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Significant Scots
James Douglas


Earl of Morton DOUGLAS, JAMES, fourth earl of Morton, and regent of Scotland, was the second son of Sir George Douglas of Pittendreich, (younger brother of Archibald, sixth earl of Angus, and a grandson of the fifth, or great earl, styled Bell-the-cat.) The matrimonial connexion of the sixth earl of Angus with Margaret of England, the widow of James IV., brought the whole of this great family into an intimate alliance with Henry VIII., that princess’ brother.

During the reign of James V. as an adult sovereign, most of them lived in banishment in England; and it was only after his death in 1542, that they reappeared in the country. Whether the earl of Morton spent his early years at the English court is not known; but it is related by at least one historical writer, that he traveled during his youth in Italy. Immediately after the return of the family from banishment, he is found mingling deeply in those intrigues which Angus and others carried on, for the purpose of promoting the progress of the reformed religion, along with the match between Henry’s son and the infant queen Mary. He seems to have followed in the wake of his father Sir George, who was a prime agent of king Henry; and who, in April, 1543, engaged, with others, to deliver up the lowland part of Scotland to the English monarch. Previous to this period, the future regent had been married to Elizabeth Douglas, third daughter of James, third earl of Morton, who was induced to bequeath his title and all his estates to this fortunate son-in-law, conjointly with this wife. [The mother of the regent’s wife, was Katherine Stewart, a natural daughter of king James IV.] In virtue of this grant, the subject of our memoir was invested with the title of Master of Morton. It is somewhat remarkable, that on the very day when the English ambassador informed his prince of the traitorous engagement of Sir George Douglas of Pittendreich, his son, the Master of Morton, had a royal charter confirming the above splendid grant. This must have been obtained from the fears of the governor, Arran, against whom all the Douglases were working. In November following, the Master is found holding out the donjon or principal tower of his father-in-law’s castle of Dalkeith, against Arran; but, being destitute of victuals and artillery, he was obliged to give it up, on the condition of retiring with all his effects untouched. Nothing more is learned of this remarkable personage till 1553, when he succeeded his father-in-law, as earl of Morton. Although one of the original lords of the congregation in 1557, he did not for some time take an active or decided part against the queen regent. He had received large favours from this lady, and, possessing all that gratitude which consists in a lively anticipation of favours to come, he feared, by casting off her cause, which he supposed would be the triumphant one, to compromise his prospect of those future advantages. This caused Sir Ralph Sadler, the English envoy, to describe him as "a simple and fearful man;" words which are certainly, in their modern sense at least, inapplicable to him. Morton was, however, a commissioner for the settlement of affairs at

Upsettlington, May 31st, 1559. After the return of queen Mary, in 1561, he was sworn a privy councillor, and on the 7th of January, 1563, was appointed lord high chancellor of Scotland. By the advice of his father the earl of Lennox, Darnley consulted Morton and the earl of Crawford in preference to any other of the nobility, respecting the taking away the life of Rizzio, when his jealousy had been inflamed by the presumption of that unfortunate adventurer; and Morton became a principal actor in the tragical catastrophe that ensued. It was the opinion of these noblemen that Rizzio should be impeached before the parliament, and brought publicly to justice as an incendiary who had sown distrust and jealousy among the nobility, and had also endeavoured to subvert the ancient laws and constitution of the kingdom. This there certainly would have been little difficulty in accomplishing, but it did not suit the impatient temper of Darnley, whose revenge could not be satiated without in some degree implicating the queen; and he had determined that her favourite should suffer in her almost immediate presence. He accordingly carried a number of the conspirators from his own chamber, which was below the queen’s, by a narrow staircase, of which he alone had the privilege, into hers, when she had just sat down to supper, in company with the countess of Argyle and her unfortunate secretary, the object of their hatred, whom they instantly dragged from his seat, and, ere they were well out of the queen’s presence, whose table they had overturned, and whose clothes the unhappy man had almost torn while he clung to her and implored her protection, despatched him with innumerable wounds. In the meantime, Morton, chancellor of the kingdom, and the protector of its laws, kept watch in the outer gallery, and his vassals paraded in the open court, preventing. all egress from or ingress to the palace. The effect of this barbarous murder was an entire change of policy on the part of the court. The protestant lords, the principal of whom had been in exile, returned to Edinburgh that same night, and all papists were, by a proclamation issued by the king, commanded to leave the city next day. The queen, though she was enraged in the highest degree, concealed her feelings till she had completely overcome the foolish Darnley, whom she persuaded in the course of a few days to fly with her to Dunbar, to abandon the noblemen to whom he had bound himself by the most solemn written obligations, and to issue a proclamation denying all participation in the murder of Rizzio, and requiring the lieges to assemble instantly, for the protection of the queen and the prosecution of the murderers. In consequence of this, the queen, with her now doubly degraded husband, returned in a few days to the capital, at the head of a formidable army; and though the exiled noblemen who had newly returned, maintained their ground, Morton and his associates were under the necessity of making their escape out of the kingdom. Through the interest of the earl of Bothwell, he was pardoned shortly after; and it was attempted, at the same time, to engage him in the plot that was already formed for murdering Darnley. In this, however, he positively refused to concur; but, practically acquainted with the childish weakness of that unfortunate young man, he dared not to inform him of the design, nor did he take any measures to prevent its being executed, which occasioned him eventually the loss of his own life. After the death of the king, and Mary’s subsequent marriage to Bothwell, Morton was one of the most efficient leaders in the confederacy that was formed for her degradation, and for erecting a protestant regency under her infant son. He was the same year restored to the office of high chancellor for life. He was also constituted high admiral for Scotland, and sheriff of the county of Edinburgh, which had become vacant by the forfeiture of Bothwell. He, along with the earl of Home, took the oaths for king James VI. at his coronation on August 29th, 1567, to the effect that he would observe the laws, and maintain the religion then publicly taught, so far as it was in his power. The Scottish treasury was at this time so low, that when it was determined to fit out a small fleet to apprehend and bring to justice the notorious Bothwell, who to all his other enormities had now added that of being a pirate, in which capacity he was infesting the northern islands, it was found to be impracticable, till Morton generously came forward and supplied the necessary sum from his private purse.

During the regency of the earl of Moray, Morton was an active and able assistant to him on all occasions. He was one of the principal commanders at the battle of Langside, and to his courage and good conduct it was in no small degree owing, that the results of that memorable day were of such a favourable complexion. He was also one of the commissioners in the famous conferences at York. On the murder of the regent in the year 1570, Morton became the head of the protestant or king’s party, though Matthew, earl of Lennox, was created regent, chiefly through his interest and that of queen Elizabeth. Never was any country, that had made the smallest progress in civilization, in a more deplorable condition than Scotland at this time. At the time of the regent’s murder, the whole, or nearly the whole faction of the Hamiltons were collected at Edinburgh, evidently that they might be able to improve that event for advancing their views, and, the very night after the murder, Ker of Fernihurst, accompanied by some of the Scotts, entered England, which they wasted with fire and sword, in a manner more barbarous than even any of their own most barbarous precedents. The reason of this was, that they did not in this instance so much desire plunder, the usual incentive to these savage inroads, as to provoke the English government to declare war, which they vainly supposed would advance the interests of their faction. Elizabeth, however, was well acquainted with the state of Scotland, and, aware that strong external pressure might unite the discordant parties, and make them for a time lose sight of those individual objects which every paltry chieftain was so eagerly pursuing, sent her ambassador Randolph to assure the Scottish council that her affection towards Scotland was not at all abated, and, as in former times of great confusion she had not been backward to assist them, she would not be so now. As for the robberies and the murders that had so lately been committed upon her people, being aware that they were authorised by no public authority, she would never think of punishing the many for the errors of the few. These marauders, however, she insisted should be restrained; and, if they felt themselves incompetent, by reason of their public commotions, to do this, she offered to join her forces to theirs for that purpose. He also added, in name of his sovereign, many advices which were regarded by the council as wholesome, equitable, and pious, but, as they had as yet elected no chief magistrate, he was requested to wait for an answer till the beginning of May, on the first day of which the parliament was summoned to meet. The interim was busily, as might easily have been foreseen, employed, by the faction of the queen, in preparing, either to prevent the parliament front being assembled, or to embroil its proceedings, if it did. Glasgow, therefore, being convenient for the Hamiltons, was first fixed on as the general rendezvous of the party, whence they wrote to Morton, and the party of the king, to meet them either at Falkirk or Linlithgow. This not being agreed to, the queen’s faction removed themselves to Linlithgow, and afterwards, thinking to persuade the citizens to join them, into Edinburgh. Foiled in this, though Kirkaldy, the governor of the castle, had declared for them, as also in their aim to assemble the parliament before the appointed time, they, before that time approached, withdrew to Linlithgow, whence they issued an edict, commanding all the lieges to obey only the commissioners of the queen, and summoning a parliament to meet in that place on the 3d of August. Previously to their leaving Edinburgh, the faction despatched two special messengers into England, one to meet with the earl of Sussex, who was on his march with an army to punish the Scotts and the Kers, with their adherents, who had so barbarously, a few months before, carried fire and sword into England,—praying for a truce, till they should be able to inform the queen, Elizabeth, by letter, of the state of their affairs. The other carried the said letter, which contained the most exaggerated statements of their own strength, and not obscurely threatened war against the English nation. It also contained a request that Elizabeth, as arbitress of the affairs of Scotland, should annul the decrees of the two former years, that the whole business should be gone over anew, and settled by the common consent of all. Trusting to the ignorance of the English, they ventured to append to this document, not only all the names of the party, but many of those of the other, and the whole of those that stood neuter. Sussex, having full authority, opened both these despatches, and perfectly aware of the fraud, sent back the messengers with contempt. He also transmitted copies of the letters to the adherents of the king, that they might know what was going on among their enemies; in consequence of which they sent an embassy to Elizabeth, to treat about repressing the common enemy, and to show their respect for her, proposing, in the choice of a regent, to be guided by her wishes.

Sussex, in the meantime, entered Teviotdale, and laid waste without mercy the whole possessions belonging to the Scotts and the Kers, and generally all those belonging to the partisans of Mary. Under pretence of being revenged on the Johnstons, lord Scrope entered Annandale in the same manner, and committed similar depredations. They even carried their ravages into Clydesdale, where they burnt and destroyed the town and castle of Hamilton, and carried off a large booty from the different estates in that quarter belonging to the Hamiltons; after which they returned to Berwick. The messenger, who had been by the protestant lords sent to Elizabeth, in the meantime returned with an answer that contained the strongest expressions of astonishment at the length of time that had elapsed from the death of the regent, before they had thought it meet to make her acquainted with the state of their affairs, and in consequence of the delay, she declared, that she could scarcely determine in what manner she should conduct herself with regard to them. The truth was that she had been again truckling with Mary, who had promised to cause her party in Scotland deliver up the earl of Westmoreland and some other fugitives, subjects of Elizabeth, who had taken refuge among them; in consequence of which, Sussex had been recalled, and to save appearances with both, she was now necessitated to propose another conference, with a view to the clearing of Mary’s character and restoring her to the exercise of sovereign authority. Both parties were in the meantime to abstain from hostilities of every kind, and whatever innovations they had attempted by their public proclamations, they were to annul by the same means.

Nothing could have been contrived more discouraging to the king’s friends or more detrimental to the interests of Scotland, than such a determination as this; but they had no choice left. They behoved either to be assisted by the queen of England, or run the hazard of a dangerous civil war with their own party, considerably diminished by the dilatory manner in which they had already acted, and the chance of the opposite party being assisted by a strong auxiliary force from France, which had been often promised, and as often boasted of, generally among the more uninformed classes, who had little knowledge of the internal strength of France, or of the political balance that might externally sway her councils, and prevent her government from acting according to either their promises or their wishes. But they were not altogether blind to the difficulties in which, by the subtilty of her policy, Elizabeth was involved; and they chose a middle course, trusting to the chapter of accidents for an issue more successful than they could fully or clearly foresee. Sensible how much they had lost by the delay in appointing some person to the regency, they proceeded to create Matthew, earl of Lennox, regent till the middle of July, by which time they calculated upon ascertaining the pleasure of Elizabeth, of whose friendship they did not yet despair.

The earl of Lennox was not by any means a man of commanding talent, but he was a man of kindly affections, and a lover of his country; and with the assistance of his council, set himself in good earnest to correct the disorders into which it had fallen, when about the beginning of July, letters arrived from Elizabeth, filled with expressions of high regard both for the king and kingdom of Scotland, and promising them both her best assistance; and though she wished them to avoid the nomination of a regent, as in itself invidious, yet if her opinion were asked, she knew no person who ought to be preferred to the king’s grandfather to that office, because none could be thought upon who would be more faithful to his pupil while a minor, nor had any one a preferable right. On the reception of this grateful communication, Lennox was immediately declared regent, and having taken the usual oath for preserving the religion, the laws, and liberties of his country, he issued a proclamation, commanding all who were capable of bearing arms to appear at Linlithgow on the 2d of August. His purpose by this was to prevent the assembling of the party meeting, which, under the name of a parliament, was called in name of the queen, for the 2nd day of September, he himself having summoned in name of the king a parliament to meet on the 10th of October. He was accordingly attended on the day appointed by five thousand at Linlithgow, where the party of the queen did not think it advisable to appear. Hearing, however, that Huntly had issued orders for a large army to be assembled at Brechin, the garrison of which had begun to infest the highways, and to rob all travellers, he sent against that place the lords Lindsay and Ruthven, with what forces they could collect at Perth and Dundee. The subject of this memoir followed them with eight hundred horse, and was at Brechin only a day behind them. The regent himself having despatched the men of Lennox and Renfrew to protect their own country, in case Argyle should attack them, followed in three days, and was waited upon by the nobility and gentry, with their followers, to the number of seven thousand men. Huntly had now fled to the north. The garrison of Brechin made a show of defending themselves, but were soon brought to submit at discretion. Thirty of them, who had been old offenders, were hanged on the spot, and the remainder dismissed.

The regent returned to Edinburgh in time to attend the meeting of parliament, which harmoniously confirmed his authority, which the queen’s party observing, had again recourse to the French and the Spaniards, with more earnestness than ever, intreating them to send the promised assistance for the restoring of the queen and the ancient religion, the latter depending, they said, upon the former. Another parliament being appointed for the 25th of January, 1510, the queen’s party, through the queen of England, procured a renewal of the truce till the matters in dispute should be debated before her. The parliament on this account was prorogued from the 25th of January till the beginning of May; and on the 5th of February, the earl of Morton, Robert Pitcairn, abbot of Dunfermline, and James Macgill, were despatched to London to hold the conference. For this second conference before the agents of Elizabeth we must refer our readers to the life of Mary queen of Scots. We cannot for a moment suppose that Elizabeth had any serious intentions, at any period of her captivity, to restore queen Mary, and they were probably less so now than ever. The proposals she made at this time, indeed, were so degrading to both parties as to be rejected by both with equal cordiality. There had been in this whole business a great deal of shuffling. Mary had undertaken for her partisans that they would deliver up to Elizabeth the fugitives that had made their escape from justice, or in other words, from the punishment which they had made themselves liable to on her account; but instead of being delivered up to Elizabeth they were safely conveyed into Flanders. Mary had also engaged that her partisans should abstain from courting any foreign aid; but an agent from the pope, who had vainly attempted to conciliate Elizabeth, issued a bull of excommunication against her, declared her an usurper as well as a heretic, and absolved her subjects from their oaths of allegiance to her; yet with inexplicable pertinacity, Elizabeth seemed to divide her regards between the parties, by which means she kept alive and increased their mutual hatred, and was a principal instrument of rendering the whole country a scene of devastation and misery.

While this fruitless negotiation was going on, the truce was but indifferently observed by either party. Kirkaldy and Maitland having possession of the castle of Edinburgh, and being free from the fear of any immediate danger, were constantly employed in training soldiers, taking military possession of the most advantageous posts in the city, seizing the provisions brought into Leith, and by every means making preparations for standing a siege till the promised and ardently expected assistance should arrive from abroad. The Hamiltons oftener than once attempted the life of the regent, and they also seized upon the town of Paisley, but Lennox, marching in person against them, speedily recovered it. He also marched to Ayr against the earl of Cassius, who gave his brother to the regent as a hostage, and appointed a day when he would come to Stirling and ratify his agreement. The earl of Eglinton and lord Boyd at the same time made their submission to the regent and were taken into favour. The castle of Dumbarton too, which had all along been held for the queen, fell at this time, by a piece of singular good fortune, into the hands of the regent. In the castle were taken prisoners Monsieur Verac, ambassador from the king of France, John Hamilton, archbishop of St Andrews, and John Fleming of Boghall. The archbishop was shortly after hanged at Stirling, as being concerned in the plots for murdering Darnley and the regent Moray. In the meantime, Morton, and the other commissioners that had accompanied him, returned from London, having come to no particular conclusion. Morton gave a particular account of all that had passed between the commissioners, to the nobles assembled at Stirling, who entirely approved of the conduct of the commissioners; but the further consideration of the embassy was postponed to the first of May, when the parliament was summoned to assemble. Both parties were now fully on the alert; the one to hold, and the other prevent, the meeting on the day appointed. Morton, after the nobles had approved of his conduct, returned to his house at Dalkeith, attended by a hundred foot soldiers and a few horse, as a guard, in case he should be attacked by the townsmen, or to repress their incursions till a sufficient force could be collected. Morton, as desired by the regent, having sent a detachment of a few horsemen and about seventy foot to Leith, to publish a proclamation, forbidding any person to supply the faction of the queen with provisions, arms, or warlike stores, under pain of being treated as rebels, they were attacked in their way back to Dalkeith, and a smart skirmish ensued, in which the townsmen were driven back into the city, though with no great loss on either side. This was the beginning of a civil war that raged with unusual bitterness till it was terminated by the intervention of Elizabeth. The regent not being prepared to besiege the town, wished to abstain from violence; but determined to hold the approaching parliament in the Canongate, within the liberties of the city, at a place called St John’s cross, he erected two fortifications, one in Leith Wynd, and the other at the Dove Craig, whence his soldiers fired into the town during the whole time of the sitting of the parliament, slaying great numbers of the soldiers and citizens. This parliament forfeited Maitland the secretary, and two of his brothers, with several others of the party, and was held amid an almost constant discharge of cannon from the castle; yet no one was hurt. On its rising, the regent and Morton retired to Leith, when the party of the queen burnt down the houses without the walls that had been occupied by them; and as they withdrew towards Stirling, they sent out their horsemen after them to Corstorphine. Before they reached that place, however, the regent was gone; but they attacked the earl of Morton, who slowly withdrew towards Dalkeith. As Morton afterwards waylayed all that carried provisions into the town, a party was sent out, supposed to be sufficiently strong to burn Dalkeith. The earl, however, gave them battle, and repulsed them to the marches of the Borough Muir. The garrison seeing from the castle the discomfiture of their friends, sent out a reinforcement, which turned the tide of victory; and but for the carelessness of one of the party, who dropped his match into a barrel of powder, the whole of Morton’s party might have fallen victims to their temerity in pursuing the enemy so far. This accident, whereby the horse that carried the powder and many of the soldiers were severely scorched, put an end to the affray. Elizabeth all this while had professed a kind of neutrality between the parties. Now, however, she sent Sir William Drury to Kirkaldy, the captain of the castle, to know of him whether he held the castle in the queen’s name or in the name of the king and regent; assuring him that if he held it in the name of the queen, Elizabeth would be his extreme enemy, but if otherwise that she would be his friend. The captain declared that he owned no authority in Scotland but that of queen Mary. The regent, when Drury told him this, sent him back to demand the house to be rendered to him, in the king’s name; on which, he and all that were along with him should be pardoned all by-past offences, restored to their rents and possessions, and should have liberty to depart with all their effects. This offer, the captain, trusting the "carnal wit and policy of Lethington," was so wicked and so foolish as to refuse, and the war was continued with singular barbarity. The small party in the castle, in order to give the colour of law to their procedure, added the absurdity of holding a parliament, in which they read a letter from the king’s mother, declaring her resignation null, and requesting that she might be restored, which was at once complied with; only they wanted the power to take her out of the hands of Elizabeth. In order to conciliate the multitude, they declared that no alteration should be made in the presbyterian religion, only those preachers who should refuse to pray for the queen were forbidden to exercise their functions. These meek forms, from which no doubt a man of so much cunning as Lethington expected happy results, tended only to render the party ridiculous, without producing them a single partisan. The regent, all whose motions were directed by Morton, was indefatigable, and, by an order of the estates, the country was to send him a certain number of men, who were to serve for three months, one part of the country relieving the other by turns. To narrate the various skirmishes of the contending parties, as they tended so little to any decisive result, though the subject of this memoir had a principal hand in them all, would be an unprofitable as well as an unpleasant task. We shall therefore pass over the greater part of them; but the following we cannot omit.

