Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

contempt of Mary's authority. The jealousy and prejudices of the Scots required no less management. Had she openly supported Lennox's claim ; had she recommended him to the convention, as the candidate of whom she approved ; this might have roused the independent spirit of the nobles, and by too plain a discovery of her intention she. might have defeated its success. For these reasons she hesitated long, and returned ambiguous answers toall the messages which she received from the king's party. A more explicit declaration of her sentiments was at last obtained, and an event of an extraordinary nature seems to have been the occasion of it. Pope Pius V. having issued a bull, whereby he excommunicated Elizabeth, deprived her of her kingdom, and absolved her subjects from their oath of allegiance, Felton, an Englishman, had the boldness to affix it on the gates of the bishop of London's palace. In former ages, a pope, moved by his own ambition, or pride, or bigotry, denounced this fatal sentence against the most powerful monarchs ; but as the authority of the court of Rome was now less regarded, its proceedings were more cautious ; and it was only when they were roused by some powerful prince, that the thunders of the church were ever heard. Elizabeth, therefore, imputed this step which the pope had taken to a combination of the Roman Catholic princes against her, and suspected that some plot was formed in favour of the Scottish queen. In that event, she knew that the safety of her own kingdom depended on preserving her influence in Scotland ; and in order to strengthen this, she renewed her promi. ses of protecting the king's adherents, encouraged them to proceed to the election of a regent, and even ventured to point out the earl of Lennox as the person who had the best title. That honour

was accordingly conferred upon him, in a convention of the whole party, held on the 12th of July.

The regent's first care was to prevent the meeting of the parliament which the queen's party had summoned to convene at Linlithgow. Having effected that, he marched against the earl of Huntly, Mary's lieutenant in the north, and forced the garrison which he had placed in Brechin to surrender at discretion. Soon after, he made himself master of some other castles. Emboldened by this successful beginning of his administration, as well as by the appearance of a considerable army, with which the earl of Sussex hovered on the borders, he deprived Maitland of his office of secretary, and proclaimed him, the duke, Huntly, and other leaders of the queen's party, traitors and enemies of their country.

The most remarkable transactions during his short administration, were the capture of Dunbarton castle, and the seduction of many of Mary's hitherto most zealous adherents to the cause of the king. When attending the parliament at Stirling, he fell a victim to that bold and singular enterprise of Kirkaldy, by which he intended to gain possession of the principal leaders of the opposite faction, to terminate the contests between them, and restore peace to his country. Lennox surrendered to an officer, who, in endeavouring to protect him, lost his life in his defence, and he was slain, according to the general opinion, by command of lord Claud Hamilton.

Lennox, says our historian, had, during the former part of his life, discovered no great compass of abilities or political wisdom, and appears to have been a man of weak understanding, and violent passions.

REGENT MAR.

WITHOUT being master of the person of the young prince, Bothwell esteemed all that he had gained to be precarious and uncertain. The queen had committed her son to the care of the earl of Mar. The fidelity and loyalty of that nobleman were too well known to expect that he would be willing to put the prince into the hands of the man who was so violently suspected of having murdered his father. Bothwell, however, laboured to get the prince into his power, with an anxiety which gave rise to the blackest suspicions. All his address, as well as authority, were employed to persuade or to force Mar into a compliance with his demands. And it is no slight proof both of the firmness and dexterity of that pobleman, that he preserved a life of so much importance to the nation, from lying at the mercy of a man whom fear or ambition might have prompted to violent attempts against it.

After the death of Lennox, Argyll, Morton, and Mar, were candidates for the office of regent. Mar was chosen by a majority of voices. Amidst all the fierce dissentions which had prevailed so long in Scotland, he had distinguished himself by his moderation, his humanity, and his disinterestedness. And as his power was far inferior to Argyll's, and his abilities not so great as Morton's, he was, for. these reasons, less formidable to the other nobles. His merit, too, in having so lately rescued the leaders of the party from imminent destruction, contributed not a little to his preferment.

The new-regent took hold of the first favourable opportunity of negotiating a general peace ; and, as he laboured for this purpose with the utmost zeal, and the adverse faction placed entire confi

dence in his integrity, his endeavours could scarce have failed of being successful. Maitland and Kirkaldy came so near to an agreement with him, that scarce any thing remained except the formality of signing the treaty. But Morton had not forgotten the disappointment he met with in his pretensions to the regency; his abilities, his wealth, and the patronage of the court of England, gave him greater sway with the party than even the regent himself; and he took pleasure in thwarting every measure pursued by him. He was afraid that, if Maitland and his associates recovered any share in the administration, his own influence would be considerably diminished ; and the regent, by their means, would regain that ascendant which belonged to his station. With him concurred all those who were in possession of the lands which belonged to any of the queen's party. And his ambition, and their avarice, frustrated the regent's pious intentions, and retarded a blessing so necessary to the kingdom as the establishment of peace.

Such a discovery of the selfishness and ambition which reigned among his party made a deep impression on the regent, who loved his country, and wished for peace with much ardour. This inward grief broke his spirit, and by degrees brought on a settled melancholy, that ended in a distemper of which he died on the 29th of October, 1572. He was perhaps the only person in the kingdom who could have enjoyed the office of regent without envy, and have left it without loss of reputation. Notwithstanding their mutual animosities, both factions acknowledged his views to be honourable, and his integrity to be uncorrupted.

[ocr errors]

REGENT MORTON.

This crafty politician first begins to form a conspicuous figure in Scottish history, at the interesting scene which opens upon the violent measures assumed by the queen-dowager against the reformers. It is said by our historian, however, that he fluctuated in a state of irresolution, and did not act heartily for the common cause. He was one of the ambassadors sent by the parliament to Elizabeth, to testify their gratitude for that seasonable and effectual aid which she had afforded them, and to negotiate a marriage between her and the earl of Arran.

This nobleman became one of the contrivers of the conspiracy which the odious behaviour of Rizio had induced against his life, and, although lord high chancellor of the kingdom, undertook to direct an enterprise carried on in defiance of all the laws of which he was bound to be the guardian. No man so remarkable for wisdom, and even for cunning, as the earl of Morton, ever engaged in a more unfortunate enterprise. Deserted basely by the king, who afterwards denied his knowledge of the conspiracy by public proclamations, and abandoned ungenerously by Murray and his party, he was obliged to fly from his native country, to resign the highest office, and to part with one of the most opulent fortunes in the kingdom.

In 1566, Morton and the other conspirators obtained, through the influence of Bothwell, the pardon of their sovereign, and leave to return into Scotland. But instead of adhering to that nobleman in his flagitious conduct, as had been confidently expected, he joined the association which had for its object his expulsion from the kingdom, and the protection of the young prince. When the

9

[merged small][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »