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the reformation. He was deputed by the supporters of that system, to repair to France to escort queen Mary home, and use his influence, which he did with success, to form a plan of administration agreeable to their views. Upon his return he was created earl of Murray, and continued for a considerable time to influence the government of the queen; but when she threw off the disguise, and openly declared in favour of popery and tyranny, he adhered to his principles, and became one of the most violent opponents of Mary.
As the principal actions of his political career are related along with those of his contemporaries, we shall not here attempt to give them in detail. Concerning his death and character Dr. R. writes: · Hamilton of Bothwelhaugh was the person who committed this barbarous action. He had been condemned to death soon after the battle of Langside, and owed his life to the regent's clemency. But part of his estate had been bestowed upon one of the regent's favourites, who seized his house, and turned out his wife naked, in a cold night, into the open fields, where, before next morning, she became furiously mad. This injury made a deeper impression on him than the benefit he had received, and from that moment he vowed to be revenged upon the regent. Party rage strengthened and inflamed his private resentment. His kinsmen, the Hamiltons, applauded the enterprise. The maxims of that age justified the most desperate course he could take to obtain vengeance. He followed the regent for some time, and watched for an opportunity to strike the blow. He resolved at last to wait till his enemy should arrive at Linlithgow, through which he was to pass in his way from Stirling to Edinburgh. He took his stand in a wooden gallery which had a window towards the street; spread a feather-bed on the floor to hinder
the noise of his feet from being heard; hung up a black cloth behind him that his shadow might not be observed from without; and, after all this preparation, calmly expected the regents approach, who had lodged during the night in a house not far distant. Some indistinct information of the danger which threatened him had been conveyed to the regent, and he paid so much regard to it that he resolved to return by the same gate through which he had entered, and to fetch a compass round the town. But as the crowd about the gate was great, and he himself unacquainted with fear, he proceeded directly along the street; and the throng of the people obliging him to move very slowly, gave the assassin time to take so true an aim, that he shot him with a single bullet through the lower part of the belly, and killed the horse of a gentleman who rode on his other side, His followers instantly endeavoured to break into the house from whence the blow had come, but they found the door strongly barricaded; and before it could be forced open, Hamilton had mounted a fleet horse, which stood ready for him at a back passage, and was got far beyond their reach. The regent died the same night of his wound. : There is no person in that age about whom historians have been more divided, or whose character has been drawn with such oppposite colours. Personal intrepidity, military skill, sagacity and vigour in the administration of civil affairs, are virtues which even his enemies allow him to have possessed in an eminent degree. His moral qualities are more dubious, and ought neither to be praised nor censured without great reserve and many distinctions. In a fierce age he was capable of using victory with humanity, and treating the vanquished with moderation. A patron of learning, which, among martial nobles, was either unknown or des spised. Zealous for religion, to a degree which distinguished him, even at a time when professions of that kind were not uncommon. His confidence in his friends was extreme, and inferior only to his liberality towards them, which knew no bounds. A disinterested passion for the liberty of his country, prompted him to oppose the pernicious system which the princes of Lorrain had obliged the queen-mother to pursue. On Mary's return into Scotland, he served her with a zeal and affection, to which he sacrificed the friendship of those who were most attached to his person. But, on the other hand, his ambition was immoderate ; and events happened that opened to him vast projects, which allured his enterprising genius, and led him to actions inconsistent with the duty of a subject. His treatment of the queen, to whose bounty he was so much indebted, was unbrotherly and ungrateful. The dependence on Elizabeth, under which he brought Scotland, was disgraceful to the nation. He deceived and betrayed Norfolk with a baseness unworthy of a man of honour. His elevation to such unexpected dignity inspired him with new passions, with haughtiness and reserve; and, instead of his natural manner, which was blunt and open, he affected the arts of dissimulation and refinement. Fond, towards the end of his life, of flattery, and impatient of advice, his creatures, by soothing his vanity, led him astray, while his ancient friends stood at a distance and predicted his approaching fall. But amidst the turbulence and confusion of that factious period, he dispensed justice with so much impartiality, he repressed the licentious borderers with so much courage, and established such uncommon order and tranquillity in the country, that his administration was extremely popular, and he was long and affece
tionately remembered among the common people by the name of the Good Regent.
Variety is pleasant, and contrast tends to elucidate. The character of the regent is delineated by the pen of Dr. Stuart in the following manner: “This illustrious man was the natural son of James V, by Margaret, the daughter of John, lord Erskine. He had been appointed, at an early age to the priory of St. Andrew's ; but he possessed not that pacific mind, which, uninterested in the present world, delights to look to the future, and to busy itself in the indolent formalities of devotion. The activity of his nature compelled him to seek agitation and employment ; the perturbed period in which he lived supplied him with scenes of action ; and the eminence of his abilities displayed itself. He discovered a passion for liberty, and a zeal for religion ; and he distinguished himself by an openness and sincerity of carriage. These popular qualities pleased the congregation, and procured him their confidence. The love of liberty, however, was not, in him, the effect of patriotism, but of pride ; his zeal for religion was a political virtue; and, under the appearance of openness and sincerity, he could conceal more securely his purposes. Power was the idol which he worshipped, and he was ready to acquire it by methods the most criminal. He was bold, firm, and penetrating. His various mind fitted him alike for intrigue and for war. He was destined to flourish in the midst of difficulties. His sagacity enabled him to foresee dangers, his prudence to prepare for them, and his fortitude to surmount them. To his talents, his genius, and his resources, Scotland is indebted for the reformation. By this memorable achievement, he meant nothing more than to advance himself in the road to greatness. To this point all his actions were directed. It gave the limits to his generosity, which
has been extolled as unbounded. His praise, his caresses, and his services, his dissimulation, his perfidiousness, and his enmities, were all sacrifices to ambition. And miscarriage, which has ravish ed so many laurels from great men, did not far nish his glory. His success was so conspicuous, that he seemed to have the command of fortune.”
MAITLAND OF LETHINGTON
Is one of those characters who make a distinguished figure in the Scottish history. Of him, our author says, the queen-dowager suffered an irreparable loss by the defection of her principal secretary, William Maitland of Lethington. Ilis zeal for the reformed religon, together with his warm remonstrances against the violent measures which the queen was carrying on, exposed him so much to her resentment, and to that of her French counsellors, that, suspecting his life to be in danger, he withdrew secretly from Leith, and fled to the lords of the congregation ; and they with open arms received a convert, whose abilities added both strength and reputation to their cause. · The leaders of the congregation having resolved to implore the assistance of Elizabeth towards finishing an enterprise, in which they had fatally experienced their own weakness, and the strength of their adversaries, Maitland, as the most able negotiator of the party, was employed in this embassy. There was little need of his address or eloquence to induce Elizabeth to take his party under her protection. She observed the prevalence of the French councils, and the progress of their arms in! Scotland, with great concern ; and as she foresaw: the dangerous tendency of their schemes in that kingdom, she had already come to a resolution