Morton, being weary and worn out with constant watching, and besides afflicted with sickness, retired with the regent to Stirling, where the whole party, along with the English ambassador, thought themselves, in perfect security. The men of the castle, in order to make a flourish before Sir William Drury, came forth with their whole forces, as if to give their opponents an open challenge, to face them if they dared to be so bold. Morton, who was certainly a brave man, being told of this circumstance, rose from his bed, put on his armour, and led forth his men as far as Restalrig, where he put them in battle array, facing the queen’s adherents, who had drawn up at the Quarrel Holes, having along with them two field-pieces. Drury rode between the armies and entreated them to return home, and not spoil all hopes of accommodation by fresh bloodshed. To this he at length brought them to agree, only they wanted to know who should leave the ground first. Drury endeavoured to satisfy both by standing between the armies, and giving a signal which both should obey at the same time. Morton was willing to obey the signal; but his enemies threatened that if he did not retire of his own accord, they would drive him from the field with disgrace. This was enough for a man of his proud spirit. He was loath to offend the English; but he conceived that he had abundantly testified his moderation, and he therefore rushed like a whirlwind upon his foes, who, panic-struck, fled in a moment towards the nearest gate, which not being wide enough to receive at once, the flying cloud, many were trodden down and taken prisoners; only one small party who rallied in an adjoining church-yard, but who again fled at the first charge, made any resistance. So complete was the panic and so disorderly the flight, that, leaving the gates unguarded, every man fled full speed towards the castle; and had not the regent’s soldiers, too intent upon plunder, neglected the opportunity, the city might have been taken. Gavin Hamilton, abbot of Kilwinning, was slain, with upwards of fifty soldiers, and there were taken prisoners the lord Home, captain Cullen, a relation of Huntly’s, and upwards of seventy soldiers, with some horsemen, and the two field-pieces. On the side of the regent there were slain captain Wymis and one single soldier. This adventure befel on Saturday the 26th of June, and, for its fatal issue, was long called by the people of Edinburgh, the BLACK SATURDAY. The faction of the queen held another parliament in the month of August, still more ridiculous than the preceding; but in the month of September, Kirkaldy, the governor of the castle, projected an expedition of the most decisive character, and which, had it succeeded, must have put an end to the war. This was no less than an attempt to surprise Stirling, where the regent and all the nobles in amity with him, were assembled to hold a parliament, and it was hoped they should all be either lulled or taken prisoners at the same moment. The leaders who were chosen to execute the project, were the earl of Huntly, lord Claud Hamilton, the lajrd of Buccleuch, and the laird of Wormeston, and they were allowed three hundred foot and two hundred horsemen; and that the foot might reach their destination unfatigued, they pressed the day before every horse that came into the market, upon which, and behind the horsemen, they were all mounted. In this manner they left Edinburgh on the evening of the 3d of September, 1571. Taking an opposite direction till they were fairly quit of the town, they marched straight for Stirling, where they arrived at three o’clock in the morning, and reached the market place without so much as a dog lifting its voice against them. They had for their guide George Bell, a native of Stirling, who knew every individual lodging and stable within it, and his first care was to point them all out, that men might be stationed at them, to force up floors and bring forth the prisoners out of the lodging’s, and horses from the stables. The footmen were placed in the streets by bands, with orders to shoot every person belonging to the town, without distinction, who might come in their way. The stables were instantly cleared, (for the greater part of the invaders belonged to the borders, and were excellently well acquainted with carrying off prizes in the dark,) and the finest horses of the nobility were collected at the east port. The prisoners too had been mostly seized, and were already in the streets, ready to be led away, for they were not to be put to death till they were all assembled outside the town wall. Morton, however, happened to be in a strong house, and with his servants made such a desperate resistance that the enemy could only obtain entrance by setting it on fire. After a number of his servants had been killed, he made his escape through the flames and surrendered himself prisoner to his relation the laird of Buccleuch. The regent too was secured and the retreat sounded, but the merchants’ shops had attracted the borderers, and they could not on the instant be recalled from their ordinary vocation, till Erskine of Marr, who commanded the castle, issued out with a body of musqueteers, which he placed in an unfinished house that commanded the market place, and which, from its being empty, the marauders had neglected to occupy. From this commanding station he annoyed them so grievously that they fled in confusion, and in the narrow lane leading to the gate trode down one another, so that had there been any tolerable number to join in the pursuit, not one of them could have escaped. The inhabitants of the town, however, were fast assembling, and the invaders were under the necessity of quitting their prisoners or of being instantly cut to pieces. Those who had taken Alexander earl of Glencairn and James earl of Morton, were fain, for the saving of their lives, to deliver themselves up to their prisoners; and captain Calder, seeing the day lost, shot the regent, who was in the hands of Spence of Wormeston. Wormeston had already received two wounds in defending his prisoner, and now he was slain outright. Two of these who had struck at the regent and wounded him after being taken, not being able to escape to their friends, were seized and hanged. The pursuit was however prevented, by the thieves of Teviotdale having in the beginning of the affair carried off all the horses, so that these who once got clear of the gate had no difficulty in escaping. There were in Stirling at this time with the regent, Morton, Argyle, Cassius, Glencairn, Eglinton, Montrose, Buchan, Ruthven, Glamis, Sempill, Ochiltree, Cathcart, and Methven, all of whom, had the plot succeeded, would have been either killed or made prisoners. The regent died the same night, and Marr succeeded him in his office, though it was supposed that Morton was the choice of the queen of England. The parliament was continued by the new regent, and a great number of the queen’s faction were forefaulted. The parliament was no sooner concluded than the regent hastened to besiege Edinburgh, for which great preparations had been made by the regent Lennox, lately deceased. Scotsmen in those days had but little skill in attacking fortified places, and though the regent erected batteries in different situations, their efforts were inconsiderable. The siege of course was abandoned, and the former kind of ceaseless hostility renewed, Maitland and Kirkaldy, in company, now had recourse to Elizabeth to settle their disputes; but they expected their property and their offices restored, and for security, that Kirkaldy should retain the command of the castle. Elizabeth offered to protect them and to treat with the regent on their behalf; but, laying aside disguise, she informed them that Mary had been so ill advised, and adopted measures so dangerous to her, that while she lived she should neither have liberty nor rule.

It was about this time that John, lord Maxwell, was married to a sister of Archibald, earl of Angus. Morton, for the entertainment of a number of gentlemen and ladies on the occasion, had store of wines, venison, &c. provided, which being brought from Perth on the way towards Dalkeith, was taken by a party of horsemen from the castle; which so enraged Morton, that he sent a number of armed men into Fife, who destroyed all the corn on the lands of the governor of the castle, and burnt his house; and the governor the same night succeeded in burning the whole town of Dalkeith. The same detestable wickedness was, by both parties, committed in various other places shortly after. In March, 1572, all the mills in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh were broken down, that the inhabitants might be cut off from their supply of meal; and by placing soldiers in Corstorphine, Redhall, Merchiston, Craigmillar, and other defensible places in the neighbourhood of the town, it came to be closely blockaded. Whoever was found carrying any necessary to the town was brought down to Leith, where he was either hanged or drowned, or at the very least burnt in the cheek. So inveterate, indeed, had the parties now become, that prisoners taken in the field of open war, were instantly hanged on both sides. This blind brutality was carried on without intermission for nearly two months. The town of Edinburgh was now reduced to the greatest straits, and nothing but the deepest infatuation could have prevented the governor of the castle from surrendering, especially as Elizabeth, by her ambassador, was willing to treat with the regent on his behalf. A truce was, however, effected by the mediation of the French and English ambassadors, the town was made patent to the governor, and the banished clergy were all allowed to return, but still no terms of mutual agreement could be devised, and the regent Marr, broken in spirit for the wickedness and folly of his countrymen, died, as has been generally supposed, of a broken heart, on the 24th of October, 1572. Morton had now a fair field for his ambition, and on the 24th of November, he was elected regent, in the room of the earl of Marr.

