Skip to main content

Full text of "History of remarkable conspiracies connected with European history, during the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries"

See other formats

Digitized by tine Internet Arclnive 

in 2011 with funding from 

University of Toronto 






p{'i'^'-!i~ ■"■AW~'l^*^yM-if-si>y-c''v'i A -^ 



■^ OS" ■ 





'EB F©K C®Sr§TAB]LK & C? 

4^51 h 








IN TWO VOLUMES. . fsht y'C^t^ 

VOL. I. 'V^y^ ' 









Chapter 1 15 

Chapter II 26 

Chapter III 33 

Chapter IV 4,9 


Chapter 1 65 

Chapter II 80 

Chapter III 104. 


Introductory Notice, 137 

The Conspiracy of John Lewis Fiesco, . . . 143 

SPAIN, A. D. 1588. 

The Death of Don Carlos 209 


Chapter I 1. The Raid of Ruthven, ... 223 

Chapter II. — 2. The Gowrie Conspiracy, . . 269 
Chapter III 290 


In laying this Work before the Public, 
my object has been to give as luminous 
a view as my limits would permit, of the 
causes of the various enterprises narrated 
in these volumes. 

It is necessary to observe, that in the ac- 
count of the Assassination of James I., I 
have followed the document inserted in the 
first volume of Pinkerton's History, which 
that historian has himself used. The death 
of James III. cannot be well understood, 
without giving a brief sketch of his eventful 
reign ; and although I have perhaps dwelt 
longer on it than was absolutely necessary, 
as it is a very important period of our na- 
tional history, it could not be avoided, with- 
out making any account of the lamentable 
end of that monarch imperfect. It has no 
other pretensions than that of being a com- 
pilation of facts ; yet history, after all, must 
of necessity be a compilation. 


The Conspiracy of Fiesco against Genoa, 
is reprinted. As I have prepared an intro- 
ductory notice in its proper place, it is un- 
necessary to repeat my observations here. 

The Death of Don Carlos is a mere 
sketch, compiled from various sources, of an 
affair so involved, that it is extremely diffi- 
cult to separate truth from fable. It has 
been variously treated by the friends and 
enemies of Philip, and has afforded a theme 
for the inventions of poets and romancers. 
But, in whatever light it is viewed it will 
never be forgotten, that the fate of that 
Prince is the groundwork of one of Schiller's 
Tragedies, of one of Otway's great efforts, 
and of one of the finest pieces of historical 
romance by the Abbe St Real. 

The Gowrie Conspiracy is certainly one of 
the most mysterious events recorded in his- 
tory, and to it I would beg the attention of the 
reader. I have taken, doubtless, a peculiar 
view of it, as connected with the events of 
that period ; but such subjects are now open 
to discussion, and every individual is en- 
titled to hold his own opinion. Fortunate- 
ly, all doubt as to the reality of the Con- 
spiracy is ended, by the recent discovery 


of the Original Letters of Logan of Restal- 
rig, in the Register- Office, Edinburgh. To 
Robert Pitcairn, Esq., the able Editor of 
the Criminal Trials, I am under very great 
obligations, for having put into my hands a 
mass of interesting documents connected 
with this Conspiracy, hitherto unpublished, 
and of which I have made as much use as 
my limits would permit. Indeed the latter 
part of the narrative is almost wholly pre- 
pared from these documents, and from the 
subsequent proceedings of the government 
contained in that splendid work, " The Acts 
of the Parliament of Scotland" recently print- 
ed by the command of his present Majesty. 

The second volume must speak for itself. 
It is not too much to say, that its contents 
will be found perhaps more interesting than 
the first; and it is hoped, that, altogether, 
these portions of history, in which human 
character and adventure are brought so con- 
spicuously before the reader, as illustrative 
of what men have hazarded for the accom- 
plishment of ambitious projects, or to gratify 
revenge, will not be unacceptable to the 

J. P. L, 

Edinburgh, July 1829. 






ANNO 1137, 







Heaven from all creatures hides the book of fate, 
All but the page prescribed, their present state : 
From brutes what men, from men what spirits know. 
Or who would suffer being here below ? 
The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed to-day, 
Had he thy reason, would he skip and play ? 
Pleas'd to the last, he crops the flowery food, 
And licks the hand just rais'd to shed his blood. 


From the death of Robert III. in 1405, till 1586, 
— a period of one hundred and eighty-one years — 
it was the misfortune of Scotland to be governed by 
a succession of minors. The consequences in a 
rude and turbulent age, and among a people com- 
pletely under the control of their feudal superiors, 
may be easily conceived. The progress of ira- 


provemcnt and civilization was restrained; domestic 
broils, and the evils of factions ambition, complete- 
ly depressed the spirit of the nation. 

At no period of Scottish history, perhaps, were 
these more apparent than when James, the first of 
that name, acceded to the <(overnment, after a capti- 
vity of nineteen years in England. The feeble reign 
of Robert III. had abundantly encouraged the spirit 
of faction ; and the infamous murder of the unfortu- 
nate Rotlisay at Falkland, by Ramomy and his 
associates, who were suborned by the Duke of Al- 
bany and the Earl of Douglas, is a proof of the 
weakness of Robert's administration, and the un- 
principled ambition of his relatives. The imprison- 
ment of James in England rendered a regency ne- 
cessary ; and Robert's own brothei', the Duke of 
Albany, by various arts and crimes, obtained the 
administration of the government, which he held 
for thirteen years with a vigour rarely witnessed 
at his great age. * His son Murdac succeeded — 
a regent of a different character, weak, indolent, 
and remiss in his authority, who was maintained 
in his brief regency of four years solely by the 
peculiar circumstances of the times. 

It was the misfortune of James I. that he lived 
at that period ; for a prince he was worthy of a 
better age and a more enlightened and civilized 
kingdom. His imprisonment in England had not 
been without its advantages, and the greatest care 
had been bestowed on his education. In him, 
after two feeble reigns, and two regencies equal- 
ly inactive, the House of Stuart was at last to 

* The Duke of Albany was approaching his 70th year 
when he became regent. 


know a sovereign — a prince as distinguished for 
his mental as he was for his personal accomplish- 
ments — " a man ot science and learning, an ex- 
cellent poet, a master of music : — illustrious in 
every personal virtue, free from any personal vice, 
his very amusements adorned his character, — his 
hours of leisure being frequently dedicated to ele- 
gant writing, and miniature painting, to mechani- 
cal arts, and to the cultivation of the garden and 
the orchard. " * 

As it is not my province here to discuss the 
state of Scotland when James assumed the go- 
vernment, I shall pass at once, after a few histori- 
cal notices, to the narration of the tragedy which 
terminated the existence of the most accomplish- 
ed prince of his age. After a number of salutary 
regulations, James soon astonished the nobles 
by his bold proceedings. His first act was to 
humble the ambitious family of Albany ; and 
in a Parliament held at Perth, 1425, he arrest- 
ed the Duke of Albany, his two sons, the Earls of 
Lennox, Douglas, Angus, and March, Sir Robert 
Graham, and more than twenty barons of great 
power. Some of these were afterwards released, 
but a full measure of revenge was in reserve for 
Albany and his sons. Seated on the throne of 
justice, James himself presided at their trial ; and 
among the jury were some of those whom he 
had formerly ordered to be arrested. By this 
jury, Murdac of Albany, Duncan Earl of Lennox 

* Pinkerton, vol. i. p. 109. — The Poems of James I. 
are well known, and evince his great abilities. His King's 
Quair, Christ's Kirk of the Grene, and Peeblis to the 
Play, are to be found in almost every collection. 
A 2 


his father-in-law, and his two sons, were con- 
demned. Walter, the late Regent's eldest son, 
was beheaded on the very day of his condemna- 
tion ; and on the following day, Albany himself, 
Alexander his second son, and the Earl of Len- 
nox, were led out to execution. It was a severe, 
though, perhaps, a just retribution ; yet the vulgar 
beheld it not without commiseration. The former 
authority of Albany, the venerable age of Len- 
nox, then approaching his eightieth year, and the 
noble appearance of the third, excited those feelings 
which invariably result from the sight of greatness 
in misfortune. * 

But the execution of these noblemen brought 
for a while peace to Scotland ; and James applied 
himself still farther to the improvement and civi- 
lization of his subjects. Many wise and efficient 
laws were enacted, while the boldness and vigour 
of the administration seemed to check all disposi- 
tion to faction and turbulence. But the schemes 
of the King for the humbling of the nobility were 
observed with rancorous and malignant hatred ; 
and there were those among them who had re- 
solved to rid themselves of a sovereign before 
whom they trembled, divested of their power and 
feudal greatness, opposed by a vigour which Bruce 
himself, the restorer of the Scottish monarchy, 
had only once presumed to exercise, and which 
even to him had well nigh proved fatal. 

It was thus, while James I. was proceeding 
with a boldness and determination which astonish- 
ed his nobility, and which amounted even to rash- 
ness, a confederacy was secretly forming, the con- 

* The execution was at Stirling, and they were all buried 
in the Church of the Blackfriars there. 


ti-ivers of which had for their object the dethron- 
ing of the King, and the elevation of another to 
his throne. Unfortunately for James, his sum- 
mary revenge on the family of Albany had ren- 
dered him exposed to such dangerous associations. 
While the nobles were exasperated at his pro- 
ceedings, and alleged that avarice, and not justice, 
prompted him to procure so many confiscations, 
the people were no less disposed to view with dis- 
pleasure the subsidies levied from them, which 
they had hitherto been unaccustomed to advance, 
not perceiving that a king without a treasury must 
necessarily become the tool of faction, and unable 
to maintain the exigencies of state ; and as those 
subsidies had not been exacted from them in for- 
mer reigns, although attached to their sovereign, 
they were disposed to view his government as ty- 
rannical. No inconsiderable murraurings, there- 
fore, existed among them, wbile a few of the 
nobles were conspiring together to recover their 
former power and independence. 

Certain circumstances occurred, which proved 
favourable to the designs of the confederates. 
James, by his marriage with Joanna, a daughter 
of the royal house of Lancaster, * a lady who 
had been long the object of his affections during 
his captivity in England, had formed various 
leagues with that kingdom for a certain number of 
years, which had been renewed at the expiration 
of the allotted periods. These truces or leagues 

* Joanna was daughter of the Duchess of Clarence, 
niece of Richard II., by her first husband John Duke of 
Somerset, fourth son of John of Gaunt, or Ghent, Duke 
of Lancaster. The marriage of James and Joaima was 
celebrated in the church of St Mary Overy, South wark. 


liad been generally well observed, with the excep- 
tion of the usual maraudings on the Borders, till 
the year 1435, when the treaty then existing was 
infiinged on the part of England. In support of 
some of those who had opposed the King's autho- 
rity, and who had been exiled in consequence, Sir 
Robert Ogle the Younger entered Scotland at the 
head of a considerable force, and committed se- 
veral ravages in the southern counties. He was 
opposed, however, by the Earl of Angus, Hep- 
burn of Hailes, and Ramsay of Dalhousie ; and, 
after a battle, in which upwards of forty men were 
slain, he was defeated and taken prisoner. James, 
enraged at this violation of the truce, despatched 
a remonstrance to the English Court, but the af- 
fair was suffered to pass without farther notice ; 
and there is every reason to conclude, that Ogle 
acted according to some secret instructions he had 
received from the English Council. * 

• This affair is differently narrated by our historians, 
and the inroad has been greatly magnified. See Duff's 
History of Scotland, folio, p. 59 ; Maitland's History, 
folio, vol. i. p. 611 ; Drummond's (of Hawthornden) His- 
tory of the Reign of James I. 8vo. edit. 168], p. 39, 40 ; 
Abercromby's INIartial Achievements, vol. ii. p. 299 ; Bu- 
chanan, lib. X. It is this difference of narration, and prone- 
ness to magnify slight skirmishes, as if they were great 
battles, which constitute some of the difficulties in Scot- 
tish Historj-. According to the above writers, the Eng- 
lish army entered Scotland, 4000 strong, under the com- 
mand of Percy, Earl of Northumberland ; and there is 
mention only made of a Sir John Ogle in that army. The 
Scots, under Angus, Hepburn, Elphinstone, and Ramsay, 
met them on the borders, at a place called Piperden, and, 
after a desperate battle, obtained a decisive victory, slaying 
1500 of their enemies, and taking prisoners 400 noblemen 
and knights, and 300 men. They themselves, it is pre- 
tended, lost oOO men. It is not my intention to dis- 


The cause of this infringement of the truce was 
the conduct of James with respect to France, with 
which country the English were at war. The 
Maid of Orleans was then pursuing her successful 
career, and the English armies had been more than 
once defeated by a woman. James had contract- 
ed his daughter, the Princess Margaret, to the 
Dauphin — an alliance which alarmed the English 
Government. But no direct violation of the truce 
between England and Scotland had taken place 
till 1435, which was destined to be followed by 
another wanton provocation in 1436. The Dau- 
phin had then attained his thirteenth year, and the 
Scottish Princess her twelfth ; and it was accord- 
ingly resolved to conclude the marriage. Henry 
of England beheld this connection with increased ir- 
ritation, more especially as James had rejected an 
alliance he had himself proposed in a special em- 
cuss the absurdity of this ludicrous attempt to magnify an 
inroad, wliich was made merely to harass James in his pre- 
parations to send his daughter to France, with which country 
the English were then at war. Bowar, vol. ii. p. 500, 
has set the matter right ; and even Abercromby observes, 
that some writers say, the number of the prisoners amount- 
ed only to 1500, and that of the slain on both sides to 40 
or 200 at most. The fact that Sir Robert Ogle command- 
ed, and the date of this inroad, are ascertained from the 
correspondence of James and Henry on the subject, nar- 
rated in the long instructions of the English Council for 
redress. Cotton MSS. Vespasian, F. VII. f. 48, dated 
5th February 1436. See also note, apitd Pinkerton, vol. i. 
p. 130. Our historians, moreover, err in placing this 
skirmish after the departure of the Princess Margaret for 
France, which took place in 1436, whereas the inroad hap- 
pened in 1435. The English were not in a condition to 
spare a numerous army for a Scottish expedition, nor was 
it their interest at that time to break with the Scottish 


bassy conducted by Lord Scroop. In the begin- 
ning of the year 1436, two French envoys arrived 
in Scotland to betroth the Princess ; and she was 
spnt to France, escorted by an honourable retinue, 
conducted by the Earl of Orkney and the Bishop 
of Brechin. Sixteen knights and squires, forty 
ladies of noble parentage, and 140 gentlemen, * 
completed the gallant train, guarded by 1000 arm- 
ed men, in three galleys, and six well-manned bar- 
ges. The English Government, however, were 
on the watch ; 180 vessels lay in the Channel to 
intercept the Scottish Princess ; and captured she 
would have been, had not the English fleet at- 
tacked a number of Flemish merchant ships, and 
afterwards engaged with some Spanish vessels, 
which suddenly appeared, and deprived them of 
their Flemish prizes. The Scottish fleet escaped 
during these contests, and safely landed the Prin- 
cess at Rochelle, whence she proceeded to Paris. 
When James heard this additional insult offered 
him by the English, he did not long hesitate about 
retaliation ; yet it must be confessed, that, if the 
English were the first actual aggressors, the con- 
duct of James was not altogether free from blame, 
inasmuch as he had actually sent troops to France, 
to assist the French armies against their English 
enemies. The delay of redress, however, for the 
inroad under Ogle, the attempt to intercept his 
daughter, and probably a desire to prevent any 
treasonable confederacies among his nobility, 
prompted James to undertake a war against Eng- 
land. With incredible alacrity, he summoned a 

* Drummond of Haw thornden says, liO gentlewomen y 
History of James I. p. 38. 


numerous army ; and it is remarkable, that Scot- 
land, at all times limited in her resources, should 
have been able in those times to have sent so 
many men into the field, — a circumstance which 
ian only, perhaps, be accounted for from the state 
af the kingdom, the limited extent of its merchan- 
iise and intercourse with foreign nations, and the 
lature of the tenures under which the peasantry 
leld their limited property. The military array 
>f James on this occasion consisted of nearly 
200,000 men, many of them mounted on horses, 
md a vast number of foot soldiei's and followers of 
;he army. This unwieldy assemblage, however, 
;hiefly formidable on account of its numerical 
itrength, was ill-armed and without discipline, 
;omposed generally of men who were courageous 
ind savage enough in their own peculiar mode of 
varfare, but totally unfit to endure a campaign 
igainst a less numerous but well-disciplined force. 
The castle of Roxburgh, so fatal to James' son 
ind successor, had been for a considerable time 
n the possession of the English, — a cause of 
10 inconsiderable uneasiness to the Scottish mo- 
larchs. Situated on an eminence near the con- 
luence of the Tweed and the Teviot, it had been 
ilways deemed a place of great importance ; and 
he vicissitudes it had undergone in former reigns 
nade it at length be deemed, in a manner, the 
;ommanding fortress on the Borders. The reco- 
'ery of this fortress, then held for the English 
nonarch by Sir Ralph Gray, was the primary ob- 
ect of James, and against it he led his unwieldy 
irmy in person. The King sat down before it 
md began the assault without success. For fifteen 
lays, the valiant governor of the castle kept the 


Scottish force at bay ; and the King was at length 
compelled to abandon the siege, dismiss his army, 
and return unsuccessful. 

The causes of this sudden movement and re- 
treat of James are variously related by historians. 
With a vanity which is too often apparent among 
our early writers, they have generally asserted, 
that the castle of Roxburgh was almost recovered 
by James, notwithstanding the bravery of Gray the 
governor, when the Queen arrived suddenly at the 
camp, with tidings of a formidable conspiracy 
formed against him. Insinuations are even made 
against the Queen, that it was a mere pretence on 
her part, as she was disposed to favour her coun- 
trymen the English. The King, according to 
these writers, suddenly raised the siege, fearing 
the reality of the plot, and that the officers of his 
army had been corrupted by English gold ; and 
betook himself to Perth, that he might investigate 
the conspiracy. But these accounts seem to have 
originated solely in the melancholy events which 
marked the termination of James's life the following 
year. That there was a conspiracy existing againsi 
him, we shall presently see ; and it is probable thai 
the Queen may have heard who were the principal 
leaders. But the narrative of Walter Bowar, the 
monastic historian, who lived at the period, at onct 
explains the causes of James' sudden retreat. Had 
there been a conspiracy, such as is vaguely reported 
by later writers on no authority, James was much 
safer with his army than after its dispersion ; bul 
the King appears to have been convinced, that he 
was weakening his kingdom by supporting this 
numerous army ; and perhaps he perceived that 
spirit of dissatisfaction and discontentment begin- 


ning to operate among his nobles, which under his 
successors proceeded to violent extremes, and too 
often induced them to sacrifice their country to a 
gratification of their resentments. 

After the army was disbanded, James retired 
to Perth, where the court was then held. The 
Dominican or Blackfriars' Monastery, founded 
in 1231 by Alexander II., was the royal resi- 
dence, — a monastery of great splendour, sacrile- 
giously plundered and destroyed by the enthusiasts 
of the Reformation. This monastery, no trace of 
which now remains, was situated in the street still 
called the Blackfriars' Wynd ; and from the man- 
ner in which it is mentioned, and the frequent 
allusions made to it by our historians, it appears 
to have been a magnificent fabric of Gothic splen- 
dour. It became the residence of the sovereigns 
when the court was kept at Perth, after the de- 
molition of the Castle, (the site of which was 
towards the north end of the narrow street called 
the Skinnergate), in the Church of the monastery 
several parliaments were held ; and it was always 
the place where the national ecclesiastical councils 
assembled. But it is necessary to introduce the 
principal actors in the cruel scene which terminat- 
ed the life of James I. 



There is a history in all men's lives, 
Figuring the nature of the times deceas'd; 
The which observ'd, a man may prophecy. 
With a near aim, of the main chance of things 
As yet not come to life, which in their seeds, 
And weak beginnings, be intreasured. 

Shaksp£are — Henry IV. 

Sir Robert Graham, uncle of Malise Earl of 
Strathern, had been imprisoned by Jaraes in 1425, 
when he took his summary vengeance on the fa- 
mily of Albany; but the cause, unless he had 
been connected with the practices of Albany, is 
not accurately known. In the Parliament, held 
in 1424, a statute was enacted to ascertain the 
lands which belonged to the crown at the de- 
cease of Robert I., and James was authorized to 
call for the production of all charters and writs 
of tenure. While thus engaged, James turned his 
attention to the earldom of Strathern ; and, under 
the pretence that it was a male fee, two years af- 
terwards he divested Malise of the earldom, and 
gave it to his own uncle, Walter Earl of Athol 
and Caithness, grand-uncle to the same Malise, 
for his liferent. As a recompense to the latter 
nobleman, James assigned to him the earldom of 


Menteith, by which distinction his family was af- 
terwards known in the peerage. 

Sir Robert Graham, whose hatred to the King 
was inveterate, beheld not this divestment of his 
nephew's dignity without indignation ; yet it can 
hardly be conceived that this alone could stimulate 
him to murder his sovereign. Whatever were his 
motives, his dissimulation induced him to intrigue 
with Athol, who was not without ambition, though 
it is not likely that Graham was at all inclined to 
aid it, from the circumstances above narrated. Athol, 
at this period approaching his seventieth year, was 
the second son of Robert IL, by Euphemia Ross, 
the second queen of that monarch. His grandson, 
Sir Robert Stuart, was in high favour with James, 
and held the office of private chamberlain in the 
court. These were the two noblemen on whom 
Graham practised, captivating the dotage of age, 
and the inexperience of youth, to promote his own 
desperate revenge. His audacity equalled his dis- 
simulation. It was pretended by him and his as- 
sociates, that after the King was despatched, the 
crown would be given to Sir Robert Stuart ; — 
the latter thus dazzled by the prospect of a throne, 
and Athol his grandfather no less attracted by the 
hopes and allurements of seeing his family elevated 
to the regal dignity. 

Graham soon found a number of desperate ad- 
herents in this conspiracy ; and after his plan was 
matured, every action of the King was interpreted 
in the severest manner. He made it his business 
to inflame the people by false representations of 
the King's proceedings, while he fomented the dis- 
contentment of the nobility, who were already suf- 


ficiently dissatisfied at the Kings successful at- 
temjjts to diminish their power and influence. 
In 1434, shortly after Graham had been releas- 
ed from his imprisonment, a meeting of the prin- 
cipal nobility was held, most probably to con- 
sider the intentions of James, who was then pro- 
ceeding vigorously in his plans to humble their feu- 
dal greatness. At this meeting Graham attend- 
ed ; and, irritated by his confinement, his conduct 
was as outrageous as his language was inflamma- 
tory. It was maintained, that the execution of Al- 
bany and his sons had originated in the insatiable 
avarice of the King to possess their estates ; and 
no measured language was employed to express 
the greedy covetousness, by which, it was alleged, 
James oppressed and impoverished the kingdom. 
" My Lords, " said Graham, at the conclusion of a 
long harangue, " if you will firmly support me in 
what I shall say to the King, I shall demand redress 
in your presence, and I trust in God we shall be 
satisfied. " As he was a man of eloquence, and 
skilled in the laws as they then stood, Graham's 
proposal was readily assented to, and the nobles 
present bound themselves to support him. 

The next Parliament was the time fixed for the 
accomplishment of this plan, and Graham in the 
meanwhile had not been idle. It met in 1435, 
and Graham, relying on the promises he had 
received of support, conducted himself with the 
most extravagant audacity. Exceeding the bounds 
of his commission, he rose with a furious counte- 
nance, and, advancing to the throne, he pre- 
sumptuously laid his hand on the King, and ex- 
claimed, " I anest you in the name of the^three 
estates of your realm, now assembled in this present 


Parliament ; for, as your subjects are bound and 
sworn to obey you in the administration of the 
laws, in like manner you are compelled to defend 
your people, to govern by the laws, so that ye do 
not wrong them, but defend and maintain them in 
justice. " Then turning to the assembled peers, 
he cried, " Is it not thus as I say ? " But they, 
astonished at his boldness, and awed, perhaps, by 
the presence of their sovereign, kept profound 
silence, not venturing to appear as the abettors of 
this daring action. The King immediately ordered 
Graham to prison, who, exasperated at seeing him- 
self deserted by those who had pledged their sup- 
port, retorted a severe sarcasm as he was led out 
in custody : — " He that serveth a common man, 
serveth only during his convenience. " 

It does not appear that James endeavoured to 
ascertain who were the associates of Graham pre- 
paratory to this exploit, but it farther confirmed 
him in his resolution to crush the power of the no- 
bility. Graham was soon after ordered into ba- 
nishment, and he retired to the fastnesses of the 
Highlands, revolving in his mind dark and des- 
perate designs. As his estates were forfeited to 
the crown, he proceeded to renounce his allegi- 
ance, and sent the King a mortal defiance, declar- 
ing that for his tyranny he would destroy him, 
his wife, and children, and slay him with his own 
hands, whenever be had opportunity. This de- 
fiance drew forth a proclamation from James, offer- 
ing a reward of three thousand deniers of gold, each 
piece worth half a noble of English money, to any 
one who would bring Graham, dead or alive, into 
the royal presence. 

B 2 


But, nothing daunted by this proclamation, this 
audacious rebel was not idle. He took advan- 
tage of the King's absence at Roxburgh Castle, to 
correspond with some of the nobles ; and he vo- 
luntaiily offered to assassinate James, and place 
the crown on the head of Robert Stuart, Athol's 
grandson. It was probably, after all, a report of 
Graham's conduct, which induced the Queen to 
depart with such precipitancy for the camp at 
Roxburgh ; but there is no evidence to suppose 
that it caused James to raise the siege, as he was 
previously well aware of the inveterate hatred of 
this daring offender. 

Athol and his grandson, however, had ere this 
time engaged in the conspiracy ; and it is said the 
former was the more inclined, from the prediction 
of a Highland seer whom he had consulted in the 
district of Athol, that, " before his death, he would 
be crowned before a great concourse of people. " 
The last parliament of James met at Edinburgh 
on the festival of All-Hallowmas, 1436, when the 
bold and ferocious Graham, though an exile and a 
rebel, exerted himself with more than ordinary 
activity. He sent private messages to certain re- 
tainers of the late Duke of Albany, again offering 
to slay the King, and place Sir Robert Stuart on 
the throne. By this means a few were drawn over 
to the party, but the chief conspirators were Gra- 
ham himself, Athol, Sir Robert Stuart, and a do- 
mestic of the King's, whom they had bribed for 
the purpose, and from whom they received inti- 
mations of James' movements. 

After the meeting of Parliament, in which many 
wise and salutary laws were enacted, the court 
removed to Perth, there to celebrate the approach- 


ing festival of Christmas. If we are to believe 
the popular historians and chroniclers of the times, 
many supernatural indications were given of 
James' approaching fate. In 1436, towards the 
end of that year, Sir James Balfour notes, that a 
fearful comet, like a fiery sword, was seen in the 
heavens, as if between Edinburgh and Perth ; * 
and the same author gravely observes, that this 
year in Perth a sow brought forth a dog. A fear- 
ful eclipse also, it is said, lasted for three hours, 
during which it was as dark as midnight ; and 
these hours were long remembered in Scotland as 
the black hours. As a remarkable prodigy, we are 
informed, that the frost was so intense that winter, 
as to cause ale and wine to be sold by weight, 
being frozen into a solid substance. Two of the 
most ridiculous traditions, doubtless an improve- 
ment on some of the former, are, that a calf was 
seen with a head exactly shaped like that of a 
horse, and a sow littered pigs with dogs' heads. 
Absurd as these traditions are, they were most re- 
ligiously believed by the Scots of that age after 
the King's death, as so many indications from 
heaven of his approaching fate. 

Meanwhile the conspirators were proceeding 
with caution ; their plan was completely matured, 
the opportunity only being wanting to perpetrate 
the diabolical deed. Yet their caution was not 
so great as to prevent some vague rumours of their 
intentions to spread abroad ; and these rumours 
had reached even the most intimate domestics in 

* It is remarkable that in the early history of Scotland 
the appearance of fiery swords in the air seems to have 
been very common. 


the palace. But, from what cause soever it was, 
they seem to have been utterly disresrarded ; nor 
were the least suspicions excited. The apparent 
inability of Graham to conduct any formidable 
conspiracy, — the fact that no powerful cabal of the 
nobles had been mentioned, and Graham's pre- 
sumptuous de6ances to his sovereign, resembling 
rather the ravings of a madman, than the cool and 
calculating intentions of a conspirator, — probably 
concurred in deceiving the King, and lulling every 
suspicion. Well, however, would it have been for 
James had he listened to the dictates of prudence, 
and endeavoured to apprehend this dark and gloomy 
exile, ere he was able to form any confederacy with 
ambitious nobles in a turbulent and seditious age. 



'Tis said, as tliro' the aisles they pass'd, 

They heard strange voices on the blast; 

And thro' the cloister-galleries small, 

Which at mid-height thread the chancel wall, 

Loud sobs, and louder laughter, ran, 

And voices unlike the voice of man : 

As if the fiends kept holiday. 

Because their spoils were brought to day. 

I cannot tell hovir the truth may be ; 

I say the tale as 'twas said to me. 

Lay of the Last Minstrel. 

The court removed to Perth in splendid array, 
anticipating the usual rejoicings at the celebration 
of the approaching festival. It was in the midst 
of the journey, that a Highland woman, who pre- 
tended to be a soothsayer, but who in reality had 
heard the real plans of the conspirators, appeared 
before the King and his attendants. Her wild and 
singular attitude astonished James. It was at a 
place, according to our authority, termed the Water 
of Leith — the rivulet known by that name which 
falls into the Frith of Forth near Edinburgh, as 
the King is described as being near, or in his 
way to, " Saint John's towne, which is from Eden- 
borougli on that other side of the Scottish See, " * 

* The Frith of Forth was anciently called the Scottish 


the river Tay. " My Lord King, " she cried with 
a loud voice, " if you pass over this water, you 
shall never return again alive. " James was star- 
tled at her language, more especially as at that 
moment an old prophecy occurred to his mind, 
that a King of Scotland was to be slain that year. 
He commanded one of his attendants to ride up 
to the woman, and ask the meaning of her dubious 
exclamation ; but to this messenger she merely re- 
peated what she had before said to the King, per- 
sisting in her declaration, that if he passed that 
stream, he woukl never return alive. He asked 
her how she knew that ; to which she replied, 
that she had received her information from a per- 
son named Hubert, most probably a domestic of 
the palace. Whether or not the attendant was ia 
the plot, is doubtful ; he treated the prediction of 
the woman with contempt. " Sire, " said he to 
James, " men would smile if your Majesty re- 
garded yon woman's language, for she is nought 
but a drunken fool, and knows not what she says." 
The monarch and his attendants passed on, and 
entered Perth, where the celebration of the festi- 
val of Christmas commenced. 

Many were the omens which were observed of 
the King's approaching fate, and many are the popu- 
lar traditions recorded ; but the observation of Pin- 
kerton is too true, that " the worst omen was his 
rigorous administration, which had created many 
enemies, among whom the conspiracy spread like 
a fire among combustible materials. " The monas- 
tery of the Dominicans, or Blackfriars, in Perth, 
as had been observed, was the King's residence, 
and the scene of his last and fatal revelry. 

Tliat magnificent edifice, thus destined to be the 


scene of a most horrible tragedy, was on this occa- 
sion honoured by a brilliant assemblage of Scottish 
beauty, and bright eyes were there mixing in the 
dance and gracing the tournament, which ere long 
were to be suffused with tears. The Queen and 
her ladies resided in the monastery, and James, 
unconscious of his fate, moved among them — the 
gay, the gallant, the accomplished monarch. The 
sacred services of the Church were concluded, and 
the Court was the scene of festal gaiety. One of 
the attendant knights, remarkable for his personal 
accomplishments, received the epithet of King of 
Love from James. With him the King was one 
evening playing at chess, when he indulged in some 
sportive satire on his new title. " Sir King of Love, " 
said James, " it is not long since I read a pro- 
phecy, spoken some time ago, which set forth, 
that this year a king should be slain in this land, 
and well ye wot. Sir Alexander, there are no 
Kings in this realm but you and I ; and therefore I 
counsell you that ye be wary ; for I let you laiow 
that, under God, I shall take care of my own safe- 
ty suflBciently, being under your Kingship, and in 
the service of Love. " 

If our chroniclers are to be credited, other po- 
pular stories strikingly illustrate the influence 
of superstitious impressions, as also the fatal se- 
curity in which James imagined himself. Short- 
ly after the above circumstance, the King was in 
his own apartment, conversing with some ladies 
and nobles on various subjects. A squire, a fa- 
vourite of the King, drew near, and said, " In 
sooth, my Lord, I verily dreamed to-night that 
Sir Robert Graham had slain your Majesty. " It 
is not improbable, that this, under the pretence of 


its being a dream, was a timely hint to James of 
his situation ; but be this as it may, the squire was 
sharply reproved by the Eail of Orkney, (the same 
nobleman who founded the magnificent chapel at 
Roslin near Edinburgh), who commanded him to 
hold his peace, and teil no such idle tales in the 
royal presence. Yet it made some impression on 
James, who immediately recollected a dream of 
his own, in which he thought a serpent and a toad 
furiously assailed him in his own private apart- 
ments, and that he had nothing to defend himself 
against them but a pair of tongs he found in the 
chimney. The other signs and omens our chro- 
nicler has not narrated ; but yet, so gieat was the 
reverence which the presence of the devoted mo- 
narch excited, that thrice did Christopher Cham- 
bers, the domestic whom the conspirators had 
bribed, and who had formerly been a retainer of 
the Duke of Albany, attempt to approach the 
King, and make a full disclosure of the conspira- 
cy, and as often did he fail, firom a want of reso- 
lution, accident, or a sense of pity towards his asso- 
ciates. The imhappy monarch was devoted to 

At length a night was fixed for the accomplish- 
ment of the conspiracy, and the first Wednesday in 
Lent 1437, was the night destined for its execution 
by the conspirators, being the night between the 20th 
and 21st of February. The leaders of the con- 
spiracy had previously met ; Graham had private- 
ly returned from his gloomy fastnesses in the High- 
lands, and had arrived in the neighbourhood of 
Perth, where he met with Athol and his effemi- 
nate grandson. A speech is reported to have been 
delivered by Alhol, in which he recapitulates all 


his previous exploits in exciting ferments in the 
state, wliich, though conjectural, as it is not gene- 
rally known, is not unworthy of a place in this nar- 
rative, more especially as it proceeds on various 
historical facts, in which, whether or not Athol 
was actually guilty to the full extent in this con- 
spiracy, he had no inconsiderable shai'e. 

" The engagements, " said he to his associates, 
" which you have made to each other, and which 
I have made to you all, founded on the strongest 
grounds of consanguinity, friendship, and resolu- 
tion to revenge our mutual wrongs, move me free- 
ly to reveal my secret intentions, and to disclose 
my hidden purposes and counsels. The tragedies 
which have been acted in the state since the first ar- 
rival of this Englishman at the crown, are to none 
of you unknown. Murdac and his children have 
been beheaded ; the Earl of Lennox, the father- 
in-law of Murdac, came to the same end ; the no- 
bles repine at the government of the King ; the 
King is jealous of his nobles ; and the people are 
on the eve of rebellion. These have all been the 
effects of my crafty policy, and hitherto they have 
happened as fortunately as they were ingeniously 
contrived. For what more ingenious and cun- 
ning stratagem could be devised to oveithrow the 
prosperity of these usurpers, than to get them des- 
patched under the pretence of justice ? Sitting 
myself as judge in Albany's case, easily did I pro- 
cure summary vengeance for the critnes of his 
house. And if there were any evil in such pro- 
ceedings, in small matters we must not be over- 
scrupulous, that so justice and equity may be per- 
formed in great. My fear was, and indeed is, that 


the taking down the scaffold of Albany might oc- 
casion the erection of ours ; crowns must not have 
rivals ; the world knows, and this Englishman him- 
self is conscious, that the right and title to the crown, 
by descent of blood from Robert II., my father, was 
ill the person of David, my brother, and is now just- 
ly claimed by me and my nephew. And though 
acts of Parliament and oaths of allegiance have 
seemingly confirmed the rights of that other race 
who now occupy the throne, yet no parliament- 
ary authority can take away justice and the law of 
God ; neither are oaths bmding, when they tend 
to the oppression of truth and right. And though 
for a time such acts and oaths have prevailed, yet, 
if our designs be successful, we shall have a Par- 
liament approving our right, abolishing the autho- 
rity of our oppressors, and declaring them usurp- 
ers. This one man and child taken off, if perad- 
venture we can strike such a blow, the kingdom 
must obey the lawful successor. What subject 
will then dare to revolt, or take up arms against 
him ? Here is more fear than danger ; but though 
there were, the only remedies of present dangers 
are desperate courses. It was truly simple in him 
who now oppresses us, and usurps our throne, to 
think that deeply-rooted injuries are likely to be 
forgotten by the bestowal of contemptible favours, 
and that I should calmly submit to the title of 
Earl, when 1 should have been King myself, and 
receiving his homage. By his tyrannical justice, 
if he is not hated, he is not beloved, but has be- 
come an object of ten'or to his people, who now, 
through their poverty and grievances, obey him, 
not from affection, but from fear and necessity; 
aad he himself even feareth that some do that to 


liim which he knows right well he deserveth. Let 
us, then, resolve his doubts ; our purposes ai'e 
honour and revenge ; our feelings towards him are 
mutual. The very heavens seem to favour us, 
having induced him to dismiss his army, and to 
come to the very place where our designs must suc- 
ceed. Let us rather follow these advantageous cir- 
cumstances, trusting more to that propitious fortune 
which ever favours great actions, than to that eft'e- 
minate virtue which preacheth cowardly patience ; 
remembering, that the fairest representations of va- 
lour have been given to the foulest deeds, and that 
the most powerful families thence derive their 
greatness, chance seldom or never following vic- 
tory, however it be achieved or purchased. What 
was sovereignty at first but a violent usurpation of 
the stronger over the weaker? Great enterprises 
must begin with danger, but end with rewards. 
Death should rather be prevented than expected, 
but it were more honourable to die at once, than 
to prolong a miserable life, subject to the scorn of 
other men's pride. Let us be resolute in our plot, 
and hazard the enterprise. The worst that can be- 
fall us, since we cannot exist while the usurper is 
alive, is, that he be taken away while we run the ha- 
zard of death, which, however, happeneth to all 
men equally, with the difference only of fame or 
oblivion with posterity, which ariseth out of an 
evil action as well as out of a good, if the action 
and attempt be alike great. Now, then, is the 
time for action, not for supei-fluous deliberation. " 

This speech, though it is merely hypothetical, 
contains a pretty accurate specimen of the designs 
of the conspirators. The eventful night, however, 
at length arrived, which was to consummate the 


tragedy. Graliam was lurking in the neighbour- 
hood of the Dominican Convent, occasionally re- 
ceiving information of the proceedings within from 
the perfidious domestic. Athol antl his grandson 
were at the court that evening, and the time was 
spent in more than ordinary hilarity, in playing at 
chess, reading, singing, piping, playing on instru- 
ments, and other amusements, both before and 
after supper. During the prolongaticm of these 
recreations, the woman who had before warned 
James of his fate, while on his journey from Edin- 
burgh to Perth, appeared at the gate of the Do- 
minican Convent. She had followed the court to 
Perth, and knew that this was the night fixed for 
the execution of the conspiracy, from the numbers 
of armed men lurking in the vicinity of the town. 
She entered the court of the Convent, and crossed 
to that side of tlie building which contained the 
royal apartments. Having found the door, she 
designed to force her way into the King's pre- 
sence, but it was shut. She knocked till the door 
was opened by a domestic, who demanded her 
business at that advanced hour in the evening. 
" Let me in, " said she, " for I have something 
to say, and to tell to the King. I am the same 
woman that not long ago desired to have spoken 
with him when about to enter Perth. " The ap- 
parent earnestness of the woman astonished the 
domestic, and he proceeded to inform the King. 
Thinking, however, that it was some frivolous 
aflFair, James was not inclined to relinquish his 
amusements, and simply said, " Let her come to- 
morrow. " When this was told to the woman, 
she sorrowfully replied, " Well, it will repent you 
all, that you will not let me speak now with the 


King. " This called forth a jest from the domes- 
tic, and she departed. 

The amusements of tlie Court were kept up to 
a late hour. After supper, James called for the 
parting-cup, and every one present drank before 
retiring to rest. Stuart, Athol's grandson, was 
the last who left the King, and he left the door of 
the apartment open — a precaution indeed needless, 
as he had previously destroyed the locks. It would 
appear that a door from the apartments opened 
into a garden ; for about midnight the conspirators 
had laid down planks of wood, and hurdles, by 
which they might be able to get over the ditch 
which surrounded the garden near the outer wall. 
By this way the conspirators entered the convent ; 
and shortly after midnight, when the Court had 
retired to rest, Graham, with three hundred High- 
landers, was in possession of the house, having 
eflFected his entrance without being observed, or 
meeting with the slightest interruption. 

James had retired to his own apartment, and 
was standing before the fire-place in a kind of un- 
dress, gaily conversing with his Queen and her 
ladies, when suddenly he heard a loud noise in the 
court, as if the clashing of armour and armed men, 
and the gloomy flash of torches glared from with- 
out through the room. Immediately the suspi- 
cions of treason occurred to him ; the warnings he 
had received revived in his mind; and his thoughts 
naturally reverted to the daik and gloomy exile 
who had insulted him by his mortal defiance. 
Astonishment and terror were depicted on the 
countenances of the ladies ; and, as the noise wax- 
ed louder, they clung to each other around the 
e 2 


King. Recovering, however, their composure for 
a moment, the Queen and the ladies rushed to the 
door, whicli they found open, and the bolts de- 
stroyed. The unhappy prince, without arms or 
attendants, besought them to keep fast the door as 
well as they could, while he looked round to see 
if escape were practicable. He ran to the win- 
dows, but found them so strongly barred without, 
as utterly to preclude any possibility of escape by 
them ; nor had he time to effect it, even had it been 
practicable, as the tumult and clashing of armour 
every moment increased. Heavy footsteps were 
already heard along the gallery which led to the 
King's apartment, and the violence from without 
already indicated the designs of the assailants. 

The unhappy King, finding it impossible to 
escape by the windows, seized the fire-tongs, and, 
by a desperate exertion, succeeded in wrenching a 
plank from the floor, which covered a kind of square 
vault or cellar of trifling dimensions. Through this 
aperture he dropped himself, and covered himself 
with the plank. He was now in one of those dis- 
agreeable places often found in old houses, a place, 
indeed, full of ordure and filth, but still he could 
not escape outwardly, for, by a sad fatality, he had 
caused the aperture, or small square window, 
which had been formerly used for cleansing the 
place, and through which he could have easily 
escaped, to be built up three days before, because 
the tennis-balls were apt to enter it when that 
game was plaj^ed in the garden. Yet even in this 
place the King might, perhaps, have been safe, 
had his own impatience not betrayed him. 

As soon as tlie conspirators had got possession 
of the Convent, it was, of course, their first object 


to make towards the King's apartment ; and tra- 
dition affirms, that they were shown it by Sir Ro- 
bert Stuart, Athol's grandson, the same individual 
for whom James had always entertained a special 
regard. A page, named Walter Straiton, who hehl 
the office of cup-bearer, and who was then in th^ 
act of carrying some wine for the King and Queen, 
first gave the alarm. He saw them consulting 
among themselves, and instantly exclaiming, Trai- 
tors ! Traitors ! made haste to secure the door. 
The page, however, was stabbed to the heart by 
one of the conspirators, who simultaneously rush- 
ed towards the King's apartment with axes, swords, 
and other weapons. Yet his cries had warned the 
inmates of the royal apartments of the approach of 
the assassins. The King was at this time in the 
vault, or cellai', under the floor, and the ladies ran 
towards the outer door. The bolts, as has been said, 
had been previously despoiled ; but one of the 
Maids of Honour, Lady Catherine Douglas, a lady 
of the house of Douglas, and afterwards married 
to a knight named Alexander Lovel, performed an 
action of heroism, which is worthy of being known 
to latest posterity. This noble lady, with a cour- 
age beyond her age and sex, thrust her arm into 
the bolt, while the door was attempted to be se- 
cured within by the pressure of the other ladies. 
The delicate arm-bone, however, was in a moment 
broken to pieces by the violence of the assassins, who 
burst open the door, and scrupled not, while thus 
stimulated by their savage passions, to trample down 
and wound several of the fair defenders. The fierce 
appearance of the conspiratoi's alarmed the helpless 
females, and they fled from them with loud cries of 
terror and lamentation. Several attendautf?, whom 


the noise had called together, and who endearonred 
to resist, were slain, and among these tell Patrick 
Dunbar, a brother of the Earl of March. Shrieking 
with hoiTor, the ladies fled, and the conspirators 
rushed into the apartment under which the King 
was concealed. They found the Queen speechless 
and aghast at the horrid scene, and incapable of 
even imploring protection. A villain wounded her, 
and would probably have murdered her on the 
spot, had not a son of Sir Robert Graham inter- 
posed, exclaiming, "What! shame on yourself! 
What will you do to the Queen ? She is but a wo- 
man. Let us go and seek the King." Leaving 
the princess in that deplorable condition, with her 
hair dishevelled, and her dress, from their rudeness, 
hanging loose about her, while the ladies remained 
lost in tears and astonishment, the traitors pro- 
ceeded to search every corner of the apartment. 

But their search was in vain ; and it is remark- 
able that they never recollected the cellar, or vault, 
below the floor. Having examined every corner 
without success, some of them proceeded to the 
one adjoining, while others extended the search 
to more remote apartments. Every place was 
diligently explored, — " in the litters, undir the 
presses, the fourmes, the chares, and all othir places, 
long they besily sought the Kyng." At length a 
temporary quietness ensued, when the King, think- 
ing the conspirators were gone, called for sheets 
to draw him out of the nauseous place of his con- 
cealment. The ladies with considerable exertion 
removed the plank, and were proceeding to extri- 
cate the King, when one of them, Elizabeth Doug- 
las, fell down into the place. At this unfortunate 
moment, Christopher Chambers, one of the assas- 


ins, recollecting the vault, or cellar, concluded, 
that as the King was not found in any of the 
apartments, he would most likely be there con- 
cealed. " Sirs," sai<i he to his associates, " where- 
fore stand we thus idle, and lose our time, when 
the object of our search is hid ? Come on with 
rae, and I shall soon discover where the King is." 
He entered the apartment with a torch, and though 
the noise of their approach had caused the ladies 
hastily to replace the board, he proceeded to a 
careful examination of the floor. He soon per- 
ceived that a plank had been broken up, and lift- 
ing it, held the torch in the aperture, and beheld 
through the glare the King and the lady. " Sirs," 
he exclaimed with ferocious exultation, " the bride 
is found, for whom we have been searching, and 
carolling all night long." This fatal discovery, 
which, without doubt, the King's own impatience 
caused, was no sooner known than the conspirators 
speedily assembled. A traitor, named Sir John 
Hall, instantly leaped into the cellar with a dagger 
in his hand. But the King grappled him by the 
shoulders, and dashed him with violence on the 
ground. Another conspirator, a brother of Hall, 
descended, and made for the King, but the blow 
was parried ; and, being seized by the neck, he 
also was thrown down. So strong was the grasp 
of the King when he throttled these two assassins, 
that they retained the marks on their throats for a 
considerable time after. Yet in vain did James 
attempt to wrest a dagger from either. Although 
standing above them, and they almost stunned by 
the fall, they held fast their weapons ; and, in the 
struggle, the King wounded his hands, which 
served to render him the less capable of farther 


defence. Had James succeeded in acquiring a 
dagger, he would not only have sold Iiis life at the 
dearest rate, but in all probability, by parrying 
their attacks, he would have defended himself till 
the alarm had been sounded, and the people of the 
town assembled for his rescue in the monastery. 

But fate had ordered it otherwise. Graham, 
the King's implacable enemy, now entered the 
apartment, and descended into the wretched cellar. 
Weary and faint with his former straggles, and 
also weaponless, James appealed to him for mer- 
cy, as further resistance was vain. But Graham, 
with ferocious exultation, raised his dagger, and 
pointed it towards the King's heart. " Thou cruel 
tyrant," said he, " never didst thou show mercy to 
those of thy own blood, nor to any other gentle- 
man, who came in thy way. No mercy shall thou 
have now. " " Then, " replied the King, " I en- 
treat thee, for the salvation of my soul, to let me 
have a confessor. " " No, " said Graham, " no 
other confessor shalt thou have but this dagger." 
Thus saying, he plunged his weapon into the King's 
body. The unhappy monarch instantly fell with 
a fearful cry, imploring for mercy, and offering 
half his kingdom for his life. The assassin, 
struck with remorse for a moment, relented, and. 
was about to withdraw without farther violence, 
when the other conspirators from above exclaim- 
ed, "We shall abide by thee faithfully, if thou 
slay him ; but if thou depart, we swear thou shalt 
die by our hands. " Immediately Graham, and 
the other two who ha<l been thrown down, fell 
upon the King, and accomplished the infamous 
murder with circumstances of the most aggravated 
cruelty. They repeatedly stabbed him, even after 


he was dead, in various parts of the body : no 
fewer than sixteen mortal wounds were in his 
breast alone. 

Thus fell James I., the most accomplished prince 
of his time, in the forty fourth year of his age, and 
thirty-first year of his nominal, though only the 
thirteenth of his actual reign. After murdering 
their sovereign, the infamous assassins, as if still 
unsatisfied with blood, sought the Queen, with 
the intention of murdering her also ; but she had 
escaped. The alarm, however, was now given in 
the town ; and the citizens, with the King's ser- 
vants, iTished into the monastery, when it was too 
late, to defend their sovereign. The red glare of 
torches, and loud threats of vengeance, burst upon 
the midnight regicides, who, struck with dismay, 
now consulted their safety by flight in every direc- 
tion. They were instantly pursued by Sir David 
Dunbar, but without success. One of them he 
slew, and wounded another ; but in this fighting 
pursuit, for by this time they were compelled to a 
defence, some of them turned on him with fury, 
and sorely wounded him. They effected their 
escape to the fastnesses of the Highlands, only 
regretting that they had not slain the Queen, 
whose revenge they justly feared. " Why, " said 
they, among themselves, " did we not also des- 
patch the Queen ? Had we done so, we would 
have been freed from the trouble and vengeance 
now likely to overtake us. Our work is only half 
done. She will yet pursue us, and exact a ter- 
rible retribution. " Well might they have antici- 
pated the vengeance of Joanna, for no punish- 
ment was ever more summary and revolting than 


that inflicted on these wretched nnd infamous re- 

The body of the unfortunate James was buried 
in the Church of the Cartlmsian Monastery, or 
Charter-liouse, at Perth — a monastery which he 
himself and his Queen had founded in 1429. No 
vestige of that splendid monastery is now to be 
seen ; and tlie tomb of James, as well as those of 
his Queen Joanna, and Margaret, mother of James 
v., likewise buried in the same church, was lost 
in the fanatical dilapidations of the religious edi- 
fices, excited by the Scottish reforming enthusiasts 
in the sixteenth century. * Drummond of Haw- 
thomden relates, that the doublet in which the 
King was slain, was kept as a relic almost to his 
time (by which he must mean the century of the 
Reformation), and " with execrations seen by the 
people, every man thinking himself interested in 
his wrong. " 

• It is proper to mention, however, that a flat tomb- 
Btone, with two figures in outline, supposed to represent 
James I. and his queen, was discovered some years ago, 
and is now to be seen built into the wall in one of the di- 
visions of St John's Church at Perth.— Chambers' Picture 
of Scotland, vol. ii. 



*' Mctliinks I am a pro))het new inspired, 
And, thus expiring, do foretell of him, 
His rash fierce blaze of riot cannot last, 
For violent fires soon burn out themselves. 
Small showers last long, but sudden storms are short ; 
He tires betimes that spurs too fast betimes, 
With eager feeding, food doth choke the feeder. " 


It is not accurately known by what means the lead- 
ers of this atrocious conspiracy were apprehended. 
The united testimony of all our historians, how- 
ever, establishes the fact, that the King's murder 
excited great lamentation in the kingdom, and 
the most fimous indignation against the con- 
spirators ; for even those with whom James was 
unpopular, and who were disposed to view his go- 
vernment as tyrannical, deplored their sovereign, 
and deemed the act execrable. So anxious were 
the people to bring the conspii'ators to justice, that 
every baron and chief in the kingdom united in 
endeavouring to apprehend them. Had this not 
been the case, it is probable that they might have 
eluded justice for a considerable time in the fast- 
nesses of the Highlands. They had good cause 
to fear the vengeance of the Queen. Within a 
month after the assassination, they were all taken 

VOL. I. D '^ 


and lodged in prison, when punisliraents were pre- 
pared for them, and a series of exquisite tortures 
devised, which, as refinements on human cruelty, 
excite, even at this distance of time, the involunta- 
ry shudder, and sufficiently denote the barbarism 
of the age. 

The regicides who were first apprehended, were 
Sir Robert Stuart and Christopher Chambers. 
They were secured, it is said, by Robertson of 
Strowan — a fact extremely probable, as they both 
retreated after the assassination to that chief- 
tain's territories. * They were carried to Edin- 
burgh, and imprisoned in the Castle, whence they 
were speedily brought to trial, and condemned to 
be hanged, drawn, and quartered. The metropo- 
lis was destined to be the scene of the sufferings of 
some of the conspirators. For those two who were 
first brought to punishment, a scaffold was erect- 
ed in the principal street of the city, and a wood- 
en cross of considerable height was placed in the 
centre. To this cross they were both bound, al- 
most naked, amid a great concourse of spectators. 
The executioner stood before them with a pair of 
iron pinchers or tongs, with which he ever and 
anon twisted their bodies, and pulled off large 
pieces of their flesh in the most excmciating man- 
ner, while the blood gushed forth from the ghastly 
wounds. Yet they endured with great patience 
their torments ; and Sir Robert Stuart even said 
to the executioner, " Do whatsoever you please, 
for we have been guilty, and well deserve much 
more than this painful death. " This wretched 

* In commemoration of this event, the Family of Strowan 
have ever since borne a wild man chained, lying under the 
escutcheon of th^r arms. 


young man, on whose inexperience the crafty 
Graham liad wrouglit ro effectually, deeply la- 
mented the share he had in the conspiracy. They 
were soon after made to descend from the scaffold, 
and were led through the streets of Edinhurgh, the 
same tortures being all the way repeated by the 
executioner. They were then brought before the 
Guildry Hall or Council-House, which was situ- 
ated in the vicinity of St Giles' Church, and com- 
pelled to remount the scaffold, where they stood 
nearly two hours a public spectacle. After this 
they were again carried through the city, till they 
came to a place where two high poles had been 
erected, with cross-beams, for some mechanical 
purpose. Here they were stopt, and the execu- 
tioner immediately tied ropes round about their 
breasts, below their shoulders, and suspended them 
in the air. While thus hanging, they made an 
open confession of their guilt ; Sir Robert Stu- 
art professing great penitence, but Christopher 
Chambers justifying the whole conspiracy, and the 
manner of the King's death. After being sus- 
pended for some time in this manner, they were 
both carried to the market-place, where Sir Ro- 
bert Stuart was drawn asunder by four horses ; 
his companion beheaded on a high scaffold, and 
then quartered. * Stuart's head was sent to Perth, 

♦ This assertion is on the authority of Sir James Bal- 
four (Annals, vol. i. p. IGj. ) ; and I have adopted it though 
it is traditionary. It is proper to mention, however, that 
the other authorities state simply that Smart was beheaded 
and quartered. I find Drumnnond observing (History of 
King James I. p. 52), that " Robert Stuart was not 
altogether so rigorously handled, for that he did not con- 
sent to others' wickedness, being only hanged and quar- 
tered. " 


and placed on the top of the town-jni! ; the head 
and right hand of his associate were fixed on a 
spear, and set up in Edinburgh. 

The next leader of the conspiracy brought to 
punishment was the Earl of Athol, who had been 
apprehended by the Earl of Angus, and lodged 
also in the Castle of Edinburgh. This aged no- 
bleman was an'aigned and condemned by his peers ; 
though, in the presence of Antony de Santo Vito, 
Bishop of Urbiuo, and at that time Papal Legate 
in Scotland, lie persisted in declaring his inno- 
cence. As the festival of Easter was at hand, the 
cross on which his grandson was tortured, was, 
from a religious feeling, taken down, as unbe-. 
coming the associations connected with that gieat 
and solemn festival of the Christian Church ; but 
a pillar was set up, to which he was bound. For 
three successive days the punishment of this no- 
bleman continued ; and it is hardly credible to 
think that, at his great age, he was able to endure 
the tortures inflicted on him. If the narration 
of Buchanan be true, the Scots of that age showed 
themselves to be barbarians in no ordinary degree. 
At first he was placed naked in a cart, over which a 
stork-like swipe or engine like a crane was placed, 
and by ropes through pullies he was hoisted up in 
the air. The ropes being loosened, he was sud- 
denly let down again with great violence, the motion 
of the excruciating torture causing a relaxation 
of the joints. • In this manner was this a^red no- 
bleman dragged along the High Street and the Ca- 
nongate of Edinburgh. On the second day be was 

* Sir James Balfour (Annals, vol. i. p. IG5) docs not 
attempt to describe this machine. He merely says, that it 
was " ane ingyne made for the purpois. " 


bound to tlie pillar, and a red-liot iron crovvn 
placed upon Jiis head, with tlie inscription above, 
Tlie King of all Traitors ! * that the prediction 
of the Highland soothsayer might be fulfilled, that 
he should be crowned King before a great con- 
course of people. He was then placed upon a 
hurdle, and drawn at the horse's tail through the 
principal streets. The third day closed his suffer- 
ings. He was led out to the scaffold, where a 
scene of no ordinary cruelty was to be exhibited. 
He was brought on the scaiFold, and while he was 
yet alive, he was stretched naked along it, his 
bowels were cut out and cast into a fire, afterwards 
his heart was pulled out and also consumed, f He 
was then beheaded and quartered. His hoary 
head was placed upon a spear in a prominent part 
of the city encircled with a crown of iron, and 
his four quarters were set up on posts in Perth, 
Stirling, Glasgow, and Abei'deen. 

Such is the traditionary narrative of the punish- 
ment of the aged Athol, who was at this time in 
his seventieth year ; and it certainly proves, in a 
remarkable degree, the barbarism of the Scots at 
that period. That Athol was concerned in the 
conspiracy is undeniable ; but as he was not a 

• Our contemporary writer denies the fact of the red- 
hot iron crown. He says, that Athol was led to the " po- 
lour yn the toune, and ther wes he fast bounden, and a 
corone ofpapir put upon his hed, the which was all aboute 
depaynetid with jubettes, and for the more dispite and 
shame to hym, was writyn with thes wordes, TraUour ! 
Tiailour ! Traitour ! " 

f Sir James Balfour says, the heart was " rost in a fyre 
befor his eyes by the executioner, then cast to the doges to 



personal actor in it, the tortures inflicted on him 
were revolting and infamous. It is proper to 
mention, also, that he continued to assert his in- 
nocence to the Bishop of Urbino, the Papal Le- 
gate, wlio was present at his trial, and to whom 
he confessed liimself. He maintained to that pre- 
late to the last, that he had never consented to the 
King's death ; but he admitted that he knew of it, 
and kept the intentions of the conspirators secret, 
because Sir Robert Stuart was his own grandson, 
whom he did not wish to expose. He admitted, 
also, that Stuart had proposed the conspiracy to 
him, but that he counselled him against it, re- 
garding the whole matter as a wild and visionary 
scheme of a young man. He appears, indeed, to 
have expected a pardon till he was led out to the 

But supposing Athol guilty of treason to the 
full extent, no one will deny that the revenge was 
infamous in the highest degree. His hoary hairs 
ought at least to have saved him from the torture 
of three successive days. His royal birth, and re- 
lationship to the King, also, though it made his 
crime the greater, inasmuch as James had been to 
him and his family no inconsiderable benefactor, 
ought to have saved him from being held up to 
the ignorant rabble in this shocking manner. It 
was disgraceful to the royal house of Scotland to 
see one of its princes cruelly arrayed in the mock 
ensigns of royalty, and it was no less disgraceful 
to the peers to see one of their number, whose 
guilt might bear a question, and whose age was 
certainly excusable, thus enduring wanton torture 
before the vulgar. Death was the utmost they 
could inflict, and humanity required its infliction 


in the shortest manner. It was, however, the re- 
venge of Joanna, and it was a fearful revenge for 
a woman. 

The revolting narrative, however, is not con- 
cluded. Another, and the most important conspi- 
rator, was yet to be punished, namely. Sir Robert 
Graham ; and in the case of this audacious crimi- 
nal, there was certainly some excuse for the ap- 
plication of the torture. It appears from the con- 
fessions of Christopher Chambers, that many of 
the inferior sort, who were connected with the 
conspiracy, were drawn into it totally ignorant of 
Graham's intentions, he holding out to them, that 
his motive for attacking the Dominican Convent 
was merely to carry off a young lady of the court, 
with whom Stuart was enamoured, and whom he 
intended to marry the following day. They de- 
clared, that they knew not even the nature of the 
conspiracy, until they had at once become parties 
in the regicide. Whether this be true or not, is of 
little consequence ; Graham was the contriver of 
the whole plot, and the first who plunged his dag- 
ger into his sovereign's breast. He was removed to 
Stirling, where he was brought to trial, the inha- 
bitants of the metropolis being sufficiently disgust- 
ed at the recent executions. This ferocious as- 
sassin had the hardihood to glory in his crime, to 
tel! his judges, that there was no law to put him 
to death, as he had committed no fault, but had 
slain his mortal enemy, which might be proved 
by his own letters, written to the King some years 
before, sealed with his own seal, in which he had 
sent his defiance to the King, and renounced his 
allegiance, for reasons, as he conceived, perfectly 
satisfactory. It was evident, therefore, that if he 


(Graham) got justice done him, they would im- 
mediately set him at liberty, because the King 
would have destroyed him if he had been able to 
apprehend him. Perceiving, however, tliat this 
reasoning was treated with contempt by the judges, 
Graham looked steadily at them, with a bold and 
courageous countenance, and thus addressed them 
from the bar : — " Sinful, wretched, and tyrannical 
Scotsmen ! without prudence, ignorant, and weak- 
minded, well do I know that I shall die, and that 
I cannot escape your murderous hands. By ma- 
lice, and not by law, ye have determined to doom 
me to death, which condemnation God hath in- 
flicted on me, not by reason of this pretended ac- 
cusation, but for various oflFences and grievous sins, 
which, in the days of my youthful inexperience, I 
committed against him. Yet doubt it not, that 
you will yet see the day when you will pray fof 
my soul, for the good I have done to you, as one 
of the greatest benefactors of this realm, for having 
slain and delivered you from the government of a 
cruel tyrant, the greatest enemy whom the Scots 
or Scotland ever had, noted even in liis youth for 
his unsatiable avarice, his unsuppoitable tyranny, 
without pity or compassion to relations or friends, 
high or low, rich or poor. " 

This speech, which was long remembered in 
Scotland, though delivered with considerable ener- 
gy and eloquence, made no impression on Graham's 
judges. He was immediately condemned, and the 
sentence was speedily carried into execution in the 
town of Stirling, in a manner, if possible, still more 
revolting and barbarous than the punishment of his 

The criminal was placed in a cart, in the centre 


of which a pole of seven or eight feet iu height 
was placed, and to this pole he was ia a manner 
suspended by the riglit hand, which was transfixed 
to the top of the pole, the dagger driven through 
it with which he slew the King. In this manner 
he was drawn through the town. After enduring 
this torture, the executioner, with the same knife 
or dagger, separated the hand from the body, and 
burnt it before his face. He was then nailed to 
the pole, in a state of complete nudity, and a se- 
cond time drawn through the town. In this pro- 
gress, two executioners were placed opposite to 
him, who continually cut and gashed his body with 
hooked instruments of red-hot iron, pinching and 
twisting his thighs, legs, arms, sides, back, shoul- 
ders, neck, and belly ; — " the whole musckells of 
his body, " says Sir James Balfour, " being cut 
in long slitts, " — his tormentors seeking out the 
most tender parts of the body on which to inflict 
their pinching gashes. This excruciating torture 
excited the pity of the beholders, who turned with 
disgust from the appalling sight. In the midst 
of these tortures, Graham conducted himself 
with a courage and resolution worthy of a better 
cause. " This that ye are doing to me, " he ex- 
claimed, with a deadly voice, " being against the 
law, is another proof of your unmeasurable ty- 
ranny. The world will henceforth mention the 
Scots as brutal barbarians, when the painful and 
tyrannical tortures are known which you have in- 
flicted on me, and which it is hardly possible to 
endure. I doubt not, if ye continue your wanton 
tortures on my wretched body, that the very pain 
will constrain me to deny and blaspheme ray 
Maker. But if I do, I declare before God, the 


great and chief Judge of all mankind at the uni- 
versal doom, that you have been the cause of* the 
loss of my soul. " 

The sight, indeed, was too much for humanity 
to endure, and some nobles, who attended on the 
execution, made the unhappy Graham be instantly 
taken down. But it was a humanity more bar- 
barous than the wanton cruelties he had previous- 
ly suflPered, inasmuch as they were reserving him 
for greater torments. Covered with blood, and 
disBgured by frightful and ghastly wounds, a rough 
mantle of the coarsest texture was thrown over 
his body, and he was afterwards cast into a 
nauseous and horrid dungeon in the town. While 
in this state of insensibility, some of the inferior 
sort were hanged, bowelled, and quartered, after' 
which Graham was brought out to his final execu- 
tion. When carried to the scaffold, he was set on 
bis feet, and instantly the coarse mantle which had 
been thrown over him, and which, liaving stopped 
the blood, had stuck fast to his wounds, was torn 
from his body, and the blood again gushed from the 
ghastly writhings. So excruciating was the pain 
of this dreadful punishment, that the criminal 
fell down in a swoon, from which he did not re- 
cover for some time. When he revived, he said 
that the tearing of the mantle from his body was 
more painful than any of the other tortures he had 
endured. But another and still more painful pu- 
nishment was in reserve, which made all his 
Wounds bleed afresh. His son was in the conspi- 
racy; and while Graham himself lay in these ago- 
nies, the unhappy youth was brought out, and 
bowelled and quartered before his eyes. His tor- 
mentors, thinking that they had punished the re- 


gicide sufficiently, or tired of their barbarous cru- 
elties, or unable to invent any other torture, now 
proceeded to the completion of the sentence. Gra- 
ham was beheaded, and his bowels taken from his 
body; his heart cast into afire, and his body quar- 
tered, and sent to the four principal towns in the 
kingdom. His head was set over the West Port 
gate of the city of Edinburgh. 

Thus ended the punishment of the conspirators 
against James I., in which the most summary re- 
venge was inflicted on those persons. If the con- 
spiracy against the King, and the circumstances at- 
tending that prince's murder, were atrocious in no 
ordinary degree, and if the courage of Graham, in 
particular, was not inferior to " his dark fanati- 
cism of vengeance, as appeared from the spirit 
with which he bore his punishment, " it must 
be admitted that the assassins rendered a terrible 
retribution, and that the vengeance which was 
taken upon them was amply proportioned to the 
magnitude of the crime. The annals of few mo- 
dern nations are stained with more wanton cruel- 
ties than are the annals of the Scots ; and the pu- 
nishment of those conspirators now recorded may 
be placed on the same line with the tortures prac- 
tised by the most savage and barbarous nations. 
The ingenuity of torture which appears in the am- 
ple narrative now given, from an authority which 
is undoubted, and which is substantiated by the 
unanimous testimonies of our historians, was cha- 
racteristic of a country which, according to Le 
Laboureur, a contemporary writer, was " more 
abundant in savages than cattle, " and a people 
whose penury and barbarism the French, as Frois- 
sart testifies, witnessed not witliout a shudder. 


But while it is admittfd that these tortures suf- 
ficiently indicate the rudeness of tlie age, and 
prove that the Scots of that century were bar- 
barous in no ordinary degree, it must not be for- 
gotten, that the necessary allowances must be 
made for this rudeness and barbarism, the forego- 
ing remarkable exhibition of which was called 
forth to revenge a crime of the greatest atrocity, 
committed under circumstances of peculiar ag- 
gravation. If, as has been already said, the re- 
venge was Joanna's, it was a revenge hardly cre- 
dible to be sanctioned by a woman ; and yet 
there is every reason to conclude that it was un- 
der her auspices, as the conspirators, before they 
were apprehended, expressed their dread of the 
Queen's vengeance, and as she at that time was 
vested with the executive government. The inflic- 
tion of the torture, however, on regicides, or on 
those who have attempted the life of their sovereign, 
has been witnessed among nations more civilized 
than were the Scots in the fifteenth century, and in 
a more enlightened age. Ravilliac, who assas- 
sinated Henry IV. of France in 1608, was put 
to death in a manner as cruel, to say the least, 
as were the Scottish conspirators ; and Damiens, 
who attempted the life of Louis XV. of the 
same country, suffered tortures, even in the mid- 
dle of the 18th century, which would have dis- 
graced an age of greater barbarism than that of 
James I. of Scotland. Both of these criminals, 
too, were under the influence of fanaticism ; the 
insanity of the latter, in particular, was proved 
beyond a douht ; while the conspiracy again*;! 
James was planned and executed in the coole^^t 
manner, from a principle of private revenge, and 


from a wish to gratify the most lawless ambition. 
The rudeness of the age, therefore, which cannot be 
pleaded in tJie cases of Ravilliac and Damiens, may 
be held as an apology for the tortures which the 
Scottish regicides suffered ; and though the best 
feelings of humanity, as regulated by philosophy, 
and enlightened by the precepts of a pure and ra- 
tional religion, naturally prompt us to lessen, as 
much as possible, the sufferings of condemned cri- 
minals, it is right, to a certain extent, that a more 
marked expression of public abhorrence should be 
awarded to the regicide. For, if he be justly ac- 
counted infamous by his fellow men who is a 
traitor to his country, how much more infamous 
is he who dares to shed the blood of his sovereign, 
who is Pater Patriae, the father of his country ? 
With respect to Graham, notwithstanding the 
tortures he endured, he was long remembered by 
the Scots with abhorrence in a popular rhyme of 
the country : 

" Sir Robert Graham, 
Who sle\v our King, 
God give him shame. " 

Such is the account furnished by a contempo- 
rary writer of this melancholy history, of which 
it may be said, in the quaint versicle of an old 
poet — 

" My hand and pen have tried to WTite, 
A wofull tale to tell : 
My pen it cannot halfe indite 
Alace ! how it befell. 

This account differs very much from that gene- 

VOL, I. E 


rally giv^en by our historians. The original MS., 
in the antiquated and perplexing phraseology of 
the period, is printed in the Appendix to the first 
volume of Piukerton's History of Scotland ; and 
that writer has followed it in his History. The 
original MS., translated by one John Shirley from 
the original Latin in 1440, was found by Mr Pin- 
kerton in the possession of a Mr Jackson of Cle- 
ment's Lane, Lombard Street, London. It had 
formerly belonged to ]Mr Thoresby of Leeds, the 
eminent antiquarian, and is noticed by Bishop Ni- 
colson, in his Historical Libraries, chap, iii., as in 
his possession. It concludes in the following quaint 
manner. " And thus nowe here endethe this most 
pitevous cronicle, of th' oribill dethe of the Kyng 
of Scottes, translated oute of Latyne into oure 
moders Englishe tong, bi youre symple subjet 
John Shirley, in his laste age, after his symple un- 
derstondyng, whiche he recommendethe to your 
supportacione and correccione, as that youre gen- 
telnese vowchethe safe for his excuce, &c. " John 
Shirley describes himself as " youie humble ser- 
vytoure John Shirley, att the full nobill, honor- 
able and renouned cite of London, so as feblesse 
wold suffice, in his grete and last age, the yere of 
oure lord a thousand foure hundrethe fourty. " 






A. D. 1488. 






As wha wad, in a stormy blast, 
When mariners been all aghast, 
Through danger of the sea's rage ; 
Then tak a chyld of tender age, 
And to his bidding, all obey. 


The circumstances which led to the untimely fate 
of James III., mark in a peculiar manner the age 
in which he lived. The aristocracy, fierce and 
powerful, utterly disregarded the authority of their 
sovereign, and viewed the reigning prince as a 
mere machine, on whose shoulders the government 
ostensibly rested, but who depended on* them 
alone for co-operation and support. James, on the 
E 2 


other hand, to adopt the quaint language of Drum- 
mond of Havvthornden, " conceived that noble- 
men, like the coin, were of his predecessors' mak- 
ing ; and why he might not put his stamp upon 
the same metal, or, when those old metals were 
defaced, that he might not refound them, and give 
them a new print, he could not well conceive. 
On many points, therefore, the Scottish nobles 
differed from their sovereign, though none exas- 
perated them more than a new creation of their 
order, and the exaltation of paltry minions to the 
honours and the privileges of nobility. Proud to 
a proverb of their ancestors, and tenacious of their 
dignity, the Scottish nobles of that age were not 
the men to submit with patience to those infringe- 
ments on their rights as peers, and to proceedings 
which they deemed as insults to their families, 
whose antiquity they boasted could be traced to 
the very foundation of the monarchy. A series of 
intestine broils, caused for the most pait by the 
imprudent conduct of James, ensued ; which end- 
ed in their appearing in arms against their sove- 
reign, on a spot sacred in the annals of Scottish 
story, — where their ancestors boldly encounter- 
ed the English host, — where Bruce, the great 
restorer of the monarchy, obtained his most sig- 
nal victory, — where the song of national enthu- 
siasm was raised by many a gallant warrior, and 
appalled the effeminate Edward of England. Ou 
that very spot — the well known field of Bannock- 
burn — the indignant and exasperated confederates 
opposed their lawful sovereign, and were success- 
ful with less bloodshed than when Bruce, after he 
had cleft to the ciiin with his battle-axe the boast- 
ing Henry de Bohuu, rode triumphant over the tout- 


ed field, woo by his skill, and tbe valour of bis 

We have seen, in the case of James I., that the 
policy which that prince adopted in endeavouring 
to humble the exorbitant power of the aristocracy, 
was attended with disastrous consequences ; and 
the Dominican Monastery at Perth witnessed the 
indomitable spirit of disappointed ambition. His 
son and successor, James II., when he came of 
age, had to oppose the flood of aristocratic tyranny 
and violence which had been restrained by tempo- 
rary barriers under the stern administration of 
his father ; and the House of Douglas, daring his 
reign, was so powerful, as to contend with royal 
authority, and assert its independence with the ut- 
most insolence and haugiitiness. The fall of that 
House, however, which James Iiimself accelerated, 
by stabbing Douglas with Iiis own hand in Stir- 
ling Castle, freed him not only from a turbulent 
peer, whose retainers were numerous, and who 
lived in a sort of regal splendour, creating Ivnights, 
and convening senatorial assemblies, but even from 
a dangerous rival ; yet the assassination of Dou- 
glas, — a breach of good faith and kingly pledge, — 
was regarded by his subjects with horror ; and it 
hindered not the successor of that same Douglas, 
with other nobles, to enter into a dangerous as- 
sociation against James, and exhibit manifestoes 
ou the doors of the principal churches, declaring, 
" that they were resolved never to obey, com- 
mand, or charge, nor answer any citation for the 
time coming ; because the King, so far from being 
a just mii.ster, was a bloodsucker, a murderer, a 
transgressor of hospitality, and a surpriscr of the 
innocent. " But the rigorous measures of James 


fiaistrated the intentions of this association ; nor'] 
was it long before lie effected the complete and 
irrecoverable fall of the House of Douglas. Mis- 
fortune, however, overtook him, as well as his 
father ; and his brilliant career soon set in the fa- 
tality which attended the princes of his house. 
Rash curiosity prompted him to examine too 
cautiously one of the rudely contrived cannons of 
that age at the siege of Roxburgh Castle; and 
Scotland was again to bewail the untimely death 
of an accomplished monarch, for whose loss the 
demolition of that calamitous fortress was but a 
sorrowful consolation. 

The progeny of James II. were, his son who 
succeeded him, Alexander Duke of Albany, John, 
afterwards Earl of Mar, and two daughters — all 
infants; James III. being only in the eighth year 
of liis age. A regency administered the govern- 
ment till the King attained his eighteenth year, 
during which, from the silence of our annals, lit- 
tle is known of the internal state of the kingdom. 
The disposition of James differed from that of his 
two predecessors, and rendered him incapable of ' 
governing a turbulent people in a rude and turbu- j 
lent age. In person he was elegant, but weak in ' 
mind, without dignity or prudence. His habits 
were not those which were calculated to ensuie 
respect and attachment ; his pursuits were charac- j 
terized by the ignorance of the times, his proneness 
to superstition, love of retirement, and attachment 
to favourites, disgusted his nobles, and accelerated; 
his downfal. Avarice was a prominent feature in' 
his disposition, while he was capricious, averse to! 
public business, abandoning the government to. 
minions, who oppressed the people, and flattered) 


Ilim in liis indolence. His virtues were thus coun- 
terbalanced by failings which approximated to 
vices ; and though his reign is characterized by few 
acts of injustice on his own part, his inclination to 
despotism was not the less conspicuous ; — his im- 
patience of moderate courses too often prompt- 
mg him to hasty and imprudent outrages. A 
sovereign thus constituted was liable to the intrigues 
of opposing factions, who would not fail to im- 
prove the advantages liis own remissness aft'orded, 
and evince their dissatisfaction by exploits of bold- 
ness and decision. 

But from the years 1469 to 1476, James III. 
had been uniformly successful in his government, 
and fortune had been more liberal to him in her 
favours than to his more immediate predecessors. 
In his minority, the executive government appears 
to have been intrusted to his mother, Mary of 
Gueldres, assisted by the prudence, ability, and 
wisdom of James Kennedy, Bishop of St An- 
drew's, (for the See was not then archiepiscopal), 
a prelate as illustrious for his piety and learning, 
as he was for his royal birth and ancient lineage. 
To this princely prelate, a grandson of Robert III., 
Scotland is indebted for her first establishment of 
learning ; and the University of St Andrew's is a 
noble memorial of Bishop Kennedy's episcopal 
piety and munificence. * The reduction and de- 

* It may be remarked, en passant, in allusion to the 
Scottish Universities, that Scotland is indebted solely to 
Bishops for the establishment of her Universities. Glas- 
gow was founded by the pious Bishop Turnbull ; King's 
College, Aberdeen, by Elpliinstone, Bishop of that See •, 
St Andrew's, by Bishop Kennedy; St Mary's, in that U- 
niversity, by Archbishop James Beaton, and farther en- 
dowed by Cardinal David Beaton and Archbishop Hamil- 


molition of the calamitous Castle of Roxburgh 
tl«e suiTender of Berwick to the Scots, an acqui' 
sition often in vain attempted from tlie days o 
E(lward Baliol ; the cessation of tl)e Orkneys t< 
Scotland, by the marriage of James to Margare 
of Denmark, daughter of Christian I., and tht 
possession of the Shetland Islands, sold by the 
same monarch to James, to enable him to car- 
ry on his war with Sweden ; * the treaty witl 

ton. Even the University of Edinburgh owes its origi- 
nal foundation to Robert lleid. Bishop of Orkney. Th« 
Marischal College, Aberdeen, founded by the Earl Maris- 
chal, is the only Scottish University founded by a lay- 

* Before that period (14-08 and 1469), the Orkney anr 
the Shetland Islands belonged to Denmark, and they wert 
sold, or rather pledged, to James HI. by Christian, at the 
marriage of James and Margaret of Denmark, as part o! 
tile marriage-portion of that princess. The portion whicl 
James received vi'iih Margaret, was 60,000 florins, 10,00(i 
of vviiich were to be paid by the Danish King to the Scot.j 
tish ambassadors, and the Orkney Islands were assignee! 
to James as a pledge for the 50,000, until redeemed 
by him or any of his successors. But Christian's affairs' 
rendered him unable to pay the remaining 10,000 florins.' 
and his Swedish war served as an apology for his offer- 
ing the Shetland Inlands as part of that sum. He propos- 
ed them in pledge to James for 8000 florins, while ht 
agreed to pay the remaining 2000, (a sum now nearly 
equal to about 20,000/. Sterling), and the proposal was 
accepted. As the pledge was never redeemed, the 
Islands, since the above ])eriod, have belonged to the British 
Crown. It may be mi-ntioued, that Torfaeus, a Danish 
writer, who wrote in 1697, atterripts to prove that thesfe 
islands may still bo redeemed by Denmark, Tliey were 
claimed in 154-9, 1558, and 1560, during the reign of 
Mary; in 1585, during the reign of James VI., on occa- 
sion of liis marriage with Anne of Denmark ; in 164-0, dur- 
ing the reign of Charles I. ; in 1600 and 1667, after the 


England, in which a marriage was contracted be- 
iween the infant son of James (afterwards James 
v.) and Cecilia, daughter of Edward IV., and 
vhich, had it been observed, might perhaps have 
aved Scotland from the fatal disaster of Floddeu 
n the next reign ; the assumption and annexa- 
ion of the earldom of Ross to the Crown, on ac- 
;ount of the rebellion of Jolm Earl of Ross and 
^ord of the Isles, by which the whole of Ross, in- 
Juding Knapdale and Kintyre on the Western 
jeas, with the Castles of Nairn and Inverness, 
vere withdrawn from the dominion of those power- 
ul and turbulent chieftains, who had held that 
sarldom as Loi'ds of the Isles since the commence- 
nent of the century, and who had been long the 
lereditary foes of the Scottish Crown : — these, 
vith other events of a less public, but not of a less 
mportajit nature, such as the foundation and en- 
lowment of the University of St Andrew's, and 
he erection of that city into an archiepiscopal 
ee and primacy, by which the usurping claims of 
he metropolitans of York over the Scottish Church 
vere finally ended, were splendid events in the 
innals of James' reign, as indicating a high state 
)f national prosperity, and as tending to repress, for 
1 time, the spirit of dissatisfaction which many 
)f his measures would have otherwise infallibly 
;xcited. Bui this seeming prosperity was speedi- 
y to be checked ; a change of political views soon 
oused the slumbering spirit of faction, and dissi- 
)ated the bright anticipations of the future. The 
neasures of James had provoked a deep and iuve- 
erate hatred among his nobles against him, and, 
laving no standing army, the utmost facility was 
riven to the formation of a powerful confederacy : 


a catalogue of crimes, a series of misfortunes^ 
and the usual result of imprutlence, — a dangerous 
conspiracy, were to characterize the remaining 
years of the reign of James III., and to terminate 
in his ruin. 

The disposition and the private habits of the 
King had been little in accordance with the splen- 
did acquisitions above recorded, from the success 
of which we would naturally conclude that he 
was a prince of great abilities. In the year ] 47(>, 
when his misfortunes commenced, he had reached' 
his twenty-fifth year, — the age in which the civil: 
law sanctions a complete majority ; and, perhaps, 
much must be allowed for the previous inexpe- 
rience of youth, and his capricious disposition, 
which would rather be encouraged by ambitious 
minions, than restrained and regulated by the sa-j 
lutary principles of moderation and prudence. Un- 
able to discriminate, or to estimate rightly the dis-' 
positions of those by whom he was surrounded, 
and of his subjects at large, James found himself 
overwhelmed by misfortune ere he was aware, and 
a confederacy, which he could have checked at its 
first commencement, grown too powerful to be 
dismayed by the threatened vengeance of a mo- 
narch, who was without resources to oppose, and! 
unable to prevent, the leaders of any association. | 

The habits of James were widely different froraj 
those of his brothers, the Duke of Albany and the 
Earl of Mar. From a peculiar weakness of mind, 
for which the age in which he lived is doubtless 
an excuse, James was a religious believer in every 
superstitious absurdity. He was greatly addicted 
to astrology, and was completely swayed by the 
prevailing notions of sorcery and witchcraft. These j 


Studies, added to others more praisewortLy, name- 
ly, music and ai'chitecture, were his sole occupa- 
tions ; and in solitary retirement, he forgot or ne- 
glected the duties of a monarch amid various idle 
amusements. As the nobles in those days seldom 
visited the court, except when on urgent business, 
they were totally ignorant of the favourite pur- 
suits of their sovereign. It may be easily con- 
ceived, that the society of men who held these 
studies as utterly effeminate and contemptible, 
would be of no great importance to James, and 
that he would use every means to rid himself of 
their presence. The same fatality prompted him 
to forget his dignity, and to associate with low- 
born and despicable minions, who flattered him in 
his favourite pursuits, and who pretended to excel 
in the sciences to which he was addicted. Men 
of mean origin thus exalted above their degree, 
knowing well the evil eyes that wei'e upon them, 
felt their only safety to consist in preserving the 
delusion of James. The conduct of the King, in- 
deed, in this respect, would almost infer a kind of 
infatuation. "William Shevez, Archdeacon of St 
Andrews, an unprincipled ecclesiastic, who by va- 
rious arts and impostures succeeded in supplanting 
the pious Patrick Graham, first Archbishop of St 
Andi'ews, uterine brother to the munificent Ken- 
nedy, Bishop of that See, and founder of the Uni- 
versity, was one of the King's chief favourites, on 
account of his pretensions to astrology. Cochrane, 
a master-mason, who had been introduced to James, 
on account of his skill in architecture ; and a man 
named William Rogers, an Englishman, by pro- 
fe ssion a musician, were other two favourites. But 

VOL. I. F 


their names were respectable when compared with 
the other chosen companions of the Scottish King. 
William Toqjhichen, a swordsman or fencing- 
master, James Hommil, a tailor, and one Leonar^l, 
a smith, were tlie daily associates of James III., 
on whom he heaped rewards and favours, who 
were his chief counsellors, and with whom he 
completely forgot the majesty of the sovereign. 

It was not to be expected that the haughty 
nobles of Scotland in that age could behold the 
exaltation of these worthless minions, and the ne- 
glect of their own ancient order, without exasper- 
ation. Their hatred and contempt of the Kintr 
necessarily increased when they placed him in con- 
trast with his brothers, who excelled in all those 
martial accomplishments which command respect 
in a feudal age, and among fierce and warlike 
barons. It was only, according to Lindsay of 
Pitscotlie, that the two princes, especially Albany, 
whose courage was well known, were on good 
terms with James, notwithstanding his superstiti- 
ous predilections, that the Scottish nobles were i 
restrained from appearing in open rebellion. i 

But a confederacy was secretly forming, and, in 
1479, circumstances soon occurred which called it 
into action, and roused the King from his eft'e- j 
niinate lethargy. It was destined, too, to com- | 
mence with Albany and Mar. The former prince 
had been appointed Warden of the Eastern Marches 
for life, goveraor of Berwick, and lord-lieutenant 
of the Borders ; he was also vested with the earl- 
dom of March. Very extensive powers had been 
conceded to Albany for the execution of hisoiiice, 
which he was often wont to display with no or- 
dinary ostentation and dignity; and the consequence 


was, that tlie Barons or Border Cliiefs of the ad- 
jacent counties, who were diiefly freebooters, be- 
gan to plot his destruction. The Homes and the 
Hepbums, in particular, two very numerous and 
powerful septs, had conceived a violent enmity to- 
wards him, on account of some peculiar offence they 
had received, or fancied they had received, from Al- 
bany, whose earldom of March lay contiguous to 
then- possessions. He had, moreover, compelled 
them to restore to him certain lands, which they 
had by some means or other ingeniously acquii'ed 
in the preceding reign. Afraid, however, that they 
were unable to oppose him successfully in an open 
attack, which they would not have scrupled to have 
done had a favourable opportunity offered, they 
began their practices in a different quarter. 

Certain emissaries of those freebooters repaii'- 
ed to the Court, and obtained access to Cochrane, 
the King's chief favourite, who, they knew well, 
resented Albany's contempt, though he dreaded his 
power. A confederacy had indeed been previous- 
ly formed against the royal favourites, with which 
Albany and his brother the Earl of Mar, had no 
inconsiderable connexion. It was not difficult, in 
these circumstances, to obtain Cochrane's co-opera- 
tion in their endeavours to effect the ruin of Al- 
bany, as it was the interest of that minion and his 
associates to weaken the power of those whom 
they knew well beheld them with contempt and 
indignation. The propositions of the freebooters 
from the Borders were readily assented to by 
Cochrane, who confessed that he also dreaded Al- 
bany's power, and promised tiiat, at a convenient 
time, he would endeavour to accomplish their mu- 
tual purpose. The minion was farther flattered by 

76 (;0NS1'IKACIES. 

a suitable sum of money ; and from tliat time he 
laboured with groat assiduity to effect a discord 
between James and his brother. Knowing the 
King's superstitious belief in witchcraft and pro- 
phecy, he privately stimulated an old woman to 
pass herself off as a witch before the King, who 
predicted to James that he would one day be slain 
by his own kindred. This prediction heightened 
the King's superstitious terrors, and his suspicions 
immediately alighted on his brothers. * Tlie pro- 
phecy, aggravated by the artful insinuations of 
Cochrane and his associates, made a great impres- 
sion on the King, who soon began to recollect va- 
rious actions and expressions of Albany which 
seemed to him to establish the fact. As it was 
the interest of those minions to niin the Earl of 
Mar also, that prince was not forgotten. It was 
brought to the King's recollection, that Mar had 
often ridiculed him, and spoken in language which 
sufficiently proved that he and his brother had a 
design against his life. But a much more serious 
charge was brought against Mar, and one which 
at once roused every superstitious feeling of James. 
He was accused of using magical arts against the 
King's life, — that he associated with notorious 
witches and sorcerers, — and that he was concern- 
ed in the consuming of a waxen image of the King 

• Lindsay of Pitscottie, p. 116, 117. Buchanan (lib. 
xii.) gives a different account. He traces the enmity of 
James to his brothers, to tlic prediction of one Andrew, a 
Flemish astrohiger, who was high in favour with the King, 
and who had declared that " a lion should be killed by his 
own whelps. " This emblem, however, could not apply to 
Albany and Mar ; but if it was a real prediction, it was 
certainly verified in a remarkable manner. 


before a fire, thus endeavouring to aifect the King's 
health by magic. 

Mar, who was very young, was probably in 
complete ignorance of those absurd and superstitious 
practices in witchcraft ; still less, perhaps, did he 
ever imagine that he was the subject of such accu- 
sations. The real cause, however, of the King's 
enmity towards his brothers, for it is hardly pos- 
sible to conceive it to have resulted from the above 
traditions, is unknown, but it was attended with 
disastrous consequences. From a prince, observes 
Buchanan on this subject with great truth, of con- 
siderable genius and good hopes, and as yet not 
wholly depraved, the King degenerated into a cruel 
tyrant; for when his mind was filled with these sus- 
picions, he reckoned his nearest kindred, and the 
best of his nobility, his greatest enemies. Be this 
as it may, Albany and Mar were apprehended at 
the King's instance, under the pretence of being 
concerned in a plot against the royal authority and 
life. This arbitrary conduct of James still farther in- 
censed the nobles against him and his minions, and 
strengthened the confederacy against them, inas- 
much as the two brothers had, in reality, no great 
connection with the intended conspiracy against the 
crown. It has indeed been asserted, that Albany 
was concerned in a treasonable con-espondence 
with England, which was the cause of his impri- 
sonment ; and could the fact be ascertained, it 
would vindicate James. But the fact is doubtful ; 
for though Albany had, on various occasions, ap- 
plied the epithet of bastard to the King, and after- 
wards assumed the royal title, there is no evidence 
that he did so previous to 1479. The truth ap- 
F 2 


pears to be, that the minions of James had prepos- 
sessed him against his brothers, by alarming his 
superstitious fears, and by laying before him false 
representations. Whatever were the causes of this 
rash procedure, James was to be stained with a 
brother's blood. It is somewhat remarkable, that 
three contemporary sovereigns of England, France, 
and Scotland, were each of them in the same si- 
tuation. Edward lY., on the most frivolous grounds, 
deprived his brother, the Duke of Clarence, of his 
life ; the only favour granted to that prince, was 
his being permitted to choose the manner of his 
death, and he was accordingly drowned in a butt 
of ^Malmsey wine. Louis XI. procured, among his 
other acts of tyranny, the assassination or murder 
of the Duke of Guienne ; and James III. of Scot- 
land scnipled not, as we shall subsequently see, to 
condemn his brother, the Earl of INIar, under the 
pretence that he associated with witches to deprive 
him of life. In the present age, the accusation of 
witchcraft only excites the smile of ridicule ; but 
we must not forget, that the reign of James was 
early in the history of improvement. — In a more 
enlightened era, and under a better system, the 
belief in witchcraft or sorcery universally prevailed, 
and is not, perhaps, in some districts of Scotland 
wholly eradicated. James VI. wrote a book against 
it, and maintained that witchcraft was the greatest 
of crimes. Tlie Presbyterians were most vigilant 
in their endeavours to procure the condemnation 
of witches ; and they actually, among their other 
acts of fanatical intolerance, burnt a poor old wo- 
man in Edinburgh, who cured Archbishop 
Adamson, of St Andrews, of a dangerous disease, 
by the application of some bi(nple herbs. The 


Statutes of the Kirk are furious in their auathemas 
against it ; even Sir George Mackenzie sets forth, 
that witchcraft is a most horrible crime, and ought 
to be punished ; and that no person can doubt for 
a moment that there is such a crime as witchcraft, 
since the laws condemn it. So late as 1722, a 
poor woman became a victim in Scotland to this 
absurd superstition. Finally, in this digression, the 
sect of Presbyterian dissenters in Scotland called 
Seceders, published an act of their Associate Pres- 
bytery in 1743, which was reprinted at Glasgow 
in 17G6. In this there is what they call their an- 
nual confession of sins ; and besides the sedition 
and extravagant language which it contains, the Se- 
ceders lamented, among other grievous calamities, 
national and personal, that " llie 'penal statutes 
against ivitches have been repealed by Parliament, 
contrary to the express law of God !" In this, 
however, the Seceders of the last century were 
greatly mistaken. The " penal statutes against 
witchcraft," have not been repealed to this day, 
but common sense has repealed them. The zeal- 
ots of the Associate Presbytery in 1743 and in 
1766, ought to have lived in the days of James 
III. or James VI. Both of these monarchs would 
have given them the benefit of " the laio of pa- 
tronage. " 



More than a crown true worth should be esteemed. 

One Fortune gives, the other is our own : 
By which the mind from anguish is redeemed, 

When Fortune's goods are by herself o'erthrown. " 

Monarchic Trasiecties, hy Sir W. Alexander , 
Earl of Stirling. 

The two brothers of the King, thus intended to 
become the victims of superstition by a worthless 
minion and his associates, were speedily appre- 
hended. The Duke of Albany was committed a 
prisoner to Edinburgh Castle, and the Earl of Mar 
was seized in his bed by the King's orders, and 
confined in the Castle of Craigmillar, in the vici- 
nity of the metropolis, at that time a fortress of 
great strength. The Castle of Dunbar, which be- 
longed to Albany, yielded to the King after a short 
siege, at which the Lairds of Luss, Sauchie, and 
Craigie- Wallace, and a gentleman named Ramsay, 
of the King's army, were slain. The garrison, 
unable to hold out, and not choosing to trust to 
James' leniency, made their escape by night in fish- 
ing boats to tlie English coast. 

But the Earl of Mar was destined to be the 
only victim of the King's superstition. The youth 
of this prince, for he was almost a mere boy, de- 
mands the passing tribute of compassion for his 


melancholy fate. Without a fair and open trial by 
his peers, but in a private council, which appears 
to have consisted chiefly of Cochrane and his as- 
sociates, whose interest it was to effect the ruin of 
both princes, the unfortunate Mar was condemned 
to die for associating with witches, and practising 
magical arts, to affect the King's life. He was 
brought from the Castle of Craigmillai', the place 
of his confinement, to the Canongate of Edinburgh, 
in 1479, where, in the public street, a vein was 
cut, and he was allowed to bleed to death in a 
bath. This murder was attempted to be justified 
by sundry executions of witches which followed, 
who all confessed that Mar had dealings with them 
to destroy the King by incantations. They ac- 
knowledged that they had made a waxen image of 
the King, which they placed before a slow fire, 
and persuaded themselves that, in proportion as it 
consumed, the King's health would decay. As witch- 
craft was the current belief of the age, the execution 
of Mar does not seem to have excited any disgust 
among the people. It is supposed that this is the 
first instance of the execution of witches in Scot- 
land : Buchanan says, that twelve women were 
executed, all of the lowest condition. This cause 
of Mar's death was given out only to the vulgar ; 
but, according to the same writer, he was appre- 
hended and executed for speaking too rashly on the 
state of the kingdom. 

A fate equally fatal, though not perhaps similaj-> 
most pi'obably awaited Albany, as he was the 
principal object of resentment to James' minions, 
had he not contrived to make his escape from the 
Castle of Edinburgh. In that fortress he had been 
committed a prisoner, and deprived of holding any 


communication or intercourse save in the presence 
of his keepei"s. Notwithstanding this vigilance, 
Alhany did not despair. A French vessel, proha- 
hly procured by his friends, appeared in the Frith of 
Forth, and anchored in the roadstead off New- 
haven, a villasre at a short distance from the seaport 
of Leith, and at that time little frequented, being 
only a place of resort for fishing-boats on the coast. 
The captain of the vessel, being in the plot, pre- 
tended that he had a cargo of excellent wines on 
board, and despatched one of the crew to the Cas- 
tle, with a message to the Duke, informing him that 
he might have the first choice. An order was ol 
course given for two small casks of Malmsey — 
a wine at that time in great repute, and the casks, 
in order to remove suspicion, contained not more 
than two gallons. In the one cask, the captain enclos-; 
ed a secret writing covered with wax, containing in-j 
structions to the Duke, and in the other, some fa-j 
thoms of rope by which he was to effect his escape. i 
The Duke's servant was confidentially intrustedi 
with the secret ; and as he had been employed by 
Albany as his messenger to the captain, the latter 
communicated to him more at large certain instruc- 
tions for his master. 

The King himself lodged in the Castle at the 
time, and the exploit was the more hazardous, as 
the only chance of escape was by getting over the 
wall unobserved by the numerous attendants who 
formed his retinue. On the night appointed for 
the attempt, the Governor of the fortress, having 
ordered the gates to be shut, set the watch on 
the battlements, and proceeded to the royal 
apartments to receive the orders of the King. 
The Duke, whose sensations were not the most 


agreeable, more especially as he had been posi- 
tively assured by his emissaries and Mends 
that he was to be executed the following day, 
that evening entertained the Governor and his 
friends at supper, having invited them to try his 
wine, and his sole hope lay in their intoxication. 
Albany and his servant contrived to conceal their 
own abstemiousness, while they repeatedly plied 
their guests with the intoxicating liquor. They 
sat to a late hour, till the rest of the garrison 
were sunk in slumber. At length, according to 
Lindsay of Pitscottie, when the guests were com- 
pletely intoxicated, the Duke made a sign to his 
domestic, and starting from his seat, he suddenly 
attacked the Governor, whom he struck down with 
his weapon, and slew him, and two of his attend- 
ants, with his one hand. His domestic also as- 
sisted him to despatch the odious guests. They 
then mshed out to the most retired place on the 
Castle wall, where they would be the least ob- 
served by the sentinels ; and having fixed the rope, 
the domestic first hazarded the dangerous descent. 
But the rope was too short, and, from the dark- 
ness of the night, the great height was not clearly 
ascertained, in consequence of which the domestic 
fell, and broke his thigh-bone. He called out to 
the Duke to avoid a similar fate by lengthening 
the rope. Albany ran to his apartment, and seiz- 
ing the sheets on his bed, he increased the length 
of the rope by tying them together, and descended 
from the wall of the fortress in safety. His first 
object was to provide for his faithful domestic, 
whose misfortune precluded him from accompany- 
ing him in his flight. He carried him on his back, 
for more than a mile to a place of safety, af ter 


which he proceeded, with due speed, to Newliaven. 
On a signal being given, a boat put oft' from the 
vessel, which received Albany, who thus narrowly 
escaped his brother's vengeance. The captain im- 
mediately sailed for France, where the fugitive 
prince arrived in safety, and was honourably receiv- 
ed by Louis IX. 

In the morning, when the rope was discovered 
hanging over the battlements, the alarm was given 
in the Castle, and the sentinels immediately pro- 
ceeded to the Governor's apartments. But he 
was not to be found. Suspicions of Albany's 
flight being raised, they ran to the place of his 
confinement. They found the door of the apart- 
ment open, and the first object they beheld was one 
of the Governor's servants lying weltering in his 
blood. They soon perceived the bodies of that 
officer himself, and his two other attendants dread-: 
fully scorched, for, according to Lindsay of Pit-j 
scottie, they had been thrown into the fire-place by; 
Albany and his domestic in the struggle. The 
tidings were soon conveyed to the King, who, sur- 
prised at this escape of Albany, as it were from 
his own presence, refused to believe it till he saw 
the bodies of the men, and the means by which 
the Duke's escape had been effected. Still con- 
ceiving, however, that the fugitives might probably 
be concealed in the Castle, the gates were shut, 
and a most vigilant search was made, but in vain. 
Horsemen were then sent out in all directions 
throughout the adjacent country, with promises of 
liberal rewards if they apprehended him ; but their 
exertions met with the same success. In the mean 
time, a man from Leith, who happened to have some 
business in the Castle during the day, informed 


the King's attendants that a boat had put off from 
the French vessel in the roadstead, and taken on 
board some persons from Newhaven, after which 
the vessel immediately sailed down the Frith, and 
stood out to sea. This being deemed a satisfactory- 
explanation of the whole matter, no farther searcli 
was made. 

There are few persons who know the Castle of 
Edinburgh, who will not be surprised at this dar- 
ing exploit of Albany. Situated on an immense 
rock which terminates the hill towards the west 
on which the ancient city is built, the Castle is 
totally inaccessible save on the east, where is the 
public entrance from the city. On the south, and 
especially on the north, the rock is perpendicular, 
and at that time it was almost surrounded by the 
lake now drained, called the North Loch, on which 
there was a ferry-boat, to carry passengers to tlie 
opposite side, on which the new city is now built. 
The escape was effected towards the south-west 
part of the rock, and even there it must have 
been sufficiently hazardous ; after which, having 
carried his faithful domestic to a place of safe- 
ty, Albany betook himself across the sequestered 
fields, where extends the suburb of Stockbridge, to 
Newhaven. He must, indeed, have been aware 
of his danger; and the hazard which he encountered 
evidently proves that James had determined to 
bring him to execution. If Lindsay is to be cre- 
dited, the fact is indisputable. According to him, 
at nine o'clock on the morning which succeeded 
Albany's escape, a number of the Lords of the 
Council proceeded to the Castle, to arrange the 
preparations for the Duke's execution, and to re" 

VOL. I. G 3 


ceive the King's commands as to the place where 
it was to be done. But they found the garrison 
in a commotion, and James thus unwillingly on 
his part saved from a double act of fratricide. 
They were astonished when they learned the cause ; 
and not a few of them feared that the Duke 
might be able, at some future period, to take am- 
ple revenge for their enmity. There were among 
them, however, some who rejoiced at Albany's 
flight, and who hoped that they would yet see 
}iim in prosperous circumstances. The King was 
the principal person who lamented the Duke's 
flight, his fears being excited by the prediction of 
the pretended witch, and still thinking that his life 
was in danger as long as his brother lived. The 
only proceeding now instituted against Albany 
was the sentence of forfeiture, which gratified the 
Homes and Hepbums, the original exciters of the 
quarrel, but made the power of the minions by 
whom James was surrounded, and who in this 
instance had done their utmost to ruin Albany, 
the more exposed to a complete overthrow. 

But it must not be concealed that Albany's 
subsequent conduct justifies the supposition that 
he was a considerable party in the confederacy 
against the King. Those transactions, however, 
will be noticed in tiie sequel. In the midst of 
several negociations with Edward of England, 
James devoted himself to his favourite pursuits. 
The turbulent state of England made the wais 
between the two countries less frequent, and Scot- 
land was for a period in a state of comparative 
tranquillity. The Castle of Stirling became at 
this time the King's chief residence, and his taste 
for architecture prompted him to adorn that ancient 


seat of Scottish royalty with elegant buildings. 
He founded in it a college of secular priests, called 
the Chapel-Royal, which consisted of a dean or 
provost, an archdean, a subdean, a treasurer, 
chantei', subchanter, and other officers ; and the 
deanery of the Chapel-Royal was awarded to the 
Bishops of Galloway ex officio, on which account, 
perhaps, it was, that during the establishment of 
the Episcopal Church of Scotland, and after the 
foundation of the See of Edinburgh, the Bishops 
of Galloway followed in the order of precedence 
after the two Archbishops of St Andrew's and Glas- 
gow and the Bishop of Edinburgh, the others rank- 
ing according to the order of their consecration. 
The original foundation of the Chapel-Royal of Stir- 
ling by James III. consisted of eight ecclesiastics 
and three singing-boys ; but he afterwards doubled 
the number, and it consisted eventually of sixteen 
ecclesiastics and six singing-boys. The reason as- 
signed by Lindsay of Pitscottie for this increase 
of the foundation is illustrative of the habits of 
James. " He doubled them, " says that writer, 
" to the effect that they should be ever ready, 
the one half to pass with him wherever he pleas- 
ed, that they might sing and play to him, and 
hold him merry ; and the other half should remain 
at home, in the said chapel, to sing and pray for 
him and his successors. " Among other new edi- 
fices which James erected in the Castle, besides 
repairing many that were hastening to decay, he 
built the noble hall still entire, which in those days 
was deemed a magnificent structure, called the 
Parliament House, one hundred and twenty feet 
long, the roof of which is covered with oak of ad- 
mirable workmanship, elegantly carved, according 


to the fashion of the age ; and at the distance ol 
nearly four centuries it is not much decayed. It 
may be here observed, that the College, or Cha- 
pel-Royal, founded by James III., was demolish- 
ed in 1594-, by his successor James VI., when the 
present chapel was erected, which is now employ- 
ed as the Armoury. 

But James, while thus employed in his favour- 
ite pursuits, was hastening to his ruin. He still 
persisted in his attachment to unworthy minions; 
and Cochrane at length became his chief favour- 
ite and minister. Through him alone could the 
royal favour be procured ; and he who, as a ser- 
vant of the court, would have been suitably re- 
warded for the edifices he erected as master-masou 
by a pension, or by employment, was exalted by the 
imprudent King above those haughty nobles whose 
birth was their exulting boast. The height of power 
to which this upstart was elevated, procured for 
him numerous presents from the ambitious, the 
flattering, and those who sued for his influence ; 
and he soon acquired wealth which far exceeded 
that of any peer in the kingdom. All the pro- 
ceedings of government emanated through him ; 
nothing was transacted in the council without his 
consent ; and it was as dangerous to oppose this 
haughty minion, as it was impossible to satisfy his 
avarice by liberal presents. So great was his influence 
with James, that he was permitted to coin a species 
of money of his own, called black money, which 
was one of the causes of his own ruin and that of his 
master, the circulation of which often threatened to 
excite insurrections among the people, who refused 
what they termed the Cochrane plack. When it was 
represented to him that this coin would soon be 


prohibited, he was wont to observe with haughti- 
ness, that " its circulation would cease the day- 
he was hanged, " — an event which he, in the ful- 
ness of his security, considered improbable, but 
which was truly verified. 

This man had been long an object of hatred and 
contempt to the nobles, and his elevation was to 
them mortifying and humiliating ; but they were 
exasperated when they beheld him raised to the 
peerage, and the earldom of Mar purchased by him 
from the King's avarice, with the wealth which he 
had so ignobly acquired. The title thus bestowed 
on Cochrane by James was perhaps the most un- 
fortunate he could have selected ; and the nobles 
scowled with unrelenting hatred on what they 
were disposed to consider a marked insult to their 
order, in seeing James thus bestow on an ignoble 
minion the title borne by his own brother, who 
had so lately been a victim to his superstition. 
The execrations of the people followed this despi- 
cable elevation and increase of power, which, 
though now the infallible prelude to bis certain 
destruction, the new Earl of Mar continued to 
exercise with his wonted tyranny, avarice, and in- 
solence. Those places and situations in the court 
which had formerly been awarded by the Scottish 
sovereigns to the sons of high-born men, were 
given by Cochrane to his own associates ; and the 
pious prelates and dignitaries of the Church la- 
mented that the simoniacal purchase of the va- 
cant benefices filled the coffers of the minion, and 
intruded into the sacred office unprincipled men, 
who were totally incapable and reckless of dis- 
charging the sacred duties of religion. 

A number of the nobles and barons speedily 
G 2 


assembled to consider the state of affairs, for 
they had found that personal access to James was 
almost impossible, he being vigilantly guarded by 
his favourite. The result was, the appointment 
of a deputation to wait on the King, with a repre- 1 
sentation of the state of the kingdom. The depu- 1 
tation was admitted into the royal presence, and 
its members tendered a detail of their grievances. 
They entreated James to dismiss those from his 
councils who corrupted him by their dishonesty 
and avarice, and promoted their own interests 
more than those of the kingdom. They besought 
him to trust to the loyalty of the nobles in the ad- 
ministration of justice and defence against his ene- 
mies ; and they proffered him their lives and for- 
tunes to maintain the country against every in- 
vader. But they declared, that if those requests 
were refused, they would be guiltless of whatso- 
ever misery and misfortunes the kingdom might 
be visited. 

The answer of James was far from being satis-^ 
factory. He informed them, that those who coun- 
selled him in the government were peers likt 
themselves ; and that those who attended him 
pleased him for the time, because he could not set 
better persons on whom to bestow his favours 
He declared that he would dismiss none of his at- 
tendants at their pleasure, for he believed them tc 
be true and trust-worthy ; nor was he inclined t( 
place much reliance on this petition, for he hat 
found too often that his nobles were far fron 
being united among themselves, and that wher 
the one half were with him, the other half wen 
against him. Yet, he said, in a full assembly of tin 
peers, when they were all unanimous, he wouh 
willingly make use of their counsel in all thing 


appertaining to the defence of the government, 
and the preservation of the liberties of the king- 

The nobles pretended to assent to this reply, 
while, by their crafty dissembling, they were con- 
cealing their resentments. It is unfortunately too 
true, that James, like his predecessors, had fre- 
quently been harassed by their tendency to faction ; 
and unanimity in the national councils of Scotland 
is a thing to be wholly unlocked for in the history 
of its sovereigns. Even on occasions of great na- 
tional emergency, when they were in the field, and 
-about to draw the sword against the invaders of 
their liberties, a trivial dispute about precedence 
often excited a furious contention, which weaken- 
ed their attachments, and too frequently ended in 
disasters. Much more so it was in the national 
councils, where a mutual jealousy invariably exist- 
ed among them, and when the independence of 
feudal power often provoked to retaliations and 
aggressions which were not forgotten for genera- 
tions. It was probably on these accounts, that 
James felt an attachment to his minions, whose ob- 
sequiousness afforded a striking contrast to the tur- 
bulence and haughty spirit of his peers ; but the 
misfortunes of the King was, that he knew not 
how to accommodate himself to circumstances — 
he forgot, what his grandfather James I. well 
knew, that men vested with the feudal power 
were likely, when exasperated, to become danger- 
ous enemies, and gladly seize the first opportunity 
to rid themselves of the obnoxious controul of 
those whom they despised, and by whom their own 
ambitious purposes were frustrated. 

On this occasion, whatever might be their secret 


animosities, they were collected, and firm in 
their purposes : and they were shortly to exhibit 
one of those defiances of the regal authority, which 
are conspicuous in the Scottish annals of every 
reign. From the reign of the first, as it has been 
well remarked, to the termination of that of the fifth 
James, the Scottish nobles were accustomed to seize 
occasions when they set no limits to the ebullitions 
of their resentment. That their proceedings were 
unconstitutional, and insults to the government, 
cannot be doubted, inasmuch as the camp and the 
field of battle too frequently witnessed their mu- ] 
tual dissensions, and the interests of their coun- 
try were neglected to gratify their revenge. But : 
those proceedings strikingly mark the state of 
the times ; and the nobles of Scotland were war- 
riors, not statesmen. Unaccustomed to the forms 
of debate in the day of peace, and in the assembly 
of the states, they oftener appealed to the sword 
than to reason. From the constitution of the Par- 
liaments, they were too liable to the royal influence ; 
and it was not to be thought that men, whose edu- 
cation unfitted them for other scenes than those 
of strife and warfare, could contend in the as- 
semblies of the nation with the spiritual peers, 
whose habits fitted them for declamation, and who 
would more willingly coincide with the sovereign, 
the source of all their dignities. It can hardly, 
then, be a subject of surprise, that many disgrace- 
ful actions are recorded in the pages of their his- 
tory, which, in their impatience of controul, ge- 
nerally terminated in misfortune and blood. 

