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The Scot Abroad
Chapter 4 - Queen Mary - Part 3


It confers a touch of humour on these grave and momentous proceedings, that Queen Elizabeth at that time hated Knox personally in her own hearty manner. He had written his ‘First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women;’ and though he professed to let fly his shafts at Popish women only, yet, as

"Many an arch at random sent
Finds mark the archer never meant,"

some of his left their barbs sticking deep in the most sensitive parts of the Protestant Queen’s public and private character. Her wise men had much ado to get her to receive his advances with patience; but his power was great, and he must be put up with. When his name comes up in their secret correspondence, Throckmorton says to Cecil—" Though Knokes the preacher did heretofore unadvisedly and fondly put his hand to the book, yet, since he is now, in Scotland, in as great credit as ever man was there with such as may be able to serve the Queen’s turn, it were well done not to use him otherwise than for the advancement of her service."

It will be worth while even to be domestically civil, and so Throckmorton again writes to the purport that "the wife of Knokes the preacher and her mother are at Paris, who shortly depart into England. They have made means to apply to him for letters in their favour, which he has promised to send by them to Mr Secretary. The Queen should consider what Knokes is able to do in Scotland, which is very much—all the turmoil there being by him stirred up as it is. His former faults should be forgotten, and no means used to annoy him for the same, but that his wife should perceive, before she depart into Scotland, that there is no stomach borne to her husband therefore, but that he may have good hope rather to look for favour and friendship at her hands than otherwise, which may work somewhat to good purpose."  A humble follower of Knox, called Sandy Whylowe or Whitlaw, taking credentials from Throckmorton to Cecil, is represented as cue "who has done and may do good service to the Queen;" and the sealed document he carried with him contained this double admonition :—" This bearer is very religious, and therefore you must let him see as little sin in England as you may. He seemeth to me very willing to work what he can that Scotland may forsake utterly the French amity and be united to England. Sir, in these services and occasions, to preserve you from farther inconveniences, the Queen’s purse must be open, for fair words will not serve."

It was on the 4th of July that, in an extremely cautious and yet somewhat decided tone, English assistance was promised, Cecil telling Percy that he may assure Kirkaldy "that, rather than that Scotland should be oppressed with a foreign nation, and deprived of the ancient liberties, and the nobility thereof (and especially such as seek to maintain the truth of the Christian religion) be expelled, the authority of England would adventure with power to aid that realm against any such foreign invasion— wherein upon farther certainty ‘understand’ thence, there may be showed in plain manner more particularly of this offer."

The almost simultaneous arrival of an English and a French force in Scotland, and the contest that followed, are well known in history. Two treaties,—one called the treaty of Berwick, between the Scots Protestants and Elizabeth—the other the treaty of Edinburgh, between France and England,—ended all. Queen Mary’s friends considered that she had been betrayed in this pacification, because her claim to the English throne was abandoned, and Elizabeth made secure; but there were others who thought it well that a mere personal claim, pregnant with endless strife and bloodshed, should be expunged.

The 24th of August 1560 was a wonderful day for Scotland. It dawned on the Romish hierarchy, still nominally and legally entire, with all its dignities and wealth. Ere eve the whole had been cast down, and to adhere to that Church was a crime. The Acts of Parliament making "the Reformation" passed on that day in an "Act for abolishing the Pope and his usurped authority." They had to pass through the necessary routine, and were not therefore quite unexpected. Still there is a suddenness in the carrying of the Reformation in Scotland which arises from this, that it was a declaration of triumph over enemies, and these not domestic but foreign—the French, with whom the Scots had been in close and devoted alliance for more than two hundred years. It is a common mistake to say that while in other countries the Reformation was partly a secular and partly a religious movement, in Scotland it was wholly religious. On the contrary, it was probably in no other country so thoroughly secular and political in the hearts and objects of those who carried it, though no doubt they subsidised religious influences to aid them. Since the reconstruction of the Popedom in its old completeness had become the great mission of the Guises, Popery became irretrievably mixed up with arbitrary power and the annexing designs of France. The great prelates were becoming French courtiers. Increasing in wealth and power, they imported from their allies practices of tyranny and cruelty at which the Scots nature revolted. The Church, a vast, compact corporation, ever getting and never giving up, was eating away the territorial wealth of the temporal barons to enrich the haughty prelates. From the same cause there crept in a social degradation humiliating to the landed gentry in this shape, that the poorer among them were content to let their daughters become companions to the affluent dignitaries; and although an attempt was made to give a kind of established character to the connection, especially in the rank allowed to the offspring, yet it could not be made the same as honest wedlock.