During the reign of the three former regents, Morton had been a principal actor in all matters of importance, and there did not appear to be any positive change in his principles and views, now that he was at liberty to act for himself. He still proffered peace upon the conditions that had been held out by his predecessor, but Grange, who commanded the castle, having risen in his demands, and Maitland being a man of whom he was jealous, he fell upon the plan of treating with the party separately, and by this means ruining, or at least, disabling the whole. In this he was assisted, perhaps unwittingly, by the English ambassador Killigrew, who, now that a partisan of England was at the head of the government, laboured to bring about a reconciliation between all parties. Under his auspices a correspondence was accordingly entered into with the two most powerful leaders of the party, Chatelherault and Huntly, by whom a renewal of the truce was gladly accepted. Kirkaldy, who refused to be included in the prolongation of the truce, fired some cannon at six o’clock in the morning after it had expired, against a place which had been turned into a fish market, whereby one man was slain and several wounded. The ambassador seeing this, immediately moved house, and Sir James Balfour, who had been all the time of the dispute an inmate of the castle, hastened to make his submission to the regent, and demand a pardon, which was cheerfully granted, with restoration at once to all his possessions. Perhaps rather offended than mollified by this kindness on the part of the regent towards his friend, the governor proclaimed from the walls of the castle his intention to destroy the town, commanding at the same time, all the queen’s true subjects to leave the place, that they might not be involved in that ruin that was intended only for her enemies. Within two days after, a strong wind blowing from the west, he sallied out in the evening, and set fire to the houses at the foot of the rock, which burned eastward as far as the Magdalen chapel. At the same time he sent his cannon-shot along the path taken by the conflagration, so that no one dared to approach to put it out. This useless cruelty made him alike odious to his friends and his enemies, and they "sa cryit out with maledictions that he was saif frae na inannis cursing." The estates, notwithstanding all this, met in the end of January, when they passed several acts against papists and despisers of the king’s authority. This meeting of the estates had no sooner broken up, than a meeting was held at Perth with the leading noblemen, who had first been of the queen’s faction, when a treaty was entered into, by which a general amnesty was granted to all who should profess and support the protestant religion, and submit themselves to the authority of the regent. The only persons excepted from this amnesty, were the murderers of the king, and the regents Moray and Lennox, the archbishop of Glasgow, Mary’s ambassador in France, and the bishop of Ross, her ambassador in England, both of whom were under a sentence of outlawry. Liberty was also reserved for Kirkaldy and his associates to take the benefit of this amnesty if they did it within a given time. The English ambassador, anxious for the fate of a brave man, waited in the castle to show the governor the treaty, and to advise his acceding to it, but Maitland had so possessed him with the idea of assistance from abroad, that he was deaf to all advice. Morton, indeed, had not the means of reducing the castle himself; but he made immediate application to Elizabeth for a supply of cannon and of soldiers who could work them, which application she received most graciously, and Sir William Drury with a body of troops and a train of artillery left Berwick upon that service in the month of April, 1573. Before the march of the troops, however, a special treaty was concluded, whereby the terms upon which the aid was granted were particularly specified, and hostages were granted for the fulfilment of these terms. No time was lost in commencing the siege, and notwithstanding the skill and the bravery of the governor, the place was speedily reduced. The fall of part of the chief tower choked up the well which afforded them at best but a scanty supply, and the spur, though a place of great strength, was stormed with the loss of only eight men killed, and twenty-three wounded. The garrison on this beat a parley, and sent for one of the English captains, to whom they expressed their desire of conversing with the general and the ambassador. The regent giving his consent, Kirkaldy, according to the prediction of John Knox, along with Sir Robert Melville, was let down over the wall, the gate being choked up with rubbish. Requiring conditions which could not be granted, Kirkaldy was returned to the castle, but he found it impossible to stand another assault. They had no water but what they caught as it fell from heaven, and the garrison was discontented. Thinking on the terms that had been offered, and so often and foolishly rejected, and ascribing the obstinacy of the resistance to Maitland, the men threatened that if further attempts to preserve the place were made, they would hang him over the wall. Nothing of course was left but to capitulate at discretion: only they did so with the English general, in preference to the regent. The garrison had to be brought from the castle under an escort, so odious was it to the people; and Kirkaldy and Maitland, for the same reason, had to be lodged with the English general. Maitland took himself off by poison; and Kirkaldy and his brother James, along with two other persons, were hanged at the cross of Edinburgh upon the 3d day of August, 1573. Kirkaldy had been an early friend and an intrepid defender of the reformation; but his old age, in consequence perhaps of the companionships he had formed, was unworthy of his youth, and his end was most miserable. This was the last stroke to the interests of Mary in Scotland.