The Duke of Albany, as has been observed, 
after his remarkable escape from the Castle of Edin- 
burgh, proceeded directly to France, where he 


was honourably received by Louis XI. So little 
lid his disgrace with James affect his interests, 
that all his expenses were defrayed from the French 
treasury; and, although, married to Lady Catharine 
Sinclair, daughter of the Earl of Orkney, who was 
still alive, he scrupled not to form a matrimonial 
lUiance with Anne daughter of the Count of Au- 
pergne. A misunderstanding had in the mean- 
while taken place between England and Scotland, 
sccasioned most probably by Edward discontinuing 
to pay the marriage-portion of the Princess Ce- 
cilia, according to the terms of the treaty, to whom 
the eldest son of James, the Duke of Rothsay, 
ivas betrothed. Tired of his wife, Albany pass- 
?d over into England, where he found the Eng- 
lish sovereign exasperated at the Scots, and the 
Borders ravaged by mutual aggressions and for- 
ays. This was in 1482, two years before Ed- 
ward's brother, the Duke of Gloucester, after- 
wards the notorious R,ichard III., had been ap- 
pointed lieutenant-general of the North, and placed 
at the head of the army against the Scots. In 1480, 
when Richard first received this appointment, 
hostilities had not actually commenced, but he 
was ordered to have the army in readiness for the 
ensuing year. On that year the campaign began, 
and the English army entered Scotland, where 
they burnt sixty villages, sailed up the river Forth, 
captured eight vessels, and consigned to the flames 
the village of Blackness, on the southern shores 
of the river, in the county of Linlithgow, whei'e 
is the castle of that name ; after which the in- 
vaders sought their native shores. * But the cam- 

• " Bot God rewenged their perfidey, " observes Sir 


paign ended with little glory on either side, for 
while the English were in the Firth, the famous 
Admiral Andrew Wood of Largo destroyed se- 
veral English vessels, and the Scottish Borderers 
carried fire and sword into England. On the fol- 
lowing year, 1482, the same in which Albany 
proceeded to England, the English were not dis- 
posed to relinquish the war, but were preparing 
for another invasion. Instigated by the artifi- 
ces of the unprincipled Gloucester, Albany, who 
seems to have considered his affairs as despe- 
rate, hesitated not to form a treaty with Edward 
IV. disgraceful to himself and to his country, in 
which he styles himself " Alexander King of Scot- 
land, " and promises to perform homage for hia 
kingdom to the English King, from whom he re-| 
ceives it, cedes to Edward several of the Bordeij 
counties, relinquishes the town of Berwick, and! 
finally, promises to marry the princess Cecilia, " proi 
vided he could cleai" himself of other women," — sj 
precaution highly necessary in his case, as he hatj 
already two wives alive. Edward promised to assisi 
him in reducing Scotland, and to maintain him on tlHJ 
throne. Such was the secret treaty between Edj 
ward and Albany, aided by the perfidious Gloul 
cester, who commanded the English army. Thij 
pretended causes of the war were, that the Earj 
of Douglas was still kept in exile, deprived of hi;i 
honours, — that the Prince of Scotland (Duke O/ 
Rothsay) was to be delivered into the hands of tlnj 
English monarch till his marriage with Cecilia,— | 
that James had usurped the castles of Berwickj 

James Balfour, " many of them being broken and drowni 
ed by tempest ere they could gaine home." 


uoxburgh, Coldingham, and other fortresses on the 
(Orders, — and that he refused to do homage to Eng- 
ind. The secret instructions were, that Douglas 
lust be restored to his honours — the prince sent 
ito England before a certain day — the castle of 
lerwick surrendered — otherwise the war was to 

Those demands were of course refused by James, 
nd the war was proclaimed. Albany, deluded by 
le English monarch, and allured by the prospect 
f a crown, joined the army of Edward under 
irloucester, which assembled at Alnwick in Nor- 
lumberland, and amounted to 22,000, or, accord- 
ig to some, 40,000 men. The van of the army 
ras led by Henry Percy, Earl of Northumber- 
md. Albany and Gloucester were at the head 
f the middle division ; and several of the English 
)rds commanded the minor detachments. 

The first object of attack was Berwick, which 
ad been in the hands of the Scots since it had 
een ceded to them by Henry IV. when a refu- 
ee in Scotland. Thither Gloucester directed his 
larch, and his formidable army appeared sudden- 
Y on the river-side, over against the town. As 
he town made no resistance, it was immediately 
eized ; but the garrison in the Castle, refused to 
apitulate. Lord Stanley, Sir John Elrington, 
reasurer of the Household, and Sir William Parr, 
vere left with 4000 men to carry on the siege ; 
md Gloucester, with the rest of the army, ac- 
ompanied by Albany, marched towards Edin- 

No sooner did James receive intelligence of the 
novements of the English army, than he proceed- 
id to defend his kingdom. It was in the month 


of July 1482 that the royal standard was display- 
ed on the Borough Muir near Edinburgh, the usual 
rendezvous of the Scottish armies, and there fifty 
thousand men ranged themselves under the ban- 
ner of their sovereign. The discontented nobles 
readily took the field with their retainers ; but 
they had privately resolved to perform some bold 
deed, and revenge themselves on a sovereign towards 
whom theu' resentments were almost incurable. 

The King, little suspecting their intentions, or 
that the friends of Albany were among them, put 
himself at the head of his army. He caused some 
pieces of artillery to be conveyed from the Castle ; 
but the discontented nobles were again exasperat- 
ed when they saw Cochrane intrusted with the 
command. This imprudence of the King was in- 
deed inexcusable. In marching against the com- 
mon enemy, it was his object rather to conciliate 
those feudal peers, whose retainers, if commanded 
by their chieftains, would set at defiance the King 
himself, than to increase their disaffection by the 
odious presence and pomp of Cochrane, w^hich 
were considered as additional insults. But they 
stifled their resentments, and the Scottish warriors 
directed their course towards the Borders. They 
marched first to Soutra, in East Lothian, whence 
they proceeded to Lauder, a village in the Merse, 
or Berwickshire, where they encamped for the 
night between the church and the village. 

On the morning after their arrival at Lauder, a 
secret council of the peers assembled. The old 
church of Lauder was the place of meeting — a 
church originally a Chapel of Ease to Channel- 
kirk, or Children's kirk, so called, because dedi- 
cated to the Holy Innocents. It stood on the 


lortli side of the town, opposite Lauder Fort, built 
yy Edward L, surnamed Longshanks, during his 
;ampaigns in Scotland. The chief nobles inen- 
ioned who were present, were the Earls of Argyle, 
A.ngus, Huntly, Orkney, and Crawford, Lords 
Hume, Fleming, Gray, Drummond, Hailes, and 
Seton, Lord Evandale the Chancellor, and certain 
jishops. The ostensible object of their meeting 
ivas to consider what was to be done for the de- 
'ence of the kingdom, and whether or not they 
Bught to proceed with the King to the Borders ; 
5ut in reality to devifee some means of ridding 
themselves of the favourites, and of obtaining pos- 
session of James' person. 

This council convened early in the morning, 
without the knowledge of the King. It was ob- 
served by some of the peers, says Lindsay, that 
James was " not their King, nor guided by them 
in their councils, but had elevated upstarts to the 
rank of nobles — that he had forfeited and banished 
the Duke of Albany his brother, and slain the 
Earl of Mar — and that Cochrane, a mason, had 
been raised to his dignity, which was an insult 
not to be endured." A speech is reported by 
Buchanan to have been delivered by the Earl of 
Angus, in which he inveighs against the King's 
government and his favourites. Lord Gray, how- 
ever, opened the dangerous debate with the fol- 
lowing fable. " The mice, " said he, " consulted 
what measures they should adopt to escape from 
the cat, their inveterate and tyrannical enemy. It 
was proposed that a bell should be hung from her 
neck, to give due warning of her approach ; but 
the difficulty was to find a mouse courageous 
vol. I. H 


enougli to fasten the bell. " * No eooner had 
this fable been delivered by Gray, which the peers 
present failed not to apply to thenoselves, than An- 
gus, in whose veins the blood of the House of 
Douglas flowed, instantly exclaimed, " / shall bell 
the cat. " From this phrase, Angus was after- 
wards surnamed, in the homely phraseology of the 
country, Archibald Bell-the-Cat. A murmur of 
approbation ran throughout the assembly ; and se- 
veral of the peers, laying their hands on their 
8words, exclaimed, " To our arms against the 
public enemy. " The result of their deliberation 
was, that the King's person should be secured, and 
conducted back to the Castle of Edinburgh ; and 
that Cochrane, with the other favourites, should 
be seized and hanged over the Bridge of Lauder. 

The council, however, was not kept so secret, 
but that it came to the knowledge of the King, 
who felt no inconsiderable alarm on account of 
the meeting at so early an hour. He rose in 
great fear from his couch, and asking, what 
was to be done ? summoned Cochrane to his 
presence. Cochrane attended, and, after consult- 
ing for a little with the King, be was sent to the 
council to observe their movements, and learn the 
nature of their deliberations. He repaired to the 
church where the peers were assembled in his 
usual pomp, little anticipating that he was de- 
voted to destruction. He was attended, accord- 
ing to Pitscottie, by three hundred men, all clad 
in white livery, with black fillets, and armed with 
battle-axes, that they might be known as the 

* Hume of Godscroft's History of the Houses of 
Douglas and Angus, folio, edit. 1644. 


retainers of the new Earl of Mar. His own dress 
displayed his upstart magnificence. He was clad 
in a riding-cloak of black velvet, and wore a 
chain of gold around his neck worth five hun- 
dred crowns. His hunting-horn was enriched with 
gold at both ends, and a precious stone glit- 
tered in the centre. His helmet was carried be- 
fore him, overlaid with gold. * In this pomp 
he proceeded to the church of Lauder, where the 
peers were assembled, and, approaching the door, 
he commanded one of his attendants to knock 
with great authority. Sir Robert Douglas of 
Lochleven stood guard within, who, on inquiring 
the cause of this rude noise, was answered by 
Cochrane — " 'Tis I, the Earl of Mar. " Rejoic- 
ing at this fortunate circumstance, for which they 
ardently wished, Cochrane and some of his attend- 
ants were ordered to be admitted. Angus instant- 
ly advanced towards him, and seizing him by the 
gold chain which hung around his neck, he twist- 
ed it with such firmness as nearly to strangle Coch- 
rane, exclaiming, " A rope would become thee 
better." f Douglas of Lochleven seized his hunt- 

* Lindsay's description of this minion's profusion is 
amusing. " Himself was clad in a riding-pie of black 
velvet, with a great chain of gold about his neck to the 
value of five hundred crowns; and four blowing-horns 
with both the ends of gold and silk, set with precious 
stones. His horn was tipped with fine gold at every end, 
and a precious stone, called a beryl, hanging in the midst. 
This Cochrane had his heument (helmet) borne before 
him overgilt with gold, and so were all the rest of his 
horns ; and all his pallions were of fine canvas of silk, and 
the cords thereof fine turned silk, and the chains upon his 
pallions were double overgilt with gold. " 

•f In the History of the Houses of Douglas and Angus, 
by David Hume of Godscroft, (Edinburgh, folio, IGM), 


ing horse, and told him that " he had been too 
long a hunter of mischief. " Cochrane, finding 
himself thus roughly bandied, asked, " My Lords, 
is this jest or earnest ? " To which they replied, 
" Thou shalt soon find that it is in goo(l earnest ; 
for thou and thy associates have too long abused 
the favour of our sovereign. No longer shalt thou 
enjoy thy greatness ; but thou and thy accomplices 
shall have your deserved reward. " 

They soon secured the new made Earl, after 
which they despatched some of their friends to the 
King's abode, who amused James with smooth 
speeches, while their followers were apprehend- 
ing Cochrane's associates. On Leonard, Ro- 
gers, Torphichen, Preston, (the only gentleman 
amongst them,) and others, they soon laid their 
hands ; and, dragging them out to the bridge, be* 
neath which runs the rivulet Lauder or Leader, 
they were all immediately hanged over it. So 
odious, according to Buchanan, had those minions 
become, that the whole army exulted in their ex- 
ecution, exclaiming, " Hang them, the rogues ! " 
Nay, so anxious were the soldiers for their death, 
that, when ropes were wanted to hang them, so 
sudden had been the resolution to put them to 
death, they all offered their horse-bridles and bag- 
gage-tackle, and many of them strove to make the 
first offer. The execution, it would appear, was 
performed before the King's eyes. * Cochrane 
was brought out last, his hands bound with a rope. 

Angus is reported to have said to Cochrane: — " This 
chain doth not become a man of your rank ; but I shall 
ere long give you one that will become you to wear far 
better. ' ' p. 226. 

• Lindsay of Pitscottie, p. 135. 


Here, however, ho exhibited his empty pride. He 
desired to have the rope exchanged for one of the 
silken cords of his own tent ; but he was answer- 
ed, that he was a traitor, and deserved no better. 
He was conducted to the bridge, and hanged 
above his conipanions. * 

Sir John Ramsay of Balmain, a young man, was 
the only one of the King's favourites who escaped 
the indignant resentment of the peers. He leaped 
on the King's saddle, and clasped his person, and 
was saved at the earnest i-equest of James himself, 
who pleaded for him on account of his extreme 
youth, he being only eighteen years of age. The 
genius and accomplishments of this youth had re- 
commended him to James ; and he was destined 
to be forfeited for his attachment to his master, 
after the disaster of Bannockburn or Sauchie. He 
was created Lord Bothwell by the King ; and, in 
1483—4, he sat in Parliament as a peer by that 
title, f 

Having thus rid themselves of the odious fa- 
vourites, the nobles proceeded to the King, whose 

• It is proper to mention, that the bridge of Lauder, at 
which this execution took place, is not the present one- 
it having been erected within the last century. The piles 
of the old one may be observed at some distance. 

f This nobleman was lineal ancestor of Sir Alexander 
Ramsay of Balmain, Bart. Member of Parliament for the 
county of Kincardine, who died without issue at his seat 
of Halley, in Yorkshire, Feb. 12. 1806, in the 90th year 
of his age, and was succeeded in the greater part of his 
English and Scottish estates, by his nephew Alexander 
Burnett of Strachan, second son of his sister Catherine 
Ramsay and Sir Thomas Burnett of Leys, Bart. Mr 
Burnett thereafter assumed the name of Ramsay, and was 
created a baronet of Great Britain in 1806. 
H 2 


person they resolved to secure, as all confidence 
between him and them was now ended. The 
house in which James was seized is still standing. * 
He was conveyed to the Castle of Edinburgh, 
where he was placed under a respectful restraint, 
and the army dismissed, until he should give am- 
ple security that he would not revenge the death 
of his favourites, to which he evinced, for a consi- 
derable time, the most obstinate repugnance. -|- 

Such was the issue of the campaign of the Scots 
against the English under Gloucester, which af- 
forded an opportunity for the Scottish nobles to 
neglect the defence of their country for the grati- 
fication of their resentments. It was a boisterous 
ebullition of passion, similar instances of which 
are frequently to be found in the Scottish annals. 
But, at the same time, it must not be denied that 
the imprudence of James was great, and that, if 
he depended on his nobles for assistance against 
the common enemy, he ought to have removed his 
minions from the camp, and trusted to the valour 
of his army. It may be true, however, after all, 

• It was standing in 1819 when Principal Playfair 
published his Geographical and Statistical Description of 
Scotland, vol. i. p. 59. 

f It is asserted by some writers, that the King volun- 
tarily dismissed his army, and shut himself up in the Cas- 
tle of Edinburgh for security. But the imprisonment of 
James is certain, from Ruddiman's Notes on Buchanan, 
vol. i. p. 44o, and the Preface by the same writer to An- 
derson's Diplomata; also, Lindsay of Pitscottie, p. 125, 
126, and Sir James Balfour, vol i. p. 206, 207. " This 
tragedy acted," says the last writer, " the haill armey in- 
continent dislodges, and brings the King prissoner with 
them to Edinbrughe Castell, and committs him to the cus- 
todey of Johne» Earl of Athol." 


that though he had done so, the campaign would 
still have terminated ingloriously. The partisans 
of Albany were numerous in the army, and the 
remembrance of the King's studied neglect might 
have induced them to yield the contest, and to 
have consented to terms not the most advanta- 
geous for their country. It was a remarkable in- 
stance of the power and influence which the aris- 
tocracy possessed over their followers, that the 
King was conveyed to the Castle of Edinburgh 
without a single murmur of the army. 

The accusations against those favourites, for 
their trials were despatched in the most summary 
manner, were, 1. Of causing the King to execute 
his brother, John Earl of Mar. 2. That they had 
excited the King against, and caused him to banish 
his brother, Alexander Duke of Albany. 3. That 
they had sowed dissensions between the King and 
his nobles. 4. That they had enticed him to su- 
perstition, witchcraft, and magic, to the offence of 
God, and dishonour of religion. And, lastly, that 
they had persuaded him to coin a certain kind of 
brass, of no value, which the people called black 
coin: — '* which fact," observes Hume of Gods- 
croft, " of all the others was the most odious to 
the vulgar ; for hereupon had ensued great deaith 
of corn and victuals, while the owners did choose 
rather to suiFer their grain to rot in their gamers, 
than, under the name of selling, to give them to the 
buyers ; for they thought it a gift, and not a sale." 



" Our hapless king that wears the crown, 

Full boldly shall the battel bide ; 
His banners shall be beaten down. 

And have no bole his head to hide. 
The starns tliree that day shall die 

That bears the heart in silver sheen. 
Nor riches, gold, nor silver fee. 

Can lengthen his life one hour, I ween. " 


The English army under Richard of Gloucester, 
and accompanied by Albany, maiched to Edin- 
burgh, having already obtained possession of Ber- 
wick. In that city they found affairs in confu- 
sion ; the King a prisoner in the Castle, and the 
administration of the government assumed by a 
party of the peers. They encamped at Restalrig, 
in the vicinity of the city. 

At Albany's request, Gloucester spared the citi- 
zens from being pillaged by the English army, and 
Albany himself was pardoned by the acting go- 
vernment, on returning to his allegiance. The 
approach of Gloucester to Edinburgh resembled 
a splendid triumph rather than an invasion. In- 
stead of carrying the treaty between Edward and 
Albany into effect, which purported to place the 
latter on the throne, the conduct of the English 
is not a little mysterious. Gloucester demanded 


from James the performance of his stipulations 
with England ; but the King, being a prisoner, re- 
turned no answer. At length, however, a new 
treaty was concluded between James and Edward, 
and after a short residence in the Scottish metro- 
polis, Gloucester returned to London. It was 
stipulated, that the mamage between the Duke 
of Rothsay and the Princess Cecilia, should still 
take place ; and the citizens of Edinburgh, who 
had all along remained firm in their loyalty, be- 
came bound to repay Edward the dowry he had 
formerly given in contemplation. As the marriage 
eventually failed, the citizens honourably discharged 
their obligations. Berwick was perpetually sur- 
rendered to the English. 

For nine months the King had been confined 
in the Castle of Edinburgh, where Albany, overcome 
by the importunities of the queen, resolved to 
set his brother at liberty. Accordingly, aided by 
the citizens of Edinburgh, the fortress was sur- 
prised, and the King released from his durance. 
For this service, a reconciliation was effected be- 
tween James and the Duke, and the latter had 
the titles of Earl of Mar and Lord of Garioch 
conferred upon him, " as the reward of his loyalty, 
affection, and service. " It was on this occasion, 
too, that Edinburgh received her most important 
charter from a grateful sovereign, confirming her 
ample privileges. The office of hereditary sheriff 
within the city, with complete jurisdiction, was 
conferred on the provost, with all the fines and 
forfeitures arising from the administration of that 
office. The magistrates and council were also 
empowered to make laws at pleasure for the wel- 
fare of the town ; they were exempted from cer- 


tain duties ; and entitled to exact customs at the 
port of Leitli. In return for tliis ample charter, all 
that the King demanded from the civic rulers was 
the annual celebration of a funeral mass for the 
repose of the souls of his predecessors, himself, 
and successors, in the collegiate church of the 
city dedicated to St Giles. 

But this apparent reconciliation between James 
and Albany was of no long continuance, and the 
latter soon returned to his former intrigues and 
practices. The superstitious piety of James in- 
duced him to propose a pilgrimage to the relics of 
St John at Amiens in France ; and for this pur- 
pose he obtained a safe-conduct from Edward to 
pass through England on his way. In the Parlia- 
ment which met in December 1482, and which 
appears to have been entirely under Albany's in- 
fluence, a recommendation was given to James, 
on the 11th December, to constitute the Duke 
Lieutenant-General and Governor of the kingdom 
during his absence. With this recommendation 
he complied, though subsequent events occurred 
which hindered James from performing his devo- 
tions at the shrine of St John. But Albany, not- 
withstanding his power, knew well that his situa- 
tion was precarious ; his conduct, seemingly in- 
fluenced by the treasonable treaty he had made 
with Edward when in exile, and his desire for the 
crown, had disgusted the nobles, and excited the 
jealous suspicions of James. Perceiving that the 
loyal party were increasing, he secured a con- 
siderable military force, and contrived to excite 
disturbances in the West and Eastern Marches, 
in the hope that a war would ensue between the 
two countries. With this view he sent Archibald 


Earl of Angus, sumamed Bell-the-Cat, from the 
affair at Lauder, Lord Gray, and Sir James Liddel 
of Halkerstone, to Edward, to renew the former 
treaty, the object of which was to depose James, 
to procure troops from Edward to conquer Scot- 
land, and to place him on the throne, by the title of 
Alexander IV. This disgraceful treaty was accord- 
ingly renewed by Edward — Albany again engaged 
to marry one of that prince's daughters, and to 
assist him against France — the exiled Earl of 
Douglas was to be restored to his possessions — 
and Gloucester and the Earl of Northumberland 
were to invade Scotland. What might have been 
the result of this treasonable agreement, it is im- 
possible to say ; but the death of Edward, the 
murder of his two nephews in the Tower by the 
unprincipled Gloucester, afterwards Richard III., 
who began his infamous reign with blood, — 
terminated at once those intrigues of lawless 
ambition ; and Richard was too much occupi- 
ed with the discords of England, to find leisure 
to further the wild and treasonable schemes of 
Albany and his partisans. The Duke soon af- 
terwards retired into England, where, finding all 
hopes of assistance from Richard in vain, and 
again endeavouring to excite a disturbance in Scot- 
land, he finally departed for France, where he fell 
a few years afterwards at a tournament, leaving 
one son by the Countess of Auvergne, who inhe- 
rited his unfortunate title, and who was destined 
to misgovern Scotland in the minority of James V. 
The honours and estates of Albany were annexed 
to the crown in 1487, but James did not long en- 
joy these accessions. 

Without, however, detailing minutely thevari- 


OU8 circumstances of this calamitous reign, which 
belong rather to the general history than to a de- 
tached narrative like the present, it is proper to 
observe, that the final departure of Albany did not 
abate the zeal of his partisans, and that of James* 
enemies. Had the King possessed the activity 
and dignity of some of his predecessors, his private 
pursuits would have been honourable to his taste ; 
and the great hall in Stirling Castle, and the cha-. 
pel in the same fortress, united to his taste for 
music and the fine arts, would have been lasting 
memorials of his princely munificence among a 
people at that time on the threshold of improve- 
ment. The long-stifled resentments, however, were 
speedily to break out with overwhelming fury; 
and Scotland was doomed to experience the scourge 
of an unnatural discord, induced by the imprudence 
of its sovereign, and the turbulent ambition of its 

Several of the King's proceedings, after his re-, 
lease from the Castle of Edinburgh, had givea 
great oflfence to the chief leaders of the nobility. 
He continued to live in ignoble privacy; nor was 
he cured of his attachment to favourites by the 
fierce burst of resentment which had characterized 
the aflPair of Lauder Bridge. Though Albany had 
departed, his spirit was left behind, and James had 
not the prudence to provide against its excesses. 
After the final retreat of that prince, he issued aa 
order that no nobleman should wear arms within the 
precincts of the court ; — his appointment of Ram- 
say, the favourite wlio had escaped at Lauder, to 
the office of captain of the royal guai'd, was view- 
ed with no friendly feelings ; and a number of the 
nobles believed, or pretended to believe, that it 


was the design of James to place Scotland under 
English influence. Though this last accusation 
was utterly groundless, it served as a sufficient 
pretext for theii* traitorous designs ; and a con- 
federacy was speedily formed, consisting of the 
Earls of Angus, Lennox, and Argyle, Lords 
Home, Hailes, Drummond, Lyle, and Gray ; the 
object of which was to receive again the King's 
person, and to appoint the young Duke of Roth- 
say regent of the kingdom. 

This confederacy was formed in 1485, but its 
leaders delayed their intentions for some time, till 
the rupture between them and the King became 
in'econcileable. In the meantime, James obtained 
possession of the Castle of Dunbar from the Eng- 
lish; and in 1486 a treaty was concluded between 
him and Henry VII. of England, who had de- 
feated and slain the usurper Richard III. at the 
battle of Bosworth Field. But James experienced 
a calamity that year in the death of his amiable 
queen, Margaret of Denmark, who was consigned 
to the tomb in the venerable abbey of Cambus - 
kenneth. The confederacy, however, continued, 
though considerably disturbed by the league with 
England ; and each of the nobles who composed it 
bad his own peculiar causes of discontentment. The 
Earl of Angus was the very soul of the associa- 
tion, and Lord Home was induced to join it from 
a motive of private revenge. As it was the King's 
intention to endow the college or chapel-royal at 
Stirling, he purposed to bestow on it the revenues 
of the rich priory of Coldingham, at that time va- 
cant. This priory was of great antiquity and 
wealth. It had had been rebuilt by King Edgar 
v^OL, r. I 


in 1098, and was dedicated to the Virgin ; at the 
consecration Edgar assisted in person, and caus- 
ed a house to be built for himself, the remains 
of which are still to be seen, and are called 
Edgar s Walls. Besides the extensive lands and 
other immunities belonging to this monastery, which 
were very considerable, the prior had a right to 
the teinds or tithes of no fewer than twenty-four 
parishes. A vacancy at this time induced James 
to seize on all its temporalities for the endow- 
ment of his college at Stirling ; and accordingly, he 
caused an act of parliament to be passed, discharg- 
ing all his subjects to attempt any thing against 
the union ef the chapel-royal at Stirling with the 
priory of Coldingham, under the penalties of high 

This mortally offended the Homes and Hep- 
burns, as one of the former families bad generally 
held the priory, and they had been long accustom- 
ed to view its lands, temporalities, and titles, as 
part of their hereditary possessions. The dispute 
had indeed lasted for some years, but it was only 
in the two last parliaments that the priory had 
been alienated. As this loss stripped the Homes 
of considerable revenues, it materially affected all 
the gentlemen of that name ; and they according- 
ly leagued under their chief, Lord Home, with 
their allies the Hepbums, at the head of whom 
was Lord Hailes. They entered into a combin- 
ation, and bound themselves not to suffer any 
prior to take possession of Coldingham who was 
not a Home or a Hepburn. The power and in- 
fluence of those two families were such as to ren- 
der them a most important acquisition to the con- 
federacy, and they contrived to make their own 


quarrel that of the faction at large. Their emis- 
saries sent abroad rumoiu's, that the King was aim- 
ing at arbitrary power, — that notwithstanding all 
his protestations he was not to be tnisted — that 
b^ had begun his attacks on their property by in- 
vading and seizing the ancient privileges of the 
Homes, which he had grasped more from hatred 
and avarice, than from any desire to increase the 
endowment of his chapel — and that, in short, he 
meditated a deep and terrible revenge for the 
aifair at Lauder Bridge. 

These misrepresentations of the King's inten- 
tions were sufficient to kindle anew the rank- 
ling animosities of the factious nobles. Angus, sur- 
named Bell-the-Cat, was, however, the chief ring- 
leader of the conspiracy, and his principal object was 
to get a person of sufficient influence to preside 
over his associates. In an invasion conducted by 
Albany and the exiled Earl of Douglas in 1484, 
the latter nobleman had been taken prisoner at 
Lochmaben fair, and had been ordered by James 
to spend the remainder of his days in the Abbey 
of Lindores in Fife. In this peaceful retreat Dou- 
glas first found happiness. To this nobleman, now 
old and infirm, Angus advised the conspirators to 
apply to head them ; but the venerable Douglas was 
dead to ambition, and instead of encouraging them 
in their designs against the destroyer of his house, 
he exhorted them to abandon their rebellious in- 
tentions, expressing great contrition for his own 
past conduct. Finding, however, that his remon- 
strances were disregarded, this magnanimous no- 
bleman (for he was the son of that Earl of Dou- 
glas who was stabbed in the Castle of Stirling by 
James II.), wrote to the various branches of his 


family, particularly Douglas of Cavers, cautioning 
them not to enter the association. * This great man 
survived this application only a few months. He 
died in peace in the Abbey of Lindores, without 
issue, on the 15th of April 1488, and in liim end- 
ed the first branch of the illustrious and once 
powerful House of Douglas. 

Thus baffled in their application, the conspira- 
tors were left to their own resources ; nor do they 
seem to have been in the least impressed by the 
remonstrances of Douglas. As Angus and Gray 
were, in reality, the principal traitors. Home had 
been induced to join the association from the cir- 
cumstances already narrated. The Hepburns un- 
der Lord Hailes, were united to it from the same 
motives. To them were afterwards added Hunt- 
ly, Errol, Marischal, and Lord Glammis, who, 
with the others already mentioned, constituted the 
association. The pretext for this conspiracy was 
as ridiculous as it was false, namely, that James 
intended to place his kingdom under English in- 
fluence. The real causes were, hatred to the King, 
to dethrone and imprison him, and to elevate hig 
son the Duke of Rothsay to the throne or the re- 
gency. Yet the circumstances of the kingdom fa- 
voured their pretext, and did them gi-eat service, by 
causing many of the moderate pai'ty to join them. 
The surrender of Berwick — the intended marriage 
between the Duke of Rothsay and the daughter 
of the queen-dowager of England — the harmony 
which existed between James and Henry — fa- 
voured the allegations of the conspirators, that 

• It is said that some of his original letters on this 
subject are still in existence. 


Scotland waa to become a province of England, and 
to be governed by an English force. 

With the King there remained the Earls of Craw- 
ford, Monteith, Rothes, Athole, Caithness, Su- 
therland, and Buchan ; Lords Forbes, Lovat, Max- 
well, Ruthven, Erskine, Boyd, and Kilmaurs, 
with some other persons of great power, not then 
elevated to the peerage. James, indeed, appears 
to have been acquainted with the designs of the 
conspirators ; but he wanted energy to prepare him- 
self against the popular ferment. His conduct at 
this time is remarkable, and made his enemies 
charge the descendant of a race of heroes with 
cowardice ; but, though the first of his name against 
whom this odious imputation was made, his con- 
duct by no means justifies the accusation. His 
laxity or negligence, however, only caused his ene- 
mies to parade about the country with greater bold- 
ness, while he was shut up in the Castle of Stir- 
ling (some say Edinburgh) pursuing his favourite 
studies, heedless of the strong combination, and 
depending on the protection of the law, which the 
affair at Lauder Bridge might have taught him 
would most certainly be treated with contempt. 

The factious peers assembled at Edinburgh, and 
the malignity of Buchanan has in consequence as- 
persed the character of James. He asserts that 
the King, who had affected to forget Angus' con- 
duct at Lauder, invited him to the Castle, and pro- 
posed to him to cut off the I'ebel chiefs at one blow. 
But Angus, who conceived this to be a snare for 
his own destruction, though he seemingly reason- 
ed with the King on the impolicy of this measure, 
and pretended to have no objections in assisting to 
I 2 


apprehend them, discloeed to his associates the in-^ 
tentions of the King, and joined them with his re- 
tainers. But the false colouring of this affair — . 
that the King intended to assassinate them, is evi- 
dent from the facts, and James was always averse 
to shed blood. 

James, liowever, was at last roused from liis 
lethargy. The confederates took the field, and 
all the counties south of the Forth were under 
their controul. The Earl of Angus, the only chief 
who could have assisted him in reducing the rebels, 
was at theii- head, and appointed places of meet- 
ing for all those who were inclined to enlist under 
their banners. Although summoned by the King 
to answer for their conduct at the proper tribunals, 
the insurgents treated his citations with contempt, 
tore them in pieces, abused and maltreated the 
messengers, and openly spumed the royal autho- 
rity. The populous counties of Fife and Forfar 
were in a state of revolt ; and those alone continu- 
ed faithful to the King, north of the Grampian 

Distrusting all the Lowland counties, James 
resolved to visit the North, where the inhabi- 
tants remained true to their allegiance. He first, 
however, proceeded to Stirling, with the Duke 
of Rothsay, his son, then a youth of fifteen years 
of age ; and, having sufficiently provided the Cas- 
tle with military stores, he delivered the young 
prince to the care of Shaw of Sauchie, the go^ 
vemor, charging him to let no man enter the Castle 
till his return, nor to let the prince go out on any 
pretence whatsoever. He then returned to Edin- 
burgh, the fortress of which he garrisoned in the 
like manner, committing to the care of the go- 


vernor all his money ; after which h6 proceeded 
to Leith, on his journey to the northern counties, 
and embarked in a vessel belonging to Sir An- 
drew Wood, to convey him over the Frith to 
the opposite shore. Unfortunately, the vessel 
in which he embarked had been engaged in the 
Flemish trade, and a report was immediately 
circulated, that, overcome by his fears, he had 
quitted the kingdom and fled to Flanders. — 
The insurgents, taking advantage of the consterna- 
tion, mustered their forces, and advanced to Leitb. 
There they seized and rifled the royal baggage, 
which was in readiness to be sent after the King, 
and found a large sum of money, which proved of 
great consequence to them in their affairs. They 
then proceeded to arm themselves from the King'$ 
stores, and advanced to the Castle of Dunbar, 
which they immediately took by surprise. They 
afterwards ravaged all the southern counties, par- 
ticularly the Lothians and Tweeddale, rifling and 
plundering the houses of all who were not engaged 
in the insurrection. 

While the insurgents were conducting them- 
selves in this tumultuous manner, the King, who 
had summoned the counties of Fife, Forfar, and 
the district of Stratheam to attend his banner at a 
certain day, proceeded northwai'd to Aberdeen. 
In his journey he held courts of justice, and was 
every where received with affection, particularly 
in the districts under the influence of the Earls of 
Huntly, Errol, and Marischal, who were devoted 
to his interests. The northern clans readily obey- 
ed the summons of their sovereign, and marshalled 
themselves under the royal banner. The chiefe 
in those parts were busily engaged in mustering 


their retainers, and the King had the prospect of 
a numerous army under his control. But as everv 
day brought more alarming reports of the proceed- 
ings of the insurgents in the south, James had no 
time left for deliberation. He hastened to Perth, 
which he appointed the place for the mustering of 
his army, followed by his uncle, the Earl of Athol, 
the Earls of Huntly, Crawford, and Errol, with 
many northern chiefs, and, indeed, all the array of 
the northern counties. There he was joined by 
Lord Lindsay of the Byres, — an officer who had 
acquired considerable military reputation in France, 
with a thousand horsemen and three thousand foot. 
From this Baron it was, according to Pitscottie, 
that the King received the present of the fatal 
courser ; and in presenting him to the King, he 
observed, that *' if his Majesty were reduced to 
extremity, either to flee or pursue, that horse , 
would surpass every other in Scotland, if the rider ' 
kept his saddle." Lord Ruthven, too, who was 
at that time Sheriff of Strathearn, ancestor of the 
Earls of Gowrie, brought a thousand gentlemen on 
horseback to the King's assistance, well armed, and 
provided with spears, a thousand bowmen, and a 
thousand armed men with long swords and coats of 
mail : — three thousand in all from the loyal town 
of Perth. The King found himself at the head of 
30,000 men, and with this army he set out for 
Stirling against the rebels. 

The insurgents being in possession of all the 
counties south of the Forth, liad not, on their part, 
been idle. They had mustered their forces in the 
county of Linlithgow, or West Lothian, and had 
encamped near Blackness Castle, on the southern 
shores of the Frith of Forth. The fleet under the 


command of Sir Andrew Wood of Largo Laving 
sailed up the Forth, the royal army passed over in 
those vessels ; and having landed at Blackness, in 
April 1488, the King was joined by the few in 
the southern counties who continued in their al- 
legiance. The contest was about to be decided 
by a battle, and an indecisive skirmish had taken 
place, in which several of the loyal chiefs emi- 
nently distinguished themselves ; but the insur- 
gents appear to have been aware of the superiority 
of the King's forces, and consented to an accom- 
modation. Probably both parties were not suffi- 
ciently exasperated against each other, and there- 
fore shi'ank from the last resource of shedding the 
blood of their countrymen. The Earl of Athole, 
the King's uncle, a nobleman trusted by both par- 
ties, effected a negociation, and surrendered him- 
self as a hostage into the hands of the rebels. 
Though the terms of this accommodation are not 
mentioned by our historians, and indeed their whole 
account of this transaction is confused and contra- 
dictory, yet the fact of this temporaiy treaty is 
beyond dispute ; and we know that Athole was 
confined for his loyalty in the Castle of Dunbar. * 

• There is a document first published by Dr Henry, in 
the Appendix to vol. v. of his History of Great Britain, 
and inserted in the Appendix (No. 32) to vol. i. of Pin- 
kerton's History, which is taken from the Records of Par- 
liament in the Register Office, Edinburgh. It is entitled 
the " Pacification of Blackness, " and contains nine ar- 
ticles, which were signed by the King's own hand, and 
presented in the first Parliament of James IV. Commis- 
sion was granted to the Bishop of Aberdeen, Chancellor, 
the Earls of Huntly, Errol, Marischal, Lords Glanunis 
and Alexander Lindsay, on the King's part, and the Bi- 
shop of Glasgow, the Earls of Angus, Ajgyle, Lords 
Hailes and Lyle, to conclude the accommodation. Red- 


The two armies were disbanded, tliough the int.. 
surgents continued to meet in detached parties ; 
and tlie King retired to the Castle of Edinburgh, 
his son, the Duke of Rothsay, being still in the 
Castle of Stirling, under the government of Shaw 
of Sauchie. 

Nothing could be more unfortunate for the af- 
fairs of James than this ill-timed lenity, which 
proceeded from his timidity, and his averseness to 
shed blood. As in religious disputes, decision is 
the only course with frantic sectaries, who gene- 
rally care little for the lenity which tolerates, and 
must therefore be opposed by the resolution which 
expels, so, in political insurrections, the strong and 
salutary arm of power ought always to be exer- 
cised, and the faction crushed, ere it strengthens 
that spirit which, when excited, proceeds to the 
most daring extremes. It is asserted by all our 
historians, that this timidity was fatal to James, 
and that by it he lost an opportunity which could 
never be recalled. It was not likely that the dis- 
contentment would be allayed by any concessions ; 
for concessions to insurgents are in reality virtual 
acknowledgments that their conduct is praise wor- 

path, in his Border History, suspects that the Bishop of 
Glasgow(Blackadder), and theBishop of Dunkeld( Brown), 
favoured the insurgents, as they were connected with fa- 
milies attached to the Homes and Hepburns. The arti- 
cles chiefly relate to the young prince ; and it certainly 
does appear from them, that they had then got possession 
of his person. The last article is to this effect : '' At al 
discentions and discordis, now standand or beand betuex 
any lordis or gret baronis, of baith the pertis, sal be 
drawen be the wisdome of the said lordis to iinite con- 
cord, so that luS' and favour may stand ymanges oure 
Soverane Lordis leegis, " 


thy, and must only increase the insolence of their 
partisans. James ought at Blackness to have put 
down this dangerous association, ere its members 
dispersed with their prejudices inveterate, their 
resolutions the same to expel the sovereign, and 
increasing in strength during the brief cessation of 
hostilities, more especially as he was then support- 
ed by many powerful chiefs, particularly Huntly, 
Errol, Glammis, and Marischal, who afterwards, 
deserted the royal cause, and joined the insur- 

But the misfortunes of his house attended James 
in his series of disasters. He was indeed sen- 
sible of the advantages which public clamour gave 
to his enemies ; and had he possessed due discri- 
mination, he might have ruined their cause. He 
was still suspected, and the insurgents at length 
insisted on his abdication of the throne. It is un- 
fortunate that the terms of the negociation are 
only partially recorded, and that we have no other 
document than that entitled, " The Pacification of 
Blackness, " which almost exclusively relates to 
the guidance of the young prince, with only one 
article, that the King's '' maist noble person be at 
all tymes in honor, securitie, and fredome. " But 
the demands of the rebels being exorbitant, inas- 
much as they completely controlled the King in 
his administration, James had evaded or delayed 
their accomplishment. The rebels, on the other 
hand, insisted that the King had not fulfilled his 
terms of the treaty, and, whatever the terms were, 
it is certain they had some occasion for complaint, 
more especially when we consider that the peers 
already mentioned deserted him on that very ac- 
count : And in an act of parliament framed after 


the King's death, and entitled, " The proposition of 
thd debate of the field of Stirling," the non-fulfil- 
ment of the terms on the part of the King is ex- 
pressly assigned by those peers as the cause of 
their defection. The error of James consisted in 
agreeing to any conditions which were exorbitant, 
and when he was able to defeat his enemies ; but 
he was certainly bound afterwards to fulfil them, 
and hence it was that the confederacy daily spread 
wider, till all the coimtry south of the Grampians 
was in a state of revolt. 

The conduct of James, too, at this juncture, was 
not likely to effect a reconciliation, and must 
necessarily have excited the suspicions of the in- 
surgents for their own personal safety. He had 
retired to the Castle of Edinburgh, where was all 
bis treasure, and he proceeded to strengthen it 
with considerable activity. In the meantime, be- 
ing aware of the practices of the insurgents, he 
applied to the kings of England and France, and 
to the Pope, Engenius VIII. for their interference; 
and the application was successful. This was most 
certain to rouse the fears of the confederates. 
The two monarchs threatened to raise armies 
for the aid of tlie Scottish King, and his Holiness 
appointed Adrian de Castello as his nuncio, at 
that time his Legate in England, and, according to 
Buchanan, a man of great learning, to effect a re- 
conciliation, and even to excommunicate the insur- 
gents, should they prove refractory. But those re- 
sources were too late, and the nuncio arrived when 
his interposition was in vain. 

Those proceedings of the King were viewed will; 
alarm by the conspirators, who were beginning t( 
find, that, notwithstanding the promising aspect o 


their affairs, they were not secure. They now saw- 
that decision and activity were their only resources. 
It was not their interest to delay so long as to 
bring against themselves the armies of France and 
England, and they wished especially to anticipate 
the Nuncio's arrival, whose influence they dreaded 
most of all, because, were their practices to be de- 
nounced by the Church, it would have drawn from 
them a considerable number of adherents, through 
the fear of ecclesiastical censures. They, therefore, 
at once appeared in arms, and openly insisted on 
the King's resignation of the crown. 

Sensible, however, that their affairs must lan- 
guish, and their adherents dwindle, unless they 
were furnished with new pretexts for rebellion, and 
were headed by a person of authority, they had 
recourse to bold and daring proceedings. The 
Earl of Angus proposed that the Duke of Roth- 
say, the King's eldest son, should be placed at their 
head, and his proposal met with the most cheerful 
acquiescence. By involving him in their conspi- 
racy, they in a manner secured themselves ; for, 
should they be successful, their safety was evi- 
dent ; if unsuccessful, prudential reasons would re- 
strain the King from inflicting on them summary 
punishment. They now gave out that the King 
had a design on his son's life, which, in the state 
of popular feeling, was readily believed. The 
young prince had been consigned to the cai'e of 
Shaw of Sauchie, governor of Stirling Castle, with 
strict orders from the King, that no one who was 
disaffected should be allowed to approach him, and 
that he should on no account be suffered to go 
out of the Castle. But that treacherous govenior 

VOL, I. K 4 


disregarded his sovereign's injunctions. He secretly 
favoured the conspirators, and he was prevailed 
upon, by the present of a considerable sum of money, 
to deliver the young prince into their hands, the 
defence of whose life, it was maintained, called 
them to arms, and whose name, thus associated 
with the confederates, sanctioned their designs. 
The youth was accordingly conducted to Linlith- 
gow, unconscious of their ultimate intentions, and 
Scotland was thus to behold a son constrained to 
league against his father and sovereign. With the 
money which they had found at Leith in the King's 
baggage the confederates contrived to supply them- 
selves with warlike stores ; and having obtained 
possession of the prince, whose name was now em- 
ployed to sanction all their actions, they took the 
field with their retainers. 

James, ignorant of this infamous conduct on the 
part of Shaw, seeing no other resource but war, 
again summoned the northern chiefs to attend his 
standard. The place of rendezvous is not men- 
tioned, but it was probably at or near Stirling, 
whither the King intended to proceed, to join 
those chiefs who were advancing from the north 
with their followers. The rebels in the meantime 
were assembling their forces in the same direction. 
By a fatality which seems to have attended him, 
James left the Castle of Edinburgh for Stirling, 
trusting to the fidelity of its governor, as it was also 
a fortress where he could be secure. This was 
another misfortune. His affairs were not then so 
desperate, and had he kept himself in Edinburgh 
Castle until the result of his applications to France 
and England was known, and until the arrival of 
the Papal Nuncio, he would still have been able 


to defeat the confederacy. He was in possession 
of the Castle of Blackness ; his Admiral, Sir An- 
drew Wood, commanded the river Forth ; and 
his friends in the north were still numerous and 
powerful. But unconscious of Shaw's treachery, 
and believing, perhaps, that the Castle of Stirling 
was of more importance than that of Edinburgh, 
inasmuch as it commanded the only bridge over 
the Forth, and the great entrance into the High- 
lands, whence his northern subjects were to ad- 
vance, he left the metropolis. All that the conspir- 
ators wanted was to draw the King into the field. 
James proceeded to Stirling by Blackness, where 
he was joined by the Earls of Montrose and Glen- 
cairn, (who had been recently elevated to that earl- 
dom from the title of Lord Kilmaurs), the Lords 
Maxwell and Ruthven. As some of the chiefs 
had joined the insurgents, and as the junction of 
the northern clans with the King's troops had 
caused a considerable delay, a second negotiation 
was proposed, but without effect. The rebels, in 
order to induce the King to take the field, made 
a show of dismissing their army, while they were 
secretly mustering their forces for a decisive en- 
gagement. The King, in the meantime, arrived 
at Stirling, where he found a considerable num- 
ber of the northern clans assembled. Advancing 
to the Castle, he was astonished when he was not 
only refused admittance, but found the gates shut, 
and the guns pointed against his person. He in- 
quired for his son, and the perfidious governor at 
first said, that he could not be seen at that time. 
He soon learned, with astonishment, that he was 
with the rebels ; and on upbraiding Shaw with his 
perfidy, he pretended that the prince had been 


canied ofl" by the conspirators against his inclination. 
But the King perceived the treachery. " Fy, trai- 
tor ! " said he, " thou liast deceived me ; but if I 
live, I shall be revenged on thee, and reward thee 
as thou deservest." 

In this extremity, and, according to some writ- 
ers, after crossing and recrossing the Forth, and 
making another attempt to gain admittance into 
the Castle, James lay that night in the town of 
Stirling, where he was speedily joined by all his 
army. While deliberating on the measures he 
should adopt, intelligence was brought him that 
the conspirators were then at Falkirk, and were 
advancing with their forces to Torwood, — a place 
famous in Scottish story as the retreat of the pa- 
triot Wallace, and at that time a forest of consi- 
derable extent. The King was now in a peculiar 
situation ; the Castle of Stirling was held out 
against him, the only place where he could have 
been secure ; and the army of the conspirators, 
by thus advancing in the direction of Torwood, 
could easily intercept him in any attempt to reach 
Edinburgh. Sir Andrew W^ood, his admiral, had 
indeed sailed up the Forth as far as Alloa, — a 
town only seven miles from Stirling over land, but 
more than double that distance by water, on ac- 
count of the serpentine turnings and windings of 
the river, in that delightful carse or valley through 
which the Forth runs towards the ocean ; and that 
famous mariner would have sailed farther up the 
river, had there been sufficient depth of water for 
his vessels. The King could easily have retreated 
from Stirling by embarking in the Admiral's fleet, 
but this would most probably have been attended 
with danger ; and as it would have been interpret- 


ed by the insurgents as the result of timidity and 
cowardice, it would have increased their boldness, 
and done material injury to the royal cause. Situ- 
ated as James was, he had no other alternative 
than either to embark in Wood's vessels, or to , 
decide the contest by a battle ; and, after calling 
a council of the chiefs who followed the royal 
standard, he resolved to hazard the latter. 

It was in the month of June, and the forests of 
Stirlingshire were clothed in their summer foliage, 
when this unnatural and fatal contest was de- 
cided. The ground is sacred in the annals of 
Scottish song. Different, indeed, were the mo- 
tives which stimulated this array of Scotland's chi- 
valry, from those which prompted their illustrious 
ancestors under the banners of Bruce. The in- 
surgents, who soon understood the purposes of the 
King, prepared also for battle, and passed the Car- 
ron, a small but remarkable rivulet in Stirlingshire, 
which rises in the parish of Fintry, almost in the 
centre of the isthmus between the Forth and 
Clyde, and falls into the Forth, a few miles below 
Falkirk. The associations connected with this 
brook are interesting in no ordinary degree. It was 
the boundary of the Roman empire, when that em- 
pire was in its glory, the famous wall of Antoni- 
nus running parallel to it for some miles. On its 
banks was the Roman structure called Arthur's 
Oven ; and there was fought a famous battle be- 
tween the Romans, and the Scots and Picts, in 
the fifth century. On its banks were performed 
the exploits of Ossian, the son of Fingal. Oscar, 
the son of Ossian, there signalized himself as a 
liero ; and the vale is yet pointed out by tradi- 
tion, where those ancient warriors contended with 


the heroes of the streams of Caros. There, with 
more certainty of truth, was fought the well known 
battle between Wallace and the English invaders, 
which succeeded the memorable interview between 
that patriot and Robert Bruce, disastrous to tlie 
Scottish arms. It is long, however, since the sil- 
very stream of the Carron rolled along amid the 
din of arms ; happy it is that the busy scenes of 
trade and the mechanical arts now distinguish its 
classic banks. 

The insurgents had encamped at the bridge 
over the CaiTon, near the Torwood, when the 
King led his army against them, and encamped at 
a small brook named Saucbie Burn, about two 
miles from the town of Stirling, and a mile south 
from the famous field of Bannockbum. If Lindsay 
of Pitscottie is to be credited, on the night before 
the battle, another attempt was made for a nego- 
tiation, which was also unsuccessful. The two 
armies met on a tract of land now termed Little 
Canglar, on the east side of Sauchie Burn. The 
army of the rebels was greatly superior to that of 
the King ; it consisted chiefly of Borderers inured 
to war, well armed and well disciplined ; and was 
consequently most unequally opposed by the Low- 
land royalists. The exact number of the two 
armies has not been ascertained ; the royal army 
has been estimated by some as containing 30,000 
men, that of the insurgents 18,000 ; but there is 
every reason to conclude, that the number of the 
royal army is greatly exaorgerated, as it is uni- 
versally admitted, that the army of the insurgents 
was greatly superior to the royal forces. 

The King, in complete armour, and mounted 
on the courser presented to him at Perth by Lord 


Lindsay of the Byres, appeared at the head of the 
army, which he divided into three several lines. 
The first, or vanguard, was commanded by the 
Eai'l of Menteith, Lords Erskine, Gray, Ruthven, 
Graham, and Maxwell, and consisted chiefly of 
Highlanders to the number of 10,000, armed with 
swords and bows ; the second line, or right wing, 
was headed by the Earl of Glencairn, and consist- 
ed of Highlanders, and troops from the Western 
counties ; the third, the left wing, or rear, in which 
was the greatest strength of the army, was com- 
manded by the Lords Boyd and Lindsay; and 
the main body, in which was the King himself, by 
the Earl of Crawford, all consisting of soldiers 
from Fife and Angus, Strathearn, and the district 
of Stormont. 

When the King beheld the approach of the re- 
bels, he called for the horse presented to him by 
Lindsay, and mounted him, to observe the dis- 
position of the rebels. Their army, which consist- 
ed chiefly of cavalry, was also divided into three 
separate lines. The first was composed of men 
from East-Lothian and the Merse, or Berwick- 
shire, led by Lords Hailes and Home ; the se- 
cond was under the command of Lord Gray, and 
consisted of men from Galloway and the Borders ; 
the third was under the nominal command of the 
Duke of Rothsay, though he was completely un- 
der the controul of the rebel Lords who belonged 
to this division, and consisted of men from West- 
Lothian, and other midland Lowland counties. 
The rebels advanced with great boldness, presum- 
ing too well on the King's timidity, and want of 
military experience. As for James himself, when 
he perceived the insurgents advancing with the 


royal banner displayed, and his own son at their 
head, he felt no inconsiderable alarm. The pro- 
phecy which had formerly preyed upon his mind, 
" that he should be put down, and destroyed by one 
of his own kindred, " now recuned, and, it is more 
than probable, influenced his subsequent conduct. 

The leaders of the royal army, fearing that tiie 
King's timidity would prove fatal, and also desir- 
ous of his safety, wished to remove him from the 
lines, but by that time the action had commenced. 
A dense shower of arrows from the West-Lothian 
men, and a keen attack from the Homes and Hep- 
burns, denoted the opening of the contest; but 
they were successfully opposed by the first line 
of the royal army, and were beaten back with 
considerable loss. They were, however, instantly 
supported by the men of Anuandale and the Bor- 
derers, who, with loud shouts, drove the King's 
first and second lines back to the third. This ad- 
vantage was decisive, though it is not accurately 
known how long the battle continued, or liow 
many fell. Victory declaimed for the rebels, and the 
King's army experienced a total rout. Glencairn, 
Ruthven, Erskine, Ramsay of Balmain, and other 
leaders of the royal army, were slain, and many 
were wounded. Such was the result of the la- 
mentable disaster at Sauchie Bum, which was 
fought on the 11th day of June 1488, the day of 
the Festival of St Barnabas. 

The King, whose courage had never been re- 
markable, now put spurs to his steed and fled. 
It was his endeavour to gallop across the carse or 
vale of Stirling to Alloa, where Wood's fleet lay 
at anchor, the distance being only five miles from 
the field of battle. As he was on the point of 


crossiug the rivulet of Bannockburn, near the vil- 
lage of Milltown, a mile eastward of the field, a 
woman happened to be drawing water with a 
pitcher from the stream. Alarmed at seeing a 
man in armour galloping furiously towards her, 
she threw down her pitcher, and fled for safe- 
ty. The noise startled the horse, and, leaping 
over the rivulet at one spring, threw his inex- 
perienced rider from the saddle. The King, from 
his fall, was so stunned and bruised by tiie weight 
of his armour, that he fainted away, and seemed to 
all appearance dead. The accident happened with- 
in a few yards of a mill, and the miller and his wife 
came running in haste to the aid of the unfortunate 
horseman. Ignorant of his rank, they carried him 
into their house, and laid him in a corner, cover- 
ing him with a cloth to conceal h'un from any pur- 
suer. Having administered to him what remedies 
their house afforded, James recovered, and, feeling 
himself weak and greatly bruised, he called for a 
priest to hear his confession. The rustics inquired 
the name and quality of their guest, when James 
incautiously said, " I was your king this morning. " 
The miller's wife, overcome with astonishment, 
wrung her hands, and ran hastily to the door in 
alarm to search for a priest, as the King desired, 
to grant him absolution. 

