion of the age, had been rendered impregnable. Upon their after-surrender to Strozzi, the French general, Kirkaldy, with his associates, were transported into France ; but they were afterwards recalled by the queen-dowager, who retajned them for a counterpoise to the archbishop of St. Andrew's and the Hamiltons. When impelled by her devotion to French interests, and to the inclinations of her brother, the queen-dowager departed from her popular forbearance to the reformers, and let loose the engines of persecution against them, Kirkaldy closely adhered to the confederated lords of the congregation, and, by his military skill, rendered them many signal services. Upon the death of the queen-dowager, and the ad

« AnteriorContinuar »