The regent’s first care was to repair the castle, the keeping of which he committed to his brother, George Douglas of Parkhead, he himself going in person to repress the disorders that had so long prevailed among the borderers, and had been so often complained of by the English government. Along with Sir John Forrester, the English warden for the middle march, he adjusted the existing differences, and concerted measures to prevent their recurrence. From the chiefs of the different districts he exacted hostages for their good behaviour; and he appointed Sir James Home of Cowdenknows, Sir John Carmichael, one of his principal ministers, and lord Maxwell, as wardens for the eastern, the middle, and the western marches. Having settled the borders, Morton next applied himself to correct the disorders in the country in general, and to the regular distribution of justice; and in this, says the author of the history of James the sixth, "he wished to punish the transgressor rather be his gudes than be death." "He had also anither purpose," says the same author, "to heap up a great treasure whatsoever way it might be obtained. For the first he prospered in effect very well; and as to the uther, he had greater luck than any three kings had before him in sa short a space. For not only he collectit all the king’s rents to his awin proffit, but also controllit the yung king’s family in sik sort, as they war content of sik a small pension as he pleased to appoint. Secondly, when any benefices of the kirk vaikit, he keeped the proffit of their rents sa lang in his awin hand, till he was urgit be the kirk to mak donation tharof, and that was not given but proffit for all that. And becaus the wairds and marriages war also incidentel matters of the crown, and fell frequently in thais dayis, as commonly they do, he obtainit als great proffit of ilk ane of them as they war of avail, and as to the gudes of those wha war ony way disobedient to the lawis, and that the same fell in the king’s hand, the parties offenders escapit not but payment in the highest degree. And to this effect he had certain interpreters and componitors wha componit with all parties, according to his ain direction; and he sa appointed with them for the payment, that it sould either be made in fyne gold or fyne silver." The above, we doubt not, is a pretty fair general statement of Morton’s ordinary modes of procedure. He also sentenced to whipping and imprisonment, those who dared to eat flesh in lent, but the sentences were uniformly remitted upon paying fines. His exactions upon the church perhaps were not the most aggravated of his doings, but they certainly brought him a larger share of odium than any other. The thirds of benefices had been appropriated for the maintenance of the protestant clergy; but from the avarice of the nobility, who had seized upon the revenues of the church, even these thirds could not be collected with either certainty or regularity. During the late troubles, they had in many places been entirely lost sight of; to remedy this defect, Morton proposed to vest them in the crown, under promise to make the stipend of every minister local, and payable in the parish where he served. If upon trial this arrangement should be found ineligible, he engaged to replace them in their former situation. No sooner, however, did he obtain possession of the thirds, than he appointed one man to serve perhaps four churches, in which he was to preach alternately, with the stipend of one parish only; by which means he pocketed two-thirds, with the exception of the trifle given to three illiterate persons who read prayers in the absence of the minister. The allowance to superintendents was stopped at the same time; and when application was made at court, they were told the office was no longer necessary, bishops being placed in the diocese, to whom of right the ecclesiastical jurisdiction belonged. The ministers complained, and desired to be put on their former footing, but they were told that the thirds belonged to the king, and the management of them behoved of course to belong to the regent and council, and not to the church. The assembly of 1574, in order to counteract the effects of their own simplicity, decreed that though a minister should be appointed to more churches than one, he should take the charge of that alone where he resided, and bestow upon the others only what he could spare without interfering with the duty he owed to his particular charge.

In the summer of 1575, an affray on the borders had well nigh involved Morton in a contest with Elizabeth. Sir John Carmichael, one of the Scottish wardens, had delivered up some outlaws to Sir John Forrester the English warden, and now made application to that officer to have a notorious thief delivered up to him; Forrester showed a disposition to evade the demand, and, some of the Scottish attendants uttered their dislike in terms ruder than suited the polite ears of Englishmen. Sir John Forrester then said, that Sir John Carmichael was not an equal to him; and his followers, without ceremony, let fly a shower of arrows, that killed one Scotsman dead, and wounded many others. Inferior in numbers, the Scots were fain to flee for their lives, but meeting some of their countrymen from Jedburgb, they turned back, and dispersing the Englishmen, chased them within their own borders, and slew by the way George Heron, keeper of Tinedale and Reddisdale, with twenty-four common men. Forrester himself they took prisoner, along with Francis Russell, son to the earl of Bedford, Cudbert Collingwood, and several others, whom they sent to the regent at Dalkeith; who, heartily sorry for the affray, received them with kindness, entertained them hospitably for a few days, and dismissed them courteously. Elizabeth, informed of the circumstance, demanded by her ambassador, Killigrew, immediate satisfaction. Morton had no alternative but to repair to the border, near Berwick, where he was met by the earl of Huntington, and after a conference of some days, it was agreed that Sir John Carmichael should be sent prisoner into England. Elizabeth finding on inquiry that her own warden had been the offender, and pleased with the submissive conduct of Morton, ordered Carmichael in a few weeks to be honourably dismissed, and gratified him with a handsome present.

Morton, having a greedy eye to the temporalities of the church, had from the beginning been unfriendly to her liberties, and by his encroachments had awakened a spirit of opposition that gathered strength every year till the whole fabric of episcopacy was overturned. This embroiled him with the general assembly every year, and had no small effect in hastening his downfall; but in the bounds we have prescribed to our narrative, we cannot introduce the subject in such a way as to be intelligible, and must therefore pass it over.