When, therefore, there was seen arising in the land a set of divines who maintained that these haughty prelates were wolves who had broken into the fold, and should be immediately deprived of their ill-gotten spoil, the barons immediately said, "That’s the religion for us!" Among the Protestant clergy there was, no doubt, a deep fund of religious zeal, supported by austere purity of life, and it might be possible to pick out one or two of their lay allies participating in some measure in these qualities; but, generally speaking, a set of men wilder and rougher, and more devoted to immediate gross and secular objects, than the "Lords of the Congregation," is not easily to be found in history. When the affair was finished, and Knox and his brethren, having waited in meek expectation for some time, reminded their active coadjutors that what had been taken from the false church belonged to the true, the Lords of the Congregation laughed in their faces, and told them they were under the hallucination of "fond imaginations."

Knox could only scold them, and that he did with his own peculiar heartiness and emphasis. So, when his celebrated ‘Book of Discipline’ did not go down with them, he came out with—"Others, perceiving their carnal liberty and worldly commodity somewhat to be impaired, thereby grudged, insomuch that the name of the ‘Book of Discipline’ became odious unto them. Everything that impugned to their corrupt affections was called, in their mockage, ‘devote imaginations.’ The cause we have before declared. Some were licentious; some had greedily gripped to the possessions of the Kirk; and others thought that they would not lack their part of Christ’s coat—yea, and that before that ever he was hanged, as by the preachers they were oft rebuked. . . . Assuredly some of us have wondered how men that profess godlyness could, of so long continuance, hear the threatenings of God against thieves and against their houses, and knowing themselves guilty in such things as were openly rebuked, and that they never had remorse of conscience, neither yet intended to restore any things of that which long they had stolen and reft."

Queen Mary always evaded any acknowledgment of the treaty which left Elizabeth’s title undisputed, and of the Reformation Statute. Her policy about the Statute, indeed, developed a quiet profundity of duplicity, which makes a beautiful antithesis to the noisy brazen mendacity of the other Queen. Mary solemnly engaged not to interfere with the religion established by law. Almost every one knew what she meant, and that when the time suited she would hold that an Act of Parliament which had not the royal assent was no law. Yet it would have been impolitic to push the point by requiring her assent to the Act, since an ultimate refusal might make it more unsatisfactory than it was. Her policy, however, afterwards cut both ways; for the treaty and the Act were productive of highly important political effects, being brought up as precedents to the effect that the Estates of Parliament could enter on treaties and pass laws without the consent of the Crown. When Murray came into power, he thought it judicious to fortify the Act by another.

To us who look back upon the time with the advantage of having seen the plot worked out, it becomes clear at this juncture that the French alliance is gone for ever, and England and Scotland are to be one. But between the return of Queen Mary and the death of Elizabeth there was a deal of hard critical work to be gone through in Scotland, and much of it was connected with the efforts of France to renew the old friendship.

Of the labours of Queen Elizabeth’s emissaries in Scotland—Throckmorton, Walsingham, Sadler, and Randolph—we have full accounts, which have been well ransacked and instructively commented on. But the no less interesting negotiations of the French emissaries in Scotland have hitherto been little studied; no; indeed, could they easily have been so until they were gradually brought forth from their hiding-places in foreign libraries and public offices by the zeal of the archaeologists of France. They are not less interesting from the glimpses which they afford of the designs of France, than from the picturesque descriptions which they contain of events which it is profitable to see from as many sides as possible, and which certainly often acquire a new shape and character when seen through the eyes of the accomplished and acute foreigner employed to report on them to the Guises or Catherine of Medici.

