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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

And not merely were their assaults on Leith repelled


To

this pass matters had now come. The combined interests, on the one side of the crown and the clergy, on the other of the lords and the Protestants, came into open and avowed conflict. The Act of Suspension is but the proclamation of war in a form which would enable them to avoid directly breaking with their duties towards their born prince.

The lords' first enterprise was directed against the French troops which held Leith in their possession, and which were now first of all to be driven out of the country: but the hastily-constructed fortifications there proved stronger than was expected. And not merely were their assaults on Leith repelled, but the Lords soon saw themselves driven from their strongest positions, for instance from Stirling; their possessions were wasted far and wide; the war, which was transferred to Fife, took an unfortunate turn for them; to all appearance they were lost if they did not obtain help from abroad.

But to whom could they apply for it if not to their neighbour, just now rising in power, Elizabeth Queen of England?

They might have hesitated, as they had indeed repelled the influence of Henry VIII and of Somerset, even when it was united with reforming tendencies. But how entirely different were matters now from what they had been then! With their own hands they had already given themselves a Protestant church-system, which was national in a high

degree, and somewhat opposite to the English one. So long as it existed, the influence England would gain by giving them help could never become the supremacy, at which it is certain attempts had previously been made.

We know too the objections which were made in England against a union with the Scots. To these were added the Queen's decided antipathies to the new form of church government and to its leaders: she could not bear the mention of Knox's name. But all these considerations disappeared before the pressing danger and the political necessity. In opposition to France, Protestant England and Protestant Scotland, however different the religious and even the political tendencies prevailing in each of them, held out their hands to each other.

Elizabeth had already at an earlier time privately given the Scots some support: the moment at which she gave them decisive assistance is worth noticing.

The Regent's French and Scotch troops were planning an attack on S. Andrews, and had made themselves masters of Dysarts; the lords, again retreating, marched along the coast, and the French were in pursuit when a fleet hove in sight in the distance. The French welcomed it with salvos of cannon, for they had no doubt that it was their own fleet, bringing them help from France, long expected, and now in fact known to be ready. But it soon appeared that they were English vessels, in advance of the larger fleet which had put to sea under Vice-admiral Winter. Nothing remained for the French, when thus undeceived, but to give up their project and withdraw. But the whole state of things was thus altered. Soon after this the Scots, to whose assistance English troops had also come by land, were able to advance against Leith and resume the suspended siege.

Everything that is to come to pass in the world has its right time and hour. Incredible as it may seem, the champion of the strictest Catholicism, the King of Spain, was at this moment not merely for help being given to the Scots, but pressing for it; his ministers complained not that the Queen interfered, but that she did not do so more quickly. For in the union of Scotland and France, which was already complete in a military sense, they saw a danger for themselves. The enthusiastic Knox, who only lived and moved in religious ideas, was, more than he foresaw, a link in the chain of European affairs. Without the impulse which he gave to the minds of men, that resistance to the Regent, by which a complete union with France was hindered, would have been impossible.


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