The fate of the unfortunate monarch was de- 
cided by this incautious disclosure of his name and 
rank. A general rout had followed the battle, 
and the royal army fled in all directions, pursued 
by the victorious confederates. It had been the 
express desire of the Duke of Rothsay, when he 
perceived the rout of the royal army, that none 
should presume to pursue his father, or attempt to 


intercept his flight ; but this, of course, was little 
regarded by the victorious conspirators. It hap- 
pened, that at the very moment the miller's wife 
came out of the house exclaiming for a priest, 
some of the rebels who were following the rout 
which the King took in his flight, passed the house. 
According to Buchanan, though the statement 
wants proof, there were three who pursued the 
King very closely, Patrick Gray, the chief of that 
family, Kerr, and a priest named Borthwick. The 
pursuers, whoever they were, thus having disco- 
vered the object of their search, failed not to im- 
prove the opportunity. One of them exclaimed 
to the woman, " Here, I am a priest, lead me to 
the King. " He was accordingly admitted, and 
falling on his knees before James, asked him, if 
be thought he would yet live. " I might, " re- 
plied the King, " if I had the attendance of a 
physician ; but give me absolution and the sacra- 
ment. " — " That I shall do readily, " said the vil- 
lain; and pulling out a dagger, stabbed the unfor- 
tunate monarch repeatedly in the heart, and then 
departed ; nor was the perpetrator of this atrocioua 
act ever afterwards discovered. 

Beaton's Mill, said to be so called from a per- 
son of that name who then possessed it, the place 
where this villany was committed, is still to be 
seen, but is now converted into a dwelling-house. 
The lower parts of the walls are those which were 
erected at the time, the upper parts are of more 
recent date. Mr Chambers, in his admirable 
work, the " Picture of Scotland, " informs us, 
that " he had the curiosity to visit it, and to in- 
quire into the traditionary account of the circum- 
Btaace above related, as preserved by the people 


of the place, which he was surprised to hear tal- 
lied in every particular with the historical nar- 
rative. He was even shown the particular cor- 
ner in which the King was slain. The house has 
been somewhat modernized, and converted from 
a mill into a dwelling-house. The lower part of 
the walls, however, are, to about a man's height, 
unaltered, and impressed with the appearance of 
great antiquity. A corner stone of the modem 
part of the fabric bears date 1667. The house is 
divided into two ends, with separate doors, ac- 
commodating two families, and is thatched. It 
stands about fifty yards east of the road from 
Glasgow to Stirling, in the close neighbourhood 
of the new mill which had been substituted, when 
it was converted into a dwelling-house. " 

Some of the King's forces had retreated to the 
Torwood, and others to the town of Stirling. The 
conspirators betook themselves to Linlithgow, after 
resting all the night succeeding the battle in the 
field. The fate of the King was not then known, 
but in a short time rumours soon spread over the 
country of the assassination, aided by an additional 
report, that Rothsay was the murderer of his own 
father. The young prince, now King, was incon- 
solable when he heard of his father's death, yet, 
as it had not become public, he was not without 
hope. It was some days before he received cer- 
tain information, for if any of the conspirators knew 
it, they carefully concealed it from him. In the 
mean time, a person who came to Linlithgow, in- 
formed them that Admiral Wood's two vessels 
were traversing up and down the Frith, and it was 
still believed that the King had reached the fleet 
in safety. The rebel army forthwith proceeded to 


Leitli, whence a message was sent from the youna; 
prince to Wood, desiring to know if the King was on 
board any of his vessels. Wood informed them that 
he was not, and gave them permission to search 
his ships. A second message was sent to him, 
desiring an interview ; but Wood refused to go on 
shore without hostages for his safety. These being 
delivered in the persons of Lords Seton and Fle- 
ming, who were sent on board the Admiral's ves- 
sels in the custody of his brother. Wood pro- 
ceeded to Leith, and presented himself before the 
prince. Mistaking the Admiral, from his noble 
appearance, for his father, whom it would appear 
he had seldom seen, no sooner did he see him, 
than he exclaimed, with tears in his eyes, " Sir, 
are you my father ? " — " I am not your father, " 
replied Wood, " but I was vour father's faithful 
servant, and shall be so till I die, and an enemy to 
those who have been the occasion of his downfal. " 
Some of the nobles who had been in the conspi- 
racy, asked him, if he knew any thing of the King, 
or where he was ; to which he replied, that he 
knew not. They then asked him who the persons 
were that put off from the field at Alloa, and went 
on board his vessels in boats. " I and my bro- 
ther, " replied Wood, " who were ready to have 
risked our lives in defence of the King. " They still 
asked him, if he really was not in the vessel, and 
Wood boldly said, " He is not ; but would to God 
he were there, for he would be in safety. I would 
defend and keep him free from all the vile traitors 
who have cruelly murdered him, and I hope to 
see the day when they will be rewarded as they 
deserve. " As this answer of Wood was not very 
agreeable to the persons present, it is probable that 


he. would never have returned to his vessels alive, 
had there been no hostages for his security. And in- 
deed, as his absence was longer than was expected, 
his brother was becoming impatient, and would 
have executed the two hostages without ceremony, 
as they testified at their retura, had the Admiral 
been delayed any longer. * At last the body of the 
unfortunate James was discovered, and carried to 
Stirling Castle, where it lay till it was interred in 
the Abbey of Cambuskenneth, beside the body of 
his late Queen. The spot is still shown, though there 
is no monument. So sincerely did the young prince, 
afterwards James IV., repent of his proceedings 
against his father, that the keenest remorse preyed 
upon his mind. " Residing for some time, " says 
an historian, " in the Castle of Stirling, the priests 
of the chapel-royal deplored in his presence, and 
even in their prayers, the death of their founder ; 
and the solemnity of religion increased the mental 
gloom of his son, who resolved, with amiable su- 
perstition, to wear constantly in penance an iron 
girdle, the weight of which he increased with hi» 
years. The Roman Pontiff spared the youth and 
innocence of James, but darted the thunder of the 
Vatican at the rebellious barons, whose arms had 
been pointed against their sovereign." James him- 
self, however, as he acceded to the crown amid 

* Mr Pinkerton observes, that this passage, taken from 
Lindsay of Pitscotlie's History, " can have no claim t» 
truth, James being sixteen years of age, and knowing his- 
father perfectly. " This, however, does not follow ; for 
it is certain that be had not seen his father for some time ; 
and as it was believed that he was in Wood's fleet, he might 
have mistaken at first sight the Admiral, who, in years and 
appearance, if tradition be correct, resembled James III. 
VOL. I. L 


rebellion and misfortune, was not free from tbe 
calamities of his House ; and the fatal disaster of 
Flodden deprived Scotland once more of a sove- 
reign, who fell in the field of battle with the flower 
of Scottish chivalry. 

It may be observed, in conclusion, that no execu- 
tions followed this unnatural rebellion. In the first 
Parliament of James IV, a remarkable act was 
passed, entitled, " The proposition of the debate of 
the field of Stirling," which secured the conspira- 
tors, and justified their successful rebellion, by enu- 
merating various pretended accusations against the 
late King. So completely did the conspirators 
gain upon the King by the force of flattery, that 
he caused all the peers to be summoned who 
had been leaders in the royal army, to the number 
of twenty-eight. The most remarkable of these 
trials was that of Lord Lindsay of the Byres, who 
was put first on the list. It ended, after a consi- 
derable altercation, and some rough and energetic 
replies from Lindsay, in his acquittal, on account 
of some imperfection in the indictment. He was 
ordered to enter his recognisances that he would 
appear on a certain day. He was, however, soon 
afterwards sent a prisoner, by the command of the 
King, to the Castle of Rothsay, in the Island of 
Bute, where he remained a whole year. The 
superior talents and administration of James IV. 
relieved the nation from its former distractions. 
His character was brightened by many illustri- 
ous qualities ; the spirit of Scottish chivalry re- 
vived ; and a reign of considerable glory in the 
Scottish annals ensued, till the daik cloud of mis- 
fortune again appealed after the melancholy disaster 
of Flodden. 









A.D. 1547. 





The following account of the remarkable con- 
spiracy of Count Fiasco at Genoa is reprinted from 
the naiTative of the celebrated Cardinal De Retz, 
who flourished in the 17th century. John Francis 
Paul de Gondi, Cardinal de Retz, one of the most 
remarkable political characters in French history, 
was the son of Philip Emanuel de Gondi, General 
of the Galleys, and descended from a Florentine 
family. He was born at Montmirel, a town in 
France, in lt)14. He was compelled by his father 
to enter the Church against his inclination, and 
had several abbacies conferred upon him when yet 
in his youth. In 1643, he became a Doctor of the 
Sorbonne, and coadjutor to his uncle who was Arch- 
Mshop of Paris. But, although an ecclesiastic, no- 
thing could be at greater variance with his profes- 
sion than the life of this extraordinary man. In 
his Memoirs, written by himself, and perhaps one 
of the most remarkable works translated into our 
language, though now almost forgotten, he has most 
graphically pourtrayed his transactions. " These 
Memoirs," says Voltaire, " are written with an air 
L 2 


of greatness, an impetuosity of genius, and an in- 
equality, which are the image of his conduct. He 
composed these in his retirement with the impar- 
tiality of a philosopher, but of one who had not 
always been a philosopher. He neither spares 
himself nor others. He gives portraits of all those 
who acted a^ considerable part in the intrigues of 
the Frondi, which are often very natural, but 
sometimes spoilt by a remnant of acrimony, vani- 
ty, and enthusiasm." * He was a man who, not- 
withstanding his life of debauchery, and while la- 
bouring under its consequences, preached to the 
people, and was almost adored by them. His 
whole conduct partook of the spirit of faction and 
sedition. He fought duels, entered into every 
species of licentiousness, and at the age of twenty- 
three was himself the very soul of a conspiracy 
against Cardinal Richelieu. It was, however, dur- 
ing the ministry of the famous Cardinal Mazarine, 
who both hated and feared him, that he was 
in his element. By pretending great devotion in 
the discharge of his episcopal duties, be imposed 
upon the people, and became popular by his pro- 
fessions of zeal of the public welfare. It is said 
that he was the first bishop who canied on a war 
without the pretence of religion ; and, as he was 
one of the most violent opposers of the Court, he 
once entered the French Parliament with a dagger 
* Siecle de Louis XIV. 


ia bis pocket, the handle of which being observed 
by a wit, called forth the remark. " There is our 
Archbishop's Breviary. " It is impossible to give 
even a rude outline of the tumultuous, daring, and 
intriguing life of this remarkable man. On coal- 
escing with the Court, he procured a Cardinal's 
Hat in 1651, but, as he was esteemed a deserter 
by his party, he soon lost his popularity. He was 
imprisoned in the Castles of Vincennes and Nantz, 
whence he made his escape, and fled first to Spain, 
and afterwards to Rome, where he was received 
with great favour as the enemy of Mazarine. He 
was present, and assisted at the elevation of Alex- 
ander VII. to the Pontificate ; but, finding his 
Holiness not much disposed to promote his 
views, he left Italy, and wandered throughout 
Holland, Flanders, and England. He was at this 
time Archbishop of Paris, having succeeded his 
uncle in the sole government of that See. Weary, 
however, of his wanderings and exile, he return- 
ed to France after the death of Mazarine, in 
1661, and made his peace with the Court by 
vacating his Archbishopric, as a recompense for 
which he received the Abbacy of St Denis. He 
was afterwards at Rome, and assisted at the 
consecration of Clement IX. He returned his 
Cardinal's Hat to Clement X, but that Pontiff re- 
fused to accept it. He now retired from the 
world, was enabled to discharge all his debts, which, 


from bis life of profusion, were considerable, and 
died at Paris in 1679, in the 66tb year of his age, 
regretted by men of worth and integrity. His 
conduct towards the close of his career, was dif- 
ferent from that of his former life ; but it has been 
often asserted, and perhaps with truth, that " he 
did not quit the world till it had quitted him, and 
that disappointed ambition, rather than elevation, 
was the motive of his retreat. " 

It was in the retirement of St Denis that De Retz 
wrote his Memoirs. The best French editions are 
those of Amsterdam, 1718, in five volumes octavo ; 
1719, in seven vols. 12mo ; and of 1731, four vols, 
small 8vo. They were translated into English by 
Peter Davall, of the Middle Temple, a barrister, 
afterwards a Master in Chancery, and, at the time 
of his death in 1763, Accomptant-General of that 
Court. They were published at London in 1723, 
in four vols. 12mo, by the famous bookseller Jacob 
Tonson, dedicated to Congreve the poet, who en- 
couraged Davall's publication. The Memoirs were 
also published in 1774, in three vols. 12mo. It 
is, however, from Tonson's edition of 1723, trans- 
lated by Davall, that the following narrative is 
taken, as the name of that eminent bibliopole is a 
sufficient guarantee for its faithfulness. I must 
also add, that having compared Davall's transla- 
tion of this conspiracy with the original written by 
the Cardinal, and published at Amsterdam, I have 


found it substantially correct, and it has been there- 
fore thought necessary to preserve Davall's transla- 
tion, with merely some slight alterations in the or- 
thography and structure of a few of the sentences. 
This account of the conspiracy of Fiesco by the 
Cardinal de Retz, is inserted among some other 
pieces, now also forgotten, in the fomth volume of 
Tonson's edition translated by Davall. 

It is needless to say any thing here respecting 
the conspiracy of Fiesco, which is one of the most 
remarkable and daring adventures recorded in 
history. There is another account of it, in a rare 
volume of historical tracts, entitled " A Collection 
of Select Discourses out of the most Eminent Wits 
of France and Italy, " 8vo, London, 1678 ; but it 
appears to be a translation, and a very inferior one, 
of the Cardinal's naiTative, from Signior Mascardi, 
but the translator's name is not given. It is, how- 
ever, noticed occasionally in the notes. Dr Robert- 
son has given a very graphic though confused ac- 
count of this famous conspiracy, in his History of 
Charles V, and he has made considerable use of De 
Retz's narrative. This performance by the Cardi- 
nal, it may be observed in conclusion, was written 
when he was only eighteen years of age, and may be 
considered as characteristic of his disposition, and 
of his turbulent conduct in after life. It is partly 
translated from the Italian of Mascardi, and was 
entitled " La Conjuration du Comte de Fiesque, 


par Cardin. dfe Retz. " The Cardinal, of course, 
professes great admiration of Fiesco. " It is re- 
markable, " says Dr Robertson in a note, " that 
Cardinal de Retz, at the age of eighteen, composed 
a history of this conspiracy, containing such a dis- 
covery of his admiration of Fiesco and his enter- 
prise, as renders it not surprising, that a minister 
80 jealous as Richelieu, should be led, by the per- 
usal of it, to predict the turbulent and dangerous 
spirit of that young ecclesiastic." 




But Brutus says he was ambitious, 
And Brutus is an honourable man. 

Julius CcEsar, 

In the beginning of the year 1547, the republic of 
Genoa was in a condition which might have been 
called happy had it been better secured. To all ap- 
pearance it enjoyed a glorious tranquillity, acquir- 
ed by its own arms, and preserved by those of the 
great Charles V, whom that state had chosen 
for the protector of its liberty. The weakness 
of its enemies sheltered it from their ambition, 
and the charms of peace restored a prosperity, 
which the disorders of war had long banished. 
Trade began to revive in the city, to the visible 


advantage of the public and of private persons ; and 
if the minds of the citizens had been as free front 
jealousy, as their fortunes were from necessity, 
that commonwealth had soon recovered from its 
past miseries, by a state of ease, wealth and hap- 
piness. But the want of union amongst them, and 
the seeds of hatred which the late divisions had left 
in the hearts of the people, were dangerous remains, 
which plainly indicated, that the great body was 
not yet cured of its distempers, and that its seeming 
health was like that of those persons, whose bloat- 
ed faces carry with them a good appearance, but 
conceal many ill humours. The nobility, who had 
the government in their hands, could not forget the 
injuries which they had received from the people, 
during the time that they had no share in the ma- 
nagement of affairs ; and the people, on their part, 
could not suffer the dominion of the nobility, but 
viewed it as a new tyranny, contrary to the or- 
dinances of the state. Some, even amongst the no- 
blemen, who aspired to a higher fortune, secretly 
envied the grandeur of the rest. Thus the one 
commanded with haughtiness, and the others obey- 
ed with indignation, and many thought themselves 
servants because they did not act enough like mas- 
ters ; when Providence permitted an accident to 
happen, which made these different sentiments break 
out on a sudden, and which finally confirmed the 
one in their command, and the others in their 
slavery. This was the conspiracy of John Lewis de 
Fiesco, Count de Lavagna, which we must trace a 
little higher, the better to understand the circum- 
stances of the events that followed. 

At the time of those famous wars in which the 
Emperor Charles V. and Francis I. King of France, 


laid Italy waste, Andrew Doria, born of one of 
the best families in Genoa, and the greatest sea- 
man at that day in Europe, followed the French 
party with much zeal, and maintained the gran- 
deur and reputation of that crown at sea with 
such courage and good fortune, as tended no less 
to the advantage of those whose interests he pro- 
moted, than to his own glory. But it is a mis- 
fortune common to great princes not to regard suf- 
ficiently those who can do them service, when 
once they think themselves assured of their loyal- 
ty. From this cause proceeded the loss which 
France suffered of so good a servant ; and that loss 
produced effects so fatal, that the remembrance 
of them will ever be grievous and deplorable to 
that kingdom. Whilst this great man was engag- 
ed upon advantageous terms in the King's ser- 
vice abroad, as general of his galleys, those who 
were first in favour and power at home began to 
envy both his glory and his office, and formed the 
design of undoing the man whom they saw too 
great ever to submit to be a dependant on any one 
but his master. As they judged it at first nei- 
ther safe nor useful to their design to do him ill 
offices with the King, who had lately expressed 
too good an opinion of him, so soon to conceive 
an ill one ; they took a more subtile method, and, 
joining their praises to the public applause, which 
was given to Doria's first taking up arms for France, 
they I'esolved, by degrees, to give him such oc- 
casions of discontent, as might seem rather to 
proceed from the general necessity of affairs 
than from their private malice, and which, never- 
theless, would work the desired effect. They 
VOL. I. M 

146 coNspinAciEs. 

sought the means of giving his proud and haughty 
mind room to display itself, that they might the 
better ruin him in the King's good opinion ; and 
the business which his employment obliged him 
to have before the council, furnished those who 
were in full authority there with too many oc- 
casions of disobliging him. One time the ex- 
chequer was too low to pay his large salary ; an- 
other time it was assigned him upon insufficient 
funds ; sometimes his demands were reckoned un- 
just and exorbitant. At length, his remonstrances 
on the wrongs done him were so criminally re- 
presented to the King by the artifices of his ene- 
mies, that he began to be importunate and trouble- 
some, and, by little and little, came to be accounted 
by his Majesty a man of an interested, insolent, 
and turbulent spirit. He was at last openly dis- 
obliged, by being refused the ransom of the Prince 
of Orange, whom his nephew Philippino Doria had 
taken prisoner before Naples, and whom the King 
had caused to be put into other hands. They de- 
manded from him, even with threats, the Marquis 
de Guasto and Ascanio Colonna, taken prisoners at 
the same battle. They talked no longer of keep- 
ing the promise which they had made him, to 
restore Savona to the republic of Genoa : And 
as his enemies observed him to take fire, instead 
of concealing the reasons he had to complain, 
under an appearance of moderation, they left no- 
thing undone to increase them. Monsieur de 
Barbezieux was ordered to take possession of his 
galleys, and even to secure his person if it were 
possible. This fault was no less contrary to pru- 
dence than to good faith ; and the ministers of 
France cannot be sufficiently blamed for having 


preferred their private interest to their master's 
service, and taken away from him the only man 
who could have maintained his party in Italy. 
And since they were resolved to ruin Doria, we 
may venture to say that they were bad politicians 
not to have done it thoroughly, but to have left 
him in a condition wherein he was capable of 
doing a great deal of hurt, not only to France in 
general, but to themselves in particular, by the 
vexation and disgust which the King might take 
at their counsels, and by the ill consequences 
which they had brought upon his kingdom. 

Doria, finding himself thus insultingly treated, 
published a manifesto of his complaints, protesting 
that they did not so much proceed from his private 
interests, as from the injustice with which Savona 
had been refused to be restored to his country, 
though so often promised by the French King. He 
treats with the Marquis de Guasto, his prisoner, 
declares for the Emperor, and accepts of the com- 
mand of his fleet. The conduct of this old politi- 
cian was in this, at least, as malicious as that of 
the French ministers, but much more cunning and 
judicious. He cannot be excused fi'om an ex- 
treme ingratitude, in suffering himself to be hur- 
ried away by his passion to such a dangerous 
revenge against a prince, to whom he may be 
said to have been obliged for all his honour, since 
he had gained the most glorious marks of it in the 
command of his armies ; and he can hardly be ex- 
cused from a base piece of treachery, unworthy his 
former actions, in ordering his lieutenant, Philip- 
pino Doria, to suffer provisions to come into 
Naples, which was then extremely distressed by De 
Lautrec, at the time that he still protested that he 


would continue in the King's service. But it 
must also be owned, that, for this way of acting 
he ought to pass for a very able nian in rela- 
tion to political interest, for he so artfully threw 
the appearances on his side, that his friends could 
say that the breach of promise which he com- 
plained of for his country, was the true cause of 
his change ; and that his enemies could not deny but 
that he was compelled to it by such usage as was 
too severe and too hard to endure. Besides, he was 
not ignorant that the means of being greatly con- 
sidered in a party is, to let the first coming into 
it be accompanied with great advantages. And 
indeed, he contrived his revolt so well, and managed 
it with so much conduct, that he preserved Naples 
to the Emperor, which, in a few days, would 
have been taken from him by the French, if Phi- 
lippino Doria had continued faithful in their 
service. By this change France lost one of the 
greatest generals that ever the kingdom produced, * 
and at last placed the commonwealth of Genoa 
under the protection of the crown of Spain, to 
whom it is advantageous on account of its con- 
tiguity to the Spanish dominions in Italy. This 
was the first of Andrew Doria's actions for the 
Emperor's service, after he had openly declared 
himself against the French King. 

This skilful and ambitious man, acquainted as 
he was with the intrigues of Genoa and the in- 
clinations of the Genoese, did not fail to manage 
the minds of that people, who have always been 
accused of a natural love for novelty. As he had 

* Odet de Foix, Sieur de Lautres and Mareschal of 
France, who died before Naples in the year 1528. 


in the city many friends and secret favourers, who 
took care to give him intelligence of all that pass- 
ed there, he took care, on his side, to confirm the 
one in the discontent which they expressed against 
the present government, and to use his endea- 
vours to raise a like discontent in the others ; — 
to persuade the people that the French left them 
only the name of sovereigns, whilst they them- 
selves kept all the power ; — to set before the no- 
bility the image of the ancient government which 
had always been in their hands ; — and, lastly, to 
inspire every one with the hopes of a general re- 
establishment of affairs, by a revolution. 

Having formed his party, he came near to Ge- 
noa with his galleys, landed his troops, and ranged 
them in order of battle, without meeting with any 
resistance. He entered the city, followed by those 
of his friends who had taken up arms at the ap- 
pointed signal. He possessed himself of the prin- 
cipal posts, of which he made himself master, al- 
most without drawing his sword. Theodore Tri- 
vulcius, who commanded there for the King of 
France, lost with Genoa all the reputation which 
he had gained in tlie Italian wars, by neglecting to 
frustrate the measures which were concerted there, 
though he had notice given him of them ; and be- 
cause, to save his life and his money, he preferred 
the making a shameful composition in the Castle, 
to the burying himself honourably in the ruins of 
that place which was of such importance to his 
master's service. 

No sooner were the French driven out of Ge- 
noa, than the name of Doria was heard to echo 
through the streets ; one side, in these acclama- 
M 2 


tlons, following their true sentiments ; the other, 
by their dissembled shouts, endeavouring to con- 
ceal the opinion which they had expressed on di- 
vers occasions, that their thoughts were not agree- 
able to the public joy ; and the greatest part re- 
joiced at these things (as it is common with the vul- 
gar), for no other reason than because they were 

Doria did not suffer this zeal to subside. He 
assembled the nobility, he put the government into 
their hands, and, protesting that he claimed no 
share in it but what should be common to him 
and the rest of the noblemen, he gave a form to 
the commonwealth ; and having received all ima- 
ginable testimonies of the obligations which his 
fellow-citizens had to him, he retired to his palace 
to enjoy at ease the fruits of his past labours ; and 
the commonwealth erected a statue for him, with 
the title of fatheu of his country, and 


Many people are of opinion, that Doria had 
fully satisfied his ambition in thus restoring liberty 
to his country, and that the general applause which 
he received from his countrymen, rather inspired 
him with the thought of enjoying that glory in 
quiet, than that of making use of it for higher 
purposes. Others cannot imagine, that the great 
employment which he had recently accepted in 
the Emperor's service, and the continual care he 
had taken to keep the nobility of Genoa attached 
to Ills house, could proceed from a quiet and en- 
tirely disinterested mind. They think that he was 
too able a man, not to see that a sovereign in Ge- 
noa could not be pleasing to the Spanish Council, 
and that he intended only to amuse them by an 


appearance of moderation, and to defer, to a more 
favourable opportunity, his more exalted enter- 

His old age might, however, have justly dimi- 
nished the fear they had of his authority, if they 
had not perceived a power almost equal to his own 
lodged in a second self. * Giannetino Doria, his cou- 
sin and adopted son, aged about twenty-eight, was 
extremely vain, haughty, and insolent ; he had the 
survivorship of all his father's posts, and by that 
means kept the Genoese nobility in his interest. 
He lived with too much splendour for a citizen 
who desired to avoid drawing envy on himself, 
and giving offence to the commonwealth ; and 
he even showed pretty openly that he disdained 
that character. The extraordinary height to which 
that House had attained, produced the great agi- 
tation of which we are now about to speak, and 
may serve as a memorable example to all states, 
never to suff'er within themselves any person so 
eminent, that his authority may give rise to the 
design of bringing him down, and to the pretence 
of undertaking it. 

John Lewis de Fiesco, Count de Lavagna, des- 
cended from the most ancient and most illustrious 
family in Genoa ; worth above two hundred thou- 
sand crowns a year, not above twenty-two years 
of age, endowed with one of the finest and most 
elevated minds in the world, ambitious, bold, and 
enterprising, led the same time in Genoa a life very 
contrary to his inclinations. As he was passionately 
fond of glory, which he wanted opportunities of 

* The reader will find the same view of affairs taken by 
Dr Robertson in the Eighth Book of his History of 
Charles V. 


acquiring, lie tljought of notliing 80 much as the 
means of finding them out : but though the present 
time afforded him none, he might nevertheless have 
assured himself that his merit would liave opened 
him a way to that glory he so passionately desired 
in secret, by serving his country, if the extraor- 
dinary power of Giannetino Doria, whom we have 
just now mentioned, had left him any room to 
liope for an employment. But as he was too 
great by his birth, and too much esteemed for his 
good qualities, not to excite an apprehension in the 
man who would have had all the reputation and 
strength of the commonwealth to centre in him- 
self, he foresaw that he could have little chance lof 
success in a place where his riv;^.was almost en^ 
tirely master ; because it is certain that all persons 
in the highest posts who take umbrage at others, 
never think of those who are the occasion of it but 
with a design of ruining them. Seeing, therefore, 
that lie had every thing to fear from Doria's gran- 
deur, and nothing to hope for his own advantage, 
he thought himself obliged to prevent, by liis in- 
genuity and courage, the ill consequences of that 
greatness which was so opposite to that of his own 
family : not being ignorant that there is never any 
thing to be expected from those who make thenji- 
selves feared, but an extreme distrust, and a con- 
tinual endeavour to keep down those who have any 
merit, and wlio are capable of raising themselves. 
All these considerations made John Lewis de 
Fiesco despair of growing great in his country's 
service, and entertain the design of bringing down 
the power of the family of the Dorias, before 
they had acquired a greater strength ; and as 
the government of Genoa was annexed to tliat 


family, he resolved, with their ruin, to eflfect a 
change in that government. 

Great rivers never do any harm whilst nothing 
withstands their course : but the least obstacle 
makes them rush forward with violence, and a 
small dam is often the occasion of their drowning 
those plains which they would otherwise have 
watered with advantage. Thus we may judge, 
that if the Count de Fiesco had not found his path 
to glory blocked up by the authority of the Dorias, 
he had certainly kept within the bounds of a more 
moderate conduct, and had usefully employed, for 
the service of his country, those talents which 
brought it to the brink of ruin. 

These ambitious thoughts were kept up in the 
Count's mind by many persons who hoped to find 
their private advantage in the public confusion ; 
and amongst these, none were more eager in their 
solicitations than the French, who made him great 
promises and considerable offers ; first by Csesar 
Fregozo and Cagnino Gonzaga, and afterwards 
by Monsieur du Bellay, who had private con- 
ferences with him by means of Peter Luke de 

It was the common opinion of that time, that 
Pope Paul, hoping by the same blow, to ruin 
Andrew Doria, whom he hated for some private 
reasons, and to take away from the Emperor, 
who was already too powerful, a considerable 
support of his party in Italy, had left nothing 
undone to feed the Count dc Fiesco's ambition, 
and had raised in him the strongest desire of form- 
ing a design upon Genoa. 

There is nothing that flatters a man of courage 
so much, or that stimulates him to hazardous 


resolutions, as to see himself courted by persons 
eminent either by their dignity or their reputation. 
This mark of their esteem immediately fills him 
with a great confidence in his own merit, and' 
makes him think himself capable of succeeding in 
the gieatest affairs. The design which the Count 
had formed must for this reason have appeared 
both glorious and easy to him, since he saw him- 
self urged to it by the greatest prince in Europe 
and by the most able man of his time. The ont; 
was Francis I., who ordered Peter Strozzi, * 
who was to pass with some troops over the moun- 
tains near Genoa, to press (in his majesty's name 
the execution of it ; and the other was Cardi- 
nal Augustine Trivulcius, ambassador of Francf 
at the Court of Rome, from whom the Count re 
c«ived all imaginable honours, in the journey whicl 
he took to that city, under pretence of diversion 
but in reality the better to communicate his desigi 
to the Pope, and to learn his sentiments. 

That Cardinal, who was in great repute, anr 
who was thought to have much penetration ii 
state affairs, found means to animate the Count 
by exciting in him an emulation to which he wa' 
but too subject, in setting before his eyes, with al 
the arts that could rouse his jealousy, the preseni 
greatness of Giannetino Doria,and the future great 
ness of which he began to assure himself by th( 
deep root which his authority began to take ; anc 
thus increasing his envy of the one and his fea; 
of the other, he represented to him how unsup 
portable it is for a man of spirit to live in a com 
in on wealth, where he can find no lawful way o 

• He was made a Mareschal of France in 1554. 


raising himself, and where merit and noble birth 
make hardly any distinction betwixt the most il- 
lustrious and the most common persons. 

Having thoroughly confirmed Fiesco in his general 
design, the Cardinal came to particulars, by offering 
him all possible assistance on the part of France ; 
and he so strongly pressed the Count, whose mind 
was already inclined to that side, that at last he 
seemed to accept with the utmost joy the pro- 
posal that was made to him, of giving him the pay 
and the command of six galleys for the King's ser- 
vice, a garrison of two hundred men in Montobio, 
a company of gens d'armes, and a pension of 
twelve thousand crowns ; desiring time, however, 
till his return to Genoa, before he gave his final 
answer. So true it is, that nothing is more diffi- 
cult in afiairs of importance, than to take at once 
an ultimate resolution, because the numerous con- 
siderations which crowd into the mind, and de- 
stroy each other, make people think that they 
never have sufficiently deliberated. 

Extraordinary actions may be resembled to 
thunder, which never produces any violent claps 
or dangerous effects, but when the exhalations 
of which it is formed have been long struggling 
against each other ; otherwise, it is only a mass of 
vapours which yield nothing but a dull sound, 
which, far from giving us fear, is scarcely to be 
heard. The same thing may be said of resolu- 
tions in great affairs, when they enter sudden- 
ly into any one's mind, and are received there 
with a very weak resistance. This is an infalli- 
able sign that they make but slight and transient 
impressions ; which, though these may excite some 


trouble, can never be strong enough to produce 
any considerable effect. 

It cannot be reasonably doubted, that John 
Lewis de Fiesco did not consider maturely, and 
with great reflection, what he intended to under- 
take ; for on his return to Genoa, though he had a 
violent desire to execute his design, he neverthe- 
less deliberated a considerable time, about the seve- 
ral means which might conduce to the end which 
he had proposed to himself. Sometimes the aid 
of a great king made him incline to throw liimseJf 
into the hands of the French ; sometimes the na- 
tural distrust which men are apt to have of foreign- 
ers, joined to a certain desire for glory which makes 
them passionately wish to owe their gieat actions 
to none but themselves, inclined him to seek in 
his own strength for means which might bear soiri6 
proportion to his elevated thoughts ; and perhaps 
these different agitations had kept his mind longer 
in suspense, and produced a farther delay, if h^ 
had not, at every moment, had some fresh cause 
of just indignation against the excessive pride of 
Giannetino Doria, who, carrying his insolence to thi 
pitch of despising every one, treated the Count 
after his return with such haughtiness, that h6 
could no longer conceal his exasperation, and bis 
detestation of the shameful slavery of all his fellow- 

Politicians have blamed this conduct as injudici- 
ous, following in this the general rule of neve^ 
showing the least sign of anger against those wii 
hate, but at the moment we strike that blo?^ 
which is to bring them down. But if he wanted 
prudence on this occasion, it must be owned that 
it is a fault common to persons of gi'eat courage, 


whom contempt exasperates too much to give them 
time to consult their reason and master themselves. 
Tiiis fault, however, has freed him from the impu- 
tation cast on him by some historians, that he was 
one of a dark and dissembling temper, that he was 
more covetous than ambitious, and more in love 
with interest than glory. This warmth, I say, 
which has been observed in his conduct, shows 
that he was urged to this enterprise by no o- 
ther motives than an emulation of honour and a 
generous ambition ; since all those who have en- 
gaged in the like designs out of a spirit of tyran- 
ny, and for other interests than those which tend 
to a great reputation, have always begun by the 
most submissive patience and abject cringings. 

It is certain that the insolence of Giannetino Dona 
was carried to an insufferable excess, and that he 
followed in every particular the wicked maxim, 
that severity and haughtiness are the most secure 
methods of reigning, and that it is useless to govern 
with lenity those who may be kept within the 
bounds of their duty by their fear and their inter- 
est. This conduct so increased the aversion which 
the Count had against him, that it hastened the 
resolution which he had taken of undoing him, and 
gave him an opportunity of making a good tise 
against him of that pride with which Giannetino 
pretended to keep every body under. 

Cardinal Augustine Trivulcius, who knew that 
on those occasions the minds of young men must 
not be suffered to cool, sent to laim, imme- 
diately after his return to Genoa, Nicholas Fo- 
derato, a gentleman of Savona, and a relation of 
the House of Fiesco, to know his resolution. 

VOL. I. N 5 


That gentleman having found him more exasper- 
ated than ever, and in the condition which we 
have represented, got him to sign whatever he 
pleased, and immediately returned to get the 
treaty ratified by the French king's ministers who 
were then at Rome. But before he had gone 
thirty or forty leagues he was recalled in great 
haste, the Count having reflected, that he had act- 
ed too precipitately, and that he ought not to 
conclude an affair of that consequence without 
consulting some of his friends, with whose ca- 
pacity he was acquainted. He sent for three of 
them, on whose fidelity he could rely, and whom 
he very much esteemed for their good qualities ; 
and having, in general, declared to them the resolu- 
tions he had taken no longer to bear with the pre- 
sent government of the commonwealth, he beg- 
ged of them to declai'e their opinion on this sub* 

Vincent Calcagno of Varesa, a zealous servant 
of the House of Fiesco, and a man of judgment 
but of a timorous spirit, began his discourse with 
the liberty to which his long services entitled him, 
and addressing himself to the Count, he spoke ill 
this manner. 

" I think those who have the misfortune to be 
engaged in great affairs, are very justly to be pitied, 
because they are, as it were, on a troubled sea, 
where they can see no place but what is distin- 
guished by some shipwreck. But it is just that 
we should redouble our fears, when we see young 
men whom we love exposed to this danger ; 
since they have not strength i-nough to go through 
the fatigues of so toilsome a voyage, nor expe- 
rience enough to avoid tlie quicksands, and steer 


safely into the harbour. All your servants ought to 
be sensibly concerned at the enterprises to which 
your courage prompts you. Give me leave to 
tell you, that they are above your age, and the 
state in which you are. You dream of projects 
which require such a regard in the world, that the 
reputation of a man of your age, however great it 
may be, can never attain to it ; and you form a 
design which requires such forces, as one of the 
greatest kings on earth has never yet been able to 
set on foot. These thoughts arise in your mind 
from two errors, which are in some measure inhe- 
rent to human nature. Men are apt to have too 
great thoughts of themselves, that is, they act as 
if whatever their imagination tells them they can 
do were actually within their power ; and they 
judge with little certainty of other persons, be- 
cause they judge of them only with regard to 
themselves, and consider what service those per- 
sons are able to do them, and not what they ought 
to do, or are likely to do for their own interest. 
The first of these is extremely dangerous, because 
as no one executes a great enterprise alone, but is 
obliged to communicate it to many people, it is of 
the highest importance that they should believe it 
reasonable and practicable, or otherwise the under- 
taker will meet but with few friends who are ready 
to follow his fortune. The second is more com- 
mon, and no less dangerous ; because it often hap- 
pens that we find the greatest resistance from 
those very persons of whose assistance we had the 
greatest expectation. Be careful, therefore, that 
the great qualities with which nature has endowed 
you, and which you, perhaps justly, imagine may 
supply your want of experience, do not lead you 


into the first inconveniency ; and consider, that 
how shining soever those qualities may be, it is 
hard to imagine that they will procure you, even 
with those who have the best dispositions for that 
service, such a share of esteem, as is proportionate 
to the execution of so difficult and dangerous an 
undertaking. Consider, besides, that it is not cre- 
dible that these qualities should so dazzle your 
enemies, as to prevent their making a proper use 
against yourself of the pretence of your youth. 
Take care that the greatness of your birth, and 
the reputation which your good qualities have 
acquired you, the abundance of your riches, and 
the secret intelligence which perhaps you have 
secured, do not lead you into the second incon-' 
veniency, and make you believe that the assist- 
ance of those who have promised you, cannot fail' 
you, when you have need of it. Change, there- 
fore, that thought, or if you still preserve it, cease 
to consider others with respect to yourself, but 
consider them with respect to themselves ; exa- 
mine their interest, and think, that that is the' 
most powerful motive of men's actions ; that most 
of those who esteem and love you, love themselves 
infinitely better, and fear their own ruin much more 
than they wish your greatness. In short, con- 
eider that those who give you hopes of their assist- 
ance are either foreigners, or your own countrymen. 
The most considerable amongst the first are the 
French, who cannot undertake to assist you, be- 
cause they are employed in defending their own 
country against the armies of the empire and of 
Spain ; and the Genoese, who are capable of aid- 
ing you, will not do it, because fear will make 
many of them apprehend the dangers which accom« 


pany affairs of this nature ; and interest will make 
the rest afraid of hazarding tlieir quiet and their 
fortunes. The most part of those that are not in- 
fluenced by these considerations are persons of so 
mean a birth, and so little power, that nothing for 
your advantage is to be hoped for from them. So 
thatDoria's too great power, and the bad state of the 
times, which give you these thoughts of rebellion, 
ought to inspire you with patience, since tliey have 
80 depressed the minds of the Genoese, that they 
now make a glory of submitting out of gratitude 
to the authority of Andrew Doria, that liberty 
which he has restored to them, and which he 
snatched out of the hands of foreigners, for no 
other end but to usurp the dominion over them. 
Do you not perceive that this commonwealth has 
for a long time had only the image of a free go- 
vernment, and that it can no longer subsist with- 
out a master ? Do you not see that the greatest 
part of the nobility are attached to the interest of 
the House of Doria, by the employments at sea 
which that House bestows on them ; and that this 
family, under the protection of the Empire and of 
Spain, holds all else in fear ? Do you not per- 
ceive, I say, that all the Genoese are buried in a 
kind of lethargy, and that the bravest do not 
think it dishonourable to yield to that mighty 
power, provided they do not adore it ? I do not 
hei'e pretend to justify the imprudence of the com- 
monwealth, who have suffered the elevation of 
that house, which they can no longer bear with- 
out reproach, nor pull down without danger ; but 
I dare maintain, that a private roan cannot reason- 
ably think of removing by his own power a dis- 
N 2 


tress which has taken so deep a root, and that all 
which a generous man can do on this occasion is to * 
imitate those wise mariners who, instead of obsti- ' 
nately contending against the wind to make to a • 
harbour, steer out again to sea, and leave them- ;, 
selves to the mercy of the waves and winds. Yield, ; 
therefore, to the times, since fortune will have it' 
80, and seek not for remedies where none are to be* 
found but those which are worse than the disease ;' 
expect them from Providence, which disposes at? 
its pleasure of the changes of states, and which' 
will never be wanting to this commonwealth. 
Enjoy peaceably that ease and those advantages 
to which your birth entitles you, or accept of law- 
ful employments to exercise your valour, which 
the foreign wars will furnish you with sufficient 
opportunities of doing. Do not expose the great 
fortune which you possess, and which would satis- 
fy any one's ambition but yours, to the conse- 
quences of a criminal revolt ; and imagine, that if 
Giannetino Dona has conceived any hatred or envy 
at your merit, you cannot oblige him more than by 
pursuing your present thoughts ; since you will give 
bim an opportunity of concealing his private resent- 
ment, under the pretence of the general good, and» 
of ruining you with the authority of the common- 
wealth, and, in short, that you yourself are work- 
ing to raise upon your own ruin trophies to his 
glory and grandeur. The greatest fortunes raised 
without exertion most commonly fall of themselves ; 
because it seldom happens that those who, with 
ambition, have the other qualities necessary to 
raise themselves to eminent stations, are at the 
flame time possessed of qualities necessary for 
maintaining themselves in them ; and when any 


one of those whom fortune has thus precipitately 
raised, reaches the top without stumbling, he must, 
in the beginning, have met with many difficulties, 
which have by little and little accustomed him to 
stand firm in so slippery a place. Csesar had, in 
the highest degree, all qualities necessary to a 
great prince, and yet it is certain, that neither his 
courtesy, his prudence, his courage, his eloquence, 
nor his liberality, had ever raised him to the em- 
pire of the world, had he not found great difficul- 
ties to overcome in the commonwealth of Rome. 
The pretence which the persecution of Pompey 
furnished him with, — the reputation which their 
contests gave him room to acquire, — the advantage 
he made by the divisions of his fellow-citizens, 
were the true causes of his power ; and, notwith- 
standing this, you seem desirous of adding to the 
establishment of the family of Doria the only ad- 
vantage which was wanting to it ; and because 
their happiness has hitherto cost them too little to 
be well assured, you seeni desirous of settling it 
on a firm foundation, by endeavours which, being 
too weak to destroy it, will only serve to justify 
their undertakings, and establish their authority. 
But for once I will give into your way of thinking, 
and suppose that you have happily executed your 
designs ; — imagine, then, the family of the Dorias 
massacred, all the nobility who follow their inte- 
rest in fetters ; imagine all your enemies over- 
thrown, Spain and the Empire in a condition not 
to hurt you ; flatter yourself already with your 
triumph in this general calamity : If you can fancy 
to yourself any comfort in these fatal images of 
the ruin of the commonwealth, what will you do in 
the midst of a desolate city, which will look on you 


rather as a new tyrant, than as a deliverer ? What 
solid foundations will you 6nd on which to build 
your new greatness ? Can you put any trust in the 
humour of the people, who, the very moment that 
they have placed the crown on your head, if yoajj 
have any such thought, will perhaps conceive the- 1 
gi'eatest horror against you, and will think of no- | 
thing but the means of taking it off again? For,^ 
as I have already told you, they can neitiier enjoyi 
their liberty, nor bear long with the same master. 
Or, if you put (lenoa once again into the posses- 
sion of foreigners, if by your means the city opens 
its gates to them, the first time they are ill used; 
by them, you will be considered as the destroyer 
of your country, and the parricide of the people. 
Are you not afraid that those who now are the 
keenest to serve you, may be the first to work youn 
ruin, by their envy at being subjected lo you ? 
And even supposing that that consideration should 
not induce them to it, you cannot be ignorant that 
those who serve a rebel, imagine they so strongly 
oblige him, that no reward being sutficient to sa- 
tisfy them, they most commonly become his ene- 
mies. As those who roll down a mountain are. 
dashed to pieces against those very points of rocks 
which they made use of to get up to the top ; so 
those that fall from an exalted fortune, are almost j 
always ruined by the means which they had em- 
ployed for their elevation. I am sensible that ami! 
bition continually tickles persons of your rank, ■ 
age, and merit, and that it represents nothing to 
your eyes but pompous and splendid images of 
glory and grandeur. But whilst your imagination • 
is presenting you with all the objects of that pas- 
sioa which makes men illustrious, your judgment 


ought to make you behold it as the passion which 
generally makes them unhappy, and obliges them 
to quit the most certain advantages for the most 
uncertain hopes. Consider, that if its just use is 
the occasion of the greatest virtues, its abuse oc- 
casions the greatest crimes. Imagine tliat it is 
that passion which of old mingled so many poi~ 
sons, and sharpened so many poniards against 
usurpers and tyrants, and that it is that same pas- 
sion that now urges you on to be the Catiline of 
Genoa. Flatter not yourself that the design you 
seem to have to preserve the liberty of the com- 
monwealth, can be otherwise received in the world 
than as the common pretence of all factious peo- 
ple. And supposing that, in reality, no other mo- 
tive but your zeal for the public good should in- 
duce you to this attempt, you must not hope that 
any one will do you the justice to believe it ; since, 
in all actions which may inditFerently be attributed 
to virtue or vice, when nothing but the intention 
of the doer can justify them, men, who can judge 
only from appearances, seldom make a favourable 
construction of the most innocent ones. But, in 
the present enterprise, which way soever you turn 
your eyes, it is impossible to behold any thing but 
massacres, plunder, and such dismal objects as the 
best intentions in the world cannot justify. Learn, 
therefore, to regulate your ambition ; and remem- 
ber, that the only instance wherein that passion 
can be justified, is, where you set aside your own 
interest, and follow only the rules of your duty. 
There have been many conquerors, who have ra- 
vaged states and overthrown kingdoms, who have 
not possessed that greatness of soul which en- 
ables us to look with an indiflPerent eye on the 


most exalted and the lowest condition — on the 
greatest human happiness and misery, on pleasure 
and pain, on life and death ; and yet it is this love 
of true glory, this elevated state of the mind, which 
lenders men truly great, and raises them above 
the rest of the world. This is the only glory that, 
can render you perfectly happy (even tliough the 
dangers which you imagine to yourself surrounded 
you on all hands), since you cannot acquire any 
other without disgracing yourself by the greatest 
of crimes. Embrace, therefore, this glory, as well 
out of prudence as generosity, since it is more 
useful, less dangerous, and more honourable. " 

The Count was extremely moved with this dis- 
course, because it seemed grounded on solid rea- 
sons, and because the confidence he had reposed 
in the speaker, from his earliest youth, added 
to its authority. Verrina, who was one of those' 
who were called to this council, a man of an ex- 
tensive genius, impetuous, naturally inclined to 
great enterprises, an implacable enemy to the pre- 
sent government, almost ruined by his great ex- 
penses, firmly attached to the Count both by in- 
terest and inclination, answered what had been 
said in the following manner : 

" I should wonder that there were a single man 
in Genoa, capable of the sentiments you have just 
now heard, were not my wonder lost in the con- 
sideration of what the commonwealth sulftfrs. 
When every body bears oppression with so abject 
a submission, it is natural for them to hide their 
complaints, and seek excuses for their weakness. 
This insensibility is, nevertheless, a sign of the de- 
plorable condition of the state ; and Vincent Cal- 
cagno has very judiciously touched upon it, as theL 


sjnnaptom that gave the plainest proof of the vio- 
lence of our distemper. But it seems to me veiy 
unreasonable not to reap some advantage from the 
knowledge we have of our disease, since nature 
itself instructs us that we are obliged to make 
use of that knowledge for the application of the 
necessary remedies. The condition, however, of 
this commonwealth is not yet so desperate, that 
all its members are corrupted ; and the Count de 
Fiesco, whom fortune has raised above the rest 
of his countrymen, in greatness, riches, and birth, 
carries his thoughts to those heights which the 
narrow views of the Genoese cannot reach, and 
rises by his courage above the general corrup- 
tion. To examine whether a man be bom for ex- 
traordinary actions, it is not sufficient to consider 
him with regard to the advantages of nature 
and fortune, (since there have been many persons 
possessed of both these advantages, who have, 
notwithstanding, continued all their days to go 
on in the common path of life); but we must 
observe if a man of quality, when he finds himself 
in unhappy circumstances, and in a country where 
tyranny begins to take place, preserves still the 
principles of virtue, and the good qualities which 
nature has bestowed on him. For if he does not 
lose them on these occasions, but resists the con- 
tagion of those base maxims which infect the rest 
of the world, and particularly the minds of great 
people (because tyrants take the greatest pains to 
corrupt them, as those of whom they are most afraid,) 
we may then judge, that such a person's reputa- 
tion will one day equal his merit, and that fortune 
designs him for something great and wonderful. 
This being the case, I believe there never was 


any one from whom the commonwealth could just- 
ly expect such great things as from yourself. You 
come into the world in times, which afford you 
hardly any example of courage and generosity but 
what has been punished, and which present vou 
everv day with instances of baseness and coward- 
ice which have been rewarded. Add to this, that 
you are in a country where the power of the house 
of Doria keeps the hearts of the nobility oppressed 
with the most shameful fear, or engaged by the 
most sordid interest, and yet you are not infected 
with this general contagion. You maintain the 
noble sentiments with which your illustrious birth 
has inspired you, and your mind forms enter- 
prises worthy of your valour. Do not, therefore, I 
neglect these admirable qualities ; do not slight the 
gifts of nature ; serve your country; judge by thei 
excellence of your inclinations of the great ac- 
tions they may produce; consider that there is alone \ 
wanting a man of your condition and merit to ; 
restore the spirit of the Genoese, and inflame them 
with their first love of liberty. Persuade yourself 
that tyranny is the greatest evil that can befal a 
commonwealth. The condition in which ours is 
now, is of the nature of those distempers, which, 
notwithstanding the dejection they occasion, raise 
in the patient's mind a violent desire of a cure. 
Answer the wishes of all the people, who groan 
under the unjust authority of Doria. Second the 
vows of the soundest part of the nobility, who 
secretly deplore the common misfortune of their 
countrymen, and think that, if weakness and cow- 
ardice increase daily among them, the pride of 
Giannetino Doria will not be so much blamed for 
having occasioned it, as the want of resolution in i- 



;he Count de Fiesco for having suffered it. The 
^reat esteem your good qualities have acquired 
i^ou, has ah-eady done half the work. Let none 
ipeak of your youth as an obstacle to the success 
)f so glorious a design ; yours is an age wiiere 
ihe heat of your blood, and the noble impulse of 
>^our courage, can inspire you with nothing but 
!;reat designs ; and in extraordinary actions, we 
lave always more need of vigour and boldness, 
han of the cold reflections of a timorous prudence, 
vhich shows us all the inconveniences we have to 
'ear. Besides, your reputation is so well esta- 
)lished, that I may say without flattery, that with 
dl the charms by which youth naturally acquires 
riends, you have gained that credit in the world 
vhich is seldom obtained but in a more advanced 
ige. Wherefore you are under a happy obligation 
;o keep up the idea which the world has con- 
ceived of your virtue. Knowing your perfect dis- 
nterestedness, I know not whether I ought to add 
;o the considerations of the misery of our com- 
monwealth, some motives which respect yon in 
sarticular; but since there are some occasions 
tvhere interest is so closely linked with honour, 
;hat it is almost as shameful not to regard it, as it 
8 sometimes glorious to despise it. I beg you to 
cast your eyes on the condition in which you will 
3e placed, if the present government lasts much 
longer. Those who join an uncommon merit to 
m illustrious birth, have always two powerful ene- 
mies, the envy of the courtiers, and the hatred of 
those who are in the most considerable posts.- It 
(8 very difficult for those who have great fortunes 
not to incur the first, but it is impossible for those 
VOL. r. o 


wlio have a irreat «leal of courage, and are much 
considered iu the world, to escape tlje last. Pru- 
dence and good manners may indeed diminish that 
jealousy to which interest gives rise amongst equals, 
but thev can never entirely remove from the minds 
of superiors the umhrage occasioned by the care 
they take of their safety. There are some virtues 
so beautiful, that they force even envy itself to do 
them homage. But whilst they are gaining a vic- 
tory over this passion, they are increasing the 
strength of the other passion which I have men*' 
tioned. Hatred grows greater as merit rises, and 
virtue, under these circumstances, may be com- 
pared to a ship in a storm, which has no sooner 
overcome tlie fury of one wave, tlian it is attacked 
by auother more violent than the first. Can you 
be isrnorant that Giannetino Doria is gnawed with a 
secret envy at your birili, which is by far supe- 
rior to his ? At your riches, more honestly ac- 
quired than those be possesses ? And at your re 
putation, which far surpasses any that lie can ever 
pretend to ? What reason have you to believe 
that envy, raised by these considerations, and anir 
mated by a violent ambition, will produce nothing 
in the mind of that insolent man, but weak andi 
imperfect thoughts, and that it will not tend dip 
rectly to your ruin ? Have you any ground te 
hope, that if, by your prudence and the force ef 
your virtue, you had overcome this envy, yo« 
could avoid that hatred with which the difference 
of your humours inspires him against you ; and 
that his haughty spirit (which the wisdom of hie 
uncle has hitherto kept within some bounds) could 
any longer bear the man who is the only obstacle 
to his designs ? For my part, I think the conse- 


quences of it are inevitable, because you cannot 
throw oft' tbose qualities which will draw his hatred 
upon you, nor divest yourself of your nature, and 
cease to be generous. But supposing it were in 
your power to conceal, under a modest appearance, 
that greatness of soul which raises you so much 
above the vulgar, can you imagine that Giannetino 
Doria, suspicious as he is, like all his fellow ty- 
rants, would not be in continual distrust of your 
conduct ? All the marks of your moderation and 
patience would seem to him artifices and snares 
to undo him. He could not imagine that one 
of the name of Fiesco could be capable of so 
much meanness ; and, judging with reason of what 
you would be, from what you ought to be, he 
would make use, for your ruin, of that appear- 
ance of submission which you would assume, 
before him, for your safety. All the difference, 
therefore, betwixt your present condition, and 
that in which you might then expect to be placed, 
would be, that you would then be certainly 
assured of perishing with infamy ; whereas, by 
Following the generous sentiments which your 
inclination prompts, you are assured that the 
only misfortune which can befall you is to die 
in a glorious enterprise, and to gain, by your 
death, as great a share of honour as ever fell to 
the lot of any private man. If you see these 
things, as doubtless you may see them clearer than 
I, it is needless for me to enlarge upon them any 
longer. I only beseech you to draw from them two 
very material consequences. The first is, to be 
persuaded of the falsity of those maxims, which 
Forbid our preventing the stroke of an enemy who 
iesigns to undo us, and which advise us to stay 


till he has undone himself. We deceive ourselves 
if we think fortune has raised those whom we 
hate to the highest pinnacle of happiness, on purpose 
to give us the pleasure of seeing them fall. Grandeur 
is not always bordered with precipices ; usurpers 
have not always been unhappy ; and heaven is not 
always ready at hand, in the punishing bad men, 
to aid the good, and free them from the violence 
of their oppressors. Nature, more infallible than 
politics, instructs us to prevent the evil which 
threatens us, and which becomes incurable whilst 
prudence is considering its remedies. To what 
end should we so nicely examine the exam- 
ples which have been proposed to us ? Do we 
not know that too great a subtlety in arguing 
softens our courage, and is often opposite to the 
greatest actions ? All affairs bear two different 
aspects ; and the same politicians who blame Pom- 
pey for having strengthened Caesar's power by in- 
censing him, have praised the conduct of Cicero 
in ruining Catiline. The other benefit which you 
ought to reap from these considerations is, that the 
great abilities with which Nature has endowed 
you, ought not to resemble those faint and ineffec- 
tual fires which afford only a dim glimmering of 
light without any heat, but ought to be like the 
light of the sun, which produces what it enlightens. 
Great thoughts should be followed by great effects, 
and in the execution as well as in the forming of your 
enterprise, nothing ought to hinder your courage 
from being the subduer of monsters, the avenger 
of injuries, the refuge of the distressed, the ally of 
the greatest kings, and the umpire of Italy. But 
if, at the moment I speak to you, the appear- 
ance of liberty which still remains in our republic 


makes any impression on your mind, I have rea- 
son to fear that it will stop the course of your am- 
bition ; for I know that one of so scrupulous a 
disposition, and so jealous of honour as you are, 
will hardly bear to be sullied with those terrible 
names of rebel and traitor. Yet these mighty 
scarecrows, which public opinion has framed to 
frighten the minds of the vulgar, never bring any 
shame to those who bear them for extraordinary 
actions, when they are attended with success. 
Scruples and greatness have ever been incompati- 
ble, and the narrow precepts of common prudence 
are fitter to be taught in the school of the people 
than in that of great men. The crime of usurping 
a crown is of so illustrious a nature, that it may 
pass for a virtue. Every degree of men has its 
peculiar reputation ; the common sort ought to be 
esteemed for their moderation, and the gi"eat ones 
for their ambition and courage. A poor pirate, 
who used to take little vessels in the time of 
Alexander, passed for an infamous robber ; whilst 
that prince, who took whole kingdoms from their 
rightful sovereigns, is to this day honoured as a 
hero ; and if Catiline is blamed as a traitor, Ceesar 
is spoken of as the greatest man that ever lived. 
In short, I need only set before your eyes all the 
princes now reigning in the world, and ask you if 
those from whom they hold their crowns were not 
usurpers ? But if these maxims are any way dis- 
agreeable to the nicety of your principles ; if the 
love of your country weighs more with you than 
your private glory ; if you have yet any regard 
left for the dying authority of the commonwealth, 
let us examine what honour will accrue to you 


from respecting it when your enemies despise it, 
and whether it will be any great advantage to you 
to run the hazard of becoming their subject. Would 
to God the state were in its first splendour ! nobody 
should then dissuade you, more strenuously than I, 
from the design to which I now excite you. If 
this commonwealth, which now retains nothing of 
liberty but the name, could preserve its authority, 
weak as it is, in the condition in which it is now 
placed, I own that there would be some reason to 
bear our mi.sfortune with patience ; and that if it was 
neither safe nor useful, it would at least be gene- 
rous, to sacrifice our own interests to the vain image 
which is left us of liberty. But now that the artifices 
of Andrew Doria have confined the councils of the 
whole commonwealth to his single person, and the 
insolence of Giannetino has put all its forces into his 
hands ; at the instant that Genoa has reached the 
period of its change, by that sacred but inevitable 
fate which sets certain bounds to the revolutions 
of all states ; now that the minds of the citizens 
are too little united to live any longer under the 
government of many ; in this extremity, I say, 
when tNTanny can be no longer resisted but by 
establishing a lawful monarchy, what are we to 
do ? Shall we offer our throats to be cut by those 
murderers who would join our ruin to that of the 
public liberty ? Shall Count John Lewis de Fiesco 
look on with patience whilst Giannetino Doria in- 
solently ascends the throne to which his fortune and 
his ambition raised him, without any one quality 
to deserve it ? No, no, my lord ; your virtue must 
dispute with him an advantage due to none butf 
yourself. It is a thing as rare as it is much to 
be wished for, to find one's self in such a juncture, 


as to be obliged, as you now are by tlie motive of 
the public good, and your private glory, to set a 
crown on your head. Do not fear that this action 
should acquire you the name of an interested man. 
On the contrary, nothing but the fear of danger, 
which is the meanest of all interests, can hinder 
your undertaking it ; and nothing but glory, which 
is directly opposite to interest, is capable of prompt- 
ing you to so great a design, [f you are so nice that 
you cannot bear the appearance of blame, what 
will hinder you from restoring to your country 
that liberty which you have acquired for it, and 
from surrendering to it the crown which you will 
so well have deserved ? It will then be in your 
own power to give a signal proof of the contempt 
you have for all kinds of interest, when you can 
part with it, and preserve your honour. The only 
thing that remains for me to represent to you is, 
that in my opinion you ought not to make use of 
the French. Any intelligence with foreigners is 
extremely odious ; but in the present juncture, that 
which you propose cannot be useful to you, be- 
cause, as Calcagno has observed, France is now 
sufficiently employed in defending itself against 
the Spanish and Imperial forces, which attack it 
powerfully on all sides. But supposing you could 
draw any assistance thence, consider that your 
altering your condition would only be changing 
your slavery ; that you would be a slave to France, 
whose ally you may now become. Upon the 
whole, determine whether it is fit for a man of 
your abilities, merit, and quality, to resolve to suffer 
6 very thing, and be a victim to Doria's insolence ; 
or else, by hazarding every thing, to shake off the 
yoke of tyranny, to expose yourself without ne- 


cessity to tlie danger of becoming the slave of a 
foreign power, and to confine yourself as before 
within the bounds of a private gentleman's for- 
tune. " 

Eaphael Sacco, wlio acted as judge within the 
territories of the house of Fiesco, and wlio was the 
third person called to this council, seeing that the 
Count's inclinations were entirely conformable to 
Verrina's sentiments, thought that it would be 
to no purpose to contradict them ; and on the 
other hand, judging that that action was extremely 
hazardous, he would not advise him to undertake 
it, and did not declare his opinion on that subject, 
referring himself (as to the main design) entirely 
to his master's will. Wherefore he applied him- 
self only to maintain, that if it was absolutely re- 
solved upon, it was necessary to make use of the 
French, saying that it would be an extraordinary 
piece of imprudence for the Count not to use all 
his credit and his forces where he ventured his 
whole fortune. That he could not understand 
how they came to advise the Count, to oppose 
himself singly to the arms of the Empire, Spain, 
and Italy, which would certainly unite against . 
him ; that it was indeed possible to take a town 
by surprise, but not to secure a state ; that this 
last could not be done without a long series of 
years, without troops and alliances ; and that the 
thought of seizing upon the sovereignty of Genoa, 
in the present disposition of the aflFairs of Europe 
was a rash resolution, which was attempted to be 
coloured under the name of a glorious undertaking. 
Verrina opposed to the utmost of his power this 
reasoning of Raphael Sacco, and reminded the 
Count of the reasons he had ur^ed on that sub- 


ject in his discourse ; by representing to him, 
more strongly than before, that the friendship of 
princes never outlived their interest, and that 
though the favour of the House of Austria seemed 
inseparably united to the Dorias, because they 
were useful to that House, it would be at an end 
as soon as they ceased to be so : whereas, if the 
Emperor saw the Count in a condition to be either 
useful or hurtful to him. he would soon forget the 
services of the others, and seek his friendship ; but 
that if he called in the French (besides that they 
are easily tired with every thing, and that their 
application to foreign affairs is subject to be in- 
fluenced by the frequent revolutions which happen 
within that kingdom, and depends on the genius 
of those who govern), he must debar himself of 
all means of an accommodation with the Emperor, 
whose power in Italy was more considerable than 
theirs ; that it would therefore be time enough to 
seek the aid of France when he should see him- 
self entirely excluded from an alliance with the 
Empire ; in which case, the interest of the French 
would be so far concerned not to abandon him, 
that they would not fail to succour him, because 
the Count remaining master of Genoa, they would 
always be in fear of his agreeing with their ene- 
mies, if they refused him the assistance which was 
necessary for his defence. That as to forces, there 
were no need of any greater to succeed in this de- 
sign, than those which he had of his own, since he 
knew that there were but 230 soldiers in Genoa, 
and that Giannetino Doria's galleys were entirely 
disarmed. These reasons entirely determined the 
Count, because they were agreeable to his natural 
inclination for glory, and to that greatness of soul 


which made nothing appear difficult to him that 
was honourable. In fine, he resolved to engage in 
this undertaking in his own strength, and to em- 
ploy none in it, but those friends and servants 
which his high birth, his extraordinary courtesy, 
his inexhaustable liberality, and his other good 
qualities, had acquired for him. 

