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On the 1st of May 1544, Hertford's force landed at Granton, and a bloody campaign began. The burning of the fair capital of Scotland, the ruin of two hundred and fortythree villages, and of seven abbeys, among them Kelso, Melrose, Roxburgh, and Coldingham, open up a fearful picture of the wholesale misery inflicted both by this visitation and by another of the same nature which took place in the following year. The King of England must have been gratified to see his savage orders so well carried out. Only on one occasion the English borderers would not obey them. They refused to burn the standing corn in Scotland. The most noticeable event of this miserable warfare with England was the battle of Ancrum, in which the Scots were victorious.
THE EXECUTION OF WISHART, AND THE ASSASSINATION
'The sons of thy bold foes
The year before the seven fair abbeys of southern Scotland were desolated, there was ' ane great heresy in Dundee ;'1 the monasteries of the Black and Grey Friars perished, and afterwards the abbey of Lindores, on the opposite bank of the Tay, was pillaged by 'a company of good Christians,' s that is, by an uproarious mob. An evil more deadly than a riot, or than the axes and hammers of Henry v1II.'s soldiers, had too long defiled our country's holy temples : like Israel of old, the Church was to be scourged for her iniquities, and in the ruins of these ten religious houses she experienced the first taste of inevitable and just retribution. The vices of the Scottish clergy had attained a climax. 'That matters should continue just as they were,' says one who is writing of the necessity of reform in other branches of the Church
Diurnal of Occurrenls, 29. * Hamilton Papers, 182.
as well as our own, 'had become well-nigh impossible. One century more of such fatal and rapid declension, and Christianity itself must, humanly speaking, have perished from off the face of the earth.'1 To those who may fondly hope that we exaggerate—that surely matters were not quite so bad—we must say that the plain facts of history authorize the assertion that ' the corruption of our Church . . . was greater than in any part of Europe, except, perhaps, in Scandinavia.'2 If the Archbishop of St. Andrews had begun his pastoral duties by abandoning his worldliness (even if we charge him not with the boundless profligacy which the tradition of Forfarshire associates with his name), instead of summoning an imposing court of titled men to talk over the general increase of heresy, and the heresies of Sir John Borthwick in particular—if the other prelates had also looked to themselves first, there would have been fewer men to burn for renouncing their belief in verities, which apparently placed small restraints on the behaviour of those who held them ; perhaps, too, in a few years Jerusalem would not have been 'an heap of stones.' The Regent Arran was favourably disposed towards the Protestants, and by an Act of Parliament passed in 1543 it was declared lawful to read ' baith the New Testament and the Auld, in the vulgar tongue, in Inglis or Scottis, of ane good and true translation.' Knox tells us that thereafter the Bible was 'on everie gentleman's table;' and while he acknowledges that this was 'na small victorie,' it is remarkable to hear him at the same time allude reprovingly to the occasions of falling certain irreverent and vain-glorious persons made to themselves by their free handling of the Word of God, as
1 Some Aspects of the Reformation, by J. G. Cazenove, p. 43. * The Church of England and the Doctrine of Papal Infallibility, by the Bishop of Brechin, p. 22, notej>.
when some, he says, taking it, 'would chop their familiars on the cheek with it, and say, This has lyin hid under my bed-foot these ten years. . . . O, how oft have I been in danger for this Buik! How secretlie have I stolen away . .. at midnicht to read it !'1
In 1544-5 an eager and a very earnest man was delivering sermons in town and country. This was George Wishart, a brother of the Laird of Pitarrow in the Mearns. After describing his melancholy face, etc., one of his pupils goes into other details—' Having on him . . . never but a mantell frise gowne to the shoes, a blacke Millian fustian dublet, and plaine blacke hosen, coarse new canvasse for his shirtes, and white falling bandes and cuffes at the handes. All the which apparell he gave to the poore, some weekly, some monethly, some quarterly, as hee liked, saving his Frenche cappe, which he kept the whole yeere of my being with him.'2 By his side, at every sermon, grasping a two-handed sword, stood a man whose exaggeration of the national traits of indomitable perseverance and boundless self-confidence, together with a quick sense of the ludicrous (which, in his case, found expression in mirth at the discomfiture of his opponents), were indented on his face. This was John Knox. Wishart had just returned from a residence of several years in England and the Continent; his heart was full of the new opinions ; and, stimulated by the opposition he had received south of the Tweed, he felt that his duty was to preach diligently to his country-people. At Dundee he preached whilst the plague raged, and Knox says, 'because the maist part war either sick or else war in companie with those that war sick, he chose the Head of the East Porte of the town for his preaching-place, and sa
1 Knox, p. 34.
• Emery Tylney. Printed in M'Crie's Knox, p. 366.
the haill stude or sat within, the sick and suspectit without the Porte.'1 His sermon was on the verse, 'He sent His word, and healed them.' During his stay in Dundee we are told that he ministered faithfully to the bodies and souls of the plague-stricken folks. Indeed, did Wishart possess one-half of the good qualities which have been assigned to him, he must have shown favourably beside even ordinarily respectable ecclesiastics. But notwithstanding this, and the support which he received from many of influential name, including the Lords Cassilis, Glencairn, and Marshall, Sir George Douglas, and the Lairds of Brunston, Ormiston, and Calder, he was keenly wounded at his occasionally poor audiences. At Haddington there was a very small attendance; he became very excited; and Knox says he spoke 'near an hour and ane half' in this wise: 'I have heard of thee, Haddington, that in thee would have been at ane vain clerk play twa or three thousand people, and now to hear the messenger of the eternal God, of all the town or parish, cannot be numbered ane hundred persons. Sair and fearful sall the plagues be that sall enseu this thy contempt; with fire and sword sall thou be plagued; yea, thou Haddington in special, strangers sall possess thee . . . and that because ye have not knowen, nor will not know the time of God's mercyfull visitation.'2 Such were the high notions that the popular preachers of the new opinions maintained of their own calling; but it is in sayings like these that in the most pious among them we fail to see the signs of death to self. Self-renunciation was the special fruit of that sacramental grace which they denied. These wild prognostications—prophecies they were called—which sound to us extremely presumptuous, were constantly on Wishart's lips. He soon began to foretell his own speedy death. Situated as he was, death was not far
1 Knox, p. 44. 3 Ibid. p. 52.