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rary writers tax with great irregularities', governed B O O K the church, for some years, with a temper and prudence of which there are few examples in that age. But some time before the meeting of the last parliament, the Archbishop departed from those humane maxims by which he had hitherto regulated his conduct; and, whether in spite to the Queen, who had entered into so close an union with the Protestants, or in compliance with the importunities of his clergy, he let loose all the rage of persecution against the reformed; sentenced to the flames an aged priest, who had been convicted of embracing the Protestant opinions; and summoned several others, suspected of the same crinie, to appear before a synod of the clergy, which was soon to convene at Edinburgh.
Nothing could equal the horror of the Protestants at this unexpected and barbarous execution, but the real with which they espoused the defence of a cause that now seemed devoted to destruction. They had immediate recourse to the Queen Regent; and as her success in the parliament, which was then about to meet, depended on their concurrence, she not only sheltered them from the impending storm, but permitted them the exercise of their religion with more freedom than they had hitherto enjoyed. Unsatisfied with this precarious tenure by which they held their religious liberty, the Protestants laboured to render their possession of it inore secure and independent. With this view, they determined to petition the Parliament
Knox, Buchanan, Keith, 208.
BOO K for some legal protection against the exorbitant
and oppressive jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical 1558. courts, which, by their arbitrary method of pro
ceeding, founded in the canon law, were led to sentences the most shocking to humanity, by maxims the most repugnant to justice. But the Queen, who dreaded the effect of a debate on this delicate subject, which could not fail of exciting high and dangerous passions, prevailed on the leaders of the party, by new and more solemn promises of her protection, to desist from any application to parliament, where their numbers and influence would, in all probability, have procured thein, if not entire redress, at least some mitigation, of their grievances.
They applied to another assembly, to a convocation of the Popish clergy, but with the same ill success which hath always attended every proposal for reformation addressed to that order of men. To abandon usurped power, to renounce lucrative error, are sacrifices which the virtue of individuals has, on some occasions, offered to truth; but from any society of men no such effort can be expected. The corruptions of a society recommended by common utility, and justified by universal practice, are viewed by its members without shame or horror; and reformation never proceeds from themselves, but is always forced upon them by some foreign hand.
Suitable to this unfeeling and inflexible spirit was the behaviour of the convocation in the present conjuncture. All the demands of the Protestants were rejected with contempt; and the Popish clergy, far from endeavour
ing, by any prudent concessions, to sooth and to B 0 O K reconcile such a numerous body, asserted the doctrines of their church, concerning some of the most
1558. exceptionable articles, with an ill-timed rigour, which gave new offence.
During the sitting of the convocation, the Protestants first began to suspect some change in the Regent's disposition towards them. Though joined with them for many years by interest, and united, as they conceived, by the strongest ties of affection and of gratitude, she discovered, on this occasion, evident symptoms, not only of coldness, but of a growing disgust and aversion. In order to account for this, our historians do little more than produce the trite observations concerning the influence of prosperity to alter the character and to corrupt the heart. The Queen, say they, having reached the utmost point to which her ambition aspired, no longer preserved her accustomed moderation, but, with an insolence usual to the fortunate, looked down
upon those by whose assistance she had been enabled to rise so high. But it is neither in the depravity of the human heart, nor in the ingratitude of the Queen's disposition, that we must search for the motives of her present conduct. These were derived from another, and a more remote source, which, in order to clear the subsequent transactions, we shall endeavour to open with some care.
The ambition of the Princes of Lorrain had been Ambitious no less successful than daring; but all their schemes.the Princes
of Lorrain. c Keith, 81.
BO O K were distinguished by being vast and unbounded.
Though strangers at the court of France, their eminent qualities had-raised them, in a short time, to an height of power superior to that of all other subjects, and had placed theni on a level even with the Princes of the blood themselves. The church, the army, the revenue, were under their direction. Nothing but the royal dignity remained unattained, and they were elevated to a near alliance with it, by the marriage of the Queen of Scots to the Dauphin. In order to gratify their own vanity, and to render their niece more worthy the heir of France, they set on foot her claim to the crown of England, which was founded on pretences not unplausible.
The tragical amours and marriages of Henry VIII. are known to all the world. Moved by the caprices of his love, or of his resentment, that impatient and arbitrary monarch had divorced or beheaded four of the six Queens whom he married. In order to gratify him, both his daughters had been declared illegitimate by act of parliament ; and yet, with that fantastic inconsistence which distinguishes his character, he, in his last will, whereby he was empowered to settle the order of succession, called both of them to the throne upon the death of their brother Edward; and, at the same time, passing by the posterity of his eldest sister Margaret Queen of Scotland, he appointed the line of succession to continue in the descendants of his younger sister, the Duchess of Suffolk.
In consequence of this destination, the validity whereof was admitted by the English, but never
recognised by foreigners, Mary had reigned in En- BOOK gland without the least complaint of neighbouring Princes. But the same causes which facilitated 1559. her accession to the throne, were obstacles to the elevation of her sister Elizabeth, and rendered her possession of it precarious and insecure. Rome trembled for the Catholic faith under a Protestant Queen of such eminent abilities. The same superstitious fears alarmed the court of Spain. France beheld with concern a throne, to which the Queen of Scots could form so many pretensions, occupied by a rival, whose birth, in the opinion of all good Catholics, excluded her from any legal right of succession. The impotent hatred of the Roman Pontiff, or the slow councils of Philip II., would have produced no sudden or formidable effect. The ardent and impetuous ambition of the Princes of Lorrain, who at that time governed the court of. France, was more decisive, and more to be dreaded. Instigated by them, Henry, soon after the death of They perMary, persuaded his daughter-in-law and her hus- suade Maband to assume the title of King and Queen of sume the England. They affected to publish this to all Eu
Queen of rope. They used that style and appellation in pub- England. lic
papers, some of which still remain". The arms of England were engraved on their coin and plate, and borne by them on all occasions. No preparations, however, were made to support this impolitic and premature claim. Elizabeth was already seated on her throne; she possessed all the intrepidity of spirit, and all the arts of policy, which
ry to as
d Anders. Diplom. Scot. Nos 68. and 164. VOL. I.