There are many persons who have merit, cou- 
rage, and ambition, and who form general ideas of 
raising themselves and improving their condition. 
But it is rare to meet with such as, having formed 
those ideas, know how to make choice of proper 
means for their execution, and who are not re- 
miss in the continual care which is necessary to 
bring them to effect ; or, when they take that pains, 
they generally time it ill, and act with too much 
impatience for the event. This is so true, that 
in affairs of this nature, most men are too long 
in taking their resolutions, but will never allow 
themselves the necessary time for executing what 
they liave resolved. They do not think early 
enough of disposing their actions to the end whicli 
they have proposed to themselves, to direct all 
their steps to the plan which they have once form- 
ed, to establish a stock of reputation, to gain 
friends, and finally, to centre all their views in the 
execution of their first design. On the contrary, 
we see them often change their views on a sud- 
den, their mind appears disquieted and overbur- 
dened with the secret and the weight of their en- 
terprise ; and amidst the changes and irregularity 
of their conduct, they always let slip something 
that may give a hold to those who vt^atch over 
them, and offence to their enemies. 

Tlie Count de Fiesco very wisely remedied 


these inconveniences ; for, knowing that he was 
naturally inclined to great things, and seeing that 
he should one day be able to bring these general 
inclinations to some particular and important de- 
sign, which might tend to his own greatness, he 
gave himself entirely up to that thought ; and as 
he had of himself an incredible passion for glory, 
and a great deal of art to increase his reputation, 
he lived in such a manner, that all the great qua- 
lities that were to be observed in him seemed to 
proceed from his native disposition, and not from a 
studied conduct. He had always the same open, 
agreeable, and pleasant countenance : He was civil 
to every one, though with proper distinctions, 
according to different merit and quality. His libe- 
rality was so great, that he prevented the wants of 
his friends ; thus he gained the poor by his boun- 
ty, and the rich by his civility. He always kept 
his word religiously ; he had an unwearied desire 
of obliging ; his house and table were open to all 
persons ; he was magnificent in every thing, even 
to profuseness ; and never was any one better per- 
suaded than he, that covetousness, stiffness, and 
pride, obscure the most shining qualities of great 
men. But what gave an extraordinary lustre to 
those he was possessed of, was the handsomeness of 
his person, and the graceful and noble air with which 
all his actions were accompanied, which were dis- 
tinguishing marks of his illustrious birth, and which 
attracted every one's respect and inclination. 

This conduct so secured for him the hearts of 
his friends, that not one of those who promised to 
serve him, failed either in his fidelity or discre- 
taon, in an affair of so nice a natm-e ; which, in- 
deed, is very extraordinary in a conspiracy where 


SO many actors and so much secrecy are required, 
that, though it shouhl l)appen that none shouhl 
prove treacherous, it is hard to iuia<?ine that none 
should prove imprudent. But what was most 
wonderful in this was, that liis enemies, seeing his 
open conduct, took no offence at it, because they 
attributed what was too shining in his actions to 
his natural temper, and not to a formed design. 

This was without doubt one of the causes of the 
contempt with which Andrew Doria received the 
advices that were given him by Ferdinando Gon- 
zaga and two or tinee others concerning this en- 
terprise ; I say one of the causes, because, though 
the conduct of the Count contributed to the taking 
away the diffidence of this old politician, jealous 
of his authority, there must nevertheless have been 
some other reason for so great an infatuation. But 
it is hard to find out that cause, unless we ascribe 
it to Providence, which delights fn showing the 
vanity of human prudence, and in confounding the 
pride of those who flatter themselves that they cau 
unravel the several windings of the hearts of men, 
and that they have an infallible discernment for ail 
things in the world. This presumption is never 
more ridiculous than in those great men whom 
continual study, profound meditation, and long ex- 
perience in affairs, have so raised above the vulgar, 
and so intoxicated with a good opinion of them- 
selves, that they rely on tiie confidence of their 
own judgment in the most difficult affairs, and hear 
tlie advice of others only to despise it. It is cer- 
tain that most of those extraordinary men whom 
others go to consult like oracles, and who have so 
quick a penetration in things which are indifferent 
to them, are commonly blind in those which are of 


greater importance to themselves. They are more 
unhappy than others, because they cannot guide 
themselves either by their own reason or by that 
of their friends. 

The act of generosity which gained the Count 
de Fiesco many friends amongst the people, was 
his bounty to the silk-spinners, who made a con- 
siderable body of the inhabitants of Genoa. They 
were at that time extremely distressed by the 
misery occasioned by the late wars ; the Count 
having learnt their condition from their consul, ex- 
pressed a great concern at their poverty, and, at the 
same time ordered him to send those of them to his 
palace who had most need of relief. He supplied 
them abundantly with money and provisions, and 
begged them not to make any noise about his pre- 
sents, because he expected no other reward from 
them but the satisfaction he felt within himself in 
succouring the afflicted ; and accompanying these 
things with his natural courteousness and civility, he 
so gained the hearts of these poor people, that they 
were from that time entirely devoted to his service. 
But if, on the one hand, he gained the love and 
esteem of the poorest amongst the people by his 
liberalities, he did not forget, on the other, to 
make himself agreeable to the most considerable 
of them, by the promises of liberty which he art- 
fully insinuated in his discourses, wherein he gave 
them to understand, that though he was of the 
body of the nobility, he was too reasonable not to 
sympathize, with a great deal of sorrow, in the 
oppression of the people. 

There are some who accuse the republic of a 
great deal of imprudence on this occasion, and 

VOL. I. p 


maintain, that it was most imprudent in tlie 
senate to suffer the Count thus to oblige every" 
body, and to gain with so much care the hearts 
of his fellow-citizens. I cannot deny that the 
maxim, on which this opinion is founded proceeds 
from the most reBned politics ; for it seems that, 
aiming at the keeping private people in a state of 
mediocrity, its natural effect ought to be the safety 
of the whole. But I am satisfied that it is very 
unjust, because it corrupts the nature of good qua- 
lities, which by that means become hurtful or dan- 
gerous to the person that is possessed of them. 
I think the maxim even pernicious, because, by 
rendering merit suspicious, it chokes up all the 
seeds of virtue, and so disgusts men from the love 
of glory, that they never undertake great actions 
but with fear ; and they even are diverted from 
those which might be useful to the commonwealth, 
to avoid giving umbrage to the government. It 
happens also, that instead of keeping men of cou- 
rage within the bounds of that equality which it 
prescribes, it often inclines them to give a free 
course to their ambition, and to take violent reso- 
lutions to shake off the yoke of so tyrannical a 

The Count did not so absolutely rely on the 
good will of the common people, as to neglect 
securing the soldiery, who are chiefly necessary in 
these enterprises. He left Genoa in the begin- 
ning of the summer, in all appearance to visit his 
territories, but in reality to observe what persons 
fit for service might be found amongst his vassals, 
and to use them to warlike exercises, under pre- 
tence of the fear he feigned to be in of the Duke 
of Placentia. He was also willing to give the 


necessary orders for his design of secretly in- 
troducing some men into Genoa, when occasion 
should require it, and of assuring himself of the 
sentiments of that Duke, who had promised him 
2000 men of his best troops. 

The Count, returning about the latter end of 
autumn, added to his usual conduct a profound 
dissimulation in what related to the House of 
Doria, expressing, on all occasions, a great vene- 
ration for the person of Andrew, and a strict 
friendship for Giannetino, in order to show all the 
world that their past divisions were entirely laid 
aside, and to give them all imaginable marks of 
an union that might be securely relied upon. 

If what he said on the very day that he exe- 
cuted his enterprise be true, that he had long be- 
fore been acquainted that his ruin had been re- 
solved on by Giannetino Doria, and that that violent 
and unjust man, who was only restrained by the 
prudence of his uncle Andrew, whom he found 
subject to great distempers, had ordered Captain 
Lercaro to rid him of all the family of Fiesco, the 
moment that Andrew Doria should die ; that he 
had letters beside hira, which were convincing proofs 
that Giannetino had endeavoured topoisonhim three 
several times ; and that he was, besides, certainly 
assured that the Emperor was ready to make him 
sovereign of Genoa. If, I say, all these things 
be true, I cannot think that the Count's dissimu- 
lation can be justly blamed ; because, in affairs 
where our own life and the general interest of our 
country are at stake, sincerity is a virtue out of 
season ; nature teaching us, by the example of 
the instinct of the most inconsiderable animals, 
that in these extremities the use of stratagems is 


lawful to defend ourselves from violence and op- 

But if the Count's complaints were only calum- 
nies invented against the House of Doria, to give 
the better colour to his design, and to exasperate 
people's minds, it cainiot he denied that these false 
marks of friendship, which he so affectedly gave 
them, were artifices unworthy of his great cou- 
rage. And without douDt it would be diflicult to 
justify such a conduct, but by the necessity which 
the insolence and power of Gianuetino had imposed 
on him to live in that manner. 

The Count had purchased four galleys from the 
Duke of Placentia, which he kept in the Pope's 
pay, under the name of his brother Jerome. As he 
judged that the most necessary thing to bis design 
was to make himself master of the port, he sent 
for one of them to Genoa, under pretence of send- 
ing it on a cniise to the Levant, and at the same 
tiuie took occasion to get into the city, without 
suspicion, some of the soldiers which came to him 
from his territories and from Placentia, whereof 
some passed for people of the garrison, some for 
adventurers that were seeking employment, some 
for seamen, and a great many even for galley 

Verrina very artfully introduced amongst the 
companies of the city fifteen or twenty soldiers, 
who were vassals to the Count, and corrupted 
others of the garrison. He obtained promises from 
the most considerable and most enterprising among 
the people, of all manner of assistance in the exe- 
cution of a private design, intended, as he said, 
against some of their enemies. Calcagno and Sacco 
were, on their side, employing themselves with no 


less diligence and industry ; and I think I cannot 
better expi'ess the art with which these four per- 
sons conducted this enterprise, than by saying that 
they engaged in it above ten thousand people, 
without discovering their true design to any one. 

Things being thus disposed, nothing was want- 
ing but the choice of a day for the execution, in 
which there happened some difficulties. Verrina's 
opinion was, that they should invite to a new 
mass * Giannetino and Andrew Doria, and Adam 
Centurioni, with those of the nobility who were 
the best affected to that party. He offered to kill 
them himself. This proposal was no sooner made 
than rejected by the Count, who conceived so 
much horror at it, that he cried out that he would 
never consent to profane the most sacred mystery 
of our religion to facilitate the success of his un- 
dertaking. It was afterwards proposed to take 
the opportunity of the marriage of a sister of 
Giannetino Doria's with Julius Cibo, Marquis de 
Masse, the Count's brother-in-law, and they judged 
that the execution of their design would be easier 
on that occasion, because the Count would have 
the pretence of making an entertainment for all 
the relations of that family, and thereby be fur- 
nished with the means of cutting them all off at a 
blow. But the Count's generosity moved him 
again to oppose this black piece of treachery, as 
many people assert, and it may easily be believed 
of one of his disposition ; although Doria's friends 

* A mass celebrated by some person of note the first 
time of his officiating as a priest, to wLich it is commoa 
to invite people of distinction. 

p 2 


liavp given out tliat lie had resolved to make use 
of that way, if an affair which caused Giannetino 
Doria, on that very day, to take a short journey out 
of Genoa, had not changed his mind. At last, 
after several deUberations, the night of the second of 
January was pitched upon for this enterprise, and 
the necessary orders were at the same time given 
out with a trreat deal of conduct, Verrina, Calcag- 
no, and Sacco, disposing on their side of those 
whom they had gained. The Count got a great 
number of arms secretly conveyed into his palace, 
and sent to observe the places of which they were 
to make themselves masters ; he introduced by 
small numbers, and without noise, into a part of 
his palace, separate from the rest, the soldiers who 
were destined to beffin the execution : And the 
appointed day being come, the better to cover his 
design, he made a great many visits, and even went 
towards evening to the palace of Doria, where 
meeting Giannetino's children, he took them one 
after another in his arms, and played with them a 
long time before their father, whom he afterwards 
desired to give orders to the ofhcers of his galleys, 
not to hinder the departure of the Count's galley, 
which was that night to sail to the Levant : after 
which he took leave of him with his usual civili- 
ties, and in going home he called on Tomaso Aa- 
sereto, with whom he met above thirty of those gen- 
tlemen who were called popular, whom Verrina had 
caused him to meet there, as by accident, whence 
the Count carried them all to sup with him. When 
he arrived at his palace, he sent VeiTinaall over the 
city, to the senate-house and to that of Doria, to 
observe if they had no intin)ation of his design ; 
and liaving heard that all things were as quiet as 


usual, he ordered the doors of his palace to be 
shut, with direction, however, to let in all those 
who should desire it, but to let out no person 

As he perceived that his guests were extremely 
surprised to find, instead of a feast prepared for 
them, nothing but arms, strange faces, and soldiers, 
he gathered them together in a hall, and expressing 
in his countenance a noble assurance, he spoke to 
them in this manner ; 

" We have, my friends, already suffered too 
much, from the insolence of Giannetino, and the 
tyranny of Andrew Doria. We have not a mo- 
ment to lose, if we have a mind to secure our 
lives and liberties from the oppression that threatens 
them. Is there any one here that can be ignorant 
of the pressing danger of the commonwealth ? 
What can you imagine the twenty galleys which 
besiege our harbour are intended for ? What is 
the design of all the forces and the intelligence 
which these two tyrants have prepared ? Behold 
them ready to triumph over our patience, and to 
build their unjust authority on the ruins of this 
state. It is now no longer time to deplore our 
miseries in private, we must hazard all things to 
free ourselves from them. Since the evil is so 
violent, the remedies must be so too ; and if the 
fear of falling into the most shameful slavery has 
any power over your minds, you must make a vi- 
gorous attempt to break your fetters, and prevent 
those that would load you with new ones ; for I 
cannot imagine you any longer capable of bearing 
the uncle's injustice, or the nephew's pride. I 
cannot imagine, I say, that there is one amongst 
you that will be content to serve those as masters, 


who ought to think themselves honoured enough 
with being your equals. Were we insensible to 
the interest of the commonwealth, we cannot be 
so to oar owm. Everyone of us has but too much 
reason to revenge himself, and our revenge is both 
just and glorious, since our private resentment is 
joined to our zeal for the public good, and that we 
cannot abandon our own interests without betray- 
ing those of our countrj'. It is now in your power 
to secure its quiet and your own ; you want only 
the will to be happy, to become so. I have pro- 
vided for every thing which might obstruct your 
happiness ; I have laid open to you a way to glory, 
and am ready to lead you in it, if you are disposed 
to follow me. The preparations you see here 
ought at this time to encourage you more than 
they have surprised you ; and the astonishment 
which I at first observed in your faces, ought to 
be changed into a glorious resolution of employ- 
ing these warlike instruments with vigour, to work 
the destruction of our common enemies, and the 
preservation of our liberty. I should offend your 
courage if I imagined you capable, at the sight of 
these objects, to deliberate about the use of them. 
That use is certain, by the good order which I 
hope to put things into ; it is of the greatest ad- 
vantage to you ; it is just, because of the oppres- 
sion you suffer ; it is glorious, by th(! greatness of 
the undertaking. 1 might prove by these letters, 
that the Emperor has promised Andrew Doria the 
sovereignty of Genoa, and is ready to fulfil his 
promise. I could show you, by other letters I 
possess, that Giannetino has three times attempted 
to hire people to poison me. It would be easy for 
me to prove to you, that he has given orders to 


Lercaro to murder me and all my family, the mo- 
ment his uncle should die ; but the knowledge of 
all these horrid and infamous treacheries, would 
add nothing to the horror you already have for 
these monsters. Methinks I see your eyes sparkle 
with the generous fire with which a just revenge in- 
spires you ; I see you are more impatient than I 
to express your resentment, to insure your estates, 
your peace, and the honour of your families. Let 
us then, my dear fellow-citizens, save the reputa- 
tion of Genoa ; let us preserve our country's li- 
berty ; and let us show the world, that there are 
yet left in this state honest men who have the 
heart to bring tyrants to destruction. " 

The company were very much astonished at 
these words ; but as almost all of them were zea- 
lous friends to Count de Fiesco, and as some of 
them joined to that friendship the exalted hopes 
with which they flattered themselves, in case their 
enterprise succeeded, and the rest feared his re- 
sentment if they refused to follow his fortune, 
they promised him all manner of service. There 
were but two amongst that number, which was 
pretty considerable, that begged of him not to en- 
gage them in that affair ; whether their profession, 
remote from dangers, and their humour, averse to 
violence, rendered them incapable (as they said) 
to be of any service in an action where many dan- 
gers were to be run, and many murders to be com- 
mitted ; or whether they covered, under the ap- 
pearance of a dissembled fear, the real affection 
which they had for the House of Doria, or for some 
of his party. It is certain that the Count pressed 
thena no farther, and was satisfied with shutting 
them up in a room, to take from them the means 


of discovering his design. His gentle usage of 
these two persons, makes me disbelieve what se- 
veral historians, prejudiced against his memory, 
have published ; which is, that the discourse he 
made in this assembly was filled with nothing but 
threats against tliose who should refuse to assist 
him ; and I believe that we may with reason form 
the same judgment of the cruel and impious words 
which they put into his mouth on the night of the 
execution of his enterprise. For what likelihood 
is there that a man of his condition, born with an 
extraordinary passion for glory, should suffer him- 
self to be transported to such expressions as can- 
not be remembered without horror, and could be 
of no manner of use to his designs ? Be that as 
it will, as soon as he had ended his speech to 
those persons, and had informed them of the or- 
der of his enterprise, he v/ent into his lady's a- 
partraent, whom he found in tears, foreseeing that 
the great preparations which were making in the 
house, could not but be designed by her husband 
for some dangerous undertaking. He, therefore, 
thought it proper no longer to conceal the trath 
from her, but he endeavoured to take away her 
fears by all the reasons which he could think of ; 
and he represented to her how far he had engaged 
himself, and the impossibility of retreating. She 
did her utmost to dissuade him from that action, 
and made use of the power which his love for her 
gave her over his mind ; but neither her prayers 
nor tears could shake his resolution. Paul Pansa, 
who had been his governor, and for whom he had 
a great veneration, joined with the Countess, and 
left nothing untried that might bring him back to 
the duty of a good citizen, or set before him the 


hazard he ran in this occasion. The Count was as 
little moved with his governor's exhortations, as he 
had "been with the fondness and tears of his wife. * 
He had (as it is said of Csesar) passed the Rubi- 
con, and returned to the hall where he had left his 
guests. He gave the last directions for the exe- 
cution of his enterprise. He ordered an hundred 
and fifty men, chosen from his best soldiers, to 
go into that part of the city called the borough, 
(vhither he was to follow them, accompanied by 
the nobility. Cornelius, his natural brother, had 
orders, as soon as they came thithei", to march 
(with a detachment of thirty men) to the gate of 
he arch, and to make himself master of it. Jerome 
and Ottobon, his brothers, with Vincent Calcagno, 
pvere charged to take the gate of St Thomas, when 
they heard the cannon fired from the Count's gal- 
ley, commanded by Verrina, which was ready to 
shut up the mouth of the basin, and to invest that 
jf Andrew Doria. The Count was to get to that 
^ate by land, after he had left guards in his way at 
ihe arches of St Andrew and St Donatus, and at 
the Place des Sauvages, with the least noise pos- 
dble. f Thomas Assereto was ordered to seize that 

* After trying in vain to soothe his Countess, whose 
name was Leonora, of an illustrious Genoese family, 
Fiesco, almost overcome by the feelings with which her 
tenderness had inspired him, rushed from her, exclaiming, 
as he quitted the apartment, " Farewell, you shall either 
never see me more, or you shall behold to-morrow every 
thing in Genoa subject to your power. '' Mascardi has 
jiven the Countess' supposed expostulations in a very af- 
fecting manner, which the Cardinal de Retz has omitted. 

f It is to be observed that Genoa is built in the form 
i( an amphitheatre, and is enclosed by double walls, six 
miles in circumference. 


gate by giving the word, which he could easily 
know, having an employment under Giannetino 
Doria. As this action was the most important point 
of the enterprise, because, if it failed, those who were 
in the Count's galley could have no communication 
with the rest of the conspirators, it was judged 
proper, to render it still more easy, that Scipio 
Borgognino, a vassal of the Count, and a reso- 
lute soldier, should throw himself into tlie basin 
with armed feluccas, and should land on that side, 
at the same time that Thomas Assereto should at- 
tack that gate on the outside. It was also resolv- 
ed, that the moment that Jerome and Ottobon de 
Fiesco should be masters of St Thomas' Gate, 
which was near the palace of Doria, one of them 
should force that palace, and kill Andrew and Gian- 
netino : And because there was some reason to ap- 
prehend that Giannetino, being roused by the noise 
which would be made at the gates, might get into 
Lewis Giulia's felucca to come and give his orders, 
they left three armed feluccas to prevent it. To 
these orders there was added a general one, tha*^ 
all the conspirators should call to the people in tin 
name of Fiesco, and cry out. Liberty, that those 
of the city whose affection they were assured of, 
might not be surprised, and that, seeing that the 
Count was the author of this action, they might 
join his people. 

It is not easy to determine whether it had not 
been more advantageous and safe to have made but 
one body of all these troops which were separated in 
so many different quarters, so remote from each 
other, than to divide them in that manner ; be- 
cause their number was considerable enough to 
make it probable, that if they had all entered the 


same way into tiu< town, they had canied all be- 
fore tliem, and iiad drawn t!)e people to favour the 
victorious party, wherever tliey had passed : where- 
as, being divided, they could act but weakly, and 
ran the risk of committing mistakes, and of being 
all defeated one after the other. For it is certain 
that a great deal of exactness is requisite to make 
the times of several attacks agree, and a great 
deal of good fortune for them all to succeed alike. 
So many heads and hands are in these occasions 
necessary to concur in the same action, that the 
least fault in one of them often disconcerts all the 
rest, as the disorder of a single wheel may stop 
the motion of the greatest machine : and it is very 
difficult to conceive, that during the night and 
amidst the tumult which generally accompanies 
these kinds of enterprises, eitlier the heart or the 
judgment of some of the conspirators should not 
fail them, and that thinking danger more terrible 
when near than wiien afar off, they should not re- 
pent their engaging in such a design. But when 
they move all together, the example of others ani- 
mates and emboldens the most timorous, who are 
forced to suffer themselves to be carried away by 
the multitude, and to do out of mere necessity 
what the brave do out of courage. 

Those who are of a contrary opinion, hold that 
in these enterprises which are executed by night, 
in a city where the conspirators have a grciat deal 
of intelligence, and are favoured by most of the 
people, and where they may make themselves 
masters of the principal posts before their enemies 
are in a condition to dispute those posts with them, 
it is better to form several bodies, and make dif- 

voL. r. Q. 6 


ferent attacks in a great many places ; because, bj 
giving several alarms at the same time in ditferen 
parts, those who would defend themselves are ob 
liged to divide their forces, without knowing bow 
many are to be detached ; and the fright whicl 
such sudden attempts commonly create, is mucl 
stronger when the noise comes from all sides, thai 
when they are only to provide against the dangei 
in one single place. Besides, in naiTow streets 
like those of Genoa, * a small number is equallj 
as serviceable as a greater, and that ten men, by 
the help of a barricado, if they are attacked onljj 
in front, may stop an hundred times as many o: 
the bravest men in the world, and give time tc 
those who are behind them to rally. Lastly, thost 
who are of the latter opinion, think that in an enter- 
prise like this, it is less advantageous to the partj 
of the conspirators to join their forces in one body, 
than to spread them in different parts of the city,, 
having the favour of the greatest part of the in- 
habitants, because they raise them all at once, and 
the citizens are more ready to take up arms when 
they see themselves supported, and are more cap-; 
able of serving when they have regular troops and 
people of credit at their head. 

All these reasons being justly weighed on each 
side, I think that the Count acted very judici- 
ously ; for it seems to me that on this occasion, 
the inconveniences which we have just mentioned 

* The streets of Genoa, like all other ancient cities, 
and especially sea-ports, were then extremely inconvenient, 
and are to this day narrow and irregular, with the excep- 
tion ofthrtc, the Slrada BaJbi^tbe Strada Xiiuva, and the 
Slrada Kuovissima, which were not then in existence. 


in the way of acting which he made choice of, 
were less to be feared than they commonly are, 
because his party was not only composed of the 
soldiery and nobility, but also of a great number 
of the common people, of whose fidelity he was as- 
sured. So that, having considerable forces in all the 
quarters of Genoa, he had reason to think that the 
garrison which was extremely weak, and those who 
did not favour him, could be no great hinderance 
to his designs, nor make any resistance sufficient 
to disturb those who fought for him. Having, 
therefore, left his palace, he divided his men ac- 
cording to the order which he had resolved on ; 
and at the same time that the cannon, which was 
ordered for a signal, was fired from his galley, Cor- 
nelius surprised the Gate of the Arch, of which he 
made himself master without any trouble. Ot- 
tobon and Jerome, the Count's brothers, did not 
find so much facility with that of St Thomas, from 
the resistance of Captain Sebastian Lercaro and 
his brother, who maintained their post a con- 
siderable time. But the latter having been killed, 
and the other taken prisoner, some even amongst 
their soldiers who had intelligence of the design, 
by turning their arms in favour of the Fiescos, 
made those of the guard run off, and abandon their 
post to the enemies. Giannetino Doria, awaken- 
ed either by the noise which was made at the gate, 
or by the outcry which was made at the same time 
in the harbour, rose in great haste, and being ac- 
companied by none but a page who carried a flam- 
beau before him, he ran to St Thomas' Gate, 
where, being discovered by the conspirators, he 
was killed as soon as he came. 

The precipitancy of Giannetino saved Andrew 


Doria's lifc, and gave him time to get on horse"- 
back, and to retire fifteen miles from Genoa ; * be- 
cause Jerome de Fiesco, who had orders from his 
brother to force Dorias palace as soon as Ik» had 
seized St Thomas' Gate, seeing that Giaunetino had 
been killed by his own imprudence, preferred the 
preservation of the immense riches which were in 
the palace, and which it would have been (iifhcult 
to save from the soldiers, to the taking of .Andrew 
Doria, whom he no longer looked upon bat as a 
worn-out old man, whose ruin was indifferent. 
Whilst these things were doing about St Thomas' 
Gate, Assereto and Scipio Borgognino executed 
their orders with all possible success ; they killed 
those who made any resistance at the gate next 
tlie basin, and pushed the rest so vigorously, that 
they did not give them time to rally, and at last 
they secured that considerable post. 

The Count having, in his passage, left parties 
to guard those posts which he reckoned the most 
important, got into the basin, the entrance of which 
he found entirely open, and joined himself to Ver- 
rina, who had already attacked, with liis galley, 
those of Andrew Doria. He found them almost 
all disarmed, and easily made himself master of 
them. Feai'ing, in this confusion, that the crew, 
who were chiefly slaves, would mutiny, and relieve 
the captain's galley, in which he lieard a great 
noise, he ran in haste to give his orders about it ; 
but while doing so, the board on which he was 
proceeding, overturned, and he fell into the sea. 

• Tlie Cardina] forgets, liowevcr, to mention, that the 
elder Doria ieft Genoa with very great reluctance, and 
was almost forced away by his friends. 


The weight of his armour, and the mud, hindered 
him from getting up again ; and he was drowned 
at the very moment when victory had made him 
master of Genoa. The darkness of the night, 
joined to the confused noise that was made on all 
parts, kept from his men the knowledge of this 
accident ; so that, without perceiving the loss they 
had sustained, they made an end of securing the 
harbour and the gallies. 

Ottobon, who was come to that place after he 
had execTited his first design, staid to command 
there ; and Jerome, who had followed him, left 
Vincent Calcagno at St Thomas' Gate, and left 
the harbour with two hundred men, to stir up 
the populace in the streets, and collect together as 
many people as he could. Ven-ina, on the o- 
ther hand, did the same thing ; and thus a great 
number of persons being gathered about them, 
nobody dared appear any longer in the streets 
without declaring for Fiesco's party. The greatest 
part of the nobility kept close at home during the 
noise, every one fearing the plunder of his house. 
The most courageous went to the senate-house * 
with the Emperor's ambassador, who would have 
run away from the city, had it not been for the 
remonstrances of Paul Lasagna, a man of gi'eat 
authority among the people. Cardinal Doria and 
Adam Centurione went thither also, and resolved, 

* II Palazza deila Signoria. It was the palace of the 
Republic, where those senators had the courage to assem- 
ble, amid the general consternation. It was the ancient 
palace of the Doge, and is at present one of the most re- 
markable edifices in Genoa. 



with Nicolas Franco, at that time head of tlie 
commonwealth, there being then no Duke, * to send 
Boniface Lomellino, Cristoplier Palavicini, and 
Antony Calva, with fifty soldiers of the jrarrison, 
to defend St Thomas' Gate. But these haviri<^ 
met witli a body of the conspirators, and being 
abandoned by part of tlieir men, were o!)liged to 
retire into the house of Adam Centurione, where, 
having met with Francis Grimaldi, Dominic Doria, 
and some other gentlemen, they again took courage, 
and returned to the same gate by a different way. 
But tliey found it so well guarded, and were 
charged so vigorously, that they left Boniface* 
Lomellino prisoner, who distinguished himself in 
that action by his courage, and happily escaped 
out of the conspirators' hands. 

The Senate, finding that force had been tried 
in vain, had recourse to remonstrances, and de- 
puted anotlier Jerome de Fiesco, f a relation of the 
Count, and Jerome Canerale, to demand of the 
Count the reason of that commotion ; and imme- 
diately after Cardinal Doria, who was allied to 
him, assisted by John Baptista Lercaro, and Ber- 
* nard Castagno, both senators, resolved, at the de- 
sire of the Senate, to go and confer with the 
Count, and endeavour to soften him. But see- 
ing things in so great a confusion, that if he 
went through the city he should expose his dig- 
nity (to no purpose) to the insults of an incensed 
people, he would not go, but remained at the senate- 

♦ Or Dc.gc. 

f Tlicic were two relations of the Count of" that name, 
one of tliein, the reader will have perceived, was active in 
the conspiracy. 


house. So that the Senate gave that commissioa 
to Augustiuo Lomellino, Hector de Fiasco, Ansaltio 
Justiniani, Ambrose Spinola, and John Balliano, 
wlio, seeing a troop of armed men coming towards 
them, imagined it was the Count, and waited for him 
at St Siro. As soon as the conspirators perceived 
them, they charged them, and put Lomellino 
and Hector de Fiesco to flight. Ansaldo Justi- 
niani stood his ground, and, addressing himself to 
Jerome, who was at the head of that party, he de- 
manded of him, in the name of the commonwealth, 
where the Count was. The conspirators had just 
heard of his death. Vemna, having long sought 
him in vain, was got into his galley in a despe- 
rate condition, because the news from all quar- 
ters of the town mentioned nothing of his appear- 
ing any where. This made Jerome answer Justi- 
niani boldly, and with the greatest impnidence, 
that it was now no longer time to look for any 
other Count than himself, and that he would have 
the senate-house immediately surrendered to him. 
The Senate having learnt by this discourse the 
death of the Count, resumed their courage, and 
sent twelve gentlemen to rally those of the guard 
and of the people whom they could put in a pos- 
ture of defence. Some, even of the hottest of 
Fiesco's party, began to be surprised ; several, who 
had neither the same affection for, nor the same 
confidence in, Jerome, that they had for his brother, 
dispersed themselves at the very report of his 
death ; and confusion getting in amongst the con- 
spirators, those in the senate-house perceived it. 
and deliberated whether they should go and at- 
tack them, or treat with them. The first of these 
was proposed as the most honoui-able way, but the 


second was followed as the safest. Paul Pansa, 
a man of the greatest consideration in the com- 
monwealth, and ever attached to the house of Fies- 
co, was chosen as the fittest man for that purpose. 
The senate ordered him to carry a general pardon 
to Jerome for himself and his accomplices. He con- 
sented to this agreement at the persuasion of Pan- 
sa. The pardon was signed at the same time, 
and sealed with all the necessary formalities, by 
Ambrose Senaregna secretary to the republic ; and 
thus Jerome deFiesco left Genoa with all those of his 
party, and retired to Montobio. Ottobon, Verrina, 
Calcagno, and Sacco, who had made their escape 
in the Count's gallej', steered towards France, and 
arrived at ^Marseilles, after having sent back to the 
mouth of the Vere, without doing them any hurt, 
Sebastian Lercaro, INIanfredo Centurioni, and Vin- 
cent Varcaro, whom they had taken at St Thomas' 
Gate. The Count's body was found at the end of 
four days, and having been left some time on the 
banks of the harbour, without burial, it was at last 
thrown into the sea by the command of Andrew 
Doria. Benedict Centurioni and Dominic Doria, 
were the next day deputed to Andrew to condole 
with him in the name of the republic on the death 
of Giannetino, and to bring him back into the city, 
where he was received with all imaginable honours. 
He went to the senate the day after, where he re- 
presented to them in a vehement declamation, 
which he took care to support with the credit of 
his friends, that the commonwealth was not ob- 
liged to stand to the agreement which they had 
made with the Fiescos, since it had been conclud- 
ed against all form, and signed (as it were) sword 
in hand. Fie magnified extremely the danger of 


siiii'ering; subjects to treat in that manner with their 
sovereigns ; and insisted that the impunity of a 
crime of that consequence would be a fatal ex- 
ample to the commonwealtli. In short, Andrew 
Doria so artfully covered his private interests un- 
der the veil of the general good, and so well back- 
ed his passion with his authority, that although 
there were many persons that coiild not ap- 
prove of so great a breach of public faith, the se- 
nate nevertheless declared all the conspirators 
guilty of high treason, ordered the magnificent 
palace of Fiesco to be razed to the ground, con- 
demned the Count's brothers and the principal of 
his faction to death, punished with a fifty years 
banishment all those who had the least hand in 
that enterprise, and ordered that Jerome de Fiesco 
should be commanded to surrender the fortress of 
Montobio into the hands of the republic. This 
last point was not so easy to execute as the rest, 
and as the place was strong by its situation, and 
by its fortifications which they were continually at 
work upon ; it was judged properest to try the 
most gentle means to get it out of the hands of the 
Fiescos, before they made use of force, the suc- 
cess of which is always doubtful. Paul Pansa 
had orders from the senate to go thither as soon as 
possible, and to offer Jerome reasonable conditions 
on the part of the commonwealth ; but they re- 
ceived no other answer from him but reproaches 
for breaking faith with his friends, and a pretty 
haughty refusal to treat with the Genoese. The 
Emperor, who feared that the French might make 
themselves masters of tliat castle, which is of 
tlie greatest importance for the safety of Genoa, 
earnestly pressed the senate to besiege it, and fur- 


nished them with all necessary assistance for that 
purpose. Augustine Spinola, a captain of repu- 
tation, had that employment ; he invested the place, 
which he besieged for forty days, and at last ob- 
liged those who were in it to surrender at discre- 

Some historians accuse Verrina, Calcagno, and 
Sacco, of having advised Jerome to so dishonourable 
a capitulation, by reason of the cold reception they 
had received in France, whence they were retui-n- 
ed, to throw themselves into that place. The ta- 
king of it created new disorders in the common- 
wealth, on account of the variety of opinions amongst 
the senators touching the punishment of the pri- 
soners. Many persons inclined to lenity, and 
would have had a pardon for young Jerome, main- 
taining that his family had been sufficiently pu- 
nished by the death of the Count, and the loss of 
all their estate. But Andrew Doria, exasperated 
against them, once more overcame the senate's 
clemency, and was the cause of the execution of 
Jerome de Fiesco, Verrina, Calcagno, and Asse- 
reto, and of the bloody arrest against Ottobon, 
forbidding his posterity as far as the fifth genera- 
tion to come near Genoa. 

Let us stop here, and consider exactly what 
happened in the execution of this great design. 
Let us, if it be possible, draw from the infinite 
number of faults, which we may observe in it, ex- 
amples of human frailty, and let us own that this 
enterprise, considered in its beginnings as a mas- 
terpiece of courage and conduct amongst men, ap- 
pears in the sequel of it full of the common ef- 
fects of the meanness and imperfection of our na- 
ture. For, after all, how shameful was it in An- 


drew Doria to abandon the city at the first noise, 
without making the least attempt to appease, by 
his authority, that popular commotion ? * How 
great an infatuation was it in him to neglect the 
advices he received on all hands, of the Count's 
enterprise ? How great an imprudence was it in 
Giannetino to go alone, and in the darkness of the 
night, to St Thomas' Gate, to remedy a disorder 
which he had no reason to despise, being ignorant 
of the cause of it ? How great a coward was Car- 
dinal Doria, not to dare to leave the Senate, and en- 
deavour to retain the people by the respect they 
owed to his dignity ? How imprudent were the 
Senate not to assemble all their forces, at the first 
alarm, to stop at once the progress of the conspi- 
rators in the principal posts of the city, instead 
of sending only weak succours, which could be of 
no considerable service ? And, lastly, what kind 
of conduct was it to endeavour to reclaim by re- 
monstrances a professed rebel, who had arms in 
his hands, and who found himself the strongest ? 
But, after a formal treaty, how pernicious a maxim 
was it in that Senate to violate the public faith, 
and to break a promise so solemnly given to Je- 
rome and Ottobon de Fiesco ? For if the fear of 
such usage may be useful to a state, by keeping 
within the bounds of their duty those who might 

• The Cardinal's admiration of this enterprise has made 
Iiim forget that the elder Doria could hardly be prevailed 
on to leave the city. There is more reason in bis second 
question than in his first. It was not shameful in Doria 
to leave Genoa. He was at this time seventy-nine years 
of age, and could have made but a feeble resistance to the 
conspirators, with whom his former authority would have 
been nothing. 


have any thought of revolting, it may also be very 
pernicious to it, by taking away from those who 
have revolted all hopes of a pardon. And, indeed, 
it is hard to comproliend how those politicians, who 
were reckoned very able men, were not afraid, by 
this example, of throwing into despair Jerome de 
Fiesco, who still held the rock of Montobio, which 
he could have put into the hands of foreigners, and 
the loss of which was of the greatest importance 
to the city of Genoa. But if those we have been 
speaking of were guilty of remarkable faults in this 
occasion, we may say that the conspirators commit- 
ted still gieater errors after they had lost their chief. 
The Count's valour and good conduct, which were 
in some measure the supreme intelligences which 
governed all the motions of his partj^ failing by 
his death, that party fell at once into a disorder 
which completed its ruin. Jerome de Fiesco, who, 
on many accounts, was obliged to conceal his 
brother's death, was the tirst that published it, 
and tliereby gave his enemies a fresh courage, and 
possessed the minds of his friends with fear. Ot- 
tobon, Verrina, Calcagno, and Sacco, who had 
made their escape in the galley, set at liberty, al- 
most as soon as they had left Genoa, the prisoners 
whom they had in their hands, without foreseeing 
that they might become necessary to them for mak- 
ino- their accommodation. Verrina having heard 
of the Count's death, retired in his galley, and 
basely abandoned an affair of that consequence to 
the conduct of Jerome, who had neitlier experience 
sufficient, nor authority enough amongst the con- 
spirators, to finish it. That same Jerome made a 
treaty with the Senate, and agreed to return to the 
condition of a private man, after liaving been on 


the point of becoming a sovereign. He afterwards 
matle a shameful capitulation in Montobio upon 
the promise of those who had already broke their 
faith with liim. Venina, Calcagno, and Sacco, 
the principal actors in this conspiracy, and the most 
criminal of all the Count's accomplices, persuaded 
Jerome to that mean action, upon the hopes that 
were given them of impunity, choosing rather to 
nin the hazard of dying by the hands of the exe- 
cutioner, than to fall honourably in the siege. 

Thus ended this great enterprise. Thus died John 
Lewis de Fiesco, Count de Lavagna, whom some 
honour with the greatest encomiums, others load 
with blame, and many excuse. If we consider the 
maxim which advises us always to respect the exist- 
ing government of the country to wdiich we belong, 
without doubt his ambition is criminal. If we re- 
spect his courage and all the great qualities which 
shone forth in the conduct of that action, it appears 
noble and generous. If we regard the power of 
the House of Doria, which gave him just cause to 
apprehend the ruin of the commonwealth and his 
own, it is excusable. But in which way soever we 
speak of it, the most passionate tongues and pens 
cannot disown but that the ill they can say of him 
was common to him with the most illustrious men. 
He was born in a small state, where all private 
conditions were beneath his courage and his merit; 
the natural tmbulence of his countrymen, ever 
prone to novelty ; the loftiness of his own mind, 
his youth, his great estate, the number and flatte- 
ries of his friends, the favour of the people, his 
being courted by foreign princes, and, lastly, the 
general esteem of every one, were powerful sedu- 

VOL. I. R 


cera to inspire with ambition a mwe moderate 
mind than his. The sequel of his enterprise was 
one of those accidents which human wisdom can- 
not foresee. Had the success been as happy, as 
the conduct of it was full of prudence and vigour, 
it is to be believed that the sovereignty of Genoa 
had not bounded his courage or his fortune, and 
that those who condemned his memory after his 
death, would have been the loudest in his praise 
whilst he lived. The authors who have blackened 
him with so many calumnies to satisfy the passion 
of the Dorias, and to justify the breach of faith 
of the senate, had by a contrary interest made his 
panegyric, and posterity had counted him amongst 
the heroes of his age. So true it is, that good or 
ill success is commonly the rule of the praise or 
blame given to extraordinary actions. However, 
I think we may say with all the equity required in 
an historian that gives his judgment on the reputa- 
tion of men, that nothing was wanting to that of 
the Count de Fiesco but a longer life, and more 
upright occasions of acquiring glory. * 

• The preceding is a narrative of perhaps one of the 
most extraordinary and daring enterprises ever attempted. 
But it is almost impossible to agree with the Cardinal's 
reflections in the concluding passage. He seems to ima- 
gine that no revolt or conspiracy is treasonable, if it prove 
successful, simply because those who are loudest in its 
condemnation when unsuccessful, would be the first to 
applaud, if its contrivers were otherwise. This is a species 
of reasoning with which no sound-thinking man will a- 
gree. This note is inserted, merely to make the reader 
aware of the sophistry which pervades the Cardinal's pero- 
ration, which, were it practised, would lead to very danger- 
ous and destructive consequences. 





A. D. 1588. 




A. D. 158a 

To Flanders, Pisa, straight my letters send, 
Tell ihem the injured Carlos is their friend, 
And that to head their forces I design, 
To vindicate their cause if they dare mine. 

Otwat's Tragedy of Don Carlos. 

The story of Don Carlos, son of Philip II. of 
Spain, is one of those mysteries which it is difficult 
to uufold. An obscurity attends it, which pro- 
bably originated with Philip himself, in order to 
restrain any inquiry into the melancholy fate of 
his son ; and hence, this obscurity has afforded a 
theme for numerous romancers, who have execrat- 
ed the conduct of Philip, while setting forth the 
disappointed attachment of Don Cailos and his 

Our story will be brief. Every one knows the 
remarkable manner in which Charles V, the father 
of Philip II, retired from the world, and resigned 
his vast possessions both in the Old and New World 
to his son. The transition from a throne to the 
2 R 


gloomy seclusion of the monastic cell, from pos- 
sessing the chief influence in Europe, and main- 
taining a brilliant rivalship with his contempora- 
ries, to that of obscurity, listlessness, and content- 
ment amid the austere rites of the Catholic faith, 
afforded a striking instance of the vanity of hu- 
man greatness, of their innumerable cares, and 
harassing intrigues. The schemes of glory and 
ambition which Charles V. buried in his convent, 
he would, indeed, have gladly seen Philip pursue ; 
and, notwithstanding his own retirement, and con- 
viction of the burden which he himself had found 
intolerable, the Emperor still wished to secure an 
accession of his own greatness to his son, to urge 
him to the pui'suit of gloiy, and to consolidate his 
widely extended dominions, which he knew well 
confen-ed rather the appearance of strength than 
tlie reality. 

When Charles V. abdicated the throne, though 
disappointed in his schemes, his son Philip II. wa 
still the most powerful monarch of his age. I 
was, however, before that event, that the charactei 
of Philip was strikingly contrasted with that of his 
father. At the age of sixteen he married Mary, 
a princess of Portugal, who died two years after- 
xerwards in childbed, after having given birth to 
Don Carlos. Nine years afterwards, in 1554, 
when he was in the twenty-seventh year of his 
age, he married the Princess Mary of England — 
a marriage which had been negotiated by his fa- 
ther the Empei'or ; and Charles himself, it is said, 
if Philip had declined this alliance, had thoughts ol 
offering himself to Mary, not wishing to lose sucl' 
an opportunity of augmenting his power. Bu 
Philip was as ambitious as his father, and he readi 
ly consented to marry a princess of thirty-seven 


disagi'eeable in her manners, cruel in her disposi- 
tion, destitute of every female charm, who even 
excelled him in bigotry and zeal for the extiii)ation 
of heresy. 

With this part of Philip's history, as also of his 
fitting out the famous Spanish Armada, and of the 
descent he meditated on Ireland in the reign oi 
Elizabeth, every one is familiar. Mary died child- 
less, and Don Carlos was as yet the heir of the 
Spanish crown. The early history of the Prince 
is involved in obscurity ; but it is generally agreed 
that he closely resembled Philip himself in many 
particulars. Deformed in his person, his temper 
was violent and irascible ; nor did he ever give any 
remarkable indication that his understanding was 
profound, or that he had any capacity for govern- 
ment. As a proof of his disposition, it is said, 
that on one occasion, as he and his governor, Don 
Gai'cia de Toledo, who was greatly attached to 
him, were riding together in a retired place, the 
latter having expostulated with him on his con- 
duct, the Prince drew his sword, and would have 
slain Don Garcia, had he not escaped by the swift- 
ness of his horse. Yet he had scarcely arrived at 
the yeais of manhood, before he evinced the ut- 
most restlessness to be admitted into a share of" 
the government, which Philip as steadily opposed, 
either from jealousy, or from a knowledge of his 
incapacity to discharge any important trust. Don 
Carlos was not of a disposition to endure this op- 
position, and the proceedings of his father in va- 
rious matters still farther excited his disgust. 

The superstition which predominates in Spain, 
wanted not a zealous patron in the person of Phi- 
lip II. He established the Inquisition in his do- 


minions, — a tribunal which he found often of con- 
siderable importance to his affairs, and which, for 
more than two centuries afterwards, scoureed that 
kingdom. In the year 1359, on a visit to Valla- 
dolid, he resolved to give a proof of his zeal for 
the Church and his detestation of heresy, by pre- 
siding at an Auto-da-fc. One of these acts had 
been recently performed before his arrival in that 
city, on which occasion a number of Protestants 
had been committed to the flames. There were 
still, however, upwards of thirty remaining in 
the dungeons of the Inquisition, against whom 
the same dreadful sentence had been denounced. 
As Philip, on one occasion, had solemnly dedicat- 
ed his reign to the defence of the Roman faith, 
and the extirpation of heresy, he desired the In- 
quisitors to appoint a day for the execution of 
these unhappy victims, and he resolved to be him- 
self a witness of their agonies. The dreadful 
ceremony was accordingly conducted by the In- 
quisitors with all the pomp and solemnity which 
they could devise ; and Philip, attended by his 
sister, Don Carlos, and a number of the nobles, 
exulted in the atrocious spectacle. After a ser- 
mon had been preached by ilie Bishop of Zamo- 
ra, he again swore a solemn oath, administered to 
liim by the Inquisitor-General, that he would sup- 
port the tribunal, and compel his subjects every 
where to abjure the heresies of Luther. The in- 
human sacrifice then commenced. Among the 
victims was a nobleman named Don Carlos di 
Sessa, who, when conducted to the stake, turned 
his streaming eyes towards the King, and, with 
uplifted hands, exclaimed, " Canst thou thus, O 
King, witness the torments of thy subjects ? Save 


US from this cruel death, for we deserve it not." 
" No," replied Philip, " I would myself carry- 
wood to burn my own son were he such a wretch 
as thou " And he sat unmoved, and beheld the 

From such a father, Don Carlos could only 
look for the most summary treatment, if found 
engaged in intrigues. Mutual disgusts had arisen 
between them, accelerated by the violent impetu- 
osity of Don Cailos, and Philip behaved towards 
liim with distance and reserve. The former was 
mortified still farther, when he beheld the royal con- 
fidence enjoyed by noblemen towards whom he en- 
tertained an unconquerable aversion, partly on that 
account, and partly because he considered them as 
spies set over his conduct. These were the fa- 
mous Ferdinand Alvarez, Duke of Alva, renown- 
ed as a general, but not less famous for his cruel- 
ty, Ruy Gomez de Sylva, and Spinoza, President 
of the Council. Towards the former, indeed, Don 
Carlos did not conceal his resentments ; and on 
more than one occasion he had threatened the Duke, 
and even attempted his life, for accepting the go- 
vernment of the Netherlands, to which Don Car- 
los himself aspired. 