The most remarkable in accomplishments and wisdom of these French ambassadors, Michel de Castelnau de Mauvissière, was alike conscious of the importance of the Scottish alliance and of the almost hopelessness of recovering it. After a lively description of the miseries of the country when tortured in the terrible wars and plunderings of Morton, he says, "Je suis et serais toujours d’opinion qu’il n’y a nulle alliance au monde que Ia France doive avoir plus chére que celle de ce petit pays d’Ecosse."

Castelnau was one of the really great men whose eminent labours, wasted on tough and hopeless materials, can only be estimated by close inspection. As M. Chéruel well observes, we will find more of the true spirit of the actions of the day, and the men engaged in them, in his letters and memoirs, than almost anywhere else. He was one of those statesmen whose fate it is to struggle for great ends, which their masters, the heads of the government, will not back through with the necessary energy. As M. Chéruel says, he had in the interests of France to fight Elizabeth in Scotland, and Philip of Spain in the Netherlands. His memoirs show that he beheld with a grave sorrow, partaking of despondency, the exterminating spirit and bloody deeds of both the parties, the League and the Huguenots, who each struggled in his own country, not merely for existence, but for mastery; and his experience of this rude contest gives an air of practical wisdom and staid sagacity to his remarks on our own quarrels, which, fierce as they were, hold altogether a smaller space in the world’s history than the contemporaneous quarrels of the French. Hence he narrates some of the most marvellous incidents of Scottish history with a quiet distinctness, which, instead of subduing, rather tends to give power and emphasis to the narrative, when it is felt throughout that it is by an onlooker deeply grounded in a practical knowledge of similar events.

He it was who came to Britain charged by Catherine of Medici with two matrimonial missions— whether they were sincere or sarcastic, let him tell who can. In the one, she proposed to the austere Elizabeth an alliance with Charles IX. of France, then a boy of thirteen. Whether Catherine knew it or not, the virago had that peculiar weakness when anything matrimonial was proposed, that she would play with the suggestion as long as it would keep alive without serious discussion. She remarked cleverly enough to Castelnau, that the King of France was both too great and too little a match for her—too great in his power, too little in his youth. But she did not let the affair drop for some time, writing herself to Catherine, and otherwise bandying it about in a manner sometimes bordering on, but never transgressing, the serious.

His other matrimonial commission was to offer Mary the Duke of Anjou as a husband. It was not very well received, and he observed in the beautiful widow the haughty and restless spirit of her uncle the Cardinal. She was angry, he thought, with the Court of the French Regent, for having come between her and the match with Don Carlos.

While it was in her mind to make an ambitious match, she would have none but a truly great one, and she freely spoke of Don Carlos’s younger brother, who was subsequently offered to her, as the selfish fortune-seeking beauties in fashionable novels speak of detrimental second sons. To drop from the heir of the Spanish empire to a prince with neither dominions nor prospects, was not a destiny to which she could reconcile herself.

Yet it was while Mary was dealing in this way with a second offer of the same kind, that the acute diplomatist saw growing in her bosom an attachment for a far more obscure youth, whom his mother the Countess of Lennox had brought up very oddly, having taught him from his youth to dance and play on the lute. The man of the world was puzzled somewhat by this phenomenon, and looked for an explanation of it to a cause deemed in his day, among sensible men, a very practical one— he thought that there was some influence d’enchantemants artificiels in the passion of Mary for Darnley. Of the sad and tragic events which followed he was a careful observer, and in some respects indeed he was an actor in them, having frequently to attempt the vain task of the peacemaker.

La Mothe Fénélon, an ancestor of the great bishop, is another French diplomatist whose papers contain interesting vestiges of the history of the period. He it was who was received, after the massacre of St Bartholomew, at the Court of Elizabeth with a solemn and ominous gloom, which had more effect on him than all the virago’s furious scoldings. He was a personal friend of Queen Mary, holding a kindly intercourse with her in her captivity. It was from him that she commissioned the costly foreign tissues which she employed in her renowned needlework; and he performed for her many other little services. Some of the letters relating to such matters are a refreshing contrast with the formidable documents among which they are scattered.

