Imagens das páginas

solve Scotland. Popery, prelacy, and presbytery, each in its turn hath had its martyrs; each its bloody persecutors.

Hitherto there had been no conflict of opinion, and of course no bloodshed. If we expect two foreigners, the one from England, a disciple of Wickleff, the other from Bohemia, a follower of Hus.

In the reign of James I. certain dissenters called Lollards, were apprehended while dispersing their tenets ; among which was one directed against the regal power, which they pretended had been abolished by Christ : yet such was the lenity of the government, that they were dismissed with a gentle reprimand.*

Under James V. the doctrines of the reformation were first broached in Scotland. John Knox, a disciple of Calvin, if not the first, was at least considered as the leader among the protestant preachers. Their success, it would appear, was pretty considerable; yet the only act of severity in the annals of that reign is the trial of sir John Borthwic for heresy. He was outlawed for nonappearance, and actually burnt in effigy. This sentence cost dear to Hamilton, the judge, who pronounced it: for the infant party had already infuence enough to bring him to the scaffold, under pretence that he had conspired the death of the king. After this event, the adherents of the old and new religion continued to live under the same government, if not at peace, at least not in open warfare.

* Guthrie.

Many which

Many causes concurred to keep matters in this state till the death of James V. The reformers could only insure to themselves, by a peaceable deportment, that toleration and connivance which they stood in need of to propagate their tenets, the established clergy sought to recover the favour of the people by gentleness; and wished to use first all the arts of persuasion to reclaim their wandering flock. Both parties were doubtful of their strength, and cach dreaded to encounter a formi. dable antagonist. These might lose their dignity and benefices; those might forfeit their liberties and lives. Add to this, as a late ingenious writer remarks, that the reformation took its rise among the clergy themselves. Knox was a priest, as had been Wicleff and Hus long before him. Buchanan had been bred among the friars, and is it not to the jealousy of a German monk that we owe that spark which raised such a conflagration in Europe A reformation of abuses was desired by every good priest; and such a reform as the protestants proposed must have been highly acceptable to those who wished to get rid of the unnatural yoke of celibacy, and hoped to perpetuate the enjoyment of their benefices in their own family. For all these reasons the reformation went quietly forward for many years, and the persecutions which did occur were comparatively few, and of short durați n.

Mary, Queen of Scots, was born a few days before her father's death. The disasters of her reign began and ended only with her life. Civil and religious dissensions immediately broke ou: under the specious pretexts of love of truth and liberty. Independent of conscientious motives, which it is illiberal to refuse to either party, the ancient religion of the country had not only all the force of early habits and prejudices of education in its favour: it was further supported by the wealth and dignity of its prelates, by the influence of the queen Dowager, and all the interest of France. The new doctrines were countenanced by the powe erful monarch who had separated England from the papal see; and were not a little furthered, we may suppose, by the love of change and novelty in many, by the hopes of booty in the nobles, and by the simplicity of the multitude.

Scotland, at this eventful period, becomes the field for the two parties to try their strength; and the old or new doctrines prevail according as French or English politics are predominant.

Cardinal Beaton, a man of talents, aspired to the office of Regent; but the earl of Arran, though of inferior parts, was preferred, as a friend to the reformed doctrinc, and his first step was to agree to a proposed marriage between the son of Henry VIII. and the young queen. * It was even stipulated that at ten years of age she should be sent to England.

This treaty met with the opposition it deserved, especially from the Cardinal, who was on that account confined as a prisoner. The national spirit was roused against the alliance with England, and the regent could only save himself from ruin by

• It appears from sir Ralph Sadler's letters that several nobles received pensions from Henry. Angus had 100l. a month, but demanded 2001. for the party. VOL, XXI.



changing sides, and taking part with the cardinal, and the friends of France.

The apostacy of Arran, who publicly abjured the tenets of the reformation, was in some degree compensated by the accession of Lenox to that party.

i his young nobleman had returned from France with a view to counteract the regent and the Eng. lish interest, but finding himself slighted by the cardinal, he retired into England, after a fruitless attempt to disturb the government by force of arms.

! · The cardinal now ruled both the regent and the realm, The king of England alienated the minds

of the Scottish nation more than ever, by A.D.

landing forces at Leith, and laying that 1514.

town and Edinburgh in asbes. A peace, however, was soon after concluded. “ Hitherto we find the reformers, by their mortifications and austerities, endeavouring to resemble the first pros! pagators of christianity : they had suffered with a spirit so nearly resembling the patience and fortiiude of the first martyrs, that more were converted' than terrified by those spectacles.” Ilappily for the reformation its spirit was still under some restraint. It had not yet attained firmness and vigour sufficient to overturn the established religion. “Under such circumstances any attempt towards action must have been fatal to the protestant doctrines : and it is no small proof of the authority as well as the penetration of the heads of the parts, that they were able to restrain the zeal of a fery and impetuous people, till that critical and mature


juncture, when every step they took was decisive and successful.

Wishart is described to us as a man of primitive " sanctity, a popular preacher of such candour and sweetness of temper, t” that the cardinal's life had been more than once in danger by his attempting to apprehend him. This gave rise to tho-many reports, that he was a party in the plot to murder the cardinal,

That such a plot was, by this time formed, can admit of no dispute ; for it appears by Sadler's letters and other evidences, that the chief person in the conspiracy had a correspondence with the English ministry.

Dr. M-Kenzie, in his life of Wishart, mentions a letter, dated April 17, 1544, from the earl of Hertford to king Henry: the stile and manner of which bear great marks of authenticity. That the reader may judge for himself, we shall give it in a note. 1

The penetration of the Scottish historian has then discovered, and his candour avows, that our first reform. ers, who complained so loudly of papal tyranny, wanted not the will but the power of dealing with others not as they would be dealt by. The clergy of every sect and of every age have been nearly the same: severity and persecution have ever been practised by those who preached up the meekness of the gospel : but the principle which condemns the execution of Wishart, will never justify the assassination of Beaton.--Robertson.

+ Guthrie.

$" This day arrived from Scotland Mr. Wishart, who brought me a letter from my lord Brinston, and according

un request, I have taken order of the repair of the said Mr. Mishart to your majesty, for the delivery of such

« AnteriorContinuar »