But there was another cause sufficient to rouse 
the spirit of Don Carlos, and which probably ex- 
asperated him still more against Alva, as he was 
the person who carried on the negotiation. While 
Philip, his father, was engaged in making over- 
tures of marriage to Elizabeth of England, and 
had actually taken some steps to procure a dis- 
pensation from tiie Pope to that effect, being mis- 
led by the artful conduct of that princess towards 
his ambassador at London, the Duke of Feria, 


Don Carlos himself had contracted, during the 
lifetime of Mary of England, an alliance with 
Elizabeth, daughter of Heniy II., the son of Francis 
I. of France ; and, according to some writers, the 
prince had been so far successful as to gain her 
atfections. But when Elizabeth of England found 
herself securely seated on her throne, and refused 
the alliance of Philip, which was one cause of his 
unfortunate invasion by the Spanish Armada, the 
King, though knowing well the sentiments of his 
son, turned his attention towards France, and 
made overtures to Henry, which were accepted ; 
and Elizabeth became his third queen. She was 
espoused at Paris by the Duke of Alva, in the 
name of his master ; and it was on this occasion 
that the splendour of the ceremony was defeated 
by an event fatal and unexpected. Tilts and tour- 
naments were celebrated on the occasion ; and 
Henry, who was no novice in martial accomplish- 
ments, entered the lists to break a lance with the 
Count de Montgomery, who, at the command of 
his sovereign, complied with great reluctance. The 
first encounter was furious on both sides, and the 
Count's lance having broken against the King's 
helmet, he attacked Henry with the stump. It 
was fatal to the King ; a splinter entered his right 
eye ; the monarch fell to the ground, and was in- 
stantly conveyed to his palace, where he soon ex- 
pired, transmitting his sceptre to the young and 
feeble Francis II., the husband of Mary Queen of 

Don Carlos, irritated by jealousy, rejoiced at 
this calamity, and at first lioped that a sudden turn 
of affairs would render the marriage of his father 
nugatory. But the ministers of Francis II., and 


is mother Catherine de Medicis, of the House of 
juise, insisted on the fulfilment of the treaty, 
ud the Princess Elizabeth was conducted by the 
[ing of Navarre to the French frontiers, where 
be was received by the chief of the Spanish nobi- 
ty, and a splendid retinue. She was conducted 
Toledo, where Philip resided, in which city the 
aarriage was celebrated with royal magnificence ; 
nd a princess, young, beautiful, and amiable, was 
onsigned to the arms of a husband, whose dispo- 
ition, morose, gloomy, and forbidding, had never 
;nown the tender sentiments of domestic life, and 
?^ho was totally incapable of appreciating her ex- 

Whether there be any truth in the assertion, 
hat Elizabeth, having felt an attachment for Don 
!!!arlos, still retained the recollection of her former 
uitor, which was even heightened by the austerity 
>f her husband, it is impossible, from the mystery 
i^hich conceals it, positively to say ; it may be 
ruth ; it may be the mere dream of poets and 
omancers : but if it be truth, he must have begun 
iarly in these adventures, as he was then not much 
nore than foui-teen years of age. It is agreed, 
lowever, that this disappointment, and his father's 
lispleasure, transported him beyond the bounds of 
)rudence ; nor did he attempt to conceal his re- 
lentment. The severe government of Philip gra- 
lually provoked his subjects, who were no less 
ifraid of his zeal for exterminating the Protestant 
'aith. In no countiy was this fear more apparent 
ihan in the Low Countries, or the Netherlands, 
tvhich were then under the Crown of Spain. The 
nhabitants became disgusted with the conduct of 
Philip during his residence among them, both on 


account of their attachment to the reformation of 
religion, and the continuance of foreign troops in 
their provinces. Numerous disturbances arose : 
and Don Carlos, when in liis twenty-first year, 
was intriguing with the malcontents, and was en- 
tertaining a design of withdrawing into Flanders, 
to put himself at their head. The prince had al- 
ready held secret interviews with the INIarquis ( 
Mons and the Baron de Montigny, two noble- 
men connected with the Low Countries, the object 
of which was that the prince should assume the go 
vernment. It would appear that Philip knew 
something of these intrigues between his son and 
the malcontents, but he pretended for the present 
to disregard them. Enraged, however, at the 
turbulence of the Low Countries, and exasperat- 
ed against the Prince of Orange, he resolved to 
send against them a man whose disposition to 
cruelty was well knoivm, and who, while he poS' 
sessed the most consummate knowledge of a ge 
neral, would rule them with a rod of iron. 

The Duke of Alva, the inveterate enemy of 
Don Cai'los, was appointed, in 1767, to the go 
vernment of the Netherlands ; and the conduct of 
the prince on this occasion evidently proves that 
Alva's appointment frustrated all his ill-concerted 
plans. So exasperated he was, that when Alva 
waited upon him to take his leave before his de 
parture, he drew his dagger, and would proba 
biy have killed the Duke, had he not been re 
strained by his attendants, who carried liim out of 
the apartment by force. Alva procee<led to his 
government, and his arrival spread consternation 
over the provinces. He established a council, 
which he called the Council of Tumults, but 


which rather deserved the epithet which the Fle- 
mings bestowed on it, the Council of Blood. A 
series of atrocities followed, which have few pa- 
rallels in modern history. Some months had 
hardly elapsed, when upwards of 1800 persons suf- 
fered by the hands of the executioner ; yet his 
thirst for blood, and his fury towards tlie Protest- 
ants, were not satisfied. A black catalogue of 
crimes marks Alva's infamous career in the Low 
Countries, and rendered him a fit representative 
of a monarch who could sit unmoved, and behold 
the lamentable spectacle of an Auto-da-Fe. 

The Prince of Orange, against whom the ha- 
tred of Philip was particularly directed, had fore- 
seen the impending storm, and withdrawn into 
Germany. Don Carlos, in the mean while, was 
not idle in the court of Spain ; but unfortunately 
the disaffected in the Low Countries wanted an 
agent of gi-eater ability and penetration. The 
marriage of Elizabeth with his father had made lit- 
tle alteration on his sentiments ; and it is main- 
tained by many writers, that his conduct roused 
the jealousy of Philip. As many of the friends of 
Don Carlos had consulted their safety by a preci- 
pitate flight from the Netherlands into Germany, 
a correspondence was commenced between him 
and the refugees. Nevertheless, as a pretence, 
for whether he was sincere or not is doubtful, he 
became desirous of marrying his cousin, Anne of 
Austria. To this proposal Philip, though he did 
not give it a decided negative, evinced no parti- 
cular anxiety that it should be concluded ; and 
Don Carlos consequently imagined, what indeed 
was extremely probable, that his father intended 
VOL. I. s 


to set aside his succession. He now formed the 
design of retreating into Germany ; and for tliis 
purpose wrote to some of the Spanish nobles to 
aid him in his enterprise. 

The designs, however, of Don Carlos, whatever 
were their nature and importance, were all disco- 
vered to Philip by some persons connected with 
the Court. The projects of this unfortunate 
prince ought to have awakened emotions of pity 
in the bosom of his father ; but to these Philip 
was a stranger. He convened the Inquisitors to- 
gether, who were his chief counsellors, at Madrid ; 
and it was resolved to commence the punishment 
of the Prince, by depriving him, in the first in- 
stance, of his liberty. Don Carlos had, indeed, 
given previous indications of fear, by keeping a 
chest of fire-arms in his apartment, and by sleep- 
ing with loaded pistols under his pillow. He had 
also contrived a lock for his apartment of a pe- 
culiar construction, by which he might be easily 
alarmed if any attempt should be made to surprise 
him. This the King knew, and he was also 
aware, that Don Carlos would not hesitate to de- 
spatch even himself in his own apartment, if he 
had time to grasp his fire-arms. But, attended by 
some of the Inquisitors carrying dark lanterns, he 
effected an entrance into the apartment, while Don 
Carlos was asleep, and rousing him, he ordered 
him instantly into custody, reproaching him for 
his conduct, and telling him that he had come to 
administer parental chastisement. The unfortu- 
tunate prince was then arrayed in a mourning ha- 
bit, though not without great difficulty, for he 
frequently attempted to kill himself, and even threw 


himself into the fire of an apartment into which 
he was led. 

For six months after his arrest, Don Carlos was 
kept a close prisoner in the hands of the Inquisi- 
tors. During this confinement, he became insane. 
He sometimes fasted for several days, then ate 
roraciously, and attempted to choke himself by 
swallowing unchewed victuals. Many interces- 
sions were made for his release by the principal 
nobility of Spain, but Philip was inexorable. His 
Fate is involved in mystery, and there are different 
iccounts of his death. Some have maintained, 
:.hat he was strangled, others that he was bled to 
ieath ; and the friends of Philip have maintained, 
ihat he died a natural death, about six months 
ifter his imprisonment, having received his father's 
'orgiveness, and the sacrament of the church. 
But it appears undeniable, that a sentence dicta- 
;ed by Philip himself, and emanating from the In- 
quisition, terminated the existence of Don Carlos, 
md that he died by the administration of poison 
n the month of February 1568. 

It is doubtful whether the death of Don Carlos 
•esulted from his father's rage, on account of his 
;urbulence and correspondence with the discon- 
tents of the Low Countries, or his jealousy for the al- 
eged intrigue the prince cairied on with the Queen, 
rhe latter opinion is the favourite theme of ro- 
mance ; but, however much it may have been mag- 
lified, it is not improbable, and it is certain the 
^ueen died soon after, not without strong suspi- 
lions of being poisoned. That Don Carlos was 
engaged in a treasonable correspondence, which 
night have ripened into a formidable conspiracy, 
here is every reason to believe ; but his tragical 


fate was more severe titan he merited, as his con- 
duct was not distin<ruished by that caution and 
|)ru(lenee wliich mark the progress of daring and 
dangerous enterprises. Whatever may be the cre- 
dit assitrned to his fate at the present time, or 
whatever may be the opinion concerning it, it was 
currently believed in the reign of Philip ; and in 
the Netherlands, in particular, the voice of the 
multitude failed not to impeach him for the stern 
and unnatural sentence. And, after all, the hus- 
band of Mary of England, who in a manner sanc- 
tioned the cruelties of her short and inglorious 
reign, the master of the Duke of Alva, who heard 
the recital of that nobleman's atrocities without 
one emotion of pity, or expression of disapproba- 
tion, can have little claim to generosity or clemen- 
cy. His viewing the execution of the Protestants 
by the Inquisition with unconcern, might have been 
ascribed to superstition ; but his cruelty to his son, 
whose conduct, although unjustifiable, he could 
have effectually restrained, by keeping him in du- 
rance, admitted of a different interpretation. " It 
was considered by all the world," observes a writer, 
" as a proof that his heart was dead to the senti- 
ments of natural affection and humanity, and his 
subjects were everywhere filled with astonishment. 
It struck terror, in a particular manner, into the 
inhabitants of the Low Countries, who saw how 
vain it was to expect mercy from a prince, who had 
so obstinately refused to exercise it towards his 
own son, whose only crime, they believed, was his 
attachment to them, and his compassion for their 
calamities. " 




A. D. 1600 ; 







" Mere sentinels are kings, 

And at the post of danger more exposed, — 
Shields that between the people and their foes 
Are interposed. " 

Musgrave's Ignez de Castro. 

Much has been said and written on the Gowrie 
Conspiracy, which has remained a mystery to the 
present moment ; nor am I so vain as to presume, 
though I am so bold as to adventure among the 
many writers who have discussed the subject, that 
I shall be able to unfold the mystery, and establish 
this remarkable event of history in its true and 
legitimate aspect. But the subject is still inter- 
esting ; and something yet remains to be said on it, 
from certain documents, some of which have been 
recently published ; at least, I shall endeavour to 
concentrate the most important facts connected 
with it, which I shall adduce to establish my own 


But, in order to understand rightly the nature 
and objects of this Conspiracy, it is necesary to 
go farther back into liistory, than the few years 
which it immediately preceded. As it is from the 
assassination of David Rizzio in the presence of the 
sovereign, that we are to look for all the subse- 
quent murders, factions, and conspiracies, which 
before the accession of James VI. to the crown 
of England continually occurred, we may perhaps 
find the origin even of the Gowrie Conspiracy in 
that daring insult to the sovereign. The first who 
stabbed that unfortunate minion, heedless of his 
cries, the expostulations of Mary, and her delicate 
situation, was Lord Ruthven, grandfather of the 
last Earl of Gowrie, who, pale and ghastly, 
scrupled not to rise from a bed of sickness, to 
commit a murder in the private apartment of his 
Queen. After this event, what crimes are not re- 
corded in the Scottish annals ! The murder of 
Dai'nley; the deep-laid schemes and hypocrisy of 
the Earl of Murray; the dark intrigues and factious 
cabals of his minions and associates ; the expulsion 
of Mary from the throne ; Murray's assassination, 
the death of the Earl of Mar, Kirkaldy of the 
Grange, Maitland of Lethington, and the E^arl of 
Morton, not to mention others of lesser note, and 
other circumstances, — all characterize the age as 
one of turbulence, crime, and sedition. Add to 
these the religious disputes which succeeded the 
Reformation ; the conduct of the Presbyterian 
ministers ; their arrogance, and their high preten- 
sions ; their being invariably found connected with 
almost every faction ; their seditious sermons, 
and their bold denunciations against legitimate au- 
thority, not to mention the extravagant powers 


which they assumed, and I venture to say, that 
the annals of few countries present such a dark 
catalogue of crimes, treason, and sedition, as those 
of this, at that time poor, and comparatively insig- 
nificant, northern kingdom. 

At the period when James VI. assumed the 
reins of government, which was in 1580, Scotland 
was harassed by various parties whose turbulence 
originated under the pretence of religion. The 
three parties into which the nation was soon di- 
vided, were the Roman Catholics, whose esta- 
blishment had been overthrown by the reformers 
with more zeal than knowledge, inasmuch as it 
was accompanied by uncalled for ebullitions of 
fury and devastation ; the Protestant Episcopal 
Church, which the King wished to establish in the 
room of the ancient ecclesiastics ; and the Presby- 
terian preachers, whose theology and notions on 
church-government were imported from the school 
of Geneva, and who had established themselves. 
The first party prevailed greatly in the northern 
counties, under the especial influence of the Earl 
of Huntly, and other powerful chiefs ; the second 
prevailed also in the north, and to a limited ex- 
tent, among the inhabitants of the Lowland coun- 
ties, being supported by the court, a considerable 
number of the nobles, the landholders or lairds, and 
many of the well informed of the middle classes ; the 
third, and the most numerous, was supported almost 
exclusively by the inferior and lowest ranks, aided 
by a few of the nobles, some of whom adhered to it 
more from policy than principle. To the honour 
of the ancient church, it must be remarked, that, 
after its final annihilation in 1567, few insuiTec- 
tions of any note are recorded, and its adherents 


were clilefly active during the lifetime of the un- 
fortunate Mary, to whom they were attached, as 
much from the principles of respect due to le- 
gitimate authority, as from congeniality in religion, 
being frequently aided and encouraged by various 
of the reformed peers, who joined or opposed the 
Queen's party, as the occasion suited their af- 
fairs. But the murder of Mary at Fotheringay 
annihilated their liopes, and ended the associa- 
tion. The Protestant Church, on the other hand, 
being sanctioned by the State, having no occasion 
to be turbulent, existed peaceably, through much 
suffering and insult from the third party, the Pres- 
byterian preachers, headed by Andrew Melville, 
who, animated with the most inveterate hatred to 
whatever savoured not of the Calvinistic polity, 
as if truth had taken up her abode nowhere else 
but in a single city of Switzerland, thundered their 
anathemas from the pulpit against the King, the 
court, and all those who favoured not their party; 
as if real religion was to be found only among 
them, and nothing but heathenism among their op- 
ponents, alarming the people by fierce declama- 
tions respecting their national liberty, interpreting 
every measure of the government into an act of 
tyranny and oppression, and teaching them that 
the church of the great, and learned, and enlight- 
ened English nation, was as heretical and errone- 
ous as that of Rome. 

It will thus be seen, that I connect the Gowrie 
Conspiracy in some degree with religion ; and this 
I shall endeavour to prove as I proceed. Inflamed 
by this spirit, and animated by these resentments, 
rendered more furious by grievances real or ima- 
ginary, the supporters of this last party, having 


contrived to take along with them the rabble, were 
a most formidable faction. The bold pretensions 
of the ministers, who, being in possession of the 
pulpits, had excellent opportunities for inculcating 
their favourite opinions, which they hardly if ever 
failed to improve, and the influence which they 
contrived to establish over the people, were ad- 
mirable auxiliaries in the hands of a party whose 
safety depended on popular clamour. As the Pres- 
byterian ministers had been always the mortal ene- 
mies of Mary, whose very religion was crime 
enough in their eyes, the assassination of David 
Rizzio, or " Signior Davie, " as they termed him, 
was applauded by them as a noble act;* and they 
scrupled not to give countenance to the malicious 
report, which is unblushingly maintained by one 
of their great champions, Buchanan, and darkly 

• That John Knox was privy to this assassination caa 
hardly be doubted. When James VI., on one occasion, 
censured Knox's memory for approving of that atrocious 
act, a minister replied, " that the slaughter of David, 
so far as it was the work of God, was allowed by Mr 
Knox, and not otherwise. " Calderwood MS., quoted 
by Dr M'Crie, Life of Knox, p. 309. We need not be 
surprised at this, for Knox had previously exulted in the 
murder of Cardinal Beaton, and actually sanctioned 
it, by afterwards joining the murderers. With respect 
to Rizzio's murder, which no sound-thinking person can. 
ever justify, and Knox's share in it, I presume the reader 
will peruse the following set-ofF by Dr M'Crie with 
considerable surprise, narrated by the reverend author 
quite in the spirit of Knox, as if it were a second gudl^/ 
fact. " There is no reason, " says he, " to think that he 
(Knox) was privy to the conspiracy that proved fatal to 
Rizzio. But it is j^rohable that he expressed his satisfac- 
tion at an event which contributed to the safety of re- 
ligion and the commonwealth, if not alio his approbation of 
the conduct of the conspirators / " 


alluded to by John Khox, that Rizzio had unlaw- 
ful intercourse with Mary. The authors of that 
atrocity were invariably extolled ; and Lord Rutli- 
ven, who died in exile at Newcastle, was held as 
a godly professing nobleman. This peer, who has 
found a place among Walpole's " Royal and Noble 
Authors, " for having written a narrative of Rizzio's 
murder, in which there is not one expression of 
regret, or the least symptom of repentance, for a 
crime as dishonourable as it was barbarous, was 
succeeded, in 1566, by his second son William, 
fourth Lord Ruthven, and first Earl of Gowrie, 
who having married Dorothea, second daughter of 
Henry Steuart, Lord Methven, became not very 
remotely connected with the royal family. * He 
had been actively engaged with liis father in the 
association against Rizzio, and had fled with him 
into England ; but he found means to procure a 
pardon from Mary, through the interposition of 
the Earl of Morton, and returned to Scotland. 
Having thus had an example of faction and insult 
to his sovereign set before him in his earliest 
years, and being indeed connected with it, his 
future life, till his execution at Stirling, may be 
easily explained. He early connected himself, 
moreover, with the Presbyterian ministers, who 

♦ The first Earl of Gowrie was, however, connected 
with the royal family without that alliance. His grand- 
father, William, second Lord Ruthven, married Janet Ha- 
liburton, eldest daughter and coheiress of Patrick Lord 
Haliburton of Dirleton, in East-Lothian, by which he ob- 
tained that barony. This lady was of royal extraction, 
as Lord Haliburton's ancestor, Sir Walter Haliburton, 
married Lady Isabel Stuart, eldest daughter of Robert 
Duke of Albany, Regent of Scotland, and third son of 
King Robert IL 


appear to have looked upon it as a part of their 
privilege to insult the government, and who in- 
variably expressed themselves in a manner not 
very courteous towards every one who was pre- 
sumptuous enough to differ from them. The 
rank and influence of the family of Gowrie ren- 
dered their accession to that party a matter of no 
small importance ; and, before the affair which is 
the subject of these pages took place, the House of 
Gowrie had been held as the acknowledged leaders 
oi James' enemies and opposers. As the first 
Earl of Gowrie, or, to speak properly. Lord Ruth- 
ren (for he had not then been raised to the earl- 
iom), had begun early in life to oppose the go- 
I'ernraent, of which his father had set before him 
10 inconsiderable example, he repaid Mary's ge- 
aerosity in recalling him ft-om exile and grant- 
ing him a pardon, by the basest ingratitude," and 
ivas actually one of those who waited on her in 
the Castle of Lochleven, in which she had been 
imprisoned by Murray's faction, where they com- 
pelled her, after behaving with the greatest rude- 
ness and indecency, to sign her abdication, by 
threatenings which professed to affect her life. * 
Thus united with the party who, to accomplish 
Murray's schemes, had openly insulted their royal 
mistress, Ruthven was appointed Treasurer of 
Scotland for life in 1571, and an Extraordinary 
Lord of Session in 1578. By his smooth address, 

• The Author of Waverley makes Mary thus address 
Lord Ruthven on that occasion, after she had encountered 
the indecent rudeness and blunt usage of Lord Lindsay, 
with whom she contrasted him, " Farewell, my Lord of 
Ruthven, the smoother but the deeper traitor. " — Abbot. 
VOL. I. ' T 7 


and the share which he had in procuring the con- 
demnation of the Earl of Morton, he insinuated 
himself into the favour of James after he assumed 
the government ; and accordingly, in the Parlia- 
ment of 1580, he was created Earl of Gowrie ; 
and the barony of Gowrie, which formerly be- 
longed to the monastery of Scone, was erected 
into an earldom by royal charter, dated 20th of 
October that same year. -|- 

Gowrie, thus owing his elevation to the turbu- 
lence of the times, and to the zeal which he mani- 
fested for the popular party of religionists, to-wit, 
the preachers, was henceforth their acknowledged 
leader, one of their " godly professors, " and de- 
fenders of what they rather singularly, yet grave- 
ly, termed the " Univeisal Kirk of Scotland. " 
The characteristic features of the " professors " of 
that period were rather peculiar ; and though they 
had departed from Rome, they nevertheless af- 
forded a striking illustration of the adage, that 
extremes frequently effect a collision. The Roman 
PontiflF claimed the supremacy over temporal so- 
vereigns as universal Bishop ; in like manner, the 
Presbyterian of the " Universal Kirk" stoutly 
denied that he had any dependence upon them, 
and placed the head of his Church whom he chose 
at a very convenient distance. As in the days of 
the ancient ecclesiastical splendour and power, it 
was declared that no churchman could be sum- 
moned before a lay tribunal ; in like manner, the 
Presbyterians of Scotland at this period maintain- 
ed, that their doctrines and opinions were cog- 
nizable only by a court composed of themselves, 

* Douglas' Peerage, folio, vol. i. apud Earls of Gowrie. 


called the Presbytery, and that were even treaaon 
or sedition taught from the pulpit, the ci^dl power 
could in no case decide upon it, till it was dis- 
cussed in the said Presbytery, of which, it must 
be recollected, the supposed preacher of treason or 
sedition was a member, and not likely to be the first 
person who would admit his errors.* Nay, the Pres- 
byterian ministers of that period went so far as to 
maintain, that their General Assembly was supe- 
rior to the Parliament — that no acts ought to be 
passed without their previous consultation, deli- 
beration, and concurrence ; and they have been 
known to set aside acts of Parliament, and to 
have declared them of no effect, when these acts 
were displeasing to their fancies. + The analogies 
between some of the leading features of Popery, 
and the opinions of the ministers in the reign of 
James VI., might be carried farther ; but enough 
has been said to show the nature of their prac- 
tices and opinions. It is necessary merely to keep 
in view, what cannot be denied, that they invari- 
ably opposed the sovereign, and construed his 
every act, whether trifiing or important, into a 
measure of tyranny, an attack on their liberties, 
and that, too, accompanied frequently by con- 
duct not in remarkable harmony with their office 
as ministers of a religion of peace. 

An imperium in imperio of the above descrip- 
tion was not likely, from its bold and extravagant 
pretensions, to be the promoter of harmony and 
civil order. Accordingly, in 1582, a new de- 

* For these and other remarkable illustrations, the 
reader may consult Calderwood, pp. 103, 110, 14.1-', 193- 
196. Spottiswoode, pp. 316, 317, 318, 222, .323. 
f James VI. Pari. 12. cap. 114. 


fiance of the royal power connected with the 
Gowrie family, and in which the ministers, by 
their subsequent conduct, evinced that they were 
deeply interested, took place. It was in this 
year that a confederacy was formed among cer- 
tain of the most influential persons of the no- 
bility, attached, or pretending to be attached, 
to the Presbyterian interest, tlie supporters of 
which were begiiming to perceive that the King 
was by no means so zealous in behalf of that sys- 
tem of ecclesiastical polity as they had at first an- 
ticipated. The leaders in this conspiracy were 
the Earls of Gowrie, Mar, Athol, Rothes, and 
Glencairn, Lords Lindsay, the Master of Glam- 
mis, the Abbots of Dryburgh, Cambuskenneth, 
and Paisley, • with others of their friends, f In 
concert with these were the chief Presbyterian 
ministers, at the head of whom was the celebrat- 
ed Andrew Melville. ;{: 

While the motives which induced this formid- 
able faction to coalesce, were simply the lessen- 
ing of the regal power to exalt their own, many 
circumstances occurred which were likely to ren- 
der an enterprise successful. The inclination of 

• Or commendators, for they were laymen, having seiz- 
ed the temporalities of these abbeys at the Reformation, 
To the above may be added the Abbot or Commendator of 
Dunfermline and the Prior of Pittenweem. Historic of 
King James the Sext, -Ito, Edinburgh, 1825, p. 189. 
Printed by the Bannatyne Club. 

f In the sentence of forfeiture there appears, in addi- 
tion, Lords Oliphant and Boyd, the Lairds of Lochleven, 
Cleish, and Easter Wemyss, the Lord Justice Clerk Bel- 
lenden, and the Constable of Dundee. There are also 
two noble ladies, the Cou7itess of Gowrie, and the Countess 
of Cassillis. 

J Historie of King James the Sext, ul sup. p. 186. 


James for favourites had been early manifested, 
and at this period he had two, who mortally hated 
each other, Esme Stuart, Duke of Lennox, and 
cousin-german of James' father, and James Stew- 
art, Earl of Arran, who, by a series of intrigues, 
and even crimes, had been elevated to that dig- 
nity at the expense of the House of Hamilton, 
which had been by him unjustly deprived of that 
earldom. The former, who has been most de- 
servedly described by Dr Robertson as gentle, hu- 
mane, and candid, * the only amiable favourite 
whom James ever adopted, was eventually driven 
from Scotland by a faction who pretended to be- 
lieve him a Papist and an emissary of Rome ; the 
latter is described as being of " a prowd and ar- 
rogant mynd, and thoght na man to be his equal." 
The disputes between those two noblemen, at first 
resulting from private jealousy, became at length 
public, and were productive of innumerable feuds. 
While Lennox was supported by the court party, 
Arran contrived to interest the Presbyterian mi- 
nisters in his quarrel, by affecting an outrageous 
zeal against Popeiy, and by opposing the King's 
measures with regard to the government of the 
church, to which they had an invincible hatred. 
It must be here observed, that the period of the 
Reformation in Scotland was the period of crimes f 
— that conspiracy followed conspiracy in quick 
succession, — which must invariably be the case, 
when any great and essential change in a state is 
effected by the mob. 

The JRaid of Ruthven thus partly originated 

* History of Scotland, 4to edit, vol. ii. p. 70— Si. 
f Caledonia, vol. iv. p. 858. 
T 2 


from two causes ; the private quarrel of Lennox 
and Arran, and the intrigues of the ministers. A 
circumstance, illustrative of the latter, occurred at 
this time, which induced the ministers more readily 
to co-operate in exciting a popular ferment. After 
the death of John Douglas, the first Protestant 
Archbishop of St Andrew's, Patrick Adamson, a 
scholar and a poet, had been appointed to the pri- 
macy. As he would not submit to the General 
Assembly, he was most violently denounced by 
Andrew Melville, and almost all the ministers. 
The clamour which they excited, however, and 
the fear of the excommunication they threatened, 
induced Adamson to tender them a kind of sub- 
mission not very consonant to his dignity. But 
this did not satisfy them. They summoned him 
before them, industriously propagated a report, 
that he had consulted the devil for the recovery of 
his health ; and were the means of procuring an old 
woman, named Alison Pearson, to be imprisoned, 
and afterwards burnt as a witch, for recommending 
to the Archbishop some simple medicines, not of 
the most palatable kind, in his illness. * 

* This fact is narrated with great gravity by Calder- 
wood, (p. 140.) It appears from his account, that Alison 
Pearson made her escape from prison, by the aid of the 
Archbishop ; but such were the tender mercies of the 
" Presbiterie, " that she was apprehended four years after- 
wards, and actually executed on the Castlehill of Edin- 
burgh, being " wirreit at ane stalk " and " briut in as- 
sis." Tlie trial is given in the First Part of Mr Pit- 
cairn's Criminal Trials before the Court of Justiciary in 
Scotland ; and Alison's alleged cure of the Archbishop 
gave rise to the satire entitled, " The Legend of the 
Bischop of St Androis, " where his Grace's trafficking 
with witches is recorded with the keenest hatred. It is, 
however, a very contemptible production. 


As Lennox advised James to support the Arch- 
bishop, and to oppose the " newly erectit societie 
of ministers callit the Presbiterie, " * he became 
no less odious to them than to Arran ; and as the 
" Presbiterie " had the ear of the people, the con- 
duct of the ministers of Edinburgh being imitated 
by the inferior grade in the country parishes, they 
were found to be most important auxiliaries in 
Arran's practices. There was, however, another 
case somewhat similar to Archbishop Adamson's, 
in which Lennox was more immediately con- 
cerned, and which fomented the popular outcry 
against him. The See of Glasgow had been va- 
cant since the flight of Archbishop James Beaton 
to Paris, who had refused to accede to the Re- 
formation. Lennox's friends conceived, that if an 
Archbishop were to be appointed in the Duke's 
interest, it would be a good opportunity for him 
to obtain an influence in that city, as Glasgow was 
dependent on the Archbishop, he being ex officio 
lord of the regality. Accordingly, Robert Mont- 
gomeiy was induced to accept it, in a manner 
not very honourable either to his patron or him- 
self. He promised to cede to Lennox all the 
lands and revenues belonging to the See, and to 
content himself with 500/. Scots (about 70Z. Ster- 
ling), and some trifling immunities, f Montgo- 
mery, unfortunately for himself, had formerly been 
a keen opponent of Episcopacy ; and as his con- 
duct was viewed by his quondam friends as a 
flagrant apostasy, they proceeded more rigorous- 
ly against him than against Adamson. It is a 

* Historic of King James the Sext, ut sup. p. 186. 
f Spottiswoode, however, says that the sum was 1000^. 
Scots, about 14:0^ sterling. History, p. 316. 


curious circumstance, however, that in the vari- 
ous altercations which ensued on the subject, 
they omitted altogether the most important mat- 
ter — namely, the siraoniacal contract, to which 
charge Montgomery had certainly rendered him- 
self liable ; and it is probable, that had they ma- 
naged the affair in a moderate manner, and found- 
ed their opposition on that circumstance, it might 
have terminated very dift'erently. But, on the 
contrary, they drew up a sort of very modest 
charge against the Archbishop, to the following 
effect, — that he had maintained, in a sermon at 
Stirling, that women were circumcised in the fore- 
head — that he had called the Presbyterian ministers 
men of curious brains — that he had disdainfully 
asked in what passage of Scripture they found a ' 
bishop for a thousand pounds, horse, com, poultry, 
&c — that he had termed the ministers lovers of 
sedition, and said that they ought to wear crowns 
— that he termed the ministers liars, bachbiters, 
and writers of infamous libels. While the process 
against the Archbishop was depending, James more 
than once threatened Melville, and his " newlie 
erectit societie callit the Presbiterie, " with the 
pains and penalties of treason ; but Montgonieiy 
•w^as nevertheless found guilty of unsound doctrine, 
dissoluteness of life, contempt of the church's sen- 
tence, falsehood, lying, perjury, inciting to sedi- 
tion ; and was ordered to be cast out of the church, 
under the sentence of excommunication. 

These rigorous proceedings somewhat intimi- 
dated the Archbishop, and he endeavoured to make 
his peace with his enemies by professing to sub- 
mit to their authority, and to have no farther ' 
connexion with the See of Glasgow. Finding, 


lowever, that this eubmission had displeased the 
King, he retracted it, and proceeded to Glasgow 
;o take possession of the See. On the 8th of 
Vlarch 1582, the Archbishop entered the cathe- 
Iral, and seeing a minister in the pulpit, he order- 
id him out. The preacher replied, that he was 
)laced there by the Kirk, and refused to come 
lown ; whereupon he was forcibly ejected, and 
sven buffeted by the followers of the Laird of 
Vlinto. Another minister named Howison, who 
)retended to be moderator of the Presbytery, was 
mprisoned by the Provost of Glasgow, being for- 
;ibly pulled out of the chair, for certain seditious 
ipeeches which he was holding forth. 

The ministers and their adherents were now 
lufficiently exasperated. They ordered a fast to 
)e observed throughout the nation; the pulpits re- 
lounded with invectives against the Duke of Len- 
lox ; and Balcanqual, one of the preachers, pub- 
icly gave out this significant threat in a sermon at 
Edinburgh, that " if his Grace continued in op- 
)08ing himself to God and his word, he would 
;ome to little grace in the end. " Montgomery 
vas modestly found guilty of *' heresy, popery, 
common blasphemy, adultery, incest, fornication, 
laughter, theft, common oppression, common 
Irunkenness, usury, non-residence, absence fi'om 
lis kirk," &c.* was at length actually excommu- 
licated with anathemas and denunciations, and 
inally delivered over to the devil by a man named 

The King was somewhat startled at their oppo- 
ition, but not so the Duke of Lennox. He still 
»ntinued to entertain the Archbishop, which gave 
• Calderwood, p. 124<. 


mortal offence to his enemies. Having deputed 
two of their number to intimate to the Duke the 
prelate's excommunication, as also the penalties 
which those incurred who kept company with ex- 
communicated persons, Lennox fiercelyasked them 
whether the King or they were to be superiors: 
and also gave them to understand, that the Arch- 
bishop was entertained by hira at the King's com 
mand, and he would continue to do so while he 
pleased, in defiance of their censures. The King 
had also declared the excommunication illegal ; and 
a list of giievances was agreed upon by the minis- 
ters, which they resolved to present to James him- 
self in September 1582. 

But various proceedings in the interval, which 
fall now to be recorded, materially altered the aS' 
pect of affairs. Arran, Lennox's mortal enemy, 
observed with exultation that James was intimi^ 
dated by this opposition ; and he resolved not to 
lose the opportunity to rid himself and his own asso- 
ciates of a rival. Being suie of the support of the 
ministers, who were ready to engage in any conspi- 
racy against their sovereign and the Duke, Anan 
pretended great submission to James, and offered 
to resign his office as Captain of the Guard, which, 
being accepted, was, to his infinite mortification, 
bestowed on Lennox. He then craved permission 
to retire from court, which was also granted ; with 
the stipulation, however, that he should fix his re-; 
sidence in the metropolis. 

All this tended to exasperate Arran and his 
friends ; but their policy induced them to submit 
to these things with seeming acquiescence. But 
this pretended compliance was merely a covert to 
their designs. A powerful confederacy was form 


>d, which had for its pretended object, the defence 
ji the religion and the liberties of the kingdom, 
3ut, in reality, to procure the ruin of Lennox, and 
308session of the King's person. This confederacy 
vas not managed with so great caution, as to pre- 
clude it from reaching the ears of the Duke ; but 
m apparent reconciliation, which was effected be- 
ween him and Arran, tended to throw him off hia 
juard, while the confederacy in secret was equally 
►pposed to Arran, whose ruin was also meditated 
>y some of its members, after they had accom- 
>lished that of Lennox. The hunting-season was 
idvancing, when James prepared himself to parti- 
ipate in a sport of which he was passionately 
ond. For this purpose, he proceeded to Athol, 
eaving his two rival favourites at their respective 
esidences ; Lennox at Dalkeith, in Mid-Lothian, 
nd Arran at Kinneil, near Borrowstounness, in 
-<inlithgowshire ; and accompanied only by two 
oblemen, the Earls of Athol and Gowxie. The 
listrict of Athol at that period possessed peculiar 
ttractions to those devoted to the pastimes of the 
base ; and the numerous clansmen of the chief 
requently graced the retinue of the Scottish sove- 
eigns, when they visited those sequestered dis- 
ricts. Thither the young monarch proceeded, to 
arget for a while the feuds of his factious and tur- 
ulent subjects. 

It was at this season that the confederates re- 
olved to commence their operations against both 
lie favourites of the King. The inclinations of 
ames were in favour of Lennox, whose mildness 
f disposition and urbanity of manners had render- 
d him exceedingly popular with all save Arran, 
le Presbyterian preachers, and their admirers 


among the rabble. The popular party was at this 
time engaged in a treasonable correspondence with 
Elizabeth, and it was soon industriously circulat-. 
ed by them that Lennox was a Papist, and in 
league with the Duke of Guise, simply because 
he happened to be a Frenchman by birth. In the 
execution of his office, moreover, ^as Lord Cham- 
berlain, an office which had been suffered to fall 
into desuetude, he found the proprietors of lands 
strongly disposed to dispute their feudal tenures, 
which made him exact the duties with the utmost 
rigour ; and thus, though he did no more than he 
was warranted by law, he raised up against him- 
self a number of enemies. The boroughs were also 
under the jurisdiction of the chamberlain, and the 
proceedings of Lennox were by no means popular 
with those who managed their affairs, inasmuch as 
he had resolved to revive that jurisdiction, which 
the carelessness of his predecessors had caused 
them to neglect. 

But, however much Lennox erred in his pub- 
lic proceedings, and however falsely he was slan- 
dered by a faction who affected to believe him 
a Papist, and in the interest of the unfortunate 
Mary, his errors were those of the head, not of 
the heart, as being a man too easily counselled by 
ambitious and designing adventurers. It was not 
so with the Earl of Arran, whose infamy the page 
of history has faithfully recorded. This nobleman 
was Captain James Stewart, son of Lord Ochiltree, 
who, in 1581, had accused and brought to the 
block the Regent Morton, as being concerned in 
the murder of Damley. Having thus commenced 
his career in blood, it was not to be expected that 


he would be too scrupulous as to principle. With 
jreat dexterity he procured the guardianship of the 
young Earl of Arran, who, from repeated mortifi- 
cations and disappointments, had become deranged. 
No sooner had Stewart obtained possession of that 
pung nobleman, at one time beloved by the Re- 
Formers, than he seized his estates, assumed his 
title, and kept his ward in custody, where he was 
treated with barbarous cruelty. Being as cunning 
IS he was unprincipled, he had the address to in- 
sinuate himself into the favour of the King, whose 
juvenile passions he flattered and humoured, and 
cvhose mind he endeavoured to poison by de- 
bauchery and dissipation. While he was enter- 
tained at the house of the Earl of March, the 
King's gi-and-uncle, he scrupled not, in open de- 
fiance of the laws of honour, gratitude, and hos- 
pitality, to seduce the wife of his benefactor, a la- 
dy young and beautiful, but of the most violent 
and profligate passions. Impatient of restraint in 
their guilty connection, and wishing to legitimatise 
the offspring of their adulterous commerce, the la- 
dy, by the advice of Arran, petitioned to be di- 
vorced from her husband on grounds wbich no 
modest woman would ever plead in a court of jus- 
tice. By the influence of Arran slie was success- 
ful ; — a sentence of divorce was passed, which was 
instantly followed by marriage with her paramour. 
Nay, so utterly unprincipled was this man, that 
when the King, then only sixteen years of age, 
was at his seat of Kinneil, he carried his sister in 
his arms by force, and undressed, into the King's 
apartment, and told his sovereign to use her in the 
devil's name. Such was the man who industrious- 
VOL. I. u 



ly fomented the report that Lennox was a Papist, 
who affected to regard the Protestant religion in 
danger, and with whom the Presbyterian ministers 
hesitated not at times to act, in their zeal to esta- 
blish their favourite system of church- govern- 

But Arran, as well as Lennox, was viewed with 
hatred by the confederacy, though not with the 
same feelings, inasmuch as the French connections 
of the latter operated powerfully against him. The 
confederacy, as has been observed at the outset, 
consisted of the Earls of Gowrie, Mar, Glencairn, 
Athol, and Rothes, Lords Lindsay, Boyd, Oliphant, 
the Master of Glammis, the Lairds of Lochleven, 
Cleish, Easter Wemyss, with several other barons 
and gentlemen of distinction. The King proceeded 
to Athol ; and, after having enjoyed his pastime, 
prepared to return to the metropolis with a small 
number of attendants. He accordingly left the forest 
of Athol, and, on the 22d of August 1582, was pro- 
ceeding on his journey southwards, when be was in- 
vited by Gowrie to Ruthven Castle, which lay in 
his way. * James accepted the invitation, little 
conceiving that there was any design against him, 
though, when he entered the Castle, he felt some 
uneasiness at the multitude of strangers. This 
alarm, however, he thought it prudent to conceal, 
although he had sufficient grounds for alarm, as his 
own attendants were few, and as the retainers of 
the confederated nobles were armed, to the num- 
ber of 1000 and upwards, and dispersed through- 

• Now called Hunting Tower Castle, and belonging 
to the Duke of Athol. It is in the parish of Tippermuir, 
Perthshire, and consists of two ancient square towers, con- 
nected by buildings of a more recent date. 


out the neighbourhood. During the night, no in- 
dication of violence appeared ; but on the follow- 
ing morning, when the King summoned his at- 
tendants, and was about to leave the apartment, 
the Master of Glammis appeared at the door, and 
told him that he must stay. Though the King's 
fears had now increased, he nevertheless appeared 
to be at ease, and inquired at the Master the rea- 
son of his interruption. He was told in reply that 
he would know it soon. The associated Lords then 
appeared, and presented a remonstance against 
Lennox and Arran, which James received with 
the complaisance necessary in his situation. Still 
he was impatient to be gone, and made an effort 
to leave the room, but was rudely prevented. 
Finding himself a prisoner, he expostulated, en- 
treated, and threatened ; and at last, finding no 
chance of escape, he burst into tears. The Mas- 
ter of Glammis, however, fiercely exclaimed to his 
companions, " No matter for his tears : better 
children weep than bearded men. " This ex- 
clamation made an impression on James, which 
he never afterwards forgot or forgave. They 
immediately placed the King under severe re- 
straint ; dismissed all his followers, whom they 
impeached, and allowed no one to have access to 
him but those of their own party. 

This exploit was soon noised abroad ; and on 
the following day, Arran and his brother set out 
for Ruthven with about forty horsemen, to escort 
the King to Edinburgh. He depended much on 
the friendship of the Earl of Gowrie, to whom he 
was allied, and who had co-operated with him in 
the prosecution of the Regent Morton. He had 
accordingly with his party proceeded as far as 


Duplin, where he separated from his followers, 
and with two attendants proceeded to the Castle 
of Ruthven, charging his brother to keep the high- 
way with the rest. Arran arrived at the gate, and 
demanded admission to the Kins ; but the wrath 
of the conspirators arose to such a pitch, at the 
sight of a man who was now odious, that instant 
death would have been the penalty of his rashness, 
had not the friendship of Gowrie intervened. He 
was sent a prisoner to Stirling Castle. His fol- 
lowers, under the command of his brother, were 
attacked by the Earl of Mar with a superior force. 
They were soon routed ; his brother was taken 
prisoner, severely wounded, and sent to the Cas- 
tle of Duplin. 

For six days the King was kept in close con- 
finement, but treated, nevertheless, with respect. 
Lennox, in the mean time, was not idle. He des- 
patched some noblemen in his interest to inquire 
into the condition of the King, and to ascertain 
whether or not he was detained against his will ; 
for if so, as was strongly rumoured, he would en- 
deavour to set him free. They were not permit- 
ted, however, to see the King, except in presence 
of the associated nobles ; and when they had ex- 
pressed their opinions, James immediately exclaim- 
ed that he was a prisoner, which he desired them 
to proclaim to all his subjects, hoping that the 
Duke would exert himself to effect his rescue. 
The ringleaders denied that he was a captive ,• and 
after expressing an invective against both Lennox 
and Arran, declared to the noblemen sent by the 
former, that they were resolved to persist in their 
course at the hazard of their lives and fortunes ; 


and with this declaration, they forcibly ejected the 
messengers of Lennox from the Castle. 

When the news of this exploit reached the me- 
tropolis, nothing could exceed the consternation of 
the public mind. In Edinburgh the influence of 
Lennox was considerable, and he made himself 
particularly active by his endeavours to excite the 
citizens. The conspirators, however, the day after 
his captivity, suffered James to proceed to Perth, 
in order to preserve appearances, but vigilantly 
guarded by their own associates. James now 
found it necessary to yield to circumstances. The 
remonstrance which the ringleaders had presented, 
abounded with the most furious invectives against 
the two favourites, the Archbishop of Glasgow, 
the Bishop of Ross, and various others who were 
attached to the unfortunate Mary. Thus situated, 
and more apprehensive for the safety of Lennox 
than for his own, he agreed to issue an extorted 
proclamation, setting forth, that his residence at 
Perth was his own free choice, and commanding 
all associations which had been formed for his res- 
cue to dissolve within six hours fiom the date of 
the proclamation, under the penalties of treason. 
This proclamation bore date the 28th of August, the 
eighth day after the capture of the King. Lennox 
was by this time at the head of a considerable force ; 
and we are also informed by Sir James Balfour, 
that another association was formed to liberate the 
King, consisting of the Earls of Huntly, Crawford, 
Argyle, Montrose, Marischall, Sutherland, and 
Caithness, Lords Home, Seton, Ogilvy, Maxwell, 
Herries, Sinclair, Livingstone, and Newbottle, with 
all the gentlemen of Merse and Lothian. Whe- 


ther or not those noblemen coalesced with Lennox 
it is impossible to say ; but it is probable that lit 
would have paid little attention to the proclama- 
tion, as he knew that the King was a prisoner, 
and that it had been extorted from him by force 
had he not received a private letter from the King, 
exhorting him to leave the kingdom before tht 
20th of September. This letter he communicated 
to his friends, who advised him in the mean time 
to retire to Dunbarton, where they would after- 
wards deliberate whether he should depart foi 
France, or attempt the rescue of the King. At 
Dunbarton, however, so many noblemen and others 
espoused his cause, that the confederates took the 
alarm, and procured an order from James, com- 
manding all the Duke's attendants, with the ex- 
ception of forty, to depart from Dunbarton within 
twelve hours after notice, and to desist from ap- 
proaching the Duke's residence while he was in 
Scotland. Lennox lost all hope after this intima- 
tion, and sent Lord Herries with two gentlemen 
to demand assurance of his own safety, if he com- 
plied with that order. After mature deliberation, 
liis enemies sent him a peremptoiy order ; * and 
while Lennox was considering it, An-an was exa- 
mined in prison, but the result was not made 
known. George Douglas, also, the same who had 
aided Mary in her escape from Lochleven, was 
aiTested at Stirling, and examined concerning the 
intended plot to associate Mary with the King in 
the government. He confessed that he had heard 
the report, but denied that he had concern in it, 
nor could he inform them who were its contrivers. 

• Moyes, p. 64, 65. 


Gowrie and the noblemen who detained the 
King began to diacovei*, that all their pretended 
representations about the publie good had no effect 
in quieting the uneasiness of the people. He was 
accordingly brought to Edinburgh ; and his recep- 
tion, on entering the city, was highly characteristic 
and picturesque. James was met by the Presbyterian 
ministers, who formed part of the procession, and 
proceeded along the streets, singing the 124th Psalm, 
beginning, " 'Now Israel may say, " &c. * A con- 
vention of the Estates was called, which of course 
consisted solely of the associated peers. The 
ministers loudly extolled the detention of the King ; 
they passed an act of their assembly, declaring the 
conspirators " to have done good and acceptable 
service to God ; " and threatening those with ex- 
communication who opposed the good cause. The 
act of their assembly they caused to be read in 
all the churches of the kingdom, " to the offence, " 
observes Spottiswoode, " of many good men, who 
were gi-ieved to see a bad cause thus coloured and 
defended. " 

The plans of the conspirators were successful with 
regard to Lennox. Arran was set at liberty, and 
compelled to reside northward of the river Spey, but 
Lennox was commanded to leave the kingdom. As 
to the Duke, he continued to lurk about Blackness, 
Dunbarton, Callender, and other places, where he 
could find shelter, still hoping that circumstances 
might occur which would cause an alteration in his 
affairs. But the hatred of his enemies was impla- 
cable. Though often destitute of the common 
necessaries of life, and even of clothing, he was 

* Spottiswocdc, p. 322. 


reluctant to depart from the kingdom without tak- 
ing leave of his sovereign. This was denied him ; 
and he at length departed for France, where he 
died on the 29th of May the following year, of a 
broken heart, as was reported, but not without 
strong suspicions of being poisoned. James la- 
mented his death sincerely, and ever afterwards 
showed kindness to his children. A few hours 
before his death, which happened at Paris, some 
priests came to him to administer the last rites of 
the Romish Church, but he would not admit them, 
and declared that he would die in the faith of the 
Church of Scotland. This fact was publicly made 
known by James, that the people might see the 
injury he had sustained by his enemies during his 
residence in Scotland. 

An ambassador, in the meantime, from Eliza- 
beth, at whose instance, indeed, the whole busi- 
ness had been conducted, procured the recall of 
the Earl of Angus, who had been exiled for his 
turbulence, and forfeited in the Parliament of 1581. 
In the beginning of December, Anan so far set at 
nought his restraint as to have a meeting with the 
Earls of Crawford, Athol, and Montrose, after 
which the Court was daily distracted by rumours 
of conspiracies and intended assassinations. The 
King was still as much a prisoner as he had been 
when in the Castle of Ruthven ; and he was doom- 
ed to repeated mortifications and insults from the 
ministers and their adherents. Two ambassa- 
dors, who came from France to negotiate with 
James respecting his mother's affairs, and to re- 
monstrate with the confederates on the King's 
imprisonment, were publicly insulted by them. 
Their sermons abounded with declamatioDS against 


them : they were termed ambassadors of the bloody 
murderer, meaning the Duke of Guise, who, they 
maintained, had caused them to be sent hither. 
One of them happened to be a knight of the Holy 
Ghost ; and, consequently, the white cross of the 
order which he wore was pronounced to be the 
badge of Antichrist. The ambassadors pitied a 
monarch whose life was embittered by those men ; 
and seeing all hope of a negotiation vain, they 
petitioned for their dismissal, to return to France. 
This was granted; but the King, wishing to treat 
them with some respect, on account of the alli- 
ance which had formerly existed between France 
and Scotland, made arrangements with the magis- 
trates of Edinburgh to give them an entertain- 
ment before their departure. This also gave of- 
fence to the ministers ; and, in order to frustrate it, 
they proclaimed a solemn fast to be held on the 
very day of the festival. On that day, in order 
to detain the people in the church, three of them 
successively preached sermons in St Giles' Church, 
the object of which was to excite the i-abble to fall 
on the ambassadors ; and their curses were more 
than ordinarily vehement against the magistrates 
and the nobility who waited on the foreigners. 
Nor was this all; it was with the utmost difficulty 
that the ministers, after the ambassadors had de- 
parted, were restrained from excommunicating the 
magistrates for not observing their fast, which, 
from the motives by which it was proclaimed, was 
in reality an insult to Heaven, and treason against 
the King, they having no authority to institute any 
such observances. 

The King was obliged to submit to these and 
innumerable other insults in silence, and thus tlie 


faction soon became emboldened to take greater 
liberties witli the royal power. They scrupled 
not to set aside acts of Parliament which did not 
coincide with their wishes ; and they actually en- 
acted laws in their illegal assemblies, which being, 
as they pretended, enacted in the name, and by 
the authority of Christ, the head of the Church, 
were not only binding on all the estates of the 
kingdom, but were to be implicitly obeyed under 
the penalty of excommunication. But James was 
determined to endure the bondage no longer than 
was necessary ; and various circumstances occur- 
red which induced him to watch for a sufficient 
opportunity. The principal object of alarm with 
the associated Lords, was the fear that negocia- 
tions would yet be concluded to secure the crown 
to Mary in conjunction with the King. Yet, 
though they guarded James most sedulously night 
and day, they could not prevent the access of cer- 
tain noblemen to the King, who hated the associa- 
tion, and to whom James spoke without reserve, 
informing them that he was resolved to hazard 
every thing to recover his freedom. The return 
of two ambassadors from England, the one mak- 
ing a report ditFerent from the other, made James 
more anxious than ever to obtain his deliverance. 
As the confederated Lords %vere in league with 
Elizabeth, whom they secretly assured, by one of 
the above ambassadors, that they would never 
consent to the association of Mary with James in 
the government, an assurance which was highly 
gratifying to the English Queen, they feared that, 
if James regained his liberty, his filial regard 
would stimulate him to exertions in the catise 
of his mother. It was tlieir interest, therefore, to 


keep James under restraint, until Elizabeth was 
able to accomplish her designs ; and the King was 
thus compelled to coincide with what, through 
their machinations, he could not otherwise avoid. 

There cannot be the slightest doubt that this 
was one of the intentions of those who contrived 
the Raid of Ruthven. Whether or not they knew 
the catastrophe which was destined for Mary, it 
was evidently their design to render the King 
powerless and inefficient, by endeavouring to effect 
the ruin of all those noblemen who were inclined 
to pity the unfortunate Queen, and by stimulating 
the senseless and furious preachers to excite the 
vulgar who attended them in shoals, that they 
might secure adherents among the nobles. James 
knew all this well, and, as the report of Lennox's 
death had been clearly ascertained, conceiving that 
they were now freed from a dangerous enemy, 
they guarded the King with less care than when 
they were daily under apprehensions that the 
Duke would suddenly return. As for Arran, he 
was so universally obnoxious, that he caused little 
uneasiness. The King was accordingly enabled to 
arrange a plan for his escape with the Earls of 
Argyle, Marischall, Rothes, and Montrose, and he 
appointed a convention of the estates, to be held at 
St Andrew's in May 1583, to which these noble- 
men were specially summoned. Few of the con- 
federated nobles were then at court; and James, in 
the meanwhile, left Edinburgh, with the intention 
of making a journey through Fife and the neigh- 
bouring counties, before the meeting of the con- 
vention. He first proceeded to the palace of 
Falkland, where he communicated his plan of 
escape to William Stewait, Captain of the Guaid, 


and received tbe hearty co-operation of that officer. 
It was arranged, that the King should set out for ■ 
St Andrew's, under the pretence of paying liis 
uncle, the Earl of March, a visit, while the noble- 
men, who were privy to the King's plans, were to 
take up their residence in the castle of that city. 
A few days before the convention met, the King 
left Falkland, and he was joined at Dairsie in his 
progress by some barons who were opposed to the 
confederacy. Exulting at his escape, James amus- 
ed himself with hawking by the way ; and he ar- 
rived at St Andrew's without interruption. Yet 
his joy at having regained his liberty seems to have 
been imprudently expressed, and almost to have 
thrown him off his guard ; for he slept the first 
night in one of the inns of St Andrew's, where 
he had little protection from surprise by his late 
keepers. Next day, James entered the Castle of 
St Andrew's, where he was attended by the Earls 
of Marischall, Montrose, and other noblemen. The 
gates were ordered to be shut, and Stewart, the 
Captain of the Guard, was intrusted with the 
command. A new privy council was appointed ; : 
and the Earl of Gowrie, although the most active 
of those concerned in the Raid of Ruthven, con- 
trived to be admitted into favour. This was done 
at the intercession of Stewart, though not without 
great difficulty. Gowrie was compelled to ask 
pardon on his knees, and humbly to profess his 
sorrow for the share he had sustained in the cap- 
ture of the King. Even Arran, though at first 
also refused, was permitted to come to Court ; 
and we shall afterwards see the share he took in 
public affairs. 