Casual mention of Castelnau and Fénélon may be found in our ordinary histories. In these the reader will probably look in vain for anything whatever about Charles de Prunelé, Baron of Esneval and Vidame of Normandy. Yet he was sent to Scotland on a mission so critical, that, as far as externals go, the subsequent fate and history of the British empire might be said to turn on its results. He was sent over to Scotland in the critical year 1585, to make a last effort to continue the ancient alliance of Scotland and France. Were it merely as the parting scene between two old national friends, the last effort to keep up the friendship of France would have its interest. But in reality it was a mission of real practical importance, since it put the question to issue, as lawyers say, which was to fix the destinies of Scotland, and in a great measure those of England. That such a mission should pass unnoticed by historians, and wait for centuries to be spoken of, is one of the illustrations of the truth that the tendency of history is not fully seen by contemporaries; the importance of many events has to be fixed by the posterity which sees the development, and can proportion to each other the relative importance of the several parts.

The instructions to D’Esneval urge on him with reiterated emphasis the support, or rather the restoration, of "l’antienne amytié, alliance et voisinance qui ont toujours esté entre la France et l’Escosse." The tone of the document partakes somewhat of the patronising spirit which had characterised the French treatment of her ally for some half-a-century. The ambassador is not merely accredited to a sovereign prince; he has to do with the people too, as if he were sent from a superior authority entitled to adjust their relations to each other; and he is directed to use his influence to bring the people to obedience, and a proper sense of their duty to their sovereign.

This effort was made at a juncture when the French Government could not afford to quarrel with England, and was in mortal terror of the Guises at home. It came upon King James at that ticklish time when his mother was in imminent danger, and yet when there were strengthening in his favour the chances that, if he behaved well, and committed no piece of folly, he would some day be king of England. In the whole affair, as in all others, he behaved like an exaggeration of a heartless, greedy, grasping schoolboy, snatching at whatever he could get without caring for consequences. He had half-authorised emissaries at the courts of France and Spain, and at several other places— Romanists who could not obtain actual diplomatic credentials, and whose acts he could disavow if he thought fit; nor was it all to his inconvenience that these zealous men were apt to go far beyond the bounds of his dubious verbal instructions, since that gave him the better excuse for repudiating their proceedings when it was necessary.

Not a year before the mission of D’Esneval, the Lord Seton, the ardent, uncompromising supporter of Mary and Catholicism, appeared at the French Court, commissioned, as he maintained, by the actual ruling power in Scotland, to ask certain aids and concessions from France. He pleaded that the old League should be restored, and that France, like an honest, faithful ally, should rescue the Scottish Queen from her captivity. Among other stipulations were the restoration of the Scottish Guard to the full enjoyment of those privileges in France which they had bought with their blood, the payment by France of a body of Scotsmen serving in Scotland—a very unreasonable-looking proposal— and certain privileges of trading.

These proposals were coldly received; all that Henry IlI. would give to the juvenile Solomon was a pension of twenty thousand lines, which M. Chéruel, who has seen the brevet granting it, supposes was very ill paid. This embassy, whatever was the authority for it, took place a year before Esneval’s to Scotland. There had been great changes in the mean time, which, if they rendered Mary’s condition more dangerous, had increased the chance of her son’s succession to the throne of England. The same series of events—the fall of Arran, namely, and the league with England—alarmed the Court of France, by pointing to the total extinction of the French alliance; and it was hence that D’Esneval was sent to offer as much of the rejected Scottish demands as France could afford to give.

It will be of course remarked that, in all these matters, there were longer heads at work than those of the youthful King; but the instincts of his selfish, narrow heart taught him to co-operate in them. He could, if he had thought fit, have broken through all the diplomatic trammels surrounding him, and struck a blow for his mothers life. He had no conscientious principle to restrain him from such an act, though he had a strong dislike for Popery on the ground on which he hated Presbyterianism—because it interfered with the will of kings. His ruling principle was well enough expressed in his remarks to Courcelles—interim ambassador in the absence of D’Esneval—that he liked his mother well enough, but she had threatened, if he did not conform with her religious views, that he should have nothing but the lordship of Darnley like his father—that she must drink the ale she had brewed—that her restless machinations had nearly cost him his crown—and he wished she would meddle with nothing but prayer and serving God. The chief figure in this group of selfishness, meanness, and cruelty, has to be supplied in Queen Elizabeth seizing and committing to the dungeon an unfortunate who had fled to her for protection—grudging her the expense of suitable clothing and food in her captivity—insulting her religion—wanting to get somebody to assassinate her; and at length, when the wished-for death could not be brought about without the forms of law, pretending that she desired it not, and endeavouring to throw on others the blame of the deed.

