intendent, Knox wrote a severe letter to Argyll, whom he had already once before reconciled with his wife, although he was unable to heal the breach permanently. During the parliament which met in the Tolbooth on 20 May 1563, the barons, especially Murray, showed signs of yielding to Mary, against the wish of Knox and the ministers. Knox accordingly quarrelled with Murray, reminding him of his rise, and, in his habitual vein of prophecy, warning him that if he bore with impunity pestilent papists he would lose God's favour. In the result they ceased to speak to each other for eighteen months. Parliament confirmed Murray in his earldom, and passed an act of amnesty; but while pretending to take up the subject of discipline and the assignment of manses and glebes, the acts passed were so modified as to be of no value. Before the session closed Knox preached a political sermon, recalling to the nobility how he had been with them in the hour of danger, and exhorted them to let the queen understand that they ‘would agree with her in God,’ but were not bound ‘to agree with her in the Devil.’ He concluded by saying that he heard of many suitors for the queen's hand, but if they consented that an infidel, and ‘all Papists are infidels,’ should be head of their sovereign, they would so far as in their power banish Christ from the realm, and bring God's vengeance upon the country, themselves, and their sovereign. Incensed by such language the queen again summoned Knox to her presence. When he came she burst out in invectives, mingled with tears, and vowed revenge. ‘The chamber-boy could scarcely get napkins,’ says Knox, with grim mirth, ‘to dry her eyes.’ ‘What have you to do,’ she broke in, ‘with my marriage? What are you in this commonwealth ?’ To which he made the memorable answer, ‘A subject born within the same, and though neither earl, lord, nor baron, God has made me a profitable member,’ after which he repeated his denunciation of a papist marriage. Mary once more resorted to the feminine argument of tears, but Knox told her ‘he never delighted in the weeping of any of God's creatures, and could scarcely abide the tears of his own boys when he flogged them. But as he had only spoken truth he must sustain, though unwillingly, the royal tears rather than hurt his conscience or injure the commonwealth by silence.’ Mary, still more offended, ordered him out of her cabinet, and to remain in the antechamber. He obeyed, but occupied his time in warning her maids of honour that all their ‘gay gear’ would avail them nothing at the coming of the ‘knave Death.’ After the queen had ordered him to go to his own house she wished to have him prosecuted, but was advised to let him alone, and the ‘storm quieted in appearance but never in the heart.’
In the summer of 1563 she travelled through the west, and everywhere had the mass celebrated. On hearing this Knox began to use a daily prayer at table, ‘Deliver us, O Lord, from Idolatry.’ Soon after he wrote to the brethren in all quarters to come to Edinburgh for the defence of a zealous protestant, John Cranstoun, who was being prosecuted for violently denouncing the altar at Holyrood. His letter was divulged by a minister at Ayr to Henry Sinclair, president of the College of Justice, and communicated to the queen. The council decided it imported treason, and Knox was summoned to answer for it in the middle of December 1563. When he came his fearless and constant courage divided the hostile camp. The Master of Maxwell reproved Knox for convoking the lieges, and their friendship ceased, but Spens of Condie, the queen's advocate, stood by him, saying, ‘You will be accused, but God will assist you.’
Murray and Lethington made vain efforts to induce Knox to confess his offence, and in a few days he was summoned before the council. He came with so great a following that the stairs and passage leading to the chamber were full. When the queen had taken her seat, and saw Knox bareheaded at the other end of the table, she burst out laughing, and said: ‘Yon man garred me greet and grat never tears himself. I will see gif I can gar him greet.’ When Lethington asked if he had written the offending letter, he acknowledged the writing, and at the court's request read it aloud. After it was read the queen, looking round, said: ‘Heard ye ever a more treasonable letter ?’ Knox denied that he had committed any offence, and the nobles voted in his favour. When on 25 Dec. the assembly met, Knox remained silent until pressed to speak, when he asked the assembly whether he had done more in his letter than obey their commands. After he had been removed from the bar the vote was taken, and the whole kirk found that a charge had been given him to summon the brethren as often as danger appeared, and the act of writing was not his only but that of all.
In the beginning of 1564 the dancing and banqueting of the court went on, notwithstanding the threatenings of Knox and the preachers, who pointed to the great rain and frost in January and the meteors in February as warnings from heaven. Knox now surprised both friends and foes by marrying for a second time Margaret Stewart, daughter of Lord Ochiltree, ‘a very near kinswoman of