In the end of 1575, the regent coined a new piece of gold of the weight of one ounce, and ordained it to pass current for twenty pounds. In the following year, a feud fell out betwixt Athole and Argyle, which the regent hoped to have turned to his own account by imposing a fine upon each of them; but they being aware of his plan, composed their own differences, and kept out of his clutches. An attempt which Morton had before this made upon Semple of Beltrees and Adam Whitford of Milntown, had given all men an evil opinion of his disposition, and made them wish for the subversion of his power. Semple had married Mary Livingston, one of queen Mary’s maids of honour, and had received along with her, in a present from his royal mistress, the lands of Beltrees, which Morton now proposed to reassume as crown lands, which, it was alleged, were unalienable. Semple, on hearing of this design, was reported to have exclaimed, that if he lost his lands he should lose his head also; on which Morton had him apprehended and put to the torture, under which, as most men will do, he confessed whatever they thought fit to charge him with, and was condemned to be executed, but was pardoned upon the scaffold. His uncle Adam Whitford was also tortured respecting the same plot; but though they mangled his body most cruelly, he utterly denied that he knew of any such thing. The firm denial of the uncle gained of course entire credit, while the confession of the nephew was ridiculed as the effect of weakness and fear. Irritated with the reproaches which were now pretty liberally heaped upon him, Morton conceived the idea of heightening his reputation by demitting, or offering to demit his office into the hands of the king, who was now in his twelfth year. He accordingly, on the 12th day of September, 1577, proposed his resignation to his majesty, who, by the advice of Athole and Argyle, accepted it: and it was shortly after declared to the people of Edinburgh by the Lyon King at Arms, assisted by twelve heralds, and accompanied by a round from the castle guns. Morton, taken at his word, seems to have retired to Lochleven in a kind of pet, but speedily contrived to regain that power by force which he had apparently laid down of his free will. Having possessed himself of the castle and garrison of Stirling, he dexterously contrived to engross the same or at least equal power to what he possessed as regent; nor had he learned to temper it with any more of moderation. He brought the parliament that had been summoned to meet at Edinburgh, to Stirling; and he carried every thing in it his own way. He also narrowly escaped kindling another civil war; yet he still meditated the ruin of the Hamiltons, and the enriching of himself and his faction by their estates. The earl of Arran had been for a number of years insane, and confined in the castle of Draffan. But his brother, lord John Hamilton, acted as the administrator of his estates, and Claud was commendator of Paisley; both the brothers had been excepted from the amnesty granted at Perth, as being concerned in the murder of the king and the regent Murray, and Morton had now formed a scheme to involve them in a criminal sentence on that account, and to seize upon their estates. Informed of the plot, the brothers got happily out of the way, but their castles were seized; and because that of Hamilton had not been given up at the first summons, the garrison were marched to Stirling as felons, and the commander hanged for his fidelity. Still, however, Arran, being insane, was guiltless, but he was made answerable for his servants, and because they had not yielded to the summons of the king, he was convicted of treason and his estates forfeited. In the same spirit of justice and humanity, Morton apprehended a schoolmaster of the name of Turnbull, and a notary of the name of Scott, who had written, in conjunction, a satire upon some parts of his character and conduct, brought them to Stirling, where they were convicted of slandering "ane of the king’s councillors, and hanged for their pains." The violent dealing of the wicked almost invariably returns upon their own heads, and so in a short time did that of Morton; for while he was still meditating mischief, he was most unexpectedly accused by the king’s new favourite, captain Stewart, of being an accomplice in the murder of the king’s father. He was instantly committed to the castle of Edinburgh, thence carried to Dumbarton, and thence back to Edinburgh, where he was brought to trial on the 1st of June, 1581. Previously to his removal from Dumbarton, the estate and title of the Earl of Arran, which he had so iniquitously caused to be forfeited, were bestowed upon captain Stewart, his accuser; who, at the same time that he was invested with the estate and title, received a commission to bring up the ex-regent from Dumbarton to Edinburgh, which he did at the head of one thousand men. When the commission was shown to Morton, struck with the title, he inquired who he was, not having heard of his exaltation. Being told, he exclaimed, "then I know what I have to expect." The jury that sat upon his trial was composed of his avowed enemies, and though he challenged the earl of Argyle and lord Seton as prejudiced against him, they were allowed to sit on his assize. Of the nature of the proof adduced against him we know nothing, as our historians have not mentioned it, and the records of the court respecting it have either been destroyed or lost. He was, however, pronounced guilty of concealing, and guilty art and part in the king’s murder. "Art and part," he exclaimed twice, with considerable agitation, and striking the ground violently with a small walking-stick, "God knows it is not so." He heard, however, the sentence with perfect composure. In the interval between his trial and execution, he felt, he said, a serenity of mind to which he had long been a stranger. Resigning himself to his fate, he supped cheerfully and slept calmly for a considerable part of the night. He was next morning visited by several of the ministers, and an interesting account of the conference which John Dury and Walter Balcanquhal had with him, has been preserved. Respecting the crime for which he was condemned, he confessed, that after his return from England, whither he had fled for the slaughter of Rizzio, he met Bothwell at Whittingham, who informed him of the conspiracy against the king, and solicited him to become an accomplice, as the queen anxiously wished his death. He at first refused to have any thing to do with it, but after repeated conferences, in which he was always urged with the queen’s pleasure, he required a warrant under her hand, authorizing the deed, which never having received, he never consented to have any hand in the transaction. On being reminded that his own confessions justified his sentence; he answered, that according to the strict letter of the law, he was liable to punishment, but it was impossible for him to have revealed the plot, for to whom could he have done so? "To the queen? she was the author of it. To the king’s father? he was sic a bairn that there was nothing told him but he would tell to her again; and the two most powerful noblemen in the kingdom, Bothwell and Huntly, were the perpetrators. I foreknew, indeed, and concealed it," added he, "but it was because I durst not reveal it to any creature for my life. But as to being art and part in the commission of the crime, I call God to witness that I am entirely innocent." He was executed by an instrument called the maiden, which he himself had introduced into Scotland, on the 3d of June, 1581. On the scaffold he was calm, his voice and his countenance continuing unaltered; and after some little time spent in devotion, he suffered death with the intrepidity that became a Douglas. His head was placed on the public gaol, and his body, after lying till sunset on the scaffold, covered with a beggarly cloak, was carried by common porters to the usual burying place of criminals. "Never was there seen," says Spottiswoode, "a more notable example of fortune’s mutability, than in the earl of Morton. He who a few years before had been reverenced by all men, and feared as a king, was now at his end forsaken by all, and made the very scorn of fortune, to teach men how little stability there is in honour, wealth, friendship, and the rest of these worldly things that men do so much admire. In one thing he was nevertheless most happy, that he died truly penitent, with that courage and resignation which became a truly great man and a good christian, and in the full assurance of a blessed immortality."


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