And yet how wonderfully has all this, which seems so foul and unseemly in romance, tended to one of the most wonderful and blessed of historical developments! Let us suppose King James, under the generous impulse of youthful heroism, drawing the sword in his mother’s cause, and France, with chivalrous devotion, sending her armies to avert insult and cruelty from one who had sat as a queen on the throne of St Louis. Let us imagine Queen Elizabeth, endowed with the natural instincts and impulses of her sex, kindly disposed to a persecuted sister, and, in obedience to the impulses of her heart, marrying, and leaving a progeny behind her. Had the dark annals of the age been thus brightened, the glorious history of British power and progress would have remained unwritten—at least in its present shape. With how much longer waiting—through what series of events—the two kingdoms would have fulfilled their natural destiny and come together, are speculations in the world of the unreal which can receive no definite answer. We only know that, however it might have otherwise come to pass, the beneficent conclusion arose out of acts of baseness, selfishness, and cruelty, as a tree grows from decay and putrescence.

It is fortunate, after all, that those who like to see a little of the good that is in the world can pass over that fermentation of the evil passions and selfish propensities, and look back upon the long, stern, honest struggle for independence which was the real operative cause of the desired result. Had it been otherwise, Scotland may read the fate she would have had in Ireland. The Scots repaid the oppressors in the bloody retaliation of the three hundred years’ war—the Irish are still taking it out. A sort of general balance of victories and defeats—of injuries and retaliations — put the two enemies in a position for bargaining, which they did with surly suspicion at first, with cordiality when they came better to know each other as friends. Their amity was recorded in a state paper such as no other part of the world can show—a fusion, by mutual consent, between two nations, the one six or eight times as powerful and populous as the other, with no other inequality save the placing of the centre of government in that spot within the larger of the two to which it would naturally have gravitated.

There are some less reasonable ethnological theories afloat in the world, than that we may to some extent attribute to this long struggle the national characteristics which make the Scots appear a dry, hard, stern, unamiable, practical people, with little capacity for cheerful enjoyments or susceptibility to the lighter and more transient excitements. Perhaps the original nature of the people, and the work they had to do, may have reacted on each other, leaving these characteristics deepened and hardened in the end. That the people had a nature susceptible to the deeper enthusiasm, the character of the struggle itself sufficiently tells. And in the tragedies and bereavements that it caused, the devotion it demanded, and the deep love for home and country to which it testified, we may, perhaps, attribute a certain sweetness and plaintive tenderness in the lyrical literature of the country, a vein of gentleness and beauty running through her rugged nature, like the lovely agates which nestle in the hollows of the black trap rocks, or the purple amethysts that sparkle in her granite conies.

So came the kindly old French alliance to its natural conclusion It was nominally re-established in a friendship between King James and Henry IV., who established a special company of Scots gensdarmes, and afterwards there were some curious dealings between Cardinal Richelieu and the Covenanters; but these were casual affairs having no influence on national destinies. The story of the alliance is now an old one, but it leaves a mellow tinge upon the long annals of medieval brutality and violence. Scotland at last became reconciled to that great relation which, let us suppose, in the usual misunderstanding which creates the quarrels in the romances, had treated her as an alien enemy. But while the reconciliation has been long consolidated, and has proved as natural a national adjustment as the restoration of an exiled child is a natural family adjustment, there is still a pleasing sentiment in recalling the friends found in the wide world when kindred were unkind; and the hospitable doors opened to our wandering countrymen among those who stood at the head of European civilisation in the middle ages, must ever remain a memorable record of the generosity of the patrons, and of the merits of those who so well requited their generosity by faithful and powerful services.