It was not to be expected that the King would 


allow this bold exploit to pass unnoticed ; nor yet 
was Arran inclined to look with friendly feelings 
on those who had attempted to ruin him with the 
King. Yet few princes in James' situation, con- 
sidering the insults and provocations he had re- 
ceived, could have behaved with greater clemency 
and wisdom than he did on this occasion. He 
published a declaration, in which he expressed 
how sensible he was of the treasonable attempt 
on his person at Ruthven ; yet, willing to forgive 
all past offences, if the actors in, and defenders of 
that exploit, would show themselves penitent, crave 
pardon in due time, and not provoke him by any 
farther unlawful actions, to remember that trea- 
sonable attempt. This proclamation, however, 
had little effect. Arran was determined to revenge 
himself on his enemies, who were both numerous 
and powerful, and he contrived to accompany this 
act of indemnity by certain conditions, which, in 
effect, defeated the ends of the proclamation. As 
they expected little good, therefore, from Arran, 
they scrupled not to set at nought the declaration, 
and to employ themselves in making the best pro- 
vision they could for their own safety. The most 
turbulent of them were accordingly confined to va- 
rious places throughout the country ; but as they 
chose also to disobey the charge, with the excep- 
tion of the Earl of Angus, they were denounced 
as rebels, and proclamations issued against them. 
Various other proclamations followed, which were 
sufficiently severe. The convention which assem- 
bled at Perth made it a capital crime for any one to 
deny that the Duke of Lennox had not dieda sincere 
Protestant. A second decree recapitulated all 

VOL. I. X 


the circumstances attending the seizure and deten- 
tion of the King's person at Ruthven ; and a third, 
which was levelled against the nobility who had 
disregarded the first proclamation and indemnity, 
ordered all loyal subjects, between the ages of six- 
teen and sixty, within the sherift'dom of Fife, to 
attend the King at Falkland on the 24th day of 
August 1583, well armed, and carrying with them 
provisions for fifteen days, under the penalties of 
death, and forfeiture of lands and goods. 

^\Tiile the King and his advisers were thus en- 
gaged in restraining the seditious practices of the 
associated Lords, it was not likely that the minis- 
ters would view these transactions with indiffer- 
ence. They held a General Assembly on the 
10th of October, in which they proceeded to draw 
up certain articles to be presented to the King, in 
which they set forth all their grievances, real or 
imaginary. Among other individuals whom they 
attacked were the King of France, the Duke of 
Guise, " and other Papists there," the Earls of 
Huntly, Crawford, and others in this country, 
whom they characterized as " apostates," " sworn 
enemies to Christ," " traitors," " maintainers of 
idolatry," " wicked and obstinate Papists," " traf- 
fickers against God." * Various other griev- 
ances, of a more personal nature, were also enu- 
merated, and laid before the King. But the 
reception those articles met with from James, 
did not satisfy them. It was in vain that they 
were reminded, that alliances and treaties might 
be made with foreign princes, without the dif- 
ference of religion making them unlawful, and 

• Calderwood, p. 142. 


that they had no business to interfere ; they were 
obstinate in their opinions, and moderation was 
with them equivalent to open contempt of religion. 
The ministers, indeed, had been more than or- 
dinarily active in their justification of the Raid of 
Ruthven, and, in particular, the famous Andrew 
Melville had made no secret of his opinions. This 
individual, who first introduced Presbyterianism 
into Scotland, had, ever since his arrival from Ge- 
neva, kept the kingdom in a continual turmoil. 
His zeal transported him beyond the bounds of 
prudence and moderation, and frequently led him 
to act in a manner which no well- constituted go- 
vernment could tolerate. Honest and sincere he 
doubtless was in his religious notions, but his irri- 
table temper hurried him into the most extrava- 
gant excesses. It has been already observed, that 
the ministers were leagued with Gowrie and the 
associated Lords in their seditious attempt upon 
the King's person at Ruthven, and it was theii; 
interest to justify the whole plot to the people in 
their pulpit lucubrations. In 1583, Melville preach- 
ed a sermon on the famous fast-day which the mi- 
nisters had appointed to be held when they insult- 
ed the French ambassadors ; and as the Presby- 
terian preachers of that age generally harangued 
their hearers from the most violent passages in the 
Jewish Scriptures, Melville's sermon was founded 
on the fourth chapter of the Prophecy of Daniel, 
which narrates the catastrophe of Belshazzar, as 
indicated by the famous hand-writing on the wall, 
interpreted by the Prophet himself. The sermon 
was preached at St Andrew's ; but it was so vio- 
lent and seditious, that Melville was summoned 
to appear before the Council. At the time ap- 


pointed he obeyed the eummons, but formally ten- 
dered his protestation against the charge ; main- 
taining, moreover, that " what was spoken in the 
pulpit, ought first to be tried and judged by the 
Presbytery ; and that neither the King nor Coun- 
cil could, wi prima histanfia, meddle therewith, 
though the speeches were treasonable. " * This 
logic, however, made little impression on the King, 
who was present, or the Council, who were irri- 
tated at his insolent behaviour. But INIelville 
cared little for the presence or the person of liis 
sovereign. " You are too bold," said he, '* in a 
regular Christian church, to pass by the pastors, 
piophets, and doctors, and to take upon yourselves 
to judge the doctrine, and controul the ambassa- 
dors and messengers of a greater than any liere. 
But that ye may see your own weakness and rash- 
ness in taking upon ye that which ye neither ought 
nor can do, there," (taking a small Hebrew Bible 
from his pocket, and laying it down with violence 
before the King and Chancellor,) " there are my 
instructions and warrant, and see if any of you 
can controul me, or say that I have exceeded 
my injunctions." This deplorable and insolent 
language astonished the Council. " Sir," said 
Anan, who was Chancellor, taking up the Bible 
and presenting it to the King, " he scometh your 
Majesty." " Nay," replied Melville, " I scorn 
not, I am in good earnest." After various exami- 
nations he was dismissed, and ordered to enter 
himself at the Castle of Blackness within twenty- 
four hours ; but Melville, conscious that he had 
justly offended, fled that night to Berwick. Pro- 

* Spottiswoode, p. 330. Calderwood, ut ivp- 


bably he feared to enter the Castle of Blackness, 
as it was held by Arran's dependents. Imme- 
diately after his flight, all the seditious preachers 
sounded his praises, and extolled his pretended 
sufferings as if he had become a renowned martyr 
for truth. Others of the preachers were also 
sought after by the Court, who had less ability 
and influence, but who were fully as seditious. 
They contrived, however, to escape punishment, 
by a timely retreat into England. * 

But while the government was thus occupied 
with the ministers, the banished noblemen were 
not inactive. A few of those who were concern- 
ed in the Raid of Ruthven, had left the kingdom 
according to the tenor of the proclamation against 
them ; but anew conspiracy was formed, of a more 
daring nature than the former. Of this conspiracy, 
the Earl of Gowrie again was the great leafier. 
The Earl of Mar and the Master of Glammis had 
retired to Ireland, and some of their associates had 
retreated into England, in direct violation of the 
security which they gave to the government, that 
they would leave the kingdoms of Scotland, Eng- 
land, and Ireland, and not return within the same, 
without the King's special permission, f Lord 
Boyd, with the Lairds of Lochleven and Easter 
Wemyss, proceeded to France, while others of less 
influence were confined within certain bounds in 
Scotland. Gowrie and obtained permission, not- 
withstanding his reconciliation with Airan, to pro- 
ceed to France in virtue of the royal proclamation, 

• Calderwood, p. 144 — 147. Spottiswoode, p. 330. 
Stevenson's History, vol. i. p. 1.34. 

f Moyes' Memoirs of the Affairs of Scotland, p. 85. 


and under the pretence of finding a vessel to con- 
vey him thither, he went to Dundee, where he 
lurked about longer than the time assigned him 
for his departure, under various pretences ; even 
for four or five months after the departure of Mar 
and Glammis, he was found lingering, pretending 
that he would depart " this day and that day. " * 
The time specified for the final departure of Gow- 
rie was the last day of March 1584, with an in- 
timation to him, and those of his associates who 
had not obeyed the royal proclamation, that if they 
failed, they would be apprehended and punished 
as rebels. Gowrie had previously joined in con- 
demning the Raid of Ruthven, in which he had 
been a distinguished actor ; but finding that this 
admission did not mitigate his punishment, he 
again recanted, and corresponded with his former 
associates, f It was not his intention, however, 
to leave the country, as he had for some time held 
a correspondence with Mar and Glammis in Ire- 
land, the substance of which was, that they should 
return home, and a second time attempt to sur- 
prise the King's person. :j: 

The Court, by some means or other, got notice 
of this new confederacy, or, at least, of Gowrie's 
concern in the correspondence with Mar and 
Glammis ; § and he was accordingly charged on the 

» Historie of King James the Sext, p. 199, 202. 

f Calderwood, p. Ii3. 

t Spottiswoode, p. 330. 

§ It is asserted, however, by Sir James Melville, (Me- 
moirs, p. 155), that Mar, Glammis, and the other insur- 
gents, had arranged the whole matter before Gowrie was 
party in it, and that he would have left the country, though 
lie was " of nature over-slow, " had not the " despiglit " 


second of March to leave the kingdom within fifteen 
days, while a message was despatched to Elizabeth, 
entreating her to command Mar and Glammis to 
leave Carrick-Fergus in Ireland, where they had 
chosen to reside. Gowrie, however, by shifts and 
evasions, continued to disregard the proclamation, 
and resided at Dundee, where he found means to 
arrange the projected enterprise. It was concluded 
that Mar and Glammis, with their friends, should 
return from Ireland, and proceed to Stirling, where 
they would be joined by Gowrie and the Earl of 
Angus, the latter of whom had been recently re- 
called from exile, but confined on his parole to his 
own house in the North. Mustering their friends 
and forces at Stirling, they were thence to send 
a supplication to the King, setting forth the ima- 
ginary dangers which then threatened both church 
and state. In the meanwhile. Mar and the Mas- 
ter of Glammis were to surprise the Castle of 
Stirling, after they had been joined by Gowrie and 
Angus. Several other noblemen were connected 
with this conspiracy, though at the time they re- 
mained neutral, particularly the Earl of Bothwell, 
and Lord Lindsay. 

Such was the plan which Gowrie and his as- 
sociates had adopted for the recovering of their 
influence and power ; and there can be little doubt 
that he had induced the banished noblemen to take 
part in this enterprise, as they seem to have been 
guided solely by his representations. In pur- 
suance of the plan which had been regularly 
concocted in this treasonable correspondence, Mar 

he entertained towards Arran " moved him to stay and 
take part with tlium." 


and Glammie arrived in Scotland in the month of 
April, and, with the aid of Angus, began to collect 
their followers for the attack on Stirling. But the 
vigilance of the King gave the first blow to the 
confederacy. On the 16th of April, only two days 
before the intended surprise of Stirling Castle, 
Gowrie was apprehended at Dundee, by Stewart, 
Captain of the JRoyal Guard, specially deputed for 
that purpose. Gowrie, who was completely aware 
of the treasons in which he was engaged, made a 
brave resistance before he was taken prisoner, and 
held out his house in Dundee for some hours in 
defiance of the royal commission, and the soldiers 
under Stewart's command. * 

The confederacy, however, had been amply ma- 
tured before Gowrie's apprehension, which, it 
would appear, had been effected very unexpected- 
ly, f as there is every reason to conclude that his 
associates were not aware of the fact. He was 
apprehended on the 16th of April ; and had they 
received intelligence of the activity of the govern- 
ment, they would certainly have paused before 
they proceeded to extremes. In full I'eliance, 
however, on Gowrie's assistance, more especially 
as he was residing in a district in which he had 
numerous friends and followers. Mar, Angus, the 
Master of Glammis, the Commendators of Dry- 

• Sir James Balfour's Annals, vol. i. p, 377, 378. 
Moyes, p. 86. 

f ^Veare informed by Archbishop Spottiswoode, (Hist. 
p. 330), that Gowrie was unexpectedly surprised by Stew- 
art, " as he lay in the house of William Drummond, bur- 
gess in Dundee. " He pretended to liold out the house ; 
" but the town concurring with the Captain, he was forced 
to yield." 


burgl) and Cambuskerineth, with others of the 
leaders, attacked Stirling on the 18th, and forcibly 
took possession of the town. * They easily got 
possession of the Castle, and, erecting their stand- 
ard, they published a manifesto, professing that 
they were compelled to this extremity on account 
of the unhappy state of the government. This 
manifesto, which, according to Calderwood, was 
issued on the 22d of April, was not very remark- 
able for its moderation. After a long preamble, 
in which they affected to be actuated by motives 
of pure patriotism, they indulged in bitter invec- 
tives against those who were then at the Court, 
terming them " an insolent company, manifest and 
avowed Papists, Atheists, and excommunicated 
persons, enemies to the religion and state, favour- 
ers of the bloody Council of Trent, as appeareth 
by banishing the most learned of the ministers," 
&c. Arran was charitably termed "a tyrant," a 
" godless and bloody atheist, and seditious Ca- 
tiline, " " the chief disturber of the country, pa- 
tron of all kinds of vice and iniquity. " They con- 
cluded by maintaining that they alone had " the 
fear of God before their eyes. " f 

Intelligence of this bold exploit having reached 
the metropolis, where the King then resided, and 
roused the government to activity, a proclamation 
was speedily issued by James, commanding his 
subjects to follow him to Stirling, with provision 
for thirty days, while a few of the nobles at court 
who were suspected, were placed under restraint. 

• Calderwood, (History, p. Ii9), says it was on the 

t lb. p. 149, 150. 


The citizens of the metropolis evinced a remark- 
able zeal for the King, and the town-council evea 
advanced money to pay soldiers who would en- 
list. * It was on the 19th of April that informa- 
tion of the surprise of Stirling Castle was received; 
and before the 24th, two days after the insurgents' 
manifesto had appeared, a considerable army was 
in readiness to march against the rebels, amounting^ 
to nearly 20,000 men. The tidings of these ac- 
tive preparations soon reached the insurgents, but 
already had they become disheartened. The ap- 
prehension of Gowrie had dissipated their hopes, 
as they imagined that it was a mere pretence on 
his part to betray them, he having deserted thera 
once before. Their friends and followers also 
were more tardy in espousing their cause than 
they were led to anticipate ; while Elizabeth, who 
had been the chief exciter of the exploit, had ne- 
glected to fulfil her promise by sending them the 
expected supply of money. They had possession 
of the fortress but a few days, when they were 
disheartened and irresolute. They had only 300 
men with them to oppose the royal army, which 
was commanded by their implacable enemies. 

The King, having put his army in motion, and 
sent out a detachment under the command of Stew- 
art, who had apprehended Gowrie, advanced in 
person towards Stirling. The near approach of 
the royal army struck them with dismay ; and, find- 
ing it impossible to hold out against a superior 
force, Angus, Mar, and Glammis, abandoned the 
fortress, and fled into England. The Master of 
Livingstone was sent with a party to surround the 

* Spottiswoode, p. 330. 


Castle ; but the fortress was surrendered to th® 
King at the first summons. We are informed by 
Calderwood, that there were only twenty-eight 
men in the garrison, and of these the captain and 
three ethers were executed. * The command of 
the Castle was given to Arran, and " this rash 
and feeble attempt produced such effects as usually 
follow disappointed conspiracies. It not only hurt 
the cause for which it was undertaken, but added 
strength and reputation to the King, confirmed 
Arran's power, and enabled them to pursue their 
measures with more boldness and greater suc- 
cess." f 

The government now turned their attention to 
the principal agitators. Of these Gowrie was the 
only one of rank in custody, and as he had be- 
come incorrigible from his inveterate propensity to 
turbulence and mischief, it was resolved to bring 
him to trial. He had been brought by sea to 
Leith, and thence had been removed to the me- 
tropolis, where he remained a prisoner. At the 
King's command he was removed to Stirling, 
where the Court continued to reside after the re- 
covery of the Castle. He was accordingly re- 
moved thither ; and on the fourth of May, 1584, he 
was put on his defence before a jury of his peers ' 
for high treason. There were also tried at the 
same time two of the persons engaged in the af- 
fair, Archibald Douglas and John Forbes. The 
charges against him were four, and of a singular 
import, " 1st, That he intended and had begun a 
new conspiracy against the King, whom he had 
also kept prisoner in his house some time before. 

* Calderwood, p. 150. 

f Robertson's History, 8vo. edit. 1806, vol, ii. p. iSB. 


2(1, That he conferred by night with the servants of 
Angus, to seize the towns of Perth and Stirling. 
3d, That he had resented the King's authority at 
Dundee, and had conceived a conspiracy against 
the life of the King and his mother. 4th, That he 
had consulted a certain woman, who was a notori- 
ous witch, respecting the success of his conspi-! 
racy and enterprises. " * 

The persons who presided at Gowrie's trial were 
John Graham, who acted as judge; and to him were 
joined Gordon of Lochinvar, the Master of Living- 
stone, Edmonstone of Duntrath, and Bruce of 
Airth ; and it is remarkable, that two of these 
who were specially nominated by the King liira- 
self, were connected with Gowrie's family, Gor- 
don was married to Isabel, one of Gowrie's own 
daughters, and the Master of Livingstone waa 
also his relation. Sir William de Ruthven the 
first Lord Ruthven, who died in 1528, having 

* Sir James Balfour's Annals, vol. i. p. 278. But iu 
Maitland's History of Scotland, folio, vol. iii. p. 1176> 
1177, the charges are given in a more plausible man- 
ner. " 1st, That in the beginning of February, one Da- 
vid Hume, a servant of Mar's, had, privately at Perth, 
communicated to him the treasonable device of surprising 
that burgh and Stirling, at least one of them, to which he 
agreed. 2d, That he had used every means to get himself 
introduced to one Erskine, knowing him to be agent for the 
Earl of Mar, and had conferred with him about surprising 
Stirling Castle, and the supplying it with men and ammuni- 
tion. 3d, That having been commanded to surrender him- 
self to the Chancellor, Lord Pittenween, &c. he had stood 
out for three hours, after calling on the people of Dun- 
dee to assist him. And lastly, that though he was bound 
to maintain his sovereign's life, honour and crown, he had 
treasonably concealed an atfair which concerned his safety, 
and that of the Queen his mother, and had as yet hid the 
prticulars. The reader will find the authentic indictments 


married Isabel, a daughter of Lord Livingstone of 
Saltcoats, in the county of Haddington. * The 
jury of peers consisted of the Earls of Arran, Ar- 
gyle, Crawford, Montrose, Glencairn, Eglinton, 
Marischall, Lords Saltoun, Somerville, Doon, Liv- 
ingstone, Drummond, Ogilvy, Oliphant, the Laird 
of Tullibardine, and the Master of Elphingstone. 
Of these, Montrose, Livingstone, Drummond, and 
Ogilvy, were connected by relationship with the fa- 
mily of Ruthven, f and from that circumstance it 
has been concluded that the King wished to save 
Gowrie, otherwise he would not have placed so 
many of his relations among his judges. 

While Gowrie remained at Edinburgh, before 
his arrival at Stirling, he was examined by the 
Earl of Montrose, Lord Doon, and Sir Robert 
Melville, to whom he confessed that he had cor- 
responded with the exiled noblemen, but positive- 
ly denied that he intended to seize the King's per- 
son. Indeed, he admitted almost the whole of the 
charges, and confessed that the Earls of Maris- 
chall and Bothwell, Lord Lindsay, and some of 
the Western Barons, were connected with the con- 
federacy — that they expected a supply from Eng- 
land — and that Elizabeth intended to induce the 

in Mr Pitcairn's Criminal Trials, of which the above, how- 
ever, is the substance. Gowrie was found guilty of " not 
onlie maist innaturallie and treasonablie committing maist 
hie treasoun, in conceling of ane purpois of sa wechtie im- 
portance, bot also persisting in the said treasoun, the con- 
tinouance of his silence, and not declaring of ye said pur- 
pos, tending to ye perrill of his Maiestie's lyf and estate." 
* The Treasonable Conspiracies of the Earls of Gowrie, 
by George Earl of Cromarty, 8vo. Edin. 1714., p. 12, 1.3. 

f Ibid, ut svp. 

VOL. I. Y 8 


Hamiltons to join them. His request for an au- 
dience of the King, which he made by letter ad- 
dressed to James himself, was denied ; and as he 
had added, in a postscript, that it was not the con- 
cealing of treason of which he intended to speak 
to the King, but " the revealing of a benefit, " this 
expression was made a pait of the indictment 
against him. 

It is not to be denied, however, that the trial 
proceeded in a very summary manner, and that 
though the fact of treason was indisputable, Gow- 
rie's judges were by no means disposed to allow 
him the benefit of the law. He objected to Gor- 
don of Lochinvar, on account of some family dif- 
ferences existing between them, which objection 
was overruled. He observed, secondly, that the 
noblemen who examined him had given a solemn 
pledge, that whatsoever he confessed would not be 
alleged against him ; whereas, what he then ad- 
mitted was now made part of the indictment. To 
this it was answered, that those noblemen had no 
power to give him any such assurance. Thirdly, 
he maintained, that as he was charged with trea- 
son, he ought to have had a citation of forty days 
notice, and his accuser specified ; but it was re- 
plied, that in matters of treason, the King could ar- 
rest the person at all times. Fourthly, he raised 
an objection on the merits of his license to leave 
the country, which was also repelled. His last ob- 
jection was, that what he had offered to reveal to 
the King was not connected with the charges, but 
for the King's own benefit ; and to this it was re- 
plied, that his concealing of the affair was criminal, 
and suspicious. 

The objections being thus overruled, the jury 


found Gowrie guilty of high treason, and, with his 
two companions, of being engaged in a conspiracy 
against the King and Government. Gowrie was 
accordingly sentenced to be beheaded at the mar- 
ket-cross of Stirling, and his body to be dismem- 
bered as a traitor. The other two were ordered 
to be hanged. 

On the evening of the same day, betwixt the 
hours of eight and nine, Gowrie was led out to 
execution. Douglas and Forbes had been execut- 
ed immediately after their sentence. He made a 
long speech on the scaffold, which was much ex- 
tolled by the Presbyterian ministers, on account of 
its piety and spirit of resignation. He professed 
that all his actions were intended for the benefit of 
the Kiiig, and endeavoured to free the other nobles, 
and the Presbyterian ministers who were engaged 
in his practices, from any charge or intention of 
treason. He observed, in conclusion, as is usual 
in these circumstances, that had he served God as 
faithfully as he had done the King, he would not 
have come to that end. He conducted himself 
with the utmost resolution. He calmly laid his 
head on the block, and it was severed from his 
body at one blow. The other part of the sentence 
was remitted, and his servants were allowed to 
inter his body. * His estates were seized, and an 
act of attainder and confiscation was passed by the 
goverament. -j- 

* '< His servants," says Sir James Balfour, " did sow 
his head to his hody, and incontinently buried the same. " 

t Moyes's Memoirs, p. 89. Spoltiswoode, p. 332, 
333. Calderwood, p. 151. Melville's Memoirs, p. 156. 
Sir James Balfour, vol. L p. 378. The Earl of Cromar- 
ty's Account, &c. p. 23. Memorabilia of Perth, p. 143. 
The Historic of King James the Sext, p. 203, 20i. 


Thus perished on the scaffold the first Earl of 
Gowrie, a nobleman whose life had been a con- 
tinued scene of intrigues, factions, and cabals. 
Two days after his execution, on the 6th of May, 
the King departed for Edinburgh, having given the 
government of Stirling Castle to Arran. Histo- 
rians agree in assigning to Gowrie a very high cha- 
racter for ability, but unquestionably he had given 
no gi'eat indications of superior talents. He appears 
to have been a man of great irresolution, and sensible 
of his rashness when it was too late to retrieve his 
errors. Connected as he was with the more violent 
of the Presbyterian ministers, whose sole study it 
was to insult and oppose the King, he of course 
received from them the incense of applause, and 
was held by them as one of the greatest patriots 
of his age. But although much may be said in 
extenuation of Gowrie, neither the violence of 
paity nor the keenness of partisanship can free 
him from the charge of his being a dangerous sub- 
ject in a rude and turbulent age. 





The King is Pater PatricB, a chief 
Ofttimes is born for all his kinne's mischief. 
And more, I know was never heart nor band 
Did prosper, which that King did e'er withstand. 

Adamson's Muses Threnodie. 

Various attempts were made, after this period, to 
seize the person of the King, who soon obtained his 
majority. Francis, Earl of Bothwell, nephew to 
the murderer of Darnley, aided by some of the 
Popish barons, with a number of retainers, assem- 
bled shortly afterwards at Quarry-Holes, near the 
village of Restalrig, and about a mile distant from 
the Palace of Holyroodhouse, for the purpose of 
seizing the King and overthrowing the Protestant 
religion. The same Earl of Bothwell, with some 
others, in 1591, surprised the Palace of Holyrood- 
house, while the King and Queen were at supper, 
killed one of the royal attendants, called for fire to 
consume the doors which were barred against 
them, and, perhaps, would have carried their riot 
to the greatest excesses, had they not been repuls- 
ed by Sir James Sandilands and others, who se- 
Y 2 


cured eight of the rioters, who were hanged nex' 
morning before the palace-gate. This same Ear' 
of Bothwell, in the following year, with the Mas- 
ter of Gray and others, entered into a treasonable 
correspondence with the Court of Spain, and ac- 
tually assaulted the Palace of Falkland at mid- 
night, in which they would have been successful,! 
had they not been vigorously opposed by the in- 1 
mates of the palace, and some of the neighbour- 1 
ing inhabitants. They betook themselves to flight, I 
but not before they had plundered the royal sta- 
bles and the park of the horses. Several of those ■ 
conspirators were also slain or hanged. In the 
year 1596, a most outrageous attack was made 
on the King and Council when assembled in the 
Tolbooth, by the rabble of Edinburgh, excited by 
the ministers, one of whom had prepared them for 
it, by edifying them with a sermon in Haddo's Hold 
Church on the story of Haman. There were num- 
erous other attempts of less note ; and it is some- 
what remarkable, as has been observed by a very 
competent judge, that " nobles of the Popish and 
Presbyterian religion frequently united in the same 
conspiracies." * 

William, the first Earl of Gowrie, left twelve 
children, and though forfeited, his eldest son James 
was restored to the earldom in 1586, and died in 
1588, aged fourteen years. He was succeeded by 
his brother John, who, with his brother Alexander, 
called improperly the Master of Ruthven, were the 
contrivers of what is known by the name of the 
Gowrie Conspiracy, -j- They were both born at 

• Arnot's Criminal Trials, p. 35, 36, 37. 
f In Douglas's Peerage, vol. i. p. 663, we have an ac- 
count of the other children of the first Earl of Gowrie. 


Gowrie-House, in the town of Perth ; the former 
was baptized on the 25th September 1575, and 
was therefore in the twenty-fifth year of his age at 
the time of his death. His brother Alexander 
was baptized on the 22d of January 1580-1, and 
was only nineteen. * 

Both the brothers had resided for a considera- 
ble time in Italy. The Earl of Gowrie was at the 
University of Padua, and left that place in 1599, 
on his return to Scotland. During his residence 
there, he had pursued the advantages which his 
high rank afforded him ; he was skilled in every 
martial accomplishment, and he had received an 
education which his talents enabled him to im- 
prove. His external appearance, too, was noble, 
and the qualities of his mind are said to have 
equalled the handsomeness of his person. Possessed 
of no inconsiderable influence, his return, of course, 
was hailed with rapture by the ministers, as the 
head of a house with which they had been long 

William Ruthven, the fourth son, went abroad, and be- 
came famous as a chemist. Patrick Ruthven, was a phy- 
sician, and was confined many years in the Tower of Lon- 
don. He was released in 1619. His daughter married 
Vandyke, the famous painter. Lady Margaret Ruthven 
married James, the fourth Earl of Montrose, and was the 
mother of the great Marquis. Lady Mary married the 
Earl of Athole. Lady Sophia married Ludovick, second. 
Duke of Lennox. Lady Jean married Lord Ogilvy of 
Airly, and was mother of the first Earl of Airly. Bea- 
trix, one of the Maids of Honour to the Queen, married 
Sir John Home of Coldingknows. Isabel married first Sir 
Robert Gordon of Lochinvar, and secondly. Lord Lou- 
doun, who was a famous Covenanter in 1638, being in- 
cited by her to the " good cause," though himself a man 
of very loose morals. Dorothea married Wemyss, the 
Laird of Pittencrieff, in Fife. 

* MS. Register of Deaths at Perth, p. 59. 


connected, and whose father they pretended bad 
died a martyr for their cause. It is to be observ- 
ed, too, that one of the most popular preachers 
had been preceptor to Gowrie and his brother, as, 
mdeed, he had been to all the first Earl's children. 
This was Robert Rollock, appointed Principal and 
Professor of Divinity in the University of Edinburgh, 
at which University Gowrie had received the degree 
of Master of Arts, who had failed not to enforce the 
fevourite topic of his brethren, and had instilled into 
the rainds of Gowrie and his brother the alleged 
injustice of the sentence which had deprived their 
father of his life. It would be unfair, however, to 
insinuate, that Gowrie's preceptor, or the mlniS"* 
ters in general, were the contrivers of his enter- 
prise, or incited him to the rash adventure. But 
it is clear, that the idea of his father having been 
murdered, aided by his youthful ardour, his natu- 
rally bold disposition, his popularity with the mi- 
nisters, his ambition, and his connexions both with 
England and the popular party, as well as his near 
affinity to the royal family, must have deeply im- 
pressed his mind, and made him view the King 
with no very kindly feelings of loyal attachment. 

The earldom of Gowrie, as has been already 
observed, had been restored after the forfeiture of 
the first Earl, in the person of his eldest son, who; 
at the time of his death in 1588, was in the four- 
teenth year of his age. His brother John suc- 
ceeded to the honours and estates, at that time a 
mere youth ; and it is to be observed, that had 
James intended, as has been alleged, to destroy 
the Ruthven family, it is not likely that he would' 
have removed the attainder, when he had them 
completely under his power. On the contrary, the 


King eeems to have been anxious to make all 
the reparation possible for the manner of the first 
Earl's death, as if he had been actuated by a soi't 
of compunction on account of the manner of it ; 
for, besides restoring to the family all their pos- 
sessions and honours, Alexander Ruthven was 
made one of the Royal Bed-chamber ; his sis- 
ter, Lady Beatrice, was appointed Maid of Ho- 
nour to the Queen ; and Spottiswoode observes, 
that James " had a purpose to advance the Earl 
himself to a principal office in the kingdom. " 
These facts incontestably prove, that James could 
have no secret hatred towards a family with whom 
he was nearly allied even in relationship. 

Gowrie, after the decease of his brother, had 
proceeded to the Continent in 1594i, under the 
care of William Rhynd, who is mentioned as the 
first Rector of the School of Perth, and who after- 
wards was one of the witnesses in the investiga- 
tion of the enterprise. He was Rector of that 
School in March 1590, and was a man of con- 
siderable learning. In 1594, he attended Gowrie 
and his brother to Padua, but he returned in 1597, 
three years before the Earl. He does not appear 
to have been connected with the enterprise of the 
two brothers, as will appear from his depositions, 
and other facts in the sequel. In Padua, Govnie 
greatly distinguished himself ; he was chosen Rec- 
tor of the University on one occasion, and his name 
and arms were emblazoned in the College-hall. 
While he was on the Continent, he visited Geneva, 
and resided three months with the celebrated Theo- 
dore Beza, to whom he had letters of recommenda- 
tion from his preceptor Rollock, who, it is said, 
" loved him so dearly, that he never made mention. 


nor heard of his death, but with tears ; " and so great 
was Beza's attachment to the family, that, a year 
after Gowrie's death, and when the family was 
proscribed and exiled, he wrote to his two bro- 
thers, Patrick and William, and offered them ah 
asylum at Geneva, if they chose to accept his in* 

While Gowrie was at Padua, he received a let^ 
ter from the King, which appears to have beeii 
complimentary, and written in James' usual good- 
natured manner. He wrote an answer to this let- 
ter, dated Padua, 24th September 1595, the origi- 
nal of which is preserved in the University of 
Edinburgh. * In the year 1 599, he left Padua> 
ftnd visited the court of Henry IV. at Paris, where 
he was received with marked distinction. From 
Paris he proceeded to England, and Elizabeth en'-« 
tertained him in a manner which was flattering to 
hia pride, and gratifying to his ambition. " Shii 
ordered that guards should attend him ; that all thrf 
honours should be paid to him which were due tcr 
a Prince of Wales, and to her first cousin ; and 
that he should be entertained at the public expense* 
all the time he should remain at her court." f Ifi 
19 impossible to say what might have been concert- 
ed between him and Elizabeth, but those marked 
distinctions were extremely injudicious ; nor neetJ 
we wonder at his haughty demeanour towards the 
King, when he waited on James at Edinburgh Af- 
ter his arrival from the English Court in 1 600. Be- 

* This letter was published by Lord Hailes, in his Re- 
marks on this Conspiracy, and also by Mr Scott of Perth, 
in his History of the Gowrie Family. 

t MS. quoted by Mr Scott of Perth, in his History of 
the Gowrie Family,' p. 118, 119. 


fore his arrival, his friends and partisans had made 
known his intention of passing through Edinburgh 
on his way to Perth, and multitudes resorted to 
see the young Earl of Gowrie enter the city. It 
is said, that beholding the crowd as he passed 
along the streets, he peevishly observed, " There 
were as many people who conveyed his father to 
the scaffold at Stirling." 

It is not my intention here to insert all the 
stories which have been told respecting Gowiie 
and the King, his brother Alexander, his sister 
Beatrice, the alleged intrigue of the Queen and 
Alexander Ruthven, all of which stories have 
been raked together by the admirers of Gowrie, 
without considering whether they were true or 
False, for the purpose of proving James' hatred 
to the Ruthven family. Some of them may be 
true ; perhaps they are all idle traditions ; but cer- 
tainly they are extremely silly, and do not in the 
slightest degiee elucidate the enterprise of Gowrie, 
or bear against the character of the King. It 
was on the 20th of May 1600, that the Earl 
of Gowrie arrived at Perth. A contemporary 
chronicler has related with minuteness the very 
hour of his arrival at his palace in Perth call- 
ed Gowrie House, which was " at six hours in 
the evening, with a large retinue. " * The state 
of the country at the close of the sixteenth cen- 
tury, though apparently tranquil, was not much 
better than it had been in the preceding year of 
turbulence ; religious disputes still agitated the na- 
tion ; and the King had sufficiently exasperated 
the Presbyterian ministers by his marked dislike 

* Mercer's Chronicle, MS. Advocates' Library. 


of, and indifference to, their order and pretensions. 
The arrival of a nobleman, in the flower of his 
youth, the friend of Theodore Beza and other 
Genevan theologians, whose family had been long 
viewed as the head of the party attached to Eng- 
land and the Presbyterian interest, whose accom- 
plishments were considerable, whose ambition was 
doubtless more aspiring on account of his royal 
descent, and whose influence over his extensive 
estates gave him additional importance, could not 
fail to be gratifying to the popular party. It is 
admitted by all, too, that Gowrie made very gieat 
pretensions to religion ; and his virtues and his 
principles were afterwards celebrated with more 
than ordinary panegyric. If it could be proved 
that Gowrie, during his absence, corresponded 
with the Presbyterian ministers, or any of tlieir 
leaders, it would throw very considerable light oa 
this affair ; but although it cannot be alleged with 
certainly, the fact is not improbable ; nay, it is al- 
most certain, that he would, from time to time, 
receive communications from his friends in Scot- 
land, relative to the state of the country, religion, 
and the court, and these would contain many al- 
lusions to his father's fate. That he corresponded 
with Logan of Restalrig, during his absence, is 
almost certain, as will appeal- in the sequel ; and 
this of itself, perhaps, is sufficient authority for the 
preceding conjecture. The zeal of his preceptor 
would also aggravate these representations, while 
they would become additional excitements to Gow- 
rie's ambition. Thus, two principles, ambition 
and revenge, would in process of time be enter- 
tained by Gowrie ; and there can be little doubt 
that the enterprise in which he was so soon after- 


wards engaged had been formed in his mind before 
his amval in Scotland ; — at least, that he had de- 
termined to be guided by circumstances. It must 
not be forgotten, too, that the fanatics of that pe- 
riod frequently reproached James with bastardy, 
in their zeal to vindicate the murder of Rizzio ; 
and of course this would operate powerfully with 
Gowrie, inasmuch as certain expressions in the 
letters of Logan of Restalrig hint that he aimed 
at the crown ; and it is well known that he pro- 
pagated a rumour that his mother was descended 
from the Princess Margaret of England, daughter 
of Henry VII., and widow of James V., who had 
mari'ied Lord Ruthven ; which report was believed 
by the vulgar about Perth.* However ridiculous 
Gowrie's ambition may appear, as the House of 
Hamilton and other great families interposed be- 
tween him and the crown, it is more than probable 
that he entertained these notions in the ardour of 
youth, supported as he was by the " newlie erec- 
tit societie callit the Presbiterie, " having a repu- 
tation for sanctity and courage, and held by that 
party as the most ardent of those who foitified 
the " chief block-house of the Lord's Jerusalem, " 
and not one of those who were " worthie to be 
accursed, and not to brook the name of Scottish 
men, but to be esteemed enemies to God, religion, 
and his Highness, that would not willingly subscribe 
thereunto, " namely, " solemne covenants and 
bands (the word of God and prayer going before), 
betwixt God and the King, God and the people, 

* Scott's History of Scotland, folio, p. 553. 
VOL. I. Z 


and betwixt the King and the people. " * Of 
Gowrie's private habits, however, we have pretty 
good information furnished by contemporary writ- 
ers ; by which it appears, that notwithstanding 
the " sanguine hopes of the early virtues " of him 
and his brother, he was not without his own share 
of superstition, as was proved from various papers 
which were found in his possession after his death. 
" This Erie of Gourie, " says one author, " at his 
being in Italic, advysit with a mathematician ther, 
and to knaw of him what suld becum of himsel ; 
wha gave this responce, that he sould be extreim- 
lie Weill lovit, unmarreit, wherfore he salbe me- 
lancolious, he sail have gret commandement, he 
sail die in honour be the sworde, and efter his 
deceis it salbe sayd, that be fraud and decept he 
hes attened that dignitie. This was fand araang his 
secret papers." f It would appear, however, that 
the fortune-tellers with whom Gowrie consulted, 
diflfered considerably from each other in their opi- 
nions about his future fortunes. In a letter from 
Nicolson to Secretary Cecil, dated 22d November 
1600, there is the following passage : — " One 
Colvil hath sent the King the collection of the for- 
tune to bpfall Gowrie upon his securitie, written 
with the Earle's hand in French at Orleans, and 
there found, containing that he should return, be 
in great credit, seek for a wife, and yet die with 
his own hand, before he should be married. " 

Gowrie had been chosen Provost of Perth in 
1592 ; and so great was the favour of the town 
towards him, that he was continued in that office 

• Calderwood, p. 4.47. 

\ Historic of King James the Sext, p. 375. 


even while he was in Italy. The town of Perth, 
at that period, and for centuries previous, yield- 
ed, perhaps, only to the metropolis in point 
of importance ; in it many of the principal no- 
bility had houses, and it had often been the fa- 
vourite residence of the Scottish monarchs. It 
was then called St Johnstoun, from the name of 
its tutelary patron, St John. In several of the 
public records or writs in the time of James VI., 
it is called a city, and it still has some pretensions 
to that title, though never the seat of a bishop or 
of the government. 

In the Memorabilia of Perth, under the year 
1594, there is the following notice respecting the 
election of Gowrie as Provost : — " On the 6th 
of August, this year, the Earl told the council that 
he was to go abroad for his education ; they un- 
animously entered into a resolution to elect him 
Provost next Michaelmas, and became bound for 
their successors in office to elect him annually un- 
til he returned. This agreement is signed by the 
whole town-council, in presence of Mr Patrick 
Galloway, minister of Perth, the King's chaplain, 
and Henry Elder, town-clerk. " 

Gowiie, as we have seen, anived at Perth, 
on the 20th of May 1600. On the 28th of June 
that year, there is a notice of his proceedings in 
one of his own courts, as lord of the regality. 
" David Drummond was executed for the slaugh- 
ter of George Ramsay's man. He was condemned 
in the first justice court that ever John Earl of 
Gowrie held after his return. " * The Earl, it 
appears, kept himself at Gowrie House, and cau- 

* Mercer's Chronicle, MS. 


tiously pretended to take no part in the measures of 
the court. But while he was thus residing in a re- 
tired manner at his own house in Perth, he was by 
no means inactive in the great enterprise he con- 
templated. In the immediate vicinity of Edin- 
burgh resided Robert Logan, who possessed the 
estate of Restalrig, which extends between the 
Frith of Forth and the city ; a turbulent baron, 
whose intrigues, schemes, and noted profligacy, 
were eventually the cause of his forfeiture. This 
baron had been deprived of a considerable part of 
his estate during the minority of James for his 
conduct, he being rather a troublesome neighbour 
to the citizens of Edinburgh ; and at this period 
his affairs were almost desperate. The family had 
made a considerable figure in the early history of 
the country, and were connected with some of the 
first nobility. With this baron, Gowrie was him- 
self remotely allied. Patrick, sixth Lord Gray, and 
father of the famous Master of Gray, married Bar- 
bara Ruthven, sister of Patrick, Lord Ruthven, who 
assassinated David Rizzio ; and that lady was the 
aunt of William, the first Earl of Gowrie. Agnes 
Gray, sister of the sixth Lord Gray, and aunt of 
the Master, married Sir Robert Logan of Restalrig, 
whom John Knox characterizes as a man " neither 
fortunate nor prudent ; " and that baron was the 
father of Robert Logan, the correspondent and as- 
sociate of Gowrie. * 

After Gowrie's retuni from the Continent, a con- 
nexion was formed between him and Logan, as ap- 
pears from his letters, discovered eight years after- 

* A mot's Criminal Trials, p. 14. 


wards, by one George Sprot, a notary public at 
Eyemouth, who was himself executed for his share 
in Gowrie's enterprise, and who confessed that he 
knew well that Logan was in the plot. Hardly had 
eight weeks elapsed after Gowrie's return, when a 
correspondence took place between him and Logan, 
by means of one James Bour, familiarly called 
Laird Bour, a servant of the latter, and of whose 
fidelity he entertained a very high opinion. Alex- 
ander Ruthven, the brother of Gowrie, appears to 
have been the only other person in the secret at 
that time. After many personal interviews, the 
object of which was to concert a plot for an at- 
tack on the King, a plan was devised to that ef- 
fect, which was intended to be put into execution 
on one of the King's hunting expeditions. Logan 
was then residing in Fastcastle, a castle or fort, 
now in complete ruins, situated in the parish of 
Coldingbam, and county of Berwick, on the sea- 
side, and, from the steepness of the rock on which 
it is built, inaccessible on all sides, except by a 
narrow neck of land a few feet in breadth. At 
this period it belonged to the Logans of Restalrig, 
and the recollection of this fact will tend to throw 
considerable light on the history of this daring en- 
terprise. In a letter from Fastcastle, dated 10th 
July 1600, to a person whose name was never dis- 
covered, Laird Bour is introduced for the first time 
by Logan to his friend, who is styled right honour- 
able Sir ; and he endeavours to prepossess his cor- 
respondent with the same opinion which he held 
himself, respecting the worthy Laird. " Pleis zow 
onderstand, " says Logan, " my Lo. of Gowrie, 
and some utheris his Lo.'s freinds and weillwillaris, 


quba tendaris his Lo.'s preferment, ar vpoun the 
resolutioun, ze linaw,for the revenge of that cans. " 
He then mentions a meeting which was to take 
place between him and Alexander lluthven on the 
ensuing week, " and be as warrie, " he says, *' as 
zow can. " — " I pray zow, sir, think nathing al- 
thocht the berar onderstand it [the conspiracy], 
for he is the special secretar of my lyfe : his name 
is Laird Borne, and wes auld Maunderstoune's 
man for deid and lyfe, and ewin sa for rae. And 
for my pairt, he sail knaw of all that I do in this 
warld, sa lang as euer we live togidder, flor I mak 
him my houshalde man ; he is weill worthie of 
credite, and I recommend him to zow. " The fol- 
lowing extract relates to the plan of the conspiracy. 
" I think best for oure platt, that we meet at my 
hous of Fastcastle, ffor I have concludit with M. 
A. R. [Mr Alexander Ruthven], how, I think, 
sail be meitest to be convoyit quietest in ane boitt 
be sea ; at quhilk time vpoun sure aduertesment, I 
sail haue ye place verie quiett, and weill provydit." 
On the same day, Logan had despatched a let- 
ter to Laird Bour, dated from the Canongate, by 
which it appears that he had left Fastcastle on 
that very day, and had airived at his house iu 
the Canongate, where he required the Laird's pre- 
sence ; for, says he, " I haue i-essauit ane new let- 
ter from my Lord of Gowrie concerning the pur- 
pose that Mr Alex, his Lordship's brother spak to 
me befoir, " — " I beseich zow, be at me be morne 
at even [to-morrow evening], for I assurit his Lo.'s 
servand, that I sail send zow ouer the watter with- 
in thrie dayes, with ane full resolutioun of my will, 
anent all purpoises ; and I sail indeid recommend 


zow and zour trustines till his Lordschip, as ye 
eall find ane honest recompens for zour pains. " 

In a third letter to the " richt honorable " per- 
son, dated from the Canongate, 27th July 1600, 
Logan expresses his resolute determination " to 
interpryse with my Lord of Gowrie, " although 
" the skaffald were set up ; " and he intimates, that 
he had expected a visit of Gowrie and his brother 
at Fastcastle, in terms of letters he had written 
to them both. In this letter he also says of his 
friend the Laird, that " howbeit he be hot ane 
sillie aid gleyit carle, I will answer for him that 
he sail be verie true. " Two days after this let- 
ter, namely, on the 29th of July, Logan wrote to 
Gowrie, when the plot began to be arranged, in- 
forming him that he wished a meeting of the con- 
spirators in Fastcastle, but that it would be well 
for him to have a previous interview with the Earl 
and his brothers. In this letter, there are expres- 
sions which cannot be misunderstood. After ad- 
vising Gowrie to conduct himself with caution, 
Logan says, " I doubt not, hot with Godis grace, 
we sail bring oure materis till ane fyne [conclu- 
Bion], quhilk sail bring the contentmentt to ws all 
that ever wissedfor the revenge of the machavalent * 

* Machiavellian, from the famous Nicholas Machiavel, 
a celebrated political writer and historian who died in 
1527. He wrote a piece entitled " Del Principe," which 
has been generally regarded as the tyrant's manual, and 
on this account the epithet of Machiavellian is always ap- 
plied to express every thing which is perfidious and base 
in politics. The epithet was very common in James' reign, 
and it was more than once applied to James himself by 
the ministers in the pulpit. We shall see in the sequel 
that Gowrie had been diligently employed in studying a 


massacaring of our dearest freindis. I doubt not 
but Mr A. zour Lordschip's brothir, lies informit 
zour Lordschip quhat course I layit doun to bring 
zour Lordschipis associatis to my hous of F. [Fast- 
castle] be sea, quhair I suld liaue all materiallis in 
redines for thir saif ressaveing on land and into my 
house, making, as it war, bot a maner of passing 
tyme in ane bolt on tlie sea in this somniertyde, and 
nane utheris stranger is to hant my hous quliill we 
had concluditon the laying [contriving] of oureplat, 
quhilk is alreadie devysit be Mr Alexander and 
me." — " I protest, my lord, befoir God, I wische 
nathing with a better heart nor to atchieve to that 
quhilk zour Lordschip wald fane attene unto. " 
Gowrie also receives an invitation to meet Logan at 
Restalrig, but not to let 3Ir W. R., his Lordship's 
" auld pedagog," know of the visit, by whom he 
means William Rhind, who was at that time rec- 
tor of the School of Perth. It is to be observed, 
however, that both Logan and his servant Laird 
Bour, whose name was James, the " sillie auld 
gleyit carle, " were not present when the plot was 
attempted by Gowrie ; nor, to the ingenuity of the 
said Laird be it added, would his share of the 
transaction have been discovered at all, had not 
Sprott given the evidence of his guilt. * 

treatise entitled " De CovjurathmUms ndvcmis Princi- 
2)es, " which was a Latin translation of Machiavel's Dis- 
courses upon the First Decade of Livy. 

* It will be seen that I assume the letters of Logan to 
be genuine documents. As I shall have occasion to men- 
tion them more particularly in the sequel, I merely ob- 
serve here, that fortunately every doubt as to their authen- 
ticity is now at an end, by the discovery of the originals in 
Logan's own iiand-writing. They were recently discover- 
ed in the Register. Office, Edinburgh, and were politely 


The cause of this treasonable correspondence 
may be easily conceived from the preceding nar- 
rative, and from the allusions in Logan's letters. 
It was a tender point to remind Gowrie of the 
" Machiavellian massacring of his dearest friends, " 
when it had been religiously inculcated on him by 
his preceptor and others, that his father had been 
unjustly condemned — when the Presbyterian mi- 
nisters had declared the treasons of that nobleman 
" good and acceptable services to God and the 
Church, " — and when the proceedings of James 
had already alienated or dissatisfied no inconsider- 
able portion of the nation. There is no evidence 
to prove that James hated the Gowrie family. 
Had he done so, it was not his interest to restore 
their honours and estates, and to distinguish them 
by many and repeated favours, as if he wished to 
make all the reparation possible for a sentence 
which had been executed in his minority, and of 
which, perhaps, he did not privately approve ; for 
he might have still retained their sentence of for- 
feiture, and even exile, and thus at once rid him- 
self of a family whose power and influence he 
might dread. But there is another very important 
circumstance which ought not to be forgotten. As 
Gowrie's father was Lord Treasurer of Scotland, 

shown to me by Mr Pitcairn, the able editor of the 
*' Criminal Trials before the High Court of Justiciary 
in Scotland," in course of publication. These originallet~ 
ters, with fac-similes and Logan's own signature, will be 
inserted in Part III. of Mr Pitcairn's valuable work, — a 
work which is truly national, and which will be encourag- 
ed by every man of learning, as supplying a very import- 
ant desideratum, and as furnishing a vast collection of in- 
teresting records heretofore little known, save to the anti- 


by some means or other, the King was indebted to 
him the sum of 196,465/. 18*. 6c?. Scots money, 
including the accumulated principal and interest ; 
and the greater part of this sum had been proba- 
bly advanced to the King by Gowrie out of his 
own private purse, for it is well known that James 
was in the habit of borrowing from every person who 
would lend him money. Now, had the King wish- 
ed to destroy the Gowrie family, he would never 
have restored them to their former rank, and ac- 
tually ratified to the son that sum of money he 
owed his father. This, however, he did. The 
King was indebted to the Earl, as representing his 
father ; and it appears, from the state of the ac- 
counts rendered on the 10th of May 1583, that 
the balance claimed by Gowrie amounted to 
48,063/. 45. 8d. Scots, *' which," observes Amot, 
" as Scottish money was greater, by the half, at 
that time than it is now, was 72,094/. 17*. of our 
present Scottish money of principal, besides seven- 
teen years (from 1583 to 1600) interest, at the 
then rate of 10 per cent. " James restored the 
family by a solemn act in December 1585, and 
at the same time ratified the debt he owed to 
the first Earl ; but from the King's well-known 
indigence, he was unable to pay it in 1600, after 
Cowrie's return from Italy ; and as the Scottish 
Peers, before the Union, were liable to be ar- 
rested for debt, the young Earl was considerably 
embarrassed in his circumstances, doubtless by the 
clamorous conduct of his creditors. What kind 
of application may have been made to the King 
by Gowrie does not appear ; but on the 20th of 
June, the Earl got a personal protection from the 
King and the Court of Session, to prevent his be- 


ing arrested. This was exactly forty-six days 
from his death ; " and from the common law, " 
observes Amot, " as well as the silence of the 
public records, it is probable the Earl's creditors 
were never paid. " * 

To proceed, however, with the narrative. It is 
inexplicable how it was that Logan and his agent, 
Laird Bour, kept aloof from the active part of the 
conspiracy ; but doubtless it had been all arranged, 
and probably Logan had betaken himself to his re- 
sidence of Fastcastle, there to receive the King, 
after he had been secured by Gowrie and his bro- 
ther ; for it will be recollected, that such was part 
of the plot of the conspirators. It was on the 5th 
day of August 1600, that Gowrie, knowing that 
the King was then at Falkland Palace in Fife, 
which is an easy ride of between two and three 
hours from Perth, despatched his brother Alex- 
ander, to invite James to Gowrie House, under 
the pretence that a person had been secured who 
was a Jesuit, and who pretended that he was pos- 
sessed of a quantity of gold ; but that it was neces- 

* The writer of the Traditional Account in the Town of 
Perth, of the death of John Earl of Gowrie, whose name 
was Duff, minister of Tibbermuir, sets out with this flou- 
rishing paragraph: — " After the King had come to the 
full years of majority, he found the Gowrie Family under 
John, the third Earl, who was a younger son of the said 
William [the first Earl], possessed of wealth and power 
beyond the other nobility of the kingdom ; and, growing 
apprehensive," &c. But the reader will be able to form a 
tolerable idea of Gowrie's actual wealth, when he knows, 
from the above facts, that he was in so embarrassed cir- 
cumstances, that he had actually to get a personal protec- 
tion for arrest from the Court of Session, on the 20th of 
June 1600, otherwise he would have been exposed to 
what in Scotland is called the diligence of his creditors. 


sary for the King to examine him in person, as he 
(Gowrie ) suspected him to be an emissary of Rome ; 
but this will be more particulary narrated in the 

When the Earl had sent his brother to Falk- 
land, which was early on a Tuesday morning, he 
proceeded to arrange his plans in Gowrie House. 
And the better to conceal his designs, as he was 
an " earnest professour, " he attended sermon in 
St John's Church in the morning, there having 
been always service in Perth every Tuesday and 
Tliursday since the year 1595. There is a story 
told by the author of the Traditional Account, in- 
serted in the Memorabilia of Perth, about the Earl 
having on that day attended a marriage, " between 
a young man of the name of Lamb, and a young 
woman called Bell, the daughter of a respectable 
citizen of Perth," when he received intelligence, 
" that the King, and a company with him, had 
come to his house, on which Earl Gowrie's coun- 
tenance changed, and he appeared to be a good 
deal perplexed ; and being asked by the bride's fa- 
ther, in whose house he was, what ailed him, he 
said, he was distressed for a dinner to the King 
and his retinue, who had come upon him unex- 
pectedly. Mr Bell urged him to accept of the 
dinner that was prepared for the wedding ; and, it 
is believed, he did accept of it." Now, this fool- 
ish and improbable story, which the worthy writer 
imagined to be a wonderful authority in support of 
his own hypothesis — namely, tliat James bad gone 
to Perth purposely to murder Gowrie, is just the 
reverse. He tells us only a few sentences before, 
in the commencement of his traditionary (or fa- 
bulous) narrative, that John, the third Earl of 


Gowrie, was " possessed of wealth and power be- 
yond the other nobility of the kingdom ; " and it 
is not likely, that his Lordship, if this were the 
fact, would deprive a common citizen of a dinner 
prepared for a special occasion, and get the whole 
eatables removed from the house of the said 
Mr Bell to Gowrie Palace, for the use of the 
King and his retinue, as if the inmates of Gowrie 
House had been previously on a limited allowance, 
and its pantry completely empty ; or as if every 
thing in Perth had been purchased for the marriage 
dinner, prepared by the said Mr Bell ; nor yet had 
Gowrie any right to conclude that the King want- 
ed his dinner, and " to be a good deal perplexed" 
on that account, since, on the showing of the 
writer, he knew nothing at all of the King's move- 
ments, and, for any thing he knew, might have 
got only a passing call from James and his retinue. 
It accords rather ill with the Earl's so much boast- 
ed wealth, that he was compelled to be obliged to 
a common citizen for a dinner to the King, mere- 
ly, forsooth, because James " had come upon him 
unexpectedly I " The story, which has lost nothing 
by tradition, has, however, some foundation in truth. 
Gowrie did not deprive Mr Bell of the wedding 
dinner, because he was not present at such an oc- 
casion, but in his state of excitement at the time, 
he was not remarkably well provided, and, it ap- 
peared afterwards, in the investigation of the rash 
enterprise, that he had sent some of his servants to 
purchase necessaries in the town, and the very shop, 
which had some pretensions to sell corifectionaries, 
was discovered where the purchases were made. 