It is a significant token of the enduring interest of this episode in history, that, besides lighter memorials, to many of which I have referred, two eminent French archeologists have bestowed what must have been a large portion of the labour of their days to the production each of a great book after his own kind, bearing on the old relations between France and Scotland.  To the volumes which contain the record of this attachment, something more is due than the mere recognition of their literary merits—they deserve at the hands of our countrymen an affectionate recognition as national memorials. The quantity of curious and interesting matter contained in them, but for the special zeal of the two men who have thus come forward, might have remained still buried under archeological rubbish—might have remained so for eve; even until oblivion overtook them.

Setting before one on the library table the two volumes of M. Michel, and the five of M. Teulet, is a good deal like receiving one guest in full court costume, prepared to meet distinguished company, while another comes to you in his lounging home vestment of serge, with slippers and smoking-cap, as if he had just stepped across the way from the scene of his laborious researches. There is throughout M. Michel’s two brilliant-looking volumes the testimony to an extent of dreary reading and searching which would stimulate compassion, were it not that he who would be the victim, were that the proper feeling in which he should be approached, evidently exults and glories, and is really happy, in the conditions which those who know no better would set down as his hardships. There are some who, when they run the eye over arrêts and other formal documents, over pedigrees, local chronicles telling trifles, title-deeds, and suchlike writings, carry with them a general impression of the political or social lesson taught by them, and discard from recollection all the details from which any such impression has been derived. M. Michel is of another kind; he has that sort of fondness for his work which induces him to show you it in all stages, from the rude block to the finished piece of art, so far as it is finished. You are entered in all the secrets of his workshop—you participate in all his disappointments and difficulties as well as his successes. The research which has had no available result is still reported, in order that you may see how useless it has been. One who has not much sympathy with this kind of literature, would yet not desire to speak profanely of it, since some consider it the only perfect method of writing books on subjects connected with history or archaeology. The "citation of authorities," in fact, is deemed, in this department of intellectual labour, something equivalent to records of experiments in natural science, and to demonstrations in geometrical science. Those whose sympathy is with the exhibition rather of results than of the means of reaching them, have not that high respect for footnotes filled with accurate transcripts of book-titles which is due to the high authorities by whom the practice has been long sanctioned. They can afford it, however, the sort of distant unsympathising admiration which people bestow on accomplishments for which they have no turn or sympathy—as for those of the juggler, the acrobat, and the accountant. M. Michel's way of citing the books he refers to, is, indeed, to all appearance, a miracle of perfection in this kind of work. Sometimes he is at the trouble of denoting where the passage stands in more than one, or even in every, edition of the work. He gives chapter or section as well as page and volume. In old books counted not by the page but the leaf he will tell you which side he desires you to look at, right or left; and where, as is the way in some densely printed old folios, in addition to the arrangement of the pages by numeration, divisions on each page are separated by the letters A B C, he tells you which of these letters stands sentry on the paragraph he refers to. There is, at all events, a very meritorious kind of literary honesty in all this, and however disinclined to follow it, no one has a right to object to it. And, after all, a man who has gone through so much hard forbidding reading as M. Michel has, is surely entitled to let us know something about the dreary wastes and ragged wildernesses through which he has sojourned—all for the purpose of laying before his readers his two gay attractive-looking volumes. Towards his foreign reading, I in the general instance lift the hat of respect, acknowledging, without professing critically to test, its high merits. Upon the diligent manner in which he has, in our own less luxuriant field of inquiry among Scots authorities, turned over every stone to see what is under it, one can speak with more distinct assurance. Take one instance. The young Earl of Haddington, the son of that crafty old statesman called Tam o’ the Cowgate, who scraped together a fortune in public office under James VI., was studying in France, when he met and fell in love with the beautiful Mademoiselle de Chatillon, grand-daughter of the Admiral Coligny. When only nineteen years old he went back to France, married her, and brought her home. He died within a year, however; and the Countess, a rich beautiful widow, returned to her friends. She was, of course, beset by admirers, and in reference to these, M. Michel has turned up a curious passage in ‘Lea Historiettes de Tallemant des Réaux,’ which, if true, shows the persevering zeal with which our Queen, Henrietta Maria, seized every opportunity to promote the cause of her religion. The Countess being Huguenot, and of a very Huguenot family, the Queen was eager that she should be married to a Roman Catholic, and selected the son of her friend Lady Arundel. The dominion over her affections was, however, held by "un jeune Ecossois nommé Esbron, neveu du Colonel Esbron." The name is French for the Chevalier Hepburn, one of the most renowned soldiers in the French service in the early part of the seventeenth century. The mamma Chatillon was dead against either connection. She got a fright by hearing that her daughter had been carried off to the Tenêbres, or the services of Easter-week which inaugurate Good-Friday; she consequently gave her a maternal box on the ear, carried her off, and, to keep her out of harm’s way, forthwith married her to the Count de la Suze, tout borgne, tout ivrogne, et tout indette’ gu’il étoit.

M. Michel’s purpose is not with this desirable husband, nor with his wife after she ceases to be connected with Scotland, but with the young Hepburn who comes casually across the scene. Following in his track entirely, the next quarter where, after appearing in the ‘Historiettes,’ he turns up, is Durie’s ‘Decisions of the Court of Session.’ This is by no means one of the books which every well-informed man is presumed to know. So toughly is it stuffed with the technicalities and involutions of old Scots law, and so confused and involved is every sentence of it by the natural haziness of its author, that probably no living English writer would dare to meddle with it. No Scotsman would, unless he be a lawyer—nor, indeed, would any lawyer, unless of a very old school—welcome the appearance of the grim folio. In citing from it the decision of Hepburn contra Hepburn, 14th March 1639, even the courageous M. Michel subjoins: "Si j’ai bien cornpris le texte de cet arrêt conçu dans une langue particulière." This peculiar arrêt begins as follows :— "The brethren and sisters of umquhile Colonel Sir John Hepburn having submitted all questions and rights which they might pretend to the goods, gear, and means of the said umquhile Sir John, to the laird Wauchton and some other friends, wherein the submitters were bound and did refer to the said friends to determine what proportion of the said goods should be given to George Hepburn, the son of the eldest brother to the said Sir John, which George was then in France at the time of the making of the said submission and bond, and did not subscribe the same, nor none taking the burden for him; upon the which submission, the said friends had given their decreet arbitral. The living brethren and sisters of the said Sir John being confirmed executors to him, pursue one Beaton, factor in Paris, for payment of 20,000 pounds addebted by him to the said umquhile Sir John, who, suspending upon double poinding," &c.

Perhaps enough has been said to exemplify the dauntless nature of M. Michel’s researches. It is impossible to withhold admiration from such achievements, and I know that, in some quarters, they are deemed the highest to which the human intellect can aspire. But I confess that, to my own taste, the results of M. Teulet’s labours are more acceptable. True, he does not profess to give the world an original book. He comes forward as the mere transcriber and editor of certain documents. But in the gathering of these documents from different quarters, through all the difficulties of various languages and alphabets, in their arrangement so as to bring out momentous historical truths in their due series, and in the helps he has afforded to those who consult his volumes, he has shown a skill and scholarship which deserve to be ranked with the higher attainments of science. Reference has already been made to his volume on Queen Mary. Among not the least valued of the contents of any good historical library, will be six octavo volumes containing the correspondence of La Mothe Fénélon, and the other French ambassadors to England and Scotland during the latter years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, for which the world is indebted to M. Teulet’s researches. The book at present especially referred to is a reprint, with some additions, of the papers—at least all that are worth having—which were previously an exclusive luxury of the Bannatyne Club, having been printed in three quarto volumes, as a gift to their brethren, by certain liberal members of that Club. These papers go into the special affairs of this country as connected with France and Spain from the beginning of our disputes with our old ally down to the accession of James VI. In the hands of the first historian who has the fortune to make ample use of them, these documents will disperse the secluded and parochial atmosphere that hangs about the history of Scotland, and show how the fate of Europe in general turned upon the pivot of the destinies of our country. It is here that, along with many minor secrets, we have revealed to us that narrow escape made by the cause of Protestantism, when the project on the cards was the union of the widowed Queen Mary to the heir of Spain, and those political combinations already referred to as centering round the interests and the fate of the Queen of Scots, which led to the more signal and renowned escape realised in the defeat of the Armada.


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