VOL. I. 2 a 



The people set liigh price upon such names, 
They ring well in the land. 
Your father's virtue was a rich inheritance. 
Which you've augmented richly. — What's the need 
Of noblemen ? Let us achieve the task ! 


GowRiE, as has been ah-eady observed, was at the 
forenoon sermon, or exercise, as it is called, dur- 
ing the time his brother Alexander was at Falk- 
land. It is of importance, however, in order to 
make the narrative complete, to give a minute de- 
scription of Gowrie House, as it then stood ; for 
it has now disappeared from the " fair town of St 
Johnston, " and has supplied materials for the jail 
and county buildings. The house, or palace, was 
originally built by the Countess of Huntly in 1520, 
and was situated at the south end of the street 
called the Watergate, which was next to, and is 
parallel with, the river Tay, and at the east of 
South Street, or Skoegate, as it was then called, 
and is so termed in the depositions. The house 
stood within the ancient walls of Perth, and at 
the south-east angle of the town, a very short dis- 
tance from the river Tay, which formed the east- 
ern boundary of the large garden pertaining to the 


house. In the south-east corner of the garden 
stood the Monks' Tower, washed by the river, 
which was connected with the town-wall, the ori- 
gin of the name of which Tower is thus conjec- 
tui-ed by the late Rev. Mr Scott, with more sim- 
plicity than ingenuity. " The monks, " says he, 
" who had been disorderly, were sometimes con- 
fined here, in order to do penance ; " — a conjecture 
not very probable, as it respects the name. * To 
the west of the Monks' Tower, beyond the street 
now called Canal Street, stood the ancient and 
strong- built Spey or Spy Tower — a fort which 
guarded the south gate of the town. The town- 
wall extended due west and east from the Spey 
Tower to the Monks' Tower ; and it is supposed, 
that at the time of this memorable event, the 
greatest part of the ground between South Street 
and the town-wall was appropriated for gardens. 

The House or Palace formed nearly a square, 
the most modern part being on the north and west. 

■* Statistical Account of Scotland, vol. xviii. p. 529. 
It is there added, that in the 17th century, " the Earl of 
Kinnoul, who was Chancellor of Scotland, and possessed 
Gowrie House and garden, built the uppermost room of 
this tower to be a summer-house. " The above conjecture, 
however, of the author of the Statistical Account, is merely 
hypothetical. The Monks' Tower was built in 1336, by 
tile command of Edward I., at the expense of the monas- 
teries of Lindoris, Balmerinoeh, Aberbrothick, and Cu- 
par Angus ; and Fordun says, that the expense almost 
ruined those monasteries. Hence, some have supposed , 
says Grose (Antiquities, vol. ii. p. 245.), that it received 
its appellation from that circumstance. Fordun also adds, 
that John de Gowrie, prior of St Andrew's, paid 280 
merks towards its erection. The Monks' Tower seems 
to have been used as a banqueting-house, and was, after 
Gowrie House was converted into a barracks, used as a 
magazine for gunpowder, connected with the artillery. 


That part in which the conspiracy was attempted, 
was on the south and east. The princij»al stair- 
case was in the south-east angle of the court, and 
there was another smaller one, called in the depo- 
sitions of the witnesses the Black Turnpike. * 
The principal building contained two stories or 
flats, besides the kitchen and other offices on the 
ground floor, and the attics. The a])artments of 
the family, and the bed-rooms, were chiefly in the 
eastern division, and were surmounted on the 
north by two turrets. 

The windows of the dining-room looked into 
the garden, and commanded a splendid view of 
the river Tay, and the glorious scenery which 
adorns its banks. The principal hall was no- 
ble and spacious, and communicated with the 
ordinary hall, and with the great staircase which 
led to the courtyard. On the east side of the 
hall, on the light, was a door which communi- 
cated with the dining-room, and led to the gar- 
den. The greater pai"t of the second floor, above 
these apartments, consisted of a gallery, which 
extended over all that part of the first floor oc- 
cupied by the hall and dining-room. This " fair 
gallery, " as it is called, is frequently noticed in 
the depositions of the witnesses. It had been or- 
namented with paintings and figures by the first 
Earl of Gowrie, whose taste in the fine arts, it is 
said, would have done honour to a more enlight- 
ened people than were the Scots at that time, and 

* The word turnpike is very common in Scotland, to 
denote a small winding staircase. The tnrnpikc in ques- 
tion, with a turret at the west end of this wing of the 
building, was removed about the beginning of the last 


to a more refined age. At the west end of the 
gallery was the gallery chamber, often mentioned 
in the depositions, which was separated from the 
gallery by a partition, and entered by a door in 
that partition. At the west end of this chamber, 
in a corner on the right, was the staircase leading 
down from it to the court called the Black Turn- 
pike. There was also a turret in the south-west 
corner of the chamber, in which, if it was built 
like the other turrets, thei'e must have been two 
windows opposite each other, the one looking into 
the court-yard, Xkxe. other looking towards the space 
neai' South Street, or, as it was then railed, the 
Shoegate. * 

* The chief part of the foregoing; minute description 
of Gowrie House is taken from the first and only volume 
hitherto published of the Perth Antiquarian Society's 
Transactions, in which the description is accompanied by 
plans of Gowrie House, and of the various floors of that 
part of it in which the alFray took, place. It may be here 
mentioned, that after Gowrie's confiscation his estate be- 
came the property of the town of Perth. Before the 
year 1745, the house frequently changed masters, but at 
that time it v?as again in the hands of the town, and the 
worthy Whig Town- Council of Perth, in the excess of 
their loyalty, thought proper to present it to a personage 
whose memory Scotland has no great occasion to venerate, 
"William Duke of Cumberland, to express their gratitude 
for the wonderful victory he had achieved over a hand- 
ful of ill-armed Highlanders at CuUoden. That fortu- 
nate hero, who saw no occasion for having a house in a 
country, and especially so near the Highlands, where 
he was any thing but popular, and in which he never in- 
tended to reside, sold it to Government, who employed 
this famous palace of the Earls of Gowrie as a barracks. 
At the beginning of the present century, the town of 
Perth again acquired the property ; and the spirit of inno- 
vation, or, as it is sometimes called, improvement, having 

2a 2 


' On the evening of the 4th of August, which 
happened to be a Monday, Gowrie summoned 
Alexander Henderson, chamberlain of Scoon, one 
of his domestics, to attend him at Gowrie House on 
particular business. Henderson went accordingly, 
and was ushered into an apartment, where he 
found the Earl and his brother Alexander Ruth- 
ven. The former asked him what he intended to 
do on the following day ; to which Henderson re- 
plied, that he proposed riding to Ruthven (now 
called Hunting Tower), to look after the tenants. 
" No, " said Gowrie, " you must ride with my 
brother to Falkland, and when he sends you back, 
see that you return with all diligence, if he send 
a letter, or any other command with you. " * 

James was then at the Palace of Falkland in 
Fife, with only a very few attendants, enjoying the 
pleasures of the chase, among whom were Ludo- 
vic Duke of Lennox, (son of Esme D'Aubigney, 
cousin to the King's father. Lord Darnley, and 
who had been banished to France after the Raid of 
Ruthven), the Earl of Mar, Thomas, James, and 
George Erskine, the Earl's cousins-german, John 
Ramsay of the Dalhousie family, James, second 
son of Lord Drummond, abbot or commendator 
of Inchaffray, and Patrick Leslie, commendator 
of Lindores, second son of the Earl of Rothes. 
To this hunting expedition at Falkland, Gowrie 
had been previously invited by James, but he beg- 
ged leave to decline the invitation, f Not antici- 

seized the ^Magistrates, it was a few years ago levelled 
with the ground. The Jail and County Buildings are 
erected on the site of Gowrie House. 

* Deposition of Andrew Henderson at Falkland, 20th 
August 1600. 

t Scott's History of the Family of Gowrie. 


pating a visit of this nature from either of the 
Gowries, on the following morning, Tuesday, Au- 
gust 5th, a hunt was to take place in the parks of 
Falkland, and the royal party was on the point of 
proceeding to the spot, when Alexander Ruthven 
arrived at Falkland. He had left Perth in com- 
pany with Henderson, and a relative named An- 
drew Ruthven, at four o'clock in the morning, and 
arrived at Falkland at seven. Having proceeded 
to a retired house or " lodging, " near the palace, 
Alexander Ruthven sent Henderson to observe the 
movements of the King, who soon returned, and 
informed Ruthven, that his Majesty was setting 
out for the chase. Ruthven immediately proceed- 
ed to the party, and found the King in the act of 
mounting his horse, his attendants with their horses, 
and the huntsmen with their hounds, surrounding 
the King on the lawn or green. Ruthven made a 
low obeisance on his knee, and desired to have a 
moment's private conversation with the King, on 
an affair which he pretended was of great import- 
ance. James, whose curiosity was always remark- 
able, perceiving young Ruthven's apparently eai*- 
nest and serious demeanour, felt considerably in- 
terested, and allowed himself to be drawn aside. 
Having thus excited the curiosity of the King, 
Ruthven informed him, that, in an evening walk, 
he had met a suspicious looking person, his face 
almost concealed by a cloak, lurking about the 
by-paths and suburbs of the town ; and on ques- 
tioning him as to his name, his occupation, and 
what his intentions were in thus lurking about in 
unft-equented paths, he hesitated, and appeared 
confused ; — that he then examined his person 
closely, and perceived something concealed under 


his cloak, which he discovered to be a quantity of 
gold in a pot or jar, consisting of various coined 
pieces ; — that at this discovery, he secui'ed the per- 
son, wlio, it was pretended, was a Jesuit, and had 
got him privately into Gowrie House, Avithout the 
knowledge of any individual, where he had se- 
cured him till his ^lajesty's pleasure was known ; 
and he requested that the King would proceed 
forthwith to Perth as privately as possible, and 
examine the man, who was at that time confined 
in Gowrie House, without the knowledge even of 
his own brother. 

James, " curious by nature, and sufficiently in- 
digent to be inquisitive after money, " * felt some- 
what interested in this plausible story, more espe- 
cially as it was told with great apparent earnest- 
ness and sincerity. He thanked Ruthven, but 
observed, that he would not meddle in the matter, 
as he could deprive no man of his property, nor 
did the treasure appertain to the King, unless, ac- 
cording to the law, it had been found hid under 
ground. To this Ruthven replied, that this was 
of no consequence, for the man had confessed to 
him that he intended to hide it, but that he had 
no leisure to inquire minutely on the -subject. Tlie 
King still scrupled at this logic ; and Ruthven 
immediately replied, that he thought his Majesty 
too hesitating in a matter which might tend so 
much to his advantage and profit, but that if he 
refused to have any concern in it, it was very pro- 
bable that his brother the Earl and some others 
would make it a business of their own, and thus 
deprive hmi of no inconsiderable sum of money 

* Tales of a Grandfather, First Series, vol. iii. p. 294. 


which he might otherwise have possessed. The 
Kind's curiosity was now roused ; and conceiv- 
ing that the man might be a Jesuit in disguise, 
sent as an emissary from some Popish kingdom on 
the Continent, to excite distui-bances in the coun- 
try, by endeavouring to corrupt or bribe some of 
the nobles (a procedure of which James had suffi- 
cient experience previously), he asked Ruthven 
what kind of money it was, and the appearance of 
the man in whose possession he had discovered it. 
To this Ruthven replied, that he had not had 
sufficient time to examine it, but the money 
appeared to consist of foreign pieces ; and that al- 
though the man was evidently a Scotsman, he had 
never, to his knowledge, seen him before. This 
reply confirmed the King that the money must 
have been sent from some foreign Papists, and 
that the man was most likely a Scottish Jesuit or 
Seminary Priest, from one of the Scottish Col- 
leges on the Continent, to whom it had been 
intrusted as the person most capable of furthering 
the object in view. 

This story of the man with the gold, which 
Alexander Ruthven told the King, is not so im- 
probable, nor was the King so foolish for believing 
it, as many assert. Nor yet is the freedom which 
Ruthven used, although he was said to be out of 
his wits, * that is, deranged, is at all extraordinary. 
His connection with the court, and the office he 
held in it, brought him often into the King's pre- 
sence ; and indeed it is asserted, that he was pur- 
posely commissioned by his brother as a sort of Aaw- 
(/er on there to convey to him intelligence, which 

* Adamson's Muses Threnodie, vol. i. p. 186. 


he could easily do, on account of Lis own situation 
and that of his sister Beatrice, who was one of the 
Maids of Honour. I reject, of course, Mr Pinker- 
ton's argument, that there was an intrigue between 
Alexander Ruthven and the Queen, and that 
James was stimulated by jealousy (with which, by 
the way, he was never much troubled) to destroy 
the Gowrie family. But the traditionary stories 
which the supporters of that theory maintain to 
be the evidence of the fact, certainly prove that 
young Ruthven was a favourite at court, and was 
accustomed to indulge in considerable freedom of 
speech. It would be rash, perhaps, to raaintaia 
that no intrigue existed between Ruthven and the 
Queen ; but it is evident, that even the doubtful 
traditions, originating from unknown authorities, do 
not establish the alleged fact. It appears, there- 
fore, that since James expressed no surprise at 
Ruthven's visit, nor at his story, that he was ac- 
customed to the familiarity of the blaster ; and it 
must be observed, that the maimers of the court, 
and of courtiers towards their sovereign, partook 
not of the refined politeness of modem times. But 
tlie story was calculated to make a very great im- 
pression on James, whose thoughts immediately 
reverted to the intrigues of the Seminary Priests. 
And that James had good cause to dread the in- 
trigues of foreign papists, is placed beyond a doubt. 
It was only in 1592, that the Earl of Both well and 
the Master of Gray had assaulted the King in the pa- 
lace of Falkland, those two personages being in the 
interest of the Court of Spain, who, exasperated at the 
defeat of the Anuada, had never ceased in attempt- 
ing to excite disturbances and conspiracies in Eng- 
land and Scotland. Accordingly, on the 5th of 


January 1592-3, six months after the exploit of 
Bothwell at Falkland, which was on the 28th of 
June 1392, a proclamation was issued against "the 
coverit and bissy trauellis of Jesuitis, seminarie 
priestis, borne subjectis of this realrae, and sum v- 
theris, strangearis, and their tressonable conspiracie 
For inbringing of strangearis Spanzeartis, in this 
realme, this next spring or somer. " * On the 5th 
of February that same year, the Earls of Huntly, 
Errol, and Sir Patrick Gordon, were denounced 
IS rebels, on account of their connection with 
Bothwell in his intrigues with Spain ; and on 
the 9th of March a commission was given to the 
Earl Marischall, constituting him the King's com- 
missioner within the sheriffdoms of Kincardine, 
A.berdeen, and Banff, to " pas, searche, seik, and 
;ak, " those noblemen and their associates where- 
3ver they could be found within his jurisdiction, 
[t is worthy of remark, tooj as illustrative of Lo- 
jan of Restalrig's conduct, that he also was en- 
gaged in this adventure; for on February 12th 
1592, he was denounced as a rebel for not having 
ippeared to answer " vpoun his tressonnable con- 
spiring, consulting, trafficquing, and diuising with 
Frances sumtyme Erll Bothuill, in sundiie tres- 
onnable purpoissis against his Maiesteis persone 
ind authoritie. " f It was in the year 1594, 

* Pitcairn's Criminal Trials, Part II. p. 281. 

f It is worthy of remark, also, that on the 13th of June 
[594, Robert Logan of Restalrig was again denounced 
IS a rebel, for not appearing before the King and Coun- 
:il, to answer a charge at the instance of Robert Gray, 
jurgess of Edinburgh, " makand mention. That quhair 
vpoun the secund day of Aprile last, he being passing in 
peceable and c[uiet maner to Seruik, for doing of cer- 


that the intrigues of the Spaniards with An- 
gus, Erroll, and Huntlie, were again <iiscover- 
ed ; * and in the following year, on the 21st of 
February, there was another proclamation issu- 
ed regarding " the Spanishe preparatioun to ar- 
ryve in this island. " In short, the history of 
that period, previous to the death of Queen Eliza- 
beth, proves, that James, like that princess, was 
continually harassed by the intrigues of the se- 
minary priests, aided and abetted by the Popish 
nobles in the north, and it was, indeed, as plausible 
a story as Alexander Ruthven could contrive, to al- 
lure the King to Gowrie House, by telling him that 
he had accidentally secured a Scottish Jesuit ov 
seminary priest in disguise, lurking about the by- 

taine his lessum efFearis and busynes Uppyning for na 
trouble nor injurie of ony persones ; treuth it is, that Johnne 
alias Jokkie Hotildie and Petir Craik, seruandes to Ro- 
bert Logane of Restalrig, with three vtheris thair compli-! 
ceis, vmbesett his hie way and passage, besyde the Bouy- 
rod ; quha not onlie reft and spuilzeit fra him ni/ne hun- 
dreth and fiftie punds money quhilk he had vpoun him, 
hot alswa maist cruellie and barbarouslie invadit and por- 
sewit him of his lyfle, hurte and woundit him in the 
heid, and straik him with diuers vtheris bauck straiki-s, 
vpoun his body, to the graite danger and perrill of Iiis 
lyffe, " &c. Logan failed to appear and present those per-^ 
sons who had committed this outrage.— Pitcairn's Trials,; 
Part II. p. 335. 336. '; 

• Pitcairn's Criminal Trials, Part II., p. 310, et seq. 
and in particular the mysterious story of the •' Scottish 
Blanks," in the pamphlet reprinted by Mr Pitcairn in 
Part II., entitled " a Discoverie of Vnnaturall and Trai- 
terous Conspiracies of Scottish Papistes against God, his 
Kirk, their native country, the Kinges Maiesties pcrsone i 
and estate. Set down as it was confessed and sub- ! 
scrived bee Mr George Ker, yit remaining in prison, and 
David Grahame of Fintrie, iustly executed for his treason 
in E'Hn., the 15 of Februarie 1592. " 


paths of Perth, with foreign gold concealed about 
bis person. 

The King gave implicit credit to Ruthven's 
tale, but proposed that he should send one of his 
own servants to Perth, with the Master, in order 
to receive both the pretended Jesuit and the 
money ; but to this Ruthven stoutly objected, pro- 
testing, that if his brother, or the magistrates of 
the town, knew any thing of the matter, the King 
would have a very bad chance for a share. Ruth- 
ven farther declared, that the only thing which 
induced him to ride straighttvay to Falkland and 
apprise his Majesty, was the very great love and 
affection he bore towards his sovereign, and the 
zeal he had for his service. 

This and similar discourse took place " before 
the stables " at Falkland, * during which time, the 
huntsmen had mounted, the buck had started, and 
the sport was about to commence ; but the King 
was so well pleased with Ruthven, that he fre- 
quently leaned on him, and " clapped him on the 
shoulder, " exciting considerable interest among 
the attendants. At length James, seeing every 
thing ready, told Ruthven that he would consider 
of it during the hunt, and determine when it was 
over. This was by no means pleasing to Ruth- 
ven, who remonstrated at the delay, more espe- 
cially as the King would have a good opportunity 
to investigate the business without attracting any 
notice if he set out instantly, as " the whole town 
would be at the sermon." But the King mounted 
his horse, and the hunt commenced. Ruthven, 

* Deposition of the Duke of Lennox. 
VOL. I. 2 B 9 


had already expressed himself dissatisfied that so 
many attendauts followed, now rode up to them, 
and earnestly requested the King to inform no one 
of the business, nor suffer any one to go with him 
till he had seen the rnan, and his treasure. 

According to the account of this enterprise, pub- 
lished by authority, Iiuthven'a conduct on the road 
bad excited some suspicions in James, more especi- 
ally as Ruthven appeared pecuharly uneasy at the 
presence of Lennox and Mar. James therefore 
informed him, that he would trust the Duke and 
the Earl in more important matters than the pre- 
sent, and in a jocular manner observed, that, as he 
was " a bad teller of money, he behoved to have 
some one with him to help in that business." Ruth- 
ven's reply was, " that he would suffer no one to 
see it first but the King himself ; afterwards, how- 
ever, he (the King) might call in whom he pleas- 
ed. " Nevertheless when the royal party were 
at the Bridge of Erne, the King wliispered to the 
Duke, what had passed, but added " tak tent 
[^take heed] when I go with Alexander Ruthven, 
and be sure to follow me. " He made the same 
observation to Lennox, when they arrived at Gow- 
rie House. 

It was observed, that when the King had left 
Falkland behind for a few miles, Ruthven sent his 
other attendant, Andrew Ruthven, in great haste 
to Perth before him, to inform the Earl how far 
they were on their journey, and when they would 
aiTive. Henderson, the first courier, arrived in 
Perth about ten in the forenoon, where he found 
Gowrie anxiously waiting for him, in company 
with two persons of the name of Hay. Gowrie 
took him aside, and asked him what intelligence 


he had brought from his brother, or if he had 
brought a letter. Henderson said he had brought 
no letter. " What answer then," asked Gowrie, 
" has he to me ? " Henderson replied, that he was 
commanded by his brother to inform his Lordship, 
that the King would be there anon, and that he 
was to prepare a dinner for his Majesty ; upon which 
Gowrie took him into a private apartment, and exa- 
mined him more closely. He asked him how the 
King had received his brother, and Henderson re- 
plied that it was in a kind manner, and that he had 
often laid his hand on his shoulder. Gowrie next 
asked how many persons were at the hunt. Hen- 
derson replied, that he could not exactly say, but 
there were some of his own friends, and some Eng- 
lishmen. He was next asked what noblemen were 
present, and he replied, that he saw none but " my 
Lord Duke." He was then dismissed, and order- 
ed to return to Gowrie-House within an hour, 
during which time his Lordship probably went to 
the sermon, or " exercise." 

At the time appointed, Henderson returned, 
and was admitted into Gowrie's presence, who or- 
dered bira to put on a coat of mail and other ar- 
mour. Upon inquiring for what purpose, he receiv- 
ed from Gowrie the summary answer, " I have a 
Highlandman to secure in the Shoegate." Hender- 
son accordingly went to his own house, and, in obe- 
dience to his master's orders, arrayed himself in ar- 
mour, pjnd returned to Gowrie-House about half past 
twelve o'clock, when he was ordered by the Earl 
to carry up his (the Earl's) dinner, on account of 
the illness, real or pretended, of one of his servants 
named Craigensrelt. Shortly afterwards Gowrie 
2 B 2 ' 


sat down to dinner in company with three gen- 
tlemen, John MoncriefF, Laird of Pitcrieflf, James 
Drummond, and Alexander Peebles, Laird of 
Findoune. It was after the first service during 
which Henderson was in attendance, that Andrew 
Ruthven, who had left the King's retinue with a 
second message to Gowrie from his brother, en- 
tered the hall, as if he had just dismounted, and 
whispered something to the Earl. Henderson 
soon after left the room, to bring up the second 
course ; and while he was doing so, Alexander 
Ruthven entered the dining-hall. 

It is necessary here to return to the royal party, 
who were during this time on their progress to 
Perth. It will be recollected, that the hunt at 
Falkland was not finished till after eleven o'clock, 
and that the Earl sat down to dinner at half past 
twelve, consequently it would be between the hours 
of one and two when the King aiTived. When 
the King was within a mile of Perth, Alexander 
Ruthven left the party, and rode oh before, to ad- 
vertise the Earl of the King's approach.* He en- 
tered Gowrie House with a person named Blair, 
just as Henderson was ordering the second course ; 
and immediately the Earl, and those that were with 
him, rose from the table, f Henderson was desir- 

* Deposition of the Duke of Lennox, 20th August 

f As it cannot be denied, that Gowrie was at dinner in 
his own house when his brother arrived, it is surprising 
that some writers should have strenuously insisted on the 
wedding-feast, at which Gowrie is said to have been pre- 
sent, and the surprise which he evinced, when he was told 
that the King was at Perth. On the contrary, the Earl 
appears to have evinced the utmost coolness and self-pos- 
session. It is rather singular, that he did not delay his 


ed to put on his steel cap and gauntlet, though in 
complete ignorance of the pui-pose, except the ex- 
planation that Gowrie had formerly been pleased to 
give; for no one, it would appear, knew that the King 
was at hand, save the Earl and his brother. Gowrie 
now left his house, followed by Henderson ; but in- 
stead of directing his course to the Shoegate, he 
proceeded towards the plain or common termed the 
Inch, which was on the road to Falkland. On per- 
ceiving this, Henderson threw his gauntlet into the 
kitchen, on the ground floor of the building, and 
sent home his steel cap ; after which he followed 
the Earl to the Inch. There Gowrie met the 
King, Lennox, Mar, and the other royal attend- 
ants, and they all proceeded to Gowrie House. 
The Earl when he met the King, was attended by 
a number of persons on foot, between thirty and 
forty, whom he had collected for the purpose, 
among whom was Alexander Ruthven. The King's 
retinue hardly amounted to twenty in all. 

The Earl conducted the King into the hall, at- 
tended by Lennox, Mar, and others. The first 

dinner till the arrival of the King ; but this may be ac- 
counted for from the circumstance, that the three gentle- 
men who were with him might be unexpected visitors, and it 
was not his interest to appear as if there had been any plot 
in contemplation. It is worthy of remark, that one of 
these gentlemen, MoncriefF, Laird of PitcriefF, gave evi- 
dence against the Earl ; and from his deposition it ap- 
pears, that Gowrie had excused himself from attending a 
meeting of the town-council that day, and, even after the 
appearance of his brother, theEarl had never said that he ex- 
pected any person, though he must have known of theKing's 
approach from Henderson and Andrew Ruthven, Mon- 
crieff grounds his evidence, doubtless, on Henderson's de- 
position ; but it is to be recollected, that he was present 
at some of the facts to which Henderson depones. 


tiling James called for was Rometliiiig to drink, as 
he was fatigued by his ride in a sultry day ; and 
it appears, from the evidence of the Duke of Len- 
nox, that it was not very expeditiously produced, 
probably on account of the confusion in the house, 
by the King's arrival. It was a full hour before 
dinner was ready. " The langsomeness of pre- 
paring the same, and badness of the cheer, " ob- 
serves the account published by authority, " being 
excused upon the sodeine comming of his Majestie."* 
While the dinner was in preparation, the King 
wished the Master to conduct him to the place 
where the pretended Jesuit was confined ; but he 
was told that it would be soon enough after din- 
ner, and this reply was accompanied by a recom- 
mendation not to appear over anxious about it, 
lest it should excite suspicion. From the Earl, 
the King, though he addressed him on various sub- 
jects, " could get no direct answer of him, but 
only halfe wordes, and imperfect sentences. " 

The dinner was at length produced, during 
which time the Earl was observed in a thoughtful 
state, frequently whispering to the servant, and 

• Patrick Galloway, a very excellent clergyman, in bis 
sermon preached at the Cross of Edinburgh on the occasion, 
thus speaks of the dinner the King got from Gowrie. " The 
King gets bis dinner, a cold dinner, yea, a very cold din- 
ner, as they know who were there. " — Note, ajnid Muses 
Threnodie, vol. i. p. 195. Cant ridicules the reality of 
the conspiracy from this circumstance. " But Gowrie, " 
observes Sir Walter Scott, " might have many reasons to 
avoid appearing to expect the royal visit. The splendour 
of preparations for the King's reception must necessarily 
have attracted a degree of general attention unfavourable 
to the execution of any treasonable plan. " Notes on 
Lord Somers' Tracts, vol. ». p. 313. 


sometimes going in and out of the room. The 
King dined in the principal dining-room, the en- 
trance to which was by the main staircase. This 
room, as has already been mentioned, was in the 
south-east comer of the building on the first floor, 
and its windows looked into the garden and com- 
manded a view of the river. Adjoining to it was 
the hall, at the north-west side of which, near a 
large apartment, not destined to any particular 
use, was the Black Turnpike, leading into the 
court-yard. In this hall, it appears that Lennox 
and others of the King's attendants dined when 
the dessert was on the King's table. 

No sooner had the King sat down to dinner, 
than Alexander Ruthven asked Henderson, for 
the key of the gallery-chamber, which was on the 
second floor, extending above the dining-room and 
great hall. Henderson said, that he had not seen 
it since his Lordship had come home ; but the 
Master told him to get it from William Rhynd, 
which he did, and gave it to Ruthven, who de- 
parted with it. Meanwhile, Henderson, it would 
appear, waited on the King as one of the do- 
mestics, until the Earl told him in a whisper to 
go to the gallery-chamber to his brother. He 
proceeded thither, followed by the Earl through 
the " fair gallery " to the chamber, where they 
found the Master. Here Gowrie told Henderson 
to remain with his brother, and to do as he order- 
ed him ; then left the apartment, and returned 
to the King. Henderson now inquired what the 
Master wanted him to do, w^hen the latter said, 
" You must go in here, and remain till I come 
back, for I will take the key with me ; " and he 
pointed to the tun-et, which was at the north- 


west corner of the apartment. No sooner had 
Henderson got into this turret, than he was locked 
up by the Master. * 

Let us now return to the first-floor. The King 
had finislied liis dinner, and was rising from the 
table, when the Master entered the dining-hall, 
and whispered in his ear, that it was now time 
to go and examine the treasure ; but that he want- 
ed to get quit of the Earl, his brother, and beg- 
ed his Majesty would send him into the hall, to 
entertain his guests. The King now called for a 
pledging cup, and observed jocularly to the Earl, 
that although he had seen the customs of other 
countries, yet he (the King) would teach him a 
Scottish custom, as he was a " Scottish man ;" for 
since he had forgotten to pledge his sovereign, 
and had not sat with his guests at table, he (the 
King) would pledge his own welcome. Gowrie 
was then desired to go into the hall, and pledge 
the company. The King now left the dining-room, 
and proceeded through the hall, where his atten- 
dants were drinking, and as he passed, he desired 
Sir Thomas Erskine to follow him, but this was 
forbidden by the Mastei'. The King was then leil 
by the Master up the Black Tnmpike to the gal- 
lery-chamber, the latter taking care to lock every 
door behind him, till he came to the gallery, the 
door of which remained open ; and he was over- 
heard to say, as he locked these doors — " Now I 
have him secure, I think." He was at last led to 
the turret, in which Henderson was placed, the door 
of which being unlocked by the Master, the King 

* Henderson say;? in his second deposition, that he now 
" suspected some mischief was to be done, and he kneeled 
and prayed to God.'' 


entered leaning on his arm, where the first object 
he saw was Henderson in complete armour, and 
was perfectly astounded at the sight. The door 
was now locked by the Master, who putting on his 
hat, and, turning fiercely on the King, said, " Sir, 
you are my prisoner ; remember my father s death. 
Submit to me without resistance or outcry, or this 
dagger shall instantly avenge my father's death ; " 
and he snatched Henderson's dagger, and present- 
ed it to the King's heart. * Astonished and ter- 
rified at this sudden attack, the King attempted 
to speak ; but was interrupted by Ruthven. " Hold 
your tongue. Sir," said he, " or by Christ you 
shall die ! " The King was without a weapon of 
any kind, and had merely his hunting-horn sus- 
pended from his breast ; but he at length said 
to Ruthven, " Mr Alexander, you and I were 
very great [intimate,] together, and as for your 
father's death, man, 1 was then a minor, and 
my council would have done what they pleas- 
ed : f And farther, man, although you bereave 
me of my life, ye will not be King of Scotland, 
for I have both sons and daughters, and there 
are those in this town who will not leave it unre- 
venged." According to the King's account, he also 
reminded Ruthven how he had not only restored 
to his family " al their landes and dignities, but 

* Henderson, in his first deposition, says, that he threw 
the daL'ger out of the Master's hand, otherwise the King 
would certainly liavc been slain. He omits this fact in his 
second; but it is of little consequence, and does not in- 
validate his general testimony, which, fortunately, he gave 
both times with wonderful clearness and precision. 

t The King was only seventeen years of age when the 
first Earl of Gowrie was beheaded. 


also had nourished and had the upbringing of two 
or three of his sisters, as it were in liis own bo- 
some, by a continual attendance uppon his Ma- 
jestie's dearest bed-fellow in her privy chamber." 
He also reminded him of the instructions he had 
received from that '• holie man, JNIr Robert Rol- 
locke," assuring him that one day " the said Master 
Robert's soule would accuse him that hee had 
never learned of him to practise such unnaturall 
crueltie;" and he craved permission to leave 
the place, assuring the Master, on the word of 
a prince, that if he allowed him to go free, he 
would not mention to any one living his con- 
duct at that time. Ruthven, however, answered, 
with an oath, that it was neither his life nor his 
blood which he wanted. Then, said the King, 
" Why do not you take off your hat, " which 
Ruthven then did. " What is it ye want, man, " 
asked the King, " if ye a'ave not my life ? " — 
" Sir, " replied the Master, " it is but a promise. ' 
" What promise, man ? " asked the King. " My 
Lord, ray brother will tell you," said he. " Then," 
said the King, " bring hither your brother. " In 
this state of irresolution, the Master said, " I will; 
but. Sir, you will not cry, nor open the window 
till I come again. " The King promised that he 
would not, and the Master left the turret, care- 
fully locking the door behind him ; first saying to 
Henderson, " I make you here the King's keeprr 
till I return, and see that ye keep him upon your 
peril ;" and to the King, " You must be content 
with this man as your keeper till I return. " • 

* Second Deposition of Andrew Henderson. A Dis- 
course on the Unnatural Conspiracies, &c. 


During this time, and while the King was in 
this distracting situation, his attendants below 
were becoming impatient. Gowrie had gone into 
the hall, as he was desired by the Kmg ; and when 
the King's health was pledged, Lennox rose to 
follow him, as he had been commanded ; but he 
was told by the Eail, that his Majesty was gone 
quietly upon some private errand. Calling for the 
key of the garden, he conducted his guests thither 
by a staii-case, which led, by a flight of steps from 
the south-east corner of the hall, adjoining the 
dining-room, into the garden. By this manceuvre, 
he conducted them to a different quarter altoge- 
ther from that part of the large building in which 
was the King, they being at the e^st, and he be- 
ing in the south-west angle of the house. As the 
King had declared that he was to return to Falk- 
land that night, they had all their horses in readi- 
ness ; and while they were in the garden, one Cran- 
stoun, a friend of Gowrie, who v/as afterwards ex- 
ecuted for this desperate enterprise, came to them, 
and informed them that the King had gone to 
Falkland ; upon which they all rushed, with Gow- 
rie, up the flight of steps into the hall, and, cross- 
ing it, ran down the staircase into the court- yard — 
calling for their horses. Gowrie also exclaimed, 
" Horse ! horse ! " when Cranstoun said to him, 
" Your horse is at Scone ; " but Gowrie took no 
notice of this, continually exclaiming, " Horse I 
horse!" Here they were joined by the Earl of 
Mar, and Werayss of PittencriefF, Gowrie's bro- 
ther-in-law ; for those two, instead of accompany- 
ing Lennox and the others into the garden, had 
gone up the principal staircase into the " Fair Gal- 

VOL. I. 2 c 


Icry," oil tlic second floor (at the upper end ol 
which was the gallery-chamber, and in the round 
or turret where the King was locked up), and had 
remained there for some time, admiring its noble 
and spacious appearance. * 

Gowrie now said, " I am sure the King is al- 
ways fii-st ; stay, my Lords, and drink, and I shall 
ijo into the house and ascertain if he be really 
gone." He then crossed the court or close, and went 
up the principal staircase ; but soon reappeared, 
telling them that the King had really gone forth 
to Falkland liy the South Inch ; and, in the utmost 
hurry, called for their horses. By this time they 
Avere all near the front street, or Shoegate, be- 
fore the chief entrance to the house ; but some 
doubts having arisen, the Duke of Lennox asked 
Robert Christie, Gowrie's porter, if the King were 
really gone; to which he answered, "No." The Earl 
of ^lar then said to the porter, " Billy [friend], 
tell nie truly whether his Majesty is gone or not." 
Christie answered, " In truth, my Lord, he is not." 
Gowrie turned fiercely upon him, and said, " You 
lie, he went by the back gate, and across the 
Inch. " " My Lord, " replied the porter, " that 
cannot be, for I have the key of the back gate, and 
all the gates of tlie place, in my pocket. " They 
all went out of the gate, into tlie street, deliberat- 
ing and looking about for the King, when sudden- 
ly they heard a voice, as if proceeding from a strug- 
gle." " That is the King's voice, " said Lennox, 
" be where he will. " 

Leaving Lennox, Mar, and the other attendants 
of the King in this state of surprise, let us return 

* Perth Antiquarian Society's Transactions, vol. i. 
p. 97. 


to the turret in the gallery-chamber, where the 
King was locked up, after the departure of the 
Master. No sooner had Ruthven left the turret 
with the intention of consulting his bi-other, than 
the King turned to the man in armour, whom he 
had never before seen, and who stood almost mo- 
tionless at the Master's outrageous conduct. " Hoiv 
came you here, man ? " asked the King. Hender- 
son replied, " As God lives, I am shot [thrust^ 
in here like a dog, a short time before your Ma- 
jesty's coming." " Will my Lord of Gowrie do 
me any evil, man ? " asked the King. " I vow 
to God, " said Henderson, " I shall die first. " 
The King then desired Henderson to throw open 
one of the windows, and give the alarm ; and 
he accordingly ran to the one which looked to- 
wards the Speygate ; but the King exclaimed, 
" Fie ! the wrong window, man ! " This ex- 
pression has been held by the sceptics in this 
enterprise, as quite conclusive that the plot was 
devised by the King, but when we recollect the 
situation of the turret, and the direction of the 
windows, every objection is visionary. The one 
to which Henderson ran first, looked directly 
away from the court- yard or close where the King 
certainly wished to give the alarm, towards the 
Spey-gate, in the direction of the Spey or Spy 
Tower, whereas the other looked directly towards 
the quarter where assistance could alone be pro- 
cured. At the very moment when Henderson was 
attempting to open the right window, Alexander 
Ruthven entered the turret, and making towards 
the King, said, " By Gotl ! there is no remedy : 
you must die ! " and having a garter or cord in his 
hand, he sprung upon the King with the intention 


to bind his hands. James was unarmed, yet he 
scorned to submit to that indignity, and, closing 
with the Master, a struggle ensued. *' 1 am a 
free prince, man ! " he cried to Ruthven, " I will 
not be bound. " While thus grappling with the 
assassin, he extricated his left hand, and Hen- 
derson pulled away the garter from Ruthven. 
The King " loupit free, " and made townrds the 
window, but the Master again giappled him by the 
craig, (throat) with his left hand, and placed hie 
right neeve (hand) on the King's month. Hender- 
son drew away his right hand from James' mouth, 
and, reaching over the King's shoulder, threw up 
the window ; and at this time the King's voice 
was heard in the court-yard below. When Ruth- 
ven perceived this, he exclaimed to Henderson, 
" Wo betide thee, villain ! is there no help 
from ye ? Vv'^e shall all die. " He then attempt- 
ed to draw his sword ; but the King laid his 
hands on the hilt, and grasped firmly the hands of 
Ruthven, who drew back from the window, drag- 
ging the King to the middle of the turret. During 
this struggle, Henderson ran, and unlocked the 
closet, and also the door of the gallery-chamber at 
the head of the Black Turnpike, which the Mas- 
ter had also secured ; and hearing a noise, and a 
rushing up the turnpike, he stood aside, the King 
and the Master still grappling each other. 

WTien the King's voice was first heard by Len- 
nox, Mar, and others, in the court-yard, all eyes 
turned to the quarter whence it proceeded. Look- 
ing up towards the window, they perceived the 
King wanting his hat, his face red, flushed, and a 
hand grasping his cheek and mouth. His cries 
were at that moment quite audible — " Treason ! 


treason ! — help, my Lord Mar, lielp ! help ! I am 
murdered ! " and a general rush took place from 
the court- yard towards the house. The Duke of 
Lennox, Mar, and some others, ran up the great 
staircase towards the hall, but there they found 
the door secured. Seeing a ladder, they got hold 
of it, and attempted to burst open the door, but 
it broke ; and though they sent for hammers, these 
were of no avail. James Erskine laid hands on 
Gowrie himself in the street, and Sir Thomas 
Erskine also grappled with him, saying, " Traitor ! 
this is thy deed : thou shalt die ! " But Gowrie 
answered, " I know nothing of the matter. " A 
scuiHe ensued, when the Earl, who carried two 
swords, or perhaps a dagger and sword, drew them 
both, exclaiming, " I will either be at my own 
house, or die at the gate ! " then followed by a 
number he ran into the court-yard. 

While Lennox, Mar, and others, were battering 
the doors in the principal staircase, and assailing 
them with their utmost fury. Sir John Ramsay ran 
up the Black Turnpike, calling on Sir Thomas 
Erskine to follow him to the very top. Erskine 
was followed by Sir Hugh Herries, called Dr Iler- 
ries, and others. Ramsay having ascended the turn- 
pike, and, forced open the door, found himself in the 
gallery-chamber, the King struggling with Rutliven, 
and the man in armour standing at a dislance mo- 
tionless. By this time Erskine, Herries, and others, 
had entered ; and Herries cried, " This is the trai- 
tor, strike him ! " Ramsay accordingly made towards 
Ruthven, when the King, exhausted by the struggle, 
said, " Strike him laigh [low] , for he has ane p?/ne 
doublet * upon him." Ramsay, who was one of the 

* " Pt/ne doublet was an under coat of defence, made of 
2 c 2 


royal pages, had a hawk on his arm, but he cast 
the bird from him, drew his sword, and stabbed 
the Master twice, while the King, making an ex- 
ertion, threw him down the stairs of the turnpike. 
The rash youth fell, weltering in blood, exclaim- 
ing, " Alas ! I was not to blame for this matter. " 
His body was found by Erskine, Henies, and o- 
thers, who attacked him with their weapons, and 
speedily despatched him. During the confusion, 
Henderson took the opportunity to escape. 

At this very moment Gowrie appeared in the 
gallery-chamber, where the King had been res- 
cued, with two swords in his hand, and a knap- 
schaw or helmet on his head, preceded by his ser- 
Tant Thomas Cranston, and some others. Erskine, 
Herries, and Ramsay, attempted to stop their en- 
trance when a scuffle ensued, during which Erskine 
was wounded in the right hand by Cranston; 
but Sir John Ramsay attacked the Earl, and 
stabbed him through the heart. Gowrie reeled, 
leaned on his sword, fell to the ground dead, and 
it was noted as a singular circumstance, that no 
blood came from his wound till his belt was re- 
moved ; in which, when his person was riffled for 
papers, there was found coEcealed a number of do- 
cuments containing magical characters. After the 
Earl fell, Cranston and the rest of his followers 
effected a retreat. 

The King, thus rescued from the assailants, 
descended from the apartment where the afi&"ay 
had happened. But no sooner was it known 
in Perth that Gowrie was slain, than multi- 
wire, to shield from tho point of a dagger. It nas worn 
by 7>io«j or foot soldiers." Note apud Amot, p. 3J. 


tndes of persons collected before the gate of 
GowTie House ; some for the King's relief, o- 
thers attracted by the disturbance, and by the 
ringing of the town bell. The retainers of Gow- 
rie rioted on the streets for several hours ia the 
evening, and even after the King's rescue, made 
" certain iireverent and undutiful speeches against 
his Majesty. " * Alexander Ruthven of Forgun, 
called out to the King, " Come down, thou son of 
Signior Davie [Rizzio] ; thou hast slain an honest- 
er man than thyself ;" and Craigengelt, exclaimed 
before the citizens, " Give us out our Provost, or 
the King's green coat shall pay for it. " The 
King, however, showed himself to the people from 
the famous turret, and, by repeated assurances of 
his safety, endeavoured to restrain the disorder. 
The tovvn's-people, we are told, knew nothing of 
the matter till the bell rang, but it would appear 
that the tidings of the affair had speedily reached 
Dundee, (twenty miles distant) ; for " the town of 
Dundee, being advertised, came all upon arms, 
thinking to have spoyled the burgh of Perth, but 
praised be God, the King knew the town of Perth's 
part to be free. " f 

The riot on the streets continued for some 
hours, principally excited by Gowrie's servants, 
who appear to have been well armed, and those 
of the citizens who were attached to him. While 
one party were exclaiming " The King is slain ! " 
and calling for *' ane sight of the Kingis face ; " 
and " giff his Maiestie wes weill ; " the uproar 

• Act of Privy Council, requiring the magistrates and 
town-council of Perth to appear before the King at Lin- 
lithgow, 16th September 1600, 

f Mercer's Chronicle, MS. 


was most clamorous with tlie other party, by 
whom Gowrie was much beloved. Some vorit'e- 
rated, " Traitouris and Tiiievis I " others, " Ciod 
send ane drap of grace to his Maiestie ! "' It appears 
from the depositions afterwards taken, wlieu no 
fewer than three hundred and fifty-five persons, 
citizens of Perth, who were alleged to have been 
concerned in the tumult, were examined, that 
Alexander Rulhven of Forgun was seen running 
up the Water-gate, and before the House, with a 
drawn sword, exclaiming, " False traitouris ! fy for 
powder ! he is deid ! he is slane ! Thieves ! 
ye are unworthie of sic ane Provost ! and gift" he 
leive, he sail remember on this day ! " One called 
out, " Green-coats, he have committed murder ! " 
and when he was reproved for this remark, he 
replied, " Ye are nocht gude nychtbouris in 
ane toune, that helpis nocht zour Proiiest ! " 
Others vociferated, " The Prouest is slane 1 thair 
is ane nobill man tynt [lost] this day ! Wo 
worth this day forever ! " A woman named ^ io- 
let Ruthven, probably a relative of the Gowrie fa- 
mily, was observed by several of the witnesses 
examined, as being particularly active, and loud in 
her denunciations against the King, exclaiming, 
" Bludie boitscheouris ! Tratouris ! Wo worth 
[befall] zour green cottis ! Bludie traitouris! 
that hes murderit thay innocentis ! " Other wo- 
men called out, " Gowrie had anew to tak meit 
and drink fra hame, bot he lies nane to revenge 
his deid.'" These and similar exclamations re- 
sounded through the streets, while the loyal par- 
ties were equally violent and anxious in their in- 
quiries after James. Andrew Roy, one of the magi- 
strates, who afterwards gave his deposition, was 


particularly active in endeavouring to repel the dis- 
order. It was he who commanded the common- 
bell to be rung. At length the loyalists succeeded 
in causing the populace to disperse, partly by 
threats, entreaties, and assurances that the King 
was safe. 

As it would have been dangerous for James, 
during the continuance of this disorder, to have 
appeared in the public street, be departed about 
seven in the evening for Falkland, by a private 
door or gate towards the river, after having direct- 
ed the magistrates of Perth to take charge of the 
bodies of Gowrie and his brother. It was late 
in the evening when the King arrived at Falkland ; 
but no sooner was the fact communicated to the in- 
habitants, than they all turned out of their houses, 
and welcomed their sovereign by the greatest de- 
monstrations of joy and attachment. On the follow- 
ing day, August 6th, the privy-council* in Edin- 
burgh received an express from the court, and no- 
thing could exceed the astonishment which perva- 
ded the kingdom, when this daring conspiracy was 
made known. In Edinburgh, in particular, the ci- 
tizens vied with each other in their expressions of 
loyalty for the King's deliverance. Cannons were 
fired, the houses were illuminated, bone-fires were 
lighted. On the top of Arthur's Seat a great fire 
was kindled ; the church-bells of the city sent 
forth their sonorous peals ; and all concurred in 
the public joy at the King's deliverance, save the 
ministers of Edinburgh, who not only refused to 
hold a public thanksgiving for the defeat of the 
enterprise, but even obstinately maintained, that 
there was no conspiracy at all. 

The King anived at Edinburgh from Falkland 


on the 1 1th of August, and was joyfully received 
at Leitli by a great concourse of people, and he 
now turned his attention towards an investiga- 
tion of the conspiracy. 

As Henderson had escaped from Gowrie House 
during the disturbance, and had not been recog- 
nised by any one, a free pardon and a consider- 
able reward were offered to the individual who 
would confess that he was the unknown person 
in the turret. Henderson immediately came for- 
wai'd, and acknowledged that he was the man. 
He was imprisoned, and retained as a witness in 
the future proceedings. 

On the 22d of August, a wan'ant was issued 
by the Justiciary Court, to bring Gowrie's three 
servants, George Craigengelt, Thomas Cranston, 
(brother of Sir John Cranston of that Ilk), and 
John Macduff, to trial at Perth. It appears 
that Cranston had been previously examined at 
Perth on the 6th of August, and Craigengelt at 
Falkland on the 16th. They were according- 
ly served with an indictment, and being found 
guilty as " airt and pairt " in the conspiracy, were 
executed on the 23d of that month. The charge 
proved against them was, that they drew their 
swords in defence of Gowrie against the King, 
during the disorder at Gowrie House ; but they 
denied to the last that they had any knowledge of 
the conspiracy. On the 20th of August, a pre- 
cognition of the conspiracy was taken at Falkland, 
when Lennox, INIar, the Abbots of Inchaffray, 
and Lindores, Sir Thomas Erskine, Sir Jolui 
Ramsay, Andrew Henderson, and twenty-five other 
witnesses, gave their depositions. On the 22d Sep- 
tember, an investigation was made at Perth in the 


" New Kirk, " by the magistrates and council, in 
obedience to the King's writ produced by Sir Ro- 
bert Melville and Sir David INIurray. Almost 
every individual of any consequence in Perth, was 
summoned to attend this investigation. It continu- 
ed five days, and no fewer than three hundred and 
fifty-five persons were examined. They chiefly 
deponed to the riot on the streets, an account of 
which has already been given from their evidence.* 
It may be observed, that one Francis Tennent was 
executed in October for writing " pasquils " on the 
subject against the King, addressed to the well- 
known Robert Bruce and another preacher named 
Davidson. On the 1st of November, Gowrie and 
his brother were tried according to the Roman law, 
which held that persons guilty of high treason 
might be tried after death ; which practice was ex- 
tensively fellowed by the Scots. Of course, it 
was a mere formality. 

The various acts of the government afterwards, 
it is needless to recapitulate. The family of Gow- 
rie, and various of their connections, were de- 
clared forfeited ; and the suraame of Ruthven 
was ordered to be abolished forever. Andrew 

* Some of their depositions are curious. One declared 
that he " was measuring coals all the time in the South Inch," 
a second turned out " at the soond o' the bell, hot stayed 
not;" a third was, " nocht that day in the toon, ; " a 
fourth was, " nocht thair ; " a fifth " cam nocht ; " a sixth 
was " sleeping at the time. " Some said they were at varia 
ous places in the country ; others were at the riot, but knew 
nothing about it ; others, again, were pursuing their own 
affairs ; a few described themselves as " auld men, " and 
that they " couldna gang out ; " some deponed that they 
were thair, but that they were ordered hame by the magis- 
trates, who threatened to " break their heids. " No far- 
ther explanations could be given of the matter. 


Henderson was set at liberty, and restored to bis 
office of chamberlain or factor; and, on the 19th 
of November, the bodies of the Earl and his 
brother were brought to Edinburgh, and hanged, 
drawn, and quartered, at the cross. Their heads 
were set up in Edinburgh, Dundee, Perth, and 
Stirling; it was enacted, that it would be high 
treason for any person to intercede for the Gowrie 
family ; and the 5th day of August was appointed 
to be held ever afterwards as a day of public thanks- 

Thus the matter rested, without any elucida- 
tion of the mystery, till nine years afterwards, 
when an accident as strange as the plot itself oc- 
curred. One Greorge Sprot, a notary in Eye- 
mouth, having boasted among some of his friends, 
that he knew several particulars connected with 
the Gowrie Conspiracy, information was conveyed 
to George Home, Earl of Dunbar, who apprehend- 
ed him at the instance of the Lord Advocate. Af- 
ter having been repeatedly examined by the Privy 
Council, Sprot gave in a declaration that he knew 
perfectly of the conspiracy, and of the correspon- 
dence between Gowrie and Logan. On that oc- 
casion, the letters of Logan of Restalrig, al- 
ready alluded to, were produced. * Both Logan 
and his agent, Laird Bour, were dead, but the 
same course was taken against the former, as a- 
gainst Gowrie and his brother. His bones were 

• Sprot confessed that be had known both Logan and 
Laird Bour, from the latter of whom he had received the 
first intimation of the conspiracy. It is curious to remark, 
that Logan's letters to Gowrie, which were found in Sprot's 
possession, appear to have been worn in the pocket for a 
considerable length of time. 


dug up ; he was tried for high treason ; his estate 
was forfeited ; his posterity declared infamous. It 
does not appear that any proceedings were insti- 
tuted against Laird Bour, who was probably too 
insignificant to attract attention. Sprot himself 
was hanged on the 12th of August 1609, at the 
Cross of Edinburgh, and his head placed on the 
Tolbooth beside those of Gowrie and his brother. 
Archbishop Spottiswoode, Dr George Abbot, (af- 
terwards Archbishop of Canterbury), many noble- 
men, and the magistrates ;and ministers of Edin- 
burgh, were present at his execution. He conduct- 
ed himself on the scaffold with great penitence and 
devotion ; he informed the spectators that when 
he was thrown over the ladder, he would verify 
by a signal the truth of his confessions ; and ac- 
cordingly, he thrice clapped his hands when he 
was suspended on the gibbet. 

Fortunately, at the present day, we can reason 
and investigate facts, without those excitements 
of passion which characterized the turbulent and 
stormy reign of James in Scotland. It has been 
conjectured, that there was perhaps a double plot 
on the part of the Ruthvens ; and it may be safely 
concluded, that while the Master seems to have 
been stimulated by a determination to revenge his 
father's death, with Gowrie himself it was evident- 
ly a wild scheme of unprincipled and ill-concerted 
ambition ; and, though it would be rash to maintain 
that they intended to slay the King, they cannot be 
freed from the charge of concerting violence on his 
person. Indeed since the authenticity of Logan's 
letters are now placed beyond all question, it cannot 
be doubted, that the first object of the Eai-1 and his 
brother was to secure the person of the King, by 


conveying bim to Fastcastle, that the whole influ- 
ence of the Crown might be transferred into their 

But never was there a charge more atrocious, 
I would observe, in concluding this nanative, than 
that of ascribing to James the invention of the 
plot in order to accomplish the ruin of the Ruthven 
family. " Besides the placability and gentleness of 
his disposition, " observes Sir Walter Scott, " and 
besides the consideration, that no adequate motive 
can be assigned, or even conjectured, for his per- 
petrating such an inhospitable murder, it ought to 
be recollected, that the King was naturally timor- 
ous, and could not even look at a drawn sword 
without shuddering ; so that it is contrary to all 
reason and probability to suppose that he could 
be the deviser of a scheme in which his life was 
repeatedly exposed to the most imminent danger." 
" It has become fashionable, " says Mr Pitcaim, 
" to ridicule the pusillanimity of James VI. ; but 
it is hard to conceive how far the bravest man could 
have here surpassed him in courage, or could have 
displayed more coolness and address than did the 
King, throughout all this transaction. Although 
constitutionally and habitually timid, and this weak- 
ness aggravated in no small degree by the constant 
broils and conspiracies in which he was involved, 
James, on many occasions, showed, when per- 
sonally placed in difficult emergencies, that he was 
not unworthy of the royal blood from which he 
was descended. " 







1 1 


Lawson, John Parker 

History of remarkable 
conspiracies connected with 
European history, v.l